We've been slowly moving south, and are now anchored in North Palm Beach, a mere 75 miles from Miami Beach. We have a rendevous there scheduled for Sunday Jan 24, when we pick up good friend Bev Bishop for a week+ cruise down to Key West.
Good news! The great Florida Freeze has ended! For the past 2 nights, with temps in the 60's, we haven't broken out the sleeping bag. Today we may see 80 degrees. One sad effect of the cold spell has been the killing of many fish in the shallower sections of the local waterways, where water temps have dropped below 50 degrees. The huge local population of vultures (see above) have benefited from this.
We left the mooring field in Stuart this past Tuesday, after 5 nights there. The batteries needed charging, so we made a slow run (1100 rpm which yields maybe 5 knots) about 5 miles up the north fork of the St Lucie River. It turns out that Spray's alternator charges the battery at the same rate whether we go slow or 'less slow'. We anchored in Kitching Cove, pretty close to a Club Med resort. It was still cold then (50s day, 30s night), so the Club Med wasn't doing any apparent business. Kitching Cove has expensive homes to the east and mangroves to the west and I was wondering if I would be able to find a place to land Riggs to 'empty the dog'. We dinghied a half mile or so north up a creek, which was loaded with wading birds, and found a small beach with a couple of benches, so we landed there. It turns out it was on the 'nature path' of a new subdivision. Roads were in, lots were prepped, but no houses. Maybe a victim of the Florida real estate bust. Anyhow, it made a great place to walk Riggs.
Wednesday we slowly motored back down the St Lucie, continuing down the ICW to a wide spot called Peck Lake (ICW mile 992) where we anchored for 2 nights. The barrier island there is part of Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge and its a very short walk from the ICW side to the Atlantic beach (see below). The beach is quite empty and remote, yet monitored by the authorities by helicopter flyovers and by a remote TV camera that you can see on the post to the left (Big Brother). Technically, Riggs is not allowed on the beach, so we tried to hide him from the camera.
Peck Lake was a nice place to kill time. The only down side was wakes from passing boats moving up/down the ICW, but these didn't occur at night. It was while we stayed here that the freeze broke, and we enjoyed real Florida weather.
Yesterday we pulled anchor and cruised 20 miles south through Hobe Sound to North Palm Beach (mile 1013). Quite a difference from Peck Lake as this is a very densely populated area, with mansions crammed together along the ICW. It was getting windy and the weather report for the weekend calls for somewhat strong southerlies, so rather than head for the standard anchorage (North Lake Worth), we turned off the ICW into one of these neighborhoods of nice homes all connected to a series of canals, and each with a dock and boat or two. The canals are too narrow to anchor in but this one has a couple of cul-de-sacs, and we are anchored in one of those, in about 5 feet of water (Spray draws almost 4 feet). Its very protected, but we've got about a dozen homes looking right at us. There's a boat ramp about 1/2 mile further down the canal, with a park, so Riggs is happy.
We're gonna hang here until tomorrow, and let the winds quiet down, before continuing towards Miami. Jeff Siegel says there aren't many scenic, dog friendly anchorages between here and there and recommends going past Miami to explore Biscayne Bay, then returning to Miami. Sounds like a good idea!