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April 9-11, 2014

Jean and Gary  April, 2014

Jean and Gary
April, 2014


Wow, has it really been almost five years since we retired and began cruising down the ICW for the first time??? How the years have flown by! Well, once again we are living aboard our sailing vessel (s/v) White Swan; and, our goal is to go to the Abacos, Bahamas.

Gary worked for months on the boat, doing repairs and preparing the boat for an off-shore passage. For non-nautical readers, an off-shore passage is one in which you are on the ocean, versus traveling on inland waterways.
The last week of being a land-lubber was spent provisioning the boat with enough paper goods, toiletries, canned goods, dried goods, etc. to last two months, the length of our trip. Also, for such an absence from home, one must make arrangements for mail, medicines, yard care, bill paying, etc., etc., etc., as well as close up the house.

With all the preparations behind us, we left Telemar Bay Marina in Indian Harbor Beach at 3:35 PM on April 9, 2014. Knowing we would not travel far before dusk approached, was of no concern to us. We believe the hardest part of the whole trip is getting away from the dock. There seems to always be one more thing to do before any departure. So, though it was late in the day, we left the marina and traveled down the ICW for two hours before we dropped the anchor to spend our first night on the water. Heaven!!!

Info sign about manatees Posted at Sunset Bay Marina

As we prepared and ate dinner that first night, we were entertained by a pod of manatees swimming all around our boat. The water was murky, not allowing us to see the bodies of the manatees; but when they came up for air we could see their large snouts. When they descended back into the darkness of the water, they left the tell-tale sign of their presence, a circle on the water’s surface. Living on a boat is truly ”like eating a box of chocolates”, if I may quote Forrest Gump, “you never know what you are going to get.” The key is to stay in tune with nature and be observant.

We traveled 8 ½ hours on the second day, arriving at an anchorage across the waterway from Jensen Beach. Nature’s gift that evening was a gorgeous sunset, spanning at least 180 degrees. Pink and mauve filled the sky in glorious wonder.

Sunset at Jensen Beach 4-9-14

Sunset at Jensen Beach 4-9-14

Coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, ominous clouds greeted us the next morning. Trying to get back into our normal cruising routine, we had our coffee in bed while having our morning devotional time. Up and at’um sent us to the foredeck with yoga mats for our morning stretches and exercise. I think maybe we will leave “Up” and “At’um” at home the next time we cruise.

We wanted to go to the port of Stuart, FL to spend a few days, and fortunately, midway there we had the good sense to call the marina to see if we could get a mooring ball. There were none available at that time so we decided to go to Manatee Pocket and anchor there until a mooring ball was available at Stuart. After anchoring in the cove, we called the marina again and told them what we were doing and asked if they would call us when a mooring ball was open. Surprisingly, they agreed to call us, and they did a short time later.

Traversing the St Lucie River to get to Stuart is an interesting cruise. One must remain diligent in paying attention to the markers provided to stay in the channel. There is a lot of shoaling in this area because of the inlet from the ocean. Also, right before arriving at Stuart, there is a 65’ fixed bridge and then just a short distance from it, is a railroad bridge and then a bascule bridge. The railroad bridge’s bascule is always up unless there is a train coming, but one must hail the bridge tender of the Roosevelt Bascule Bridge for an opening. We chose to wait for the third bridge’s opening, in the river before going under the first of the three bridges, the 65’ fixed bridge. We couldn’t remember if there was enough room once we passed the fixed bridge to maneuver the boat in circles or whatever might be needed to wait for the opening of the third bridge. If you think reading about these bridges is confusing, then you are in the same boat as we were when we were going through them. This was the third time we managed to go through them. The second time we did it, we also had to wait on a train using the railroad bridge. Challenges such as this, make a nice break in an uneventful day on the water.

3 bridges at Stuart,FL

3 bridges at Stuart,FL

After picking up our designated mooring ball, we got in our dinghy and went to the dinghy dock at the Sunset Bay Marina; and, went to the restaurant beside the marina office. This was our first excursion to shore since we left our homeport two days prior. We treated ourselves to a nice lunch before we went to the marina office to check in and pay the mooring fees. The marina staff was in the process of setting up a nice BBQ buffet as a farewell to all the mariners who had spent the winter there. In our opinion, Stuart would be a great place to spend the winter months. Twice a week, the marina offers a shuttle to nearby shopping areas. They have bicycles for guests to use, at no charge. There is a nice lounge and laundry. About the only thing we would miss if we were to stay here for an extended length of time, would be a swimming pool. There is a lovely river walk adjacent to the marina, leading to the old historic part of town. Actually, the small town of Stuart has become one of our favorite cruising destinations. We plan on enjoying this waterfront town for a few days before cruising further south.



Sailor's Return Restaurant beside Sunset Bay Marina

Sailor’s Return Restaurant beside Sunset Bay Marina


Sunset Bay Marina's office in Stuart, FL

Sunset Bay Marina’s office in Stuart, FL

Dinghy dock at Sunset Bay Marina

Dinghy dock at Sunset Bay Marina

White Swan moored at Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, FL

White Swan moored at Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, FL

One Comment

  1. Jeaninne says:

    Ahhhh, the sun on my face and the salt breezes at my back. I love this vicarious boat living! Thanks 🙂

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