Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Compass Points North...and...Ferral Parrots

It has been a day or so since I wrote, so I have a wee bit of catch up to do.

On Friday morning the fleet of two (Symmetry and Arden) left the perfect anchorage and headed up to Vero Beach. It was a bit of a late start, I think it was around 10 or so, but we only had 15 miles to go, and there really was no rush. For once I took the lead, and as we left the protection of the anchorage we were soon in a really strong current that lead to the Ft Pierce channel. I looked back at Symmetry, and I think it was all Larry could do to keep her between the marks, the boat was crabbing sideways in the current, and I am sure Arden looked the same to them, as I was bucking the current and feeling it push and pull on the boat, it was definitely hard to keep a straight track.

Around noon or just a bit after we pulled into the Marina at Vero Beach, and it is a really nice facility. More mooring balls than slips, but very protected and really nice facilities. I topped off the fuel, I was a bit lower than I thought, taking on 37 gallons, and then I broke down and paid for a mooring. There is no open anchorage here, so to stay here you have to pay here.

I have never hooked to a mooring before, having always tied up or been on the hook, and I was suprised that each ball here had a tether, so it was much easier than I had thought. Heck, I even managed to snag the tether and get Arden secured on the first try. After than it was time to pump up my leaking dinghy, and get Spook ashore. We took a long walk, the neighborhoods here reminded me alot of Southport, NC - but a bit more tropical. I mentioned this to Roberta later, and she agreed, quite a similarity between the residential areas here. It was here that I encountered the ferral parrots, I heard a bird in the trees and thought to myself "now that sounds just like a parrot". Sure enough, it was an Amazon parrot, not sure exactly what breed it was, but definitely an Amazon. ( I had one once) Later on in the day I saw a few more, I am amazed they survived the cold snap of January, but, otherwise I am sure this is a perfect climate for them. Spook and I went down and went for a walk on the beach, and it never occurred to me that dogs were not allowed on the beaches here. A lifeguard came up and was really nice about asking me to leave, and as we walked to the boardwalk, I was telling him "I'm not from around here...". I had noticed alot of folks looking at me strangely as I walked down the beach with my dog, and tyhe lifeguard told me it was because they were jealous that I was daring enough to bring my dog to the beach. After getting Spook taken care of, and a bit of sun for myself, I returned to the boat and gave the engine a tune up, or valve lash adjustment. This is much like changing the spark plugs and distributor on a gas engine, it can dramaticly increase the performance of the engine and its economy. It didn't take all that long, and then it was in for a much needed shower.  Later in the evening Larry and Roberta treated me to dinner at a really nice pizza place, and that in turn reminded me alot of a place in Elizabeth City, Tony's, where I had been so many times with Gary and Alice. Quite a nice day, and a great way to end it.

Saturday was kind of a lazy day, I took Spook in and we went to the farmer's market where I got a few veggies for the trip north, and then it was back to Arden to clean up a bit and get a bit of a tan. Yes, I actually laid out and didn't burn, and I got quite rested and relaxed. I did laundry and read some, clipped Spooks toe nails and gave her a good brushing - she is shedding bad -  and then that evening there was a boater get together in one of the picnic pavilions there at the marina. A nice get together, met some really nice folks, and even met a guy that was familiar with my boat design, well the other brand of boat built on the same hull, the Roughwater 33, but to date he is the only person I have ever met that even recognizes the design. After the rendezvous I took my computer, the dead one, over to Symmetry to see if Larry could work a bit of magic on it, but he couldn't. That laptop is dead, and will require major surgery when I get back to someplace that has a computer shop.

This morning I was up before 5, and got everything set to go - hauled the dignhy aboard and deflated it, secured all the loose gear on deck, checked out the engine - and then it was off the mooring and underway. It was just at sunrise when I left, and what an incredible display it was. It didn't look like Roberta and Larry were up when I went by, so I gave them a call a bit later and thanked them for all their hospitality, and to find out if they were underway or not. My goal for the day was Cocoa, and they were going to go into a marina in Melbourne so they could top off with water. So it look like I won't see them until later on up the ICW, or sometime in Oriental.

I made a few phone calls today, spoke with Clay and Mary (from my trip down), they are in Marathin, FL and will be turning north soon, having had a good trip so far. I called SVen, they are wrapping up work in Ft Lauderdale and will be heading to Cuba in a week. I called Jim and John from Calvert Marina, and I got an email from David and Peg, who are enjoying their sailing in the islands.

I made pretty good time up to Cocoa, I averaged about 6 knots and made it here motor sailing in about 8 and a half hours. I had called Bill Knoight, a fellow I had met on the way down, and once I tied up at the town dock, he swung by and ran me over to West Marine for patches for the dinghy, and then over to a grocery for a few items. It was good to see him, and it seems he is doing well. I think it always rains in Cocoa, at least it does when I am here, when I arrived today it was pouring down and I am sure glad Bill was able to give me a lift.

So tomorrow I cast off again, I am set to go another 54 miles up to Ponce Inlet, where I will anchor and debate whether to wait for a weather window (I hope there is not a wait for that) or head up the ICW. The goal is St Augustine, and if I go outside it is just about 64 miles, not too hard a day if I get an early enough start. I hope I can do it on the outside and stretch my diesel supplies out a bit, but we will see what the weather holds and how impatient I am.

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