So, we went to Disney World.
It was the trifecta of family celebrations for Dave’s family in January. Christmas was followed just a week later by his sister’s 50th birthday and then one week more and it would be his parent’s 60th anniversary. However, the plans began to come together in September to bring the 3 celebrations together and gather in Disney World on January 5th. We arrived a day early and enjoyed some time together just riding the monorail, looking for “hidden Mickeys” and then later exchanging gifts. The next morning we were off early to the Magic Kingdom, arriving just as they were about to open. Due to their winning personalities (not to mention some strategy and a little luck), Dave’s parents were selected to be Grand Marshals of that day’s parade. We rode lots of rides, ate lunch with Pooh and his friends, and then shot off to the parade to get the guests of honor in their places. They did a great job, but alas, it’s only for one day.
All good things must come to an end, and we began to make our way out of the park not long after dark. We almost managed to get all the way to the cars before it rained, which was the only hitch in an otherwise perfect day.
We finally made it out of Daytona on a cold morning with temperatures in the high 30’s and winds gusting to 20 from the North. Maybe it was the cold or maybe it was the fact that it was later in January (the 13th), but we were virtually alone on the waterway. We saw only a couple of other boats traveling south the whole day.
After studying the weather for over a week after our family commitments were done, we finally saw a weather window to jump outside to Miami and decided to travel south on the inside to position ourselves for it. While traveling that first day, our plans came together. We would anchor somewhere on the ICW near the Cape Canaveral canal and then head out the next morning through the canal to the ocean and down the coast. It would be a good sailing window, so we made preparations for a 2 night passage, giving us the time to go slower and just sail. Cathy scrambled below to get meals ready for the next 2 days. By 3pm, we had made it through the last opening bridge before the canal (Addison Point) just before it went on restrictions. We pulled over just south of the fixed City Point bridge that is the landmark for the canal’s ICW entrance, and anchored all by ourselves except for a huge hulk of a ship that looked like it had long ago seen its best days.
It turned out that the lock had closed for repairs in October and wasn’t going to re-open until April. We had no choice but to turn around.
We headed back through the opening bridge, luckily making the 9:30 opening, but our calculations kept coming to the same conclusion. There was no chance of reaching Vero Beach before dark. Any anchorage north of there would require a half-day or more travel on the ICW to get to the Fort Pierce inlet, the next chance to jump outside. We can’t get into a good sleep pattern on the ICW, so this meant we would have to let the weather window pass. With that realization, the pressure was off to make any distance this day. We pulled off at Melbourne and anchored in early afternoon. We would have a short trip to Vero the next day, arriving just before noon.
The good news was that the weather was getting warmer with each day’s travel. We were finally back in shorts again.
We almost caught back up with Pat and Fred, who were cooling their heels waiting for weather along with Bill and Bettye (on Inspiration) in Dinner Key at Coconut Grove, when we were headed to Miami. However, just because we lost our window didn’t mean they lost theirs, and we had a goodbye phone call the night before they crossed. The upside of missing that window was that we got to spend some more time with Tom and Dau (Cathy’s newly-found distant cousin) who have settled into a marina at Fort Pierce. Shortly after our arriving in Vero Beach, they came by car with George and Gail who were visiting for the day. We traveled with them to see the Barrier Island Sanctuary, a 20-mile stretch of beach and marine hammock north of Sebastian Inlet, which is precious sea turtle nesting grounds.
We also caught up with Rick and Carla on Euphoria, who pulled in just a couple days after us, having gotten a late start south. Our delay also gave us our first opportunity to try out the CLOD (Cruisers Living On Dirt) Breakfast in Vero, which takes place every Wednesday all year.
When our Mercury outboard was serviced in 2009, a fitting was added to enable us to connect an external fuel tank. Dave had been weighing the options for over a year, when Cathy finally prodded him to “just do it”. While we were in Daytona, he bought a 3-gal tank, some fuel hose with a primer ball, and a filter to insert in the line, and the fitting to connect to the engine. But it wasn’t until we reached Vero that we were able to launch the dinghy and hook everything up. It worked without a hitch, and will make it easier to re-fuel. Plus the filter’s clear housing allows us to see the fuel and ensure it looks good before going into the engine.
Speaking of fuel, we were getting a little concerned about some elevated fuel vacuum pressure on Orion on the trip south from Charleston to Daytona. It wasn’t so much that the pressure itself was creating a crisis, but the trend was worrying. While at the dock in Daytona, Dave removed the fuel line from the tank to the Racor filters, which seemed dirtier than one would like. So, he replaced it with new hose. Since then, the pressure is back to 0 or -1, which is where it had been running for most of the last 4 years, since we installed the gauge.
Vero or Velcro?
We plan to stay in Vero a few more days, but are not planning on wintering here as sometimes happens with cruisers. You can get awfully cozy here. Hopefully, once we see the right weather to head further south, we’ll be able to pry ourselves loose. Who knows?