Monday, 22 January 2018

Fort Lauderdale - Florida

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 11am and the weather was much better than it was further north, but I suppose we were in the sunshine state of Florida. When we were got close, two lads were waiting to catch our ropes and once we were moored, we went over to help Michael moor up too. Once all the boats were secured we went to the office to sign in and pay for our mooring dues, find out where the showers, washers and dryers were and sort out electric. After everything was paid for, Michael showed us where to go to get some shopping and where the washing machine is and of course a little tour around the area. Michael had been here a good few times before and knew all the best places to eat, drink and told us which areas to stay away from too. There was a lot of tramps around and they had a bad name for themselves, but I later found out that this is not always true.  

After our guided tour had finished we went back to the boats to wash them down, fill up with fresh drinking water and connect them to the main power supply. After all the jobs were done we went out for a well-earned drink in what would become our local bar. My brother and his family were on holiday on America and they drove about 3 hours to meet me. It was nice to see him and his family but made me a little homesick for my family. At least I could call and text them but its never the same. It was also a bit weird being here for Christmas and not seeing my kids open their presants on Christmas Day but I suppose I knew that before I left and they wanted me to come on this trip which is really nice of them too.  At least I got to see Simon's and Kim's daughter Sienna opening her presants and then I was sent a little video of them opening theirs which made me feel a bit better.
The Browns were starting to become my 2nd family now, and that made me feel more relaxed and the boat was becoming my 2nd home too and if I look a bit down, then I just said to myself that I was very lucky and not very many people get a chance to do this so in other words give I gave myself a shake.
We were moored in downtown Fort Lauderdale and it was such a lovely area with the shops, bars and restaurants only a stones throw away. The people were very friendly and there was a real buzz about the area. There was lots of dog walkers, joggers, wildlife and lots of tourists going past the boat all day long so we were never bored. We also had loads of jobs to do so we were never going to get bored anyway and that was one of the main reasons we were here. There was an old man who used to turn up everyday and feed a homeless cat, grey squirrels and birds. It was cool for me as it was easy to get a picture and some close up videos as well. 
We were only going to be here for a week but in the end, it was longer than we wanted.

We did lots of jobs during the day and in the evening, we either went out for a walk or had something to eat but most of the time we ended up in a bar for a few night caps.

We had new batteries installed as the others had given up and we also have a new water maker installed. If you don’t know what a water maker is, then it draws sea water into the boat and filters it through its system and coverts it into drinking water. It’s a god saver when you are in the middle of nowhere and it saves you from spending money on drinking water too.

As we picked through the jobs list, we forgot to do was put new marks on the chain for different lengths or depths for when we going to anchor. We got all the chain out onto the pier and then the worst thing happened, then windlass broke and it was getting close to new year. We took it all apart in the hope that it could be fixed but we were told by a specialist that it was dead. So, after 2 days getting it out and looking to fix it we only had 3 days to get a new one and get it fitted.

In the UK we would source the item we wanted and get it posted out. We can pay extra for next day delivery or wait for 2 days but in America things don’t seen to happen like that and with new year on its way we thought it was going to be another good few days here. Luckily for us we meet a kind man called Vern who let us use his account to get the windlass cheaper and the express delivery man turned up on time which was a bonus. Now all we had to do was to fix the new one in and wire it all up and then Bob’s your uncle and Fanny’s your aunt.   Everything was good to go but there was no power at all, but Vern turned up to see if we were ok and found out that the breaker was broken. Its was getting late so he said he would come on New Year Eve to finish it off.

Vern held up to his promise and turned up to finish of the job on new years eve which was really kind of him and it was a big relief to us all. We slowly connected the chain through the windlass and started to get it back onboard.  With everything working perfectly and the boat all tidy, we let the ropes go and said goodbye to Michael as he would not be joining us on our next leg. It was a total pleasure to meet him and after our final goodbyes we were off.

Once out of the river we went to get some fuel and then out into the Atlantic to sail towards the Bahamas. We first steamed south towards Miami which was about 50 miles away and then we turned out to the Bahamas were the tide and wind would take us to the perfect place to anchor. It was the first time in my life that I have spent New Years Eve on a boat and to be honest it was lush. Seeing all the fireworks going off over Miami was amazing and to know that in 2 days’ time we would be swimming with fish in crystal clear waters….

NEXT TIME……. Sailing to the Bahamas 



Monday, 15 January 2018

ICW - Intracoastal Waterway

One of the main reasons Simon and Kim wanted to go down the ICW and we started at Palm Beach was that their boat draws to much water to go down it any quicker. This was supposed to be the deepest part of the waterway but we later found out that this is not the case. 
The ICW was a really chilled motor until we wanted to moor at the Two George’s restaurant for something to eat. We had spoke to them and they said we could moor there over night as long, as we eat their restaurant, but when we arrived there was no space at the dock. This was not a problem as we would just eat on board the boat and keep motoring down through the ICW until we find an area where we could anchor for the night.

It was such a beautiful part of the world and looking at all the homes as we passed by was an eye opener. Some of these homes were just amazing and the money they must have cost was silly, but if these people want to spend their money this way then what’s it got to do with me. Some of the homes had little putting greens on their front lawn, others had false rocks that looked like a water fall but they were a slid that went into their swimming pools. Now that would be cool even if the novelty wore off. Some looked like they were built for a film set and other just had no taste what’s so ever. Every house we saw was different and they were the topic of conversation all the way to Fort Lauderdale.

While steaming down the ICW its supposed to be a “NO WAKE ZONE”, which means no waves, but this was ignored by 80 percent of the boats which was really annoying as they had no consideration for any other vessels on the ICW and if your music was not blasting out the worst music in the world then you were not cool enough to be in a boat…… I must be getting old……

While we were motoring down (slowly) we came to a crossroads where another river meets ours and the tide was ripping through. Michael was ahead of us and he was keeping an eye on the depth as we draw a lot more water than he did, when suddenly, we hit the bottom. It was not a hard hit but more a soft one which means it was just mud and nothing hard like rocks. A man from the ICW came along side the boat and told us we would have the wait a few minutes as it was spot on low water and told us there was a bank of mud in this area due to the tides. Sure, enough we were off in a few minutes and we headed further south again.

We looked at the charts and we found what looked like an area that was deep enough to anchor for the night but how wrong we were. We were not even in the area when we hit the bottom again. This time it was a bit harder and we were stuck. Simon raised the sail to get a bit of weight on one side of the boat while he came astern and it worked a trick too. We were off and again we headed south looking for somewhere to anchor. We eventually found a place to anchor and after we were all secure for the night we grabbed something to eat, then hit the hay.

What an eventful day we had and tomorrow we would be in Fort Lauderdale.

We all woke up fresh and ready to go and the houses just seemed to get bigger and better the closer to got to downtown Fort Lauderdale. After a few hours we had arrived and moored up into this beautiful area.

Next Time in Fort Lauderdale, our stay had some major ups and downs. Watch this space.



Friday, 5 January 2018

Palm Beach

After a great time in Cape Canaveral we left and headed south toward Palm Beach. The sun was out, the sea was calm and it was much better weather than we have had on previous sails. We even put the main sail up but that was a mistake as the wind just dropped so much we were only doing 2 knots with the wind on our bow, which is a really bad thing.
Never mind we dropped the sails and started the engine and we were back up to 6 knots which was much better. As we motored south the sunset was outstanding and it was a total pleasure to be out on the water even though we weren't sailing.

After a great nights sailing we arrived in Palm Beach and I was gob smacked by all the very expensive yachts around. These boats are something out of a movie and must cost millions. I think most of them are a status symbol for most people and hardly get used at all.

After mooring up we washed the boat down and went for a little look around. Sienna, who is Simon and Kim's daughter was invited to a photo shoot at a BBQ later that day. They were doing a broucher and she was perfect for it, and they even offered us some burgers as payment. We gratefully excepted the offer for some free food and it was really good to. They even gave a voucher for $25 each to spend in the shop as another thank you. This was starting to become a brilliant stop and the mooring was not cheap, but at this rate it was nearly going to be free. In the end it only cost $25 for the mooring for the night. Now that's a bargain for Palm Beach I can tell you.

After our BBQ we set off into town to see all the Christmas lights and we were not disappointed at all as it was lovely. After a night on the tiles we went back to the yachts for a good nights rest. The next day we were leaving at 11am and one of the main seasons we were at Palm Beach was that Simon wanted to go down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is 3000 mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico running from Boston to Massachusetts. The reason we did not go down this way to start with is that the yacht draws to much water and we would have never got very far but at this end we were ok.

After spending our $25 each we headed off down the ICW.

Next stop Fort Lauderdale.....