Monday April 13, 2015
Well, we’re back in Indiantown and back to the reality that we need to jump right into boat work in order to get ourselves moving along to see any hope of cruising again by the new year.
On how we got back here from the Bahamas though…. All four of us were up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to give ourselves as much time and as much daylight as possible for the 55 mile journey back to West Palm Beach and our familiar anchorage in Lake Worth. We thought we might be the first ones out of the marina besides the fisherman that get out while the skies are still dark and a little hazy, but we found ourselves patiently waiting for three other sailboats to back themselves out and clear the channel before we could take our turn.
Out on the water we immediately raised our sails and finally caught those east trade winds at an angle that suited us perfectly. Pointing on a southwest course to counteract the Gulf Stream, we were on a comfortable broad reach and serenely sailing along at 6.5 knots. The day was sunny and perfect, and much of my time was spent behind the wheel. The least I could do to earn my position on board, and honestly it felt kind of nice. I might have to remind myself of that every now and then on our own boat when we’re always so quick to throw on the autopilot as soon as we exit a harbor.
Every few hours we’d check our position on the tablet to see how far was left and if we were staying on course. It turned out that in my few hours behind the wheel I had actually been pointing us a little further south than we needed to be and we were actually coming in closer to Fort Lauderdale than West Palm Beach. A few more alterations and we were heading in the right direction, although I may had inadvertently cost us an extra hour on the water. Not normally a big deal, but it can be when you’re trying to beat the sunset. I guess we must have been fighting a much stronger current on the way over than coming back and our course was much closer to our heading this time around.
Realizing that we’d now be hitting the inlet around 9 pm wasn’t the worst thing in the world as we’d exited it in the dark and it would just mean a very sharp lookout for channel markers once more. Knowing that we’d at least be at anchor that night though was a big relief.
Getting within about a half mile of the beginning of the channel we threw on the now repaired engine and put the sails away. Everything was looking good until we were only a quarter mile away and the engine shut down. Not knowing what the issue was, Matt and Bob ran down below deck to diagnose it. Joni and I stayed up on deck and since we still had a good bit of forward momentum, I kept us pointing at the channel in case the problem was fixed right away and we could continue our way in. Looks like our slightly southern approach was paying off.
Another 20 minutes later though I was now upon the first buoy for the channel and there was still not a peep from the engine. The guys still weren’t sure what the issue was but were going to bleed the fuel lines in case they had air in them. It was the only thing that made sense to them. This project was going to take at least another 20 minutes though and I didn’t have time to continue drifting NW before coming too close to shore and other unknowns. Cranking the wheel another 40 degrees I turned us dead north and rode the Gulf Stream until the situation below was taken care of.
Under bare poles and through the current alone, Shamroga pushed forward at an amazing 3.5 knots. When I did hear the roar of the engine again 20-25 minutes later we had already covered over a mile just by drifting and then had to fight the current south to get back to where we originally had been, traveling at 2 knots with the engine under almost full power. Eventually we made it back to the original buoy and were able to point ourselves west and resume a normal pace.
Thanks to our powerful Ryobi flashlight and four sets of eyes on watch we navigated the ICW once more and finally dropped anchor just after 11 pm. Too tired to worry about anything else or things that need to be put away, we cleaned up the essentials and pleasantly passed out in our cabins. This morning Shamroga went into a marina in the North Palm area to look into it’s engine issues a litter further before continuing to motor up the ICW, and Matt and I were put in a taxi headed for Indiantown.
All in all it was a great learning experience on all ends. I think Bob and Joni learned heaps about their new boat as well as a few techniques, and Matt and I learned what it was like to work on another boat and decided to tuck that knowledge away for any future events in which we might be called on for our services again. Anyone looking for shakedown cruises with a couple of instructors this fall…just let us know. If we can get away from boat work we might take you up on it. Or it might be a good excuse to get away from boat work too.
And now here we find ourselves again, back in reality. Too tired to get any work in today on cleaning Serendipity to get her in sell ready condition, but honestly, we didn’t quite leave her in the best living condition either. Our last night here with the Sailing Conductors as well as an early morning the next day meant a few dishes in the sink and items strewn around the cabin as we hurried to pack.
We did meet a few new cruisers in the work yard though. Funnily enough, the two new boats next to us happen to contain blog followers! Dan, Simone, and Bobby are a group of three young Aussies that just finished up time working in Canada and decided that before they head back to Oz they needed a little adventure. Originally planning to take a van on a road trip across the US they ditched that plan in favor of buying an inexpensive Irwin 32 to travel the Bahamas with for a few months instead. The other boat is a Moody that was purchased by Scott and Ellen of The Cynical Sailor and his Salty Sidekick. Ellen and I had actually been online chatting on and off for the past two years so the odds of them ending up two boats down from us was pretty crazy!
So that’s where we’re at now. My parents are coming to visit in two weeks and we hope to have a lot of Serendipity’s last major projects ticked off by then. Things like painting the bottom and sanding and varnishing the sole. I know there’s also a million minor things that one of these days I really need to write down so I can begin slowly ticking them off instead of laying around in the heat mumbling “I don’t even know what I can work on today”. Progress needs to start NOW. Ok, maybe tomorrow.