Its time to leave Marathon. Its time to leave the Keys. Its time to head north. After a 45 minute detour to the fuel dock, we are under way.
We have to head east to go north. Take a look at a map sometime. The Keys run mostly east and west, not north and south like most folks assume. When you travel south down the state of Florida past Miami, you keep heading south for a while but slowly-imperceptibly-the Keys bend to the west. Thank goodness...otherwise we would have to change the name of the island at the end of the road to Key South.
After taking on 100 gallons of fuel, calculated to be enough to get us out of the Keys and to more affordable fuel, we headed out to Hawk Channel. This is the channel of deep water running between the Keys and the offshore reefs five miles away. The water was clear and flat calm, like running in a swimming pool. Shortly after lunch we cut back inside to Florida Bay at Channel 5. If you have a sailboat or other boat needing significant clearence , you are really limited as to where you can pass back and forth between Florida Bay and Hawk Channel. Channel 5 is one such place. There was only 6 1/2' of water in Bowlegs cut. No problem for us, but mighty worrisome for many of our deeper draft friends. We spotted a large school of large tarpon swimming in the shallows. There was plenty of current as the tide flowed through Steamboat Channel and Cowpens Cut. We stopped for the night at the familiar anchorage in Tarpon Basin.
|How's this for low tide? Don't get out of the channel here!|
Easy day today. The anchor was up and we were back in the ICW by 0900. We passed under the Jewfish Creek bridge, into Card Sound and under the Card Sound Bridge into Biscayne Bay. Shortly after lunch we anchored for the day at Elliot Key. The rest of the day we swam (the water was 83 degrees!) and read.
|Trawler at anchor - Elliot Key|
|It looks just like the Bahamas! Elliot Key|
On to Ft. Lauderdale today. But first, we have to pass through Miami. As we pulled the anchor up at 0800, the water looked as calm and clear as a swimming pool. This is a beautiful spot! As we passed through Featherbed Bank we could see the skyline of Miami on the horizon. By 1000 we were passing throughout he heart of it. We ran to the northern reaches of Biscayne Bay, passing Baker's Haulover and the University anchorage by 1230. Now comes the drudge of the ICW. I don't' know if its really that bad or if its just that we have left the peace and beauty of the Keys. At 1415 we are passing the mega-yachts in Ft. Lauderdale and shortly before 1500 we find a spot to anchor in "Lake Sylvia" in the heart of one of the toniest spots in Lauderdale. Its a popular place for cruisers and I guess that the locals don't' mind because there are several of us anchored there. Late in the afternoon a charter catamaran comes into the anchorage and disgorges 20 or more screaming teenagers, swimming and jumping on the inflated raft and generally having a good time. Thankfully, they had a good time and then left about cocktail-time.
|Miami waterfront architecture.|
|Fun in Lake Sylvia anchorage. Ft. Lauderdale.|
Today's stretch of the ICW is the one we dislike the most...on the entire east coast. The run between Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach is frequently speed-restricted. Then there are the bridges. While we don't have to wait for all of them to open, there are 21 bridges to negotiate! Its going to be a long day today.
We depart the anchorage at 0830 in a light drizzling rain. The running lights are on. Eight hours later we slipped into Old Port Cove Marina. Our brains are numb - more than usual. As we passed through West Palm, we passed one of Microsoft founder Paul Allen's mega-yachts, "Meduse" (he has several). This one is 199 feet long and sports a helicopter on the upper deck! You can see a video of the helicopter taking off and landing by clicking the link: http://tinyurl.com/73yarlh
I wonder what its like to have your own private aircraft carrier!
|Micrsoft co-founder Paul Allen's "Meduse".|
|At the other end of the spectrum! We last saw" Theodore" in Fernandina Beach.|
Today will be a short day. We start up at 0730 and rejoin the ICW ten minutes later. An hour later the familiar lighthouse at Jupiter Inlet slides by to port and two hours after that we are at the "Crossroads" - the junction of the ICW, St. Lucie Inlet and the St. Lucie River and Okechobee Waterway. We hang a left and at 1200 pick a mooring at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, We will be here for the weekend.
Sunday 4/8/12 - Easter Sunday
Early in the afternoon we were running the generator to charge the batteries. Suddenly, without warning, the charger stopped charging. Oh-Oh! We started the engine and went to the dock so we could plug in to shore power and finish recharging the batteries and try to troubleshoot the problem. Unfortunately, the charger wouldn't work at the dock either and I was unable to determine the problem.( Electrical issues are frequently above my pay grade.) I called Krogen guru Scotty Wiley and left him a voice mail, not expecting to talk to him on Easter Sunday afternoon. But a couple hours later, he called back. He was in Palm Beach but was going to be in Stuart that afternoon. Sure enough, later in the day he came wandering down the dock. It didn't take too long for him to diagnose that we needed to replace our batteries. We agreed that we would get this done on Monday and Tuesday. Scotty was flying to Nassau early Monday to help out our friends Steve & Ruth. We would talk when he returned on Tuesday afternoon.
The new batteries we ordered yesterday came in today. The battery shop delivered five new batteries-four 6 volt deep-cycle AGM and one Grp. 24 12 volt- removed the old ones and installed the new ones. One of the guys had to lay on his back and his partner lowered the new batteries one at a time onto his chest! He then moved the battery onto its shelf. Once everything was completed the batteries were rewired, but the charger still didn't work. I left a voice message for Scotty. True to his word, Scotty called back when his plane landed in Ft. Lauderdale. Two hours later he was aboard Morning Star and troubleshooting . He found a burned up selector switch. We don't know if the selector burned out and caused the battery problem or whether the batteries went bad and caused the problem with the switch. But either way, the end was in sight. Cindy fixed Scotty a cold beer and on omelet for dinner.
Scotty and I made a quick trip to West Marine first thing in the morning to purchase a new, heavier-duty selector. It only took five minutes to install it once we were back aboard the boat. Cindy always makes brownies or cookies when Scotty is going to be around!
By 0930 we were away from Sunset Bay Marina with all systems working just fine. An hour later we were back at the "Crossroads" and turning north on the ICW. By 1515 the mooring field at Vero Beach was in sight, our home for the night. Friends Martin and Betsy on "Molly Blossom" (KK42) were at the other end of the anchorage. After going ashore to pay our mooring fee, we stopped by for a brief chat. We last saw them in Marathon at one of the Krogen breakfasts.
Its so easy to get underway when we are on a mooring. No dock lines to undo and coil up and no power cord to mess with. No dirty anchor chain to wash down (I always get my feet wet!). Just drop the mooring pennant and go. So we had no excuse...we were northbound on the ICW before 0730. We passed Melborne and Eau Gallie (pronounced O-Gallie) and were anchored for the day before 1450, north of the Cocoa Beach Causeway.
Friday 4/13/12 - Friday the 13th!
The sun is rising earlier each day and so are we. The anchor was aboard by 0700. Today is space travel day. No, not us really, but we will pass by Titusville and the NASA facilities . In fact, we can see the huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for hours before we get there. As we passed through the Haulover Canal we saw about 10 Manatees in different sightings. By lunch time, Mosquito Lagoon was behind us and two hours later we passed through New Smyrna Beach. At 1600 we called it a day, anchoring at Daytona Beach.
|When she saw the camera, she shouted "Make me famous...I need the dough"! -New Smyrna Beach|
|The Ponce Inlet lighthouse. - New Smyrna Beach|
We seem to rise earlier and earlier every day. The engine was running by 0650 and we had the anchor aboard and were back in the ICW by 0700. We passed the haunted fort at Matanzas at 1130 and were through the Bridge of Lions at St. Augustine by 1300. The wind is picking up in strength and the current is strong in our favor. We overhear several boats talking on the VHF radio about carrying on but we decide that Pine Island is where we need to stop for the night. We saw "Sanctuary" (Monk 36) and "Second Star" (KK 36) and "Sails"(Florida Bay Coaster) pass the anchorage. By the time we get our anchor set the wind is gusting to 28 knots but by sunset it is down to 10 knots with the occasional gust to 18.
|Sunrise at Pine Island anchorage.|
The anchor is really set! With all the wind from yesterday afternoon, the darn thing is dug in to China. After working on it for fifteen minutes it finally came up with a clod of mud the size of a basketball! At 0705 we are back in the ICW. It is a beautiful morning! At 1000 we hit the St. Johns River. I say "hit" because our speed is down to 5 mph. But we are in new-to-us territory. We've been across the St. Johns numerous times before but today we hang a left and go up the river toward Jacksonville. Actually, we pass by the downtown Jacksonville waterfront and continue at a snail's pace toward the Ortega River and Ortega Landing Marina, our home for the next week. I'll do a quick trip to Clearwater and then we will be underway again.
|Its going to be a long afternoon with this much of current!|
|The 250' Clippership "Stad Amsterdam"|
Check it out online at: http://www.stadamsterdam.com/en/
|The Jacksonville riverfront skyline.|
Well, its 525 miles from Key West to the Florida border. And you've covered almost all of it with the post!