Our arrival in Florida was a little anxious. Our mini flotilla of three boats (2 sail and 1 trawler) decided to anchor at Nassau Island and after an uneventful passage over the Cumberland Sound we were looking forward to a protected anchorage and restful night. Unfortunately this was only wishful thinking and none of us could enter Nassau Island. Our friends Pat & Ray on Reflection, the trawler, ran aground on entering and it took several hours before they could be towed off (thank heavens they had tow insurance!). We all decided that a marina was our only hope for the night so we called and reserved a spot at Palm Cove. They reportedly have 6ft at MLW.....Not so! We arrived and a catamaran we've met before (David and Sandra "Sabbatical") ahead of us announced there was only 4ft. We would have to wait it out in the channel until high tide. That meant waiting until almost dark and we were getting cold and frustrated. Fortunately the only other marina nearby, Beach Marina, had enough water for us so we all booked in there and managed to have a pleasant evening dining at the onsite restaurant/bar.
The following day we left for St. Augustine. Here we parted with our friends as they were booked into the posh marina, Camachee Cove, and we decided to anchor out.....what a joke that was. For all you sailors out there Skipper Bob's anchorage book is not altogether correct as we found out. It advised of a pleasant anchorage in the San Sebastian river opposite Oyster Creek marina. A two mile hike up the creek and there was no way we could have anchored there so we had to stay at the marina. We booked for two nights, had a great day yesterday strolling around St. Augustine, and woke up this morning to 18 knot winds. Alas, another night at the dock. We did make use of our day in port though. We managed to attach another anchor to the bow, making us look like serious cruisers. Andrew also made the new snubber. Let's hope this one does the job and lasts. Andrew also refitted the riding sail. It looks like it will be getting quite a bit of use if it works.
We departed St. Augustine early Monday morning and arrived at Fort Matanzas (another Spanish/French/British rivalry site) within a couple of hours. What a lovely place it is! Beaches, historic site, national park and a somewhat sheltered anchorage at last. What more could one ask for. Spent two nights there. Andrew managed to acquire some baitfish and with that on the hook Vanessa caught a couple of sizeable catfish, one of which gave her a nasty sting (yes, catfish have venom in their fins and of course Vanessa took the hit). It pierced her good hand and we panicked for a while! A couple of drinks took away the pain and anxiety.
We didn't want to leave the Fort but we needed to soldier on to Vero for the Thanksgiving feast. We spent the following night at Daytona Beach just off the ICW channel. A pleasant and uneventful day. The following morning we left at daybreak because NOAA forecast some rather gusty winds and cold temps. for the evening and the next day. No sheltered anchorage in sight, we again headed for a marina, Titusville. It turned out to be a good decision to stay at the marina for 2 nights. We went out to dinner the first night with our boating buddies. We were advised by the marina to get a cab to the restaurant (Dixie Crossroads), and did we have fun trying to fit eight adults into one taxi. It was a scream! We had a good walk around town the following day, going to the Astronaut spacewalk parks. You can get a great view of Cape Canaveral from Titusville.
We left the marina in calmer and warmer weather and have just arrived at Dragon Point (the dragon is no longer there - or at least it's just a pile of broken concrete now) about 35 miles north of Vero Beach.
A note to sailors: Don't let your fuel tank run low - not all marinas carry fuel and we had to use our backup can to get us to a fuel dock. Even if they do have fuel there may not be enough deep water to get to it! It all comes back to careful planning. Hmmm, another lesson learned.
We headed for Vero Beach Marina earlier than planned because we were ready for a few days rest. It turned out to be a great 5 night stopover. We were on a mooring ball rafted with "Sunshine", whom we knew. You must be prepared to raft here as it's a very popular spot especially at Thanksgiving. Boy, did we have a feast. There were approximately 150 cruisers participating in the potluck luncheon that was held in a hall close to the marina. A wonderful bash, but we still missed being with the children. Before lunch there was a swap meet. It was all boating stuff, half of which looked completely foreign to me! So we kept our wallets in our pockets.
One evening a group of us went to the theatre to see "Greetings". It was great fun and only walking distance from the marina. There are cocktail parties most nights so we are meeting more and more people, all with interesting stories to tell. We have walked to the beach, gone shopping (Super Walmart no less) on the free bus and generally had a great time. Vanessa even had the kayak out...aah bliss!
Note to sailors: if you are planning on taking your dinghy to Florida be advised that the police require all dinghies to have whistles, bailers, and proper navigation lights, and of course pfd's (plus documentation we are told)..ooops! We rigged some lights together for our theatre night out. Red plastic cups on top of a flashlight work well. We didn't have a green light - better get one soon I think. Where's the next West Marine?
Later on in the week a sailboat with an 80 ft mast arrived at the marina and we were fascinated how it went under all the fixed 65ft. bridges. The following pictures show how it's done.
Also a video is available - However this is very large file Click Here
After leaving Vero Beach we had a short travel day, only 15 miles and anchored in Faber Cove near Fort Pierce. We were the only ones there for two nights. We were able to dinghy to shore and walk across to the beach. Not a particularly pleasant beach but interesting watching the boats come in and out of the Fort Pierce Inlet. We found a casting net that needed repair and Andrew got to work fixing it. Now we need to figure out how to use it!
Continuing our travels we arrived at North Palm Beach. It rained today! However the temperatures are in the low 80's so who's grumbling! We found another super spot off the ICW in a canal system with private homes all around. Mega Mansions I should say. Saw a brilliantly colored iguana, about 3 feet in length, sunning itself on the rocks. And on we go......Two days later we crossed Lake Worth and anchored in Lake Sylvia which was a little tough to get in and out of but a great place to wait for a weather window to go outside (ocean bound). After a nights rest and a good weather report we headed out of the Fort Lauderdale inlet for a wonderful ocean "SAIL" down to Miami. It was so nice to have peace and quiet and the seas were good to us. Andrew enjoyed letting the autopilot do some work for a change. It was much more relaxing than worrying about the shallows in the ICW. We anchored for three nights in Sunset Lake (another Mega Mansion spot) in the Miami Beach area. We could dinghy to shore to get groceries and walk the famous Lincoln Mall (place to see and be seen) to Miami Beach. The Miami Holocaust Memorial nearby is incredible. I wish I had taken the camera with me! We were visited by the famed Miami police almost as soon as we set anchor. They were gracious and only presented us with an ordinance stating that we could not stay longer than 7 days......phew!!!!