We were up before dawn ready to leave Cape Canaveral. There is a basculle bridge one must go through that only opens at 6 a.m. and then not again until 6 p.m. Similarly, there was a lock just past the bridge which would be open once in the early morning and then not again until the evening from 6:30 until 9 p.m. We think there is some sort of construction going on there on weekdays, On weekends they would return to a friendlier schedule. Needless to say, we had no problem being there for the 6 a.m. opening.
Unfortunately, just past that bridge and the lock was another bridge which would not open until 8:30 a.m. Hurry up and wait was the theme for the morning. At 8:30 we were finally out of Cape Canaveral headed across the Banana River, through a canal surrounded by mangroves and into the Indian River where we could turn south and head for Fort Pierce.
Everywhere were signs saying Look out for Manatees. This reminded us of when our daughter, Jenny, was in fourth or fifth grade and she adopted a manatee named Rosie. For a small price she was able to support the care and feeding of manatees and the organization would send her updates on the whereabouts and well-being of Rosie, her very own adoptive manatee. Manatees are actually mammals and look a lot like walruses. They come to the surface to breathe and their greatest enemy is power boats. Many manatees have been injured by the propellers of power boats. We once visited a manatee refuge in Western Florida where we went into a room underwater where you could observe and commune with the manatees. They are really very friendly creatures. Rosie was not there at that time although we secretly hoped she would be.
It was a peaceful trip down the ICW that day except for a few scattered thunderstorms. We put the eisenglass windows up and down several times as the storms came and went.
Stephen puts out the lightning strike protection.
We passed Coco Beach where we saw lots of hotels and an anchorage with many sailboats,
Franci was happy to be in smooth waters again and enjoyed doing time at the helm,
We passed many nice homes along the way. Many of them were “winter homes”.
We arrived at Fort Pierce at 6 p.m., a little earlier than anticipated. Docking the boat proved to be a little more challenging than usual because it was a fixed pier, not a floating pier as we are most accustomed to. That means only the boat goes up and down with the tides so it must be secured a little differently.
We used a ladder to get on and off the boat. It also varied as the boat went up and down with the tide. At high tide it was pretty easy, but at low tide it was a pretty good stretch for those with short legs or bad backs.
Fort Pierce is where we met up with the parts to repair the potty. What we expected to be a two hour job turned into a two day project. A lot of time went into collecting parts. There were multiple trips to two different West Marine stores, Ace Hardware, Home Depot and even a large marine consignment store. The answer finally came from a place named The Plumbrey owned by a guy originally from Portugal. He shared a lot of his life history with Ralph and Arlene, but, most importantly, he had the parts they had been searching so hard to find. Despite the many challenges Ralph always had a smile for us every time we'd see him.
The table once again became a workshop.
Arlene was his assistant throughout the entire ordeal and she also cleaned the entire boat including the refrigerator and kitchen shelves in preparation for our provisioning trip for the last leg of the journey.
Stephen and Franci began to feel like Thurston and Lovie Howell on Gilligan's Island. While Ralph and Arlene worked hard they hung out at the very nice marina facilities enjoying lunch with piña coladas and cold beer and the very best blackened Mahi Mahi sandwiches ever, showers, laundry, dips in the pool and time in the air conditioned computer lounge.
This is without a doubt the BEST blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich EVER. It cost only $10.
Saturday morning we arose early as usual. We had breakfast at a local diner, went to the grocery store for three grocery carts worth of supplies, bought ice, turned in the rent car and left Harbortown Marina by 10:30 a.m. headed for the St. Lucie Canal and the Okeechobee Waterway. In a couple of days we'll be in the Gulf of Mexico headed for home.
Life is good,
Franci and Stephen