Friday, January 30, 2009

Coconut Grooving...

Originally Posted January 19, 2009

Well, we are back on the water and moving south again.

Doug here.

Gypsies in the Palace spent 27 days in Pompano Beach (but who's counting). We arrived two days before Christmas so we could drive down to see Scott and Michelle Kirby in Key West for Christmas. On January 1, Colleen and John left the boat to spend 12 days with her folks at their winter place in Pompano Beach. We got to visit with a couple other DeFever couples, we got reprovisioned and we got a lot of work done on the boat. It was a great time but we were ALL ready to get back out on the water. Well, almost all. Puss and Boots had lost their sea legs since we spent 2 and a half months in the ICW or at dock. They were not happy boat kitties today when we went outside in 2 to 4 foot seas but by the time we completed our 6 hour trip they were back to normal.

The weather wasn't too bad today so we decided to go outside for the trip from Pompano Beach to Biscayne Bay (Miami). We had 25 knot winds most of the trip but they were from the southwest so the chop was not bad. We didn't make very good speed today due to the edges of the jet stream which travels north so the 42 nautical mile trip took 6 hours. We made the 7:00 AM opening of the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge and went about 3 miles off the coast. The sun was just coming up as we looked back at Hillsboro Inlet and forward toward our next adventure.

The jet stream was so strong there, we were only making about 5.6 knots so we came back in to about a mile and a half off shore getting the speed up to just over 7 knots.

About 7:30, I went down to make my first engine room check and found that the gages on the stabilizer system said they had no pressure and they were, therefore, doing us no good. I spent 15 minutes checking everything to be sure the power was on and none of the hoses had leaked. The system was full of oil and had power. So, what could be the matter? Well, when all else fails, ask someone for help. I called my friend Captain Steve (Steve Koch - who put in my electrical system upgrade). Steve mentioned that the system has a fail safe that consists of switches on the two transmissions which, if both engines aren't in forward gear, will shut down the system. Now, even I knew that both engines were in forward gear since we were making 7 knots. I went down into the engine room and took both switches apart, checked the wires, tightened them and put the switches back together. Sounds easy when you write it, but remember that the boat is in 2 to 4 foots seas without stabilizers and the switches are down on the side of the transmissions, right beside the shafts which are turning at 1700 RPM...and the engine room is about 120 degrees. It took me nearly an hour to take the switches apart and put them back together. But, low and behold, after the switches were back together, I turned on the stabilizers and they worked perfectly. Now many of you are saying, "what's the big deal, he fixed a couple of switches". This is, however, the first time that we have had something happen underway, that we were able to fix underway. It was a time for great celebration by the crew of Gypsies.

The approach into the Miami harbor was very interesting.
Tammy was at the wheel and had to dodge several car ferries and a bunch of other boats, all in 25 knot winds. She did a masterful job as usual and got us into the harbor and back onto the ICW. After traveling south several miles on the ICW, turning over the controls to me part way, we approached the very narrow channel into Dinner Key. As I started into the channel, with 25 knot winds on my port beam now, two wind surfers decided that the only place in all of Biscayne Bay that they needed to be was in the middle of the channel that we were in. Now a wind surfer needs about 6 inches of draft and I need 5.5 feet, and the water on either side of this very narrow channel is less than 4 feet. So we were having trouble figuring out why they needed to be in the channel so badly. However, after a nice loud sounding of the horn on Gypsies, they decided they didn't really need to be in that channel after all.

The dock in the Dinner Key Marina had about 25 knots of wind across the dock pushing Gypsies away from the dock. With the help of a couple dock hands and a fellow from the boat right next to us we were able to get Gypsies up against the dock. It wasn't pretty but no one got hurt. My definition of a successful dock!

The four of us decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Coconut Grove. Now Coconut Grove has special significance to our traveling companions, Colleen and John, since they got engaged here about nine years ago. We, of course, had to return to the scene of the crime and had beers at the Barracuda Bar and Grill.

This bar has exactly the ambience I would expect of the place John would pick to propose to Colleen (she put her foot down at Hooters). The bartender was really excited when he found out why we were there. My guess is that it is not a frequent occurrence for him!

We, of course, couldn't have only one beer today so we tried a couple of other bars. Mr. Moes was a great bar with a really "old west" motif. But the drinks were good as were the apps.

As we walked back to the boat at 5:30 PM, we remarked that it was great to be watching the very beginning of a sunset at 5:30 with 70 degree temperatures. Where we all came from it was in single digits and got dark at 4:30 today.

Back on the boat, we all went our separate ways (which isn't very separate on this boat) while Colleen prepared dinner. Tomorrow our crew drops by one again as John has to fly back to Manchester for a week for that work gig. Well, I guess someone has to do it. The rest of us head across the Bay to No Name Harbor for a couple days and then off to the Keys.

Click here to see a Google Map of our Coconut Grove location.

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