As a slight change in approach to these blog entries, I thought over the next several days of travel I would share a few of the thoughts and concerns that we address as we travel. It is in this way that we might share a bit more of life on the ICW.
Well, the trip didn't start out quite as planned. We'd checked the weather reports from several sources. They all seemed in agreement that the winds would be out of the SE and blowing from 10 – 15 kts. This would give us wind to sail but not so much as to create uncomfortable waves. That way, the Hawk Channel up the ocean side wouldn't be too rolly. We woke up to winds blowing more like 15-20 with lots of it near the 20 level. That created steep, choppy waves from 2-4ft with several five footers in there. The result was that, even though we could sail and did, Sandra didn't feel good all day and Maddie was sick five times in the cockpit. She wasn't a happy camper at all. At this point I was concerned about our anchorage at Rodriguez Key. You see, there aren't any good anchorages along Hawk Channel for sailboats with a five foot keel or more. Rodriguez Key offers a bit of protection if the winds are out of the south or north. Winds coming due east aren't good. And that is what it appeared we might have. Then the forecast changed a bit with predictions of winds out of the SW at 5-10 kts. That looked good for anchoring on the north side.
By the time we got there, the winds were light and the water flat, so we had a pleasant evening which naturally included a swim in the clear water. The only negative moment came at about 3 in the morning when a fellow in a small fishing boat had music blaring and buzzed us and other anchored boats yelling crazy comments. We soon were back to sleep, though.
The forecast for the next day as we would move up to Key Biscayne was to include light winds becoming 10-15 out of the northeast by afternoon. That would mean we'd have winds right on the nose, so we decided to leave early, so we could make the 50 mile trip mostly during the morning when the winds were supposed to be light.
We were on our way by a little after 6:30AM, just before the sun rose for the day. It was beautiful. The
|Sunrise on Hawk Channel|
Again, so much for accurate weather forecasts. The winds never picked up much and none of it came from the NE. We anchored off of No Name Harbor for another quiet evening. We did get ashore and provided Maddie with a little exercise. And did I mention that we went for another swim?
|Guess we're out of the Keys!|
The forecast for Tuesday was more accurate. We were to get drier air and wind blowing 15 – 18 out of the NE. But by now we were on the ICW, so there was little wave action. Tidal current was more a factor as we planned to arrive at each of 10 bridges at the scheduled opening time. We were successful most of the time, but twice had to do circles in a tight area waiting for the next opening, usually a half hour later. In spite of those minor issues, we arrived at our anchorage in Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale by 2 PM. For those not familiar with Lake Sylvia, it's not really a lake. It's really just a wide area in the extensive canal system there. It provides a safe anchorage with views of multi-million dollar homes along the shore.
Because we got there so early, we decided to try a dinghy ride to someplace where we could get out and walk around a bit. We followed a route described in our guide that took us under a low bridge and along a couple of canals to a small restaurant at the end of a canal where, if we bought some food, we could tie the dinghy for free. The trip over to this spot included views of so many million dollar yachts and homes. I'm sure we saw at least 25 boats over 75 feet long – some over 150 feet. And this was on the short dinghy ride. As we traveled through Ft. Lauderdale the next day, we must have seen 100 or more such yachts.
|We just had to duck a bit.|
So much for our astonishment. We had a bite to eat outside on the restaurant's deck (Maddie was with us) and then went for a walk that took us to the largest West Marine store in the country. It's described as their flagship store. On the walk back as we waited to cross a street, a young woman stopped in her car to offer us a ride. We had met her first in Marathon three years ago, then again in Bimini and last in Miami a year and a half ago. She said she noticed a couple who looked like cruisers (we do seem to have a look) and then recognized Maddie. What a surprise and a welcome gesture!
|Just a few of the many large yachts we saw, a couple of older ones, but most new.|
After a quiet night, we headed out first thing the next day to deal with 19 more bridges most opening on a schedule designed for boats just a bit faster than ours. It was a long day, but otherwise uneventful, and we arrived in Lake Worth by Palm Beach by 6 PM. After a meal, we put on the TV to watch programs for the first time all winter. You see, we can't pick up any stations on our antenna from the Keys, so this was our first chance since heading down there in early December.
Today has another long day from Lake Worth to Vero Beach. We started even earlier – 6:15 AM – in order to be on time for the first of several more bridge openings. Once again the weather was great as were the views from the ICW of beautiful homes and lots of nature from dolphins, to osprey, pelicans and even a few frigate birds. By late morning we had dealt with our last scheduled bridge opening. We still had a couple more bridges to get openings from, but they were on request, meaning we didn't have to get there at a specific time. In fact, most of these bridge tenders (the official who runs the bridge opening) have the timing down so well that we never had to slow down. The only exception was by the Jupiter Inlet where the bridge wouldn't open at all till a technician performed some maintenance. We only had to wait a few minutes, though.
We finally arrived at the Vero Beach Marina about 5:30 PM. We'll spend a couple of days here restocking and enjoying the chance to get on land for some sightseeing and walking. This is a popular stop for many cruisers, due in part to the free bus service that takes you practically anywhere in town. It's so popular that it has the nickname of Velcro Beach, because cruisers just have a tough time leaving. In fact some cruisers don't leave. They stay long enough to sell their boats and move to dry land. They formed a group called CLODs (cruisers living on dirt) and still get together regularly.
OK, enough of this blog entry. It's time to get this posted. I'll just leave you with a couple of extra photos to let all know that Sandra is still busy making baskets even as we travel.