January 6 we finally reach Florida! I never would have guessed
that it would take us 6 weeks to get here. Until we got
to Fernandina Beach, we'd thought we'd like to anchor there.
There's heavy industry along the ICW here and it is pretty
smelly so we kept going. We finally found a nice place at
Alligator Creek near Amelia City and hit bottom as we approached
the anchorage. We let the tide rise a bit before we put
out the anchor and had a very quiet and odorless night.
The next morning was spectacular. A clear sky just before
sunrise with calm wind, warm air, and water as smooth as
glass. A pair of dolphins were splashing around about 20
yards away but there was no other sound. This is what it's
all about. It was hard to break the spell by starting the
engine, but we were headed for St. Augustine.
at Alligator Creek near Amelia City
started to see waterside houses again as we approached Jacksonville;
and the Met Life blimp was cruising around above us for
a while. We went through Cabbage Swamp Canal, a 10 mile
cut lined with homes on one side. They ranged from huge
mansions to big elegant homes to very modest homes. I suspect
the more modest homes won't last long as they get bought
up and replaced with bigger ones. By mid-afternoon we were
docked at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.
St. Augustine Municipal Marina is an excellent facility
right in the city's historic district. At night, buildings
and trees were bejeweled in tiny white lights. They do this
for the holidays but extend it through mid January. The
night-time view from the marina was gorgeous. The marina
is just south of the Bridge of Lions which is being rebuilt.
The construction activity was interesting with a number
of barges and huge cranes just off our stern.
really enjoyed our time here. It is another great walking
city and the sidewalks are busy in the evening, too. It
was great to see so many people out and about after dark
- it made the city seem very alive and vibrant. The city
was founded in 1565 and is the U.S A.'s oldest continuously
occupied city. This is where legend says that Ponce de Leon
was looking for the fountain of youth. (We didn't find it
either.) St. George street has been made into a pedestrian
mall lined with shops and restaurants plus some sites that
replicate buildings and life in old St. Augustine. In the
middle of this is an historic and serene Greek Orthodox
shrine. St. George street is an ambivalent mixture of local
artisans, boutiques, tacky touristy souvenir shops, ethnic
restaurants and local fast food. We ate very well. Cuban
at Habana Village, then Italian, then Greek, and finally
dinner with friends Herb and Ursula Glover at Columbia,
a Spanish restaurant.
fort, Castillo de San Marcos, is an arresting sight from
the water. This fort, built by the Spanish, was besieged
twice but was never taken by force. Because it is still
intact, it was much more interesting than touring the remains
of Ft. Sumter. National Park Rangers dressed in period costumes
explained the fort's history.
other thing we did while in St. Augustine was to drive a
rental car to Green Cove Springs to pick up mail and see
where "home" is - good old 411 Walnut Street. The mailing
address is a downtown storefront, but the actual mail receiving
and sorting facility is a short distance away. We've been
very happy with St. Brendan's Isle mail forwarding service.
we left St. Augustine on January 12, it was actually warm
enough to remove our sweatshirts! And I was wearing shorts
by 9:00 a.m.! I was glad to see that the countryside was
much greener than what we'd recently passed through. By
ICW mile 820 we began noticing a lot of citrus trees. We
were seeing more wading birds than before, too - mostly
heron and egrets. We were the middle one of 3 sailboats
all heading south at the same time. As we got to the very
shallow water at Matanzas inlet, Fetish, in the lead,
radioed the depths they were seeing as that helped us get
through with no problems. Avocet followed us.
of the most satisfying aspects of this adventure has been
the camaraderie among boaters and this was a prime example.
It is typical to encounter the same boats several times
as you travel the ICW. You'll stop at different places for
differing lengths of time, but pass one another again and
again. When a familiar boat is nearby, the VHF radio is
the means to strike up a brief conversation to say "hello"
and ask where folks are headed. We're temporary neighbors
in a constantly changing neighborhood.
anchored for the night at Daytona and heard our old buddy
on Triall calling for TowBoatUS because he had a
problem. I tried to hail him the next morning but got no
reply. Frequently bridges provide good and convenient anchorages.
January 13, we left Daytona followed by Avocet, and four
other sailboats which were all traveling together. Two of
the four had Colorado hailing ports: Pueblo and Black Forest.
We stayed together for quite a while as bridge tenders made
certain that we were all close enough before they'd open
up for us. Bridge tenders, where there's a lot of auto traffic,
have to do a balancing act keeping both cars and boats flowing
along their routes as smoothly as possible. We were heading
for Ponce de Leon inlet which is notorious for shoaling
and we were out of sync with the tide which left us with
very little water between our keel and the bottom. Luckily
we heard on the radio that Fetish was about ½ hour
in front of us preceded by Phoenix III, a deep draft
boat that was reporting depths as they felt their way through
the inlet. We got through the inlet without incident and
eventually passed both Fetish and Phoenix III.
FL & Kennedy Space Center
were going to visit friends in Cocoa Beach and hoped to
find a nearby marina but none was deep enough for us so
we stopped at the Titusville Municipal Marina. This was
convenient for visiting the Kennedy Space Center as well
as our friends Dick and Dee Fatka. Titusville was thriving
in the heyday of the early space program but is now a city
in transition. But I can't tell whether it is still going
downhill or is back on an upward swing. There are some pretty
depressed looking areas, but there is also a lot of new
construction going on.
day at the Kennedy Space Center was awesome in the traditional
sense of the word. I've been awestruck by our space program
since it began. When we took the bus tour my heart raced
as we drove by the huge Vehicle Assembly buildings and the
crawlers used to transport the shuttle to the launch pads.
The video presentation at the Apollo/Saturn V Center brought
a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Neal told me about
how it felt to watch the first moon landing on TV and realize
that one of the instruments used on the moon was one that
he'd helped design. What a thrill that must have been for
him. The astronauts of the Gemini and Apollo missions are
my heroes and I envy today's astronauts. We also really
enjoyed the IMAX theater film about the International Space
Station. How I'd love to watch a shuttle launch.
the space center we drove to Cocoa Beach to visit Dick &
Dee who live right on the ocean. I'd almost forgotten how
much I love the sound of the surf. Dick and Neal worked
together at Bendix, and Dick had kept photos of the systems
they designed including the one that went to the moon. We
stayed overnight with them and had a wonderful time. We
stayed in Titusville for a few more days to let a weather
front pass and got in quite a bit of walking around town.
At a small lagoon near the marina we saw many ibis and several
wood storks every time we walked by. We finally left there
on the 20th.
anchored that night at Melbourne just south of the causeway.
We'd hoped to get some protection from the wind. It had
been blowing 10 - 15 kts all day and was cool. That would
have been great if we were sailing, but it isn't fun when
trying to stay in a channel. We didn't find any wind protection
but did have good holding and "cool" is a lot better than
plan was to anchor one night at Melbourne and then find
a Fort Pierce marina where we could settle for about a month
to get some work done on the boat. But there was no room
at the inn. Vero Beach and Fort Pierce are where snowbirds
begin to stop for the whole season. We called all of the
marinas in the area and they were all either too shallow
or completely booked except for very short term stays.
We pulled into Harbortown Marina in Taylor Creek at Fort
Pierce to regroup. We were tied up at the end of a long
high face dock. This was our first experience with fixed
docks that are obviously designed for large power boats
whose decks are much higher above the water than our deck
is. We were always below the level of the dock even at high
tide. To add to the fun, the ladder we used to get up to
the dock was not fixed in place - it relied on tabs that
fit into holes in the decking and it always felt a little
loose when I grabbed it.
off our bow was a small island - probably no more than 50
feet long that was mostly scrubby bushes and a few trees.
When we pulled in there were a few pelicans in the trees,
but once darkness began to fall, the birds came to spend
the night. They came in flights of a dozen or more or some
came singly or in twos or threes. There were pelicans, ibis,
anhingas, cormorants, and egrets. Before long every branch
was filled and still they kept coming. Some would just land
and push away whatever bird had been in that spot; while
others would carefully look for an empty spot; and still
others would give up and fly away. It was amazing. And they
talked all night. Not loudly but just a general low chatter
that sounded almost like conversation.
couple of days in Fort Pierce were spent with guide books
and telephone trying to find a place where we could stay
put for a month. We were surprised to find that many marinas
in this area don't take sailboats. Sailors are generally
more frugal folk and I guess we probably don't spend as
much money as the folks who can afford to run the big motor
yachts. The other limiting factors were depth, as usual,
and cost. It took some doing but we finally found one that
is deep enough, had space for us, and is more or less within
Beach Gardens, FL
January 24, 2007
here we are at Loggerhead Club and Marina (I have no idea
what the "club" thing is about) in Palm Beach Gardens. We're
one of only a few sailboats in among some pretty big motor
yachts. Sea Fox looks pretty small compared to some of these
floating palaces. We've got a hefty to-do list and some
travel plans. We'll be heading across the state to Tarpon
Springs to replace one of the items needed to install the
solar panels, and we're going to the Miami boat show in
mid-February. Other than that it should be work, work, work.
to the next log page