Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The march south

A view of Odin from Ft Matanzas

We've been meandering across the Florida line as hurricane season comes to a close, always within reach of our hurricane hole. Locals in St Augustine tell us they haven't had a hurricane in 36 years. (The city is actually battling the insurance companies to get the hurricane line moved farther south). However, as we departed the mooring field, our march south began in earnest to get in position for the earliest possible crossing to the Bahamas. We didn't put it a ton of miles each day, instead picking ideal spots to anchor for the night. Ready?  Here we go:

To Fort Matanzas anchorage (1 night)
We released the line off the mooring ball in St. Augustine by 9:00 am (note: do not exit the mooring field behind the motor yacht that ran aground!).  After we cleared the first bridge, our genoa was unfurled, and we motor sailed most of the day, with one engine at reduced power. The Captain let out a "WAS THAT A MANATEE?!"  Apparently, he's tired of dolphins. As we reached the bascule bridge before the Fort (we never pass a fort!), if was furled again.  As we made the turn for the anchorage, we had a 2 kt current on the nose, and with the engine at idle we came to a stop and started sliding backwards. When the anchor dropped, the new Mantus "set" quickly. No question it dug in. A quick lunch while The Captain starts fiddling with the anchor windlass. Two hours later, despite the current and tide, he's ready to launch the "launch" (that's what the park rangers call our dinghy. Ha ha).  We're supposed to land on the "beach" next to the Visitor's center to get on the ferry, but at high tide, it was a just a strip of sand, so we tied off to the "no fishing" sign and walked over to get on the ferry for the tour. This was another surprise--the park rangers were fabulous, the ferry ride was free, and they take quite a few people over every hour. You can climb up onto the roof or observation tower which was great for photos.

Fort Matanzas National Monument, built by the Spanish in 1740 to protect the inlet (back door to St. Augustine)

Afterwards, we walked a mile down the A1A to a greasy spoon on the water for nachos and beverages, just because. The overpass crosses the Matanzas inlet, unusable for us, and 1/2 mile from it's original location when the Fort was built. Apparently, Matanzas means "massacre" in Spanish, so we're spending the night at the "massacre."  

Found free wifi with our range extender ("beach guest"--yep, that's us!).  We had the anchorage to ourselves until another HUGE sailboat pulled in just before sunset.  It was another windy night, but even with the current and wind, it was a relatively calm anchorage.

Stats:  Total time 2:47, total mileage 12.6 nm, avg speed 4.5 motor sailed with genoa.

A residential section of the ICW, mostly mansions, then there's this!

To Daytona anchorage (1 night, didn't go ashore)
The anchor came up clean (sandy bottom) at the Fort by 9:00 am, just behind our neighbor.  The First Mate (apparently I am permanently assigned to the morning shift) had to backtrack a little to reenter the ICW around some shoaling and then "passed the fort to port."  Yeah, we crack ourselves up.  The trolling line was out briefly (but he doesn't have the right lure--"that one's for Mahi."). The Captain gets bored and starts replacing snaps on our sun shade--I guess it's nice to get something done while we're on the move!  We motored past Marineland and saw two dolphins, "They've escaped!  They'll be coming after you with flipper cuffs!" and another PDQ parked at their marina.   After that, it was remote for a couple hours before turning into residential area (peeking into the big mansion's back yards including pools with enclosures) all the way into Daytona.  We cleared 2 more bascule bridges then pulled off to anchor just off the ICW (another first) in the Halifax River. It took 2 attempts to get the anchor set (when we pull the anchor up tomorrow, we'll discover it's hard crushed shell.)  Hot dogs were grilled and chili was heated up then served with wine. Found another unlocked wifi signal!  The "bird boat" appears at sunset and anchored down from us. Then the cat puked on her blanket and she seemed mildly torqued when we took her blanket away.  I was awoken at 6:00 am by voices outside?!  It was several 8-man rowing sculls headed down river (no way I could listen to someone talk to me through a megaphone).

Chili dogs & wine, because he's out of beer!

Stats: Total time 6:59, total mileage 34.8 nm, avg speed 5.0, motored.

New Smyrna (rounded?) courtesy dock

To New Smyrna courtesy dock (1 night)
The anchor was up by 8:30 am with some crushed shell chunks still attached. As the day progressed, I saw rain on the horizon, and requested the Captain close the two salon hatches & zip up the First Mate's side. By then we could see the rain, and he zipped up the helmsman's side also. Then he dropped the second engine as I headed into a known area of shoaling, so we could make the bridge opening. "Um, perhaps we should wait."  Suddenly the bridge was in sight and we were a few minutes early.  I was at the helm while the Captain had the throttles. We began to question that we were at the correct bridge, and lined up with the correct span as the clock ticked past. Then suddenly, it started to open, and we giggled all the way though!  Phew!  Just then the rain stopped, so we scrambled to unzip the helmsman's windshield for docking and I ran up to set up lines and fenders.
After a few slow passes, we were tied up to the New Smyrna free dock on the first throw. (I was informed "the boat didn't want to go over there," and an engine quit somewhere in the middle). As soon as I started to open hatches, it started to rain again.  While I reversed all my work, The Captain found a restaurant close by and we were off. The food at Yellow Dog was excellent (Vegetarian wrap as a salad for me and a Crackerboy for him). We didn't have any luck finding the electronic car shuttle, so we went back for naps, and then grabbed backpacks for the 2-mile walk to the Publix grocery store (it would have been easy to throw the bicycles on the dock, but I was informed that it wasn't far enough!). A stop at Baskin Robbins on the way back for our efforts.

Good morning, New Smyrna

Stats:  Total time 2:40, total mileage 13.5 nm, avg speed 5.0 kts, motored. 

To Titusville mooring field (2 nights)
After spending the night on the courtesy dock (no one chased us off, but a fisherman and someone from Kirkwood, MO did stop by to say hello), and after giving up on trying the figure out the current, the Captain had the First Mate drive off the dock.  Since the dock was curved and the bow wanted to swing out, it wouldn't be a difficult departure, but I practiced using differential power to swing the bow out anyway. As per our mantra, no one swam and no boats were damaged. However, the best part was watching The Captain coil lines & stow fenders while I mozied down the ICW with a coffee in my hand. 

It's was pretty much a straight shot, 30 miles down the ICW to through Mosquito Lagoon (where we saw numerous dolphins and 6 manatees--our first confirmed sighting) along the Kennedy National Seashore to Titusville. We could see Kennedy Space center and the launch pads for 15 miles, before we turned down the Haulover Canal, which transferred us over to the Indian River, and passed through another bascule bridge. 

Upon arrival at the marina, we headed to the fuel dock with a 20 kt wind blowing us onto the dock. Unfortunately, we needed to move forward to the next dock to pump out, then one last departure to pick up a mooring ball.  Phew!  Another full day. Perhaps, we'll hang out for awhile.

We paid for 2 nights, but planned to stay for the weekend. We try to stay put on weekends.

US NASA Space Walk

We intended to go to Kennedy Space Center, but some fellow sailor's from the marina suggested the US NASA Space Walk Museum, so instead, we dinghied in early, stashed our laundry, went out for breakfast at a local diner and headed over. Tours are given by former NASA employees and a large part of the collection is donated by former employees or NASA itself (when the Smithsonian tried to put a banner in storage, NASA said, "Nope," and donated it here instead). The tidbit The Captain found most interesting:  the actual explosive bolts used in the investigation of Gus Grissom's capsule sinking (found 10 yrs ago.  He was exonerated after his death). I was in awe of the mock up of the crawler and the mission control room from Mercury/Apollo era complete with a still functioning sequencer.  Of course, you can't take me anywhere without an recipe idea:  

Norm Carlson's Launch beans & cornbread (I scaled down, soaked overnight and used the pressure cooker)

Put 6 (1) lbs. of dried great northern beans (soaked 8 hrs or overnight) in an 18-quart electric cooker.
Cut 10 (1.7 lbs) lbs. of smoked ham into cubes.
Add ham and ham bones to beans.
Add 1/2 (1 Tbsp) shaker of lemon pepper.
Add 3 (1/2) lbs. chopped onions.
Add (1) stalks chopped celery.
Add 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke.
Cover with water and cook for at least 8 hours (pressure cooker:  8 min high, natural release)

We found the missing mooring balls...

Disadvantage of mooring balls:  Today may not have been our wettest dinghy ride, but it was definitely the longest wet ride. Our current marina's mooring balls are under construction, so despite being ahead of the southbound snowbirds, we're pretty far out.  We had our rain jackets, but in a rookie mistake, I neglected to put the THREE loads of clean, dry laundry in trash bags. Despite sheltering them with my body (and later, the Captain's rain jacket), the dinghy was full of several inches of water by the time we reached the boat. Another sailboat was picking up the mooring next to us, and as we yelled, "Turn back!  Continue on!  Don't stop here!" and pointed at their tiny dinghy with a trolling motor, they smiled and waved. Suckers.  I quickly drug out the wet laundry and after several attempts to hang the sheets on the life lines (too f@?$ing windy!), the Captain graciously volunteered to run back in & put them in the dryer (with a trash bag!), mumbling something about "having another Fosters."  At least Amelia's blanket made it. She was asleep while it was still warm.  

Stats:  Total time 5:29, total mileage 28.5 nm, avg speed 5.2, motored (refueled. Avg 0.5 gal/hr since Fernandina)

A beautiful, Melbourne sun rise

To Melbourne Beach, FL anchorage (1 night, didn't go ashore)
It's the Captain's birthday. With some gentle nudging, he has elected to head out. One more shower would be nice, but not worth the wet dinghy ride. The wind didn't calm down over night, so it was a like sleeping on a bouncy castle. The beans & cornbread will hold us for the 2 days to Vero Beach where we can take the shuttle to the store. We're off the mooring ball by 8:40 am, behind a string of power yachts. Kennedy Space Center is still in sight, and after the first bascule bridge, he unfurls the genoa (while I go down to defrost the fridge--"why not?"). Motor sailing is nice (second to actual sailing) because 1) we feel like we are actually sailing!  2) the engine is at reduced power, ie. Less noise and less fuel 3) we sometimes gain speed (or at least counteract the current). 

"Genoa is UP!"

Average 6 kts, with 50% power on ONE engine, 15-20 kts on a starboard tack. 

Funny bridge story:  We call on the radio for a bridge opening and the bridge tender says, "I see two masts.  I'll wait for him."  We hadn't seen the guy behind us with his genoa up, so we slow down. He barrels down on us as the bridge opens and calls on the radio in broken English, "Clear of the bridge" as we enter. {Exchange confused looks.}  The Captain says, "No.  That's not how you do it."  As we clear, "Thank you. Odin monitoring 16," and then we hear the bridge-lowering horn as the second boat is underneath the bridge!  I don't know if the bridge tender could see him and wanted to give him a scare, or if he heard 2 "clears" and thought we were both through. The other boat made it, but I'd say it was closer than I would have liked!

Most modern bridges are 65 ft, however we've seen several bridges in FL that are listed as 65 but only show 62-63 on the board (which coincides with Active Captain reports). Not a problem for us, but those are your tax dollars at work. Someone was paid to build a 65 ft bridge and failed!

"Traffic off the port bow!"

Inspired by The  Captain's efficiency, I decided to defrost the fridge while underway.  He looked at me funny, then says, "Why not?"  I go below between shifts at the helm to chip ice and the engines will help cool it back down without draining the batteries.  (Sense of accomplishment!)

Melbourne is the location of our honeymoon. We flew the Turbo Arrow down with the kids and stayed at my new brother-in-law's house (romantic!). It was here I went for my first sailboat ride. I was terrified. I didn't know what heeling was but I was sure I would go for a swim. We've been together 20 years, his brother doesn't live here anymore, and we're anchored in the Indian River on our own boat.

I realized I've been leaving out the "stats" so I've gone back through Brunswick and corrected this, if you're interested. I've also been lagging on blog posts. I usually have random thoughts typed up, but I get behind on the editing/photo part. However, Facebook has lost some of my posts from the boat page, so I'll be staying more up to date on the blog. 

Stats:  Total time 6:07, total mileage 35.4, AVG SPEED 5.8! on the ICW, MOTOR-SAILED ALL DAY

To Vero Beach mooring field
Anchor is up (AND we're back to a mud bottom that requires hosing the chain off as it goes into the chain locker or it smells) by 8:20 am. It turns out to be a boring day of motoring. Sails will only unfurl for several minutes, and there isn't much scenery.  I did manage to reheat the requested leftover beans & cornbread, despite the Sunday powerboat traffic. 

A stranded pontoon boat flags us down to ask if we have a gas can. We do. (Ironic.  Sailboat handing off gas to a pontoon boat, because none of the powerboats on the ICW on a Sunday have one.). We circle back around as a smaller powerboat also stops to help by transferring the gas can over and keeping them from drifting onto the bank. The spigot is too short, so we pass over a funnel. In the middle of all this, a couple we met in Titusville waves from their sailboat as they pass. We chat on the radio about meeting up in Ft Pierce and exchange emails. Just like being a pilot--hours of boredom punctuated by a few minutes of excitement. 

Vero mooring field will be rafted three to a mooring ball by Thanksgiving. However, our call is answered with, "Your pick.  Not busy.  Look for one with a new penant."  Phew. "Call the ball, Maverick."  AND, we're done (scurry to get the boss's beer, open hatches and do some paperwork).  Dinner ("Why did we walk over when they have a dinghy dock?"). Showers. Caught the end of the Talladega race (6 laps to go took an hour!  "Nope that wasn't a great/white/checker.  Let's do it again!").  A good night's sleep in a sheltered spot. 

Stats:  Total time 5:37 (lost 15 min to pontoon boat), total mileage 29.8 nm, avg speed 5.3 kts, motored.


  1. Loved the new blog. At the expense of sounding dumb, I am finally going to ask what ICW stands for. I've restrained myself long enough. 😊

    1. Sorry, Connie. I should have explained. It's the Atlantic intercoastal waterway stretching 1090 miles from Norfolk, VA to Miami. You can travel down the coast without having to go out on the ocean (if you don't want to)!


    2. That really helps. What day do you expect to be sailing the ocean?

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    4. Connie, we're waiting for a weather window. Today would have been good, but we weren't ready. I'll try to let everyone know before we leave so they can follow our Sat communicator on twitter ;-)

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  3. Love your observation about ICW bridges. If you were to travel to Miami the major bridge over the ICW, The Julia Tuttle, is only 55', now that's a real oops! Love your blog. We are following you south north of Charleston on way to Miami. Jon & Lynn m/z Zendo

  4. Hey Jonathan, great to hear from you! Swing by and see us, if we're still sitting in Lake Worth anchorage!

  5. So glad to see someone is making progress south. We'll probably be at the end of the herd this year. Hoping to make it to Stuart to have Thanksgiving with friends. I'm not sure that we're going to the islands this year because Tim's mom is not doing well but we do hope to run into you guys for sundowners somewhere.

    SV Kintala

    1. I understand Deb. You know the drill. Waiting for a weather window. You'll find us somewhere between Vero & North Lake Worth anchorage until then ;-)