February 19, 2011
Early in the morning this blue heron was standing on our dinghy watching us.
A nice picture of a flock of birds silhouetted against the setting sun.
There are shallow spots in the intracoastal waterway. We draw five feet. I think the dog draws five inches. He could not have been a boat length away from us.
The Jupiter lighthouse was built in the 1850s. Its lens spent the war buried in the bottom of the nearby Jupiter Creek preventing the Federals from using it.
Greetings from sunny, warm North Palm Beach Florida. We are anchored in Lake Worth waiting out the Presidents Day weekend. The boaters in Florida are numerous and for some reason do not have good Southern manners. It is best to just stay anchored working on boat projects, reading, and of course, knitting until they return to work.
The adventure continues…
On February 1st and 2nd we motored through most of Georgia’s notorious shallow spots. The tides were in our favor for once. After two fairly long days, we anchored in a creek, Wally’s Leg, just north of Brunswick, Georgia. The weather was still cool but not terribly cold. We woke up on February 3rd to a windy day. We were seeing gusts up to 25 knots. Jekyll Creek, which is just south of Brunswick, has a spot where the reported depth at low tide is 4 feet. We need at least 5 feet to float Irish Eyes. The wind was blowing and the tide was falling, so we decided to stay in Wally’s Leg for the day. We read, knitted, surfed the web, watched a DVD movie, and had a very nice day off.
Bill turned in about 9pm and was asleep in a half hour. It was pitch black dark, and I was just shutting the computer down for the night when I heard a beep. I thought it was the computer, but no, it was the whoop from the siren of a United States Coast Guard boat with flashing blue lights coming along side to board us. I rousted Bill out of bed, and he quickly got dressed. The four Coast Guard folks were very nice, polite, and did their jobs. They came aboard, went below, checked Bill’s ID, counted life preservers and fire extinguishers, inspected our holding tank, looked at the engine, checked Irish Eyes’ documents, and then left. By this time it was almost 10pm. I am amazed they can just come on board without a warrant or any probable cause.
The next morning we hung around till about 11am waiting on the tide to be right for passing through Jekyll Creek. We made it through the shallow spot without a hitch. It helped that a large motor boat was aground, conveniently marking the spot where the water was shallow. A bend in the Brickhill River behind Cumberland Island was our anchorage that night.
The moon was full, so high tide was really high and the low tide was really low. We left Cumberland Island on Sunday, February 5, Bill’s 61st birthday. We motored past the submarine base near St. Marys Georgia. There was a British submarine in the degaussing station which gave us something to see and gave Bill something to explain to me. The security boat with the machine gun stayed between us and the sub as we passed by.
By midday we were at last in Florida!!! The stretch south of Fernandina Beach behind Amelia Island had some very shallow spots. Irish Eyes’ keel brushed the bottom a few times but nothing to stop us. (Other boats were not so lucky.) We anchored north of the Sisters Creek Bridge just before the ICW meets the St. Johns River. It was finally warm enough to take off our shoes and socks.
The night at the Sisters Creek Bridge was calm and not nearly as noisy as I anticipated. In the morning we went under the drawbridge and headed toward the St. Johns River. At the shipyard to the right some sort of evil looking military ship was being maneuvered into a slip by 5 tugboats. There was also a patrol boat zipping around keeping boat traffic out of the security zone that surrounds all warships. The tugs would signal each other with first one then two toots from their whistles making me think of the children’s book ‘Scuffy the Tugboat’. I forgot to say it was a little foggy. Just as we began to cross the St Johns River, a tug towing a barge appeared around the bend going upriver to Jacksonville. We needed to cross over the river and continue down the ICW. It was a busy place for a little sailboat, but the tug and barge operator hailed us on the radio suggesting we meet him on two whistles. We turned to port and stayed out of the way of the barge, and the patrol boat let us get closer to the military ship than we should. We then made it safely across the river. The fog lifted some as we headed south to St. Augustine.
After my troubles last year, Bill invented a special hook to help me pick up the pennants attached to mooring balls. St. Augustine was my first attempt to use it. The hook worked like a charm. We were tied to the mooring before 5pm and before the fog rolled in again. It was time to try out our new dinghy. It is bigger than our older ones. Notice I say ones. We now own four dinghies and two outboard motors, but we only have one of each with us. It took us only twenty minutes to get it inflated, off the deck, and into the water. Not too bad for a couple of old sailors. Tuesday was spent doing laundry, mailing postcards to the grandchildren, and of course walking to Sailor’s Exchange, a huge used boat stuff store. I looked at the books while Bill prowled around amongst all the enticing bits of old boat things. Believe it or not, Bill did not buy anything. I was soooo proud of him.
Wednesday morning was clear and sunny. We let go of the mooring and headed south again. It was just south of St. Augustine when I had a too close encounter with a green daymark. Think of a telephone pole sticking 15 feet above the water with two numbered fluorescent green plywood boards the size of basketball goals nailed to its top. That is a green daymark. The red ones are similar but are triangular and of course red. They are placed just outside the channel to let boaters know where the deepest water is and which way to go. Greens are on one side and reds on the other. Well, that morning I was off in my own little world as I was steering. I did notice that I was out of the channel because the water was getting very shallow. I was looking at the depthfinder and did not see the green mark. I hit it! What a shock. Bill came flying back on deck when he heard the loud bang. The mark hit the boat on its starboard (right) side. The green mark should have been on the port (left) side. I not only hit the daymark; I hit it from the outside-of-the-channel side. The cap rail, a teak board that covers the place where the hull and deck join, was smashed in two places, and there is a scuff in the hull paint. Not good, but not terrible, a couple of boat bucks worth of repairs to be done this summer. It was a really stupid thing to have done. (Sorry children, I know stupid isn’t a nice word). The moral of the story --- Pay Attention When Steering. We anchored in Daytona Beach that night.
We continued motoring south through Mosquito Lagoon and entered the Indian River. Both were full of birds. I saw lots and even took a few pictures. I was more than little nervous steering, but I did pay better attention. We anchored for the night on the south side of the Titusville high rise bridge. That night, lit by lights from below, the bridge was pretty as far as bridges go. I never thought I would be sleeping under bridges in my retirement, but I do.
The town of Cocoa, Florida was in this stretch of the Indian River. It was time to be tourists. We anchored before noon, got the motor on the dinghy, and went in to tour the old town and have lunch. Cocoa is full of shops, art galleries, and a great pizza restaurant. (Bill was more interested in the hardware store.) After a couple hours of walking around, we were ready to head on south. We anchored that night beside the Eau Galle Bridge.
A cold front was forecast to pass through Florida over Saturday and Sunday, February 11th and 12th. When we got up on Saturday, the wind had already picked up, and it was cooler than the day before. Off we went anyway. We had not gone a mile before the wind speed increased to 20 knots. We decided to go back and re-anchor in our old spot. We spent the rest of the day reading, knitting and web surfing. The wind was very strong, and when the sun went down it got cold. During the night the wind changed direction, and the causeway leading to the bridge no longer gave us protection from the waves in the river. We had a very bouncy night.
Sunday morning was sunny but COLD. I had to again put on my wool long underwear, heavy coat and hood, gloves, and wooly hat. The wind was still strong, but it was luckily coming from behind us and was not too unpleasant. By 4pm we were tied to a mooring in Vero Beach. My new mooring ball catching hook worked perfectly again. Not long after we got into Vero Beach, Robert and Susan Banks aboard Impetuous III came in and rafted up with us. For years our two smaller sailboats had shared a slip at Lakeshore Marina on Watauga Lake. A year ago the Banks sold everything, bought Impetuous III, and moved aboard her in Oriental NC. They had left North Carolina a couple of weeks before us, and we had passed them that morning. Both crews were cold and tired but still had enough energy to drink a beer and discuss our trips down the ICW. It was really good to see the Banks. The low temperature that night was 39°. Cold.
Bill bought a new shortwave radio on ebay while we were in South Carolina. It was sent to Julia who sent it on to meet us in Vero Beach. When we went ashore to take showers, Bill found his packages in the office. From that point on he became a boat hog. I moved out to the cockpit while he drilled, soldered, wired, and whatever else he did while installing the radio. The boat was a complete mess. Nothing was in the right place. At 5 o’clock he straightened things up, we had a drink, and walked over to the Riverside Cafe with Robert and Susan for dinner. I had oysters on the half-shell and a fish taco. Yummy!
On Valentine’s Day Bill surprised me with a heart shaped box of chocolates. It was hard to hide the box on a 34 foot boat, but somehow he managed! We took the bus into the shopping area and went to West Marine, Radio Shack, and Fresh Market. Fresh Market had a special on roses. Lots of typical looking old Floridian men were buying flowers for their sweeties. It was heartwarming to watch them. Bill spent the rest of the day working on his radio project.
Wednesday a package for Bill was delivered containing some special radio wire and a 30 amp circuit breaker. Rather than finish the radio installation in Vero Beach, we decided to continue south traveling on Thursday and Friday then anchoring in north Palm Beach for the Presidents Day Weekend. Bill could work on his radio there, and we would avoid the holiday nuts on the waterway. Along the way we anchored in Peck Lake; not really a lake, more like a wide spot in the ICW. It was a peaceful night, but with little wind and with mangroves nearby, we had to put in the screens to keep all the bugs outside. South of the St Lucie Inlet the waterway passed through the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Wilderness alternated with large impressive homes for mile after mile. It was the last undeveloped land we will see until the Bahamas.
This is also where Bridgeland begins. South of Peck Lake there are six bridges that have to open for us before we get to North Palm Beach; Hobe Sound, Jupiter Bridge, Jupiter Federal, Indiantown Road, Donald Ross, PGA Boulevard, and Parker. The last four are on restricted opening schedules, and usually we have to wait for up to a half hour for at least one of them to open. This trip we lucked out and arrived at each bridge just as it began a scheduled opening. We also saw the least amount of traffic ever in this usually crowded section. We had expected a tense and frustrating day; it wasn’t.
It was just after lunch when we anchored in the north end of Lake Worth. The Banks, who had stopped to see friends in Jensen Beach, arrived a few hours later. The plan is to spend the three day weekend here enjoying the sunshine, doing a little shopping, and getting the radio to work while hiding from the holiday crowd and waiting for a cold front to pass over us.
Happy President’s Day to you all.