Once the Florida border had been achieved, we began to relax a bit. But that sense of comfort has proved to be an optical illusion. From here on we will be adjusting the course constantly to the west; the arc that worked to our favor thru the Carolinas and Georgia is no longer in effect. The option to turn right at Stuart and follow the St Lucie to Okeechobee to Caloosahatche and the Florida West Coast is an inviting one. This is especially so when you get to consider the plethora of timed bridge openings in the ICW ahead on the direct route. For a slow moving trawler, these bridges are a particular frustration; we seem to be waked by the faster craft and end up dodging those lesser so.
Our departure from Palm Coast Marina on Tuesday 11 November was an indicator of the good time that we had been able to make on this rush to the south. At this point we had beat all of the previous six trips by some three days. We filled up on water and pulled together a feast onboard before a little TV and an early retire. This restful stop pierside was followed by two 70 Nm days that ended at anchor first near Titusville and then Ft. Pierce. As we passed thru the Cape Canaveral section of Florida, the radio circuits were abuzz with the restrictions and organization for an upcoming night Shuttle launch. This seems to be a local event and the choice anchorages go early. But for our part we planned to be nearer Boca Chica by the shot.
From the comfortable anchorage at Fort Pierce we had a chance to contemplate the ultimate route choice. The deciding vote finally came as we crossed the intersection of the Stuart Inlet and the ICW. Like an omen, a big sailboat was grounded at high tide in the inlet. We opted for the Miami-Lauderdale bridges and the Hawk Channel to Key West. Diving into Hobe Sound,it was not long before we began to feel confirmation of the choice. The West Coast was confounded with the remainder of the last hurricane of the season and our pedestrian inside route on the east coast was looking more positive.
There is another distraction associated with this route and it is the constant reminder of wealth that resides along the way. Mega-mansions and watercraft are arrayed side by side for miles. This year though about a quarter of each category displayed "For Sale" signs. Undoubtedly, some will qualify for a government loan. On Thursday, 13 November we stopped at a small marina in Del Ray Beach and made up to their facing dock as they turned off the lights...and so did we.