Saturday, June 2, 2012

On the Move Again!

We had begun to think it would never happen but the day finally came and Friday morning, June 1st, we cast off from River Bend Marine Center in Ft. Lauderdale for points north.  After a haul-out that morphed into a fairly large refit of Moonshadow, and five weeks in the boatyard, we are finally cruisers again.  

(click on photos to enlarge)
We almost had to take him along as crew, but at the last minute,  electronics installer extra-ordinaire Willy from Electronics Unlimited Ft. Lauderdale finished the last bit of the project and we were finally released from boatyard hell!  We will truly miss Willy, who always removed his shoes upon boarding Moonshadow, never cussed (I could never do his job), and really knows his stuff.  Thanks to Willy, we have about a mile of new wire aboard Moonshadow and electronic gadgets that will tell you anything, like :
  • Have we dragged our anchor?
  • How fast are we going?
  • When will we get there?
  • What is the speed and direction of the current where we are?
  • What is the true wind direction and speed?
  • What is the name of that boat over there?
  • How fast is it going and in what direction?
  • How did the DOW industrials do today?  (just kidding)
We left the marina at 0900 (the draw bridges on the New River do not operate during rush hour) in a steady drizzle that finally let up when we entered the Atlantic about an hour down the river.  There are five draw bridges along the way and homes along the river that you just would not believe.  

Once in the Atlantic, the weather dried up and we had a fine day, although the wind on our stern couldn't catch up with Moonshadow.  That saying "may the wind always be at your back" can actually be a curse unless we're talking about plenty of it.  When you have the wind behind you, it really has to blow like stink to do any kind of respectable sailing because the faster you go, the less wind you'll have to work with.  So again, we motor-sailed to make our destination before dark.

The Gulf Stream is just outside the breakwater in Southern Florida, and we found we rather like sailing along with it, as opposed to opposing the current.  Here you can see two of our new Brookes and Gatehouse instrument displays.  One is set up to show our speed through the water, while the other shows the speed over the ground or SOG.  As you can see, we were getting over a knot and a half of help!

That help from the Gulf Stream allowed us to make our anchorage at Ft. Pierce before dark, but our arrival at the inlet coincided with a big rainstorm that featured 22 knot winds and rain so hard the visibility got down to about 200 feet.  To find the sea buoy within that 200 foot circle of visibility required goggles because the rain driven by the wind assaulted our eyes like someone shooting at us with a BB gun. 

Before the onslaught, we could see what we were in for with plenty of time to tidy up, get sails in and don our foul weather gear, which for John is board shorts, a sou'wester hat and, of course, an inflatable vest.  But when the storm hit, we got clobbered none the less.  We had to enter through the Ft. Pierce Inlet channel during the worst of the rain, including lightning and thunder nearby, but thanks to our new chart plotters, radar and autopilot, the bouy appeared right off our bow and the entry was a piece of cake!

After finally dropping the anchor (in the same place we were about 6 weeks ago) we shut down the engine, looked at each other and thought welcome back to cruising!  We made some drinks and came on deck to see the clearing sky in the aftermath of the storm and realized this is still just the beginning!

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