Milo's Missing Link

Ok, so now we've had a few days to get ourselves squared away and settled. We're still having some trouble getting used to the house not dragging anchor during the storms, but other than that we're doing pretty well.

Speaking of the weather, how bad does this Florida weather suck? I mean we've been in Orlando for 26 days and so far its rained every day but one. Not to mention the oppressive humidity that has yet to drop below 1 billion percent. If you see some fool riding his motorcycle on the rain soaked streets of Orlando, wave, it's probably me.

Anyhow, in the last entry I didn't get a chance to detail my two day solo jaunt down to Stuart and the American Custom Yacht yard where we stored our beloved Dream Catcher. Amy and I left Orlando Saturday around 10 am and by 1 pm we had dropped off my motorcycle at the ACY yard to serve as my transportation home.

As an aside, the yard at AYC is fenced in with 10 foot high wire mesh topped with razor wire. The overall effect is eerily reminiscent of certain areas of the Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba, but there you have it. Also, for anyone interested the facility also has 24 x 7 security on site.

Anyhow, I covered up my bike and we headed up to Vero. On the way we stopped for lunch at Chili's and then hit the grocery for supplies for me over the next two days. By 5 pm I was at marina and settling our outstanding bill so that I could get an early start in the morning.

Amy headed back to Orlando to be with the weasels and to get ready for "gulp" work tomorrow. Woah, thats bold.

I hoisted the dinghy into the davits and readied the boat for departure. It was a hot, windless night and I slept with all three Hella fans running full bore and aimed perfectly to cover my body.

I didn't get much sleep and was up by 4:30 am. At quarter to six it was just light enough to see so I fired up the engines and headed south. Since the engines had exactly 40 minutes total run time on them, I had to keep them below half throttle in accordance to Yamaha's break in procedure.

I was surprised to see that even at half speed and with an extremely filthy bottom I was still making a respectable 4.5 knots of speed. By 7 am I reached the Fort Pierce draw bridge and made it under without issue. By 2 pm I was past the St. Lucie inlet and since I was now closer to the 10 hour burn in time than I was to zero hours, I gently nudged a little more throttle into the engines.

Speeds climbed to 5.5 knots at about three quarters throttle in calm conditions with negligible tide. Nice. I should also mention that these engines are half as loud our last ones. I'm not sure why really other than they are more modern, but what ever the reason, it's a welcome change.

I entered Manatee pocket around 3 pm and after trying unsuccessfully to find a marina to tie up at, I dropped the hook off of Chapman's Nautical School in 4 feet of water. I got busy removing canvas, sails, fishing rod whackers, solar showers, stay cozies and cockpit cushions. Everything got stowed inside out of the elements and when I was done, the boat looked naked and sad.

By 7 pm I was listening to the Nascar race on the satellite radio and cooking a farewell steak out back on the grill. Half way through dinner a large manatee showed up on the back step and watched me eat. He seemed like a friendly sort and actually looked almost exactly like a larger version of Milo in a wet suit. Hmmm, perhaps this could be the missing link in Milo's evolution?

Anyhow, at 14.95 a pound, I didn't give him any of my prime rib, but when no one was looking I did pour a beer into his gaping maul. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and as he eyed the remains of my six pack I began to get nervous.

Fortunately for me, he weighed in at close to 600 pounds and the fat bastard couldn't get his large, bulbous ass onto the swim platform. Whew, close one. Between the massive weight and the beer stealing tendencies, I'm betting he's definitely related to Milo.

By the way, as soon as this is published I hope to start receiving more hate mail from those PITA people. Since we've been back in the state I haven't had a chance to kill any wild life and I'm starting to sort of miss those left wing crackpots.

I finished up dinner and drank my last beer before calling it a day by 9 pm.

Monday morning dawned hot and clear after several severe storms passed though the area over night. After making a breakfast ham sandwich, I fired up the motors and retrieved the anchor along with about a hundred pounds of non-specific goo from the harbour bottom. Yuck.

I set the autopilot to drive us out under impulse power (only enough speed to maintain steerage) and then spent twenty minutes cleaning the above mentioned goo from the fore deck. By the time we got back out to the Indian River the deck was clean and I powered up the engines to full song. We took off at 6.5 knots, which is is a full knot faster than our previous engines could do of late. I suspect this number will go even higher once the bottom has been scraped and cleaned.

I had to pass through another draw bridge near the town of Stuart and then I entered the man made water way that connects both sides of Florida to that big lake in the middle. There are a set of locks that lift you up to lake level and then down on the far side, but I didn't have to go that far.

I was off of ACY by 10 am and after making contact with the office, Dream Catcher was hauled out, washed and stacked in the yard. By 11:30 I was on my motorcycle and heading north towards Orlando, some 150 miles away. I stopped twice to stretch my legs and once to get fuel, but eventually made it back to our temporary housing by 3 pm.

Ok, enough for this entry. In our next posting I'll have some updates on several boat projects and we'll be debuting a couple of new pieces of software that I'm just putting the finishing touches on. Stay tuned.

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