April 13, 2015 – Cocoa Village to Daytona Beach, FL

Monday was another early start.  We were up at 6:00am and heading out by 6:50am.  Ade had no trouble getting us off the dock, into the ICW and heading north to Daytona Beach.

Leaving Cocoa Village Marina

Leaving Cocoa Village Marina

Plowing the ICW

Plowing the ICW

Most of the ride was uneventful.  However, as we approached the NASA Railroad Bridge, dolphins came to play.  There were at least ten dolphins at various times; from the helm, I could see them racing toward us.  Ade grabbed her camera and was able to shoot some great movies of the dolphins playing in our wake.  Alas, as we reached the bridge, the dolphins peeled off to await the next free ride.

Later in the morning, as we passed under the Haulover Canal Bridge, we saw scores of manatees , doing whatever manatees do, off in a pond to our starboard.  A few were directly in the channel, so we slowed down and moved around them.

For most of the early trip, we were going about 9kts with the current against us, of course.  However, there is one 6 mile stretch, east of Sanford, where it isminimum wake.  We slowed to6-7kts, and had scenic views of what is affectionately known as “Old Florida.”

Old Florida

Old Florida

Its Best Days Are Behind It

Its Best Days Are Behind It

As we neared Daytona Beach, the lighting and thunder began and the radar showed a substantial downpour right over the marina where we were headed; however, the radar also showed that the rain cell was not large and was moving, albeit slowly away.  Rather than trying to dock in the middle of the downpour, we cruised up and down the ICW in front of the marina.  I am sure that anyone on the shore must have thought we were crazy.

Finally, after about 15 or 20 minutes, the sky cleared and we darted into Daytona Boat Works and Marina.  In just a few minutes, we were tied up and checked in.  Then the rain began again.

We spent the rest of afternoon planning our routes for the next few days, writing the blog, and doing the engine check.  While we were doing our chores, we heard the splashing of manatees across the lagoon from us.  They seemed to be munching on the shrubbery that lined the banks, rolling around in the water and doing other manatee things that we couldn’t figure out. Ade got a fewpictures but I am not sure you can tell what the black blobs are.

Manatees

Manatees

Manatee Breathing

Manatee Breathing

Manatee Munching

Manatee Munching

Barnacles Hitching a Ride

Barnacles Hitching a Ride

We cooked dinner on the boat and will be turning in early.  We have a long ride tomorrow up to the Palm Cove Marina just south of Jacksonsville.  The forecast tomorrow is more of the same: 80s, humid and a 30-40% chance of rain and thunderstorms.  It’s beginning to get monotonous.

 

 

Sunday, April 12, 2015 – Fort Pierce to Cocoa Beach, FL

We were up early on Sunday because the weather forecast called for afternoon thunderstorms.  We had about 6 or 7 hours of cruising to get from Fort Pierce to Cocoa Beach.  That meant an afternoon arrival and the possibility of thunderstorms while docking.  We couldn’t control the weather (darn!), but we could try to arrive as early as possible to minimize the chance that we would run into a storm.

I eased us off the fuel dock and headed out of the marina about 6:50, just before sunrise.  Most of our run to Cocoa Beach was uneventful thanks to the straight and relatively deep channel.  It was probably an average of 11 feet, which by ICW standards is deep.  Some of this section of the ICW is quite peaceful and beautiful, calm water dotted with mangrove islands and many sea birds.  I was surprised we didn’t see many dolphins because this was one of the areas on our way south in December where it seemed as if every half hour or so a pod would check out Curiosity and start to surf our wake.

Hanging Out in the ICW

Hanging Out in the ICW

At about 1pm, however, we heard the familiar “thwap” of a dolphin jumping in our wake and landing on the water.  Sure enough we had a pod with us. I, for one, will never get enough of watching them.  They are so close to the boat, and I swear some of them turn on their sides so they can check us out!  Their maneuverability is incredible.  They never crash into the boat.  Some of them do 360 degree turns under water all while swimming at about 10 knots.  Amazing.  Jim knows that when the dolphins show up, I’m going to be outside filming.  Unless, of course, we’re doing something critical and have to pay attention to the helm.  But usually there’s plenty of viewing time.

Just as the dolphins were leaving us, we started to get some of the predicted weather.  We had been tracking a large dark cloud on the shoreline.  The weather radar suggested that it was moving north along the western shore.  Well it did for a bit and then it decided to move east across the ICW.  I saw the band of rain on the far western edge of the water first, then saw the flash of lightning and last heard the thunder.  I called to Jim that the rain was coming and he quickly closed the doors as the rain started to come down.  Fortunately it was a minor event.  Most of the thunder and lightning remained over land.  The wind picked up some but not a whole lot, and the rain came down steadily but did not significantly impede our visibility.

The only issue for us was docking.  We were approaching Cocoa Village Marina, our stop for the night and we really didn’t want to deal with the rain while docking if we didn’t have to.  The weather gods were with us because just as we cleared the bridge and started to make the turn into the marina the skies cleared and the sun came out. Jim brought us right up to the face dock and we were quickly tied up.

Cocoa Village Marina is a good basic marina.  The docks are old and fixed, but quite serviceable.  They have modernized the bathrooms, which are very nice with granite countertops and spacious showers.  There’s also a large and comfortable lounge with a big screen TV.  But the best part of the marina is that it is 2 blocks from “historic” downtown Cocoa Village.

The Birds of Cocoa Village Marina

The Birds of Cocoa Village Marina

Cocoa Village, unlike so many other “historic” small towns (as we have noted before in this blog), is a real place.  There were many shops with brightly colored storefronts, a restaurant on every corner and a lot of people milling around and enjoying the scenery.

Harrison Street, Cocoa Village

Harrison Street, Cocoa Village

Confirming Its Historic Status

Confirming Its Historic Status

They even have a playhouse with a full schedule through the summer.  The night we were there the playhouse was featuring the “Golden Steppers,” a senior tap dance troupe that’s been tapping its way across stages for 27 years, although probably not the original cast.  Justguessing .  We saw them getting ready for the show outside the back of the playhouse before we learned who they were.  Nothing like some local excitement!

The Golden Steppers

The Golden Steppers

Announcing the Golden Steppers

Announcing the Golden Steppers

Cocoa Village is also the home of Travis Hardware, which has been in operation since 1885 and is and always has been family run.  We were told by locals that if what you want isn’t at Travis Hardware, it doesn’t exist.

Travis Hardware

Travis Hardware

So we wandered about and tried to explore Travis Hardware, and a number of the shops, including one of the art galleries. We had run into the owner’s husband and chatted with him for a bit about her art and the gallery offerings.  But alas, it was Sunday and Travis Hardware, the art gallery and most of the stores were closed.  One store that was opened  certainly got my attention.

Florida Style - Ade Wants a Pair

Florida Style – Ade Wants a Pair

The Office of Tourism had a large colorful mural covering its entire side, which we spent a few minutes viewing.  We liked Cocoa Village though, so we put it down as a stop on our next cruise through the area and will make a point of being there on a weekday.

Office of Tourism Mural

Office of Tourism Mural

More of the Mural

More of the Mural

Last of the Mural

Last of the Mural

We had dinner at a tapas bar in town, Sublime.  It wasn’t.  It was fine, but the tapas needed a shot of flavor and better execution.  One of the tapas we ordered was called “Atomic Shrimp” and was billed as a fiery plate of very spicy shrimp.  Well, not so much.  We were expecting Jim’s hair follicles to be tingling and sweating, like they would be if he were eating some Texas BBQ.  But there was not even a twitch.

The Not Too Sublime Sublime

The Not Too Sublime Sublime

We headed back to Curiosity for some relaxation and route planning.  It was another early evening because of another early start on Monday because of more unsettled weather.  Tomorrow’s destination: Daytona Beach.

Heading North – April 11, 2015 – North Palm Beach to Fort Pierce, FL

For the last four months, Curiosity has enjoyed the warmth of the Florida sun.  We spent some time in December and January, as well as all of February, living on the boat in Old Port Cove Marina.  It was a wonderful time – going for long walks every day, getting to know Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding areas.  We even went to the beach and went swimming in February while the Northeast was getting hammered.  Almost every day was warm, with a beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds.  We can understand why people come to Florida for the winter.  We will definitely be back next fall.

But now it was time to begin the journey north.  Ade steered Curiosity out of our slip around 7:30am and in a few minutes we were on the ICW.  We had timed our departure to make the 7:45 opening of the Parker Bridge, followed by the 8:00 opening of the PGA Bridge.  We easily passed through both as we headed north.

Ade Cruising Down the ICW

Ade Cruising Down the ICW

Along the ICW

Along the ICW

The tide was extremely low, which meant that for all the future bridges we could pass under without waiting for an opening, provided we lowered our antennae.   At the time, the low tide seemed like a blessing, but of course it wasn’t.

Around 9:30am, we were cruising in the Jupiter sound just north of Jupiter, Florida.  I was at the helm running in about 10 feet of water.  The channel seemed wide, and I was running close to the west side of the channel, when suddenly the water disappeared.  Instead of 10 feet, it was suddenly 5 feet, then 4.8 feet, and we were aground.  Fortunately, it was a manatee zone so I had been running only about 6kts, but we were hard ground. We could not go forward or backward.  So we sat for a few minutes – seemed like hours.  Fortunately, I remembered what Pat had taught me about running aground.  I used the thrusters to turn the bow so we were facing deeper water.  We were in mud or sand and just under the five feet we required.  Two small boats were coming down the ICW, throwing a wake.  As soon as the wake reached us and lifted us slightly, I eased the boat forward.  We moved and the depth gauge read 5ft, 6ft, 7ft, and finally 10 ft.  We were free and moving north again.  Thank goodness.  Fortunately everything seemed fine; no damage, no vibrations, so all was good.  What a way to start our voyage north!

An hour later, the dolphins showed up to raise our spirits.  They were an energetic group, leaping into the air and splashing heavily on our portside, while a calmer pair surfed our starboard wake.

Saying Hi

Saying Hi

Having Fun

Having Fun

Enjoying Our Wake

Enjoying Our Wake

The rest of the voyage was uneventful.  We spent most of the time on the flybridge, enjoying the sun and the delightful weather.  As rain threatened, we went below to the pilot house for the last hour.

By 1:30pm, we were tied up at Fort Pierce City Marina for the evening.  We had wanted to run further to Vero Beach, but all the marinas were full because of a boat show.  Fortunately, Fort Pierce had room and a good price for fuel.  After we got tied up, we pumped 500 gallons of diesel into our tanks – an expensive proposition, but we should have enough fuel to get to Annapolis.  A quick rinse of the boat, and it was already 3:00pm.

It should have been time to relax, but it wasn’t.  We had two other chores ahead of us: hiking to the nearest Walgreens to pick up a few things and cleaning our ball fenders.  We did the hike first.  It was about 1.5 miles to the Walgreens from the marina.  The first quarter mile or so took us through “historic” downtown Fort Pierce.  We’ve been in a number of “historic” small towns, and most of the time there’s a little bit of history to support the term and a tiny area with one or two interesting buildings.  Fort Pierce is a step up from this.  There were a number of art deco buildings and some interesting shops and some very interesting advertising for one (see the pic below).  It was a real place.  Nonetheless, there was very little foot traffic even on a Saturday afternoon.

Advertising in Fort Pierce

Advertising in Fort Pierce

We continued through the town until we hit Route 1, turned left and walked a little over a mile to the Walgreens.  Route 1 was what you would expect: a motley strip of businesses, not all of which were actually in business.  It was a hot and sunny afternoon and we were glad to reach the Walgreens and its air conditioning.

We were buying Nexium, which looked like it was going to be a major event.  The Nexium was in a locked cabinet.  No one had the key and the manager had to open it, so we were told.  Really?  This is heartburn medicine, not a narcotic!  Long story, short, one of the clerks decided to be bold and use her key to open the cabinet.  Wonder of wonders it worked!  We were on our way back to Curiosity.

Our next chore was cleaning the ball fenders.  We had used these fenders during our time at Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach.  The marina has excellent floating docks, but there’s a black rubber-like layer right under the dock that acts as an additional fender.  That’s great, but any boat fender that touches this stuff turns black.  And that black rubs off on anything it touches, like teak decking, fiberglass, human arms and legs, etc.  We were tied up at the Fort Pierce City Marina’s fuel dock, which was a fixed dock.  So we had our other fenders out.  As painful as it was at 4pm to clean the ball fenders, we decided this was as good a time to do this as any.

I got out the Spray 9 and got to it.  The Spray 9 got most of the black off.  A few more scrubs with a Magic Eraser (those things are great!) and the ball fenders actually looked white.

While I was scrubbing away, Adrienne was in the engine room doing the engine check.  It was a hot chore having run the boat for about 5 hours, but she had already gotten nice and sweaty when we were filling up.  She was in the engine room then reading the sight gauges and letting me know when the tanks were full.

It was about 5pm before we were all done.  We relaxed for a bit and then hopped in the shower.  It was one of those times when a shower is the most perfect and wonderful experience!

Dinner was a 6:30 at Cobb’s Landing, located on the marina property, thank goodness.  It was clear to us that the marina area is the happening place in Fort Pierce.  On one side is a tiki bar, which had loud music all afternoon with people laughing and screaming (not sure what was going on there) and on the other side is the restaurant.  It was packed.  We sat out on their patio where a local band was playing.  We didn’t have great expectations for the food from what we had seen so far of the town, but it was surprisingly good.  I had a seafood gumbo packed with shrimp and andouille sausage and Adrienne had some very good seared tuna tacos.  Even the “skinny” margarita was pretty good.

After dinner we were done.  We headed back to Curiosity, relaxed a bit and then turned in.  Tomorrow we head to Cocoa Beach, approximately 60 nautical miles to the north.  Thunderstorms are predicted for the afternoon, so we want to get started no later than 6:45am.  Early morning, but that’s boating.

 

 

December 6, 2014 – St. Augustine to Daytona Beach

The plan was to get off the dock no later than 8am for our cruise to Daytona Beach, but the weather had other ideas.  The fog that had crept in last night had not lifted in the morning.  The NOAA forecast had a dense fog advisory in effect until 8am and for good reason; we were socked in.  Again!  The weather system that brought us fog when we were leaving Brunswick, Georgia, apparently had not left the region.  It had just moved offshore for a day and now was back.  So we did what we did in Brunswick and that was wait.

The bad news about waiting, other than the delay, was that it was high tide at 8am with minimal current at the dock.  By 9am, the current was slack, but by 10am the current would be flowing again.  It would be behind us, pushing us out of the slip.  If we had to wait longer than 10, there would be a substantial current behind us as we tried to leave.  The problem was that we had to make a U-turn to exit the marina.  That meant we would have to cut across the current and then turn into it.  And when we cut across the current we could be pushed away from our slip and right into a long face dock that was across from our slip.  We would rather avoid that if we could.

We hoped to leave by 9:30 at the latest.  But it was not to be.  At 9:30 it was still pea soup.  We didn’t start to see any clearing until after 10.  We checked with a sailboat that had ventured out around 9: 45 and was a mile or so south of us. That boat reported low visibility and difficulty seeing the markers.  We continued to wait, but by about 10:40 we thought there was maybe ¾ of a mile of visibility.  A check to a marina about halfway between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach told us that it was crystal clear.  We decided to go and left the dock shortly before 11.

Jim eased us off the dock and then started our turn to starboard to cross the current, which was ripping by that time (of course!).  We immediately started to get pushed toward the face dock, but Jim kept us moving forward and away from the dock until we could make the next turn into the current.  We safely made the turn and headed for the ICW channel. Nothing like drama at the dock!

As soon as we got into the channel we started to see even more clearing.  Other boats had the same idea and we soon had a flotilla of southbound vessels with us.  We generally had 1 to 1 ½ miles of visibility for the early part of the trip.  As we got farther south the fog finally lifted and we saw some blue sky for a change.

Fortunately, the ICW at this point is pretty much of a straight shot down the Indian River.   There were some bridges and turns to contend with, and of course shoaling areas, but all in all it was an easy run.

Along the ICW

Along the ICW

ICW

ICW

Serious Mosquito Protection

Serious Mosquito Protection

The highlight of the trip was the pod of dolphins we picked up about mid-way through the cruise.  There were about 5 or 6 of them jumping and playing in our wake right at mid-ships.  I’m pretty sure there was a mother and her calf in the bunch.  Jim and I took turns driving so each of us could watch the show.  We tried taking pictures, but neither the Canon we have on board, nor our iPhones were quite fast enough.  Finally, I started taking some video with my phone.  It looked great while I was taking it.  But alas, I forgot to push the record button!!!  My only excuse is that I took very few videos with my old phone and this was a new iPhone 6 that I was not familiar with (I know, it’s weak, but it’s all I got).  I hoped that over the next few days we would have more dolphins that close to the boat so I could get some video then.

Our destination for the day was the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach.  It was right off the ICW, so very convenient.  They put us on a face dock almost directly across from the channel leading to the marina.  That made for easy docking and would make for an easy departure, something we were looking forward to after St. Augustine.

The marina informed us, however, that we would have a prime viewing spot for the annual Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which was that night and would come straight down the channel right in front of us.  We had no idea that Daytona Beach even had such a thing, but we were delighted that we were going to see it.

We didn’t get in until about 4:30 and so after we finished our boat chores the sun was close to setting.  We halfheartedly thought about walking into Daytona Beach for dinner, but the options didn’t look great and the night was going to be chilly.  We decided instead to have dinner on the boat so that we wouldn’t miss any of the boat parade.

Around 6pm we noticed boats decked out in Christmas lights and playing Christmas music making their way out of our marina to join others along the ICW.  We could see them moving south and then heard them as they cruised into the adjacent marina, which was barred from our view by buildings and tall shrubbery.  They slowly cruised out of that marina, turned north and then came down the Halifax Harbor channel.  The marina was right about our location.  We had a great view of the parade.  There were between 20 and 30 boats.  Some were lavishly decorated with lights, large Santas, reindeer, snowflakes, candy canes, you name it.  Others were more modest.  And there was music and lots of cheering and “Merry Christmases” from people on shore and on the boats.   It was a good time.

Boat Parade (2)

Boat Parade (1)

Boat Parade (3)

Boat Parade (2)

Boat Parade (3)

Boat Parade (3)

Boat Parade (5)

Boat Parade (4)

Boat Parade (6)

Boat Parade (5)

Boat Parade (7)

Boat Parade (6)

Boat Parade (8)

Boat Parade (7)

Boat Parade (9)

Boat Parade (8)

Boat Parade (10)

Boat Parade (9)

Boat Parade (12)

Boat Parade (10)

When the parade was over we sat down to dinner and reviewed our plans for tomorrow’s cruise.  Our destination was scenic Titusville.  We didn’t know much about Titusville, but it was about midway between Daytona Beach and Vero Beach, so it seemed like a good option.  And we figured we would find out more about it once we got there.  We planned on a 7am departure, so we turned in early.