Sea Sharp's Summer Home
16 April 2009
Now that we have a vehicle we need to turn our attention to finding a place for Sea Sharp to be hauled and stored for the summer. While lots of boaters take their boats back north, some home to Canada, many to the Chesapeake, a good number store in Florida. The hurricane risks are higher but we've put on a lot of miles and now that our cruise for this year is nearing an end, we're anxious to transition to our land-based lives. Indiantown Marina is a favorite place for Canadians, up the Okeechobee waterway. Unfortunately there is a bridge which we cannot clear so we'd have to take down our mast which is a complex proposition.
Another place recommended by several boaters we encountered is Riverside Marina in Fort Pierce, twenty or so miles from Stuart. We were told that this place is not fancy but it the folks are helpful and flexible and unlike many marinas, you are allowed to do work on your own boat. We drive out by car to visit. It's indeed not fancy. The yard is a former cement plant so the ground is very firm, mostly large slabs of concrete. There are many derelict boats in various stages of restoration. I would doubt that many will ever find their way back into the water. Nonetheless, there are numerous cruising boats like ours, a good percentage Canadians. The showers and washrooms are rudimentary at best but you can stay on your boat in the yard when you commission it in preparation for launch. The marina manager, Sally, is business-like but pleasant. We decide to bring Sea Sharp here.
We motor from Stuart to Fort Pierce and make our way in the very shallow channel to the marina and are assigned a prime dock space way inside a canal where it will be easy for us to prepare the boat for hauling and storage.
What a production! We spend four very busy and tiring days getting stuff off the boat, cleaning, packing the stuff that will remain and generally readying Sea Sharp for a summer "on the hard" in a very hot and humid climate. While we worry about hurricanes, another fear is the damaging effect of sun and humidity. We have heard horror stores about boaters returning to their boats in the fall, opening their hatch and finding everything covered with ugly mold.
We buy large plastic storage bags and try to put as much of the stuff which will remain into these bags. We work hard but make good progress. Chopin loves it here as there are numerous feral cats living around the marina and he enjoys the company, if only at a distance.
I won't go into the tedium of all the preparations we need to do but suffice it to say that it was exhausting, physically and to a certain extent emotionally; our home for almost eight months will be stored in a harsh environment. Boats like to be in the water, not on the ground.
We know a number of cruisers in the yard and meet more. Most of those we meet are Canadians. We all decide to go out to a buffet restaurant on Monday. We get a call from our earlier-made friends Ray and Patti on Whisper from Boston. We befriended Ray way back in the Dismal Swamp and he had been very concerned and supportive of us all along as we struggled with our personal tragedy. While we did not catch up with them again in the Bahamas, we'd get regular calls from Ray who was a rock of support for us. We had not met Patti, his wife but spoke to her several times on the phone. By chance they would be in the area, knew some of the boaters who we would be going to dinner with and would be joining us. It was so good to see them!!
We moved the boat to the slipway on Sunday at high tide so we'd be able to be hauled out first thing on Monday. The haul out was very smooth; they have a large travelift to remove the boat but hoisting her up with two massive straps. This large, frame-like vehicle them trundles its way slowly through the yard and deposit's the boat onto stands in its designated spot in the yard. The guys doing this are very proficient and I feel increasing confidence that this yard will be a good place for Sea Sharp. Now that the boat is on the hard, I work like a beaver finalizing all the many preparations for storage so that we can leave tomorrow. Exhausted, we return to our hotel around 5:00, leaving our floating home to fate and the good hands of our Marina operators until our return next fall!