Back to the ICW: Bridges, Wind, and Anxiety

The sail drive connects our engine to the propellor, and has a seal on it to keep out seawater. We replaced these seals in October; however, the seal on our port engine failed 2 weeks later. We can tell it has failed because there is water in the saildrive oil. We really want to head to the Bahamas with everything in ship-shape, so decided to haul out now and get it fixed. Of course, with the holidays, and then the scheduler being out sick with shingles, scheduling the haul out hasn’t been as easy as eating a dozen donuts.

Last Thursday, the boatyard in Dania Beach called to let us know they could haul us on Tuesday. No problem, we said. Sure, its 20 knots, gusting to 30 and there are 18 foot waves in the Gulf Stream, but this Negative Nancy weather forecast can’t continue forever, right? Yes, it can. Negative Nancy is not only very resilient, but she's Canadian and has a cold shoulder. We really didn’t want to bash into high seas in the ocean, so we decided to take the IntraCoastal Waterway to get to our haul out.

First, we had to leave the mooring field. We are a 38 foot boat in a 30 ft spot, and are therefore already too close to our neighbors. Matt helmed us out of this tight mooring in 25 knot winds, and then we bashed across the bay.

Sailing vessels and cruise ships in Government Cut, Miami
Beautiful sailing yacht with cruise ships in the background. Government Cut, Miami
Captains at the helm of our Lagoon 380 sailing catamaran
The men at the helm
We went through a few bridges, and then it appeared: the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge. Last time we took the ICW, I watched (actually I closed my eyes, so I listened to) a catamaran strike this bridge. A few months later, a Lagoon 380 like ours was reported stuck under the bridge. When we first purchased Independence and had rigging work done, we had our mast shortened so our mast clearance is 53’10”. Our radio antenna makes our total clearance 55’10”. The Julia Tuttle is reported to be 56 feet, but Miami shuns the use of clearance boards on their bridges which helpfully show the actual height. Just thinking about this bridge makes me want to break out in Matt-style hives. We decided to travel at low tide to give ourselves as much clearance as possible.

To make matters more exciting, there was a barge underneath, taking up 1/2 the space. The barge probably has to work on damage caused by sailors. We crawled forward, prepared to back off if our radio antenna hit. It cleared. 

Sailing under Julia Tuttle Causeway, Miami
Julia Tuttle Causeway and the moment of truth!
Sailing under the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge, Miami
Under the bridge
We passed under a few more bridges, either rushing like mad or idling along to make the scheduled openings. Broad Causeway appears, and with it a current. Don’t forget the wind. Broad Causeway only opens one span, and we only have to try not to hit the open span, the closed span, or the wall. 
Sailing through Broad Causeway Bridge
Broad Causeway
Sailing through Broad Causeway Bridge
Broad Causeway
Again, Matt breezed through like a pro. I really need to start taking chill pills so I can lounge around unconcerned like Hastings does.
Hastings is a chill captain!
We anchored in 35 foot depths in South Lake, and put out all 225 feet of chain. The ICW is not a remedy for anxiety. Now all we have to do is get through three bridges to make it to our haul out the next day. What larks!
Anchored in the rain in South Lake, Hollywood, FL
South Lake, Hollywood Beach, FL

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  1. And then there's the "mean low tide" and "mean high tide" to work out and even though the math says your good to go, it never looks like the mast can clear -- I hate bridges!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    1. It's very stressful (for me)! Even bridges with 10 ft clearance look tight!

  2. Nothing is as easy to do as eating a dozen donuts. Love Hastings' sweater. So cute. I hope the two of you have matching ones so that you can embarrass him when you're walking about around town.

    1. I wish I had a matching one- it sure is adorable on Hastings!

  3. Going around on the outside or following the ICW, they each have their pros and cons, right? One of the worst things when cruising is having to be on a schedule for one reason or another... I'm glad you cleared the bridge and all went fine, thanks to a chilled captain and a chilled Hastings, of course. Hopefully, the haulout goes well and the issue gets fixed.

    1. I'd rather have the ocean- if the weather was better! And of course, we have the Gulf Stream to battle anytime we head south. The haul out is over already- they re-did both seals last night and we splashed just after 8am. Now all we have to do is make it back to Miami!


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