N 28 07 W 080 21
Yesterday we decided to skip the Saint Augustine stop and reset our course for Cape Canaveral, 105 miles away. We continued on that course for a few hours when I noticed a big tug boat coming up behind us on the same course. I hailed him on the radio. No answer. I hailed again 3 or 4 times on several frequencies. No answer. Finally, I had to turn on the engine and take an evasive maneuver to avoid him running us down. He came within 50 yards and I could read the name of the tug. It was
Heron. I continued hailing on the radio. No response. I'll bet a dime to a dollar that there was nobody on the bridge of Heron and nobody listening to the radio. Most likely the crew was asleep in their bunks while the boat continued on autopilot. I said it before but it's worth saying again. Sail boats must keep vigilant watch at all times to avoid being run over.
Around supper time, the wind shifted from NW to NE. It made an immediate and drastic change in the temperature. The NW wind was cold but the NE wind blows over the Gulf Stream near by and was much warmer.
After dark the lighting became peculiar. It was a very dark night. No moon. The sky was black, the ocean was black, but our wake was white with phosphorescence. The horizon was bright gray with the lights of Ormand Beach and Daytona Beach, and later New Smyrna beach.
Around an hour after dark, the wind suddenly increased from 10 to 20-25. We hastened to take down the main sail and continued with the jib only. The wind was on our beam so our speed was fast 6.5-7.5. It was neat. The only bad thing was that every half hour or so a rouge wave would hit us from the windward side and break over the whole boat. Everything and everyone on deck was drenched in the warm salt water. When it was my turn to stand watch I dressed in full foul weather gear and boots.
That kept me dry at least.
I worried the whole night about the Cape Canaveral passage. We would be squeezed between shoals to the west and the Gulf Stream to the east. Cape Canaveral sticks out and the Gulf Stream is only 10 miles off shore. The recommended route on our Maptech chart would have taken us out in to the Gulf Stream. That's a no no when a strong north wind blows. Even huge cruise ships get in to trouble trying that.
I got up at 0600, relieving Libby from her 0200-0600 watch. She said there were two lights to starboard but they weren't moving. When I looked I was amazed. How many landmarks are instantly recognizable from sea at night? Perhaps the New York skyline or Miami, or the Golden Gate Bridge. How about the two space shuttle launch pads, brightly lit, and framing NASA's huge vertical assembly building? That's what I saw. It was spectacular.
At dawn, things got abruptly easier. Just at dawn the wind subsided to 15 knots which was much easier to deal with. I could also see the waves and I could see no big ones at all. Finally, I could see the clouds marking the Gulf Stream, and they were 10-15 miles away from me. No trouble.
Four hours later, I was dead beat with fatigue. I could feel my mind tugging at me. "Turn right. Go in to Port Canaveral inlet. Drop the anchor, and sleep." Was the message. The weather was fine, wind speed and direction excellent, the day was going to be sunny and warm and Fort Pierce was only 60 more miles away. Logic dictated that we continue but the psychology of fatigue worked on my mind. Finally, Libby came up refreshed after her sleep and nixed my idea. We continue.
Right now we are even with Palm Bay, where my brother Ed lives with his wife Sally. We'll be in Fort Pierce and at anchor by 2000 tonight. Piece of cake. It has been a great passage, about 320 nautical miles (363 statue miles, 500 Km), and it took about 71 hours. If we wanted to continue to Key West or beyond we could. This nice NE wind is supposed to last for 3 more days.