Updated: Apr 4
Christmas Eve Day we cranked out another 80 miles on the intercoastal. Operation Christmas Beach is in full effect and our whole goal for Christmas Day is to be somewhere warm where we can sit on a beach without a raincoat and heaps of clothes and have a picnic. I can’t currently think of anything extra fascinating that happened today except that the weather was nice enough for most of the day to do projects inside and out. It’s nice to tackle something on the to-do list, even when that list is 97 things long. Boats and all. We stopped for the evening in Vero Beach. We were cruising hard towards the end of the day and pulled in after dark. The harbor there was crowded and it was tough to see, so we dropped anchor and made a much dog appreciated trip to shore.
Up next morning at 6 and out before sunrise again. We’ve had a few bridge experiences the last few days that were unsettling to say the least. Fixed bridges on the ICW are required to be 65’ high. Our mast is 63.5’ plus a 10” antennae. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room. We made it under one bridge at 63’ and by yesterday were flying confidently under anything showing 64 or 65’ (including one with all sails out). Then yesterday we scraped antenna on a bridge reading 64’. Whoops. Fixed bridges quickly became a harrowing thing with one of us sitting on the bow watching the weather vane, which is maybe a foot extended in front of the mast, to see if it hit. If not we’d make it. If so….. If so only happened on one bridge. It read almost 64’. Did I mention we went under one that read 62’ one day?
Long story not that short by Christmas Day we approached each bridge at a crawl. Around 8:30 we came to one reading 62 feet and made a quick reverse. As luck would have it there was a little mangrove island with a few beachy spots a few hundred yards back and we anchored nearby. A quick scout showed a few picnic tables and delightfully white sand! We whipped up a Christmas breakfast of banana coconut pancakes, spinach scrambled eggs, bacon, and a French press of coffee and took the whole thing to the beach. Operation Christmas Beach Success!
We kept trucking at by early afternoon were in land of the drawbridges. Progress slowed and we found another nice anchorage with a beach and spent the afternoon harassing the locals playing doggo triathlon. Barrell chases us in the dingy down the beach till stopped by mangroves. He swims till beach starts again then back to running. There are lots of things to jump over so that’s now the 3rd event. A lovely way to spend Christmas!
From here it was only 50ish miles to Ft. Lauderdale, an easy day trip. Not to be so. The drawbridges around here are timed so that, in theory, one can make the first bridge and go around 6.5 knots and be at the next one in time. Until today we’d had pretty good luck on this. Today that luck changed. We rolled from 7am till 9:30 pm, had to stop for 2.5 hours to let the tide drop to get under one fixed bridge, and waited for nearly 4 hrs idling at drawbridges. Holy soul sucking frustration of a boat trip. Somewhere around 7pm I was encouraged to go inside and write a letter to the powers at be while sipping a whisky until calming down and getting the creative yelling language over with. Two pages and 45 minutes later I was feeling rather better. Occasionally I like to practice for my late life career as a crotchety old man waving my cane yelling get off my lawn. After a 20 minute struggle holding the boat still in 30mph winds in an extremely narrow passage barely wide enough to spin around we admitted defeat for the night and anchored.
Fortunately Ft. Lauderdale was only 3 bridges away and we were at the fuel dock at Bahia Mar Marine by 9am next morning. The marina folk weren’t exactly the most pleasant I’ve ever experienced and didn’t have a nice, or even neutral, thing to say to us. We took revenge by cooking bacon and eggs and eating it while watching them swoon after the megayacht owners. We’re small fish here for sure, but Ryan likes to say that at least we have love and are happy and while that’s probably/definitely the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written I can attest that we were having more fun waiting for 1.5hrs at the dock than the fancy folk who got in and out of there real fast like. By the end I think the dockhands may even have liked us! We took on 118 gallons of diesel. For comparison the mega yacht next to us took on 1500 and got the bill. The owner looked surprised at receiving it and announced that was only for one side, they needed 1150 more in the port tank. Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale.
12/24 Cape Canaveral -> Vero Beach
Bridges we sang a request to open in a Christmas song tune = 2
Boats we waved to while wearing Christmas hats = all of them
Sailboats Weathers passed = 1
Times WM wanted to open full sail but RC dragged feet because it “wouldn’t help” = 2
Average knots with all sails up = 8
Average knots before sails up = 6.5 hehe
64’ Bridge clearance signs that we scarped antenna going under = 3
Max % antenna flex when we scraped = 80%
**If you have a 64’ mast don’t go under Pineda Causeway, Eau Gallie, or Melbourne Bridge with anything more than mid tide**
12/25 Vero Beach -> Peck Lake
New boaters met = 5
Max speed = 8.5 with one engine and 27kts breeze jib only
% of opposing tides = 75%
Slices of bacon we cooked for picnic = 4. Someone was upset with this.
Banana pancakes = 8
% daylight not spent underway - 25% only b/c Christmas. Apparently RC is trying to say I go too hard :)
** Ernest Lyons Bridge read 64.5 and we scrapped antenna 85%?!!?**
12/26 Peck Lake -> Lake Santa Barbara, Near Ft. Lauderdale
Hours spent waiting on Bascule bridges to open = 4ish
For tide to drop to go under fixed bridge = 2
Trump flags seen = Too many
Bridges opened for us = 7
US Coast guard boats with hands on machine guns = 4
12/27 Lake Sylvia, Ft. Lauderdale