Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stuart on the cheap

We are anchored in the north fork of the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Florida (map), just a few hundred feet from the Apex Marine docks where we spent nearly three full months.  It's a different perspective out here, with a slightly better view.  We get the same wakes here from boats passing by on plane that we got at the dock, but they bother us less out here because we are not slamming up against the pilings.

We chose this spot for more or less the same reasons we had chosen Apex -- proximity to the Nordhavn commissioning dock where our friends' boat is being finished up.  We've enjoyed reconnecting with them over the past few days, which we've done by tendering over and tying up to their swim step.  While we were happy to be at Apex on a favorable monthly rate, the daily transient rate at most of the marinas here, Apex included, is around $2/ft plus electric, a total of about $110 per day for us.  At that rate I can run the generator and dinghy all I want and still have money left for taxis, rental cars, or what-have-you.

We arrived here Saturday afternoon after a very pleasant cruise from Palm Beach inlet on the outside.  Seas were light but the period was short, so, while not uncomfortable, the ride was not as smooth as it had been on our last couple of outings.  We left New Port Cove on the 10:30am slack, and had the hook set here before 5pm.  That coincided nicely with Stephanie's return from a quick jaunt north to visit family, and we dropped the tender and met them at Blossom for a tour of all the progress that's been made, before heading off to a nice dinner at a nearby Italian place.  It was great to catch up, and we've dined together each evening since.

Sunday I tendered over to the park south of the mooring field, where the city allows tie-ups of up to four hours per day, so I could walk to the Ace Hardware in town.  I needed parts to finish the great fridge project as well as some other projects around the house.  I was thus in the middle of tackling the correct fitment of the fridge into its cabinet when Martin and Steph arrived at Vector on their tender for a visit before we all adjourned for dinner ashore.  Suffice it to say I did not finish this project on Sunday, but I did at least get the door hinges reversed.

Louise and Steph spent the whole day Monday driving up to Rockledge to shop for quilting supplies, a hobby they now share, which left me alone on the boat with my power tools.  I did take a quick break mid-day to tender over for lunch with Martin while the ladies were out gallivanting.  I made lots and lots of sawdust, enlarging and straightening the opening little by little until I could slide the fridge back far enough for the doors to be flush with the adjacent partition. This gives it all a built-in appearance, with a snug fit that ensures it can't move if we get into anything rough.  I also bolted it down to the floor and made a jack arrangement to hold the front down from the top, so it is now quite secure.  All I need is some cherry edge trim to finish off the opening, which will have to wait until I can get to a lumber yard.

That, along with replacing the pressure gauge on the horn compressor and lubricating the Clark pump on the water maker, took the whole day, and I tendered back to Blossom in time to meet everyone for dinner.  Yesterday, the four of us rented some scuba tanks and hired a dive instructor to meet us at the Blue Heron bridge, ironically just a few hundred feet from New Port Cove, for a gear check and refresher dive.  All of our gear worked well, needing only minor adjustments, and we all felt a lot more comfortable after an hour and a quarter under water.  Depth there runs just 8'-20', which is great for testing new gear, and challenges one's buoyancy control skills.

Between the round trip drive, two hours or so at the dive site, and a stop for a late lunch (diving makes you very hungry), we got very little else done yesterday, and after washing the gear, cleaning up, and napping we all met back at their apartment for a late, light dinner and good conversation.  We synced up on future plans; depending on exactly when they take delivery of the boat, then complete training and shakedown cruises, they will try to come meet us up north, most likely as we are making our way south to the Chesapeake from Long Island Sound.

Today I have what I hope will be my last Lasik follow-up appointment for a few months.  I rescheduled the appointment from the Palm Beach office, which we steamed right past a few days ago, to here in Stuart.  It's a short $1.50 bus ride to the office from the dinghy landing at the park; no rental car required.  I know they will want to see me on a six-month or so follow-up as well (it's been exactly two months today since my surgery), which will have to wait until we come back south again next winter.

If all goes to plan, tomorrow will be our final day here in Stuart.  I've scheduled the pumpout boat, even though we'll be three miles offshore by Friday afternoon, to try to continue to suck out any remaining bits of rubber from the great blow-bag fiasco, and we'll ask Steph to take us on a final provisioning run in their rental car.  At this writing we plan to weigh anchor in the pre-dawn hours on Friday for the long outside run to Port Canaveral.  The forecast is for excellent weather on the outside.

Some of Louise's new stash of quilting fabrics


  1. Sean: I'm curious if you had to make any ventilation modifications for the new frig? At $400 I doubt it had any provision for front exhaust, most likely has coils on the back.
    Do you have good air ciculation behind it? Also, you didn't mention the brand. That looks very neat, I may consider it if my 40 year old bites the dust.

    1. No modifications. Yes, the coils are on the back, but that's also where they were on the Novakool. It had the advantage of being a bit elevated above the floor, with some vent area below it the same size as that above. This model has only a small gap there. That said, there's plenty of room around it on all sides in the cabinet, and I had already installed a small 12v flushing fan at the top of the cabinet, to help the Novakool out. So far, the new unit is working fine and does not seem to have excessive run time or current draw. I can always go to a higher-cfm flushing fan if need be. The brand is Haier and this model seems to be exclusive to Lowe's.


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