This is our first effort at group mail via ham radio. We have had wonderful luck with this type of transmission since we finally "got it together" in Melbourne. WE spent three days there after the SSCA party to send and receive lots of mail. It worked without a hitch.
After looking at the distance to the Keys, we decided to push on Thursday. Since Melbourne has no outlet to the ocean, we continued on down the ICW to Ft. Pierce. Winds were strong out of the east so we decided to try the foresail as a boost to the engine. The ICW is quite narrow with very shallow areas on both sides so we did not want to chance having the centerboard down. Without it Satori got pushed to windward constantly. AFter one close call when another boater passed us, we decided to go the slower route without the Jenny (that's one of the names for the forward sail). Better to go slower than to have to call "Sea Tow" who would charge us about $300 to pull us out of the banks.
The day was sunny and warm even with the breeze. Beautiful homes in the Vero Beach area and a decent arrival time in Ft. Pierce of about 3 PM made a lovely day for us. There we debated the wisdom of going outside the 50 miles down to Palm Beach. There are two inlets from the ocean in that stretch, but neither are large and safe enough for us so we would be committed once we decided to go out.
The winds were due to be out of the east (15-20 mph) and we figured our general direction was south so it would work out fine. A couple of mistakes there...winds were out of the southeast and our general direction was 160 degrees. Most of you realize that that direction is southeast. On the way out the inlet we passed a sailboat on its way in. In answer to a query about the conditions, we got smiles, big rolling motions with their arms and a greeting to "Have a good time!"
It was a truly wild ride out the inlet. Waves were at least 10' high and Sander had his hands full keeping the bow straight into the oncoming waves. The wave action was all from the east and had been strong for several days. You can imagine all of that force concentrating itself into that relatively small inlet and it will give you the picture without my words.
For about 30 minutes we rode the roller coaster before we settled into 5-7' waves. We had squalls as well for the first couple of hours but the temps were warm.
For the last couple of hours we were able to roll out our headsail to 50% and did get some help there. For the most part we had to run the engine pretty hard to make the distance before dark. One thing that we did learn more about during this leg of the trip is the solidity of Satori. She took those breakers like a champ. Now and then we got some salt water spray - on the whole we stayed dry in the cockpit. Things in the cupboards were a bit rearranged but nothing broke. We definitely prefer not to have many rides like yesterday but feel confident we can take it if we need to.
One thing was on the minds of both of us during the trip yesterday. As rough as it was, we are so glad not to be in the Virgin Islands. There were many friends made during our time in Beaufort who were waiting for a good weather window to make the trip to the Virgins. We are keeping our fingers crossed for those folks. Eventually, we will hear how all of them fared.
In Lake Worth (between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach) there is sufficient anchoring room. We have a very interesting neighbor here: a navy landing craft (Sander says he thinks they used to call them LST's). It is about 75' long and is on a mooring. The first thing we noticed is a windsock mounted and the second is a big platform fastened to the front end. We are quite sure it is for a helicopter. We haven't seen any human life around so don't know if it is still military or private. Last night we did the vigil every hour or so as we watched the dance of the boats. With the currents created by each tide change the relative view of the next boat over always changes. I have referred to it as "the dance of the boats" in the past. Same story we have seen before.
We must decide now whether to attempt the outside passage again. Staying inside from here to Ft. Lauderdale means 25 bascule bridges within a distance of 40 miles - yuck!
We will just rest today and try to find a public phone to get some errands done. The winds are due to die down a little over the weekend.
Looking forward to hearing from you all. Don't be put off by the doomsday message at the bottom of your incoming messages. You do not have to limit your notes to us. So far we have only used a max of about 15 minutes of our time and we have been sending and receiving a lot of mail.
Take care. You'll hear from us again soon.
Jane & Sander