Tuesday, Jacksonville Fl to St Mary’s GA

March 31st, 2009 john

Day: 164   Miles: 40    Total Miles:  1681

Guess what?  We made it out of FL.  This is a landmark moment. 

To get to the town of St. Mary’s, you need to depart the ICW and go up the St Mary’s River several miles.  You wind your way up the marshes and see the town way before you get there.  There is one and only one marina, “Langs”,  with a dock master who is the “man”.  He is an older Arcadian gentleman who lived his life on the river.  The town is small but very historic with several bed and breakfasts and restaurants for the visitors.

The next morning at the dock in front of us was the trawler “Footloose” with a looper couple on board. We really enjoyed meeting Jim and Sandy and sharing experiences with them.  They had completed their loop in Ft Lauderdale and were now going to Chesapeake Bay for the summer.

Barbara and I enjoyed breakfast the next day with Jim and Sandy and then returned to the boat for an afternoon of rain, rain, rain.

Three other trawlers pulled into St. Mary’s and we all decided to ride out the weather for one more day.  We put on our rain gear and all went to dinner at Lang’s Seafood Restaurant, (yes the same Lang’s as in Lang’s Marina.)  Great food, all you can eat fried shrimp.

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Monday, St Augustine to Jacksonville Beach Fl

March 30th, 2009 john

Day: 163   Miles: 29    Total Miles:  1641

This morning we left St. Augustine, Fl around 8:30 am for a short run north to Jacksonville Beach.   Leaving the harbor turned out to be a task in itself.  We successfully backed out of our slip, navigated the two fairways out to the main channel in front of the marina and started out, only to have a large sports fisherman and a big sailboat start the entry towards me.  No problem, I just came to a halt and backed up into the marina basin to wait for my turn.  Well, the big powerboat came thru but the sailboat hit bottom.  I had to wait for a small marina skiff to run out and pull the sailboat off and bring him in.  It just made for a little excitement as I was holding station amongst all of the LARGE yachts.  However, a day successfully started is a successfully started day. (I learned that from Yogi.)

We ventured north up the ICW waterway, under a couple of bridges and then arrived in the early afternoon at Jacksonville Beach Marina.  When I checked my email I found out that a good fraternity brother of mine whom I had recently resumed communications with was going to be in Jacksonville visiting his parents. After a phone call we confirmed that our schedules would cross and we could meet.

Jim L and his son Jamey came to visit us at 6:30 and we went and shared a fine dinner.  It was really great to see Jim.  We seemed to pick up right where we left off.  We hope to see him again on this trip.

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Sunday, St Augustine Fl

March 29th, 2009 john

Day: 162   Miles: 0    Total Miles:  1612

Storm it did, but the good old captain slept right through it.  We were securely tied up at the marina.  We had a lazy day of working on trip planning, borrowing a marina car and going to the food store and to West Marine, and then more trip planning.  Barbara and I both spent most of the day planning.   There is a lot to do.   We read three cruising guides, two websites, and two blogs to try to get our information.  Then we keyed it into a spreadsheet so that we can refer to it as we are driving.  “i.e.  Mile Mark 705.5  stay close to the Red markers to avoid shoaling.”

You would think that our government would keep the waterways safe.  Money has been cut from budgets for the last 10 years which have left the waterway unpredictable as far as depth is concerned.  Nasty thought.

The overwhelming advice is to pass through GA and SC at high tides.  First of all it is not easy to figure out what the tides are for a given spot, and second of all they don’t run at the same time every day.  There are three areas that we have been told, DO NO GO THROUGH EXCEPT AT HIGHT TIDE.  I think I got the message.  Ok, time to do more planning.

We will leave tomorrow for Jacksonville FL.

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Saturday, St Augustine Fl

March 28th, 2009 john

Day: 161   Miles: 0    Total Miles:  1612

After a little rain shower during the night, we arose to a beautiful day.  Barbara slept late and I got up and went to the boaters lounge for some hot coffee and good conversation.

Around 10:00 we called the tour company to come pick us up again and off we went to see the sights in detail.  We got off the tour bus at St Georges street, which is a long and narrow opened only to pedestrians.  It had shops, restaurants by the hundreds.  We stopped and toured a Colonial Plaza which depicted life in the early 17th century in St Augustine.  They had live demonstrations including, cooking and washing, and grinding of meal, an operating blacksmith and leather smith.  It was all very interesting.

I am always on the search for the proverbial perfect hat.  We ran into a Panama Hat Company store; and of course Barbara and I both bought hats.  This time I held on to it so that it would not blow away.

We toured the Lightner Museum and viewed a lot of beautiful art.  Then walked a few blocks to catch the tour train over to the Fountain of Youth.  Yes we both got to drink water from the fountain.  Guess I will have to stay up past 8:00 tonight!

At five o’clock we were back on our boat, both reading our books in the late afternoon sun.  Then at six we walked around the harbor to the good restaurant we found last night.  It was a completion of a good day.

We expect a storm tonight.

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Friday, Palm Cove to St Augustine Fl

March 27th, 2009 john

Day: 160   Miles: 28    Total Miles:  1612

We departed Palm Coast at 7:45.  We wanted an early start because there was some weather blowing our way and wanted to be tied up in a new slip by the time it came in.  In addition, we receive a notice to mariners at the marina office that the first bridge in St Augustine was scheduled to close for a week starting March 30.  We wanted to make sure we got by that before the weather forced us to stay put.

The departure was a bit tricky.  They had tied another big boat up behind us so it took some thinking.  Because of the Z dock to which I was tied it was impossible to go off forward and to go off in reverse I had to bring my stern out about18 feet to miss the boat behind.  I decided to combine two tricks to get the job done.  I used a bow spring line and also turned my rudder all the way into the dock.  Then pulsing my outside engine forward, throwing water against the turned rudders, the stern began to walk sideways.  I just took it slow and it worked just fine.  Off we were to continue our adventure.

By the way Palm Coast seemed to be a very attractive location.

We cruised along and within three and a half hours we were in St Augustine.  I had been advised not to stay at the City Marina due to the strong currents.  We now have 4 foot tides and a lot of current.  Instead we continued through the two bridges and then turned to the port to enter Comanche Cove Yacht Harbor.  It was sheltered with no currents, but you should have seen the boats.  I guess for the first time I have to call them yachts.  There were a couple of 100 footers in the harbor, big boats everywhere.  We had to proceed down the central fairway, make a 90 degree turn to the right down a narrow fairway, then turn left 90 degrees and then immediately 90 degrees into a slip.  Thank goodness it was a slip with a long finger dock, so I was able to drive the boat bow first into it.  No problem.  (This is about the time I start getting so confident that I am likely to make a mistake.)

The marina is beautiful, with two restaurants, a deli and a ships store.  After securing the boat, Barbara and I ate lunch on the boat and then called a trolley tour company.  They sent a courtesy car out for us and we then enjoyed a hour and half tour of St Augustine. The trolley makes about 20 stops around town and you can get off or back on for three days.  Such a deal!  About half way around my good hat blew off right in the middle of town.  We hit some traffic and stopped so I jumped off and went to successfully retrieve my hat.  Then I got a call on my cell phone from Barbara.  She was still on the trolley.  Oh Well!  Can’t think of everything!  She just got off at the next stop and I caught the next trolley and then she rejoined me when it got to her stop.  All was well.   See I can have adventures on land or sea.

Back to the marina by five and we had a wonderful seafood dinner at a very nice restaurant (Kingfish Grill) and retreated to the boat to veg for the evening.

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Thursday, Daytona to Palm Cove Fl

March 26th, 2009 john

Day: 159   Miles: 29    Total Miles:  1584

We had a smooth departure in Daytona and off we were north on the ICW.  And guess what?  There just happened to be a marina worker on our dock so I just gave him our keys and we were off. I did not have to cruise the gas dock after all.  Yea!

Again it was very windy from our stern all day.  We had heard that there were some shallow spots in this leg of the journey but we never saw them.  We only had one brief spot that showed about 6 ½ feet and we draw 5.

We arrived at Palm Coast and had a new docking challenge.  They had a face dock that was shaped a little like a stretched out inverted “Z” (Picture that!  It was a straight dock, then it angled back for a bit and then it straightened out again. And they put us on the angled part which was only 52 feet long, with my 49 foot 9 inch boat.  I came down the entrance canal, spun the boat around and then put my bow on the dock, trying to avoid the boat in front.  I had the dock attendant tie a long bow spring line, then slowly powered forward, bringing the stern to the dock. For those of you that don’t know boating, sorry for the detail.  However, for those of you who are boating friends, we’ve come a long way.

That afternoon Barbara and I walked about a mile and a half to a little European Village nearby.  They had built a new complex shaped in a triangle, with a plaza in the middle surrounded by shops and restaurants. It was about three stories high with hotel rooms and condos above the stores.

After a few drinks we returned to the boat and Barbara cooked steaks while I continued planning.   I was in bed by 8:00; couldn’t even watch the NCAA basketball games.  (After seeing the scores the next day I was happy I went to bed.)  I tell you all this fresh air and exercise makes for a good night’s sleep.  However, I make up for the early nights by getting up at around 5:00 or 5:30 to plan or re-plan my travels for the day.   We are using three cruising guides plus addition travel logs to gain information on our day ahead.

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Wednesday, Titusville to Daytona Beach Fl

March 25th, 2009 john

Day 158   Miles 48      Total Miles 1555

We departed Titusville after saying goodbye to some new friends we met on the dock.  We really enjoyed our stay there and would happily return again.

It was a long day winding through Mosquito Lagoon and north to Daytona Beach.  As norm, everything was very shallow.  We had a strong wind to our back but had a current against our bow, which made for slow going.

We arrived at Halifax City Marina at about 2:45 in the afternoon and let the wind blow us right into the dock.  This maneuver worked much better since our windy docking in Titusville, but I believe next time I will put fenders down first.  Normally, I do not want fenders down when I am docking because if you are coming into a slip, they can get hung up and prohibit a smooth slipping.  But if you are on an outside dock and pull your bow in to hand off a dock line and expect the stern to come around, the fenders would be good to protect the side of the boat as the wind blows it sideways into the dock.

We were staying at Halifax City Marina and was it big!  It was so big that the dock attendant came to help via dingy.  He even brought all of the paperwork for me to sign, gave me keys to the gates and restrooms, and processed my credit card on the spot. I bet if I walked to the office it would have been ¾ of a mile.  Of course they take a deposit on the keys, and the instructions were for us to call the office via phone in the morning and then just cruise by the gas docks and they would extend a net for us to drop them into.  Right!  As if I wanted to cruise another dock.

Barbara and I went for a about a three mile walk in Daytona and ended up having a very good pizza (Stavros) on the way back to the boat.

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Tuesday, Titusville Fl

March 24th, 2009 john

Day 157    Miles Today: 0   Miles Total: 1507

Tuesday, we all packed into the car and went to SeaWorld over in Orlando.  It was only a 45 min ride, but it was a very, very long day for grandpa.  We trekked all over the park from one side to the other and back.  But the kids, both groups (Heather and Jason) and (Emery, Owen, and Oliver) seemed to have a great time especially on the Roller Coaster and the great, big, big obstacle course!

By the time we got back, all three grandkids had to be carried down the dock and bundled into bed.  I just wished there was someone to carry me.

Then, of all things, we found out on the news that a GPS Satellite Rocket was being launched at 4:38 a.m.   So up we were to watch from the top of the boat.  It was not as impressive or a large as the shuttle launch that we watched a week earlier, but it was still a sight to see.  Then it was quickly back to bed for a couple hours shut-eye.

Then by mid morning, Jason had the car all loaded up with family and gear and we all waved a sad goodbye as they drove back to Memphis.  Barbara took the day to clean and straighten the boat (not that it needed it much) and I had the joy of crawling into the bilge and replacing a fresh water pump, which just happened to die the previous day.  I then had to top up the water in all 21 batteries, which are not located in the most convenient places. After a few other chores, I was tired and called it a day.

The only thing our departing crew had left behind was an “Insurance Salesman”.  They left a small gecko  (salamander) on the boat.  I tried to catch him but no luck.  If he ever makes it to a dock, he will sure be surprised at his new adventure. 

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Monday, Titusville, FL

March 23rd, 2009 john

Day 156    Miles Today: 0   Miles Total:  1507

Today was a recovery day from the visit to Cape Canaveral.  Heather and Jason took the kids out to the wildlife refuge on the cape for a day of driving the shores and walking the beaches.  The kids came back to the boat really excited.  They had seen 109 alligators, many birds, and two raccoons.

Pappy and Nana stayed and cleaned the boat and slept.  What a great day.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009 Titusville, FL

March 21st, 2009 john

Day 154    Miles Today: 0   Miles Total:  1507

Well today was a wonderful day.  As you can imagine, its gets pretty exciting on a boat no matter what its length with two grandparents, you son and his bride, and three grandkids, 5, 4, and 1 ½ .   Last night, I rented a compact car, (picture me in a compact) and Jason and I drove down to Vero Beach (75 miles) to retrieve Jason’s car.  By the time we got back to the boat, all were in bed so Jason and I went into the pilothouse with a couple of beers and watched two of the NCAA basketball games on our two laptops.  What a world we live in.  Today, we returned the rental car and then used Jason’s car to go touring.  We went out to the Kennedy Space Center and had a good time seeing all of the rockets and space shuttles.  By the time we got back, the kids had a good (but late) nap and then Barbara cooked one of her many gourmet meals for us all.

It has been very windy these last couple of days so we have chosen to stay here at Titusville for a couple more days and tour with the kids.  We’ll see how it goes.

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