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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Florida Keys 30 January 2010

Jeannette has been troubled by a splinter in her finger for two weeks. Finally decided to go to doctor, who after giving antibiotics for a couple of days made an incision and withdrew a 1 cm wood splinter - relief all round that it has been found and extracted.

Yesterday took a coach tour to Key West leaving at 0700hrs. Found it a fascinating experience driving along 126 miles along the US 1 highway over 34 Florida Key island chain linked by 42 bridges , some many miles long (the longest is 7 miles long). Most of the way there is evidence of the original railway bridge system built by Henry Flagler in the 1800's. Many films have been shot on the Keys including Humphrey Bogart's 1948 film "Key Largo" and "The African Queen".

Key West has many fine old houses with mature trees but has been almost completely taken over by the tourists - still, well worth a visit. Amongst its famous residents was Ernest Hemmingway.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Miami Beach Anchorage 28 January 2010

After clearing the deck and giving it a good wash, we said our goodbyes to the friendly Miami Yacht and Engine Works staff and cast off our lines. Many bridges later we exited the Miami River and anchored close to junction of the southern side of the Venetian Causeway and Miami Beach. Dinghied into the supermarket Publix and had a good walk down Lincoln street and along the Atlantic waterfront of Miami Beach - much warmer and more people around than last time we were here - most wearing shorts. A great feeling to be at anchor again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MYEW 27 January 2010

The correct hollow bolt for the injector diesel return line arrived and by 1400hrs the engine was working again - still some smoke on startup but I am told this should reduce over time. The crossed threads of this little bolt cost us 5 days.

So we should, fingers crossed, be ready to leave the boat yard and anchor off Miami Beach tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

MYEW - 26 January

Mike & Andrea from Jade Woman kindly picked us up early Sunday morning and we drove together along the Alligator Alley to the West Coast of Florida to see Geoff and Shirley from Three Sheets - a mini Kemer reunion. Had an excellent couple of days together catching up on news and enjoying their wonderful facilities. Alligator Alley lived up to its name having many Alligators lying along the sides of the canals which run parallel to the road.
Unfortunately the ordered bolt for the return line on the Volvo Penta engine proved to be the wrong size . A different bolt has now been ordered - we cross our fingers for tomorrow, Wednesday.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

MYEW - 23 January 2010

Tested the Anchor winch seals with lots of water - no leak.
So in theory only need injector job completed before we can change from work boat to cruising boat - probably not till Wednesday.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Still at the Miami Yacht & Engine Works 22 January 2010

Today the anchor winch was reinstalled with new bearings and seals.
Tomorrow we test it for leaks - there is a slight chance that it may still leak as the saft was a bit scarred during the rebuilding - we keep our fingers crossed.

The Volvo Penta mechanic arrived mid afternoon with the new injectors - they are now installed but one of the banjo bolts on the return line has a crossed thread so have to wait till Tuesday for the installation to be complete. The old injectors were very dirty.

We are moored just off the narrow Miami River which is quite busy with ships being towed up and down it.

Washing day - Jeannette gets ready to cycle to the laundrette

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Miami Yacht & Engine Works 19 Jan 2010

For the last week we have been on the hard at Miami Yacht & Engine Works on the Miami River.
The leaking seacock for the engine seawater inlet has been replaced, the boat antifouled and the bow thruster electrics repaired. On emptying the sail locker to gain access to the Bow Thruster we found quite some water sloshing around - further investigation revealed that the top lip seal on the anchor windlass shaft was leaking. So anchor winch off and dismantled and new parts ordered. As we had to wait for the parts, took the opportunity to change the propellor shaft seal which had been dripping and carry out lots of other jobs which we had been postponing. Back in the water today but have decided to solve the white smoke on start up problem with the main engine - advice from Mike from Jade Woman suggests that the springs in the injectors may be weak and let fuel drip into the cylinders when the engine is not in use. So trade in injectors have been ordered and a certified Volvo Penta Mechanic booked to fit them on Friday.
So our departure for the Bahamas is somewhat delayed - still, on the bright side a lot of items which needed fixing will have been fixed.
Our friends on Yara have used the weather window of the last couple of days to cross the Gulf Stream and are now in Nassau and will be heading south for Cuba - so unfortunately we are unlikely to see them until probably Bermuda in May.
Temperatures in Miami have risen dramatically the last few days and are now in the mid 20Cs most days so no need for fleeces and heating - this is apparently how it normally is at this time of the year so the locals must really have had a shock last week with temperatures plummiting to the freeze point
Our camera decided that we have dropped it once too often and will only produce grainy pictures so sorry for the picture quality - have had to order a replacement.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Miami Beach 11 January 2010

Yesterday 10 January was cold and windy - coldest since 1927 we hear. So we stayed on the boat and Mike changed the oil and while Jeannette baked one of our favourite dishes - chicken with leek and apple pie. As is often the case, one job leads to another and while checking the engine discovered that the sea water pump was dripping. So today replaced the pump with one that I had previously refurbished only to find that the sea cock on the engine sea water inlet was dripping when in closed position. So have now cancelled our planned trip to the Keys and have arranged for Dutch Link to be hauled tomorrow in the Miami River to replace the sea cock . At the same time we will antifoul and have the bow thruster repaired.

The sun came out today and the thermometer rose to a pleasanter level so, having made all the arrangements for haulout, we dinghied ashore to explore the fashionable Lincoln Road pedestrian street and the Miami Beach - far more beach chairs than people.

On the dinghy ride back we were very fortunate to come close to a beautiful Green Heron

Saturday, January 9, 2010

9 January Arctic front arrives in Miami

Yes, even south Florida is in a small way suffering like most of the Northern Hemisphere. Dramatic change in weather here as an Artic Cold Front engulfed us bringing rain and wind and causing the thermometer to plummet to close the freeze point. A state of emergency has been issued for the citrus fruit farmers as they may lose their crops.
Unfortunately we had to brave the elements early this morning to dinghy in to return the car. We were glad to be back on board and have spent the rest of the day on board trying o keep warm - decided to have roast chicken to heat the boat up (- our main heating has not worked for several years but we run the generator to use an electric fan heater when we really need to warm up).

Everglades 8 January 2010

8 january the sun came out and the temperature rose to the low 20's C as forecast. So rented a car from Enterprise and drove for a couple of hours south to the Everglades National Park entrance on the 9336, the only significant road which penetrates the park. Entered the park at the Ernest F Coe Visitor Center for a fee of 10 US Dollars - valid for a week.

The first and most fascinating stops of a very fascinating day was at the Anhinga Trail.

This short partly boardwalk trail is on the Taylor Slough, a deepish fresh water slow moving river. The wildlife was prolific with large numbers of Aligators lying motionless enjoying the sun on fallen tree trunks and even alonside the path or gliding through the water.

As one strolled along the trail trying to avoid the many Black Vultures that hardly bothered to move out of the way, the most abundant bird was the Anhinga, a cormorant type bird which was nesting close to the boardwalk.

Other birds were the Wood Stork, Herons (Great White, Great Blue, Green), Great Egret, Double Crested Cormorants, White Ibis. All seemed to be peacefully coexisting despite the close proximity of the Aligators.

After dragging ourselves away we drove to the souther extremity of the park to Flamingo on the coast, just about the most southern part of mainland Florida.

We were hoping to have lunch there but found one could only buy sandwiches as the only resturant in the Park had been destroyed a while back in a hurricane.

On the way back stopped at the Paurotis Pond to see a couple of nesting Roseate Spoonbills.

Had a stroll along the Mahoghany Hammock - a sort of island in the sawgrass and Cyprus marsh where, as the land is a few feet higher than the water level, tropical trees such as Mahogany grow.

Then on to the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook which had a magnificient view over ther sawgrass marshes.

Arrived back in Miami after dark having had a very enjoyable day in the Everglades. Had a bit of a problem parking the car for the night - solved it by paying the valet service at a nearby apartment building 10 dollars to park the car in the apartment underground carpark.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fort Lauderdale to Miami ICW mile 1089

7 January 0700hrs anchor up to make the 0730 hrs opening of the 17th Street Bridge, the last opening bridge for us on the ICW. As we were waiting for the bridge to open , two other yachts who were waiting with us circled a bit too far out of the channel, ran aground and missed the opening. After the bridge we ... yes we actually raised the Mainsail - first time for many weeks - and headed out of the inlet to the open sea. The northerly wind was unfortunately too light to sail on a very broad reach so we motor sailed most of the 25 miles down the coast. As we approached Miami, we were reminded of the Manhattan skyline. Entered the Miami inlet on the flood thinking we would be anchored in time for an early lunch. However , the harbour police thought otherwise and came roaring towards us just before we reached two moored cruise ships towards the end of the Main Cut. Apparently, they had closed the Cut to non-commercial traffic as a security measure because of the cruise ships, so we had to turn around , motor against the flood for 30 minutes and enter the harbour by the southern Dodge Island Channel. The security measure seems totally bizarre as this route brought us within meters of the stern of one of the cruise ships at which point we were hidden from view from the police boat - so had we had evil intentions, we could easily have carried them out.
By 1330 we were anchored in 3 meters water just south of the Venetian Causeway between the islands of Rivo Alto and Belle Isle just below tall luxury apartment blocks. Dinghied down the Collins Canal under a couple of low bridges to the Publix supermarket - very convenient. Water here is clear enough to see the bottom and is 24 degrees C. Air temperature is higher now that the wind has dropped and we have spent the evening in the boat without fleeces on. We were treated to a superb sunset.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Manatee Pocket to Lake Sylvia, Fort Lauderdale Mile 1065

Anchor up at 0810hrs on a bright but cold morning. Similar day to yesterday - passed through 14 bridges which opened on different schedules causing us to either motorsail flat out or turn motor off and potter under sail only between them.

Spacing between houses is getting smaller so land prices must be getting higher. We understand that multimillion dollar houses here are pulled down to build even more grandiose mansions. Many mega motor yachts lining the waterway. As we approached Fort Lauderdale , the number of highrise apartment blocks increased.

Caught a glimpse of the whale like tail of a Manatee but not the body.

This was our last full day on the ICW - between here and Miami there is a 56 foot fixed bridge so we have to go out to sea for the last leg.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Manatee Pocket to Lantana Bridge ICW Mile 1031

Anchor up at 0750 hrs and set off south on a cold very windy dullish morning dressed for the Arctic in fleeces , heavy weather gear, hats and gloves - and yes we are only 27 degrees north of the Equator - is this possible?

We regained the ICW via a short but very shallow section of the St Lucie river 1.4 meters - OK for us but not so good for Yara with her 2 meter keel - we wish them luck.

Most of the route was along waterfront properties some of which were very grand, and lots of moored expensive sports fishing boats and motor yachts. There were some wilderness areas with mangrove where a flock of White Ibis flew by and at one place we passed a large gathering of Turkey Vultures perched in the bushes. We saw only one Osprey but many Pelicans.

During the day the clouds disappeared and we were treated to blue skies - and as of Lake Worth, the water colour changed from murky brown to clear tourquoise - I think we must be getting close to where we want to be.

Today was the day of the bridges - only one fixed bridge but the 63.5 feet tide gauge was correct this time and we watched as our poor VHF antenna bent double - luckily it promptly regained its verticality. The rest were opening bridges - some opening on demand but most at fixed times so at times were were motor sailing flat out and others were were sailing with a partly furled Genny to kill time - all a bit tiresome.

At 16.00 hrs we turned the wheel to starboard and dropped the hook in 2.4 meters water just outside the channel just south of the Lantana Bridge.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vero Beach to Manatee Pocket Florida ICW mile 988

Yesterday, Yara left for Stuart on a cold bright morning. Florida is gripped in an exceptional cold spell with temperatures dropping to the freeze point in the early morning. We have been sleeping with several layers of clothes on and even fleece hats - back to the middle ages!

We had a walk along the beach. We think these were Royal Terns - does anybody know?

UPS delivered the ordered charts and pilot books from Bluewater Charts at 0900 this morning so we left the mooring straight away to head further south and try to find the warmth. The first bridge looked very much like a cathedral.

Had an uneventful motor down the ICW - cold but blue skies with a following northerly wind. Are now anchored in 1.7 meters water in a very sheltered creek called Manatee Pocket. The sides of the creek are full of houses with expensive sports fishing boats and several marinas and lots of WiFi signals.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Vero Beach Florida

Vero Beach is living up to its nickname "Velcro Beach" - it is so convenient and pleasant here that we have not yet moved on.
Hope all our readers have had a very good Xmas and we wish you all a very Happy 2010.
We celebrated Christmas Eve on Yara , Xmas lunch was a pot luck lunch at the marina where all the yachties brought a dish - very enjoyable meeting everyone.

There is a very convenient free bus network here - a bus comes every hour to the dinghy dock and brings one to either the beach or the shops.

The temperature has been variable but some days have been warm enough for shorts and T-shirts - mid 20'sC. Had several walks along the beach (some brave souls are actually swimming in the sea).

Since then spent 3 days working on the boat - Generator sea water flow was low - found that most of the blades on the sea water pump impellor were missing so had to dismantle the heat exchanger and clean the blocked sea water injection nipple on the exhaust elbow. As the forcabins had had to be emptied for this, took the opportunity to replace the faulty 220volt low pressure pump for the watermaker ready for the Bahamas.

Saw a few Frigatebirds soaring effortlessly above the beach - a sure sign that we are getting south.

Many baby Portugese Men of War Jelly fish are on the beaches at the moment.

Celebrated New Years Eve on Dutch Link with Pol & Kyra from Yara - Jeannette made Appel Flappen for the occassion - gezellig evening.

Spent some time planning trip back to the Med and ordered the necessary charts and pilot books and are now waiting for them to arrive before moving further south.