February 23, 2015

Its early morning at the North Palm Beach Marina and we are getting ready to shove off for our next destination. Since we were already sitting at the fuel dock and had run our engines for several hours since our last fill up, I grab the hose and top off both of our tanks. I’m anxious to see how close my fuel consumption rate prediction is, it’s the engineer in me. I’ve set up a spreadsheet to track the number of hours we run the engines each day and estimate how much fuel is still in the tanks. Based on our last fill up, I’ve calculated that our twin Yanmar 3YM30 engines each use about 0.55 gals per hour. Based on that, I’m expecting each tank to need about 14.7 gallons to top ourselves off (our two tanks only hold 27 gallons each). I pump the tanks full, taking care to keep a light trigger finger on the high speed pump and find that they need about 15.5 gallons apiece. Not too far off, the difference likely being due to the hard runs we did making those bridge openings the previous day. I’ll use this data point to update the average fuel rate and hopefully continue to improve my estimate. Once an engineer, always an engineer.

As we’re doing our boat checks in the morning, Cindy notices one of the pins in our steering gear has worked its way down and needs to be tapped back up. She notices a strip of metal and realizes that this is part of a cotter pin that is supposed to prevent the pin from working its way loose. For unknown reasons it has sheared off and is now allowing the pin to work its way out. Since this pin is necessary for steering the boat, this is not good. There is very little room to work so Cindy opts to handle the repair since my ham hands would hardly fit in the allotted space. She taps the pin back up by laying a crescent wrench flat against the bottom of the pin and then tapping down on handle with a hammer. Given that the structure only allows a couple of inches of swing room and most of the work must be done blind, this is slow tough going.

Once she gets the pin up high enough to expose the cotter pin hole, we are faced with how to hold it in place so it doesn’t just start working its way back down again. I check with the small marina store for a replacement but our good fortune with the basketball needle valve is not repeated. We have the sheared piece of the cotter pin but getting it through the hole and fastened in place is made more difficult by the fact that the hole is aligned such that it is facing a bracket. As the pin exits the hole, it jams up against the bracket. Somehow, by working patiently, Cindy manages to get the pin through and bent into an “s” shape so it can’t work its way out. Can’t tell you what a blessing it is to have a mechanically minded wife!!

Image result for rosie the riveter

Cindy the Riveter

At one point we had decided to stay put for another day to figure out how to fix this issue, but now we decide we still have enough time to move on to Boynton Beach, 19 miles further down the waterway. We push off at 10:45 under partly cloudy skies, enter Lake Worth and head for the next bridge, once again trying to time our arrival to keep from having to tread water for too long. However, its hard to slow the boat enough to keep to the average speed needed and still maintain steerage way. We end up having to tread water for about 10 minutes before the bridge opens and we pass through.

We pass by Peanut Island, a small patch of land in the middle of Lake Worth that developers have been trying to build up into an upscale night spot. However, reviews on ActiveCaptain describe the area as sketchy. We can’t see much from the water but it looks nice enough to me, at least in the daylight. A pod of four manatees submerged under the waves troll slowly past our boat as we pass the south end of the island. This is our first sighting of these gentle natured sea cows and in the tradition of sailors I hope this portends good fortune.

The water color has noticeably changed. Up to now, the ICW water has had a decidedly murky brown tint to it. Here in the bay, however, the water has turned into the emerald green we’ve been waiting for. The sun is now shining and the sky is clear. Colorful sailboats are anchored and moored in the shallow waters closer in to shore, and the whole scene reminds of the bays in the Caribbean where we had our first boating experiences. All of this ogling and reminiscing almost costs us though, as we suddenly realize our boat is on a collision course with the next ICW marker. Cindy quickly steers to port and the marker passes on our starboard side, close enough that I wonder if the sign will catch the barbecue grill hanging off of one the starboard side stanchions. It doesn’t. Maybe the sea cows helped.

We reach the Port of Palm Beach. This is one of the major ports in south Florida and the shoreline is packed with marinas and shipyards. A large passenger ship, the Grand Celebration, is laying up against the dock at the cruise ship terminal, waiting to disgorge its latest load of passengers. We sight the Rybovich yacht shipyard off of our starboard just past the Grand Celebration, a large gray mega yacht sitting in its drydock. The boat looks like a small cruise ship itself but is privately owned. We are entering the ritzy part of south Florida and the sizes of the estates and boats are showing it. More and more we’re seeing boats that dwarf Just One Dance.

Similarly, the estates along the waterway are going off the scale. Some of them are easily 15,000 square feet. We wonder how anyone can justify owing a house this big. You’d need a GPS tracker just to find where your spouse is in some of these places. Even with a good sized family most of the rooms would go unused. We do see a number of smaller houses that we like and could see ourselves in, but they are getting very few and far between.

After the morning’s excitement, the day passes uneventfully and we arrive at Boynton Harbor Marina, our home for the next couple of days, at 3:30. We tie up on their dock with the help of one of the dock hands and then go to the office to get checked in. This marina facility is new, and when I say new, I mean like three weeks old. The dock hand informs us that up until now, they had been operating out of a trailer. The new marina building is beautiful and the surrounding area is nicely landscaped. The bathrooms are nice too, being brand new, though they don’t have showers yet. That’s no problem though because we prefer to shower on the boat as long as its not too cold.

Boynton Beach Marina

Boynton Harbor Marina Office

The only place that they can accommodate a boat as wide as ours is on the fuel dock, which is fine with us. Soon folks are strolling by and playing with Missy. We decide she needs to go out and greet her public so we put Missy’s harness on and take her out onto the dock. Soon she is playing with other dogs and getting baby talked by the dock ladies, her little nub tail wagging 90 miles an hour.

Just One Dance Boynton Beach

Just One Dance at Morning Low Tide, Boynton Harbor Marina

There’s a nice restaurant attached to the marina called Two Georges and since we had not had much to eat today, Cindy and I get cleaned up and head over there for dinner. We ask for a table by the water and order drinks. Cindy orders a Mango Moon, composed with mango vodka, orange juice, lemon juice, syrup and a splash of soda, while I opt for a margarita. Its a Monday night, but the restaurant is packed and lively, the crowd’s age decidedly north of 60. The tables by the water have bench seats on either side that rock back and forth and next to us a group of five older women start their’s rocking, laughing like schoolgirls. We banter with them until our appetizers arrive.

We ordered the Conch Fritters which are good but rather than being shaped like fritters as we had expected, they are shaped like toast wedges. We also ordered a Smoked Fish Dip, which has a delicious light smoky flavor to it. For our entrees, Cindy ordered Maryland Crab Cakes (the owners are from Maryland, hence the name) and I went for the Seafood Mac and Cheese. My dish consists of shrimp, scallops, crab meat and bacon mixed into penne pasta and smothered in a three cheese mornay sauce. It’s creamy and delicious but as heavy as it sounds and I barely finish half of it. We eat, drink and talk about our day and how we’ve enjoyed the trip down the coast so far. We pack the leftovers in a to-go box and walk back to the boat.

Total Distance Traveled: 350 miles