Palm Sunday April 9, Back home in the NorthWest.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 9th, 2017

That Sunday Morning, a week ago in Fort Lauderdale, I attended mass at St. Sebastian Church. The last time I had been able to attend mass was in Montego Bay, Jamaica on February 26th. The weather had made it impossible to get to shore in George Town, Grand Cayman and I was underway on a couple of the Sundays, no churches in my last two Cuban Sunday stops. That is probably about the longest period in my life that I missed a Sunday service. The other period was the 28 day 3000 miles transit from Santa Barbara to the Marquesas in May 2005. But the service at St. Sebastian was worth the long dry spell. Father Jim reminded me of Father Gary Weisenberger, the priest who served for a long period at St. Nicholas my home parish in Gig Harbor. Godly men with humility and great wit. One of the first questions Father Jim asked: “Which visitor came from the farthest away?” The Northwest is about as far as you can go from Fort Lauderdale. My hand shot up. I got to tell the whole church that I had just finished my circumnavigation and that the subtitle of “SoloMan” was “Alone at Sea with God and Social Security”. A roar of laughter went up. I got to give a way a lot of my boat cards with the books info on it. And afterwards I made some new friends at the Kaffeeklatsch.

I paid my $145 one night moorage at the Bahia Mar YC, that is the most I ever paid for one night moorage, in 2012 I paid $90 at a very fancy yacht club in Valetta, Malta.  I left in the afternoon on the ICW headed for West Palm Beach. But after the second of 19 bridges, I noticed steam in the exhaust, overheating. I happened to near a bay off the ICW next to the Coral Reef YC, I dropped the anchor. I cleaned out the cooling water intake and then noticed that the fanbelt was damaged and ready to break. I had no spare aboard, a definite overlooked part of my preparations. I hailed a power boat anchored nearby for the Sunday afternoon family outing. Herly, a Brazilian-American took the details down of the belt and we measured and photographed the belt. The next morning he phoned to tell me that he had found the belt and that it would arrive between April 4 and 10. Then I called Greg Clark who managed to have two belts delivered to the nearby Sunrise Marina, where he knows the management. I rowed over and installed the belt. It was too short but I managed to make it work. That Tuesday evening I anchored out near the yard where Greg and Marlys were on the yacht they work on. I spend the evening with them, caught up on each others experiences and future plans. Marlys fed me a delicious dinner.

Wednesday morning I chose to sail outside on the Atlantic out of Palm Beach to Fort Pierce. The forecast was for 10-15 knot from the south. I started out with my full main sail. The wind strengthened and I had to put in the two reefs. Next the main came down and I set the 90% jib. I was still doing between 5 1/2 and 6 plus knots. By the time I approached Fort Pierce I had taken down the 90% jib and sailed just under the small storm jib. By then the wind had strengthened to around thirty knots. I was surfing on the wild waves. I was getting very nervous on entering the Fort Pierce inlet. Fortunately the fast sail had guaranteed me a day light arrival. My greatest fear was that I would be pushed beyond the entrance and then it would be another night at sea and the the wind would change to a strong Northerly which would be a dangerous and very uncomfortable situation. Thank God I managed to steer the boat between the breakwaters at 5.30 p.m. I was exhausted and dropped the anchor at the first opportunity. It was still blowing with 25 knot gusts but the water surface was relatively flat. But just before dark my anchor started dragging. I managed to re-anchor and get a better set in shallower water. But since I was still close to the ocean inlet there was a two plus knot current. In the morning my rope anchor rode was wrapped around the keel. This has caused me a great deal of trouble in the past where I had similar current issues. This time I learned a new trick. I managed to steer the boat out of the wrap. On Thursday I had just one opening bridge at Fort Pierce and a lomg stretch without any bridges and then in Vero Beach two fixed bridges with 65 foot clearance. I sailed most of the way since the wind was still from the south. A ferocious thunder storm dumped bucket loads and I was soaked through and through, the visibility went to about a 150 feet. The engine started overheating again. I anchored off the ICW in shallow water. I had hoped that it would just be a clogged cooling water intake filter to be cleaned. But I ended up having to remove the fan belt to get to the water pump. But after all that work there was nothing wrong with the pump impeller. I motor sailed the rest of the way at slow throttle. I hope that the longer belt Herly has by now and which I expect to pick up on my return to Fort Lauderdale the end of the month will solve the problem. But if it does not I may have a major engine problem.

“Fleetwood” is now on a mooring buoy in the Vero Beach Municipal Marina. This is quite affordable at about $15 per day. The marina moorage is about $56 per day. It is a very nice facility in a beautiful location. Brian, a new friend I met at the marina drove me to the airporter stop on the main north-south highway, with which I reached the Orlando airport and managed to get the very last seat on my stand by buddy pass to SeaTac on Friday. I am settled in with my #2 daughter Rose Marie and her husband Donovan in Federal Way. Quite a change from 70 to 80 plus Fahrenheit to socks and heated homes. I will look after their three cats while both are business travelling this week. This Easter weekend we will have a family reunion and celebrate my February 28th eightieth and three more April birthdays of the family. St. Theresa church is within walking distance, I attended Palm Sunday service and will do all the Holy Week services there. Then I plan to be in Gig Harbor at Saint Nicholas on Sunday the 23rd.

The famous Mug Race on the St. JohnDSC_5604s River is held the weekend of May 5th and I’d like to participate. The finish and party is at the Green Cove Springs Marina near Jacksonville, Florida, where I  plan to do a thorough haulout. This means I need to be back in Fort Lauderdale before April 30th.

I am back to my teen age weight. 132 Lbs/60 kilos, without the Nikon camera. Ocean Sailing is the best way to control your weight.

 

 

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