01/18/2011, Stuart, FL
Today my Uncle Al and Aunt Fran drove over to see us. It's almost a three-hour drive from their place to Stuart. I had mentioned taking Fuzzy to the vet yesterday, and Al said they had a little dog, too. I suggested they bring him along if they wanted and they did. Al called when they got to the marina and Bud, Fuzzy and I dinghied over.
We sat at the marina and talked for a bit and then we walked back down the riverwalk to the Pelican Grill for lunch. We took both dogs and it worked out fine. We were pointing out the lift bridges, the railroad bridge and the highway bridge right next to it. The railroad bridge is normally lifted for boat traffic. It's automatic and only closes when a train goes by. I told them in the time we'd been there trains had only come by at night. A few minutes later I noticed the railroad bridge closing. We all watched the bridge close; soon we heard the train coming. It was the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus train! I took a picture of it and put it in the gallery.
After lunch we walked back to the marina. We offered them a dinghy ride out to the boat, but since we wanted to fuel up and pump out the holding tanks, we said if they wanted we'd bring the boat over to the gas dock and they could board it there to see it. They both really wanted to see the boat (and you can barely see the mast from the marina) and I think if we hadn't offered to bring it to the dock they might have ventured out in the dinghy, but they opted to board from the dock.
It only took us a few minutes to go back out, drop our mooring and bring the boat over to the fuel dock. Uncle Al, Aunt Fran and Sammy all came aboard. They came down in the cabin for the tour. By then it was almost 4 o'clock and they still had that three-hour drive home. I took the photo of Fran and Al in the cockpit. Al is holding Sammy, but they are in the shade and Sammy is black so it's hard to see him. I took one last photo of Uncle Al and Aunt Fran on the dock and they had to go.
Bud and I finished pumping out and filling the water tanks and then went back and grabbed our mooring ball again. A nice day and the first visit from family since we left home.
01/18/2011, Stuart, FL
It was supposed to rain today and Bud wanted to get groceries. He decided to go early and Fuzzy and I stayed behind on the boat. He was back by 8:30 and by then Fuzzy and I had everything ready to jump in the dinghy and go. We brought the groceries on board and Bud put away the things that went in the freezer and refrigerator while I loaded the dinghy for the next trip.
Fuzzy was relieved to finally get ashore. I took a shower while Bud kept Fuzzy and then Bud returned to the boat while I took Fuzzy to his vet appointment. It still hadn't rained, but looked like it would at any minute. I decided not to take a bike because the ones at the marina had no fenders and if I rode one in the rain I knew I'd get a stripe of water up my back from the back tire. I did take the front pack to carry Fuzzy in case it started raining. I didn't want him to be soaked for his appointment. It wasn't as far to the vet as it looked on the map, an easy walk. Fuzzy got his papers filled out for the Bahamas. They decided not to put an identification chip under his skin because he is going on 15 and already has a tattoo in his ear. The chip goes in with a big needle, and the vet didn't think it was necessary to put Fuzzy through that. It isn't actually listed with the requirements for a pet to visit the Bahamas, but they do ask for the chip number on one paper. Instead the vet filled in the information of the tattoo. Fuzzy dodged a bullet there.
I noticed how much this feels like Florida, now. Just walking around felt so familiar from when I lived here almost 40 years ago. It was warm and muggy. The grass is coarse and there are all kinds of strange bushes. There are birds everywhere. I took this picture of four birds pecking like chickens in someone's front lawn. I think they were wild birds, but they just kept pecking away as I struggled to get their picture (with stuff in my hands and Fuzzy on the leash).
When we got back to the marina I tried our new communication method. I had the hand held VHF and called Bud on board. We had specified we'd use channel 72, so he had the radio on that channel on the boat. "Earendil, Earendil, Earendil, this is T/T Earendil, come in please, over." (T/T Earendil specifies the dinghy; I don't know why I didn't just say Jill, except I've always used VHF radios for calling from boat to boat or boat to marina, and I couldn't say it was Earendil calling Earendil.) I felt a bit conspicuous calling like that in front of the marina, but it worked. Bud answered and came and got me with the dinghy. It still hadn't rained.
In the afternoon Bud took a nap, Fuzzy was napping in his bed and I went up in the cockpit and watched the wind and clouds and read my book. Finally, at about three o'clock it started to rain. We had a tornado warning in the area, but it never really got bad here.
After supper when we went to dinghy back to shore, one side of the dinghy was partially deflated. We were worried that the dinghy was defective. We pumped it up and went to shore. It's 1 AM (I fell asleep in the salon, again) and I just went out to check on it. It's still fine, so maybe we just didn't get a valve tight when we added air yesterday. Who knows, we'll watch it and see. It seems there's always something.
01/16/2011, Stuart, FL
I ran a few errands today. Running errands when you live on a boat is not like running errands from a land based home. The first thing I had to do was get from the boat to shore. Since Bud and Fuzzy were staying aboard, that meant my first solo in the dinghy. Oh great, and I got to go to the crowded dock. Luckily there was a pretty big empty space along the inside of the dock and I putted around the end of the dock, along the empty space, grabbed the dock and flipped the engine into neutral like I knew what I was doing.
Next I had to check out a bike. The marina had bikes you can borrow for free, so that seemed easier than hauling one of ours ashore. Off I went. I needed to go to the hardware store, the drug store, and, of course, West Marine. The drug store would fill Bud's prescription, but it would take a while. Happily they were just a block from West Marine, so I said I'd go there and stop back for the prescription. Simple enough, except that one of the things we wanted from West Marine (besides the correct rearming kit for my PFD) was a cart to haul groceries, etc. back to the boat. They no longer carried a cart with big wheels, but they had a hand truck and a collapsible crate that could be bungeed to it, so I got those.
Now I had to figure out how to carry them back on the bike. I asked for a piece of rope to tie them together and they gave me about 6 feet. I put my bag in the basket and tied the crate and hand truck on top of it. It was a bit wobbly, but I used the bike cable to hold it a bit better. Once I got back to the drug store, I managed to get part of the cable around a post to lock the whole thing up. I was worried about my things being stolen, but actually it looked like the set up of a homeless person, and probably too pathetic for anyone to bother. Prescription filled I came out and reloaded and retied everything. This time I got it more secure and better balanced, which was good because I realized I'd forgotten to get a circuit breaker we needed at West Marine. So back I went.
I finally checked the bike back in at 11:55. I'd taken it at 9:16 and gone to three stores within about 2-and-a-half miles of the marina. And I still had to take all the stuff to the dinghy and get it loaded. Then I had to get the dinghy out of there. The dock was now crowded, really crowded. I had to kneel in the bow and drag the dinghy out past the others until I got to the end and had enough space to actually move with the engine. I made it without mishap and soon was back aboard.
Still, I probably had the better part of it today. While I was gone Bud got to rebuild the other toilet. This one needed a shaft replaced to stop a leak. He was just finishing up when I got back. After he was done we started up the generator and turned on the water heater. Bud took a shower and I did up a day and a half's worth of dishes.
We spent the afternoon sitting out in the cockpit trimming poor Fuzzy again. We need to trim him a lot because it's hard to get enough off. We're slow and he runs out of patience. This time after a lot of scissor trimming we actually used the clippers and took him down to less than an inch all over. We are hopeful we'll be in warm weather now. While we were working on Fuzzy one of our fellow mooring field residents stopped by in his dinghy. He also has a Norseman 447. It's the first person we've met with one. We had a nice talk, him standing in his dinghy hanging on to our gunnel and us in the cockpit. We invited him aboard, but he had to run (so to speak). We promised to get together before we left Stuart to exchange information and tour each others boats.
We ended up eating supper at the little café in the photo. They let Fuzzy sit with us outside. It's just under the new high bridge for US 1 that runs right by the Marina. Like many of these bridges we've seen in Florida, this one has a fishing pier built underneath it. That connects to the riverwalk and that connects to the café. I put a picture of the pier in the gallery. It was starting to get a little cool while we ate, but all in all, it's been lovely.
01/15/2011, Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage
We arrived at Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage at about 2 PM today. We didn't leave Vero Beach until 7:30 because we waited until almost sunrise to take Fuzzy ashore in the dinghy, as we have no navigation lights for the dinghy yet. Once back on board leaving was pretty quick. No power to disconnect, no dock lines to release and no worrying about getting away from the dock. We did have to take the gas can off the dinghy and tip the outboard up. Then we moved it to tow from the stern, Bud fired up the engine on Earendil, and I uncleated and dropped the mooring pendant.
We weren't too worried about the time as this was the shortest leg from St. Augustine to Stuart. We did bump the bottom twice today, after I made the comment yesterday that the ICW hadn't given us any problems in Florida. Just as we were nearing the St. Lucie Inlet we passed a Coast Guard barge putting up a new day mark. Not long after we went by them, they finished and started to come our way. Bud was keeping to the starboard side of the channel to let them pass to port. He was still 30 feet inside the channel when we bumped the bottom for the first time. It made Bud very nervous, but the Coast Guard barge passed us safely.
Then we made the turn from the ICW to the St. Lucie River to come up to Stuart. The information I had said to keep to the south side of the channel from Red 4 to Red 6 (markers). We were just passing Red 2 and going slowly to allow some boats to pass so Bud could move further out into the channel before Red 4 when we bumped again. This time it was more worrisome to me, we were going slowly and bumped at least twice; I was afraid we might get stuck. But we didn't and had no more trouble. After the inlet there seemed to be no more shoaling on the 7 or so miles of the St. Lucie we traversed.
This marina is very nice. We are again at a mooring ball, it was warm enough today that I was in short sleeves a couple of times. It's a big marina with a lot of mooring balls and a crowded dinghy dock. I guess we can put up with that kind of traffic jam. The photo above is of the marina taken from the sidewalk of the bascule bridge we came under on our way in. I put a photo of the mooring field from our place in it and one of the traffic at the dinghy dock in the gallery.
We'll be here until a package we ordered arrives. It is due in on Tuesday afternoon. We also have that vet appointment for Fuzzy on Monday, and some shopping to do (we need a light for the dinghy, for one thing). We'll have a taste of the life to come, commuting from boat to shore in the dinghy. It should be interesting.
01/14/2011, Vero Beach, Florida
We woke up early as usual. We got ready and left as soon as it was light; the days are getting longer here, we were off the dock just before 7 AM and it was already light enough to see. We had a pretty uneventful run. The ICW here is reasonably well maintained so there were no shallow areas.
Towards the end of the day we came through what must be the beginning, or an outlier, of the gold coast, as the waterway was lined with huge, beautiful homes. We got to Vero Beach at about 3:30 and decided it was warm enough to moor out on the water. This was the first time we've ever used a mooring ball. Aside from a tense couple of minutes waiting for the marina to get back to us on the radio and then finding the correct ball, it went smoothly. I was able to snag their pendant line with a boathook and cleat it on our bow and the boat seems to be sitting happily.
We deployed the ladder, set up the dinghy with gas and lifejackets (Fuzzy got to wear his, he was so happy) loaded ourselves in it and off we went. It was the first time Fuzzy had been in the dinghy, the first time I'd been in it with an engine, and the first time more than one person had been in it. No problems. (Well, one little problem, the self-stick numbers we bought at West Marine are falling off; we're going to have to get stencils and paint.)
We hung around the marina office for a while waiting for the folks to register us (the mooring ball cost just under $15, and includes use of the dinghy dock, bathrooms and laundry). While we were waiting a number of people walked by in shorts and t-shirts. I still had on a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and my foul weather jacket. I was a little too warm; it felt great!
After Fuzzy walked and we registered we motored back to Earendil. Bud made me take us back so I'd learn to use the dinghy. I made him take the picture of Earendil at her mooring. We both did a pretty good job, but I had trouble turning the outboard sharply without also turning the throttle, so I was a little jerky.
I've added a few more photos to the gallery, including one of the little houses we saw and me at the helm of the dink.
01/13/2011, Merritt Island, FL
We came to our senses this morning. It was windier and colder than yesterday. Our next stop with an agenda is Stuart. We are going to try out the mooring field at the Sunset Bay Marina, as recommended by Jon & Arline. We wouldn't get there until Friday, so I called the vet they told us about and got Fuzzy an appointment to get ready for the Bahamas for Monday morning. We realized we would make no progress towards our next big goal, which is to get to the Bahamas and hopefully find Jon and Arline, by getting to Stuart on Friday instead of Saturday. And since this marina is comfortable, if basic, and really cheap, we decide to stay here and stay warm one more day.
It was nice to stay mostly in the boat through the cold morning. I didn't even take a shower, since they are not heated here. We didn't exactly take it easy. I ordered and downloaded our next set of electronic charts for the computer and did three loads of wash, including the sheets and blankets. Bud put the extra 15 gallons of diesel we've been carrying since Wilson into the tanks and polished the fuel. He rebuilt the aft toilet so that is now flushing correctly. (The photo is Bud working on the toilet base. Yes, that's a TV outside at the work area of the marina, not sure what it's there for.) We both worked on combing and trimming Fuzzy and then I gave him a bath.
At about 5 PM, when I figured the building had warmed up as much as it was going to, I took a shower. Bud is also showering now (he felt dirty after that toilet rebuild). Now neither of us will have to shower in the cold in the morning and we'll be able to take off pretty early. We want to cover most of the rest of the distance to Stuart tomorrow, as Vero Beach has a mooring field that gets high marks on the "Active Captain" web site, and we'd like to stay there. We'll see if that happens