Arriving in Ft Lauderdale

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      Arriving in Fort Lauderdale    
Arriving in Ft Lauderdale

Waiting for 17 St. bridge to open coming into Fort Lauderdale




At the fuel dock


18 February 2009

Left Marathon around 5pm on 18th February, both engines running smoothly for the first time in ages. Headed out via the shallow Sister's Creek to avoid the overhead cables.

Two miles offshore, the water a little rougher and the port engine died again, never to restart. We put the sails up and motor sailed for a while on the starboard engine until far enough offshore to catch the SE wind and then sailed all the way to Fort Lauderdale. It was rough to start with when we entered the Gulfstream where the waters are always confused, particularly after a northerly wind.

The sea calmed over night, but we had a few other challenges with which to contend. One of our mainsail battens and a reefing line came adrift at the aft end of the boom. So while surfing through the Gulfstream at around 10 knots, Iza climbed onto the rear targa arch and retied both.

Then a bilge pump started. Turned out that the exit hose on one of the automatic engine room bilge pumps had come adrift so the pump was just re-cycling the same water. We weren't sinking after all!

Geoff had a go at fixing the port engine and was sitting comfortably on the port engine muffler while we surfed along at 10 knots or so. Achieved our fasted speed to date, 11.6 knots as we turned out of the Gulfstream towards Fort Lauderdale.

We arrived into the very busy Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale waterways at mid-day on 19th February, still on one engine. No problem until there's a problem!  Headed for Lake Sylvia, a small lake surrounded by elegant Florida style waterfront homes and the only real anchorage in Fort Lauderdale. There is a 24 hour anchoring limit, but we squeezed a few more days.

There are still some people around with money





Lauderdale Marine Centre
On the hard
Colin comes to help
Back in the water
The social scene

      Lauderdale Marine Centre                                                   

23 February 2009

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And out she comes



The mast step uncovered



Installing the new mastlight at the top of a horizontal mast


Mast reinstalled.  Docked at LMC dwarfed by neighbouring mega yachts


Our final destination in Fort Lauderdale was Lauderdale Marine Center, to have our mast pulled for the mast step repair.

The New River is incredibly busy, many blind bends, boats moored on both sides and 6 opening bridges to navigate. We really hoped to have the port engine running before heading up the New River to Lauderdale Marine Center to have the mast pulled. However, the engine refused to cooperate. Next best thing, to follow the famous Jungle Queen, locally known as JQ, a replica of a Mississippi River boat as she made her regular tourist run up the river.

Looked up JQ's schedule, then early on 23rd February we weighed anchor and went to the fuel dock to get fuel before she left her dock. First there was an unexpected queue at the fuel dock! So we sat there and watched the Jungle Queen and our chance to follow her motor away. No problem, we could still make it up the river before she turned around as we did not want to meet her on a blind bend!

Then the police closed the waterway so a very large mega-yacht, (one of the many in Fort Lauderdale), reversed out into mid river to receive a helicopter. So we bumbled around for a while back in Lake Sylvia until we knew the Jungle Queen was on her way back down river and clear of the bends before we headed up river. A little nerve wracking, but good practice. The bridges on the New River are so used to the traffic that their timing is superb. Then, just before the fixed bridge carrying Interstate 95, under which we cannot pass, a tight entry into our marina slip. Interesting when your one engine is 12 feet off the centre line!

The following day, 24th, preparation began on the rigging for mast removal. By the afternoon, we moved the boat, (still on one engine), back out of the marina area to the boatyard haul out slip so a crane could reach the mast. Just after the mast was removed a pre-arranged fuel barge came alongside and pumped out all our fuel for polishing. They spray cleaned and wiped out the accumulated gunk that was inside the tanks and then returned our cleaned fuel. Quite a service.

Meanwhile, with the mast safely parked, work started on the mast step. Removal of the old upper fibreglass layer and marine ply core, then laying new marine ply.

On 25th a Yanmar specialist arrived to look at the port engine and left a couple of hours later taking the injector pump and injectors for service. At the same time work continued on the mast step and the main structure was complete by the end of the day. Just final leveling, sanding and gel coating to be completed before the mast was re-stepped on Friday 27th.

While the mast was out, we mounted a mast top LED tri-colour navigation light/anchor light combination with photovoltaic cell for auto switching the anchor light at dusk and dawn. Saves us power and remembering to switch the anchor light on and off.

Also while at the dock our new 12V refrigeration unit was delivered and also 300 feet of new chain for our main anchor. The chain gypsy on the anchor windlass is also being replaced. Plenty to keep us busy!

During an evening walk to the local shops from the marina, 2 raccoons leisurely crossed the road in front of us. Guess they are used to suburban life.

The mast step fix in Fort Lauderdale was completed extremely quickly and very professionally by Just Catamarans. We were very impressed with Kent, Johan and their team and their knowledge of the boat. A bonus is that the boat is also far better rigged now.


Dreaming On fully dressed before being fully undressed


Taking down the genoa


Getting ready to lift the mast


Placing slings on the mast


Mast going back in

      On the hard - now a land yacht!    

3 March 2009

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All done with remote control


The prop needed some work


Painting the bottom


Moorings, who sold us Dreaming On, had also agreed to re-do some of the badly finished Belize gel coat when we reached Fort Lauderdale.

So, after much discussion, we were finally hauled on 3rd March, the day our friend Colin Myles was coming to visit!

We had hoped to be out only for 5 days so at least Colin would experience life on water. In the end, we were on land for 18 days!

Living on a boat when parked on the hard is never great fun. First you have to be careful not to fall off! Then there are the little plumbing inconveniences, hence the ladder to the ground becomes known as the "Bladder Ladder."

When the boat was pressure washed after haul out, the water pressure removed all the remaining anti-foul paint and revealed some keel damage and poor repair work. So, while the gel coat repairs were being done, we had to prep and repaint the bottom. (Nasty stuff!), and do some keel repairs.

We also took the opportunity to have new graphics made to change Dreaming On's image. This involved a tremendous amount of hull preparation in addition to the gel coat repairs being done by a contractor on Mooring's behalf.

In charter mode there is no time for maintenance of esthetics. Short sighted maybe, but it means there is 5 years deterioration in the gel coat leaving it with a dull chalky finish.

We spent hours sanding and buffing and then sanding and buffing again and finally wax polishing. But the results are well worth it, particularly with the new graphics. She is looking so much better.





Sanding and buffing the gelcoat


Quicksigns fixing the new graphics

      Colin comes to help    
  3 March 2009

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Colin working on the fridge


Colin in another tight place


The boys on the bikes


Our great friend Colin Myles arrived from England on 3rd March, tool bag in hand on a working vacation to help with our various installations.

It was great to have another brain involved in the planning and Colin's enthusiasm and momentum were a good influence.

He was everywhere where something needed doing or fixing but seemed to spend his time with his head in a hole, cupboard or locker.

Grinding down a keel for fibreglass repair work, replacing the anchor chain and fitting the new anchor windlass, final plumbing of the new 12V refrigeration system, completing installation of the watermaker, tracking down electrical glitches and even volunteering to fix a long overdue bike puncture. Never a dull moment.

As it was clear Colin was not going to have the experience of helping us take Dreaming On down the fascinating New River, we took half a day off chores and made the journey down in the dinghy instead.

Colin also met some of the local wildlife when a medium sized iguana strolled through the boat yard. They are wild here but all from escaped pets. We don't think they are indigenous.

We would have been glad to have Colin around for another month, but unfortunately he could only stay for 10 days, nevertheless, we achieved a great deal in that time thanks to his efforts.


Colin working on the water maker installation



Geoff testing the water maker  product

      Finally! Back in the water    
  20 March 2009

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Back in the slings ready to be launched


Back at the dock at LMC, sporting new graphics



So, after 18 days on the hard, we made the last launch of the day on Friday 20th March. That was a busy day.

The gel coat team still had some finishing touches.

There was a great deal of cleaning up to do and hull prepping before the graphics guys came to apply new stripes and name with graphic.

We had a visit from the owner of CruiseEmail, our onboard email service, delivering the new grounding and antenna set up for our single side band radio installation.

All targeted for a lift at 2pm so we could finish off the bottom paint where the chocks had been and a launch at 3pm.

One night in the marina after launch, then back to Lake Sylvia over the weekend. Returned to the boatyard for one day to have the rigging checked and to install the radar. Back to Lake Sylvia for a few days and to start buffing the topsides now that the hull looks so good, plus the many other jobs still pending before we can set off south.



      The Social Scene    

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Dreaming On in Lake Sylvia




While Colin was with us, another catamaran, a Lagoon 47 called "Dancing Bear" registered in Cardiff, UK. was hauled out and parked beside us. Met up with the owner, Graham Lewis, a great character, English, but been in Canada and the US for most of his life. Graham and wife Catherine live in Fort Lauderdale and know where to find whatever is needed for a boat, so gave us some great tips.

Graham and Catherine invited the three of us to their home to meet some of their family and some other English friends, David and Carolann and then head off to a restaurant. Graham and Cathy have a fantastic house on a canal not far from Lake Sylvia and their boat is usually moored at their own dock.

David is a great character. He's English but has been in the US for a while. Turns out that he is a cousin of a guy called Robin Grant who Geoff worked for in Nairobi from 1978 to 1980. Small world! Carolann is a busy divorce lawyer.

Then one evening on Lake Sylvia a few days later, having just arrived from what we thought would be our final visit to the boatyard and enjoying a quiet drink having spent hours buffing the topsides, we were invaded by kayaks. Graham and Cathy, David and Carolann with friends Tim Elms and his brother Chris. They were all relatively happy having just kayaked from a local happy hour and this developed into a very enjoyable and raucous evening on board Dreaming On. There were a few sore heads the following day!

What a fantastic group of friends they have all turned out to be.

Following on from the kayak invasion, Tim invited us to his house on a canal for his birthday party on 27th March. Rather than take the dinghy and face a late, dark and possibly happy trip back to Dreaming On, we motored Dreaming On across the main waterway to his house and moored at his dock overnight. Saves driving home!  Met up with Tim's wife Tina and daughters Samantha and Devon. We had a great evening and met some fascinating people. David was barbeque chef for the evening and turned out two superb chateaubriands.

On Saturday, we left Tim's dock and motored south down the ICW to South Lake in Hollywood about 6 miles south of Ft. Lauderdale.  We anchored and were able to invite friends Carie and Anthony, who are also English to dinner.  Carie and Anthony are friends of Curtis, our friend based in the Rio Dulce.

Most Tuesday evenings while we were based at Las Olas, the kayak group zero's in to Dreaming On for wine and snacks. Most Sundays, we join the kayak group, kayaking from Tim's house and either across Port Everglades to a local beach park or occasionally out to sea, then north along the beach to a beach club for breakfast. Great exercise!

We have had some great times with our new friends here in Fort Lauderdale and really enjoy their company and value their friendship. All have been very generous with invitations and David and Carolann have been particularly generous with regular loan of a car, an internet 3G connection for our laptop and fridge and freezer space when lightning took out our on-board refrigeration.

This is the positive side, the bonus of being stuck somewhere.



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