Atlantic ICW: Completing the Loop

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Leaving the St. Lucie Lock. Will reach Atlantic ICW in 20 miles.

Around 7 we idled out of our marina and continued East. In about a mile we hit the St Lucie lock. The second lock down and the last of the 5 Okeechobee Waterway locks. In less than 20 miles we reached the Atlantic ICW and crossed our path from March earlier this year, completing the great loop. We continued 42 miles south on the Atlantic ICW to stay again at Loggerhead Lantana Marina, where we stayed 4 months last year. This time it was just for a night.

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Near Port St. Lucie. We moored one night in this field about 2 years ago.

The wind was up for our more than 40 miles along the Atlantic ICW. Last winter when we stayed 4 months in Lantana we had many windy nights while safely tied up. I used to think how awful it would be if we had to take the boat out, or worse, dock it in that weather. Tonight we got our chance. The wind was over 25 mph and gusting 30 as we came in to tie up. Fortunately we just had to come along a T head. Backing into a slip would not have worked in those conditions.

Star Gazer catches many times as much wind as a sailboat with its sails down would. The wind would have from 45 degrees off our starboard bow if I had come in parallel to the dock as I should have. Then I would just hold the boat’s direction as well as keep driving forward to counteract the headwind and we would have been blown sideways with our port side going nicely to the dock. Instead I forgot and just approached as I normally would, toward the dock at a 45 degree angle. I would turn parallel to the dock just as the nose got very close.

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Tied up in Lantana. Wind has died down. Hope for better weather to the south.

I had never docked in this kind of wind before, however, and as I got close the wind was hitting us full on our starboard side and I could not turn the nose into it. I finally did turn it some, but we were being pushed mightily into the dock and the port bow area hit the pilings, resulting in two dents at the top of the hull. The fiberglass needs minor repairs and we’ll have to replace a few feet of the rounded stainless trim. Still, we did the entire great loop without such a mishap and we have to dent things up docking on the very last day!

I wonder if there is something that makes it especially windy right here. I don’t know of any physical terrain features that are different here than the surrounding area, but we have consistently seen more wind here than anywhere else in south Florida.

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