Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On the move - not out to sea

~mile 1047.8 Lake Boca Raton, We left Stuart yesterday and got to Lake worth - we had to negotiate 7 opening bridges - a windy and cool day by Florida standards but it was a good one - good to be on the move again and there was not a lot of boat traffic.
Up this morning at 6 - it was windier than we thought it would be - back and forth trying to decide whether to go outside. We decided to do the bridges then we chatted with a larger sailboat who was also headed out to the ocean - he thought the predictions were good.  So off we went - We think it was around 8 AM when we went out the Lake Worth inlet - we could see him ahead of us and rolling and pitching. We kept going and were close to our right turn to stay close to shore and head south - the winds came up - the waves were around 5 ' and we were seeing 20 - 28 knots of wind.  Not for us as our weather sites told us that the winds would pick up over the day.  So around 9:15 we got to the first opening bridge of the day - 12 bridges later we are 29.4 miles farther south.  A long day - a lot of work but we were resigned to all the bridges and enjoyed the houses - Wow !!

The bridges are a lot of work - we are dealing with current, tide, other traffic - some bridges open on the hour or half hour , some open on signal. The bridges are from less than a mile to 4 miles apart so really tough to time. We occasionally had to wait 30 minutes at a bridge. Don did a great job of maneuvering the boat while waiting for the bridges - not easy - often we had to make a tight circle and head north again to not get to close to the bridge.  At the last bridge the current was unbelievable - the tide was going out and at the narrows of the bridge it was probably 3 knots.  There were large power boats waiting for the bridge to open  we tried to time it so we were right behind the large power vessel - the north bound boats pulled in to go through the bridge - normally the boats who have current pushing them go first - this made it extra tricky - a huge boat - 65 feet or so came north and as he did he left his wash under the bridge - waves going several directions. We had to power up so our engine was pushing us more than the current - to keep control - when the large boat got  out of the way we suddenly saw a party boat FULL of people - maybe 10 or 12 right in the middle under the bridge - we couldn't believe it. They didn't need an opening to get through - why they were there we have no clue - The boat was very low to the water. I ran up on the bow and yelled we couldn't stop - they pitched forward - the woman in the bow seat almost went overboard - she came all the way out of her seat. I was shouting at the driver to stay on the right side of the road so to speak - he was out of control and veered right into our path and across our bow - Don was in shock - he could see a collision just feet away and managed to pull our bow to port just enough that we missed them by a foot or less - we just couldn't believe it.  I was on the bow so could see the whole thing like a carnival ride - they swung to the left and to the right - pitched forward and sideways - they had taken on a huge amount of water - i have no clue how they did not capsize in our path - they followed us into the lake and stayed just a few feet behind - what part of this don't they get - by the time we turned the corner to look for our anchorage they were laughing. They have no clue how close they came to someone being very hurt.  Even though we are in a "ditch" we both are always on the alert - it's not easy moving a boat and in Florida we are dealing with more boat traffic than we have ever seen.  So it was a full day - off to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow.

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