Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Settled in

We are tied up at Apex Marine, on the north fork of the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Florida (map).  Apex is a boatyard and also manages the docks for Allied Marine, a brokerage here.  A majority of the boats here are for sale, listed by Allied, nearby Kadey Krogen, or other brokers including our very own Curtis Stokes.

We actually arrived here a full week ago, on Wednesday.  Upon checking the forecast after my last post, we learned that conditions would deteriorate rapidly starting late Wednesday, making docking here Thursday dicey at best, if even possible.  So Wednesday morning we got an early start and headed straight here, calling on the way to see if they could take us a day earlier than we had planned.

No problem, but by the time we arrived winds had already started to pick up considerably, and backing into the slip from a narrow fairway was challenging.  The boat "walks" to starboard in reverse, and the wind was also sending us that way, while as luck would have it the dock was to port.  It did not help to have a brand new $1.5M+ Krogen 58 on my starboard side, but with some help with the lines from the yard staff we got tied up without incident.

There are a lot of large, expensive boats here, and Vector looks almost diminutive in the lineup, a sharp contrast from some of our recent stays, where she was the largest boat in the marina.  Just driving down the fairway with all the expensive gelcoat on either side of us was a bit intimidating.  Fortunately, we're in for the long haul now -- no need to move even to pump out.  Martin County has a free pump-out boat that makes the rounds, and we had them stop by yesterday.  County ordinance requires us to have a pump-out receipt every ten days.

The trip down from Fort Pierce was otherwise uneventful, although it gets a bit exciting at "the crossroads," the intersection of the dredged channels that constitute the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which follows the Indian River, and the Okeechobee Waterway, which follows the St. Lucie River.  The ebb in the St. Lucie can be fierce, and I had to hand steer with vigor to keep within the channel as we approached the intersection.

To add to the excitement, the new AIS squawked twice just as we were in the thick of it with "messages."  Sheesh, we just installed this thing -- who can be trying to send us a message?  As it turns out, they were test messages from NAIS, I think in advance of MLK (at least, those initials were in the message), possibly some sort of DHS preparation.  The sending station turned out to be an enormous land-based mast antenna southeast of Orlando.

Speaking of the AIS, it's now "down for maintenance," as I've had to send the main board to Washington for a firmware update.  When it comes back we should be getting proper reporting of all in-range targets, including the Class-B ones that came into being after this unit was first released.  I've also returned the microphone from our pilothouse VHF radio to Icom, who promised to replace the cord, with its crumbling insulation, at no charge.  With any luck we will have both items back aboard and in service before we shove off for Trawler Fest at the end of February.

Now that we are settled in for a month, we've started dealing with a number of routine medical checkups as well as some administrative minutia that is all best handled while stationary for a while.  One of the administrative issues had to do with "registration" for the boat, an issue necessitated by Florida law, which allows visiting yachts a 90-day stay so long as they have registration in their home state.

We had no such registration, of course.  We chose Delaware as a home port, in part because they do not require any registration of federally documented boats, have no tax on boats, and have reasonably easy procedures for registering the tender and other administrative matters.  We knew, too, that they would be happy to issue us a registration sticker for Vector, with an administrative fee, should such a sticker be required by another state.

We were assuming that we'd have Delaware send us the sticker here once we got settled in, which would give us the 90-day grace, taking us to the end of March, at which time we'd have to have Vector out of the state.  We could then come back for up to another 90 days, up to 180 in a year.  When we shared this with local friends and professional skippers Chris and Alyse, they suggested we could just register the boat in Florida instead, which would eliminate the need to be counting days.

After doing a bit of research on our own, it appears that we can register the boat here without becoming Floridians ourselves, and since we've had the boat longer than six month and it has been out of Florida that whole time (closer to a year, actually), no Florida tax will be due.  Registering the boat here is just shy of $200 -- only a bit more than it would cost for a Delaware sticker, and that's a bargain compared to what it would cost us to move it out of the state for a few days at the end of 90 days.

So Florida gets some more of our money, we get to stay as long as we like, and everyone is happy.  We now have a shiny new Florida sticker on our window, which will deter the marine patrols from pestering us to prove we've not overstayed the grace period or to show them proof of registration in another state.  We did spend nearly an hour, though, showing receipts to prove the boat was out of Florida for the first six months we owned it.

In between doctor appointments and DMV visits I've been trying to whittle away at the project list; today I installed new blinds in the guest stateroom to match the ones we already installed in the rest of the boat.  My port multiplexer is here and other parts will arrive over the next few days to finish up the chartplotter project, and I will start on the battery rewiring in the next few days so I can run down to Miami for new batteries in the next couple of weeks.

Today our friends Martin and Steph arrive from California and will settle in to their temporary apartment here in town; their new boat should be arriving sometime around the end of the week.  If they are not too bushed after a full day of travel -- with a cat, no less -- we will meet them tonight for dinner.

As I have said here before, my goal, although not always met, is to blog once from each stop, in other words, every time we move the boat.  Now that we're stationary for a bit, I will not be posting as frequently, but I will try to put something up every now and then with an update on the projects.  Our next voyage will not be until the end of February, when we head south to Lake Park for Trawler Fest.


  1. Thank you for taking the time, and having the commitment to always post. I started reading your blog years ago when we were full-timing in a Casita fiberglass trailer. I blogged during that period, but stopped when we got a house without wheels. I know it takes work and commitment to keep up a regular blog. I find myself going to yours over and over, looking for updates, clicking on your map links. I get to escape for a while when I read your blog. I don't know anything about boating, but I know a lot more than I did from reading your posts. I admire you both. Thank you for sharing your adventure and not keeping it all to yourselves. It's appreciated.

    1. Thanks, I appreciate the encouragement. Although, clearly, I am behind on responding to comments!

  2. Are your friends blogging their new boat? I'd love to read it, if they are.

  3. I was in the area,Port St. Lucie, through Super Bowl Sunday but didn't check your blog while away from my PC in Seattle. You might want to try the Dolphin Bar Shrimp House for good food and some old Florida atmosphere and the Elliott Museum.

  4. I will try to keep that in mind when I post.

    Cityliner Lee


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