Captain's Log

St. Marys Anchorage

This morning a cold front has passed through and the temperature quickly fell from 77 to 48 degrees within a matter of hours. The wind has really increased and although the ICW is generally protected it promises to be a bumpy day. We are underway by 7:15 am in order to time the tides as we pass through the Fernandina cut. We arrive at high tide but the wind has increased to 33Kts as we approach this notoriously difficult spot. We are once again surprised as this channel has also been recently dredged and the buoys moved to reflect the deeper water. This is much different than when we passed through in the fall and we get through with no problems. We arrive at the St. Mary’s anchorage a little after noon and find that the wind has increased with gust topping 40kts. We try a couple of locations before getting our anchors down but soon find that the wind and tide are opposing each other. This makes for a very uncomfortable night and I find myself waking several times to ensure we aren’t dragging. The plan is to spend a couple of days here and tour St. Mary’s which is a nice town but if the winds don’t quite down nobody is launching a dinghy in this wind. By the next morning the front has finally moved through and we enjoy a great day touring the town of St. Mary’s and learning about the history of the place. As we were heading back to our dinghy’s Good Life asked us if we had heard all the radio traffic the day before from the vessels going through the Fernandina cut. We said we hadn’t heard anything when he related that many of the boats behind us were either at low tide, or not following the new channel markers and had run aground. There were so many that the local tow operators were asking people not to travel through until they had towed all the boats out. Wow I guess we were lucky in planning the tides and really paying attention to the new buoys and not what was on the charts.

Palm Cove Marina

We are going to meet up with LaLi in Palm cove and the three boats will travel together for the next several days. We are excited as Poppy, the boat dog on LaLi, is one of our favorite Krogen dogs and we haven’t seen her since March. We need to plan on the timing for the bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, clearing the Mantanzas inlet as well as arriving at dead high tide into the Palm cove to clear the channel. We depart at 10 and find that the Mantanzas inlet has been dredged and with the new buoyage it is not the knuckle biter it had been this past fall. Good Life has us quickly slowdown to time our arrival at the bridge of Lions and we find ourselves arriving with three minutes to spare. Great timing and with minimal fuss we are soon under the bridge and on our way to Palm cove. We arrive at 4:30 and wait a bit as the tide increases. Good Life proceeds up the channel and we are soon following. Because the sun is setting and we are headed due west I can barely make out the channel markers which is just as well since the colors have faded so bad you can’t tell which is green or red. We just keep centered between the post and are soon tied into our slip. Poppy is excited to see us, may have something to do with the dog treats, and we are soon enjoying the evening and comradery of all.

Palm Cove marina behind Good Life and LaLi on the right.

Marineland

The plan for today was to depart around 8:30 in order to give Good Life a chance to get closer to us as they were about an hour south of us in Rockhouse creek. The wind was much less although the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. We started out and soon found ourselves calling for the opening of the Main street bridge. After clearing the bridge, we settled down to enjoy a slow trip up to the Marine land marina and as it was only 28 miles away we were in no hurry. After about an hour I noticed that the sky was getting darker and looking at the radar I couldn’t believe it. The only thunderstorm in 40 miles is parked right over the ICW and it is raining so hard all you can see is one big red blob on the radar. Well there is no place to pull over and anchor so it looks like we are getting a free boat wash. Luckily there was no lighting in the general area and no other traffic on the river so for the next two hours we were in and out of some very heavy rain. We were surprised when we did see a sailboat appear out of the mist headed south with some poor person on the bow soaked to the skin as the lookout. I waved through the enclosed and very dry pilot house, and I received a wave back, although it appeared to be the one finger wave. Our luck held with the lighting until right as we approached the slip in Marine land when all heck broke loose. The dockhands sprinted off the dock and left us to fend for ourselves. Luckily someone on a sailboat next to us jumped off their boat grabbed a couple of lines and quickly tied us in until the storm passed. Good Life showed up about then so we all gave them a hand in docking and were soon enjoying some docktails and touring the area. We learned some of the history of marineland and found that the old series sea hunt had been filmed there. The marina was undergoing extensive renovations with new floating docks and buildings so it will be intersting to see what it looks like this fall.

Rockhouse Creek

We pulled anchors and were underway by 7:15 as we had 45 miles to go today to our anchorage at Rockhouse creek. The wind was still blowing although not as intense as the day before. Rockhouse creek is the spot where we had had difficulties in setting the anchor on our trip south. Our day found us traversing under the NASA railway bridge, the Addison Point bridge and up to the NASA haul over bridge.  As we were approaching this bridge there appeared be a lot of confusion on the radio about the bridge but what it was sounding like was that the bridge was not able to open. Now this is a new wrinkle as nothing was noted on any information and we both boats needed the bridge to open in order to pass under it. As we got closer it was finally determined that what the bridge operator was trying to say, although not very clearly was that the right side of bridge could not open but that the left side was in the full open position and would not be closing. Relieved to hear that we continued pushing on to Rockhouse. We pulled into Rockhouse around 2 pm and found the wind was blowing pretty strong by now and that there were at least five other boats in this rather small anchorage. We picked a spot between a sailboat another trawler and the numerous crab pots in an attempt to anchor. After about an hour we found ourselves dragging and could not get the anchor to set. Because we still had plenty of daylight left we decided to abandon this anchorage and push up to the Halifax marina. We have decided to permanently remove this spot as an overnight anchorage for us. Good Life passed on to us later the next day that another boat attempted to anchor where we were and that they also ended up dragging around two in the morning. Our adventure for the day was not complete however, because as we turned into the narrow channel for the Halifax marina a rather large river boat, the ones used for gambling was headed out. The captain asked if I could reverse course and move back into the deeper water on the Halifax river so he could pass. This was easier said than done as by now we had 20 knots of wind directly on our beam pushing us out of the channel. As I started the turn a number of alarms now started sounding. A quick check showed I had plenty of depth under the boat but I was finding it extremely difficult to maneuver the boat. Of course, the river boat is getting closer and closer when I figure out that I had left the autopilot on and It was fighting me for control of the boat. What a rookie mistake. Once I disengaged the autopilot the boat was much easier to control and we soon cleared the outgoing traffic and were headed into the marina. Now the real fun started as our directions were something like this, Last Mistake proceed up the xyz fairway, turn left at the sailboat, turn right at the abc fairway, proceed to the 3rd fairway on your left, spin the boat around for a starboard tie-up, any questions. After we both looked at each other my response was, Hey gang, pretend that we have never been here before, which we haven’t, and have someone walk us through each turn as we approach it please. That seemed to work much better and we were soon tied in for the night. The beer was exceptionally tasty that night!

Cocoa Anchorage

Today found us leaving the anchorage around 7:30 and heading to the anchorage in Coca Beach. This anchorage was slightly north of the Melbourne causeway anchorage we had used heading south in the fall. As we passed by Melbourne we had front row seats the Melbourne city airshow with the Air Force Thunderbirds. For the next hour as we cruised past we saw several aircraft performing loops and twirls in the clear skies. The trip was fairly uneventful but the wind was starting to pick up. By the time we got to the anchorage it was blowing pretty good and the anchorage had a few more boats than we expected this early in the season. However, we were soon settled in for the night and let the wind and waves rock us to sleep.

Australia

Jan and Feb found us travelling to Australia for a long-promised trip on what else, a cruise ship. We found having someone else drive the boat, plan meals, come up with the itinerary, and clean-up was fun.  We started in Singapore after a very long flight from the east coast, travelled to Bali, the Komodo islands, and then into Darwin to start our adventure. We then travelled down the east coast of Australia through the great barrier reef and finally into Sydney where we spent several days touring.

   

So pretty much the first thing we learned is that everything on this continent is either poisonous, trying to eat you, or will kill you one way or another.

Even the termites are huge! Termite mound in Litchfield park outside Darwin.

      

Making some new friends. These were the first, other than the snake, that wouldn't eat you. 

 

  

Entering Sydney Harbor at the end of our cruise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

                                  

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoggs Cove

I get up early this morning since it is our last day and I want to enjoy the sun rising. I am drinking coffee on the back deck when I am startled by some loud breathing right next to the boat. Since it is still dark I have to grab a flashlight as I am concerned someone is in the water. A quick search reveals nothing when I hear it again. It soon becomes apparent it is dolphins swimming around the boat. While we have seen them several times in the past this was the first time it was so quite you could hear them breathing. After a few minutes, they move on and the anchorage is silent. I watch the sun come up and prepare to get our anchors up by 7.  Soon we are underway to Hoggs Cove to spend the night before the group goes it separate ways. We arrive at Hoggs Cove by 4:30 and enjoy a nice night before heading into Stuart where we will spend the next several months. This is the end of our first southerly ICW trip. We have had a great time and are sorry to see the group split up but we know we will see everyone again this spring on the Chesapeake. 

Melbourne Causeway Anchorage

We are excited today as we will be heading into our hometown to anchor. While we have travelled the area extensively by car this will be the first time by water. We will also be passing by the Cape and while no rockets are expected to launch it will be a much different view by water. The anchors are up by 7 a.m. and we are soon underway. We are enjoying the view as we pass through the haul over canal and then about an hour later the NASA RR bridge and finally an hour after that we are passing under the NAA Causeway bridge. We are now on the Indian river and are starting to see some familiar sites although from the back side of what we are used to. We take our time and enjoy the scenery and by 4:30 we are dropping anchor across from the Melbourne Causeway bridge. Tomorrow we will be our last day with our group as they are headed across Lake Okeechobee to the west coast while we will spend the winter in Stuart. We watch a beautiful full moon over the river and are quickly to bed.

 

 

Rockhouse Creek Anchorage

We are quickly off the docks this morning to make the tide for Fort Matanzas. We safely pass through on a mid high tide and are quickly on our way to our next anchorage at Rockhouse Creek. This proves to be a rather difficult anchorage with a poor holding and it takes several tries until the anchor will set. 

The Rebellion

If you have been noticing over the past several days our group has been getting up at the crack of dawn and travelling until dark and anchoring. The ladies have now decided that this is enough and we are going to spend the night at a Marina have a good meal and a long hot shower. A quick check of the charts show that St. Augustine is only 11 miles away so off we go. As this is Florida we expect the day to get much warmer, we aren’t disappointed as the temperature raises to a balmy 26 degrees.  What the heck is this! We quickly arrive in St. Augustine and while the other boats head for slips we decide to fuel, pump out and add water to the boat. A wise choice as you will see later. The rest of our group decides they will refuel, and pump out in the morning before we leave. Bon Voyage decides we can leisurely spend the day and not have to depart until around 10 a.m. the next morning. We tour the area and meet up with our group for a great dinner and some good conversation. We are in bed by Krogen midnight with dreams of good night sleep. For some reason, I decide to keep my cell phone next to the bed instead of in the pilot house. 5 a.m. the next phone the phone is shrieking and I quickly grab it. It is Bon Voyage apologetically stating, I misread the tide tables and we must leave before 7 in order to make the Fort Matanzas channel at high tide.