Leaving Fort Lauderdale was almost painful. Where we had finally settled, on a peaceful canal behind an apartment complex in one of the safest, quietest, cleanest and plushest neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, was pleasing to all my senses. Our little “marina” consisting of six slips was primarily occupied by powerboats with no one living aboard. There was only one other sailboat, the owner of which we hardly saw.
Then the powerboats started leaving one by one, perhaps to head back north, and other sailboats arrived. Beside us was a lovely couple from London, next to them another wonderful couple from Spain, and, of course, our good friends on Sapphire who hauled butt 1000 miles from Trinidad to get here in time to travel north with us. Everyone connected and began to build what we hope will be lasting friendships.
On our day of departure on June 3, at 6:30 a.m., both couples on the remaining boats got out of bed to bid us farewell. I felt pangs of melancholy as we said goodbye to our new friends and took one last look around at our beautiful surroundings.
Then, as I have learned to do, I set my sights ahead. Onward and forward we go to experience what new adventures life has in store for us.
Our first day started beautifully. We got through the Las Olas Bridge and made it in time for the 17th Street Causeway Bridge which opened 15 minutes later. Normally we would not be able to go fast enough to make it but there was enough traffic to keep the bridge open just long enough for us to pass through too.
Exiting Port Everglades was smooth and the water on the Atlantic was calm. There were no winds nor waves to speak of which gave us perfect conditions to motor all the way to our next stop, West Palm Beach, 54 nautical miles up the coast. We didn’t even bother putting up our sails. Having just rebuilt our engine, we will be motoring for at least the first 50 hours to break it in. By noon we were going 9 knots thanks to the 3 knot current in the Gulf Stream.
We arrived in West Palm Beach just in time to anchor before the weather deteriorated. Since we were in a rush to outrun the storm building in the Yucatan/Gulf of Mexico, we only planned to spend one night and continue on early the following morning.
The following day, was equally calm though the forecast showed 70% chance of rain. We had another good day to break in our motor. During part of this leg of the trip we were escorted by three dolphins who kept exact pace with our boat so that they remained even with our cockpit, beside us, the entire time. Who could ask for better company? These past two days were perfect for me to slowly transition back to being on the water again.
We arrived in Ft. Pierce on June 4 after another 53 nautical miles and got anchored, again just before the rain started falling.
Our plan at this point was to head directly toward Jacksonville, Florida but the leading edge of the storm which was threatening to turn into a tropical storm was quickly closing in on us so we all decided to go as far as Cape Canaveral and tuck into a marina there.
Well, all good things must come to an end. Our third day on the water was choppy for the entire 62-nautical mile trip with winds and waves increasing as we got closer to Cape Canaveral. To make matters worse as we approached Cape Canaveral we were advised by the marina that they closed at 5:00 p.m. and there might not be anyone to help us get tied up. Since we tie up to posts here which I am not accustomed to, and we have two solar panels on each side of our boat, we definitely wanted help on the dock to prevent potential damage, especially since the wind was building and abeam while approaching the slip. With Michael behind the wheel, and me being the only one on deck to throw a line over the first post, get the bow line tied up, and get additional fenders out to protect our boat and solar panels if necessary, I just didn’t feel confident I could do it all.
On my last call, the woman in the office advised that the office was still open since they were so busy and that she would try to get someone to the dock. To my relief, when we made our approach, there was a boy standing there and appeared to be waiting for us. I was wrong. He was the steward from the power boat next to our slip that had arrived just before we did. When he paid no attention to us as we were coming in, I yelled for him to help us and grab the bow line. He was a nice kid and helped the best he could, but because of the unusual setup at this slip/dock and the misinformation about the length of the finger pier (which determined where we put our fenders), and the force of the wind, I did not have enough time to get a fender in front of the steel ladder (with sharp edges) which was affixed to a square concrete column at the end of the pier. The ladder sliced a long, deep section of our teak rail right off the boat, like a meat carver in a buffet line. I wanted to cry. The fact that we came in at high tide didn’t help either. This put our teak rail far above the rubber corner on the finger pier which at high tide was more level with the downward slope of our hull.
Our friends arrived shortly after we did and had the same problem getting in the slip because of the way they have the finger pier and steel ladder setup. Fortunately, we were able to help them as well as the steward from the power boat. With three additional sets of hands, they made it into their slip on their second attempt with no damage.
Today, we feel fortunate to be tucked safely in a marina as Tropical Storm Andrea passes us by. Based on the captain of a boat which arrived today, it’s blowing about 45 knots out there right now.
After anchoring a couple of times, we discovered our windlass motor is on its last leg so today Michael is spending his day getting a new one installed. As usual, the new one is larger than the old so modifications are necessary taking more of his time than he anticipated. At least he has some time to get it done. The last thing he wants is to pull up a 75-pound anchor with chain by hand.
Today is wet and windy. Tomorrow we are hoping for nicer weather so we can visit the Kennedy Center and hopefully, if weather permits, continue on toward Jacksonville on Saturday.