Spring Cruise 2021 – Week 5

Race Start!

Day 29. Sunday March 21.

We spent the day in Marlin Bay, Marathon just chillaxing, doing some house cleaning, laundry, and relaxing, before heading home. This was also because we have a really bad boating habit. Whenever we make the turn for home, be it five days away in Hilton Head, or 14 days away in the Far Bahamas, we are like the horse bolting for the barn door. We cruise long days and look to get home as fast as we can. And then when we finally get home we are exhausted from the trip back, even though we may have been relaxing for three months in the islands!!

And we always say we have to change this and make the trip back part of the enjoyable journey.

We were determined not to do it his time, however… once we got a call saying we were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, we were back in the “get home quick” mode! So we are going to return to Jacksonville the way we came, up the east coast rather than to Cape Sable, Naples and spending some time in Captiva, before heading across Lake Okeechobee to home.

There is one issue with Marlin Bay Marina, any west wind brings in large amounts of sea grass. Sonas was surrounded by grass while there.

Sea grass

Day 30. Monday March 22.

We ran from Marathon to Gilbert’s Marina and Resort. The resort had been described as rustic in cruising guide comments, however we found it great. Good docks, and a massive Tiki hut with three large bars. They assigned us a T-Head position right in front of the Tiki hut so we had quite the audience when docking! We did have some REAL shallow water to navigates on our way – getting down to 0.8 of a foot under the keel at one stage!

0.8 feet beneath the keel!

Day 31. Tuesday March 23.

Today we would have liked to run from Gilbert’s to somewhere north of Miami. However all of the marinas were full, with no dockage for a transient. We suspect because of the constant bad weather off shore, meaning those boats preparing to cross to the Bahamas had to hunker down. So we decided to have a short day and run as far as No Name and anchor outside so that we could run the generator tonight if it got too hot in the cabin.

No Name outside anchorage

We also booked a marina at Boynton Beach for tomorrow, which would take us half way between Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth. This evening Paul mapped out the low bridges we would have to transit to get to Boynton Beach and decided that there was no way we could make it in one day. So we will call tomorrow and make other plans.

Day 32. Wednesday March 24.

First thing this morning we called Pier 66 marina and got a slip assignment, so cancelled our booking at Boynton Beach. As we travelled through Miami we listened to a distress call (DSC from another boat). This was a dive boat with divers down, The divers were drifting away on the current and the boat would not start to go retrieve them. We thought that the boat captain didn’t seem to be in control of things. Tow Boat US got there and relayed to CG that the boat owner was one of the divers and the person on the radio did not know the boat so couldn’t start it to go after the divers. Tow Boat recovered the divers and the owner later got on the radio and said everything was fine and all were safe. So actually the person left in charge did really well!

As we transited downtown Miami we saw a really strange sight, a man with a sea scooter, his head barely above water, crossing the main channel! We thought this was just downright crazy!

In the busy channel!

Later we passed two adult manatees and a baby. We moved out of the way and also called an oncoming boat to be mindful.

Manatee family

Pier 66 Marina was completely full of mega yachts – power and sail. The hotel and pool areas are being rebuilt but there were still plenty of people (and dogs) around.

Day 33. Thursday March 25

Due to the number of low bridges between Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth we preferred to do this part of the journey on the outside. The weather applications that we use were calling for three foot seas on top of two foot swells. We decided that it would be fine and prepared for sea*. The inlet was more than lumpy, but once outside and headed north it subsided somewhat. On the way out of the channel we saw a ship shipping ships! A boat transport ship either loading or unloading yachts.

Because the seas were on our stern quarter the auto pilot was struggling to keep the boat from broaching. After a couple of nasty broaches Sian “suggested” to Paul that he take the helm and steer manually. After which we were much more comfortable. We safely got into Lake Worth and our slip at Riviera Beach City Marina. As we turned into the fairway a pilot boat coming right at us, clearly not going to slow down or stop! He may have dome a securite call on channel 16 prior to his departure but we were on the marina’s working channel 11. We now have a new process where we have the handheld radio at the helm on channel 16 so we can monitor both a marina’s working channel and 16 in future.

*“Prepare for sea”, he said. Thought you might be interested in what that actually entails.

Starting from the cabins, lock the windows! Lumpy seas do not need to be coming in the portholes! Put all toiletries away or down on the floor. Close the toilet lid, so the towels don’t jump off the racks and end up in the bowl (ask me how I know….)

In the galley prepare a cooler with food and drinks to get through the rough seas. Once things are rolling it isn’t wise to open the fridge under any circumstances! Not heading far off shore (i.e. crossing the stream) I admit to being sloppy and not even bringing a cooler this trip. Fortunately the run was not expected to be too long so we did without. Check all cupboard doors are latched and clamp the fridge-freezer shut. We have door clips on the fridge but they aren’t always able to stay closed under rough conditions (again ask me how I know, I may also tell you how to get red wine stains out of the rug!) So we also add a C-Clamp to the doors).

The crew, that is me, also needs to make sure that I have put the restraining clips on the anchor chains. The windlass has pawls to stop the chains running out but in rough seas the chain could jump off the gypsy, and the last thing we need is three hundred, or even six hundred, feet of chain dropping into the ocean while underway!!

In the salon take anything that may travel, like lamps or pictures not secured with Velcro and tuck them in somewhere they cannot move. Finally get yourself into a chair and stay put! Inevitably Paul is delighted with the capability of the boat. The boat can handle much more than this crew member!

Day 33. Friday March 26.

Riviera Beach had put us in a slip right on the inside of the marina, in fact the second slip from the bulkhead. So it was a pretty tight exit in the morning. Paul was focused on getting out, while in the background the Coast Guard Station Miami was working a distress call.

After we exited the marina and headed north Paul was able to listen better to what was happening. A boater had got his anchor line wrapped around his prop and was heading for the rocks. He was giving his coordinates to the coast guard but they weren’t responding.

Paul broke into the conversation and asked the coast guard if they were hearing him, they were not. He relayed the coordinates. The boater was offshore parallel with where we were in the ICW, so we had clear communications. The boater had previously said he was just north of Boyton Inlet, once we communicated the accurate coordinates the coast guard realized he was just north of the Lake Worth Inlet instead. Just after we relayed the coordinates a coast guard small boat came roaring past us, lights flashing. We told the boater that he was on his way. Unfortunately by that time he was on the rocks, although we both commented how calm he sounded.

We were soon out of radio range so unfortunately we never heard the result of the event. We do know the name of the boat, Escappe so may try and look it up over the next few days.

We cruised from Lake Worth to Vero Beach without incident. The only things of note where a stray dredge pipe floating across half of the ICW north of Jupiter Inlet that we made the dredge aware of, and a sailing regatta with about forty boats in Jensen Beach.

We also called a boating friend of ours back in our neighborhood who turned 80 today and sang Happy Birthday to him. He was taking his family out to a local restaurant for lunch on his boat. We surely hope we are also boating into our eighties!

Once at Vero Beach City Marina we docked at the fuel dock to take on some diesel and pump out prior to backing into our slip. We have family coming in soon after we get back to Jacksonville and wanted to have the boat fueled and ready as they had requested a Sonas trip!

Beautiful Nordhavn at Vero Beach

Day 34. Saturday March 27.

The mornings were getting light earlier so Bella had her romp in the Vero Beach dog park and we were off the dock at 7:50! We had a very uneventful (that is no Coast Guard distresses to listen into or be part of!!) run north towards Cocoa. We had planned to tie up at the free dock there or, if there wasn’t room, anchor off as we had done on the way down. However we made great time and approached Cocoa at 1:30, much to early to stop. So we called Titusville City Marina and managed to get a transient slip. That would give us a nearly two hour start on tomorrow’s run to Daytona!

Bella and a Vero Beach squirrel meet!

On the way we passed the DeFever Jusnic northbound and DeFever Sea Breeze southbound. Both were DeFever Cruisers Club members so we chatted for a while over the radio.

As we passed the free dock we noticed three boats tied up. They were taking up all of the dock, and if they had snugged up a bit there would be room for two more decent sized boats. In fact one of the boats was a center console which was clearly not overnighting – there are a dozen or so slips for day boats just beside the overnight dock.

We arrived in Titusville around 3:30 and found a nice park right at the marina. The Titusville Marina Park has a small moto-cross field, a skate park, AND a dog park!

Week five was now in the books!

All photos in the gallery below, you can click on them one by one or run a slideshow.

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