Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Sun Shines For The Birthday Boy!

Another early start for the long ICW days
It’s not much fun on a boat in the bitter cold, sitting out all day in the icy elements, motoring down the endless ICW where everything is obscured by the gray, foggy sky.  But everything changes when graced with a little bit of sunshine and warmth. The sun is finally emerging and the tiring, never-ending days of motoring are no longer a chore.  We crossed the border from Georgia to Florida shedding layers of clothes the further south we got. And once again we are back in shorts and tees.  We continue to be awe struck by all the nature and wildlife the ICW has to offer; Wild ponies on barrier islands, more dolphins, pelicans, herons and egrets then you ever get to see in the Caribbean or Bahamas. What attracts them to this brown murky water? Amazing sunsets and sunrises with fiery skies constantly changing colour; eagles, butterflies and still so many dragonflies; majestic trees dripping in Spanish moss alongside lofty palms.  Not to mention the quirky and character filled towns that we pass by. Apart from the cost of motoring and the pressure to get as far south as possible in order to cross over to the Bahamas before our visa expires, we have thoroughly enjoyed the flat protected waters of the ICW.
Khaya Moya and Wandering Star rafted along side each other
We had a night on a free dock at Sisters Creek near to the St Johns River - already filled with other boats Sim skilfully squeezed us in.  Khaya Moya then rafted alongside for the night. We anchored off Cumberland Island where we could see the wild Ponies on the beach.  As we entered Florida we could feel the temperatures raise and the pace pick up – the waterways so busy with traffic.  The radio is constantly crackling away with coastguard warnings, navigational warnings and all the other chatter that channel 16 probably shouldn't be used for.  The huge properties that pass either side of us, the huge power boats that over take us – you wouldn't know there has been a recession. We have passed through many bridges, holding our breath as we do, only once have we seen our radio antenna ping. We have been carried by the fast currents travelling at over 9kts and battled them at 4kts.  We have hit bottom a couple more times easily backing off and are now happy that we have made it down to central Florida. 
Celebrating Sims birthday
In Titusville on the “Space Coast” we stayed for a couple of days, celebrating Sim’s birthday starting with sausage rolls  instead of birthday cake  and later with John and Shirley at the famous Dixie Crossroads seafood restaurant where Sim opted for ribs! The Municipal marina we had to anchor by isn’t too friendly if you are not one of their guests.  Mooring buoys are $20, use of the dinghy dock if you anchor is $5, and there is a surcharge of $5 for access to their laundry machines and $2 showers. I understand a fee for use of their property but it gets more and more frustrating as good anchorages get filled up with moorings you have to pay for. So our stay there was bittersweet.  We hired a car with John and Shirley for a day (Enterprise pick up from the marina) primarily to pick up last minute spares and a last big food shop for the Bahamas. We drove down to Cocoa’s sea front and spent a little too long in Walmart, not getting back until it was way past dark and almost sinking our dinghy with our goods in the process!
Thank goodness it was calm when we dinghied back with all our groceries.
We are now anchored off Cape Canaveral and had hoped to see a historical space launch of the Delta Orion this morning – an unmanned probe – a test run for future space exploration to Mars - the first in sometime by NASA. But after a couple of delays (including one for a boat straying into restricted waters – Not us by the way) it’s been postponed until tomorrow.  We will wait to see what happens tomorrow but regardless the outcome tomorrow we will continue south hopefully arriving West Palm Beach on Monday and crossing over to the Bahamas from there at the next weather window.

Another grey wet day

We have seen hundreds of these birds - not sure what they are.

Khaya Moya arriving to an anchorage.

Bombing it along at 9.2kts!

Wild ponies on Cumberland Island

Not another sunset

The ICW just north of Fernandina Beach

So Many Pelicans

It was still very cold until recently

Free dock by Sisters Creek room for 6 ish boats + rafting

Heading down south 

Pretty water way

St Augustine Lighthouse - one of my favourites

Dozens of dolphins everyday - and we still shout dolphin every time.

Lots of Eagles on the way south but we didn't see any on the way up.

Yep! Pelicans everywhere!

Ponce De Leon  Lighthouse

More birds

The famous Rock shrimp at Dixie Crossroads

Our new friend

The birthday boy

John and Shrimpy

Cocoa Beach

Another sunset

Lots of small dragonflies landing on the boat driving the kitty nuts

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