West Palm Beach to Titusville, Florida

The routine is almost automatic by now. Up early for breakfast, pre-departure checks of systems and anchor up and under way. Today we would only have 7 bridges to deal with and 42 miles to cover between West Palm Beach and Stuart. The waterway along this stretch is very nice with a mixture of old and new homes and some still undeveloped areas. Still, being a holiday weekend, the small boats and their unskilled operators were plentiful and as annoying as ever, but all in all the trip for the day went well. The one area that gave us a bit of concern was Jupiter Inlet since the waters out of the channel are very thin and the currents are really strong. One of the 7 bridges also needed to be transited in this area. That transit went without a hitch.
Our planned anchorage was just north of the Jensen Beach Bridge off the restaurant where we planned to meet our friends. It would be a short dinghy ride and we could watch both the boat and the weather. Well that was just not meant to be. As we turned off the channel into what was charted as a 7 foot anchorage, we went abruptly aground. We found ourselves in 6 feet of water with our 6 foot draft. We were able to turn the boat and push our way off the bottom with the help of the many wakes from those annoying boats we mentioned. There is also an anchorage south of the bridge with a group of permanent liveaboards so we doubled back to give that a try. Our concern was that the depths would also not be correct but there were some boats already anchored. We turned off the waterway and found deep enough water to anchor. It was high tide so we needed 8 ½ feet to allow for the tides so we did not bump at low water. By then, the winds were building and blowing up the river against the current and building a serious chop with white caps. So our dinner plans with our friends had to be canceled. Since they are long time sailors themselves, they understood and we decided on plan C for the following day.
The next day we motored the short 20 miles to Fort Pierce and took a slip at Harbortown Marina. The entrance channel is straight forward and deep enough but the docks only have 4 1/2 feet at low tide. In addition the docks are the highest we have ever seen and we really had a difficult time getting on and off the boat. We don’t know what they were thinking when they built these. Perhaps they thought cruise ships would dock here. The marina did not inform us of the shallow depths at low tides or the height of the docks. For $80.00 per night it was a big disappointment. They also advertise WiFi service but don’t tell you in the ads that it is $5.00 per day. The evening went well with no weather although it threatened, and dinner and company was great. It was good to see our friends again after a few years have passed. We also met a nice Canadian couple, across the dock that was stuck there doing boat repairs after a lightning strike near the Bahamas. We would only have to figure out how to get off the docks the next morning. Besides the shallow water there is a very strong current which runs out of the channel all of the time since this is an outflow from Lake Okeechobee and we were docked directly behind a large research vessel. We shall see what the morning brings and I am sure we will figure something out.
The next morning brought low tides and depths at the dock of 4 ½ feet, not quite the 6 ½ we were told. In addition, when we brought our concerns to the marina they became very defensive. This is definitely NOT a good spot to stop for boats of deeper than 5 foot draft or with low freeboard. So we sat and waited for the tides to come up and at about 10:30 AM we dragged ourselves out away from the dock. Once in the marina channel there was plenty of water, just not enough at the docks. But the day and the fun were just beginning. We were making good time motoring with the jib up and our ETA to the Merritt Island area where we planned to anchor was doable and we would arrive around 4 PM. At around 1 PM the storms starting building quickly to our west and seemed to be moving in the direction we were heading north. Our fall back plan was to pick up a mooring at Vero Beach and wait out the storms and continue the next morning.
As we approached the bridge at Vero Beach we called the Municipal Marina to see if they had a mooring available. They said indeed they did and gave us instruction to get into the mooring field. We turned just passed the bridge and headed into the channel with no problems. They assigned us a mooring and again gave us instruction on where to find it. We were very specific with them as we always are that our draft is 6 foot and no less. As we approached the assigned mooring we promptly ran aground in 5 ½ feet of water. When we called the marina on the radio and informed them, their response was “it can’t be only 5 ½ feet and if it is and you are aground there isn’t anything we can do for you”. We know when our boat is aground since it stops moving and we have a depth sounder to give us the depths. So we were left in a position that we needed to resolve ourselves even though someone else put us there. Anyone passing this way on a boat should take care if your draft is more than 5 feet and not rely on the information even from the marinas you are entering. Only the Fort Pierce City Marina was honest with us and told us we would not be able to use the marina because of our draft due to the current spring tides, making low tide even lower. The others either did not know what they were talking about or just did not care. We did finally get off the shoal and get another mooring assignment in 8 feet of water this time. By then the storms were rumbling and getting very close to us. At least we were tied up and could breathe a sigh of relief. Some days are just like this but what makes it worse is when your problems are due to the incompetence of others whose job it is to know and provide the public with the correct information, even if it means they don’t make a dollar today. The $80.00 we paid Harbortown will cost them much more than that in the long run once word gets out and the cruising community is a small one where news travels fast.
The next morning and most of the rest of that day was uneventful for a change. We left the mooring field at 7 AM and dropped our anchor off the ICW west of Fairyland, Florida and no I did not make that up, around 2:30 PM. Most of the day we had light east to northeast winds until we anchored, then they switched to the south blowing right up the waterway. They were not uncomfortable as this is the typical afternoon sea breeze. Tomorrows run to Titusville will be about 25 miles. We probably could have done those extra miles if we wanted but there is just no rush at this time. We plan a couple of days at one of the marinas to do some maintenance and visit with a friend so it will be a busy couple of days. A front is due to approach by the weekend so we will see how that works out later in the week. The next couple of days are forecast to have a lot less rain and storms so we will see how that works out too.
This turned out to be a very pleasant anchorage but we would advise caution in strong north or south winds since they would blow directly up or down the waterway and this direction is very exposed. There are several bridges in the area that one could anchor either north or south of for protection in that kind of weather. In the evening and first thing in the morning we were serenaded by a pair of very loud peacocks from shore. We slept in an extra hour and got under way a little after 8 AM. An hour or so later we were passed by our first power boat of the day and the idiot skipper gave us a big wave as he blew past us and rocked us big time with his wake. But for the most part, the last couple of days, we have seen very little other boat traffic and I must say it has been pleasant. Our ETA to Titusville Marinas was shortly after 12 noon and we arrived at about 12:20 PM. Our first chore was to go to the fuel dock and top off the tank. Fuel was $4.58 per gallon plus tax and we topped off 35 gallons. We were also given a slip assignment as we planned to spend a few days. The marina is currently under construction and one dock is closed down and being rebuilt. Most of the other fixed docks are already done but space is short until construction is complete. An oil change, fuel filter changes, cleaning the raw water strainer and impeller replacement are the chores for the next couple of days.

2 comments:

  1. How about a date for the posts. Enjoyed reading posts. Just sold my boat in OZ and am looking to purchase another on east coast US. I have been cruising for 5 years. Going to Dark Side as am considering a cat

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  2. I will keep that in mind although the month and year it is posted is under the archives which are`again listed by month and year. Glad you like what you read and thanks. Chuck.

    ReplyDelete

While we always appreciate your feedback and comments, comments are moderated to keep out the spam. There are pretty much two rules. NO LINKS or URLs in your NAME or the POST, and BE NICE. There is enough negativity out there. If either of these are not followed, your comment will not be posted, so don't waste your time. Thanks, Chuck