The Intra Coastal Waterway
Copyright © 1997-1998 by John and Eleanor Coulthard
Permission to copy for non-commercial purposes is granted provided the source is acknowledged
November 2, 1997 - Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) to the
November 7, 1997 - ICW: Alligator River to Beaufort
November 13, 1997 - ICW: Beaufort, NC to Bucksport, SC
November 17, 1997 - ICW: Bucksport, SC to Charleston, SC.
November 21, 1997 - ICW: Charleston, SC. to Beaufort, S.C
November 26, 1997 - ICW: Beaufort, S.C. to Alligator Creek
December 2, 1997 - ICW: Alligator Creek to Daytona Beach
December 4, 1997 - ICW: Daytona Beach to Titusville
December 9, 1997 - ICW: Titusville to Cape Canaveral
December 13, 1997 - ICW: Cape Canaveral to Vero Beach
December 18, 1997 - ICW: Vero Beach
December 23, 1997 - ICW: Vero Beach to Fort Lauderdale
December 27, 1997 - ICW: Fort Lauderdale to No Name Harbour
I have been corrected. The thing at the front of the boat we bent is the "bow pulpit", not the "bowsprit". We can order a new one from Catalina for delivery in Fort Lauderdale a month from now or spend some time and have the current one "unbent". We will give it some thought and decide.
Thursday (Oct. 30) was a wonderful day. It was sunny and warm. We took the opportunity to dry things out as we powered the first 12 miles of the ICW. It was very interesting. We moved from the busy inner harbour of Norfolk, with its huge Navy presence, into the countryside. And on the way we went through many bridges that had to be lifted or rotated to let us through. Following behind Tundra we listened and learned how the radio dialog with the Bridge Tenders works. We stopped at a little place called Great Bridge just after passing through our first lock - a small one that raised us only a couple of feet. They had free dockage there so all three boats in our flotilla (Galiander, Tundra and Windswept IV) tied up, did some shopping and had a travelling supper, sang and partied.
A fourth boat, Dromenon with Colleen and Alex has joined our flotilla at this point.
After a quiet night we grabbed the 8am Great Bridge opening and headed South into North Carolina. We anchored a little past a small place called Coinjock (seriously!) just at the entrance to Albermarle Sound, which you can find on your maps. It was an overcast but pretty nice day. I enjoyed sitting on the forepeak watching the scenery flow by. Very marshy territory here. Lots of bird life. But the weather is turning against us again. The wind roars overnight but we are secure at anchor behind Buck Island at the entrance to the sound. (For you people from the West Coast the only thing that distinguishes Buck Island from the Sound is about two feet of altitude - but it protects us from the waves). We planned to stay another day but early morning reports from other boats give us a positive projection and away we go at about 10am. It was a fast crossing motor sailing into a strong wind. Albermarle Sound is extremely shallow and can become rough very quickly. But we have a good crossing except for the last hour and moved into the Alligator River Marina. Very rural. Nice showers. Nice people.
We decided to stay an extra day to let the very high winds blow by. Tomorrow we will have a fairly long day heading to BellHaven. I walked around the area. Very swampy. The transition from water to land is extremely gradual.
The manager of the Alligator River Marina, "Miss Wanda" is going to let us use her office phone for email....
Friends image of John and Eleanor on Friday morning, November 7th: Sipping their morning coffee in the cockpit and watching the sun come up. The reality: Huddled in their cabin sipping their morning coffee and listening to the wind and rain howl about the boat.
Not getting much juice out our solar panels today!
Another long 50 mile day on Monday. Traveled to Bellhaven as expected. Left about 7am and arrived about 4pm. Most of the day was powering into a 15 knot wind. Occasionally we got to pop the jib and do a little sailing. Otherwise it was sunny and reasonably warm - about 70f. Nice, but these long days are tiring as it is not possible to relax much. One watches for snags in the canals, or crabpots in the open. Sailboats have to slow down for passing powerboats and stay in the channel or risk a grounding.
The countryside is very low, swampy looking and forested. If global warming raises the ocean level two feet a lot of real estate will disappear around here. It becomes much the same after a while. The canals are long, straight and become monotonous, yet at the same time kind of fascinating. Turkey vultures circle. Trees cling to life along the shore. Navy jets circle around.
The military is quite present in this area. Coming around Radio Island into Beaufort yesterday we saw a US army camp tents, trucks uniforms etc. Huge aviation fuel tanks as well.
We are enjoying the company of other Cashed Out Canadians (COC). Our little flotilla of four boats has been described as a secret invasion fleet - perhaps they have discovered us already?
In Bellhaven Eleanor went shopping while I lazed on the boat and did a few more chores. Then a short pleasant motor to the R.E. Mayo Co. fishing dock at the Hobucken Highway Bridge. If you find this on your map you are doing very well indeed. A real fishing dock and a super bargain at 20 cents a foot to spend the night. And a neat little store where I bought some line and some drill bits. Eleanor says she is having fun now. The wind was a little lighter but still mostly on the nose. We motor sailed much of the way, maybe picking up an extra knot or two of boat speed. Very sunny. Nice and warm.
Then a great sail to a place called Oriental. A short beam reach then a long downwind run. Not a long day and hardly had the motor on at all. The weather was sunny and wind to about 15 knots. Then the next day a short run to Beaufort, North Carolina under overcast conditions and an ominous forecast.
At the entrance to the Beaufort harbour we saw our first dolphins. They played along side Galiander and gave us a real chuckle. We arrived before noon and did a Bahamian anchor in this little creek with strong tidal currents. We are finally back in tides again. Only a short distance away one could set sail for England. This Beaufort is not the same as Beaufort, South Carolina. They are spelled the same but are pronounced differently. The North Carolina one is pronounced "Bo-fort". The South Carolina one is pronounced "Bew-fort". Whether this ever made it into Trivial Pursuit I don't know.
Blackbeard, a North Carolina pirate, is supposed to have lost his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, near here. The wreck was discovered recently in 20 ft of water (where a hurricane had recently unearthed it from the sand). They have retrieved "a bronze bell, two cannonballs and the brass barrel of a blunderbuss". There may be more of his ship down there.
Eleanor floated down the shore to photograph the "wild" ponies that are grazing just 50 feet from our boat. They are descendants of horses left on the islands in colonial times. They don't seem to be very wild!
Boats are anchored and moored everywhere. However our anchors (both of them) keep us clear under both incoming and outgoing tides.
We plan to stay here for one more night, see the town and wait out the rain and cold weather. Then we will head south again towards Wilmington.
A local store, Beaufort Marina, will let us plug in and send email for $2.00 per minute. But it didn't work due to problems with the calling card sequence. So will try the cellphone again.
Sending email from Beaufort using the cellphone worked perfectly. How about that eh?
Stayed in Beaufort a third night. We took the opportunity to move into the Beaufort Docks Marina, pump out the holding tank, and then I spent the day replacing the macerator pump (which allows us to empty the holding tank while under way instead of having to find pump out facilities - see Appendix A: Replacing a Macerator Pump for details). North and South Carolina have very few pump out facilities. Replacing it was a messy, stinky job which, with the help of Brian and Murray, came to a successful conclusion. Due to some care, 5 rolls of paper towels and bleach, the boat smells fine again. The marina was ideal for this purpose. A great little marine store was only a block away. After examining the old pump we decided it would be most expedient to replace it with a new one. It took us only a few minutes to go get one.
In the meantime Eleanor drove to a West Marine store with Brian and Kathy in a free courtesy car and purchased an inflatable life jacket and safety harness. Also some water jugs and yet another macerator pump. So now we have a new pump installed and a spare (well - we can return the one from West Marine if we wish).
We loved staying at the dock. Hot showers a few steps away. Top up all the water tanks. And heat, above all heat. We had our little electric heater going full blast. We had a pint at the "Town Dock" and supper at "Clawsons" (Trigger fish).
Then south (well ok... south west)! A long sunny, but cold, day to an idyllic anchorage called "Mile Hammock Bay", which has been artificially dredged by the US Military. Lots of swinging room. The evening was pleasant. I enjoyed a drink as the sun went down and watched the last few stragglers come in and anchor. Pelicans, seagulls and cormorants abound. Fish of some unknown type keep breaking the surface of the placid bay.
Then morning! Awake at 6:30 to a glorious day. Sunrise, then away at 7am. Another long day to a place called Carolina Beach. For the first time we had a terrible time setting our anchor. Took four tries before we were satisfied (my arms were getting mighty tired). Finally, about 5pm, we are settled and enjoy supper with Murray and Heather aboard Windswept IV. Carolina Beach is just pass Wilmington, which you can probably find on your maps.
The weather was distinctly warmer. No oven mitts required, although we are still fairly well bundled up. I was wearing a shirt, wool sweater, MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) fleece, bike jacket and foul weather gear! Sounds excessive? Well yes..-. but I am warm. About 2pm I stripped off some of the layers. When I get out of the wind behind the dodger it is marvelous. I think the highs are in the upper 50's to low 60's. The wind is a big factor. We observed many palm trees around some houses. Saw more Dolphins also. I counted about 10 sailboats heading south in our group this day. About half are Canadians.
The hurricane damage from last year is quite obvious along the North Carolina stretch of the ICW. All the trees along the shore are dead, or still partially defoliated. As we move into South Carolina the damage is much less. There is a lot of development along the ICW here. Towards the Atlantic Ocean the development is observed as large apartment complexes. Along the ICW itself we are treated to the sight of large luxury homes. Magnificent places with long boardwalks out to their docks.
Wildlife abounds. Pelicans are everywhere. Lots of seagulls and cormorants also. But the Pelicans are particularly graceful and new for us. Dolphins show up more frequently. Palm trees are becoming much more common.
We passed into South Carolina late on Tuesday, Nov. 11th. Saw some feral goats on the east side of the waterway.
Anchored in the entrance to Calabash Creek, near Little River. Lots of current here as in some past anchorage's. About a five foot tide also. The current defines how our boat rides the anchor, not the wind. Quite different from what we were used to in BC.
The shallow draft of our boat has been a godsend the past few days. Once, while waiting for a bridge to open I turned towards the shore and blundered into a 5 foot patch. Coming into the Cape Fear river we couldn't find a buoy (which it turns out wasn't there), got confused and we got into very shallow water yet again. I reported the missing buoy to our flotilla. Later when Brian came through a boat was grounded there. Afterwards Eleanor said, "You will never find adventure if you don't go looking for it". I said, "If you never find adventure you might live longer J ". But I was still recovering from the adrenaline rush.
At the end of the day the anchor set perfectly on the first try and we had cocktails with new friends Charlie and Joyce on board "Woodstock" (named after the Charlie Brown bird). Joyce is/was a high school counselor. Charlie is/was a computer guy.
Then another long but sunny and reasonably warm day to a place called Barefoot Landing. This is near Myrtle Beach and is serious tourist country, although this is off-season. We are tied up to a free dock right next to a big, practically useless, shopping complex. It contains only tourist shops. No food stores - seriously - no place to buy milk or butter for example, no hardware stores, no marine stores. We had lots of advance warning about a storm so were well tied up and secure before the rain started late in the afternoon. Rained like crazy all night. Heavy overcast Thursday morning, but only light rain so we planned a short day. And short it was, but extremely wet. About 2pm we tied up to the Bucksport Marina, plugged in and turned on the electric heat to dry out. This is a particularly wild and beautiful stretch of the ICW and it was obvious, even in the rain.
We are heading for Georgetown tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 14th), another short day. We expect to be in Beaufort, South Carolina in about five days.
Hi guys and gals (Eleanor here);
John does a good job of reporting our day to day adventures but doesn't tell what happens at night! Last night after chuckles under the tarp of Windswept we climbed out on the wet dock and Heather gave us a lesson in line dancing. We danced and giggled until our "achey breaky" bones gave out.
Having lots of fun. My job before we leave is to check the oil.
Love to all, Eleanor
Bucksport was a pretty sleepy little place. We had supper in their little restaurant and as near as I could tell we were their only customers that evening. We also purchased some famous Bucksport Sausage. Haven't had any of ours yet but Kathy and Brian report that it is excellent.
That was sure a rainy ride to the Bucksport Marina. We arrived very wet. Kept the heater going all night and got everything dried out. We set up laundry lines for drying throughout the cabin. Headed off under overcast skies and a light rain to Georgetown. Anchored in the town harbour. Very crowded. Fair amount of tide and current. Did laundry. Bought groceries. Enjoyed the invigorating smells of the local pulp mill. Had a good nights sleep.
Then the weather cleared. Sunny days again but, alas, also very cold temperatures. Lows were in the 40's and high's in the 50's. High winds kept the daytime chill factor up as well. South! South! Away from Georgetown at 7:30am and onward to a wonderful anchorage called Whiteside Creek. Got in at 3:30 as the wind started to die and for the first time this trip I got in the Kayak and went for a paddle around the anchorage. Lots of bird life here. Saw a lot of Oystercatchers. Also a lot of oysters on the shore. The sunset was glorious and then amazingly was outdone by an outstanding moonrise. The blood red moon slowly drifted up over the marshes. Supper was barbecued steak, sweet potatoes and salad. So peaceful.
Then the wind rose and we spent the latter part of the evening wondering where the combination of wind and current was going to drive the boat. After adjusting the length of our anchor line we had a good sleep.
It was cold that night! South! South! We got an early start and appropriately dressed (shirt, wool sweater, fleece, wet weather gear, toque, gloves - Eleanor bought a pair of gloves at Barefoot Landing) headed out in lovely sunshine.
The approach to Charleston was wonderful. Palm trees were everywhere. It reminded me of Hawaii, except for the temperature of course. We came into the Charleston City Marina, right in downtown historic old Charleston. And out of the wind the sun feels warm and wonderful. Eleanor dried out our cushions. We want more of this!
What a wonderful Marina! They provide a Van and shuttle their customers around the city. We went to West Marine to purchase boat supplies. I got all the tools and parts I needed, I thought, to change the engine oil. Later they drove us to an excellent local seafood restaurant and picked us up afterwards.
It was real cold last night. The temperature dropped down to the freezing level. This appears to be very unusual in this area. The radio was warning people to take appropriate precautions, including keeping pets inside. We had the heater going all night.
Slept in this morning then started on the oil change. This was the first time I have done it on this boat so it went fairly slowly. I used a device called a "Big Boy Topsider Multipurpose Vacuum Pump". The idea is you use a hand pump attached to a tank to create a vacuum in the tank which will then suck the old oil out of the engine into the tank. Worked like a charm. Then found out the new oil filters I purchased (supposed to be the right kind) didn't fit. I used one that the previous owner left behind on the boat. Then top up the diesel jugs and dingy gas cans. It all takes time and before I know it the day is mostly done. Eleanor went on a tour. I had a good shower and a nap after cleaning up.
Learned how the "Charleston" came about: A Mr. Jenkins who ran the orphanage here in the early days decided no child's education was complete without playing a musical instrument. What to do with all the instruments? Make a band. He had his band play to raise money in the streets of Charleston. When they got really good they began to tour; children liked the jazz music he played and danced alongside the band in the streets. When they went to New York to play people danced along too; thus the origin of the celebrated "Charleston".
Charleston is a beautiful city of old well-preserved homes. Despite a bad earthquake early in the century and Hurricane Hugo in 89 they have restored and adapted most of their historic buildings. Any building older than 75 years cannot be torn down; it must be recycled!
This Marina has an email/internet phone plug available, but again I have been unable to get the calling card to work. I am pretty sure I understand what the problem is. The Marina has got the phone company to block long distance phone calls, and unfortunately, that blocks calling card calls also. It looks like, for maximum flexibility, it would be better to contract with an Internet Provider who can provide an 800 number or scads of local numbers. Heather and Murray on Windswept use a service called Juno and have had no problems because they always access a local number or an 800 number. But this is not a problem for us today. I can see cellphone antennas on the building overlooking the harbour.
Two fairly reasonable days will bring us to Beaufort, SC.
We are beginning to miss any news from Canada. Can anyone tell us what radio frequencies the CBC short wave service uses?
The post office here will not accept packages to Canada any more. Nor do they want letters although I suspect they will just have to store ones put in letter boxes. So I guess the postal strike has gone ahead? We really don't get much news about Canada down here.
We had a lovely trip down to Beaufort. The weather has been sunny and much warmer. The day we left Charleston was especially nice. We anchored in the Ashepoo River about two thirds of the way to Beaufort. It was a wide, commodious anchorage. There was a lot of current - common for this area - but virtually no wind and we slept very soundly.
Then on Wednesday, a short trip to Beaufort. We anchored off property owned by friends of Brian and Kathy. Meindert and Gail Wolff. They are from Sarnia, Ontario and are fellow sailors, HAM radio operators and own this property in Beaufort where they spend their winters. We have since been caught up in a swirl of socializing. Wednesday afternoon we had cocktails on their deck. Wednesday night they hosted us all to dinner, something called Frogmore Stew (Potatoes, chunks of corn on the cob, shrimp, sausages, veggies with Old Bay seasoning- quite nice). Thursday we slept in, then Eleanor did some shopping while I caught up on some boat maintenance. We also finally found a 1 hour photo place and got four rolls of film developed. Then out to supper down the road at a place called Steamers. Two buckets of steamed oysters for starters. Then Eleanor and I had Dolphin Fish (Mahi, Mahi). This morning (Friday) we went for a long walk through the historical area of Beaufort. Probably hiked about 9 km. A really good outing. This afternoon Meindert is taking us out on his Trawler to visit some other people. They are sure wonderful hosts.
The weather has been so much nicer. Our walk today was in shirtsleeve temperatures. It takes away some of the sense of urgency about moving on quickly.
Chrismas is coming. There were Christmas Trees for sale at the super market. The super markets have real strange names around here. At our last major stop we shopped at one called "Piggly Wiggly", believe it or not. The one we shopped at here is called "Winn Dixie". Probably has some special meaning I am not aware of. These are BIG stores. Winn Dixie is open 24 hours a day.
Tomorrow we head towards Savannah, a two-day journey by boat (but a mere one hour drive for Meindert). Meindert and Gail may drive down and join us for a little tour of the city. Originally Tundra and Windswept planned to go offshore down to St. Augustine, Florida, skipping the state of Georgia entirely. But the weather is not cooperating so it looks like we will all be going down the ICW tomorrow. It will take us about 5 days to get through Georgia on the ICW. Going offshore would have taken them 24 hours, using up probably two days. We are pleased they will be accompanying us after all as we have been enjoying their company.
"OUR CAPTAIN is always right, misinformed perhaps, sloppy , crude, bullheaded, fickle, even stupid but, NEVER WRONG".
Frogmore Stew: "Serve with butter or cocktail sauce on a table covered with newspaper for easy cleanup. Eat with your fingers and use paper towels like the people in Frogmore do."
The CBC Short Wave service: RCI (Radio Canada International) broadcasts the CBC news on 9757 and 5960 at 6pm and 8pm. Our thanks to Jim and Bonnie on Vagrant Sea for this information. RCI was one of the services the government wanted to axe recently, but continued the funding due to public pressure. Keep up the pressure guys. Near as I can tell there is precious little other way people like us can keep track of what is going on at home.
Our final afternoon in Beaufort was spent mostly on Meindert's little 31 foot trawler. We went and visited Port Royal, a sister city. It was a really nice day. Temperatures in the 70's and a light breeze. Ice Cream from a little store. A day that typified what was in our imagination when we planned this trip. The day ended with a barbecue on the Wolff's deck.
The night was warm. Next morning we are greeted with a new weather forecast. Tundra and Windswept are again planning to go outside, skipping the State of Georgia. They are a little unsure as to whether they will go right offshore or go one day down the ICW with us and then head out. We start out ahead. About a half hour later we learn that Windswept has not been able to start their engine. We carry on alone, confident that they will overcome their problems and knowing that we will have to keep moving if we hope to catch up with them after their outside shortcut. About noon we enter Port Royal sound - the exit to the sea and encounter heavy sea mist. We lose sight of our navigation aids. Should we carry on? We slow down and dither, chatting to Windswept on the radio. They have still not resolved their engine problems. In the end we carry on, relying on steering a compass course and using our GPS as a double check on our position. About an hour later, heading back inwards, we power clear of the mist, which seems to be burning off in any case.
The rest of the day is warm and non-eventful. We anchored mid afternoon in a place called Bull Creek, about 20 miles short of Savannah. A lovely protected anchorage. Only one other boat with us. The shore is lined with magnificent summer homes tucked back into a jungle of Palm trees and other tropical plants. On the other side a marsh extends away for miles. We sat in the cockpit and enjoyed sipping our cocktails in these peaceful surroundings. Evening brings wild thunderstorms with lightening, thunder and heavy rain. Eleanor prepares an excellent meal of Shrimp from Port Royal served on a bed of rice.
Sunday morning we chatted to Tundra on HAM radio (we have a 7am net at 7.298.55Mhz). Windswept resolved their engine problem late in the day (it was a air leak into the fuel system at one of their fuel filters). They headed outside for the overnight run to the St. John's river in Florida. We chatted to them later in the day and they were having an excellent sail. They will end up at least three days ahead of us. Will we ever catch up?
In the meantime, for us, it was a short run to the Palmer-Johnson Marina in a place called Thunderbolt, a suburb of Savannah. We arrived at 1pm and after a short taxi ride were doing a walking tour of historic Savannah. Later in the afternoon Eleanor toured the Owen Thomas House and met volunteer tour guides Bill and Sue Avery. They kindly drove us back to the Marina, which was on their way home. They gave us an interesting tour of the city on the way out.
Savannah is a beautiful historic town: built when cotton was king. Of course we had to investigate the city of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt. The film which is set in Savannah opened on the weekend. We have enjoyed reading the book on the way down the waterway.
Later we had supper with Charley and Joyce on Woodstock. They are leaving their boat here in Savannah for a couple of months. We sure hope we will meet them next year down the waterway. They have been a lot of fun.
We missed the company of other boats on Sunday. On Monday we traveled in the company of two other boats, Vagrant Sea (Jim & Bonnie) and Almost Perfection (Sharon and Tim). Sharon and Tim have just finished a full year of cruising almost exactly the route we want to follow over this year. They have a 1988 Catalina 34, almost identical to ours. We would love to see how they have it organized. Alas, they have an appointment in Florida for thanksgiving and must push on. The day was sunny and pleasant. The clear skies promise to bring us near freezing temperatures at night. We are three days behind Tundra and Windswept.
We anchor with Vagrant Sea in Big Tom Creek, south of Savannah and just north of St. Catherine's Sound. We paddled over for a visit and I help Jim fathom the use of his new HAM antenna tuner.
The next day we took an 8am start on a cold, cold morning. We put more than 50 miles under the hull on a lovely sunny but cool day. We shared lead boat position with Vagrant Sea. It is much less intensive being the "follower". When following you still have to navigate but it is easier. Anxiety levels are driven up looking for a marker or range, lost in the shadow of some trees or merely in the glare of the sun. Following a lead boat, or a convoy of boats, makes it much easier to locate those hard-to-identify navigation aids.
We anchored in a small creek at mile 666 called Wally's Leg. Eleanor says, "There is Shenanigan with Les and Judy on board. We haven't seen them in ages. There is True Love over there". We haven't met the people on True Love yet but we keep running across them. They ran aground in the same spot miles back where we were lost and almost aground. Jim and Bonnie from Vagrant Sea come over for snacks and cocktails. We discuss HAM radio and the destination for tomorrow, hopefully Fernandina Beach, Florida.
We chatted to Brian and Kathy on Tundra on the morning HAM net. They are just north of St. Augustine, Florida. Farther south than we had originally thought. Two full days travel from here.
Wednesday we start early again, but hold back because Shenanigan has wrapped one of their two anchors around their prop during the night. Vagrant Sea loans them a wet suit and carries on as they need to stop for fuel shortly and will wait for them to catch up and return it. We hang around for a few minutes until it is clear their anchor is free, then start out. Les was a policeman. Judy is quite deaf. We worry a little about them. This was our longest day yet, and a beautiful sunny warm one. We cruise across St. Andrew Sound, a potentially difficult stretch of water, under calm conditions. The current is with us.
Then what excitement as we pass the Florida border just north of Fernandina Beach. We are busy navigating, verifying which navigation aid to make our turn at. Then Eleanor says: "Maybe this will help us make up our mind - there is a barge of some sort coming towards us". Well, I have a look! "THAT'S NO BARGE, THAT'S A NUCLEAR SUBMARINE!" And is it moving fast! A little powerboat zips over and motions us to one side. The submarine is only about 200 feet away when it passes. I've seen them in pictures but nothing does justice to the sheer physical size of one of these monsters. I sure hope the pictures turned out.
We make 60 miles and anchor alone, about 10 miles past Fernandina Beach in a quiet little anchorage called "Alligator Creek". And we are the only ones here! Vagrant Sea decides to spend a few days in Fernandina Beach. Fernandina Beach is a heavily industrialized place: a huge power plant of some kind, A mill? many fish boats and a classic old fort with huge cannons pointed toward Cumberland Sound.
And what do I see behind some ritzy looking waterfront houses about a mile away? A cellular phone antenna site. Yes - all the lights on my cellphone light up! It is time to communicate again!
We left Alligator creek early after receiving an invitation from Brian and Kathy to join them for American Thanksgiving. It was a long uneventful day with some adverse currents but with a little help from a breeze we picked up an extra knot of speed flying the jib. The weather was warm but not hot. As we passed the homes along the ICW people lounging on their decks waved at us.
We power through the last Bascule Bridge at 4pm and drop the hook next to Tundra in St. Augustine at about 4:30. A Bascule Bridge is a double drawbridge, which opens like this ___/ \___ to let boats through. They carry car and sometimes train traffic over the ICW. Some bridges open on demand to let boats through. Others have a schedule. This one opened every half-hour during the day.
Brian and Kathy hosted a delicious thanksgiving dinner on board Tundra that evening. Turkey, mashed potatoes. Kathy is a real genius in a sailboat's galley. They had Murray and Heather from Windswept IV over as well as us. We were more tired from the long day than we expected and dinghied back to our boat and bed about 8:00 p.m. The other four partied long into the night.
Friday Tundra and Windswept IV headed down the ICW. We stayed behind to see St. Augustine. It rained the next morning but was quite nice the rest of the day. We did our laundry and showered at the excellent facilities in the Municipal Marina here. Then lunch at Athena's Restaurant followed by a walking tour of St. Augustine. At the end of the day we taxied to the local Win Dixie Supermarket to stock up.
St. Augustine is supposedly the oldest town in the United States. The Spaniards founded it in 1565. It has survived Spanish, British and finally United States rule. For two hundred years St. Augustine thrived as a slave market. The beautiful Spanish Renaissance buildings were partly subsidized by rum running during the prohibition era. It is now a very popular tourist site.
I'm not sure which I find more interesting. Looking at the tourist attractions or the tourists themselves. The malls are crowded with artists and musicians. There are also people wearing "period" costumes. Eleanor went in to see "the oldest schoolhouse in the US". Its' cedar and cypress clapboard construction has endured without change and one can walk on the original "coquina" shell floor. A huge chain and rods attached around the first floor still keep the building from blowing away in hurricanes. I waited for Eleanor on a bench by a fountain, reading a book. I was wearing my wide brimmed "Tilley" hat. A tourist glanced at me then did a double take, "Ernest Hemmingway?" he said? I think he thought I was part of the local colour. It may be time for me to get a haircut and beard trim.
Then the weather worsened. We decided to move into the St. Augustine Marina for a couple of nights. It was a smart move. We had heavy rain, torrential at times. We slept through it all and the next day, Sunday, we had a good visit to the local Alligator Farm. The rainy day also gave me the opportunity to update my WWW home page so you can check out our appearance for yourself. Using a WWW browser like Netscape or MS Explorer go to my home page http://www.interchg.ubc.ca/coulthrd/ and click on "Galiander". Charlie on board Woodstock using a Kodak digital camera took the pictures. He gave them to me on a computer disk. I updated my home page from a place in St. Augustine called the "Cyber Internet Cafe". It is a cafe where most of the tables have personal computers hooked up to the Internet using a T1 link (For you non-computer people, that is a fairly fast Internet link, much faster than a normal phone line connection). If you eat food the use of the PC's is free. I wasn't hungry so they charged me $2.50 for a half hour. Pretty good deal! The pictures of Eleanor and I were taken late in November.
It is December 1st. The weather front has passed so we move a short distance down the ICW to the Marineland marina. Marineland is in a time warp. It is a 60 year old facility that in its' prime was a major tourist attraction. Now, with Disneyworld not far away, it has fallen on hard times. But it is still sort of operating. The marina is here. The closed hotel's swimming pool is still available and we had a nice swim. Waded in the Atlantic Ocean too. The area is very rural. There are palm trees everywhere and lots of bird life. This is off-season here. This is still Northern Florida. When we get to Palm Beach we will be in Southern Florida.
As the sun went down a boat ran aground entering the marina. It was towed free by a big sport fishing boat then carefully entered the marina by a better route. We fell asleep listening to the little shrimp (Krill I think they are called) nibble algae on our hull. Their little mandibles make little clicking sounds. It is similar to the sound raindrops make as they hit the deck of the boat.
The waterway continues to be a wonderful wildlife tour: today we saw several falcons as well as another colony of beautiful big white pelicans. Many signs tell us to watch out for manatees. They are a carefully protected species here. The shorelines are covered with palm trees now. There are more and more flowers in bloom: hibiscus, bourgan villea, and others we haven't identified yet. Beginning to feel like Hawaii at last!
A long pleasant day brings us to Daytona Beach. We are now two days away from Cape Canaveral and the pending shuttle launch on December 8th. Kathy and Brian on Tundra are already there. Windswept IV is a day ahead of us.
The stores and restaurants have their Xmas decorations up and Christmas music is heard everywhere.
We left Marineland yesterday morning and powered into a stiff wind most of the way to Titusville. This is a great anchorage. No tides. No current. Not deep. Lots of swing room. We are anchored in 7 feet of water. We were greeted by Windswept IV who arrived the previous day and spent a fun evening with them.
A real storm came through at 9am this morning. The wind peaked at over 30 knots. A boat behind us dragged anchor and drifted down onto another boat. The two boats seemed to get hooked together somehow up near the bow, probably the anchors got tangled. The people on board were really struggling with them. Trying to deal with two big heavy boats heaving and swinging in a strong wind is a dangerous business. They finally got separated. I checked the boat that didn't drag though the binoculars and it didn't look like they took any major damage, if any. Spooky!
Nearly every boat in the anchorage has someone up in the cockpit keeping an eye on things.
By early afternoon the worst was over. Only the one boat dragged.
We saw our first Manatee today. (By the way, this is Hemmingway's understudy, Eleanor, typing now). A Manatee is a large walrus like sea creature. Weird, ugly but friendly. There were two of them drinking from a fresh water hose at the dock. The first one, the bigger one, stuck his head up and opened his mouth; it had big lips and a mouth just like a person. It closed its eyes and nostrils while drinking. The other one turned over and let the water trickle into its' mouth while it was upside -down. You could see whiskers and wrinkles in its' big, elephant-like hippo-like face. Its' body was wide and flat with a round lobster-shaped tail and tiny little flipper-hands. One had barnacles on his back and we could have touched him. This part of the waterway is marked with "Manatee Zone" signs and people are conscious about going slowly so not to injure them with their engines. The Manatee seem almost tame and they move slowly. They are an endangered species.
We enjoyed a good seafood lunch today: Steamed rock shrimp which taste like little lobsters, scallops, red shrimp and stuffed crab with a pitcher of beer. John had some mullet as well, which I didn't think tasted so good, more like grouper or flounder which I don't like. The steamed clams were a bit tough; they are produced in clam farms in shallow water along the waterway. I think we saw clammers walking through the water on our route yesterday. Much of the channel was only 7 or 8 feet deep, a bit nerve wracking for the captain. We hear of boats going aground quite frequently.
Tomorrow along with Windswept IV we are going to head up the Cape Canaveral barge canal to join Brian and Kathy on Tundra. They are in a marina about 7 miles east of the ICW. It will be a short day, probably less than three hours. It is Kathy's birthday on Saturday. We hope to take a tour of the spaceport in one of the next few days. We are psyched to watch for a shuttle that is supposed to come down tomorrow morning, We hope it will be clear enough to see it. Apparently we will hear the sonic booms anyway. All of the shuttle communications are broadcast on a local two-meter HAM frequency so we will be getting a blow by blow report on the progress of the landing. Unfortunately the December 8th shuttle launch was just a myth. No shuttle is expected to go up until January.
Friday morning the Space Shuttle landed and many other boaters and we were all up in our cockpits looking around trying to get a glimpse of it. It was a lovely morning and a blow by blow account of the descent was playing on our HAM radio. Sort of like a sports broadcast. Before anyone saw it we heard the double sonic boom. Two very closely spaced explosions - probably only a split second apart. Neither Eleanor or I saw it but Murray on Windswept thinks he got a glimpse of it on the final approach.
Then we headed down the Indian River towards the Cape Canaveral barge canal. We had a lovely motor sail for two hours before we turned into the canal. The canal itself was fascinating. Very rural. Lots of birds and some Manatee's as well. We proceeded through a small lock to get to Cape Marina where Brian and Kathy were. The Cape Canaveral barge canal is a major outlet to the open ocean. Across from the Cape Marina there is a big cruise ship dock. The space shuttle assembly building is prominent from here.
We had a great birthday party for Kathy Marsh on board Galiander. Eleanor and I entertained 8 people on our little boat. We partied, ate, told jokes and sang songs late into the night.
We wanted to take the opportunity to visit the Space Center and did so on Saturday. Temperatures are dropping but it is still pleasant for us during the day. We went to an IMAX show and had a good afternoon walking around the exhibits.
We are taking the opportunity to do a few chores on the boat while we are at Cape Marina. They have a good marine store. I've been working on the dinghy, the anchor locker and the boom, the Autohelm and the electrical panel. I also repaired the forward navigation light which got destroyed while we were moving the boat from one slip to another. (Reminds me of airplanes - they only get damaged when they hit the ground). Eleanor has been sewing curtains. She prepared for and then made an expedition to the post office.
A major cold front came through Saturday night. Temperatures that night fell to almost the freezing level. We appreciated being plugged in. Daytime temperatures are in the low to upper 60's. Not too bad by our standards and getting a little warmer each day. There is lots of wildlife here. Pelicans are everywhere. We have seen quite a few really big turtles swimming in the bay. Murray and Heather on Windswept moved out yesterday to a nearby anchorage on the Banana River. They reported being able to sit in the cockpit after the sun went down and hear the Manatees coming up to breathe.
Tried to contact BC by HAM radio this weekend. I contacted VE7BK, Bill Killam in Vancouver, but my signal was too weak for any real communications (He was running more power than I was). I am going to continue trying on Wednesdays and weekends at 2pm Vancouver time on 14.240Mhz or the nearest clear frequency.
We watched the launch of a communications satellite using an Atlas rocket tonight (Monday) at approximately 7pm. It was a great show. The HAM radio gave us the blow by blow description. The launch was delayed three times (5 minutes each time) due to unidentified aircraft - which turned out to be balloons - I wonder what is going on? So the rocket went up 30 minutes late, right in the middle of the launch window (the launch window is about an hour wide). It was like a super speed false dawn. The whole horizon lit up. No problem figuring out where the launch site was I'll tell you! It was a reasonably clear night and we could follow it right out of sight. A good show. Not as much noise as I expected. I really enjoyed it.
The cold snap seems to be over. It was warm last night and today (Tuesday) the high will be about 80. We plan to leave here by noon (shortly after I send my email from the marina office) and just go about a half-hour to join Windswept in the Banana River. From there we will move to Vero Beach, about two days easy travel. We may take three days. We are definitely slowing down.
Tuesday afternoon we finally shook our lines loose from the Cape Marina dock and locked through to the Banana River, a short 30 minutes away. It is a magical anchorage. Pelicans swirl around. We saw an Osprey making off with a fine catch. Dolphins are playing around constantly. It is not perfect. The water is a little cold for swimming. Eleanor went in anyhow. A major highway bridge crosses the river just close enough so we can hear the traffic noise. Both Eleanor and I went for long kayak rides. We saw a Manatee with a baby. Across the bay it looks like someone is burning a field. Two tugboats went through the lock carefully guiding a gigantic barge. Looked like it was the right size and shape to hold one of the boosters for a shuttle launch... I wonder?
Nice to be at anchor again. The water is 6.5 feet deep here. No problem for our 4.25 foot draft. We drifted into a crabpot. I used the Kayak to move it farther away. There were a couple of crabs in it. As the sun went down we got doused in a little downpour. There was no wind associated with it. A quiet evening. We can hear Dolphins breathing as they surface - whoosh ... whoosh.
Wednesday was a relatively short day. We motored and sailed to a place called Melbourne. The wind was brisk and mainly on the nose. We managed to sail for an hour or two. Sailing can be a bit risky on the ICW. Often the dredged channel is quite narrow so there is little maneuvering room. Normally we are pretty conservative about setting the sails but a wind increase caught us by surprise and we had a bit of a struggle rolling up the jib. It was a hot (high 82) day with little sunshine. Very humid. We anchored in the shelter of a causeway leading to a highway bridge over the ICW.
We are right on the edge of a thunderstorm system Wednesday evening. It rolls through just north of us. Lots of lightening but strangely enough not much thunder - the storm centre must be quite some way off. Torrential rain and wind to 18 knots. It seemed to blow through by 9pm. The weather forecasters here use that term a lot. I now have a much better understanding of the definition of "torrential rain".
The next morning (Thursday) we are off to Vero Beach. It is a relatively long straightforward day. The scenery becomes quite interesting as we get close to Vero Beach. The waterway narrows and goes through clusters of islands. Magnificent homes appear along the waterway.
They don't allow anchoring at Vero Beach. Instead they maintain a large field of mooring buoys that they charge $4.00 a day to tie up to. They are so busy that we must share a buoy with another boat, "I WANDA". This is called rafting. We met Mary and Christian from I WANDA back in St. Augustine and they are really nice. Windswept is rafted to a boat that keeps his engine running all night (for air conditioning).
The weather is not so great. It is still very hot and humid. Sky conditions are overcast with occasional torrential rain. We dinghied over with Murray and Heather to a little nearby restaurant called the Riverside Cafe. Eleanor and I shared excellent Paella. A little local band played great music. Heather and I danced the "Jive".
On Friday we had a nice walk to the Atlantic Ocean about 15 minutes away. It will definitely be worth going there for a swim when the weather improves. Eleanor purchased three lobsters from a scuba diver. Then we sauntered up to the Post Office to mail letters and purchase more stamps. People are very friendly. A woman chatted to Murray and I as we waited for Eleanor and Heather. We must be careful for the next few days, she said. The moon is full and only a few days ago the planets were all in a line. Strange things may happen. The uncertain weather continues. It is hot and overcast and it "feels like rain" but none comes.
Tundra arrives late in the afternoon and promptly runs aground trying to enter the mooring buoy area. Perhaps this was the strange occurrence the woman forecast? A small flotilla of dinghies goes out to help get them off. The marina then instructs them to enter the field of buoys forward of where they went aground. It points out the importance of radioing ahead for instructions even when the route seems obvious. Things may not be as they appear to be, especially on the ICW. Here, groundings are taken as a fact of life. It is assumed that eventually everyone will run aground. So far we have been cautious and our shallow draft (4.25 feet) has saved us from problems.
Groundings seldom have serious consequences on the ICW. The bottom is very soft. The top foot or two may be about the consistency of thick soup. It can be expensive however. Two companies, Seatow and Boats/US maintain a fleet of towboats to help tow you off. They also sell towing insurance. Normally, however, patience and a little help from some passing boats will be sufficient.
We had a great lobster feed on Friday night.
The cook wants to comment. When we invite Tundra and Windswept for dinner, they bring their expertise as well as their appetizers. Dinner aboard starts with cocktails and appetizers about 5:00 o'clock. As the other couples arrive with their coats, flashlights and appetizers, other boaters drop by to share their news. Heather sets our table while Kathy and I cooked the lobster; Kathy cracked it like a pro. Then we fluffed up the rice with sautéed veggies and Brian said the blessing. He' really good. I think he missed his calling. When the lobster was devoured we moved to the cockpit again so the dishes could be washed in the tiny 4x4 galley. I bought fresh pecans in Georgetown and managed by borrowing some corn syrup to make a pecan pie. Like the loaves and fishes it was divided up and people continued to share stories and ideas until 8-9 o'clock. Thus ended another collaborative feast, what has become a popular social time for our trio of boats. We will miss Windswept when we move on down the waterway without them. They will leave for the Bahamas ahead of us.
Rain starts to fall. It rains all night. Eleanor gets up and starts collecting rainwater into our front tank from the deck. Rains all day Saturday. Yuck!
I just finished reading "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt (Random House). It is a true story, partly fictionalized, about life in Savannah. I can recommend it very highly. A movie based on the book was recently released.
Sunday begins as a hot humid rainy (sometimes torrential) day. This is getting tiresome. The dampness is sinking into our bones. We are starting to clean out lockers and attack mold. Brian and Kathy on Tundra want to head south to be in a better position to pick up their Daughter Courtney in about a week. They decide to wait another day. A cold front comes through identifying itself through a dramatic change of wind direction and air temperature. Very strong gusts accompany the change in wind direction. The air temperature must have dropped from the low 80's to the low 60's in a half-hour. Suddenly the shorts and bare feet are no longer adequate.
Murray and Heather (Windswept), and Eleanor go to visit friends and take the opportunity to do more shopping. I stay back to do the laundry and read. I also attempt to contact BC on the HAM radio, but to no avail. I can hear another station chatting to at a VE7 (that is the prefix for BC stations) but I cannot pick up even a whisper of the VE7 side of the conversation. I am beginning to suspect band conditions are just not right at that frequency and time of the day.
Monday dawns mostly overcast, cold and windy. Mercifully the rain seems to have come to an end. Showers threaten but nothing serious materializes. The air is dryer. We open up the boat to dry things out. The wind is quite strong and gusty from the north. We are experiencing 15-20 knot winds. Tundra heads south. Eleanor and Heather go in to do some shopping. I stay on board and back up the computer, a chore I have been putting off. Late in the day we dingy across the Indian River to a Restaurant called "Mr. Manatee". The rain has started again but dinner is delicious and the service charming. Later in the evening the wind is gusting to 25 knots. The rain continues fitfully and the temperature drops into the 50's. For the first time in a month we run the diesel heater for more than an hour in an attempt to further dry out the boat.
Our autopilot has failed to respond to my attempts to fix it. We have given it the name "Sneaky" because of its habit of slowly sneaking over to the starboard. Sneaky is even considerate enough to sound the "off course" alarm after a while. We shipped it off to Autohelm for repairs.
Tuesday the weather finally made a change to the better. Bright glorious sunshine greeted us about noon. And it has continued through to today (Thursday). Our Xmas cards and parcels are all mailed. This morning we had breakfast with Ruth and Don from Tranquility. They have relatives here and so have access to a car. Afterwards we went for a shore side drive and visited the Disney Vero Beach resort - quite nice. The Atlantic surf is very strong. We saw a swimmer yesterday but none today.
Alas it is time to move on. It is hard to believe we will have been here for seven nights. Kathy and Brian are now in Fort Lauderdale and will be heading to Miami in a couple of days. Tomorrow we will head south to see if we can close the distance between us a little bit. The good weather is supposed to hold through the weekend.
Heather and Murray from Windswept are going to spend Christmas here. Their son will be joining them. We will miss them. Eleanor and Murray have been working together to learn Morse code. I hope we get together again in the Bahamas. Windswept is struggling with engine problems - hard starting. A mechanic is due to arrive today. Murray has been working on it himself for several days now - it has been very frustrating for him.
Our latest good book is called "Sail Away - A guide to Outfitting and Provisioning Your Boat for Cruising", by Paul and Sheryl Shard. We are using their guidelines to review our spares, safety equipment and provisions. More shopping to do I'm afraid.
Thursday evening as we were having supper on Windswept with Murray and Heather we heard a knock on the hull. It was Andrea, the daughter of the people who own I WANDA, rafted to Galiander. Her parents were both away and she had a "small electrical fire" on the boat, which was out - but would we check it? Murray and I leaped into the dinghy and went over to investigate. The "small electrical fire" was where a 120-volt ghetto blaster in her bunk in the forepeak was plugged into an extension cord. The short circuit had fried the plug, blackened the fiberglass in the area and burned the straps on a small packsack. Pretty serious. I was concerned about what had caused it. Turned out it was a leak in a hot water bottle. The water had dribbled down the cord to the plug and shorted it out. This boat is on a mooring buoy - no shore power. The power all came from a 12 volt to 120-volt inverter. It was interesting to me to see how much punch that inverter could deliver. The protection circuits in the inverter had saved the day. The inverter had shut down and needed to be reset.
Friday dawned mainly sunny and beautiful. After some last minute scampering around sending email and saying goodbye to Windswept we cut loose from I WANDA and headed south again. What a beautiful day. Dolphins frolic. A light following wind gives us an extra knot of speed. We are only held up for 10 minutes at a bascule bridge and get much farther than we expected we would. We anchored at a little widening in the ICW called Peck Lake, just a short distance south of the St. Lucie River and a short day from Lake Worth a major "jumping off" point for boats going to the Bahamas. There were only 3 boats in this lovely spot and we could hear the Atlantic surf pounding only a short distance away.
Peck Lake is on a Wildlife Refuge. It is so beautiful we decide to stay for an extra day. The Atlantic Ocean with a magnificent sandy beach is across a small sand dune. We hike along the beach for the entire morning. This is a popular spot. During the day a score of small boats arrive, then leave in the evening. Five more large boats join us and anchor for the night.
We are plagued by gnats at Peck Lake (I call them no see ums). We lost the screen for our forward hatch in Vero Beach while we were rafted to I WANDA. Their cat went overboard and we suspect it may have been because he got tangled in our screen - a very playful and inquisitive kitty. The cat survived but not our screen. Eleanor is busy stitching us up another screen.
On Sunday morning we managed to contact Kathy and Brian on Tundra by relaying messages through another HAM radio operator. Tundra is still in Fort Lauderdale and will be staying there at least two more nights. We leave Peck Lake at 8am. I hope we can return some day. At 3:45 we drop the anchor behind a causeway in Lantana. This is Palm Beach country. The temperature is about 80f. It is kind of muggy but not uncomfortably so, especially in the breeze. The skies are overcast. There is a waterfront restaurant just a short dingy ride from the stern of the boat. We can hear Reggae Music from a live band.
This was a memorable day but not one of my favorites. As the day progressed we got into heavier and heavier boat traffic. There were numerous bridges, 12 in all, that had to open for us. Farther north, powerboats were more courteous about reducing wake when they passed us. Not down here! I don't like the crowding. We had a nice dinner in the waterfront restaurant however.
Monday we had another day of bridges - 18 this time! We left Lantana at 8am and arrived at the Fort Lauderdale, New River site before 3pm. A faster trip than I expected! The trip up the New River was a special treat. It is very narrow and lined by magnificent houses and tropical foliage. Finally we are back with Tundra again. In fact we are right next to each other in the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Marina. Brian and Kathy's daughter, Courtenay, has joined them for Christmas. It is magnificent here. The weather is really hot (80's). I managed a quick trip to a Marine Store to pick up some charts before the sun goes down. Then we are treated to something special. A Manatee comes up between the two boats to drink water from the fresh water hose we are using to fill the tanks. Eleanor reaches over and touches the Manatee, even managing to hold it's flipper for a few seconds. He seems to enjoy having his back rubbed with a deck brush. Picture opportunity!
We drink, party, eat and sing Christmas Carols to the passing boats.
We decide to spend Tuesday here as well. The weather continues to be partly overcast with highs in the low 80's. We went on a lovely long "Riverside Walk" in the morning and then had brunch at Los Olas, a classy historic district. The rest of the day was consumed by shopping. It might be quite some time before we have as good a shopping area as this is.
Tomorrow we plan to go to a place called No Name Harbour just south of Miami in Key Biscane. We will spend Christmas day there then plan to go a further into the Keys. We will be in the Keys until at least January 2nd when Courtney returns.
As we forge new traditions, we leave old ones behind. Hopefully we will be diving and swimming among coral reefs on the 25th.
This will probably be our last email before Christmas. Eleanor and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and exceptional New Year.
We were told that eventually everyone runs aground on the ICW. On Christmas Day, Galiander ran aground. Now, boxing day, we are finally anchored in No Name harbour. Why didn't we make it to No Name Harbour Christmas Eve as we planned?
We did start out on the 24th intending to move down to No Name Harbour. But the morning wore on as we worked on getting the boats ready. When Brian and I went up to check out there was a lineup - clearly it was going to take a while. We looked at each other - "might as well stay another day", and that is what we did. We took the opportunity to change the oil. Then the hinge on the icebox lid broke so we got another one while we were close to all the facilities. And so the day wore on, alternating between chores and walking Lauderdale's famous Mile River Walk. Beautiful big yachts line both sides of the river. Close by, behind brick walkways, fountains and statues, are the Broward Center for Performing Arts, the Museum of Art (with an interesting show of art by Cuban exiles), an IMax theatre, a new cinema complex which will show 12 shows, as well as some historic river homes.
Christmas Eve we had a simple sailor's meal on Tundra. Garlic bread, salad, rice and lobster. Then we exchanged gifts and relaxed. It was very dark. A small boston whaler putted by crowded with young people. The river is quite narrow. Suddenly we heard, "Oops, we lost Jerry". We looked out and indeed we could see a head in the middle of the river and the whaler was circling around to do a pickup. This was not, at this point, an emergency. The young man was clearly swimming and was talking to the people on the boat as it closed on him. Then, suddenly, moving quickly down river, the "Jungle Queen", a big two level tourist boat, loomed onto the scene. At the same time two powerboats appeared coming upstream. The potential for a disaster was apparent. Kathy Marsh acted very quickly. She leaned over, flicked on the Marine Radio, "Man overboard at Cooley Landing - Use caution". Another boat picked up the warning and quickly radioed "Man in the water" . The "Jungle Queen", with all it's size, came to a stop surprisingly quickly. The powerboats also slowed right down. The guys on the Whaler eventually picked up Jerry, they headed down river and everything carried on as it was. I was very impressed by Kathy's reaction time and a potential disaster averted.
Early Christmas morning we threw our lines loose and backed out into the river. Christmas day started out with a pretty cruise down the river, much like other mornings on the ICW. We checked the charts and depths, called ahead for bridges to open (only 11 this time), and admired the scenery. As we entered Biscayne Bay, about 10 miles north of Miami, Eleanor read out a warning about shoaling. Ok - we've had those before. But this turned out to be much more serious than any other shoaling we had encountered. There was a big warning sign posted, "Severe shoaling for 1500 feet". As we approached the area we could see boats aground. Little children were splashing around in ankle deep water right next to the channel. We decided to stay to the starboard side of the channel. Wrong choice - we were soon aground.
We warned Tundra on the Marine Radio. Brian steamed past on the port side of the channel and it looked like he was going to get through. But then - whump - Tundra was aground too.
We hailed a small powerboat out for a Christmas cruise and it pulled us back into the channel. Then a huge powerboat called Insanity passed us and we asked him where the channel was. He said, "Head right for my stern". So we did and followed him through the very narrow and convoluted channel. Suddenly we were through and in the clear again.
But Tundra was really stuck. We waited for about an hour while Tundra worked at getting off. Finally, after some conversations with them on the Marine Radio, we decided reluctantly to move on and find an anchorage for the night. So we popped through the next bridge and went on alone. Fortuitously, friends of Brian and Kathy had been "reading the mail" and invited us all to meet them for "a pot luck Christmas dinner at the Miami Yacht Club", about an hour and a half away. Don and Barb Holmes, old friends of Kathy and Brian on "Sherlock" greeted us as we come in. We quickly launched our dingy and went ashore to the Yacht club to join other boaters in the anchorage for a delightful, informal Christmas dinner.
We had not heard from Tundra and were quite anxious to know how they were faring. Don and Barb came over to Galiander for coffee and blackberry liqueur and we monitored the radio. About 6:30pm and quite dark, we finally heard "Galiander, Galiander this is Tundra" on the Marine radio. Tundra was not far away, approaching the anchorage. The guys zipped out in the dinghy to guide them in and just caught them as they searched their way through the lights and bridges of Miami.
Tundra ended up sitting comfortably behind us. A boat had finally pulled them off the sand bar and Courtney had encouraged them to go on and we were so glad she had her way!
What a Christmas day!
Boxing Day (Friday) I finally got in a real good swim before we left the anchorage. The Miami Harbour is interesting but it is very noisy, busy and smelly. No Name Harbour is less then two hours away. The charts note there is a short channel with only 7 foot of depth. Galiander heads the way. It turned out to be much ado about nothing. We never saw less than 15 feet in the channel. They must have dredged it since the last updating of the chart. So after an easy, but not stress free, two hours, we dropped the hook in a lovely little artificial harbour. No Name harbour is part of a State Park. It looks quite pleasant ashore.
Now it is Saturday. The weather has been hot (80's) and muggy. There was a hazardous weather warning this morning so we moved Galiander deeper into the anchorage and put out two anchors. A cold front is moving through and may be accompanied by wind gusts, tornadoes and lightening. This is due early afternoon. After moving the boat we hiked to a concession stand for breakfast. Then had a swim and shower, getting back about 1pm just before the front passes.
Winds gusted to 40 knots here. There was heavy rain. There was little wave action this deep in the harbour but the shore was very close.... burrrrr. But it has all passed. We moved our second anchor in anticipation of the wind shift. Eleanor and Kathy went shopping. I stayed back to relax and try to send out the email. I think I see a cellphone antenna site on the horizon.
Greg (Courtney's husband) arrives on Sunday morning. He will take an airport shuttle right to the park. Then we plan to travel about two days down into the keys and visit friends of Brian and Kathy's who have rented a condominium down there.
Revised: November 14, 1998