Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fernandina Beach, Florida – Lake Worth, Florida November-December/2004

Nov 24/04 We continue to head south. Yesterday we were in St. Augustine. We had been there Dec. 2001, looked at all the boats anchored and dreamed we would sometime be there in our own boat...and we were. We are travelling just with Ron Marshall and Larry Webb (both from Barrie) Our new American friends, Chris & Deke, had departed in Charleston, to return home to go back to work. They left their boat in a marina in Charleston and Gail & Ted have slowed down. They didn't need to travel as quickly as us, since they are spending the holidays with Gail's family in Florida.

We had a late start leaving St. Augustine yesterday, Ron & Bill had never been there so did a quick tour of the city, we went to the marina to get fuel, pumpout and make telephone calls. The holding tank was full, full. Right after the pumpout vacuum sucked out all the yucky stuff, we refilled the tank with water, and the pump broke. So now we have a full tank of yucky water. Ross had installed a macerator pump to direct discharge the waste, once we were in the ocean, offshore, but we hadn't used it yet. It had is inauguaral use and we were on our way.

The delay leaving, and lack of good anchorages along this section of the ditch, caused us to just anchor off the channel, where it was a little wider. emphasis on "little". We had to put out 2 anchors, to keep RAFT from swinging, because the water depth reduces quickly off the channel. Another new experience for us. We knew the tides were only 2 ft. and the bottom is soft.
In the middle of the night, we were on bottom. The tide was rising and there was nothing to do about the situation until morning. Using the back winch, Ross was able to get another rope around the stern anchor, and pull us (with a little motor assist) back into the channel and retrieve both anchors and we were on our way. Ron, had a little more difficulty and ended up with something wrapped around either the keel, rudder, or prop and had to go into the water to fix it. He is a SCUBA diver so didn't mind.

We are heading to New Symrna Beach. It is so hard to judge how long it will take us. Sometimes the boat guage says we are going 6 kn. but the tides/river currents cut that back to 4 kn. over ground (like going uphill) other times we get a boost and are travelling 7+ kn. but that always seems to be only for such a short time and with all the inlet/outlets to the ocean, it is impossible for us to determine whether the current will be with us or against us.

At New Symrna Beach, the channel splits and our old charts indicate the ICW goes west through the town. But right between R32 and the green buouy, we get stuck!! Again, we were fortunate the tide was rising and we were able to work our way free. Going through the Shepherd Cut (the eastern channel) there are new buoys marking 10-14 ft all the way. We anchored without incident opposite R46.

Nov 25th – American Thanksgiving A warm, wet day spent motoring down the ICW. We anchored off the bridge at Cocoa Beach and were off to Vero Beach. The city marina offers inexpensive mooring balls, and great facilities so the sailors affectionately call it Velcro Beach. Unfortunately, we are on a mission….wanting to get to Fort Pierce, where Larry had friends for us to meet, and Bev’s parents are coming for a visit. So we only spend one night in "Velcro".

We spent a few days in Fort Pierce, Florida, visiting and taking advantage of Bev's parents' car to do our final provisioning. We always took "having Wheels" for granted, and have now learned to satisfy most of our needs by "hoofing it with a backpack". However when Bev's parents came over to Fort Pierce to spend a couple of days, we definitely took advantage, going to Walmart, Home Depot, automotive and liquor stores, West Marine, etc... loading up on everything we could. RAFT needs a new waterlinCraning wrecked boats, Fort Piercee. But we understand things will be difficult to obtain and very expensive once we leave Florida.

Fort Pierce was badly hit by 2 hurricanes this summer, and there are still signs of the devastation. Blue tarp roofs are very common, masts protruding from the water, boats washed up on shore, missing docks, and many sad tales. We visited with Larry's friends whose 2 year old Catalina 40 has a mast that looks like a pretzel (a new one is on order), bow sprint was bent, some fiberglass and wood work done when it fell off her jackstands. It is difficult to get marina space, as most of the private docks where washed away, and all of the City marina is gone!!

We had a great time in Fort Pierce. Anchoring just south of the lift bridge, enough water (can't say 7-8 ft is lots) we had no problems, but Ron's anchor did drag once.

We are basically ready to go -- have a couple of small jobs to do, but primarily waiting for a good weather window and we will be off. Right now it looks like we may have to wait until the beginning of next week.Ross, Ron & Bill waiting for the courier, Harbourtown Marina Bar

Dec 2/04 We are now motor/sailing the last segment of the ICW for us. We will arrive in Lake Worth this afternoon. (Thursday) But we are only 2 boats now. Larry has stayed in Fort Pierce to help friends get their boats ready to go to the Bahamas.

Barge carrying a sub on ICW