Saturday, June 6, 2009

Back to "Civilization"

We are back in the States and I can honestly say after just two days back that "civilization" is highly over-rated!!! Sure there are some nice things about being back: free wifi (mostly), free water...OK give me a minute, I'm thinking....but there are lots of negatives too: no more crystal clear gin colored water where you can see the bottom (and your anchor and sea biscuits, star fish and sharks!); no more super friendly people going out of their way to make sure you had fun on their island home; no more freshly baked coconut bread that you bought out of someone's kitchen; no more wide open places where maybe 10 people, a couple dogs, a few chickens and a handful of goats lived; no more rugged nature hikes with laughing gulls and geckos as your only companions: and no more getting your provisions at the blue, pink or yellow family stores where what you could get depended on if the mail boat had arrived (now many of you might think this is a positive to civilization, but trust me, no Winn Dixie or Publix has anywhere near the character and ability to make you smile like those places did!)

We spent our last day in the Bahamas hanging around the beautiful pool at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club - we fully intended to chill there for a couple hours and then head over to the local beach but once we got there and sunk down into the wrought iron, cushioned lounge was over...we were there for the day, especially once we realized they had a very kewl bar where we could order cold Kaliks and even lunch if we so choose (we did!) For most of the day we had this wonderful slice of paradise all to ourselves (September Song and the Gypsies) and Mother Nature even cooperated by letting the sun come out to play for most of the day!!!
Doug lounging poolside
We lounged around the pool soaking up the rays and relaxing most of the day, taking a break only to head up to the bar (which was shaped like the bow of a boat complete with a mermaid figure head!) to have the BEST sandwich of the entire trip - a grilled grouper reuben with cole slaw not sauerkraut (very important substitution in my mind!!!) and shoestring fries!! Can it get any better than that...I don't think so!!!
The two Admirals and the Mermaid!
Everyone had the Grouper Reuben

The next morning bright and early (can you say 6:00 AM??), we lit up the engines and were on our way out of the marina. The crossing from Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island to Lake Worth, FL was about 11 hours so we really needed to get an early start - unfortunately we were greeted with big rolling seas when we got out of the channel -UGH!! No way were we going to do 11 hours in that - but we had a fallback...we would head towards West End at the tip of Grand Bahama Island and see if the seas calmed down some before deciding whether to cross or not. "Luckily" (and I use that term loosely because I could have easily done another day .... or month ... or even year in the Bahamas!!!) the seas flattened out somewhat and we decided to head west. The crossing was mostly uneventful (yes that means we got skunked fishing ...nothing, nada....) and we pulled into the Lake Worth inlet and anchored around 5:00 pm. As we pulled in, what ran through my mind was that there were too many boats, too many people, too many houses - just too much of everything - we radioed September Song and mentioned that there was supposed to be a good weather window the next day if we wanted to head back!!!! Oh if we only could..... The biggest thing that struck me though was that the water as we anchored was brown, muddy and you couldn't begin to see the bottom even though we were only in 11 feet of water... obviously we were no longer in the land of that wonderful turquoise blue, gin clear water!!! Honey, take me back......

We had to check in with Customs and Immigration within 15 minutes of our anchoring....oh did I mention, too much regulation and bureaucracy!!! Since we had thought to be gone longer, we had not signed up for the local boater program before we left so the next morning we had to drop the dink and dinghy over to the Customs building. We had to find a dinghy dock to tie up to (and for the mere fee of $10.65 - I kid you not) we had the privilege of dealing with a very rude dock manager and locking up our dinghy for the 1/2 hour it would take us to find the Customs building and check back in to the States). Of course the Customs building turned out to be right next to the marina, but you couldn't get there from here...the marina was completely fenced in (as were all the other surrounding buildings - good to see we had landed in a safe place...West Palm Beach for gosh sake and it felt like Fort Knox...) Did I mention too many fences??? Anyways after clearing in we headed back to the boat and despite some iffy weather (having no real desire to hang in Lake Worth or Palm Beach), September Song and Gypsies decided to head out again and go fishing!!!

Off to Fort Pierce we went hitting the deep water so we could drop some lines...for all the good it did us! Actually about 4 hours into the trip I snagged a mahi and got him all the way up to the swim platform where he made one last valiant effort and as we were hauling him into the boat, he managed to free himself from the lure and leap from the swim platform back into the sea, never to be seen least he'll have a great story to tell his kids about how he saved himself from the jaws of certain death...but we were back to being skunked! Just then though as if to ease my grief over the "one that got away" a whole pod of little dolphins surrounded our boat doing backflips and other amazing water acrobatics - OK I just had to smile!!! It was like they were playing just for us - I have missed the dolphins - nurse sharks and rays just look mean, they don't do any tricks (score one for the States I guess).

After the mahi debacle, we felt the wind shift 180 degrees and pick up (lots!!!) - ruh roh (as our friend Diane on Aurora would say) - we were about to head into a massive squall line!! I have never before seen storm clouds like this - it was like looking at a black radioactive mushroom cloud with stalactites hanging down from the bottom reaches. Luckily we could see which way it was moving on our radar so we collectively hit the afterburners (OK we went 8.5 knots not 7.5) and turned hard to port to try and outrun the storm (let's be real, we can't outrun a seagull let alone a storm so we were just hoping to sneak behind it into Fort Pierce) - and we did - just barely!!!
Rain clouds off our starboard side
The clouds we were trying to outrun
We moved down to the helm station as the wind gusts reached about 38 knots and huge rain drops the size of hail started to fall - luckily our strategy paid off though as we were able to reach the Fort Pierce inlet before the heavy stuff came down!!! We thought about anchoring and even checked out a couple spots but one was too crowded already and one offered no protection from the approaching weather, so discretion being the better part of valor, we headed into the City Marina.

There is an unbelievable current that rips through the Fort Pierce City Marina (our last time here was memorable on that account!!) so we were choosing the lesser of two evils or so we thought....but we managed to get into our slip (a masterful docking feat by Doug was beautiful to watch!!) and even have a coldie up on the flybridge with Bob and Stephanie before the skies opened up and the heavy stuff came down!! Perfect timing to take showers and get ready for a night up at the tiki bar at the head of the docks!!! Making the most of the situation (as we always do), we had a wonderful dinner listening to a great reggae band (OK one more thing that was fun being back in the States - we didn't hear much live music in the Bahamas - where we were, the iguanas,geckos and hutias just have no rhythm!!) As we sat looking out at the water, the rain stopped and we were treated to an amazing double rainbow...we think it was Mother Nature's way of welcoming us back!!
Dinner at the Tiki Bar
Reggae Band at the Tiki Bar
Double Rainbow

This morning we headed off to the Farmer's Market that they have here in Fort Pierce every Saturday morning down along the waterfront - how kewl!!
We were greeted by a rainbow as we arrived at the farmers market
They had a wonderful little band playing,
The Band
lots of gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies (OK score another for the States) and heavenly smelling food (good thing we didn't have breakfast before we came!!!)
Bob and Stephanie buy veggies at the farmers market
Doug enjoys his fresh coffee at the farmers market
What to have, what to have!!! Shopping came first as we filled our backpacks with cheap, fresh veggies, fruits and spice plants, homemade breads and really inexpensive seafoods (yes Drew, Uncle Doug got lots of oysters and was wishing you were here to shuck them for him!!) - then it was time for breakfast (humongous egg, cheese and meat sandwiches on grilled croissants and sweet rolls (YUM!!!) which we ate overlooking the ICW. Then we had to walk over to the craft tents where we bought more reggae beads (can you ever have enough?) and Doug finally found the shark tooth earring he's been searching all over for!! - my jewelry used to be gold and gems, now it's wooden beads and hemp (guess our perspective has changed a little huh?? but no complaining here!) We walked around the town to get our appetites back so we could hit the tents for lunch on the way back - can you say jerk chix and pork on sticks!!! What a fun morning for locals and boaters alike. Now we are sitting back on the boats watching yet another biblical thunder and lightning storm...but that's OK, we have to work up our appetite again before we hit the tiki bar for adult beverages and reggae music again tonight! And if we wake up in the morning and don't feel like heading north, the sign here tells us that the Bahamas are only 80 miles away - don't we know it!!!
Bahamas - 80 miles!

Click here to see a Google map of our location in Fort Pierce

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