Stuart, Florida: Spring 2009

Stuart, Florida:

My, how quickly the last month has flown by! We have been very busy here at the Harborage Marina in Stuart, Florida over the last few weeks. Most of our time was taken up with Sea School where we were enrolled in classes to get our Captain’s license.

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Our first two weeks of class were for the OUPV license (commonly known as the six pac license). This license enables one to operate boats with up to six persons aboard for pay. There were 10 others in our class. I was very relieved to see one other lady in the class besides myself. Classes lasted from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM each day. During our lunch hour we would come back to the boat to give Daisy and Sebastian a walk. They both appreciated the walk but were very bored staying on the boat all day while we were in school. All classes are book material only. There is no hand on instruction involved. We had lots of material to learn and found ourselves studying until bed time each evening. It seems our brains don’t want to absorb material as we get older. There are four separate tests which we must pass for the OUPV. One test, Navigation Rules, requires a 90 % in order to pass. There are only 30 questions on this test out of a possible 4,000 Coast Guard questions. We can only miss three in order to get our license. Our last week of school was for the 100 Ton Masters license. There were only six others in this class and I was the only lady. But by now, we knew most of the others from the OUPV class so it wasn’t so bad. After taking all of the classes, we spent the next three days studying all day long in preparation for the exams. We were very happy to finally see test day arrive. We had both had enough of this studying! Our first test was the Rules of the Road. Jeff and I both scored 100 % on this test. This was the one which we had to make a 90 % on. You can not proceed with the other exams unless you pass this one. Our next test was on plotting. We both panicked when we first saw this test. These questions were nothing like what we had practiced in class!!! Somehow we figured it out and both did well. I missed one question and Jeff missed two. We then continued on with three other tests, Navigation General, Deck General, and the Masters test. After three and a half hours of tense test taking, we both walked out very relieved with a certificate to get our license. The tests are only the first step. We also had to get a physical, drug test, and eye exam. Now we must fill out a packet which we will take to one of 13 regional Coast Guard offices. We must also get fingerprints, caricature witnesses, and our logs from the boat which document that we have the required hour’s necessary for the license we are applying for. For the 100 Ton Masters, you need 720 total days of operating a boat. 360 of those days must be on coastal or ocean waters and 90 days must be within the last three years. In addition to all of this we must also obtain a TWIC card (Transportation Worker Information Card). This is a new Homeland Security requirement since 911. In order to get this card you submit to a background and verification check along with paying a $150.00 fee. It is amazing all the hoops you must jump through just to get a Coast Guard license. They certainly don’t make things easy. The closest Coast Guard office for us will be in Charleston, SC. We will stop there this spring on our way north.

We have really enjoyed the facilities here at The Harborage. The marina is part of a condominium complex complete with restaurant, pool, hot tub, sauna, and gym. As part of a promotion trying to sell the condos, we are allowed to use all of these facilities free of charge. We visited the gym almost every day. While walking or running on the treadmill we would also try to get in some studying. There is 24 hour security and we see guards walking the docks during the evening hours. The marina is full of other Krogen owners.

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There are actually two separated docking facilities here. We are on the fixed docks along with all of the other owners (affectionally known as Krogenville). The floating docks are also full of Krogens as the Krogen staff uses these docks for all of their new boats, brokerage boats, and those they are in the process of commissioning. Each Thursday evening all of the Krogen owners would get together up at the pool. It was great seeing some old friends and getting to know some new cruisers.

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We spent an enjoyable evening with Meg and Jamie aboard Wanders Rest one evening. We first met them in Solomons several years ago when they were in the process of purchasing a Krogen and they came aboard IT to get some ideas for commissioning their new boat. Winston, a black Standard Poodle, lived on the Krogen, Sea Quil, which was docked next to us. Daisy thought he was really handsome.

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One day Winston shared some bones which his mom had bought at the butcher shop. Neither Daisy nor Sebastian had every seen anything like these bones before. Sebastian was in heaven.

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Several of the Krogen boats are leaving today for the Bahamas. Sebastian is really jealous as Boomer a little dog on one of the other Krogens is also going. I promised Sebastian we would go there next year.

On Saturday’s there is a great Farmers market up in Fort Pierce. We were planning on shuttling our car up there since we are moving the boat there for its annual bottom inspection and bottom paint job so we decided Saturday would be the perfect day. After loading our back packs full of goodies from the market, we rode our bicycles back to Stuart.

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It was a good bike ride of about 30 miles along Hutchenson Island. Unfortunately, we had a head wind the whole way! At least Florida is flat. Tomorrow we will leave Stuart and take IT up to a marina in Fort Pierce for our annual haul-out. The marina is named Cracker Boy. Very appropriate for this part of Florida.

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