If you didn't have your Senses, what would you be left with?
Transiting, which currently really means moving under motor power at efficient fuel consumption speeds, along the meandering chocolate coloured waterway that is the ICW, from Jacksonville (Fl) and on our way towards Vero Beach, we've been, after a six month absence, reacquainting ourselves with the movements that is life aboard a boat.
There's been so many Sights, Sounds and Smells these days. Love the happyness of the familiarity that they bring.
"Remember this...", "Oh look at that...", "We were there..." is always fun and memories bring forth a deluge of Smiles form the Heart.
We remember how, just four years ago (and remarkably only three days in the difference), we were newbies dealing with the learning curve that is the ICW. This time we are attacking it with much more knowledge, experience, confidence and as always, with prudence.
A dear friend of ours recently said,
"The ICW isn't for sissies..." ,
and with Banyan's
draft of 6'4" you can be sure we pay close attention. With the recent Hurricane damage,
we are paying attention to debris in the waters, unreported (or recently reported) shoaling areas, missing markers, etc. Our Managing the Waterways book is a little old so we're paying attention to things that have changed, like, for example, bridges that are no longer in use.
And of course, there's nothing like taking your eyes off the chartplotter and visually confirming your route, in case our navigation apps are off, which they sometimes are, to make you pay attention. Or to notice the speedy boats coming up behind us, asking (or not) for a pass.
And with all that paying attention, we can easily get distracted as the radio barks to life, and the voice, in staccato rapid fire, belches forth,
"Pan Pan, Pan Pan, Pan Pan, All Stations, All Stations, All Stations, This is the United States Coast Guard, sector Jacksonville, Florida, United States Coast Guard, sector Jacksonville, Florida, United Stats Coast Guard, sector Jacksonville Florida..." And I almost want to Break Break myself and tell the officer to slow down and breathe in between words. We Giggle, and motor on through, repeating with funniness, his last "OUT"!
The busyness that is the ICW waterway can be seen on the shoreline, near Jacksonville, as the large container ships load and unload their wares, in a non-stop sounds of work that provides the necessities of a life to us all.
And where there can also be disocvered art in the making, if you stop and see it. The appearance of facial features on the silo,
and the mosaic designs framing the pillars of this bridge.
Not to be outdone by man, the majestic beauty of nature continues to impress us.
The Pelicans dive bomb these brown coloured waters with a resounding splash, on their eternal quest of enough food to fill their large bills. The seagulls mill about in flocks, with their incessantly loud keow-keow, especially if the lady on the large trawler in front of us, is insisting on throwing food at them, and we look on with amusement as they gather in numbers and strength, until the gathering becomes a missile attack as they fight with Banyan's
bow to get at whatever has landed in the water, the Capt'n mutters possessively,
"They better not be shitting on my deck!"
We Giggle again and motor on. The white egrets and grey herons stand silently along the shoreline, until the sound of our engine startles them away from peering pointedly downwards, and suddenly their large wingspan allows them to glide effortlessly away from us and towards safety and the hope of more food. And then, wow, the familiar sight of a dolphin fin is seen, and we marvel once again, at how nice it is to see these beautiful creatures as they move through the water in search of food. And as we watch a powerboat zoom by at frightening speeds, we wonder if, and how, the dolphin dove down deep enough to safety? And the poor manatee? Doesn't stand a chance. And really, do Dolphins sleep? How and When?
The incessant drone of our engine continues to drive us on as we cover off the mile markers.
"She's purring like a kitten", murmurs Dave in grateful appreciation, as he performs his engine checks, because leaving a boat on the hard, for over 6 months, is never a happy time for anyone, least of all the boat. Regular maintenance, lots of TLC, and we are all happy with the purring performance, knock on wood.
Interspersed along the waterways, we can peer into the backyards of the many homes (some damaged by the hurricane), the bridges we can easily pass under, and some that require hailing to open on demand, and some that require timing (open every twenty minutes)
and some that require you to wait so that the five boats behind you can catch up and making the bridge master happy with only one opening required.
And then there's the solitude of a stretch of nothingness but a lighthouse seen off in the distance,
and we are left with our musings. Making Sense of the Sights, Sounds and Smells that will forever etch this trip into our Hearts.