Saturday, April 14, 2007

Palm Beach

Lake Worth, Palm Beach, FL
N 26 45 31 W 80 02 38

As I listened to the local news on the radio last night, I heard about the so-called killer storm heading toward the entire East Coast. It sounded scary. Although it should not affect south Florida strongly, each succeeding forecast called for the squall front to arrive earlier and more powerful than before. I resolved to scrub today's sail.

When we got up at 0600 this morning, the new forecast still called for the front to arrive after midnight Saturday. I figured that we could at least make it the 65 miles to Lake Worth Inlet rather than the 110 miles to Fort Pierce. So we weighed anchor and set sail.

As we left Biscayne Bay, we saw what appeared to be the search party, still looking for the body of the man who drowned the other day. How sad.

The Lake Worth passage was too short to make it worth while to go 20 miles out to catch the Gulf Stream then 20 miles back in at the end of the day. The GPS said that a rhumb line from Miami to Palm Beach would be four hours faster than going out into the Gulf Stream, so that's what we did.

The winds were moderate, never more than 16 knots and three points off the port beam. That made nearly ideal sailing conditions. We never heeled more than 15 degrees, but we averaged 7.4 knots on the way up here. That's fast for a 32 foot boat. Whoever named these boats wetsnails sure had it wrong. Especially since many modern boats give up lots of performance to have roller furling mainsails, we can outperform many cruising boats less than 50 feet long. Racing boats are another matter.

The flying fish and Portuguese Man of War were out today in great numbers. It's great fun watching whole schools of flying fish suddenly appear in front of you. We also saw lots of sport fishing boats out there today. It's a Saturday and the conditions are beautiful. Why not?

Anyhow, we arrived at the inlet about 1700. I was torn by indecision. I was sure that we could make it to Fort Pierce by midnight tonight, and be tied up on a mooring at Vero by Sunday morning. However, that would cut the margin before arrival of the storm to zero and would not be prudent. The penalty for our caution is that we may have to wait one or two days before resuming our northward course.

Now we have plenty of time to make a secure anchorage to prepare for the "up to 60 knot" winds that may pass over us in the night or morning.

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