Sunday March 10, 2013 I should probably explain our rush to you, or why we’re not stopping to experience Florida more than a quick trip to shore to get some nuts and bolts from Home Depot, or buy the Big Box from Pizza Hut, with enough pizza to feed us for a week. There are two very simple answers. 1. After spending three months in St. Augustine, we feel we have experienced Florida enough. It may not have had the interesting sights of the Space Coast, or the warm sunny beaches of the Treasure Coast, but we’re ok with that. What we want now are white sandy beaches with clear snorkel worthy water, teaming with brightly colored fish for us to look at. 2. We’ve been keeping a close eye on the weather since before we left St. Augustine, and there is a window to cross the Gulf Stream and get to the Bahamas on Tuesday. There is no way we’re going to let ourselves miss that chance by running slow. We figured that we could get ourselves to Lake Worth by Sunday, run errands and stock up on any last minute items on Monday, and then be ready to leave on Tuesday morning, for a run over to the Berry Islands or maybe even Nassau. And that also means getting ourselves close to being back on schedule, and possibly even meeting up with our friends.
As today was the last day of running down the ICW, both of us could not be happier to finally be done with it. Maybe it’s our Great Lakes upbringing where you set a course, hit the autopilot, and just keep an eye out for the boats around you, but we were not meant for these little channels that require meticulous attention to your course every single moment. One person has to be behind the wheel at all times, either hand steering or (as Matt does) adjust the autopilot every 15 seconds. Not to mention that the channels down here have been much narrower than I remember them in the north, barely allowing for any error outside of the red and green markers. Call us un-attentive, but we prefer to sit back and just crane our heads in a circle every 10-15 minutes with an update of “All clear!”.* ** There were only 50 statute miles to cover today, which with the 12 or so daylight hours we’re getting now, was to put us at our anchorage a few hours before sunset and give us a chance to relax instead of just eating dinner and going to bed. For the first half of the day there wasn’t much to see around us, but there was a lot of chatter on channel 16. Lots of radio checks, which get very annoying (channel 26 or 27 people!!), but there were also a fun few minutes listening to a couple boaters talk about the conditions of nearby inlets and the conditions outside. Our forecast upon leaving St. Augustine showed constant winds in the 25-30 knot range, which is why hypocritical us are taking the ICW instead of jumping outside. Listening to the men talk on the radio, they regaled tales of wind and waves on the Atlantic, and how chances were that if you were lucky enough to make it out of an inlet that morning, then good luck on getting back in between the rolling and crashing waves. I think I will stick with monotony at this point, thank you very much. There were also a few dinghy (Laser?) races going on at several points along the way for us to momentarily enjoy, so it wasn’t all bad.
Although we were finally making progress south and I was counting each minute on the latitude still and checking weather channel updates for current temperatures just to make sure we were in an area that’s warmer than we were the day before, there have still been plenty of high winds on this journey, forcing us into more layers than we’d like. Although each day we seem to be able to shed one of those layers, today that brought me down to two layers top and on the bottom still. Which is why I was surprised that while entering the city of Jupiter and traveling through it, to see so many people out on the water in only their swimsuits. It may have been 75 degrees out, but the winds were blowing off the still cool water at 20 knots and still leaving me shivering a little whenever I wasn’t behind the protection of the dodger. Has my blood really thinned that much in the past few months? I’m a Michigander, I should be able to sport a swimsuit in 60 degree weather. In fact, I think I just did that at my parent’s house a few months ago. Eventually the winds calmed as the channel narrowed and all the mansions towering up from Hobe Sound helped to block them. It allowed me to take off one of those extra layers, although part of it was just to appease a few friends that had already started to tease me after a post on Facebook.
Forcing Matt to take the wheel for a bit since we were in the last run of lift bridges before our anchorage, I was even able to sit back behind the protection of the dodger with the sun pouring on me and enjoy a glass of wine. Time started to fly a little faster and before I knew it we were under our last bridge and only had a mile until our anchorage. Just after we were about to turn off the ICW and head up the channel to where we needed to be we both happened to be looking up at just the same time to see something jump out of the water. We’d seen one or two fish do that before, but this was something much better. It was a stingray! Who knew those even jumped? It was a fairly small one and was only out of the water for a few seconds, but I never took them for being show-offs. I think we may finally have something over our friends Brian and Stephanie on Rode Trip, who normally can pick wildlife out of the most obscure places where we never usually see the things that are right in front of our faces.
*If our entire goal was only to travel the Eastern Seaboard, I’m sure we’d have a much different opinion of the ICW. There are a lot of really nice towns along the way, and if you only limit yourself to traveling short distances I’m sure that you’d avoid the monotony that comes of it, which is comparable to doing highway driving day after day after day.
** The only time we don’t give constant attention to our course in open waters where the only thing to look out for is other boats. We pay close attention when necessary to avoid any other obstacles that may come up.