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Another Fun Thing February 15, 2014

Posted by Katherine Harms in Cruising.
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We are anchored once again in Lake Worth. You probably wonder how we came to be here, since the last you heard, we were still at Cumberland Island. I’m not sure what happened to my muse, but she certainly took an extended leave.

First, we did not “do the ditch.” We considered that option. We were tired of freezing and tired of waiting and tired of not being in Marathon yet. However, when we examined the charts and read the comments provided by cruisers who have done it, we paused. There are several places on the ICW that are historic for their propensity to ground the unwary, or even the wary who happen to be unlucky. All of them but two lie along the route from the Florida border to Cape Canaveral. The idea of living with the constant threat of grounding for that whole distance was unappealing to say the least. The more we thought about it, and we had plenty of time to think, the less we wanted any part of it. We have always enjoyed our adventures outside. Part of the joy of cruising outside is the sense of freedom. Tip-toeing southward in constant fear of hitting bottom did not even sound like fun. We decided to wait for our opportunity to cruise in the big water.

We waited and waited alongside Cumberland Island for a week. Fronts came and went in close formation. No window for a run to Canaveral. Then, with sub-freezing temperatures forecast behind the next front, we moved to a marina for a week. It was so beautiful the day we made the move that we ate lunch on the aft deck, barefoot and wearing shorts. By the next morning, it was twenty degrees Fahrenheit. We unpacked our space heater, bundled up in warm clothing again, and waited.

Finally, finally, there was a break in the parade of cold fronts—a break long enough for us to get all the way to Lake Worth. We cruised out St. Marys Inlet, turned south, and it was as if we had put on the brakes. Between currents and wind, it was hard to tell what the real problem was, but our speed was between 1 and 2 knots slower for the whole trip than it had been the last time we made this excursion. Instead of about 33-34 hours for this jaunt, it took us a full 48 hours to get there. We were frustrated and bumfuzzled by the whole process. We couldn’t decide if something were wrong with the boat or if the diver had not scraped the bottom very well before we left New Bern, but amazingly, as soon as we got into Lake Worth and headed north to the marina where we buy fuel, our speed picked up as if nothing had ever been wrong. Amazing!

Once again, we thought we would stop briefly and move on. Once again, it did not happen. First the weather forecast turned ugly. Then we discovered that the water pump on the diesel engine was not working. It is always one fun thing after another with us!

Larry thought he could make the water pump repair himself, but no such luck. Every time he tried to turn the nut that kept the pulley and the water pump attached to the engine block, all the parts turned together, like a will-trained marching band. From long experience with such things, Larry has developed a bag of tricks that should have eventually brought everything under control, but this time he had no success.

Frustration piled on frustration extended our stay day after day. When Larry finally gave up and called a repair service for help, he found that they were booked solid for another week, and at the end of the week, they still needed one more day. We could do nothing but wait, and when they finally gave us a firm date to do the work, we still had to call a towing service and move to a marina.

As it turned out, this was the best part. We moved to Lark Park Marina, a municipal marina just north of West Palm Beach. We were familiar with it, because this marina graciously allows cruisers to tie up their dinghies beside the launch ramp in order to shop for groceries at the nearby Winn-Dixie store. The people who run the marina were always friendly and pleasant when we went shopping or tied up there while we went to church nearby. As marina guests, we discovered they are equally pleasant to their marina customers. The showers are clean and spacious. The laundry facility is also spacious, with 2 washers and dryers and plenty of space for folding. Would that every marina would see the advantage of having at least 2 washers and dryers. It doesn’t take a great deal to make a cruiser swoon!

The diesel repair tech arrived right on time on Wednesday morning, and at first he, too, wrestled with that obstinate nut. However, he had some sort of magic pry bar, or maybe it is just a secret spell they teach in diesel mechanic school. Anyway, that nut came off and so did the broken water pump. After the mechanic determined that replacement was required, it took another day to get the part. Finally, on Friday, our Valentine surprise was that the part worked, the engine worked, and we could get on with our southbound cruise.  We enjoyed our Valentine feast of grilled steak, rice, steamed asparagus and salad a little bit more because we were finally free again. We topped off the celebration with strawberries and cream. Yum.

For Valentine Day, a lover's moon rose over Palm Beach.

For Valentine Day, a lover’s moon rose over Palm Beach.

Today we are back in our favorite spot in Lake Worth. The wind is roaring all around, but it is predicted to settle significantly by 7pm. No matter how much it roars here, we can be grateful not to be in Bangor, Maine, where the roaring wind is punctuated with thick snow, a real blizzard. As our weather calms down, theirs is predicted to ramp up, and they could have two feet of snow by this time tomorrow. We can, instead, start thinking about the right time to head for Miami, where we think we will pause at Fisher Island only overnight before we continue toward Marathon. We like leisurely travel, but we have had more leisure than we know what to do with this year. We just want some Conch Republic hospitality in a place where the wind may blow hard, but it always blows warm.

It is, indeed, just one fun thing after another. To quote Joe Bastardi, the Weatherbell man, “Enjoy your weather. It’s the only weather you’ve got.”