Day 89, Year 10: Passage to FL, Day 9—Daytona to Titusville
Date: Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Weather: Sunny, Winds NW 5-10, Temp in the 60’s F
Latitude: 28 31.543 N
Longitude: 080 46.174 W
Location: Anchored Behind the NASA Causeway Bridge, S of Titusville, FL
Miles Traveled: 48.9 Nautical Miles
The march to southern Florida continues. We had another good day traveling down the Intracoastal, spotting lots of wildlife and seeing some of the Kennedy Space Center from a great distance. We left Daytona at 7:30 am, traveled through Mosquito Lagoon where we saw dolphins and birds of all kinds, including osprey. I loved hearing the familiar cry of the osprey—made me a bit homesick for Cape Cod. But there were no manatees to be seen. The signs are everywhere posting ‘Manatee Zone’ but thankfully for the manatees they must be smart enough to stay out of the high traffic area.
Lee got really great news today. Lehr is going to replace his dinghy motor with a brand new one. It will be delivered to Cocoa tomorrow afternoon. Evidently once they got into the motor they found more things wrong than the switch that was being sent from California. Since it is basically a brand new motor, it should not have had these issues, thus the replacement. When we get to Cocoa in the morning, we will take our motor to a little place not far from the anchorage to have them clean the carburetor. If that doesn’t fix it, we will have to continue on and get it fixed once we have a temporary home base. Our dinghy motor is a Yamaha Enduro 2-stroke, 15 horse power engine. We bought it in Malaysia over six years ago and thankfully have not had to have repairs. But because it was not made in the US, Yamaha dealers here don’t have a parts list. They tell us it will take about five days to get parts if they are needed. So we’ll hope it is a quick fix not needing new parts.
We’ll leave Cocoa on Friday morning with at least one dinghy (ours) and one dinghy motor (Lee’s new one) in working condition. That will make transportation to and from shore so much easier, especially since none of us walk on water! We have made reservations for a city mooring in Vero Beach for Friday night, on to either Stuart or Jupiter on Saturday night, and into West Palm Beach in southern Lake Worth on Sunday. There are places to anchor there with dinghy dock access. So we are going to give it a try for at least a couple of days, and maybe longer if we really like it. And if nothing else breaks down, we can start concentrating on having fun.
Day 88, Year 10: Passage to FL, Day 8—St. Augustine to Daytona
Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Weather: Mostly Sunny, Winds N to W 5-10, Temp in the 70’s F
Latitude: 29 12.412 N
Longitude: 081 00.351 W
Location: Anchored on the South Side of Daytona, FL
Miles Traveled: 47.2 Nautical Miles
Remember our friend Lynne’s adage, “You make plans and then life happens.” Well, that happened again today. We had hoped to be able to go further than Daytona today so we could make Cocoa tomorrow. But the shop in Rockledge that is going to do the work on Lee’s dinghy motor called this morning and said he wanted to pick up the motor today in Daytona. We got here at about 3 o’clock, anchored, and then prepared to get the dinghy motor to the agreed upon meeting place on shore. The motor has been traveling on the back of our dinghy on our dinghy davits for the past couple of days. So Mark rowed over to Lee and Lynda’s boat and they towed our dinghy behind their boat over to the marina. Mark went with them and they didn’t get back until after sunset. The guy picking up the motor got delayed in traffic and they finally had to just leave the motor there and return to the anchorage before it got too dark. The parts should arrive tomorrow and we hope the shop doing the gets the job done tomorrow so we can pick the motor up in Cocoa on Thursday morning. There are constantly all of these “if, thens”, which is always the case in life. IF the motor is repaired and ready for pick up when we reach Cocoa on Thursday morning THEN we’ll get it and continue on. IF it is not done THEN we’ll wait the day in Cocoa and have a shop there look at our dinghy motor. Where we go on Friday is anybody’s guess! So stay tuned.
All of these uncertainties cause us to spend at least two hours every night going through the cruising guides to troubleshoot the next day’s course and to figure out just where we can go to find a suitable anchorage for the next night. Intracoastal Waterway travel, at least here is Florida, is challenging because of the shallow depths, the bridges that are just not quite as tall as they claim to be and that all open on different schedules, and the dwindling number of anchorages due to municipal rulings and the addition of moorings. The moorings are safe and very convenient, but they cost money. We had planned to anchor out every night, but already we have picked up a mooring two of the last four days. So much for plans! But even with all of the issues we have had and my dislike of the inland waterway, today felt great. I did a laundry early in the morning and hung it on lines I strung across the back deck to dry. Somehow it always makes me feel good to do a hand laundry. It smells so fresh when you take it down off the lines—which I did before we got to Daytona so we would look ‘respectable’. And even though we are now out of the marshlands and into housing development country, there is still wildlife to be seen. And I do love that. It is currently looking like we won’t reach Fort Lauderdale in time to get settled and get Mark to his first doctor’s appointment there. But we can get to the Lake Worth area on Sunday. From there we can call Sue and Brad, my sister-in-law and her husband, and they will help us out with transportation until we do reach Fort Lauderdale. Sue called this morning to assure me that they are ready and waiting to help out. We are so thankful for that. Between now and Sunday, we will just put one foot in front of the other and inch our way further down the ditch.
Day 87, Year 10: Passage to FL, Day 7—Jacksonville to St. Augustine
Date: Monday, January 5, 2015
Weather: Partly Sunny with Wispy Cloud Cover, N Wind 15-20, Temp in the 60’s F
Latitude: 29 53.741 N
Longitude: 081 18.561 W
Location: On a Mooring at the Municipal Marina, St. Augustine, FL
Miles Traveled: 30 Nautical Miles
Onward, onward. It was a tad sunnier today and our timing was good. We left Jacksonville at first light, crossed the St. John’s River, and went through the bridge that we so dreaded just before 8 am at near slack tide. It was turbulent, but not nearly as turbulent as we have read. And even though it is said that this bridge is not really the required 65’ in height, even at high tide we slid under with no problem. After getting through that bridge, we took a deep breath and continued the trek down the ICW. Traveling down the Intracoastal Waterway is never relaxing because you have to watch every second to make sure you are exactly on course. If you are not, you are aground. And that happened to us once today. But we were able to back off of the shoal and head further out into the channel. Thankfully we didn’t have to call TowBoat US.
I spent a great deal of the morning making phone calls to find a place to work on our dinghy motor in St. Augustine. We found two places, but one couldn’t do the work until tomorrow and was going to charge a small fortune to come pick up the motor and return it to us. The other had a dock we could bring Windbird to, but it was just after the first bridge here in St. Augustine and we had two to three knots of current pushing us along by that time. Mark decided it was just not worth the risk of trying to dock in those conditions, so after all the research and phone calls, we still don’t have a dinghy motor. We picked up a mooring at the Municipal Dock here with15-20 knots of wind pushing us backwards and 2-3 knots of current pushing us forward. It took us three tries and a bit of yelling at each other before we were securely tied to the mooring. So we took another deep breath, called the marina, and requested a ride to shore on the 2 pm launch. Even if we had a dinghy motor, I’m not sure we would have gone to shore until the current settled down a bit. So we were really glad that the marina has the launch service, even though it only runs every two hours. While we were waiting for the launch, Mark’s sisters that live in Bonita Beach, called to welcome us to Florida and Mark talked to his nephew Bryan that lives just south of Jacksonville. All of Mark’s family lives here in Florida and we are looking forward to seeing them in just a few weeks. We enjoyed talking to them today, but had to cut things short as the launch arrived. Lee and Lynda decided not to go into town, so just Mark and I hopped on. When we arrived at the dock we were greeted by El Galeón, a 170-foot authentic wooden replica of a Spanish galleon. It is visiting here from Spain to celebrate the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine’s settlement. We didn’t go on the tour, but we enjoyed seeing the boat. We then walked through the historic district and toured the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. San Marcos translates as St. Mark, so Mark declared it his very own. We called Lee and Lynda and encouraged them to come ashore on the 4 pm launch pointing out that they could take advantage of the marina laundry. So they did. Not as much fun as touring the city, but time well spent getting a necessary job done. While Lynda did the laundry, Lee walked with us across the Bridge of Lions to go to a small grocery store named Stewart’s. I had read that they sell local shrimp and Mark and I both wanted it bad enough to walk there and back. The bridge looks longer than it actually is but when we got across the bridge, there was no Stewart’s. We kept walking and then finally inquired in a little shop. We were assured that it was only another two blocks. I missed the photo of the day when a guy came walking toward us wearing only bright green polyester short shorts with a leather belt, black cowboy boots, and a pirate eye patch. He must have been out for his daily stroll and was quite the sight. I so wished I had not just put my camera in the backpack, but in a few minutes we spotted him across the street walking back to wherever he had come from. I quickly got the camera out and photographed him from behind—not as classic as the front view, but at least I captured the moment! At the store, we got our shrimp and some broccoli and Lee got a loaf of bread and some cookies. Then it was back to the marina. We all had to get on the 6 pm launch back out to the boats as that was our last chance of the day. Lynda had to take clothes out of the dryers that were not quite dry, so I can only imagine what the inside of Sea Turtle looks like tonight. After we got home, I called Lee with some navigation info and it took him a few minutes to duck between the hanging clothes inside the boat to get to a pencil and a piece of paper to take notes. I was calling him because we need to adjust our plans a bit and we needed to consult the cruising guides on the boat before doing that. Lee heard from the manufacturer of his Lehr dinghy motor with the locations of the service places they recommend in Florida. One is just south of Cocoa in Rockledge, one is in Lake Worth, and one is south of Fort Lauderdale. So we will go to Daytona tomorrow, or a little further is time permits, get as close to Cocoa as possible on Wednesday, and then have the service work done in Rockledge on Thursday. The manufacturer in California will ship the needed parts tomorrow via overnight mail. So hopefully we and the parts arrive in time for the work to be done on Thursday. Mark and I will make some calls tomorrow to see if we can also get our outboard work done at the same time. If this part of the plan works, we will then head on to Vero Beach on Friday. From there we are about three days from Fort Lauderdale. One way or another, we will be close enough to Fort Lauderdale by next Tuesday for Mark to make his appointment. Weather and stamina will determine just how close we get.
Day 86, Year 10: Passage to FL, Day 6—Fernandina to Jacksonville
Date: Sunday, January 4, 2015
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, Late Day Squall, High near 80 degrees F, SW Wind
Latitude: 30 23.692 N
Longitude: 081 27.420 W
Location: At Anchor Just N of Sisters Creek Bridge, Jacksonville, FL
Miles Traveled: 19.8 Nautical Miles
Today was another short day, but not quite as short as yesterday. We traveled 20 miles down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Florida’s northernmost city, Fernandina Beach, to the more familiar northern Florida city of Jacksonville. Actually we are on the northern fringes of the city and will cross the St. John’s River and on to Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and then St. Augustine tomorrow. Floridians call this part of the state the “First Coast” as it was settled first. St. Augustine, founded in 1565, is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Mark has been there but I have not, so we are hoping to arrive early enough tomorrow afternoon to do a little exploring. Depending on what we find out from phone calls to dinghy motor repair places in St. Augustine in the morning, we might have our afternoon filled with boat work instead of getting to do the tourist thing. It sure would be wonderful to get our dinghy motor repaired. But since neither Sea Turtle or Windbird has a dinghy with a motor, we are going to pick up moorings at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina and take advantage of their shuttle service. Mark and Lee worked on Lee’s propane dinghy motor this afternoon, but they made no progress. The representative from the manufacturer in California talked with Lee again today and will call first thing West Coast time tomorrow to let us know where in Florida we can take the motor for repairs. Just in case that might be St. Augustine, we will get started at 7 am tomorrow morning. We are anchored just north of the Sisters Creek ‘fixed’ Bridge. We will call at 7 am and hope they will open the bridge for us right away so we can get started on our 37 mile trek. There is a another bridge about five miles down the way that we want to go under at slack tide around 8 am. So for that reason and for getting to St. Augustine ASAP to find dinghy motor repair possibilities, the early departure is a necessity.
Today’s trip took us through some beautiful marsh grass country. As we traveled down the Amelia River this morning we kept seeing loads of big white birds gathered on little strips of sand at the edge of the grassland. They looked like pelicans, but I had never seen white ones before. When I looked them up, I found that they are American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) who spend their winters south and their summers in the interior of North America. They are definitely the first ‘snowbirds’ we have encountered here in Florida. We are sure to see many more.
Day 85, Year 10: Passage to FL, Day 5—Georgia to Florida
Date: Saturday, January 3, 2015
Weather: Partly Sunny in the Afternoon, High in the 70’s F, S Wind
Latitude: 30 40.237 N
Longitude: 081 28.147 W
Location: Fernandina Harbor Marina Mooring, Fernandina Beach, FL
Miles Traveled: 6.35 Nautical Miles
We traveled a whopping 6.35 nautical miles today, but that brought us into the state of Florida. The winds have shifted to the South and it is finally warm. We have on short sleeve shirts and shorts. Yeah! But unfortunately that is about all the good news we have today. Lee’s dinghy motor needed oil but he put too much in and had to drain some out. Some spilled in the dinghy, so that necessitated a good cleaning of our dinghy. But the oil did not solve his dinghy motor problem. He talked to the rep in California and got a couple of good ideas for further trouble shooting. The problem was identified, but Mark and Lee worked on the motor until dark trying to get it fixed. A total fix will require a part that will have to be sent from California, but there is a partial fix. We just don’t have the right tools for the job and it is taking much longer than it should. They will continue working on the motor tomorrow afternoon when we reach our Sunday destination. Mark changed the fuel in our dinghy fuel tank this morning thinking that might be our dinghy motor problem, but that wasn’t it. So we still do not have an engine. We put Lee and Lynda’s dinghy back in the water to see if yesterday’s patch job was going to stick. It did, but only for a short time. When Lee tried to put the dinghy on the back of his boat, the patch came loose and the tube deflated. Bummer. So we are back to just our dinghy with oars. We don’t mind rowing at all, but the currents here do make it difficult. With no dinghy to explore the little waterways running into Cumberland Island or to run up to the north end of the island to explore there, we decided that it was time to move on. We listened to the weather report and the forecast for going outside sounded a bit better than yesterday, but they are still forecasting five to six foot waves with occasional waves to nine feet. So we are going down the Intracoastal Waterway, at least until we get to the Cape Canaveral area. Step one of this move further south was to motor over to Fernandina Beach, Florida, to get fuel and water. We decided to take moorings for the night as the anchorage is totally exposed. Windbird and Sea Turtle are on adjacent moorings and that allowed Mark to row over to Sea Turtle so he and Lee could continue working on Lee’s dinghy motor.
When the sun went down, Lee, Lynda, and Mark rowed over to Windbird and we had dinner together here. We bitched and moaned about the difficulties we are having, but soon realized that was getting us no place. The weather is warmer and it felt great to wear a t-shirt and shorts on the 3rd day of January. That is a positive. We are closer to a fix on Lee and Lynda’s dinghy motor and we know that a good patch job will stop their leak. Now we just have to hope we can make it through the next couple of days in the Intracoastal without going aground or losing an antenna on our mast going under bridges that are not quite the full 65 feet that they should be. Mark and I just finished our planning session for the 20 miles that we are going to travel tomorrow. Between here and Jacksonville, the ICW has some very, very shallow areas and bridges that might not be high enough at high tide. High tide is around 8 am, but tomorrow’s bridge that might give us a problem with height is only 5 miles from here. We don’t want to go under right at high tide, so we will wait until 9 am to leave. That gives us only five hours until low tide, and we want to get through the lowest areas well before 2 pm. Because of shoaling, you have to stay to one side of the channel between some marks and on the other side of the channel between others. In some places, there is shoaling right in the middle of the channel. So it will be a tricky day. We made detailed notes and will work together tomorrow to negotiate this mine field. Sure hope we don’t have to call on TowBoat US.
Day 84, Year 10: Passage to FL, Day 4—Exploring Cumberland Island
Date: Friday, January 2, 2015
Weather: Overcast All Day, High in the 60’s F, NE Wind
Location: Anchored Off Cumberland Island, Georgia
After a morning of doing chores, Mark, Lee, and I headed over to the island to do a little exploring. I’ll talk a bit about the ‘chores’ and then get to the exploration. Our first task was to call a long list of marine engine places to find someone to repair our dinghy motor. But after many calls, we gave up. No one could work on the motor until Monday and we will be gone by then. After the phone calls, I did a laundry while Mark rowed our dinghy over to Sea Turtle to put Lee and Lynda’s motor on it. Then Mark and Lee worked on Sea Turtle’s dinghy. The dinghy’s name is Hatchling, but it looked more like a wounded duck as they towed it over to Windbird to do the repairs. The tube on one side was totally deflated. We raised it up on Windbird’s deck and Lee proceeded to sand the area around the worn hole and then applied the patch. The glue takes 24 hours to dry, so late tomorrow morning we’ll know if the fix worked. The patch kit is more than a year old and the glue might not still be good. We’ll see.
After lunch, Mark and I took our dinghy with Lee’s propane-powered motor over to the dock to check in as visitors to the National Sea Shore. We also filled up two 50-gallon buckets of water for Lynda to use in cleaning the cockpit of Sea Turtle and filled our 5-gallon gerry jug that I had emptied doing the wash. We took the water back to Sea Turtle so Lynda could clean the cockpit. She wanted Lee out of her way, so he went with us. We headed for a dock a bit further away to visit the island’s Ice House Museum and walk to the Dungeness ruins. On the way, Lee’s propane engine started ‘coughing’ and back-firing and we had to row the last little bit to get there. But we made it and first toured the Ice House Museum. Then we walked to the Dungeness ruins. Revolutionary War hero, Nathanael Greene and his wife, Catherine, acquired 11,000 acres on Cumberland Island in the late 1700’s. Nathanael died, but his wife Catherine built a 4-story ‘tabby’ mansion on the island in 1803. ‘Tabby’ is a type of concrete made of water, lime, sand, and oyster shells. This mansion, called Dungeness, stood until 1866 when it burned. In the 1880’s Thomas and Lucy Carnegie purchased the property and built a 59-room Queen Anne style mansion. The ruins of that mansion are still standing, but most of the building was destroyed by fire in 1959. The ruins were interesting and we all enjoyed the walk there on a path lined with live oaks and other trees just dripping with Spanish moss. We saw a few of the wild horses that live on the island and then headed back to the dock. This time the motor started for us, but it still ‘coughed’ and back-fired all the way back home. Lee dropped us off and took the dinghy back to Sea Turtle where he was going to do some trouble-shooting on his less than a year-old engine. By late afternoon the verdict was that work will have to continue in the morning. We had invited Lee and Lynda over for dinner, but without reliable transportation, we cancelled and will try again tomorrow night.
Based on yesterday’s weather information, we were planning on staying here until Monday and then heading offshore for the Lake Worth-Fort Lauderdale area. But today’s weather forecast is calling for 5-9 foot seas. None of us is anxious to be outside with 9 foot seas, so we are now thinking that we will head on down the Intracoastal. This will take us longer, so we will move to Fernandina Beach tomorrow to get fuel and fill our water tanks, and head down the ICW on Sunday morning. Of course, that plan could change by morning. And if we don’t get Lee’s dinghy motor running, I’m not sure what we will do for transportation to and from land. We have our inflatable kayak, but the currents are so strong in this part of the world that we’re not sure we want to fight that without a motor. Sure hope we are not boat-bound all the way to Fort Lauderdale!