Painted sea turtle
Mike and Kathy
05/14/2008, Vero Beach, Florida
May 14...Vero Beach
We set out at about 10 am and headed on foot to PakMail to send some things out and then walked to the ocean. Nice waves rolling in, but not too rough. I took a picture of a painted sea turtle at Humiston Park. They have sea turtles painted here, much as the cats in Catskill, each of them are unique. We bought a newspaper and read it in the park and then boarded the bus there for our last trip to town.
We stopped at West Marine to purchase new nav lights for our dinghy. The last ones we bought did not last more than 3 months, and they are picky about these things in Florida. We also bought a new US flag, as flags flown daily do not last long here. Then we walked across the street to pick up a few things at the grocery store and got back on the bus to return to the marina.
We took care of the groceries, had tomatoes and cucumbers for lunch and packed up the laundry to take to shore. Today the laundry was towels, sheets, rugs and anything we've worn since Sunday. It is very easy to do laundry here-and not always easy other places.
We dinghied over to say good-bye to "Solitaire" for a while, as they are staying to look at real estate tomorrow and we are heading north. I'm sure we will run into them soon.
May 13...Vero Beach
The water stored in our jerry cans is RO water from Treasure Cay and smells.
This morning I used it to scrub the decks and topsides and removed at least the first layer of salt. It took most of the morning to really do a good job.
Next, I filtered ten gallons of diesel from our fuel cans to the main tank and took all empty jerry cans to shore to refill. Back at the boat I lashed on the fuel containers while the transferring the water to our tank. After one more trip ashore and 25 more gallons of water, we were full.
My next job was to change the oil so while the engine was running I got all the necessary items around and removed the mattress from our berth. The only way to get to our filter is a hatch below our bed. (Only on a boat . . . )
When I was ¾ finished, Nancy called to say that they were going to catch the 2pm bus for town so I ran Kathy in to shore to join them.
While transferring the used oil back into the new oil container from the pump, I noticed that there didn't seem to be enough used oil. Puzzled for a second, I read the gallon plastic container in which the oil was purchased to find that it held 5 quarts instead of four. I had filled the engine with what I thought was a gallon and then another quart so now I had to get the pump back out and suck 1 quart of new oil out of the crank case. I will read the label next time.
Kathy here- There was a nice fruit/vegetable stand near the bus transfer station and Nancy and I ran over to buy some tomatoes and a few other delectables, then ran back to get the #2 bus to Best Buy, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Target.
Later we joined a group of about 9 for dinner at the restaurant next to the marina. Kathy here, Mike did not get the hamburger, but got another fish taco. He may never have one this good again! I got the burger, and it is excellent!
May 12...Vero Beach
As some of you know, we plan to return to Michigan during August to visit family and friends. We also need to see our doctors and dentists at that time as well. One of my goals for today was to get those appointments scheduled, so I spent quite a bit of time on the phone this morning.
Then we caught the 10 am bus with Nancy and Jim to return a shirt and to have Nancy's computer checked out at Best Buy. Kathy found a place to get a hair cut and then we walked to Target for the return. We jumped back on a return bus and had lunch at Kelly's before picking up a few more groceries on our way back to the marina.
It was a productive shopping day. Nancy purchased a new computer, Jim found a wi-fi antenna in a little shop, Kathy has a much better hair-do that the one she's been living with for months and we all stocked up on groceries.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon (it was 90 again) reading as usual.
May 11...Vero Beach
Happy Mothers Day!
The morning was spent aboard reading and talking on the phone to the girls. Kathy couldn't get through to her mother but will try tomorrow. I defrosted the freezer and did a few boat projects while Kathy got the dirty laundry organized. From experience, we know that mid afternoon is the best time to wash clothes here at the marina.
I helped get the wash going and then hauled water until Kathy was finished. I'll need to make a few more trips before our tank is full.
Later, with "Solitaire" and "Veranda" we dinghied to a restaurant that is close to the marina and had great meal. Most of us had fish tacos....which consisted of a blackened filet of flounder served in a toasted tortilla with spicy guacamole. The hamburgers looked excellent as well, and if we stay here very long I'll go back for one. All the ladies were presented with a carnation in honor of the day.
On our way back everyone stopped at "Sapphire" for a reasonably good attempt at a game of "Catch Phrase."
May 10...Vero Beach
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOLLY!
After a good night's sleep we were feeling much more human and set out for some shopping. We meant to catch the 10 o'clock bus but had the times wrong and left the marina at 11 am. Our first stop was a pharmacy to pick up a prescription and then to the Target next across the street where we picked up a few things. On the way back to the marina we got off at the Publix store for some groceries. After shopping in the Bahamas for four months, we were on overload. There were so many choices and such good prices that it was had not to purchase more than we could carry.
There was to be get together of boaters at the marina and at 90 plus degrees, we were not going to be cooking on the boat so we bought a bunch of pre-cut fruit, a small seedless watermelon, and a casaba melon. Back at the boat we skewered the fruit and then stabbed the skewers into an empty half of the watermelon. As always there was enough good food at the party that there was no need for supper.
Farewell to the Bahamas
05/11/2008, Vero Beach, Florida
May 8th and 9th Allans Pensacola to Vero Beach.
Although Chris Parker could transmit at 6:30 am as usual, we were unable to receive, so Nancy called him for a forecast for our potential Golf stream crossing. Everything sounded fine with winds of 15 from the south and waves at 4 feet so "Sapphire" and "Solitaire" said good byes to our Madcap friends, weighed anchor and were headed for the states with an overnight at Great Sale Cay which was out in the middle of the Banks about 30 miles away.
The sailing was perfect with the wind just behind the beam at 10 to 15 knots giving us a speed of over 5 knots all day. We ran the motor to charge up the batteries for 2 hours at a point were our course was more down wind, but that was the only time all day that it was running.
It was so nice in fact, that we all decided that we really didn't need to stop at Great Sale for the night and kept going. Reached the edge of the banks at around 10 pm where the wind freshened a little. From the point here the Bahama Banks meet the Atlantic it is 64 miles to Fort Pierce.
While it was still had daylight I double reefed the main sail, ran a jackline and organized the boat for night sailing which basically means getting out our inflatable life vests, tethers, and headlamps.
The wind continued to pick up and at about midnight when the wind passed 20 knots we rolled up the jib and a little later when we were flying along at 8.2 knots on staysail, double reefed main and mizzen, we rolled up the staysail as well. At this point things were uncomfortable. The seas were up and the wind was occasionally hitting 30 knots. We were making good progress but taking seas on the beam which produced enough of a roll to put Kathy out of action. She has never chummed, but the side to side lurching as we drop off the back side of a wave is more that her system can handle.
We were in sight of "Solitaire" at all times and spoke to each other regularly on the radio which is comforting when times are trying. Anyway, at some point at around 2am (I was too busy to look at clocks), Jim called to say that we must be nearing the Gulf Stream because was having to make regular course corrections to keep the autopilot on track. A few minutes later, he called to say that he had no control and may have lost his rudder. Not Good. I started up the engine and made Kathy get out of bed to handle the radio while I began the process of turning to double back.
I had a terrible time controlling the boat. The wind and waves combined to take us in every direction but the one that I wanted. I could see "Solitaire" changing colors in the distance from red to green and back to red again as I slowly circled about 100 yards away. After a few minutes they seem to be on course so we managed to get to a position to starboard and paralleled their course slowly. Kathy spoke with Nancy and confirmed that they seemed to be ok, were back on course and were going to run at between 4.5 and 5 knots.
With that message Kathy went back below to lay down.
The rest of the night was more of the same. The main and mizzen were worked as hard as they could as shock absorbers and reduced our roll by at least half... but there was still enough to make movement onboard almost impossible. I spent the rest of the night tethered to the mizzen mast where I had enough of a leash to tuck myself behind the dodger avoiding most of the constant salt spray, but still was able to move aft to check the instruments and adjust the autopilot without disconnecting myself.
At 4am the wind began to slowly subside and by 5am were back down to about 20 knots sustained. When the sun came up things were almost pleasant. We were still rolling but only had about 3 hours to Fort Pierce.
When we were 3 miles off shore I called Customs to tell them of our arrival. On the other end of the line was a person ... obviously new to the job, and also very clearly of foreign decent, who was about as helpful as a sand burr in bare feet. He spoke very quietly and would have been difficult to understand in normal circumstances ... we were at sea with the engine running and the wind blowing. I started out be apologetic and with the excuse that I was having trouble hearing, but about 10 minutes into the interrogation, I shifted to "I don't understand you." At about that point I lost the connection. Having had zero sleep in the last 30 hours probably didn't help matters but I was pissed. I called back, spoke with a supervisor and was directed back to my favorite junior customs agent. Most of the questioning had been completed, we just had a few things to finish.
We finally got around to any and all illegal items we were attempting to smuggle back into our home and first of the list was fruits and vegetables. My response was that we had no fruit and the only vegetable was a Dole romaine heart in the refrigerator. At that, he had to take 10 minutes off to check with his supervisor and hit the bathroom before resuming the conversation saying that we had to bag up the romaine is a sealed container and report to the address that he was about to give me.
By that time I was getting used to his broken English so figuring out the address and phone number after only 4 attempts. He gave us our 13 or 15 digit clearance code and a parting remark - "You have four hours to appear."
End of phone call...
When we got in a little calmer water and I had quieted my diatribe on federal employees residing in foreign countries, Kathy called the number and spoke with the person in charge of agricultural imports to find that our romaine was not in fact one the banned items... but that we had to report anyway to the finish the immigration part of process.
Entering Fort Pierce was easy and we found an anchorage just off the ICW that was acceptable. We had to get the dinghy down and the motor lifted back on the dinghy before we were back in action. On our way out of the anchorage we saw "Another Adventure" who we had seen during the winter but never met. We stopped by for information and he was very helpful sending us to a restaurant that allowed patrons to park for free if they spent $12 or more. The dock master, at Harbor Town was also very nice and gave us the cab number. While we were waiting, a cab returned from customs with "Tell Tails" and another family who were both sputtering about the horrible way they had been treated there and offering their best wishes for our visit.
When our cab arrived we jumped in and were warned by the driver, who must have been poured in his seat a few years ago, that one of his tires was coming apart and not to be surprised if we didn't make it out to the airport where Customs was located.
Fortunately we made it, tire flapping all the way, and were dropped off outside the door while he somehow extricated himself to check the damage. We walked up to the Customs, door which was locked, and pushed the button for service. A very friendly man let us in, checked our passports and took our entrance number which he entered into a computer. He returned in a about a minute asking the whereabouts of our bag of romaine. Kathy explained that she had spoken with the person in charge of contraband agricultural products and was told that it wasn't necessary. The customs guy walked back to an office, to check out her story and was back momentarily to say thanks for stopping by and to have a nice day. We were there for 2 minutes max. and were treated very satisfactorily.
The taxi made it back to the Marina / Restaurant where we had lunch and returned to the boat. We weighed anchor and Kathy drove us the 12 miles up to Vero Beach while I worked on getting things back together (he was supposed to take a nap)....lines, sail covers and the like. Once on our mooring, while Kathy was talking to here mom, I went in to register at the marina office and to get a key to the showers. I returned and we both went in to take showers using as much water as we wanted. Kathy used her hair dryer for the first time in months. On the way back we stopped by "Solitaire" to say that we had to forgo the night's get-together on "Veranda" to get some much needed rest. We had a quick supper and I fell asleep on the floor in front of a fan while Kathy sat in the cockpit watching the sun set.... it had been a long two days.
05/11/2008, Allans-Pensacola Cay
May 7th...Allans Pensacola Cay
We sailed part of the way, but ended up motoring slowly the rest of the way. Allans Pensacola is a deserted cay where the U.S. had a missile tracking station during the cold war. There are supposed to be ruins and a nice beach to see, so after we got anchored and checked the anchors (Nancy dove on them), the crews of "Sapphire" and "Soitaire" headed out in our dinghies.
We found the remains of an old dock and saw "things" hanging from a tree. This usually means there if a trail there, and we were not disappointed. We followed the trail where a road used to be for about ½ mile to the other side of the island. We came upon a signing tree which is a tree where boaters have signed there name on all sorts of driftwood, old wine bottles, and other things that had drifted in from sea.
Nancy and I walked the beach looking for treasures while Mike and Jim walked the high water line looking for washed up junk and possible treasures. We found a few shells, Jim found one sea bean and we found some small sea beans in an odd place that must have been deposited by a hurricane. We also found some ruins and old wells. We did not drink the water.
We discussed leaving for the states tomorrow from Allans Pensacola, or possibly going to Great Sale Cay and leaving from there on the 9th. We would like to stay longer, but it doesn't look like we'll have the weather for a crossing for quite some time if we don't go now. "Madcap" finally arrived and they have decided they are not ready to go back and will be staying for a weather window in the next few weeks. We will be sad to leave them.