Inching toward a departure from Ft. Pierce aboard Pandora.

It’s Saturday morning and we are now in Ft Pierce, having arrived in the driving rain on Thursday afternoon. It was an enjoyable ride down from CT and didn’t seem nearly so long as the 1,000+ miles would suggest. By breaking up the trip and making it more like a week on the road, verses a single hard push south, we had time to adjust to a slower pace, if you can call moving south at 70 mph for hour after hour “slower”.

With virtually no traffic at any point once we were out of the NYC area, I guess you could call it slower or at least relaxing.  Now that we are here in Ft. Pierce, staying put for yet another few days sounds very appealing. Our $19/day rental car has come in handy and it’s been easy to say “OK, how about another day on that rental”.  Years ago, I would have pushed to get all of our errands done in a single day but now…

I spoke with Chris Parker, the weather router, on the radio today and he suggested that we might be able to cross to the Bahamas by mid week so I guess we will get moving on Sunday morning to head down the coast toward Ft. Lauderdale. (Remember that there’s a “where’s Pandora” button on the home page of this site where you can see exactly where we are most any time.)

Crossing to the Bahamas from Florida is easier from further south because you are working with the northern current rather than trying to fight it.  The current in the Gulf Stream runs as much as 5kts (about 5.5mph) toward the north, so in the day it takes to cross the stream, you get swept north quite a bit.  With that in mind, you have to aim further south than you would think in order to avoid missing your destination on the Bahamas side completely. 

So, I think that we will likely leave the marina in Ft Pierce on Sunday and begin making our way south via the ICW, on the inside as opposed to the ocean side. There are plenty of bridges to go through as we get closer to Ft. Lauderdale so it will take two days to make the 100 or so mile trip.  As you can imagine, the scenery along the waterway is very interesting and there are plenty of amazing homes packed along the shore.  Central Florida is certainly home to the 1% crowd.

I find that it’s plenty hard to get ready to leave Pandora for a few months and even harder when we return to her after she’s sat for some time unattended.  There is so much to do to get everything in place to head out again. You’d think that it would be easy to get the boat ready again after a few months away, especially since we have been doing this for years now.  However, it’s just not that easy because when things sit unattended, they don’t always work when you come back.  In spite of all my efforts in getting things “ship shape” when I left in November, there were bits of mildew here and there along with food in the fridge that I should have tossed but didn’t when I left. 

While we have a detailed list of provisions in a spreadsheet aboard, of all of the food and stores that we have stowed aboard Pandora, most of which was put aboard in CT, it seems that we are always a bit unsure of what we have and what’s now needed for our few months in the Bahamas. Shopping over there is uncertain at best as it’s a very rural country.

One particularly vexing example of trying to get everything aboard in preparation for a trip, is medications. While our list is not that long, it’s hard to convince the insurance company and pharmacy to fill orders for 4 months of prescriptions when they only want to send a 30 day supply. Prior to our departure from CT, we ordered several months and had them shipped here to the marina.  Alas, when we arrived, some of the items we had ordered were nowhere to be found.

The mail order pharmacy folks were happy to send the rest of the order, but it took an hour and a half of frustrating phone calls to get things resolved.  And, to make matters worse, we had to find a UPS store in Ft. Lauderdale to have them shipped to since we will only be here in Ft. Pierce for a few more days, not long enough for our order to get here.  However, we are certain that we will be to Ft. Lauderdale at some point prior to heading over to the Bahamas.  As you can see, it’s plenty difficult to resolve the logistics of not having a regular mailing address when you are moving from place to place on a boat. I can’t wait till all of these issues are settled and we are underway.

Our frustrations are not unique to Pandora as we had drinks last evening with another couple that we had met last winter who are also having a difficult time getting ready to head out.   And, in their case, it’s even tougher as when they leave the US they won’t be back for years as they are planning to go through the Panama Canal and across the pacific ocean on their circumnavigation.

It’s a long way around the world, believe me, at about 5mph, the speed of a cruising boat. To go around the world is about 25,000 miles and that takes a very long time when you go so slow. And that assumes that the wind is blowing from the right direction. 

As I wrote that last paragraph, I am struck by how normal their plans seem to us given the folks that we hang around with these days.  These are serious voyagers where taking boats across vast oceans is more of the norm.  Well, for me right now, I am more focused on just getting Pandora out of this marina so we can begin making our way over to the Bahamas, not far but it seems like a big move to us right now.

You’d think that just casting off the lines should be easy but it’s amazingly tough. While Pandora is not a big boat, there are an amazing number of details to attend to and places to loose things. Actually, without a detailed list, I expect that things could get lost for years. Pandora is 43’ long and 12’ wide. While that might sound big, believe me, it’s not. This is a schematic of what the boat looks like “down below”.  We sleep in the front bunk.This is what the main cabin looks like when things are “ship shape”.  Pretty nicel , we think. Think of spending time aboard a small cruising boat like Pandora as cramming into a spot about the size of a large bathroom with someone, for weeks at a time. Sounds confining? Perhaps, but the views are fantastic.  Here’s Pandora at a dock in Rum Cay last winter.  Pretty nice…Well, there are lots of chores to do today so I had better sign off and get to work or we will NEVER leave and that would be a bummer.

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