A PERIPATETIC JOURNEY
not all who wander are lost
Yesterday morning, with a favorable weather forecast, we began the passage from St. Augustine to Lake Worth. Around 7:15 we hailed the bridge tender to request an opening, cast off the mooring, and went to queue up near the bridge. Because of the full moon, the tides were higher than usual, and the current on the flood tide was ripping along at what seemed like 5 knots.
While we waited for the bridge to open, we noticed that there were two sailboats on the other side waiting to pass through. Then a powerboat came from the marina and scooted into position in front of us. We assumed that the boats with the current pushing them toward the bridge (the two sailboats on the other side) would have right-of-way as they have less maneuverability than those of us motoring into the current. This morning, however, it turned out to be a free-for-all. As the bridge began to open, the powerboat in front of us accelerated quickly. At the same time, the two sailboats on the other side made their move to pass under the bridge. We hung back since we are kind of wide. The second sailboat was dodging the powerboat in the middle of the bridge, appeared to momentarily lose control, headed toward the abutment, accelerated to gain steerage, unintentionaly overtook the leading sailboat, and ended up heading straight toward us on the down current side of the bridge. Brian threw the engines into reverse to get out of the way, the skipper of the other boat regained control, and we moved forward past the bridge. Nothing like an early-morning adrenaline rush! We could have skipped our coffee that morning!
We had a sporty ride through the inlet as large swells rolled in from the northeast nearly parallel to our beam. Counting Stars pitched from side to side and we heard things hitting the floor inside. Catamarans are quite stable and it has been unusual for us to have things flying around the saloon. The motion was too much for Marin and Isla and they became queasy almost immediately, but recovered quickly. Fortunately, once we were able to turn to the south, the swells became a following sea that pushed us forward more comfortably.
During the day, the wind was light, and what wind there was came from almost directly behind us. We alternated between motorsailing with the genoa (large foresail) unfurled and just plain motoring. There was so little wind that at least one engine was running for the entire passage.
Our friends had also left St. Augustine that morning, and we could see their mast on the horizon for most of the day. Another boat was behind us on the same course and we had all been talking to each other on the VHF off and on throughout the day. At sunset we all checked in and wished each other a good night. It was nice to know there were other boats nearby keeping track of us while we kept track of them.
The night passed uneventfully and we managed to avoid huge ships. Although we don't keep a watch schedule during the day, we took 3-hour turns at the helm overnight so both of us could get some rest. Sailing at night can be nerve-wracking (we passed uncomfortably close to two boats with no lights that were also too small to provide radar targets - what could they have been up to anyway? - on our first night sail past Virginia Beach) but it also can be a very peaceful and contemplative time. The sound of the water slapping and splashing against the hulls, the sight of phosphorescence in the bow and stern wakes, and the feeling of connection to one's surroundings can be both enthralling and relaxing. The Super Moon coincided with our night at sea and we were able to see it briefly through the heavy cloud cover.
By late morning on the 15th, we were anchored in Lake Worth and ready to start the school day! Afterwards, we dinghied over to Peanut Island (a local park) for snorkeling and beach play. Our stay in Lake Worth was short-lived, as it was a less-than-ideal spot due to weather, current, and proximity to seemingly abandoned boats. The next day we moved south to an uncrowded, less exposed anchorage along the Intracoastal Waterway between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.
McGlynn family 5 (Isla, Marin, Eoin, Kendall, and Brian) sailing Counting Stars