46. Fort Pierce

Friday, 11/15/19. Today was another soggy day! I could have split today’s days leg over a couple days but just wanted to get it over with. Even ran into maybe a mile or so of good (actually bad) fog but the instruments made it easy to follow the channel. My destination, Fort Pierce, will be “home” for a few weeks.

Today’s leg was just under 63 nm completed in a little less than 6 hrs. I am docked in a slip at another condo project private marina. I visited this marina by car a year ago. At that time there was a very nice 50’ Novatec for sale which I really wanted to see. I spent three days trying to arrange it through Curtis Stokes brokerage but apparently they had something better to do that week than to sell a boat. Back then, I drove into the marina parking lot and walked the dock multiple times each day before finally giving up. By the time folks got around to actually show the boat I was in Myrtle Beach looking at a different boat. So now I’m back – but by boat, my boat.

Monday I had the boat hauled out of the water and blocked on dry land at Cracker Boy Boat Yard. Cracker Boy is a DIY facility where they provide the haul out, optional bottom pressure wash and space for the boat to be blocked while being worked on. The space includes a power pedestal so the boat fridges etc can continue to operate. Unfortunately the heat and air conditioning need raw water to function so they are not operational. For work you don’t want to do yourself, that’s me, the yard is semi ringed by small bldgs etc of independent contractors who you can independently hire or you can also hire tradesmen from anywhere.

Cracker Boy Boat Yard, home for the next 3 weeks

To be free of having to accept whoever and whatever a marina sends/says is great and while a typical marina may discourage you from direct supervision (‘insurance prohibits customers past this line’ type of thing) the DIY yard is the opposite – in fact you can live, cook, sleep on the boat, if you wish, so long as you can climb the ladder up to the boat. I could and I did. The yard does keep a list of contractors by trade that they’ve found to be responsive and responsible – really nice if you are unfamiliar with the area.

After hauling, I was pleased to see that the bottom was quite clean and did not even require pressure washing. Based on the diver’s report back in June/July of a badly scratched bottom, I was expecting that the bottom might need repainting ($$$) while hoping maybe I could get away with just touch up. No painting was required!

The hull and topsides were severely oxidized and there were some areas that were marked up from docks. There are also some areas of fiberglass cracks at stress points (some cleats), some age related minute spider cracks and a couple of pitted areas. Water can intrude at these places and water under the fiberglass is a severe enemy. Some prior repair had been done without proper bonding and was chipping and flaking off. Some prior ‘repaired’ areas had paint that was not matched well and had lots of orange peel. So I hired a company that does fiberglass work and detailing. The glass work will be fixed. The boat will be compounded from top to the waterline, from front to back, first with a cutting compound followed by a second round of a more medium grit and a third round of a fine polishing grit before then being completely waxed. The crew started the morning following the haul out and has been there from 7am to 4-5pm, 6 days a week for nearly 3 weeks. Most days it was two men and some days 3. What a difference it makes to have the boat detailed.

Work starts on Last Resort

I also had Island Electronics (the company that installed the new electronics last May) install a new through hull depth finder transducer since the boat was now out of the water. The boat has never had a thru hull finder before. Until now, the transducer was located physically inside the hull and ‘shot’ energy through the hull. I was nervous watching them drill a 3” round hole in the bottom of the boat for this new transducer to go in and physically have contact with the water. Supposed to be more reliable and accurate. I was also 2 software releases behind on the chartplotter so after updating, they calibrated the transducer to display depth under keel.

Also done while out of the water was replacing all the external sacrificial zincs (will replace the engine, tranny and genny zincs when in Marathon), rebedding a 6’ section of run rail and some other small items. Both props were a bit loose and the port side had lost the cotter pin behind the jam nut. So both props were tightened down etc.. And while staying aboard but not having to travel, I sanded down and refinished some pilot house interior woodwork.

Staying aboard In an active boat yard was interesting. Boats of all sizes and styles being hauled and others launched everyday.

One morning this commercial tug come into the haul out well and the Travel Lift rolled out. The captain apparently understated the tug’s weight and as the Travel Lift started to lift, the over weight alarms went off. The tug was lowered the six inches back into the water and the tug departed.

I got to see boats being literally totally being rebuilt while others had just the bottoms painted. Watched props being taken off, new shafts installed and the yard crane taking an engine out through the cabin door while another boat receives a new engine being dropped in via the cockpit.

When Last Resort is returned to water, it’ll be time to change the engine and transmission fluid and filters. Intend to do that in Marathon and without a mechanic for the first time.

I also took a dreaded (I hate flying – the 2nd best place to get sick right after a hospital) flight north to cold northern VA for Thanksgiving with daughter Vic, Jon and grandkids. Enjoyed the holiday and of course Thanksgiving dinner, thank you. Grandkids arrived from southern VA, Oklahoma and Minnesota. And then, after a 3 am Saturday wake up, it was over and I joined a multitude on the flights back home to the boat. The airports were sure busy Saturday and I was happy to get back to a holiday-quiet boatyard. And yes, I’ve had a horrid head/chest cold ever since I got back.

The crew finished their detailing on Friday (12/6/19) afternoon but the yard’s scheduling for splashing boats was already full for Saturday so I did some reprovisioning in anticipation of a Monday morning splash. The weather has warmed back up a bit so the last couple of nights have been more comfortable for sleeping. I think there were 4 or 5 straight nights of temps in the low 40s and without heat, it was a bit chilly sleeping. Guess the head cold I got should not be surprising.

Saturday night, feeling crappy, I headed to my bunk early only to hear loud noises shortly after. Very unusual as the yard is like a morgue at night. As far as I can tell, I and the guy next to me are the only two who stay on their boat – he’s been here 70 days rebuilding his bow pulpit and will also be relaunched on Monday. So I got in my sweats and went out on my bow. There were dozens of cars in the lot and young rag muffins running all over – even using the big straps on the boat hoist as swings. Doesn’t today’s generation have any sense of control over their kids? Let me answer that. There was a car parked in the narrow passage between my boat and the boat on the other side of me (where you see the scaffolding in the first repair picture above). There were kids running and playing ‘tag’ under our boats. Then another carload came and tried to park their car in the same narrow passageway.

Ever the ogre and not thinking anyone of those folks could begin to pay for the damage they could do if they only hit one of the blocks holding the boats up, I told them to move. The guy got very argumentative and I thank his wife for calming him down and convincing him to park elsewhere. Not sure where security disappeared to.

So my neighbor and I were on our respective bows and he told me that the Fort Pierce Christmas Boat Parade was supposed to come into the basin between Cracker Boy and the very busy Harbortown Restaurant across the basin. I abandoned my plan for an early shuteye, opened up a seat on the flybridge and awaited the festivities.

Am guessing, but perhaps the story got around down by the dock edge because maybe a half hour into the wait, 4 kids came near the boat and called up to me that they and their parents were going to go get some meatball subs and would I like to join them. I didn’t but appreciated the gesture.

The parade consisted of about a dozen or so boats most of which were modestly decorated. One of the better boats was probably 24-26’ with a sleigh fashioned in the stern and white reindeer rising up over the bow. The captain, I think, had imbibed a bit for he seemed rather reckless in crowded quarters on a dark nite. The star of the show was a three story tug boat that was festooned with lights and music (and loud horn). I enjoyed watching it and getting some pics from my perch on the flybridge. It was fun and the yard returned to solitude within 15 minutes of the parade ending.

One last surprise while here was that my niece from MI came down to her place in Nettles Island, about 15 miles south on the Intracoastal, and called today so got to have lunch and a nice visit along the Fort Pierce inlet. Thanks Joan!

Monday 12/9/19, a beautiful cloudless day, the boat was splashed at 11 am. It was so nice to be back in the water and, since the weather is warming up again, it is good to be able to open the through hull to the air conditioning water pump so as to have AC or heat for the first time in 3 weeks.

Off the blocks and driven down to the wet slip for launch. The travel lift is guided ahead or reverse, with turning and with raising and lowering the boat by wireless remote control. The man walking near the front wheel of the travel lift, has a control box with a joy stick hanging around his neck which directs all movement.

Took all of two or three minutes after touching the water to being underway to the Harbor Isles Condominium’s marina for a few days to wait out some weather and to put the boat back together for travel before resuming the southward trek.

And so, after a month in Ft Pierce, I headed out on a boat with all nicks and blemishes freshly repaired on a shiny clean boat.

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