Friday, February 5, 2010

Checking Out of Hotel California

Vero Beach, FL
Feb 5, 2010

Its winds peaking at 25 knots inland our current atmospheric disturbance works itself out. Happily we are moored in Vero waiting.  We have been waiting for a while for stuff to arrive and the weather to favour a crossing from Florida to Bahamas.  The event is at hand.

Wednesday saw the long overdue replacement eyeglasses arrive.  Thursday heralded the arrival of new engine gauges to replace the ones that burnt out in a spray of uncontrolled high voltage.   The alternator is serviced and reinstalled.

Yesterday the Budget Committee removed and replaced the old duct carrying air from the engine room fan to a rear mounted exhaust.  A dirty and time consuming job.

While the BC attacked 2 weeks of laundry I reconnected the engine room blower rewiring it through a relay.  On a roll I carried on and installed a relay through the engine keyswitch to activate the fuel pump. 

That done the BC returned by dinghy from the marina office with our new engine gauges.  It was implied that I tend to their installation while the drying cycle finished. 

Amazingly everything came together and all our "last minute" jobs were complete in time for us to visit new friends John and Linda on GretaGreta, out of Stouffville ON, is a 3 year old Beneteau 46 with more toys than Santa Claus: Fischer Panda Generator, Spectra Watermaker, the works.   This boat is bigger than a summer cottage and generates enough power to light up a small village. 

Showing off his boat John even blushed a couple of times at the glorious excess to which he was privy.

Not all was fun and games however.  While aboard we compared notes on the weather, which has been foul offshore and our thoughts on when a crossing to Bahamas might take place.  Oddly we both agreed that Monday looked viable and so we have a loose arrangement to travel the stream together.  "No contract" as our friends Ben and Andree from Gatineau would say but an unspoken understanding.

As we discussed the crossing we were both pleasantly surprised to discover we staged out of the same anchorage just south of Peanut Island at the Inlet.

Weather plays out like this: tomorrow's forecast cold front is our cue to hit the waterway and get to West Palm beach (Lake Worth Inlet) to stage for the crossing of the gulf stream.  From Vero to West Palm is a pleasant one day trip followed by a second day cluttered with six bloody bridges.  It puts us in West Palm by Sunday afternoon.

When a cold front passes winds clock  from west through North and North East.  Eventually the winds turn south as the generative low pressure area moves further offshore.    When the north winds of a cold front meet the north moving waters of the gulf stream  matters aqueous take a  turn.  Not for the better.

Crossing the "stream" involves a bit of judgement for all save the neophyte.  Neophytes just wait until every scared little white head on a boat assures them conditions are acceptable  and they can risk their frail plastic vessel on a shot a running the 40 miles from Florida to Bahamas.   We have heard of some boats waiting a month for the "right" window.  Stupid has no explanation.

On our figuring the waves kicked up by the frontal winds will have subsided by Monday.
Winds will remain out of the North but at only 10 knots which is not enough to kick up any wave action on the stream.  Or so we hope.  

It is "common knowledge" that no one ever leaves Florida eastbound if there are winds out of the North.   Many of us do and none of us sink or even suffer vertigo.

Our companion boat, Greta, agrees.  Like us they are leaving Vero tomorrow morning anticipating a Monday crossing.  Before leaving we query the reporting buoys maintained by the US Government at various points in the Florida Strait to make sure the WAVES are acceptable.  If so we go.

John, Captain of Greta, is a very careful man who spent his life in engineering design.  Linda is a lovely hostess.  John mentioned later in the conversation that he was 73.  A surprise to us.

You do not know how much I hope the next post is not from the USA.

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