04/29/2012, Mosquito Lagoon
Our underway adventure, from Daytona Beach to New Smyrna Beach, was, again, under beautiful Fl skies!! The Waterway runs a straight line along the western shore of Indian River...outside is a maze of mangrove islands and winding natural channels. You can see evidences of previous routes through the groves; one of which is "Turtle Mound" (a Native American Look-out). It was built over 500 yrs ago out of oyster shells piled 50ft high.
Onward to explore Ponce de Leon Inlet. We came thru the Ponce de Leon cut, although both were accessible. The Inlet was all shoaled and not well marked. Both accesses allowed us to see the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse. At 159ft, it's the tallest lighthouse in Fl and the 2nd tallest in the nation.
Once we reached north of the G. Summons Bascule Bridge, we saw many boats anchored on the western side. There was a visible sandbar...and it was beyond us as well as the bridge operator how to get there...so through the bascule bridge to the "free" town docks (2 curved docks). However, the docks are under repair and there is no tie-up...so onward to the Smyrna Yacht Club. The YC did not have dock space for us as they were hosting their annual Lipton Cup Races; however, they could not be more accommodating!! We were allowed dinghy tie-up at their dock, use of their dining rooms, Tiki Bar and access to the main road w/our bikes. And I must say....we met the most wonderful YC members!! "Lou" greeted us at the dinghy dock (we now have designated her as the official greeter!!), invited us to watch the races w/her and subsequently introduced us to very gracious welcoming people. Thank you Lou and Warren!! Plse stay in touch!!
Jim and I spent our 1st nite dinghy-ing around. Thanks to the late sculptress Doris Leeper, New Smyrna consistently places as one of the best small art towns in America. The ICW south splits the town into two. Flagler Avenue, the beachside main drag has an "Old Florida" mix of restaurants, art shops, etc. On the mainland, historic Canal Street serves as the center of attention and antiques. Dozens of art galleries are split between the two. We attempted to go to the "Little Drug Company," listed in the cruising guides as famous for their ice cream and milk shakes...but I must say we were terribly disappointed w/the lack of available hours that they were open. We tried twice...once they were just about to close (5pm) and the 2nd time they were closed (Saturday at 3pm...)...We proceeded to bring our dinghy into the municipal marina...the dockmaster is originally from Charlestown, RI...and he let us stay there while we went to dinner. Went to the "Dolphin View"...a real local, on the porch, paper plates kind of place but the fish was good!!
On Saturday, Jim and I biked to the New Smyrna Beach...beautiful...rode bikes on the beach, watched the races, biked to the Inlet and shopped!! Had lunch and watched races from a "must" local beach bar..."Tony and Joe's", at the end of Flagler. I had never heard of New Smyrna beach...located amongst a natural opening in the barrier islands that connects the north end of the Mosquito Lagoon and the south end of the Halifax River. The community has exacted a low impact development w/enforced setbacks to protect its' dune-laden coastline. The result is a pristine beach w/an unpretentious town!! It has its'farmers markets on various Saturdays, and the "art and wine walk" on alternating Saturdays! We took a break from our 15-mile bike ride (it is getting hot and humid here!) to stop at the Night Swan B&B (almost all food establishments on Canal St and around seem to be closed on Saturdays)...they had a sign advertising wonderful cappuccinos and desserts! (Of course this was after our ice cream at Treats on the Beach)...we were not disappointed as we relaxed on their porch and watched a wedding taking place on their lawn!!
Off to the YC...at which time our friends invited us for a cold drink and ultimately dinner...a wonderful, unexpected surprise of an evening. We said our good-byes...as the wait staff was trying to close...and plan to get up in the morning, u/w to Mosquito Lagoon for 1-night on anchor...or according to Lou, now known as "Indian River Lagoon" so as not to deter cruising tourists!
From New Smyrna Beach, the ICW tracks its' way through a large expanse of mud flats; depths right outside of the channel run in inches...keeping a careful eye on the marked Waterway AND the depth sounder is critical!! We were so pleasantly surprised to pass "Iolar" with Walter and Lynn on board, going North...friends we had met in Elizabeth City!! Lots of screaming, waving and ultimately a short radio conversation let us know they are headed home.
We arrived in Mosquito Lagoon (aka Indian River Lagoon!) late morning and anchored. Mosquito Lagoon is not a very reassuring name for an anchorage!! We explored the Canaveral Nat'l Seashore by dinghy and foot...the Atlantic looked a little ominous after being in the ICW for so long...and off on the far shore we could just catch a glimpse of the Space Center!!
There are suppose to be frequent sightings of dolphin and manatee in this shallow lagoon...but you can't prove it by me!! Jim, however, has spotted both. Supposedly, Christopher Columbus was the 1st European to report seeing a manatee w/its' cleft face and coarse whiskers...his crew thought they had sighted the mythical half-female, half-fish mermaids. Talk about delusional after months at sea without women. Oh well...stay tuned...
04/27/2012, The Beach
Underway from Marineland Marina to Daytona Beach on a rising tide on Wed, April 25th via the ICW. There is much history along this section of the waterway. General Hernández once owned land along the waterway (Bella Vista Plantation). He not only was a farmer but a military leader during the Seminole Wars. Between uprisings, he quietly cultivated sea cotton and oranges here. Unfortunately, his military success cost him his homestead...in retaliation for his leadership in the Seminole Wars, the Seminole Indians burned his entire plantation to the ground. It is now a park, w/some archaeological excavating producing remnants of the foundation of his home.
History states that apparently President Herbert Hoover was transiting this area of the waterway aboard the "Sequoia." The yacht made an abrupt turn, Hoover was thrown from his chair, and angrily shouted, "Someone ought to straighten out this damn curve..."and so they did!! That part of the waterway is now straight and a new island has been created..."Snake Island." Believe it or not...
Two unusual retirement hangouts overlook the waterway as we approach Ormond Beach. John D. Rockefeller's retirement home...called "The Casements" after its' many casement windows. Rockefeller lived here until he died at the age of 97. The other...much less famous...is an old 2-story building jutting out into the Halifax River. A group of residents wanted a yacht club, cut a deal w/the city and the building never appeared on the tax rolls. This clandestine club, still w/its old time members, still "doesn't exist!!"
On to Daytona. This area of Florida is called the Halifax Area because the ICW in this section is known as the Halifax River. It was named in the 1760s for Lord Halifax of England by a British surveyor. Rather than anchor, we decided to try our luck w/the Halifax River Yacht Club. They recognized our reciprocity w/the EGYC, and we laid up on a t-dock for 2 nights at $.75/ft!!!!. The club is beautiful and VERY accommodating! Spotless showers and laundry facilities, a heated pool and 2-wonderful restaurants!! It is in the heart of "Beach Street..."
We spent our 1st day touring on foot...the little shops and museum on Beach Street, had a lovely dinner...then to bed. We arose early on Thursday, got on our bikes, over the bridges and on to the barrier island known as the infamous Daytona beach. For many years, Daytona Beach has been synonymous w/speed and racing. From 1903 to 1936 all land and speed records were set on this beach, giving it the designation of the World's Most Famous beach. In addition to speed trials, various types of competitive races were run on the beach, but the most famous of all, the Beach Road Course was created in 1936 for automobile stock car and motorcycle races. They continued to be held on this course until the Daytona Internat'l Speedway was opened in 1959.
We enjoyed our biking on the beach...as well as watching cars on designated areas. The beach was crowded by 11am...temp 85...and off we went for ice cream after a swim!!
Jim spent a good portion of the afternoon exploring all the motorcycle shops...I hope this is not going to be his next adventure!! Yikes!!
Dropped lines from the dock, and left early Friday am...on a rising tide...to head south.
Jims take on things:
Funny tides here on the AICW on the outside of Daytona Beach and at the Ponce De Leone Inlet the tide is high is high, here at the dock on the inside the tide was high at 4 am and still dropping! They seem to be several our out of sync. However that works quite well for us. I like the water to get out of the narrow cut into the Yacht Club and the high water at Ponce Inlet Cut will give us an extra 2' ft in the shoals around the channel.
Now a couple of hours later we have made it down to Ponce Deleon Inlet and into New Smyrna beach. We managed it with only a slight bit of confusion with AICW and the main inlet boys. Got to remember the little AICW Triangles and Squares on the IOCW marks! Anchored in front of the New Smyrna Yacht club-they have no room for us!. That's of the anchor is free and hopefully it will hold in the 5kn current and 15kt wind. Temp is 85 degrees at noon--I'm going for a Mexican type siesta! We'll dingy into club and do our visiting later in afternoon.
04/24/2012, Marineland marina
We got underway, after the weather front blew thru, on Monday morning Ap 23rd. The sun was shining but the winds were blowing about 30kts...fortunately, for us, on our stern! Those cruisers heading past us, going north, were bundled up like we do when going skiing!! Our plan was to stop for the afternoon at Fort Matanzas, and then spend the night at Marineland Marina. We, however, did not find the staff at Fort Matanzas inviting. We were told we had to anchor in the river...the docks were only for their boat...and the holding ground was good except in windy weather (I consider 30knts windy!!). We were also told IF we did anchor, to not anchor near the crossing of their boat...and we could not bring our dinghy to their dock...we had to bring it up on the beach and tie it to a tree!! Well, guess what...we turned back into the ICW and came into "Marineland Marina." What a beautiful stop!! It is new; therefore, not listed in the Cruisers Guides; however, Active Captain (on the net) had it listed! The Marina is small but the people who run it are very accommodating. It is $1/ft (unheard of); has spotless bathrooms and showers; and, FREE laundry facilities. It is part of an "Eco-sensitive" Florida Nature Preserve w/...walking/hiking trails, ponds w/alligators and turtles living harmoniously; and, they offer kayaking tours to areas unable to get to w/boats...to discuss the marine-life, birds, etc, etc. Acres and acres are being developed into and protected as a Nature Preserve. There is some history...don't have the whole story... that the Dali Lama had something to do w/the acquisition of this land for same...his nephew was killed nearby by a motorist talking on their cell phone... Across the street is "Marineland Dolphin Adventure," an affiliate of Georgia Aquarium. It is an interactive education program, and for a fee (hefty!), children/adults get in the pool and learn how to feed, train, etc, the dolphins. After our nature walk, we did go to Marineland, where we were spectators only!! Had an early to bed, and awoke to temperatures of 41 degrees!!!! Thank goodness Jim installed the 2-reverse cycle ac's...a MUST for anyone considering cruising!! I awoke to the heat on and hot coffee brewing!! Thank you Jim!!.
We decided to stay another day (what a surprise!) and do more exploring by bikes/hikes!! We biked (against 20kts of wind!) North to the Matanzas Inlet. Had lunch at a great little local restaurant on the water...Matanzas Innlet (yes, w/2 n's) Restaurant. The same family has owned it for 19-yrs... it used to be a tackle shop under the Claude Varn Bridge! After filling up on a great lunch, we continued over the Matanzas Inlet. This Inlet was the scene of crucial events in Spanish colonial history. The massacre of French soldiers here in 1565 was Spain's opening move in establishing a colony in Florida. In May, 1565, 600 French soldiers were attempting attacks on Spanish treasure fleets. Philip II, a devout Catholic, ordered the massacre of the French Huguenots...Protestants...on this site...hence the name "Matanzas" (means massacred or slaughter in Spanish).
Jim swallowed his pride, and decided to bike further...to visit Fort Matanzas. We were brought across the river in a boat via the rangers. The Fort...50ft on each side w/a 30-foot tower...was built of coquina, a local shellstone. The Fort could cover the inlet w/5 guns. Besides warning St. Augustine of enemy vessels and driving them off if necessary, the Fort served as a rest stop, coast guard station, and a place where vessels heading for St. Augustine could get advice on navigating the river.
After we left the Fort, we went across the street to the most beautiful beaches I have seen!! White sand and blue water for as far as the eye could see. (When visiting these beaches, it seems impossible that RI could call itself the "Ocean State"....). The natural habitat is protected, and we saw a Gopher Tortoise digging a hole to get out of the heat. Apparently, their "tunnel" is shared by many other wild-life...up to 362 different species of animals also use their tunnel...what I don't know is if they are there all together ...LOL.
Back to boat...after a flat tire on the bike...and all secured to leave tomorrow am for Daytona. Stay tuned...
04/23/2012, Marineland FL
Just a quick update--we have done it again. If it is possible for two humans to affect the weather we have achieved nirvana! The weather man just reported that today's temperature will set new state records! Oh that's LOW temperature not hot!! Of course it beats the snow storm we here that is happening in New England!! Check it out on the weather channel!
04/22/2012, St Augustine Harbor
Jims comments -
Great town more varied restaurants than one can imaging. Real food and all the junk food as well. I have eaten my way through St Augustine.o0
The mooring field is delightful as compared to anchoring. The wind and the currents opposing or flowing together make for an interesting orientation. Sometimes wind blowing 20 knots on the stern!! With boat pointing into current and any other combination you can think of.. if we were anchored I am sure we would have fouled the anchor and dragged it a few times. I sleep much better on their new moorings.. Temperature so far has been bearable with the wind to help keep it cool when its sunny and 85 degrees.
04/22/2012, mooring 28 harbor
Night #7 in St. Augustine, and we plan to get underway-south-tomorrow am. Experienced torrential rain w/thunder and lightning yesterday, last night and again this morning...but as I blog tonight, the sun is shining - getting ready to set - and the church bells from Trinity Episcopal Church are being heard from the shore. What a way to end our 1-week in charming St. Augustine!!
Those of you who follow my blog have become pretty familiar w/my love of the history of the churches we visit - and the city of St. Augustine has not disappointed me! The Mission Nombre de Dios was the 1st permanent Christian settlement in the United States. Father Mendoza Grajales, a Spanish Diocesan Priest, offered here the 1st parish Mass in this land. This marked the beginning of missionary work in the 16th century by Spanish diocesan priests, Jesuits and Franciscans along the Atlantic coast from present day Miami to the Chesapeake Bay and westward to Pensacola. This is the site where western culture and Christianity faith took root in our country. The "great cross" (208 ft.) was erected 150 yrs ago to mark the original landing spot.
Not to be surprised, Henry Flagler was involved in the development of many of the churches in St. Augustine. He wanted the land upon which the Methodists had a small wooden church. Because they were unwilling to sell, he offered them another piece of land upon which HE would finance the building of a new Methodist Church...now called the Grace Methodist Church. The original land, which he acquired in the exchange, became the land upon which the Ponce de Leon Hotel...and later the Flagler College...now reside!
The Baptists, not wanting to be over-powered, asked Mr. Flagler to finance a new church for them. Mr. Flagler, not really being in the church-building business-agreed to donate $10,000 if they raised the 1st $10,000...with one very important stipulation. The new church could have a bell tower, but never have a bell...to this day, the Ancient City Baptist Church has never put a bell in their bell tower.
Mr. Flagler, being the son of a Presbyterian minister, wanted to build a Presbyterian church to the glory of God as a memorial to his daughter, Jennie, who passed away as a result of childbirth in 1889. The pews are made from imported mahogany, and hand carved. There are 12 bronze double-cross chandeliers, originally gas. The dome rises over 100 feet and encompasses several religious symbols. There are 92 stained glass windows, which contain the Apostle's Creed. The baptismal font is intricately carved from a solid piece of marble. Of particular interest is an exceptional lovely pipe organ...depending upon whose version you believe, it consists of anywhere from 465 to 5000 pipes!! No matter...it is still spectacular! The reason there is no bell in the Baptist church is Flagler did not want it to interfere w/the music from the pipe organ! Next to the entrance door is the tomb area in which Flagler's 1st wife, daughter, her baby and Flagler himself are entombed. There is an empty tomb...supposedly for his 3rd wife (his wife upon his death) but her family had her body buried in their hometown. The story goes...his 3rd wife died 6-months after he died...supposedly from poison but history reports that she imported her make-up (during those days in was important to have "pasty looking skin") from Europe, and some of the creams contained arsenic!! That story came directly to me from a tour guide-believe it or not as Ripley says!!
We spent this morning at a lovely, moving service at Trinity Episcopal Church, established in 1821. There are 28 stained glass memorial windows in the church. There is one Louis Tiffany window in the chapel. Above the altar are 3-stained glass windows in which Christ is Blessing the Children.
As I close my blog tonight and listen to the chimes from Trinity Episcopal Church, I look forward to dropping the mooring tomorrow morning and heading south for more adventures...and feeling very blessed that Jim and I have our health to do our cruising and our families who understand our being away. To be continued...