Slow and Steady? or Just Slow!
12 May 2010 | Vero Beach, FL
Beth / 80's cooler in evenings - mostly
The "S" word can be applied to both our sailing and my blogging lately ... not that we've been in much of a hurry this winter at all.
We came in to Vero Beach on Friday morning, thinking it would be for a day or two and we're still here.
Just as it has happened every other time, our leisurely pace has proven to be comfortable and enlightening. Yes, we are in the USA with all its busyness and opportunities, with its automobile-based patterns of movement, with stores and TV and Coast Guard and Sea Tow and other chatter on the VHF. But we are still on a boat, and still living a cruiser's life. We still read books rather than newspapers. We listen to birds and waves rather than TV or radio (admittedly, the no radio part is because ours doesn't work). We still meet people on the dock or in the boaters' lounge or when our dinghies cross paths rather than through planning or formal invitations. We watch dolphins play by the side of the boat as we sip our morning coffee and admire parrots in the trees. We are remembering again to relax and shrug off bureaucratic blundering.
I'll tell you first about the "bb". We thought we were being so smart last fall, by arranging our cruising permit (given by US Customs and Border Protection) so it would expire while we were out of the country. We had asked for a 6 month one that would expire automatically, but the very nice officer in Baltimore said she preferred to give us a 1 year one, and told us send it to her when we left the country and she would cancel it. Well, that sounded fine to us. When we left in January, we mailed it in. The trouble is that she didn't cancel it.
The permit runs until November 2, 2010 so we are fine to move about on it until then. The difficulty comes 15 days after that time when, as happened last trip, an officer might say, "Oh no, I can't give you a new permit because you are not just coming in from foreign." On the other hand, we may find an officer who has no problem with disregarding that requirement and we'll be fine. The nice but non-sailing officer at Ft. Pierce told us off-handedly, "It's no problem, just go over to the Bahamas one day and back the next and you'll be eligible for a permit." Right.
One would think they would be interested in a system that is clear, standard across the country, and requires a minimum of effort to enforce. They have so many complications and variations from region to region that it makes it very difficult for a cruiser to comply. At least this time all the folks we dealt with were pleasant and attempting to be helpful, and rather than informing us sternly that we were misinformed, this officer told us that we should be aware that not all offices interpret the "rules" in the same way. Right again.
One nice thing about USCBP is that checking in personally is very straightforward. Jim called them and gave our vessel number, passport numbers, address, date of departure etc. and got our confirmation number very quickly. No questions about how many bottles of alcohol or cartons of cigarettes or fruit or vegetables we had on board, or any of the minutiae that consume Canadian Customs and Immigration.
We dropped the anchor just off the Pelican Yacht Club in the first little bight off the south side of Ft. Pierce Inlet on Friday night. We came in the inlet at 10pm and didn't want to go searching around for deep water any further along. Since we planned to be in the area for a couple of days until the winds were better for a trip north, we headed up the ICW for the 15 miles to Vero Beach on Saturday morning.
Jim and Nancy (Solitaire) came in soon after us, and we were able to celebrate the safe arrival of both boats over champagne and pizza (a winning combination!) at their lovely condo that evening.
In the days since then, we've enjoyed lunch at Riverside Cafe near the marina in Vero (blackened scallops on caesar salad), a stellar lunch at Cobb's Landing in Fort Pierce (juicy grilled shrimp on spinach and goat cheese salad), Mother's Day happy hour chez Aadland with Nancy and Jim - also including Jay and Di (Far Niente) and Judy and Greg (My Destiny). We picked up a bagful of quality books at the Friends of the Library store ($1 apiece for hard cover and $.50 for paperback.) We bought and savoured strawberries and asparagus and plump shrimp and Ghirardelli chocolate and robust coffee at the Fresh Market. We've powerwalked the boardwalk and the beach, strolled the tree lined residential streets, and dinghied around the mooring field to see who's here.
We enjoyed meeting Ruth and Mark (Witchcraft) - a boat we'd seen in several Bahamian anchorages but never got to meet, and John and Jan (Solitude) and we chatted again with Chris and Frank (Melodeon). It was a joy to see Bruce (Zingara) again. In fact I had a blast one afternoon shopping for boats on the internet with him - boats for Bruce, not for us!! That guy is a real sailor - he used 5 gallons of fuel on his trip from Staniel Cay to Vero Beach - that's at least a couple of hundred miles!!
Oh - and how could I forget the showers? We've showered every single day - with lots of water! My shower on Saturday was the first one using more than a litre of water since Fresh Creek, Andros on Feb 14th!! Oh what luxury!
We'll be off in the morning - I think. The plan is to go down the ICW to Ft Pierce, out the inlet and then set our course for St Augustine. We think it will take 35 hours or so. We'll visit there for a day or two and move on to Fernandina Beach, where we are hauling out at Tiger Point Marine. Till then... Thanks for your comments, support and good wishes!