I am ready!
Today was the fourth and final day of my training for the Bahamas. The ride was to be about 70 miles. The ocean conditions were not good and there was a small craft advisory so I had planned on taking the Inter coastal.
A few important things I didn't know about the inter coastal. It goes through many residential neighborhoods where the speed limit is 5mph. There are dozens of protected Manatee zones where you must also go 5mph.
I also learned there are numerous police boats and they are very active. The waverunner I am on is new as I just purchased it last wednesday; as such I don't have official stickers. Between the 5mph zones and getting stopped 3 times by police boats wanting to see my proof of ownership (which I had but a 20+ minute ordeal each time) It took me about 2 hours to go about 10 miles. At that rate it would take me another 8+ hours.
In addition to 8 hours just being ridiculous I was trying to make a 5:55 flight out of Miami. Logistically a pain as I needed to ride up to palm beach, get the waverunner picked up, get a rental car, drive back to Miami beach (only nonstops to LA) and get on the plane. I had figured if i could get to palm beach by 2p the plan should work. I left Miami around 9:30 so I thought 4.5 hours for the 70 miles would be fine. Thought wrong I did.
So a few hours had gone by and I had only gone about 10 miles. I mentioned to one of the police officers that I keep getting stopped and asked if there was anything I could do to stop it from happening over and over again. He gave me a form showing that they checked me out and everything was good. However he said that the next time I get pulled over (because as he informed me it would keep happening) show them the form and they wont have me go through the entire inspection.
So tough choice. Do I stay on the inter coastal and have it take forever and keep getting stopped or do I go out to the Ocean in a small craft advisory with winds at about 25mph and seas at about 6ft and try and muscle through it. You can go back and forth but there are only cut ins/outs about every 10-15 miles so you have to commit for at least a bit.
I couldn't take the 5mph and the stops so at the next cutout I ventured out into the ocean. It was rough. It was uncomfortable for sure. I didnt feel it was dangerous, just tough so I thought I would go until the next cutout in about 11 miles and then go for some refuge.
After the first 11 mile ocean run, the thought of getting caught on the inter coastal again seemed much worse. So I went and went and went. I stopped every 5 miles to rest a bit and then tackled the next 5 miles. I kept this up for about 45 miles and then with about 10 miles to go to Palm Beach I took the last cutin where there are very limited 5mph zones.
All in all the 70 miles took me about 6.5 hours. I only got off the waverunner once in that 6.5 hours and it was in the first hour to get gas. At one point my hands hurt so bad I wasn't sure I could stay out there. Then my lower back hurt and I forgot about the hands. Then that area on my arms just above the elbow, felt like someone was jamming their thumb into a pressure point right there. But I realized that these pains would subside over time as I remain focused entirely on working the waves and the swell. It became very zen like. I would go into a mode where I wasn't thinking anything. My mind did not wander. My focus was on the task at hand. I was 1000% consumer by it and although cliche the best way to ride it out was to relax and become one with the waverunner.
By the time i finished I was physically exhausted in a way that words cant describe. I was right on the verge of pushing myself too far. I was having a little trouble concentrating and was beginning to not feel quite right. I pushed to the edge and I realized that I shouldn't push quite that far. Some of it was simply how strenuous it was, some was imperfect planning on my part which I hope to learn from
I did learn several lessons including
I woke up this am to see that the storm had passed! I had a quick breakfast and packed up my stuff to take off as i learned you cant rely on the weather
the winds were still blowing about 20mph so it wasnt calm but much better than friday. The ride was nice. Given that I was going back over thr same waters i traveled yesterday i was much more comfortable and listened to music almost the entire way. I did have a few close encounters
1) Rookie Maneuver-The Rope. I am getting this loading and unloading of the ski thing pretty down. I put all my equipment and bags down somewhere with easy access like a beach. then i go get the ski and bring it to that spot. this morning i pulled such a rookie maneuver....i let the rope dangle in the water and it got sucked up and jammed the prop.
I tried to turn the ski on its side but at 800+ lbs no go. I was able to get a guy named Sean to help me turn the ski on its side. Yep rope all around the crankshaft and in the prop. Spent about 20 minutes unwinding the rope (its hard to get your hand in there) to find that the rope was really jammed in the prop. I pulled and pulled but nothing. Sean who was much beefier than I am pulled with all of his might but it wouldn't move. Then Sean suggested we call a mechanic and one couuld come by.....tomorrow. With that I planted my feet and pulled with more than all of my might and the rope came free. Made me think "strength is the mother of necessity".
2) Biscayne National Park. There is a 15 mile long stretch of the Intercoastal just sooth of Key Biscayne which I learned is off limits to personal watercraft. I know this very well as I was pulled over by a national parks service boat, siren blaring, blue lights flashing etc
He explained to me that this 15 mile long part is not ok for wave runners and that the no waverunner zone (waverunners are the snow boarders of the ocean, the coolest but dissed by older dudes :-)) extends to about 20 miles offshore.
Problem is I was about in the middle of it heading N. He asked where I came from and I told him Key Largo. He told me i needed to turn around and go back. Really. No Shit. Then he gave me an opening, he said hook back up to your trailer in Key Largo and drive past this area. I explained, but Ocifer, I don't have a trailer or a car. I am just on this lil ole waverunner and I need to get to Miami today
He then noted I didn't have the registration stickers on my waverrunner and asked for identification. Luckily I was prepared and showed him a copy of my bill of sale, my insurance, and my drivers license (just for ID-you don't need a license to drive a boat in the US-scary huh).
He reviewed everything and asked what I was doing in FL with a 2 day old waverunner if I live in CA. Door # 2 opened. I explained about the fundraiser and that this was practice. He nodded his head as he listened and I saw him beginning to weaken his stern tone. After about another 5 minutes of conversation he instructed me to head N to Miami. Stay on the Intercoastal. Don't get too close to any boats. Don't jump any wakes. Don't do any donuts and don't ever get caught coming through there again. I thanked him very much for his understanding and I took off, jumping every single boat wake on the way back (just kidding :-)