It began like any other day I had experienced in my 60+ years of living. The sun was shining and life was generally good. Little did I know what the day would hold for me – and potentially for the rest of mankind. The creature that attacked us had tentacle-like strings hanging from its limp but surprisingly strong body. It was … But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you the story from the beginning.
I woke up at 0630, Ann a few minutes later. Although the sun wasn’t completely up, I was sure it was going to be a beautiful day. There were about five knots of wind, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the water was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. The weather was perfect and so was the crew. Ann and I are getting very good at getting the boat ready for cruising. She works on the inside and I work on the outside. (I am sure you remember my checklist –curl up the hose, bring in the electrical cord, retying the lines, etc. so I won’t repeat it here.) And today, the first day of our trip north, we were especially good. The fuel dock was supposed to open at 0800 so we left our slip at 0730 to be the first in line. With no wind, I maneuvered like a champ (if I do say so). A dock hand had even arrived at the fuel dock a little bit early and helped us tie-up. We docked, refueled and headed out - all in about 20 minutes.
|The glorious day on which we left. |
Little did we know what loomed ahead
|This isn't the home of the Tarp Monster, |
but it is a Bascule Bridge similar to the
We pulled into the fuel dock and the dock master and I looked at the engines. They looked good to both of us, so we ruled the engines out as the source of the problem. The next alternative was that something was wrong with the props. To check that out, we had to get a diver to look under the boat. The trouble: no divers were available until 3PM. We really didn’t have a choice, so we took a slip at the marina and waited. At about 2 PM a diver – named John – showed up. He was a nice guy who had no idea what was waiting for him under our hull. He went in and stayed down about 15 minutes. When he came up he was covered in … well, I am not sure what it was. Because he carried it draped over his body it looked other worldly, but it wasn’t. John told us that when he first saw it he had to convince himself that it wasn’t the creature from the Black Lagoon or something. Anyway, it appears to have been some sort of tarp that is brown on one side and has some sort of silvery lining on the other. Because our props had chewed it up so badly, a lot of the silvery stuff was hanging like tentacles from the body of what we will forever remember as the unforgettable “Tarp Monster.” The cost for the diver? Less than .075 Boat Units (of course that didn’t cover the cost of the marina, but we were hoping our “boat unit” luck was changing.
|The Grizzly Tarp Monster.|
Anyway, the second day was wonderful. We went past Jupiter Island and the properties were even more magnificent than they were at Palm Beach. One of the dock hands told me that a national magazine reported that the people living on Jupiter Island controlled nearly 10% of the nation’s wealth. And Tiger Woods supposedly has a house there. The real story of the day, however, was the dolphins. They were all over the place. We saw singles, duos and even a pod of four. We even had a couple come and play alongside the boat. One would come to the surface and kind of roll over on it back, exposing its underside to the sun and possibly the bow wave. That one would then right itself, move to the outside and let its partner do the same thing. It only lasted for three of four minutes, but as you can imagine, Ann was in heaven.
We arrived in Vero Beach, our destination for the day at about 2:30. We headed straight to the mooring field. They have kind of an unusual setup at Vero Beach. You are assigned a mooring ball, but you could be assigned a ball with two other boats. You would then “raft-up” with your new best friends by tying your boat to the first one there; the first one, in turn ties to the mooring ball itself. Although we saw a couple of boats moored in this manner, we were assigned our own mooring, #20.
Before the attack of the dreaded “Tarp-Monster,” our plan had been to spend two nights in Vero Beach. The mooring balls are secure and inexpensive, and the marina has a number of excellent facilities, including a shuttle bus that will take you to the beach on the ¾ hour and to town on the ¼ hour. Ever since Ann heard that, she figured she would be able to get back to the Red Onion. As some of you may recall, the last time we were in Vero Beach, Ann’s friend Bill took all of us to the Red Onion for lobster rolls – and delicious lobster rolls they were. Since then, Ann has wanted another. Moreover, we had not really taken our dinghy down since getting the davit motor fixed. I really wanted to test the motor in an area where we could get some mechanical help if we needed it – and Vero Beach seemed like the place. So, down came the dinghy (which worked like a champ, by the way), and off we were to catch the shuttle to the beach (where Red Onion is). Darn! We just missed the shuttle, but all is not lost. According to the young man at the marina, it is a pleasant four block walk to the beach. Well, off we went. And went. And went. And went. My God, the woman took me on the Vero Death March just so she could have a lobster roll!! After all was said and done, Ann had a new blister on her toe and some sunburn on her face; as for me, my right heel was killing me ( a perennial problem that keeps me from my third favorite activity, running), but we did each have a lobster roll – and it was good.
We got up the next morning and headed out. I must admit, though, we did touch bottom a little in the channel heading back to the ICW from the marina. I am not sure what the problem was (me, the charts, the markers, or a combination of all of us) but I don’t think we are any worse for the experience (i.e. I don’t see any additional boat units in the immediate future). Anyway, today’s scenery was much like yesterday’s with one exception. We saw so many dolphins yesterday, that Ann decided that rather than try to keep track of each individual dolphin, she would track the total number she saw. Today’s total? Hahaha. You have to read Ann’s Notes later in the Blog because she won’t let me tell you.
|Just one of many cottages on the "Rodeo Drive-ness" |
portion of the ICW
|Some of the "Route 1-ness" of parts of the ICW|
The ICW is also, of course, the primary north-south route for boaters – and for locals trying to get somewhere and do something with their boats. It can get very congested at times. Power boaters may not want to wake us and other, slower boats, but they have places to go and people to see – and only a weekend in which to do it.
And finally, kind of like I-95, the ICW is La Rue des Idiots. Imagine someone waterskiing down the middle of I95 – we don’t have to imagine it, we saw it. In fact, we had to slow down one time because a young man fell into the water about ¼ mile ahead of us. Imagine an old man sitting in a small rickety-looking boat just off the center span of a major bridge across the ICW, complaining that every boat that passes rocks his boat with their wakes. He conveniently forgets, of course, that it is illegal to tie off to a bridge, to fish in the main channel of the Intracoastal and to impede the flow of traffic under the bridge. I guess he thinks that those particular rules don’t apply to him.
Okay, enough philosophizing about the ICW, we anchored that night at Coco, near Coco Beach. It was an okay anchorage. If there would have been a stiff wind, we wouldn’t have had much protection from the west or the south. But luckily for us, there wasn’t much of a breeze at all. In fact, by morning, the boat had drifted to a position that was almost on top of the anchor (which means we did more drifting than dragging). Anyway, about an hour after we arrived, another large motor vessel showed up. (We will meet them ;later in St. Augustine)
We left Coco at 0800 the following day. Because we had traveled so long and so far yesterday, this was a relatively easy day. The Intracoastal produced more of the same, except that we passed more sailboats headed north. There was also quite a bit of the waterway – maybe 10 or 15 miles – that was almost literally a ditch. The Intracoastal went from shore to shore with presumably enough depth not to go aground (I pretty stuck to the middle of the channel). Anyway, we arrived in Saint Augustine on Sunday 29 April. We are going to spend three days here on a mooring ball (.021 of a Boat Unit per night), then spend the last night at a slip in the marina so we can get some water (I mean “take on” some water – that’s the more nautical way of saying it), clean the boat and get some fuel before we head on north.Meanwhile, we are looking forward to seeing St. Augustine’s Old Town and the 450 year old fort and taking the bus – which costs $1 for you youngsters, but for us “seniors" defined as over 60, we get half fare! I will try to file our next report before we leave St. Augustine, but if not it will probably be from Hilton Head.
ANN’S NOTES: Michael has pretty much told you about traveling down the ICW...The views vary mile to mile. Not everyone in Florida went belly up when the ecomomy went south...pun is intented :)
I think I need to explain my morning routine since you know what Michael is doing on the outside of the boat...and I do get pulled away from the inside to help him adjust the lines so I can handle the lines by myself while we are pulling away from the dock. I apperciate the efforts he puts in to make that happen. Anyway...back inside the boat I am busy with all sorts of smaller but inportant details. And more details are being added. First I have to make the bed...a small ritual to keep me centered and remind me this is our home and needs to be treated as one. Then the following...get dressed...apply sun screen...make sure ALL HATCHES are closed and secured. FYI...we have a lot of hatches to close. Then there are the windows in the salon and galley...all have special locks that keep the windows from rattling and sliding open. We have little plastic capes on them that have been replaced ... I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave and Joan for finding them at Fisher's hardware store in Springfield. The latest detail of which I have take control is that we now take our 'snacks' and drinks up in a cooler. The "amp nazi" (hey, I resemble that remark!) thought this would help with saving the inverter while under way ... it seems to be working since I don't have to open the fridge during the day. Then I make the coffee, wash, dry and put all he dishes away. Okay, we are almost all done. I have a blue computer bag that I keep all the needed First Mate/Navigator stuff in. What you may ask would be in such a bag? You may ask ... well... Charts, ICW book, anchorage book, my cell phone, camera (where do you think all these pictures come from?) and a few personal items...sun block, chap stick, fan, spray bottle, etc. and my PINK and two Yellow sticky page remakers. I will tell you about the way I keep track of our location in another posting. And of course a navigators friend -- a good part of binoculars. All of the items need to go up to the second deck...Than we can GO!!!!
When Tim was visiting us he showed me how to tie and store my lines the way most sailors do. I had wanted to learn how to do that since moving onto the boat. As you can see I have got the 'hang'of it...again pun is intented :) and THANK YOU TIMOTHY WILLIAM BROWN for showing your mom how to do that...I love you :)
|A couple of the many dolphins included in the Dolphin Count|
Last item...my happy annoucement...the Dolpin count...
27 April 2012 28 dolphins
28 April 2012 27 single dolpins 1set of 3 dolph9ins for a total of 30
BONUS: 2 Mannatees
29 April 2012: 7 single dolpins 2 sets of 2 for a total of 11
I was a happy boater!!!