Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and our OVNI 395.

12 December 2018 | Coconut Grove, Florida, USA
10 December 2018 | Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
09 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
07 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
05 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
02 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
01 December 2018 | Jensen Beach, Florida, USA
30 November 2018 | Sebastian, Florida, USA
29 November 2018 | Cocoa, Florida, USA
27 November 2018 | Titusville, Florida, USA
26 November 2018 | Titusville, Florida, USA
25 November 2018 | Daytona Beach, Florida, USA
24 November 2018 | Fort Matanzas, Rattle Snake Island, Florida, USA
23 November 2018 | Palm Cove Marina, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, USA
22 November 2018 | off Cumberland Island, Georgia, USA
20 November 2018 | Mumford Creek, Cumberland Island, Georgia, USA
19 November 2018 | New Teakettle Creek, Georgia, USA
18 November 2018 | Herb River, Thunderbolt, Georgia, USA
17 November 2018 | Herb River, Thunderbolt, Georgia, USA
16 November 2018 | Beaufort (pronounced Byoofort), SC, USA - not to be confused with Beaufort (Bowfort) NC.

Return to Coconut Grove

12 December 2018 | Coconut Grove, Florida, USA
We enjoyed another cracking sail down from Fort Lauderdale to Miami yesterday. 20 knots from the north, and we just powered down past Miami Beach with a full genoa. Arriving at Miami was pretty cool. It has quite an iconic seafront and there is a lot of buzz about the place - think Miami Vice.

We were quite keen to get ashore and enjoy the area, as we were pretty sure we would be here for a few days. K had researched the various marina options and we were balking at the $5 per foot per night plus taxes for the boat (at 42’ long – you do the maths). We will never complain about UK marina prices ever again. And anchoring in Miami is quite restricted. However, as luck would have it, G remembered he had been to a hip and trendy place just to the south of Miami called Coconut Grove when he was on a course with BP; in fact he had gone sailing there about 14 years ago. It has a great little sailing club, and a quick call secured us a mooring at the club for a few days – and it’s fab. So we have been out enjoying city life and all it has to offer.

The Miami and Biscayne Bays (where we are now) are separated by one final bridge, the last of the ICW. So that’s us at the end of the Atlantic ICW, and at the very top of the Florida Keys. Rather satisfying to have made it all the way down here to Mile 1090 – a total of about 1,150 statute miles since leaving Virginia.

Cool things about this bay: it has a resident crocodile called Grover, blue herons, green herons, manatees and occasional bull sharks (amongst other things). Note to self – don’t fall over the side. The weather is still gusting from the north, but our mooring is tucked in behind some mangrove islands, and is really sheltered and comfortable. The forecasts are looking good for a crossing to Alice Town in Bimini on Saturday.

ICW Mile 1090– 34 statute miles progress.

The Joy of S……ailing

10 December 2018 | Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
An early start and off out to sea to enjoy a 45+ mile beam reach down the Florida coast on an offshore wind at 15-20 kts. Flat water, full sail, skidding along - what’s not to like! Except perhaps the coastline: it must be nearly wall to wall condo blocks all the way from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. We did pass Mar A Lago and went through the offshore Presidential Exclusion Zone, but no one chased us out so I guess no one was home. Loads of sports fishing boats out making hay on the edge of the Gulf Stream, which we could see lumping up in the distance.

We have now arrived in Fort Lauderdale and are anchored in a very congested inner anchorage surrounded by MacMansions and palm trees. The waterfront houses, docks, boats and all are just lovely in these parts – all whoppers and all cheek by jowl. Some really striking architecture.

We are still looking out for our crossing window. We can see some options later in the week, so our current plan, and it’s just a plan, is to go one more step south, to Miami, and cross from there to Alice Town in Bimini. We will have to go ‘outside’ again (no hardship!) because just north of Miami on the ICW there is a fixed bridge with only 54’ clearance – the only bridge on the ICW that has less than 64’ – which is a pretty effective obstacle. More to follow.

ICW Mile 1066– 48 statute miles progress.

Meetings and Manatees

09 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA




We must have slipped into some Floridian time zone, as a couple of days have enjoyably slipped past with little effort or activity on our part. Yesterday we completed a long planned project to clean, sand and seal our cockpit table. It’s looking much smarter now. Otherwise we don’t think we left the boat – best we can remember.

Today we went ashore to meet the very kind John LaBrune who had reached out to us through a sailing group we are part of. He saw we were in the area and offered to meet and talk about sailing – always happy to accept invitations like that. Thanks for the company and for a very pleasant morning. Good luck John with your search for your new boat.

One bit of excitement: on our way back to the boat this afternoon, we were sitting in the dinghy watching some yachts being loaded onto a freighter. Whilst Barracuda has travelled this way before, we have never seen the process of getting them loaded on, so it was kind of interesting. But then – suddenly we realised we were sitting right above a big manatee – it was inches away! Certainly close enough to see the scars on its back (probably from a propeller) and the rather lovely blue grey mottling of its skin. Up it came for a second for a slurp of air, and then off it drifted to its world of grazing and snoozing.

The parts we were waiting for have arrived, so we are now ready to head south again. We will probably go ‘outside’ tomorrow and slip down the coast towards Fort Lauderdale. Staying in the ICW involves going through ten bridges in the space of 40 miles, almost all of them opening on a schedule which means we spend the day alternately racing on and killing time. And that route would also take us past Mar a Lago, where there is a Presidential Security Zone – if the great man is in Florida, boats are restricted in where and how fast they can go. It also looks like we get a bit of relief from the north-bound force of the Gulf Stream, provided we stay close inshore – we will report back as to whether this is true or not.

ICW Mile 1018– 0 statute miles progress.

And the waiting game continues…

07 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
Yes, we’re still here, still waiting on some parts to arrive, but we’ve had a good couple of days while we wait, and got some useful jobs done too.

Yesterday took us to the Manatee Lagoon; actually an information centre funded and run by Florida Power and Light. FPL have a power plant just by our anchorage, and one of its by-products is warm, fresh water – which manatees love, so they tend to congregate naturally just by the outlets. There was an excellent guided talk, and while we were there, there were three adult manatees and a calf lolling around and poking the occasional nostril up for air.

Interesting manatee facts: they have marching molars, so constantly renew their teeth; they can live to at least 60 years of age; and they can stay underwater for 20 minutes before needing to breathe. And their lives are really made up of eating and napping.

Then today’s highlight was a dinghy visit to walk all round Peanut Island. Its name comes from its shape, and it’s set up as an eco-park, with restored wildlife and vegetation habitats and manufactured snorkelling reefs, but also extensive camping and picnic areas, and white sand beaches too.

Nature watch highlights: the first flying fish and the first barracuda sightings of the season. Apparently there are crocodiles here….

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – Florida style…. (today’s photo)

ICW Mile 1018– 0 statute miles progress.

And the waiting game begins…

05 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
Sorry for the gap in the blog. We have either been tired or busy – no excuse really.

Having arrived in Riviera Beach we just flopped for 24 hours. I think we were tired after a month of being on the road. We took a day off, sat at anchor, stayed on the boat and did absolutely nothing. How often can we say that; sooo relaxing.

The following morning we went into the local marina early, to have the old water maker disconnected and taken away (today’s photo). Hopefully the replacement will be better! That won’t be installed now till February, but it should not impact our plans in the meantime.

We have since had a really productive couple of days catching up on all sorts of maintenance, provisioning and domestic matters, taking advantage of marina facilities. We realised that this may be our last American supermarket (and last American prices) for a while so we provisioned as much as we could for the next couple of months. Our memory of food shopping in the Bahamas was that it was either eye-watering or non-existent.

We will be held up here for another couple of days waiting on mail to arrive, and after that we will be looking for our weather window to go over to the Bahamas. And right now there is not one in sight! The main thing is that you don’t want any wind from the north (given that the Gulf Stream flows strongly from the south) nor anything too strong. Depending where we start from, it’s a passage of between 45 and 65 miles. Last night we sat having dinner outdoors in shorts and t-shirts (sorry about that) as we watched the distant flashing of lightning over the Gulf Stream, reminding us of our sail up there last April and the local conditions generated by the heat and humidity of the stream.

Anyway, once we have our mail and are ready to go, we may head off down the ICW to Fort Lauderdale or Miami, which would give us a better angle of dangle for the crossing and use up some time whilst we wait for the right conditions. So it was a bit premature to say this was the end of our time in the ICW.

Before that, we have discovered there is a manatee lagoon just over the water from us (yeah) so we will have to go there tomorrow! And we may have to go for a swim at Peanut Island – just ‘caus of the name!

ICW Mile 1018– 0 statute miles progress.

The end of the beginning

02 December 2018 | Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
A day of several parts. We awoke to a lovely balmy breeze blowing over the anchorage. This is the warmest we have felt on this whole trip. Then off, down a varied and more interesting part of the ICW with some really stunning Floridian homes with lawns leading down to the water. Being Sunday there were loads of locals out in their power boats and they don’t slow down for sailboats!! And if you don’t like the music pumping out of someone else’s boat, what’s the solution? Play your own, even louder, of course.

It was also a day of many bridges – ten of them all told, some of which are fixed (typically 64 ft high, so easy enough for us to pass under) and some of which open, either on demand or to a schedule. As we approach one of the latter, we have to call up on the VHF to request a passage. Some very friendly bridge operators keep their bridges open for extra time, which helped us run through a four-bridge section, each between a mile and three miles apart, very quickly. Waiting for bridges can be a source of significant delay if they are on fixed schedule opening, which most of these were.

No new wildlife to report today, though we did have the pleasure of some white ibis.

We are now in the land of the ‘sports fishing boat’. These are very sleek looking machines designed to go out and catch (and probably kill) lovely large ocean fish for sport – it’s all in the name. They look very expensive, go very fast, create huge wake and there are lots of them.

And a question for the day: how many 350 HP outboards can you get on the back of a speedboat? Answer: 4. So that is 1400 HP on one small boat. Really!

We think this is the end of our time in the ICW. We can certainly make passage over to the Bahamas from here when we choose to go; it’s due east, just across the Gulf Stream, and we have anchored just south of one of easier ocean inlets. But first, we have the next act in the play called ‘Find the Water Maker’.

ICW Mile 1018– 39 statute miles progress.

How did we end up in December?

01 December 2018 | Jensen Beach, Florida, USA
Another day of heading south but much more interesting terrain – narrow waterways, windy, woodland and houses – a nice mix. We saw our first foiling paddleboard today. Guess it’s not really a paddle board but has some electric propulsion system underneath. Looks like a fun toy. Otherwise, plenty of the usual suspects. Also saw manatees today, plus loads of dolphins.

You might wonder how we keep ourselves amused on these long stretches under engine. We’ve both been spending time sorting/weeding out our photos, and coming to the conclusion that we really don’t need to photograph every sunset, sunrise, Barracuda-at-anchor or para-sailor hoist. K knits. G does mysterious techy things. And we drink a lot of tea.

Tonight we are at anchor again with jazz music drifting over the anchorage from a local bar, with a balmy warm breeze blowing from the south. No complaints at this end.

We have realised that we are close to a latitude that will allow us to jump off to the Bahamas, subject to the right wind. Our plan is to get down to Riviera Beach (just north of famous Palm Beach), which should be one more day, and then stop for a week or more whilst we do some work on the boat to get her ready for an extended stay in the Bahamas. After that we will cross the Gulf Stream and head east into the islands. We need to figure out the right route, as straight lines can be tricky due to lack of depth.

ICW Mile 980– 43 statute miles progress.

Happy St Andrew’s Day

30 November 2018 | Sebastian, Florida, USA
Thanks for all the comments on the manatee / womanatee – we love the input and feedback.

A final trip to the best hardware store in the world, and then off south again. It has to be said that this part of the ICW is not that exciting. Whilst every mile is a mile pretty much due south (which is efficient), it is mostly in a dead straight line and you can see your course ahead for miles. Gone are the marshes and the twists and turns of Georgia, and the narrow canals edged cheek by jowl with waterside homes in North Carolina. The waterway here is very wide and very straight. We did have a possible alligator sighting in the water today as well as a few dolphins, but no more manatees.

We have ended the day in a very shallow area off the ICW with keel and rudder raised, tucked in behind tiny spoil islands and just skimming the mud. We are sure this will be a wonderful place for manatee sightings in the morning.

The game of “Find the Water Maker” reached level 6 today. We now know who will do the work and where it will happen, but no one – not the agents, the manufacturers or the yard - seems to know when, or with what; it’s a bit like marine Cluedo. We are in contact with ARC friends in St Lucia who are playing the same game with the same machine, who may have just reached level 7. The battle continues. We will not give in!

Some insights on heading south:
Scotland - latitude 56 degrees - sunset 15:49; temp – single digits C
Virginia - latitude 37 degrees - sunset 16:47; temp – variable, freezing to teens
Florida - latitude 27 degrees - sunset 17:26; temp – variable, teens & twenties
Worth a month of driving slowly south? – So far we think so.

ICW Mile 937– 39 statute miles progress.

Loco in Cocoa

29 November 2018 | Cocoa, Florida, USA
After pushing on fairly hard for the last month we have now decided to slow things down a wee bit, which also meant a gap in the issue of the blog - sorry! We are now in mid-Florida and waiting to hear where and when our water maker will be replaced. We think this should happen about 150 miles south of here, a distance we can cover in just a few days once we have confirmation that it will happen. A sense of déjà vu? Yes indeed.

We anchored off Cocoa yesterday in the Indian River, and after a 'useful day' today will spend another night here. Cocoa is a lovely little Floridian town with plenty to offer the passing sailor. It's known for Cocoa Beach, which is across the water from us, as well as its quirky, arty historic village. Most importantly though it has the best hardware store in the whole world - S F Travis, founded in 1885. Do you want to buy an old-fashioned washboard? A spare blade for your scythe? A full selection of 3ft-long spanners and an entire aisle full of oil lamp spares? This is the place to come. If you crossed the old fashioned hardware stores you would have visited as a child with the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Arc then you about have it. It seems endless; a destination in itself.

Anyway, the other big news was that we finally saw manatees. Unfortunately we did not get a photo so we have downloaded an image from the web for the blog. They are so fab in a grey and blobby way. Apparently they are quite common in these parts at this time of year so we will keep watch. In other nature news, there have been lots of ospreys and vultures around.

ICW Mile 898- 20 statute miles progress.

Space!

27 November 2018 | Titusville, Florida, USA
A great day and no boats involved! We went over by Uber to visit the Kennedy Space Centre. Absolutely brilliant. They do this kind of thing really well over here. We had a tour of the wider facilities including the massive building where they assemble the space-craft and rockets, and the launch pads. Lots of talk about Space-X, returning to the moon and manned flights to Mars. They have a great exhibit on the Space Shuttle including the real Atlantis. It feels very special to be looking at the real Shuttle or the real Apollo 14 Command Module and understanding the scale involved. We could easily have done another day there.

Wildlife alert: the area around the Space Centre is a nature refuge and we manage to catch sight of our first two alligators – yeah!

ICW Mile 878 – 0 statue miles today.
Vessel Name: Barracuda
Vessel Make/Model: OVNI 395
Crew: Graham and Kate
About: Learning as we go....
Extra: Look to this day for it is life...
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