1 October, 2002
Ft Pierce, FL N27.27040 W80.19215
Some days are longer than others
Finally the yard was done with the boat and we were about to head out on our first sail. The bottom was painted and the freeboard was polished and waxed. New zincs were added, the oil in the sail drives were changed and the max props were lubricated and we were scheduled to be in the water at ten o'clock. At ten thirty the lumbering Travelall lifted Shiraz with it's name now in modest size across the bow and a new hailing port of Indianapolis, IN. As we scrambled on board we were excited to be heading out .
We had been watching the weather for about a week and it was taking a turn for the worse with forecasted winds of 15 to 20 knots and thunderstorms. We were headed for Ft Pierce for the next 30 days or more to finish any last minutes preparations and to await the end of hurricane season. The sail would take about twelve hours depending on the direction of the winds.
As I fired up the engines and followed the instructions of the lift crew, I put the boat in reverse and was instructed to give it a little more gas. Unpredictably the boat lurched forward and after a lot of yelling a mechanic came on board to make sure I was operating the controls correctly. Well duh, sure enough forward was reverse and reverse was forward and the best anybody could figure out was the max props put on twenty minutes earlier were incorrectly installed. So another haul-out and alot of accusations. Max props are manufactured in Italy and the US dealer is in Washington St. The contractor now had to wait until the company opened to get a diagram manual. I had the diagrams onboard but they never asked. I should have gotten the hint when they came up with the wrong propeller zincs and they used my spare pair.
Okay the day was shot and we waited in the hot sun for the props to be rebuilt with no one taking blame. But that's what this sailing life is about - taking your time. We relaunched at about three thirty and this time every thing worked. We were off and following the Jungle Queen through the bridges was a bonus. The bridge tenders respond to the Jungle Queen with prompt opening to make this tourist attraction one of the most popular in Ft. Lauderdale. All the bridge tenders, that is except the railroad bridge, where we waited for over a half hour on the train to pass. This doesn't sound difficult but with the currents and the winds and the million dollar boats lining the river you can break into a sweat in no time. Starboard engine forward, port reverse all with a light touch and Rene pointing out every hazards in the narrow river channel. Next time she drives. As we approach the last bridge the 17th Avenue. We are in rush hour traffic and the bridge doesn't open at all in rush hour traffic. Sorry wait until 5:30. At least here the channel is wide and there is plenty of room to maneuver. A cloud burst puts a small damper to our spirits but finally the bridge opens, the rain stops, and we are off for the MoA. We set sail at about six and head north in 15 knot winds that quickly accelerate to 20 to 25 as darkness sets in. We have a reef in the main but still we are flying at 6 to 7 knots and maybe more but our knot meter gave out sometime during the night. The longer we go the higher the waves and we are banging around in 5 to 7 foot waves but still everything is in control and to add too our pleasure another rain storm and 33 knot wind gust. Just enough rain to make you cold. Not shivering cold but wet and cold with rain pelting your face through the section of window we had opened for the night. and then for the next hour or so the water drips into your lap. That happened more than once during the night.
14 October 2002
Ft Pierce, FL N27.27040 W80.19215
Fort Pierce City Marina, Fort Pierce City Marina...This is sailing vessel Shiraz, over
When selecting a name for your boat you have to remember that you will be announcing this name on your VHF and SSB time and time again so you want to pick something short and easily understood. Seems like that logic should also apply to the marinas also. But when you think about it, it is difficult to shorten Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Pierce, Ft Meyers, Ft. McCoy, Ft Walton Beach etc. With all these Forts there must be a Bush involved somewhere. Actually Jeb Bush is running for reelection as governor of Florida and is now neck and neck with the challenger McBride. An interesting race of demographics. The issues appear to be the poor performance of the Florida school system and the cost of prescription drugs. And if Jeb didn't have a famous brother in trouble and at war, well Florida would certainly have a new governor.
Fort Pierce is along the Treasure Coast area of Florida and it reminds us of a B movie, The Sunshine State. We saw The Sunshine State during our last trip back to Indianapolis at a small art theater and thought it good enough to recommend. When we first visited the Fort Pierce City Marina, we were impressed by how clean and orderly the facility was. The showers, laundry room and grounds were well kept and there is a great deal of activity to improve and expand the marina. The marina has two restaurants on the property both with a Polynesian theme. On the weekends live entertainment is provided from the dock just outside the restaurant and the music drifts throughout the marina without being intrusive. And on Saturday mornings the city hosts an open air market with fresh fruits, vegetables, and fresh baked breads.
Not bad for a one time drug center on the east coast of Florida.
The boats are well kept and most are larger than Shiraz. Large fifty plus foot trawlers, tall sports fishing boats, sloops, catamarans, a variety of ketches, tugs and yachts occupy the live aboard and transit slips. Every day the collection changes to a small degree as a few boats move in and a few move out. Sometimes in the late afternoons yachts over ninety feet enter the marina to spend the night and then exit with an early morning departure. We assume they are headed for the boat shows in Ft Lauderdale and Miami or getting in position for the winter season. They are magnificent.
An attraction of the marina is that the bridge from the inlet has a 65 foot clearance and therefore no waiting for a draw bridge. The draw back is the current and tide. Four times a day the tide becomes slack but only for a very short period of time (something less than twenty minutes). Any other time the current rips through the slips playing havoc with departing and docking vessels.
We have seen eighty foot yachts careen off pillars and get hung up as they attempt to leave, paying no attention to the current (at first). See picture at right...............................oops!
The fish that populate the marina are a large draw for the restaurants. The mullet are now running and small schools leap from the water as they try to escape the feeding frenzy. The water is clear enough to see the skipjacks and snook chasing after their next meal. The water continuously churns and from observation points outside the restaurants you can see the food chain in action. At night we lie in our bed and hear fish bang into the side of the boat as they try to escape the jaws of larger fish. This is in contrast to the occasional manatee found lumbering through the marina and swimming in the surrounding waters. Adjacent to our location is the local Manatee Museum with obligatory gift shop There is also a power plant nearby that warms the water before returning it to the estuary which attracts the manatee.
But the owners that live aboard now that's the real attraction. Many are long time residents and some have lived on their boats for twenty years or so. There's a book to be written about the residences of every marina, I'm certain. Just take our short three week experience. A recently divorced guy dispensing advice on any topic to anyone who will listen. Another young guy that shows up every week end to wash his beautiful sport fishing boat. Always in red shorts and a red baseball cap and no shirt, turning his back as red as his pants. He shows up with all new cleaning supplies and spends hours cleaning and recleaning. Most are couples with a wide interest and background. A couple from Great Britain that spent a great deal of their career in Saudi Arabia with ARAMCO. Another leaving for the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic A couple from North Carolina living on SPARHAWK are replenishing their cruising fund by working locally in order to leave for the winter and another couple with their boat serving as a part time home which accommodates their over the road trucking job. Even though Pier C has the most live boards it also has a large collection of boats that sit unattended or with for sale signs posted.
Many of our neighbors will tell you that they are waiting for the weather to change and then they will head out to the Bahamas to spend the winter and certainly many boats do just that . Then of course there are the boats that will continually wait for weather or boat repairs or job needs or something else that will provide a reason not to leave. In our short stay it is difficult to say but I would bet there are many boats that never move.
The marina is also full of pets. Golden retrievers seem to be the most popular selection with three on our pier alone. But there are a full array of breeds. There is one beagle that is so old the owner has to put him in a push cart and take him from the boat to the grass where he is lifted out to urinate in the dew covered turf. Owners seem to be diligent about cleaning up after their pets. One boat houses birds. Now picture a marina that is full of gulls, pelicans, osprey, sand pipers, all trying to crap on your freshly washed and waxed boat and one guy walks around with parrots on his shoulder just waiting to crap on him and his boat. Talk to him for a few minutes and you find out that there is a rookery of eight parrots onboard.
So this is what happens to one after three months without the Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, Newsweek, local paper or trade journals, you start to notice how people handle their dog shit. Well, It's not out of boredom I can assure you. We have been extremely busy every day, weekends included, getting the boat the way we want it and providing the good folks at West Marine and other local chandleries a good living in a depressed economy. We are in the process of provisioning and taking care of a few other things before we head out to the Bahamas. Probably no more than fifteen days.
Our hope is to be out of here soon and not become one of the barnacles in the Fort Pierce City Marina.
Just click here to see a quick movie of our brief encounter with the family of Bottlenose Dolphins during a recent day sail. They were wonderful to watch as they barrel rolled below the trampoline, staying with our boat for about ten minutes.
Just in case you are wondering, the Kitty is doing just fine.