Saturday, May 10, 2014

Another random week in paradise

Notwithstanding my last post, wherein I speculated that we would move the boat Monday or so, we are still right here at our pleasant anchorage in the Middle River.  Come Monday, we will have been here a full two weeks.  By then, we will more or less have to move, because two weeks is about how long our waste tank lasts, and we will need to pump out.

Part of the reason we are still here is that the long-term plan, which has always been in limbo, has had a new wrinkle.  I wrote in the last post that our friends' new boat was coming along and they had made some fairly definitive plans to have people aboard around the 23rd and be under way shortly thereafter, and so we had figured to scoot down to Miami and points south for a bit and then be back up in Palm Beach around that time.  Since then, however, additional complications have developed and they've had to scrub their plans for the 23rd; we're waiting to hear further on what, if any, new plan develops.  Having spent four months of a planned two in a boatyard, we understand completely, and don't really consider their various schedule hiccups to be anything out of the ordinary.

We learned of this when they came down to Fort Lauderdale shortly after my last post, to pick out some scuba gear in a nearby shop.  This shop is the one they were directed to by the outfit that installed the dive compressor and accessories on their new boat, and we were delighted to learn that it was just a mile and a half up the Middle River, and has its own dock, to boot.  We met them there at the shop and looked at some dive gear for ourselves as well, and I even dropped off my new-to-me used regulator to be inspected and serviced before use.

The dive shop graciously allowed us to leave our tender at their dock for the day, and we made a whole day of it.  We started with lunch across the street at an upscale burrito joint, visits to two more dive shops with different selections, and finishing with dinner at our old favorite, Coconuts, before they dropped us back off at our dinghy.  I've since been back to the dive shop to also have my buoyancy compensator serviced, and we ate at a nice steak-and-seafood place nearby.

We had figured again to maybe get underway by the middle of the week, but we decided to knock another project off the list first, getting the Spectra water maker up and running before any chance we might cross over to the Bahamas (where water is scarce and expensive).  I'm glad we did, because we had some problems with it, and there happens to be a Spectra service tech right here in Fort Lauderdale.  The earliest he could get to us was Friday, so we decided to just stay put.

I ended up picking him up at the CVS nearby, which has its own dock and has become our go-to place for convenience items such as milk, ice cream, beer, and even new batteries for our wrist-mounted dive computers.  I made it a point to pick up a few things after I dropped the Spectra guy back off, since we used not only their dock but also a parking space.

The upshot of the service visit was that our membrane is at the end of its life, and the high-pressure pump is showing some signs of wear.  Consequently we are getting only 8-9gph from a nominal 13gph water maker.  If we were, indeed, planning to head right off for an extended (several month) trip through the Bahamas and the Carribean, we'd at least replace the membrane (~$260) and consider rebuilding the HP pump (~$450).  At this point, any offshore trip we are contemplating would be at most a month or so, and 8-9gph along with starting with 500 gallons in our tank ought to be more than sufficient.

In the middle of all this was our anniversary, and we wanted to go out for a nice dinner.  We chose the upscale Italian bistro that was the first place we visited after anchoring near here upon our first arrival at Port Everglades.  It was very nice, if a little pricey, and the food was great.  Unfortunately, when we arrived this time, there were no empty slips in back as there had been on our first visit, so we had no convenient place to tie up.  After hunting around nearby for another spot, rejecting both English Park and the CVS as being too inconvenient, we reluctantly abandoned our plans.

It was a long dinghy ride in the other direction, but we ended up at the 15th Street Fisheries, which looked too casual on first inspection (when we saw it from the water taxi), but turns out to have a separate white-tablecloth dining room upstairs.  That was a perfect venue for an anniversary meal, with good food and a nice view over the Intracoastal Waterway.

Tonight we'll head downtown to our reciprocal club for an even nicer meal -- our anniversary fell on a Sunday, when the club is not open.  I expect, as is often the case, to be the only one on the Broward Transit bus wearing a sport coat on our way to dinner.  As nice as these places are, though, it has been equally nice eating on our aft deck for the past few days, here in our multi-million-dollar anchorage.  On our last grocery run to the Publix across from the park I picked up some nice lamb chops as well as steaks, and we've been taking advantage of the lovely weather to do some grilling.

The two weeks have flown by, and I need to get myself back up to Palm Beach again on Tuesday for my next follow-up eye appointment.  Between the full waste tank, nearly empty water tank, a dwindling diesel supply, and the need for ground transportation, we've made reservations for a couple of nights at the downtown city docks starting Monday.  Tuesday I will take the shuttle over to the Tri-Rail and take the train to West Palm Beach for my appointment, and we'll put a scooter on the ground to do some other errands.  Before we shove off Wednesday I will have the truck come and deliver a few hundred gallons of diesel, while we can still get it cheaper than marina rates.

I'm reluctant to prognosticate, since the plan seems to change daily, but at this writing we are thinking that after fueling Wednesday we will finally leave Fort Lauderdale, heading south down the ICW through Hollywood and Dania Beach towards Miami.  I'd like to spend a few days, at least, in the Miami/Key Biscayne area, and after that, it's a blank slate.  Depending on how we feel we might continue on to the Keys before coming back north.


  1. Wouldn't 8GPH be 192gal a day keep your tank full and be more than you would ever use?

    1. Dewey:

      Thanks for your question. Yes, 192 gallons a day would be more than enough. But that assumes the water maker would be running 24/7, which is unrealistic. While Spectra water makers are supposed to be fairly power efficient, they still use several constantly running pumps. We would only run it while either underway or when the generator is running.

      We've been using the generator about 2.5 hours a day at anchor, which would be a maximum of 20 gallons if we were in nice clean, clear water anchorages. Our passages off the coast (where the water is clear) so far have averaged about 5-6 hours, every 2-3 days at most. So again, maybe 16 gallons a day.

      While we *could* live on that little water, it's a bit Spartan for our tastes. And it certainly wouldn't let us use the big water user on board: the washing machine. For now, we only run that when we're at a marina and can easily re-fill the tank after a couple of wash loads. The washer is large, robust, and does a great job cleaning clothes. As an older top loading model, however, it isn't water efficient at all.


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