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The Finale… For Now…


First rule in going offshore: Check the weather the day before. Second rule in going offshore: Check the weather the night before. Third rule in going offshore: Check the weather the morning of going offshore. For the third day in a row the weather was suppose to be good for going offshore, so we sailed our longest offshore trip yet, going from Lake Worth to Ft. Pierce, logging 55 statute miles. That’s about the same distance as going to the Bahamas. In fact, we followed our friends aboard Lady Bug and Lily Pad via SPOT, and they arrived at West End, Grand Bahama Island about the same time we arrived at Ft. Pierce, Florida. Congratulations to all of us for successful offshore passages, especially our friends in the Bahamas. YEAH for them. We emailed them our congrats; and expect to get updates from them frequently so we can live vicariously through them, since we didn‘t get to go.

We left our anchorage at Lake Worth at 7:30 this morning. We wanted to make it to our anchorage for tonight at Ft. Pierce before possible afternoon thunderstorms arose. The local newscaster reported the possibility of thunderstorms arriving around 2:00 PM this afternoon. The prediction regarding the wind was it was to remain light all day, so we weren’t overly concerned. Who am I trying to fool…Gary wasn’t overly concerned. I was concerned. My other concern was regarding making it safely into the Ft. Pierce Inlet, as I had been told it is not a good inlet to navigate. Hindsight: sometimes you need to experience things yourself and make your own opinion regarding what inlet is a comfortable waterway for you, or what marina is good for you, or what anchorage is a good for you, etc. We consider other’s opinions to be of great value, and we listen and take heed from other’s experiences; but we’ve learned we still need to check things out for ourselves. Sometimes, what works for one sailor, may not work for another sailor, and vice versa.

Today, the morning hours greeted us with barely a trace of wind, which made an easy exit out the Lake Worth Inlet; unlike the morning the three Gemini sister ships ventured out the same inlet for their first attempt, a month ago tomorrow, to go to the Bahamas. (“Weather“, “weather“, “weather”.)

As we enjoyed our calm journey up the Atlantic Ocean, we noticed the high-rise buildings that crowd the eastern shoreline starting in Miami, diminished somewhat and became more sparse starting at St. Lucie Inlet. The sandy beaches all along the eastern shore remain constant up to Ft. Pierce. Since this is as far as we are going to go offshore, the knowledge of where the sandy beaches end and the rocky shores begin, (that I’ve read about of the New England states) will have to come from a source other than myself.

Gary took advantage of mother nature’s gentleness, providing calm seas today, and went to the foredeck to exercise. While he was there, I manned the helm. (The term “manned” is so sexist, but saying, “ I personed the helm.” doesn’t sound right.) While looking out over the blue ocean on our starboard (right side), I saw a shark swim by. No kidding. It must have been five or six feet long. A sense of relief washed over me after a quick glance to the foredeck confirmed the captain was still there, exercising, unaware of my panic stricken imagination.

Later on in the afternoon, both of us were sitting in the helm’s seat and all of a sudden Gary yells, “Woe, woe, woe!!!” He scared the bejabbers out of me as I sat there thinking I needed to stop the boat in a hurry. (As if that’s even possible.) He readily explained his excitement was over a huge fish he just saw jumping up out of the water displaying its whole body. He said it was probably 6 feet long and could have been a marlin or a swordfish.

Throughout the day, we enjoyed watching the flying fish, “flying gurnards“. They have fan-like pectoral fins that look like wings. Periodically, we would see them soaring over the water’s surface. I’d like to think our enjoyment we experienced while watching them possibly matched the enjoyment they must experience in having such a unique ability to perform such a feat. The ocean’s nearly flat surface today, allowed them to obtain enough momentum to fly 100 feet or more before reentering their oceanic home.

We were introduced to the Indian River during our trip south, down the ICW. It begins at Titusville, Florida. Today, we found its end 109 miles south of its beginning, at St. Lucie Inlet. We were aware that the Indian River ran for many miles, but until today we didn’t realize the extent of its length. The Indian River is actually a misnomer in that technically it is a lagoon. Occasionally, we will see a sign reading Indian River Lagoon, but on the navigational charts, and in general, it is referred to as the Indian River.

We easily found the entrance to Ft. Pierce Inlet using our GPS and binoculars. The tide was going in and the current was to our advantage as well. With the 9 knot wind to our stern, we had a smooth ride into the inlet. As it turned out (for us…on this particular day…with today’s weather), we had no problem whatsoever navigating the inlet and finding the anchorage we wanted to use for the night. (“Who of you, by worrying, can add a single day to your life?”)

We arrived at our evening’s anchorage around 3:30 in the afternoon, which was later than we’d hoped, but we made it here just as a light sprinkle of rain started. As Gary finished arranging a bridle for the anchor line, I utilized the gift of rain to wash the salt water off the topside of White Swan. By the time I’d finished sponging her off, the shower stopped and the sunshine returned. Around 6:30 PM it started thundering and another slight sprinkle of rain came. It wasn’t until a short time after 8:00 PM that the predicted thunderstorm moved in. We were thankful for it’s timely delay.

Tomorrow, we will once again travel the ICW. This final leg of our journey will take us from Ft. Pierce to Indian Harbour Beach, In our opinion, this section of the ICW is one of the prettiest, most scenic part of the ICW with all its spoil islands dotting the waterway. Made by the bottom soil from years of dredging the ICW, most of the little islands have evolved beautifully and are now decorated with sandy beaches, flora, and fauna indigenous to the area.

Our final trip before hurricane season 2010, north up the ICW, will take us to White Swan’s new home, Telemar Bay Marina at Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. And, the honorable Captain Gary S. Glenn and his first mate and galley slave, Jean, will find new adventures awaiting them at their new home in West Melbourne, Florida. Our newfound friend who keeps his boat at Telemar Bay Marina, Matt, suggested we give him a call when we get to Melbourne Causeway bridge and he will leave work and greet us at the marina to help us with the lines (ropes) as we come into the boat slip. Every sailor knows this is not a necessary act but the offer is appreciated; because you never know what might happen as you try to maneuver into a boat slip; the wind can pick up, the current can be stronger than what you anticipated, etc., making the maneuver challenging. It is common for sailors to help fellow sailors coming into port with their dock lines. This courtesy is a “welcome back to port” kind of thing to do. That’s just the way sailors are…

Now that our time going offshore is over (for a while anyway), I’m going to honestly tell you how I originally felt about doing it for the first time. Before I experienced it firsthand and learned more about cruising offshore and what all is involved in making offshore passages safe and successful, just the mentioning of doing so was frightening to me. The word “offshore” and “boogie man” were synonymous in my vocabulary. Since we’ve learned the key to a successful offshore passage is “weather”, “weather”, “weather”, the word offshore no longer sends goose bumps down my appendages or shivers down my spine. I can now liken it to learning how to scuba dive. I was scared the first time I actually dove with a tank of oxygen attached to a regulator that kept me alive, but with knowledge and experience, the fears I initially had subsided. Pushing myself past my comfort zone is not easy; but so far, I’ve lived to tell about every experience that once caused me to fear.

Both, Gary and I, experienced levels of anxiety regarding our first trip down the ICW from Annapolis, Maryland to Indian Harbour Beach, Florida and then further to the Florida Keys. We are sure we will have a certain level of anxiety the first time we make the passage across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. But, what we’ve learned is, once we do something that first time, and get past that initial learning curve, the anxiety lessens and we become more comfortable with the experience. That’s why we called this trip an adventure. Our adventures aboard White Swan for the past six months are ones we will cherish forever, because there is nothing like doing anything for the first time!!!



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