Decision Time

Off to a staging harbor to prep for the next few months.

The Banana River west of Port Canaveral was a really interesting anchorage. Lots of wildlife pressed right up against a major industrial area. Interestingly the wildlife (birds and dolphins, in particular) seemed not to care. The pelicans seemed happy to roost on man-made structures and the dolphins have figured out how to use the locks to go back and forth between the ocean and the lagoon.

We said goodbye to Port Canaveral in late morning and headed for Fort Pierce. On the way out we passed a couple of gigantic cruise ships which has arrived overnight. Andante felt very small and secretly wished for a water slide of her own.

Leaving Port Canveral
We passed two cruise ships berthed in Port Canaveral on our way back to the Atlantic. I’ve never been on a cruise ship like that and have some difficulty understanding the attraction — but they are still really interesting to me. The first one (MSC Meraviglia) was just huge. The second (Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas) had a cool twisty waterslide on the upper deck.
Sailing nicely out of Port Canveral. When the wind picked up in the afternoon it was almost directly in front of us. We tacked back and forth for a while but finally gave in shortly before nightfall and turned the engine on.
Lying on my back on the foredeck this was my view for much of the morning.
While this one missed us a subsequent storm hit us with torrential rain and some pretty good winds just a few miles before the entrance channel. I was glad to have the sails down at that point.
When I’m not on deck staring at the sails I’m generally down below staring at screens at the nav station. I use a chart plotter on my Mac (OpenCPN) to plan our route and monitor progress underway. Radar and AIS are very useful, especially at night. Its surprising how many fancy expensive boats (especially powerboats) don’t have AIS. I had a chance to do a few sun sights on this leg but haven’t worked them up yet. Now that its warm enough to hold a sextant in bare hands I’m hoping to work on my celestial skills over the next couple of months.
Andante anchored in Fort Pierce the morning after arrival. The water is warm and clear and greenish-blue. And full of dolphins and jumping fishes. On one side of us is a cluster of mangrove islands with lots of birds.
On the other side of us is the Fort Pierce Coast Guard station and a waterfront bar that offers really loud (but not very good) live rock music all evening. Bar not shown to protect the guilty.

So what next? After considering several scenarios I think the most compelling option is to head from here to the Bahamas. From Fort Pierce it is only 80 nm to West End. Getting from here to there will require completing some maintenance items, restocking food and supplies and waiting (and waiting) for an appropriate weather window. And all of this needs to be coordinated with obtaining a Covid test that is required for entry.

I chose Fort Pierce as a staging location exactly because it provides access to all of the products and services I need for this logistical puzzle while also providing the option to anchor out (free) for an arbitrary duration. I’d be much less inclined to wait for perfect weather if I was trapped in a marina paying more than $100/night. The dinghy ride to shore is long and can be wet — but the City Marina provides a nice secure dinghy dock that they encourage visiting boaters to use. A Lyft ride to downtown or the grocery store is about $7. So the infrastructure is here to make this work.

I’m still looking at options for Covid testing. The Bahamas will accept a rapid antigen test but it seems that appointments for a drive-through PCR test are more widely available. Never mind that I don’t have a car. The real trick is that the test result must be no more than 3 days old when you enter the country. With a typical 2 day wait on PCR test results, uncertain weather and the moderately slow nature of our travels it will be tough to meet that requirement.

I understand that the 3 day test age requirement can be waived if arriving by private vessel provided you can prove you haven’t stopped anywhere since the test. So at the moment my working plan is to wait for a good weather outlook, schedule and get a Covid test (hopefully Lyft is OK with a drive-through swabbing) and start sailing south along the Florida coast staying in cell range without stopping until I am emailed the test result. Then I can divert east across the Gulf Stream with an intended target of West End, Grand Bahama. Or if the test result takes really long to deliver, Bimini.

So I’ve made a decision and have something like a plan. It remains to be seen if it is a good plan but fortunately I’m flexible and in no rush. We’ll make the best of whatever happens next.

3 thoughts on “Decision Time”

  1. What a great trip. I am hoping the covid leeway for private vessels works out. Bet it will. Enjoy the transit. Also, thanks for the boat tour and a peek into Dave-life aboard. I would love to be there with you.


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