Friday, February 11, 2011

On our Way! Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grateful for the several days of delayed departure due to the still cold weather, coupled with rain and thunderstorms, we raced around making final preparations for our long awaited trip to the Caribbean -- the Leeward and Windward Islands all the way to Grenada.

Spending nearly $1,000 for a two year supply of staples such as paper towels, toilet paper, zip lock bags, laundry soap & softner, toothpaste, shampoo, make-up, etc. including basic food items such as mayo, mustards, cereal, oatmeal, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, coffee and paramalot milk -- we dropped the waterline by two inches I’ll bet!  It took me FOREVER to get everything stowed away properly and also to figure out in the store how much I could purchase based on any expiration dates on the items.   I made a second trip back to the commissary for chicken, pork and beef which I repackaged into smaller portions and froze.  We are LOADED.

Food and essential supplies are very expensive (sometime 150 - 300% more) in the islands due to the extra shipping costs, import taxes, etc. and that is IF you can find what you need.  I’m loaded with fresh produce, which will soon run out and produce is what is really hard to get -- the further out in the island chain, the less desirable looking is the produce.  Ah well.  We also love the seafood and hope to augment via fishing and of course, always buying local foods - no matter what they are!  I do tire quickly of conch, however........

ON our way -- pulling out of the Jax Beach marina on Sunday morning (2/13) with Matt & Donna & son, Kyle, aboard, we delighted in the sunny day all the way to St. Augustine, about a 4 hour cruise via the ICW.   The McNamara’s hopped off after treating us to dinner in St. Augustine, returning home via auto.  It was a great experience for them, especially as Matt thinks about such a lifestyle someday.....

On a mission now, we dropped the hook in Daytona Beach on Monday late afternoon, 54 statute miles away.  Tuesday found us cruising thru one of my favorite areas, Haulover Canal, near Cape Kennedy and along a wildlife refuge.  Ah, no manatee.  Last time through here there were too many to count everywhere.  

Spending Tuesday night at the Cocoa Village Marina,(67 miles traveled) we were able to have my high school friend, Jill, join us for dinner and a quick reunion.  Wednesday was another long day, dropping the hook 65 miles down the ICW in Ft. Pierce.  Ah, dolphin just absolutely everywhere, for the past two days, following in our wake along the bow and the stern, twisting, turning, leaping and in general, having a grand time for very long periods of time.  My idea is that there are few boats out and about and these dolphin are delighted to have a boat to play with, so they us follow for miles....I’ve never seen the same pod follow us for so far and for long!

A first for us - we were followed forever by one off Melbourne Beach that was tagged -- #68C written in white on his/her dorsal fin. Researchers in the area follow a specific tagged dolphin for their entire life cycle of 30+ years learning much about their social interactions, migratory patterns, etc.   I learned many years ago that dolphin migrate and come back to the same area year after year.  Interesting!

On Thursday our strip tease began.....a subtle peeling off of a jacket; shoes & socks next in order to wiggle white toes in the sun; a run into the cabin to take off the jeans to replace them with YES shorts!  At the St. Lucie Inlet, the water turned ACQUA in color, so beautiful and so exciting!  A teaser for what is to come for us as we head to the Bahamas and beyond.  The warmer weather is so very welcome!

We pulled into Palm Harbor Marina in W. Palm Beach early Friday morning, after dropping the hook a mile or so back at Lake Worth on Thursday night.  We’d made arrangements for the water maker to be looked at and fixed and to meet another group of Novartis friends  (Lila & Lourdes) for dinner.

Little Wonder Water Maker
Surprise, surprise...not really.  HOURS later and $1,500 later, the water maker was fixed.  Same story -- “gee, this piece of equipment is like a tank, they never go wrong or break.”  Yeah, right.  The repairman took the pump to his shop to bench test it (whatever that all means), calling Andy to say when he took it all apart it smelled to high heaven of diesel and that is what ruined it.  We can only assume that some boater dumped something in the Key West mooring field where we were and it got sucked up, ruining our equipment.  We ran the water maker there when only a few occupied boats were around and only when the current was ripping through.  Bah.

At any rate, we ended up staying 3 nights at this first class new marina, enjoying the town and two different festivals held over the weekend, an antique car show, including an Indian (India) celebration and waiting for a new boat buddy Andy hooked up with via the DeFever website to arrive.  We will now cross over to the Bahamas with Sea Dog, a 60’ DeFever, who is going our way at the same time.

Monday & Tuesday, February 21 & 22, 2011
Now we wait.  The weather keeps deteriorating in that the winds/waves are getting worse.  Last week, it looked like a Sunday crossing; now a Tuesday potential crossing seems to be off and Wednesday isn’t looking good either.  The forecast is bouncing, so we shall see....  We are now at anchor in Sylvia Lake, just off Ft. Lauderdale Beach and the Las Olas area where we will sit til we can cross.  It is sunny, breezy and great -- just not to cross the Gulf Stream!

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