Saturday, July 24, 2010

Staying in Fort Pierce and Trip to Orlando

Sunday July 18 – Saturday July 24

Sunday morning we are up before dawn for a 6 AM departure from our slip at high tide. We go to the fuel dock to wait for them & the office to open. After topping off with fuel, Steve goes to the office to check out. He comes back to the boat and explains the situation, we can pay $900 for the 10 days we have been here OR we can pay $700 and have the option to stay for a month. Now Fort Pierce is a very nice place but to say for a month, is not what we really want to do. Our original plan was to leave Ft. Pierce and go up to Cape Canaveral, and spend a few days there, renting a car to go over to Orlando for a couple of days. We walk the boat up the fuel dock pier to get out of the way of other boats getting fuel while we discuss our options. It really is not a tough choice, we can sail up to Cape Canaveral and pay another marina & drive the 45 minutes to Orlando OR just stay here (for “free”) and drive 2 hours to Orlando. We stay at Ft. Piece, but now we have to hang out at the fuel dock pier to wait until the next high tide at 1 to go back to a slip. We are in the spot of a charter fishing boat, so the dock-master says it is okay as long as we are moved by the time they come back to dock, which could cut it close with the tide. We go to a different slip one we hope is a little deeper and quieter without the fishing charter boat so close. Steve can back the boat up like a charm, and I am getting much better with using the hook to get all the bow & mid lines on but docking is still not our favorite, dropping the anchor is much preferred. We are in our new slip by 1, having lunch as we make plans for Orlando. Monday Steve works on a hatch that we had just received the part for, while I make some phone calls about rental cars, hotels & tickets for the places we want to go to in Orlando, and we dig out the duffel to pack. Tuesday at 7:30 I get picked up by Enterprise to go get our rental car, it's a cute little KIA Ria, a pretty blue that even matches my outfit (LOL). Back to the marina to pick up Steve & our bags and we are on the road by 8:45 feeling strange leaving the boat behind. Our 1st stop in Orlando is to the visitors center who I had book some of our tickets and who said they had a book with daily hotel specials we could check to find a room, they were also located between 2 of the places we would be going. They have a deal for $39.99 a night at the Econo Lodge right across the street, centrally located to where we are going and right on International Blvd with all the restaurants to choose from. We are checked in by noon, walk across the street to a restaurant for lunch, back to the room to change into our bathing suits and on our way to Wet'N Wild water park by 1:30. It is close by so by 2 we are standing in line for our 1st ride—the Black Hole. We had a blast riding all the good & fast rides BUT water parks are all about sanding in line for 30 – 40 minutes for 30 – 40 SECONDS of thrills. It took 6 hours to ride 9 rides, they were all thrills & laughs, but we learned for future reference that this park and probably others as well offer for an additional fee a “frequent flier” pass so you get a special wrist band and have your own lines where you go straight to the front. Definitely would have been worth the price if we had only known we would have avoided the lines! Back to the hotel at 8:30 for showers out to a late dinner at 9:30 at a great Thai restaurant. Wednesday we are out of the hotel at 8:15 to pick up our tickets to Epcot Center, and are walking in the gates at Epcot at 9 AM, as they open. We are there ALL day, walking to ALL the attractions and riding all the rides and yes standing in lines again, lines are not as long and the rides are a lot longer so you get to sit and relax more, plus we used the fast-pass option on a couple of rides. We have a great lunch at a French restaurant and a great dinner at a Moroccan restaurant then watch a fabulous fireworks show before leaving the park at 9:30 PM. Thursday we sleep in as check out time is 11 and my feet are very tired. We have tickets for the 6 pm Cirque Du Soleil show La Nouba that is in the downtown Disney Area that also has an AMC 24 theater. We head over there after checking out of the hotel and have lunch at a great Cuban restaurant then go check to see what movies are playing. Now Steve & I have never been to a movie theater to see a movie together. We use to get movies from Netflix & Blockbuster but never went to a movie theater. We choose the movie Inception which turns out to be a really good choice as it is a very good movie with lots of layers. After the movie just enough time for a drink at the Blues House before the Cirque show, find our seats and wait for the show to begin. Today is a day for sitting & giving my feet a break from 2 days of standing in lines and walking. I did get stuck in one little line, at downtown Disney for a balloon ride, Steve sat in the shade along the lake while I took a ride up in the tethered helium balloon after waiting in line for 20 minutes. Steve made the better choice as the ride & view were not the best. The Cirque Du Soleil show was wonderful as they always are. We are on the road driving back to Ft. Pierce by 8 PM and back home on the boat by 10 after a great little side trip. We had perfect sunshine weather all 3 days of our trip, and just in time as Fridays prediction of rain bands from tropical depression Bonnie starts to affect the Ft. Pierce area and we have rain on & off throughout the day. Which is just perfect for me to sleep in and rest up after the past 3 busy days. Steve of course has to have a project to work on, and since we live on a boat he has no problem finding a few things to do. Satuday is Steves Birthday !! and Sunday we will have been living the cruising life for 4 wonderful months!! Dinner out Saturday night to celabrate both !!

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day's in Fort Pierce

Friday July 9 – Saturday July 17

Friday morning we get a few boat chores done, scrubbing the deck & some cleaning done before noon when Marilyn & Rudy picked us up to take us to the airport to check in with Customs & Immigration. Not the most efficient system for checking boaters in. If we were bad guys we never would have called to say we had entered back into the country (they never even knew we left). Seems like a phone call and then the marina office following up with a fax of our passports would work just as well. We were lucky the airport was not too far and we had someone to take us there. We did it according to the books this time, they do have an easier option that you can sign up for but you have to go talk to someone before you go and we did not have the chance to do that. We then went for a nice lunch with Marilyn & Rudy, then back to their house to visit. Steve listening to some funny stories about people he doesn't know. We have a great visit and Rudy generously offers us the use of his truck while we are here. We drive back to the marina and finish a few boat chores, and make contact with Chris & Robin Blair, whom we tried to meet up with in the Abacos but missed. We make plans to meet with them Saturday night for dinner. Saturday we spend most of the day working on the boat, finding things we need to order & doing laundry. Just as I am needing a break for lunch Rudy & Marilyn stop by to see how we are doing and take us to lunch here at the marina restaurant. We were still undecided on how long we would be staying at Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce. We considered the option of going up to Melbourne, but we would have to travel up the ICW & go under a 65' bridge. Our order for the maps we needed to travel north on the east coast did not go through so we had to reorder them, along with a few other items. We found someone local that could do the bimini work and he would also be willing to deliver up to Melbourne if we moved on. All these things to consider to stay or move on. Rudy lets us know we can use the truck until the following Thursday, which is a strong plus factor to stay in Fort Pierce for a week. Saturday night we finally get to meet Chris & Robin, they come by the boat to visit before going out to dinner. They have been cruising for a few years now, and have a lot of tips and information on the cruising lifestyle. Sunday we take the truck and drive to the mall, and stores. It has been a while since we have been able to just get in a car & go wherever & whenever we need. Big difference now is the time it takes to find out where places are, and just because the GPS says something is someplace does not mean it is still there. We enjoy seeing the sites as we pick up a few things we need. Not sure where the time goes but the days just fly by, bimini picked up, boat maintenance chores, manicure & pedicure, hair cuts, massage, more shopping, visit to the Navy Seal’s museum, polishing boat, swimming in marina pool, more boat maintenance, more polishing, out to dinner, bimini returned along with a sun screen for dodger, parts ordered and received. Next thing we knew a week has passed and it was time to move on.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crossing back to US

Sunday July 4 - Thursday July 8

We stay near New Plymouth on Green Turtle, knowing the anchorage by Treasure Cay would be too crowded. The morning has more light showers but the sun comes out by late morning as we watch most of the boats pull out of the anchorage. We are busy making plans for our crossing and finishing blog updates and other computer related activities. We were torn between going into Port Saint Lucie and Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce won out, due to the lack of bridges we will need to navigate. We were using 68' for bridge clearance but Steve looked up the actual mast height from deck which is 63'4” and I sent him up the mast to measure the actual height of the instruments on top with that and the fact we are sitting a few inches deeper in the water due to the weight of everything on board we feel we could at low tide get under a 65 foot bridge clearance. That being said we have never gone under a 65' clearance bridge and are still a little leery to try, Pt. St. Lucie has 3 bridges we would need to clear and Ft. Pierce has none. So for the time being we will play it safe and not mess with bridges for now. Monday we are underway by 7:30 leaving the populated area of the Abacos heading for Great Sale Cay. We are motor sailing except during the two rain showers we go through where the winds pick up enough to just sail. We arrive at Great Sale at 3:30 and decide to try to anchor on the west side of the Island instead of going south around a shoal to get to the little cove we anchored in on the way in. At this point in the day we have no wind and only very light east winds are predicted for the evening so having only protection from east winds should be okay. We have had excellent setting and holding with our 70 lb Rocna anchor and this is the first time we have a problem. Finally on the 4th try after backing down it sets. A little while later when Steve dives to check and the anchor is completely buried just a few feet off the bow with the chain running in a circle . The evening stays calm until around 11 when the front predicted for Tuesday arrives a little early, and with winds from the northeast instead of the east. The winds pick up but only to 10 – 15 K and that brings some small wave action. The anchor holds with no problem the boat just has a little rolling action throughout the night. In the morning we check the weather and get a prediction of north north-east at 10-15 knots for Wednesday, going to east at 5 knots on Thursday. All the cruising guides warn against a gulf stream crossing with any wind with a north element, because that causes the waves to really kick up on the gulf stream. At only 10-15 knots we think it probably wouldn't be too bad, but we really don't know, and we're not in a hurry, so we decide to delay a day until the winds come east again. The anchorage is getting pretty rolly with the waves, so we move the boat into the cove for smoother water, and spend the day watching a few other boats come in to anchor. One boat is friends Jack & Jackie's Rainbow Chaser. We make radio contact and talk about plans to cross, they are thinking about doing the same thing as us staying on the “banks” Wednesday night and crossing on Thursday. Wednesday we leave our anchorage at 8 AM with Rainbow Chaser shortly behind us, heading for the western edge of the Little Bahama Bank at White Sand Ridge, this is just an area of shallow water 20 feet deep before you go over the edge and it becomes 600 + feet deep. The weather prediction is for NE winds at 5 knots clocking around to east winds again at only 5 knots. We enjoy a great the sail over there (60 miles) with 15 – 20 knot winds, doing 9+ knots, with waves of 2-4 feet, the whole time hoping and thinking the winds will die down when we get there. At 3:30 we touch base with Rainbow Chaser, they have veered a little south since they are motoring w/o sails to help stabilize their ride. We are both concerned about the conditions being a little rough on the bank. We manage to anchor in the 4-5 foot swells, still thinking that it will calm down soon. Talk to Rainbow Chaser who due to the rough conditions have decided to go across overnight, since they have 2 extra crew hands and are familiar with the inlet to Fort Pierce. I have NO desire to cross the Gulf Stream at night in these conditions and Steve has NO desire to enter an unfamiliar port in the dark so even though the conditions are “rough” (boat is bouncing up and down with the waves) we chose to stay the night on the bank. Later that evening, the wind does clock to the east, but stays at 15-20 kts. That turns the boat sideways to the waves still coming from the northeast, and adds a rolling, corkscrewing movement to the boat. We rock and roll throughout the night, not until 5 am the next morning does it finally let up. But the anchor holds, so well in fact that the next morning Steve has to dive to help get the anchor up. Thursday morning as we are pulling up anchor to leave in 1-2 foot swells the anchor does not want to come up, it is caught under a small ledge (provided great holding) so Steve ties a line around it and pulls it free, hands me the line to hold while he swims really fast back to the back of the boat to get on comes up to the bow to take the line from me and use the windlass to pull the anchor the rest of the way up while I run back to the cockpit to steer the boat. We are underway by 8 am, motor sailing because of course now the winds have died down and are behind us having clocked to the east. Later we hear 2 other boats talking on the radio that we know so we communicate with them and they are just a little ways behind us having left from Mangrove Cay at 2 in the morning and are also going to Fort Pierce. We touch base during the crossing and make plans to meet up at the marina when we get in. We arrive at the marina and are docked by 4:30. Shortly after sailing vessels Wild Thing (George & Jan Todd) and Trixie (Jim & Becky & crew Rochelle & Nancy) come in. We make our phone call to customs & immigration telling them we have just returned from a foreign country, we have 24 hours to get to an airport with a customs office to show our passports. The Mom & Step-dad of one of my oldest friend's from growing up on Long Island live in the area and we had been talking about meeting up when we arrived. They will come by at noon the following day to take us to the airport. That night we meet on-board Wild Thing for drinks before going to dinner at the Marina restaurant, swapping stories and information. They will both be leaving early Friday taking the ICW up to Melbourne, Trixie's home port & Wild Things temporary port while they fly home for a short visit. We will be staying in Fort Pierce for a couple of days.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Alice Kayaking.wmv

This was taken a few days ago down off Elbow Cay, but I just figured out how to get it posted to YouTube and then to the blog.  We took turns going out so one of us could keep watch, there were some times the camera was not on me because Steve was watching to make sure I was not drowning or needed help.  Most of the time I could stand up in the water if the waves were NOT knocking me down, at no time was I hurt or in any danger except for the black & blue marks on my arms from trying to hold onto the kayak.  It was a fun & funny time hope you have a good laugh watching me & my gracefulness. 

Fiddle Cay

Friday July 2 – Sunday July 4

Friday morning we are up on deck at 9:30 watching boats come into the anchorage and to Fiddle Cay for the days event. The smaller power boats and cats moving in close to the Island the bigger draft boats staying further out. A little before 11 we are heading in ourselves. Never having been to one before we were not sure what to bring so we brought our boat chairs & table that had served us so well at many a TMCA function. A cooler with water & diet coke, knew they would have margaritas and rum punch but wanted something else to drink with the alcohol. We make our way to the Island and already a lot of boats are there, we find a place to pull the dinghy in and tie her off to a tree on shore as well as a stern anchor. Leaving chairs, table & cooler in the dinghy to go explore the party scene. And what a scene it is, hard to describe so you will just have to look at the pictures, I think they can convey more then I could ever say. It’s so big it’s hard to estimate numbers, but I think there were easily a couple of hundred boats of various sizes, and at least a thousand people. Most of the open cockpit power boats are lined up side by side on fore and aft anchors with their sterns facing inwards forming a giant rectangular lagoon maybe 100’x 300’with the beach on one side. We get drinks and walk around taking in the scene. We decide to go get in the food line, which is already halfway across the lagoon before it gets even longer and the place gets more crowded. Meet up with Jackie and her daughter Rebecca who flew in a few days ago to sail back to Florida with her parents who have been here. The line moves slow but everyone is socializing going to get refills of margaritas or rum punch as we wait, and keeping cool as we’re waist deep in the water.. Keeping it simple Cheeseburgers, Hot Dogs, & French Fries are on the menu hard to go wrong with that combo. We are not usually tempted to buy T-shirts from events or anyplace now that we have limited space to put things, but we thought this event warranted buying a commemorative shirt. No need for our chairs & table but wish I had thought to bring my float that I have not had the chance to use. This would have been the perfect time to have a float as some of the pictures reveal. We are thankful for the cloudy skies as it keeps the temperature down and very comfortable without direct sun. The party starts to break up around 5 and we are heading back to our boat amazed at the days event and that the rain stayed away. Around 7 that evening it starts to rain and stays with us all night and on & off most of the next day. The boat has needed a good rinse, and this is helping to wash off some of the salt although a good scrubbing will be needed when we have access to water that is not $0.15 a gallon. Saturday we watch as most of the boats pull out, some will be participating in the days race but with NO wind it turns out to be a very slow race, others head down closer to the town on the Island a little further south. Later we do the same getting closer to New Plymouth and Settlement Point for a better internet connection and to go into town for the nights race award party which the weather as so nicely cleared up for. Spend a little time visiting with people but even with bug spray the rain has brought the gnats & or no-see-um's out in a way I have never seen. After a couple of hours we head back to the boat where we can hear the music late into the night. Sunday HAPPY JULY 4th. Decision time the weather is not looking very promising for our crossing of the Gulf Stream on Tuesday. We can stay put here at Green Turtle, or make our way northwest to stage for the crossing OR head back southeast to Treasure Cay for another race related party. To be decided, to be continued.
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hope Town to Bakers Bay

Tuesday June 29 – Thursday July 1

Tuesday we moved from south of White Sound on Elbow Cay to off of Hope Town on Elbow Cay, about ½ a mile. We used the kayaks again to go explore Hope Town Harbor from the water side. Verifying where we thought the Harbour Town Inn was & where we could bring the dinghy in for the night’s movie we were going to attend. Slow paddle back to the boat as my arms are getting tired. Lunch on board then Steve takes the dinghy back to get some gas for it plus diet cokes, whiskey & gin just a few necessities. Later that night we head back in to the Inn for the Lion Fish “movie” premier. The Lion Fish are not indigenous to the area and have invaded the Bahamas, & they have very poisonous spines. No natural predators except the spotted moray eel so they are multiplying rapidly. They are trying to teach and encourage man to catch and eat the fish. They have to be handled carefully but once the tips of their spines are cut off (with scissors) they can be handled & filleted like any other fish. They gave out samples & Steve & everyone really liked the meat. I even tried a little piece and it was pretty good. They had a great turn out and the “movie” was entertaining with several locals. Hope Town lost power shortly after the movie was over, this is a very common occurrence during the summer, until they get their new power plant built. Wednesday we are underway by 10, with light winds behind us we are sailing with just the jib out. Only doing between 3 – 4.5 knots but we are not going far and are in no hurry so just enjoy a nice quite sail on the water up to Bakers Bay at the north end of Great Guana Cay. We are anchored by 1:30. Gallant Lady whom we passed coming in a few weeks ago is still anchored nearby, and another mega yacht Andrea Cay is also anchored nearby so we feel we are in good company LOL. We have lunch on board before getting the dinghy out to go explore this part of the Island. Just from our anchorage we can see it is not built up a lot but they do have Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Resort & Marina nearby on this end and we can see the beautiful beaches. Walk around on the beach awhile find the golf course, funny seeing such well manicured green lawns here. Back to the dinghy and over into the marina & resort. It is a beautiful place just not very busy this area is still under development. At one time they were trying to get cruise ships to come in but that did not work out so progress is slow in developing this end of the Island. What is here is very well maintained and they are still building so they have high hopes of making it a first class resort. The mega yacht “Party Girl” was docked here, check out her web site, pretty impressive. Back to the boat for a swim and some reading, what a busy life we have. Thursday we head out into the Atlantic for a short run up to Green Turtle Cay via the Whale Cut Channel. We and a lot of other boats will be heading up there for the big kick off party for the 35th annual Regatta time in Abaco event. The kick off party on Fiddle Cay is called “Cheeseburger in Paradise” party thrown by Bobb Henderson & his houseboat, Stranded Naked, is a famous annual event in the Bahamas. His Cheeseburger in Paradise parties began as a way to celebrate the regatta with like-minded people who love the Abacos and Jimmy Buffet tunes. As the parties became an institution, they became more elaborate and expensive. Last year’s ticket was $10,000. The menu included 1,200 cheeseburgers, 300 hotdogs, 150 pounds of French fries, 100 gallons of rum punch, and 100 gallons of margaritas, plus everything required to set up a beach party with games and music on an uninhabited island and return it to pristine condition afterwards. Bobb’s wife, Patricia, designs outrageous T-shirts to commemorate each year’s party. The sale of the shirts plus help from Bahamas Department of Tourism, many local businesses in Green Turtle, the Regatta Committee, and Bristol Cellars Wine and Spirits help defray the cost of this all-day affair. We are looking forward to this event, which is also our farewell to the Abacos. Hope ??? to have internet access up by Green Turtle to update after the party. IF not we will be waiting for a weather window to head back to the east coast of Florida (along with a lot of other boats down here). Will update blog & FB then.

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