Three maddening weeks spent in our worst anchorage yet had us chomping at the bit to haul anchor. The moment our weather window opened, we made tracks and cleared our most terrifying inlet so far, out into the blue ocean. Sayonara, St. Augustine.
Our choice to “go outside” (meaning, sail in the ocean as opposed to heading down the ICW) was a weighty one. This trip coincided with news that 25 shipping containers had fallen off a cargo ship somewhere south of Florida a few days prior, and that debris had started washing up on shore. We grappled with the bone-chilling prospect of hitting one of these partially submerged behemoths and weighed it against the much greater odds of running aground in the ditch. Perhaps our cabin fever made us a little too eager, because we ruled in favor of an overnight run from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach.
We’d only been at sea a few hours when we started to notice some funny things in the water. Justin, who was slightly ahead, called us on VHF to report that they were floating among packs of lysol spray, dog food, coffee, and ramen noodles. Shortly after that, an ice scraper floated by, followed by some dog food. A little while later, Jasaru was surrounded by a sea of tennis balls and we spotted a large wooden pallet. All of it made us nervous, and together, we made the decision to duck into the inlet at Ponce de Leon for the night. The following day we set out, once again hoping to make the run to West Palm Beach, only to find more miscellany on the water. Shadowed by doubt and paranoia, we turned into Fort Pierce to sleep and re-evaluate the plan.
By morning, We’d thought more about the situation, and were no longer comfortable with the risk of making the passage. We parted ways with Jasaru and headed into the ditch, for a tedious day of negotiating with bridge operators and getting waked by power boats.
Our arrival in North Palm Beach immediately made us forget all that stress. We dropped anchor and were reunited with Jon and Thomas, who had anchored their boats, sv Hecla and sv Brosel, nearby. Jon generously offered us the use of his outboard engine, as we continue to search for a 2 stroke model that will meet our needs, and we delighted in using our new dinghy for the first time.
Our happy reunion was shadowed by the discovery that Justin and Jasaru decided to bypass West Palm Beach on the outside and continue to Fort Lauderdale. We’d all been expecting a joyous reunion, and there was much disappointment in Justin’s very conspicuous absence. Jon, Brian, and I look forward to seeing him in a few days, but Thomas and Sabina will have to wait until early spring, somewhere in the Bahamas.
We’re making use of the ample resources here in North Palm Beach (Trader Joes! Costco! Publix!) to do most of our provisioning before we leave for the Bahamas. Here in the blissfully warm weather, we enjoyed gin and tonics at sunset from the bow of our boat and are getting our first taste of winter cruising as it’s supposed to be – warm sunshine, clear(er) water, and friends, old and new.