June 20, 2013 by Last Star blog
The hits keep coming….and I’m not talking baseball
So we get pushed out of the Marina and are off on our adventure. Our first day was not too aggressive in our goals and we put in next to the NASA causeway 10 miles away and tried to find our groove again now that we were back on the water.
The next morning we set off on a longer leg to get to New Smyrna and stop in a little town. We were fortunate to be able to sail a bit in the narrow ICW and were making good time. As we were faced with a turn into the wind we had to bring in the sails so we fired up the motor and brought in the sail. About 30 seconds after the sails were stowed the engine decided to send us a little notice that it was not happy again! Holy shit, what now? Seems the “third light” was on according to the Skipper at the wheel, turns out this was the temp sensor. As the engineer down in the boiler room I told the Captain to pull back the throttles and I would report on what had shit the bed now. We again threw out the anchor on the edge of the ICW (horribly narrow and shallow around it here in Florida) and succeeded in drifting back into the middle of the channel. Well I checked the NEW coolant level–normal, the flow of raw water through the filter and site glass–normal, the exhaust and water flow–normal. All seemed normal thankfully. In fact, before we got out of the channel and got her shut down the light and ear piercing siren that is the alarm had ceased. All we could surmise is that a “bubble” of air trapped in the coolant system from the recent service, worked its way up and out and in the process tripped the temp sensor. We fired up the engine, ran it at 50% for the next hour, then 70, then normal RPM and all was well. There’s nothing like a twitchy idiot gauge to make an otherwise peaceful afternoon ride filled with anxiety.
We pulled into New Smyrna about 4:30 without further incident and settled in for the evening. We would spend the next day here as it was Father’s day and Alek hoped to drive in from Orlando. Father’s day was a joy as both boys were there and we had a great dinner but that’s a blog for another day with another title.
Monday we slept in a bit as there is a bridge nearby that is closed until morning traffic has passed so we were in no particular hurry. As I slowly came back to consciousness I knew immediately something was amiss. Patricia was pressed up against me in this heat, my world was tilted remarkably to the left and there was little slap on the hull? Well the previous night another horrible storm came thru around 4:00 AM and the wind had succeeded in doing what we avoided the last 3 tidal cycles. As luck would have it, the wind pushed us into the shallow water while the tide was slack and then when the water receded we were left “high and dry” as they say. We had about 20 degrees of list and it was 9:00 and we would not get any help until high tide around 2:00PM as a minimum. It was a long morning to say the least. More kindling, games, thumb twiddling etc until the afternoon. I was not going to call Sea-Tow in this instance as I didn’t want Last Star dragged off the mud and damaged when she would rise normally in a few hours. What’s time to a hog. Well after lunch we were well righted and now just stuck in the mud. We waited a bit longer then cranked on the anchor which was still set in the deeper water and inched our way off the shoal and free. We were now able to get going again and on to Daytona Beach. The bridge from the morning was no longer a concern as it was on a open every 20 minute cycle. We got thru the bridge and were northbound when we started to see the dark gathering clouds (again). Within about 40 minutes the sky was black, the clouds were fast moving “fingers of death” and clearly coming our way.
We were forced to batten everything down again and turn the Last Star into a floating Turkish Sauna. The rain was preceded by some fierce lightning; not just the cloud to cloud stuff but some nice ones hitting the ground uncomfortably close. When the rain came it was a sheet of rain, those BIG drops that only Florida T-storms deliver. Fortunately I was otherwise engaged when the rain hit and I left Patricia at the wheel. She claimed she could not see? I told her rubbish, she could in fact see and there was just nothing to see! She did not seem to grasp the difference so I told her to just follow the pink line on the Garmin. In F-111s we flew night IMC TF radar in worse, this was cake. Also I stressed to her that all the other boats had puss’d out so we had the whole road to ourselves. I find that on the expressway when a storm like this hits and everyone pulls over is a great opportunity to speed up and make up some time–same concept.
Now after about 15 minutes of mewling Patricia was really getting the hang of it and had nailed the pink line.
The sobbing was down to nothing but I believe that it had contributed to the fogged up windows inside the enclosure so again when she indicated she could not see it was important to let her know that it was her fault and now that she had made this bed she must sleep in it. After about another 20 minutes I came up from below to check on her and see how she was doing, again she was right on the line and as of yet had not run into any other boats or markers on the edge of the channel. I felt a word of encouragement was in order and would serve to calm her nerves. I told her what a great job she was doing and we would be there in another half hour right after we crossed under the upcoming bridge. She expressed some concern about not being able to see the bridge and again I told her to stop her sobbing and the enclosure would soon clear up. I don’t know what happened at this point but she dashed below (maybe it was the nearby lightning strike) but I was obliged to put my beer down and take the wheel and skillfully guide us under the bridge!?
Well a few minutes later Patricia came back topsides so we could get the anchor out as we arrived in Daytona Beach. The sky was clearing and the sun was coming out to get the temps up to a balmy 93 degrees again. This would make Happy Hour even happier with this heat.
The rest of the afternoon was without incident until around dinner time. It was now time for rounds 2 then 3. We got hammered with torrential rain for the next 3 hours. The lightning was so bad we elected to get in the cockpit away from the mast. As Patricia was climbing the stairs out of the salon into the cockpit the lightning struck the mainland behind her so close that the noise was on us before she could scream. The wind was contrary to the tidal current (remember New Smyrna) so we were dancing around the anchor in all directions, thankfully we had plenty of depth and space in this instance.
The day was a day-from-hell as we started on the ground, got hammered with storms until past 1100PM and sweated our butts off most of the day due to the heat and humidity. Florida is the sunshine state maybe but it comes with a whole bunch of other stuff along with that sunshine–and that stuff can be crap!