Week 15 9 – 15 April 2018 Fishermans Island, Palm Beach Rockhouse Creek, New Smyrna Beach 160 nm and 28 bridges
9 April Monday Fisherman Island, West Palm Beach – West Palm Beach 2 nm 1 bridge
Had a good night rest in a boat that was exceptional cool after the rain yesterday afternoon.
We weigh anchor shortly after eight and drove the short distance in to town. Had to wait for the southern bridge in West Palm Beach to open, but after that we were in the middle of the town. There are docks that you can use for free during daytime and that’s why we were early. When we could see the dock we discovered it hadn’t been necessary to be in a hurry. The docks were completely empty! But a lot of boats on anchor close to the docks. Obviously people use their dinghies instead of the big boat and then go out on anchor at night.
We moored at the outer T into the wind and current. We got a nice airflow through the boat.
We waited for the slack to see that everything was ok when the current changed, before we took a walk downtown. We had lunch at a small shop with tables on the sidewalk. Very good meal and the right price for us. Then we headed for groceries.
Afternoon we spent walking across to the east side using the north bridge and then back on the south bridge we passed this morning. Nice surroundings and beautiful weather.
We had dinner in Moon at the dock before we at slack left the dock and anchored just hundred meter off the dock to avoid the hefty fine if you stay beyond midnight.
10 April Tuesday West Palm Beach – Indian River 27 + 6,5 nm and 9 bridges
Weigh anchor shortly after eight to meet the opening time for the north bridge in town.
To our surprise we heard the bridge attendant tell a southbound boat the next bridge does not open due to maintenance until 17.00. Lucky us we weren’t one day later in our progress. After the first bridge we motored for several miles without bridges. Passed a fixed bridge that actually was the promised 65 feet!
Before our fourth bridge we were a bit early and drove slowly. Two miles before the bridge we heard two boats behind us call the bridge and request an opening. The attendant first told them they were too far away, but then he somehow delayed the opening in spite it was supposed to be done by schedule on the hour. Five extra minutes we hovered in front of the bridge before it opened. Then we had these two boats behind us for the rest of the day.
We overhauled a catamaran and came close to the port side of the channel. A few minutes later we heard an odd sound from behind. The first boat behind us had hit the red pile! When we looked back they were leaning over hard when the pile pushed them back into the channel. There is always something to watch in ICW! Who said it was boring?
Late afternoon we decided to anchor before the heavy rain we saw west of us came closer. The two boats passes us and continued and later, on anchor, we heard them complaining over being soaked in the rain.
But the bottom was very soft and we had a problem not to drag in the strong gusts. When the rain was gone we decided to continue a few miles to a more protected anchorage with sand and good holding. Anchored an hour later in Indian River having a bridge and an island to protect us from the strong wind.
11 April Wednesday Indian River – Fort Pierce 17 nm and 2 fixed bridges
We slept good all night and almost didn’t hear the train?
We had a plan to stay and wait out the rain and wind, but the wind was delayed and we would have the tide with us if we moved on.
Weigh anchor and made breakfast under engine. First bridge was supposed to be 65 feet at MHW, but the scale shoved 64 in spite we had low water. We are happy to have turned our VHF antenna upside down!
We motored into the wind with following current, this time it was to our advantage that the current pushed the waves closer together. Riding on four waves made Moons moving vertical next to nothing and no effect on the speed except for the wind itself. With a few revs more we had no problem making six knots through water.
Now we were in for a surprise, the next bridge was actually 66 feet at low water! This bridge was fairly new, which makes us wonder if they are slowly sinking??
Before noon we reached Fort Pierce and we were going to get counter current. Anchored well protected from wind and waves and got a good holding among several Canadian boats on route north.
The cockpit was cold and windy so more clothes were needed than we have been used to. But we still use short trousers!
Customs took our report and today we even got a control number as recite. We understood that they couldn’t see our two last reports in the computer! We are not impressed of the security for the client, meaning if something goes wrong, we have no proof that we have done our part of the deal. Up in Alaska we e-mailed the Customs and later when we were asked why we hadn’t reported we discovered that more than 50 % of our reports were not in their computer system!! But we had our e-mail copies? It will be interesting to learn how we will be treated in the stats further north.
The stop for today was more or less due to the strong headwind and current against. Had a quiet afternoon which was ended with a nice fish casserole and a film.
12 April Thursday Fort Pierce – Cocoa 60 nm 8 fixed bridges and 1 bascule bridge
We woke up early after a quiet night.
Already yesterday we had decided for an early start after having studied the tide and weather.
Weigh anchor before seven and started for the first fixed bridge. We are disappointed to see that almost none of the fixed bridges so far have had the 65 feet above MHW, in spite we have been travelling on mean or low water. It’s very obvious when you see barnacles on the indikator above the 64 marker.
The second bridge was a bascule bridge that opened on demand, just call and run through.
We had no big drama throughout the day. Motor sailed with two headsails most of the time, giving us great progress in following tide.
Two of the fixed bridges were missing the height indicator. Not fun at all when our mast is close to the normal limitation. Furled the sails and approached those bridges very slowly with Annika on the bow looking up. On both bridges there was a height indicator facing the southbound yachts! Bad maintenance! This is not something that happens over night. The remainings was quite corroded!
Shortly after four we passed the second bridge without an indicator and decided to stop for the day.
Anchored leeward of the bridge causeway. The night was predicted to have some gusts from south east up to 30 knots.
13 April Friday Cocoa – Rockhouse Creek, New Smyrna Beach 49 nm, 4 draw bridges and 3 fixed
Again an early start.
Much warmer than yesterday and the wind a bit stronger, but from behind. We motor sailed all day except when the wind was dead downwind.
The first bridge was a fixed bridge and we had found comments that it was only 64 feet. As the 65 feet 90% of the time is just above 64 we were a bit worried to say the least. But the indicator will give us the answer. Coming closer to the bridge there was no indicator!
Turn around and go offshore would have meant an 80 nm detour, so of course we had to try.
Annika on the bow and Moon approaching almost at no speed. Very close to the beam, Annika decided we could get through. Coming out on the other side we could reed 64 feet “as usual” on the 65 feet bridges. We don’t know who has put the information about a lower bridge compared to the surrounding bridges, but it was not fun at all. Decided to treat additional information with some skeptics. After this tense moment we unfurled the headsails and continued towards Cape Canaveral.
We saw several tourist busses, probably heading for the space centre, in the queue when the bridge opened for us.
Today we saw several boats heading north compared to previous days, but it’s far from a congestion.
The second fixed bridge today was the first ever that was 65 feet at high tide and had an indicator that we could see using binoculars. Sailed under the bridge in full speed with two headsails set.
At noon the ICW left Indian River through a canal and a bascule bridge.
We saw several Manatees in the canal. They are big!
Motoring north Annika noticed that we actually have a small amount of saltwater dripping into the bilge from the aft of Moon. The propeller shaft seal was easy to check and found no water intrusion.
Rudderpost was also dry, but from the gooseneck in the exhaust line at the transom came water when the exhaust pushed water about five feet above the engine and out of the boat. The gooseneck had a crack and every push opened that crack and let out a small amount of water.
Tried during the afternoon to phone different sources to get a new one. But being a product produced in Holland we didn’t find one and not a similar either. OK we have to repair at the next anchorage or marina.
Reached New Smyrna Beach shortly after two and didn’t get a slip in the municipal marina. Tried to find a spot to anchor, but it was shallow everywhere outside the fairway.
We continued beyond the bascule bridge in town and anchored in a small bay in the northern part of the community, Rockhouse Creek.
Got a good holding, which was extra important as we would not be able to use the engine during the repair of the exhaust gooseneck. Dismantled the exhaust line at the transom and cleaned the gooseneck. Glued and reinforced with fiber, filler and epoxy Annika did a great repair and after curing we can start the engine again.
We had a powerboat anchoring relatively close, and because we had no engine “available” we called them to make them aware of our predicament. They promised to keep outlook when the tide change as both boats will swing around.
Before dark we had a nice chicken dinner.
14 April Saturday New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Florida.
The night was extremely quiet. Before breakfast Annika made some sanding of the gooseneck before adding some extra layers of course fiber.
Around ten we had slack water and Annika dived to find out if she could see what caused our centerboard to malfunction since we were aground in Miami. Hopefully the casing was not filled with clay! It turned out to be just a small hard mussel or similar that was stuck between the centerboard and the casing far aft. Giving to much resistance to overcome the strength of the hydraulic ram.
The reason for the ram to be not stronger is that if we hit something with the centerboard, the pressure in the hydraulic system will be overridden and the centerboard folds up. It is a rather delicate tuning to get that correct, and still being able to push it down when sailing in great speed.
Now we felt that we had solved all our outstanding problems and could rest, waiting for the epoxy to cure.
To get to the gooseneck we had to empty the lockers, giving us easy access to the expansion tank for the coolant from the engine and that was kind of empty! Just a couple days ago we know we had hot water in the tank. Had lunch and then started to “top up” water in the coolant. But we kept on pouring and all water disappeared down the hose to the engine! Where did it go? We couldn’t find a leak so it must disappear outside the boat and to do that it had to pass the engine somehow.
First scary thought was that the cylinders being filled of water. Checked by running the starter motor while pressing the stop button at the same time, remember we can’t put load on the gooseneck before it has cured. Luckily it turned with no problem. Then we checked the strainer in the intake line for the sea water to the coolant, and there it was. Obviously we have a leaking heat exchanger, meaning the water from the fresh water side leaks into the sea water coolant side and out of the boat because the expansion tank is above the strainer.
A leaking heat exchanger is not fun at all and it is impossible to run the engine until problem solved. On top of this we were expecting strong gale force winds from south and after some thinking we put our big Fortress in that direction using the dinghy. Having no engine we had to be extra prudent.
Having done that we postponed dismantling of the heat exchanger until tomorrow and started to prepare dinner instead.
15 April Sunday Rockhouse Creel, New Smyrna Beach Florida
The night was calm and quiet, but we slept very little because our brains kept working with our new problem. At least we could be happy that we discovered the problem before the engine had overheated and caused permanent damage. And we are on anchor, not in an expensive marina. Here we can wait for spare parts not spending extra money.
We emptied the engine from all water after breakfast and dismantled one alternator to be able to get to the heat exchanger.
When the rubber connectors on both side of the exchanger was gone, it was possible to take out the tube stack, the expensive part of the exchanger. Having cleaned it we could see corrosion in the outer tube in one end, but the tube stack was ok.
Cleaned the outer tube and used epoxy filler to repair and to be able to have a not damaged surface for the rubber and the hose clamps to get it watertight again.
We run the little Honda inverter genset to charge our batteries now when we haven’t been able to charge with the engine.
While the repair cured we used the time for a trip in the dinghy to the sand dunes. Had a walk along the shoreline looking at all the birds.
Back in the boat we put everything together and filled the coolant system with plain water because now we had run out of antifreeze. With the alternator in place we could run the engine again.
Around five the front came and gave us thunder, heavy rain and extreme wind during ten minutes. The unmanned boat next to us dragged and with not only one anchor set, we decided we had to move, lucky us to have a working engine since two hours!
We re anchored closer to the fairway just before darkness. Half past seven wind calmed down and we started to prepare dinner.
This was a very different weekend to say the least, with many problems but also good results. The most particular thing was that in spite we thought of big spending when discovering out new problems, we have not spent a dime!
Our new back stay adjuster some weeks ago was expensive enough.
Annika & Björn