A Travellerspoint blog

A Far Port

sunny 66 °F

Carol's words of advise rang true. She admonished me to leave soon, because we were approaching the time when bad stuff seems to happen. So we did!

On Wednesday, 12/14/11 we left the dock at 1140, caught the tidal flow out and hit open water in just over two hours. This was probably as easy a time as we have had entering or leaving Brunswick.

This leg of the trip is not one we look forward to doing. It's long and dull, rather like driving across Nebraska; you do it because you have to, but nobody really wants to. If we could have Scotty beam us and the boat south, it would be a good deal. On the other hand, it is a two day immersion in boating, a somewhat useful exercise after having been gone from it for six months. We are workman like on this leg; whoever is not on the helm is below resting, napping or sleeping.

There was not enough wind from the right direction to sail sans motor, so we motor sailed the whole way. The weather forecast, this time anyway, was spot on, with winds and seas being correct. The wind direction .... not so close. It doesn't matter; we made our 5.0 knots regardless.

What got us was the wave action. The forecast was for seas 4~8-ft. We must have seen only he latter part of that range. Not a big deal except that the waves were hitting the beam, square on, causing the boat to heel in one direction; then, the boat would violently recoil back the other way making the mast look like some sort of steroidal metronome intent on keeping the rhythm of the sea. Even using two hands at all times it was hard to stand up without getting tossed in some direction. How rough was it? Carol did not even think about cooking, despite the fact that the stove is on gimbals and it also has pot holders. We eventually put out sail which greatly reduced, but did not eliminate, the movement. We both put on anti-sea sickness patches prior to getting underway. I was fine; Carol had some issues. Assuming that we can eliminate morning sickness as a potential cause, that leaves the roly-poly boat. On reflection we were both lucky not to have been injured; the several landings were benign, only bumps and bruises.

Sometimes, for all of its immensity, the ocean can seem a very crowded place. Not this trip. There is usually a good bit of traffic going into or out of Jacksonville, FL. Nada! No pleasure craft, no nothing. That's OK, fewer right of way problems to solve. We spent the nights staring at an empty radar screen.

Our first night out was fairly clear. Carol had the watch when a waxing gibbous moon rose from below the horizon, the first time she said that she had seen this on the open water. Having seen several such risings myself I think that Joyce Kilmer should have written these lines, had she not been a landlubber:

I think that I will never see
a poem as pretty as a moonrise at sea.

The meter might need some work but the concept is perfect.

The second day out, Thursday, everything was gray: the water looked like polished slate; the skies were variations on that same theme and no sun to speak of. In the midst of this monochrome expanse we came on a flotilla of white sea birds, a few dozen, maybe more. The white of their feathers against the gray was dramatic. Why they would be floating 30 miles off shore is a mystery to me. But, that mystery did not diminish the beauty of the scene. I imagined that birds would be concerned about hungry beasties from the depth coming to eat bird burgers. This is probably the case since one legged sea birds are easy to spot. One blog reader suggested that I get a Sibley Field Guide to Birds, which I did rather than the Roger Tory Peterson, which had been my original plan. Anyway, they seem to have been mature northern gannets, a very pretty bird in flight and very easy to identify through markings. (not an original photo)


That Thursday we decided that we needed to refuel. I don't know which of us has the more difficult job. I have to go forward on deck and bring the jerry cans into the cockpit, each weighing about 35-lb's and hoist them onto the coaming. Carol has to go onto the swim platform on the stern, dodging the dinghy to open the fuel cap and to secure the siphon hose. She always wears two safety tethers so, if she slipped, she might get wet up to her waist. A good friend told us about Super Siphons, he having several of his own. So, we bought a pair. They are just great, being able to empty 5-gal. in about three minutes. Refueling sure has been easier since we got those. I was surprised at how much fuel we used ... we came into Ft. Pierce with the needle pegged on empty. The tank it was not all the way empty but it was way closer than was comfortable. Because this engine is better than the old one we can run at higher RPM's for more speed. That also means more combustions per minute, ergo, more fuel used. It's not a bad number, just 0.7 gallons per hour and within specifications, but I clearly did not think this issue all the way through.

The last night was cloudy. No land was visible to the west, we were too far out and the boat is too low in the water. But, there was a clear horizon created by the penumbra of lights on shore. To the east the clouds merged with the water to create a black wall that, seemingly, started at the edge of the boat. For some reason, maybe fatigue, I found this to be uncomfortably disorienting. Not a problem, just a strange reaction.

Friday morning, just about 0930 we hit the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina and fuel was at the top of the list. 35 gallons later we were ready to moor, in exactly the same place they put us earlier this year .... on the wrong side of the marina but in the easiest possible place to park the boat. After 46 hours underway we really needed easy.


The first order of business was to wash the salt off the boat; it was crusty from the 46 hours of waves that had broken over the bow, some with enough force and volume to make the boat shudder. Thank goodness for the surround. We were, (mostly), toasty and stayed dry the whole time. Attitude may be the difference between an ordeal and an adventure, but sometimes neither is the best choice.

We have stayed t this marina several times over the past few years, in part because location: two days north to Brunswick, one day south to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. But, the old part of the city, near the water, is very nice. We have been here often enough to recognize the same boats in the same places, seemingly never visited by any human being.

Cousin Les and Jean were able to come down from Sebastian on Saturday for a visit.


Every Saturday there is a farmer's market in a park adjacent to the marina with local crafts being sold, which we four decided to visit for lunch. It rather has the feel of a medieval market fair. There are not many actual farmers but lots of food choices. The craft area is fascinating, especially as the holiday nears.


After good Greek fare for dinner we retired to our dock to await the Parade of Boats, boats decked out in holiday lights. It was supposed to start at 6 PM, which it probably did; there were rumored to be 23 vessels this year, which there probably were. However, the parade didn't make it to our dock until about 8 PM and only eight or nine of the vessels hazarded the narrow, shallow channel to this marina. These few were, however, the winners in the several categories which had to come to this marina as part of winning. The energy level rocketed upward after the long wait. The people on the boats were seriously into the Party Hardy mode and having lots of fun.


So the sort of plan is to goof off and relax today, Sunday. On Monday we are having our propeller replaced with a slightly larger one (16-in. diameter vs. 15-in). We'll test the larger size on the run south from Ft. Pierce to Ft. Lauderdale which could come as early as Tuesday depending on weather and berth availability.

Posted by sailziveli 10:22 Archived in USA Tagged boating

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comment with:

Comments left using a name and email address are moderated by the blog owner before showing.

Not published. Required
Leave this field empty

Characters remaining: