Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weather to Stay or Weather to Go

     The time has come. We're trying to head north, but as always weather is in control of our progress. We sailed from Marathon in Hawk Channel on the ocean side passing through Angelfish Creek in North Key Largo into Biscayne Bay two hours before low tide. The shallowest depths we saw at the entrance to Angelfish Creek were five feet two inches. Simple Life draws four and a half feet. Needless to say, there were a few anxious moments as Joe read off the live play by play action on the depth sounder. While sailing north in Biscayne Bay we experienced a quick rain squall and the wind freshened giving us an early arrival at Dinner Key in Coconut Grove.

     The following day we ran into a cruising couple, Jeff and Terry aboard Ariel whom we'd met at Boot Key Harbor. Whenever cruising sailors get together usually the first question asked is, "So where are you headed?" The conversation also seems to revolve around weather. We tend to compare notes. Questions are posed. "So what have you heard about the forecast?What about wind speed and direction? What are the current sea states? Are there any fronts in the forecast and the final decision maker...What is our weather router, Chris Parker's synopsis?" At times it all seems like information overload and decisions to move or wait for a favorable forecast can become overwhelming.

     When Joe and I made this trip nine years ago, we'd never heard of Chris Parker! The iPad with all of its weather apps that we all now rely upon wasn't invented! We didn't have an SSB radio. We did have a VHF radio and we used the NOAA weather broadcasts to make our own decisions. We did get caught in "weather situations," but not excessively. If we decided to make an overnight passage offshore we headed out of an inlet and if the wind or waves were too much to handle we'd make a quick decision to turn around and head back to the anchorage. Perhaps we were naive or maybe we were just lucky. At any rate we now have all kinds of weather information at our fingertips and for some reason or other it's more difficult to make weather related decisions. Sometimes I think we should just ignore the weather apps and weather routers and forecast the weather the old fashioned way. The old school idea of wet your finger, stick it up in the air and figure out where the wind is coming from is beginning to sound more feasible. The truth is perfect sailing weather days are few and far between.

     After much deliberation the decision was made to leave Dinner Key and make an offshore run for Fort Lauderdale with a possible run up the coast to Lake Worth. We experienced a good sailing day and made the decision to turn into Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) as the wind veered more to the northeast and was "on the nose."

     In the meantime we always appreciate and experience wherever we're holed up. Right now our new "digs" happen to be in Fort Lauderdale "the Venice of America." Simple Life is anchored in Lake Sylvia surrounded by lovely residential homes in the shadow of historic Pier 66 Restaurant with its circa 1965 revolving rooftop lounge overlooking the heart of Fort Lauderdale's intricate canal system.

     This morning Joe spoke with Chris Parker during his morning broadcast via SSB radio regarding an offshore passage from Fort Lauderdale north to Fort Pierce. The sea state is up, but the winds are forecast to shift to the east and we are scheduled for departure tomorrow morning with an arrival in Fort Pierce on Monday morning! Perhaps information overload isn't such a bad idea after all.

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