Ahoy from Port Canaveral, FL!
We made it back to the US of A yesterday. As I said in my last e-mail, it looked like we'd have a good weather window, so we decided to make it as far as possible along the coast of the FL. We almost had an uneventful passage. It was relatively smooth and the Gulf Stream was relatively calm. At the peak we had a boost of 2.8 kts from Gulf Stream and we were doing 8.8 kts. A low system was tracking N of us and we had winds clocking around. The forecast showed light winds out of the SE to S, but we went from no winds to 10 kts out of the ENE(!!!) to SE and then clocked all of the way around to the NE during the night and into the AM. We motor-sailed the entire way and only had the main up for about 6 hours. I looked at the distances and realized that we couldn't make it past Port Canaveral, so we changed our destination.
We were off of FL and at noon we turned on the TV to check out the weather and were astounded by what we saw. Daytona was having intense thunderstorms with 60-70 MPH winds, golf ball sized hail and heavy rain. It was moving towards us at 30 MPH and I looked at the charts and realized that we wouldn't make it in before it hit. Daytona was 54 miles N of us and we had 15 miles to go at 6 kts/hr. I watched the radar and we could see it approaching. The skies got darker and darker and then we saw the low gust line approaching.
We were 4 miles from the entrance to the canal when we got hit. I tried to get as close to shore as possible to gain some protection, but we didn't make it far enough to get any protection from the land. We were well prepared and had dropped the anchor in 42' just before the winds hit. We had all of our 200' of chain out as well as 30' of anchor rode (rope) which would act as another snubber. Snubbers absorb shock from the anchor chain and if we had 60+ MPH winds, the chain would get taught and we'd have big waves that would place huge loads where the chain attaches to the boat.
As it turned out, we didn't have the intense wind and hail that hit Daytona. We had 30-40 kts for a short period and then heavy rain. We rocked and rolled for a while, but nothing bad. By 4 PM we had pulled into the Port Marina and were dealing with clearing in. That went painlessly and now we're registered in the Frequent Visitor program and will only have to call in. Yeah!
Today we're playing tourist and are going to tour the Space Center. The forecast is for thunderstorms this afternoon, so this seems to be a good plan. Then when the weather looks good, we'll slide north-ward.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
We pulled into Port Canaveral marina. We're in a 45' slip, which seems to be how they price things instead of your LOA. The charge was $65/day which includes power.
We had to show up at Customs and Immigrations, which is located at 120 George King Blvd. We took a taxi there which ran about $5 + tip. They were very nice and we got our I65 cards which will allow us to clear in via telephone in the future.
We rented a car from standard sized car from Enterprise for only $36/day. Well worth it.
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