Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lake Worth Lethargy

We are anchored in our customary spot on north Lake Worth (map), in North Palm Beach, Florida. We like it here, and it's easy. The water is plenty deep, the lake is calm and well-protected, we can get WiFi, and it's a short tender ride to groceries and a handful of decent restaurants.

Sunset from our deck. That's Tiger Woods' yacht "Privacy" on the right; Blossom is somewhere behind her. The tower under construction has gone up in the three months since our last visit.

We dropped the hook here Thursday around mid-day, not long after Blossom arrived and tied up just a short distance north of us. We watched them steam in the inlet from our last anchorage across from Palm Beach. I was a bit surprised they were up for company so soon after their overnight crossing, but we met them on their dock in the evening and walked across the street to Cod & Capers for dinner.

We did have a bit of excitement in the short one-hour cruise here from our last digs. As I was approaching the Blue Heron Bridge I saw what looked like a head pop up mid-channel, perhaps ten boat lengths ahead of me. It disappeared a second or two later, and I was worried it might be a scuba diver. Louise grabbed binoculars and thought she could see bubbles, and as we got within a hundred feet of them I dropped the transmission into neutral just in case. Sure enough, a pair of divers had wandered into the channel, with no flags, dive "sausage" or any other warning. They could easily have been run over by a go-fast boat.

The Blue Heron Bridge is a popular dive site -- we've used it ourselves. Experienced guides in the area keep their divers corralled in the shallow and more scenic area under the (non-navigable) eastern span. These guys must have come on their own and got lost. I made a Sécurité call on the radio while trying to keep the boat from drifting into a bridge abutment with no propulsion available -- even the bow thruster could be hazardous to a diver near the boat. When Louise reported the divers were well astern I put the boat back in gear, just in time to maneuver through the bridge. I was not a happy camper, and the adrenaline did not wear off until after we were anchored.

Friday I more or less collapsed. I think the final weeks of our Bahamas adventure tired me out more than I had expected. Then, of course, we had a long crossing followed by a busy day of checking in. The heim joint breaking on the tender outboard was sort of the last straw, and I just need some recovery time. I had a hard time getting motivated yesterday and today as well, and it's all I can do to get the blog out this afternoon.

Angel is sympathetic, crashing atop the grocery transporters.

That's not to say nothing at all has happened. We did tender ashore for some much-needed provisions, although we put off any non-immediate needs until we have a scooter deployed in West Palm Beach. And we've both been busy ordering dozens of items from Amazon Prime that we've had to put off while we've been out of the country.

I could not get everything on my list; even the spare heim joints are not available through Prime and will have to wait for another stop with more lead time. Strainer baskets, waterproof connectors, circuit breakers, and a host of other fix-it items likewise will have to wait. But I was able to order the more critical items.

Chief among these is a new computer for the helm. The ancient Acer netbook that is running the chart plotter (and thus the whole boat, via the autopilot) has been crashing every few days with a BSOD. It's also on the no-longer-supported Windows XP platform, and by today's standards is a very slow machine (it was slow when it was new -- it's a netbook, after all). Sudden failures at inopportune times have persuaded us that the time has come for a new one.

There's no need for a laptop up there; the display is a monitor bolted to the helm console, and I use a wireless keyboard/mouse combination to work the controls under way, with the computer tucked out of the way in a cabinet. So I ordered one of the new four inch form-factor machines, of which the Intel NUC is probably the canonical example. I ordered an HP because it came more ready-to-use right out of the box for a lower price.

The computer has already been delivered to the marina, so I have my work cut out for me over the next few days installing, configuring, and setting it up. I will also have to port our charts and licenses. If past experience is any guide, I'm sure there will be some head-scratching and possibly swearing as I try to get weird peripherals like the four-port USB serial converter to work with the new box.

Yesterday our good friend Steve stopped by Blossom and they invited us to join them again for dinner across the street at La Fontana. Steve consulted with them throughout the design and construction of the boat, and is assisting them in following up on the engine room fire. We enjoyed catching up with him last night.

Tonight will be our last in this spot for a while, and we've again been invited over, this time for burgers aboard. I'm sure we'll also see them a couple more times before we head north; it looks like they will be here at least two weeks.

Tomorrow we will weigh anchor and motor the seven miles or so south to West Palm Beach. We will time our arrival for as close to slack as we can get, considering the marina is just south of a bridge that opens only once each hour. We are looking forward to all the amenities of a full-service marina for a few days.

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