April 17, 2011 Cape Canaveral to Halifax Marina, Daytona Beach
We are starting our second week of travels. Seems that we’ve been gone a lot longer than that! We threw off the lines at 8:00 and headed back down the barge canal to the AICW.
Our plans to be in Titusville for the shuttle launch on the 19th were foiled when they delayed the launch until the end of the month. Oh well…… Clear, blue, cloudless skies, cool temps of 67 degrees, and stronger breezes greeted us today. It was a “fleece kind of morning”. We were loving it after the sweaty, humid days that we were having. We found 1-2′ ft. waves in the wider stretches of the Indian River (AICW) until we turned east and passed through the Haulover Canal to Mosquito Lagoon.
The canal was calm and littered with fishermen of all ages along the banks.
Once we got to the other side of Haulover Canal, Mosquito Lagoon continued to be bumpy. We had to motor at cruise speed (19 mph), to keep the waves on the bow from covering the boat in salt spray. It is hard to see out of the windshield if it is covered in saltwater. Once we entered the narrow, slow no-wake zone for 5.5 miles, it became a slow parade of boats. That burned up an hour!
We passed a husband and wife team that had a little bait selling operation on the water. What a good idea!
We arrived in New Smyrna at 12:30 and since it was still early in the day we decided to move on further north to Daytona Beach. Just north of New Smyrna we checked out an anchorage for on the way back at Rockhouse Creek. There were many boats anchored there and it definitely looked like the place to be!
The beach is closeby and it must be the weekend hangout for all the boaters in the area!
Further up the AICW, we caught a glimpse of the distinctive, red Ponce de Leon lighthouse.
As we neared South Daytona, the area became very congested with boat traffic. It was a crazy Sunday afternoon on the water. We were docked at 2:00 at the Halifax Marina in Daytona Beach, ready to relax, and enjoy the day. We had traveled 67.1 miles today.
We took a walk over to the West Marine store in the area, so Bob could replace the things he used up fixing everything and I got some marine toilet bowl cleaner. Whoopee! Auggie loved his walk and got special treats from the female clerk in the store, as well as from the girl at the office this morning when we checked out. Bob thinks Auggie is a “girl magnet”. He seems to get all the attention! On the way back, I noticed a cute boat name on a boat at our dock. It might bring back to memory a conversation that you had with your mom as a kid.
Back at the boat we relaxed and Auggie fell right to sleep. He really wore himself out with all that sniffing! The wind continued to blow throughout the afternoon and into the evening and the temps remained nice and cool. It will be great for sleeping. We sat in the cockpit enjoying our afternoon cocktails and watching the boat traffic come into the marina. We were situated in such a place that we could watch all the action. Ironically, we had the same slip that we had last year when we were here. It was a pleasant day on the water with the advent of cooler temps, even with all the traffic. We made our phone calls to family today to let them know all was well. Tomorrow we are off to St. Augustine and then to Fernandina Beach on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will be the start of the “new” portion of the trip…..places we haven’t been before. We are looking forward to that!
April 18, 2011 Halifax Marina @ Daytona Beach to Camachee Cove Marina @ St. Augustine
The full moon rose with an orange glow last night and made such a beautiful sight. This morning, the water was perfectly calm and the skies were clear. We pulled away from the dock at 7:45 and motored slowly down Halifax Creek (AICW) until we got out of the city limits. Then we were able to run at cruise speed until we reached Palm Coast…a housing development on canals in a very narrow stretch of the AICW. We passed an unusual looking boat for the second time on our trip. It’s probably homemade.
He must be a live-aboard on his boat, “Robinson Crusoe” style, with no boat cabin to speak of. I hate to think where he goes to the bathroom. I call him “san-pan man”.
We passed a SeaRay out for a test drive from the local SeaRay factory. Notice their new “rail system”. Who knows what that is all about?
Auggie enjoyed looking out the window when something caught his eye.
He saw the small marina….No! That’s not a small marina…..that’s just some rich guy’s collection of boats at his own dock. Notice the neatly painted black and white striped dock poles! Must be nice…..
Bob caught sight of New Castle Marine, a boat building facility. Notice the 3 story yacht being built inside the building.
Auggie caught a quick nap on his favorite pillow while I went online to check the latest reports on passing through the treacherous Matanzas Inlet area.
It is notorious for shoaling, so it was important to follow the directions for transiting this area to avoid running aground. As we approached the area, we came upon this huge sand dune. It sparkled brightly in the sunshine from quite a distance away.
We followed 2 sailboats through the pass. They draw a lot more water than we do, so they were our “depth indicators”. We found the shallowest depth to be 8′ and the deepest to be 16′. Everything went well and we were on our way for the last 13 miles to St. Augustine. It was sunny today, although in the shade it was cooler on the water, so I wore my fleece most of the way. The temps were supposed to reach the high 70’s and by mid-afternoon they did. Bob spotted the black and white striped St. Augustine lighthouse as we neared the city.
Some things had changed since we visited St. Augustine last year. As we neared downtown, we saw the new mooring fields, both north and south of the bridge.
The Bridge of Lions was finished with its renovation, but where were the lion statues that stood on each end? Last year when we were here, they told us that the city had stored the lions until the bridge was done. Where are they now?
Once we got under the bridge, we could see the fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, on the northern edge of the city.
As we neared the St. Augustine inlet, the tide was going down, but the current was going out. The outgoing current was ripping through the inlet which kept the boat at a standstill. Bob had to really power up to get it to move forward. When I walked up along the rail to attach the boat fenders for docking, Bob said if I fall off of the boat I should just hold on to the fenders and they would help me float as I got washed away in the strong current. Ha! As we entered the channel to the marina by markers #1 and #2, the cross current grabbed the bow of the boat and spun us completely around. We were now facing backward. Good thing no one was taking a movie of this!
Bob started backing the boat down the channel towards the dock, until he could get out from the power of the current and regain control of the boat. Once we moved past markers #1 and #2 (and out of the main current), Bob spun the boat around and brought us to the dock. I was shaking, but Bob was shaking even more. Any mistake he would have made, would have put us on the beach! The very friendly, capable dockhand helped us get tied up and we breathed a sigh of relief….and had a beer! We traveled 55.9 miles today.
Auggie slept through it all. The dockhand made us feel better when he told us that we weren’t the first ones to have this happen. In fact, this big yacht got turned around in the same situation not long ago.
If the current could spin this 100 footer around, what chance did Bob have? We relaxed a little sitting on the back of our boat watching other boats try the same maneuver. Some were successful…..and some, not so much. The tide continued to go down. There is a 6′ tide swing in this area. This land will be under water by evening.
Here is the same area after the tide came in later in the day. Notice the difference?
We took Auggie for a long walk up to the marina office to register and get our complimentary cocktail glass. We took a walk down the dock to see this “Billy Smith” open express made to look like a squashed sportfish. Very unusual and expensive.
Later, we borrowed the courtesy car to go to the grocery store to pick up a few staples. It was a short 30 minute trip. Back at the boat, we relaxed until it was time to prepare dinner.
After dinner, we watched the boat traffic in the AICW until it got dark and the moon came out. (We’re the last, little boat on the right.) We had a great view of the AICW.
The moon appeared as a huge orange orb at the horizon and quickly rose in the night sky.
(This picture doesn’t do it justice. ) The tide came up 6 feet and almost submerged the channel markers.
Tomorrow we travel the 61 miles to Fernandina Beach. This begins the “new” part of our trip. We have never been this way before and are excited to get started.
April 19, 2011 St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach
After enjoying a beautiful night sitting on the back deck watching the full moon rise, we woke to very damp conditions. Bob got up early to get a picture of the beautiful sunrise while I caught a few more ZZZZs.
The air was so heavy with dew, it almost looked like it had rained. Everything on the boat was drenched. There was a fog hanging over the water as we pulled away from the dock just before 8:00. We had no troubles getting out into the AICW this time. Leaving is easier than coming. The current was flowing in from the inlet and didn’t create any whirlpool effect. We took our place in the line of boats heading north and slowly motored on. Every now and then we could smell the sweet scent of the waxleaf ligustrum in the air (I had to ask someone what that beautiful smelling tree was) and see magnolias beginning to bloom. We drove at 10 mph for almost 40 miles. As we neared Jacksonville Beach, we had dolphins swim beside us in our wake and bald eagles soaring overhead.
We were traveling with the wind at our backs, so we didn’t get much of a breeze while we traveled slowly. It was a sunny, hot, 85 degree day with lots of humidity. Once we crossed the St. John’s River and under the bridge, we were in brand new, uncharted (well, not by us anyway) territory. As Bob said, “all new, all the time”.
That’s when we drove off the edge of the electronic chart. Time to swap out the Florida electronic charts for the East Coast charts for the GPS. Back in business! We are surrounded by small creeks and marshland.
Every AICW marker seemed to have an osprey nest sitting atop it, filled with fledglings. Ahhhhh…..spring is in the air. We arrived in Fernandina Beach at 1:00 ready to relax and check out the area. The colorful, pastel buildings were easy to spot off in the distance.
We pulled along the inside of the floating dock right at the foot of town. We traveled 58.7 miles today.
We checked in at the marina office and walked up to the park to let Auggie stretch his legs. Back at the boat we enjoyed watching all the boat traffic pass by. Auggie looked out of his personal porthole to see who was passing by.
The sailboat in front of us had come from the Bahamas recently where the talented lady on board made these bird characters out of coconuts. I thought they were very cute!
While we were walking around, we noticed the train that travels right through town a couple times a day. We were lucky enough to be there when it did. Hopefully, it won’t pass through town in the middle of the night and blow its horn. They are making deliveries to the paper plant right outside of town. Lucky for us, the wind was blowing the smell of the paper mill away from us.
Tonight we’ll enjoy the waterfront and the town visitors as they stroll by on the docks. Tomorrow we’ll check out the town and all its sights. We did our hour of research as we checked out our next destination and any alerts from the Cruiser’s Net that we should pay attention to in order to avoid any problems. It’s always a restful night when you know you don’t have to move the next day.
April 20, 2011 Fernandina Beach
In reading all the information I could about Fernandina Beach before we left on this trip, nothing was ever said about the trains that come through town tooting their horns at all hours of the day and night. Hmmmmm. I only heard the train two times in the early morning while Bob also heard it a few times during the night. Oh well….
The skies were again clear and it was perfectly calm as the sun came up. By the time we poked our heads out, 5 boats had already left. We walked Auggie and talked with other boaters who are heading north. I’m sure we’ll run into them again along the way. It’s always interesting to hear where people have been and what they’ve done. Boaters love to share stories. After doing a few boat chores, we took a self-guided, walking tour of the Old Fernandina Historic District. Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is the only U.S. location to have been under 8 different flags in its history. At one point, Fernandina Beach was the center of smuggling and piracy.
After checking in at the marina office, Bob noticed that the lady who made the coconut birds left one for the guys in the office. It was made to look like a pirate.
After leaving the office, we made our way into the old historical area.
It was early and the stores were not yet open, which was nice. The tourists hadn’t started arriving yet, so the streets were empty. We did some window shopping and went to locate some of the old historical buildings. I love the architecture of the old buildings in these little towns. Our first stop was the old RR depot building which is now used as the Chamber of Commerce. We picked up a map to begin our tour.
Centre St. runs down the middle of the historic district and takes you straight to the waterfront and the marina. It is lined with beautiful roses and flowers of all varieties. It’s like going back in time.
We passed the beautiful white Post Office and Customs House. It was designed after a palace in Florence, Italy.
The Nassau County Courthouse was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside, with all restored antique furniture in the offices. Built in 1891, it is said to be one of the finest surviving courthouses in Florida and is the oldest county courthouse still in continuous use.
The Swan Building is beautifully restored and was originally used as a library on the second level and a drugstore on the first level.
The St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was constructed in 1881. It had an exposed rafter ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows.
And no tour would be complete without checking out the Palace Saloon. The saloon was opened in 1903 and is Florida’s oldest operating saloon. The place was closed as we walked by, so we decided to come back later in the afternoon to check it out and cozy up to the bar for a cold one.
We made our way back to the marina and waited for the fishing charters to come in. It didn’t look like anyone at our marina went out fishing today, although we did see a shrimp boat bring in their catch at the dock further down the waterfront. We went back for lunch, rinsed off the boat (the paper mill down the way puts a lot of dirt in the air), did some trip planning, and took Auggie for a walk. It is very hot and humid to be outside for any length of time, so we had to pop into the AC in the boat quite often. Later in the afternoon, we took a walk over to the Palace Saloon. This time it was open and we went in to sit at the bar and have a couple of beers.
The solid mahogany woodwork was awesome with a beautiful backbar. The original cash register sat among other kinds of memorabilia and overhead hung an array of two-bladed fans. We went back to the boat to make dinner and enjoy the sunset. Oops! Not tonight….too many clouds. On the way back to the boat, we passed the dinghy dock. They were left high and dry after the tide went out. They’ll have to stay there for awhile until the tide comes in again.
We relaxed with some TV before calling it an early night. Tomorrow we would pick up some gas at the marina and head on up the road into Georgia. We have an idea where we want to end up tomorrow night, but we’ll see how the day goes. There are lots of anchoring options to pick from along the way.
April 21, 2011 Fernandina Beach to Duplin River anchorage, GA
We pulled away from the dock at 8 AM after helping a boat with inept sailors get underway. Geez! It was just a few minutes before we were crossing the Cumberland Sound and back on the AICW. It was a cooler, slightly overcast day. The wind was light. The forecast was for 85 degree temps and 40% chance of rain today. We passed King’s Bay-which is the home to 6 Trident Class nuclear submarines at King’s Bay Submarine Base. We weren’t lucky enough to see any subs, but the area was definitely highly protected.
The water was glassy calm with an occasional ripple. We ran into a couple at the dock we had met in Cape Canaveral who are traveling to Brunswick, GA. Auggie and their dog, Duke (a white poodle mix) got to play awhile this morning before we left. Maybe we’ll run into them later today when we go to Brunswick for fuel. After doing our homework by checking the hazard warnings on Cruiser’s Net, we traveled through the first danger area without any issues. We have one more area of concern before we get to our anchorage for tonight. We’ve heard from more than one source, that the AICW in Georgia is boring. Since it’s new for us, we’ll reserve our opinions for a later time. From the water, it seems fairly desolate with acres and acres of marshland. So far we’ve had otters, bald eagles, manatees, and dolphins to keep us company.
We crossed the St. Andrew’s Sound, which separates Cumberland Island and Jekyll Island. Once we got close to Cumberland Island we spotted the horses that we had heard so much about. The story goes that the horses were owned by Mrs. Carnegie and when she died, she willed that her horses on Cumberland Island, GA be allowed to roam wild on the island. The horses continue to roam wild, fending for themselves to this day and those are the horses we saw.
Following the charts, they directed us out into the Atlantic Ocean for a bit to avoid the shoal areas. Luckily, it was a calm day so we didn’t have to deal with the “big water”.
I drove for awhile to give Bob a little break from the grind. We pulled into St. Simon’s Sound to get to Brunswick, GA for cheap fuel. With today’s prices, it pays to shop around. As we drove under the bridge to Brunswick, it reminded us of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge back home.
We spent 90 minutes fueling up, due to the fact that they ran out of gas and had to have the tanker truck deliver some. It arrived very soon after we got there, so it wasn’t much of a delay.
As we were leaving, we passed a car carrier ship from Panama who gave us a wave as we motored by.
Earlier in the day we asked advice from Summer Wind, a trawler headed to New York. They were traveling in the same direction as we were. Throughout the day we conversed with them about questions we had and got some advice about where to anchor for the night. They continued on ahead of us when we left the AICW to get gas at Brunswick. We caught up with them later in the day and followed them all the way to our anchorage for the night. The skies darkened to our west and the clouds dropped some light rain on us for a few minutes. Then it was sunny again. The horseflies started to overrun us….Bob and Cindy 12, horseflies 3. We made our second dangerous passage without any problems. We were glad we had decided to do it today on a higher tide, than try it tomorrow at low tide. (We wouldn’t have made it.) We dropped anchor in the Duplin River at 4:00 after an 8 hour day and 79.8 miles. There were 8 other boats in the anchorage with us. We relaxed outback as we heard thunder to the west of us and enjoyed the cooler air.
Soon it began to rain lightly, so we moved indoors and closed up the boat. We took it easy before dinner and turned in early. It continued to rain into the evening. Tomorrow we’ll try a shorter day. We have more difficult areas to traverse through, before stopping for the night in the Redbird Creek anchorage.
April 22, 2011 Duplin River anchorage to Cane Patch Creek anchorage, GA
It was restful night and not as hot as I thought it would be with the hatches closed due to the rain. Bob got up sometime during the night and opened up 2 hatches when the rain stopped. When we got up at 7:00, two of the 8 boats in the anchorage had left and by the time we left at 9:00 the anchorage had cleared out.
We were the last to leave because we had a leisurely breakfast and took care of an issue with Auggie. Something didn’t agree with his tummy last night and so this morning when we woke him up, we found that he had thrown up in his bed. After a little cleanup of both dog and bed, things were as good as new. He showed no other signs of not feeling well. When we pulled up the anchor to leave, we found it was covered with a bluish-gray clay caked-on like glue. Definitely good holding here. It took awhile to clean it off and then we got underway. We also found a present on our swim platform from last night. One of the 4″ bait fish that we saw jumping all around us last night, miscalculated, and ended up where it didn’t belong. He was having a bad day.
Bob’s repair of the anchor light was successful and it stayed lit all night. It was humid with light winds and should be cooler in the upper 70’s. The sky was partly cloudy. This area has 8′ tides, so we had to time our arrival to certain areas on the AICW just right. Today would be a short run of 45 miles to Redbird Creek, so we were in no hurry. We ran in Johnson Creek which paralleled St. Catherine’s Island. The climate on this island is suitable for breeding colonies of rare and endangered animals like gazelles, parrots, and Madagascar turtles. There is a Survival Center for endangered animals on this island. The humidity dropped off and the afternoon clouds appeared, possibly bringing in those pop-up afternoon thunderstorms. It was a pretty uneventful day, but we did go fast for 4 miles. Whoopee! Otherwise, it was 10 mph of agony because there was absolutely nothing to see except some small fishing boats, a few more homes along the shore, and more friendly dolphins. I did my best to navigate and study the charts.
The parade of boats going north with us got a little longer with each mile. We’re beginning to run into the same boats over and over again. We checked out our first anchorage option and found it acceptable, so we dropped the anchor in Cane Patch Creek at 2:45 instead of going on farther to Redbird Creek.
We traveled 42.5 miles today. It became breezy out of the southeast and the current was really ripping here, but we put up the sunshade and settled in. We just got comfortable when the plastic top of the umbrella popped off in a gust of wind and landed in the water. It promptly floated in the 4 knot current. Bubbye. Fire drill #1. I kept an eagle eye on it while Bob unstrapped the dinghy and lowered it into the water. He then jumped into it to start the motor and retrieve the top.
Auggie helped keep an eye on Bob. You might be able to see his little head looking out of the hole.
Getting the dinghy back on the lift was another feat of acrobatics in the swift current, but we finally got the dinghy back on the lift and secured. Back to relaxing! We sat under the sunshade and listened to music whiling away the hours until supper.
We had arrived at high tide and were able to see across the marsh to the AICW. By 5:00, the water had dropped 6 feet and we couldn’t see out. It was a very secluded anchorage and we had the place to ourselves. We waited for the sun to set and things to cool off as evening approached. The tide had dropped a total of 8′ before it started to rise again. We watched a gorgeous sunset and went to bed..
It will be as quiet in this anchorage as it was in the last one.
April 23, 2011 Cane Patch Creek anchorage to Bull Creek anchorage, SC
What a great anchorage! It was private, quiet, and full of beautiful bird sounds in the morning.
The fast current can be somewhat of an issue here, but the holding was good. It was a mostly sunny day with a nice cooling breeze. Temps were expected in the low 80’s. We timed our departure at 9:00 to get to through two troublesome passes (The Florida Passage and Hell’s Gate) at rising tide in the first 6 miles. These areas are shallow and treacherous at low tide with lots of current. I looked up the word “hammock” to get an official meaning because so many places on the charts are named things like Dog Hammock, Mary Hammock, Fishing Hammock, Pumpkin Hammock, etc. According to the AOL dictionary, a hammock is a knoll or mound. It makes sense now when I look on the chart. Anyone with a good Webster’s Dictionary can do me a favor and look up the word “roanoke”. I know it refers to the name of a town, but in the book, “Chesapeake”, I’m reading, it makes reference to it. One reference refers to “lengths of roanoke” used in a dowry and the second is “no shells for making roanoke”. I’d like to know if someone can find out. Part of our travels today took us past the Moon River, made famous by the Andy Williams song years ago. Remember, Mom? The seagulls like to follow us at this slower speed, hovering above, waiting for us to kick up a bait fish or two that they can have for dinner.
We transited through both shallow passages without any problem. We were in a “parade” of 4 boats–2 trawlers ahead of us and one 83′ yacht behind us. The 83′ yacht passed us and we chatted with them a little while on the radio. The husband and wife team were from Potomac, MD and gave us some tips on places to stay. Very nice people! I admire someone who can drive his own yacht at 18 knots! Yikes! The dollar bills were flying out the windows!
We finally reached an area with some scenery. Oh joy! It was called “Vernon View” – a Savannah suburb overlooking the river with docks that line the shore. Next we came upon the town of Isle of Hope – a cute little town in a beautiful setting. I put it on our list of places to check out on the way back.
The next town, 7 miles down the AICW, was the town of Thunderbolt – a town named by the American Indians when lightning struck the bluff above the city creating a freshwater spring. Today, Thunderbolt is a yachting and seafood center. Frozen, breaded, pan-ready shrimp were developed here. Yum….. This will also go on the list of places to stop on the way back. You can catch a $10 taxi ride into Savannah from here. Sounds good to me.
At 1:00, we crossed over the Savannah River – the dividing line between Georgia and South Carolina. After finishing our trek through GA, we both concur that the scenery along the AICW in GA is boring, just miles and miles of salt marshes. But on the other hand, it’s nice to see undeveloped, natural landscape preserved for the animals that inhabit it. Now in South Carolina, around a narrow bend in the river, we met this beautiful looking yacht heading south. That was a surprise!
At our slower speed, even the Met Life blimp caught up to us. The Met Life blimp hovered over Hilton Head for the night, just a mere mile away.
We reached our anchorage for the night in Bull Creek at 2:00 after 45.7 miles today. It was frequented by all the weekend boaters who streamed in and out, but when they all went home for the night it was quiet. We relaxed, made a few phone calls, and enjoyed the day. Five sailboats arrived after we did and dropped anchor for the night. Tomorrow we head to Beaufort, SC (BYEW-FORT) for 2 nights. We need to do laundry, pickup a few groceries, and spend some time exploring the city. The winds died off as evening fell and we watched a little TV before calling it an early night.