January 1, 2014. My son and I were anchored in Lake Sylvia, a nice little anchorage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We had spent the night there to watch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Fort Lauderdale Beach not far away.
Next morning, late, when sitting in the cockpit, the lovely brisk wind was from the East and we decided to sail the 20 odd miles down to Miami Beach where some friends had a dock on the Sunset Isles.
Twenty miles, we guessed a maximum time of 4 hours and easy to sail in daylight hours with this lovely East wind. So we took our time having breakfast, getting the tender aboard and stowed, and getting the anchor up for a delightful sail to Miami.
We arrived at the 17th Street Causeway Bridge in plenty of time to make the 1pm opening. There were a lot of boats, north and south of the bridge, all waiting for opening as we were. I even waved to the bridge tender on one of my circles as we awaited the opening.
1pm came and went, about two minutes after the bridge was supposed to open we heard a yacht on the south side of the bridge ask the bridge tender why the bridge was not opening per the schedule. The rude Bridge Tender told the boat on the VHF, “no one asked me for an opening.” The man on the boat said, “But you open on the hour and half hour and there are a dozen boats here waiting for the opening?” The Bridge Tender said, no VHF call came from any of the boats, and no opening without a call! We all had to wait until 1:30 to go through the open bridge. Well, at 1:25 about 20 boats all called the Bridge Tender on the VHF to request an opening and not one of them was very polite!!!
The end result for us, on KANDARIK our 39 foot sloop, was that we were delayed half an hour which later became important to us.
Out the breakwater sailing against the East wind, just as we were falling off for a lovely beam reach, the wind headed us and came strong out of the South. We were steering due South to get to Miami. The long and short of it is that we had to tack down the beach all day, take inshore to ten feet, tack offshore till the Gulfstream started to push us north, all day we tacked and tacked and did not get into Government cut until dark. This was supposed to be strictly a DAY sail!!!
I had no GPS, no Chart Plotter, and only a paper chart which would have been fine in the daylight. And we were going to a dock some five miles away that we had never been too before and had to negotiate through shallow buoyed water to get there, in the pitch dark! Remember in January it gets dark here at 6pm!
My son, Jamie, saved the day. He asked for my Iphone, quickly downloaded the Navionics App for our area, and instantly we had a portable GPS and chart and could then navigate the dark passage using my Iphone!!!!
Pam Says, with great emphasis, this was brilliant and made our night navigating so easy. If you don’t know about this, well, download the Navionics App before you need it!!! It is so cool and made everything so easy.
Here is the link to the Caribbean & South America Navionics app.