01/14/2011, Vero Beach, Florida
We woke up early as usual. We got ready and left as soon as it was light; the days are getting longer here, we were off the dock just before 7 AM and it was already light enough to see. We had a pretty uneventful run. The ICW here is reasonably well maintained so there were no shallow areas.
Towards the end of the day we came through what must be the beginning, or an outlier, of the gold coast, as the waterway was lined with huge, beautiful homes. We got to Vero Beach at about 3:30 and decided it was warm enough to moor out on the water. This was the first time we've ever used a mooring ball. Aside from a tense couple of minutes waiting for the marina to get back to us on the radio and then finding the correct ball, it went smoothly. I was able to snag their pendant line with a boathook and cleat it on our bow and the boat seems to be sitting happily.
We deployed the ladder, set up the dinghy with gas and lifejackets (Fuzzy got to wear his, he was so happy) loaded ourselves in it and off we went. It was the first time Fuzzy had been in the dinghy, the first time I'd been in it with an engine, and the first time more than one person had been in it. No problems. (Well, one little problem, the self-stick numbers we bought at West Marine are falling off; we're going to have to get stencils and paint.)
We hung around the marina office for a while waiting for the folks to register us (the mooring ball cost just under $15, and includes use of the dinghy dock, bathrooms and laundry). While we were waiting a number of people walked by in shorts and t-shirts. I still had on a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and my foul weather jacket. I was a little too warm; it felt great!
After Fuzzy walked and we registered we motored back to Earendil. Bud made me take us back so I'd learn to use the dinghy. I made him take the picture of Earendil at her mooring. We both did a pretty good job, but I had trouble turning the outboard sharply without also turning the throttle, so I was a little jerky.
I've added a few more photos to the gallery, including one of the little houses we saw and me at the helm of the dink.
01/13/2011, Merritt Island, FL
We came to our senses this morning. It was windier and colder than yesterday. Our next stop with an agenda is Stuart. We are going to try out the mooring field at the Sunset Bay Marina, as recommended by Jon & Arline. We wouldn't get there until Friday, so I called the vet they told us about and got Fuzzy an appointment to get ready for the Bahamas for Monday morning. We realized we would make no progress towards our next big goal, which is to get to the Bahamas and hopefully find Jon and Arline, by getting to Stuart on Friday instead of Saturday. And since this marina is comfortable, if basic, and really cheap, we decide to stay here and stay warm one more day.
It was nice to stay mostly in the boat through the cold morning. I didn't even take a shower, since they are not heated here. We didn't exactly take it easy. I ordered and downloaded our next set of electronic charts for the computer and did three loads of wash, including the sheets and blankets. Bud put the extra 15 gallons of diesel we've been carrying since Wilson into the tanks and polished the fuel. He rebuilt the aft toilet so that is now flushing correctly. (The photo is Bud working on the toilet base. Yes, that's a TV outside at the work area of the marina, not sure what it's there for.) We both worked on combing and trimming Fuzzy and then I gave him a bath.
At about 5 PM, when I figured the building had warmed up as much as it was going to, I took a shower. Bud is also showering now (he felt dirty after that toilet rebuild). Now neither of us will have to shower in the cold in the morning and we'll be able to take off pretty early. We want to cover most of the rest of the distance to Stuart tomorrow, as Vero Beach has a mooring field that gets high marks on the "Active Captain" web site, and we'd like to stay there. We'll see if that happens
01/12/2011, Canaveral Barge Canal, Merritt Island, FL
The best part of today was when our daughter, Jamie, called to say she'd gotten her score and passed her Step II Medical Licensing Exam. Yeah!! All her work and my help and all the help of our friends paid off.
As for the rest of the day, at least it was sunny. We left the dock at 6:45 AM in a north wind with a wind chill of about 26. We left that early because we wanted to get past the NASA Causeway lift bridge, and it's closed from 3:30 until 5. It was 55 miles from the marina to that bridge. Leaving early worked out, we made the bridge, but it was deadly cold until after 11 AM. Bud had on a pair of cloth gloves under his winter gloves and wore his work boots because his feet were cold in his boat shoes. He also wore a balaclava, another regular knit hat over it and pulled the hood of his foul weather jacket over it all. It really felt like the coldest day we've had on the boat. We're not even in North Florida any more; this is Central Florida!
Still, it was sunny and the pelicans and dolphins continue to entertain us. The boat is running fine. Best of all I found a cheap marina so we have power one more night. (It's actually supposed to be colder tonight than last night.) We ended up making 60 nautical miles today. We are better than half way to Stuart, so we have two easier days left. We've been towing the dinghy for two days and have yet to use it. Maybe tomorrow.
01/11/2011, Daytona Beach
We finally got going today. We asked a guy from the marina to help us with the lines, Bud was still a bit worried about prop walk and hitting the very nice boat next to us. We had no trouble backing out of the slip and at 7:30 AM were on our way. It was misty enough that you could feel the droplets in the air, and it was only in the upper 30's. I was in four layers with full foul weather gear and gloves.
The first thing I did was test my inflatable PFD. It wasn't on my list of things to do today, but when I was coiling the stern line I managed to get it caught on the manual pull-tab on my inflatable life vest and WHOOSH! It scared me, but it was nice to see that it worked. Bud thought it was hilarious and took my picture. Of course, now I need to rearm it or it is useless.
We are staying in the ICW because the inlets that are navigable are so far apart that we can't easily get from one to the other. Besides, today there was no wind (one extreme to the other - I thought we'd left those fluky winds behind at Lake Ontario). It stayed cold all day long. Finally, about 1 PM, the sun came out. I took my gloves and foul weather pants off and as long as I stayed behind the dodger and out of the wind I was almost warm.
We are at another marina. I needed to get the carbon dioxide cylinder to rearm my life vest and since it's supposed to get down to 34 with a wind chill of 26 I voted for a marina again. We could run the generator to heat the boat, but we'd still have a cold dinghy ride to take Fuzzy ashore and go shopping. So we are at Halifax Harbor Marina, the municipal marina for Daytona, and I went to the West Marine that is right at the marina. Happily, we needed a few other things besides the rearming kit, because I just tried to fix my PFD and I have the wrong kit. (I also didn't figure that out until step 6 of 7 and when I tried to put the little pieces back in the box I broke a tiny plastic spindle, so I guess I own this rearming kit.)
Tomorrow we are getting up early and again pushing south. It doesn't look like we can get far enough to escape the cold. We may get a reprieve by Friday, when we hope to arrive in Stuart. By then this cold snap will be lessening and we will be far enough south that it may actually start to feel like Florida.
01/10/2011, Still St. Augustine
Somehow in my head I had envisioned us looking at weather forecasts, making plans and then setting out according to plan. That isn't the way it's been. Over the weekend, looking at the weather, we decided at one point that the next weather window was Tuesday. So we planned to sail outside like mad all day Tuesday to get to the next navigable inlet, Ponce Inlet.
But then we reconsidered. Monday was going to be by far the warmest day; the only problem with Monday was a chance of showers and a slight chance of a thunderstorm. Tuesday there wasn't going to be enough wind to sail anyway. So we thought, why not leave Monday and get part of the way on the inside (the ICW) and then finish up on Tuesday? That became the plan.
Monday morning it was warm. We got up and dressed, had the marina pump out our holding tanks (free with stay), disconnected the power and sat in the slip and watched the wind. We had 25 knots of wind in the harbor. The wind was blowing against the side of the boat, pushing it towards the dock. It was also blowing so that as Bud reversed out of the slip, the propwalk and the wind would be in the same direction. For non-boaters, many boats have a tendency to turn in one direction or the other in reverse because of the action of the prop. On our boat, the stern turns to starboard. You have to get going pretty quick (relatively speaking) until there is enough flow over the rudder for the wheel to overcome the propwalk. The way things were it looked likely that our bow would swing out to port and clip the guy tied next to us. Not at all a neighborly sort of thing to do.
After about a half hour of fiddling with things and waiting for the wind to die, we decided that we had better just ante up for another night at the marina (Bud thought check-out time was about 11 and it was 11). So Bud plugged the power in and I went to the marina office and paid for another night.
Within an hour the wind had started to die. We could have left about noon. By then I had already called Gary to say we were here for another night. Karen had the day off, since she had worked all weekend. We made plans to meet for lunch at a famous Cuban restaurant in the old part of the city. So we weren't leaving today.
It was nice to have lunch anyway. Bud and I walked over to the restaurant and then Karen and I walked back while Gary and Bud brought Gary's truck over. Karen got to see the boat after all.
In the afternoon I did a couple of loads of wash and we'll try to leave on Tuesday.
P.S. By the end of the day it got cold again!
01/09/2011, St. Augustine Municipal Marina
Well there was no fishing and no moving to a mooring ball today. We woke up to almost 25 knots of wind almost on the stern. Bud and I were outside at 6 AM moving the dinghy from where it was tied to the dock behind the boat. We put it between the bow of the boat and the dock where it is a bit more protected.
Besides the wind, it really didn't get very warm today. The high was about 52, but with the wind it felt cold. Gary called about 9 to say he didn't think he wanted to put his little fishing boat in the water and we agreed. Not only would the ride be rough, it would be wet, and combined with the cold and wind it didn't sound like fun to any of us.
Gary came over to the boat and we decided to just ride around and take a tour. We went out to look at the inlet; it didn't look like it would be fun to try that today. It might not have been quite as bad as the day we did Cape May Inlet, but then again, once you got out there, it might have been just as bad. Waves don't look as bad from the shore as they do once you're in them.
We continued up the coast and stopped at a place with beach access. We walked out and as soon as we came through the dunes the cold wind hit us. Big pieces of salt foam were being blown up and along the beach. Gary spent about 30 seconds out there and said he would wait for us in the truck. He's seen the beach and this was just too cold. Bud, Fuzzy and I lasted about two minutes longer. Even Fuzzy was happy to head back out of the wind.
Gary had mentioned a park with a trail through some woods. Bud wasn't too interested in that until we tried the beach. Then he said being in the woods might be a good thing. So we went to a conservation area that had trails and hiked back away from the ocean for a mile to a spot along the Intracoastal. It's been years since I hiked in Florida. I used to hike all the time when I lived in Tampa in the early '70's. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the woods here. And I had forgotten how cute the armadillos are. I don't remember seeing this many so close before. We probably saw 6 of them in the two miles we walked. Fuzzy was pretty interested in them. He was heading towards this one when I took the picture; the armadillo was fairly blasé about all of us and just turned and walked off when Fuzzy got too close. They were about a foot apart at one point, but of course I didn't have the camera out then.
We had hoped to go out this evening with Gary and his wife, Karen. But she had to work this weekend and didn't get done early today as she'd hoped. So Bud and I had a nice quiet supper on the boat. We've really enjoyed St. Augustine, but it would have been a lot nicer if it were about 15 degrees warmer.