Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Missed connections

We are under way southbound in the ICW, on the Indian River just abreast of the St. Lucie nuclear generating station as I begin typing. It's a gloomy day with lots of crosswind, but Otto is handling it well, freeing me to type.

Sunday afternoon we pulled off the ICW in heavy chop and squeezed in between two spoil piles in the Indian River and dropped the hook (map). I selected this spot because it was the southernmost point we could reach in daylight where we could also get ashore for dinner, being just across from a waterfront restaurant in Palm Bay.

Vector at anchor in the Indian River, as seen from our dinner table.

The spoils did not provide much relief from the southerly fetch, but conditions gradually improved through the afternoon, and we decided to brave the chop to go ashore. We landed at the "dock" of the Lazy Turtle Riverfront Grill and Tiki Bar, which itself was a challenge. The dock is really a walkway out to a riverfront overlook with a few bar stools and a counter, without any thought for boats docking. A trio of short ladders extend down from the dock for the purpose, but you have to duck under the railings, which have no gaps. Also, the water is just 18" deep.

Ascending the steps from the dock lands you in the Tiki Bar, where a live band was playing. We walked through the restaurant to the patio on the other side, where a much more subdued solo steel drummer was playing. The inside dining room turned out to be white tablecloth, fancier than I expected. The food was decent, the steel drum pleasant, and the temperature acceptable behind the wind screens set up for the purpose.

The dock at Lazy Turtle, with Flux nose-tied.

In the morning we weighed anchor and set out for Fort Pierce, where I had the West Marine set aside the fuel filter I needed to finish the dinghy repair. That meant getting ashore at the city marina, and we anchored in the closest spot, a familiar anchorage south of the causeway (map). I figured to race ashore as soon as we arrived, to get my part before a forecast storm moved in.

Somewhere under way the forecast changed to move the storm back well into the evening at a lower intensity, and we call our friends Alyse and Chris in Vero Beach to see if they wanted to meet us ashore for a cocktail or a bite. After a little back and forth, we agreed on an early meet-up at 4:30, at the closest restaurant to the dock. They offered to drive me the mile and a half to West Marine for my part.

We had the anchor down by 3pm, in a tight squeeze among the other boats. Right after setting the hook we had some discourse with a Frenchman on the next boat, who was certain we were much too close (we were not). Ultimately he decided he could "wait and see." Perhaps he lacked confidence in his own tackle.

The gathering storm. Red lighting in the distance is where we would have been when it hit.

As we were preparing to drop the dinghy, another check of the forecast revealed yet another change, this time in the opposite direction. The storm was now forecast to arrive while we would be ashore finishing dinner, and with a vengeance. Reluctantly, we called our friends back and waved off our get-together. They are not only boaters, but also licensed captains and boating educators, so they understood completely. We left the tender on deck.

It was the right call, as the storm arrived even earlier than the latest forecast. Vector got a much-needed rinse, and we had a nice dinner on board, which Louise had started preparing first thing in the morning before we made arrangements to go ashore. As the wind ramped up into the high 20s and clocked around, I kept an anchor watch in consideration of our neighbor's concerns, but it quickly became clear that we were both well-set and our circles did not overlap at all. We came closer to the boat on the other side, an unoccupied dilapidated sailboat on a permanent anchor.

By the time we went to bed, both the rain and the winds had stopped altogether. But overnight the winds picked back up and were again in the high 20s in the morning, and we opted to just spend another day, in the hopes that I could find a time to get ashore for my part and not have to re-order it further south. By lunch time winds had laid down just enough for me to pick my way across, and I grabbed my backpack and set out for the dinghy dock.

"Spin" e-scooters. $1, plus $0.35 per minute - 1/4 mile at top speed.

I was fully expecting to hoof it the 1.3 miles from the dock to West Marine, and in fact we even discussed loading the e-bike into the tender. (I decided against that because I was expecting to have a rough tender ride, and the time savings is minimal between loading, unloading, setup, and breakdown). In the year since our last visit, I had forgotten completely that Fort Pierce has dockless scooters, even though I had included that fact in my blog post for exactly this reason. This blog is really our own note-taking system (in case you wondered why lots of mundane uninteresting facts end up here), or as we are fond of saying, we blog to remember and drink to forget.

Upon re-discovering the electric scooters, a different vendor from our last visit, I downloaded their app and unlocked a scoot. The round trip to West Marine cost about seven bucks, money well spent given where I am in my cardiac recovery. After picking up my filter I walked across the street to Aldi to restock some needed provisions. We're not usually Aldi shoppers, where every item has just a single brand, but they had everything on our list and my pack was full when I walked out.

"Pizza Brewery" with a covered patio in the lee. Perfect.

I was pretty successful in picking my way across and back in the tender, holding to the windward shore most of the way, so we decided to give it a try at dinner time as well. We got a little wet from the spray but we had a decent meal at Sailfish Brewing, with a couple of drafts, a small pizza, and a salad. It was very comfortable on their patio, on the leeward side of the building. Returning after dark we opted to leave the tender in the water overnight, which proved to be a mistake. We ended up hip tying it at 3am after hearing it bashing into the swim platform.

This morning's winds were only a bit lower than yesterday, but with our business in Fort Pierce finished, we got under way, where the stabilizers are giving us a mostly comfortable ride. Our sights are set on a familiar anchorage in Hobe Sound. It's a beautiful spot, but ever since being struck by lightning there, we are always a little on edge.

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