Friday, May 25, 2012


Lake Worth, FL 26º50.357N | 80º03.238W

Impatient people should not be sailors. For traveling north, we had these two options:

  1. Wait for a good weather window to go offshore. With a tropical storm developing east of Georgia, that might be a week. It might mean waiting two weeks, which requires a great deal of patience.
  2. Start moving north on the ICW through the gauntlet of bridges in south Florida. The first day from Lake Sylvia to Lake Boca, we traveled 17 miles in 8 hours through 8 bridges, which requires immense patience.
Today's trip was much easier but still meant going through 11 bridges in 29.7 miles. We made it in 8 hours!

The first set of bridges yesterday opened on a time schedule, which is why it took so darned long. I don't know who decides the timing, but they certainly aren't sailors. We couldn't make it between bridges for the next opening and were often left to crawl at 2 knots or less to get there at the right time. If not, we had to do the bridge dance, idling, spinning, reversing until time for the bridge to open.

Today, the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, was a good reminder of why we don't travel on the ICW on weekends, especially holiday weekends. In the afternoon, the amateurs started hitting the water on various types of watercraft, running around willy nilly, completely oblivious to the rules of the road.

I can remember using our warning horn only once in two years. Today I had to use it twice.

First, I was doing the idle dance, waiting for a bridge opening when a trawler passed under the bridge and pointed right at me. He kept coming closer and closer and closer. Getting our boat moving is akin to pushing a refrigerator still in its box. When the trawler was about 20 yards away and still pointed at me, I started honking and threw the boat into gear. He was coming at my port (left) side, so I had to decide in a flash whether to turn to port (without knowing if there was traffic coming around him and risking his overcorrection, turning INTO me) or turn to starboard where, fortunately, I had some deep water but would still be in his general path. I chose starboard when another horn blared from the power boat coming up behind me. He saw quickly what was happening and held off. The trawler slowed, but all three boats were within about 30 yards of each other. Not trusting the trawler, I did a 180 and headed south until he got his shit together and passed me.

About five miles later, near the Lake Worth inlet, a 25' fishing boat was coming at me at a good clip. When he got uncomfortably close, I laid on the horn as he just kept coming. This time, I had a shoal to starboard, nowhere to go. It appeared he had lost steerage (we saw him spinning his wheel) but didn't think to throttle down. He missed us by about 10 yards, maybe less.

Photo by Chip
Boy, was I happy to get the anchor down as more and more revelers came out (one waylaid by a police boat). We will be celebrating Memorial Day in the peace of our anchorage, back on the move Tuesday once everyone has gone back to their day jobs!

That tropical storm is gathering steam offshore, so, once again, we'll be trolling up the ICW. Only 7 bridges on our next leg -- and the successful completion of Florida's bridge challenge.


  1. Not to mention that the whole corridor you just did between Ft. Lauderdale and Lake worth is bulkheaded on each side, so each motorboat creates a wake that is reverberated back and forth across the ICW multiple times. It's so funny that I did the exact same trip on the exact same weekend 7 years ago. I did it solo and as you probably noticed, its a stressful time underway.

  2. Hey GeeDub, Yep, bulkheads. This was our first time to pass through there. We have always gone outside at Lake Worth. It's tedious.