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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Indiana Harbour Beach to Vero Beach Florida (ICW Mile 952)

Again left at crack of dawn but needed less clothes as temperature is definitely getting higher. In fact during the morning Jeannette was in T-SHIRT and SHORTS !

Passed under several bridges showing around 63 feet but only pinged once.

Still in Osprey country - sighted 8 on the trip. Wind incresed to an easterly 5 Bft so the Genny increased our speed to over 7 kts SOG most of the way.

Many of the houses we passed are much more substantial that what we have seen before . The waterfront was generally lined with mangrove, which was often cut like a hedge in front of the houses.

Jeannette spent much of the trip baking mince meat slices for Xmas.

At 1200 hours arrived at Vero Beach and picked up a mooring at the Municpal Marina close to Yara - very happy to be here . Temperature is forecast to be in the mid 20's (C) for the next few days - it seems as though we have finally found the sun and no longer need to push the pace south to beat the frost.

Later Yara rafted up to us - gezellig ! . Vero Beach is a favourite spot for cruisers - mooring rates are low and there is a free bus network to the shopping areas right from the marina. There are around 100 yachts here at the moment. We plan to spend Xmas here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Daytona Beach to Indian Harbour Beach at ICW mile 913

Once more dressed for the Arctic , anchor up as just getting light at 0645hrs, continued south past the shoaling Ponce de Leon Inlet. The route took us through Lagoons partly filled with mangrove covered islands. Saw lots of pelicans including the white variety, sometimes flying/ gliding in squadrons with wing tips an inch above the water. Seems to be osprey country - spotted 5 of which one was flying with a fish grasped in its talons - it landed on a nearby marker pole and started eating it as we motored past.

The islands thinned out and we entered the Mosquito Lagoon then through the bascule bridge in the Haulover Canal to the wide shallow Indiana River.

Here we saw in the distance some of the NASA launch pads and Shuttle Vehicle Assembly Building of Cape Canaveral.

Passed, with some trepidation under several fixed bridges showing around 63 feet - most we cleared without touching, but one pinged our antenna so still not sure whether Florida is consistent with the reported changing of the tide guage boards. Anchored off the ICW channel a mile or so before the Eau Gallie Bridge just after sunset at 17.45hrs at ICW mile 913.
With the help of a mainly positive current and some genoa, we covered a record 79 miles.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

St Augustine to Daytona Beach, Florida

Kitted out yet again in thermal underwear, fleeces and heavy weather gear we raised anchor at dawn at 0645 hrs 21 December on a fine but cold day and motored south to Daytona Beach where we are now anchored in 1.9 meters at low water (ICW mile 833).

On the way we passed many houses with huge insect screens around the terraces and balconies.

Once again many houses have very long jetties with boat lifts - some more elaqborate than others.

All went according to plan until we reached the first of the many bridges in Daytona Beach - the tide guage showed less than 63 feet and the tidal range was less than 6 inches. In a VHF chat with another high masted boat who was waiting for the tide to drop, found out that due to a yacht suing the State for damage as the central light on the bridge was lower than the stated bridge height , Florida has made the official height of all its bridges 63 rather than 65 feet and adjusted the tide guages accordingly. After anchoring for a while until we had just over 63 feet clearance, we gingerly approached the bridge and amazingly went under without hearing a single ping. The same happened for the next two fixed bridges - so do we in future add two feet to the tide guage readings of all fixed bridges if Florida ?? We will only know after we have passed under the last bridge!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

St Augustine, Florida (ICW mile 778)

Dinghied to the St Augustine Municipal Marina dinghy dock at 11.30hrs on a cold but almost cloudless morning 20th December.

Wandered around the old Spanish town with its many beautiful well preserved old buildings all in Spanish style - we felt that we could have been in Spain. Indeed St Augustine was founded by the Spaniard Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565 and is the oldest permanent settlement in the USA.
Many of the later buildings were built by the railroad tycoon Henry Flagler in the 1880's.

Went through the Lyon's Lift Bridge late afternoon to fill up with diesel (2.79 USdol/USGal equiv to about 45 pence per litre ! ) and water at the Municipal Marina and anchored on the southern side of the bridge ready to catch the flood tide early in the morning.

Passed an Osprey perched on the guard rails of a nearby boat.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jasksonville to St Augustine, Florida

Left Jacksonville at daybreak19 December and had a very fast trip to St Augustine with the ebb in the St John's River taking us back to the ICW and then the flood along the ICW until HW and then the ebb to St Augustine - sometimes things work out right. VHF antenna pinged on two of the supposedly 65 foot bridges whose tide guages were showing 64 feet - but we are used to this by now.

The route took us along a mix of twisting rivers through grassy marshes and man made cuts, some of which were lined with expensive waterfront properties with their own jetties and boat lifts.

Some of the jetties were ready for Xmas .

Saw several dolphins on the way plus the usual mix of pelicans, cormorants and other water birds. Anchored before the Lyons lift bridge at St Augustines (mile 778) by 14.15 hrs. Anchorage is very protected from the west and the wind is luckily forecast to stay WNW for the next couple of days. Saw the unusual sight of two Ospreys paddling and ducking their heads in the shallows of a nearby drying bank.

The weather has turned cold again so we are back to wearing thermal underwear, fleeces and heavy weather gear. However the stormy rainy weather from yesterday has gone north resulting in the heaviest snowfall since 1920 in Washington DC.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jacksonville , Florida

15Dec made the short trip to the Landings, a long pontoon dock in the middle of Jacksonville where one can moor for 72 hours for free. Had lunch with Eileen & Larry to celebrate Eileen's birthday at a waterfront cafe. During lunch, Rhum Line moored behind us - all very enjoyable.
Clouds disappeared and temperature reached the mid 20's (centigrade) reassuring us that we are indeed in the south.

Christmas festivities were in full swing around the Xmas tree in the Landings plaza.

16Dec J made the 1 1/2 hour trip on the R5 bus from the bus station to St John Town , a huge shopping area, and had a very enjoyable time wandering round the shops.
17Dec have decided to stay here a couple of days more as severe thunderstorms and heavy rain is forecast.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fernandina Beach to Jacksonville Florida

With great reluctance bid farewell to Eileen and Larry 14 December and motored mainly against the ebb all day to Jacksonville arriving just before sundown at the anchorage at the south side of Exchange Island close to the city centre.
Passed flocks of white Pelicans on the side of the waterway, dolphins and large white bodied birds with black wings which we think were White Storks.

Passed several signs alerting one to the presence of Manetees
The St John's River seems to have an abnormally long and very strong ebb (over 2 knots). Although the flood was supposed to have started at the river mouth at 15.26 hrs, the ebb was still strong when we arrived at Jacksonville at 17.00 hrs.

Cumberland Island South Carolina to Fernandina Beach Florida

Left Cumberland Island at 0700 hrs on Friday 11 December on a blustery cold rainy morning and motored with the current to Fernandina Beach. Our sailing friends Eileen and Larry from Wayard Wind braved the weather to help us dock at 0845 in the morning at their Oyster Bay Yacht Club pontoons and drove us to their lovely house on the water surrounded by beautiful old Live Oaks. Spent a great time with them reminiscing over past adventures, being shown around the neighbourhood, having daily hot showers (what a luxury), joining in their social events and stocking up for the Bahamas. The climate here in northern Florida seems to have big swings - Friday and Saturday cold and wet requiring many layers of clothing, Sunday and Monday warm and dry so we would have been happy in shorts and T-shirts.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Dinghied ashore to the free Seacamp Dock and checked in with the Park Ranger. Joined a couple from Ohio on a short tour led by a Park Ranger to the ruins of the Dungeness Mansion and learned about the history of the island from the times of the Timucan Indians (2000 BC ) to the purchase by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie in the 1880s to the present status as mainly a National Park. Caught a glimpse of the wild horses that roam freely over the island.

Walked under the knarled and twisted branches of ancient Live Oak woods festuned with Spanish Moss with the low Saw Palmetto palms growing underneath.

Then over a board walk above the reed marsh, through the Dutch-like dunes and strolled along the beach watching the Sanderlings rapidly strutting along the advancing retreating waterline and the groups of gulls and Oyster Catchers.

Turner's Creek to Cumberland Island, Georgia

The last four days we have been in very remote and mainly uninhabited but beautiful areas without access to WiFi.
Left Turners Creek in the dark on 8/12 so as to be in time for the 0800 opening of the Skidaway Bascule Bridge. The route took us along rivers meandering between reedy islands crossing the sea inlets of St Catherines and Sapelo Sounds passing many dolphins and pelicans on the way as well as several herons , oystercatchers , cormorants and other water birds.

For some days now, we have been in shrimp country and in the sounds saw several shrimp boats. The wind was gusting up to 20 knots from the North so most of the way we managed to gain a knot or two with the aid of the Genny keeping us well ahead of Rhum Line who usually motor faster than us. By 1600 hours we had had enough for the day and anchored for the night in the wide Back River (mile 651) together with Rhum Line.
Off again by 0640 hrs 9/12 we negociated the very shallow Little Mud River encountering depths of around 2 meters in the middle of the channel- once again we were thankful for Dutch link's 1.2 meter draft.
The channel was so narrow that one had to make use of the range marks to avoid going aground. The morning turned out to be unexpectedly sunny and warm (out of the wind) - the weather channel on the radio was telling us that we were encountering unseasonally warm air with chance of strong thunderstorms with damaging winds.

Passed close to a dredger - later heard on the VHF that a yacht we had overtaken ran aground just past here and had to wait for the tide to float off. The southerly wind steadily increased during the morning to the mid 20 kts gusting 30 kts - mainly on the nose so no sailing. Crossed a couple of sea inlets - St Simons Sound and Jekyll Sound - the later requiring us to go a few miles offshore to round the shoaling banks. With 30kt gusts and a strong current running kicking up quite a sea, the Jekyll Sound was a reminder of what it can be like at sea.
Reentering Jekell Sound from the see, the sand dune like cliffs reminded us very much of Vlieland in the Dutch Wad where we have spent many happy times. At 15.30hrs we called it a day and anchored in the beautiful protected Delaroche Creek (mile 702) surrounded by reedy marshes.

Yara kindly called us up on 16 to warn us of strong thunderstorms heading our way and so we let out another 10 meters of chain and watched the sky darken. The air temperature was warm enough for us to sit in the cockpit for our early evening meal as the rain pelted down Amazonian style.
Left the anchorage at 0700 hrs 10/12 in a NW 3 to 4 under grey skies and benefited from the last of the ebb making up to 8 kts SOG passing the Navy's Kings Bay nuclear submarine base . By 0900 hrs we were anchored off Cumberland Island.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Savanah, Georgia

Left Beaufort early 6/12 and motored without incident through the meandering rivers and cuts through the reedy marshes to Turners Creek mile 585 of the ICW. Anchored in the soft mud and had tea on board Rhum Line. 7/12 took bus 24 to Savanah and spent the day with Tris admiring the fine houses and wooded squares of this fine Georgian city.

Lunched at Spankies on the water front and shared an "8 Piece Basket" - chicken fingers in and potato slices in batter served in a basket.

Passed by the Telfair museum which had an exhibition examining role Dutch culture has played in shaping American artistic tradtion entitled "Dutch Utopia" - in the period 1880 to 1914 many American artists went to the Netherlands to study the work of the old masters. Children have been invited to paint Dutch subjects.

Savanah was the site of a famous battle in the War of Independence in 1779 in which the Brits defeated the American rebels.

Today Savanah is one of the USA's major ports with a large amount of container traffic.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beaufort South Carolina

Left the jetty in Adams Creek at daybreak 4th December so as to reach first 65 foot bridge well before high water. Tide gauge showed just over 64 feet so went cautiously under and waited for the VHF antenna to ping on the bridge (top of antenna is 64.5 feet above water ) - no ping so made it with millimeters to spare.

Rest of trip took us through rivers and cuts bypassing oxbow bends with marshy reed swamps either side.

Anchored just past the swing brdige close to the old town of Beaufort. dinghied into town and stayed there to stroll down Bay Street which had stalls and various choirs marking the start of the Xmas holiday period. Unfortunately it was a rainy evening so we returned to the boat before the official lighting of the town Xmas tree.

On 5th December celibrated St Nicolas with Poll & Kyra from Yara and Ted & Trish from Rhum Line on board Dutch Link .

Jeannette baked Pepernoten.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adams Creek

On the 1st December both Rhum Line and Dutch Link left Charleston after tricky manoevers to extract ourselves from the smallish dock in a strong northerly wind.

We made the 0900 opening of the Wappoo Creek Bascule Bridge and motored against a strong ebb tide in the narrow Elliot Cut.

After a very pleasant trip through the winding Stono and Wadmalaw Rivers partly through reed marshes we left the ICW and headed south down the North Edisto River to Adam Creek where we moored against Bill & Jacqueline's jetty with Rhum Line rafted against us. Had a great evening in their beautiful holiday home. Last night (3/12) we were waiting for a southerly storm to blow through - Strong winds, heavy rain, severe thunderstorms with chance of tornados are forecast for tonight (2/12). Happily the storm passed without incident and the sun is once more out.