Sunday, May 11, 2014


Hoist the Anchor, Anchor, Anchor, Beach Chair...

Anchor, anchor, beach chair, bimini frame
The day came when we had a great 3-day weather window for our travels north from Marathon up to Vero Beach. The winds were calm and the seas were small - just our style. It was time to hoist the anchor and go!

So, while I manned the helm in the cockpit, Jonesy hoisted the anchor - the electric winch groaned with the weight. That shouldn't be. What was up? Slowly, he pulled in the anchor chain until this mass appeared.

As we pulled in our anchor, we also hooked up and pulled in THREE other anchors, a beach chair and a large bimini frame!! This mangle of metal, rope and fabric could take a long time to unravel. We would have to put the dinhy back down in the water off of the back davits and get to work. Our trip would be delayed by hours, we risked getting ourselves injured on the job, and we may not make  it to our scheduled overnight anchorage spot before dark then.

Untangling the mess
As I stood on the bow looking at the snarled mess and realizing what we had caught, I noticed a neighboring sailboat skipper watching me struggle with this new dilema. Then I realized that one of the anchors was a beautiful 35lb CQR worth several hundred dollars. We'd gone treasure hunting and we didn't even know it! Hmmmm. We already have one onboard as one of our spares and really don't want to trip around another on deck. This is a great treasure though so I called out to our neighbor and asked if he wanted an anchor.

YES! He did want it - and he was just getting ready to hoist his (puny) anchor to sail off south. He jumped into his cockpit, started his engine as fast as a rabbit! Within only about 3 minutes he had snuggled his boat up to ours. Just as quickly our new friend got to work untangling the mess on our anchor chain. Working from below like this was the ideal way to tackle this job. He salvaged the 35lb anchor and lovingly placed it on his deck. Then he untangled the beach chair, the low-quality little anchor and the bimini frame and let them drop.
Easing his new anchor on deck

We would have preferred to remove them as they are hazards for future boaters, but we simply weren't in a position to bring it all aboard and we would have to take it ashore in our big boat. Bad timing. Both of us were drifting loose and needed to get underway during this morning calm. We thanked our new friend profusely - he thanked us for the anchor. It all worked out for everyone (except for the folks who lost these items).  As our anchor retriever motored away with a big grin on his face, we pulled in the last few feetof our anchor chain.

Yep. There was YET ANOTHER 35lb anchor on our chain, but this one slipped off as we pulled it in. So there are more anchors in Boot Key Harbor to be found. Why? We discovered that the rope (rode) was frayed on the one that we rescued so we have to assume that it snapped while in use at some time. The beach chair and bimini frame probably were blown off of boats during a big wind never to be seen again by their original owners. King Neptune claims a lot of our boating gear.

Sailing past Miami Beach with socks on the needles
The first leg of our trip was just a day-sail up to Rodriguez Key near Key Largo. Here we simply anchored to sleep that first night. But the weather had deteriorated so we decided to spend the day here just enjoying the peace and quiet and get a second night's rest. The plan was to leave at dawn the next day.

But Jonesy couldn't stay asleep and at 2:30 am decided that it was time to hoist the anchor again and sail north. I've learned over our 8 years of cruising not only to trust his judgement, but also that everybody is happier if I play along nicely when he's a "man on a mission". After all, the most I had to do was be awake enough to man the helm as he raised the anchor and then I could crawl back into the bunk once we were underway...which I did.

Sun setting over South Florida coastline
We motor-sailed along - right past Biscayne Bay, the big high rise hotels and condos of Miami, and Miami Beach. These are highly congested boating areas which we had no interest in seeing up close. I knit all day and when it was time for Jonesy to get some rest (7pm) it was time for me to don my headlamp, take over the helm, and knit some more.

The winds and seas were calm enough that Jonesy managed to sleep until 3am (only waking up about 3 times to ask "you OK?") My only source of entertainment was my knitting and the few large ships outside of Palm Beach which popped up on my radar. I did have to change course so as not to collide with one which was at anchor. This barely interrupted my knitting mojo.

Soon it was my turn to sleep and Jonesy took over the watch. He woke me up in the morning so that I could see our approach to the Fort Pierce inlet and our FIRST time on the Intracoastal Waterway!

It was certainly a day of "firsts". We called our first draw bridge operator and had him open the bridge for our first passage through a drawbridge - just for us! We were the only boat on this part of the ICW. Cars had to stop for us too!

But our thoughts quickly turned to the next two bridges as these were "fixed" bridges that we had to go under. See, our mast is about 61 feet tall off the water and these bridges were about 64 1/2 feet tall over the water. Remember there are tidal considerations too. We "knew" we should be able to pass under them but we still were filled with anxiety - especially as we approached the bridges. It just didn't LOOK like we would make it.

As we got closer, Jonesy hollered at me to "Hang On!" because I was dancing about the foredeck taking photos (the "before" photos as in before the mast was torn out of the deck and we destroyed state property). He was really concerned about the possibility that our antenna - or the top of the mast - would smack against the concrete.

What does it look like to you? Scary right? No matter what angle I tried to look up it certainly didn't appear as if we were even close to being able to pass under the bridge.
There are markers on the sides which show how many feet are between the top of the water and the underside of the bridge. These read 64 1/2 feet so we slowly crawled forward. We had to steer a little bit to one side as these markers don't include the foot or so of a lamp which hangs down in the center of the bridge. Cars were going over the bridge....would we cause a pile-up? Would cars tumble in the water with innocent people screaming? Would we have to watch when the people walking their dogs fell headfirst into the murky waters?

Stay tuned for next week when we see if Jonesy and Terry caused major destruction with the good ship Niki Wiki.

Nope. I wouldn't do that to you.

As I tightly gripped onto the boat to brace myself for the impact and held my breath, we silently slipped under the bridge. Not even our antenna tapped the roof. Not a sound except that of our trusty Perkins engine.

We had put our trust in the folks who built and manage these bridges and the ICW and our faith was well placed. Jonesy and I high-fived each other and giggled all the way to the next bridge.

The second bridge was also our marker for the place to turn into the City Marina of Vero Beach. This time we had more confidence that we'd clear, but it was still un-nerving. We motored right under the bridge and immediately turned into the mooring field. We radio'd the marina and they promptly
Turning into the Vero Beach City Marina
answered and assigned us to a mooring. Ahhhhh.


Socks, socks and more socks have been completed as I work towards my goal of 52 pairs in 52 weeks. Below are photos of pairs #44, 45, 46 and 47. All are smaller sized socks and are knit with yarns donated by fellow knitters. The kids in the Orphanages in Kazakhstan will have warm feet this coming winter.

Jonesy watches the US Navy's Blue Angels
Oh! The Blue Angels are performing right now for us. Time for me to join Jonesy out on the deck to watch our free air show again today.

Life is good.

Hah - March, 2013 I sailed past Miami Beach with socks on my needles. I was on a cruise ship headed to the West Indies. Good times!
It's always so interesting to read your stories of life on the sea. I learn so much and life out there is so different than I would have imagined. It's always fun to see what you're knitting too. I love all of your newest socks. They're all so pretty! Happy sailing and knitting too! :-)
Loved this post. I don't know how you knit so much without having Tendonitis in your elbows. If you tell me it's the sea air, that's going to cause trouble for the hubby.
I love your stories it like I am there while sitting on my easy chair.
Please keep blogging I shared your blog with a few friends.
Stay safe! Lynne
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