Plowing the Field

We haul our anchor up and head out into the ICW to continue north to Cocoa Beach, an easy 60 mile run. We hail the first bridge’s tender and quickly pass through; it will be our only opening bridge for the day; all the rest are 65 feet and present no issues. All systems are working normally and we motor on mile after mile observing beautiful homes along the way, islands, fishermen, boats passing, and occasional wildlife. The ICW is narrow in many places with very shallow water on both sides; normally this isn’t an issue, the channel is well marked and, on long stretches we just set the autopilot and tweak occasionally to stay on track. North of Vero beach we are passing Sebastian inlet and within seconds the depth meter goes to 3 feet, 2 feet, 1 foot, 0. An orange marker to port suggests we are still in the channel; which way to deeper water? We are doing 8 knots and feel the boat touch the soft bottom. There is nothing to do but press on; and in a moment we’ve plowed through that spot and observed the depths increase to 1 foot, 1.5, 1.9, 2.0, 1.9….for several hundred yards as we transit this area. Water is too skinny here for me. To complicate matters we were in the process of passing a sailboat placing us on the edge of the narrow channel. We finally realize the orange float is private and we are out of the channel and that the currents and tide coming into the inlet have moved us off course into the shallows without changing the heading of the boat. Something we should have anticipated and a damn good lesson learned. Less than a mile down the road we pass a dredge, then a second, this area clearly has shoaling issues. We press on.

By mid-afternoon we arrive at Cocoa Village Marina and pull into a side-tie slip requiring some tricky maneuvers. The wind is blowing us away from the dock so I’m using engine and thruster to move the boat to starboard. We have help on the dock and get the boat secure but, even though the thruster has been used only a minute or two (3 minutes continuous use is its maximum) it has, once again, failed. The motor spins freely but the props don’t turn. The coupler we just replaced at Old Port Cove appears to have failed again.

We decide a break is in order and spend the afternoon strolling through Cocoa Village with its art galleries and shops, boutiques, restaurants, and parks. Nice place. We have an early dinner and return to the boat; exhausted from a sleepless night and long day.

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