December 4, 2010.
The weather window for a crossing to the Bahamas just hasn’t opened sufficiently for us. So for now, we’ll be satisfied with moving further south.
We were up and listening to Chris Parker’s morning weather guess, er, forecast when I decided to start the engine to prepare for getting underway. Turn key, press the go button, but no starty. Shit. It usually fires right up and it had been running fine when we shut it down when we got to North Lake Worth. When the diesel turns over but won’t fire it’s usually either fuel, fuel or in extreme cases fuel. Oddly enough, in this instance it turned out to be a plugged secondary fuel filter, so it was fuel after all.
We were up and running by 0800 and after a quick conference on the VHF it was off to Fort Lauderdale. Since the ocean was forecast to be fit for neither man nor beast it was to be a trip down the ICW.
Twenty minutes into the journey Savage Son called to report that his engine wasn’t running right. Crap. So we cut the day short and headed into the anchorage at Peanut Island after a 4 ½ mile day. The Savages went about changing all of their fuel filters and went for a test drive with no discernable difference in performance. They did however discover that the engine ran fine on the port tank but wouldn’t run worth a damn on the starboard tank. Bob had just topped this starboard tank off with 29 gallons of diesel. Suspecting bad fuel they went into a marina where they had their tank drained and refilled with fresh diesel. No difference. Shit. Everything in the fuel delivery system has been checked except the fuel pickup and the selector valve so they decided to travel on the port tank and find the starboards problem somewhere down the line.
So Saturday was a repeat of Friday with the only difference being 20 lift bridges and 35 miles. We pulled the hook at 0700 and turned south into the ICW. It was at about the fifth bridge of the day when I noticed that a disturbing trend was emerging. I had to yell at someone again. It was a beautiful sunny day, butterflies were flitting about and unicorns were unicorning. I can’t believe this shit.
We pulled up to a bridge with our 3 compadres behind us and 2 smaller sailboats were waiting single file for the timed opening. We were about 6 minutes early and were bobbing along towards the bridge in neutral with a very gentle breeze urging us forward. Christy’s side of the enclosure was down and she looked over at me and said “That guy is yelling at us”. I couldn’t hear him, so I went out on the aft deck and this guy is screaming “WTF are you doing, you can’t just show up and cut the line, you need to be behind us”. The guy was screaming like I kicked his puppy. At first I was a little bit taken aback by this guy just exploding on us and then I realized that he had been heaven sent. God had actually sent him to me so that I could vent some of the stress of having to deal with 20 ICW bridges in a single day. So once he had his say, it was my turn and vent I did.
I started with “Don’t worry captain, nobody’s trying to cut your little line. WTF difference does it make if I pass you before the bridge or after it. What’s the matter, are you afraid that we’re going to use up all the water?” I can’t even remember half the crap I said although I do remember a liberal amount of f’ing idiots. By the time I was done he wouldn’t even look over at us and his poor wife was studying her pedicure. Single file? We’d be stretched out for half a mile. Oh yeah, the bridge tender would just love that. Buffoon. I can’t imagine traveling a thousand miles in the ICW and sweating about someone getting ahead of you. Christ, it’s not like we’re waiting in line at the bank or grocery store.
SO when the bridge went up I allowed Captain Single File to go through and then all 4 of us blew past him. It’s actually easier to get the overtaking done while waiting for a bridge, then it is in the sometimes narrow confines of the ICW. I dunno, maybe he was having a bad day. Me, I’m seeing butterflies and unicorns.
Shortly thereafter we were passed by a small powerboat doing about 15 knots. Small wake, no problem. Not 2 minutes later we’re passed by some young guy in a triple engine monster center console type boat. The resulting wake rocked the shit out of all of us but it’s pretty much the norm when traveling on the weekends in Florida. Doing 35 knots or better he soon overtook the smaller powerboat and the shenanigans really started. The smaller boat tried to accelerate to stay ahead of the bigger boats tremendous wake. But they were sucked into the roll of the wake and nearly broached but ended up at speed headed right at the passing larger boat. Whack! When we caught up and passed by they were bobbing along side by side yelling at each other. Ah, life on the water is sooo relaxing.
After our twentieth bridge we turned up into the Middle River. Alibi II had told us about this anchorage and we were not disappointed. We also found our friends from Annapolis, Val & Harold here. About 2 hours after our arrival Captain Single File showed up and after reconnoitering decided to move on. I hope it wasn’t something I said…….