The thing about anchoring out, apart from the solitude and of course the avoidance of the tricky business of negotiating one’s way around other boats in the marina, is that it is free of charge. This is a considerable advantage after a few nights at an expensive marina, eating out, going shopping and catching up with the laundry.
There’s always a price though, and in this case it is the anxiety that the anchor might work loose, and the boat drift away in the middle of the night, taking the sleeping occupants with it.
On Friday night when we were anchored at Hookers Cove, Wind Guru, the weather forecasting app, had not been entirely truthful with us. The winds that were supposed to moderate during the afternoon actually increased in strength, reaching a level that could almost be described as ‘blowing a hooley’. Ian dropped the second anchor, for reassurance. Tom and Tracy, Carina’s previous owners, had apparently not bothered with such minutiae as an anchor alarm, Tom preferring instead to rely on cries of ‘Holy shit, Tom!’ to alert him to imminent disaster.
But Ian prefers science, and we had not one anchor alarm, but two, one on the laptop and the other on my phone. They use the GPS signal, and sound off if the boat has moved more than a pre-set distance from the anchor.
We’re on a learning curve. The alarm went off, loudly and disconcertingly, twice in the middle of the night. The tolerance had been set too narrowly, and the boat had swung round out of the GPS range.
But the anchors held fast.
The next day we had our first glimpse of the Atlantic. We left the St Lucie River, and took a sharp left turn to head north up Indian River and begin the journey up the Atlantic Intra-coastal Waterway.
A little later, we passed a large fleet of 420 dinghies racing in the sound. The conditions were perfect, and Ian not a little envious, I think.
Indian River is a broad sound between the mainland and a string of long islands a few miles to the east, with a wider, more open feel than the Gulf Coast. We moored at Fort Pierce, FL in the city marina, and enjoyed the live music and good food at Cobbs Landing, next to the marina.
One of the reasons for stopping at a marina is to replenish the food stocks, but this is sometimes more easily said than done. Ian can sometimes be reluctant to recognise the correlation between going to the supermarket and having anything to eat, regarding all forms of shopping, with the exception of buying bits for cars and boats, as a female indulgence that at best has to be tolerated, and at worst borne with a grudging ill-humour.
So Sunday morning didn’t go well. The nearest Publix was 3 miles away, and taxis are tricky in the US. Everyone has a car, so demand for taxis is limited. It follows that supply is also limited, and although we got a taxi to take us to the supermarket, we had to wait over an hour for it to take us back to the marina.
But undaunted, in the afternoon we visited Heathcote Botanical Gardens, this time using the other Fort Pierce taxi firm, a one-man band who was apologetic about our morning experience, and who explained the economics of running a taxi business to us.
The garden was a delight, and so was the volunteer staff member who enthusiastically welcomed us, and explained the garden’s history and layout. It had originally been a nursery, and in 1985 the City of Ft Pierce had bought the house and land, to be developed and maintained by volunteers as a community resource. It has a large bonsai collection and there is a series of garden ‘rooms’, and a children’s garden and community vegetable garden.
As we left Fort Pierce this morning, a manatee surfaced about two feet from the boat and popped his head out and looked round, but I didn’t have the camera with me, and perhaps it would have spoiled the moment anyway.
We travelled 25 miles north, passing lots of lovely small islands, and we’re now peacefully anchored off Wabasso.