Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tuesday 14th & Wednesday 15th November

Fort Pierce to Dinner Key Marina, Miami
25 43.535 N
80 13.979 W

True to their word the riggers from Mack Sails arrived at our boat at 0900hrs and began to carry out the repairs to the jib furling system. The riggers, Rich and Jay, bought with them a bo’suns chair which I envied and I think anyone who has ever hauled their partner up the mast would happily pay to have – it was a self hauler and Jay made it look like a very quick and simple task to get himself to the top of the mast. When I enquired they told me that the seat came from West Marine and the rigging system for it was done by Mack Sails – I WANT ONE!!!!! I feel certain it must qualify as a safety issue. The repairs/replacement involved installing a new forestay (yes we know we had only just had a new one in Jacksonville) as the furling mechanism had caused the wires to begin unraveling, a new wrap stop and upper and lower furler bearings. All in all the work took the guys 2.5 hours. Once they had finished Gerry cut the extra leather loop off the top of the sail and we threaded the jib back onto the furler hoisting it aloft (yes just to see if we could sail in the dock) and furled it away. The end result was that the sail would have engaged in the furler mechanism better if the leather loop had been left in place, whoops! A few foul words and a longer shackle or two later and we were back in business again with a functional jib and a few hundred dollars lighter in the pocket. Our thanks to Rich and Jay of Mack Sails for a job well done.
To celebrate we had a quick lunch in the Marina bar where we decided to leave for Miami as soon as we could – high tide was to be at about 1500hrs so we knew we would be able to get out of the marina almost immediately. We hurried back to the boat and stowed things away, disconnected the shore power and water, attached jacklines, donned lifejackets, consulted the charts, listened to the weather forecast one last time (it was going to be an easy passage with winds 10 – 15 knots SW and seas 3-5 feet) and eased our way out of the marina, onto the intra coastal waterway and eventually out into the sea. The passage was going to take us about 18hrs if we could do an average speed of 6 knots an hour.
The first few hours of the trip were perfect, we motored along doing the 6 knots
an hour, it wasn’t possible to sail as the wind was just about on the nose and then just as we were comfortable the Gods of wrath descended. The winds blew up to 20 + knots and the seas grew to 8-10 feet oh, and of course it got darker as night closed in. From this point on we bounced, danced, pitched and rolled, taking a few big waves over the bow as we continued to edge our way south. Our average speed dropped to 3 knots, we tried sneaking out a pocket handkerchief size piece of jib to try and steady us a bit as well as pick up a bit of speed – this worked marginally for a short time and eventually we furled it away again as it wasn’t doing a great deal. It was a very long and uncomfortable night, we took turns in cat napping in the cockpit as it was to difficult to go below to try and sleep. We decided that for future trips we need to have a “ready box” of enough snacks and nibbles in the cockpit to last the entire trip so that neither of us has to risk injury trying to negotiate the steps, fridge, falling objects etc. whilst trying to find something easy to eat and drink. Although we were only 1.5 miles off the coast we think we caught the effects of the Gulf stream (it was supposed to be at least 3 miles out). As dawn approached Gerry sneaked us a bit closer to shore – maybe incase I decided it would be quicker to swim!
Gerry went out on deck at one point to move the jib track forward a little and nearly scared me to death when he yelled out for me to look – only to fall about laughing as we had “caught” our first fish – a flying fish had made a fatal judgement error and landed on our deck, needless to say it didn’t qualify for our “fillet and release” program so it was returned to the sea to maintain the food chain there. We did pick up a little speed as we continued on our way to Miami but the trip turned from being an 18hr easy passage to a total of 25hrs, mostly horrid one.

We both welcomed the sight of Government cut – our turning in point to Miami and eventually Dinner Key marina. A huge merchant ship followed us in through the channel, it was quite a sight to see it bearing down on us, luckily it turned into a dock before it became an embarrassing problem. As many of you know we are wary of bridge heights and with just one bridge between us and our destination we approached the Rickenbacker Causeway with trepidation, happily we cleared it without even the aerial dinging. We arrived at Dinner Key Marina at 15.00hrs to be met on the dock by Bob and Kathy (Sundancer). We tied up, hooked up to power and water, checked in, showered and then crashed for a couple of hours sleep. Once revived we were treated to dinner out by Bob and Kathy – it was a great meal with good company and whilst we may have been a bit monosyllabic we really appreciated it, thanks guys. After satisfying our appetites it didn’t take long for us to fall into bed and catch up on some much needed sleep.
One sad thing that came out of the conversation that night was that Bob and Kathy had decided to alter their travel plans and continue on to the Keys rather than cross with us to the Bahamas. They have a few commitments in about 6 weeks time and as the weather has been delaying us rather more than we expected they were going to run out of time to do the things that they wanted to do. We understand their decision and will miss their company. We hope that you have a fabulous time and some better weather as you head down the Keys, keep in touch – Skype is free!!!!!!!



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