It took us until February 1st to actually get the sails onto the boat. The weather has been atrocious, too much wind, cold... for Florida, I have to add. We had tried days earlier to put up the genoa on the rolling furler, but alas, I didn't want to go for a fly which would have undoubtedly landed me in the drink. Been there done that...(last year) so we had aborted that attempt.
I have had fun with my new sailrite sewing machine, creating a way to attach our $20 solar panel. Panel was cheap... at least.... I didn't want to sew new holes into the bimini top so fashioned a way to have it zip to the panel and bimini and be removable.
Next up was Als' birthday. I baked him a chocolate yogurt cake on board, that turned out spectacularly well. His birthday was also Superbowl Sunday so we shared his cake with fellow sailors in the cruisers lounge watching the game. Disappointing commercials this year, I must say, except for the one with Danny DeVito maybe.
|Lots of chocolate|
|Cutting his cake|
Getting off the causeway area was a nightmare. It's only a two lane highway, we took the long way home and picked up some groceries and still got back to the boat before the tangle of traffic completely cleared.
|The SpaceX Falcon Heavy inaugural flight|
|Manatees love fresh water -so ugly they're cute|
Iron Butterfly was the headliner band this night -all old but not bad. I hadn't really listened to them before - but did recognize their main hit 'In-a-gadda-da-vida', they did a great job of it too.
|Mardi Gras in Titusville|
|You know who...with lots of beads|
|Iron Butterfly played at the Mardi Gras|
We have been taking advantage of all kinds of music concerts and other entertainment here seeings how the weather isn't letting us or many other sailors move. I think I told you we saw Moody Blues one night on their 50th anniversary tour, we also saw Diana Krall, Don MacLean, (wrote American Pie) Michael MacDonald (from Doobie Brothers) all amazing concerts. There was a great seafood festival, that's where we saw Don MacLean, which included a carnival and lots of vendors of all sorts and lots of seafood. Here at the marina there have been evenings of great food and music as well. Lots of entertainment - its not a bad place to just hang out and be a live aboard.
|night of good food, friends and music|
|Hurricane Irma casualty|
There was one last party for us to attend before we finally headed south, and oh what a party. There were 8 of us still standing at the end, that had started with 11. We were invited through others that we know here to this fellows home. The dinner was two kinds of paella, seafood and meat with a salad and desserts. One of the cooks has proper paella pans with a propane burner under it, so while one paella was being prepared inside the other was finished off outside. Neat rig. This host is famous for his 'no one left standing' ceasar frink. I don't really like that drink so stuck to wine thankfully, others were drinking them like koolade and ..... The food and company was fabulous, for those of us that remember it... Some attendees are still being teased about it. The marina was a very quiet place the next day and not many were partaking in wine o'clock.
After going back to the Customs office for a Permit to Proceed, because we messed up on the cruising permit rules last year, off we went for the 3 day journey to Riviera Beach Marina to await a weather window, stopping in Melbourne (where we had our propeller shaft issue last year), Ft Pierce then West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. The wind is on our nose of course... so no sailing. We get reacquainted with how to deal with bascule bridges in a hurry, only had to wait for two on this trip, so not bad. The marina in West Palm beach is our biggest challenge, the wind is blowing pretty good out of the east (the trades) the tide is going out so the current is humming along at a good 3 knots. Thankfully our slip is relatively easy to get into but I was glad to have a dock hand there to help us get in. The current caught us just a bit and without him it would have been a lot trickier. No bruises...
So we wait here for a potential window for crossing to the Bahamas in a couple days. There have been no windows in the month of February - totally unusual. The fronts usually pass on a regular basis about one a week, and this year have been non existent. There is supposed to be a change a-coming... and that's what we're waiting for. We hang out here for most of a week, then the day we thought we'd go was very questionable for our boat and abilities. We hummed and hawed and finally decided that if we couldn't decide definitively to go then we shouldn't. So we backed off, and looked at the next probable window... not for a least another week, maybe. The weather has been a challenge for not just us - there are a lot of sailboats anchored in Lake Worth and backed up along the coast waiting for a chance to cross. It's been crazy windy, cold and not conducive to making a crossing.
|looking out from Peanut Island|
|We're the little one...|
Peanut Island is a neat little place - it was created when the channel out to the ocean was dredged. It later became home to a bunker for JFK during the cold war. His family has/had a home just to the right of the channel in the picture along the coast so when he was there, a boat was on 24/7 standby to take him to Peanut Island if it had become necessary. It has a walk in campground, some mooring balls for boats, lots of picnic tables and benches to while away an afternoon. There is a walkway that circles the entire island. A shuttle from the mainland runs from 9 am to 5 pm everyday every 20 minutes.
One used to be able to tour the bunker, but I believe the last hurricane has caused it some damage so it wasn't open.
We have now decided that with the uncertainty of the weather, and the amount of time we would been able to stay in the Bahamas before having to come back is cutting it too fine. We decide to abandon the idea of going across this year and plan on heading back to Titusville. We are not the only boat to give up and head back to home port, that's for sure.
So, we turned around and headed back up stream. Got an early start and made it through most the the bascule bridges without too much delay, until I found a bolt rolling around under the engine, and after showing it to Al I got an "Oh sh___!!". I couldn't find from where it came, I took over the helm and he went on the hunt. He found that it had come from the fuel filter I think... never did find the nut that was to hold it on. He found another that would work thankfully. Meanwhile we are flowing with the current towards the next bascule bridge that we are waiting on to open, and I can't put it in gear at the moment because of the work Al is doing. Just a little much for my nerves. This is after the key that holds the propeller shaft in place had tried to dislodge on our way down to West Palm Beach. The good part is that we had been checking on the engine along the way to make sure the bits holding the shaft in place stayed that way, so we didn't have to call TowBoatUS.
We made it to Ft Pierce and there we stayed for a few days while the first 'weatherbomb' Nor'easter blew everything all over. The wind was howling so we stayed put. There was lots to do, a small market the day we got there was still happening, a street fest the next night with lots of food trucks and great music followed by a massive market the next morning, followed by the Michael MacDonald concert.
|Duck!! South side jetty|
We walked out to the jetties where we had come through to the States last year returning from The Bahamas. There are two rock jetties protruding out a short ways into the ocean to help give some protection for returning or departing boats. One side has a walkway the other doesn't. However, unless you arrive at just the right time it can be a very tumultuous ride in. We had a rough ride last year with way less wind and current.
|North side jetty|
We finally got away from Ft Pierce early the next week, flew up to Melbourne for one night then quickly off to Titusville the next day before the next Nor'easter hits us with its tail. We got back to Westland Marina about 1:30 pm, tied up and was snug as a bug when the wind picked up.
So, here we are back in Titusville, working now on getting the boat ready to be hauled and hurricane prepped for the summer. We have had a winter unlike what we anticipated when we left home for sure, but it certainly hasn't been uneventful by any stretch. We didn't have great adventures to share from the Bahamas unfortunately, but we didn't have to shovel snow. Though we were in winter woolies at some points, we always knew the sun and heat would come back. The next nor'easter is lashing its tail this way this afternoon, with howling wind yet again and sending a final blast of coolness for the next few days, but hey... we're Canadian eh, we can handle it... I think!!
We'll be home soon, around the end of the month... hope to see you when we get back.
Til the next adventure ....