Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Getting RAFT back in the water

Getting RAFT back in the water
Originally uploaded by S/V Raft.
Now that Wilma is over, and the new transmission installed we want to get going. We had been in Florida for three weeks, and we still were on the hard. Wilma was still delaying us indirectly. Riverside Marina where we were staying is a busy boatworks, and one of the few working marinas left. With the onset of Wilma, the marina hauled out 20-30 boats in the last couple of days. Problem was, they didn't have enough room for them all. The result was hauled out boats were stored in the laneways, and RAFT was blocked in by three other boats. Now that these boats are out of the water, the owners now wanted to get work done on them, ie bottoms painted etc. so didn't want to have them launched immediately. The boats like ours, who were already delayed by the hurricane now all wanted out. However Riverside was now busy receiving boats that were damaged in Wilma, and many of these had priority, pull them out before they sunk. And everyday there seemed to be boats coming in by trailer to be repaired or launched.

So in order to get RAFT launched and masted, we had to wait for many boats to be moved. And there was nothing we could do about it. Finally as the sunset on Thursday (Nov. 3rd) RAFT was in the travellift and dropped in the water. We spent that night in the launching slip. Friday morning, we endured a difficult masting procedure, using a long forked forklift truck. But it worked, the stick was us, and we moved over to a slip to get sails on, tune rigging, and everything else that has to be done to return RAFT to a sailboat.

Saturday, we helped Breakaway V (CS 36 out of Hamilton, Ont) get masted, it went a little smoother as we had all learned from our experience. John and Robin had shipped Breakaway from Canada and were experiencing Florida sailing, salt water, tides and currents for the first time. It seemed strange to be the "expert" with only one saltwater sailing season under our belts. They rewarded our efforts with cocktails that evening. Bill and Jeannie, who had lent us their house, during Wilma, had returned to Riverside, their home marina. So Sunday we went to Archie's, the local biker bar complete with staff dressed as pirates, and interesting place on the beach, for lunch. While the guys drank beers and drooled over the bikes, Jeanne and Bev went for a long walk on the beach.

Early Monday morning, we starting our regular inwater routine, listening to the weather nets, and Chris Parker predicts there could be a short weather window to cross the stream Thursday/Friday this week in advance of a norther. This info pushed us to get all our last minute stuff done, and get out of Riverside. We picked up the gas selonoid we had been trying to get in Fort Pierce, even though it meant we had to drive to Jenson Beach, went to the Airport to fix our cruising license issue, filled our water jugs and propane tank, did laundry, did last minute shopping, dropped the car off at Bill's, helped Bill replumb his hotwater tank, had a goodbye beer with John (Breakaway), settled our account with Riverside and managed to sail out with the tide.... We went through the bascule bridge and anchored just off Harbourtown Marina. Our first day's mileage -- .5 mile SOUTH!!

It is a good thing we knew where we were going, because we really had forgotten basic boating skills, ie VHF channels, how to get the little blue boat moving on the electronic charts. But it was great to set down the hook. It had definitely been too long. That evening Ross installed the cooler system on the transmission, tightened and conditioned the alternator belt, reconnected the radar mast wires, and gave the engine a routine check. It is amazing how much you can get done, when you have a deadline.

We left Ft Piece at 6:30 this morning to start the journey south to Lake Worth. Previous weather reports indicated the weather window to jump to the Bahamas would be Thurs so we needed to make tracks south. Part way through the journey we got a updated weather report and the Grib files in from winlink that told us the weather window was closing and that we would have to wait for the next one. Well sailors plans are always made of jello so we altered our plans to stop at Peck Lake and enjoy the beach and the day in general. We had sailed past Peck Lake twice before, so now we had the time, we were going to enjoy it.

While trek south we managed to check out more our system and put the motor and transmission through their initial breakins for the season. Every thing seemed to work out okay so that means it was a good day-- not quite. A good day is when nothing breaks or you don't run aground. Well we managed to do both today. Ross took Skipper Bob's directions literally on entering the Peck Lake anchorage and ran aground twice. Fortunately the wind was blowing the right direction and Bev popped the foresail and pulled us off. Good thing that the bottom is soft here. Our bow nav lights were not working, so we decided that we would have a look at repairing them in Peck Lake. Bev, the "electrician" yanked on the wire and is broke off in her hand. This no means that we have to remove the pulpit, remove the V-berth shelf and empty the anchor locker to access the wire and completely rewire the bow section now. Well now that the weather window is closing we will take on this repair in Lake Worth where we will be close to stores for parts even though Ross says he has everything to fix it. Bev has learned, it is always better to have a West Marine close at hand, as he usually makes a gift to the water gods during repairs. Should only take a day right (remember that cruising is fixing your boat in exoctic locations)

But Bev did see a dolphin, our first this trip and that usually means good luck. The anchorage at Peck Lake is just a sand dune away from the Atlantic ocean, and we did get a wonderful walk on the beach, a dinghy exploration trip and a gorgeous sunset as we enjoyed our ceasar chicken salad. Things are only getting better....