Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fort Lauderdale - waiting for weather window

Friday, Dec 10
Distance Traveled: 36.09 nm
Total Distance:  1936.29 nm
Day of Bridges - Passage to Fort Lauderdale

Last night I had reviewed all the bridges that we were going through today in the Skipper Bob ICW book and in the Florida Cruising Guide book we had picked up along the way.  We will be going through 20 bridges, so last night I wrote down all the bridges every other line in my notebook.  On the left I wrote the distance from the previous bridge to the current one and had a blank space to write down the time we went through the bridge to be filled out later.  On the same line I wrote the name of the bridge and on the time it opened (ie 60/30 if it opened on the hour and half hour, 15/45 if it opened on the quarter hour after and before).  Continuing across, I wrote down the time that I thought we would actually go through it (our target time) and the Mile marker it was on the ICW.  Turns out that this was very helpful.  It told us when we had to get going to make the first bridge so that we could make the other bridges in as timely as fashion as possible.  After working this up over 2 pages in my red notebook, we determined that we would need to get motoring down the ICW at the latest 645am to make the 730am opening for the Ocean Ave Bridge.  Using this method and because the 2 & 3rd bridges were on demand (OD in my book) we actually ended up going through the last bridge (Las Olas Blvd Bridge) 1 to 1.5 hours earlier than I had predicted even though we just missed the opening of one of the bridges and had to wait 30 minutes for the next opening.  Then we were able to go through the 5 bridges on the New River through downtown Fort Lauderdale, which are all on demand, in 30 minutes from start to finish.  We docked at Lauderdale Marine Center which is just before I95 at 2pm.  This center is very nice with laundry, showers and a captain's lounge despite the noise from the freeway, which is constant no matter the time the time of day, but when we have the hatches closed, it's not bad and when they are open at night, ear plugs ensure a good sleep. There are many super large yachts here.   The price is right @ $25/day for boat 35' or less and electricity costs $.12 per kw.  Phil says that we use between 1-2 kilowatts per day without the heater, so you can see that this is very inexpensive (read cheap).  It's not unusual for marinas to charge $3 - 10/day for electric and $1.50 - $3.00 per foot.  The "bad" part of being here is that we aren't close to stores or the downtown activities, but we are within biking distance to many including the Winn-Dixie grocery store, West Marine, Walgreens, McDonalds Hardware Store and Sailorman used marine equipment store similar to The Sailor's Exchange in St. Augustine. We are docked next to a huge 70' cataraman that is covered with plastic while the crew and workers renovate the inside of the boat.  On our port side, we met Damon Hale from Australia.  He bought a Catalina 30' sight unseen from a charity, and has been working on it for 5-6 weeks which is 1 week longer than he's been in the States.  He was born in California, so has dual citizenship.  He's planning on leaving Wednesday to go to Key Largo.  I fixed baked pasta and cottage cheese, italian sausage and broccoli for supper.  It turned out well, and we had some left over so I asked Damon and the young couple that were visiting them if they wanted it and got an immediate YES.  Damon dished it out and handed me back the empty pan.  We then visited with them.  The young couple, Renata and Patrick are from South Africa and are crewing on this 100' motor yacht (M/Y) around the corner.  We have been invited to call them and they will be glad to give us a tour of the yacht.  We plan to do that when the weather turns bad.  They are very nice and we had an good evening chatting with them.

Saturday, Dec11
Day in Fort Lauderdale

First thing we did today was turn on the Ham radio and try to listen to Chris Parker's weather.  He starts at 630am but we weren't able to hear him through the static until about 715am.  We were able to hear someone in Florida who is waiting to cross over, so got the dibs on that weather information.  He is suppose to be on
freq 12350 at 830am, but then we got busy with other things, so didn't listen. We are to have weather in the upper 70's for the next couple days until late Sunday when a severe cold front comes through and brings cooler temps and Mon and Tues am freeze watches and low to mid 30F temps.  Boy am I glad that we have electricity to run the heater!!!!

Today Phil spent most of the day working on fixing the dinghy.  Damon helped him get it out of the water so that he could dry it out and glue the cracked areas together with 5-min expoxy.  I noticed that he had some screws and big washers to squeeze the wood back together while the epoxy hardened.  Then he painted the areas white.  Now he is waiting for everything to dry.

While Phil was working on the dinghy, I rode the bike to Walgreens to get Katie's medication.  Then I went to West Marine to exchange to florescent light Phil had recently put in.  Last night the bulb was flickering and this morning when Phil changed the light bulbs, it stopped working completely.  Lucky for us, we bought it less than a month ago, so West Marine did an even exchange.  I also bought a half pint of white paint for Phil to use on the dinghy fix-it job.  On the way home I saw Sailormen, a used marine consignment store.  I have been on the lookout for vinyl and wanted to check what they might have.  They did have clear and smoky vinyl to use for windows on bimini's and dodges, but too heavy for my purposes.  I also stopped at a hardware store and bought a gallon of refined kerosene for the oil lamp.  The last of my errands was stopping at Winn Dixie to shop for groceries.  Phil met me there to help transport the purchases home on the bikes. 

We met a couple, Bill Lee and Fredda Hollander, today on S/V Galley Ho2 an Solaris 36, that we are fixing up.  They got a deal on it and are working on all the systems to get it to the point that they can take it back to Boston, their home port.  They saw this cataraman 20 years ago at the Newport Boat show and loved it, so were glad to get it even though it was a fixer upper here.  We have been invited to go with them tomorrow to watch the Patriots football game.

Tonight is the Winterfest Boat Parade where 100 boats of various sizes are decorated in holiday lights according to the theme and parade down the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  We had wanted to be closer to downtown, but would have had to be totally off the river for this parade, which is another reason why we're where we are.  I wanted to see this in person, but there were too many challenges getting there, so we watched it in the Captain's Lounge here and were able to see it live on TV.  Not the same as in person, but when it was finished, we were able to get home quickly.

Katie and I finished the day watching the "Fred Claus" moving on TV and knitting.  Phil, of course, went back to the boat and read.  It was warm enough that we went to bed with the screen in the companionway hatch and the forehatch open.

Sunday, Dec 12
Fort Lauderdale

This morning we woke at 615am to mild temperatures, 57F outside and 69F inside the boat.  It didn't take long for the temps to warm up.  We started out turning on the ham radio to listen to Chris Parker.  Didn't hear anything but static until 730am when we changed it to the Waterway net.  Heard mostly static too until went to change the freqency to listen to Chris Parker later.  Then at 915am Phil remembers that Chris doesn't do the weather on Sundays!!  I have learned how to shut out static and do something else.  Phil made french toast this morning and was it good.  He adds vanilla and rum to the mix and really makes it special.  Also good for using up the sourdough bread that's slightly dry.

We decided to wash clothes early, and started laundry about 810am.  The washers work great, but the dryers don't.  Only 2 really dry the clothes.  I guess the live aboards have complained to the powers that be, but they haven't done anything about it.  Phil and I think that they just need to clean the lint out of the dryer vent tubes and they would work a lot better.  I dried the towels on the lifelines, and with the warm temps, they dried quickly even though they are a little stiff.  We had the laundry done by late morning (took extra time because of the dryers).   About 130pm Bill for S/V Galley Ho2 was willing to take me to Joann Fabric to buy some vinyl for the cubes that I want to make.  He also needed to go to K-Mart and Kohls so worked for both of us.  Katie came along also.    We can tell that that the cold front is on it's way and the winds are picking up.

We have met a few people here.  One is Mike on a 37' motorsailer boat, a dutch built heavy duty ocean going vessel docked 2 down from us and another Mike who owns a blue Lanser 30' and live here and works for Sunseeker motor vessel builders who is docked a couple more boats down.  This afternoon, Laura, Mike on the blue boat's girlfriend, dropped the work keys into the water next to the dock.  Phil had his trusty heavy duty magnet available and he search with the magnet for it to no avail.  Then we spoke to Mike and found out the keychain is stainless steel which is not magnetic.  He'll go diving to get the keys and we found out later that he was able to find them.

Soon after this excitement, we left to go to Lauderdale Grill with Bill and Fredda to watch the New England Patriots vs the Chicago Bears football game.  The Patriots killed them at 36 to 7.  We had a nice dinner, but we all were cold as the A/C was way too cold for us.  The cold front has come along with some rain while we were still in the restaurant.  Good thing that we had closed all the hatches or Katie's bedding would have been wet (she keeps it in the V-berth during the day)

Now that we are back on the boat, the heater was turned on until everyone was warm.  Katie is listening to a book on her Ipod touch and knitting a pair of socks, I'm on the computer and Phil is reading.

Tomorrow it's to be  in the upper 50's to low 60's as highs and in the 30's for lows, which we also expect for Tuesday.  It looks like the winds will be right on Wednesday for us to go out on the Atlantic Ocean to Key Biscayne to anchor and then leave Thursday morning to cross the Gulf Stream.  Of course, this plan is dependent on the weather.  Once we leave Key Biscayne, Phil and I will be putting our phones on suspend until we are back in the states.  Katie will be able to continue using her's once she gets back in the states.

Katie and I have been looking at airplane flights, and it looks like we'll be getting a flight back to Dayton on Sunday, Dec 26 from Nassau, Bahamas.  That way she'll be home for her medications and also so Jeff or Cheryl won't have to pick her up late on a work day.  It's hard to get a flight that comes in at a decent time so will do the best that we can to have it as early as we can.  There are many lights where you leave the Bahamas in the evening and have an overnight layover and then leave for the US portion of the trip.  We haven't bought it quite yet, but probably will in the next couple days.  Just waiting to be sure about the weather for us going to the Bahamas.

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