02/18/2008, 26 50.380N 80° 03.265W
I Googled my coordinates before I started writing this tonight to see just how accurate this thing is, and I have to tell you that I would bet, within 50 yards, it points nearly exactly to where I am anchored tonight. If you scroll down to the south, you will see an inlet from the ocean into the ICW. This is called the Lake Worth inlet, classified as a class A inlet meaning it is wide, little shoaling, and even a newbie like me can get in and out of it without a problem. I will travel out this inlet when I head south for my next stop which is Ft. Lauderdale, assuming the winds are favorable from the north and I can stay out of the Gulf Stream. If not, I will continue south in the ICW.
I moved today because I had basically seen what I wanted to see at Stuart and figured there will be time on the return trip north in the spring if so desired. I expected today's trip to take 5 hours, but it took 6 due to timing of the bridge openings. Mainly, I was too slow to catch the next bridge at the right time. For whatever reason, a couple of the bridge tenders had a wild hair of their respective butts and were real jerks to everyone who radioed them. Treated us all like are a bunch of novices and pains in their asses. I am pretty sure I am, but the other people sounded like they knew what they were doing, so I don't know what their problem was. About the 3rd time I got a smart ass retort from one of them, I was about to let loose on a torrent of something like, "You know, it is people like us that are the reason you have a job, so stick it up your red neck ass, Bubba!" Then it occurred to me that my navigational future was in their hands and if I wanted to get where I was going yet this month, I had better zip it, which I did. My, how I have grown. There was a time when I would have said it anyway just because it made me feel good for about 10 seconds and then suffered the consequences. Anyway, it was an otherwise beautiful day with less wildlife to be seen and MUCH more opulence in terms of wealth. I swear that these mansions are butted up next to each other and most have a yacht or king sized ocean going fishing boat. It was interesting watching these people preen for anyone who was boating by - pretty disgusting, actually. But in any event, it was interesting to see a world in which I am unfamiliar. Learning more things.
I am sending a couple of pictures today. One is of a barge that you might say is overloaded on one end - or is sinking. I think Bubba, the bridge tender's brother, owns this. The other is of some moss that grows in the trees down here that is fascinating. I think they call it Spanish moss. Somebody, please check me on this and let me know if I am correct, or not.
I plan to hang here a through Monday and then head south Tuesday.
02/15/2008, 27 09.206N 80 11.717W
As they say, those who aren't from South Dakota wish they were. Well, maybe not everyone says that, but I do in case anybody is listening, and it always gets a response. So today, I decided to get off Kristinly and explore a little so I hopped in the dinghy and took off up the St. Lucie River to Stuart. A quaint little town with some neat antique shops and numerous small art galleries. I like museums and found one about Stuart - it used to be the town's general store. Some very nice senior citizens operate this place and I think they love to meet new people and you could not get lost to be alone in there if you wanted to, because they'll find you and engage you in conversation. I wasn't trying to hide, so that was OK. In fact, I am really enjoying meeting locals in different places I go. I learn a lot from them.
Of course, one of the conversation starters they ask is, "Where are you from?" Whenever asked this question, I usually mention VT, but always like to tell people I was born in Iowa and grew up in South Dakota. Invariably, their response is something like, "I never met anyone from SD before!" It's like we are from Mars or something. Well, close but that's beside the point. Anyway, I am having this conversation with this delightful little lady and a woman across the room who is listening to this runs over to me and says, "Did you say you're from South Dakota? My husband is from South Dakota. I have to go get him!" To make a long story short, I met Duane from Groton, SD, and his life long friend Duane from Groton, SD. It was the Randy, Duane and Duane show, kind of like Larry, Darrel and Darrel from VT in the Bob Newhart Show. It turns out Duane has lived in FL since the 70's and Duane was in town visiting. Duane went to USD in the early 60's, and Duane now lives in Janesville, WI. We talked for about a half hour and now I have two new friends: Duane and Duane from SD. How funny is that? Oh - and I got my first taste of ice cream in a month at a little shop in town. That was soooooooo good!
I took a picture today of a guy cleaning the day's catch on a pier, and he had a few "friends" waiting for handouts. I asked him about it and he muttered something like, "Yeah, I wish the sons-of-bitches would leave me the hell alone." I couldn't help thinking about the day I saw the gull standing on the pelican's head looking for a free handout and figured the pelicans had learned the lesson well. Makes you wonder where on the food chain we are. These pelicans are everywhere ...
02/14/2008, 27 09.206N 80 11.717W
I moved Kristinly south today a little over 20 miles to get to the area of Stuart and Port St. Lucie. This is big time offshore fishing area and there are also supposed to be some very interesting sights. I expect to hang here through the weekend and then pull out Monday, unless this place either exceeds my expectations, or is a disappointment. In either case, the plan will change. I love it when I can do that!
I saw something neat today. It looked like an osprey (Jeff G. - are they typically found around here?), but whatever it was, it looked like an eagle who swooped down and caught a fish, flew up to the top if a piling, and proceeded to eat it in front of me. I tried to get a picture but was a bit too far away, so I watched him through the binoculars. Nature at her best - again!
02/13/2008, N27° 27.368’ W80° 18.366’
Other than the weather, there is not much to talk about from here, but I have already received voice mails and emails this morning wondering if the storms last night found me, so obviously the weather in Florida has made the national news. Before I forget, the lat/long coordinates today are slightly different from the last time I wrote. As forecasted, the wind shifted two nights ago and I was bounced around a little that night so moved closer to where Joe was originally anchored. Guess Joe knew what he was doing, huh? The best part about this anchorage is it is very close to where I can dinghy in to get to stores.
Back to the weather - LOTS of weather just to the south of us around West Palm Beach and Lake Worth, as well as other points further southwest. I woke up about 2300 to lightning and wind, turned on the TV to catch the weather, then booted up the PC for weather updates, and also the satellite weather gadget I have in the cockpit. All were announcing tornado warnings just to the south, with fast moving thunderstorms. Imagine that - they all get their data from the same place! It was about this time I was wondering just how protected everything really is on this boat in the event of a lightning strike. Found some good ideas on the Internet last night, but lots of conflicting opinions about what to do about things like grounding and such, which is pretty much what I found last summer when I was researching this. SOOOO it's not like there was a big break through in the last 9 months. I don't know what I was expecting when I was looking this up last night - just nervous and feeling a bit vulnerable, I guess. Some of you may not know this, but I love a good thunder and lightning show, but have this fear of being struck by lightning. I should be able to rationalize the odds of being struck and then get over it, but it haunts me sometimes. Anyway, I won't let that fear get in the way of doing this sailing thing. The rewards far outweigh that fear. The best piece of advice I received last night was actually kind of funny at first, but made sense the more I thought about it. I was talking to Joe on the radio and he said he heard that putting sensitive electronics in the oven may protect them in the event of a lightning strike. There is a scientific principal for this and he named it. If any of you have been to the Boston Science Museum and seen the large exhibit on lightning, they actual discuss this principal and show how it works. Anyway, that's the idea. I think I will prepare to do that the next time I am confronted by a storm like last night.
I am rambling here today, perhaps because I did not get a lot of sleep, but the bottom line is, all is well here. I am staying here one more night and will then move on to Port St. Lucie tomorrow. The forecast is for showers all day with a slight chance of Tstorms later, and rain tonight, but sunshine tomorrow and mostly that through the weekend.
Hope all is well for everyone. By the way, while you northerners haven't had tornadoes to be concerned with, I see many of you have had lots of snow and very cold weather. Hope you get dug out and stay warm!
02/10/2008, N27° 27.368’ W80° 18.366’
Moved south 12 miles to Ft. Pierce this morning. A good blow from the north made it a short trip. 15 - 25 kts had me cruising 6.5 - 7 kts with just the Genoa (head sail). I had planned to get together with Joe and Deb again as they came in from the outside from near Titusville early this morning, but they are anchored in an area that has lots of wind and current, and being the fair weather friend I am (not really!) I anchored in an area more protected a mile and a half away. It would be a wet dinghy ride over there so I did some more work on the boat instead. They are meeting with a friend of theirs which is why they are where they are. The wind is supposed to shift Monday night/Tuesday morning, so I will probably move over closer to them then. I plan to hang in this area for a couple of days and see the sights. Then I will move to the St. Lucie area. I have read about some neat things to see there.
Today's picture is a good example of what not to do when picking a spot to anchor that is shallow at high tide. I don't know if that is exactly what they did (they may have been blown in there, I suppose) but they are going to be looking for some help if the tide does not float them off.
02/08/2008, N27° 39.604’ W80° 22.314’
The theme today is BIRDS. Remember the movie? For a number of reasons, but perhaps most importantly, there is such an abundance of wildlife, particularly birds, and it is beautiful. They are everywhere, and there are so many different kinds. A birder's paradise, I should think. I particularly enjoy watching the egrets and herons hunting for fish in the shallows. They are stealthy, yet so quick. But the laugh of the day was the pelicans and the gulls. The gulls follow the pelicans around like flies, looking for scraps or fish the pelican misses. I laughed my ass off today when I saw a pelican floating with his beak half in the water, and a small gull was perched right on top of his head. I think the pelican was protecting what he had just caught and the gull literally had the pelican by the short hairs. I am laughing out loud now as I think of that image. In the end, the pelican won. Also, the fishermen are constantly pulling up traps marked by small buoys (which I have to watch out for so as not to get lines wrapped in the prop as these guys sometimes set their traps very close to the ICW marked channel) and flocks of pelicans and gulls will literally fly to follow them when the boat is going fast, and then float right next to the boat when the guys pull up the traps. I suppose they are throwing some things back they don't want, but the pelicans do! So one of today's pictures is of one of those moments.
Today was cooler with a fair amount of rain, but having travelled through the cold stuff up north, this was nothing. Strictly motored the first 1/3 of the day and then the wind picked up enough to motor sail. I was able to pick up from 1/2 to 1 kt of extra speed with the Genoa up making as much as 7 kts at times. Dick and Kay actually found me about 1100 and took some pictures as I sailed by them. We waved and talked on the phone - great fun. Travelled a total of about 55 miles in 10 hours. I am ready for a break.
The other thing that just amazes me is the wealth that must be down here. North of Vero Beach for miles are multimillion dollar homes stacked right next to each other. Unbelievable - there is hardly any shoreline down here that is not developed. So I included a picture of one of these houses. There are many like it just as nice, and nicer.
Lastly, DIRECTV has a blimp that I constantly find over my head, so you get a picture of that as well. I think this son-of-a-bitch is following me!
Time to go make some dinner. I think I will hang here through tomorrow night and then head south Sunday, but that is subject to change. I am in a marina tied up to a mooring ball. It's cheap and I don't need to worry about the anchor dragging in a big blow at night while I am sleeping. And besides which, there is no place around here to anchor!