Monday, February 9, 2015

Comfort in the familiar

We are anchored in the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Florida (map), about halfway between the old Nordhavn/PAE docks where Blossom was commissioned, and the Apex Marine docks where we spent a few months this time last year. It is now a familiar and comfortable place for us; we've even anchored here before.

Another fantastic Stuart sunset over the water, from our deck; we never tire of these.

We spent our final night of our Okeechobee Waterway crossing at Indiantown Marina, near the eponymous community (map). That made for a nice stop after the lake crossing and locking through at Port Mayaca, a drop of just a couple of feet. It's a real cruisers' marina, with lots of pleasant outdoor spaces for gathering, including fire pits, and a fairly well-stocked chandlery on site, to complement the small yard operation and the much larger DIY work around the enormous haul-out facility. Blossom and Vector shared the fuel dock for our overnight stay.

Pleasant outdoor space at Indiantown Marina.

The four of us ended up walking a little over a mile into town after sunset cocktails, to dine at the local Italian establishment. The food was decent and we all enjoyed getting out and stretching our legs.

Wednesday we made the final push through the waterway to here, with Blossom continuing on another few miles, through the Roosevelt bridge and anchoring near The Crossroads for a head start on their final leg to Palm Beach. Technically, we are still on the Okeechobee Waterway here, being at about mile eight or so, but we've closed the loop, and the final eight miles are now well-trodden ground for us.

CoE St. Lucie Lock Campground, from the lock.

The final lock of the trip was the St. Lucie lock, familiar to us from having stayed in the adjacent Corps of Engineers campground several times. This lock lowered us a full 13 feet, our biggest lockage ever, and required both of us to tend the lines on the long trip down. That meant I could not get a shot of the water pouring out of the ajar lock gates ahead of us.

Vector awaiting lockage.  I'm working the foredeck while Louise has the aft.

Martin got a nice shot of us in the lock, with both of us on deck waiting for the drop to start. Louise also got a nice pair of shots of Blossom, showing quite clearly the difference in water level from start to finish.

Blossom in the lock, with the upstream gates closing behind her.

And the same view after lockage -- quite a difference.

We splashed the tender shortly after arriving here, and we've been enjoying going ashore daily for errands or dinner. The city has a free dinghy dock at a nearby park, with easy access to groceries, the county bus, several shops, and other services. There is also a free city dock right downtown, and we availed ourselves of that to walk to one of the many fantastic eateries in town.

This is the first place we've been able to test out our new shoreside, dinghy-accessible transportation, namely the pair of full-size folding bicycles we bought back in Baltimore. We've used the bikes elsewhere already, notable Key West, but this was our first time actually tendering them ashore.

Bikes folded and nestled in their "rubble bag."  Dark bag to the left is their cover when stowed on deck.

Using the crane to lift the bikes off the deck.

Louise had picked up a large reinforced polyethylene bag for the express purpose of loading the bikes on and off the dinghy, and protecting the dinghy from them in transit. The bag is actually made for the lifting/hauling of rubble, and it's quite beefy. It turns out to be just the right size to lift both bikes simultaneously, in their folded aspect, and the whole kit and caboodle fits nicely amidships in the tender.

They just fit amidships, with room for the two of us in the bench seat.

OK, so I do have to stand to see over them when in close quarters.  I can see around them in open water.

Once ashore we muscled the whole bag onto the quay, set the bikes back up (really just a single hinge pin), and folded and stowed the bag under the dinghy seat. We were a bit leery of leaving the bikes unattended overnight at the city park, so when we finished with them for the day, we locked them to the bike rack at the nearby marina, where there is a lot more traffic and more eyeballs on them.

The bikes made an easy chore of the ~5 mile round trip to the UPS store to pick up our mail, which we had sent there from our mail service. I had parts for maybe a half dozen projects waiting for me in there, and I've been making progress over the last few days, now that I have them in hand.

As tempting as it is to dive right into project-land and elaborate on those, I want to save them for separate posts to which I can link back later. So for now I will just say that I replaced the crumbling flybridge stabilizer control switches, and resuscitated the old Northstar chartplotter and then mounted it at the flybridge helm. I also added an external speaker to the chart PC so we can hear the alarms better, and I've now got more LEDs to start adding some DC lighting to some heretofore unlit places on the boat.

In addition to boat projects, we are now in full-on Bahamas prep mode. Louise has been working on the provisioning lists, and making some grocery runs to support that, while I've been busy buying and downloading updated charts of the region for our main plotter. I did manage to make time for a massage today, my first ever Ashiatsu. Louise has an appointment tomorrow.

Tomorrow is our last day here in Stuart, and we're a bit sad to go -- we just started to settle back in. But we need to move south to Palm Beach Gardens, where we've booked a week at a marina. That will let me rent a car for a one-day run down to the Miami Boat Show on Thursday, and we'll use that same car to get Angel to a vet for her Bahamas health certificate on Friday.

If all goes well, we will wrap up our marina stay just as Blossom is getting their service work completed next Tuesday or so, and we'll then just be waiting on a weather window for the crossing to the Bahamas. More on that as the time draws near.

1 comment:

  1. A future fun project might be to add some kind of dashcam or a GoPro as a dashcam. That way you will have those photos you did not get a chance to take.


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