16 - 21 Dec 08
Miami Beach, FL
Anchored north of Belle Island
Trip: 78nm, Total: 1103nm, Engine: 2070hrs
Seabbatical 1 and Galena departed Lake Worth, FL, at about 1600hrs on 15 Dec.
The forecast was for east winds, 10-15kts, seas 2-4 ft. We were heading south so this sounded like a good window to make the move. Besides, we were all ready to go. I had hit the West Marine and the Publix so what else was there?
Galena was rafted up to Seabbatical, hanging off of her hook. The winds were very light at the time we left (east at 5 kts). Michelle and Clark dropped my lines and I drifted away.
Galena and Seabbatical 1 in Lake Worth, FL
I motored south down the ICW and around Peanut Island. As I lined up with the inlet Galena picked up the swell. She started that long, loping stride that says, "Ocean!"
The tide was in full ebb and the wind was out of the east. You sailors out there know what that means! I was soon pounding into 4-6 ft waves as I forced my way out between the jetties. Galena was launching fully 1/3 of her length into the air as she drove eastward toward the open sea. I was hanging on to the tiller with one hand and the boom gallows with the other. I could see some small fishing boats a little way to the south of the jetty and they were riding fairly quietly. So this was just the confusion of the outbound tide and the inbound wind/waves. Looking astern I could see Seabbatical 1 having the same trouble getting out of the inlet.
While glancing back at Seabbatical, I suddenly realized that that shape in the background was actually an outbound ship! I had drifted to the left side of the inlet so I turned sharply to starboard to get out of the way. Seabbatical 1 did the same. Now I was crabbing across these waves. This caused Galena to roll so badly that I had to actually sit down. I can usually stand at the helm in just about any seas but this was too much. I had just made it to the starboard side of the channel when the ship went streaming past me close aboard.
Finally I was able to turn south, out of the channel and out of the current. Now the waves were almost on Galena's port beam. I scampered to the mast and raised the main to a double reef plus the staysail. The wind, forecast to be out of east was actually out of the southeast. So my course to the south had me pounding into 4-ft seas.
With sails up Galena's motion steadied quite a bit. By the time I was a couple of miles from the Lake Worth inlet the seas were stable; less confused. The waves were actually almost from the east, but the wind was definitely from the south east. I shook out a reef and cut the engine. Then I raised the yankee jib. Then I shook out the final reef. Galena settled into a fast 6.5 kt run down the coast. The seas were not too bad at about 4-ft. Mostly on the beam, they caused Galena to just rise and fall; the sails keeping her steadily heeled over to about 20 degrees. Harvey, the Aries wind vane, took over the helm and I settled in for the long night.
Since we were only about a mile or so off shore (had to stay inside the Gulf Stream, ya know) the cell phone worked. I chatted a bit with family and friends and even text messaged a bit. With my Verizon Air Card I checked the weather updates and found nothing new.
Throughout the night I kept in touch with Seabbatical 1. They have a Bavaria 38, I think, and it's a lot faster than Galena. They were soon a few miles ahead of me. But throughout the night I could usually see their stern light on the horizon. The initial ride out and the wave action once we got on our southbound course was a bit much for Clark. He is apparently prone to seasickness and these seas were just about perfect for brining that out. When he was on the helm of Seabbatical I would poke at him a bit by telling him I was down below making a sandwich and brewing coffee, or heating up some soup. Next time I called it would be Michelle at the helm and on the radio.
The view forward at night
Most of the ride south was uneventful. There were a couple of moments when situations came up that, well, woke me up a bit. At one point I noticed that I was catching up with Seabbatical 1. I switched on the radar to check the range and noticed a very large blip off the starboard beam. A quick look with the binoculars and, sure enough, there was a tug pushing a barge coming out of Port Everglades. They were heading right for Seabbatical. I called and asked Michelle, "By the way, you see that barge coming at you from the shore, right?" She hadn't. But then the tug turned south before it got to her track and accellerated away. By the time it crossed Seabbatical's bow it was a couple miles ahead of her.
As we approached Miami's Government Cut, ships started to appear all across the horizon. They approached from astern, abeam and ahead. Add to that the several that were anchored out and the few fishing boats roaming around and you have a lot of lights to keep track of.
We arrived at the inlet an hour or so before dawn. Seabbatical was still not keen on entering the busy harbor in darkness and I didn't want to leave them out there alone. So we circled around till there was a bit of light. I called Clark and said, "As soon as you're ready, say the word and we'll head in." He said, "I'm ready now!" He was still feeling very sick and just wanted this voyage to end. So we headed over to the channel and into the inlet. By the time we were inside the jetty the sun was rising.
Seabbatical 1 following me into Government Cut, Miami, FL
I motored over to the north side of Belle Island off Miami Beach. As I motored through the anchorage I saw a couple of old friends. Dave and Jan on s/v Siggy's Dancer and Bob and Gail on s/v Star. Both of whom I knew from last year's trip.
My route into Miami
I put Galena to bed and then did the same for myself. Once I had had some sleep, I went to town with Clark and Mitch. After a little walking around we headed back to the boats. We were all still pretty tired from the overnight run. I tried to watch a movie but I kept falling asleep.
The problem with going to bed at 7pm is that you're up at 3am.
On the 17th Star stopped by to say, 'Hi' and 'Bye.' They were headed out. So was Siggy's Dancer. In fact most of the seven boats in the anchorage left on the 17th. Seabbatical repositioned themselves a little closer to the bridge. Then we went to town and found what came to be know as 'The Cheap Beer Place.' Zekes, 625 Lincoln st. $4 beers, a choice of over 150 different beers. And right on the main 'mall' of Lincoln steet. People watching capital of Miami Beach. We sat there for a bit and a guy sat down at an adjacent table. I looked at him and thought he looked familiar. He smiled and said, "Hi, Bill." It was Toby of s/v Cariba! I asked where Donna was, "Shopping." I introduced him and then them to Clark and Mitch. We all sat around drinking beer and making comments about the people walking by. Great fun.
I had heard of a good tattoo parlor down the road and wanted to check it out. I had a picture of a mermaid hanging in Galena. I really liked the pose. I had been thinking about getting her put on my arm as a second tattoo. She needed a little bit of a redraw since the picture I had was wide, not tall. So I printed out the picture and went looking for an artist. I ended up at Tattoo's by Lou, one of, if not the, oldest tattoo joints in Miami Beach. I talked with Andre and showed him what I had and what I wanted. We had a good chat and I made an appointment for the next day.
The picture I have on my bulkhead is by Robert Kline, it's named 'Penny.' (No, not named after you, nelpie.. but now that I think about it...)
Robert Kline's 'Penny'
And this is what Andre did with it to make it fit on my arm and to make it his own:
My new tattoo
It think it nicely complements my other tattoo that I got back in December of 2006.
My other tattoo
Donna and Toby of s/v Cariba happened by while I was getting my tattoo and stopped in to chat. The next day Donna got a new tattoo, too. Her's is of a purple Lotus flower and an Ohm symbol. She was very bold and has the tattoo put on her lower arm, inside, just below the elbow. Very sexy.
On the 20th I went over to s/v Last Dance, a big cat, for happy hour. Mike and Susan were very happy to show us their boat. It was HUGE! I met a few other cruisers in the anchorage, including Micheal and Mariaeleese (s/v Panthalassa); a very interesting couple.
Mike and The gang having sundowners aboard Last Dance
Micheal and Mariaeleece and, of course, Michelle
21 Dec 08
Key Biscayne, FL
Trip: 10nm, Total: 1113 nm, Engine: 2072 hrs
About noon on the 21st I departed Miami Beach and headed over toward Key Biscayne to stage for the two-leg run to Marathon. Sad goodbyes all around and I was off. I anchored alone just in the lee of the island, at the southwest corner. I was considering going down the ICW to Marathon. The weather forecast called for 20kt winds on the night of the 22nd. They were to clock around to the east, from the north. I was planning on stopping for the night at Rodriguez Key and if the winds went east I would be out there without much protection. I was really worried about that. But then I figured, what the hell.
At dawn on the 22nd I headed out the cut and into Hawk Channel. The wind built until it was a steady 15kts from north. My course put the wind just to the starboard of dead astern. Galena rode level and calmly in 2-ft waves on the stern. I had the main up and the staysail. The staysail was blanked by the main most of the day. But Galena still managed a steady 6+ kts all day long.
My route to the staging area at Key Biscayne
Departing Miami Beach
22 Dec 08
Rodriguez Key, FL (N 25° 02.53' W 080° 27.69')
Trip: 47nm, Total: 1160 nm, Engine: 2074 hrs
I arrived at Rodriguez Key at 1500hrs and anchored in the lee (southwest corner). The wind was still up to 15 but the water was just a light chop. The island being upwind of me made the waves nicely confused so Galena just sat there, fairly quietly.
But by 0300 the wind was up to a steady 20kts and had, as predicted, clocked to the east. Galena started bouncing around pretty good. Enough to wake me up. And by 0400 she was galloping in 2ft waves and 25kts of wind as the wind generator whined and put out a steady 20 amps! So I got up and turned on some lights and played on the computer. Nothing like a lot of wind to make a lot of electricity.
23 Dec 08
Trip: 47nm, Total: 1211 nm, Engine: 2075 hrs
I went back to sleep for a bit. When the alarm went off at 0630hrs I was ready to get up. I did the usual morning stuff including brewing a pot of coffee. I hauled up the anchor short and raised a double-reefed main. Then finished weighing anchor.
Galena swung fast to leeward once the anchor broke free. So quickly was she underway that I had to let the anchor dangle until I had her settled in on her course. Then I went forward and catted the anchor down. Galena was doing 6+ kts and riding the 5-ft waves well. Still, I was out there on the bowsprit securing the anchor with nothing holding me to the ship but my right hand. Stupid of me. But I kept telling myself that the harness is not a 'safety harness' it's a 'storm harness.' You'll never learn to stay on the boat is you always tether yourself to her. OK. So that's not a smart thing. And I know all the old saws about, "There are old sailors and there are bold sailors; but there are not old bold sailors." But Standing out there on the bowsprit, pulling the anchor home, while Galena did almost 7-kts in rough seas was exhilarating to say the least.
Hawk channel in the morning
I love the sounds Galena makes as she rushes through the water. Each speed has it's own unique sounds. At about 4 kts she starts to make a frothing bow wave that makes that first whooshing sound. Then at 6 kts the water sluicing past the rudder sounds off. The sound is a very happy sound. At 7 kts she seems to rise up out of the water just a bit and all down her sides the water noisily rushes as she strains and twists. As if she is saying, "That's enough!"
All day on the 23rd she was running before the wind. All day long she was making over 6 kts, Sometimes sh e was surfing down waves at over 8 kts (SOG). I'd get pushed out of the way by the tiller as Harvey tried to keep her bows from broaching around. The rudder, when hard over like that, is being pulled through the water almost sideways; water bubbling and frothing about at the stern. Then her bow would settle back on course; Harvey would trim the rudder amidships. Everything would quiet down for a moment.
Here's a short video clip of what I just described. I'm standing at the mast looking aft, then around. Oh, and the wind generator is actually spinning like mad. It's just the frame rate of the camera that makes it look like it's stopping and slowing. If you look closely you can see the tiller pull hard to port as Galena tries to broach down a wave.
This clip, while only about a minute long, is 15MB in size so it may take a while to download.
For eight hours Galena strode toward Marathon, FL. I sat there in the cockpit reading a book (Alexander Kent, sort of like Patrick O'Brian, but very good in his own right). When Galena would be pushed by the big six-footers everything would run to the starboard, leeward, side of the cockpit. My coffee cup would topple over; the map would fall into the footwell. Binoculars would rush to the leeward gunnell. In just a moment everything would be out of reach and covered with coffee.
This is what my cockpit looks like.
This is what my cockpit looks like while cruising.
Lots of junk laying around the deck.
The wind was blowing at 20 kts with gusts to 30 kts out of the east. My course was southwest. The wind was just to the port of directly astern. All day I kept measuring the apparent wind. It always measured at about 15 kts apparent, 20 kts true. I didn't appreciate how hard the wind was blowing until, just south of Boot Key Harbor entrance I turned to windward to drop the mainsail. Suddenly there was wind every where and it was blowing very, very hard!
I called the marina and asked about a mooring. They said they had plenty but couldn't assign me one until I was right there in the mooring field. So I told them I'd lie to anchor until morning. There were squalls in the offing and the wind was picking up even more. Picking up a mooring pendant is hard under the best of condition. But when one is single-handing and motoring into a 20 kt wind, things get very dicey. I can't afford to spin around and bump into a million dollar yacht.
Oh, "Where in the world is Marathon?" you might be asking. It's in the Florida Keys part way down toward Key West.
Marathon, in relation to Miami and Key west.
The Blue line is the route toward Nassau.
Tomorrow I'll go inside the harbor and grab a mooring.