Rafting on Moorings
"April 2, 2004"
"Leaving Fort Pierce"
I am determined that we will take our time on this trip north since this is the last time we will be doing it. We also plan to stop at some places that we have previously passed by such as Vero Beach.
Vero Beach isn't very far, and we can get there quickly, but we use the bathroom and turn in the keys in right after they open at 7, and cast off about 8. I find that the charting Dell computer (the black Dell) will not take a charge and will not run on batteries at all, and also that the GPS that's hooked to it won't run if it isn't plugged in either.
We called the bridge as we came out of the marina (the North Ft. Pierce bascule bridge) and he said he'd open as soon as we got there. Then there was a ketch from Helsinki named (as we found out later) SCORPIO behind us so we held up so he could go through too. Then another sailboat SOLARIS with a very fuzzy radio said he was coming out of the marina, so the bridge said he'd wait for him too. A fourth guy also called, from somewhere else.
The bridge eventually opened about 0815, and we went through along with SCORPIO and SOLARIS. The bridge called for the 4th boat, but he didn't answer. Possibly he came in the inlet to go south and realized he didn't have to have the bridge on the south side opened.
"Arriving Vero Beach"
Bob went and put away the lines while I steered. We arrived in Vero Beach at 1000, and were tied up by 1021 after 13.9 miles with an average speed of 5.9 mph. It was $1.00/ft plus tax and $5 for 30 amp, plus a $20 deposit for the bathroom key. If you don't make the depost on your own key, you have to get it from the dockmaster each time, and he's only open during the day.
Bob didn't think much of our slip (actually it was a face dock) as it was downwind from the fueling area. There are police boats buzzing around, and one of the policemen apparently works on the gas dock. SOLARIS came in after us, and went to a mooring - the moorings are all full and they are rafting on them.
I got the bus schedule and asked about restaurants. I thought it would be interesting to take the bus and ride around town, but Bob didn't like that idea.
The bus makes one circuit an hour - goes from the beach across the bridge to the marina and then out into town, when it turns around and goes back to the beach. So if you go to the end of the line, you have an hour to wait until the bus comes back, and if you get off in the middle it's a half an hour.
They start at 8, take a two hour lunch break from 11 to 1 and then stop at 5. It is free which is good, but unless you have a hour's worth of shopping it isn't a particularly good deal IMHO.
"At the Dock"
After we got there, they put a new Gulfstar trawler named HIGHLANDER in the slip opposite us on the gas dock and the slip was too narrow so they didn't fit and Bob said that they had to use extraordinary precautions to keep from hitting us as they came out and went to another slip.
One of those sternwheeler tour boats came in for fuel, and while it was approaching the gas dock, a gust of wind came up and blew his ladder directly into the gas dock roof with a great crunch.
The boat backed off - apparently he has little or no steering control and a LOT of windage and he decided not to try again because there was too much wind.
I went up to use the boater's lounge to do email. There is a local phone line which is free (with the usual request to use only 10 minutes on the phone or 15 minutes on the computer if someone is waiting). You can also use their computer and internet connection by getting a prepaid card for $5 or $10 from the office, or you can use a wireless network for $3.95 for a hour plus 13 cents for additional minutes, or $6.95/day.
I talked to a guy in the lounge who was NOT aware that he could have used the phone line for free, so he bought the wireless internet. I could get a wireless connection on my boat (if I wanted to pay for it), but he said couldn't. Possibly he was on a mooring and the network didn't extend that far.
There's no restaurant at the marina, but they had a lot of menus from local places so I asked the dockmaster what restaurant we could walk to. They said there were no restaurants within walking distance. Finally someone remembered that the Riverside Cafe was just up under the bridge.
I figured that the last run of the bus at 4:45 could take us up there and we'd only have to walk back. But instead of coming to the bus stop in front of the main marina building, the bus stopped to let people off on the road in back of the marina building and it escaped without us being able to get on it. So we did walk, and it wasn't that far.
This restaurant was right on the water and is close enough for people to get there easily by dinghy (easier than walking). It also has live music and two for one Bud or Bud Light happy hour every evening from 4 to 7, with a big bar and deck area so you can watch the sunset across the river.
We walked back through the Spanish moss festooned live oaks of MacWilliams Park which has a party room (River House), a plethora of boat launch ramps and a dog walking area but where no swimming or golfing (!!) is allowed. Then I went up and used the email line until about 9:30 when the lounge was supposed to close. (Although it didn't.)
"April 3, 2004"
Bob was worried about casting off of the face dock against the west wind (which would tend to blow us back into the dock like that unfortunate paddlewheeler yesterday), so we got ready to leave early before the wind picked up.
After he turned in the bathroom key at 0700 and got our $20 deposit back (deposits are only taken in cash - no checks or credit cards), we cast off without incident at 0710 - the wind is still pretty light. A ketch from Sydney Australia named CORRAWONG went out ahead of us. We have 54+ miles to do today.
There are four trawlers that come out of the marina behind us, and they passed us one by one. First the Mainship STARGAZER, and then LA TORTUGA. Then JENNA from Toronto gave us a good pass, and finally GORFROG also from Toronto passed. (Gorfrog is Frog frontwards and backwards.)
Saw a belted kingfisher on a power line over the water next to an osprey's nest. I see an osprey's nest with a bird in it hanging off the side of an ATON. I don't see how it can stay on there.
The osprey's are to be nesting. Most of the nests have a fierce head sticking out of them.
A sailboat named GLORY DAYS from Toronto passes us about 1000 - we've done almost 18 miles at an average speed of 6.1 mph. Bob is tired of steering and hands the steering over to me, but it makes me nervous to be in a narrow channel and to have to deal with the wakes of people passing.
Next - Cocoa