Friday, February 12, 2010

On The Water Once Again, Southbound

This post was written yesterday, 2-11-2010, while on the hook after a long days sail, I have very limited connection now, so I cannot upload pictures. I will update the post tomorrow, and probably add a new post as well.

Today was one of those days, one of those very few days, were everything seemed to go right. I made 49.3 nautical miles, just over 55 statute (regular) miles. Today started early enough though, I was up at 0330, I rolled out of bed into a freezing cabin. I checked the thermometer, and it was a very brisk 45 degrees in the cabin. I peeked out of the cabin, set the thermometer outside and checked it soon after, 36 degrees on deck. I fired up the stove, put some tea on, and wrapped back up in my sleeping bag. Since I finally got the entire cabin clean and soot free I am extremely hesitant to fire up the heater, so I have come up with a new solution, I put my cast iron skillet on the stove top and crank it up. The stove uses the same burner as the heater, and the skillet has close to the same surface area and more mass than the heater, so I think I am getting about the same heat output without half the mess. I think when I get some money saved up I am going to design and build a new heater for the boat, either that or I will break down and get a new stove/heater combination unit.

So once I got warmed up, had read another hundred pages or so of my book, it was heading towards 6 am. I decided to brave the cold and the security crew at Carribean Jack's, and head in for a shower. Luckily for me another sailboat had come in during the night and tied up at the end of the dock, so my dinghy would be camoflaged by this new arrival. I grabbed towel and shaving kit, and dinghied over and tied up. Down the dock and into the bath house I went, and the pass card still worked. Thank God for minor miracles. I don't think they change the passcards out at the marina, so no telling how long this one will be good for.I took a long lingering shower, and then headed back out to Arden. Spook was ready to go when I got back, she is always ready to go to shore, and so I took her in for an early morning walk.

When we got back to Arden I heated up some of the ham bicuits I had made last night, and had a couple of warm biscuits and tea. By 0730 I was ready to go and weighed anchor, underway again. Today has been the day for bridges. In all, 7 drawbridges, and probably another 4 fixed bridges, and the first draw bridge was 100 yards from where I was anchored. The bridge tender saw me coming, and began the lift before I even got on the radio. The tender on the next draw heard me talking to the tender of the Mainstreet Bridge, and as soon as I cleared that, he raised me on the radio and told me his next lift was at 0800. I gave Arden a bit more throttle, and got to the bridge with a minute or two to spare. I could not have timed it any better, because the next scheduled lift was at 0830, and I would have had to set anchor to wait.

After I got through that next draw I checked the wind, and it was out of the north/ northeast just as forecast. I raised the jib, and off we went. I cut back on the throttle and I was still making 5 knots. I picked a bit of tidal current after a while, and I was making just over 5.5 knots over ground. Not too shabby. I motorsailed with just the jib for about 3 hours, until I was down past Ponce de Leon Inlet, and through the Coronado Beach Bridge. 15.8 NM in just under 3 hours. I was doing well.

When I passed through New Smyrna Beach I saw a very sad sight, a pelican was thrashing about in the water with a broken wing. I have never seen that before, I dont think I have ever seen an injured seabird, and I paused for a second thinking about the options I had. If I was further away from civilization I probably would have shot it and ended its misery, but I was right across from a residential area, and no telling what the good folks of New Smyrna Beach would have thought about that. So I got on the phone and called back to Daytona, gave a friend of mine the location, and asked them to call animal control. Hopefully someone went out and helped that poor bird.

As I sailed out of New Smyrna Beach I raised the main, and cut back on the throttle even more. In this section the ICW is straight as an arrow, but the channel is pretty narrow. I was on a broad reach and Arden balanced out so well, that I was able to lock the tiller and kick back a bit. Sometimes things just work out really well, and she will sail herself. I broke out my book and would read a few pages, check for traffic and then check my position in the channel. Not a bad way to spend the day. The sun was out, it was warming up, and I was making good time. Spook even came out on deck and got some sun, something she has been doing more and more as the trip has gone along. It was good to be moving again, and even though it was still a bit cool, it was comfortable and I was making great time.

I think I saw more dolphins today than I think I have so far in this trip. One thing I did notice though was that a large number of the dolphins today were smaller, I wonder if dolphin calve during this time of year like the Right Whale does. If anyone knows, write me and let me know.

Just south of New Smyrna Beach is Mosquito Lagoon, a large body of water that would probably be called a sound anywhere else. It is behind a long barrier island, but I am not sure if here in Florida they even call the coastal islands barrier islands. Anyway, this body of water is very large, and very shallow, probably a mile wide or more, and about 10 or 12 miles long (maybe more) and the only deep water is in the channel. The rest of it is about 4-5 feet at most. The channel markers just stretch out into the distance in an unending chain. So I read more, shed a layer or two of clothes, fixed lunch, and sat back and watched the miles roll by. At the bottom end of Mosquito Lagoon I could see the towers and the shuttle launch pads of Kennedy Space Center in the haze. I had to make a hard turn to starboard and cut through a canal and over into the Indian River, so I snapped a picture really quick, and headed into Haulover Canal. Through yet one more drawbridge, and then I was south bound again.

I went through 3 more draw bridges on the first short stretch of the Indian River, and then I was at my preplanned anchorage. This anchorage is just south of Addison Point, and is directly west of Cape Canaveral. I got the boat anchored as the sun started to set, and then Spook and I went ashore. She did her thing, we got a bit of a walk in, and then we headed back to think about dinner. I heated up more tea, turned on some blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan is great boating music) and made a batch of popcorn, the snack food of preference on board. I have found recently that Spook loves popcorn. So she got her little bowl of it, and I had my much bigger bowl, and I still had to think of what to do for dinner. I finally settled on tomato soup and buttered bread - simple, warm and filling.

As I write evening has fallen, the boat is warm, and there are great tunes playing from the computer. Tomorrow is going to be a short day, 13 miles until I get to Cocoa, and a fisherman that is a friend of a friend. He has volunteered to take me around if I need to get around, hopefully I can get some fishing tips from him, and I might hang around long enough to watch the Daytona 500. I need to check the charts, see where another day or 2 of sailing will put me, but I am not too far behind Sven, so I may try to catch them by Tuesday or Wednesday, looks like they are going to be in Ft Lauderdale for a week or so.

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