Leaving Home

Dawn is breaking as we cast off our dock lines and leave “home”. Winds are calm, little current to speak of, and a lovely 80 degrees. I carefully maneuver Tivoli out of her slip, around the corner, and out the fairway to the marina entrance using the autopilot joystick control or “follow up lever”. I’ve become more adept doing this and much prefer it to spinning the wheel like a mad man; very civilized. We enter the now familiar channel and I increase the RPMs on the venerable Lugger to cruise speed. Soon the familiar North Palm Beach skyline passes by and we exit Lake Worth Inlet with an outgoing tide against incoming seas; it is rough. I punch the GoTo button on one of the chartplotters, select and activate my route, and activate the Nav function on the autopilot. Tivoli automatically turns toward the first waypoint and we settle in for the day. The change in course smooths the ride and as we get further away from the inlet and further offshore the seas settle down to 2-3 feet and we get comfortable. I had plotted waypoints all the way to Cape Canaveral in the event time allowed us to carry on past our intended destination of Ft. Pierce.

The miles tick by, speed over ground is 8+ knots, fuel burn around 3.5 gallons per hour. We soon see the ETA into Canaveral is 7:40 PM; past dark. The Canaveral inlet is huge, accomodates cruise ships and is well lit but, still, we prefer not to enter strange ports and marinas at night. There isn’t an anchorage either without transiting a lock. So, we stick with our plan and make a pit stop in Ft. Pierce. We drop the hook early in the afternoon with two other boats in the anchorage; by nightfall there were a dozen….packed in like sardines. One little ketch decided to anchor right in front of us; too close for my comfort but I reasoned it would be fine. That decision to be a nice guy cost me a night’s sleep. As I’ve described before as the tide changes boats on anchor reverse direction. If everyone anchored on a nice grid evenly spaced and put out the same amount of rode this would not be an issue. Of course, that doesn’t happen. So, a dozen boats circle around and now face in the direction opposite from where they started. I watch, I set a guard zone on the radar, I turn on the FLIR and watch. If conditions were calm one would note the neighbors positions and go to bed. On this night the wind is up and contrary to current. We all wander around. My track on the GPS zoomed in to max looks like a plate of spaghetti. The little ketch is now behind me, then off to port, then right in front. At times it is less than a boat length away. I debate pulling in some chain or moving but decide to stick it out. By midnight the tide has changed and we are all swinging back to our starting positions. By 2 or or 3 AM I’ve observed all apparent possibilities, the only “threat” is the ketch and even though he gets way too close for comfort the wind has subsided and I finally get some sleep in the pilothouse.

It occurs to me the solution to this “anchor angst” is to forget about it, go to bed. The ketch owner did that when his boat was in the “start” position and when he woke up it was in the same spot, what’s the worry? I, on the other hand, spent too many hours watching the dance.

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