Jumped out on the dock at 7:30 this morning to do a Michigan State cheer as Freedom’s Turn left the marina. We were out at 8AM.Immediately upon leaving the Cocoa Village Marina the North end of Merritt Island comes into view. It was hazy but with binoculars you could easily make out the huge NASA building. The assembly building is so tall that clouds form and it rains sometimes inside the building. On the side of the building there is a huge NASA emblem and an enormous vertical American Flag that makes your heart swell with pride. Night before last there was a launch at 8:31pm and we missed it. We are just sick to be somewhere that people travel thousands of miles to be & not be aware of the launch until the next morning. We didn’t hear it on the news or around the marina. I guess it’s another level of technology that we have become so used to that the marvel of it is taken for granted. We are still in awe. Wish we had time to spend a day at the space center as I did when I was a teenager. But our plans & reservations are in place to make it to Jacksonville on time for our trip home. Cocoa is a place that we would love to come back to and spend 4 or 5 days. Saw a lot of dolphins and stopped to watch the manatee at play. Not as much personality as the dolphins but interesting to watch just the same. Arrived New Smyrna Beach City Marina around 2pm and took a quick bicycle tour of the historic town, Old Fort Park, and Riverwalk.
Spent the day in New Smyrna Beach. Around 10AM we saw “Night Star” pass on the ICW and gave them a shout. Their bow thruster is out and the boat will have to be pulled to repair it so they are moving quickly up the coast to their repair marina. They did say they might stop in St Augustine for 3 days so we may catch up with them there. We are on the mainland side of the Indian River where the NSB downtown area is so this morning we left on our bikes & road over to the beach side. There is a darling beach community there. Boutiques, coffee houses, restaurants, bars, and shops of every kind run the length of Flagler Ave.& Flagler ends at the Atlantic Ocean. The street runs straight onto the beach and if the cars don’t make a right or left turn they go right into the ocean. While I’m sure that unlimited parking is a plus for sunbathers, I worried about the small children being hit by a car while building sand castles. There is a huge Motorcycle Rally here every Spring and I’m sure it must be because it is one of the few places you can drive your Harley on the beach. We made it back to the boat early afternoon just before a little rain shower blew through. We sat on the aft deck and watched the resident dolphins. They have been out behind our boat ever since we got here yesterday. It’s incredible. I’ve never seen dolphins stay in one small area like this before. Lobster for dinner! Glad we brought so many home from the Bahamas. We will miss them when they are gone. But they are not gone yet!!!!!
Cold front moved through our area last night and the temp dropped 25 degrees to the mid 50’s and the winds came up. Windfinder.com posted 18mph winds this morning with some gust. We watched an 80 ft yacht leave the dock, get caught in the wind when his bow thruster didn’t work and almost take out a boat & dock on his way out. Not sure he knew how to maneuver with just his twin screw engines like we do. We followed him out without a problem. We were not out there too long before we realized the winds were more like 25-30 mph plus gust. The ICW waves were 3-4 ft and breaking but they were so close together that we were never hitting the trough and the ride was not that rough. However we were heeled over like a sailboat. Much like flying, the two really critical times are landing and taking off. We had already accomplished one of those. On to Daytona and Halifax River Yacht Club. The dockmaster said the gust were up to 45mph when we entered his channel. Kudos to Capt Brad for a perfect docking that required that we overshoot the slip by a great margin and let the wind push us back to the perfect angle to power forward. Even though it was barely noon, Brad requested a Miller Lite and I was so happy to be tied up to a dock that I served him one without a frown!!!! What a delightful Yacht Club. This may be the friendliest most helpful one we have come across since LGYC!!!!! We bicycled down the very nice “olde town” area and visited the “Surplus Unlimited” marine store that the dockmaster Brian told us about. We have been looking for a nice aftdeck table for dining and we found it 3 steps inside the super store.
Called Brian and he hauled us, our bicycles and our purchases home in his pickup. Dined at the Club and it was the most fabulous gourmet meal we have had in a long time.
Out at 8am with our next destination, St Augustine Municipal Marina, 50+ miles North up the Halifax & Matanzas Rivers. The view has changed once again. Although the river runs parallel to the beach (about ¼ mile to the east most of the way), there is a lot of marsh land now (like we associate with the GA coast). Got an e-mail from Ellen off “Our Turn”. She is the Looper who taught me how to shuck oysters in Carrabelle, FL. Her home is on the ICW in Flagler Beach and she was sitting on her back deck when we passed this morning. The boating community is small. Arrived safely in St Augustine around 2pm and took the “Rigley’s City Tour”. Spent a lot of time at the “Fountain of Youth” but sad to report…….it’s a hoax. However, other visitors to that infamous spot gave me recommendations on some very good plastic surgeons. LOL!!!! Enjoyed the tour and have a good idea of the places we will be going back to tomorrow, our day off to play. Told Brad to sleep in tomorrow, we have two early days following. A Notice to Mariners informed us of the work being done on the “Bridge of Lions” just North of the marina. It is closed from 7am-7pm this week. We will have to pass through it before 7 am on Friday or go through one of the less attractive (that means lower airdraft) side arches.
We need to get to Jacksonville on time so we can pick up the rental car and pack it for the home trip. I’m so excited to be going to see all my babies.
St Augustine was founded 1565 making it the oldest city in the US. There are many first and oldest here. Oldest House, Oldest School, First Hotel, etc. It has seen its share of “big names” in history including Ponce de Leon, de Soto, was attacked by Sir Francis Drake and as a port city was involved in every major war including the “Great War of Northern Aggression” (that’s what Southerners call the Civil War)! So we rode the “Red Train” on our 2-day pass and saw all we could see. Ernest Hemingway said "Wine is the most civilized thing in the world". Wanting to do our share for civilization, we visited the San Sabastion Winery. Had an awesome lunch at Café Alcazar in the deep end of the pool and dinner at Athenos, a wonderful Greek restaurant. This was not a good day for the diet!!!But it was a great day for everything else.
Out before sun up this morning to make sure we got under the “Bridge of Lions” before they closed it for construction at 7am. We enjoyed a nice cruise and could tell when we were getting close to Jacksonville because the boat traffic picked up and the area became a lot more commercial. Not since Mobile & the panhandle of Florida on the Gulf Coast have we shared the ICW with working barges and real ships. We left the ICW at the St. John’s River and cruised through the middle of downtown Jacksonville and into the mouth of the Ortega River. This is where we will leave the boat for 2 weeks while we travel home. Ran into some folks that we met in November at Turner Marine on Dog River (Mobile,AL) here on the dock and they took us to pick up our rental car. Small world, nice people. Will drive through Georgia to see Michael, Austin & Charlee and on to Birmingham to see the rest of the grandchildren. And their parents, of course.
Update from Home! On Apr 13 in the wee hours of the morning, storms swept through Alabama and many areas were affected. In Birmingham, where we live, there were trees down and we were without power from 2 am until noon the next day. Sixty miles North, our Homeport of Lake Guntersville Yacht Club on the Tennessee River, had severe straight line winds that separated two covered floating docks from the river bank. The docks holding approx 60 boats rotated and blew into the slew grounding some boats and causing some damage from the dock roof blowing apart. Luckily most of the boats remained tied and the floating dock continued to float. Some of our members were on those boats at the time and we are thankful that no one was injured. We lost some of our beautiful old trees and it will be some time before repairs can be complete. Still, we were lucky that the damages were not more severe.
We have had a wonderful time for the last 2 weeks kissing our babies, visiting with friends and taking care of business. It’s time to get back to the boat. We fly out of Birmingham at 8AM and will be back on “Salvage Crew” a little after lunch. The plan is to re-provision and ready the boat to leave the St. John River on Saturday morning. We heard from “Good News” today and they are currently in St Augustine. We hope to hook up with them at Fernandina Beach. We have missed our boating pals Mary & Andy!!!
The Willie Nelson song “On the Road Again” keeps singing in my head. We left the dock at 9:30 am and passed through the 1920’s vintage 9 ft Ortega River Bridge to get back on the St John River. We had some excitement at the marina last night at 9pm. Sirens alerted me as I was watching TV on the aft-deck. It was a cause for concern when 3 Fire Dept vehicles came into our marina and ran to the end of an adjoining dock. I jumped off the boat as I mentally counted how many lines I would have to untie to get out if there was indeed a fire. As helicopters with search lights circled overhead, the firemen told me they had a report of a two boat collision in our area. For an hour they searched with the helicopter & emergency vehicles on every bridge and dock in our area. Nothing was found. We departed the Ortega around 9:30 am and traveled up the ICW to Amelia Island, Fernandino Beach Marina. Glad to see Mary & Andy Sarver there when we arrived. A great little town. A wonderful little reunion! We toasted with Champagne and planned a Captain’s meeting for tomorrow to come up with a Master Plan for Adventure!!!