We have arrived at Marathon, Florida via Hawk Channel. We had a great sail in about 12 knots under sunny skies from Key Largo to Marathon City Marina. We are on a mooring ball with about 200 other sailboats. The Community Park is adjacent to the marina with tennis courts, basketball, soccer fields, and a skateboard park. Best of all there is a Winn Dixie, Publix, Home Depot and I-Hop within a mile. We have bike paths along both sides of highway 1. We attended Mass at the San Pablo Church which had prayer gardens outside plus Stations of the Cross next to the water. After church we biked to Sombrero Beach which was beautiful with white sand and turquoise water. There are two flat screen tvs in the boaters' lounge so Walt got to see the Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins!
Steven left us today via taxi for the Ft. Lauderdale airport and on to Rochester where two more quarters await him for his senior year at RIT. After his departure Walt and I headed into the ocean, down past Miami, and into NO Name Harbor where we anchored. It was Thanksgiving Day and the anchorage was jammed with boats, lots of people enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. Around 10:00 at night we had a wind shift with gusts to 27 knots....you guessed it, we started to drag a bit even with 80' of chain out. There were so many boats around us that we decided to pull anchor in the dark and leave the harbor. We anchored just outside in 10' of water and listened to the wind howl all night. We were on anchor watch til dawn but the boat stayed safe! Today we are heading to Key Largo.
We had two choices today: take the ocean route to Fort Lauderdale or take the inside route and go through 20 bridge openings. Normally there is only one option-the ocean-but the winds were blowing 17-20 knots from the south with thunderstorms, wind gusts to 30, and water spouts. We chose the bridges......Actually the day turned out great. The bridges were all timed so that if we maintained 6.5 knots we basically could run down the ICW with very little delay and so we did. We saw all kinds and sizes of iguanas sitting on the bridge pilings...brazen little fellows! There were mega-yachts dotting the waterway and billion dollar mansions. Once we reached Las Olas Marina at 3:00 there was one mooring ball left (God was watching out for us) so we took it and spent some time touring the beach while looking at the side-walk cafes next to the waterfront. Steve flies back to Rochester tomorrow and we head for Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.
Today we took the ocean route from Fort Pierce to Lake Worth. It was a glorious day with abundant sunshine and winds 6-10 knots so we motor-sailed. We put in to the south anchorage just before sunset and enjoyed a great view of the Palm Beach waterfront and lighted skyline.
Vero Beach is a real cruisers' net.....as the boats come in it is easy to meet new cruisers and re-connect with cruising friends from seasons past. We were happy to see Dick and Libby Mills again here in the basin. We met them two years ago in Green Turtle, Bahamas, and we have kept in touch via our blogs and e-mail. It was a special treat to have them over for happy hour with new friends Frank (also on our mooring ball) and Darick (another Catalina owner) and then to spend time on their boat, Tarwathie, sharing Libby's home made lasagna. Al, Tanya, and their three year old daughter also shared dinner with us. They were the former owners of Tarwathie. The sailing stories were in full swing!
Vero Beach is a very special place for sailors. It has a free public bus system that picks you up at the marina and will take you to the beach or to some serious shopping downtown or at the mall. There are 11 different bus lines with transfer stations making it easy to get around town. Every Saturday at 4:00 is cocktail time at the picnic pavillion where you can share food, stories, and boat cards. This year there was lots of talk about going to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Steve is all dressed up for his flight to Houston, Texas for his interview tomorrow with Texas Instruments. He has been keeping us busy getting him outfitted for the interviews and then to the airports so that he can fly out to strange places in the southwest for various companies that we have only read about. It's strange to see him in our dinghy in his new suit......usually the dinghy sees us in old shorts and t-shirts with a sandy, salty dog up in the bow!
We are in Vero Beach for five days and we are meeting and greeting friends. We enjoyed visiting with Jim and Joyce Ebmeyer from our dock at Katlynn Marine. They are staying with their daughter for a month here in Florida and they drove to our marina to say hi. We had snacks on the boat and then went to dinner at the Riverside Cafe just around the corner from our boat.
We saw the shuttle lift-off yesterday and it was amazing! We were about 100 miles from the Kennedy Space Center but could really see the red flame from the boosters. The shuttle arched over our heads into a perfectly blue sky.....beautiful.
This morning we left Ponce de Leon inlet at 6:30 and were treated to a splendid sunrise off the bow of our boat. We typically don't see really nice sunsets because there is always land to our west. But the sunrises have been spectacular! We'll be in Vero Beach this Thursday where we'll be meeting dockmates Jim and Joyce from Katlynn on Sodus Bay. It's always nice to see friends from home.
Today was sunny and warm so we spent the afternoon at the beach. Steve was on the surfboard for three hours and would have stayed longer but the parentals were getting hungry. The Sunday special today was lobster for $5.00-what a deal!
Fernandina Beach is truly beautiful with a board walk, parks, a basketball court, a skate park, and a bathhouse all close to the ocean.
Construction on Fort Clinch began in 1847. It was a masonry fort constructed at the mouth of the St. Mary's River to protect the coastal port of Fernandina. The fort was never totally completed, neither did it see any action during the Civil War. With the advent of the rifled barrel cannon, forts constructed of stone and brick were no longer sturdy enough to withstand an assault. In 1935 Fort Clinch became one of Florida's first state parks.
This pelican is on watch! We are nestled between two shrimp boats here at the dock and these guys are always looking for fish. We have two crab pots in the water but have only caught one crab. We just moved the two crab traps and we'll keep you posted!
We have arrived in the sunshine state and we are taking it easy here in Amelia Island for the next ten days. Fernandina Beach is on the Atlantic just a short bike ride from our boat. The town is filled with quaint shops, lovely parks, and friendly people. We are tied up to my cousin Marilyn's shrimp dock, complete with a former shrimp processing plant and a boat launch. In this photo we are sitting in her waterfront studio looking out at the anchorage. There is an 8' tide here so Ranger only goes for walks when we can easily get him on and off the boat....he's not really good at climbing ladders.
Steve and I walked this beach in Georgia with Ranger. We had a small shark next to the beach surfacing every once in awhile while he searched for dinner. Several dolphins were also at water's edge. The forest was filled with palmetto trees and Spanish moss that draped from the larger tree branches. This is a wonder-land!
We are at a beautiful anchorage just north of St. Simon's Sound in southern Georgia. For the past three days an army of little black no see-ums have been out in force. They arrive about 30 minutes before sunset and they absolutely love to bite at your ankles, wrists, neck, etc. They seem to be everywhere and unlike the mosquito that buzzes these little guys strike with no warning.
Luckily for us I spent three weeks before leaving the Great Lakes sewing screening that velcros completely around our cockpit. We put the screens up every night and can sit outside with very few bugs. Many of the homes we pass along the way have their outside patios completely screened in. We are in the middle of the salt marshes and sawgrass so common along the ICW in South Carolina and Georgia so bugs and critters are to be expected!
We visited Fort Sumter before heading out today to Bull Creek, Mile 565.5......a beautiful anchorage with a beach and a wildlife preserve for Ranger.
South Carolina held Fort Sumter from 1861-1865. The fort experienced one of the longest sieges in modern history. For two years, 46,000 shells were fired at Fort Sumter by Union troops.
Viv, Harold, and Eric all came to the boat for a visit and then drove us to North Charleston where they now both own beautiful homes. It was nice to be in a house complete with large bathrooms and a fenced in yard for Ranger. We shared southern KFC for dinner and played cards til late.....which was not too good for Eric as he has to get up for work at 4:30 AM. His wife, a pastry chef, drove us back to the marina. What a nice stop!
We have visited cemeteries in both Beaufort, NC and here in Charleston, SC. The headstones tell stories of plagues, wars, infant mortality and family ties. But most interesting are the glimpses one gets into the faith of these former residents. Etched in stone is their hope in eternal life through Jesus Christ and a belief that this world is not all there is-paradise awaits us! I especially like the saying on this grave......"life is eternal, love is immortal, and death is only a horizon".
Charleston, SC is one of the most elegant cities on the eastern seaboard. It is steeped in history and is noted for its hospitality and charm. We spent the week-end at the Maritime Marina in the Cooper River across from the new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge that connects Charleston with Mount Pleasant. We can see the USS Yorktown from the waterfront. St Mary's Church, the battery, and the specialty shops of market street are just a few blocks away. There is so much to see and do here that we could spend a month!
Walt and I have been avid sailors for 38 years. Our retirement dream was to sail to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter months which we did for the first time last year, 2007-2008. We decided that we loved the cruising life
and four days after our return to Lake Ontario we traded our Catalina 320, Eagle's Wings, in for a Catalina 42 which we named Waves of Grace. We hope to continue to cruise in the Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas for many years to come