Monday, January 28, 2013

Ft Lauderdale Re-visit

Cape Florida Lighthouse on the tip of Key Biscayne off Miami
We sailed back up to Ft Lauderdale yesterday from No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne. The plan was to leave from Key Biscayme, cross the Gulf Stream and go on to the Bahamas banks on our way to the Exuma island chain in the central Bahamas. But who needs plans? The sail up to Fort Lauderdale was hard on the wind at 20kts, so it was a bit lumpy and bouncy. We made it in about 4 1/2 hours – so it was a fast run. Entering Port Everglades we were greeted by the Sunday afternoon traffic jam.
fll2IMG_1858  There were 6 giant cruise ships taking on passengers and getting ready for their week long run into the Caribbean. These ships look like they giant condominiums. If you turned them on end, they’d fit in fine with the condos along Miami Beach.
fll2IMG_1845 This gal was flying off from Biscayne Bay along with us.
fll2IMG_1862 So why’d we head back to Fort Lauderdale? This is our Village Marine water maker sitting on the dock after I removed it from deep in the bowels of Georgia. I recently ‘upgraded’ the water maker to the new vessel container and 40in membrane – the blue tube in the picture. After this upgrade I couldn’t get decent water quality out of the beast. I took the unit down to Southeast Power, AKA Village Marine Tec Ft. Lauderdale. The tech there was great and we stuck it on his bench and did thorough bench tests. Well, I now know a lot more about water maker membranes. Turns out the 12v Village Marine units will only work with low-flow membranes, not the standard Dow high flow ones. We switched the membrane to the low-flow type and the water quality was great (TDS 250). Problem solved. Now we have to still wait for a decent weather window to get across the Bahamas.
If you’ve read this far then you surely have too much time on your hands and have a decent Internet connection.
Take a look at this Amazon product for sale. The product isn’t much, but there is hours of reading fun available in the customer reviews at the bottom of the page. (Thanks Bill for sharing!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Off the Dock at Fort Lauderdale

FLLIMG_1816 Georgia laying on the south side of the New River shore in downtown Ft Lauderdale. The building behind is the Nu River Landing, one of the many high-rise condos. We didn’t make it far off the dock today, just down the New River to Lake Sylvia, which is a small lake just off the Intracostal Waterway near Bahia Mar that makes a good place to anchor for the night – and it’s free. We’ll leave early to sail past Miami to Key Biscayne in the morning. Getting off the river wall was a little on the challenging side. We were just east of the draw bridge, the current was pushing east and the wind blowing west. The river looks pretty small when you are trying to get the boat turned around before some monster mega yacht comes by to center punch you. Fortunately I had Chris on board to take care of the stressing out.
FTLIMG_1827We had some good visits with my Dad and sister in Ft Lauderdale. Here’s Dad taking a look at the boat and no doubt making some wise remarks.
FLLIMG_1814 Las Olas Blvd is a short walk from the docks. This is an old shopping district that went way down hill when I lived in Florida. It has been revived and is full of high-end shops, restaurants and tourists from all over the world. Here’s a group of Euros taking it easy on the boulevard.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rebuilding a Sparcraft Boom Vang

A non-travel blog.
A few pics for anyone who needs to rebuild their Sparcraft vang. The replacement gas shocks are available from Sparcraft. I got mine from for a reasonable price and quick service.
sparIMG_1801 First step after taking the vang off the boom was to drill out the rivets at the mast end of the vang. On my vang the mast end was riveted and the boom end was screwed. This is apparently somewhat random on these vangs and you may have all rivets or all screws.
sparIMG_1802 Pulled the mast end fitting off. The gas shocks are just held in by pins that easily push out.
sparIMG_1803 Boom end unscrewed with the plastic cap slide up. This is the upper end of the gas shocks showing. They are also pinned in at this end like the lower end is.
sparIMG_1811 The new shocks upper and the old ones lower.
sparIMG_1809 Just in case you want to try and source the gas shocks without going through Sparcraft, here’s the part numbers (click to biggerate).
The vang put back together and now the shocks actually hold up the boom. The repair is quick and pretty easy. The longest time was spent drilling and tapping the lower end piece where the rivets were drilled out. I used machine screws instead of rivets to put it back together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A USCG Welcome to Fort Lauderdale

On Sunday we went with my Aunt and Uncle Anita and Wilfred to their golf club for a delicious Sunday brunch in Palm Beach. It is always nice to visit with them and catch up with the long lost family gossip.
Aunt Anita, Uncle Wilfred, Wife(aka Mid-)Chris, cousin John, and his girlfriend, Ellen
Proof I was there too – sans feet.
Early Monday we left to head to Ft Lauderdale. We got about 1 1/2 hrs south of the Lake Worth port entrance (Palm Beach) and looked at our speed over ground (SOG). We were beating into SE winds and sitting in a strong north going current. The net was that we were making about 2.5kts southward. That would put us into Ft Lauderdale late in the night. After a discussion with the upper ranks, we decided to turn back and spend another day in Palm Beach.
Next day the winds were much more easterly and we had a great sail south. By staying close into shore in about 50-75 feet of water we could stay out of the 2-3.5kts north going current. There were 4 or 5 boats also sailing down the coast along with us. Most of them didn’t know they were in a race—but we won anyway. This is probably the fastest continuous sailing we’ve done on the Outbound. Lots of 8.5kts with some 9.5kts. Nice to see that we can get the boat perform.
As soon as we entered the Port Everglades (the port in Ft Lauderdale)  breakwater entrance, before we even had the sails down, the Coast Guard boat in the pic at the top came past us, checked the Seattle hailing port on the stern and promptly turned around and pulled up along side of us. Time for a ‘safety inspection boarding’ and anti-smuggling check. First the check to see if we had arms on board. The young Coasties were polite and went through the life jacket, flares and fire extinguisher checks. Fortunately for us, they didn’t check that the head (aka toilet) was wired shut to prevent pumping overboard.
We went under the 17st bridge and headed up the Intracoastal Waterway for a 1/2 mile to the junction with the New River. We took the New River right on up to the downtown Ft Lauderdale City Marina- literally downtown. (Good prices-$1.06/ft, lots of room, pretty decent deal for big city south Florida.) We’ll visit my Dad and sister while here. Plus, we  have another list of boat projects to finish up before we leave for the Bahamas: rebuild the boom vang, make the water maker make water… And Chris still has some work to finish up and send off before we lose our good internet, developing a training curriculum for a project in Zambia.
The New River is this relatively small winding river, about 110’ across, that runs along some beautiful backyards and into the center of Ft Lauderdale. Upstream are a number of boat yards that cater to super yachts.
Here’s a big one headed downstream using a boat on the bow and a boat tied to the stern to control it as it passes by us on the river – hopefully not playing bumper cards with the boats lining the river.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Palm Beach

We made the two day run from St Augustine to Palm Beach, FL. We left St Augustine on an ebb tide. The entrance was really rock and roll and a little on the white knuckle side. You have 4 or 5 small markers that weave between the breaking seas on the banks on either side of you for a mile or so. By the time we were outside it was Stugeron time. This is my anti-seasick standby. It really works well for me and I always used to say that it had no side effects. I’m changing on that one. I end up with really sharp and in focus dreams that seem to have a plausible story line. As opposed to my normal psychotic dreamspace.
The trip down was about 60% sailing, with one night of motoring. We did listen to a somewhat bizarre Coast Guard rescue unfold over about 6 hours. The cruising 42 ft boat Gaia (Delaware) offshore of Cape Canaveral with 1 person onboard apparently made contact with the  CG indicating that they thought they might be having a heart attack – chest pain and tingle in the left arm. The CG called over the VHF radio for any vessels in the vicinity to assist. After about 3 hours or so a CG helicopter and a rescue boat arrived on scene. They board the boat and found no one onboard. This started a large search pattern, something like 20 x 40 miles, for the helo and the rescue boats. As of today, no one has been located.
We are anchored just south of the Lake Worth entrance in Palm Beach. Lots of high, high end homes on the waterways here. The water temp is 78*F – yea. Getting close to letting me get in. We plan to be here a couple of days and try and hook up with my Aunt and Uncle before heading down to Ft Lauderdale.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It’s a Small World – the Paparazzi Are Out
I got this e-mail the other day from our friends Steve C and Diane back in Washington. Looks like the paparazzi are making bucks taking photos of us.
Hi Paul,
So, Diane and I decide to spend what is left of our meager pittance on a New Years get away. We find a little place on Whidbey near Coupeville to stay. A place called " Cozy Harbor Cottage". So we get there. And it is really a place above a couples garage that they rent out to travelers who are visiting Whidbey Island. No view of the sound, about 5 miles from Coupeville and in a residential neighborhood. Pretty bland location.
So we go inside and it is nicely decorated. Of course in a nautical theme, but not overdone! Nice new kitchen and spa tub. So we settle in among the nautical nic naks. Floats and cheap model sailboats from World Market, etc. I am reading Model Railroader and glancing at the art on the walls and low and behold I see some photos of sailboats. The kind you see at K mart for $3.99 in the clearance bin.
But on closer inspection I see the Jeorgia! A black and white taken out in the sound, You and Chris are manning the helm and are under full sail, Weird Huh. Some one must have taken it from a race a few years back with a telephoto. Odd I say.

Best to you both in the new year.
Steve and Diane.
We rented a car at the Enterprise weekend deal of $9.99 a day Monday to Friday. This setoff a mad dash to to stock the boat up for the up coming Bahamas trip. Everyone says that food is way expensive there, so bring all you can. We did two trips to Costco, easily topping the required $100 minimum.
With a little luck and good weather we should be leaving St Augustine tomorrow, saying good-bye to the state’s oldest mini-golf and the the 1880’s based Alligator Farm tourist trap. I still haven’t gotten to enjoy any of the famous Manatee Chowder yet.