Friday, November 30, 2012

Deserted Beaches to Busy Beaches



Beach at Peck Lake
After departing Vero Beach, we motored to a place off the ICW called Peck Lake.  Why they call it Peck Lake is beyond me, because it just is an indention in the waterway which allows boats to pull off and anchor.  The reason we stop here is because you can go ashore on the barrier island and by just walking across a short distance there is a beautiful beach once again with very few people on it. 
 The only problem is, if the wind stops blowing, which it does on the lee side where you land, you better be fast to cross to the ocean or get in your dinghy to leave because the no-see-ums can be brutal!

Arleen cutting her wool strips.
 I have gotten a lot of rug hooking done since we have motored quite a bit.  You can see how I use my wool cutter to cut my wool.
After cutting the wool I started hooking the border around each design.  I am progressing more rapidly with this because I am using a slightly larger cut which takes less time to complete.  I hope to be done with the border soon because the rug is getting heavy and hot to work on in the southern climate!
Rug with inner borders done. 















Latest water sport, paddle boarding.
The next section of the waterway has several bridges that you must wait for that open on the hour or half hour.  We see some interesting sights while waiting like all these young ladies doing the newest water sport called paddle boarding. 


Moon out in the east with sun setting in
Due to the wait, groups of boats end up motoring together like an armada in this section of the ICW.  We had four boats plus us until we all got to Lake Worth which is the North Palm Beach area, where boats go various ways depending on their plans. 
  Since we were there by lunch we decided to go ashore to explore what was available in the way of shops.  We found one of the largest West Marine stores we have ever been in within walking distance, as well as a Publix and CVS.  So we will know for the next time what is there in case we would need anything.  We once again had an interesting site with the moon out on one side and the sun setting in the west.  

 The next morning we left early and once again had the sun peeking out behind some dark clouds with the high rises in the background which gave for an interesting photo.  We were out the inlet at slack current so it was an easy out as you can see in the video.
Early morning leaving North Palm Beach



 

One of six caught!
Unfortunately, the winds were a little too light for only sailing so once again it was a motor sail day to Ft. Lauderdale.   Since it was a nice motor sail I suggested Al pull his rod out and fish. 

Well, this ended up being Al’s day for catching fish.  Six to be exact although all were fish called Little Tunny and they are not considered good eating so back into the ocean they went!  But they certainly did provide us with some entertainment.
A Little Tunny- unfortunately not good eating.








Just one of many private yachts.
We got into Ft. Lauderdale to make the 4PM bridge opening.  You could certainly tell you were in Lauderdale with the huge private yachts and huge homes.
We anchored in Lake Sylvia which was full but got even fuller when 4 more boats pulled in after us. 

The weather was going to take a turn for the worse for the next week with winds of 20-25 knots out of the north which does make for a good crossing at all, so quite a few boats left Lauderdale to either cross to the Bahamas or head south to wait out the week in Miami.  That opened up the mooring field at Las Olas Municipal Marina so we decided to take a mooring because we had plans to meet with Al’s Aunt and cousin the next day. 
Ft. Lauderdale Beach

We walked the beautiful waterfront where they had this interesting sculpture of fish made entirely of recycled plastic bottles.  They said it really is pretty at night with the lights on it, unfortunately we did not get to see it lit up.  
Fish sculpture made out of recycled plastic bottles.

  We had lunch along the strip and then I finally put my swimsuit on (the first time this trip) and went to the beach in the afternoon.  Al enjoyed the marina talking with other cruisers and puffed on a cigar while I was away! 

While having drinks in the cockpit enjoying the scenery of some Christmas decorations    
Decorated palm trees instead of Christmas trees.

 we had a gent serenade us with bagpipes of all things.  He was on the dock at a private home playing all sorts of music including Christmas carols which was quite nice.
The next day we did chores in the morning with me doing laundry and Al hauling water to the boat.  But we played in the afternoon when Al’s cousin and Aunt picked us up and we went out to lunch and got caught up on all the family news.  It was so good seeing them but unfortunately I forgot my camera to take a picture.  Later that day we prepared the boat to go out in the ocean again.  This is the one leg of the journey that we have to go out because our 61 ft. mast will not get under a bridge that is only 55 ft.  The winds were to start picking up with this front coming and we wanted to make it to Miami before it got too bad in the ocean.  Fort Lauderdale is not real cruiser friendly so it is not a spot you want to be for a week.

We left at 6:30AM to go out the cut at slack current but the winds were howling at 20 to 25 knots so the waves were probably 4-6 ft. which were not horrible but my top height that I feel comfortable.  We were bouncing quite a bit going out but the worst was when we turned to head south we hit a rouge wave on the side that sent everything “ topsy turvey” in the cockpit and down below.  After that we got our jib partially out which helped us cut through the waves and we sailed at 7 -7 ½ knots to Miami.  Luckily, it was a short day only 20 miles.   
Miami Sky Scrapers

The sky scrapers of Miami were a welcome sight but we had to deal with large ships, a cruise ship having a life boat drill and tug and barge traffic before getting to our anchorage in the Venetian Causeway by 11:15 AM.
Ship traffic.








Life boat drills from cruise ship.

We are now here to wait out the front and to wait for good weather for a crossing!  The earliest will probably be Wednesday of next week and that was a weak possibility at best.  We were here over 2 1/2 weeks the last trip waiting for a break in the weather and it got down into the thirties at night. At least it is suppose to be in the seventies during the day and sixties at night so that is a positive.  I guess we will get to know South Beach quite well again!
Al studying South Beach from afar knowing we will get to know it quite well.  (He is also hoping  the hot beach babes don't mind a little wind!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The CLODS Pull Through


Vero Beach North Mooring Field

The week we spent in Vero Beach went by so very fast.  The first few days were spent shopping for boat needs and groceries for stocking to go to the Bahamas.  Their free bus service makes it cruiser’s paradise for doing just that.  We did pull our folding bikes out of the boat and used them on shore mostly for pleasure riding.  I was hoping to get to the beach and kayaking the creek but it blew 20-25 knots all week so those two activities were not achieved.  As it got closer to Thanksgiving more and more boats were coming in.  We had started the week with just us on a mooring ball but ended with three boats on a mooring.  It was fun to watch who was coming in and catching up with friends we met on the last trip.  As the week progressed, the dinghy dock got fuller and fuller. 
Dinghy dock-two and three deep!
Captain Heron
 Once coming back to the dock, we saw this heron in one of the dinghies which we have never seen before, but as I got closer and closer to take his picture he finally flew away. I could not believe I got a picture of it!
Unexpected Picture




We had several Happy Hours on Blue Heaven and other boats and one big one on shore at the marina so it was a very social week. 

Arleen "The Greeter"
However, the highlight of the week was Thanksgiving!  As I said in my last entry, the CLODS (cruisers living on dirt) brought turkeys and hams and the 150 or so cruisers brought the sides and desserts.  We got there early so I volunteered to be the greeter, to instruct people about their name tags and putting their names in for the door prize drawing.  It was a great way to finally see the faces of the people you often hear on the VHF radio and associate it with a boat name.

 The tables were full of delicious food with all sorts of help from the ladies uncovering for the feast. 


Al chowing down!

Our table was one of the later ones called, but you can see that Al got plenty to eat.
 
Blue Heaven's Galley











I had brought apple pies made on board Blue Heaven.  You can see how small the galley is, so if I can make one on a boat, you can make one at home!  I also took bread stuffing but that was gone before we got to it.  There were plenty of other good things to try.


Door prize drawings
After dinner we had one of the cruiser’s grand-daughters pull the names for the great door prizes that the assistant manager of the marina got collected for our event.  Of course, we won nothing!  The town actually donates the community building for our event.  They do welcome us here, because they know how much money the cruisers leave in Vero Beach! 

 

The day ended with two gents playing their instruments and singing for the crowd.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We prepared to leave on Saturday, so Al changed the oil and we did some last minute shopping.  It will be hard to leave “Velcro Beach,” (it’s nickname because so many people just stay much longer than they planned.) however, we know we will see many of these friends over in the Bahamas sometime later this winter or spring.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vero Beach or Bust!



Part of a rainbow?
Since leaving Fernandina Beach we have been at anchor or on a mooring ball.  The first night was at anchor in Pine Island north of St. Augustine.  A lot of other boats had the same idea, so there were 12 boats in there.  The other two times we were there, maybe 6 at the most. While sitting in the cockpit we saw a rainbow effect over the marsh before it rained and there was no sun out!  I’m sure there is a scientific explanation but not sure what.
Tourist trolley- a typical sight.
We motored to St. Augustine where we were on a mooring ball by 10am.  We did the usual walk down the main street where all the shops are enjoying the Spanish influences and typical sights.

Apartment balcony in St. Augustine


 Had lunch at Mi Casa CafĂ© where there was a guitarist singing some of the great old hits while eating our yummy sandwiches.  


Entertainment at Mi Casa Cafe 
 We had been in St. Augustine several times on the way down and back on past trips so we decided to move on the next day to the Daytona area since there was nothing new that we wanted to see.  



Sunrise off of St. Augustine
We started the day with this beautiful sunrise


 and ended the day anchoring out in Daytona and enjoyed a nice sunset once again with a Daytona sky line.  
Daytona as the sun sets.

Last design with missing wool in lower left corner

 Since we were doing a lot of motoring I have gotten to work on my rug.  However, frustration has set in because I am short about 1 ½ inches of background wool for my last design.  I think I have some at home so I plan to finish the rest of the rug and hopefully finish that particular design once we get home. 



 

 While motoring I try to get some exercise while underway which isn’t the easiest since wakes from passing yachts can cause you to lose your balance.  Strong women take note!


We were finally able to pull the sail out for a motor sail day to Titusville which is near NASA.  We pass through  Haulover Canal.  Right outside this pelican was  pointing out to go slow, this is a manatee zone!



The bridge north of Titusville which was closed for four hours on our last trip, was open, but shortly after going through, it closed down for a locomotive pulling one car to go across.  So at least it is nice to know that they do use it and did not have it closed last trip for no reason!  
NASA Railroad Bridge
We picked up a mooring ball in Titusville.  Moorings are new here since our last trip.  It is nice to have mooring balls because then you are able to use their shower facilities and laundry.  Both of which we took advantage. 

Not always sunny in Florida!
The next morning we awoke to heavy fog.  We were able to go into the marina to pick up fuel, water and get a pump out.  Until we were done with all of that, the fog had lifted enough to continue on although it wasn't a very pretty day.                         

We motor sailed to a new anchorage for us called Eau Gallie across the river from Melborne.  It was a bit crowded so we went up above the swing bridge to anchor and later found out they were having trouble with that particular bridge, but we lucked out and it opened for us the next morning.  

 It was quite windy the next day and we motor sailed to Vero Beach.  We had to pass under several bridges and there were some larger boats with taller masts (ours is 61’) that were having trouble not being able to go under the bridges which are often 62-63ft.  The reason is due to the north winds for the past few days that have caused the water in the waterway to rise higher than normal.  Some had to just anchor for the night and go through at low tide.  We arrived in Vero Beach around 1PM.  Showers and dinner out was the activity for the day. 
Al waiting for the free bus in Vero Beach
 We plan to be here until after Thanksgiving to use the free bus service to get to stores we need for preparing for crossing to the Bahamas.  Also there is a Thanksgiving potluck for the cruisers held in a nearby community building.  CLODS which stand for “cruisers living on dirt” will be bringing turkeys and hams and we on boats will provide the rest. Many former cruisers now live in Vero Beach which is nice.  It is a big affair and we all look forward to it.  
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Revisiting Three of Our Favorites



Our Greeters to Jekyll Island

On our first trip 4 years ago we stopped at Jekyll Island and enjoyed it very much.  We enjoyed it the second time around as much or even more and coming through the bridge we were greeted by these pelicans and cormorant. 
Jekyll Island Marina
 First of all Jekyll Island Marina is the most “preeee-cious”  (that is a drawl, can you tell we are in the south!) little marina with friendly people.  They have a small pool, hot tub (unfortunately a bit cold for those), bikes, courtesy car, laundry and restaurant on site.

Scenery while biking on Jekyll
  We borrowed the car to go to the grocery which was our biggest disappointment on the island.  It is in a trailer.  The store was old so they razed the building and put in a convention center and put the few stores on the island in trailers out near the ocean.  (Why, I don’t know because the rest of the island is nice.) There were adequate supplies but prices like in the Bahamas!  We got what we needed and then headed out after lunch for a bike ride.  We have been very lazy about getting our folding bikes out especially with theirs being so convenient.  
Driftwood Beach
Arleen on Driftwood Beach
We were not planning on a long ride but the weather was so pleasant we just kept going on the bike path to the north end of the island to see Driftwood Beach.  It is a neat beach with all these dead fallen trees right on the ocean's edge. 
By the time we got back to the marina my legs felt like mush! 
A "Must See"
   
That night was dinner on board while we did laundry, finally a marina with a short dock to land.

"The Club"- the Millionaires Club that is!
We were glad to be at the marina because it got down into the low forties.  
Al and I walked over to the historic district which offers paved pathways through 33 of the “Millionaires Club” cottages and structures.  This was the get-a-way for the Rockefellers, Goodyears  and other “old money” families. Last time we enjoyed lunch at The Club which we highly recommend! You have to experience it at least once.
 Besides reading the placards about the various cottages we also went to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.  We learned a lot about sea turtles and saw them patching one sea turtle's shell.  They have tanks with sea turtles that have been hurt or have problems.  They put info out on each turtle, when it was brought in, where it was found, what they have been doing to help the turtle, whether or not they feel it can be released again, etc.  It was quite interesting.   
Tanks for the sea turtles
Mending a shell on a turtle.


The entire island is interesting and we just loved the bike paths, some along the road, and others through the maritime forest.  When we got back to the marina our friends on Ar-turus were there, so shared a dinner together at Sea-Jays which is at the marina.  BRRRR-cold again, glad we can plug in the heat!

Cockle Shells a plenty!
Cumberland Island Beach
The next day we moved on to another one of our favorite places, Cumberland Island which is only accessible by boat or ferry.  It is for people who like to hike and enjoy nature.  After resting a bit once we arrived, we then went ashore. People can do primitive camping on the island and there are all sorts of trails.  The island is approximately 17 miles long, so we only see the southern end.  Since it was 3:30pm until we got in, we just did a short hike out to the beach.   The beach is so wide and just full of mostly cockle shells. 

Look at that twisted trunk!

It is just a lovely spot and the inner island is maritime forest with the gnarly live oaks and hanging Spanish moss and the ground covered with palmetto plants and a few flowers here and there.  It is beautiful. 
Palmetto
And our friends, Blair and Dennis, thought so too when they went in with us the next day. 

Dungeness ruins

We hiked down to Dungeness a mansion built in  around 1796 which suffered a fire and was purchased by Thomas Carnegie and built a 58 room mansion on the previous foundation.  Unfortunately, it fell to fire again in 1959 and only the remains are still there.  There is a tremendous history to this island which you can read about at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberland_Island.  While we were there, two of the wild horses posed out front of it just for us! 
Thanksgiving is coming!

Wild turkeys came close enough for pictures too.  We should have gotten one since Thanksgiving isn’t too far away!  I don’t think the park rangers would have approved, since it is a National Seashore and considered one of the most underdevelopment places in the United States!  Even though this was our third time here, we still saw areas we did not see before. 



Small crab in marsh mud.

Al, Dennis and Blair looking at the crabs.
Beautiful  marsh view from the boardwalk.

We went out on a board walk to the marsh area where we enjoyed watching the scurrying of tiny crabs in the marsh mud and even caught site of another horse there.   
Getting to the beach from Dungeness

Enjoying a rest and lunch in the maritime forest.

 After hiking the beach back to where we started, we stopped for lunch in the shade of the maritime forest.  Afterward we hiked more trails hoping to spot an armadillo which we had seen the last two visits, but it was to no avail.  On the bulletin board at the welcome center, there was a notice that the drought conditions and colder weather had taken a toll on the armadillo population so was probably the reason for no sighting. 

Later we shared dinner and a beautiful sunset on the back of Arturus.  What a way to end a beautiful day!

Farmer's Market
Only 12 miles to get to Fernandina Beach which was our next stop.  It was a Saturday so we struck gold because the farmer’s market is that day.  It was nothing like the one at home with probably 200 stands but it was a welcome sight for fruits and veggies. 

Petanque-Are you familiar with it?  We weren't!
                                    
 The town itself has charming shops and all kinds of neat restaurants.  We could see canopies and action going on from our boat. We discovered they were having a tournament of a French game called Petanque, which is similar to the Italian bocce ball except for instead of rolling the balls you toss the balls.  Supposedly this was a world tournament with people from all over. 
Small cruise ship at the dock in Fernadina.

From this town you can also get a small cruise ship that does some of the inter-coastal waterway and various ports.  We thoroughly enjoyed our one day stay here. 
Fernandina Beach, FL
The town itself is pretty from our boat but look to the left or right and you have this type of view.  However, the mills are operating, which mean people have jobs, which helps Fernandina to be such a thriving little town!


Mills in Fernandina Beach on a cloudy morning.  That isn't smoke from them, but steam.

One sad part  of Fernandina Beach is this is where we were parting ways the next morning with Arturus who had to move faster than us to make some commitments.  Four years ago this is where we parted ways with our friends, Jim and Jeannie Lea whom we traveled with from Portsmouth, VA.  Next major stop will be St. Augustine.