IMG_1456Seas were 4 feet, winds 15-20 knots across Dolce Vento’s beam, and the sky crystal blue with sun beaming down.  Dressed in jeans and sweaters to protect against the cool air, we set a reefed main sail and genoa (big sail at the bow) then sailed briskly south, making 7-7.9 knots/hour.  We passed a sea turtle or two, gazed into the sky to watch kite fishing, which I had never seen before, and basked in the sunshine and warming winds as the day progressed.

It couldn’t have been better, except we frayed the “lazy” line, one of the two lines with which we control the Genoa sail at the boat’s bow.  Too much tension caused the line to rub against our newly positioned inner forstay designed to hold a smaller sail (staysail).

Lesson learned: let the lazy line lie on the deck with no tension said the man who taught me to sail so many years ago when I emailed for advice.  Duh!  Can’t I remember anything any more? I should have known better.  Luckily, we only lost 10 feet of line so it does not have to be replaced, just cut and finished at the end.  It was extra long to begin with.

Coming into a new harbor and marina for the first time is like going on a blind date.  The cruising guide makes the experience sound good looking, ready and royal, but when you’re face-to-face with a reality that doesn’t match the images you saw, terror and anxiety take over and you quickly plan an escape.

Fort Lauderdale Inlet and the marina where we stayed for two nights are excellent examples.  Upon entering the inlet, there were no fewer than six cruise ships to jockey around, plus security boats that kept us in a narrow channel fighting a current and crosswinds up our stern while we waited to go under a bascule bridge that only opens every 30 minutes.  Once through the bridge and just around the corner, we were surrounded by massive monster yachts, clogging the marina.  We tied up at the fuel dock, then struggled to leave this a postage stamp size space with mega yachts less than 10 feet away, both for and aft.  To make a long story short, on leaving, the current and wind pushed Dolce Vento against a couple of these yachts.  It was an amazing feat. We bent a 10 foot metal flag pole straight up into the air as it banged against our port side shroud.  Damn thing stuck out 8 feet from the stern of the 65′ sailing yacht.  Thank the gods for liability insurance.  We had minor deck damage, but it looks like it all can be easily repaired when we get to Stock Island/Key West.  Lesson Learned: Don’t hang out with the “Big Boys”, especially on windy days.

Key Biscayne Bay looks just like those fabulous “come to Florida” brochures.  Clear aqua water, a state park with all forms of flora and fauna on the shore, and white sky scrapper buildings (Miami) far off in the distance hooking the water to a cloudless sky.  Heaven, you say?  Yes, until, like last night when smashing 20+ knot winds, blasting cold air and under water currents turned those aqua waters into a hostile mix master churn of a sea. Waves beat against Dolce Vento making kettle drums of her hull, snare drums of her haylards erupting against the mast, and the chronic bingy cord bouncing of the anchor chain bashing against the bow spit.  No one slept.  Bleary eyed and exhausted, I declared that we stay another day until the winds and seas calmed down.  And, they  have.  We will sail tomorrow.  Lesson Learned: Patience is rewarded.

Pictures of John’s visit to Peanut Island before we left our marina in Riviera Beach.

From Riviera Beach to Fort Lauderdale for two days of site seeing.

Sail to Key Biscayne and views of our anchorage.