History Log: Season 2004
Amida travels from Toronto to Trinidad.
Our first years adventure.
Log 6: Jacksonville to Ft Lauderdale
Sunday Dec 28th: 50 miles south of Vero Beach FL
We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, Hanukah or, if you celebrated neither, a Pagan Ritual. Ours, Christmas rather than
the Pagan Ritual, was quiet, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The last Log ended with us arriving in Jacksonville, spending the day with Helen and Mark, and participating in their local
Christmas Parade of Lights.
Well, we stayed in Jacksonville longer than we had planned. In part this was because we took the opportunity of Helen lending us
her car to do some grocery shopping (NB: Publix is great!), Marilyn went to a chiropractor; we took delivery of a replacement
Regulator, our EPIRB (thanks for your generous contribution to this!), and a solar panel. We were also able to go to the movies,
a rare treat, to see Lord of the Rings (to my mind the best of the three). Mark and Helen were also able to pass on their wisdom
regarding the Caribbean, which they have visited twice on Lady H. Along the way I was able to save us the mammoth amount of
around US$1000! How you say? Well, during a visit to Circuit City, I managed to avoid the impulse of buying an LCD TV, a “juke
box”, and a Sirius satellite radio setup! This made Marilyn very happy.
The LCD TVs are phenomenal! We have a DVD player in our laptop, but you have to have your head pretty much right in front of
the screen to get a good image. If there are two of you watching from opposite ends of the settee then the image deteriorates
badly. In the US, the Sharp 13” costs around $450, which is quite a bit cheaper than in Canada. Oh well.
The Juke Boxes are a wonderful piece of technology. The bigger models have a 20Gb disk drive which enables you to store the
content of over 200 CDs, and if you get the relevant indices off the web, you can categorise them to have an easier task of
retrieving the particular track, or type of music, that you want to hear. Best of all, the unit fits inside your pocket and can be
listened to while on a night watch through head-phones.
Sirius Radio is also very cool, but works only (officially) in the US and up to about 200 miles offshore. You get, for a $12/m fee,
dozens of commercial “free” radio music channels, including BBC, CNN News, and PRI. But, you need a radio capable of
receiving satellite, as well as an antenna, as well as a tuner.
Our plan was to go from Jacksonville to St Augustine so we eventually forced ourselves to leave the luxury of a house and went
back to the more modest confines of Amida. The alarm clock was set for an early morning departure and we were ready to go…
or so we thought. Getting up in the morning, Amida felt uncharacteristically stiff. Turning on the instruments gave me a shock, as
the Depth gauge read 4.7ft! That meant we were a foot deep in mud at the low tide!!! I walked up to the marina office to
question why we had been located in such a shallow slip, despite having given them our draft requirements, and learned that this
tide was, apparently, the shallowest they had had since the summer and was compounded by the wind direction pushing water
away from the slips. Nice to know, but it didn’t really help our predicament. Suffice it to say we were forced to stay an extra day
and time our departure for high tide.
The ICW from Jacksonville to St Augustine was a doddle… wide, sweeping bends, deep, and pretty… except in one place. OK, I
can hear you thinking that this was where we grounded, yet again. Well, based on your past experience of our meanderings on
the ICW, I dare say you’d be quite justified in arriving at this conclusion, but you’d be dead wrong. We did not ground but
smugly motored around the place where apparently many do. You see, at the St Augustine Inlet, the magenta line (which tells
you which part of the channel you should favour) on the Maptech charts goes on the wrong side of one of the red buoys! I admit
we had a little forewarning, care of Mark and Helen’s “local knowledge”… I can imagine the consternation that would have
otherwise surfaced… do we follow the buoys or the magenta line??? That magenta line is quite frequently incorrect, though this is
not usually a problem. For instance it might tell you to favour the left side of the channel whereas the best depth is actually on
the right, though the left is quite safe.
Are you asleep yet? Am I boring you to death? It is hard to be humourous when nothing funny, or tragic, is happening, and I
can’t even poke fun at our problems, as they appear to be minor (I may regret writing this!).
St Augustine is one of the oldest cities in the USA. It might, in fact, be the oldest. It has a heavy Spanish influence and the hand
of a certain Mr. Henry Flagler is quite pronounced. Henry was a railway magnate and was one of the original developers of this
part of Florida. He built a railway and a bunch of resort hotels to which flocked the wealthy of the time. One of the streets in St A
is closed to traffic and open only to pedestrians. I found, however, that the town quickly lost its charm, mainly because the shops
are a little too kitschy for my liking… too many T-shirt and nick-nack stores! But the architecture is beautiful...Spanish influence.
As soon as we arrived at the St A marina, and were met by courteous and knowledgeable staff that helped us dock, we checked
in and then rushed off to the Post Office to collect mail. Drat… it was closed when we got there (closes at 2:00pm on Saturday).
Of course, on Sunday it would be closed and then reopen at 8:30 on Monday, and we had planned on leaving early Monday
morning. Oh well.
That evening we first heard the “noise”. We’d just finished eating dinner when I noticed a strange sound… it is hard to describe,
but imagine bacon frying in a pan, or a rapid succession of bubble-wrap bubbles being punctured, or giant termites munching
through your basement walls, or some kind of electrical short-circuit.
The last was the one that caused me enough concern to merit immediate investigation. No matter what I checked, eg ammeter,
bilges, turning off breakers, etc, the sound could not be pinpointed. Strangely, it was audible from the outside not only on our
slip but also the adjacent ones. I became convinced that one of the docked power boats had a major problem with their electrical
system and was dumping huge amounts of current into the adjacent waters and turning our sacrificial zincs into mush… Next
morning, as we walked to the showers, I asked one of the Marina personnel if anyone had reported strange noises. Sure, he
said… those are barnacles. Stunned into silence we walked on and didn‘t ask for further detailed explanation. So, what sounded
like a reasonable explanation at the time, later took on ominous overtones. Where would these barnacles be? Were they
attaching themselves to our hull, perchance? I don’t know about you, but I am woefully ignorant of the mating habits of
barnacles. I can only imagine it being a rather painful process, with all those sharp edges getting in the way of nature and
pleasure… makes a man press his knees tightly together all of a sudden, just thinking about it.
Mark had warned us about Luperon (sp?) in the Dominican Republic where the bay hosts many boats, some of which stay for
several months. Apparently, the water is rife with critters and, apparently, one particular boat had a bit of a problem when they
decided, finally, to depart. They couldn’t because their engine died as soon as it was put it into gear. It seems that their prop
shaft was covered solid with barnacles and would not rotate. I had visions of the same having happened to Amida… Suffice it to
say, we were very attentive to the ambient sounds for the next couple of days and nights and I am pleased to report that either
the little bleeders fell off in transit or they never got attached to our hull in the first place. (Marilyn writes…while editing this on
Jan 12th! …we can still hear those little critters… so I am now convinced that they are attached to our hull, perhaps starting to
clog the through hulls!. The reason we could hear them so well in St. A is that, it was the first places where we were actually in
sea water. Coming down the ICW most of the time you are in fresh water because of the many rivers and many of the cities are
actually up rivers. Now that we are further south and therefore in sea inlets, you see barnacles on the docks and pilings. So this
is where you start to realize that the critters have taken up residence aboard and that when we get to the Bahamas we will have
a new job to add to the never ending job list.)
Our hopes had been to go from St Augustine to Cocoa Beach via the “outside” but those plans were nixed (by Marilyn) when the
weather forecast called for thick fog for the next morning, just at the time we’d be coming back to land. Had the radar been
working we’d have gone ahead but that not being the case, the risk was not worth taking. It meant, however, a tedious ICW trip
of three days. Most of the time, the trip was pretty easy, but the Ponce de Leon Inlet, just north of New Smyrna Beach, gave us
much trouble, as it shoals up badly, and the channel is pretty shallow in that area to begin with. So, of course, we grounded. To
be more accurate, I grounded. Not only once, but four times! This was a sphincter tightening day, one which proves your Mother
was right in telling you to put on clean underwear every morning! Actually, my Mother didn’t, because we got clean undies only
once a week, whether they were needed or not, ready to wear to church on Sunday, the day after our weekly bath… England in
the 50’s was like that. No washing machine or dryer, not even a fridge… plus, of course, we had to walk, from the cardboard box
in which we lived, uphill, both ways, barefoot in the snow, carrying our slates and chalk, to and from school. Hard times, those
were…I digress, so back to groundings in the ICW…
In my defense, I have come up with a rating system for groundings, on a scale of * to ****:
* - a mere touch, or kiss, of the bottom not requiring any action
** - easily rectified by steering back into the channel but becoming a *** if ignored
*** - needing some effort, and horsepower, to get back into deep water
**** - requiring the assistance of TowBoat US or waiting for the tide to rise.
Thus far, we have had one 4 * incident (Chesapeake, blown onto a shoal during the night while at anchor) and three 3 *s, while
the rest have been either one or two *s. This particular day, all the groundings were one * types, ie nothing to worry about,
except their psychological effect on yours truly.
It’s confession time again… that we both start the day with a dose of butterflies… the type that knot your stomach into unnatural
shapes…lunch also often becomes a non-event, as the butterflies trump the hunger pangs… The guide books you read, strangely,
don’t happen to mention this phenomenon. The ICW is supposed to be easy cruising, but we find it anything but that. Most of the
time it is just fine, with a depth anywhere from 10 – 14 ft, but you still have to concentrate to stay in the channel… all day long.
And when you have a 20 knot wind and current pushing you off course, you really need to pay attention to both forward direction
as well as where you are relative to the marks behind. The Indian River, along which we were now traveling, is pretty good. A
broad channel with a consistent depth and consistency is the key.
We eventually arrived in Cocoa Beach on Christmas Eve, docked, and headed into town to buy a few rolls or a loaf of bread,
make some Christmas phone calls to our respective families, and reserve a table in a restaurant for Christmas Dinner. The
town, however, was already closed up… including the place that was supposed to have a public phone. As we wandered along the
deserted streets we came across a Pizzeria and stopped to ask where we might find a grocery and a phone. The owner and staff,
sitting out on the sidewalk, drinking a glass of wine, with not a single customer in sight, were very obliging. Sorry, there’s no
grocery, and no phone booth. They offered to sell us some pizza bread, but it was laden with garlic, so not too good for
breakfast or lunch. They also, very kindly, offered us the use of their own phone…it was all a little surreal, no one around except
the staff… said staff having a drink and feeling very Merry already… and no one else in sight.
On the way back to the Marina we came across an open restaurant and stepped in to make our reservation for the next day.
Sorry, was the response, we won’t be open on Christmas Day… and no other restaurant in town will be either. Would you, I
asked in a moment of inspiration, sell us some bread or dinner rolls? This, of course, required a decision from the Maitre D’ who,
no doubt under the Christmas influence, emerged with a doggie-bag containing five rolls for which he refused payment. Back on
Amida, we made our Christmas phone calls to family using expensive cell phone minutes.
So, Christmas Day ended up pretty quietly, with us going back into town for a walk and finding the place was locked up tighter
than a drum. Not a single store was open. The highlight of the day was trying to decide which Christmas cake to eat, as we have
four varieties from which to choose. Christine sent us one she had made, Helen gave us her home-made cake as well, and I’d
found a Panattone (sp?) in the Costco, as well as a regular fruit cake in the Publix grocery, both in Jacksonville. I must say I
much prefer the home made variety. Thanks again ladies!
The Marina we stayed at in Cocoa was still under construction and I have a little story to tell from the comfort of Amida’s salon
rather than the local jail. The construction includes a couple of condo towers as well as an expansion of the docks. These docks
have the usual wooden construction, with the floor boards being of a wood I’d never seen before, but looking like teak... There
happened to be a whole skid full of these boards, 6” x 1” x 8ft. Now, it just so happens that I had been trying to figure out how to
build the base for the new solar panel and decided I needed a couple of pieces of teak wood, which coincidentally needed to be
8ft long. The temptation to go over to the skid and liberate one of the many that were in the pile was significant… and just as
significantly counterbalanced by many years of a Catholic education (7th Commandment deals with stealing, as I recall, right?).
That evening, I went to the marina facilities for a visit to their washroom and on the way back to Amida, stopped by the skid and
gazed wistfully at the boards, one of which in particular seemed to want to go sailing to the Bahamas. Then I heard a voice in the
darkness which scared the daylights out of me (hmmm… can you have daylights at night time?). Turning around to face it, I was
faced with the sight of a 250lb Security Guard, who wondered if he could be of any assistance (Americans are so polite!). After
my heart rate returned to normal, we had a nice chat about the marina, problems with theft, and the weather… as I was silently
thanking my lucky stars that I had resisted temptation and not actually reached over to grasp the plank!
We left Cocoa early the next morning and hustled as fast as we could to the next port of call, Vero Beach. This was the day we
started with four layers of clothing and ended up with just T-shirts and shorts, it reaching into the low 70s. Vero Beach is a must
as a stop over, for several days, if possible. The marina has mooring balls priced at a mere $8 per night, with showers being an
additional $1 per person. So, each night costs essentially $10… a tad better that the typical marina charge of about $50 for us.
I’d say about a quarter of the boats at Vero had Canadian flags displayed. We made an executive decision to stay there a couple
of nights rather than the one we had originally intended. This gave us a day to go and visit the beach, have a beachfront lunch,
wander around in search of bread and buns (this seems to be our major preoccupation). Of course, we discovered that there are
no major grocery stores in the beach area but we persuaded a Greek-style eatery to sell us a few of their buns. Then we heard
that there had been not just one, but two major parties over Christmas! So Christmas in Vero Beach would be a good target!!!
Here’s a strange story: we were chatting to the couple in an adjacent boat and the conversation somehow led to engine
repowering. I told them about the woes we had experienced and how they had been fixed by an engine guru in Annapolis. Who
was that, we were asked? Well, it turned out that they had also had a new engine installed by the same guy who did our repairs
and it ended up being screwed up royally… because of a poor alignment job!!! Of course, we heard only one side of the story,
but it was a sobering thought to hear that the fellow who had come to us highly recommended, and who had criticized the work
we’d had done in Toronto, was also apparently capable of poor work. Does this have a familiar ring to you? …“mine is better than
As there are not enough mooring balls to cater to the number of boats wanting to use them, rafting two vessels together is an
expected phenomenon. Our new neighbours gave us information about satellite phones that persuaded us to go that way for the
next two years. Globalstar sells a hand-set for around $550 together with a service that gives 400 minutes of voice and/or data
(internet access) for US$100/month. So, when we cancel the Bell Mobility wireless phone (C$65) and add the savings of the
AT&T Internet Provider fee (C$35) as well as the Rogers Cable Internet access, which we had terminated when leaving Toronto,
we will be pretty close to break-even… and have the luxury of phone calls to and from Amida to the US and Canada, as well as
internet access to update our site, check on Manchester United scores, get weather forecasts, etc. Best of all, if the service is
purchased from the US (not Canada, as I understand the pricing model), then the USA / Canada / Caribbean are all in the
“home area”, and do not generate a roaming charge. The only additional charges would be if we were to place a call to a location
in the Caribbean where the local telcos add their own charges, which can be significant.
So, today, we left Vero Beach quite reluctantly and headed off for the last few days of the ICW “experience”. It was uneventful,
despite the guide book mentioning significant shoaling problems at the St Lucie Inlet. It was Marilyn’s turn at the helm as we
passed that section and she dealt with both the inlet, and the significant weekend power-boat traffic, remarkably well… to the
extent that she has an unblemished grounding record so far. Mind you, in the earlier days, I would drive all day long and have
since got smarter, so we now share the wheel 50/50.
The further south we get, the worse the power boaters become… meaning they don’t slow down but engulf you with a wake of
tsunami proportions. They only slow down when the signs mandate this due to a manatee protection policy. Yes, this is certainly
manatee country. We know this because we have read several hundred signs telling us this is so, but have yet to get even a
glimpse of one, or even of the “tell-tale circular water pattern” that is caused by the tail of a submerged manatee according to a
pamphlet we picked up at the Vero Beach Marina. We were, however, treated today to a rather spectacular dolphin show, with
them jumping out of the water and then landing on their backs, maybe a dozen in total, before they figured out we were not a
paying audience. The houses along the ICW are totally outrageous, as I may have already written. It is mind-boggling how many
$4M+ ones there actually are, and that there are enough people who can afford them. We came across one that was for sale, as
was a rather modest boat docked in front of it. This boat was a 22ft runabout, and its price tag was $65K…
Wake up, wake up… I have almost finished…
Tomorrow we hit Delray Beach, hopefully not literally, where we will meet our friend Tim Varcoe and then head off to Ft
Lauderdale. While at anchor in the Vero Beach marina, we were visited by a couple (Reg and Terry) who were passing Amida on
their way back to their boat, Blue Topaz, and came over to chat. They are members of NYC themselves and left for the south
some 6 years ago. Apparently there are some good anchorages close to South Miami Beach but, unfortunately, there is a 56ft
high bridge with which our 54ft high mast, plus antenna and tri-light, would have difficulty given the tides have a small range in
Southern Florida. We were also told that the ICW channel gets narrower, the bridges more numerous, and the power boaters
more aggressive… great! BTW, writing about power boats reminded me that, apparently, I’m not the only Bi in NYC as there is
another couple (names withheld as a courtesy) who are also idly speculating about trading in their sailboat, someday, for a
So, we’re almost at the end of a major segment of our adventure. I have a few boat projects to do while in Ft Lauderdale; mount
the solar panel, check the ham radio, check bolts / grub screws to be tight, do an engine oil change, etc and then all we have to
do is wait for the appropriate weather window and head off to the Bahamas.
That’s all for now. At 2200 it’s way past my bedtime. I’ll do a final Log update about how we met Madonna and were invited for a
New Year’s party to her place, before we leave for the Bahamas… Enjoy your own New Year’s Festivities!!!
Marilyn writes on Jan 12th. We picked up Tim in Delray Beach and after the hugs and kisses, Tim told us he had been “feeding” a
manatee while waiting for us to arrive. Not Fair! Here we have been in manatee country for days and haven’t even seen one and
Tim is on the dock for less that an hour and he gets to “feed” one. What we mean by “feed” is that you take a water hose and
spray the water into the mouth of the manatee. They like the fresh water. Tim was so excited that he took us over to see where
the manatee had been to see if we could feed it too …unfortunately it was gone... maybe next time, now that we know what they
January 1, 2004: in Ft Lauderdale.
The ICW segment to Delray Beach then on to Ft Lauderdale was not a problem, with a good and deep channel. The power boat
wakes, however, would often bounce off the concrete walls lining the ICW and hit us for a second and even a third time. Having
Tim on board was great. It was so nice to have company and someone to share the ooos and aaahs with as we passed some of
the most outrageous homes and yachts. We had one moment of major excitement when, just as I had turned up the engine revs
to accelerate and go through a just-opened bridge, I noticed to my amazement that a powerboat that had been heading the
opposite way suddenly decided to cross our path on route to the dock of the restaurant they had chosen for lunch. I had to take
sharp avoiding action by going into reverse in a major hurry to stop us in our tracks. The “Captain” seemed completely oblivious
of our presence and of the risk of a T-bone incident. Restaurants seem to have that effect on boaters; they cause a loss of
concentration. The other day we used our horn in anger for the first time when a powerboat was meandering in front of us, in the
middle of the western side of the channel, while trying to chose the restaurant of choice and not giving me room to pass given
there was also traffic heading the other way. He at least had the grace to acknowledge fault with a wave of his hand.
The final couple of miles to our marina in Ft Lauderdale, up the river from the ICW, were challenging. Marilyn was on the wheel,
again, as we rounded tight and narrow bends, dodged monster power boats heading the other way, coming across four bridges
that required opening, one being a railway bridge which had most of a goods train still going over it as we approached, while
going past mega storey condos and office towers! Fortunately, we had timed our entry at the period of least current and the
depth was plentiful. Marilyn did a fine job in these very tough conditions and, I think, deserves promotion to co-Admiral.
The marina we are at is called Cooley’s Landing, and was recommended to us by Al Ionson. It is relatively small, with only some
30 slips but very cheap at $1/ft and is close to a Publix grocery for final provisioning, as well as chandleries etc. The only
downside is that the slip we were allocated, the only one that was available, is right next to the launch ramp. This means that
during the weekend there is a steady procession of small powerboats coming in and out and some of them emit really foul
smoke and smell while their engines warm up. The railway is also close by and the trains turn on their horns as they go through
town, especially in the middle of the night. We have met two couples here that have backgrounds linked to ours, Chris and Jim
(Jim is also a retired IBMer) and Greg and Gladys (who sail out of Ashridges Bay Yacht Club). Small world!
New Year’s Eve was a blast! Tim hired a rental car and we took off for South Beach in Miami. The plan was to find a cheap hotel
and walk from there to South Beach, where we would have dinner and partake in the festivities. This was easier said than done.
When we called the Holliday Inn, of which Tim is a Premium Club member with some pull and influence, we discovered that all
the close by locations were already completely booked up, leaving only the Miami Airport location as the only possibility.
Undaunted by this setback, we continued to drive to South Beach and, on reaching the Holiday Inn closest to it, pulled in, walked
up to the desk, and requested lodging. The first response was that there was no room at the inn, Tim’s persistence paid off and
we eventually got one! We unpacked, put on shorts and headed off to the South Beach to reconnoitre the area and its
possibilities. We had heard that Mangos restaurant would be a good choice for New Year’s Eve dinner but the US$150 per person
charge put a dent in that plan. Eventually, we booked a table at the place recommended to us by the desk at the Holiday Inn.
The price was a mere $79 and included transportation in a limo!
After a shower and change, we went down to the lobby and were confronted by a monster white stretch limo, which took us to
the restaurant for a 10:00pm sitting. On the way to the restaurant we had the driver stop so we could pick up a disposable
camera. Had to get a shot of us in this Limo. What a laugh. Here we were in South Beach, riding around is a monster white limo,
heading out for dinner on New Years Eve. The meal was of gargantuan proportions, but reasonably well cooked. There was a
challenge to explain to the waitress that as the fixed price included a bottle of wine or champagne per couple, we would like to
pay for an extra half bottle, given there were three of us. So, we had wine with dinner and took most of the champers with us to
the Beach, which we made at around 11:55pm. At midnight we discovered that we had picked the right spot as the firework
display was just 50 yards away. The bars then cranked up the sound and we were treated to a real spectacle… lots of people,
many dressed up to the nines, lots of noise, party atmosphere. “Little black dresses” are in, and “little” they really, really are. I
swear they measure no more than 6 inches from waistline to hem. This makes their owners legs appear to reach from their
ankles to their chins, especially when perched on high-heels. This kind of outfit was quite, quite easy on the eyeballs. In fact, Tim
and I had to push them back into their sockets on several occasions. What I liked far less were the black outfits which included
knee-high boots, usually from shiny patent leather / vinyl. The age of the revelers seemed to be in the 20 and 30s, with us being
the old-farts. So, we drank our champagne, watched the crowds and listened to the music, while gradually making our way back
towards our own hotel. In need of a top up of alcoholic beverage, we tried to get into one of the bars but the $25 cover charge
for each of us was an effective barrier to entry. Then we hit the jackpot! The Delano Hotel had loud music coming from its pool
area so we decided to check it out. The entrances were guarded by a bevy of Security guys who, to our surprise, let us in to
what appeared to be a great party. Even better was the presence of a free bar!!! This party had all the beautiful people … the
pool was surrounded by lounge chairs laid flat, three together, forming little platforms and there were a bunch of tents with
couches setup inside them. I wondered if we hadn’t strayed into a semi-public bordello! We stayed about an hour and walked the
last block back to our much, much more modest Holiday Inn, getting into bed at 3:00am. What a night. Sweet dreams.
This morning we walked along the main drag in search of breakfast then headed to the Delano Hotel to check it out in daylight. It
really is a delightful hotel, full of art deco furnishings, some extremely whimsical and the price of rooms ranges from US$300 to
$700 per night. We walked back along the beach which had quite a few sunbathers, some topless (women as well as men), on it
by now the temperature being in the high 70s. Then we returned to the Holiday Inn’s pool for a final hour or two of relaxing
before it was time to checkout and drive back to Ft Lauderdale and Amida. It was here that we said our farewells to Tim as he
went on to Orlando for a Convention. It was great to spend time with him and to hear first hand what is happening in Canada
and get news about mutual friends. It made us look forward to future visits that we hope many of you will make as we head
towards more exotic Caribbean locations…it will soon be time to try and firm up on some of these plans.
Wednesday, Jan 7th: Ft Lauderdale
As you can see, we are still in the US! Time flies by so quickly… the projects have, yet again, taken longer than planned. I
needed to purchase yet another regulator for the solar panel, as well as the satellite phone, and was not able to do this on Jan
31st, which meant placing the order on the 2nd. I’m actually still waiting for the regulator to arrive, though I have started
building the platform, over the bimini, on which the solar panel will sit.
Murphy has shown up again, after a long absence. The head holding tank warning light came on, signifying it was full and I
requested a pumpout, as this is a freebie at this marina. In fact, rather than take the boat to a pumpout station, each slip has a
pipe permanently plumbed in to which you connect your deck fitting via a portable pump. Unfortunately, the pump was kaput!
Also, when we attempted to turn the Y-valve lever as a pre-cursor to the pumpout, we discovered it would not even budge.
Lastly, I had installed the new radio/CD and it had been working just fine until it was powered off and later on again, at which
time it decided to not come out of its electronic slumber and refused to turn itself on... A bad (Murphy) day!
Actually, Murphy is here in more than one way. Chris and Jim (on an Oday 37, 2 slips down) have a dog on their boat whose
name is Murphy! A permanently resident Murphy… no wonder they have fewer problems than we, the unwelcome Murphy
probably figures he/she has them covered!
Al and Karen Ionson arrived here from Canada to rejoin their boat and invited us over to see it. It is a 46ft powerboat (Lady I)
with a 13’6 (or perhaps even 14’6) beam, drool, drool, drool! The space this gives is just humongous… probably almost as many
square feet as the first floor of the house on Wolverleigh! They have twin diesels of 450 turbo-charged power in each, as well as
all the mod-cons that come standard on a power boat of this size, such as air conditioning, a remote controlled platform that
submerges as the dinghy approaches and then lifts it up to the level from which you step onto the boat, satellite TV, etc, etc,
etc… Very nice, and we’re glad we finally saw what such a vessel looks like from the inside. Lady I, however, is not a “super
yacht”, as some of the monsters that pass us by are. These sport four storeys as well as lengths of 150 – 200 feet. Al also
offered to take us through the charts and tell us which places in the Bahamas are worth visiting and which should be avoided, as
they have been throughout the region. Karen has also taken Marilyn around town to the various stores. There was a cool one
selling uniforms for superyacht boatboys and boatgirls.
We have also been on board a few of the other sailboats in the marina, a brand new Beneteau 42 footer, a Nauticat, and a 47ft
Hylas. Lots of oohs and aahs… the spaciousness of these large vessels is astounding! But, at the end of the day, we are very
happy on board Amida, despite what I sometimes write about powerboats… she is a fine, fine, boat. I know we are somewhat
biased but we both feel she is one of the prettiest sailboats we have yet seen. The socializing has been phenomenal, with
cocktails here there and everywhere. Nice people… It was interesting to talk to the Hylas owners and hear of their experiences of
coming down the ICW, which matched ours almost exactly! Not only than, but their own Murphy has also been very active. It
seems he does not discriminate about which boats, expensive or not, new or not, he visits with great regularity. Perversely, it
was almost gratifying to hear their stories of broken equipment and their thinking that they were somehow jinxed, as it made us
feel that we were not alone.
This marina, Cooley’s Landing, is close to downtown Ft Lauderdale as well as the Riverwalk, which sports restaurants, bars, a
Performing Arts Centre, and a cinema complex. On the weekend, it hosted a jazz festival and one of the streets close by (Las
Olas) was closed off for several blocks for an art exhibition. Rather pleasant. The only downside has been that there are no
scheduled performances at the Arts Centre while we are here.
It looks like we will be here for another few days as the weather has turned bad, due to a cold front arriving. Now, bad and cold
are relative terms, and it merely means that it’s too chilly to sit out on deck in just shorts, ie without a T-shirt. The wind is 15-20
knots from the NE which precludes a Gulf Stream crossing till Saturday at the earliest. This is fine, as we will have time to get the
head problems licked (perhaps a different word would be more appropriate!), finish installing the solar panel, get the satellite
phone and test it, and do the final provisioning. The portable pumpout machine has taken a week to get fixed and we managed
to get our own holding tank emptied just before it broke down yet again. I managed to find an expert on Ham radios who has the
same one as is on Amida and he came down to do some trouble shooting regarding the poor performance of ours. Turns out that
the Tuner, aerial and installation appear to be OK but the ICOM radio is not working as well as it should and will need to be
shipped away for repair. Good news, however, regarding the malfunctioning radio/CD player as I took it back to Circuit City and
the replacement is now working perfectly.
Time to finish now so that Marilyn can do the upload tomorrow. The next log will be from somewhere in the Bahamas, which is a
very exciting thought. We will have company on the crossing from two other boats from our marina which makes the thought a
little less daunting, though the trip should not take more than 10 to12 hours.
BTW: we took a look at the distribution list to which Marilyn sends notification of a log update occurring and noticed that,
unfortunately, several names were somehow missing from it, which is a bit of a mystery as the original list had been a cut and
paste job. This has now been rectified. Also, I noticed we did not have Nick De Munnick’s email ID, so if anyone knows what it is,
please let us know.
History Log: Season 2004
Amida travels from Toronto to Trinidad.
Our first years adventure.