Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Homeward Bound

Some have asked what we did all winter, and now it's time to leave Miami. Well, we think we have become true Grove-ites, immersed in everyday life with a simple routine. Rick played his banjo(s), I quilted, and we drove to destinations like Key West, Sanibel and Key Largo. Good friends Bill and Laurel were in Florida for two month just an hour south so we saw them a few times. We became members of Fairchild Gardens and enjoyed photography of the new Chihuly installation. And then there were endless boat shows, festivals, art fairs, and quilt shops. Yes, a dozen quilt shops and the Lauderdale Quilt Expo. We caught the Frida Kahlo Exhibit in Lauderdale another time and we ate our way through Sunday's in local restaurants. Need I say, we went to the beaches at least once a week. Once we returned to Miami in the end of January, time flew.

Departure was bittersweet, we were torn between wanting to stay and needing to go- but on March 30 we cast off for home. A weather window opened up and we took the opportunity to leave Dinner Key and head north. We felt we were slightly ahead of the pack but not so early that the Bay would be cold when we arrived. We have family obligations up north, we miss our kids and their families, and it is almost Beach Season in Delaware.

It became apparent that the boat bow was pointed high, that we were overloaded in our stern. Remember all those quilt shops? The spinnaker, extra duffles full of off season clothes and quilt fabric, lots of fabric from each store, are now stowed with the sewing machine in the center of the boat. It appears to have made a significant difference in our getting under bridges.

Tuesday we left Miami through Government Cut to the ocean; we ran in the Gulf Stream on a calm sea, making as much as 9.4 knots. Our destination was Old Port Cove Marina on Lake Worth, Palm Beach, where just slips down we reconnected with the Simons on their beautiful new boat. It was a quick catch up Wednesday morning before we headed back out the Lake Worth inlet and north to Ft. Pierce for an unremarkable day. The Ft Pierce City Marina is greatly expanded but fairly empty right now. We had reservations about this inlet because there is a sunken barge below the surface, but it was easy to traverse, well marked and simple to do. There were fewer boats in this inlet, more courteous and less flashy than our rough exit out of Palm Beach!

On Thursday morning we exited the inlet again and headed to Cape Canaveral inlet. The day was grey and threatening but the rain held off. We were not fans of the Cape Marina but the location allowed us to catch the first bridge opening before the Canaveral Canal Lock that opens on demand. Note we had power trouble here, 135 volts coming into the boat, a situation the staff said they would look into. Bonus, we were treated to a pod of dolphins as we entered the canal, and we locked through with a pair of manatees. It was three days of 1-2 foot waves and no wind, I mean no wind. We were beyond disappointed to not sail as there are days ahead where we will have to motor.

Friday was our first day on the Intercostal Waterway and it was a reminder as to why we have moved to the ocean. It was Good Friday, spring break, the weekend, 85 degrees and anyone who owned a water craft was out, qualified or not. It was also our first day of dreaded bridges. We had two scary moments, the first at the Matanzas River, green marker 81A, where we bumped hard in four feet of water. Then, as winds picked up and rain threatened we approached  the mooring field south of St. Augustine, and we ran out of water! Both times Rick powered off the lumps and we were safe, but we were disappointed not to know about the shoals in advance. Boat US and the Coast Guard were aware of both issues we reported, yet we had not heard of any warnings. We made it to Camachee Cove Marina before the rain hit. The current at low tide rips through there until you get to the marina channel. Good news, no need to wash the boat down as it poured overnight. We borrowed a loaner car, hit a quilt shop and a grocery store before crashing for the night.  Sunday was Easter so we called a cab to take us to the Cathedral of St Augustine and later, brunch at the Floridian (the best!) The cathedral celebrated 132 years in St. Augustine and reopening after a full renovation. It's the oldest parish in the country, founded in 1595. The church was beautiful as was mass.

From St. Augustine we made it all the way to Fernandina Beach, our last stop in Florida. We were in early enough to get to another quilt store and walk around town. (Do you see a pattern here?) The Marina is being dredges so there are few slips to be had right now. We finished Florida in just a week. This morning winds were negligible as we motored out of the St. Marys River inlet, seas were predicted to be 2-4 feet. This twenty mile run felt longer because we had higher waves and fog. The gift of the day, Rick spotted a four foot across sea turtle. By the time we came into St. Simons inlet we were beat, hungry and ready for land. Again, no sailing, but we are in Georgia at Morningside Marina!

A note about the bridges: we have run with tides in our favor very successfully and have only clinked on one bridge. We were pushing our luck and the bridge is a foot low. Looks like our weight redistribution was worth the inconvenience in the salon. We are headed inside now for a week so there's no sailing on the horizon. We are moving daily as insurance against weather that would hold us up. Today we will stay up the Midway River at Sunburry Crab Company. Tomorrow, Hilton Head, totally opposite experiences.