Generally, for high mileage trips like a crossing, the prudent mariner creates Plan A, Plan B and perhaps even Plan C. We had all that and more if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of it. The forecast (from all our sources) couldn’t quite settle in which meant we’d better have a few plans, just in case. I guess one plan was even staying put- we must be up to D by now.
A while back I’d said, “I do not want to cross back to the Fort Pierce inlet.” After hearing that the current would be coming in with us and the wind at our backs, I relented and agreed it could be one of the Plans.
Entering back in at Lake Worth/Palm Beach would be fewer miles and a better inlet. We’d have the option to anchor up in the north part of the lake, get a marina slip or continue on up the ICW. After calling 5 possible marinas between North Palm and Ft Pierce, only one, Ft Pierce City Marina had space. We didn’t reserve, just kept that in mind if we made it that far.
One departure day eve, we decided to zoom across, enter in at Lake Worth and continue north up the ICW to as far as we could. The forecasters promised an uptick in wind speed around noon, so if we left early, moved along at 3000rpm (approx. 13kts/ 15mph), got a push from the northward flowing Gulf Stream, we’d “get inside” before lunch. Amazingly the plan went, well, as planned. Wind and waves out of the SE made for a comfortable push, the Gulf Stream helped most of the way, even giving us a top speed of 19kts down a wave at one point, and we entered the inlet five hours later at noon.
A handful came out from the marinas at North Bimini, some heading south and the rest of us heading back across. We passed a few sailboats who’d departed much earlier.
Yes, the wind came up; yes we continued on; no we didn’t anchor at Jensen Beach as planned (to my relief although I didn’t let on); instead we took a spot on “L” dock at Ft Pierce City Marina, the wind opposing the current and two guys to catch lines, easy peasy. Then we cleared back in, lowered our yellow quarantine flag and knew with certainty that “shades of blue Bahamas” had been left behind.
I give the marina two thumbs up for their responsiveness and attention to communications. About an hour out, they called to let us know a traffic accident had knocked out power citywide including the marina, “in case you wanted to make other arrangements.” Funny thing was, we hadn’t expected to have power there. Not because it was crappy or unavailable, but because on the new floating docks it was some new fancy set-up that the electrical system of many vessels wouldn’t accept. We’d talked to another PDQ34 who had that problem, so we had advance warning and the marina said we could run our generator if shore power wouldn’t work for Twins.
“Other arrangements?” No way honey; we are done for the day. 11 hours and 123nm/148land miles done. Got the generator going so our lasagna dinner could be warmed up (thank you Ann!) but within 10 mins power was restored so we plugged in, flipped the switches and lo and behold, we had shore power! Oh, did I mention “no charge for power tonight due to the outage”? Ten years or so (don’t hold me to it) ago, marinas began charging transients a nightly/weekly/monthly rate for power based on the amount you need; e.g. 30, 50 amps. A typical charge is $5 for 30amp power.
Even the laundry was impressive. Two sets of front loaders flanked a table and several long shelves of exchange books. One dryer had a “not working” sign but mid-morning when I was using the other set, the repair guy was doing his thing. Even asked if all was ok with the ones I was using and ran a test on both washer and dryer when he was done. Nice young man too.
This green heron had the perfect spot for hanging out in anticipation of a meal.
Because we had power, we stayed two nights. Twins received a thorough wash down. We ate dinner at The Original Tiki Restaurant on site using a 20% coupon compliments of FPCM.
Our main fuel tank gauge read E when we arrived; the perfect time, no not to fuel up but to measure the tank! Measured, calculated, estimated and determined a formula for more accurately estimating fuel remaining or required. We tested it out the day we left (Friday 4/7) when we fueled up and came within 2 gals. Good deal.
Being in Florida (do you notice that “lori” is in Florida?) means scads of manatee signs and you really need to read them because they aren’t all the same. Depending on time of year, in or out of the ICW channel, you may need to go very slowly, or just not exceed a certain (usually very generous speed). The below is copied from an article in Cruising Odyssey which lands in our email In box every Friday. Very timely; as if welcoming us back.
From a link from article in Cruising Odyssey – Living the dream under power
There’s good news for the manatees, Florida’s official marine mammal. They are no longer an “endangered” species; instead, they’ve been downgraded to just “threatened.” The U.S. Interior Department, which is in charge of such things, announced the change just after Manatee Appreciation Day. (Who knew? It’s March 29, in case you want to celebrate next year.)
Manatees, which can live 60 years or so, have been around for the past 45 million years. They move slowly, spending most of their time eating seagrass or sleeping, although they can swim four or five miles an hour if they really push it. They’re usually 10 to 12 feet long, and weigh 1,200 to 1,800 pounds. One problem is that they reproduce at a low rate. A mother manatee can give birth to a calf every three years, but then the calf is dependent on the mother for the next two. The other problem is that they and boats tend to end up in the same place a lot of the time.
In the ‘70s, Florida’s manatee population was down to just a few hundred, but now, after all the slow-down-for-manatees zones and other protections, the state has a healthy population of 6,620 manatees. Still, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which did the manatee review for the Interior Department, says we need to keep all the legal protections in place so the manatees don’t lapse back the “endangered” category. It seems like we’ll have to live with all those manatee zones for a long time to come. Yes, I know slowing down all the time is a pain, but personally, I think anybody who’s been around for 45 million years deserves a break.
Next stop Vero Beach City Marina, where we landed the last open mooring ball that day. How long would the Velcro hold us? Place your bets now.