When I wrote the last time, we were just heading into White Sound at Green Turtle to take shelter from the approaching winds. Little did we know that we would be there for the next six days!
The winds stayed westerly and north-westerly for that whole time and the anchorages available nearby were not comfortable with those wind directions. But, we had found a great spot, tucked out of the way and with lots of room around us. At least, we thought that we were out of the way. Until one evening, a man from the Green Turtle Club asked us to move as the fuel barge was coming in during the night. Not wanting to be involved in a collision with a big ship, we moved. And then we were even more out of the way.
During all of our time at Green Turtle, clouds of smoke drifted one way and then the other. There were fires on the mainland of Abaco and they do not have the ability to fight fires that are not near a roadway. These fires were likely started by lightning strikes and continue to burn underground in the limestone cracks and crevices. These cracks fill with leaves and other debris, creating lost of fuel for these wild fires. Eventually they burn out and everyone can breathe easier. I was never so glad that neither one of us has lung problems or any type of asthma.
During the wait time, we did some boat maintenance. Murray and I had noticed a change in the sound of the exhaust. He checked the water pump on the engine and found that the impeller was missing a few vanes. A new impeller was installed once all broken pieces had been recovered. If even one piece remains behind, the engine may overheat and cause problems. Another day, we got the sewing machine out and repaired a seam in the dodger. We tend to hold onto the dodger when going forward and the pressure had separated one of the seams. It was a tricky repair but, together, we got it done. We did have some fun as we rented a golf cart for 4 hours one day. The time was spent touring the island, walking on some of the beautiful beaches, picking up groceries in town and having lunch out. All in all, a good windy day adventure.
Finally on the 28th, we hauled anchor and headed to Great Sail Cay, about 60 miles away. Approximately 40 miles of that was made under sail! Yahoo! Although the fishing line was deployed the whole distance, nobody came to dinner. There were a large number of boats already anchored there, awaiting the green light to cross the Gulf Stream. A vessel reported a problem with their transmission and other boaters responded with things to check in the engine room. After a process of elimination, the issue was found to be a fishing float wound around their prop shaft, creating a thumping sound while in forward gear. Another boater dug out his scuba gear and went to their assistance. Problem solved! The cruising community is a REAL community that helps each other. Especially in remote locations with no other alternatives.
In the morning, I checked in with the weather guru, Chris Parker. He said that the breeze was going to die all day long but would be better the next day. As we have heard those stories before, we opted to head out right away and use the wind that was available right now. The only negative would be arriving in Ft Pierce in the dark, but we would deal with that later.
So, we hauled anchor at 0950 on Good Friday and sailed to the Little Bahama Bank waypoint. This was a spot where we could safely exit the shallow waters of the banks and enter the deeper water of the Atlantic. On the way, Murray caught two cero mackerel who volunteered to help fill our freezer. By 1630, the wind had died but the waves continued. The mainsail went “slap, slap” and every line and wire on the boat slapped along with it. But we kept the sail up to steady the boat and reduce some of the tossing and rolling. Several cruise ships passed us, heading to port or off into the Bahamas or the Carribean.
Our arrival in Ft Pierce was in the dark, as expected. And we had the current running out against us. So, it was a very slow entry into the harbour. But eventually the anchor was down. No time to sleep yet. Murray worked on getting the dinghy ready to launch as I called Customs to report our arrival in the USA. I was informed that the Customs office doesn’t open until 1000, so we had a few hours to kill. We don’t dare lie down as we will fall asleep and not finish our check-in process. By the time we launched the dinghy, put the outboard on and all gear aboard then had breakfast, did the dishes and had a shower, we had wasted enough time. A nearby boat had crossed at the same time and was interested in sharing a cab to the airport. The process took longer than we expected but eventually we had our new cruising permit in hand and were back aboard.
Instead of going to bed, we hauled anchor and headed on further north, past Vero Beach and anchored near some islands in the Indian River just before sunset. A quiet dinner and it is time for bed. Yeah!
The next few days, we pushed hard northward. By April the 3rd, we were at the marina. Our haul out is scheduled for April 13th and, until then, we will tear this boat apart, cleaning, sorting and discarding out-dated foods and worn-out clothing. The car will get progressively fuller. But, we have lots of time to get everything done and the boat ready for its summer on the hard.
Another winter of cruising is completed, our 17th year. What does the future hold for us? That is still to be decided. So many options to consider. That too is life aboard.
Heather & Murray