East Coast Sailing: Dispatch 22

1/14/12, Lake Worth, FL:on the ICW south of Vero Beach

We’re finally on the move again! We have resumed heading down the ICW, although Paul would rather be offshore. To me, it’s just so much fun (except when powerboats with large engines go by at speed and really rock slower vessels like DW) getting to see the houses of the rich and famous and the not-so-rich and not-so-famous. Watching birds, flying, swimming, perching on pilings and ICW markers; people in all kinds of watercraft: sailboats, of course, powerboats, small skiffs, 100′ motor yachts (more about one of them in a moment), people on paddleboards, small skiffs at a standstill while the people are fishing, and one water taxi, full of people. And the houses, sometimes every one grander than the one before it, and other times whole neighborhoods that could be anywhere, but happen to have front yards looking out on the ICW.

Suddenly lots of high risesThe ICW is suddenly much busier than it has been at any point up until now. It may be a combination of just being in a more populated part of FL, and people heading to the FL Keys, the Bahamas, or elsewhere in the Caribbean. (When we were stuck in Vero Beach, which isn’t such a bad place to be stuck, one cruiser airily told me, “Oh, we never go to the Bahamas! We like the Caribbean so much better.”) Whatever it is, the ICW has a lot of vessels and DW is one of the slower ones. We rarely pass anyone other than boats stopped for fishing.

Most boats pass us and it’s no big deal. Some of the time, however, (and I’ve mentioned this before) some powerboat skippers seem to feel compelled to run their engines flat out and wind up generating quite a wake. Couple that with limited room for maneuvering and a disregard for Manatee Queenother vessels, and you have, let us say, the potential for hard feelings. Three power boats with large engines passed us quickly in succession, each one’s passing wake adding to the confusion left from the one before. It was not pleasant, but Paul was able to warn me so everything was secured in the cabin. A lot of stuff rattled around, but nothing fell. I’m sure when you’re barreling along at 30+ knots, you don’t think of such things. Pity the poor paddleboarders!

On the other hand, there was this: a large motor yacht, 100′ at least, passed us going barely faster than we were, so gently that there was no wake whatsoever. The courtesy the captain extended to us and to the other stragglers will stay with me. Another boat, a smaller power boat, hailed Paul on the VHF radio to let him know that they would be passing us on the port side. I cannot recall the last time anyone did that, but, again, it was an unexpected courtesy. People can be so nice bridge openingsometimes!

Today we went through the nine bridges that had to be opened for us. All of the earlier ones were easy:  on demand, and many of the bridge operators had the bridges fully open before we got to the bridge, so it was very easy. Of the four or five bridges at the end that were on schedules, it really wasn’t bad at all for us. The longest we had to wait was for 25 minutes, and Paul spent some of that time commiserating with the skipper of another sailboat that had been doing figure 8s, waiting for the bridge opening time, and made one of the loops a little too wide, managing to go aground in the mud on an ebbing tide. He was waiting for BoatUS to free him, so he could continue on his way to … Lake Worth, so he could cross to the Bahamas on Wednesday morning. Not knowing that he was aground (I assumed that he’d just put an anchor down Lighthouse on the ICW approachiing North Palm Beachwhile he waited for the bridge), I commented to Paul about how nice the boat was. His response:  “Well, Perry (Bob Perry, the designer) likes long keels.”  When I asked the skipper where he was going in the Abacos (which is where we’re going, as well), he said, “All of them!”

The forecast weather window we were hoping for continues to hold. There are 17 or 18 boats anchored here tonight (don’t know if the sailboat mentioned above is one of them), and in talking to a few of their captains or crew, I suspect that many people will be doing exactly as we’re planning to do: and a close up...leave Lake Worth Inlet in the late afternoon and make the crossing to the Bahamas. Fair winds and an easy crossing to us all!

This will be my last post until we cross the Gulf Stream and clear into the Bahamas.

One reminder to everyone: if these dispatches do not interest you, please, please let me know, and I’ll remove you from the email list. Comments are always welcome! (After we get to the Bahamas, though, internet access may be a lot more sporadic, so it may take a few days for me to respond.)

yes, the house is as big as it looksFor anyone interested, since leaving Nova Scotia on June 17, 2011, we’ll have sailed and motored a total of 3,373 nautical miles (estimate). We spent a total of 136 days on DW in 2011, and 60 (so far) in 2012.

We visited NS, ME, (skipped NH other than Isle of Shoals, which was on the ME/NH border), MA, (missed RI, CT, and NY) NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, NC, SC (skipped GA), and FL. We hauled out in Portland, ME, to avoid Hurricane Irene, and were lucky that Tropical Storm/Hurricane Sandy missed us entirely. Two offshore passages: Falmouth, MA, to Cape May, NJ, which took 44 hours, and Charleston, SC to the St Johns River, FL, a 35 hour passage.

We had major work done on DW in VA (none of it a surprise) and came away with a shiny new Yanmar paddleboarders20 hp diesel, a brand-spanking-new tanbark junk sail, and other odds and ends. We have an expensive, very heavy-duty new autopilot, purchased at the boat show in Annapolis,MD. And we saw amazing wildlife and met some great people. I honestly cannot say which place was my favorite. How do you choose between travelling down the Great Dismal Swamp, a canal whose location was laid out by George Washington, and the sight of Boston or Washington, DC, from the water? Different experiences, but each memorable and wonderful.

I think my only regret in all of this is that we weren’t able to cruise between Long Island and the mainland, up Long Island Sound and the East River to get to see and experience that greatest American city, New York City, from the water. Those of you who have been on the dispatch list for a while mayIMG_3487 remember our terrible passage from Falmouth, MA, to Cape May, NJ. We had to make the decision whether to go into Long Island Sound, which is shallow (and in high winds can be pretty nasty) and which really doesn’t offer many places to stop in bad weather, though is fine sailing when the weather is good. Alas, predictions weren’t for good weather, and it was late enough in the season that Paul feared (correctly) that the fall weather was upon us. Paul’s regret is that after a solid month, we were still in FL (though if I recall, he probably said the same thing about VA…).

Fair winds and fine sailing, everyone!