June 5, 2013 by Last Star blog
So a few days ago if you’ve been following us you saw Last Star being pulled from the water in a large lift/sling. We planned to have her pulled here at Cape Marina before we left the Bahamas for some routine maintenance and a check up before the summer. In addition, we would travel to see my mom and visit with our boys before we continued our waterbound folly.
So on Sunday before Memorial Day we left Eau Gaille Florida with a short 4 hours to get to our marina. The wind calmed considerably from the day prior, the direction was favorable for sailing so after all the hours we hammered on the motor in previous days we were glad to be under sail power. We were making a good 5-6 knots and little to no heeling–perfect. Here are some shots Patricia liked as we passed under one of the many fixed bridges on the ICW.
We had 4 bridges like this one to pass under and then a hard turn to the east to get near Cape Canaveral where we would spend the night and then gain the Marina early the next morning. You see there is a lock just prior to the marina and it is under renovation and only opens from 6:00 AM to 7:00 AM and then again the same in the evening. This wasn’t ideal but would have to do. As we neared the last bridge we decided to bring in the sails as the turn was immediately after the bridge and with the Memorial Day weekend the boaters were out in force. We got the head sail in nicely and while we were bringing in the main sail Patricia turned off the motor….? OK, she did NOT turn off the motor. The motor decided to quit! This is odd. For 7 months it doesn’t miss a stroke and now 1 hour from the marina it decides to quit? Now Patricia tried again to start it…no luck. After a couple more tries it wheezes to life and we limp out of the ICW and drop the anchor. Then we drop the sail then I start to swear. I changed the fuel filter not 10 engine hours prior? So I change the filter again–I just did this so I am a freaking expert on my second in 3 days. Thing is the fuel pump will not fill the reservoir bowl below the filter. The engine is NOT getting fuel. Well, the next thing to do is call Sea-Tow. These guys rock. I pass our details and within 15 minutes this guy shows up.
Anthony knows his stuff, he gets the boat hooked up, helps me ease up the anchor and says I have a good size anchor…! Not sure what that means in the boating world. I let it slide. I tell him our situation, he says he’ll tow us towards the Marina but….there’s always a but.
Anthony gets us in the canal and starts heading east. It is shameful being towed on a holiday in a sailboat. People who don’t sail just think you can sail anywhere; if that were the case sailboats would not have motors. Sailing in a canal is not really feasible, nor is passing under bascule bridges while under sail.
Now while all this is going on I am on the phone with the Marina to see if they can accept me or give me a haul out today rather than the scheduled lift on Monday? You see Sea Tow will only tow you once for each issue, they won’t come back tomorrow for the pull to the lift. Getting towed without coverage is way big $$$.
Now half way up the canal a DIFFERENT boat must finish the trip as we are getting to the end of Anthony’s area of responsibility. So another boat shows and they coordinate on the radio and they tell me to drop the lines….yep right in the middle of the canal with tons of holiday traffic. Just drop ’em–freaking great.
This guy picks us up–his name is Vlad.
Now Vlad is one sure-footed dog. He also has some sort of skin pigmentation issue on his nose; maybe you can see it? He is the Canine version of Michael Jackson. His owners say the Vet indicates he will continue to lose pigmentation. Hopefully he won’t take baths with little boys. Enough about Vlad.
Now Vlad’s owner Gregg continues our journey. Here you see more holiday makers and the Canaveral Cruise terminal with Mickey and Carnival preparing to give people intestinal duress in the buffet lines.
Now it is time to negotiate the lock. Gregg gets on the radio as he needs some TLC as he has a “vessel in tow”. He also needs to put us “on the hip” as he can’t really tow us into the lock. You know how on the freeway you see some clowns towing one another with a long rope or strap and the second car plans on braking as needed–well that shit doesn’t work on the freeway and it won’t work with boats either. So Gregg straps us to the side.
This seemed like a great plan but the reality is the wind has picked up, his boat is too small and if we don’t steer together to assist his steering the wind will grab the Last Star and pull our nose to port every time. It was very difficult to get into the lock and Gregg was getting a bit irritated. He has salty language!
We finally make the lock, get tied to the wall and the water rises. Patricia offers Gregg and his wife cold drinks (cuz that’s how we roll on the Last Star) and they discuss Vlad’s skin condition. Problem is Gregg is distracted by his frosty Fresca, Patricia’s witty repartee and as the water and the Last Star are rising his boat is still unfortunately tied to the wall and is slowly being pulled under or not rising depending how you look at it….dang! Well he un-f**ks that mess and offers more salty language. So soon we are off again–sort of. With the wind he cannot really get off the wall of the lock so is sort of scraping his boat against it until he gets some steerage–better offer him something stronger than a Fresca to cool his nerves. Next is a bridge and he makes the radio call to try and get some lovin’ and the operator says just come ahead and I’ll open it. But then Gregg saw the nightmare trying to turn Last Star before the lock so he is a bit twitchy about getting the boat too close…..and the operator is not opening the bridge. So after about a 5 minute stand off I suggest that Gregg call the bridge again (sail boats with big masts know how tricky the bridge operators can be) and sure enough the operator is waiting for us to get “closer” before he opens it. This is total ass! They do this everytime and then it takes ages from when the bells ring and the arms come down until the bridge actually opens and then it is a nightmare not pranging the damn thing with your mast. Well by now I am on the phone begging the Marina to hang in there we are nearly there….don’t close!!
Now look to the right of the beige hangar and you will see the blue sling/lift for the boat. Gregg needs to drive the Last Star down that row of slips and get her nudged into the sling. Not so easy, and if you look closely you’ll see a windsock at the top of the hangar. In flying we call this a cross wind landing. Good luck Gregg.
Now things are going ok until the next radio call which comes when we are truly ensconced in the row of slips and the Dock Master says “you need to back that boat into the sling”!! Wow does Gregg know some salty language; even saltier than mine. So now we are truly screwed, there is no way to back this mess up all the way out of the row of slips–too much prop walk and windage. So Gregg and I quickly decide that with him driving and me using a windsurfing mast (cleverly untied and put together previously by me ’cause I felt this would end up in a cluster-f**k) to fend off the pilings this just might work. Well after about 5-6 minutes of amazing driving by Gregg and some vein popping work by me from the bowsprit we got the boat turned around on a dime. Now to back it in.
There was a tricky part where Gregg had done all he could, he was out of room and needed to be cut loose. The guys on the sling could not quite reach the boat to pull or turn it further and Patricia was clutching a concrete piling and straining for all she was worth. I was getting Gregg cut loose and scrambled back to help Patricia. I grabbed the piling and prepared for the worst…..the boat slid like it was on rollers. My god that woman is not very strong. She looked like a monkey with a football–the boys know what I’m talking about.
Here’s the reason Last Star needed to come out.
This stuff came right off with the power washer! It’s just algae and slime. The real issue now was the engine dying. That would be for another day. Thanks to Cape Marina for staying late, thanks also for the late call on backing in. It was nice to see Gregg swear in three dimensions.
People say we are “livin’ the dream” and some days that’s true, today was a bit nightmarish though.
After all that there was another surprise too.
When we found out we’d be at the Marina a day early Alek hopped in the car and came to join us and go to dinner. He brought gifts and some homemade beer. The beer was quite nice and a good ending to an other wise trying afternoon.