Making Good Time


We are at anchor in Cocoa at the moment. We had a long day, but a good one. The Dubhes are early risers — I am not, but since we had a lot of miles to cover, we figured we needed an early start, just in case. We dropped off the mooring ball and said goodbye to Vero Beach just as the sun was coming up at seven o’clock. The current was against us, slightly, but we were still able to make 5.7-5.8 kts. Madge was able to match Dubhe’s speed without too much trouble. Being Sunday, traffic on the waterway picked up as the day wore on, and we had to be careful when bigger, faster boats overtook us from behind. In a passing situation, if both boats do not do their part, the smaller boat usually gets tossed about badly by the larger boat’s wake. In a proper “slow pass,” the slower boat being overtaken slows to idle speed as the faster boat gets even with the stern. This allows the faster boat to drop to just over idle speed, which means it produces almost no wake, while still allowing it to pass the slower boat in a fairly short amount of time. Once the faster boat is past the bow of the slower boat, the slower boat turns into the wash just behind the faster boat. When the slower boat is directly behind the faster boat, the faster boat can resume full speed, because the slower boat is inside the faster boat’s wake, and the slower boat can also speed up again. Unfortunately, some boaters think passing on the water is like passing in a car, with no consequences to the boat being passed. They blow by you with no concern for the impact of their wake. If they would take the time to look behind them, they would see the havoc they wreak on the slower boat. Dubhe got waked badly at least twice, once just as they started passing under a bridge, which almost threw them into the bridge supports. They also suffered some breakage of interior items that got dislodged and tossed about the boat. Such behavior is not only rude, it is illegal. Captains are responsible for damage caused by their boat’s wake. Charges are rarely filed, but nerves are frayed and tempers flare.

About noon, as we passed Melbourne, the wind shifted more to the east, bringing it on Madge’s beam, so we pulled out the jib to motor sail. We only pulled the sail out halfway, due to the strong winds, but still got a powerful boost in speed. We jumped to about 6.5 kts. In order to stay in step with Dubhe, we backed off on the engine and let the sail do most of the work. The current (what little there was of it) also shifted in our direction, and Madge and Dubhe both maintained over 6 kts the rest of the way into Cocoa. We dropped the hook at about three thirty, and started thinking about what we would do for happy hour. It had been a long but productive day. We needed to unwind. In the end, we decided to dinghy across the river to Cocoa village. The Dubhes had a pub they liked there, and we were willing to give it a shot. We had Irish nachos (like the Mexican kind, but with waffle fries instead of chips) and watched the end of The Masters golf tournament.

Tomorrow will be another long day. We’re heading to New Smyrna Beach, and will have to get up early again. I would rather sleep late, except that these long days will get us home sooner. I’m looking forward to a bed that doesn’t move, flush toilets, and unlimited hot water. At least for a while. The southern loop of Cruising Year No. 1 is wrapping up. It’s time to start planning the northern loop.