Friday, April 20, 2018

Titusville - Provisioning and Black Point

The manatees have arrived in force! Note the propeller scars on his back
We did our usual provisioning today but chose to go to Winn Dixie instead of Publix which seems to keep raising prices from week to week. They simply do not carry boneless chicken breasts in six packs and the breasts they do carry are 2 to 3 times the price at Winn Dixie or Walmart. The coffee in Publix is $2 more per 12oz package and other items are along the same lines. They bought out many of the local stores and I guess they are trying to corner the market, so to speak. Publix is a very nice store with a wide selection but at boutique prices.

Poking around in a muddy pool where there is usually a shallow lake
Whenever we get a car in Titusville, we always find time to take the Black Point Wildlife Drive on Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.  This year we were amazed at the low water level in the refuge. Many areas were completely dry when in the past it was all covered with water. The poor birds that were left were poking around in puddles. I know we've been dry for awhile but I didn't realize it was that dry!

A Night Heron
We did not see the usual array of birds but we did see two that we had never seen before. One was a black hight heron and the other was an anhinga (see photos). They were just sunning themselves and they posed quite well for photos.

Anhinga





















The storms are coming! We can see on the weather forecasts the strong winds working their way south and they should reach us starting tonight and last through Monday night. Thunderstorms are also in the mix so we'll just hang around until they pass by leave on Tuesday if they're done playing around. It seems there are no end of delays in keeping us from moving north in a timely fashion. However, the weather is boss.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Titusville - at a dock

Gordon and Eta Johnson came over for a visit,
they spent the winter in the Bahamas
We left at 6:40 from Quail Valley and headed north. The one sticky wicket was the NASA bridge which does not open between 3:30 and 5:00 pm. We had to average 7 kts to make the bridge before 3:30. As we started out, we initially moved at 7.4 kts so we got a head start even though we eventually ran into an adverse tide later one. We reached the bridge in plenty of time at 3:00 but as we approached Titusville, we heard other sailboats calling for an opening and were told the next one was at 5:00 pm! In that case, you just anchor out south of the bridge and wait, we've done that before too.

We have our usual slip, nice and secure
When we first started going south, the Titusville City Marina was run by the city and it was always at least 1/2 empty. There was never a problem getting a slip. For the last two years, they hired a management team that runs several marinas and there's been a turnaround. Now the marina is almost always full and you have to call ahead to reserve a slip which we did.

Somewhat of a sunset, we'll take it
The weather ahead does not look good. There are thunderstorms predicted all weekend but we hope to leave Tuesday for Daytona, maybe Monday if the weather changes. We are so far behind last year's pace that we're not even looking at the calendar anymore. We'll get home sometime.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Quail Valley River Club in Vero Beach - at a dock

Quail ValleyRiver Club and Golf Club
We spent a very quiet night at one of our favorite anchorage, Hobe Sound by R38. After taking Hoolie ashore at low tide (he had to wade to shore), we headed north on a beautiful, calm, and sunny day. Just perfect for traveling the ICW.

Nice pool for relaxing
We were invited to stay at Quail Valley River Club by Jack Apple, a fan of my blog. It's a private club with a marina and it looked very interesting. In order to get a dock, you need an invitation from a member, in this case, Jack.

You can also relax inside with a fire in the fireplace
We were somewhat concerned about the entry as to water depth but it never dropped below 7.0 MLW  on the way in so we had a two-foot cushion even at low tide. Pam, the dockmaster, met us at the dock and Ann made a perfect landing. Pam graciously gave us a tour which included several dining rooms, the spa, the exercise room, tennis courts, swimming pool, and Tiki Hut bar. Needless to say, it was all first rate.

The docks are first rate and just the right height for Fleetwing
We are going to take advantage of one of the restaurants tonight so I'm taking my all-time date out for an evening of fun after her bout with not feeling well for so long. They have their own chef on site so we looking forward to dinner and wine.

We will leave at first light for Titusville since we're trying to make the NASA bridge before it shuts down between 3:30 and 5:00. It will be a tight fit to make it and I expect we'll have some adverse tide just to make it interesting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hobe Sound - at anchor

Hoolie has four beaches to choose from
We left Suntex at 8:30 in order to make the 10:00 opening at Southern Blvd Bridge. When we arrived south of the bridge, we saw 14 boats waiting for the same opening. I guess that's better than the 25 waiting for the 7:30 am opening. Of course, the opening was late. The processes started at 10:05 and that consisted of first raising the new bridge before the old bridge could open. That took another 10 minutes and we were getting antsy since we would have to do 8 kts to reach the next bridge in time given the distance and time. Well, we can't do 8 kts and the other sailboats couldn't either but we powered ahead as best we could. It turned out that they held the bridge for us and we all made it through.

The rest of the bridges were the usual timings, no problem. It's a big relief to be moving again! We got tired of sitting and throwing $100 bills into the water. So about $1150 lighter, we are finally moving north.

Nice and calm!
The anchorage here is not generally used a lot. It's convenient for Hoolie relief and usually quiet and calm. Ann continues to recover and she's much better. We will stop at Vero next and visit Quail Valley River Club. We were invited to stay one night so we're headed there Wednesday. The next day, it's on to Titusville.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Suntex Marina at Lantana - Last day

Goodbye Suntex!

Given that low tide coincided with the time we wanted to depart for the 7:30 opening, we decided to wait until we had more tide and leave to make the 10:00 opening. There was another boat in the marina that left earlier today and they are anchored near the bridge for the 7:30 opening. They gave us a call and reported that 25 boats are anchored out and expected to pass through at 7:30 Tuesday.

We only have about 28 Nm to go Tuesday to our usual Hobe Sound anchorage by R38, so leaving at 10:00 is no problem and will avoid the 7:30 rush. After Tuesday, it's speedway time for going north. We hope to move every day.

Indiantown bridge is coming up,
it opens on the hour and 1/2 hour
The ETA will appear for the bridge once you're moving
I added a route to the GPX Routes list that starts at Hobe Sound. The waypoints include every bridge that needs to be raised for a sailboat. The waypoints give the bridge names (you must call ahead to tell them you want though) and the opening schedules. When downloaded to an app like Aqua Map, the ETA to each bridge will be shown as you progress down the ICW so you can time your passage to hit the bridge when it's scheduled to open. It should be helpful to those running the ICW to Ft Lauderdale with all those bridges.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Suntex in Lantana - Where's President Trump?

The area is heavy with security and some yards have 7,000-volt fences 
We would like move Monday to just south of the Southern Blvd Bridge to await the 7:30 opening Tuesday morning. It will be the first opening in over a week. We expect a crowd. The problem is that it's also in the presidential exclusion zone when President Trump is in Mar-a-Lago which is exactly at the eastern end of the same bridge. We are still not sure where he will be so we will call the Coast Guard Monday afternoon to find out the status of waiting by the bridge.

The other option was to leave Suntex at first light on Tuesday morning that's at exactly low tide and we can't make it to the ICW. So we have to do something. We have all of Monday to figure that out.

You can see by the photos that they take their security seriously around here. The 7,000 volt lines are strung far above the top of the chain link fence. The marina we're in has 24/7 security and they always seem to be patrolling on foot, in cars, and in golf carts. I guess there's a reason.

Tie right up, looks pretty solid at high tide
But watch out at low tide!
We continue to see cranes all over Florida, mostly replacing pilings. They look pretty good until you see where the piling meets the water at low tide. Then you wonder how they even stand up. I sure wouldn't want to tie a boat to them or depend on them to support a dock. We watched them replace pilings in Key West. It's a very slow process and must be very costly.

Meanwhile, we have a line of thunderstorms approaching that promises to entertain us with high winds, hail and possible waterspouts. I've been entertained enough along those lines.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Suntex Marina at Lantana - We see Southern Blvd Bridge

Approaching the bridge
We finally got our rental car this morning. Enterprise had cars shipped in from other locations but not until Saturday morning when our reservation was for Friday morning. Well, better late than never I guess.

You can see that nothing is getting through that center span!
We headed north because we wanted to see the Southern Blvd Bridge for ourselves. We found a side road and took pictures. The enter span is indeed completely blocked by a construction barge. We did see some smaller boats go under the section of the bridge away from the center span. I don't know the exact clearance but it looked like 20 ft or so.

But there is room for smaller boats to sneak under a side channel
It looks like an awful lot of stuff to move out of the way by Tuesday morning. We've heard nothing about them being late and I hope that holds true. We also looked at the anchorage and there are two nearby. One is close to the bridge and if President Trump is in town, we won't be able to use that one. The second anchorage is much farther south and it's still okay but not as convenient. Both anchorages have access to sandy beaches for Hoolie. We may just decide to use one of the two anchorages Monday night in order to be ready for the 7:30 am bridge opening. We are anxious to get moving north again after a week's wait!

Ann had a good night's sleep for the first time in two days and I think she's on the way to recovery but not entirely out of the woods yet. She's got a ton of medications to take so she's on a regime. The wind pipes up Sunday with some rain but Monday is supposed to be good for reaching the anchorage, we hope.