Monday, July 02, 2007

Vero Beach, FL to Beaufort, SC


FLUKE and her crew have begun the 2007 journey north. Once again, our final destination is Edgecomb, Maine where we will visit with Willis and Merry Clifford at their Eddy Marina.

I'm writing this update to the blog as we are underway in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Georgia on Sunday, July 1. Since I said that, you should gather that sea conditions must be agreeable to us if I am capable of writing while underway. I'll back up in time now and fill you in.

Back To Our Roots
June 28, 2007

We left the home dock in Vero Beach at 0945 on June 28, the day we finally picked the previous week. That is 5 days earlier than we left last year. We accomplished most all of what we needed to after we got back from the Bahamas on May 28, and we were all anxious to leave the dock again and head north. FLUKE was pulling at her dock lines, as she was made to cruise, so we needed to get going.

As we were headed up the ICW I noticed that the compass heading read 000. Even though we are headed north, we seldom see the true north, especially since the eastern seaboard of the US is not straight up and down. There are times when we have to travel all the other directions, including some to the south, if we are using the winding inland waterways. Then, when we finally get to Maine, we are actually traveling east, as all those Mainiacs like to keep reminding people.

Our destination for our first night was outside the Titusville Municipal Marina. While we traveled through a few light showers, we were still comfortable, and we had the anchor down by 1900. We set ourselves up for an early departure the next day by being just north of the two bridges which had restricted openings. I had prepared dinner while underway: chicken enchiladas, a crew favorite, and a nice feast for celebrating the beginning of our summer voyage.

It was at the Titusville Municipal Marina where Wayne and Eddie went aboard FLUKE for the final leg of the trip back to Vero Beach with Captain Mike Carter and Cheppa who we had hired to bring FLUKE back from Charleston, SC in Dec. of 2005. They were hooked on FLUKE by the time they made it to the home dock!

A Little Bit of Everything
June 29, 2007

Traveling along the ICW, where it runs close to shore, can bring a few surprises as you will see when you read about our travel for June 29.

We had the anchor up by 0600. We are trying to get used to our new anchor roller. Wayne and Eddie modified our bow pulpit to better accommodate our larger anchor in hopes of making it easier for us to use the larger anchor and lessen the opportunity for damaging the boat. We also switched over to using a double bridle for our snubber line, and we are still trying to figure out the best way to get it attached. What Eddie thought was going to be a 2 day job turned into one lasting a week.

We crossed through the Haulover Canal (connects the ICW to Mosquito Lagoon north of Cape Canaveral) in very early morning. I love it at that time: people are fishing on the banks which are so close you can talk to them, it is calm, there are always manatees, and lots of birds.

It was hazy over Mosquito Lagoon and dark clouds were looming to the east, part of a tropical wave that was supposed to move on shore later in the day. We hoped to avoid it! Unlike last year when we could see the space shuttle on the launch pad, all the gantries were empty. There were many varieties of wading birds feeding in the shallows. It is easy for me to be distracted; I have to be so careful to keep FLUKE in the narrow “ditch” that is dredged through this very shallow body of water.

As we moved northward through New Smyrna and Daytona Beach skies were clearer. The strikingly red Ponce Inlet lighthouse loomed in the distance. This working navigational aid at 159' is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest in the USA.

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

Passing populated areas we saw a colorful houseboat on land, a topless woman wearing a bikini bottom doing leg lifts in her back yard, and teenagers having sex in a SUV parked on an impoundment dike. Summer's here! Life on the waterway is exciting.

Too Cute Houseboats
Too Cute Houseboats

Years ago I remember traveling by car along A1A near the old Marineland facility. I used to marvel at how close the boats traveling along the ICW were to the road. FLUKE slowly passes that same area today, and we can see the cars going by a stone's throw from the bow and the stilt houses in the oceanside dunes on the east side of the road.

A1A and Oceanside Stilt House
A1A and Oceanside Stilt Home

The houses along the ICW are packed in on top of each other, docks crowding out right to the edge of the ICW. In fact, one ICW marker is right next to the piling of one of the docks, and I think the dock piling might be farther out into the waterway than the marker.

Dock Incringing on ICW
Dock Incringing on ICW

A dredge is operating just north of Matanzas Inlet, an area known for severe shoaling. We easily pass the dredge, but less than ¼ mile away FLUKE hits the bottom hard 3 times. We manage to move her bow sideways with our thruster and Eddie gently nudges her forward; we feel lucky not to be hard aground with the outgoing tide.

We finally get to our intended anchorage, south of the south bridge in St. Augustine. It takes 2 attempts to get the anchor to hold properly as the ship's clock reads 1820, a real long day! The beautiful sailing schooner Freedom passes slowly by gently reminding us, as tired as we may be, life on the water has something for everyone.

Sailing Schooner Freedom
Sailing Schooner Freedom

Over the Rainbow
June 30, 2007

We want to get the anchor up in time to make the 0730 bridge opening at the Bridge Of Lions construction site. That is a confusing, cluttered area of the waterway now while the new bridge is being built and the old one is being renovated. We give ourselves time for Wayne to make poached eggs for breakfast, our usual Saturday fare.

Right after we easily get the anchor up a light rain shower settles in. The brightest rainbow we have ever seen literally fills the sky. The sun is so low the rainbow is almost circular about us, from bow to stern. It is so amazing! As the sun rises a little more, a second rainbow forms outside the first one over the nation's oldest city. Even the bridge tender makes a comment to us about its beauty.

Rainbow Over Castillo de San Marcos

Wayne's Dad lives in St. Augustine, and when we visit, he feeds us like it will be our last meal. Even though he isn't home today, Eddie has to call to leave a message for him telling him that we are disappointed he isn't there to make the usual feast for us. Like we need it!

The waterway area north of St. Augustine is so beautiful: it winds gently through open marsh land, there are so many wading birds, and today we are even treated to a flock of at least a dozen roseate spoonbills with extra deep pink plumage. A few light showers help to keep the temperature cooler and reduce glare.

I manage to clean and apply RainX to the front windows on the pilothouse after we are frustrated by the rain clinging to the windows and having to run the not great wipers.

Favorable tides give us better mileage. We pass through the smelly area of Fernandina Beach where the paper mill is piling up a mountain of wood chips, even though it is Saturday. I always wonder if FLUKE is getting dirty as we pass by the mill.

Colorful Cool
Colorful Coolness

I am happy when we cross the St. Mary's inlet at the Florida-Georgia border and see the wild horses of Cumberland Island grazing near the shoreline. We can look for a place to drop the hook and call it a day.

Out to Sea
July 01, 2007

So, here we are, July 1, time, 1500. I still have over an hour to finish up the news for this posting before my anchoring duties will begin. The compass heading is 024 right now and has been for the last 85 miles, after we made our final “turn”.

Weather forecasts indicated that seas should be favorable for an outside passage in today's time frame. Trying to maximize the distance we could travel with this window, we set our alarm for 0230. We were underway by 0300, heading out St. Mary's inlet by the light of the slightly clouded over full moon. With 130 miles to go to our intended destination of Beaufort, SC we needed to get going ASAP in order to reach our intended anchorage in time enough to get properly settled. I'm hoping there is room for us where we want to go since our options are few.

0600 Almost Sunrise
0600, Almost Sunrise

We have had light winds with gently rolling swells; I think, for a change, the seas are actually better than the forecasts predicted. It has been hot, 88, but with the wind from the ocean blowing into the open pilothouse we are not totally miserable. I think we would have been much hotter had we had to travel up the ICW and more frustrated dealing with the navigation markers and the weekend boaters. Out here we had only had to share the seas with a couple of freighters, and many dolphins. One time there were 10 on our bow wake at once! Going to sea today was a good decision.

Two Nappers on the Lido Deck
Two Nappers on the Lido Deck

Posting to the Blog
July 02, 2007

Wow, from the outer channel marker of Port Royal Sound inlet to the innermost buoy is 7 miles, so it took us an hour yesterday afternoon just to get in from the sea, getting pushed from the winds of 2 thunderstorms that were passing by, and another hour to get to our anchorage. We had to put out both a bow and stern anchor to account for a strong, reversing current and tide changes, so it was almost 1900 before the engine was turned off. A lon . . . . . g day!

We have had good things and bad things. The good thing is that we have tapped into an unsecured wireless network and have downloaded all our email stuff and will be able to post to the blog without having to get off the boat to find a place to do it on land or try to buy some wireless time from a harbor service.

The bad thing is that we have had squally weather with rain and wind since our arrival. We haven't launched the dinghy yet. It has been a day of boat chores, but time has passed quickly as we have all had plenty to do to keep us busy. Tomorrow we will get to be tourists and take a dinghy harbor cruise and a walking tour of downtown Beaufort (Bew-Fort). It will be our first time off FLUKE in 5 days.


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