Tuesday, May 27, 2014

End of Season 2013-2014

Time to get back to work:

After a nice visit in Stuart we decided this was a good spot for a break in our little Cruise Aid for a Sustainable Florida. We have traveled over a 1000 miles on nothing but Sunshine so far and Stuart marks the beginning of the Okeechobee Waterway. To complete the transit of the entire Florida ICW we still have to cover the distance from here to Jacksonville and also across Lake 'O' to Fort Myers. Since we need to get to work for a while, this would be a good spot to stop for the season. Although we had hoped to make it to the Georgia line this time, it wasn't meant to be and Cape Canaveral is just a two days hard ride north and we have a great place to leave the Arc there for the summer.

The weather was predicted to be partly cloudy but we figured we would go one more day all solar to get out of Stuart.  Since the Channel 12 News lady made such a big deal out of how we had traveled so far without burning any fuel we figured it would be better to get out of town before we kicked in the diesel so we could bolt north and back to work.

We hit the tides just right getting past the St. Lucie inlet without incident and were cruising nicely on electric when we decided to make a pass by St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant and do a photo op for ReThink Energy Florida with the power plant in the background. On the way we saw something strange just outside the channel. Carter pulled closer and got out the binoculars for a better view. "What in the ....?, it looks like a turtle's butt sticking out of the water." Carter and Radar jumped into the Whaler to investigate.

Sure enough, a very unfortunate sea turtle got his fin caught up an abandoned crab pot. It was floating with the crab pot hanging under it just below the surface of the water. This was definitely a hazard to navigation and we figured maybe the Fish and Wildlife Commission might keep some kind of statistics on such things so Carter hoisted the turtle and attached crap pot into the whaler. We  figured he'd just drop it in the dumpster at the next state park after reporting it to FWC.

We called the FWC and it turned out they were VERY INTERESTED in our dead turtle and were insistent that we rendezvous with a state biologist so they could get the smelly beast.

We still hadn't done our little photo op for Rethink yet but now there was a dead sea turtle in the Whaler.  Here's the conversation:

Carter:  Ok, we're in a good position.  Go ahead and get in the Whaler with your camera and I'll get the Arc in a good position in front of the plant.

Diane:  Um, I don't think so.  That was a good plan up until the part when you loaded a stinking, dead, sea turtle snagged on a crab pot into the dink!

Carter:  Ya, I figured you were going to say that.  I guess I'll get into the Whaler with your camera while you get the Arc into a good position.

Diane:  OK!!  :)

After a quick trip back to the boat so I could show Carter how to turn the camera on, then a few shots as I drove the Arc, it was time to get up to Fort Pierce where we said we'd meet the state biologist in a few hours.  It was time to fire up old Big Ben, (our diesel), to get there in a hurry. Since it hadn't run in about 4 months we had a little trouble getting the fuel injectors primed but after a few minutes in the engine room with some hollering at me to "TRY IT NOW!", VARROOOMMM, Big Ben fired right up and off we were on our way.

The young state biologist lady was tickled pink to have this big old dead sea turtle to dissect and Radar was glad that the sea monster was outa his dingy. He was at the stern barking his fool head off at it and we finally had to lock him up down below.

That night we anchored just north of Fort Pierce and the next day it was howling 30 mph out of the North and threatening rain. Even with old Big Ben chugging away we barely made 4 mph and it took another day and a half to get to Cocoa. 

We continued on to our home port to settle the Archimedes in for the summer.

We rented a car and drove to Tallahassee to retrieve our vehicles, then spent a couple days packing them up in preparation for our return to Tennessee for the summer.

We couldn't have asked for a better spot for offloading the boat!

Before leaving, we scheduled a couple days for one final cruise out to Port Canaveral with Carter's daughter and her family. It was a great all electric cruise and we had a fun time watching the cruise ships take off.

One final "incident" with the bottom on our way back.  The Arc seemed a little sluggish and we just didn't seem to be going as fast as we should have been for the Amps we were getting. So Carter got out the mask and snorkel for an inspection under the water and found a mess of sea weed wrapped up in the prop.

A couple more visits from curious boaters wanting to know more about the big solar boat!

One last meal served on the "veranda" while out at anchor.

Back to the marina to settle the Arc into the slip for the summer and we were off with our caravan.

 Tennessee Bound and back to work!

Once again Carter laments, "Too bad we can't recharge our bank account with those solar panels like we do our battery bank. Life would be a lot easier that way." 

Our plan now is to work hard this summer, recharge our money bank, make a few improvements on the Arc in Merritt Island when we get back, and then start next Fall at the Florida/George state line to complete our solar powered transit of the entire Florida ICW by traveling the last leg from Jacksonville to Fort Myers.