Saturday, January 28, 2017

Made it to Ft. Lauderdale

After I posted while sailing offshore on Thursday night, the foul current continued to increase as we neared Lake Worth Inlet. By then the water temperature had ticked up by a degree and a half, which made it pretty clear that the Gulf Stream was a whole lot closer to shore than the NWS marine zone forecasts were saying. I had already revised our route to go much closer to shore but was having trouble getting there as the wind remained stubbornly WSW. I strapped in the sheets and was beating upwind but it wasn't moving us inshore quickly enough as our speed over ground was rapidly deteriorating. At 12:20am I decided we had to tack inshore but tried to hold off until Dawn came up for her watch at 1am (we have a rule about not leaving the cockpit when alone at night, and tacking in our boat sometimes requires leaving the cockpit to help the yankee through the foretriangle - it often hangs up on the baby stay). By 12:35am our SOG had further deteriorated to two knots (!) on six knots speed through water - a four knot current - and deciding we couldn't wait any longer, I called Dawn up early. We tacked and the current took us rapidly back north as we made our way towards shore. I went slightly beyond our course to make sure we could lay the new waypoint off Lake Worth Inlet, tacked back south at 1:25am in a nice easy half-knot current, and promptly went to sleep as Dawn took over.

At 2am Dawn woke me to inform me that the wind speed had dropped below 8 knots and she was starting the engine. It was the only time she woke me during her watches despite a fair amount of traffic (that she told me about after-the-fact) - she did a really nice job her first time standing solo night watches. The wind angle was just westerly enough to motorsail with both mainsail and yankee flying (we had furled the staysail before tacking) at 6.5 knots. I had figured we'd have to motorsail at some point as the wind was forecast to die during the night, but coming inshore hastened it. Oh well - we had 10 fantastic hours of sailing on a beam reach, a close reach, and a beat.

I woke up and took over for the 4am-7am watch. Piper had been fairly lethargic earlier in the night but was now quite active, which seems to be his usual pattern offshore. He jumped up next to me and curled up with his head on my lap - perfect for the chilly night. I finally finished the fairly long Kindle book I've been reading in my sparse downtime for a few weeks ("Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945" by Tony Judt), reheated some coffee, and then enjoyed a really nice sunrise as we passed Dania Beach. Dawn took over at 7am and I dozed a little before getting up to fix some granola, yogurt & banana for breakfast. The wind finally veered to the west but stayed pretty light despite some tantalizing puffs. Our speed over ground started picking up as we finally caught one of those Gulf Stream eddies...nearly a knot of fair current. Finally, 5 miles north of Port Everglades inlet, it consistently blew at 10 knots and we killed the engine to enjoy a leisurely sail in. Of course then it backed worries, we had fun tacking around the cargo ships anchored outside the harbor. Entering the inlet the wind was right on the nose so we started the engine, furled the sails, and headed in to make the 11am opening of the 17th Street Bridge. By chance our friend Dave Strong, who is a pilot for Spirit Airlines, was laying over at a hotel right next to the bridge and we were able to alert him in time to come down to the dock and take a photo of us coming through.


We decided to take a mooring ball near Las Olas Marina if one was available and otherwise anchor in Lake Sylvia. Making our way up the ICW was a little stressful for Dawn (who was at the wheel) due to a ton of boat traffic and a bit of current, but she did a great job. A mooring was available so we took that, checked in at Las Olas, got Piper to shore to do his business for the first time in 24 hours, and took the dinghy back down to 17th St to pick up Dave. We only had him aboard Windbird for an hour since he was flying out later that afternoon, but it was nice seeing him. His wife, April, is good friends with Dawn - they did the ASA 101/103/104 course in the San Juan Islands (WA) together in June. We definitely plan to have them both aboard Windbird for a week or two sometime, possibly this spring.

After we ran Dave back to his hotel, we came back and did some putting the boat back together from the passage, had a late lunch, I tried calling a bunch of marine service providers for the boat repairs, and then we kinda lapsed into a lazy funk. As the sun went down I decided I should get a plan organized so I wrote out a list for this week and then tackled the bilge pump that's been sporadically malfunctioning the last couple weeks. I took it apart, cleaned it, and discovered the problem (the timer switch had somehow been jarred out of place). I had bought a spare in case I couldn't fix this one but it'll remain just a spare.

This morning was quite chilly as the slow, weak cold front had finally passed during the night. I made my Mexican Breakfast (eggs, chorizo, and hot & sweet peppers in corn tortillas) with coffee and tea, took Piper to shore, did some more calling around, and then launched into my major project for today: the forward head. It's been bubbling up noxious fumes every time we flush it to the holding tank (but not when flushing directly overboard). This is our only usable head within 3 miles of land as the aft head goes directly overboard, so it really needs to be working. My initial thought was the vent, and I had gone through it all the way to the holding tank a few weeks ago. It was obvious the joker valve was also bad because it was allowing water back into the bowl (as well as the bubbles) but this wasn't the primary cause of the pressurization of the holding tank - only the reason it became obvious to us.

My first step was to run muriatic acid through the head and discharge lines to dissolve any scale. This made the head easier to pump but it bubbled as furiously as ever.  Next I replaced the joker valve - along with the entire manual pump assembly (it had started to leak and on closer inspection had numerous worn parts). I could have rebuilt it using our spare service kit, but Dan & Isabelle from Epiic had bequeathed us a perfectly working Jabsco manual pump since they had converted their heads to electric, and we already have another spare manual pump assembly, so I decided to use their pump and save my service kit (which is very nearly as expensive as an entire pump, anyways). The new pump stopped the bubbling but it was obvious the holding tank was still under pressure, and that would certainly affect head usability down the road. I disconnected the vent hose from its filter, connected our garden hose to it, and tried to flush it using our raw water washdown pump. Nothing went through. I disconnected the end at the holding tank, put the vent hose in a bucket, and tried again. First a trickle of water, then some "debris," and then a torrent of water came out. So that was clear, but the tank was still under pressure. So I used my set of dental picks (which are some of the most useful tools on the boat, incidentally) to poke inside the vent fitting on the holding tank. Suddenly there was a noisy squeal as pressurized air (and millions of poo particles, ugh) rushed out of the holding tank! I used the picks and then some stainless safety wire to further dredge out the fitting, and then hooked the vent hose back up and further flushed it with the garden hose. Finally, we have a perfectly working head with a perfectly vented holding tank!

While I was doing all this Dawn was holding her nose, inventorying provisions, and figuring out what we'll need to get in our final provisioning before the Bahamas. We can't bring all our food for three months (much with guests) so we are prioritizing non-perishable or freezable foods we know are difficult to obtain in the Bahamas, followed by stuff that's expensive there. Dawn will do the final provisioning while I'm on my work trip and then in Atlanta next week.

Tonight we took Piper for a walk out along Las Olas Beach. He couldn't go on the beach itself because pets are prohibited, and he spazzed out a bit at the milling crowds spilling out of the party bars lining A1A, but nevertheless seemed to enjoy the exercise. Back at the boat I rewarded myself for a productive stinky day with a glass of Four Roses bourbon, and Dawn made a scrumptious pot of chili with cornbread for dinner. Tomorrow will be a planning-and-organizing day, and then we'll really get busy on Monday. It's good to be here and making the final push to get ready for the Bahamas.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Sam & Dawn:

    Nice Piper Tailwagger on floats shot!

    Dan & Sara