Friday, February 23, 2018:
There was a light shower as I filled the water tanks in the early morning. It was hardly enough to get us wet. I was glad to see the water beading up on the part of the teak bow rail that I repaired yesterday. The wind was inconsequential and the forecast was for Southeast winds of 10-15 knots and the Intracoastal a moderate chop. We departed the dock at Cocoa Village Marina at 0915 without assistance or incident. As we cruised north soon the Rocket Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral came into view. I knew it was miles away and it was in view for hours.
The cruise of the day was easy and as the day wore on, the clouds continued to dissipate as it turned into a beautiful day. Apparently, in this area, fishermen think it is a good idea to fish between the fenders of bridges. That’s not a recommended practice, but I always practice courtesy and caution, slowing to not rock them too much.
Eventually the channel turned east toward the Haulover Canal. As we entered the canal it became apparent that many manatees were harboring there. I have never seen so many at one time. They seemed to be having a great time playing with each other and just lulling around.
Approaching New Smyrna Beach, I happened to glance down on the starboard side and see a school of rays also moving north. There may have been 50 or more of them seeming to swim in unison. I couldn’t grab the camera quick enough though, but we did catch these two choppers about to refuel in flight.
We made it to the NSB City Marina at 1535 and had a very easy slip assignment straight ahead and downwind on the floating dock.
Pelican Rookery Island at NSB
We showered and rested up before hosting Rick and Deedy Crossland for docktails and then walked with them to dinner at Yellow Dog Eats. They will begin the Loop from Ponce Inlet April 1st.
Saturday, February 24, 2018:
I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Around mid-morning one of my old Howey Academy classmates, Jim Simpson showed up on the dock. He lives in Pennsylvania, but has a condo in NSB, so it made sense to meet up here. The three of us knocked around the art show and farmer’s market just across from the marina. We hadn’t seen Jim since 1985 so there was a good bit of catching up and trying to remember old times at school. Later he returned to the condo and Jane and I caught up on nap time. Jim’s wife Georgia was flying into Sanford around 6:00, so on their way back from the airport they picked us up and we all went to their 8th floor condo at Minorca on the north end of the island. We brought salad and Jane’s infamous 7 layer dip, so we all enjoyed the evening with dinner and some wine may have been involved. It was wonderful reconnecting with my old friend.
Sunday, February 25, 2018:
We left the dock of NSB Marina at 0956 and stayed in the ICW to avoid the shoaling around the NSB inlet. The tide was pushing against our headway and soon enough I knew that we would not arrive as early as I wanted. Our destination was only about 15 miles and we completed the run up to Daytona docking at the Halifax River Yacht Club at 1215. I had made repeated calls by phone and radio to the HRYC (all to no avail), to make sure they would have a temporary tie up for us. Finally, once we pulled into their basin, I saw a spot on the dock and just pulled in like it was there just for us. Turns out the dock master had fallen in the water a few days prior and his cell phone and handheld marine radio were both out of service. He was fine with the spot we took, and directed us to the Tiki Hut to meet my Uncle, Gator Bert Reames, his wife, Julie, and their son Roosevelt along with my sister, Susie, and her boyfriend, Jay. It was a leisurely lunch and we all enjoyed the food, fresh air and the company. Regrettably, I neglected to get any pictures of our group.
After lunch we pulled out of the HRYC at 1400 and motored up to just south of the L.B. Knox Bridge and set anchor next to Highbridge Park and North Peninsula State Park. I have no idea why it is called Highbridge Park since the L.B. Knox draw bridge has a vertical clearance of only 15 feet. As the sun set, the few fishermen left in their boats and we were all alone anchored just about 2/10 of a mile south of the bridge. I rigged up my new shower for the stern deck and just after dark we slipped out on deck au naturale to get cleaned up. Jane was ok with this since it was dark and was sure the bridge tender couldn’t see us. Of course, afterward I did let her know that any bridge tender worth his salt would have night vision binoculars. We slept well and the anchor alarm never sounded. I was a little concerned about the possibility of swinging into shallow water since we were so close to the east shore of the waterway.
This guy seemed curious.
Monday, February 26, 2018:
We got up at sunrise, but stayed inside reading the Gainesville paper on line and having breakfast. We have changed from running the generator at anchor to make coffee to simply boiling water on the gas stove and then pouring it over the grounds in the coffee maker. We cranked Big Red at 0900 and by 0910 we had the anchor up and all the mud washed off the anchor and chain with the handy shower head on the expanding hose. I radioed on channel 9 to request opening the Knox Bridge. The tender was jovial and asked if we were bankers since he thought we just rolled out of bed. By 0915 we had cleared the bascule bridge and were heading on northward through the narrow ICW passing a great many grand waterfront estates. We found out we could get a slip at Marineland Marina for only $1.25 per foot so felt like we couldn’t afford not to stay there. Jane made contact by phone and we reserved the slip for three days. A three day slip rental here also gets you two free passes to the dolphin show, so we were good. It was a nice day for cruising, partly cloudy after a brief shower just before we pulled anchor.
L.B. Knox Bridge
By 1145 we had docked at Marineland with the help of marina manager, Eric Ziecek (UF alum) in slip #42 just down the ramp by the office. The entire marina was rebuilt last year so all the facility is in primo shape.
Marineland Marina Sunset
Just across the dock from us was an Albin 43 that looked to be of similar vintage as ours, so we went to say hello and compliment their boat. You can meet the nicest people this way and we did. The owners, Mike and Mercy Byrd, are living on board and have their Portuguese water dog, Ike. Mike’s a Georgia Bull Dawg from Atlanta, but I couldn’t hold that against him. After just a few minutes, they had offered us the use of their car. Quickly, Jane was summoning her mental grocery list and we accepted for a run to Publix. You can pack a lot more stuff into a Subaru than you can a backpack, so we wisely provisioned up, taking full advantage of the motor coach. We had Mike and Mercy come over for docktails at 1800 and we all enjoyed it. Even Ike made an appearance and like a true waterdog, had no problem making it up to our top deck. Apparently dogs like hummus.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018:
A pretty lazy day. We went for a walk on the beach, Jane made dill potato salad and awesome grilled “cheese” sandwiches for lunch, and then we took a nap after reading. Later, Jane made a really great vegi-pasta dish and we turned in early.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018:
We walked across the highway to see the dolphin show at Marineland. Marineland is the world’s first Oceanarium. It’s not Sea World, but we both had come here as kids and it has a lot of history. After that, Eric gave us a good pump out and I refilled the water tanks so we’d be ready for departure on Thursday.
Thursday, March 1, 2018:
In the morning I scrubbed off our tannic stain from the bow with lemon juice. With some good help from Eric on the dock, we departed at 1003. The forecast was showing SW winds of 9 to 17 knots and increasing after 1300. Slack low tide for St. Augustine would be at 1407, so I was a little torn between arriving early to avoid higher winds or showing up at 1400 to avoid the current. With the wind at our back we made the Crescent Beach Bridge by 1107.
Matanzas Inlet from the ICW
Soon the tide was also helping move us along and at one point we hit 11 MPH! That’s flying by trawler standards. By 1215 we had docked into slip #42 (again) easing in bow first downwind and with the current. Our dockhand, Mike provided excellent assistance. The city-owned marina was torn up by the hurricane and they are in process of obtaining funding for a rebuild. A large portion of the slips are in disarray and unusable. We lucked out and got one with electric.
Bridge of Lions St. Augustine
Sabbatical was looking pretty awesome on the dock until the 75 foot Hatteras, “Corporate Approved” moored next to us.
In comparison, she made our trawler look like a toy boat. The owner and crew were very friendly and we shortly found out that he owns a marina (Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina) on the Hudson River in New Baltimore, NY. Around happy hour, they invited us and another couple who were just walking the dock aboard for a tour and libations. Very friendly guys! His marina closes each winter so that’s his personal boating season. When the river freezes over I guess there’s just not much boat traffic. They reopen around the first of April. “Corporate Approved” will leave in the morning and running in the ocean, they’ll arrive in Charleston tomorrow night. That’s a different kind of boating. We left them and went to Cellar 6 for a nice dinner of pasta.
This full moon is working the tides here in St. Augustine