Feb. 10-13, 2017: St. Augustine to Vero Beach, FL

Feb. 10, 2017:  St. Augustine to Daytona Beach, FL

We left the St. Augustine mooring field in strong current and had a great day of motoring through the ICW down to Daytona Beach.  We had to really make some miles as there are no attractive anchoring or mooring opportunities 30 to 40 miles south of St. Augustine.  Instead, we had to push to Daytona Beach, which is 46 nautical miles/53 statute miles away.  Fortune smiled on us, and we carried a favorable current all the way to Daytona Beach.  We were travelling 5.5 to 6.5 knots all day, which is quite fast for us.

This leg of the ICW was essentially a canal, much like earlier stretches.  It was wall-to-wall houses on the port side (e.g. the ocean side) and state park or undeveloped marsh on the starboard side.  As we passed Marineland Marina in Palm Coast, we waved and yelled to our friends D & S in s/v Victoria, who are staying for a while at Marineland and had no idea that we were passing by at that moment.  But hey, you never know.

That night we stayed in Halifax Harbour Marina, which we liked a lot.  They are right off the ICW, and their floating docks are in great shape.  The staff were very friendly, and the dockhand knew what he was doing.  He took care of all payment right there on the dock and gave us a nice welcome package with lots of good information, menus, and other interesting tidbits.  There is strong (but slow) wifi and clean bathhouses, which also include coin-operated laundry facilities.  It’s $1.70/ft. plus $6/night for 30 amp electric.  We didn’t go into town, but “historic” Daytona Beach is supposed to be within walking distance.

That day’s trip was 7 ¼ hours for 46.6 nm (53 statute miles).

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The St. Augustine Lighthouse in the distance.

Feb. 11, 2017:  Daytona Beach to Titusville, FL

Back in his military days, The Captain’s team had a motto:  the only easy day was yesterday.  This adage proved painfully true.

This section of the ICW is a narrow channel through wide bodies of water, so the current is constantly trying to push the boat out of the channel.  The Captain had to hand steer all day as the autopilot just couldn’t handle the constant shifts.  It was a beautiful Saturday on the ICW, and everybody in Florida with a boat was out.  We certainly never got bored, as we were constantly dodging boats and sighting dolphins.  Clearly the boat of choice in this part of the world is the pontoon boat, seconded by what I named “zippy boats.” These are the motorboats that apparently demand a heavy hand on the throttle with little regard for navigational rules.

We took a $19.26 mooring ball from the Titusville City Marina (thank you, BoatUS discount!).  They had an enormous field, but the balls closer to the shore were in some pretty shallow water, so we stayed on the outmost row on the river side.  While the mooring rental included amenities at the marina, we did not go ashore.  We’d definitely stay there again, as it was an easy entrance with mooring balls spaced widely apart.  After the day we had endured, we ate dinner and fell into bed, exhausted.

The Titusville Fair was going on just on shore, and we got a kick out of the bands, thrill rides, flashing lights, and screams.  It looked like a great time, and it was a shame we couldn’t visit it.  But we got to listen to the bands until after bedtime (a mixed blessing, but entertaining nonetheless).  The highlight of my night was hearing the headlining band lead singer’s growling shout, “Give it up, Titusville!” and the answering roar from the crowd.  Give it up, indeed.

That day’s trip was 8 ½ hours for 42.1 nm (48.4 statute miles).

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The Addison Point Bridge, aka the NASA Causeway Twin Bridge, is a very interesting double bascule.  We’ve never gone through one like this before.

Feb. 12, 2017:  Titusville to Melbourne, FL

We were treated to another beautiful day on the ICW.  There were still plenty of boats out enjoying the day, but somehow it seemed a little less hectic. Part of it was the channel was considerably wider.  We saw plenty of wildlife, including dolphins, cormorants flying in formation, and brown pelicans.  I love the way they dive for fish; they simply cannonball out of the sky and smash into the water, producing a huge splash.  It is the most ungainly display, in total contrast to the grace that most birds seem to have.  Good on ya, pelicans.

On the advice of our friends T & K on s/v Whisper, we anchored just north of the Melbourne Bridge at statute mile 918.  With the exception of some crab-pot dodging, the entrance was very simple.  We anchored between two large spoil piles in 9.6 feet of water and spent a quiet night.  We didn’t find the bridge traffic or wakes from the ICW to be noticeable, which was some other peoples’ complaint.  One sailboat and one trawler joined us in the anchorage, and there was room for many other boats.

That day’s trip was 7 hours for 34.8 nm (40 statute miles).

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We’ve seen a number of “homesteading” boats in Florida.  Someone lives full time on this boat, but as you can see from the lack of a motor, it doesn’t move.  He (or she) has three anchors out, and I hope you can see the gas grill tied down in the cockpit.  Necessity is the mother of invention!

Feb. 13, 2017:  Melbourne to Vero Beach, FL

After a few days of travel, we woke up raring to get to Vero Beach.  The Vero Beach Municipal Marina doesn’t take reservations for its mooring balls, and there aren’t that many to start with, so we were pretty anxious to hurry up and get there.  The other reason we were anxious is Vero Beach’s practice of rafting two or even three vessels per mooring.  We really didn’t want to raft up with anyone else, but if it came to that, our friends T & K on s/v Whisper were already there and had kindly offered to let us raft with them.

The day started out raw and overcast, and we saw 10-12 sailboats headed north as the day went on, which was a first for us.  Then the sun came out, the day heated up, and it was officially shorts weather.  When we arrived at the mooring field, we were able to get our own mooring ball in a pretty prime location in the center of the field, close to the dinghy dock but near the mangroves, which act as a windbreak.

As is our usual practice upon arriving at a destination, we got the boat ready to travel again.  This meant emptying our water jerry jugs into the tank and refilling them.  We also emptied the last of our diesel jerry jugs into the boat and refilled those.  Short of reprovisioning some perishables, we were ready to move again if we had to.

That day’s trip was 5 ¾ hours for 30.4 nm (35 statute miles).

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A happy house to match our happy mood.

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