To Miami with Bob

Bejasus

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following on from the naming post, while we were in Tierra Verde in Florida having some work done on the boat, we met up with Bob, the owner of a Bowman 42 who for tax and registrations reasons, also wanted to move his boat to Savannah in Georgia. Since we had never made the journey before and being pretty much novices, we decided it would be a good idea to journey in company with Bob, especially as he was singlehanded for the trip. Well, we set off into the early evening sun on Tuesday the 20th March in fairly calm weather, with NE winds forecast at 10-15 mph and seas 2-4 ft. headed out through the channel, turned into the wind and raised Genoa, and Main only, and headed South towards Key West. All was going along nicely although the wind did pick up somewhat with 32 kts seen at one point through the night. Practically no shipping to be seen.
Next morning, we caught up with Bob who had got a bit of a lead on us, being the faster boat. As we got closer it appeared he was having a problem with his main, and it turned out that one of the blocks on his mainsheet had broken. Anyhow no big deal at this time, as the wind died so we went to motoring. Meanwhile as we were hanging around, we were surrounded by about 20 or so dolphins all leaping around the boat which greatly impressed SWMBO and I missed completely as I was down below.
Later that evening, the winds returned and we went back to sailing again, although as the forecast was for the same as before, I put a reef in the main and used the staysail as well as the genoa, feeling that I could always reef the genny and still have a well balanced rig, which turned out to be the case. Anyhow it got a bit lumpy during the night, with Bob disappearing into the distance.
Next morning, as we arrive at the North Channel approach to Key West, we catch up with Bob again in all sorts of problems. Having seen us pass him for a while at sunset, with everything up except the mizzen, he decided he would follow suit, except that he had a problem and couldn't furl his genny because the line snapped, so he headed for his bunk and woke up with his genny loose and flapping good style in the early hours. Next problem, his staysail was jammed and he couldn't drop it either, so he now has problems with all his sails. After struggling with it for a while he decided to drop his hook just outside the channel and try to sort things out. He managed to drop the genoa and stow it below and drop his main and secure it, but his staysail was well and truly hooked up, and as we were turning into the wind once around Key west, we would have to motor as it would be wind on the nose travelling up the outside of the Keys but inside the reefs. As Key West was very busy, we called ahead and arranged a couple of berths at Marathon where we arrived about 18:30 with Bob exhausted, and I secured his staysail to the dockside to prevent it getting out of hand during the night, as we couldn't induce it to drop at all. Let the riggers deal with it in the morning.
Next day, with the wind still around 25 mph on the nose and the seas lumpy at 4-6 ft, we hung around for the riggers and decided to hang out there for another night.
Later that day the riggers arrive and are not impressed with the way Bob's staysail has been rigged up the mast but manage to release the halyard and drop the sail. However as they are checking things out, they find that one of his intermediate shrouds has a chainplate with a break at the backing plate underneath, so sailing is out for Bob, but as we are motoring due to the conditions, he decides to carry on with us.
We are late getting away the next day, as we both need to fuel and it is now Saturday morning and of course everyone in the marina wants to fuel up and play so we finally leave at 14:30 and head North towards wherever we can get to.
As we clear Key Largo and the protection of the reefs, the Gulf Stream is very close and the seas now extremely lumpy, but we are ahead of Bob, so heave to and wait for him to catch up. As he does, swmbo notices that his Danforth anchor has come loose on his bow roller, and is beating up his bow, so we call him and he puts on his harness and crawls forward to secure it. At this point we are now practically opposite Miami and he has had enough, so I call into Dinner Key in Biscayne bay and secure a couple of berths and we run for shelter. We enter first and get moored up, but there is no sign of Bob although he followed us in. I call him on his mobile and he is exhausted and feels that he could not safey enter and manage the boat, so is outside sitting at anchor. Fair enough, we inform the marina and take off to West Marine for a few things including ICW charts, as that may be our only choice for the rest of the trip.
We return to the marina and I call Bob on his mobile and he decides to come into the marina with me standing by to assist. As I am standing waiting for him, he appears, still dragging his CQR, into the marina. Anyway we get him berthed and I take a look at his bow and jees, his anchor that had been hanging when we were outside, had really tore up the front of his boat. What a mess. I felt sorry for him as he was in a really exhausted state. Anyway the next morning, as the weather was still up, he hired a car and drove back to St. Petersburg to take care of some business and said he would be back the next day. We stayed for another night in what was quite a nice marina.
On Tuesday as the weather dropped to 5-10 mph and with seas of 2-4 ft forecast, we decided to head North and as there was no word from Bob, we set off with out him. We soon learned that was not so easy as we ran ground in the middle of the channel on a sandbank, but as we were on a rising tide we just waited for an hour and managed to back off it and carried on, keeping very much to the port side of the channel. We got back outside Biscayne Bay and headed North once more and with the wind now from the east, hoisted the main with one reef and the staysail and genoa. When we got to around Ft. Lauderdale, we ran into the western edge of the Gulf Stream about 3 miles offshore and it was still very uncomfortable but gave us a couple of knots for free, so we carried on through the night and the next evening we stopped at Port Canaveral where we had a meal and showers and a nights sleep as it looked like we would be able to head staight across to Savannah with the forecast to carry on the same and I also had a deadline as I was due to fly back to the UK on the following Sunday.
The next day we set off and it was a beautiful day and a continuing forcast of 5-10mph winds from the East and 2-3 ft seas, and with the Gulf Stream now curving away from us, we thought it was feasable, just. So with everything up, we head off adn were enjying a nice sail with dolphins popping up every so often and dozing in the cockpit in the evening. Next thing we started to get a shift in the weather no North East and turned on the NOAA forecast to hear that not only had the wind shifted but was due to increase to 20 mph gusting at least 25 and seas expected to increase rapidly to 6-7 ft and above. I dropped the main and rolled away the genoa leaving just the staysail and the mizzen up but with one reef in the mizzen.
Anyway as the night progressed things had gotten worse and winds were gusting 30 and seas now 8-9 ft and no sign of a let up anytime soon. We had had enough and although the boat was proving very capable, we were not, so I decide to make the 30 mile run into the St. Johns river at near to Jacksonville and we would leave the boat there, providing we could get a secure berth. I had rolled away the staysail and dropped the mizzen during the night and was motoring as hard as I dared to keep control of the boat in the very confused seas we now found ourselves in.
When we reached the outer marker and there was a large tanker at the pilot pick up point as we headed in. Halfway there and the pilot boat passed us on the way out and soon the tanker was bearing down on us and getting huger by the minute. At this point I was having a real hard time at the helm due to the now quartering seas coming out of the North East and a flood tide. Every time a wave rolled under the stern and caught the rudder end of the long keel, it swung the boat hard around to starbaord and I had to continually fight it all the way to the breakwater whilst trying to keep to the edge of the channel so as not to impede the tanker as he overtook me and informed me that he needed to stay on the same side of the channel as us.
As he passed us, he thanked us for keeping clear as he appreciated the problem I was having with the weather, and we wathed as a dolphin was playing in his bow wave leaping around a couple of feet from his enormous bulbous bow. We entered the river and headed down the ICW to the nearest marina where they had a berth for us. However, still some drama to come. As we motored gently down the ICW I started tidying up on the deck, don't want to roll into the marina looking like crap, I discovered that the bolt t joinming the boom to the gooseneck, had lost it's nut and also as it looked like it waqs a bit on the thin side, I decided to replace it with one better suited for the job, so I lashed the boom in a suitable position and began to drive out the old bolt with it's replacement. Oops, caught the edge of the bolthole on the opposite web and cracked the weld where it joined the boom. So no hoising the main until this is repaired. Next thing, just as we are approaching the entrance to the marina and with a bascule bridge immediately past the entrance, the engine died. Aarrrggh, I quickly span us around and ran down below and quickly opened the bleed screw on the fuel pump and pumped like mad to get some fuel through and got swmbo to restart the engine, which luckily started and we got safel turned and into our berth for the night. Upon examination I discovered the Racor filter bowls full of crud that must have been stirred up in the heavy seas. I am amazed that it did not stop before while we were out in it.
So now the boat is residing in Beach Marine Marina on the ICW at Jackson Beach where I can get everything done when I return in a month. It has also made us decide to cancel our transat for this year and get everything I want done in the US at the good dollar rate at the moment and hopefully be able to do a shakedown cruise down to the Bahamas or the Keys next winter after the Hurricane season, with a fully sorted and repainted boat.
Fun this cruising lark, innit? /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
 

Bejasus

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We last spoke to him as we left Canaveral and he was contemplating having his rigging repaired in Miami. As he has now secured a berth in the same marina as us in Savannah, I am sure we will meet up with him when we finally get there in early May.
 

Salty John

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Sounds like you are having an adventure!
If you need to cross Florida again and don't specifically want to visit Key West you can get across at Moser Channel near Vaca Key (Marathon), it saves a lot of time and distance.
If you are intending to spend any time on the ICW you might want to invest in TowBoatUS towing insurance, if you haven't already done so. It's about $100 a year, fantastic value for money.
The Bahamas is one of my favourite cruising areas, particularly The Exumas and the out islands - don't miss it! Try to be in Georgetown for the cruisers regatta in mid-March followed by the Family Island Regatta when the traditional Bahamian craft race.
Good luck and fair winds!
 

Bejasus

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9 Jun 2002
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Savannah 32 00.50N - 80 59.90W
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thanks John, we initially though of Moser and I know the boat has been through there on at least one occasion. However, it would have been at night and through waters we are unfamiliar with and we draw 6 ft, so did not feel confident enough to attempt it and also we wanted to perhaps take a look at Key West itself but decided when we got there that this was not the time. Also, Bob's mast height is around 63 ft. and he was concerned about the week of NE winds holding the water higher than normal in the channel, perhaps reducing the 65 ft clearance there.
Our insurance is with BoatUS and we do have unlimited towing from Towboat. Having run aground twice while delivering a cat from St. Pete and again in another boat at 20 kts 2 days later, it is a very good investment for $120. At least on the Gulf side it is all nice soft sand, although not at 20+ knots in a 450 SeaRay. /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
At least I wasn't driving. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
 
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