Our starting point, Indiantown Marina, is located along the St Lucie Canal on the Okeechobee Waterway in southern Florida. If you turn right when you go out of the marina, you can carry on through Lake Okeechobee and all the way to the Gulf Coast. If you turn left, you head out towards the South Fork of the St Lucie River and up towards Stuart. From there you can turn onto the ICW and make your way to the Atlantic Coast. We turned left. Or port, if you want to get all technical about it.
Scott just looked at me like I was nuts and tried to patiently explain math to me, "If the height from the top of our waterline to the top of our mast is 48' and the height of the bridge is 55', which one do you think is shorter?" Doing math problems is too stressful when you think you're going to hit a bridge, so I just closed my eyes until we passed under it. We still have our mast by the way.
Right before the Indiantown Bridge, there was also railway bridge. Luckily, it was open so we could motor on through. No need to worry about trying to hail them on the VHF to ask them to open it. Another bullet dodged.
And then we hit the St Lucie Lock. The thing I had been dreading most about the trip. I've never been through a lock. Yet another piece of engineering ingenuity designed to damage your boat. We hung outside the lock for a while with some other boats while waiting for it to be opened up to eastwards traffic. When we got there, the lockmaster had said that he would let us know when we were to proceed into the lock. The lock opened, the other boats behind us started inching forward, one of them told us we were supposed to enter, but we still hadn't heard anything on the VHF. A bit of drama as we eventually made our way into the lock.
Once we got in the lock, they threw down two lines - one to me on the bow of the boat (the pointy front end) and one to Scott at the stern (the back of the boat). You have to hold on tightly to your lines and slowly let them out as the water level lowers in the lock. If you mess this up, your boat can go drifting out in the lock or scrape up against the side of the lock. I breathed a sigh of relief as the lock gates opened and we made it through unscathed. Everything was tickety boo. Or so we thought.
Before we left Indiantown Marina, we pestered Matt and Jessica from MJ Sailing with lots of annoying questions. Questions like, "Do you know a good place to anchor for free in Stuart?", "Where can we get diesel that won't cost us an arm and a leg?" and "Where can we get cheap beer?" They're a sweet couple and clearly someone raised them right, because they always smile, offer help and advice cheerfully even when they're probably wishing inside that we would stop asking them questions.
They're also smart little cookies because they know the answer to pretty much any question. If you want a free place to anchor near Stuart, head to Pendarvis Cove right across from Sunset Bay Marina. Get diesel at the North Palm Beach Marina right before you hit Lake Worth. And if you want cheap beer, pick up a some Imperial at the IGA in Indiantown. Only $3 for a six-pack, which works out to 50 cents a can. Yes, you read that right 50 cents for a refreshing 16 oz can of Costa Rican beer.
When we got to Stuart, we checked out Pendarvis Cove, but the wind was coming from the wrong direction and we had never anchored our boat before, so we took the easy way out and picked up a mooring ball at Sunset Bay Marina for the night and chilled out with some beer and junk food. Not only did we get free WiFi, but we also got showers the next morning. Turns out it was our last proper shower for the next four weeks. My mother gets horrified when I tell her things like this.
The next morning, we discovered our windlass didn't work. We were so excited that our boat came with a windlass. It's a nifty little device that does all the hard work of anchoring for you. It drops your anchor and chain and it picks it back up. You can just stand back and watch without straining your back or biceps. Kind of like watching the Olympics from your armchair. You cheer the athletes on, but don't have to break into a sweat yourself while you sit back and sip on an Imperial beer.
We had had a few problems with our windlass before we left Indiantown, but just when we were going to need it most, it up and died. It's a good thing Scott has strong biceps, because that meant he was going to have to suck it up and do all the anchoring himself. The anchor and chain weighs a lot, so better him than me is what I was thinking.
In New Zealand sailboats are routinely called yachts, no matter what their size. If we had documented our boat in New Zealand, it would have been called S/Y Tickety Boo (short for sailing yacht). But our boat is US documented and we're using it in the States, so when a 34' sailboat gets on the VHF and proclaims itself as a yacht, everyone turns around to look for the mega-yacht making its way down the ICW. What do they see instead? A teeny-tiny sailboat with a crew of two and no movie stars on board. I sounded like an idiot. Eventually, I got the hang of things and started referring to our boat as sailing vessel Tickety Boo.
Despite all of the VHF drama, I have to say, I loved it when they would respond with, "No problem, Captain, I'll open the bridge for you now. Have a great day." There's nothing like getting a promotion from Communications Officer to Captain from a bridge operator. I still can't tie a bowline to save my life, but now I'm a Captain!
The trip down the ICW was pretty quiet and uneventful. As we headed out into Lake Worth, we stopped to get diesel and gas at North Palm Beach Marina. And then Scott spent an hour or so trying to get the windlass to work. No luck. So, we untied the docklines and went to find a place to anchor for the night in Lake Worth. We spent a good chunk of time checking the area out before we settled on a spot near a mooring field on the southern side of the lake. After trying the windlass one last time, Scott dropped the anchor by hand and we settled in for the night.
LOGBOOK NOTES | Sunday 10 May - Monday 11 May 2015
Total Nautical Miles - 51
Total Hours - 4 hours 45 mins on 10 May and 14 hours 15 mins on 11 May
Anchor Up - Indiantown Marina, Florida
Anchor Down - Lake Worth, Florida
Stuff that Broke - The all important windlass!
Number of Locks & Bridges -1 lock and 12 bridges
Number of Groundings - Nil
Next time on the blog...we head on off to the Bahamas and cross the Gulf Stream!
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