The marina in Fort Pierce was meant to be just another stop along the way, where we intended to do some laundry, pick up some supplies and fix up our shower drain pump, air conditioner and do various things to make the dinghy safer. The first surprise was the marina, which is good value for a full service marina and is located right at the downtown waterfront, where everything happens. We just missed the Christmas light show, but did get to an evening fair and the famous farmers' market where we bought top quality fruit and veges (you should see the strawberries and avocados here!) and ate totally delicious Jamaican pastie things for breakfast.
The town itself is attractive and interesting, with some good shops and the famous Sunshine Theatre where upcoming acts included Roberta Flack, Gordon Lightfoot, Diana Ross, The Platters, Bill Cosby … sadly, our few days didn’t coincide with any of these shows, but it was good to see that this lovingly-restored old place could pull the big names into a small town.
Fort Pierce is suffering the effects of the downturn that we’re seeing everywhere, but whoever is in charge is trying very hard to bring in the visitors with a pleasant waterfront that includes a couple of tiki bars with live entertainment, the Manatee Centre (mysteriously visited nearly every day by families of manatee – I think they must have warm fresh water running somewhere), a riverwalk, a museum dedicated to A E Backus, Florida’s most famous landscape artist and the ‘highwaymen’ school that he founded, and lots of excellent public artworks. We didn’t get to the Navy Seals Museum over on the ocean side, but it’s supposed to be very good.
Terry continued his practice of catching up with his long-term on-line cruising mates. We met up with Skip and Lydia who are living on their boat Flying Pig on the hard while she undergoes major repairs and refit. Once again we were regaled with stories both inspiring and scary as they recounted their cruising adventures over a shared pizza lunch, and again as we ate tacos aboard Common Sense. Skip is clearly one of those people with a passion for machines and fixing things – he had to have a look at what was producing the funny sounds in our air-conditioning – but of course it wouldn’t produce the sound while he was there!
We used the marina time to replace and repair the shower drain pump, and to make some improvements to our dinghy arrangements. By the way, the Honda outboard is now working famously – all the problems were due to bad fuel: algal growth in the gasoline as a result of the addition of ethanol to all the fuel here. We learnt our lesson the hard way with both this and the diesel motor, and now add biocide religiously whenever we refuel.
While strolling along the sailboat dock we spotted another Australian flagged yacht, and sure enough it wasn’t too many hours later that we were hailed by a familiar Aussie cricketing chant. Peter and Gail on board Salty Susie were actually heading north to Brunswick (Georgia), where they were planning to leave to boat and head home to NSW for the births of two grandchildren. We enjoyed boat drinks with them a couple of times, once on each of our boats – it was lots of fun and wonderfully relaxing to be able to speak our own language again for a while! Honestly, you don’t realise that you’re always having to edit, rephrase and explain things to Americans until you have a little holiday from it.
Well, Fort Pierce was a very worthwhile stop, but it was time to be movin’ on, as they say in all the country & western songs that dominate the airwaves in these parts. Enough of marinas, we were heading for Peck Lake where Common Sense could anchor out under a full orange moon with the sound of waves crashing on the Atlantic shore to lull us to sleep.