Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fernandina Beach, FL Architecture

A photo essay and tour of the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Florida. Home of the American Shrimping Industry.

A different kind of Architecture, French Ships sailed into the harbor for a two day visit

Tonight we depart Fernandina at the St. Mary's inlet and we will sail north 120 miles to Beaufort, SC via Port Royal Sound. This leg will take 20 hours anchor to anchor and we plan to be offshore by sunset running the leg at night. We will arrive the Port Royal sea buoy at 0900 for the flood tide up the sound. Fernandina Beach FL is a great town and like all great towns we hate to leave....but on we go...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

St. Augustine to Fernandina

The newly restored Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine, FL
Running the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway from St. Augustine, FL to Fernandina FL presents a wide spectrum of interesting homes, marshes, forts, and commercial traffic. The trip is 62 statute miles, that's the kind of miles you run on land in your car. On the boat you run at a much slower speed more like 6 mph! So imagine riding your bicycle 50-60 miles every day along a canal and you will begin to get the full picture. With that said, this trip is really fun and enjoyable.  The diversity of the waterway makes it so rewarding. Sure, it is not the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas, or the indigo blue of the Gulf Stream, but it is unique in its own way.

Radeen exploring St. Augustine, FL

Running from town to town is one of the pleasures because you can dinghy ashore and get off the boat and walk the town sightseeing. But the real mission is....looking for ICE CREAM shops! Yes, Team Island Spirit will find any and all ice cream shops on the ICW from Maine to Florida. (Ice cream in the Bahamas was bad, but then think of how far it had to come and how long it was kept frozen during transit, and let's not talk about power outages in Abaco!)

Anyway, back to the ICW in northern Florida. It is easy, winding, scenic, built up with a few remaining marshes for the birds to enjoy. It is interesting to focus on the old Florida homes vs. the new Florida homes. You see the casual, simple lifestyle of the old replaced with the modern metropolitan lifestyle of the new Florida. I am not sure it is a real improvement, but some must think it is better this way.

After 4 days of 50-60 mile days, 10 hrs each, we will stay here in Fernadina for a relaxing day tomorrow and enjoy this wonderful town.

Photos of this diverse section of the ICW...
Great Blue Herons in the marshes and mangroves
Typical view of the homes and docks as seen from the boat

Spanish Fort Mantanzas just south of St. Augustine, FL
 Here is a look at the OLD Florida along the ICW

Typical home with a simple boat and boat house

Typical rancher with no dock

Fun boat house / dock and simple home
Now for the NEW up the old....tear it bigger and taller

Two story with a sweeping lawn

Beautiful arches, decks, pool and "golf course" lawn

Spanish tile sorta makes this blend in....but then next door is an OLD Florida home
And then there are white arches, trellises and multiple wings! 
 And, don't forget that this is also a COMMERCIAL waterway

Tug and barge pushing south on the ICW
I have no clue how they manage all the turns
Amelia Island Bridges one twin bridge and one Railroad bridge

Welcome to the PAPER PULP FACTORY and Fernandina Beach
Diversity, that is what I think of when we transit this section of the waterway and that is what makes this leg a treasure and so interesting to explore.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vero to Cocoa to Daytona

Vero Beach Raft: IP460 Cutter Loose & IP35 Island Spirit
With the Bahamas / Abacos adventure behind us, we are now focused on moving Island Spirit north towards our home dock in Rock Hall where we will conclude year #1 of full time cruising. We plan to be back "home" Memorial Day weekend. This trek north on the ICW will be our second, as we did it in March of 2008 from Vero to Rock Hall and really enjoyed it. Highlights of our time in Vero included breakfast with Cutter Loose & friends Marlene & Don at Mrs. Mac's Filling Station and going to the the farmer's market in Ft. Pierce together. We pulled out of lovely Vero Beach after 5 relaxing days and two storms / squalls and powered our way 50 miles north to Cocoa Village.

Anchored off Cocoa Village, FL

Anchoring there, we took the dinghy into town where we met up with our good friend and IP380 owner, Bob W. The great aspect about IP ownership is the people and the IP owners you meet along the way. Bob is one of those owners who has always gone above and beyond to support us and connect with us as we pass by the "space coast" where he lives. Also joining us was Blaine P., long time friend and sailor, who helped us avoid Hurricane Irene last August as we dashed from Block Island to Rock Hall.

Our good friend and IP380 owner Bob W. always makes us feel welcome

 Blaine, our #1 IP Delivery Captain joins us as well
We enjoyed a great dinner in Cocoa Village  at Murdock's with Bob and Blaine, IP delivery captain of  Blaine has recently relocated his business from Charleston to the Tampa area. We wish him all the best!

The next day, we pressed on, with our good buddy boat and close friends Eric and Patricia on IP460 Cutter Loose for our destination of Daytona Beach. This was another 50+ mile day with 8 bridges and an 11+ hour run under full power. Upon arrival at Daytona, we needed to anchor twice as we were too close to a sunken wreck that a local boater alerted us about. Thanks to this kind local boater, we were directed to a better location and set our anchor finally. Since we had a hot lunch under way today in the sunny but cool weather, we simply had cheese and crackers for dinner. Ahh....the boating life can be so simple and so relaxing that sometimes you forget what it is really like to live in a house...
Radeen manages the log book. Yes, that is fleece she's wearing!

Tomorrow we need to make a bridge opening by 0730, so it is anchor up at 0700 and underway again. Destination will be St. Augustine where we will go ashore and enjoy some time off the boat. With our good buddies Eric and Pat, we will revisit the wonderful Spanish Restaurant in town, along with the local micro brewery which we will thoroughly re-evaluate.

Photos of Vero and area
The massive squall line approaching, see video on previous post

Departing Vero with the Merrill Barber bridge to the port bow....sad view

During the run to Cocoa, we took on the most salt spay ever on Island Spirit
25-30 knots NW, port bow, continual spray over the solar panel roof

The NASA VAB, Vehicle Assembly can be seen for over 20 miles!
This run north on the ICW is easy, the markers are many, it is very clear where to go, and it is so protected. To some it is boring, to us, it is interesting and enjoyable. We look forward to places like Charleston, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Dismal Swamp, Newport News, and the home waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Life is fun on a cruising sailboat....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vero Beach Squall

We decided to stay at Vero Beach, FL on their mooring balls until this next frontal system moves through. Today, a day before the real front is due, we had a warm up with a thunderstorm, hail storm, squall packing 50 knot winds. Here is a 2 minute video of the event. The storm lasted 20 minutes....
Video of Squall
Watch below or on YouTube here
Added NOTE: April 21, 2012
Vero Beach Papers reports that a tornado touched down just south of the bridge, about 1/4 mile south of where this video was shot. Winds peaked out and were reported at the bridge of 92 MPH! This must have been the outflow from that storm.

Also marina people and other cruisers are reporting that they all say 50-55 knots of wind, so our wind meter is not too far off.

Cutter Loose recorded 50 knots as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arrival USA Ft. Pierce FL

Mid way home, center of Florida Current, Gulf Stream
After 7 weeks out of the USA exploring the Abacos, Bahamas, we sailed back into our homeland with mixed emotions. Sad because we enjoyed the Bahamas immensely, yet happy to return to the conveniences of USA. Life over in the Bahamas is peaceful, slower, more calm, relaxing, unplugged, and the people are respectful, polite, happy, proud, welcoming, and sincere.

Back in USA, the smart phones fired up and began ringing, dinging and vibrating, the Internet connected and the router and WiFi rig went live 24/7 with emails, facebook, and web surfing back up to full speed. Yes, USA is a digitally connected world which is good in many aspects, yet distracting, and very time consuming. We need to find that happy space between the calm of the Bahamas and the rapid fire of the USA. Somewhere in between there is a happy medium.

Wing on Wing, jib with pole set to starboard
Our sail, motor sail, home from West End, Bahamas was calm with following winds of 10-15 knots, seas 2-3 feet and beautiful BLUE waters. We settled in on a poled out jib and a prevented main with a reef for a wing on wing sail set. With 2500 rpms on the motor we were many times pushing 7-8 knots. So we made the crossing in 13 hours departing at 0630 and anchoring down at 1930 just in time for sunset and conch blowing salute. Welcome is good to be here...

Here are photos of the run home...
Heading WEST out of West End, Bahamas for Florida
Sunrise over Abacos, we are sad to see this off our stern...

Beautiful sailing with the wind at our backs
There is a saying..."May the Winds Always be at your Back!"
This means smooth sailing
Look at the BLUE water of the OCEAN
this is an untouched photo, it is really this BLUE!
Blue water as seen from the helm looking over the bow

SADLY we drop the Bahamas Flag and raise the Q flag
We need to check in with customs before we may drop the quarantine flag

Radeen expertly takes the helm as we sail into the Ft. Pierce inlet

Rock Jetties protect the inlet, but it also funnels the currents in and out of the narrow inlet
Radeen is very calm and drives us in between the jetties

You DON'T want to mess up in an inlet, we are sailing and motoring
with our main still up on a beam reach doing 9 knots!
We sure will miss this.....we will happily rush back next winter :-)
OK, time to pick up anchor here in Fort Pierce, drive up the ICW into Vero Beach, FL and start a new journey. A memory tour north from Florida to Maryland on the IntraCoastal Waterway. Come along and join the ride....