Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Carolina Bound

We are under way in the Atlantic Ocean, Fort Lauderdale and Port Everglades receding behind us, and nearly 400 miles of ocean ahead of us on our journey to Charleston Harbor. At this moment we have nearly a two knot push, and we expect to have more than that for part of the trip, giving us an arrival sometime mid-day Friday.

Shortly after my last post, we dropped lines and motored the two miles upriver to the downtown city docks. The river was busy for the holiday weekend, and we made passing arrangements with several large tour boats, including the enormous Jungle Queen. It's challenging driving, all by hand, but we're old hands at this river now and it's now just an interesting cruise. We even know all the local landmarks to make our radio announcements, such as the obscure "girls school."

Vector at the New River downtown docks, with some city art in the foreground.

We arrived at the fueling berth at 11:30 and were glad to find it vacant; the scheduled 11am fueling must have already finished. We tied alongside at low water to find ourselves sitting in the mud. I ran down to the dockmaster's office to do paperwork and get a parking pass, returning just in time to meet good friends Gill and Curtis, get them parked, and all aboard for lunch. It was nice of them to pick up sandwiches at Publix for us so we could stay on the boat and await the fuel truck.

Good thing, because he showed up at 12:20 for our 1:00 appointment. I asked him to wait while we finished eating, and twenty minutes later we got started fueling. The fuel guy watched the nozzle on deck while I went back in to continue enjoying our visit. A short while later our guests needed to get back home where they had contractors working; we wrapped up fueling a bit after that at about 1:45. We ended up taking on just over a thousand gallons at $1.88, the best price we'll see on the east coast.

When I had signed in at the office I learned they had had a cancellation and were able to accommodate us for the Fourth or even beyond if need be. We paid for two nights and had a slip assignment just a little upriver on the other side of the Third Avenue Bridge. Before dropping lines at the fueling berth, however, we waited another 20 minutes for Lauderdale Battery to show up.

This Muscovy duck was our neighbor the whole time we were berthed.

Regular readers may recall that one of our six enormous house batteries went bad back in April, and we removed it (and, for balance, one other) from our battery bank at the time. We've been running on just 2/3 of our battery capacity since then. My efforts to source an identical replacement battery in Houston, Corpus, and New Orleans all came up dry. Lauderdale Battery sold us these six batteries three years ago, and they keep them in stock, so we arranged last week to have one delivered Monday.

Delivery (and pick-up of the take-out) is done dockside -- they will not come onto the boat. And so Sunday evening I had pulled the old one from the rack, dragged it to the engine room hatch, and lifted it on deck with our davit. (The batteries, at 175 pounds apiece, outweigh me by 30 pounds.) After the fuel truck left we again used the davit to get it onto the dock, and after the battery guy showed up we reversed the process, getting the new one all the way down to the engine room floor before closing the hatch and dropping lines for our assigned slip.

We were tied up there (map) a little before 4pm, in time to relax on deck with a well-earned beer and enjoy watching the holiday boat traffic go by on the river. Listening to the radio it was clear the professional skippers were just resigning themselves to dealing with the unending procession of center consoles paying little attention to the traffic rules.

The tiki-bar boat. A popular attraction on the New River.

Yesterday was Independence Day, and we might easily have taken the special $5 (round trip) water taxi ride out to the beach for the city's big festival, culminating in fireworks. Instead we opted to spend it with long-time online but first-time in-person friends Chad and Amanda, and their two young children, who drove out from Coral Springs to meet us. We mostly relaxed in the air conditioning in the salon (it's been very hot and humid in Fort Lauderdale), but we did take the free Water Trolley across the river to the Downtowner Saloon for an early dinner.

Amanda was kind enough to run Louise to Publix for some last-minute provisions while Chad and I rode the Water Trolley back with the kids. We said our goodbyes, agreed to perhaps meet up again in South Carolina in August, and then turned our attention to making preparations for our offshore passage.

All afternoon we had watched hundreds of little boats head downriver, presumably to jockey for position to watch the fireworks. We've witnessed that process first-hand before, it's always entertaining. When the fireworks ended, every single one of those boats tried to come back upriver at once, much to the annoyance of the tour boat and taxi skippers, and we sat on deck and watched the non-stop procession for perhaps a half hour, with great amusement.

This morning we dropped lines after the morning bridge curfew ended, cruised back down a now-empty New River, and headed out the Port Everglades inlet. Seas are a bit rougher than we like, 3'-4' on maybe a five-second period, but that will get progressively better as we get further along. We're into the Gulf Stream now, doing over nine knots. I'm about to lose my Internet signal for the next two days, so I will get this posted, and update our position occasionally on Vector's Twitter stream.


  1. No recent Twitter updates and no posts here since arrival. Everything ok?

    1. My thoughts exactly! I was just mentioning that.

    2. Thanks guys. We are fine. Just a bit behind on the blog. New post went up today.

  2. Sean you wrote...
    "When it's been either too wet or too hot to work outside, I've been catching up on some computer projects. My keyboard was starting to act up and I bought a hangar queen to replace it; now I have not only a better keyboard, but also twice as much memory and a touch screen I did not have before. The touch screen is taking some getting used to."...

    pray tell...what the hell is a hanger quenn, all google gave me was the aviation tern and amazon gave me nada...just curious

    1. Thanks for your comment. I confess I have been using that term so long that I had no idea what Google would tell me about it. The first hit was this definition, from Wiktionary:
      "A grounded aircraft which is kept so that its parts can be used in other aircraft."

      Yes, the term is borrowed from aviation in the same way that "interface" is borrowed from chemistry. A hangar queen in the computer business is a whole computer that itself does not work, but from which working parts can be scavenged to repair other computers. (The same is true of marine electronics; we have a hangar queen chart plotter and a hangar queen AIS transponder, too. And I've been known to buy entire inoperative automobiles in order to get parts to fix a running one; that too was a hangar queen.)

      In this case, I bought an entire laptop nearly identical to my own for about the same price as I would have paid for the keyboard/cover assembly alone (the keyboard is permanently affixed to the cover). It was advertised as having a broken hinge on the screen and lacking hard drive or battery.

      In addition to the working keyboard, which I needed, this particular carcass happened to have more memory than mine and a touch-screen display, so I swapped those over as well. All the working pieces I removed will be filed away for future repairs, convenient stowed in my "hangar queen."


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