After looking on the potential new boat at Stuart, we decided that we were interested enough to make an offer, so we decided to head back to another anchor spot east of the marina for a couple of days during the negotiation process (to avoid marina fees!). However, on one of the (weekend) days, our main propane tank that runs my stove and oven ran out. We decided to see if there was a place to refill in town, since we had no other plans for the day. I found an Ace Hardware within walking distance of the town dock and called them to confirm (3 times!) that they did do propane refills. We dropped the dingy down, filled it up with our two tanks and the dock cart and headed in to town. It was about a mile walk along the road.
When we arrived to the Ace Hardware, the first sign of trouble was that they did not have the large propane tank sitting in the car park. I went in to the store and it turns out that they only did propane tank swapping – despite me confirming that we would be bringing our own tanks to refill! We then promptly got on our phones and started calling every marina and possible other place within reasonable walking distance around town to see if anyone would be able to refill our tanks. We found a few places that would be able, but were not open on the weekends.
While we were both on our phones, a friendly patron of the hardware store came over to talk to David. He recognized our situation (a fellow boat owner) and let us know of a place a couple of miles away that would be open, and he offered to give us a ride. This was a little concerning to us primarily due to covid, but he was wearing a mask and said we could put the windows down. While he was picking up what he needed in the hardware store, we called the place that he suggested to confirm that they would be open. Turns out the store did not do refills, but in there parking lot there was a random dude who did…sketchy!! Well, we decided we’d give it a go, and loaded our tanks and cart into the guys car. He was very friendly and also a live-aboard boater, spending a couple of months staying put in Stuart for the winter. We arrived at the propane place, and lo and behold, it was a random guy, with a large tank in the parking lot who was open during the weekend to do propane refills. We were able to refill the tanks and the guy drove us right back to the marina where we’d parked the dingy! Propane adventure successfully complete!
It turned out that we couldn’t get surveys done on the new boat until after Christmas, so there wasn’t a lot of point in hanging out nearby for another two weeks. So we decided to start heading south, with our plan being to make a base of Ft Lauderdale for the Christmas weekend. We stopped in Palm Beach for one night at a marina so that I could do a last load of laundry before getting to the house in the Keys.
As we were pulling out of Palm Beach, we drove by a ship-shipping ship that was either being loaded or unloaded. Pretty cool to see in real life the type of vessel that brought Highwind to the east coast.
The next stretch of the ICW is probably our least favourite – consisting of lots of bridges with clearance lower than our boat, with specific opening times during the hour, and LOADS of slow/no wake/idle speed only zones. It took us 9 hours to travel 40 miles (we can ordinarily do 100 miles or more in about that time period) to arrive into Ft Lauderdale on Christmas Eve. This was actually the first section of the ICW that we travelled back in March when we started our trip. We reminisced that we were so starry-eyed with the newness of boating on the East Coast that we didn’t realize how slow and boring this section really is! We agreed that any passages through this area moving forward will be done on good weather days going outside (in the open ocean), rather than up or down the ICW.
We decided to see if there was anything open in Ft Lauderdale, despite it being Christmas Eve, so we headed off the boat for a short walk to the Las Olas Beach area where we knew (from our trip last year to the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show) that there was a strip of restaurants with outdoor seating open on to the beach. Turns out everything was open and it was actually quite busy! We managed to find a place that had fewer people and a good amount of space. We had excellent Mexican food and giant margaritas, which is actually a Short family tradition for Christmas Eve, so that turned out well!
For Christmas we had planned to spend the day to ourselves on the boat and do various family Zooms. It was a little sad to not be able to travel home for the holidays and see people in person. We are really looking forward to when we can get vaccinated and we’ll be able to travel home! I also had decided to cook Cornish Hens for our Christmas dinner- they turned out delicious, though David grumbled a bit about the ROI of meat to picking off the bones. :). Overall, a pretty good holiday, all things considered.