Youth and Ambition Part 1 (Satellite Beach to key biscayne Florida)
“Youth and Ambition” is an adventure documentary web-series about our journey to live an alternate lifestyle as we sail to the Bahamas and back on our first ocean bound voyage and with little sailing and filming experience. This was one of our first productions and we have decided to break it up into a 8 part series with journal entry for you to enjoy on PureOceanTV.com. If you like to buy the full version check out our shop! We will be posting our second journey from 2011 with even more adventure here on the site soon. Thanks for watching and please comment on the series!
Copyright 2011 Pure Ocean Productions
Youth and Ambition Part 1- Satellite Beach to Key Biscayne, Florida
By: Lukas Brickweg
February 2, 2010
We finally departed; and our journey was underway. Jake sat at the helm, it’s 9:30 a.m. as we past under Melbourne Causeway with a straight S-SW headwind. It was supposed to go west through the day and turn N-NE overnight. The entire month of January was spent day-after-day of preparation and planning for our departure; and waiting for our weather window to open, a combination of wind direction, speed, swell, tide, equipment, and a lot of other factors to say the least. But all had come to a head and we now embarked on an adventure in search of fun, waves and fish. We will grow a great amount in the following weeks and learn to be self-sufficient, relying on each other using the basics of survival. No television, hot water, cell phones or Facebook. Now that’s pure just the ocean- and us!!!
After a full day of motor sailing using the Genoa, we anchored at Fort Pierce Inlet just north of the drawbridge. The Valhalla outran a rainstorm from an approaching low pressure staying about two miles ahead of it. We checked the GPS, and it turned out we traveled 50 miles, which was good start after calculating our headwind in the morning. Once we hit Vero Beach the tide turned strong and worked to our advantage. It pulled us south down the Intracoastal at 7.0 knots increasing our speed from 5.8 knots. At 4:40 p.m. we unrolled our Genoa, which instantly gave us another knot and a half. Weaving in and out of markers we kept our course. Keeping red on the right and green on the left we guided through narrow channels with protruding sandbars. The GPS was used very little due to the simple comforts of river navigating.
We then anchored, catching the last phase of the outgoing tide. As the sun was setting, Jake played a tune on the guitar while James filmed off the bow. I had one fishing rod floating off the back with a soft plastic swim bait attached, in hopes of an ambitious strike and a possible meal. Our first day of traveling was in the books. Now we must get through the night with a safe anchorage. The river was glass slick and the wind was dead. There was an eerie calm over the evening. What awaits us tomorrow? We think of our loved ones we leave behind as we seek adventure and hope their prayers are answered in a month, when we safely return.
February 3, 2010
Waking up after a long restless night of tossing and turning, the thought of our anchor pulling haunted our minds; not to mention the constant rocking from the major tidal influxes and hard north wind. Our location was close to the Fort Pierce inlet where the river narrows, causing the current to strengthen. A hard north wind of 20 knots appeared around 10 p.m. sending in small waves that slapped against our boat’s side all night. Oh well, guess I better get used to it for the coming weeks. We talked to our friend Jerry last night, who planned on crossing the Gulf Stream with us in the coming days. Today we’re going to try and catch up with him near West Palm Beach with the hard north wind assisting us on our trek south. The 15 horse powered Yanmar Inboard Diesal chugged away, as Jake’s tried to figure out how to use the toilet and I pulled anchor.
Today was a nice day. So far we had the Genoa pulling us down the Indian River Lagoon with the motor running at 2000 RPMs — moving almost seven knots this morning at slack tide. Once we hit the outgoing tide near Fort Pierce inlet we slowed to 5.5 knots. While relaxing on the deck and reading a Benjamin Franklin book, I saw a couple Spanish mackerels jump next to the boat. I tied on the spoon and snagged a bite for dinner. We inched towards Stuart with the north wind still at our back, and fought against the tide as we neared the inlet. Our goal for today was to make it to Lake Worth and possibly West Palm Beach. I just had another hit and the fish cut the spoon clean off.
We just passed under five drawbridges in Jupiter with a convoy of four other sailboats and some huge yachts, all heading to Miami for the Super Bowl. Jerry anchored up about 100 yards from us, as James talked to him over the radio. They’re trying to figure out the game plan for tomorrow and how far south we needed to travel before the weather allowed us to cross the Gulf Stream. They were also discussing the weather forecast and possible crossing windows. James just informed us that Friday’s weather was looking good for the Gulf Stream; and they heard of other boats planning to cross that day. So I looked at the GPS and charted the distance from here to Fort Lauderdale, approximately 41 nautical miles depending on the wind, tides and drawbridges— it should be a full day’s trip. Tonight we’re going to run the generator; cook some food with the rice cooker; and charge our batteries on all our equipment. It was quite an experience today calling all the drawbridges and circling until they opened every 30 minutes. You really have to time the bridges right in order to hit them consecutively.
February 4, 2010
We woke up at 6:30 a.m. this morning, pulled anchor, departed Lake Worth by 7:00 a.m., plugged in the Fort Lauderdale coordinates and headed south. Traveling 44 nautical miles today will depend on our speed and the drawbridge openings, which will occupy our full attention. We slipped through the first two drawbridges uneventful.
James then heard the next bridge tender come over the radio informing us of a 9:30 a.m. opening. This bridge was off in the distance about two or three miles ahead. Instead of racing up to the bridge and having to idle in neutral, we decided there was no rush and fell behind our friend Jerry at a low RPM. Jerry must have heard the bridge open suddenly and went through. We however were still a half-mile away — sh**! James flushed the boat in full throttle; black smoke flooded the air behind us. But it quickly became evident we weren’t going to make it, so we throttle back down knowing we have to wait another 30 minutes for the bridge to reopen at 9:45 a.m.
Alongside us was another boat got caught behind the line of traffic. Now this guy was crazy! With his sails full out, he charged the bridge at full speed, even as the bridge tender began to close it, a Madman! He sailed right up to the bridge only meters from a full on collision before turning sharply at the last second. He then changed his sails and cruised away from the bridge.
He sailed over to us signaling with his arms as he introduced himself as Booty Taylor. We got to bull talking as he told us how mad he was at the bridge tender, because they couldn’t wait a minute and a half for us to pass under. We shared his frustration and continued on our route south. He told us he just returned from the Abacos after sailing 30 hours straight at the helm. “The conditions were nasty, too. The winds were 20-25 knots and the seas were 8-10 feet.” This guy was sick! He sailed in a 33-foot Choy Lee! We recognized the design because our friend Chip was telling us about Choy Lee boats right before we left.
Booty Taylor told us we needed to throw out our Genoa and sail down with him. Still beginner sailors we were just figuring out what sails to use with the different angles and wind direction. He definitely taught us some great lessons and later that day he handed us his map because we didn’t have the proper names in order to call the drawbridges. There are about 15-20 bridges from West Palm to Fort Lauderdale so the information was a big help. Throwing up our Genoa as he insisted gave us an added two knots of speed as we now cruised at seven knots. That entire day we stuck with the same convoy of boats and fled under one bridge after another. During the afternoon we motor through the narrow canals of South Florida sharing a glass of rum with our new friend; cheering and drinking from across the waterway, looking for a place to settle in for tonight.
Once you get down near Fort Lauderdale the Intracoastal narrows making it hard to find places to anchor. We now had to find a cheap dock or marina to stay in for the night. James called Nick Valente our friend from high school who now worked on boats in Fort Lauderdale. He shared information on where we could dock up. Finally, we found a place called Las Olas Marina right on the Intracoastal. We came chugging in right at sunset and threw the dock lines to some helping hands on the dockside.
I just got back from Nick’s house where he grilled us up T-bone steak and grilled zucchini for dinner. All day was crazy, sailing from West Palm to Fort Lauderdale. We stayed with the Andromedea (Booty Taylor’s boat), motor sailing while calling, waiting then sailing through bridges. The entire day was interesting seeing huge mansions and lush mega yachts lining the canals. We saw everything from mega yachts, race boats, sailboats, jet skis, water taxis, orange iguanas resting against pilings, and even a bridge named George Bush. That was a good moment for us, cruising with boats from around the world and everybody checking us out loaded down with surfboard bags, a military size dinghy, and offshore trolling rods. It was “picture perfect”.
We were finally doing what we’ve been planning for years. We were learning new things through the different captains giving you advice; or through small talk you share with complete strangers at the dock. They aren’t strangers though since you share a common bond with fellow boaters and cruisers — enjoying similar things: loving life, the outdoors, and boating and living simple. There’s an unspoken camaraderie between boaters and sailors, a simple wave or hand gesture as slight as it may be speaks volumes. After looking at some forecast and updates, the beginning of next week looked to be a window for crossing. So far the plan for now was to work on boat projects and hang tight in Lauderdale for the weekend; then cruise down to Key Biscayne on Monday when we leave to cross the Gulf Stream at 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Monday February 8, 2010
After a long weekend of partying with old and new friends, Monday was finally here. We’re still in Fort Lauderdale waiting to cross, but to our delight we were blessed with a long, five-foot period ground swell with light north wind. None of us had surfed Reef Road before and figured today would be a great opportunity.
Jake cooked pancakes, James filmed, and I worked on getting the board bags untied as Nick drove to pick us up. We ate a massive breakfast of pancakes and eggs, packed the boards in the truck and hit the road. We were told the ride would take 30-40 minutes, and turned out to be an hour and a half. Driving off the wrong exit, we weaved through back streets in the Jeep 4 Runner like a jungle safari ride. Nick’s a crazy driver and will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire ride. Once realizing we were still on the mainland, we looked around each bend eventually discovering a bridge. Heading north on A1A , we finally sought out the notorious Reef Road! We soon found our way to the beach where the waves were waist-to-chest high, glassy and dumping – in other words fun!
Before making the trip to Reef Road we heard stories from other people that there’s no parking along the entire beach of West Palm especially in the Reef Road area. So we drove around looking for spots to park and there really wasn’t any parking, just mansions and open streets where it’s illegal to park for some odd reason. We saw a cop and decide to ask him for his recommendation on where to park. The police officer informed us we could park anywhere there’s no parking signs. Finally finding an actual parking lot absent of no parking signs, we planned to walk back a mile north to avoid a parking ticket.
As we walk over to the beach we immediately realized there was no beach access — no stairs or walkways, just a 15-foot concrete wall with a rope hanging from it to shimmy down. I ask myself? How was a handicapped person supposed to access the beach they have every right to? To know that these residents keep their beaches private and not allow public access was selfish. Some of residents only live there a few months out of the year. It’s just sand and water why can’t everybody enjoy it?
We form a chain and passed all the gear down to the beach. Eager to hit the water I rushed into the surf and dipped below the first breakers. The water was absolutely amazing, crystal clear and you could see straight to the bottom where patches of reef pass under. Another observation made during the paddle out was the numerous amounts of spinner sharks continually becoming airborne during the day, jumping in schools just outside the breakers. All of us were excited to be surfing with each other on a nice day. After catching a few good waves at the first break, we decided the tide was funky holding the waves back. Spotting another break just down the beach we make a break and hoofed it.
These wave was definitely steeper and lined up. I caught some fun lefts. Taking off late, I paddled for this nugget right and dropped in. As I look down I could clearly see a 5-to 6-foot shark effortlessly cruising along the bottom directly beneath me. WOW! Captivated by the moment I continued to stare at the shark as I rode down the line. I took that wave in. After a couple more rides we started back to the truck.
Rounding the corner of a residential street we spotted Nick’s jeep where a cop stood next it. Nick rushed over to address the situation as the cop finished writing a $35.00 ticket. Nick was furious and demanded an explanation. The cop was amused at his frustration and pointed to a no parking sign buried deep in overgrown vegetation that was difficult to see. Even after the location was disclosed you really had to look hard through the shrubs to see it — a perfect trap to acquire money through fines and tickets. We returned back in half the time it took driving there. Back at the boat, we grilled up delicious burgers mixed with chunks of garlic and onion, topped off with pepper jack cheese and baked beans.
Trials and tribulations of the weather
We sat and waited, fixing things. Time was not apparent anymore as days and hours were just sitting and waiting for our weather window. Today, tomorrow, a week, we waited. Factors and variables must be considered, but in this journey we waited. It’s now day eight, with southeast, 20-25 mph winds, as a northeast low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico moved over the state of Florida. Everyone was waiting to cross.
February 9, 2010
Wham wham! As the halyard line beat against the mast and the rope hit the aluminum like a drum, we awakened to the noise caused by the winds howling at 25 knots out of the northwest. Skeptical if we wanted to brave the ocean and ride the coast south to Key Biscayne; or to cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway and tangle with all the drawbridges and boat traffic — no thanks! We race up to the beach on foot to check the sea conditions for a possible ocean ride. Much to our delight the west wind had laid down the surface chop and wind waves. The decisions was made to charge the ocean.
We cleared Port Everglades at 8 a.m. and motored down the beach. About a half hour behind us was Adiago a 75-ft catamaran that docked beside us at Los Olas Marina. The captain threw up his jib making up time. Waving his arms, he soon paralleled with our boat. James hailed him on the radio wanting to know why we don’t have our Genoa out? We heard over the radio in his British accent, “What’s your deal, it’s beautiful sailing out here.” Still novices, we decided to take a little out at a time watching our speed increase substantially as we enlarged the surface area of the sail. With the boat slightly keeled over cruising at 7-plus knots, I sat at helm, James filmed and Jake adjusted the sails. At 11:30 a.m. we were three miles out from No Name Harbor, south of Miami. A great first ocean bound adventure we had in Valhalla covering about thirty miles in five and a half hours into the No Name anchorage.