Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Florida bound

    After seeing Ryan and Danielle off we were now in "get to Florida" mode. We had plans to get some boat work done while in Florida and, since it was now mid May, we were feeling a tad time pressured. We are new at this and have no idea how long it will take us to get up to the Cheasapeake Bay where we plan to store the boat for the summer months.
  Sooo, with all this in mind, we looked at the charts and decided the best route for us was; Nassau to the Berry Islands, day hops up the Berry's to Great Harbour Cay and then an overnighter from there, across the Gulf stream, to Florida.

A calm day flying the asymmetric spinnaker 

   So,  we spent five days in the Berry Islands  basically having a nice leisurely sail in the morning and then dropping anchor off a deserted beach in the afternoon with a pleasant beach walk and refreshing swim to end the day. Not too bad!!

  The anchor was up by noon on May 26th and we were off on our way to Florida. This was exciting for us, I mean, I know we're not American but it felt like we were finally going home with the boat. Well, at least to the correct continent!
     Why aren't the winds always blowing at the perfect speed and direction?? It seems to me that they're often not quite strong enough ( careful what I wish for !) and we end up with the engines on. So, in an effort to keep to our timed schedule ( for arrival purposes) we motorsailed out of the Bahamas towards the Gulf stream and Florida. It was a pleasant, well lit night with lots of cargo ships around to hold our attention. I had to get Ian up during my shift as we were sandwiched between two large ships, front and back and I was feeling rather uncomfortable with their proximity too us, they come at you fast out here.
   Our boat speed picked up by at least 3 knots as we entered the Gulf stream. This is a fast flowing Atlantic ocean current, originating at the tip of Florida and continuing Northwards up the U.S east coast. No safe, or smart, boater would take on the Gulf stream when the wind was blowing against the current, the resulting waves can apparently be horrendous.  Happily for us we had the wind behind us and were able to enjoy the ride before being "spat out" of the stream just south of our intended arrival location, the Fort Pierce Inlet.
   After five pleasant days at the Fort Pierce City Marina we were off to experience the ICW ( Intracoastal Waterway) on our way to Stuart, Florida where we were scheduled to have some boat maintenance done.  The short section of the ICW that we travelled that day was very scenic, although the person at the helm certainly needs to be giving it their full attention, no reading at the helm seat now! Pucker factor was high as we approached our first fixed bridge! These bridges are 65 feet high and our mast height is 61 feet, plus a short antennae. We obviously made it underneath ok but boy, when you are on the boat and looking up at the bridge and your mast, it looks like there's no way you will fit under.

Here we go.

Best just to close your eyes and cross your fingers.

    After a week at Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, ( thank goodness for air conditioning and long cool showers) we felt like taking a break and so rented a car and drove up to St Augustine.  We enjoyed walking around the old city for a couple of days and the king sized bed was nice at the hotel, but it felt good to get back "home" to Zooropa. We look forward to visiting again this fall by boat on our way down the ICW.

Feeling patriotic!

Ian at the candy store

Shops in St.Augustine

St.Augustine waterfront

    Unbelievably we have now spent two weeks in Stuart, the days just seem to fly by. At times it seems like one step forward two-steps back ( the canvas repair was incorrectly done, the Furuno chart plotter is now iffy, the up 'til now functioning water maker is no longer functional !) whats that saying, " if it ain't broke don't fix it"?!!

  Well, I was just about to say that we were leaving tomorrow but have now been informed that will not be the case. Both the Furuno and water maker guy's will be back. Oh well, such is the boating life. At least we are hooked up to shore power here and have the air conditioning on, because it is bloody HOT outside, no other word for it.  Hopefully these issues will all get resolved and we will be on our way soon. Our next port of call is Charleston. We will be going outside ( not up the ICW) with the Gulf stream helping to push us north. It should be a two and a half day sail and we are both looking forward to getting out on the ocean again, it's been a while.

Pretty sunset at the marina

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