Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Velcro Beach

We arrived at Vero Beach on Monday afternoon and have now been here two full days, and they've really been quite full, yet I feel like I haven't got as much done as I wanted to. We've taken Piper to the dog park everyday; we've done a couple loads of laundry; we've been to Publix twice for minor provisioning; we've been to West Marine but it was an Express location that only had one of the four things we need; we went to the dive shop and got Dawn a nice set of snorkel equipment. We've topped off the dinghy gasoline. I've finished my column, caught up on emails, listened to Chris Parker weather, scheduled an array of medical appointments, started arranging for repairs in Ft. Lauderdale (correcting problems from the Charleston refit), ordered a new stackpack, finished my Flying column, planned our offshore passage to Ft. Lauderdale, and have done a number of minor boat projects including fixing the boom bail that broke on Monday. Dawn collected packages and started an onboard garden (in jars). But I haven't taken our small bilge pump apart despite planning to do so both days, and we still have major issues with our forward head / holding tank though I took the vent apart last week. Now that I list everything we actually did do, those two omissions don't seem so bad. But we could certainly stand to stay here another night, or maybe two. Heck, it's only $15 a night for a mooring ball with full marina amenities.

Nope, not gonna do it. Cruisers call this place Velcro Beach for a reason. It's a little too nice, a little too comfortable...people sail in planning to spend a night and the next thing they know the season's over and it's time to head north again. We've certainly had a pleasant couple of days here, and I can easily see how people slip into staying. We met a really nice solo sailor, John, who's on a Hans Christian 43 with his two cats Max and Athena (he was rafted up with Dan & Isabella on Epiic). He came here planning to spend a week fixing his outboard engine - he's now two months in and neck deep in the middle of a complete diesel repower of his boat! The friendly, experienced cruising couple we're rafted up with, Greg and Lynn of Paperbird, have been here two weeks waiting on a suitable weather window to the Bahamas (which, because we're still fairly far north, would have to be a pretty sizable window - but they quite pointedly state they're in no hurry). So as nice as it is here, I'm determined to get south to Ft. Lauderdale in a safe & timely fashion, get our boat stuff done, and be ready to cross to the Bahamas on the first weather window after February 11th.

It's 105 nautical miles from here down to Ft Pierce inlet, outside to Port Everglades Inlet, and up to Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale; at 5.5 knots it'd take just over 19 hours.  Tomorrow the wind is supposed to be WSW at 10-15 knots tomorrow swinging NW at 5-10 early Friday. My plan is to be off the mooring here about 1pm tomorrow, be out Fort Pierce Inlet right around slack water at 3:11pm, & arrive at Port Everglades Inlet around sunup. If we're slow we'll arrive later in the morning; if our initial beam reach is fast we may have to slow down a bit in the early morning hours to avoid a night inlet entry (won't be hard to go slow on a broad reach!). We'll go a bit offshore as needed to keep a hot-ish angle to the wind and sail as much as possible, but stay close enough to keep out of the Gulf Stream (9-17 miles offshore, per the National Weather Service). This will be Dawn's first time standing a night watch - the first overnight with just us - so I'm planning to sleep in the cockpit while off watch. If we decide for some reason not to go all the way, we can easily duck in Lake Worth Inlet; though it'd be a night entry, it's a well-lit, deep & wide inlet with an easy anchorage just inside.

If anyone has any idea why a head would bubble up noxious holding tank fumes for 5-10 minutes after being flushed, seriously, let me know. My first thought was a blocked holding tank vent but I went through that last week and it's clear all the way from the outside to the vent filter to the tank. The one possibility I can think of is that there is, ahem, sludge at the top of the tank's interior blocking the vent port, but I'm not that keen to "dive in" to the tank to check that out. It'll likely be one of my first tasks once we get to Lake Sylvia, because the nearest toilet will be a long dinghy ride away. Should be fun. So yeah, if anyone knows of anything else to check out, let me know. The one possible clue is that water slowly leaks back into the bowl after it is pumped dry with the selector valve on dry...according to Nigel Calder that's likely due to a bad joker valve (which I have a spare for, and will also replace), but I can't see that being responsible for air bubbling back up if the vent was clear. We'll see.


  1. Hey Sam, I'll keep looking, but did find this possibly helpful blog for you:
    I hope it helps!

  2. Sam, I found some other ones:
    and my favorite as it has diagrams!
    A few years ago, I signed up for a How-To more for construction problems, so if I run across one of those, you could post your problem and people who are familiar with sailing issues would respond. I would personally use the vinegar methods two of the people recommended instead of bleach and water as I'd be afraid of what the bleach may do to other parts of the toilet. One hint, put Vicks in your nose while you're working with it to help with the smell! Good Luck!