February 20, 2015

Cindy and I have now spent the last week at the Loggerhead Marina in Vero Beach. Our purchase of one month’s dockage at the Loggerhead Marina in Daytona Beach included a reciprocal agreement that allowed us to use any unused days at other Loggerheads in Florida within the 30 day period. The daily equivalent rate is tough to beat, only around $25 per night moored at a dock with shore power and given how the weather has once again turned cold, we opt to stay until the latest polar vortex releases its grip on the nation. The temperatures here may not be as bad as the single digits folks are seeing in Huntsville but they are still way lower than normal in Florida, with nighttime temperatures dropping into the 40’s and even the 30’s.

Still, the days are pleasant and this break gives us a chance to catch up on work. I log into my work email, review documents and send in my comments, tie into several  telecons and generally try to remind folks back at the office that I haven’t fallen off of the face of the earth. I go out onto the dock and exercise in the afternoon. In the evenings I put on jazz, fix  drinks, make dinner and watch the sun set. It’s a wonderful routine.

We take Missy out for walks, she loves everyone she meets and she serves as a wonderful ice breaker. We swap many a boat dog story with our fellow dock dwellers. There’s something about the boating lifestyle that brings out dog lovers everywhere. That said, the boat next to us has a cat onboard and Missy is just dying to meet her, too. Whenever she spots the cat she goes into her routine, strutting around on deck, huffing and making her Chewbaca noises. The cat is not interested in a meet-up.

I borrow one of the marina’s loaner bikes (a lot of marinas have these to help boaters run errands) to go make a larger grocery run at the nearby Publix. The bike, which has seen better days, dumps the chain twice on the short one mile ride to the store. Unfortunately, putting the chain back on on a fixed gear bike like this is harder than on the 21-speed that I used to ride back in my triathlon days. It’s also disheartening that you lose your braking ability when the chain is off the sprockets, especially when it happens in traffic. I decide that from here on out I’ll just walk to the store.

We plan to leave on Thursday the 19th but the weather forecast calls for 20-25 knot winds gusting to 35 knots and low temperatures so we decide to stay an extra day. It was a good call as the icy wind cuts through the marina most of the day, finally easing off late in the afternoon. We make another run to Publix in the evening to get some last minute provisions, including diet Dr Pepper, Cindy’s drug of choice.

Early Friday morning we push off and head for Jensen Beach with a weather report that calls for low wind and sunny skies. We push down the wide expanse of the Indian River, the sun warming our enclosure and keeping us toasty in spite of the chilly temperatures. Missy alternately trots around the boat surveying the scenery or flops down in the back seat of the cockpit, her chin down on the cushion, falling asleep.

The day is uneventful but long as we cover nearly 32 miles down the ICW under blue skies. Late in the afternoon we arrive at Nettles Island, a small square man-made islet at Jensen Beach covered with single family homes. A palm tree lined causeway connects it to Jensen Beach on the ocean side. Unlike the McMansion developments we’ve seen strung along the waterway, each of these houses is unique. Some are large, others not so much and there seems to be no single architectural theme at work. People putter around in golf carts along its narrow roadways. We like the place.

We pull in to the Nettles Island Marina, taking the only space on the face dock that can accommodate a boat of Just One Dance’s size. We tie up and put fenders out, including the two “big boy” fenders we bought since our adventure at the face dock at Fernandina Beach because tonight promises a similar blow. Nettles Island is open to the south and the warm front that is pushing the polar vortex out of Florida is blowing in from that direction. The long fetch across the water promises to bring us a bouncy night and we want the boat to be well protected.

We haven’t blown these two new fenders up so we pull out our bicycle pump and get to work. Just as we are starting to pump up the second one, the ball slips and snaps the basketball needle we’ve inserted in the valve. Crap!! We pull the broken part out of the valve with a pair of needle nosed pliers but the remaining part of the needle is too short to fit into the valve. I’m fairly certain I did not see a Dick’s Sporting Goods as we cruised along Nettle’s perimeter. We’re feeling a little bit screwed.

We decide to walk back up to the small marina shop we had stuck our heads in after checking in at the marina office and pray they have a basketball pump, a faint but measurable hope given that the shop does cater to the marina crowd. Most of their floor space is dedicated to grocery items, and I find their selection of food items to be impressively better than the store’s size would suggest. They even stock some fresh produce! Not that this will help us in our current predicament.

We browse the lone sparse hardware shelf in the back stocked with hose fittings, bilge pump floats, fishing gear and other assorted boating items and I find myself wondering how the owners of a place like this decide what items to stock. How many times did someone come in furtively inquiring about a female-to-male water hose fitting converter before they decided to start stocking this item and…holy freakin’ cow!!! They have basketball pumps! Several of them, in fact. Thank God!!

We make our purchase, throwing in a celebratory 6-pack of Modello Especiale and head back to the boat. We pump up our second big boy fender, quite a workout given how small the volume of the bicycle pump is compared to that of the fender. We tie the fenders off to our stanchions and settle in to await the coming blow.

Sure enough, soon after dinner in the wind starts blowing, the water gets choppy and Just One Dance starts dancing. The wind clocks in at 15-20 knots steady, pushing us into the dock and we opt to spend the next day at Nettles rather than trying to fight the wind. We work from our computers and meet several people on the dock, most of the introductions courtesy of the ever-friendly Missy.

Rather than try to cook in a pitching and heaving galley we wander up to The Landing, a family-owned restaurant located at the marina for dinner. We start with the fried calamari, long a favorite of Cindy’s and mine. It’s well prepared and generous, though the “Thai Chile Dipping Sauce” turns out to be the same bottled Thai Sweet Chile-Garlic Sauce we have been using at home for years. That was not an issue though, since we both love the stuff. For our entrees, Cindy opted for the ever-dependable Fish and Chips. I went for the Osso Bucco, largely because it came with mashed potatoes and we do not keep potatoes on the boat. They don’t keep nearly as well as rice and pasta and I don’t do instant mashed potatoes. Both entrees are satisfying, though the Osso Bucco could have been braised quite a bit longer. It was advertised as “falling off the bone” but was served on the bone and needed quite a bit of pulling to get off the bone. A couple glasses of cabernet complete the night and with the winds having died down we headed off to the boat for a good night’s sleep.

Total Distance Traveled: 294 miles