My Last Stop Before Dry DockPerfect
First Light At Faber Cove AnchorageNice, but chilly
11/06/2008, Ft. Piere, Florida
I'm in this fully protected anchorage along the inland waterway so it was nearly smooth as glass last night and this morning. When I arrived I spent time on the computer studying boat storage options in the area and finding a rental car. There are basically two places I can store the sailboat without taking down the mast. There is the fancy Harbortown marina and the not so fancy Riverside marina. Harbortown has all sorts of rules and regulations and hoops to jump through before they will store the boat and naturally they are more expensive. Riverside has a do-it-yourself yard for pre-departure boat prep and they offer full service repairs and bottom painting and such as well. I think I'll take the everyman's yard. It turns out that after the fees for hauling, powerwashing, and blocking, their monthly rate is way less expensive than what I was thinking of paying in Daytona Beach when I almost got off the boat after the hurricane and less expensive than what I was paying in Oriental. Rob recommended coming here for storage and he was right about the price. And Ft. Pierce has a class A inlet so it is easy to depart from here to west end, a mere 80some miles. The choices in car rental were similarly limited. All the major car rental companies now have hubs at the New Bern, North Carolina airport but only Hertz was willing to rent a car from here to there. I have it reserved. The largest I could get was a small suv (like a Rav-4 or Tucson). I'm trying to time things out so I can pick-up the car at about noon, pack that afternoon, stay on the boat that night with the dogs, haul the boat first thing in the morning, close it up, and head off for a full day of traveling, stay at a motel (with the dogs), travel another full day to Oriental, stay on the motorhome with the dogs, drive back the next morning to New Bern (with the dogs left on the motorhome), drop off the car, and get a taxi back to Oriental. If I can do the entire operation in three 24 hour days, it saves me like $100 bucks. Not that $100 more matters that much after all it took to get me this far, but I like to create little adventures for myself and... well you know.
Crossing Paths AgainNice
11/06/2008, Near Ft. Pierce, Florida
I spent a second day on the ICW yesterday cruising 20 some miles from Peck Lake to my present anchorage in Faber Cove at Ft. Pierce. The current was with me pretty much the whole way for my last day of cruising on this trip. It was sunny and nice outside with a fresh north breeze against me the whole time just to complete the experience. A few miles from my destination I crossed paths with the Canadian folks I encountered during my first few miles on the ICW two Octobers ago. When last we met while anchored on a wall in Virginia they invited me onto their boat for lunch and we spent time together later that evening on my boat. There is a picture of them in the blog aboard Tropical Dreamer. They invited me once again to follow them back to the Bahamas but again I declined. Even through I'm once again getting off the cruising path while the rest of the cruisers head south along the water road to paradise, I'm content with what I've done so far and ready to embark on new adventures, whatever they may be. As I turned off the ICW towards last night's anchorage I saw dolphins ahead, always a good sign.
Peck Lake Landing (Please Don't Tell The Authorities)Sunny but increasing wind
It got down to 60 degrees last night. I almost had to put on a second blanket. When I awoke the sun was up and there was dew all over the outside of the boat. I turned on National Public Radio to hear about President Obama's victory. We are definitely turning a new leaf and I look forward to what the change will bring to the US and the world. There are a lot more boats traversing the waterway than when I departed four months ago. Lots more sailboats especially. Many are probably headed for the Bahamas or the Keys or Dry Tortugas or points further south. I don't envy them. I've had my cruise for now and I'm quite content about what I've done and experienced. My mom asked me why I'm not taking the boat back up to Oriental, where the motorhome is located. I explained that I didn't want to motor all the way back up there some 750-800 miles (three weeks of cruising hard every day at least) and that it was going to get colder and colder and that would become very uncomfortable. The north winds in central Florida are chilly enough to put on a long sleeved shirt or two during the day. But I think the main reason is that I want to keep it in southern, Florida. That way it's only a day or two of ICW cruising to the easiest departure point to the northern, Bahamas and a cruise down to the Keys or points further south is readily available. This boat is really perfect for Bahamas cruising, with its relatively shallow draft and combination of nimbleness and toughness. It's also relatively cheap and easy to maintain. Time will tell, but Tropical Dreamer is not going back north just yet, if ever.
Back To The ICWClear and Windy
11/04/2008, Peck Lake, Central Florida
The picture shows the last bridge before Lake Worth inlet and the first bridge that I went through to get back to the ICW today. I departed this morning from the Rivera City Marina to my present location, Peck Lake. I stopped at Peck Lake prior to picking up my cousin, which was just before the departure for the Bahamas almost two months ago. Unlike the first time I was here, there are several boats anchored tonight. Unlike my first visit, there are north winds gusting over 20 mph tonight. In the Bahamas that would be uncomfortable but in the intercoastal waterway (or the inland waterway as the internationals call it) it is no problem. Prior to my present adventure I would have been nervous in these conditions. Now it is worry free. I know the anchor will hold just fine and the motion of the boat tonight will be rather minimal in spite of the winds. Likely it will calm overnight and pick up again over the day. I need to take the dingy off of the bow and put it into the water so I can bring the dogs to shore. I may get to doing that tonight or I may do it tomorrow morning. The dogs will be ok either way. It's actually nice to be back in the ICW and the relatively calm, protected water, but it's not as adventurous as the open ocean. That's ok tonight. It's like the Bahamas adventure is just a memory and the ICW experience I had for over two months is back on. I'm heading past Port St. Lucie to Ft. Pierce to find a reasonable place to store the sailboat and to find a rental van to take to North Carolina. Of course, the winds were from the north all day. That mean they were against me. When I came this way last they were from the south, also against me. Fortunately the universal diesel has worked like a champ to get us this far. The sun sets earlier these days due to mother nature and the changing around of the time by society a few days ago. It is almost dark now. Three months ago there was still a few hours of light at this time of day. No matter, I can dingy to shore in the middle of the night if need be based on what I've experienced in the last few months. By this time tomorrow I will be in Ft. Pierce and looking for a place to store the sailboat. Just like this was my last night of remote anchorage on the ICW before arriving in the Palm Beach area it is my last remote anchorage before arriving in the area where I will store the boat until the next sailing adventure. Thanks for the kind and supportive comments. It means so much.
The Crossing Back To FloridaGood
11/04/2008, Somewhere in the Gulf Stream
We left at 11:00 p.m. and headed out as a three boat group into the darkness. One of the boats immediately went his separate way and Rob and I continued on as buddy boats. After about 45 minutes Rob's little engine needed refueling and he decided that he had enough wind to just sail. I tried turning off my engine and sure enough so did I. Sailing out to sea in the pitch darkness with only the stars providing light - it was amazing. We continued that way for several hours as the night turned into early morning. Rob's engine wouldn't start again and he wound up sailing the entire way back. About 2/3 of the way he decided to divert to West Palm and I followed for safety. I sailed and motorsailed, the light came up, and by mid-morning I could see the buildings of West Palm. It was a lumpy ride as you can see, but nothing dangerous. The boat handled it fine. Jake and Anne did well and so did I. I got stopped and boarded by the police just as I entered the inlet, but nothing came of it. Rob's girlfriend came last night and we all went to their hotel to shower and clean up and then Rob took me out to dinner for Mexican food as thanks for sticking by him during the crossing. Fell immediately to sleep when I returned to the boat and now I am rested and ready to clear customs and immigration this morning and then to work my way to storing the boat and getting us a rental van to travel to North Carolina and the Rebounder. Then its another cross-country trip to Tucson, perhaps stopping in Omaha along the way to visit family. Lots still to do but at least the hard part should be over. I actually enjoyed the crossing and wouldn't mind longer ocean sailing trips in the future.
Shore ExcursionKeith, a bit overcast and humid, but nice overall
11/02/2008, Lucian National Park
Jake, Anne, and I were invited to explore Grand Bahama island with Aiden and his parents in their rental car and we gladly accepted. We drove through West End Settlement, Through the "Town" of 8 Mile Rock, through Freeport, down the road to the Lucian National Park (don't know if I'm calling it by the right name). It was a very pleasant outing. There are underwater caves and burial grounds along the park trails that were quite beautiful. We hung out at their beautiful beach with its sand bar 50 feet off shore and took the forbidden passageway back to the rental car. The dogs had a blast and so did I. What a nice family. Rob has just come to the boat and we're talking about departing tonight since a weather window has opened up this evening.
NeighborsKeith, nice again
11/02/2008, West End, Grand Bahama
We've got another beautiful day here on the West End of Grand Bahama island. The kind of day that makes me wonder why I didn't just depart last night in spite of the gusting winds and higher than predicted seas. As a result of the winds last night, the seas are kicked up to 6 feet so tonight's window is probably scrapped as well. It is definitely trending to calmer this week but the next really sweet spot isn't until Friday, another five days off. I expect it will become safe to cross in the next several days and will go when a good window opens again. In the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy. Unlike my neighborhood in Tucson, everyone gets to know everyone at the marina. That's the infamous Rob across from me waiting for his window to cross in his little two masted canoe boat and a new arrival, Aiden, who is here with his parents vacationing at the resort. He has befriended Jake and Anne, as you can see. I got to know the family when I helped them to take over sailing the Hobie yesterday afternoon. The conditions were perfect and they did great without any trouble at all.
Departure Delayed Another DayIncreasing wind
11/01/2008, West End, Grand Bahama
It is 9:00 p.m. and the wind has picked up to around 20 knots per hour. A small craft advisory has been issued for ports north of West Palm. That pretty much scraps tonight's departure. The weather forecast for tomorrow night (Sunday night) is more favorable in terms of wind speed and wave height, but not wind direction. Tonight would be better conditions for sailing across, but it would be rather aggressive and could get rough across the gulf stream since there the wind has a north element. No, I think I'll wait until tomorrow night to depart. No use taking chances with just myself and the dogs. We'll survive in paradise for one more day.
The Afternoon Before The Crossing HomeKeith, Perfect
11/01/2008, West End, Grand Bahama
It's a little after 5:00 p.m. I am planning on heading out across the gulf stream after midnight tonight. Today was a beautiful day. Makes me want to stay the in Bahamas and wait for the rest of the sailors to come, but this trip is over and it is time to depart for home. There will be other cruising adventures, maybe even greater than this one. Rob helped me to put the dingy on the foredeck. I've started to secure it but it needs a little more work. Boat is ready for the crossing as far as I can tell. There are a number of things left to do, but nothing that monumental. I spend the afternoon at the straw bar listening to the live music and enjoying a late lunch. Managed to get in some sailing on one of the resort sailboats this afternoon. It verified to me that we are in for some serious sailing on the way back to the US. I've got 3/4 of a tank of gas and I anticipate that will be way more than enough since we will be sailing back to the US tonight whether or not the motor is on. Going to try and get some shut eye in a little bit since I'll be up shortly after midnight. This Bahamas adventure is coming to a close, but hopefully it won't be too long before we are back, whoever we turns out to be.
Singer Family Adventures
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