Boats , Birds and Bridges

On March 28th, the 198th day of our cruising trip, we began another first – the journey north by boat. We have covered these miles twice before but only in the southward direction, so Day 198 was also Day 1 of the return home. We planned on covering the distance between Vero Beach and St. Augustine in four days, traveling with our buddies Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class. We covered 32- 47 nautical miles each day, traveling for 5 to 6.5 hours. We are easing back into the longer traveling days.

Since this is the third time on this stretch of the ICW, I really don’t have much in the way of amazing photos or stories, just a journal of this section. The older blogs have much more in the way of information and good photos. Links = 2013  and 2015. It’s getting difficult to find new things to write about or photograph.

The first day was an overcast, warm and humid day so even the Florida sunshine wasn’t there to accompany us.

Goodbye, Vero Beach City Marina! We always enjoy our stay here.

Goodbye, Vero Beach City Marina! We always enjoy our stay here, but it is time to move onward.

We said goodbye to Vero Beach City Marina but stopped just a few miles north at Loggerhead Marina where the fuel was less expensive.

The channel to Loggerhead Marina.

The channel to Loggerhead Marina.

Tools for Fueling – Al tried out his new fueling gizmo . Upper right is the “key” for the deck holes, - fuel, water, and pump out. You NEVER want to mix up those holes!

Tools for Fueling – Al tried out his new fueling gizmo . Upper right is the “key” for the deck holes, – fuel, water, and pump out. You NEVER want to mix up those holes!

Ospreys love to build nests on the ICW markers, but this one nearly covers the entire triangle. Can’t see his “house number.”

Ospreys love to build nests on the ICW markers, but this one nearly covers the entire triangle. Can’t see his “house number.”

Every slow speed board had at least one bird resting on it.

Every slow speed board had at least one bird resting on it.

Sea Gull & Pelican green marker

The green ICW markers appeared to be the favorite perches on this day.

Two abandoned boats onto side of the ICW. This was just the beginning of many sightings.

Two abandoned boats onto side of the ICW. This was just the beginning of many sightings.

We kept an eye on the threatening thunderstorms by checking the weather apps on my iphone. At one point Al could see the storm clouds moving from the west and decided to slow down, circling around and double back so that the storms would pass by miles ahead of us.

storms double back

The radar on the weather app is really helpful when you are traveling, whether it is by foot, by car or by boat. On the right is our track as we doubled back and made little circles to stall for time, allowing the storms to pass by well ahead of us.

Our day ended with the anchor down at Eau Gallie in Melbourne with Cutting Class. Short naps revived us all enough to celebrate our first day of the northward trip with happy hour beers at Squid Lips, a waterfront bar.

Squid Lips! Outside and inside - just a funky typical water front bar.

Squid Lips! Outside and inside – just a funky typical water front bar.

Celebrating friendship and Day 1 of the journey north.

Celebrating friendship and Day 1 of the journey north.

Our second day began with a lovely sunrise over Melbourne. Our goal was to reach Titusville today.

A beautiful sunrise in the east.

A beautiful sunrise in the east.

Both boats were ready to pull up anchor, when Al got a call from Dan. Cutting Class’s engine wouldn’t turn over. Nada. Uh oh.

Captain AL (aka MacGyver) makes a house call over to Cutting Class. He found a loose wire, reconnected it and all systems were "go."

Captain Al (aka MacGyver) makes a house call over to Cutting Class. Dan and Al found a loose wire, reconnected it and all systems were “go.”

On the ICW, boats travel at different speeds (duh). We have been the slower sailboat and had powerboats pass us, and we are now a trawler who still gets passed by much faster motor vessels. On the other hand, both our sailboat and this trawler often move faster than other boats on the ICW so we do the passing, too. This is called the “slow pass.” How does it work? Usually, the boat that wants to pass hails the slower boat ahead on the VHF (Note– that only works when boaters have their VHF turned on. We are continually surprised by the boats who don’t. We keep ours on at all times when underway. Seems obvious to me.) It is much better when you are able to call the boat by name, which means it should be visible, whether on its transom (not covered by the hanging dinghy) or on another higher board that is easier to see. As the overtaking faster boat, you slow your speed just as your bow reaches the rear of the boat ahead. At that time, the slower boat should also slow down to 3-4 knots (if they don’t, it forces the overtaking boat to move faster in order to get by which defeats the whole purpose of the slow pass.) When done right, the slow pass serves its purpose which is not to throw a wake that bounces the slower boat from side to side. It only takes a minute to complete a slow pass, but some fast boats just won’t bother. If they do throw a big wake, your only option is to turn into the wake quickly and ride over it into a trough and behind the boat that passed. As long as no one is behind you. On any given day we take our turn as the passer and the passee. We know what it feels like to get rocked by the rude boats, so we do try to be courteous and thank the boats we pass and who pass us when the “slow pass dance” is over.

It's not often that we get to do a "slow pass" by a friend.

It’s not often that we get to do a “slow pass” by a friend.

This was another semi-overcast humid day with some rain and some sun. A little bit of everything. Including more birds and more abandoned boats.

More abandoned boats along the edges of the ICW. :-(

More abandoned boats along the edges of the ICW. 🙁

birds on the red markers.

birds on the red markers.

Birds on bridges.

Birds on bridges.

My favorite bird sight of the day was this ribbon of birds flying about.

My favorite bird sighting of the day was this ribbon of birds swirling in the air over head.

Bridge maintenance.

Bridge maintenance.

Al with binoculars checking out boat’s names, abandoned boats, and anything else that catches his eye.

Al with binoculars checking out boat’s names, abandoned boats, and anything else that catches his eye.

The binoculars are useful to check the height boards on the lower bridges – can we go under or do we wait for an opening? Sometimes I think it was easier when there was no question and we had to wait.

Bascule bridge - Looks like 24 feet so under we go.

Bascule bridge – Looks like 24 feet so under we go. No waiting

Just past noon, after lunch, we were moving along, nothing much happening. And then, the engine lost power and simply slowed to a stop. Uh oh. Oh no. What happened???? This is never a good thing. We went into “check everything” mode, me at the helm and Al doing the checking. It would have been foolish to reverse those roles – we would still be floundering. The next picture shows the cause and solution.

When we are on a straight path, the autopilot is usually steering the boat while we monitor and make adjustments. Al like to rest his feet on the helm, and because the autopilot is hydraulic, the steering wheel does not turn. Notice the shiny button to the right of his left foot?? That is the “STOP” button which will turn the engine off from the flybridge, something we have never done. It is spring-loaded and evidently Al’s foot touched it enough to begin the shutdown. Al quickly jumped up and slowed the speed down which is why the engine never fully quit. Good lesson with no painful consequences. Has he stopped resting his feet there? NOoooooo. Just more careful.

When we are on a straight path, the autopilot is usually steering the boat while we monitor and make adjustments. Al likes to rest his feet on the helm, and because the autopilot is hydraulic, the steering wheel does not turn. Notice the shiny button to the right of his left foot?? That is the “STOP” button which will turn the engine off from the flybridge, something we have never done. It is spring-loaded and evidently Al’s foot touched it enough to begin the shutdown. Al quickly jumped up and slowed the speed down which is why the engine never fully quit. Good lesson with no painful consequences. Has he stopped resting his feet there? NOoooooo. Just more careful.

 

We are seeing lots of dolphins every day, but rarely get a good photo of them. This was an unusual little boat -- sailing canoe with a large load.

We are seeing lots of dolphins every day, but rarely get a good photo of them.
This was an unusual little boat — sailing canoe with a large load.

We anchored at Titusville, but the threat of rains and thunder kept us on our boats for the evening. It was just another day of boats, birds, and bridges. However, we did pass the 2,000 nautical mile mark of our cruising since September 13, 2015.

The third day took us from Titusville to Daytona, Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit both behaved well with no more “mishaps.”

A sunny morning promised a better day than the two previous ones.

A sunny morning promised a better day than the two previous ones.

We remarked that this was the 200th day since we left Connecticut last September, and recorded it with a selfie.

A selfie to make the 200th day of our 2015-2016 cruising season.

A selfie to make the 200th day of our 2015-2016 cruising season.

Today I photographed some of the many spoil islands that rim the ICW. The spoil islands we passed today were mostly tiny ones without any “action.”

Many spoil islands line the ICW, the by-product of dredging the ICW.

Many spoil islands line the ICW, the by-product of dredging the ICW.

 

Pelicans! Almost as much fun to watch as dolphins, and certainly easier to photograph.

Pelicans! Almost as much fun to watch as dolphins, and certainly easier to photograph.

Haulover canal

We made our third trip through little Haulover Canal and under the Allenhurst Bridge.

A manatee – best sighting of the day! And the first time we have seen a manatee.

A manatee – best sighting of the day! And the first time we have seen a manatee.

And more abandoned boats, mile after mile. Too many!!! What is wrong with people? And can’t something be done about these boats that are left to rot on the water? These discarded boats give all boaters a bad name which may be part of the reason why Florida is passing legislation to limit anchoring in some counties.

And more abandoned boats, mile after mile. Too many!!! What is wrong with people? And can’t something be done about these boats that are left to rot on the water? These discarded boats give all boaters a bad name which may be part of the reason why Florida is passing legislation to limit anchoring in some counties.

These two boats looked like they might be on the path to abandonment, but a closer look showed two dummies on the top boat and an apparently live guy not eh bottom.

These two boats looked like they might be on the path to abandonment, but a closer look showed two dummies on the top boat and an apparently live guy on the bottom boat.

As we reflect on our trips up and down the Florida ICW we commented on how it wanders through such a variety of regions, both natural and civilized. The civilized sections can be rich, poorer, and everything in-between. developed and underdeveloped. The natural regions cover abundant vegetation and much wildlife, deep and shallow waters, wide and narrow waterways.

Sand bars along the ICW.

Sand bars along the ICW.

Monitoring the ICW markers are key to a successful passage, but this red triangle marker seemed very close to that dock.

Monitoring the ICW markers are key to a successful passage, but this red triangle marker seemed very close to that dock.

The Daytona skyline.

The Daytona skyline to the east.

Last day – Daytona to St. Augustine

The 47 nautical miles from Daytona to St. Augustine went by more quickly than we anticipated because we often had the current with us. We have learned that you can’t consistently plan around the currents on the ICW. On a long day, it will be with you and against you, depending on the timing and what inlets you travel through. We were lucky today.

Bridges and more bridges. Florida must have a record for the most bridges of any water way. It is a long state and beach lovers have to get out to those barrier islands and beaches somehow.

Over these four days, we passed under fifteen 65-foot high bridges and went through 7 bascule or swing bridges.

For this last of the four days, Al decided to take our little mast down so that we could avoid waiting for almost all of the boats.

For this last of the four days, Al decided to take our little mast down so that we could avoid waiting for almost all of the bridges.

Ironically, our timing was such that we reached two of the bridges while it was opening for taller boats.

 Ironically, our timing was such that we reached two of the bridges while it was opening for taller boats.

IMG_4296

And then, the LB Knox Bridge was so low that we had to request an opening – only ten foot clearance!

And then, the LB Knox Bridge was so low that we had to request an opening – only ten foot clearance!

More abandoned boats……………

Another day of passing abandoned boats............

Another day of passing abandoned boats…………

After passing so many abandoned and forgotten boats, it was good to see people out having fun boats.

After passing so many abandoned and forgotten boats, it was good to see people out having fun boats – water skiing, kayaking, and learning to sail.

Pontoon boats were everywhere. They seem to be the boat of choice on the ICW.

Pontoon boats were everywhere. They seem to be the boat of choice on the ICW.

Four days of travel, 156 nautical miles (23 hours) we arrived in St. Augustine, our third visit here.

Kindred Spirit, moored in St. Augustine with the lighthouse in the background.

Kindred Spirit, moored in St. Augustine with the lighthouse in the background.

Although the mooring we were assigned was in the very last row and far from the marina, it was nice to such a good view of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. St. Augustine Light, built in 1874, is an active light and a museum. It’s on my list to visit someday. For this visit, I could only look at it from afar.  The striping reminded me of the candy-stripe light in Hope Town.

 

Time for a resting day.

 

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