Monday, November 28, 2016

Ft. Pierce and a Change of Plans

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We heard from our friends Bruce and Gayleen aboard Pearl, and it turns out that they were anchored at Ft Pierce FL, which was our next stop.  It was only about 36 NM away, so we got in fairly early in the afternoon, and anchored just behind Pearl.  Our anchorage was right on the river, out in front of Harbortown Marina.

Then we went through a drill that we had been putting off for the whole trip so far:  Launching the dinghy.  We had been keeping it inflated but stored on deck to cut down on drag which would have put a dent in our already low miles per day, but had yet to actually need it.  Actually, launching it wasn't so bad.  It was lowering the outboard onto it that was such a production.  You see, we have no actual crane or hoist for the outboard, so I have to jury-rig something using the main halyard.  This was further complicated by the new solar panel mounting, which got in the way of where we used to lead the halyard.  It didn't help either that the wind was up and this anchorage was pretty bumpy!  But eventually, after far too long a time, I managed to rig the dinghy in place at the stern of the boat and lower the outboard onto the dink without puncturing it or dropping the motor overboard!  Joanie, who had been waiting patiently aboard the dink, expertly guided the motor onto the dink's transom and got it secured.

Not to be defeated that easily, the outboard was incredibly hard to start, despite my having started it on the rail before lowering it into the dink!

We then ran in to town with Bruce and Gayleen along in their dinghy, and made a short walking trip to the Publix market to get a few items we were each short of.  On the way back, we stopped at the marina restaurant for a quick drink and to watch the sunset before heading back to our respective boats.  Since we were going to spend another day here, we left the dinghy in the water behind the boat.
Sunset From the Dock in Ft Pierce
Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, I spent the day combing the Internet and making phone calls, trying to locate a place to dock Dolce Vita for a few weeks to give us a chance to fly home for Christmas.  Our original plan was to do this somewhere in or around Miami,  but I had previously determined that prices around Miami were astronomical.  So, on others recommendation,  the plan had been modified to find something in Ft. Lauderdale where the prices were somewhat lower.

But I was ultimately unsuccessful.  We were wait-listed at one place, and I almost had success at another, but they had one or two days in the middle of the month where they were all booked up.

When I talked to Bruce, he suggested that I check here at Harbortown Marina, as its only 3 or 4 days travel from Miami, and is walking-distance close to the grocery for provisioning.  So, when we dinghy'd in for a garbage run, I went by the dockmaster's office, and by great luck, they had just had a slip open up!  It was a bigger slip, and they would have to charge me for a minimum of 40 ft, but even at that it was still half the price a slip would have been in Lauderdale!  We took this info back to the boat, and tried a few more marina calls, but it quickly became apparent that this was the best deal we were going to find.  So, we called them back, reserved the slip, and arranged to bring the boat in the next morning.   We then had to reverse the drill of unmounting and hoisting the outboard back onto the rail, and hoisting the dinghy back onto the deck.  Joan had to be in the dinghy for most of this process, and the wind and waves had really kicked up, so she was pretty wet and uncomfortable before it was done.  But, as always, she hung in there and got the job done.

That night, the wind really picked up.  The wind generator was putting out 10 to 15 Amps at times, and by morning we had almost the same amount of power in the batteries as we had started out with in the evening.  The windgen had kept up with the refrigeration!

Monday, November 28, 2016

After a leisurely breakfast, we prepared to hoist anchor and head in.  The wind and tidal current were together this morning, and putting a lot of force on the anchor chain, more than I could deal with by hand.  So I had Joan take the helm and "walk" us forward at idle, just enough to take the load off, and was able to pull the chain in with no problem. A quick cleat near the end, and the engine easily broke the anchor out.  Sand bottoms are nice. The chain and anchor came up clean! :)

At the dockmaster's suggestion, we went in to the fuel dock first, tied up, and walked over to check out the slip and plan our approach.    The very short finger dock meant that we would have to back in in order to be able to conveniently get on and off the boat.  And in order to be able to back in to port (our boat doesn't back to starboard), we would have to come down the fairway and execute a U-turn in order to be in the right position.  All this was made harder by the fact that the wind was still up, and was blowing diagonally across and into the slip.  Getting a line onto the outer upwind piling would be imperative,  and snagging the outer downwind one would be difficult.  It looked like we would need more hands than we had, so I called Bruce, who was happy to come in and give us a hand.
Dolce Vita's New Home, on Left
And it all came off pretty much as planned!  It wasn't exactly elegant, requiring jockying forward and backward several times, but our tight slip at home had given us a lot of practice at this kind of docking, and we were able to stay in control and get lines onto both outer pilings and back the boat  into the slip without mishap.

Once secure and checked-in for the month, we purchased our airline tickets home, and rental cars to get to the airport now, and back from it when we return after Christmas.

We've learned so much on this trip, and had such fun doing it! Meeting new people and seeing new places. It's truly been a great experience.  We're really looking forward to the the next parts of the journey!

I'll leave you with some random snapshots from the last few days:

Hundreds of Pelicans Congregating on a Small Island
Manatee Warning Signs Everywhere
Cool Dolphin Statue on the Waterfront
Large Flock of Vultures

So, this ends the first phase of our trip. The numbers so far:

Days Enroute:         44
Distance Traveled:  1123 NM
ICW Mile Marker:  965 (Statute Miles from Norfolk)
Engine Hours:         179.3
Gasoline:                 199.5 Gallons
Oil Changes:           3
Memories:               Priceless :)

In late December we will return, reprovision the boat, and head for Miami/Key Biscane and on to the Bahamas!


  1. Thanks Ed. You're having quite an adventure. You continue doing a great job with your blog - both writing and photos. It inspires me to someday make the same trip.

  2. 200 gallons of diesel ... for a sailboat ... that's just kinda weird to read!

    1. Gasoline, actually, not diesel. I have to check every time we stop for fuel to make sure they've handed us the right hose!