November 14, 2021
We left the security of Cape Marina on November 10 and again headed through the locks and bridges. We had stayed a couple of extra days waiting for the SpaceX shuttle launch. After it was rescheduled three times, we decided that we needed to get going.
The lock transit went well as did the bridges in the canal. Once out into the ICW we headed under the four fixed bridges that each were a few miles apart. It was a new moon and apparently a “King” tide?? Hadn’t heard that one before. Apparently it is a huge tide! The fixed bridges have “tide boards” that let you know the distance from the water line to the bottom of the bridge. Hmmmm….first one 63 1/2 feet. Wow! And it was low tide. OK, not going to get much better than this. Hold your breath and go! Our antenna pinged against each girder, but nothing else. Thank goodness! Next one 63 1/4 feet….here we go….ping, ping, ping. Whew! This is hard on the heart!
We were able to watch the launch of SpaceX from anchor. It was a bit cloudy, but we saw the beginning explosion and watched the tiny rocket take off into space.
We worked our way under several more fixed bridges, trying to hit them as close to low tide as possible. We came to the town of Wabasso and beyond it their fixed bridge. It was dead low tide. As we came closer to the tide board we read 62 3/4 feet. Oh no! We will for sure lose our antenna, anchor light and wind instruments on this one! The area was super shallow and there was not an anchorage. We would need to go back 8 miles to find somewhere to anchor. And if this was low tide, how would we ever get under it? We could go back many miles to Cape Canaveral and go outside in the Atlantic, but the weather wasn’t predicted to be good. What were we going to do?! All of these bridges are charted at 65′, how can this one be so different? We turned around and headed back the 8 miles to an anchorage to figure out our dilemma. We passed another sailboat heading toward the bridge. They looked about our size. Quick, call them on the VHF and ask what their mast height is and if they knew something that we didn’t. Their mast was 62′, like ours, plus they had instruments, like us! AND they have been under this bridge before! He said to go very slowly in only calm conditions and our antenna would scrape, but we should be fine and this was the best that we would find it, at low tide. OK, you go first! We watched him ease up to the bridge. He called on the radio for all power boaters to stand off, he needed still water. He inched under, scraping, but made it! Our turn! We waited for several power boats to get out of the way. Slowly we inched up to it and held our breaths. Oh no! A power boat was coming our way and we were going under! Fortunately they were kind and noticed our predicament. Ping, ping, ping…..it was hard to watch! But we had made it with no permanent damage! We were happy to arrive at Vero Beach and grab a mooring ball.
The next day we transited 6 fixed bridges and one bascule bridge, none of which made our hearts beat like the Wabasso bridge! We did have a rain storm with visibility cut down to about 500′, and we were soaked! We had a quiet night anchored in Hobe Sound and then we were in the Jupiter/Palm Beach area. This area has 6 bascule bridges all on a set schedule. If you miss their half hour interval, boats are stuck back peddling to wait for the next opening. Most bridge tenders are considerate, but one cut us off at one minute after the hour! We waited 29 minutes for that one. This lesson taught us to go as fast as possible until we were almost to the bridge and then we could slow down if there was time to wait. Lots of boat traffic going through these bridges in both directions.
One last fixed bridge, the Blue Heron bridge in West Palm Beach and we were there….Riviera Beach Marina, our home for a couple of weeks. Whew! No more bridges!