From the Land of No Stuff to the Land of Stuff
We left Havana, Cuba with a reasonable forecast to head north, into the Gulf Stream and up the coast of Florida, we were on our way to the U.S.A! We had an absolute mixed bag of weather, fierce currents again out in the Gulf Stream accompanied by some nasty weather cells popping up from nowhere bringing wind and rain, followed by calms. Can’t say we are fans of this Gulf Stream, it just has a mind of its own.
As we made our way up the Florida Coast there just seemed to be wall to wall high rise erupting up out of the ocean on the horizon. The silhouetted skyline made for a spectacular sunset off Fort Lauderdale. We had a 3am arrival into Lake Worth Inlet on our 2nd night at sea. Although the channel is well lit it is always very hard arriving into somewhere unfamiliar in the dark, we really try to avoid dark arrivals but sometimes it just can’t be helped. Just to confuse us an armada of small fishing boats were leaving port as we were making our final approaches, there were all these little green lights that shouldn’t have been there to trick us!
We pulled into Lake Worth Inlet and dropped anchor before dawn, wow - touchdown in America.
Catching up with Friends
We had rendezvoused in Lake Worth with Australian friends Andrew and Clare on Eye Candy, last seen 16 months ago in the Caribbean, also Harry on Malua who had been in Havana with us but who we first met years ago in Croatia. More Australians (where have all the kiwis gone?) Peter and Carole off Jack Tar were also there so we had plenty of company for happy hours.
We spent a lazy Saturday afternoon lunching ashore at the Tiki Bar with all the Aussies and special guests Steve and Karyn off Threshold, they drove up from their home in Fort Lauderdale, we originally met them in Sardinia while in the Med, Threshold is in Turkey and they are home for winter.
After lunch they very kindly drove Clare, Andrew and I to Costco where Clare and I spent quite some time filling our shopping trolleys with all sorts of goodies. Then Steve and Andrew spent even longer trying to squeeze it all into the car, no mean feat. Only other cruisers can appreciate how grateful we were to be able to fill the trolley with endless heavy items knowing you don’t have to physically carry it all back to the dinghy.
Farewell to Tony
Our good friend Tony was still with us but would be leaving us here to travel overland to San Francisco before flying back to New Zealand. Our days passed quickly, Customs and Immigration formalities were completed, buses were caught to procure phone and wifi internet sim cards (there are definitely advantages of being back in a ”land of stuff!!), chandleries were visited, boat parts sourced and many purchases made.
We caught the bus down to West Palm Beach and said our farewells to Tony, off on a Greyhound Bus to New Orleans. As always it had been a pleasure to have him onboard and we will miss our daily long political and history discussions. We walked down to the very upmarket shopping area and spent some time wandering around and lunching, rather a lovely place. After months in Central America it had been quite some time since we had been in such an affluent area as this.
Back at the dinghy we were greeted by a Parking Infringement – warning only!!! The previous day we had been asked to move the dinghy to the designated dinghy dock which is where we then parked the dinghy and got our first ever written parking warning, Welcome to America!!!
Off to St Augustine
It seemed a good time to leave Lake Worth and with a weather window of light southerlies we exited out and pointed the bow north for an overnight passage to St Augustine. Not surprisingly the winds weren’t as forecast and before long we had 2 reefs in the main and were being bashed about in the Gulf Stream yet again. We managed to get into flatter water inshore and had an excellent sail overnight but next morning the wind died out and it was time to motor so we would get in before dark.
Seized Turbo at Sea
But sadly Olive the Volvo had other plans and developed an irregular heartbeat, jumping up and down, rather unsettling when you are all alone, miles from shore on a glassy sea with not a breath of wind. Then she did the unthinkable and just stopped, never to go again. Skipper spent all day in the engine room trying absolutely everything in his repertoire to coax her into starting again but she just wasn’t having any of it. Having eliminated nearly everything else he diagnosed that maybe the turbo had seized – and he was right. Our new turbo, fitted in Spain in 2011 was no longer spinning, therefore starving the engine of air. Just why a vessel that travels under engine power at around 6 miles an hour needs a turbo is absolutely beyond us, but we have one and it was broken.
Finally Safely into St Augustine
Early evening a light breeze came up off the land and we spent the night tacking backwards and forwards towards St Augustine, at 3am we dropped anchor under sail (that was a first) just 50 metres from the outer channel marker of St Augustine Inlet. All we had to do now was get in through the channel!
Before arriving in the U.S. friends had suggested we join TowBoat US (the AA for boats around these parts), the waterways here have many shallow patches and boats regularly run aground. We were certainly hoping we wouldn’t be one of those unlucky ones but played it safe, got out the credit card, made the phone call and joined up. It was the last thing we did before leaving Lake Worth, and the wisest decision made for a while.
Our 2nd Tow in 9 years
At 7am we called TowBoat US and explained our circumstances. We have nothing but praise for the way the local operator dealt with us. He came out to us around 8.30am as agreed as it was slack high tide, towed us in through the channel ~ must add it recommends in the guide book that you seek local knowledge before entering as the sands shift and the channel can move, well we sure got our local knowledge!! ~ he safely got us through the shallows, stood us off the bridge until it opened, moved us across to the river bank out of the current so he could tie alongside to push us into the marina berth, then carefully slotted us into our designated dock. He was very professional and knowledgeable and an absolute pleasure to deal with during this stressful time.