A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Back in the US, back in the US, back in the US - eh!

Apologies to the Beatles (those that are left, anyway)

After a bumpy ride across the Pacific - turbulence for the whole 12 hours, which I have never experienced before, we arrived in LA, stayed a night then flew to Orlando. We caught up with Jack, Denise and Beatriz the following day before driving to Indiantown. Coming down the road to the marina we could see Loopy Kiwi, still afloat, and looking just like we left her. We drove to Stuart the next day and provisioned up before dropping the rental car back to Hertz, who gave us a lift back to Indiantown. Everything still worked fine - Pete started immediately, but Stan needed a bit of battery charging to get him going. We departed on Thursday and headed for Stuart, intending to stay at a free dock near downtown. On the way we went through Charlie and Pauline's first (and only) lock, passed 2 alligators sunning themselves on logs and a number of turtles doing the same. We also lost our transmission on the port engine twice, and after initial concern over losing a prop, or mechanical failure of the gearbox, we tracked it down to a connection fault in the electronic shift control, which was overcome by shutting the engine down and restarting it. We intended to investigate further when we reached the next marina, but the fault hasn't recurred since. We did get the opportunity to see how Loopy Kiwi performed on one engine - which was a whole lot better than I expected, but I'd rather not have to do it again.

When we arrived at  Stuart, we found the free dock was reserved for a large paddle wheeler, the adjacent slips were too small for us and the water was VERY skinny. Also the wind was blowing directly in, so we continued on 2 more miles and anchored in the lee of a nice bay called Hoggs Cove in 10-12' of water. In the evening the wind dropped and we had a very pleasant first night on the pick (hook). We were surrounded by pods of dolphins and many of them had been accompanying us once we left the fresh water of the St Lucie river.

On Friday we left the Okeechobee waterway at Hells Gate peninsular, where we were told a Manitee was in the Channel in front of us. We never saw it, which was unsurprising, considering the number of idiots in small boats tearing around at speed despite the "no wake" signs. A little further up the ICW we encountered a single barge tow (another first for C & P), followed a few miles further on by a second, larger, tow. We decided to overnight in Fort Pierce and just before the entrance we were passed very closely by a Carver MY at speed without any radio contact or attempt to slow. The vessel was called KNOT A LOT, which was about as much as the jerk knew about the colregs or courtesy. We tied up alongside the main dock in the marina and as we were finishing, a Manitee surfaced but submerged again before C & P had time to see it. Later in the day, however, 3 more swam past at various times, so we got a good look at them then. The restaurant was immediately adjacent and had a good muso playing so we partook of the fare, although the pork chops Charlie and I had were less than memorable.
Saturday we departed Ft Pierce intending to travel 20 miles to stay at Vero Beach Marina, as it was very highly recommended. However on arrival, the Inn was full so we continued on another 7 miles to an anchorage at Wabasso Bridge. Quite sheltered and next to the "no wake" zone for the bridge, we had a peaceful evening watching the state law enforcement boat pulling over fisho's, presumably checking their licences and catch. This morning we woke to another tow dragging a dredge barge with its pipes hanging out the back and doing about 4 knots. He WAS actually towing it!!
About 10 minutes later a tosspot in a Bayliner, who had gone to the same sailing school as KNOT AT ALL, came by and rocked us about. I hope he was in a real hurry because the dredge tow was still in sight and he wasn't going to get past him for quite a few miles. Maybe he came to enjoy cruising at 4 knots for a while, but I doubt it. We got underway in blustery conditions shortly after and by the time we reached the wide part of the Indian river, the wind was honking around 35kts. We called Melbourne (Florida not Australia) Marina for a slip. They had one left our size, so we grabbed it. By the time we were tied up, the wind was gusting 45-50kts, but still warm and humid. We walked up to the Historic Downtown area, which was predominantly closed, and lunched at Meg O'Malleys Irish pub, where they had bangers and mash with REAL sausages. They were so good that we asked where we could get some, and they sold us a pack of 20 precooks for $30!!!!! AT LAST......REAL sausages in the USA.
They also had a cup of soup for 18cents and a few kegs of Miller Lite beer left over from St Patrick's Day which was coloured green....
All in all a very satisfying experience and I recommend them to all. However, while we were there, the TV was broadcasting Thunderstorm and Tornado warnings for the area, so we scuttled back to the boat. As it turned out, that storm passed further north of us and dumped mainly on Orlando and Cocoa (where we were planning to be tomorrow). Shortly after our return, a pontoon boat pulled into the fuel dock with a group of youngsters clad only in (skimpy) swimwear. Although it was still warm (85F..29C in the boat) it was cooler outside and the kids were soaking wet and, although several of the guys were wringing out wet T shirts, the girls had no other clothing. Now, the Admiral is going to LOVE what I did next. I felt soooo sorry for them that I donated the last of my "Fruit of the Loom" work Tee shirts (5 for $11.95 at Walmart) to them to stay warm. You would have thought I had given them fur coats from the grateful response I got.......I will have to buy some new ones now.
Another thunderstorm has just gone by, but the wind has now dropped, so its getting warm and humid again. Here's where we are at the moment:


Friday, 15 March 2013

Back to the future

I'm sorry to have taken so long to update the blog, but as I said in the last posting, it is quite disheartening doing so, and I have also been somewhat preoccupied over the past two months.

The Admiral is recovering well, but slowly. She had 4 trips to the hospital in the end - the first for 5 days, then straight back in for another 2 days, 2 weeks at home and back in for another 2 days, another 2 weeks at home then back in for 13 days. I think that adds up to 4 admissions and 22 days "inside". 2 trips in ambulances, Xrays, MRI's and two trips to theatre for angiograms and a stent, plus the pharmacy full of drugs that she is presently on (and they keep changing) - I shudder to think what all this would have cost us in the USA, considering her heart condition was not covered by our travel insurance while we were doing Stage 1 of the Loop!

Last month we had our "kids" over (including Shawn, who lives in Australia) plus my sister who looked after Woody, and a few friends for Christmas a dinner on the 25th  (a couple of months late). We had turkey and ham and mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted veges and cranberry sauce - all very reminiscent of our Thanksgiving day feast at Panama City. Finished it off with steamed fruit pudding with custard and cream and ice cream. Plenty of bubbles and sangria. Carolyn is going to stay with our son Adam, who lives on Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf (nowhere near the Gt Barrier Reef), while we are away shifting the boat.

We took Shawn out for a weekend in Kindred Spirit (yes - we still have her..... and she still goes) and we fished and he dived and we finished up with several meals of fish and shellfish - snapper, REAL mussels and a few scallops.

Charlie, Pauline and I leave tomorrow night for our return to the USA and delivery voyage of Loopy Kiwi to Savannah to rendezvous with the cargo ship that is bringing her home. About 2 weeks ago we got an email from the shipping Company informing us that, due to lack of cargo, the ship was going to bypass Savannah , and the next sailing was 3 weeks later! As we had already bought and paid for the airfares to and from NZ to Savannah, plus all the other travel arrangements, this threw us into a bit of a tizz - but fortunately, after several days of negotiation the freight company managed to talk the shipping company into calling at Savannah, so the schedule was reinstated (although the sailing is now 5 days later). So here's the final leg of her Great Loop voyage (in red, of course):
While I was updating the map of our Loop trip so far, I noticed that the map itself finishes just north of Savannah. Maybe it was trying to tell me something.....spooky eh?
Thanks again to our well-wishers. I hope we can catch up with some of you during the last part of our US journey, and you know you will always be welcome to visit us in New Zealand