Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Federal escort

We are anchored in "Tropic Isle Harbor," a small basin off the ICW surrounded by houses and condos, just south of Delray Beach, Florida (map).  I would guess that the development surrounding us is "Tropic Isle."  Neither an island, nor in the tropics.

We were so busy in North Palm Beach that I did not get a chance to blog.  We had a very nice but short cruise Monday from our anchorage in Hobe Sound to the north part of Lake Worth (map), in a familiar spot tucked between two marinas.  One of those marinas is Old Port Cove, known by many as "Nordhavn Central" because, at any given time, there are a dozen or so boats of that marque in port.  On this occasion, one of those boats was Blossom, with our friends Steph and Martin.

We dropped the tender as soon as we anchored, and I spent a bit of time getting it running and freeing up the wonky steering enough to use it, at least at low speeds.  We tendered over to Blossom in the afternoon and had a great time reconnecting with Martin and Steph, and also synching up our plans for getting to Key West next week.  We walked over to La Fontana for dinner, which was quite tasty.

Yesterday morning I returned to Old Port Cove in the tender in the very early morning hours and spent the whole morning tending to an eye doctor appointment -- the six-month follow-up on my laser surgery.  The doctors' office is right on the ICW, and my original plan had been to anchor across the channel and dinghy over to a nearby park for a short walk to the office.

Since we ended up anchoring a good seven miles or so away, to be with friends, I had to instead take the county bus.  It takes two buses each way and a bit of waiting in between, so I arrived at Blossom and tied up around 7:50 for a 10am appointment.  I was a bit early, but they got me in and out quickly (my eyes are fine and my vision is 20/20) and I was on my way back north well before noon.

I did stop at Publix on the way home for a couple of provisions (eggs, cheese, and some dry goods) and did not get home until well past noon, for a late lunch. However, I'm done with the eye doctor now for another six months, until my one-year follow-up.

That left a little time to catch up on a few things before heading back to Blossom for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres with Martin, Steph, and the crews of two other Nordys at the docks.  We enjoyed meeting everyone, and the substantial spread that Steph had set out was plenty for dinner.

One of the things I did between lunch and cocktails yesterday was spend an hour on the horn trying to line up diesel fuel  We now have an appointment Friday morning for a truck to meet us at a dock in Hollywood to supply us with 400 gallons at $2.95/gallon, the best price in the state.  We already had enough to get to Key West, but this will give us a buffer to continue on from there without having to fuel at a more expensive location.

The truck will meet us at Billy's Stone Crab in Hollywood, which has a dock for dining patrons that the fuel company can use in the mornings, before noon.  We will pay a $0.10 per gallon surcharge to the restaurant for this privilege, collected by the truck (and included in the number I quoted above).  I'm hoping the restaurant will just let us stay at the dock overnight if we also come in for dinner tomorrow; otherwise we will anchor in South Lake tomorrow night.

Hollywood is a long trip from where we were this morning, so we opted to get under way first thing and break it into two days.  Martin and Steph left not long after us, stopping just a mile north of here to visit friends in Delray Beach. They'll spend tomorrow night here as well, and catch up with us in Hollywood.

This is a great anchorage, protected all around, and we found free WiFi as well. But it has a shallow entrance -- we saw 8.9' of water at a +2.5' tide.  When we passed by here on our way north last season, we hit at dead low tide and did not want to risk trying to get in, which made for a very long day to Lake Worth. Since we hit at high tide today, it was a great opportunity to check it out and have our own track and soundings coming in. The early start was to give us enough daylight to continue all the way to Fort Lauderdale if we could not get in here comfortably.

As we passed Rybovich Marine, the megayacht yard in West Palm Beach, I spotted the Army Corps of Engineers survey vessel Florida II at the docks.  As we were waiting for the hourly opening of the Flagler Bridge, currently under repair, at 9:15, Florida II came up behind us and requested an opening.

Bridges like Flagler, which are busy with auto traffic, open for most vessels only on a schedule during most hours of the day.  But, even with schedules, all bridges must open on demand for tugs with tows (which I mentioned here) and "public vessels of the United States," which means any US government vessel including the Army CoE.  We went through Flagler ten minutes early, and Florida II invited us to ride his coat tails so long as we could keep up at 7 knots. We went through two more bridges ahead of schedule behind Florida II and then dropped back to our normal cruise speed when the following bridge was nearly an hour away.  It was great having our very own federal escort vessel.

With the weird bridge schedules through this section of the ICW, in part due to multiple bridges under repair, this put us nearly an hour ahead of the normal schedule.  We ended up dropping the hook here just after lunch, around 12:30. We had plenty of daylight to go all the way to Fort Lauderdale, or maybe even Hollywood, but I really wanted to check out this anchorage, and we could both use a half day off.

I say "off" but, of course, I mean "working on the boat."  In this case, it was dealing with the dinghy steering, which is enough of a critical system that it was making me very nervous.  I spent a good two or three hours on the boat deck, pounding the steering rod out of the tube and then running a make-shift sanding drum back and forth through the tube to clean out the copious amounts of corrosion.

Between the inside of the tube and the outside of the rod, a bit chewed up from my Vice-Grip-and-hammer technique to un-jam it, I used up a whole sheet of 150-grit emery cloth.  That after first getting all the rough stuff out with a set of steel files.  A few bits of cloth on a coat hanger, saturated with WD-40 and run through like a gun-barrel cleaner, finished the job.  With a liberal dose of lithium grease it all went back together, and the dinghy steering now works better than it ever has since we first got it.

We briefly contemplated splashing the tender and running the mile and a half or so back up the ICW to try to connect with Martin, Steph, and mutual friends CJ and Margie in Delray Beach. But it was after 5pm by the time I finished and got cleaned up, and we were beat, so we had a beer on the aft deck and a nice dinner at home instead.

We'll be here for a little while in the morning, too.  Daybreak happens at low tide, and with barely four inches under our keel, based on today's soundings, we'd just as soon wait for a higher tide.  We only have four hours or so to Hollywood anyway, so we'll have a nice morning in and get under way a little before lunch time.

1 comment:

  1. Sean, always great to read your posts. Sounds like you made it to fair weather for sure. We actually changed buses, check our new (to us) one out at Now in Yuma trying to sell the old one. Steve


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!