Sat 14 Apr 2012
Cocoa Village Marina, Cocoa, FL
[photo: Cocoa village Playhouse]
Our choice to stay at the marina, and especially in this portion where we are protected from the strong SE winds, was a good one. The wind howled last night (along with a little welcome rain) and it continues to blow this morning. It is forecast to be mostly cloudy all day, so that will put a damper on the battery charging by our solar panels. We can easily go a day on just batteries and they will charge fully tomorrow when we are motor-sailing for 10 hours.
It is now 1500 and we are both pretty beat. The morning was completely overcast and very breezy so the boat was cool, although not cold. Before dawn, we were up and went over to start the laundry. The office/lounge wasn't yet open so I read on the veranda for a bit - very relaxing.
Diane suggested I make the meal for tomorrow since we might not get to stop until near dark. It is a delicious medley of onions, peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and pieces of poached chicken all mixed with tortellini pasta in a homemade basil pesto we brought from home. It only took one large pot because you just cook in batches. It takes longer but makes for less fuss and easier clean-up.
While Duane was cooking, Diane had a one-hour workout trying to make the v-berth mattress up with sheets. She really was frustrated with it and all I could do was offer words of encouragement. After that there were the minor repairs to be done after securing the parts yesterday. That all went successfully and then we got the bicycles down from their current location hoisted alongside the mainsail cover. Having them up there frees up a lot of room in the aft cabin, but the first attempt to use them showed that it is more time consuming with them there. We will see what works best.
Our ride was a good one and fairly strenuous at times due to the strong wind and the surprising hills. The downtown area and the park south of the bridge are really nice, but the rest that we saw was not all that impressive. The streets are very narrow and the sidewalks are both narrow and mostly broken up. That is not to say we don't like it here; it just wasn't a friendly place to ride for us.
Back at Diva Di, I got out our water hose and filled the water tanks, then started scrubbing the decks. We have no idea how the boat gets so filthy. An hour of that and I was ready for a break. Diane is already napping.
We enjoyed appetizers and drinks on the veranda at the marina building while Jack got the grill going. Part way through, Mike from the marina took us to tour his 35 foot catamaran. It is always a good idea to see other boats and what you like and dislike about them.
Duane steamed the asparagus in a foil pouch on the grill and then added the marinated flank steak. Back on Jack and Elise's boat, we added some potatoes and a green salad and had a feast (but with moderate portions - scale at the supermarket says I am down 5 pounds so far and I feel like it).
We said our goodbyes and Diane and I remarked how we had been together with them numerous times back home, but never got to know them like we did over these two short days. It was great.
Fri 13 Apr 2012
Cocoa Village Marina, Cocoa, FL
Well, the actual wind strength and direction was not quite as forecast; it was stronger and more southerly, so our anchorage location was not the best, although here we only had a choice of this anchorage or a marina. We can't afford to make this cruise if we have to stay in marinas more than one-quarter of our time.
As I type this, it is just after 0300; I have been wide awake since 0130 because the boat has been rockin' and rollin' since we went to bed at 2100. The anchor is holding fine and it isn't dangerous or scary, but just uncomfortable.
I have used some of this time to crunch more numbers (hey, it is something I enjoy doing) and it looks like we are slightly behind a pace that will get us to Penobscot Bay, Maine a few weeks before the halfway point in time. We both have no desire to average longer days underway, so it just might be that we elect to leave the boat in storage somewhere in the Carolinas on the way back. That option has lots of drawbacks, but it might be better than rushing this cruise.
We had a very enjoyable short run today with the wind off our starboard quarter and that allowed us to run the engine at a more fuel sipping power setting while still maintaining over 5.5 knots on average. Cocoa appeared after just 3.5 hours and we got settled into our slip at Cocoa Village Marina, which we highly recommend. The daily rate is not bad and the facilities are very nice (with the exception that there is no pool). Backing into the slip with the winds was a challenge, but we handled it pretty well with the very important assistance of the dock hand. Diane is getting back her boat skills s she gets to use them every day.
After settling in, our good friends from Punta Gorda, Jack and Elise, strolled over from their boat to visit. It was a great time and then we set about with boat chores and preparing for a chauffeured vehicle to take us to get boat parts and food. Cocoa is a nice town, with mostly working folks (as opposed to the numerous retirees we see at home in Punta Gorda). We were pretty successful and after stowing our booty, we went aboard Jack and Elise's Hatteras for Happy Hour.
A short stroll took us to the cute downtown area (like a miniature version of Stuart) where we dined at Thai Thai and loved it. [Marinas, restaurants - what is happening to these people?!] On the way from their boat, a gust of wind carried Duane's SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Assoc.) hat off his head into the water and out of reach. I have lost my SSCA hat irretrievably twice in the past, so Diane and I just laughed and remarked that I just wasn't meant to have an SSCA hat. Jack said it might just wash ashore later, but I insisted we ignore it and go to eat. As Diane and I were relaxing in the cockpit several hours later with a nightcap, Jack sauntered up with my wet cap that he had retrieved from the shoreline. What a guy!
Tomorrow, we will stay here again to avoid having to anchor in an unfavorable spot in the strong forecasted winds. Then we expect to make a loooong (10 hour) run up to New Symrna Beach on Sunday. Talking to Jack, who has boated up and down this coast a fair bit, there are not that many good places for a slow boat to stop after a reasonable day's run, especially if you are trying to seek shelter from winds for an anchorage.
In that vein, our friends, John and Marilyn, are selling their beautiful sailboat to get a power cat (also quite beautiful) that will go over twice the distance in the same time as our boats. That will allow them to make, say, 50-60 mile runs between more desirable ports and then stay two days there, rather than what we are doing. Considering that this ICW cruise is almost exclusively motoring, their choice makes a lot of sense.
Thu 12 Apr 2012
Anchored off Melbourne, FL
Once again, it was a very restful night as the heat of the day gave way to pretty cool temperatures. Duane is learning to sleep in until about 0600 and Clyde seems resigned not to go topside until then.
We puttered around for a bit and then stopped at the fuel dock to fill our water tanks. So far, we are averaging less than 7 gals per day, which is twice as much as we used during our Bahamas cruise where water is not always easy to find and sometimes up to $0.50 per gal (at least in 2008)!
The cruise north was fine, with some interesting properties to view, and a fair amount of bird life, but for many miles the Indian River is very wide and you don't see much except the navigation aids, spoil islands adjacent to the channel, and other boaters. Unlike the forecast for mostly E winds, they were out of the NNE which meant we could not sail with them until the last half hour of the trip. At that time, they shifted more to the E, so we turned off the engine and purely sailed. It was great and much faster, too!
We anchored in the SE corner of the Melbourne Bridge after a 6 hour run. We can put up with many hardships (temporarily) if needed, but we both agree that 6 hours is a long enough day while underway. The wind should be from the E all night up to about 20 knots at times, so this is decently protected. We have taken bearings on landmarks to confirm that the anchor is holding well, and for the past hour it sure seems to be.
With the anchor secure, we decided to take the bikes ashore with the dinghy for the first time. It was a modest effort to get them out of the aft cabin, up the ladder, thru the cockpit past the wheel, then into the bobbing dinghy. That is, after lowering the dinghy from the davits. All told, it was probably over 15 minutes. The ride to shore was almost a half mile against a chop raised by the E winds we were moving against. It wound up better to get the dinghy on plane at higher speed and we stayed drier.
At the base of the bridge was a nice little park with a seawall sporting a wooden rail. It could only be to support visiting dinghies, so that is where we disembarked. It wasn't bad getting the bikes out of the dinghy and on land, and unfolding them literally takes 10 seconds once you know the routine.
We rode E and then S along some nice quiet roads. Defensive driving is important as we had a few more drivers fail to see us while they yakked on their cell phones at intersections. We stopped at a public beach access area and gazed upon the beautiful Atlantic for a few minutes. The rest of the ride was equally nice and we both remarked several times how much these bikes have changed our shoreside experience. Even if walking were not so painful for me, we could never have walked one-quarter that distance in that amount of time. While it is good exercise, it doesn't bother Duane at all to ride.
We have a treat in store for tomorrow. Diane just got an email this morning from friends in Punta Gorda who owns a place on Cocoa (W of Cocoa Beach) and they are there right now. We changed our plans from a longish run to Titusville and will make a much more pleasant 4 hour run to Cocoa and enjoy their company (plus the ability to walk easily to some stores, although I am sure they would drive us as needed).
Dinner was leftover crab cakes, sautéed snap peas and a little bit of mac n' cheese, and it tasted even better than the first night. It didn't' seem like we did a lot today, but we are both feeling tired. Diane got a snap shot of Clyde demonstrating how he spends most of his day.
Mike S, we often say that much (not all) of the food we prepare aboard is as good or better than most restaurants. Also, it helps that everything just seems to tatse better on a boat.
Faye, we are taking good care of Clyde, especially now that we know we can't trust him not to pull as stunt like he did.
Larry, I would be more concerned about a raptor that could snatch an animal off a deck than a snake or alligator. At least we could (theoretically) control when the cat wold be near those animals.
As I said, your comments are very welcome and helps to keep that sense of community we love. We are glad to have you cruising with us, but I noticed not one of you has polished any stainless or scrubbed the cockpit. Gotta pull your share of duty, ya' know! ;-)
Wed 11 Apr 2012
Mooring ball at Vero Beach Municipal Anchorage
It was another extremely comfortable night and the morning was cool with the promise of a warm afternoon. We slipped the mooring line at 0730 and motored around the point to head south on the St. Lucie River before we could turn east and then north where we began our journey northward in earnest. There are many gorgeous homes and properties along the St. Lucie River and we were bothered by few other vessels along the way.
The water was prettier than home, coming in from the Atlantic as it does. As expected, the winds were generally out of the NW which did not allow us to even motor-sail. I must admit that 3 separate times the wind seemed to shift enough that I could gain some benefit, so I unfurled the headsail and within minutes, the wind shifted back and I had to furl it again. I was a little miffed at myself for being fooled so easily, but I finally relented after the third time and we motored the entire way.
It was boring in the sense that you were traveling in a straight line for miles at a time, but easier to navigate that way and allowed me to steal half-minute slices of time to read a book. We passed under a number of bridges, but all but one were sufficiently high to allow us to pass unhindered.
We arrived at Vero Beach, took a mooring ball, and then got the dinghy ready to take to the marina office and register. From there, we took a home-lined canal off the E and then N that paralleled the ocean beach. We found a dock to exit the water, crossed A1A (coastal highway) and were at the beach for the first time this trip. The Atlantic was beautiful and even felt reasonably warm to the feet as we strolled. My leg pain was pretty bad, so I did not go far. Diane continued for a while and returned a bit later.
After getting back in the dinghy, we were not more than 10 feet from the dock at a fast idle speed when we hit something in the water and the dinghy lifted up and rolled to one side a slight bit. It was not a solid object, for we saw a disturbance in the water as soon as we collided. It must have been a manatee just below the surface. I am quite sure our gentle bump did no harm, but it sure was surprising.
We no sooner got back to Diva Di then we grabbed our stuff to go ashore and take a nice shower. Yes, we can shower on the boat, but it is not the same a good shoreside shower. We were getting hungry by then, so we prepared a feast: homemade crab cakes, macaroni with fresh made cheese sauce, and steamed snap peas with tomato wedges on the side. We do not exist on beans and weenies out here, that is for sure.
Tue 10 Apr 2012
Mooring ball at Sunset Bay Anchorage, Stuart, FL
[A note to those folks kind enough to post comments: I hope you won't be offended if I do not individually acknowledge every comment, but if you pose a question, I will surely try to answer. Thanks for following along; it helps us stay connected to our many friends.]
Ah, what a delightful sleep it was in the cool, gentle breeze. Duane slept in until 0600 and let Clyde roam the deck unsupervised while making coffee and tending to some details below. I decided to make a simple, but delicious bacon and egg sandwich for each of us and it was so satisfying that we skipped lunch.
We dinghied south a very short way to a creek that led into Shepherd Park, where there is a long seawall and multiple ladders and cleats to tie off for a short while. I was left in charge of Clyde on his leash/harness while Diane strolled the half mile to the local supermarket for some provisions. All was going well for quite a long time until he decided to jump off the boardwalk toward the grass along the seawall just a foot below us. My attempt to stop him merely removed his harness and then he was free to disobey at will.
I was wondering how this would all play out with retrieving the cat and Diane's reaction. As it turned out, over 90 minutes of alternating between coaxing and ignoring him did not work, so I elected to see if the local Animal Control had any suggestions. Within 15 minutes, a nice young woman arrived and helped us get Clyde out. It took a combined effort with boat hooks to corral him fore and aft and the young lady with a neck noose. He only fussed for 10 seconds while being dragged out by the neck, but calmed down immediately. As for Diane's reaction, it was very gratifying to see that it was all about solving the problem rather than getting upset that it happened or who was responsible.
Back at Diva Di, Clyde got a scrubbing of all 4 paws and then we intended to clean up at the nice shower facility ashore. When we got there at 1230, it was closed for another hour for cleaning. Diane elected not to wait so we paid our bill for 2 night's mooring ($32) and headed back to Diva Di where she showered in cold water.
The afternoon was all about decompressing from the drama of the morning. Before company arrived, Duane dinghied ashore to shower and it was, indeed, a nice shower facility. At 1730, David and Patty arrived and then Bob and Mary came a bit later. As expected, the conversations were interesting and varied. We said our goodbyes well over an hour later and set about warming the leftover lasagna and making some garlic bread. It was a lovely evening with perfect (for Duane) temperatures and breezes.
Today marked the first time that we used a TV aboard (yes, we have declined into decadence). It is an 18 inch flat screen that doesn't consume too much power and worked fine with a simple "rabbit ear" antenna. You only get the channels that are broadcast over the airwaves (not cable), but there are usually a few stations with some decent news or programming. Diane enjoys it more than Duane, as I am usually spending a little time with the blog.
Tomorrow we leave for Vero Beach and start north in earnest, while David, Patty, Bob, and Mary prepare to cross to the Abacos (northern Bahamas). We wish all of us a safe remainder to our cruises.