Old City, New World

Day 208: Sunday, March 31, 2013

Port to Port: St Augustine, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile 780 to Mile 780: We started the day with a long walk to West Marine and Walmart. We need to restock a few groceries and get a replacement depth finder. The problem with a walk like this is usually not the distance but the walk-ability of the route. We are in Florida still and sidewalks (or the lack thereof) continue to be a problem. In this case, there was a sidewalk on only one side of the busy road with lots of cross streets and commercial driveways crossing it. At least the sidewalk didn’t suddenly end like many other places. The scenery was just a series of strip malls, gas stations and parking lots. Ugly! And there were lots of cars zooming by. Walking under these conditions is just a chore that has to be done. I can’t even find anything worth taking a picture of (except for a river boat shaped car wash).

After our chores, Cindy rested (I got gas) and we walked into Old St. Augustine to explore the oldest city in America a little. We lucked out and got there in time to see most of the Easter Parade complete with pirate ships, Easter bunnies and marching bands. We wandered around the downtown admiring some of the old buildings and architecture. St Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spain as a port and fort. Flagler College is housed in an amazing old hotel – the Ponce de León – and is filled with beautiful woodwork, paintings, carvings and tile work.  What an amazing place to go to school.

We didn’t have time to check out the Fort or any of the dozens of other tourist attractions so we decided to stay one more day to get a little better taste of the area before heading north again. You could spend a month really exploring this area – maybe next time.

After nachos and strawberry margaritas for dinner, we relaxed, read and watched a movie. Surprisingly, a movie version of the book I just finished – We Were Soldiers Once – was on Netflix and we have good internet. The movie was true to the book – a graphic representation of what war like in Vietnam. Not for the faint of heart.

It is surprisingly hard to find a good place to anchor in the next 40 miles but we have a couple potential choices. We have to be careful to consider the tides and flow directions or we might be going 4 mph instead of 6+ mph. Our next town will probably be Fernandina – the last major town before we leave Florida and enter our next state – Georgia and the Dismal Swamp. After about 5 months in Florida, we are ready for a new milestone.

BBQ’s and Circus Parades

Day 207: Saturday, March 30, 2013

Port to Port: Near Flagler Beach to St. Augustine, Florida

Underway: 8:04 am      Motor Off: 1:42 pm      Miles Traveled: 29      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First circus parade put on by the marina kids.

Mile 809 to Mile 780 (plus 2 up the San Sebastion River): Today was a beautiful travel day. It wasn’t quite as cold last night and the sun was shining when we got up helping warm the cabin a little. The wind was calm and we were ready to go to our next destination – St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest settlement in North America. We are looking forward to doing some exploring in the old city.

We lucked out big time in the morning with the tides. The tide was going out as we got back on the ICW and we rode a nice favorable current sometimes hitting 7 mph all morning. We slowed some as the bays got bigger and the tide switched but then we put up the main sail and got a boost that kept our speed above 5 mph all the way in to the dock. The tides here can be up to 6 ft and the current can run 4 knots or more in certain places so we need to do a little more planning than we have in the past.

We had planned to stay at the Municipal Marina but were turned off by the cost – $2/ft plus $5/day for electric (remember, we used less than $2 worth in 3 weeks at Fort Myers) plus tax. By the time we were done it would have been over $50 a night to stay on our own boat and use public bathrooms for facilities and no room service. Not a good deal. Even the mooring field was $20/night. But I found a little marina – Hidden Harbor – on a side river also near Old St. Augustine and they only charge $25 per night plus tax – a much better deal. As luck would have it, their monthly boater BBQ was at 3:30 pm just in time for us to dock, clean the boat, shower and make a cracker and cheese plate to contribute. Plus it is family run – they actually live on a boat in the marina with their young kids. We met some really nice people, had some great ribs, enjoyed some fun conversations and, as an extra bonus, some of the marina kids put on a wonderful spontaneous circus parade complete with hula hoops, cartwheels, acrobatics and bicycling in circles. What a special treat (brought back memories of a different time when kids used to do this kind of stuff every week). It is obvious we made a good choice.

Feeding Frenzy

Day 206: Friday, March 29, 2013

Port to Port: Near Flagler Beach, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Anchor

First Things First: First time catching a fish in the Atlantic Intracoastal.

Mile 809 to Mile 809: Today is a lazy day. We like our little cove so much we decided to stay an extra day. We have a bunch of little projects but nothing too strenuous. After having breakfast (again with the manatee) of scrambled eggs, fried red potatoes and grapefruit, I decided to take the depth sounder apart to see if there was something fixable – it failed yesterday and stopped reading depths. After poking around for a little while I found a major problem – the flexible connection from the circuit board to the screen has completely separated from the solder connection. We need a new depth finder. This one lasted a long time though – we bought it in 2002 for our big trip to NYC so we got our moneys worth I guess.

My next big project was to catch dinner. Several fishing boats have looped through the channel tossing lures so I figured I could do the same thing. After only about 5 minutes I caught my first fish – a spotted sea trout (thanks again Bill). Not big enough for dinner but a good start. After a bunch more casts and a couple follows I caught a beautiful, bright shiny fish called a ribbon fish or an Atlantic cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus) (I looked it up on Google). Its tail was a point and it had a iridescent full length fin along its back. Too skinny to eat but amazing to look at. I caught one more large trout right next to the boat but it flipped off before getting it into the boat. Bummer.

Cindy spent some time wiping off the walls inside while it was cool to keep ahead of the dust and mildew. The boat looks pretty good even though we have lived on her for more than 6 months. She is also trying to read like a crazy women before her library ebooks expire – tough duty. I spent the afternoon backing up computer files and camera chips.

We had another “not many times in a lifetime” show late morning. We were in the cabin working when Cindy heard a commotion outside. A huge swirl was spiraling near shore and we soon saw a half dozen dolphin put on a show chasing fish in our little cove. We speculate they herded some fish down the channel and trapped them at the dead end and went on a feeding frenzy. There was even a baby dolphin learning the ropes. Very cool. It was hard to choose where to point the camera but I got a nice sample of video to share.

CLICK HERE: Dolphin Feeding Frenzy

After finishing our projects, I decided to dinghy to shore to see what was over the tall sand dunes on the north side of the channel. We are always wondering what is around the next bend in the river or over the next hill. I expected the remnants of a failed housing development but found a beautiful semi-natural area with sand dunes, rutted roads where local kids drive their dune buggies and lots of pine and palm trees. The nearest house I found was probably 2 miles away. What a fun discovery. I found several large  burrows in the dunes which I thought might be tortoise burrows but later decided they were probably dens for armadillo – I saw one rooting around in the leaves under a tree on my walk. It was a perfect walk – warm sun, sand, beautiful scenery and wildlife. As Cindy’s T-shirt says – Life is Good.

Unexpected Guests for Dinner

Day 205: Thursday, March 28, 2013

Port to Port: New Smyrna to near Flagler Beach , Florida

Underway: 9:45 am      Motor Off: 4:35 pm      Miles Traveled: 34      Stayed At: Anchor

Mile 845 to Mile 809: Remember yesterday. Today was pretty much the same except maybe a little bit warmer and much smaller and more protected channels to navigate. We got a late start waiting for the temps to warm a little and we met some fellow Loopers – Ken and Candy on 7th Sun – who just started their Loop in Fort Myers. We enjoyed chatting and hope to cross paths again in the future. We passed through four basquale bridges which opened exactly on time for us to pass through without slowing down – these guys know their business. We passed by Daytona Beach – a chilly day for all the spring breakers there. It was nice to see houses under construction and others being fixed up along the way – still some that look like they have been abandoned but not very many now.

Dolphin greeted us as we were leaving the marina. In case you are keeping track, since leaving Mobile Bay, we have had only two travel days where we haven’t seen dolphin. They are a special treat every time we see them. We just ticked off the miles 5 miles at a time. We were lucky today to get a nice boost from the current and we were going 6+ mph for most of the morning. What a gift! That extra mile per hour over 5 hours gets us into our anchorage or marina an hour earlier than expected. It’s too hard to plan for but a welcome surprise when it happens.

There are tradeoffs every day we travel. We could have stayed at the marina for an extra day to wait for less wind and warmer temps but then the threat of rain and storms usually increases. There are advantages to traveling on these kind of days – less traffic, less crowded anchorages, we burn more calories to stay warm, we don’t get sun burn (we are covered head to tow), there are no bugs (frozen), its not raining, and the sun is warm. Sounds like a perfect travel day to me.

Our goal today was the cement plant anchorage about 34 miles north. The plant is shut down but the side channel they used to load and unload is protected and has plenty of depth to anchor. You never know how good these places are until you get there but this one was perfect. We were alone in a circular cove at the end of a long channel. It is quiet. There is a Sea Ray (they make big cruising boats) factory just next to the cement factory but it was quiet when we arrived. And the anchor held the first try. Oh, and one more thing.

We got set up to grill some pork chops and boil red potatoes for dinner and who happens to join us but a couple of manatee – laying on the surface looking like a couple of rocks just 30 feet from our stern. They stayed there the whole time we ate dinner and only moved when we drifted over within 15 feet of them. What an amazing end to a wonderful, if cold travel day.

Watching Out for Icebergs

Day 204: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Port to Port: Titusville to New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Underway: 9:46 am      Motor Off: 4:40 pm      Miles Traveled: 34      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First pink flamingoes crowded on a small island along ICW; first time seeing a beach where cars can drive on the sand.

Mile 879 to Mile 845: Brrr! Last night was cold. I think it got down to 38˚ – the coldest night in a long time. I’m sure glad I’m not here on a one week spring break vacation. We had to run the heater for a few minutes this morning to get it warm enough top get dressed. Thankfully, it was sunny out though. We didn’t see any icebergs but the ice in our water cups did not melt until afternoon even though they were sitting in the sun in the cockpit.

We didn’t rush getting going this morning – we wanted to let the sun get a little higher in the sky and the temp to get above 45˚. When we were showered and ready to go, Boris started on the first pull (yah Boris) and we were heading north again. The first few hours were cool but the wind held off until we were done with the first big bay but then started howling straight from the north. Cindy almost had to wear my fowl weather jacket because hers wouldn’t fit over all her layers. We also saw a surprising amount of large cruiser traffic heading north – only about 10 boats but still a lot of traffic compared to what we are used to. Only one of them didn’t slow down to pass us with a small wake – next time that happens I’m taking names and recording it online for posterity.

Passing through the Haul Over Canal was interesting. It was protected from the wind so we got a short break from the waves and cold. There were lots of shore birds along the edges and the manatee also decided this was a nice place to rest – there was a small cove with probably 15 huge manatee sunning themselves in shallow water. Hard to get a picture of but pretty amazing to see.

It was not a perfect travel day but the sun made it tolerable and we made it to New Smyrna Beach early enough to walk through town and down to the beach. We had planned to anchor out – we were charged up and cleaned up and had plenty of food – but the wind was still howling and our choices for anchorages were very limited. We tried one but kicked up a little mud trying to anchor and decided to just bite the bullet and pay for a slip. It’s only money, right?

We were glad to have a chance to wander around New Smyrna but we resisted the urge to eat out – the smells coming from some of the beach restaurants was enticing – but we made it back to Aurora and had leftover beef tips and rice. We figure that between eating leftovers tonight and not going out to breakfast tomorrow morning, we should save enough to pay for our slip tonight. At least that is what we a telling ourselves. Hurry up spring, we are ready and waiting.

Checking Off the Checklist

Day 203: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Port to Port: Titusville, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: It’s cold down here (at least for Florida). Temperatures this morning were at least 15˚ colder than normal for this time of year – we awoke to the low 40˚’s this morning. Brrr! (Oh, I know, we aren’t suffering at all compared to back home – as of last week, the ice road on Lake Superior out to Madeline Island is still being used with 20+ inches of ice still). At least the sun is out. In no particular order, our To Do List for today includes:

Clean carburetor                  Take showers
Make breakfast                    Wash clothes
Reassemble motor              Change sparkplug
Test for spark                       Add new gas
Charge everything               Make rice
Plot course                          Inflate dinghy
Clean cockpit                      Wander docks and park
Look at boats in boatyard    Update blog
Pay insurance                      Go to Space Museum
Watch a movie                     Add pads to dinghy lift
Roast pecans                       Record motor info on Excel
Stow motor                          Get motor running
Order carb rebuild kit           Record receipts
Make dinner                        Get ready to leave in morning

Believe it or not, except for a couple items, we finished everything on today’s list. I lucked out and after the 3rd time taking the carb apart and remounting it, I finally got it to fire and stay started – it purred in fact. Whew! – that could have been an all day project. We even added a couple things including the Historical Museum, exploring downtown and going back for a tour on Jim’s boat. I am almost done updating the blog and we are getting ready to watch a movie and it is just a little after 7 pm. It always feels good when we can get so much done in a day. We’ll sleep good tonight.

Dreaming of Banana Bread

Day 202: Monday, March 25, 2013

Port to Port: Titusville, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: The winds starting howling early and we were really glad to get out of the unprotected mooring field into the protected harbor. We still have the car today so we want to do some shopping and a little exploring. We spent all morning and most of the afternoon doing errands – auto parts store for new dinghy motor spark plugs (success), marine store to try to get a carb rebuild kit (success), Publix to get a sandwich for lunch (success), and Walmart for everything else.

Our most exciting stop of the day was the post office although this too ended up being an ordeal. We were expecting a small care package of fresh banana bread from Sarah (dreams do come true) but when we got to the post office we had it sent to General Delivery, it was an empty building – that’s not good. For a town this size they only have two post offices many miles apart. We have two within five minutes of our house at home (and three auto parts stores and a couple marine supply places). We finally found the closest one about two miles away but had no idea if the package would have gone there. After waiting in line forever (its not surprising they are going bankrupt), and watching the clerk disappear into the back room, he finally returned with our much anticipated package. I had the package ripped open and we shared a couple big chunks of Sarah’s banana bread before we left the parking lot (thanks Sarah).

By now there was no time to drive around and explore – I had to return the car by 5 pm so I dropped off all our groceries and Cindy at the boat and drove to Enterprise a couple mile south. I took a leisurely walk home – I needed a few pictures for the blog. I walked down one of the other docks at the marina looking at boats and noticed an interesting sailboat with a bi-pole mast system. I have always thought this would be an interesting design. I ended up talking to Jim for an hour and a half. He is 77 (almost 78) and is planning to move to land pretty soon. He has lived a very interesting life and I enjoyed chatting with him and learning about his many adventures. And he still has a few more on his bucket list. (Good luck, Jim).

I finally got back to the boat (an hour and a half after I left) and we made some nachos for dinner, watched a Netflix movie (finally the wifi is working okay) and slept soundly with only the gentle lapping of ripples on the hull. Where do the days go?

Close Call

Day 201: Sunday, March 24, 2013

Port to Port: Titusville, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Mooring

Mile to Mile: After “surprising” my Mom last night, we have a leisurely day planned today – a mix of small projects (always projects), eating and visiting. I got going early and made a stop at Walmart to get a wrench and some spray to clean the carb on the dinghy motor. When I got back to Elena’s apartment building, I sat on the sidewalk and disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the carb while waiting for everyone to get up and ready to go to brunch. We decided the brunch at Golden Corral would be fun – lots of choices and no rush to leave. (I have no idea how they make any money – prime rib, steak, shrimp, made-to-order omeletts, and 20 different desert items all for $10 or so.)

After brunch, we returned to the apartment and I multitasked listening to the chit-chat while catching up the blog, backing up some of the newer pictures onto DVD’s (to send home), and using the high speed internet to the fullest advantage. After a quick but wonderful visit (thanks Elena), we headed back across Florida to Titusville. We were a little apprehensive though since we saw on the news that a large storm system was moving across the state (at 55 mph) straight for Titusville. The roads were a little wet but traffic was light and we only had a few sprinkles. About 30 miles from the marina, though, we started to see some tree damage – a little at first – but then there were a couple places where it looked like a strong downburst had pushed the trees over on both sides of the road – oh, oh!

Except for some trees down and sign damage, the marina faired okay. The winds in the mooring field were clocked at 55 mph and at Cape Canaveral across the water 75 mph gusts were recorded. Except for a few flipped dinghies (and dunked motors), everything was okay. Aurora faired just fine on the mooring – we would have been scared —-less had we been onboard. A really close call and a good learning experience – don’t leave anything in your dinghy during a big blow and maybe remove the motor too.

I tried getting the dinghy started but it still wouldn’t stay going so we ended up paddling all the way to Aurora. Tomorrow we will probably go into a slip for a day or two to recharge the batteries and get the dinghy motor working again. What a nice way to spend Day 200 of our Great Adventure but we were glad to be home.

Road Trip

Day 200: Saturday, March 23, 2013

Port to Port: Titusville, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Mooring

Mile to Mile: We have a car so it’s time for a road trip. We are driving to Tampa to visit our friends Cliff and Caroline and surprise my Mom who is visiting her niece Elena. We got going early but had a minor hiccup when Boris coughed and sputtered and stopped completely about 200’ from the boat. (Note to self – when something isn’t running right or needs fixing, fix it ASAP or pay the consequences usually at a in-opportune time). Luckily the breeze was helping us toward the marina and someone dinghying to the marina stopped by and offered us a tow – we were very thankful since paddling an inflatable dinghy is inefficient and painfully slow. I borrowed a pliers and screwdriver to remove the carburetor so I can clean it sometime before we get back.

The trip across the state took 4 and a half days…I mean 2 hours in fairly heavy traffic. What a difference to the peace and quiet of the ICW. We met our friends at the Westfield Mall and headed off to pick up their daughter Emily before we went to an Art Fair in Hyde Park. We spent several hours chatting, wandering, shopping, eating, and even buying a couple things. We found some really cool gold plated cut coins with three giraffes cut out of a Tanzanian coin. We seldom buy stuff at Art Shows but we had to get these for the girls and Cindy with their connection to Tanzania.

We had a blast catching up with our friends adventures getting moved to Florida. They are still in a holding pattern waiting for a yes or no answer on their offer for a house being sold as a short sale. Stressful and exciting at the same time.

We finished the day eating and drinking (again) in Ybor City and headed back to Brandon to surprise my Mom and stay at Elenas’ place for the evening (thanks’ Elena) – lucky this worked out since we were having trouble finding anything in 20 miles because of a Formula 500 race in downtown St. Petersburgh – we heard that slips with tickets were going for $4,000 for the weekend at the marina. That would be interesting.

Because we were so late, our arrival wasn’t a surprise but it was fun anyways. We don’t know when we will be home next so this weekend will have to tide us over for a while.

Chance Encounters

Day 199: Friday, March 22, 2013

Port to Port: Cocoa to Titusville, Florida

Underway: 8:49 am      Motor Off: 12:24 pm      Miles Traveled: 19      Stayed At: Mooring

First Things First: First time seeing someone standing in the shallows scooping up scallops.

Mile 898 to Mile 879: After a quiet and peaceful night at anchor in Cocoa, we headed toward Titusville about 20 miles away. What a difference a day makes – the seas were calm, the air was warm and a hazy sunshine kept us toasty all morning. A nice breeze later in the morning gave us a 1 mph boost – we were cruising at a steady 6 mph for the last couple hours. Short days are nice.

Even though the day was short, we were busy being entertained all morning by chance encounters – first several dolphin greeted us just as we were leaving (and all along the way), pelicans were dive-bombing to catch their breakfast, an unmarked grey hard bottom inflatable with twin 250 hp outboards (probably homeland security) made a couple high speed passes up and down the channel, a couple biplanes flew overhead, several jet fighters gave us our own personal airshow (they were practicing for an airshow this weekend), and 5 parachutes appeared in the sky off towards Titusville. We also passed by NASA’s Main Assembly Building – it looks huge and we were miles away. All before noon. How was your morning? And to top off the day, before as we were leaving the marina to go back to the boat, dolphin cruised through the marina and a couple of manatee surfaced and rolled (really, we saw them). Talk about chance encounters.

I don’t have any proof of any of this (except the NASA building) – dolphin are nearly impossible to get to standstill, I don’t think its smart to take a picture of homeland security and have you ever tried to take a picture on a boat bobbing in the water, with the zoom all the way out trying to catch something going 300+ mph. Try it some time.

We easily picked up a mooring at the Titusville Municipal Marina – lots of empty balls. And lots of slips available to it looks like. It is interesting how some marinas are really popular and others seem to struggle to stay full. We ate lunch of leftover pizza, took showers, finished our laundry and worked on the computer until it was time to walk to get the car.

Slow Slog

Day 198: Thursday, March 21, 2013

Port to Port: Indian Harbor Beach to Cocoa, Florida

Underway: 8:43 am      Motor Off: 12:36 pm      Miles Traveled: 16      Stayed At: Anchor

First Things First: First time hearing an offshore right whale advisory warning vessels to stay out of the way of the animals as they migrate.

Mile 914 to Mile 898: After a lumpy, noisy night (although I slept through most of it), we woke up to a cool and windy morning. As seems to always be the case, we anchored here because it had good protection from all sides except the southwest. So where did the wind come from until midnight? Southwest of course making for a bumpy ride. This anchorage was definitely better than our other choice farther up the coast, though. Perfect anchorages are almost impossible to find so you end up taking your chances.

We headed out into the ICW straight into a stiff north wind right on our nose all morning. Aurora and Boris pounded into the waves without stopping and we only got sprayed a few times. Luckily the sun was out making the temperature tolerable but we were glad to have only 16 miles to go today to get to Cocoa, Florida. Within minutes of docking at the city’s free dock (3 hour limit), we were hot again and down to shorts and T-shirts. I walked a mile and a half to get gas so we were ready for tomorrow. We were hungry after our cold, windy morning so we found a highly recommended pizza place downtown just a few blocks from the marina and enjoyed a huge pizza and a beer. What a difference a couple hours makes. It is hot and the winds onshore are barely noticeable.

After wandering around Cocoa for a little while, we dinghied back to the boat to relax and get ready for our 20 mile hop to Titusville tomorrow where we plan to stay for 3 or 4 days to explore – maybe go to the Kennedy Space Center if we can look past the $85 entry fee – yikes! Its supposed to be worth it but that is a lot of money – we could do Disney World for that, I bet.


Day 197: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Port to Port: Vero Beach to Indian Harbor Beach, Florida

Underway: 7:40 am      Motor Off: 2:40 pm      Miles Traveled: 38      Stayed At: Anchor

First Things First: First time being swarmed by some type of black fly – they didn’t bite and they were really slow (easy to kill) but very annoying; first time making perfect blueberry muffins in the camp oven.

Mile 952 to Mile 914: The weather forecast for today was for a 70% chance of rain and maybe thunderstorms in the afternoon. We agonized over weather to stay or go. We don’t mind rain but would rather avoid thunderstorms while underway. I looked at the weather radar and it looked like the weather was going well north and south of us so we decided to chance it and go. Well, it turned out to be a perfect day to travel – sail assist on a beam reach, hazy sunshine, no traffic, regular dolphin visits, no storms and perfectly baked blueberry muffins to start off the morning. Can’t get much more perfect than that.

The day passed quickly even though we traveled a lot of miles. I even had time to read – I’m engrossed in a book by a Vietnam vet called “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young” (thanks Bill, I’m making slow progress through your gifted books). It is a detailed account of one of the first major battles in Vietnam where we were testing a new helicopter based approach to moving men into battle and the Vietnamese wanted to test their tactics against US fighters. It is a graphic minute by minute account of the multiday battle for some random bit of land. Suffice it to say that a year of the “hardships” we have to deal with on our little boat doesn’t compare to a minute of what these young men went through in this and any other battle of this horrible war.

We turned up the channel to Indian Harbor and anchored near shore by several other sailboats anchored nearby. The forecast weather never materialized but we did get some wind and chop after sunset but we were securely anchored and tired so we were soon sound asleep.

Popcorn For Breakfast

Day 196: Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Port to Port: Vero Beach, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Mooring

First Things First: First time having movie popcorn for breakfast.

Mile to Mile: I don’t know what it is about Vero Beach but it just hasn’t clicked with us. It’s a nice place but we haven’t fallen in love with it. We are heading to Melbourne tomorrow and Titusville the next day. We hope to go to the Kennedy Space Museum although the price is steep – more than a day at DisneyWorld.

For some odd reason, we decided to go to a movie this morning – the movie Silver Lining started at 10:35 am – AM! We are definitely in Florida. We took the free bus to within 6 blocks of the theatre and wandered around a little waiting for the movie to start. There actually were a handful of other people in the theatre with us at this time of the morning even though the movie has been out for a long time. Good movie and great popcorn.

We lucked out and only had to wait 5 minutes for a bus to take us back to the marina. We decided to keep going to the beach and wander along the sand for a while. The waves crash only 20 feet from where you are on the beach – brings back memories from our last trip to California to visit Jessica. Cindy found a couple tiny shells to add to our memory box and we walked back to the boat to clean before we head out tomorrow.

I get tired of the brown eyebrow around the waterline – normally part of your bottom paint would show above the waterline and then your actual painted waterline would be above that. On Aurora, we are 2” below the top of our waterline on a good day and so the grunge shows up on the white hull. So I scrubbed it all the way around to make it white again – hopefully in this cleaner water it will last longer than a few days.

Minnesota has been getting hammered with snow, wind and rain lately. Last year at this time we had 70’s and the ice was on its way out. What a difference a year makes. Lets hope that when spring comes it comes soon. It was 80˚ here today. Maybe this will make everyone back in Minnesota feel a little better.


Drip, Drip, Drip

Day 195: Monday, March 18, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Pierce, Florida to Vero Beach, Florida

Underway: 8:08 am      Motor Off: 11:25 pm      Miles Traveled: 15      Stayed At: Mooring

First Things First: First time in a long time we didn’t travel east during the day.

Mile to Mile: After some spotty drips overnight (5 minutes here and 5 minutes there), we awoke to a partly cloudy sunrise and calm winds. Our little cove was a perfect spot to anchor overnight. We have a short day today – only about 15 miles straight north to Vero Beach. People seem to like it so much it’s nickname is “Velcro Beach” since people tend to stay much longer than expected.

We had great cruising conditions again this morning. A steady breeze from the south motivated us to raise the mainsail to get a little wind assist and we were cruising at a little over 5.5 mph against the current. Except for a handful of fishing boats, a couple of cruisers that were very courteous, and several larger sailboats, we had the intracoastal all to ourselves. These short days seem to take longer that the really long days. We are mentally prepared for the long treks and feel a sense of accomplishment when we are done. These short days kind of mess with our natural rhythm. We made it to Vero Beach before noon.

One problem we have when we spend a lot of time at anchor or on a mooring is low battery power. If we travel 30+ miles per day, Boris does a good job keeping the two batteries charged. We have been disconnected from shore power since we left Fort Myers 9 days ago. I’m actually pretty impressed we can keep things going for so long. We may have to conserve for a few days till we can motor the 35 miles to Melbourne. We are also looking into a small flexible solar panel to give us a little reserve power if we need it.

After we tied up to a mooring ball, ate lunch and took showers, we walked toward the Atlantic Ocean. This part of Vero Beach is very upscale. The first places we saw were 3 or 4 offices for banking and wealth management services. The beach side is packed with higher end condos and hotels but we finally found a public access to the beach. The beach is much different here that on the Gulf side – bigger, breaking waves, no shells, less beach, clean, green water and much coarser sand. Not bad – just different. Since it was windy and a little overcast, only a handful of people were on the beach and not a spring breaker in sight. We will have to try out the free bus service that stops at the marina to get a better idea of what kind of services are available around here.

In Passing: Big Starvation Point, Blue Hole Point, Mangrove Island, Boot Toe Point, Coon Island, Wildcat Cove

Homeward Bound (Sort Of)

Day 194: Sunday, March 17, 2013

Port to Port: Stuart, Florida to Fort Pierce, Florida

Underway: 8:50 am      Motor Off: 2:20 pm      Miles Traveled: 31      Stayed At: Anchor

First Things First: First time seeing the Atlantic Ocean (at 9:58 am) – a little glimpse through the channel inlet at the crossroads where the Okeechobee Waterway meets the north/south Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. We are a long way from home.

Mile 8 to Mile 0 On Okeechobee Waterway, Mile 988 to Mile 966 Intracoastal: We enjoyed our stay in Stuart but are ready to be moving on. It’s going to be weird now heading north for a really long time. We are heading home now – at least that is what we can start telling ourselves (and the Grandma’s) that.

What a perfect day to travel. Warm but not hot. A gentle breeze. A little boost from the tidal current. Light traffic. And lots of dolphin cruising by making the day go faster. For a little while, we were doing over 6 mph. And beautiful sea green waters – the definition of sea green. Not only is it an amazing color but its clean – none of the grunge and flotsam we have been used to in Fort Myers Beach and Fort Myers. And it’s, appropriately enough, St. Patricks Day. What luck.

We had planned to stop in Fort Pierce but decided anchoring out was more interesting so we found a nice cove just east of Fort Pierce and anchored all by ourselves (except for the houses surrounding us all around). We were glad to be so well protected because the wind was gusting even in this little cove. We stopped around 2 pm, anchored, ate lunch and relaxed. We even had time to read for pleasure – something I haven’t done in a long time. After a DVD – First Blood II – it was time to turn out the lights on another wonderful day exploring the Great Loop.

A Minnesota Connection (Again)

Day 193: Saturday, March 16, 2013

Port to Port: Stuart, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First time using a courtesy bus; First time using a courtesy bike at a marina.

Mile to Mile: Today dawned sunny and calm – finally calm. The boats in the mooring field are laying in all different directions without a steady wind to line them up. Our main plan for the day was to take advantage of the courtesy van to Walmart (and other stores along Highway 1) to resupply a little. Or a lot. We can never get out of Walmart for less than $100 and today was no different. But we are set for the next week or more now.

We returned to the boat and stowed our treasures before going back to the marina to explore a little more. I borrowed a bike and road down to a nearby flea market to see what I didn’t need and Cindy went downtown to look into some of the shops again. I didn’t buy anything, surprisingly. We ended up meeting back at the marina at about the same time and sat on the steps and chatted with fellow boats including Joy and Howard while soaking up the warm afternoon sun. Joy had her arm in a sling – she fell yesterday on the sidewalk (not on the boat) and broke her arm in two places – ouch! Now, because of the idiocy of insurance, she will be flying home to get a permanent cast because their insurance won’t cover the hospital care here. Insane, but an all too common story.

The boats are getting bigger here. We wandered the docks for a little while and saw some pretty big boats – not Miami big, but much bigger that we’ve seen most other places.

We decided to cook dinner on the marina grill – its about 8’ long and is protected from the wind so we packed up our steak, potatoes, green beans and salad fixings (plus the computers and guide books) and dinghied back to the marina immediately met some fellow sailors from Roseville, Minnesota – we had planned to knock on their boat later this evening to say hi since they are moored a couple boats down from us. What a small world. They are staying here for the winter and will store there boat down the river for the summer and drive home. They shared some great information on places to stay on the way up the Intracoastal and fun sailing stories. They have a small sailboat too that they sail on Lake Pepin so we are kindred spirits.