Day 20: We have arrived!
Nov/09/2011, Stuart / Port Saint Lucie, FL
So in true Derek and Rachel style, we are a little late (okay 5 months late) in posting our final blogs from Leg 1, the trip from RI to FL, but I suppose it is better late than never...
We woke in Melbourne after the calm night at anchor (finally) and in true ICW form, pulled up anchor with groggy eyes and motored back into the "slow lane". We had only anchored in a small river just off the ICW, so within minutes we were headed south again with the wind gently blowing behind us. The sun was already starting to peak through; after weeks of "inordinate cold weather" per the locals, the prospect of sunshine was a phenomenal thought for our last day on the ICW.
As Derek posted last, we still hadn't figured out where to keep Soul Purpose once arriving in Stuart/Port Saint Lucie, so after some AM coffee and rasing the jib, I jumped on the computer and located several marinas tucked in behind the St. Lucie Inlet and the ICW. The cool thing about Port Saint Lucie is that you can enter another canal, just like the ICW, which takes you all the way to the west coast of FL and the Gulf. Unfortunately for us, we can't cross under all the bridges, so we won't be able to journey to the Gulf unless it is via the Keys, but for smaller boats (or ones without masts), you can easily run uner the 56' fixed bridges. Anyway, becuase of the canal that crosses FL, there are some deeper waterways in the Stuart/Port Saint Lucie area farther from open ocean and the ICW.
After a few calls to area marinas, we settled on Loggerhead, opting for a dock instead of a mooring. The per foot fee was too high for long term storage, but we deciced to figure out the long term plan once we were landlovers again and able to drive around to check out the other marinas and boatyards.
Now that business was compete and knowing we only had one final day of our water-trek, we settled into a relaxing afternoon grilling up the remaining food, catching some rays and sipping on drinks. The afternoon passed like many others and as the sun started to lower in the sky we turned off the ICW toward our destinatation a few miles inland. Coming into Loggerhead was a pretty straight forward besides the confusing dockhand...he really wasn't very helpful with directions as to which dock we were spending the night, but in true form, we winged it and landed safely tied up around 5 PM. We were excited to reach our destination 20 days after starting, but sad that it was coming to an end too.
Mom and Dad showed up shortly thereafter and helped us unload a few things - for the first time in 15 days, we locked up Soul and headed somewhere else for the night. She did a wonderful job transporting us to FL and we knew we'd be sad to leave her here for the winter, but at least we knew winter in FL was a better life for a boat than on the hard in RI! Tomorrow we'd start the search for a safe, suitable winter dwelling for Soul.
Day 19: Not much to do but eat, drink and be merry
Warm all day - high 70's!
Nov/08/2011, Melbourne, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 64
Total Trip Miles: 1128
Simple stuff for simple people during the trip from Daytona Beach to Melbourne. We had a solid 24 kts of wind pushing us directly back on to the T-dock when we departed in the morning. A few weeks ago we may have considered this a challenge, but after day-in day-out living on this boat journey, we pulled some evasive manuevers off the dock with eyes still glassy from just waking up. The guy at the dock who I made friends with the night before hailed us on the radio asked me to switch to a more private channel and said, "I wish everyone would pull away from the dock like they had a set of balls, sure would make my job a lot easier!" HA, it is a bit uncomfortable to jam throttles forward with multi-million dollar yachts just feet away from your boat. More often than not it is a lot safer to make your moves decisive like your a seasoned pro... So we headed out down a narrow exit channel and back into the intracoastal. We were headed downwind so we unleashed the gennaker sail and pulled about 8 knots. People must not put big sails out very often in the ICW because other boats going by kept calling on the radio and commenting on how much they liked our "big pretty sail." Like I said from there it was a simple day, grillin food, drinkin beers, opening bridges on request and meandering through the waterway. You really have to pay attention every minute though since the waterway is only about 9 feet deep and drops off to about 3 feet or less, 20 yards off the side of the boat. There is just enough room for 2 boats to pass. It's deceiving since it looks like it's a mile wide! Thank god for chartplotters. We saw some really picturesque places along the way. Islands plastered with thousands of pelicans, little inlets with manatees swimming around and of course families of dolphins every half hour or so swimming along with our boat. We had to decide whether to shoot for a stretch goal of Melbourne or just stop in the Cocoa area. We were racing the sun and intending to anchor for the night. Staying true with our style on this trip we went for Melbourne. About 30 minutes after sundown, still dim lit, as we were pulling into the anchorage it started to downpour and get windy. At this point we just look at eachother and laugh. I really would not know how to anchor on a calm day anymore with adequate sunlight! We found a great spot on the leeward side of the land and dropped anchor, which set very nicely. We broke out the booze and rigged up some cocktails with dinner (Southwest Chicken from my Mom's Sedona cooking guide and Parmesean Risotto). With the trip drawing to a close we find we are consuming a lot more...wonder why? We must have ate and drank ourselves unconscious because we woke up after passing out on the couch for an hour or so. When we looked to see how late it was we laughed as the clock was just turning to 9:30 pm. The boat barely moved an inch all night and we got a great nights sleep at anchor for a change! BTW, Rach is yelling from the helm for me to write that she also saw a bald eagle! I have never seen and adult so enamored with wildlife sightings...she keeps a log of all her daily creature sightings.
Looks like we've got one more day on the ICW until we reach Rach's parents in Port St. Lucie. We're still trying to figure out where to keep the boat, but in true style, we'll figure that one out on the fly too...
Day 18: Barber Shop
Shorts, T-Shirts and Flip-Flops - Horray! (75 degrees and Sunny)
Nov/07/2011, Daytona Beach, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 43
Total Trip Miles:1064
After a gray day between JAX and St. Augustine, we rose from the gentle rocking on our mooring (it reminded us of home at Pirate Cove) to warm, sunny skies. There were a few clouds in the distance but they quickly cleared and next thing we knew we changed from sweatshirts and pants into flops, shorts and t-shirts! It was a welcomed change from the gray gloomy skies we've seen so far; today marked day 4 of sunshine out of 18!
So we took the standard southward turn onto the ICW and meandered through numerous manatee zones down the Florida coast with our eyes set on Daytona Beach. I've yet to see a manatee, but I'm hopeful that I can add one to the evergrowing "cool animal list" from this trip...it at least gives us something to do while we motor / sail down the ICW. Our other past time is looking at the houses, including crazy mansions, on the ICW...we'll post some photos so you can see what we mean. There are some rediculous homes in FL - definitely the most extravagent we've seen on this trip so far. The other thing that keeps us busy are the bridges. It feels like every 20 minutes your headed under another one. There are a lot at 65' which we breeze right under, but there are just as many that require opening. Luckily in FL most of the bridges open on request so they haven't really slowed the trip at all.
So one of the real highlights of today was the title of our blog... we stopped just before our marina and anchored off the ICW near one of the bridges. It was warm, sunny and we had a slight breeze. Derek decided to change the transmission oil on the starboard engine and then my hairy husband (see photos) received a "professional" haircut on the stern of our port hull... the beauty of an inverter and long extension cord is that we can hook up the clippers and I turn into a self trained hairdresser. His hair has been out of control, sideburns especially, but he's once again cleaned up (except for the beard).
After the cut and a quick rinse off to get rid of the mounds of hair, we pulled up the hook and headed to the marina. We were low on water and dont want to use our watermaker in the ICW, so we opted to stay overnight on dock rather than at anchor in order to fill the tanks and also to get some good food onshore. We hit up the Chart House, which we'd been to before for work, and we were not disappointed. Actually our plan was to get some app's and drinks, but we ended up with app's, drinks, one entree and desert! Hahaha. We could barely move on the way out, but that's the benefit of having no car...you have to walk home. It wasn't very far at all, but the stroll was nice due to the warm weather and our full stomachs! Derek pulled a "Rachel" and passed out on the couch when we got home - it was a long day of sunshine, haircuts and good food, so we needed the sleep to prepare for another early morning headed down the Floridian coast.
BTW- the weather's getting worse on the "outside", another tropical storm has developed and wave heights are growing to 10 to 14 feet within 20 nautical miles of shore, so it sounds like we'll be on the "inside" all the way to Port St. Lucie!
Day 17: Short hop and a few drinks to St. Augustine
Windy, rainy and 60's
Nov/06/2011, St. Augustine, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 24
Total Trip Miles: 1021
After a great night of sleep we slept off the feast and the night of drinks at Chris and Ash's. We got up this morning and Luke's, Ash and Sadie saddled up with us and cruised down the intracoastal to St. Augustines. Rach picked up some more navigational charts, this time for FL, as she has become highly skilled with them (lucky for us). Normally the day would have been pretty drab and Rach and I would have attempted to entertain eachother with our borderline insanity that is resulting from all the motoring on the ICW. Rach has some pretty weird dances that she does that look like a cross between the wave, boxing and the twist...its concerning, but I understand it. Even though the weather was chilly and wet most of the day, having Chris, Ash and Sadie aboard was a welcome alternative and we were pumped they actually wanted to come in this weather! Sadie was a doll and just went with the flow the enitre day and night all the way through dinner, amazing. We are set up on a mooring at Municipal Marina right in the center of town. They raised the bridge for us to get in, we grabbed our mooring and we proceeded to get soaked by pooring rain on the way in to shore on the dinghy. Par for the course lately. We are rocking around in the harbor chop tonight, but defintely no anchor alarms! We walked around St. Augustine after dinner and found it to be very eclectic and "artsy" town. Its a classic old 18th century feel with some cobblestone streets, monuments and architechture. We are not catching it in its full swing due to the weather and season, but we could defintely hang here if we had more time. Sadly Luke's and Ash cabbed it home and Sadie gave us a hug / leg headbutt goodbye. It was great to hang with them and make it part of this trip! Onward tommorrow to Daytona Beach! It is getting warmer :)
Day 16: Kicked off our last US State right with the Lucas!
60's and still windy!
Nov/05/2011, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 58
Total Trip Miles: 997
We set out Saturday just before sunrise leading a pack of boats away from the Morningstar Marina. No one keeps up with Soul...we have found that other sailboats just can't keep pace. Kind of unfortunate because we are never with the same group from one stop to another. Then again I just like to be faster. We headed out into St. Andrew Sound and were in open water for a bit, revealing a taste of why no one can go out of the intracoastal right now. Waves are anywhere from 7 to 24 feet depending on distance from the shore right now. Winds have not settled to below 30 knots for days. Fortunately they are Northeast so we can still sail or motorsail directly downwind in the intracoastal. Its pretty cool passing all the intracoastal communities with all kinds of varied houses from trailers with $200K docks and sick boats, to mansions that rival hotels. The great part is that when cruising down the waterway you are just feet from the docks. We covered 58 miles between Georgia and Jacksonville and we pulled into a Marina right next to Chris and Ashley's house around 4pm. We made great time averaging over 9 knots. Chris and Ash set us up in their sweet canal side house and Chris naturally grilled up some massive meat...man mode. By the end of the night the kitchen counter was covered with empty bottles, a beat down bottle of jack and empty bags of chips. Some cool neighbors dropped by and hung with us for most fo the night too. Great neighborhood - everyone's a similar age mostly, with kids and all hang out together. Good spot. The highlight however, was meeting and playing with Sadie, their (nearly) 3 year old. What a sweetheart! Not only adorable but amazingly smart and calculating. She even slept through a full volume dance party in the living room! We conked out in a real bed and got a stable nights sleep with no unwelcome anchor alarms. BTW Chris gave me a time out in the corner, as shown in the picture attached, but he let me have my Jack and coke.
Day 15: From the blownout Bayou to Sal's Pizzeria
Overcast - it was awful, but now it's pretty nice!
Nov/04/2011, St. Simons Island ,Georgia
Nautical Miles Travelled: 53
Total Trip Miles: 939
How to begin to discuss today...Well since we learned not to underestimate the Atlantic...its only fitting that last night we also learned that the Bayou can get pretty wild also. We anchored in a beautiful spot as discussed in our last post and went to bed full of steak, rice and a few pops in our stomach. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and dolphins were swimming around our boat for hours. Things looked pretty different around 1:30 am when the winds shifted as predicted, the anchor drag alarm went off, the rain started pouring and the winds kicked up over 24 knots. The bayou is pitch black. You hear me say that along with contempt because pitch black gives no reference points. Try anchoring a big boat with marsh within 100 feet on 3 sides of your boat with no visual reference point with winds and current pushing your boat in all different directions. Not easy, especially 2 minutes after waking you from bed. Long story short we reset the anchor (twice actually) and laid out a ton of chain to make sure the boat would stay put. The wind kept increasing to the point that the bayou had 2 foot waves shaking the boat. The anchor alarm falsly went off every 20 minutes or so as the boat literally did circles around its anchor due to the strange currents in that area. Tired as hell we woke up and sailed the Georgian ICW. Nothing in sight except 3 boats all day. We made good time and arrived in St. Simons Island around nightfall. We grabbed a slip instead of anchoring so we could sleep and avoid the high winds expected tonight. BTW waves offshore of Georgia are expeced to reach 12 to 24 feet tomorrow! No thanks! We met another couple sailing a Cat tonight and they asked if we could cruise together tomorrow. Theirs is a 34 footer, but it made it through an open ocean sail last night in crazy conditions and came out ok. They were both extremely sore today and described the experience as "getting whooped".
After we arrived tonight the dockhand, Buck, recommended a place on the island called Sal's Pizza ( http://salsneighborhoodpizzeria.com/ ). Sal is a Jersey boy born and raised, was a pro boxer and had one hell of a run. Defintely the kind of guy you love to meet and hang with, true salt of the earth. The food in his cozy, energentic restaurant is authentic NYC / Jersey / Italian, exactly what we needed tonight. The pizza we got, Margherita with sliced meatball and fresh garlic was excellent and a solid 18". For all those reading this blog who are Sailing South that Rach and I have met along the way, grab a slip at Morningstar Marina, snag an Island Cab ride to Sals Pizza and grab some dinner and drinks (make sure to sit at the bar)! Sal and staff are a blast and if you are lucky enough to get Jackie as your waitress / bartender, she is a sweatheart! BTW, I made the mistake of walking in with my Sox hat and paid the price! J/K all in good fun, Sal enjoys the rivalry with the rest of us! Check out the pic attached...Sal with me and Rach after we had a few drinks and chatted it up for a while. On the house Sal gave Rach and I a Stregga? Look it up, a first for me, but a good after dinner sipper in my opinion. There were some other couples there too, actually one was Football / Yankee team player and I think the girls were pro football chearleers at one time. Loud and fun bunch. Reminded me of the Cali crew when things are getting out of control at the bar. We kind of hung out with everyone and had a blast doing it. Great night. Off to Jacksonville tomorrow early morning. If we are lucky we will be hanging with Lukes, Ash and Sadie tomorrow!