Thursday, April 1, 2010

UPDATE: Vero Beach and Jacksonville Florida

We enjoyed our stay in Brunswick, Georgia but it was time to move on as we got a small break in the weather. We left Brunswick on Thursday, January 13th around 7:00 am with our friends Rob and Donna Bartley on sailing vessel “Breakin’ Wind” and headed for Jacksonville. We made it past Jekyll Creek (a narrow and shallow portion of the ICW) and things were going good until we hit ICW mile mark 704. We were aware of all the reported problems (charting errors and shoals) and ran this section very slow and with extreme caution. Our friends on “Breakin’ Wind” with a 4.5’ draft ran interference, however, we still ran aground near marker 60A.  It was a short grounding as we managed to get off in a few minutes and moved into deeper water. Grounding a 35,000 lb vessel with a 6 ft draft is never a good thing and we felt fortunate to manage to get off the shoal quickly. We warned a couple vessels behind us however heard some VHF radio chatter where someone ran aground there and had to wait 6 hrs for the tide to come in.

We passed the Kings Bay Submarine Base without incident or having to wait and made it to Fernandina Beach Marina. The town of Fernandina has a beautiful downtown area and we enjoyed a local Irish Pub with our friends Rob and Donna. Ginny, with her new enthusiasm for pelicans (after our special visit back in SC), went to take some pictures of the many pelicans around the marina. A local fisherman came into the dock and brought with him 20 to 30 pelicans eager to cleanup his scraps. Seeing Ginny photographing the pelicans, the fisherman threw a few scraps over near the dock where Ginny was standing and here’s what happened.

Up early the next morning and off to Jacksonville by day break. We transited the ICW to the St. Johns River (Mile 740) and headed up the river towards downtown. The tide gave us a nice push and we arrived at the marina a little ahead of schedule. Jacksonville is a beautiful city, both from the water and on land.

The marina (The Marina at Ortega Landing) on the Ortega River is very picturesque and convenient to shopping, restaurants and public transportation. We decided to plant roots here for a month so we could spend some quality time with the kids and to hopefully get past some of the cold weather we have been having.

Our first week here we were able to see Zack’s soccer tournament down in Daytona, Skye’s soccer game and flag football games for Jake and Zack. We have enjoyed being able to spend time with the kids and will be sad when we leave.

With our friends Rob and Donna we ventured out to downtown Jacksonville using the public transportation. We had a blast. It’s funny how things in life come around full circle. The last time I rode a bus was when I was in Jr. High School and its still fun. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to ride the bus every day and as a matter of fact another 40 years would be just fine. Free made it much better!

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Jacksonville being able to visit with the kids. We hope we can come back for part of the summer.

Decided to move on south with a little warm weather window and pulled out of Ortega River on February 19th

We ran the track down the St. Johns River through downtown Jacksonville to the ICW. Our first night we stayed at Beach Marine marina in Atlantic Beach.We left Beach Marine Saturday morning with our friends on “Breakin Wind” headed south to Palm Coast. Just south of Beach Marine we encountered huge homes along the beach side of the ICW near Saw Grass. One home larger than the next until in the blink of an eye there were shanty’s. Yes shanty’s. It was unbelievable how the “hood” changed so quickly. We saw one shanty with a sign we are still laughing about. You know how beach people name there beach homes, well this guy had quite a sense of humor or he was sending a message to his rich friends. The name of his shanty was “Basshole”. I will let your imagination fill in the blanks.

On the way we passed through St. Augustine and the infamous Bridge of Lions which is under construction and can cause delays. Saturday was the charm as construction was halted for the weekend and we made it through without delay. We got a scare as we were leaving the St. Augustine area. Ginny woke up dizzy (this is normal for her) and developed a headache in the morning. A little later she began to see “floaters” and saw a couple of flashes. These symptoms can indicate a retina is pulling away from the back of the eye so we got concerned. When we arrived at Palm Coast Marina we went to the emergency room to have her checked out. We were told the hospital had an ophthalmologist on call. Well the hospital did an awesome job seeing Ginny however the ophthalmologist didn’t bother coming in. She told the attending physician to have Ginny come to her office Monday. Well we told “Dr. Don’t Bother Me on Saturday when I’m on call” to go do something to herself. What a poor excuse for a “doctor”. Mind you we didn’t expect to see a doctor in their office on the weekend, however one that’s on call at a hospital we did expect to see. That’s why we spent 4 freak-n hours going to the ER.  The ER checked Ginny’s heart and did blood work and told us she was otherwise healthy as a horse. So after 4 hours we were back to the boat knowing nothing more about her eye than we started. We checked our options for other ophthalmologist in Palm Coast and decided we should move down to New Smyrna Beach where they had an ophthalmology center within walking distance of the marina.

First thing Monday morning we called Robert Dean /Daniel Miller Ophthalmology Center and they had us come in right away. What a difference in attitude when you deal with “real” doctors that actually care about patients. After the exam the doctor told us Ginny was experiencing floaters due to a small vitreous detachment. He assured us the retina was not torn. Great news that only an exam by an ophthalmologist could reveal. Retina detachments can be repaired by laser tacking if dealt with within a few hours of the retina tear. Otherwise you can lose your sight. The good old doc who was on call at the hospital should be thanking her lucky stars it wasn’t a retina tear.

New Smyrna is a cool little town. We didn’t cross over to the beach side but did check out the downtown area. Lots of craft shops and restaurants. We shoved off from New Smyrna on Tuesday and made a run down to Coco Beach. This run took us through some very shallow water approaching the Haul Over Canal ( near Kennedy Space Center ). Along the way we ran across one of those power boat A-holes that threw a huge wake on us without warning. These people need to be keel hauled a couple of time to see if they have any brain cells between those ears. I don’t think so.

We set the hook in the Indian River off the Town of Coco Coco and spent the evening. Our friends on “Breakin Wind” launched their dinghy and took Missy the dog ashore. We decided to wait until the next day. Well the wind kicked up over night and we spent the next day on the boat without going ashore. We ran out of water in our main water tank and couldn’t take showers.
We decided to leave Coco the next day and run down to Melbourne Municipal Marina for the evening. I made the arrangements with the dockmaster for us and “Breakin’ Wind”. I asked the dockmaster if their channel could accommodate a 6’ draft vessel with the wind hawking at 30 kts. He assured me they “had plenty of water”. We as it turned out “Breakin Wind needed a pump out so they had to go into the marina first. With their 4.5’ draft they ran aground in the channel. After hearing they aground the dockmaster decided to tell them the deepest water was close to the red markers. After some time they managed to work their way off the shoal and creep into the marina. The dockmaster called us on the radio to find out when we were coming in. What a F-N jerk. This guy doesn’t understand wind tide and is managing a marina. Only a municipal marina could employ such a butt-head.

With the wind kicking up a real soup in the river our only option was to find deep water out of the ICW and wait until we could safely anchor. After about two hours of killing time we finally got a window to safely set the hook about 6 miles north of Melbourne in the river. The wind kicked up all night and we didn’t get much sleep. The next morning we weighed the anchor (by hand – not fun in a 20 kt wind) and headed south to meet up with our friends on “Breakin’ Wind”. Rob told me a almost scrubbed the paint off the red markers on his way out of the channel and barely had enough water on that side to get out.  I’m satisfied if I had listened to the dockmaster we would have spent several days blocking their channel due to the wind. This guy needs another profession.

We had a wonderful trip running from Melbourne to Vero Beach. This section is filled small islands with sandy beaches and pretty water fed by Sebastian Inlet. Once we transited south of the inlet we began to encounter the awesome homes along the waterway. We could hear Robin Leach from the TV show “Homes of the Rich and Famous” telling us in his English accent – “These are the homes you and never own”. Oh well at least we can enjoy them from a very close point of view.

We arrived at Vero Beach City Marina around 2 pm on Friday, February 26th and spent the 1st night at the dock. It was nice to be able to refill the water tanks and have shore power for heat. Ginny and I couldn’t wait to have a long shower and look for a bar / restaurant. Boy did we find the spot. Riverside Restaurant/Bar is located at the base of the bridge just south of the marina. They have happy hour from 4pm to 7pm every day and have live entertainment almost every night. Food is very good and the view of the river is awesome.

We moved from the dock on Saturday to a mooring. The marina has approximately 50+ moorings located in a well protected creek. We began learning the Vero Beach public transportation system which is very good by making a beer and wine run to Publix.  The free public transportation system has routes from the marina to the beach and all major shopping areas in Vero Beach. Very convenient and the price is right.

The 1st week we spent getting use to the area and trying to stay warm. A nasty weather front came through with tornados one afternoon and we headed for the men’s bathroom with about 20 men and woman who were shore side before the storm hit. A couple of people lost canvas on their boats and our friends on “Breakin’ Wind” found there grill cover at the clubhouse which rode the wind from their boat about 1/3 mile to the clubhouse. Lucky dogs they are.

The second Sunday we spent at Riverside with our friends Rob and Donna (Breakin’ Wind), Bill and Laura Bender (Kindred Spirit III), and Bill and Mary Frances Perry (Cool Breeze). Boy did we have a good time. Well as a result of our heavy partying and riding public transportation we managed to get exposed to a nasty flu bug. One by one we all came down with this nasty bug that lasted for about two weeks. Not good.

Vero Beach marina is very convenient to shopping and the beach and is a good test ground for checking out the boats systems while on the mooring. We run our generator about an hour and ½ in the morning to top off the house batteries and again in the evening. During the day our solar panel and wind generator keep the batteries charged and our refrigeration working.

The first couple of weeks here at Vero were cold, however the last couple weeks we have had warming and shorts and flip-flops are now a common sight. Last week we lost our new dear traveling friends Rob, Donna and Missy Bartley on “Breakin’ Wind”.  They started their trip back to NC after 3 weeks here in Vero. We will miss them dearly and wish them God Speed and safety on their way back to New Bern, NC. 

Wednesday, March 31 – We are prepping Wind Dust for the passage to the Bahamas. The forecast shows a nice weather window to make the passage and for now it looks as if we will make our move on Friday. We plan to leave Vero Beach run the ICW down to Ft. Pierce inlet then south down the Florida Coast to a waypoint off West Palm Beach (Lake Worth Inlet). From here we will make the turn to the NE crossing the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Steam to a way point north of Sandy Point on the Little Bahamas Bank. Once we make the bank we will turn southeast and run approximately 52 nm to Great Sale Key where we will anchor and rest prior to moving on to Green Turtle Key where we will check into customs. Total passage to Great Sale Cay will be approximately 160 nm.

We had a couple problems pop up with our dinghy engine and it’s been in the shop since Monday midday. Should be getting the engine back today and preparing to move on Friday.





  2. Brilliant way to explain things.
    Really good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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