Friday, May 24, 2013

Vero Beach to New York City

Friday, May 3, 2013 - Singer Island to Vero Beach

We weighed anchor at 0730 and considered sailing up to Fort Pierce. After poking our nose into the 8' rollers in the channel we decided to take the ICW to Vero Beach instead. Uneventful motor all afternoon until we were beset with a million Love Bugs and flying ants. We arrived at Vero Beach Marina to top off fuel and water and made our way to a mooring ball for the night. After a huge storm with winds and lightning (glad we weren't on the outside for this) Jeff, Neala, Christian and Grady took the dinghy to the Riverside Grill for dinner. Beautiful starlit ride on the way back.

 Dinghy ride to Riverside Grill at sunset
Dinner at the Riverside Grill

Saturday, May 4, 2013 - In Vero Beach

 Spent the day working through our punch list of things to do. The four of us went to shore for a walk on the beach and got a bite to eat at Cravings. We headed back to the boat through some lovely Vero neighborhoods. Neala and Christian took the dink back to shore to do some shopping with Kristin Patterson. Later that evening, Kristin returned and we all went to dinner at the well-known Ocean Grill. The stone crab claws were featured on the menu and were fantastic! Thanks, Kristin for joining us.

 Stone crab claws at Ocean Grill - YUM!
 Neala and dear friend Kristin

Sunday, May 5, 2013 - Departed Fort Pierce

 After discussions of weather patterns, we dropped our mooring at 0815 and motored down to the Fort Pierce inlet. At 1030 Neala motored us out the inlet into 15 kt winds and 4-6 ft seas in search of the Gulf Stream. In 5-6 hours we knew we had entered the Gulf Stream because we began to get a 3 kt kicker and our SOG topped 11 kts. The wind also built to over 20 kts and the seas heaped up to 10 ft with much confusion.

Neala heading us out of Fort Pierce Inlet for points north
The weather quickly became warmer
Swells covered the horizon at sunset

I checked in on the Doo Dah net and they warned us of 25-30 kt winds in the forecast that we had not previously seen. Fortunately, those winds did not materialize and the seas calmed down to a regular 6-8 ft rollers. Grady had rigged his fishing pole and after a couple of hours his line began to sing. After a bit of a fight we were all excited to see a nice, emerald-gold 20" Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi) with blue polka-dots. Christian sauteed the fresh fillets in olive oil and lemon for a delicious fresh fish dinner!

Fresh Dorado on the hook

Christian cooked it up - No Problemo!

After dinner, we all settled into our 2 hr watch schedule. In the middle of the night the winds had built to 25 kts but they remained from the west so we flew along into the night under double reefed main and jib. As it was a warm, crystal clear night we all got a chance to enjoy the incredible night sky with no moon, a billion stars and occasional meteor trails.

Monday, May 6, 2013 - In the Gulf Stream at Last

By 0530 the winds had abated to 10-12 kts so we shook the reefs and spent the day sailing easily on a beam reach in 4-6 ft seas. It was a beautiful sunny day and the Gulf Stream water temp was 79 degrees as we cruised easily northward.

Great down wind ride in the Gulf Stream!
Jeff used plotting sheets in lieu of charts to record our position while offshore
Neala enjoying the sun and a good book in the Stream

Occasionally, throughout the day we were surprised to see a swallow fly by. We were 100 miles offshore at this point and the sight of a little land bird so far out to sea seemed unusual to us. As darkness approached; however, the little bird circled closer. Jeff was in the cockpit writing in the log book when the little swallow came fluttering and chirping into the cockpit and landed on the page as he was writing it! We guessed he figured it was "any port in a storm". Jeff was wearing a black jacket and the little bird just cuddled up in the crook of his arm and tucked his head under his wing for the night. We gently relocated our little hitchhiker to a little bed we made for him under the dodger and he went fast asleep. SO AMAZING!!!

 Little birdie finds a port in the storm
Jeff and bird friend at sunset
Making a bunk for our little feathered crew mate

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - Croozin' the Stream

In the morning, our little winged stowaway jumped out of his "berth", looked around for a few minutes, flapped his wings and flew off. We thought this was a good omen for the rest of the trip. The winds were 15-20 SW all day and we continued to get a nice kicker from the Stream. It was a lovely day on the water. Grady set his fishing rig again and, sure enough, caught another fine Dorado. This time it was 30"! As the winds had died down we were able to grill this one with enough fish for dinner and sashimi appetizers. Caught, filleted and grilled within one hour - Delicious! We dodged a squall after sunset then were caught in the middle of a 35 kt squall around midnight. After this, the winds died and we fired up the Iron Genoa.

Grady grilling fresh Dorado fillets
Christian enjoying the freshest sashimi ever!
 Life at Sea: Grady catchin' some zzzzs
 Life at Sea: Christian relaxing
 Life at Sea: Jeff on the single sideband radio
Life at Sea: Neala & Jeff at dinner

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - Around Hatteras

Approaching Cape Hatteras the winds continued to be light. We flew the chute for a while but mostly duked on the engine around this famous Graveyard of the Atlantic. Sure enough, toward dusk, another little bird landed on the boat and appeared quite exhausted. He made his way into the cockpit and hopped onto Christian's shoulder. We made up the same little bunk and tucked him in just like the other bird. In the middle of the night the winds came from our stern at 12 kts so we jibed back and forth for several hours.
We got the spin up for a while after Cape Hatteras
Neala enjoying her book under spinnaker
Christian hanging out at Cape Hatteras
Christian has a new feathered friend, too

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - Landfall in Little Creek VA

In the morning we were running low on fuel and the Captain decided to head for Norfolk to refuel. It was about 60 miles from our current position so we spent the day under motor to get there. Our little friend was sleeping in late so we checked on him and - alas - he had not made it through the night. Christian and Jeff had a little ceremony and buried him at sea. We were glad we could at least provide a nice soft final resting spot.

Grady in Little Creek
Christian pickin' and a grinnin'
Dinner and fuel stop in Little Creek VA. The site of C's 5-cent bar tab!

We arrived at the Bay Point Marina in Little Creek at 1745 and went ashore to the restaurant there for drinks and dinner. Four days from Florida to Norfolk - not bad! We returned to the boat and Christian returned to the bar where he became a "plank owner" of the bar (it had just opened that night) and where all of his drinks were $0.05 total since he was a crew member of a transient vessel.

Friday, May 10, 2013 - Little Creek to Atlantic City

In the morning we stopped by the Little Creek Marina to take on fuel and then motored out of the harbor for a beautiful broad reach up the Delmarva coast. Our destination was uncertain, perhaps Cape May, Atlantic City or even NYC. The winds were fair and we enjoyed evening music with Christian on guitar and Neala on keyboard (a mother-son duo!) in the cockpit as the sun settled onto the horizon. In the middle of the night; however, the weather changed abruptly and the midwatch crew (Grady & Neala) had major squalls surrounded by lightning strikes to the water. As the storm abated, they made the decision to head for Atlantic City rather than Cape May.

Neala texting with Ruthie in Spain while still in cell phone range

Mother-Son duet off Delmarva coast
Christian goes boom!

Saturday, May 11, 2013 - Atlantic City

In the morning, Jeff had slept through the entire stormy night! Around 1500 we motored into the Abscom Inlet and tied up at the Farley Marina at the Golden Nugget Casino. Christian's fiancee, Jeanette, drove down from Middletown CT to join us for Christian's 25th birthday dinner at Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse in the casino.

Christian and fiancee Jeanette on his 25th birthday in Atlantic City

Sunday, May 12, 2013 - Atlantic City to Manasquan NJ

We said goodbye to Christian and Jeanette as they departed for Connecticut and Grady, Neala and Jeff set sail for Manasquan Inlet, 50 nm north and only 30 nm from NYC. The winds, light at first, quickly built to 15-20 SW and we reached up the coast at hull speed. Soon after Barnegat Inlet the winds increased to 20-25 kts and then 25-30 so we reefed and then motorsailed the last hour to arrive before sunset. We tied up at Hoffman's Marina East, which is located just before the railroad bascule bridge for the night.

 Manasquan fishing fleet
 Manasquan marina where we stayed

Monday, May 13, 2013 - Manasquan to New York City

We got underway at 0800 and headed towards NYC. The winds were a 15-20 kt beam reach for a couple of hours until they clocked to NNW and built to 25 kts with choppy, confused seas. Cold winds today meant a cold beat so we furled the sails for the last time on this voyage and motored into New York Harbor. The skies cleared as we passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, sharing the channel with numerous other large ships and barges.  We motored close to the Statue of Liberty and made our way into the Liberty Landing Marina where we had stayed last fall.

Entering NYC harbor with its spectacular skyline
There she is - our Lady Liberty!
Grady and the Lady
Northern Lights at Liberty Landing with new World Trade tower lighting up at dusk

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 2: Lake Worth to Lake Worth

 Yes, it is raining here in our "former" anchorage
 This morning's stormy anchorage
 Ominous storm clouds over Peanut Island
 Motoring to our new anchorage
 Neala and Christian, wet, after weighing anchor in the storm

 Jeff and Grady at happy hour

Had a calm night's sleep but awoke to rain and thundershowers. The rains are the worst we've ever seen in Florida - stretching all across the state and onward to the Bahamas. A great day for ducks! Jeff got his tank & regulator ready to dive the boat, but the rains persisted and so did the lightening. Not a good day for swimming.

After lunch, in the middle of blowing rain, we were hailed by a policeman-looking dude on the beach who told us of an ordinance that we could not anchor within 500 ft of the shoreline. We'd had several passes from the Coast Guard and local police patrols and none of them had done more than wave. We did see a grumpy looking fat blonde on the dock scowling at us so we figured she had complained to their local rent-a-cops to roust us out.

The thundershowers still dominated the radar, so we waited for a lull and then re-anchored just south of the inlet in 15 ft of water. A number of other cruisers are anchored around us, awaiting clear weather. Rain prevented us from doing anything we had planned to do so now we are sitting in the salon having happy hour.

Tomorrow we will motor up to Vero Beach to await the promised weather window on Sunday. It's all good!

Day 1: Delray Beach to Lake Worth

We spent the morning carrying provisions and gear from the condo then Jeff had a 2-hr call. After his call we cleaned out the condo and shut it down for the season. At 1445 we pulled in our dock lines and backed out into the turning basin at Tropic Bay. Grady, Christian, Neala and Jeff were under way at last! We quickly motored under the Linton Street bridge to Atlantic Avenue, George Bush and the progression of bridges up to Lake Worth. Large thunderheads were behind us and approaching as we passed the Ocean Avenue bridge. Christian was at the wheel and we were motoring well when suddenly the oil pressure alarm on the engine began to scream!

Motoring out the Tropic Bay canal

Passing Deck 84 at Atlantic Blvd Bridge

He pulled back the throttle as I dived below to check the engine. There was two inches of very hot oil in the pan under the engine so we shut it down immediately. After some inspection, Grady and I discovered that the seal on the oil filter had failed and we had lost about half of the 3 gallons of oil that the Volvo holds. Fortunately, we had a spare filter and more oil so we began to make repairs.

At this point we were under sail and the thunderstorms finally caught up with us. Neala and Christian handled the sails and the boat while Grady and I replaced the lost oil and cleaned up the mess under the engine. Soon we were under way again and the rain continued for the next two hours. At the north end of Lake Worth there are three timed bridges. We were running as fast as we could run but the Ocean Avenue bridge tender told us we weren't going to make the 1800 opening and would have to wait for another 27 minutes for the next. I told him I bet we could make it to the bridge before he could get it open (that takes 4-5 minutes) and as we got to the bridge he was just raising the span for us. We thanked him profusely and continued north to anchor near Blue Heron Bridge as the sun finally set.

A fine dinner of steaks and salad with a bit of red wine and we were ready to turn in. We have some stowing to do on Friday and we need to clean the bottom, change headsails, top off fuel and pump sanitaries before we can leave. We are hoping for a weather window to develop over the weekend so that we can get out into the Gulf Stream maybe Saturday.

 Our anchorage neighbors in Lake Worth