March 07, 2010
When we returned to stuart in mid january we expected to spend a balmy week to 10 days reacclimatizing to the warmer weather and getting stocked up before crossing to the bahamas. What we found was altogether different: while we were away stuart experienced 10 days of below freezing overnight lows (a record for the area) and as a result there were dead fish EVERYWHERE, big and small and exotic, floating around the docks and against harmony’s hull in the mooring field. I called the marina as I thought there might have been a chemical spill, but they assured me it was the cold and the fish just couldn’t cope. In addition hundreds of manatees and turtles had succumbed, although thankfully they were not bobbing around the boat too, poor things.
We had many cold nights and near freezing mornings on the boat, and were surprised to see our breaths forming clouds above us in the v-berth and frost on the inside of the portholes; thank goodness for the hot water bottle and blankets and each other to cuddle up to. The weather has been the big story ever since. When it wasn’t just downright cold, it was also very windy (20 to 35+ knot winds were common) with a series of low pressure fronts passing over stuart every few days. In between we might get a couple of calm days with temps in the 60s but with another big blow pending the thought of leaving the secure mooring was not an appealing one. So we stayed, and stayed and stayed some more. To pass the time we got rather obsessed and competitive over sudoku and I read more books (free from the book swap) than I have in the last few years while Dickie played a lot of guitar and wrote some songs too. That is in addition to all the maintenance we did of course.
During the latest storm I took some photos and a video after the worst of it has passed through, which gives you an idea of what we are dealing with: for about half an hour it blew to 50mph and we couldn’t see the land which is only a few hundred feet away, the front came out of nowhere and we had just got back from a huge food shopping trip and unloaded the dinghy into the boat only minutes before the sky went dark and it all went crazy.
When we could get off the boat, we did some hiking up and down the beach to try and thaw out. We warmed up sufficiently once (in 6 florida weeks!) to go for a swim; 2 days later we heard that a kite surfer has been attacked by sharks and died right there where we had been frolicking in the surf, so that rather put us off braving the waters again. Another day we found the Savannahs State Park and walked for about an hour along the scrubby paths and marshland with dickie doing his best crocodile hunter impressions (RIP) only to come across a sign that said “due to the extreme weather conditions alligators are congregating in this area of the park and they become aggressive when approached, so this area is closed to the public for your own safety” !! I rather wish they had mentioned that BEFORE we reached “this area of the park” so I grabbed and big stick and we made a hasty retreat. I tell you it’s a jungle out there.
The next posting I hope will be made from the bahamas (fingers crossed). Harmony is stuffed to the gills: we have food and beer stashed away in every cubby hole, new charts and house batteries, full fuel tanks, empty pooh tanks, and dickie has just finished mending the leaky freshwater tank so we should be all set. the weather looks good for the next few days, and we hope to make the crossing to west end on the grand bahama island some day soon, it is about 55 miles due east from lake worth, where we are heading tomorrow so who knows.