The first trip in the Ann Louise was from the Harborage at Stuart, FL to Peck Lake anchorage and back. The Crew consisted of Bill Miller, Mike Schlich and Nick Starr.
It was not optimal weather for a first trip. The winds were blowing 25, gusting to 29 kts. This boat is very tall and the wind can really push it around. I was nervous since this was my first trip as captain. My neighbor at the dock didn’t help when he said there was no way he would go out in this wind!
We started off by leaving the dock and going a short distance to the fuel dock. First time I ever filled up a boat this size with fuel. I had to use two credit cards.
Our first challenge to to negotiate “Hell gate” or “The Crossroads” as the locals call it. It is the intersection of the St. Lucie River, the Inter-coastal Waterway and the St. Lucie Inlet. The current is very strong, lot’s of shoaling occurs very quickly and the channel itself will move with the shifting sands. The Coast Guard tries to keep up with it by moving the small buoys, but they are always playing catch-up. We almost made it through, but hit the ground at the last set of green and red buoys, right dead in the middle of the channel!
We had lot’s of fun anchoring at Peck lake with the sun going down, boats everywhere and an anchor that just wouldn’t hold.
There were so many boats we weren’t sure if we could even fit. The anchorage is large, but deep only in a few unmarked spots. One of the other boaters came to our rescue and got in their dinghy with a depth finder and a VHF radio and led us into the anchorage. They were a great help
We had to anchor either 4 or 5 times the wind was so strong. It just would not set. Finally when we did get it to set, we put the boat in full reverse to make sure it would hold through the night. I still didn’t trust it We would swing hard to port and then hard to starboard all night and got uncomfortably close to the boats on either side of us at times. I wasn;t sure I could even sleep, but did just fine.
The neighbors (the ones we were almost hitting as we swung about) both came over in their dinghies and introduced themselves. They reassured us that we had done a great job of anchoring, we would surely hold and they were quite comfortable being next to us. Great people.
We had a beautiful sunset that evening and a gourmet meal of grilled chicken and pasta. After a couple of beers and a rousing discussion of anchoring techniques, women and what it would be like to live with one on a boat, we hit the sack and dreamed about the anchor breaking loose all night.
The next morning we awoke to a gorgeous day and made an easy trip back to Stuart. Thanks to Nick and Mike for a great trip. It was good to have experienced boaters along on the first ever voyage.