Wed. Nov. 14, 2012—Day 43:
Destination: Pine Island (Mile 765) to St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)—south mooring field, ball #22
Departure: 0830 hrs. Arrival: 1140 hrs. Distance: 13.1 SM
Winds: NE 15-28K
Weather: gloomy & grey but relatively warm; a nor’easter system from the Atlantic moving in
It was an interrupted sleep as I had a concern re the amount of chain out in relation to these strong NE wind. The wind generator was finally turned on & was getting it’s exercise; the only problem was the ongoing & persistent vibration; Norton’s need to address this issue. There was lots of mud on the anchor but no difficulty up anchoring. By now you may have guessed that Graeme drives & I do the anchoring; similarly, he is the captain & I the crew, but ALL knows the crew does ALL the work & doesn’t get credit for it! Lots of whitecaps on the ICW. We were travelling from a low to rising tide & thus pushing against current on the Tolomato River & the NE winds were opposing the current. We crossed raging waters through St. Augustine Inlet & were a minute late for the 1030 hrs. opening of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. Thus we milled down to & around the north mooring field until the 1100 hrs. opening & directly to the fuel dock just as the rain started. We topped up the fuel & water tanks & disposed of our garbage & completed the registration & payment for our 4 days here, then to mooring ball #22 in the south mooring field. We barely tidyed the lines & fenders & when then rain increased+++. And the NE winds continued to blow & gust the rest of the afternoon & evening. Due to the winds & rain, we gladly took the 1400 hrs. free shuttle to shore; free shuttle offered at 1000 hrs., 1200, 1400 & lastly at 1800 hrs. weather permitting. It was windy & rainy onshore as well & we simply plopped ourselves in “A1A Ale Works Restaurant” , across from the marina with Terri & Bill & became more acquainted. The weather still was unpleasant so we walked up St. George St. to “Pizzalleys” for their Happy Hour special & early dinner: 1 drink + 1 drink free + 1 free slice of cheese pizza, + $5.00 off a 10 inch pizza; we both had good size doggie bags to take home. We were the only customers for the 1800 hrs. shuttle back to our respective boats. It was still windy but now dark & the forecast is not sounding hopeful for the next couple of days.
We lead the pack in the morning for a bit & used ½ to ¾ jenny a good percentage of the day, on a run averaging 7.4-8.0K jigging when necessary. It was a falling tide, against 1K current but normally in this upper portion of the Indian River to Vero Beach is of nil to little consequence. The Indian River is broad with alternating natural (tall palms & hardwoods) & developed stretches, beginning north of Titiusville to Stuart (100 NM). Cocoa (Mile 897.8) is an old river town & identified from the ICW by the American flag painted on a huge water tower. We motorsailed along Palm Shores & under the Palm Shores Pinela Causeway Bridge (fixed) & turned to port at R100 to just before Eau Gallie Bridge (fixed) to the mouth of the Banana River inside Dragon Point. Larry stuck his nose in & tons of boats anchored; not enough room for the 3 of us. We moved on down the way to the south side of the Melbourne Bridge, anchoring in 8 ft. with 80 ft. of chain. By sunset there were 7 boats in this locale. After lunch we dinghied over to ‘Twomorrows’; Graeme picked up the Ellis’ & we had a bit of a social after so many days of shitty weather & not being able to do so. I used their jetpack to hook up to the internet to research the Sprint 4G hotspot device (fruitless). The sun was so lovely & warm but temps dropped as the sun lowered in the sky. Graeme "carried" us back & before sunset we lifted the dinghy & motor just as the wind increased in intensity. We all decided that we wanted a real early start in the morning so we could get into Vero Beach Municipal Marina early; we all have reservations. By bedtime the winds were blowing up again but minimal chop because of the protection of the causeway bridge, the afternoon clouds cleared & the night sky was clear filled with bright stars & ½ moon. Sometimes during the night the wind decreased.
Thurs. Nov. 15, 2012—Day 44:
Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)
Winds: NNW 10-20K
Weather: cloudy, grey & damp with occasional misty-like rain; H= 56F & L= 54F
It was a noisy night, sometimes unnerving. Noisy in that boats changed directional position according to the tides & currents & the mooring ball at times would slap, crash, rub against the hull. I shaved Graeme’s hair completely off; an awful #0! He did not put any shive in the electric razor. At 0800 hrs. we squeezed into the dinghy, wearing our foul weather gear from head to toe, surrounded by all our dirty laundry, knapsack with computer & shower supplies. Graeme went off looking for a bank while I started 3 big loads of laundry. The marina’s laundry facilities included 4 washers= $1.50 & 4 dryers= $1.50, including a spacious lounge with T.V. & several electrical outlets for computers. Shower facilities included 2 shower stalls & 2 toilets. High tides were exceptionally high, secondary to the new moon & surges from the ocean from high winds, flooding the streets on Avendia Menendez & especially King St. inland at the bridge that crosses the San Sebastian River, close to Highway US1. Once the laundry was returned to the boat & we returned to shore, we walked a couple of streets in the historic area until 1300 hrs. when 13 of us met up at J.P. Henleys for lunch. Afterwards Donna, Jack & Graeme walked west on King St. to Sailor’s Exchange, ABC Liquor & small corner store for Donna to purchase a few groceries, while Lynn & I returned to the marina lounge & made reservations over the computer for a minivan for 2 days when in Vero Beach. Jack purchased a spinnaker pole at Sailors Exchange for about $70.00 to use as a wisker pole & the gentleman was happy to deliver it to the marina. At the dinghy dock we had our hugs & said good bye as Donna & Jack depart in the am. They are making their way to Stuart to do some boat work & meet up to travel with Cherry & Doug, ‘Moma Cal’, eventually to Puerto Rico. The anchorage was somewhat calmer on our dinghy trip back to the boat with a short detour to ‘Twomorrows’. The wind generator hummed us to sleep.
Fri. Nov. 16, 2012—Day 45:
Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)
Winds: N 10-20K, nightfall 15-25K with gusts greater (?30-35K)
Weather: cloudy with occasional sunny breaks & blue sky, then back to cloud; rain threatening skies at times nut no precipitation
We caught some warm long showers onshore, then caught the Sunshine Bus-Blue Line at 1000 hrs. at Flagler Auditorium (senior= $0.50, senior all day pass= $1.50) to Walmart. We missed the outbound bus home by a couple of minutes & next bus was in 2 hours, so we had lunch at Subway in the Walmart. Graeme studied the bus schedule & figured out we could take the inbound blue line in an hour to the depot, then at the depot catch a outbound red line bus & get off at the Bridge of Lions 30 minutes earlier, minus the few blocks of walking with all our load. The bonus was we saw a different part of St. Augustine + Anastasia Island! The day also included a touristy walk along St. George St. to the Castillo de San Marcos where Graeme purchased his senior (62 yrs.) lifetime pass to any US National Parks for $10.00. We finished the day with a drop in call & drink with the Morrows. At nightfall the wind increased, gusting & howling +++, the current changed & opposing, causing the boat to jerk & buck up & down & around. It was crazy watching the disjointed movements & positions of each & every boat in the anchorage; it was better than a ride at the exhibition.
FYI: St. Augustine was founded in 1565 as a Spanish outpost to prevent settlement in Florida by other European powers. The Spanish faced disease, crop failure, frequent storms & hostile attacks from American Indians. The Jesuits & Franciscans attempted unsuccessfully for the most part to convert the Indians. The crude wooden fort was destroyed by the British in 1586 (Sir Francis Drake). Slowly it was rebuilt but destroyed by fire in 1599 & attacked again by English pirates in 1668. Finally in 1672 a reliable military protection for the colony was started, Castillo de San Marcos. It was built directly on the waterfront overlooking the inlet & harbour & took many decades to complete. The stone for the fort was quarried from nearby Anastasia Island but when exposed to the air it dries hard as concrete but appears spongelike. The Castillo had extended corners allowing attacks from 3 sides with heavy cannons carefully placed along the parapets thus commanding the inlet & the harbour. St. Augustine was never taken by hostile force in more than 150 yrs. of on & off warfare. France & Spain joined forces only to lose the Seven Years War to England & treaty negotiations had Spain cede Florida to England in 1764. St. Augustine prospered under British rule; peace was made with the Indians & South Carolina planters were attracted to Florida & large plantations sprung up & the city became a major shipping port. The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution & Florida was returned to Spain, but Spanish power was not the power of the past & Florida soon became haven for runaway slaves & renegade Indians. The Americans negotiated & Florida came under American control in 1821 & gradually lost political importance. Instead growth as a tourist resort began, halted by the Civil War. After the war & Revolution Henry Flagler began development of eastern Florida as a tourist mecca in 1885. Between 1885 & 1890 he oversaw construction of Ponce de Leon & Alcazar hotels. In modern times one of the most dramatic developments was the re-creation of the atmosphere of a Spanish village on St. George St.
Sat. Nov. 17, 2012—Day 46:
Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)
Winds: worse than yesterday, N 15-25K & gusts 30-35K
Weather: although cloudy & no sunshine, warm & no rain, H= 60 & L= mid 50’s
Wooph, a full day of activity; we didn’t get back to the boat till 1930 hrs. A marathon was conducted this am that closed the Bridge of Lions till after 0840 hrs. We dinghied to shore in our foul weather gear, did some internet, walked to Sailors Exchange & purchased 2 twist shackles ($10.00 each), a replacement Stearn lifejacket ($10.00) for dinghy as the old one deteriorated completely from the sun. In doing so we crossed the bridge on Kings St. over the San Sebastian River which was flooded again & closed to traffic, made purchases at ABC Liquor & walked back through some of the residential streets around Flagler College before meeting Terri & Bill at “The Bunnery” for lunch. We wandered the historic area in search of an internet place to ask questions re a Sprint T-Mobile 4G Hotspot device that I was told about & googled & would be able to order online through Amazon as a more reasonable solution to obtaining internet in the USA & ? Bahamas. We caught the 1600 hrs. shuttle to our boat, only dropping our purchases, then returned to shore by shuttle. I attended Sat. Vigil Mass at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine at 1700 hrs. Graeme tried to get into A1A but packed, so instead went to J.P. Henley, had beer & met some folks until I returned. Then we attended the Lighting of Lights Ceremony at Constitution Plaza. Music, people, a few speeches & then the lights of the Christmas tree & surrounding buildings & windows were lite at 1830 hrs.. The rain held off but the north wind seemed worse this evening. We dinghied back to the boat in the dark slowly & carefully as we surfed over the waves, then lifted the dinghy & engine in preparation of our departure tomorrow morning. Will sleep come tonight with this almost constant howling of wind & rolling action of the boat like every other boat in the anchorage?
Sun. Nov. 18, 2012—Day 47:
Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1) to Daytona Beach, R44 (Mile 831.9)
Departure: 0730 hrs. Arrival: 1445 hrs. Distance: 53.8 SM
Winds: N 5-10K in protected waters & 15-25K in open waters
Weather: unfortunately cloudy, H= mid 60’s & this forecast X 1 weekà ugh! I thought Florida was the Sunshine State
Despite increased winds which seemed to predominant over the current for the last 3 days for a change, we slept decently. We had been very fortunate to be able to get off the boat for most of the time over the last 4 days. On departure it was a little struggle getting the 2nd mooring line off the mooring ball. A number of boats were on the move this morning. In the ICW passage through wide & open areas the north wind blew 15-25K vs 5-10K through narrower & canal-like protected stretches. Our route today was as follows: Matanzas RiveràCrescent Beach Bridge (bascule- Mile 788.6)àMatanzas Inlet (good depths) & Fort MatanzasàFox Cutà Flagler Beach Bridge (fixed)à L.B. Knox Bridge (bascule- Mile 816)à narrow northern Halifax Riverà wider Halifax River (channel arrow straight)àSeabreeze Bridge (fixed)à Main Street Bridge (bascule-Mile 829.7)à North Street Bridge (fixed)àMemorial Bridge (bascule-Mile 830.7)à R44. The north winds produced choppy, whitecappd waters at our Plan ‘A’ location, north of the Seabreeze Bridge & Plan ‘B’, south of the bridge. Also the bridge clearance board only showed 62 ft. & this was not good for ‘Twomorrows’ & especially ‘Second Choice’ as their masts were too high (require 63 ft.); they anchored north of the bridge. North Bridge was even worse at 61 ft. We continued on & acted on Plan ‘C’, anchoring to starboard of R44 in 7-8 ft. of water & 80 ft. of chain with some derelict, some permanent boats as winds were to shift to the NW (did not happen); we were the 1st transient boat in. ‘Second Option’ checked the tides with Boat US & tides were 2 ft. higher than usual, still in rising tide till ?1640 hrs. & advised passage not till 2000-2100 hrs. Our friends were stuck where they anchored for the night. What was disconcerting was the difference & conflicting tide info between NOAA & our GPSà 6 hour difference! Just by looking "outside of the box" in other words beyond our own boat, the GPS appeared more correct. Graeme kept a record of water depths about every 4 hrs. as we were wondering if we might sit on the bottom at a lower low tide than usual. An orange sky at sunset. The wind howled but there was minimal chop. At bedtime the skies were partially clouded with some clear patches & stars & 1/3 moon.
Mon. Nov. 19, 2012—Day 48:
Destination: Daytona Beach, R44 (Mile 831.9) to Titusville (Mile 878.2)
Departure: 0840 hrs. Arrival: 1615 hrs. Distance: 46.3 SM
Winds: N 10-20K, whitecaps & mild chop in open areas
Weather: white greyish cloudy, damp day with fine misting rain
‘Tomorrows’ & ‘Second Choice’ waited till 0830 hrs. (low tide) to up anchor. Researching Active Captain comments had been posted about inaccuracy of clearance charts on the 2 fixed bridges of concern; clearance is in fact not 63 but 65 ft. The boats waited to be sure & co-ordinated their passing with the restricted openings of the bascule bridges; pas de probleme. I had a lot of washing of thick mud off the anchor. We were pushed by a falling tide down the Halifax River to Fort Orange & Ponce de Leon Inlet. There were increased mangroves on small land outcroppings along the way. The Ponce de Leon Lighthouse was not clear & picturesque as usual especially with the grey white backdrop. In the Spring I will suggest we anchor close by so able to dinghy to the beach, observe the inlet & Atlantic & visit the lighthouse & climb it’s 203 steps. We passed New Smyrna Beach at high tide so both the ICW & the Sheephead Cut passages were good depths. We travelled the 11-1/2 mi. (46 markers) Mosquito Lagoon, a open shallow expanse of water teeming with wildlife but not so visible on such a grey day. Terri & Bill saw a manatee; shortly out of New Smyrna Beach area we saw a pod of dolphins repeatedly surfacing & diving. A sharp southwest turn brought us into Haulover Canal (bird watcher’s paradise), through the Haulover Canal Bridge (bascule-Mile 869.2) into the top of the wide but shallow Indian River & into the Space Coast Region of Florida. We docked at Titusville Municipal Marina, for diesel water & a quick wash of the decks & especially the cockpit floor with fresh water, & in so doing lost the starboard light lens cover. Then it was out to the new mooring field, picking up mooring ball # 02 on 2nd try ($15.00); cruisers are not assigned a ball but just pick up & call in mooring ball number. The 3 of us hunkered down in our cabins for the evening. The strong north winds persisted but what was more uncomfortable was the choppy, lumpy water & the different sounds & directions of water slapping against the hull. When I woke in the middle of the night the skies were clear & filled with stars.
Tues. Nov. 20, 2012—Day 49:
Destination: Titusville (Mile 878.2) to Melbourne, south of the bridge (Mile 918.2)
Departure: 0800 hrs. Arrival: 1330 hrs. Distance: 40 SM
Winds: N 15-28K & 2-3 ft. rollers
Weather: sun! blue sky! O.K. some occasional partial cloud cover