For the last four months, Curiosity has enjoyed the warmth of the Florida sun. We spent some time in December and January, as well as all of February, living on the boat in Old Port Cove Marina. It was a wonderful time – going for long walks every day, getting to know Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding areas. We even went to the beach and went swimming in February while the Northeast was getting hammered. Almost every day was warm, with a beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds. We can understand why people come to Florida for the winter. We will definitely be back next fall.
But now it was time to begin the journey north. Ade steered Curiosity out of our slip around 7:30am and in a few minutes we were on the ICW. We had timed our departure to make the 7:45 opening of the Parker Bridge, followed by the 8:00 opening of the PGA Bridge. We easily passed through both as we headed north.
Ade Cruising Down the ICW
Along the ICW
The tide was extremely low, which meant that for all the future bridges we could pass under without waiting for an opening, provided we lowered our antennae. At the time, the low tide seemed like a blessing, but of course it wasn’t.
Around 9:30am, we were cruising in the Jupiter sound just north of Jupiter, Florida. I was at the helm running in about 10 feet of water. The channel seemed wide, and I was running close to the west side of the channel, when suddenly the water disappeared. Instead of 10 feet, it was suddenly 5 feet, then 4.8 feet, and we were aground. Fortunately, it was a manatee zone so I had been running only about 6kts, but we were hard ground. We could not go forward or backward. So we sat for a few minutes – seemed like hours. Fortunately, I remembered what Pat had taught me about running aground. I used the thrusters to turn the bow so we were facing deeper water. We were in mud or sand and just under the five feet we required. Two small boats were coming down the ICW, throwing a wake. As soon as the wake reached us and lifted us slightly, I eased the boat forward. We moved and the depth gauge read 5ft, 6ft, 7ft, and finally 10 ft. We were free and moving north again. Thank goodness. Fortunately everything seemed fine; no damage, no vibrations, so all was good. What a way to start our voyage north!
An hour later, the dolphins showed up to raise our spirits. They were an energetic group, leaping into the air and splashing heavily on our portside, while a calmer pair surfed our starboard wake.
Enjoying Our Wake
The rest of the voyage was uneventful. We spent most of the time on the flybridge, enjoying the sun and the delightful weather. As rain threatened, we went below to the pilot house for the last hour.
By 1:30pm, we were tied up at Fort Pierce City Marina for the evening. We had wanted to run further to Vero Beach, but all the marinas were full because of a boat show. Fortunately, Fort Pierce had room and a good price for fuel. After we got tied up, we pumped 500 gallons of diesel into our tanks – an expensive proposition, but we should have enough fuel to get to Annapolis. A quick rinse of the boat, and it was already 3:00pm.
It should have been time to relax, but it wasn’t. We had two other chores ahead of us: hiking to the nearest Walgreens to pick up a few things and cleaning our ball fenders. We did the hike first. It was about 1.5 miles to the Walgreens from the marina. The first quarter mile or so took us through “historic” downtown Fort Pierce. We’ve been in a number of “historic” small towns, and most of the time there’s a little bit of history to support the term and a tiny area with one or two interesting buildings. Fort Pierce is a step up from this. There were a number of art deco buildings and some interesting shops and some very interesting advertising for one (see the pic below). It was a real place. Nonetheless, there was very little foot traffic even on a Saturday afternoon.
Advertising in Fort Pierce
We continued through the town until we hit Route 1, turned left and walked a little over a mile to the Walgreens. Route 1 was what you would expect: a motley strip of businesses, not all of which were actually in business. It was a hot and sunny afternoon and we were glad to reach the Walgreens and its air conditioning.
We were buying Nexium, which looked like it was going to be a major event. The Nexium was in a locked cabinet. No one had the key and the manager had to open it, so we were told. Really? This is heartburn medicine, not a narcotic! Long story, short, one of the clerks decided to be bold and use her key to open the cabinet. Wonder of wonders it worked! We were on our way back to Curiosity.
Our next chore was cleaning the ball fenders. We had used these fenders during our time at Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach. The marina has excellent floating docks, but there’s a black rubber-like layer right under the dock that acts as an additional fender. That’s great, but any boat fender that touches this stuff turns black. And that black rubs off on anything it touches, like teak decking, fiberglass, human arms and legs, etc. We were tied up at the Fort Pierce City Marina’s fuel dock, which was a fixed dock. So we had our other fenders out. As painful as it was at 4pm to clean the ball fenders, we decided this was as good a time to do this as any.
I got out the Spray 9 and got to it. The Spray 9 got most of the black off. A few more scrubs with a Magic Eraser (those things are great!) and the ball fenders actually looked white.
While I was scrubbing away, Adrienne was in the engine room doing the engine check. It was a hot chore having run the boat for about 5 hours, but she had already gotten nice and sweaty when we were filling up. She was in the engine room then reading the sight gauges and letting me know when the tanks were full.
It was about 5pm before we were all done. We relaxed for a bit and then hopped in the shower. It was one of those times when a shower is the most perfect and wonderful experience!
Dinner was a 6:30 at Cobb’s Landing, located on the marina property, thank goodness. It was clear to us that the marina area is the happening place in Fort Pierce. On one side is a tiki bar, which had loud music all afternoon with people laughing and screaming (not sure what was going on there) and on the other side is the restaurant. It was packed. We sat out on their patio where a local band was playing. We didn’t have great expectations for the food from what we had seen so far of the town, but it was surprisingly good. I had a seafood gumbo packed with shrimp and andouille sausage and Adrienne had some very good seared tuna tacos. Even the “skinny” margarita was pretty good.
After dinner we were done. We headed back to Curiosity, relaxed a bit and then turned in. Tomorrow we head to Cocoa Beach, approximately 60 nautical miles to the north. Thunderstorms are predicted for the afternoon, so we want to get started no later than 6:45am. Early morning, but that’s boating.