Thursday, May 12, 2022

On a delivery

We are under way northbound on the Tolomato River, part of the ICW, north of St. Augustine, Florida. We've had 30mph winds on the starboard beam pretty much since we got under way, and winds have been high for the past several days. We had a few relaxing days of quarantine downtime in St. Augustine, but we're once again on a schedule.

This morning's test. Crap. No dentist for me tomorrow.

After my last post we dropped the hook in a familiar anchorage near Merritt Island, across the river from Cocoa, Florida (map). Unlike our last stay here, we did not go ashore, and our motivation for stopping here was to be near services in the event either of us took a turn for the worse. As it happens, we both continued to improve, and Saturday morning we weighed anchor and got back under way, notwithstanding our distaste for moving the boat on weekends, when the traffic is horrible.

Just exactly what kind of work is being done to this bridge on the Indian River? Shoveling guano, apparently.

We put in another long day, passing Titusville and the Kennedy Space Center, crossing the Haulover Canal and pushing through the Mosquito Lagoon to New Smyrna Beach, another town where, if the need arose, we could access services. We dropped the hook in a familiar anchorage just south of downtown (map), but again remained quarantined aboard. Fierce winds blissfully kept the traffic to a minimum.

Sunday we weighed anchor and passed through Daytona without stopping, thus passing our last yacht club free dock of the season.  Back when I made the dentist appointment I had figured this yacht club to be a good launching point for our trip back to St. Pete and I had even reserved a car here, which I cancelled a couple of days earlier. We ended the day at a familiar and peaceful anchorage off Fort Matanzas (map). The last of the weekend rabble-rousers frolicking out at Matanzas inlet whizzed past us on their way home as we were eating dinner.

Sunset from our peaceful anchorage at Fort Matanzas.

Monday we continued two hours into St. Augustine, where we bunkered 200 gallons of fuel while we could still find it under six bucks, at the diminutive Cats Paw Marina. I had already drawn 20 gallons from our reserves to get us to St. Augustine. Afterward, we proceeded to the Municipal Marina, where we had reservations later in the week, for a pumpout. Both the fueling and the pumpout involved minimal interaction, and we were in the phase where this was permitted so long as we were masked.

Fort Matanzas bathed in sunset light. Inlet is to the left.

We had pushed to St. Augustine Monday in the name of keeping as many options open as possible for our joint dentist appointment, which was scheduled for tomorrow morning. We wanted the buffer in case we needed to continue to Jacksonville or Fernandina for fuel, but with that behind us we opted to remain in this area until today's marina and car reservations rolled around. We cleared through the Bridge of Lions and headed for our preferred anchorage, in Vilano Beach (map).

We're now past the CDC-recommended quarantine period, and the dentist office agreed to see me if I tested negative on a home antigen test. Unfortunately, tests often remain positive long after symptoms and infectiousness go away, and I again tested positive first thing this morning, so we had to wave off. As I wrote in my last post, the dentist, who only works two days a week to begin with, is off next week, thus pushing my crown out almost another two full weeks. Louise has cancelled her cavity filling altogether, as that's easy to do almost anyplace.

Vilano Beach Sunset.

With all the unanticipated eating aboard that we've done over the past two weeks, we needed to re-provision, and so Tuesday afternoon we splashed the tender and I went ashore to stock up at the Publix, just a short walk from the dock. I took the pizza carrier with me and picked up a pizza from the decent joint, Puccini's,  right next door on my way back, and Louise was relieved to have a night off from cooking, the first since the similar pizza mission in Moore Haven. She's still feeling under the weather, even though I am mostly recovered.

Vilano is trying to preserve these 50s-era motel signs. The "motel" is now apartments.

Among the many side-effects of our unexpected isolation is that I ran down to the last few tablets of my pericarditis med, which I had figured to refill in Stuart. Also, we were down to our last test kit, and so yesterday I hauled the e-bike ashore and rode over to Walgreens. The script was spendy, but four test kits turned out to be covered by insurance.

This morning I tested right after my first coffee. After the positive result I immediately called the marina to cancel, and they were very understanding when I told them it was due to COVID. The rental car allowed an electronic cancellation, and I had to call our hotel for tonight in Pinellas Park to see if I could get my Hilton points back, as we were past the deadline. Again, they were very understanding.

This brand new building, under construction the past two years, is made to blend in, in Art Deco style. I don't know what it will contain.

That left all our immediate business handled except for one major item. Back when we were still in Treasure Island I ordered Starlink. With shipping taking anywhere up to 2-3 weeks, we could not count on having the terminal sent to either Fusion or the Yacht Club, and so instead I had it sent to our mail service in Green Cove Springs, reasoning we could just pick it up on our way across the state to St. Pete in the rental car.

I was in the pharmacy aisle in Publix to restock our pandemic OTC meds, and ran into this. The green ones are people. More protein than the yellow ones. I'm told.

With the trip and the rental car now eliminated, we needed to address how to get the terminal. I'm not sure what this weighs, but SpaceX charged me fifty bucks to ship it in the first place. Beyond that, it's a logistical challenge to nail down a delivery address somewhere north of here to have it shipped. And finally, we're already past halfway into the 30-day trial return period, and I'd really like to test it before I can no longer send it back.

And thus it was that we weighed anchor and pulled up to the free day dock at the Vilano Pier (map) at 9:45. We put a scooter down, I pushed it off the dock and the pier, and rode over to Green Cove Springs some 30 miles away. As long as I was out I made a couple of other stops as well, and I was back on the dock in two and a half hours. While we were hooking the scooter up to the crane a Vilano Beach official came by to sternly warn us about riding the scooter on the dock, but he relaxed when I explained that I had pushed it from the street.

Our take-out pizza from Puccini's. One slice removed. Dude, how hard is it to cut pizza?

We dropped lines a little after noon and headed north.  I spent the first couple of hours of the cruise surfing travel sites to book flights for my new appointment two weeks hence. Once north of Charleston the only airport till Norfolk is Wilmington, NC. If we want to keep our plans to be in New York for the second half of June, then Charleston is too soon. And making Norfolk in two weeks, while possible in good conditions, would be the kind of schedule that leads to mistakes -- it is said the most dangerous thing to have aboard a boat is a schedule.

Loaded up at the mail service. Laptop keyboard is in the backpack on the floorboard. Starlink terminal strapped to the seat. The rest of our mail is in the trunk.

So we are now on a schedule to make Wrightsville Beach, just ten miles from the Wilmington airport, in time for my trip. Things are more relaxed when only one of us travels; Louise will be managing the boat while I am away and thus we do not require a dock or power. It's a whirlwind trip and we'll only be there two nights before resuming our northward journey. The schedule that's brought us here, and what we have ahead of us all the way to New York, looks like a full day of moving every day. Professional skippers know this as "delivering the boat," and we're now, essentially, on a delivery trip.

Update: We are anchored just north of the Pablo Creek Bridge, in a deep off-channel pocket where the current splits around an island (map). Our late departure had us pushing against the current at the bridge, which is notorious for currents as high as six knots. As we passed under the bridge we saw a little over three knots against us. We had the hook down just in time for dinner.

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