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14 December 2007
St Augustine, FL

Today was just a quiet day onboard Galena. I tried to wax the hull to get rid of that chalky look. Way back when I tried to buff the hull and it shined nicely. But when the wax wore off I could see that I had actually scratched the hull and made it dull. So I thought I could put a coat of wax on the hull and make it all pretty again. But it really didn't help. I'll try some other wax in a few days.

15 December 2007
St Augustine, FL

I spent a couple of hours working on the Miss Utility Status Tracker; a program I wrote for my sister, Tammy. Part of her job is to check work orders on the Miss Utility web site. I wrote a computer program to automate that process (I was once a computer programmer of sorts). Well, good ol' Miss Utility keeps changing the way they display the data on their web page. So I have to continually change the application to keep it working properly. Anyway, a couple hours work and Tammy is again happily sipping Diet Pepsi while the program does part of her job for her.

I also worked on the watermaker installation. I thought when I installed it it would be able to pull water up to itself. But, no, it can't. So I need to get a water pump to push the water up the 6 inches or so from the waterline to the watermaker.

Otherwise, a quiet day aboard.

16 December 2007
St Augustine, FL

I transferred some fuel from one tank to another. My current fuel status is 28/11/13 (stbd/port/deck) gallons.

We had wind and rain late last night. For the first time Galena moved to the South and actually stretched out the chain rode so she was lying to her anchor rather than to her rode. As it turned out I think I was too close to some of the construction elements at the Bridge of Lyons. Fortunately this is Sunday and there's no construction going on.

Tomorrow I'll move to a marina in Daytona Beach.

At 1700hrs I stowed the dink on board. I told Tom I was going to make the 0730hrs bridge opening. We have to go through the Bridge of Lyons to head south.

17 December 2007, 1630-hrs
Daytona Beach, FL
Trip: 50 nm Total: 896 nm Eng: 1500-hrs

We're at Daytona Marina, tied up at the bulkhead.

I stopped at the fuel dock here and bought 24.5 gallons for $81.
Tom and I had a bite and a beer and then called it a night. We walked quite a ways before we found a place that looked right for us. But the walk was good for both of us.

We came to this marina because I'd been here before. And because Tom was still having concerns about his batteries and charger. He wanted to be on shore power for a night. Also, I needed to get warm. This was probably the coldest day of this trip. Not only was the temperature low, but the humidity was quite high. So even all bundled up it was hard to get warm.

18 December 2007, 1630-hrs
Titusville, FL
Trip: 42 nm Total: 937 nm Eng: 1508-hrs

Up this morning at 0700 hrs. Made a nice pot of coffee and took some time to fill Galena's aft water tank. That was something I might have done last night, but procrastination is one of my strongest assets. Hey! Procrastination isn't just a fancy way of saying "lazy", is it?

There was no wind at all in the morning so getting out of the marina was no problem. I was underway by 0800. As I motored out of the marina toward the ICW channel I looked around and saw four other sailboats coming out of marinas and anchorages all within a half mile of Galena. Must have been time to get underway.

One of the boats I saw was s/v Poco Loco. I first saw him at Charleston, SC and have seen him at several spots along the ICW since then. I'll have to stop by and say 'hi' some day.

According to the Skipper Bob publication and web site there is serious shoaling on the ICW near Ponce de Leon inlet. He says the ICW channel carried only 5' at Mean Low Water. He also said that there were temporary buoys in the channel showing where the safe water was. So I was on the lookout for those buoys.

I was number 4 of about six boats approaching Ponce Inlet just north of ICW milepost 840. Looking at the lead sloop about 1/2 mile ahead I suddenly noticed that she was turning to starboard, 90° to the channel. In the ICW that's usually a bad sign. Closer inspection showed she had come to a stop. I dropped Galena's staysail (which I often fly just for a little help making speed down the ditch). I wanted to be able to stop or even backup if need be. Everyone was slowing down; and bunching up. There were two catamarans between me and the now aground sloop. I was straining to see where she was relative to the buoys. She looked to be in the channel. On the VHF the cats were asking if the sloop needed assistance. She said she didn't but as we approached at about 2 kts she had refloated off the shoal and was heading back north toward us. As she passed I asked her captain what she draws: 5-ft, same as Galena. The sloop captain said something about those little buoys being part of a side channel. But with my binoculars I could clearly see the little yellow marks on them indicating that they were, indeed, marking the ICW channel. He had not honored the temporary buoys. That was his mistake. I will not make it.

The cats evidently decided to ignore the temporary buoys, too, and headed right over the marked shoal. I was a couple hundred feet behind them. I was taking Galena through the channel as marked; there was no way I was going to second-guess the marks. I may not be able to get through, but it would be foolish to try going through on a path specifically marked as 'too shallow.'

This is an example of a temporary buoy with the yellow ICW mark.

The two catamarans in front of me suddenly went into 'full-twist' mode. They stopped and did that little spin-turn that they do so well with their two engines being 20-feet apart. They just sort of spin around. They do it very fast and effortlessly. I radioed them asking what depth they saw. They didn't answer.

One cat turned completely around and went back north past me. I guess he was going to let someone else lead the way. The other cat just turned east (to port) and cut directly in front of Galena. I had Galena heading toward the temporary red buoy at about 1.5 kts. I was reading 7.2 feet. As the cat turned in front of me I asked for a sounding report. He said 8 feet. I was still about 100 feet back.

This is a chart of the inlet. Galena's actual track is highlighted.

So now we had the cat, then Galena, and then a gaggle of boats in a line. The cat wasn't saying anything, so I got on the radio and started reporting soundings. If I went aground I didn't want 5 boats running up my butt. I'd say, "This is Galena, the green boat, I'm seeing 6.8-feet and making 1.4-kts." Everyone lined up behind me. I just followed the channel as marked and stayed in the middle. With a lot of sweat but no groundings I made it through seeing only 6.5-feet minimum. Skipper Bob's book said 5-feet MLW and we were about 1.5-ft over MLW so that worked out about right.

Within the next mile there were a few places where the depth went down to less than 7-feet but we all made it through OK.
[LATER NOTE: On the return trip in May 08, this part of the ICW had just been dredge to 14 ft.]

So now we're all passing each other and jockeying for position. Everyone was up to their normal cruising speeds again. The big cats were squeezing by everyone. Then we came around the corner at the Red "10" near Rockhouse Cr. Looking ahead I saw one of those 'official' boats. You know. The little 22-foot ones with the little pilothouse and the lettering on the side saying "blah-blah-blah enforcement." Oh, and with some sort of big official seal painted on the side, too.

Well they came out into the channel toward the lead cat and when I saw them drop fenders over the side I knew they were going to board the cat; and they did. They dropped someone off. I had throttled back a bit and they came back toward Galena making a big arc and coming along side. Another obvious law enforcement type guy asked, "How many people aboard, skipper?"

"One," I said

"And that would be you?" he asked.

"Yep," I replied.

"I'm coming aboard," said he. And he did. A little off balance as he did. My thought was maybe this is just a training mission (I'd seen that before out here). He was a bit unsteady during the whole encounter. He also was a little slow on the nautical lingo. The go-fast boat moved to intercept s/v Poco Loco who was trying to get around me. There they dropped off another officer.

He brought his metal clipboard; the kind that holds a stack of ticket forms inside.

He said, "We're conducting inspections. Tell me, Captain, if I were to drop a dye tablet into your head and flush it right now, where would it go?"

OK, you all know how proud I am of my composting head; and how strange it is to some. I paused and said something like, "Well, my head doesn't actually 'flush.' See, it's a composting head. No through-hulls, no holding tank, no flushing."

"I've never heard of anything like that. Mind if I take a look?" asked he.

"Go ahead. Just down there on the left," I said. Then I realized how dumb it was to give directions to the head in a boat the size of Galena.

He came back up a few minutes later shaking his head. Again he said he'd never seen anything like that before. He sat down and opened his little clipboard thing and pulled out a blank ticket.

"You're going to give me a ticket?!"

"No. I'm just recording the fact that I inspected you. Besides, what could I write a ticket for?"

Now there's a loaded question! "I'd think you could write a ticket on just about any boat out here if you tried hard enough," I offered.

He asked for my name and address. He asked if I knew the documentation number for Galena; I did. He was surprised when I couldn't answer "What's today?" as he filled in the ticket form.

He put the completed 'ticket' into his little holder and called the official boat to come and get him.

While he was down below I watched as every boat in our little flotilla was boarded. The boat behind me (s/v Poco Loco) started to come around me when I slowed to be boarded. The little boat dropped off my inspector zoomed right over to him and dropped an inspector on his boat, too. Every boat was inspected in turn.

So, after 4 years Galena was finally boarded and inspected. The first time. And it was for possible violations of Florida's clean water laws.

Later in the day, with our little line of boats now strung out over a couple of miles, I was passed (a little too closely) by what looked like a brand new Hunter 466. All sails up and hauling ass. I noticed that she was dragging a fender in the water off her starboard bow. I tried to tell the crew but they just ignored me.

Some time later I noticed that, after passing me and the couple of boats ahead of me, we were now re passing the Hunter 466.
They were way over on the right (Red) side of the ICW channel. When they were only 1/4 mile ahead of me I noticed that they appeared to be heading directly for one of the Red day marks. As I watched it looked more and more like they were going to hit it.

Now my friends back home know I have no room to talk bad about anyone hitting a day mark. One of my many nicknames at the marina is "Pile-driver Bill."

But this was a big, new boat. As I watched she suddenly made a sharp turn to port and with sails luffing and almost no way on, went around the mark. I passed her a little while later. Again I tried to tell them they were still dragging a fender off the bow. They also had a short line just kissing the water on the port beam. Also, the Genoa halyard and slipped and the head sail was about 2-feet down the foil leaving a big bunched-up section of sail at the top of the roller drum. All in all not a very shipshape vessel.

When they were about 1/4 nm astern of Galena I looked back and, again, they appeared to be heading directly for another Red day mark. Again at the last moment they turned sharply to port and just missed the piling. But this time they turned so far that they were driving directly across the channel. They continued to turn to port and ended up jibing around until they had turned a total of 270°. They had gone from heading south to heading east to heading north to heading west. But they didn't keep turning. They went right off the west side of the channel and came to a sudden stop. All sails up and drawing and dead in the water. They were obviously aground.

I was about to turn around and see if they needed help. But there were several other boats closer and, seeing no reaction on deck I decided not to go back. As I watched no one dropped sails, no one did anything that I could see for as long as I could see them.

When I later talked with Tom about them, he said something about it being strange that they would anchor where they did. I'm sure they were not anchored. I'm sure they were hard aground. I have not seen them since.

I had beans and weenies and rum for dinner.

At about 2030 hrs I decided to fix a small problem on Galena. Galena has a Xantrex Link 20 battery monitor. I had installed it about 4 years ago. It tells me the state of my batteries, both the house bank and the starting battery. But during installation I had made a small mistake. I had connected the two voltage sensing wires backwards. So when I selected battery bank #1 and looked at the charge state, I was looking at battery bank #1 for everything but the actual voltage reading. When I selected that, I was looking at battery bank #2, even though it said it was #1. Just a small problem. Just a pair of wires that had to be reversed.

But nothing is a small job on a small boat.

First I had to remember/figure out how to open the meter cover and remove it from the bulkhead mount. That took a little figuring. Then I had to get a small (tiny, actually) screwdriver to loosen the setscrews holding the wires. Oh, but which of the 8 wires were they? I had to get the owner's manual out. It was in a bag with the owner's manual for all the little widgets aboard Galena. OK, I got the manual, OK, it's wires 4 and 6 that must be swapped. I do so.

Now the meter is blinking "E12" over and over. I'd never seen it display what is obviously an error code before. Nothing in the manual about this.

Fire up the computer and go on line. There it, "E12: Battery voltage sensing wire for bank #1 is open." Huh? I just switch the wires around, that's all. Try putting them back the way they were. Now it blinks "E13" which, according to the online FAQ means "Battery voltage sensing wire for bank #2 is open." That makes sense since I just switched the wires for 1 and 2.

OK, open up the main electrical panel and check the fuses. Yep, blown fuse for the house battery voltage sensing wire. Where are those spare fuses? Under the main (Vee-) berth. Rip up my bunk (which by now I really just wanted to get into and get to sleep) and dig out the box that holds the light bulbs and fuses. Do I have a 2-amp fuse, sure do. Put it in the fuse block and re power the Link 20 meter. Works great. Now reprogram all my info into the monitor.

That little "just swap two wires" project ended up taking an hour and 20 minutes. Well, actually it took 4 years, 1 hour, and 20 minutes.

But now "Batt 1" means Batt 1.

19 December 2007
Indian Head, ICW Milepost 915
Trip: 32nm Total: 969nm Engine: 1514hrs

The Indian River is wide. And it's 8- to 9-feet deep all over. So I don't have to work at staying inside a narrow, cut channel to keep from running aground. I can relax. In fact, I set the autopilot and read a book most of the way; just looking up every paragraph or so to check where Galena was heading and make a correction if need be.

The sun poked through the clouds and the temperature went up to the mid 70's. I even stripped down to just shorts for the first time on this trip.

We arrived here and the anchorage at about 1400hrs. A rather short day. But I'll put in two long days to cover the 100 miles I have to get to Lake Worth. I'll be there on the 21st.

This anchorage is just a little spot south of a bridge. It's not marked on any of the ICW Guides so no one is here but Evergreen and Galena. That gives us lots of room.

20 December 2007
Anchored at Ft Pierce, FL, ICW milepost 965
Trip: 45nm Total: 1014nm Engine: 1522 hrs

Water is a little thin here. The newer charts show shoaling to 5-ft between the bridge and R"184" and 7-ft in this anchorage. But Evergreen motored right over the shoal and reported no problems. I went around R"184" and then back north into the anchorage. I saw 7-ft most of the way, then 6.5 ft at the northern end. After I set the anchor I saw 4.9-ft and decided I should move. So I hauled anchor and motored a couple hundred feet further south and tried again. This time Galena was resting in 7-ft and that was fine.

This place is very crowded. It's a very small anchorage and there are quite a few permanent boats here. Then you add the transients and you have a mess. It will be interesting to see what happens when the tide shifts. We're just half a mile from the inlet so the tide could have some serious current with it.

As I left the Indian Head anchorage I heard a lot of chatter on the radio. I was underway by 0700 and as we passed other anchorages just south of us I could see familiar boats scattered about. People everywhere were getting underway. Typically wives were at the helm and husbands were on the bow weighing anchor.

I need to tighten the friction setting on Galena's throttle control. It tends to slip down very slowly toward idle. Slowly enough that it's not really annoying, yet enough to cause me to write down the problem.

21 December 2007
Anchored in Lake Worth, FL, ICW milepost 1014
Trip: 43nm Total: 1058nm Engine: 1530 hrs

This is an anchorage that Galena has frequented often. It's at the very north end of Lake Worth. As I turned into the approach channel, I saw a veritable wall of anchored boats. I thought, "Damn! Where the hell am I going to park?" I counted over 50 boats here. But as I motored in toward my favorite spot (the very northwest corner of the anchorage; near the dinghy landing) the spaces opened up considerably. The depth at the start of the anchorage read 8-feet. But then the bottom falls to 15-feet nearer the north end of the anchorage. I think that shoal scared some people into just dropping the hook at the south edge of the anchoring field.

I found a nice spot not too far from the creek with the dinghy landing and anchored in 12-feet of water.

The trip down here was uneventful. I sent Evergreen ahead and he was out of sight most of the way. I caught up with him at the last couple of bridges just south of Jupiter Inlet (ICW milepost 1004).

The only shoaling problems I encountered were near Jupiter Inlet. From R"50" to G"53" the channel runs very close to the east shoreline. I moved over to let a powerboat pass and was quickly in 5.5-ft of water. Later as I rounded the turn at R"2" I had to give the red side a very, very wide berth (about 100-ft) to stay afloat. But then, at G"7" the channel was cut tight into the turn.

As I came into the anchorage I saw A.O. and Lindi's boat, s/v Polaris Jack. I anchored a couple of hundred yard west of them. A.O. dropped by a few hours after I settled in and we swapped sea stories till well after dark. I've always enjoyed talking with him. He's one of the most unique characters to be found out here.

Monday and Monday night look good for a run down the coast to Miami. I'll make a grocery run here and stock up on some of the more heavy items since the grocery store is just a couple of blocks from the dinghy landing.

22 December 2007
Still at Lake Worth, FL

Grocery run today. Tom and I talked about where we were going after this. Tom has decided to continue south to Key West while I just want to head across to the Bahamas from Miami.

Otherwise a quiet day aboard.

23 December 2007
Still at Lake Worth, FL

Today the weather was just beautiful. I spent a few hours visiting Jerry on s/v Poco Loco. I've seen him off and on since Charleston, SC, but have never talked with him before. He and his dog, Sparky, sailed from Los Angeles, CA, through the Panama Canal and up to, I think, New York City. Now he's heading back south and will probably head over to the Abacos directly from here.

24 December 2007, 1400 hrs
Departing Lake Worth, FL

Everything is ready for the outside trip along the coast to Miami. Tom counted about 19 bridges between here and there. That's one of the main reasons for going outside. The bridges are mostly on 'restriction.' That means they only open on the hour or half-hour. And that really slows you down.

Fuel stands at stbd:28 port:07 Deck:13 for a total of 48 gallons. Enough to motor over 400 miles. It's only 66 miles to Miami and I plan on sailing a bunch of that.

The dink is stowed on deck. Everything is put away down below. Tom needs fuel so I'll leave about a half hour after he does.

1430 hrs

Tom left a half hour ago. I shorted up the anchor rode and, just for fun, decided to sail out of here. The wind was good enough to make a picture-postcard exit. I raised the mainsail, hauled the anchor up, raised the staysail, and piloted Galena toward the exit channel. As I got into a fairly clear spot I ran forward and raised the Yankee jib. Now Galena was under full sail and make about 4-kts through the other anchored boats. "Yeah," thought I, "I be cool."

When I turned south into the main ICW channel I was making over 5 kts so I just kept sailing. I sailed until about a mile from the Lake Worth Inlet. Then I fired up the engine just to be on the safe side. I knew I'd have to motor out the inlet since the wind was just north of east and the inlet took me directly east. The wind was really blowing through the inlet and Galena's sails were flagging. To add to the mix, a cruise ship was coming through the inlet toward me.

Once I was out of the channel I turned south and cut the engine. The seas were running the predicted 4-feet and Galena was galloping along at over 5-kts. I could see Evergreen about 1.5 miles ahead of me.

Departing view of Lake Worth, FL

As darkness came, I settled in for a nice overnight sail.

The sky was overcast so we didn't get much illumination from the almost full moon. But the coastline of Florida is brightly lit. So much so that the light reflected off the clouds was brighter than any moonlight would have been.

The forecast was for scattered showers and that's what we had. The wind patterns between the showers was a bit tricky. We'd have about 8-kts of East wind for a long stretch. Then, as a shower approached us (you could see them coming) the wind died. Then we'd have about 10-minutes of sprinkles. Then the wind would pick up again. So I'd motor through the rain just to keep from rolling around and making only 1.5-kts.

25 December 2007
Miami Beach, FL

As I approached Miami the seas calmed down to a gentle 2-3 foot swell and the wind veered to the northeast. I motor sailed the last 5 miles or so. Galena made the turn into Miami's Government Cut at about 0500hrs 25 December. Merry Christmas!

I turned into the channel after carefully observing the lights. I picked out a spot I felt good comfortable with to enter the channel from the side. I came down the channel and, since there were no cruise ships in port, continued directly to the west end of Dodge Island. Now it's very dark and I'm trying to find my way around in the big turning basin. I had planned to anchor outside the Miami Yacht Club and then, after a few hours sleep, get a slip at the Miamarina Marina. I was anchored by 0530 hrs.

Galena's route into Miami harbor and to the Miami Beach anchorage.

As I entered Government Cut, I picked up a bunch of radio traffic from cruisers who were heading out toward the Bahamas. I thought that it was strange they would be leaving with NE winds and a NE swell. The course from here to the Bahamas is NE. They called back to their friends who were not out on the ocean yet saying, "Wind is right on the nose and blowing 15 kts. Seas are a good 4-feet. This is going to be a rough crossing." So why were they going?

Tom, who had been several miles ahead of me was now several miles behind me. He had headed all the way out to the sea buoy to make his run down the entire length of the channel, just to be safe. After Galena was anchored and secure at the yacht club anchorage he called me to get directions to this anchorage. By the time I talked him through the harbor and had him approaching Galena's position, it was 0730 and daylight. I called the marina and found they had no slips available. So, I hauled anchor and moved to the anchorage just west of Miami Beach and south of the Venetian Causeway. I've been here before and it's a nice little spot. Not really quiet. But comfortable and a short walk to the grocery store and the nightlife of Miami Beach. Tom followed me over there and anchored a couple hundred feet away. Everything was secured and I was in bed by 0900 hrs.

The Miami skyline with Evergreen in the foreground.

The current plan is to wait here for a weather window. Then on the eve of that window, move south to No Name harbor on Key Biscayne followed by a predawn departure toward Bimini as shown below.

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