April 24, 2010 - Harbortown Marina, Canaveral Barge Canal, FL
Happy Birthday, Pam! We had our breakfast and got ready to pick up our rental car and drive over to Kennedy Space Center. Enterprise Car Rental came and picked us up at the marina at 8:30 and we drove back to the car rental office in Cocoa Beach. We got a Chevy HHR and took off for Kennedy Space Center. It was a 20 minute ride and we arrived at the Center just after 9:30. We bought the deluxe tour tickets which started at the Visitor Center and took us on a bus for 2 hours to Launch Complex 39A and 39B, where the Shuttle Discovery was sitting on the pad. It was awesome!
This tour took us to areas that were restricted except by this bus tour and we got as close to things as anyone can get.
We also stopped at the International Space Station Center where we got to see where they check all the modules to see if they will fit before they to the Space Station. There are 60 nations that make the ISS happen. Since it was Saturday, there was nobody working. Monday through Friday the place is bustling with activity. The Galaxy Center has a 61 foot model of one module from the International Space Station.
The bus took us past the Vehicle Assembly Building and the crawler transporter. Here is where they put together the shuttle with any other vehicle they are sending up.
The US flag on the side of the building is very interesting. It takes 6,000 gallons of paint for one red stripe and a stripe is as wide as the tour bus is long. One of the stars is 6 ft. wide. The flag has just been newly painted.
We also drove past the shuttle landing facility and saw the runway where the shuttle lands. It is 300 ft. across. The entire Space Complex also encompasses the largest wildlife refuge that houses many endangered species. Along the way, we saw many alligators in the ponds around the complex and 2 huge bald eagle nests. One nest has been there for 41 years and has had many hatchings. We saw the eagles in flight over their nests. It is as big as a king size bed on the inside. Wow!
The bus took us over the Banana River where we saw 4 or 5 manatees in the warm water there and some roseate spoonbills.
Another stop was at the Apollo/Saturn V Center which features a 363 foot moon rocket. Here is where they recreated an Apollo Launch and a theater which depicts the first moon landing.
We toured the Shuttle Explorer and got to see inside. It was a full-scale orbiter replica.
I got to check out the size of the capsule for myself.
Pam and Don went into Shuttle Launch Experience which is a realistic simulation of an actual space shuttle launch. Bob and I had done one in Epcot last year and just went to the observation room to wait. We walked around outside to view all the different kinds of rockets in the Rocket Garden.
The Gallery of Manned Spaceflight displays authentic Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules. We ended with the Hubble 3D movie in the IMAX theater. We donned our 3D glasses (very fashionable) and went inside to watch the movie for 40 minutes.
It was so cool and we learned a lot about the astronauts that have gone into space to service it. It was a compilation of Hubble images showcasing the science of deep science discovery.
We left the Kennedy Space Center at 5:30 and had the most wonderful day. With only 3 shuttle launches left, we really appreciated seeing everything up close. That was well worth the price of the tour.
We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few items and went back to the marina. After putting the groceries away, we went up the marina restaurant for dinner. We shared a volcano chocolate for dessert for Pam's birthday. Hope it was a great birthday, Pam!
We returned to our boats to relax. It was a long day and we were all beat. Tomorrow we leave for New Smyrna Beach.
April 25, 2010 - Harbortown Marina to New Smyrna City Marina, FL
Bob got up earlier and let me sleep (what a guy)! He left to return the rental car at 7:30 and was back by 8:00. Gallivant pulled out a little before 8:00 and we left by 8:45. Our slip was so tight, it felt like we needed to grease up the sides with a little Wesson Oil to get out.
With a little help from a couple of other boaters, we were able to get out without any problems and a it was a lot easier than when we went in. We slowly motored out of the Canaveral Barge Canal and were back out in the ICW by 9:15. The weather today started out with a pretty sunrise and calm winds. By the time we left it had clouded up and the south winds picked up. The forecast was for a 20% chance of rain and the winds to get stronger by noon (15-20 mph). To a nonboater, that probably doesn't seem like much, but we usually prefer winds to be in the 0-10 mph category for excellent boating, 10-15 mph is fair to good, and anything over 15 is far less desirable. More wind=bigger waves=an uncomfortable ride. For a Sunday, there were a few boaters out, but not too many this early. Since the wind and 1-2' waves were behind us, it was a smooth ride. We caught up to Gallivant in Titusville, where we all had to wait for a bridge opening.
From there we motored at 9.8 mph behind them north on the Indian River to the dredged cut called the Haulover Canal. We passed a neat spot someone was using as a campsite on an island. What serenity!
As we entered the narrow canal, we could see it was a busy place....for fishing, manatee viewing, and gawking.
It is a haven for manatees, where people stood to watch them as they gathered in the protected waterway.
Kayakers tried to get up close without disturbing them. They wanted to see the gentle creatures.
There were many fishermen trying their luck. When I asked one of them what kind of fish they were fishing for, his response was "any kind" with a long southern drawl. So I smiled and gave him a "thumbs up". It seems this canal is extremely popular with the fishermen. We crossed the mile and a half Haulover Canal into Mosquito Lagoon, a large but shallow body of water. The lagoon is aptly named for the winged "friends" that make their visit in the nighttime hours. We went about 7 miles and then the ICW cut along close to the shore on North Indian River where there are canals and homes on the west shore and lots of little mangrove islands and bayous to the east. It was all slow-no wake and the wind was blocked by the land. It was very hot and humid--our shirts sticking to our skin--as we traveled the same speed as the wind and got no benefit from the breeze. The marine weather radio told us that there was a tornado watch for our area and a large band of thunderstorms was crossing the state just north of us. The trailing arm might cross our path, so we picked up our speed, passed Gallivant, and tried to make it to the New Smyrna City Marina before the storms got there. Little did we know that the ICW was all slow-no wake until the marina. As we approached the city, there was an area south of town where sand flats developed at low tide. On this Sunday, people were out enjoying the newly exposed beaches and the water. Bob and I missed the entrance to the marina and had to turn around. Gallivant entered the marina first and got tied up. Then the dockmaster helped us get in. We ended up parked right next to each other.
We were all tied up and settled in by 2:15 and immediately turned on the AC once we were hooked up to power. It was ungodly humid! We sat down in the AC for awhile, before we went over to Gallivant for a visit and to the office to check in. Bob checked the radar and the status of the storms in the area. They were still crossing the state and would be here later this evening. Later,we all took a walk into town. Bob and Donny went to check out the Dolphin View Bar and Restaurant, while Pam and I went down Canal St and into historic downtown New Smyrna. The main street was lined with palm trees that really dressed up the street.
We ended our walk at the site of the old Turnbull Palace at the waterfront. He was the founder of the largest North American colony in 1768 in New Smyrna. This is all that was left after all these years.
Pam and I found the guys at the Dolphin View Bar and we all sat there and watched the boat traffic on the ICW from their outside deck.
We were all hot, tired, and hungry so we went back to our own boats and retired for the evening. Bob cooked chicken on the grill and we watched a DVD before going to bed. It started to rain as we were eating dinner and continued to rain as we fell asleep. After waiting all day, the rain finally came.
April 26, 2010 New Smyrna Beach to Daytona Beach
Last night we had quite a storm go through. The bolts of lightning and claps of thunder kept us awake for awhile. In the middle of the night, the rain really came down and washed the salt off of the boat. In the morning, the temps were much cooler and we could see the storm front line in the sky as it moved off toward the south. The sun should be out later. We don't have far to go today, so we all decided to sleep in a little and leave later than we usually do. Since we had some extra time, Bob made us a breakfast of eggs, toast, and Canadian bacon. What a treat! We pulled the lines around 10:00 and moved out into the ICW north towards Daytona Beach.
The sun finally came out and we had a temp today of 66 degrees after the storm last night with 100% humidity. It was sticky and going slower created no breeze.
We cruised at 9.8 mph along the Halifax River towards Ponce de Leon Inlet.
The ICW looked a lot like the one back home on the Gulf side with a mixture of big and small homes along the waterway. We turned left where the ICW took us to avoid Ponce Inlet which is very treacherous due to tidal currents. The boat slowed down and started going sideways due to these currents. We could see historic Ponce de Leon lighthouse which has guarded Ponce Inlet for over 100 years and provides a panoramic view of the area.
We heard the Coast Guard on the marine radio issuing a warning to mariners to keep a sharp lookout for Right Whales which are endangered and migrating north at this time of the year on the Atlantic Ocean. This is the Northern Right Whale critical habitat zone, just a mile or 2 north of here. That would be so cool to see one! We arrived at the Halifax Marina in Daytona Beach at 12:00 after a run today of 15.6 miles.
We all settled in and decided to look around in town.
Bob and I walked along historic Beach St.
There were some interesting shops and businesses. We stopped in a few of them to check them out and get into the AC.
One of the coolest buildings was the Kress Building made of large limestone blocks. It was very old.
Another unique place was the "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant called the Stinky Dog Diner.
Walking along the street it was hot, but the breeze was refreshing.
We walked back along the waterfront through City Island Park past the Jackie Robinson Stadium, home of the Daytona Cubs. The reason it's named for Jackie Robinson is because Daytona Beach was the first FL city to allow Jackie Robinson to play during spring training in 1946.
The bridge supports of the Speedway Boulevard Bridge had beautiful paintings of dolphins on them. They were awesome!
We stopped at the West Marine store in the Marina Complex and got some local knowledge about Matanzas Inlet which is very treacherous too, unless you know how to navigate it. In the same building was a restaurant with a cool tiki bar called the Dolphin Tiki. It had a beautiful carving of dolphins standing in the middle of it.
While we walked Beach St., Pam and Don took a bike ride across the bridge down to the Daytona Beach Pier and Boardwalk on the beach where they had lunch. Across the street from the marina, were some stately looking old homes.
I spotted a couple of cool boat names on the docks in the marina. Here they are:
We returned to the boat in time for "happy hour". Bob and I cooled off after our walk and did some research on marinas and anchorages to stop at in the next couple of days. Pam and Don returned from their bike ride and we enjoyed sitting on our boats in the shade. The winds started to kick up and became gusty in the late afternoon as predicted. The cool breeze felt good. We grilled lamb chops for dinner and watched the sunset.
The moon came up and we went in when the noseeums came out. Tomorrow we leave for St. Augustine.
April 27, 2010 - Daytona Beach to St. Augustine, FL
We woke to a beautiful sunrise at 6:30 and pulled away from the dock by 8:00. Bob and I will make Daytona Beach a stop on the way back to check out the Boardwalk and Beach Pier.
We have 4 bridges to pass under in the city when we get out into the ICW. We passed under that bridge with the dolphin paintings on the supports, only to realize that the pictures contain lots of sea creatures made with tiles. Knowing that makes it even more awesome!
Pam and Don left at 7:20 this morning to make the restricted bridge opening by 7:45. They would be ahead of us today....for awhile. The temps were nice and cool this morning at 68 degrees and low humidity. The sky was sunny with thin, wispy clouds. The ICW passed really close to the shoreline and houses at Ormond Beach. We saw 2 miniature shetland ponies grazing in someone's backyard. What a surprise! Farther down the way, there was a huge tugboat tied to shore. It looked like someone was living on it. Note the anchor on the bow and the clothes drying on the line.
There's always seems to be something interesting to see! One section along Tomoka State Park had lots of palm trees without any tops---maybe taken off in a storm.
We caught up to Gallivant in Flagler Beach at 10:15 and stayed with them the rest of the way.
Along a section of the ICW called Fox Cut just south of Palm Coast, FL the houses became mansions--one bigger than the next with all kinds of elaborate landscaping. This guide had an unusual dock in front of his amazing house.
This stretch of the ICW was a hectic place. There were boats all over the place.
We passed by Newcastle Marine where they build yachts. There was one in the boatyard being worked on. It was out in the middle of nowhere.
As we neared the dreaded Matanzas Inlet, we found ourselves in the middle of 2 power boats (ahead) and 2 sailboats (behind) making the crossing at the same time. Gallivant and another boat were ahead of us.
We checked the forecast and found the winds to increase this afternoon to 15-20 with gusts even higher. We aborted our plan to anchor out in Salt Run and decided to be safe and snug in a marina---Camachee Cove Marina, just north of St. Augustine proper. We passed a cute sign for a bed and breakfast along the ICW.
There was a sailboat along the ICW that had been anchored at one time and was now high and dry.
The first sign that we were near St. Augustine was the 161 ft. lighthouse on the banks of Anastasia Island. It is painted with a black and white spiral design.
As we approached the city, we could begin to see the beautiful skyline.
We passed under the Bridge of Lions--a bridge with a very unique design.
Moving down the shoreline, we spotted the coquina walls of the fort Castillo de San Marcus. This imposing structure has guarded the approaches to St. Augustine since the 17th century.
Next was the stainless steel cross of Our Lady of La Leche shrine. It was on the site of the 1st Roman Catholic mission.
Approaching the St. Augustine Inlet, we could see the sand dune-lined shores.
The winds picked up and with the current at the inlet, it made for interesting water. We found the marina north of town and with a lot of help, got tied up to the dock. We traveled a total of 55.9 miles. When we arrived, the tide was low as seen by this picture.
There will be a 5 ft. tide swing here, which is very dramatic. There will be an even higher 6 ft. tide swing tomorrow. Here is a picture of the same area next to the dock, 3 hours later.
We took a long walk to the marina office on the opposite end of the marina to check in.
From the balcony there, you could see how dry it was in the marina where we are docked. One of the dockhands gave us a ride back by dinghy to our boats.
Once we got back to the boat, I changed into my swimsuit and we all went up to the pool. The water was so refreshing and we had it all to ourselves.
The guys sat in the shade, while Pam and I hung around in the pool for awhile.
The area around the pool and restaurant was laid out in a beautiful garden setting.
Then we all went back to the boat to make dinner. Tonight it was burgers on the grill. We had plans to take the marina's courtesy car into town, but it was later and we were tired after a long day. Pam and Don have seen the sights already by land, so Bob and I will make St. Augustine a stop for us on our way back, for sure. Donny clocked the wind gusts at 43 mph. Yikes! Good thing we didn't anchor out. The boat was flying around tied to the dock! Donny noticed something unusual swimming in the water near the dock. After careful examination, they saw that it was a crab swimming with part of a pelican's beak. Note the hook at the end of the piece sticking out of the water. That's the hook from the end of the pelican's beak.
After dinner, we checked the lines on the boat and prepared for the coming storm they were predicting. The clouds would tell the story.
I spotted two cute boat names in the marina. Here they are:
At 8:00, the tide was covering the plants and almost up to the dock.
Tomorrow we leave for Jacksonville. It will be an early night and another long day on the water.
April 28, 2010 - St. Augustine to Jacksonville, FL
Just a little message from Bob. Happy Birthday to Cindy. I love you!
The storm came through quickly last night around 8:00, and then it was gone. It brought cooler temps of 52 degrees this morning, but sunny. The next 2 days should be cooler and then the temps should climb into the upper 80's. Gallivant went to get pumped out at the gas dock and when they were done, we pulled away from our dock at 8:30. Before we left, 4 different Customs and Border Enforcement boats appeared in the marina.
They were built for speed and serious business.
The wind was down from yesterday, but the current created a healthy chop on the ICW and 1' waves at times. We cruised north on the Tolomato River (ICW) to Jacksonville. There was another stranded boat along the shoreline. This one had been there awhile.
This part of the ICW is wide and traverses marshlands on both sides. There wasn't much to look at except the beauty of it all. With the strong current, we were traveling at 10.4 mph even though we were going against the wind. We finally came up on a "congested area" of interesting houses and covered boat slips at Palm Valley.
One guy had a cute little bench attached to a dock piling. I wonder how he gets out there.
This slow-no wake stretch of homes and docks was 6 miles long. There was lots to look at....old as well as new.
Soon we came upon the up-scale section of homes....mansions.....some of the biggest we've seen. He wins!
They got bigger the closer we got to Jacksonville Beach and boat traffic got heavier. As we entered the St. John's River near Jacksonville, we came upon a marine railway and boatyard.
This area along the Atlantic Ocean is the Northern Right Whale critical habitat just north of St. Augustine to Jacksonville Beach. I wonder....are they out there?
We turned west on the St. John's River where it intersected the ICW and continued on into the city of Jacksonville at 12:45. The St. John's River runs deep and wide past boat yards and wharves. The river is brackish all the way south to Palatka, 64 miles downriver. Just under the Dames Point Bridge, we came upon a pod of dolphins corralling fish and playing in the water. We slowed down and they followed alongside the boat for awhile. There were a lot of dolphins in this section of the river. We passed a shrimp boat where two men were suspended out on one of the arms doing some repairs. Yikes!
A 3-story barge was fully loaded with containers at one of the docks. I've never seen one that tall.
After awhile, we saw the city skyline of Jacksonville in the distance.
Entering the harbor we first got a glimpse of the Jacksonville Jaguars Football Stadium.
It had a beautiful riverfront area with boat dockage which fills up on football weekends we were told.
We had read that you could smell the aroma of coffee from the Maxwell House plant, but we didn't. The wind was blowing in the wrong direction. Remember...."it's good till the last drop"?
We passed under the red bridge which was the first in the downtown area. The green bridge was next and that was being painted.
The blue bridge came up right after that and that is where we found the free city dock.
Gallivant got there first and helped us get tied up. We had gone a total of 54.4 miles today. We had a great spot down a ways from the Jacksonville Landing--an area of shops and restaurants.
We relaxed a little on the boats before venturing out to explore the city.
We took a walk down the riverfront and stopped first at Chicago Pizza for a beer and nachos.
We walked farther down the riverwalk to the end and back along the inner plaza.
We spotted a sign for $3.99 jumbo margaritas at the American Cafe, so we had one on the upper deck to watch the action on the river. We headed back to the boat to clean up before dinner. Bob was going to take me to the American Cafe for a birthday dinner.
We had a great dinner and checked out the mall area at the Landing on our walk back to the boat.
As the sun was going down, reflecting off the glass buildings across the river, the temperature began to drop to a cool 50 degrees.
Overnight, we should get down into the 40's and break a record for this time of the year. Who would have thought? After dark, the lights of the city came on and made for a very colorful waterfront. The tour boat was out under the blue bridge that was lit up at night.
Further up the river, some of the buildings were outlined in green and the bridge had a golden glow. It was such a beautiful sight!
We relaxed as the river calmed down from today's wind and boat wakes. It was a wonderful birthday spent with friends and family.... a birthday to remember.
April 29, 2010 - Jacksonville, FL
Around 1:30 in the morning, the boat started bouncing and shaking next to the dock. The 5 knot current was changing directions and causing quite a disturbance. This lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. I moved my pillow to the sofa and continued sleeping there. (Sleeping up in the bow can be difficult at times due to noise and bouncing when the water is turbulent.) We woke to sunshine and cooler temps. It should be a nice day. We took a walk 3 blocks to Central Station where we would catch the Skyway Tram--an automated transit system.
The fare is $.50 each way or $.10 for seniors. We rode it in one direction to Florida Community College and back again across the river to Riverplace Station. We got off there and walked along the Southbank Riverwalk. Our first stop was the Maritime Museum.
We stopped in to see about Jacksonville's role as a shipping port in the late 1800's.
We shared the museum with a class of third graders. It brought back memories of field trips gone by. We found a cute boat name at the city marina.
We left there and made a stop at the Friendship Fountain. It lights up at night with colors.
Then we walked east along the river to the last water taxi stop. We waited there for the taxi, enjoying the view.
A Ruth's Chris Restaurant sat at the water's edge with a very unusual architectural design.
The water taxi came and the S.S. Marine took us back across the river for $3.00 each.
Walking across the blue bridge would have been an easy walk according to Pam and Don who did it earlier today. Bob and I stopped at Chicago Pizza and Grill to have a Chicago-style hot dog with all the fixings. Yum! Pam and Don stopped by on their way back from their walk and we all went back to the boats. Don helped Bob change the bulbs in our anchor light, while Pam and I went in to the PAC to purchase tickets for Grease tonight with Taylor Hicks (American Idol).
We got decent seats and Pam and I will take ourselves out for our birthdays this month. The guys prefer to stay back on the boats and relax. Later in the afternoon, Bob and I walked a couple of blocks into downtown to see what there was to see.
We could smell the aroma of the Maxwell House plant today. We walked back along the waterfront to see a sailboat in distress. He had no main sail, his jib was not attached to the boat, the motor wouldn't start, and the strong current was pushing him towards the bridge supports. Another guy in a small boat tried to tow him and a sheriff's boat came out to help. He finally got to the dock with lots of help.
We hung around on the boat in the afternoon and went for "happy hour" at Chicago Pizza and Grill. We skipped dinner and cleaned up to get ready for the show tonight at the PAC at 7:30. The PAC is right across from the boat.
Pam and I left the boats around 7:15 while the guys enjoyed the solitude. The show was good and Taylor Hicks signed autographs and his new CD after the show. That's not me next to Taylor Hicks. I didn't want to wait in line for my turn for a picture with him, so I stole this shot of him instead.
The moon came up as a huge golden ball over the blue bridge. It was breathtaking. This picture doesn't do it justice.
Tomorrow we head upriver in the St. John's River for parts unknown.
NOTE: Something happened with our map and locations. They have all disappeared. We have contacted the webmaster to see what happened and what they can do. If they can't be retrieved, we'll have to continue on with what I still have. Sorry about that!
April 30, 2010-Jacksonville to Doctor's Lake (St. John's River), FL
We slept pretty well last night. I think we were getting used to the switching currents and constant turbulence in the river, but it will be nice to head farther south in the St. John's River where those factors and wind shouldn't be too much of an issue. I walked into downtown to find a place to mail some cards and we waited for the current to go slack, so we could get the boats away from the wall without any problems. It was a partly cloudy day with temps rising to 82 degrees. The next two days are forecasted to be in the 90's with high humidity (yuck) and possible showers. We pulled away from the wall at 9:15, with Gallivant to follow. We made sure to avoid the RR bridge closing and pulled into the northern section of the St. John's River. There was a breeze blowing (thank goodness), but it made for choppy waters. We took the short 19.2 mile ride to Doctor's Lake on the western side of the St. John's River. It is 4 miles long and deep almost to its banks. The lake is beautiful (reminiscent of lakes in the MI and WI) and protected. Its wooded shores are dotted with homes and docks. Meandering into Mill's Cove, we discovered it to be fairly wide, but good for the southeasterly winds tonight. However, we decided to check out the anchorage near Swimming Pen Creek. This is a small, protected stream on the farthest southeastern part of the lake. It looked better for wind protection, so we dropped the hook near shore at 11:30 and settled in.
The skies clouded up and that kept the heat down. Unfortunately, when you're looking for a sheltered anchorage out of the winds, it also means no breezes to cool you off. Gallivant anchored near us. While they had lunch, Bob and I took a dinghy ride down the Swimming Pen Creek to check out Whitey's Fish Camp, that we heard about from a couple of fishermen.
It was established in 1963 as a tackle shop with 9 bar stools, a toaster oven, beer, soda, and sandwiches. It has grown to the huge establishment that it is today and has become THE place to be on the weekends with live music and great food.
They have some really cool animal mounts hanging from the ceiling, like this one of a manatee and an alligator.
There was a photograph in the bar of an alligator that was caught in THIS lake that was 11' long and weighed 423 pounds. Yikes! We looked around n the bar and then came back to the boats to tell Pam and Don about it. We decided we would go back during happy hour at 4:00. I really wanted to try out the alligator tail appetizer. We went back to our boat when it started to rain a little and hung out there listening to the radio and working on the computer. Around 4:00, Pam and Don picked us up in their dinghy and the 4 of us went to Whitey's Fish Camp.
We tried had the alligator tail, calamari, scallops, wings, and oysters along with a few pitchers of beer. That took care of supper. Here is a picture of the alligator tail. It was very good.
We sat there for quite awhile until the music started and then left to go back to the boats. We would relax and enjoy the solitude of the evening. It rained for a little while when we were at the bar. The clouds in the sky told us it might rain again later tonight. It will be a peaceful night.