Thursday, March 31, 2016

One Month in West Palm Beach, FL

Banyan tree on the walk to the grocery store.

Now that you can follow us via satellite we realize there is one problem - Now you want to know, ‘Why are you still in the same place?’  We understand you like to see Layla moving along and there is some adventure in that.  Sitting in one place is not very exciting and you want us to move.

Yes, we are still at anchor off the waterway in between two bridges, Flagler Memorial and Royal Palm bridge, sandwiched in between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach.

West Palm Beach viewed from our anchorage.

Palm Beach (east) viewed from our anchorage.

This protracted visit started when we realized we needed to renew our boat documentation with the Coast Guard.  Layla is a US documented vessel which is renewed annually. This year it was supposed to be pretty simple.  We simply go online and complete the renewal form. 

We need to carry a hard copy of the documentation on the boat which meant, of course that we needed the paper document sent to us.  But, remember we are not at home!  We are on a boat.  Where do you sent it?  We thought about that and now have a mail forwarding service.  Thousands of cruisers do this.  Just use their address.  Simple.  We did that.

The expected time to receive the certificate of documentation is about two weeks - maybe three weeks if there are holidays or snow days. Nothing arrived. The Coast Guard said, “it is not me”.  The mail forwarding company said, “it is not me”.  We went back online and filled out another form and payed a few more dollars to request a certified copy of the lost document.  This time we decided to have it sent to General Delivery at the US Postal Office in West Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, we decided to get a passport renewed.  With only five months remaining on the old passport, many countries want at least 6 months. We didn’t know how long we would stay here and of course, we did not want to sit here waiting in West Palm Beach for the usual expected six weeks for the passport.  We opted to spend a few dollars more to expedite the application with the hope to receive it in 2-3 weeks.   We got new passport photos and went to the post office to complete the form and request overnight shipping both to and from the Department of State.  

Pretty simple?  We completed the form in BLUE ink. We missed seeing the very small type at the top of the form stating that the form must be filled out in BLACK ink.  We had to fill out another form in BLACK ink.  Actually, the postal expert was very helpful, and made all of this less painful.  We sent it with the hope to pick it up at the post office - General Delivery.

Farmers Market in West Palm Beach was a real treat.  It made waiting for documents less painful.  

Excellent bread at the Farmers Market in West Palm Beach.

Since we were having to sit here anyway, we decided to order a few things for Layla - a new gasket kit and a new saltwater pump for the galley because the old pump is leaking badly.  We ordered it to be shipped via the US Post Office.  We learned that we do NOT want to use United Parcel Service (UPS) because the post office will not accept it.  We also learned that you don’t call the post office to see if your package has arrived.  If they do answer the phone, the answer is as expected - the package is not there.

Oh, and how do we get to the post office?  Remember, we are on a boat at anchor.  Simple.  We just take our dinghy to the dock in downtown West Palm Beach and walk about 7 blocks to the post office.  Well, it should be simple, but a boat show was coming to town and it was a BIG boat show with crews with barges and cranes and floating docks (oh my) to accommodate the 1.2 billion dollars of boats.  The police reminded us with a friendly visit to the boat one afternoon, “Do not even think about going ashore between the two bridges or use the dinghy dock for the next three weeks”.

Chaos in the anchorage as yachts arrived for the boat show.

More boats waiting to dock at the boat show.  A little close for comfort. That is Layla's bow.

West Palm Beach waterfront transformed by the boat show.

The marine patrol and police made it very clear that we were not permitted to go ashore anywhere along the mile of shoreline.  We could not simply drop someone ashore.  We were stranded.  We scouted our options outside the city waterfront and found a small beach near a parking lot.  We could drop only one of us there and then come back for a pick up.  Our simple task of going to the post office, or anywhere in town for that matter, was now more complicated.  Only one of us could go, and now we had an extra mile to walk to the post office. 

Our old dinghy started leaking water badly after a couple rough rides to the drop off point.

One benefit of the West Palm Beach boat show - our new tender.

If the wind was blowing, and it did for about 10 days in a row, we got very wet in the bouncy dinghy ride.  Once there, we had to take our shoes off, wade ashore, put our shoes back on, and hike to the post office.  Of course, you know where this is going - When Bud got to the post office (he had to go since it was in his name and you know "there can be no substitutes") there were no packages or mail. Despite tracking numbers and conversations with shippers that said otherwise - they would say with a smirking smile, “You have nothing today-Maybe tomorrow.”

OK.  Is that tedious?  And if that isn’t fun enough, we decided to do our taxes while we were here. (We had considered getting colonoscopies too, but decided against that.)

How did that go?  The new passport was a surprise.  It came back in 10 days, and the old passport was returned a couple of days later. We might be on a roll here. The boat parts came in about nine days, just three days late.  We picked up the copy of the boat documentation 6 days after it was stamped “received” at the post office, nearly one month after we started the process.  And taxes were complete after heroic efforts by 3 different IRS agents who had to look up the information from last years’ fraudulent filing to get the submission accepted.  (Yes we had been victims of identity theft on last year’s return.)

So you see, it was quite simple.  We had little choice in staying in Palm Beach…for a while.

When we could go ashore we found oysters from Maryland on the half shell.

We have learned that patience is essential to life on a boat. Now we will wait for the weather to cross to the Bahamas.


  1. The good thing is you might actually have the time to do taxes and get passports - no 10 or more hours every day working for the man.

  2. Yep our working "for the man" is Layla. She can be demanding. But you are right, everything changed...


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