We finally got unstuck from Velcro marina, and departed Brunswick about 1230 pm on Tuesday 15th Jan. We had 240 miles to go, and went offshore the entire route. The trip was good. We had the winds behind us, with 4-6 seas. The backup auto pilot worked okay. It did meander a bit in the larger following seas, but we did not need to hand steer.
The trip was pretty routine, except that we planned to arrive in Stuart about mid-day, failing to think that we had 40 miles to cover from the Ft Pierce inlet to Stuart on the ICW. We did not want to do this at night, so we were facing coming in at Ft Pierce inlet in the dark, and anchoring off the ICW sometime around midnight after about 36 hour passage.
The inlet, we have done before, and it is well marked channel, plenty of water. It does have strong currents, and has breakwater jetties on both sides of the inlet.
We made the inlet about midnight, with pretty good sized following seas. I steered the boat manually from the pilothouse, watching the radar and the chart plotter. The boat rolled and was a bit of a handful with the seas, but as soon as we got past the breakwaters, the seas stopped rolling us around and made it easier to steer. The tide was coming in, the flood current was pushing us and I slowed the engine and we were still rushing forward at 7 knots.
I steered the boat through the channel watching the markers, looking for the anchorage which was just to the north side of the channel, when I spotted blue flashing lights behind us. I realized that the small run about boat that I met a few minutes ago was some sort of law enforcement boat and was coming up behind us.
Jenny went aft into the cockpit to talk to the Customs and Border Patrol Boat (CBP). They questioned her about our last stop, or next, or registration. They asked her to hand over our ID. I was getting very irritated. The boat was being pushed at 7 knots, I was barely able to keep her on track at this slow speed, our anchorage was only 500 metres ahead, and these bozos wanted to see our passports.
Jenny told them she was not happy to hand over the passports while underway. That we were going to anchor and they could stop by after we were safely stopped.
They discussed it amongst themselves and said, ‘you guys are good.’
We anchored between a boat and a small island in the strong current, and expected to see the CBP boat. We had a drink, got settled, watched how we set on the anchor and went to bed.
After a long offshore passage, with a challenging inlet, we were happy to hit the bunk. I was out in about 5 seconds, and slept like a baby.
We awoke at first light and pulled the anchor and continued the journey south to Stuart, to Apex Marina, to get the Auto Pilot project underway.
We docked at Apex before lunch time, plugged in to power and rested the rest of the day. I called CBP and reported our arrival, expecting after last night to have a visit by their officers. None came.
I also called Steve Delany our electronics guys, whom we purchased the new Simrad Auto Pilot system. He confirmed we were all ready, and he and his technician, Mark would be here next morning at 0830.
We spent the rest of the day, tidying up from the passage and took a walk across the bridge to Sunset Bay Marina about 2 miles away, where we had stayed the year before when my mom was onboard.
We were amazed how crowded Sunset Bay was. The boats were very close together here. There are a lot of Nordhavns there as well. We saw Vamos, a Nordhavn55 and said hello to Bart and Julia for the first time. We have other friends that know them well, so it was nice to finally meet.
We agreed to come by later that week end to watch one of the NFL playoff games together.
Next morning we met Steve and Mark with the box of Simrad goodies. We went through them together to make sure it was all there as ordered.
The system included:
Simrad AP 48 display head for the pilot house
Simrad AP 44 display head for the fly bridge (4” unit)
2x FU 80 follow up units 1 in the pilot house and 1 on the fly bridge
NAC3 controller with Precision 9 compass
For the next two days the three of us removed the old components, pulled old wires, pulled new wires, and installed the new head units. I had to get the carpenter from the marina to cut us some face plates from black starboard to fit the slightly smaller display units. The carpenter was pretty grumpy about last minute work, but he came out on Saturday and finished up the job. The biggest job turned out to cut the holes for the FU80’s. He made a template out of ½ plywood and used it to cut the dash in the pilothouse, and then to cut the fiberglass on the fly bridge, which was over 4” thick.
So in two days the Auto Pilot system was installed completed. The guys started on Friday and we were ready to sea trial and test. Sunday the weather was predicted to get bad with strong winds blowing across the bay.
We moved early Saturday morning before the crew got there when the wind was calm. The marina put us inside the finger we were on, and it was very tight. So I wanted to move her while it was calm.
Sunday was as predicted windy and ugly, but we were bow into it and much better protected so it was fine.
We headed over to Vamos to watch one of the NFL playoff games, planning to come back for the second and more important New England Pats game.
We enjoyed the NFL party on Vamos, with half a dozen others, including Clark and Michelle who drove over from Ft Pierce, none of whom were football fans. We left after game one, and said good bye to Clark and Michelle who dropped us off and were planning to head over to the Bahamas, in the next few days after they got vet stuff done for their dogs to enter into the Turks and Caicos.
New England won that night and was going on to the Super Bowl.
Monday morning, the winds were down, and we met with Steve and spent several hours sea trialing the new Auto Pilot system, and tuning in the back up pilot.
An added bonus, we had the gelcoat guys at Apex work on our boarding door which we had damaged in the C&D canal. They came by and reinstalled the repaired door. It looks great, although the gel coat is not a perfect match. We have learned that it is nearly impossible to match 15 year old gel coat.
The next day we were out of Stuart, doing the ICW to North Palm Beach and to our home, Old Port Cove Marina. We timed our departure to get to Jupiter Inlet and the Jupiter Bridge at slack tide, hoping to avoid the difficult maneuvering there with strong currents and the narrow channel.
The trip went easily, and we made it to OPC with some strong and gusty winds. I was thinking we would need to anchor out and wait for them to recede, but we saw where the slip was, and we went ahead and landed without any issues.
I really felt like home. Old Port Cove is where we started out Southern Star adventure Dec 2016. It is really a great marina, nice clean floating docks. A nice gym, restaurant on site, pizza oven in the convenience store. North Palm Beach is great for provisioning as we have Costco nearby, Total Wines, Enterprise car rental walking distance.
And so we stayed a week at OPC. We rented a car for the week end at a special rate. I went to Pompano Beach with the old Auto Pilot equipment and sold it to Max Marine.
We shopped at Costco, went back again the next day to buy more meat, after we saw we had room in the freezers.
We bought 4-5 months’ worth of provisions, including wine and beer and scotch. We shopped and we stuffed stuff away. We exhausted ourselves.
We have some time to meet friends. I caught up with an old friend from Provo, Cookie. She just came through a year of cancer treatment, and she was so full of life. It was really great to see her again, last year I did not think I would see her again.
We caught up with Larry and Sue on Beverly S, N46 who we left in Brunswick. We had dinner with our besties Bob and Mel off of Istaboa N57.