People and Places
03 December 2007 | Fort Pierce, FL
Beth - in T-shirt and shorts
I've had a week of amazing "people" experiences - some on my way back to rejoin the Madcap journey, and some along with Jim after we headed south again together.
On Wednesday, I flew to back to Jacksonville - no delays or other complications - yeah. Our friends, Steve and Sandi, picked me up at the airport and took me to their home in Fernandina Beach. As you will know from Jim's posting, he and several other friends enjoyed their hospitality over Thanksgiving, and it was my good fortune to spend a couple of days with them. Friends of theirs were traveling down Daytona way on Friday so I could get a lift with them - it looked to me like a perfect sequence of events, and indeed, this was one of those times where "going with the flow" really worked.
Sandi and Steve and I ate and drank, talked and walked, and had a very good time getting to know each other better as they introduced me to Amelia Island and shared their extensive knowledge about cruising and the Bahamas. Our dinner conversations made me think, and our kitchen conversations made me dream. They are among the rare people who exhibit genuine and expansive warmth - going right back to the day we first met them in Baddeck, NS. I felt immediately at home in their lovely house, was able to walk to the beach where the waves were rolling in, and even borrowed some capris from Sandi to feel a little more southern than my northern travel wardrobe allowed. I really do like Amelia Island and its residents. Jim and I will both come back here for a visit in 2008, and we eagerly anticipate meeting up with Sandi and Steve in the Abacos in another month or two.
Meanwhile - back on the boat (on Thursday)- Jim had one of those horrible, terrible, very bad days. Apparently he used to ponder the question of whether he'd rather go aground or have sewage trouble.... having done both on the same day, he can now tell you - going aground is better! He woke up to a horrible smell that he tracked to about 4 inches of sewage in the bilge. Because he was on a schedule with Strathspey, he had to leave that alone till he stopped for the evening. It was while he was headed into an anchorage that he ran into a shallow bit and had his second bad experience of the day. Unfortunately for him, he was well and truly stuck and had to get Towboat US to come and haul him off. Thank goodness for that insurance we bought! Once afloat again, he followed a different path into the anchorage off Daytona (one mentioned in Skipper Bob but without enough detail) dropped the hook... and tackled the sewage problem. He cleaned it up as best he could, moved into the Halifax harbour Marina the next day and sought some extra help in problem solving. It turned out that the lid of the holding tank was not properly sealed. It is now well sealed - but we think there is still a problem with the vent. That will have to wait another day or two for a fix but everything is all cleaned up and disinfected and functional.
(A quick note on Skipper Bob: The book on ICW anchorages had been mentioned to us many times as THE reference book but we have not found that to be the case. It is important to check on the web for updates, check to see which boats have contributed the material - some may have more shallow drafts - and check other books to see if they mention the same anchorages. This one was not mentioned in any other books. We have found that the Dozier's Waterway Guide has excellent information, and we really like Managing the Waterway by Mark and Diana Doyle. The Skipper Bob business has recently been purchased by Dozier so perhaps future versions of the books will be more accurate.)
Jim earned a whole pile of brownie points for taking care of all that on his own while telling me there was no rush to hurry back. Maybe he was being kind and considerate... maybe he felt he could do without the eeeyouuu's and yech's I would have contributed to the situation.
While he was doing all the clean up, I was continuing my "meeting fascinating people" journey. We went to pick up come charts from Steve and Sandi's boat, Princess, ran into a couple working on El Rio and discovered that Bev grew up about ¼ mile down the road from my home in West Amherst, and then lived right across the street from Jim's family when he was younger. I passed her husband, Jean's, teasing test about the place they live now - Tidnish, NS. He tried to convince me that this place - along the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia - is Tignish, but when I refused to buy it and agreed to place big bucks on the spelling with a "d" he laughed and agreed that I really did know the place. How amazing it is to find this kind of connection by chance in a Florida boatyard. They are headed for the Bahamas as well so I know we'll have some good conversations when we meet again.
Dick and Tina, the friends I mentioned earlier, were driving to Orlando and had offered to take this guest of Sandi and Steve's to Daytona. We got along famously from the minute Sandi took me over to their house on Thursday for an introduction, to the time they dropped me off at Halifax Harbour Marina. It turned out that Tina and I have much in common - she is a Healing Touch Instructor and Practitioner, I have taken several of those courses and use the energy techniques in my own practice. We formed a quick and enthusiastic bond, and hardly stopped talking the whole way down. Dick's warm personality shone through every thing he said and every move he made, and I know we will be seeing more of these lovely people too.
Once the Madcap crew connected again, we headed out on an uneventful short hop to New Smyrna for the night. On Saturday, we continued our way along the ICW to Cocoa. The bridge openings were timed perfectly, the navigation was straightforward - although we needed to be attentive. Once anchored, we dinghied ashore to have a look for some groceries. No luck there, but we visited a little gourmet shop to pick up a few morsels. It was odd that no one we asked seemed to know much about food purchasing here. There was a big craft sale on - maybe the "askees" all lived elsewhere. In response to our question, one young man said he just moved there a month ago; I clamped my tongue shut on the words, "And you haven't needed to buy groceries yet??"
We had another great "people experience" here though. Some time ago, I received an email from Steve and JoLinn of "High Life" who have been following our trip on the website. They keep their boat in Rochester NY and are planning a trip down the St. Lawrence one day. In keeping with the excellent timing we have been enjoying, they were visiting their son and his fiancée in Orlando and drove over to meet us. What fun it was to pile into their van and go over to Cape Canaveral to Fish Lips for dinner. We ate delicious and fresh seafood and reminisced about sailing in Lake Ontario and dreamed along with them of the bigger trip ahead.
Next night was a bit of a different anchorage. We had planned to meet our friend, Chris, (from Calgary) who was visiting his mother (in Palm Bay) at Captain Hiram's along the ICW. It was all so simple until we checked on depths. The chart didn't look good so Jim called the marina and sure enough - it was a nogo zone for us. One of our books mentioned an anchorage just south of the Wabasso bridge just a few more miles down the way, so we crept out of the channel there, circled around a bit till we found a spot that seemed safe and deep, and dropped the anchor. We dinghied ashore, walked down a little road and were picked up a few minutes later by Chris and Jocelyn. Captain Hiram's was a great place to visit - open-air bar with good food, tropical drinks and loud music - just the perfect thing for a December evening. It was marvelous to connect again with Chris (too bad Donna was back in -20 degree Calgary weather!) and to meet Jocelyn.
On Monday, we continued on. We passed by large and expensive houses lining the banks of the ICW. Most have elaborate docks with powerboats hoisted up out of the water. Some are quite lovely - some are just big. We also passed mangrove islands (Jim discovered that the sulphury smell in the air in some of the places we've passed is from the red mangrove) that are home to many birds. We spied ibis with their white feathers and long bills, many herons standing motionless along the water's edge, ospreys perched in trees or swooping over the water, black (or were they turkey?) vultures hunched over in trees, pelicans both brown and white. Dolphins surfaced and dove again and again as they traveled beside us. I can never get over the sheer joy of seeing these creatures. At one moment, I had just been watching a couple of them not two feet away from the side of the boat. I looked up to see four white pelicans with their angular wings and pouchy beaks flying across the blue, blue sky. What a treat.
After a gentle day of easy cruising down the Indian River, our anchorage on Monday night was off G9 by Causeway Island, south of the Fort Pierce bridges. Fort Pierce is a bit of a disappointment. It would be a good place to leave from to head out to the Bahamas, but it sure isn't a good place to try provisioning from an anchorage. We didn't find a dinghy dock anywhere we looked, although we knew there must be one. We pulled into Harbourtown Marina for fuel and a pump out and were not impressed. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The fellow who eventually took our lines was not at all helpful and moved at a snail's pace. Our depth sounder was registering less than a foot below the keel as we tried to find our way to the fuel dock that was not well marked, and had no one in sight to help out. We heard from other cruisers that they had a bad experience there too - I wonder if their rude encounter was with the same passive aggressive person with whom we dealt.
So, the provisioning will get done in Lake Worth. In the meantime, Jim changed the oil, changed the filter on our water filtering system, and entered the waypoints for our crossing to the Abacos (Bahamas) into the chart plotter. I tried to get caught up on this writing, and had some very good Skype conversations with folks back in Canada. It was sunny, breezy and lovely, and we were able to eat in the cockpit as we thought fondly of family and friends back in snowstorm land. Oops - sorry. I've probably invited a mass throwing of snowballs in this direction!!