Wednesday, November 18, 2015

From the OW to the GICW

Leaving Stuart and starting the OW (Okeechobee Waterway) was like entering another world.  From expensive waterfront homes and condos on the AICW we transitioned to more moderately priced homes and budget prices marinas (what few there are.)  The OW is used as a hurricane hole and summer storage area for many boat owners.  They come down to Florida for the winter, store their boats well inland for the summer hurricane season while they go home somewhere up north.
Last night in Stuart

I learned a new skill, one which requires more practice.  Before crossing Lake Okeechobee we needed one stop for the night.  The best (free & safe) option was to tie up to the dolphins (wooden pilings) just before the Port Mayaca Lock.  The advice I read was to tie a long line to your bow, then back down to an adjacent dolphin and attach a stern line to the dolphin.  It was not a pretty sight.  Next time I will tie on the stern first, using a thinner 1/2 inch line rather than the 5/8 inch dock line I used.  Then I can more easily maneuver the boat going forward.
Typical lock dolphins (borrowed picture)

Crossing Lake Okeechobee was a little beamy, we had 15-20 mph NE winds on our stern quarter all morning.  Good time for Roger to tell me he tends to get seasick.  But the crossing only took a few hours until we were back into the canal on the west side of Okeechobee.  We stopped at Moore Haven City Docks which were more than adequate, except for the restrooms.  As we tied up we heard Mexican music coming from the adjacent park.  A Quincea├▒era was in progress.  It wasn't as formal as some I've read about, but the young girl had a nice dress, flowers in her hair.  Family and friends were enjoying the music and the food.  The main course was grilled slabs of ribs, prepared in a large smoker.  I tried to buy some ribs from the cook, but he said they were for the party only.

The Moore Haven bonus for me was the new Nordic Tug 44 that pulled in behind us.  This was the first 44' built, and was on its way to the Ft. Myers Boat Show.  The major change from the 42' was the extra 2' at the stern cockpit.
New Nordic Tug 44

Arriving in Cape Coral we headed for the AGLCA Harbor Host's canal side home.  Kitty has a dock behind her home where Loopers are welcome to spend the night.  We first met Kitty 2 years ago when she hosted a Loopers party, again at her home.  Leaving from Kitty's and heading for Ft Myers Beach we were concerned about tides.  It seemed we couldn't get above mid tide at both our starting point and our ending point.  So we opted to leave on a low tide knowing we got in the channel near low tide the day before, we should be able to get out.  Arriving at Snook Bight we had plenty of water, love it when plans work out.  We wanted to get to Snook Bight for their cheap diesel fuel and access to Publix.  Snook Bight's fuel prices are among the lowest in Florida right now, and we had not purchased fuel since Brunswick GA.  Our average diesel cost this year is only $2.38/gallon.  Last year our average cost was $3.57.  I don’t want to write about 2013, OK it was $4.90.
Roger & Kitty
We are on the home stretch now, heading north on the GICW (Gulf Intra Coastal Waterway.)  Last night we anchored at Cayo Costa State Park.  Roger cooked up the last of our R.E. Mayo scallops, our freezer is about empty.  Beautiful, quite anchorage, room for couple of dozen boats.  Today we stopped for the night in Venice, met up with Ken & Ann Shanley on Charis.  We cruised with Ken & Ann over parts of the last 3 years.  Last year we crossed our wake in Traverse Bay with Charis right behind us.  This year we were with them from Norfolk to Jacksonville.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Last day on the AICW, first day on the OW

Yesterday, Wednesday was a long day from Titusville to Vero Beach.  We finished just an hour before sunset, overnighting at the Vero Beach Yacht Club, one of the best stops we've made.  Easy tie-along-side docking, small but very nice clubhouse, friendly members and staff.  High point for the day was a visit from John & Ann Henderson.  John was one of our first Power Squadron instructors back in Peoria IL, over 15 years ago.  After drinks at the VBYC, John & Ann took us to dinner at Mulligan's on the Atlantic Ocean.

Today we travelled from Vero Beach to Stuart, marking a significant point on this cruise.   We made the turn from the AICW (Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, aka the "Ditch") to the OW (Okeechobee Waterway.)  The official AICW continues to Miami, and the unofficial AICW continues all the way to Key West.  Its taken a little over a month for Adagio to travel the 988 miles since Norfolk VA.

We plan on three travel days for the 152 miles to Ft Myers.  The OW is all new water for Adagio.  When we cruised down (south) the GICW (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway) in 2012 we went all the way to Key West without going to Cape Coral or Ft Myers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Crew on Board

After 5 1/2 months on the boat Jan and Duke were ready to return to our dirt home in Dunedin.  That meant I needed someone to help move the boat from Jacksonville to Dunedin.  Fortunately our friend Roger was able to help.  He also drove our truck from Peoria, where we parked it last May, to Dunedin.
Roger Nelson

We returned to Huckins Yachts to find Adagio back in the water with fresh bottom paint, new zincs, and a shiny hull.  After a quick trip to Publix and a ride back from Enterprise, we headed down the St Johns River with an out-going tide.  River traffic was light, only a single tug all morning, no ships, and few pleasure boaters.  That changed when we reached the AICW south from the St. Johns.  Fishing boats lined the channel for the first couple of hundred yards.

We opted for a short first day and stopped at Beach Marina in JAX Beach; don’t go there.  While the docks were good and the dock hands helpful, the restrooms were awful.

Our second day was a little longer, we stayed at St Augustine Municipal Marina.  Docking there can be difficult due to the strong current.  We wanted to arrive at slack tide, but missed by an hour.  The marina tries to put you in a slip so you have the current against you to make things easier coming in, but we had to dock with it behind us.  I’ve been to St A several times before, while it can be somewhat touristy, I always enjoy the free Greek Orthodox shrine and museum.  This time, with Jan at home, I stayed as long as I wanted.
Dolphins following Adagio
Leaving St A, a sailboat called on the Vhf and asked for a bridge clearance status.  It seems tides are running much higher than normal and some sailboats can’t get through bridges where normally they might have 65’ clearance at high tide.  We saw 62’ when we went through.  We passed Fort Matanzas, built by the Spanish in 1740 to protect the “back door” to St Augustine.  Jan & I stopped there, I remember thinking then the Spanish then must have had a very small stature.  The doorways were very short as were the soldiers’ bunks.  We also passed Marineland which was a great stop for us in 2012.

Fort Matanzas
Rather than staying in one of the larger marinas in Daytona Beach or further down in New Smyrna, we found a small place right off the AICW and only a few blocks from the Atlantic.  Adventure Yacht Harbor was easy getting in, easy docking, and the dock staff were great.  After beer and shrimp at Boondocks, we returned to the boat where Roger cooked up some scallops we had left from R.E. Mayo’s.

Headed to the beach
Today we moved on to Titusville.  Since Jan & I reached the Chesapeake back in September we had been following Active Captain hazard locations and comments by “Bob423.”  Bob was doing a super job of providing updated information for all the AICW problem areas; shoaling, markers, etc.  When we pulled in to Titusville, Bob423 was docked next to us.  I knew it was him as I also follow his blog, “Fleetwing.”

Roger is a left-wing, Obama loving, railroad union thug.  My political hero is Barry Goldwater.  So far no punches have been thrown, but we’ve got a few weeks to go.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

10/30/15 Amelia Island to Jacksonville

Adagio was in the lead when our chart plotter went out in a very shallow area, so Charis took the lead.  We were able to reboot the chart plotter after several tries.  Fortunately, we have the I-pad as a backup.

Once we arrived at the St. Johns River, we parted company with Ken and Ann.  After a month together, we were sad to see them go.  They are meeting family and plan to attend the Florida Gators game on Saturday.  We are headed upriver (20 miles) to Huchins Marine where we will leave the boat for wash, wax and bottom paint.  While that is being done, Ron, Duke and I will rent a car and head for Dunedin where Duke and I will stay.  Ron and friend Roger Nelson will then head back to the boat and bring her the rest of the way. 

For Duke and me, this is the end of our journey for the year.  It has been good!

10/29/15 Brunswick to Amelia Island

Shallow waters were encountered on our route to Amelia Island.  We had to be very careful that we hit the shallowest areas on a rising or high tide. Our hope was to be in Fernandina, but the marina was completely full due to the Florida / Georgia game on Saturday, so we settled for the marina just before the bridge. 

Ken and Ann settled in a slip but then realized that there was not enough depth and they moved to another location. We thought we were ok in our slip, but discovered in the morning that we were sitting on the bottom.  We waited until 1000 to leave.  By then we had a high tide and had floated off the bottom. 

The little restaurant here was conveniently located and the only game in town, so we had dinner on the outside patio.  We are still in the land of no-see-ums, and people from another table asked Ken if they could try his insect repellent (made of all natural oils).