Jekyll Island Cart Tour (Apr 9-10)

This marina was good enough to provide us a golf cart for wandering around the island.

    

Originally, Jekyll Island was only for the rich.  The Rockefellers were active in the community for nearly forty years.  Their restored period cottage (Indian Mound) is on display and is toured daily.  Time and economies changed all that but it still has a proud heritage in the Historic District with beautiful old mansions and The Jekyll Island Club.

    

The Sea Turtle Center is an education and rehabilitation facility that offers the public a chance to learn about sea turtles.  The island tour is noted by the turtle markers.

    

Churches dotted the island.

        

This home, built by a British General prior to the Revolutionary War, is one of the oldest remaining tabby buildings in Georgia.  Tabby is a type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.

    

Each of Jekyll’s beaches is completely different, from bird watching on St. Andrews to photo-ops on Driftwood Beach.

    

Adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean and Jekyll Island’s beaches is one of the best soccer facilities in the nation. Renowned for its carpet-like Bermuda grass playing surface, The Jekyll Island Soccer Complex is host to large tournaments and training teams.

Considering the inclement weather  on our last day at Jekyll, we stayed aboard most of the day.  “It was a rainy day in Georgia, I think it’s raining all over the world”.  Karen took the opportunity to complete our Income Tax while Ron updated our boat records and charted out our next several travel days.  We had dinner again at Zachry’s – a warm bowl of crab stew and salads – and relaxed with Santa on the bridge of the boat.

    

We will close with a little bit of sea turtle wisdom for the day……………

Jekyll Island (Apr 8)

As we prepared to leave Amelia this morning our depth sounder was not responding.  It was critical that we leave with enough depth to get out of the fairway of the marina.  Fortunately, after several re-starts, all systems were go.  On our way out, we passed the old Fernandina Marina and Fort Clinch.  Fort Clinch is an historic fort, first fortified in 1736 by the Spanish, and used for multiple purposes up until the 1900’s…

    

As we left the Cumberland Sound, we spotted wild horses on Cumberland Island (second photo, Ron can see them – I can’t).  The island’s claim to fame is an island of free range horses…….Cumberland Island consist of 50 miles of maritime forest trails, undeveloped beaches, wide marshes, and more than 150 wild horses…..nothing is available beyond campsites and it is accessible only by ferry service….

    

We passed graveyards of hurricane victims………

    

As we moved up the Cumberland Sound we were warned both verbally and from our waterway guides that we would be crossing the entrance to the Naval Submarine base at King’s Bay, a highly patrolled and monitored submarine fairway…..fortunately no submarines were active in the area and we stayed off limits west of the ICW.

    

At this point, we have crossed from Florida and in to Georgia, and yet we are still in cold weather….

    

It was cold and windy the entire day….even as we docked at Jekyll Island….not only were we exposed to the wakes of the boats on the river, but we endured the lapping of water on the bow of the boat all night long…..(for three nights)……they told us that today was colder here than it was at Christmas!  We spent our time here with heaters going……

        

    

However, we were blessed with a really neat Restaurant, Zachry’s Riverhouse, where we enjoyed watching the Masters, catching up on down time, a birthday party, and some really good seafood and music while at Jekyll…..it was our go to place….

    

            

We will close with a little bit of water wisdom for the day…………….

    

Amelia Island (Apr 7)

We had planned a seven mile bike tour of Amelia Island today.  We headed out early to beat the prediction of afternoon thunderstorms.  Amelia is certainly a bike friendly island, having long ago established scenic pathways circling and crossing the island.

    

….we toured the beaches

    

…and the upscale amenities (Ritz Carlton Hotel) and homes.

    

As our bike ride expanded to restaurants and shops, we realized we had over-shot our original plan of seven miles – but the seafood nachos and a cold beer at the Falcon’s Nest made for a nice break!

    

The Omni Plantation Village was full of quaint little shops, markets, restaurants and spas.  Karen and Moni had visited friends here several years ago so it was fun to see not much had changed.  Life moves a different pace here!

    

Soon we saw the approaching dark clouds and realized we were still over seven miles away from the marina……and the weather prediction was right on time!  Peddle fast!

We made it back only slightly wet from what turned out to be a 15+ bike ride.

….and now a READER ALERT – more useless information about low tides, high tides and trip planning……

It’s 8:25 pm and we are searching our boater apps regarding high tides vs low tides in the near area.  Tide exchange here is about 6 feet.  Low tide is 9:07 pm tonight, high tide is 3:41 am.  (we can’t leave in the dark at 3:41 am), next low tide is 10:00 in the morning – we can’t leave then – we would be dragging our props (all 4) in the mud and on the ground.   Next next high tide will be 4:00 pm tomorrow, which is too late to leave in order for us to get to the next stop in high tide……which will be 10:00 pm,  (we still can’t travel in the dark)…….

Now —– let’s factor in the wind and rain —–thunderstorms here on Amelia Island tonight…..

Now ——let’s factor in current —– can change the direction of our boat should we not keep enough torque ….

Now —– let’s factor in   IT IS BOATER’S MIDNIGHT – NITERS ALL……..

Jax to Amelia (Apr 5-6)

The sunsets never cease to amaze us.  Last night’s sunset was second only to the ones we saw in Key West.

        

Leaving Jacksonville was a bit of a challenge.  We needed fuel but the extremely high winds would not allow us to move to the fuel dock – when in tight marina quarters with lots of boats and high winds – you tend to feel like the ball in a pinball machine – so we decided to just head out to the river.

The waterway today tended to be the same with wind, current and misplaced buoys.  Due to shoaling, the Coast Guard had moved buoys leading to the crossing of the St. Johns River (a very large river), which was very confusing.

    

Docking at Amelia Island Marina in the wind was “interesting”.  The marina had recommended coming in at high tide due to shallow water.  At high tide there’s over eight feet of water under our boat, at low tide only four!

    

After getting safely tied up and settled in, we borrowed the marina’s courtesy car for a long awaited trip to Walmart for provisioning…..jeans, bicycle parts, paper goods, etc.  We also toured Fernandino’s historic downtown and beaches.

    

    

Back at the marina, we met up again with fellow loopers, Tim, Ramie and Ringo.  Having arrived at Amelia the day before, they recommended the marina’s restaurant, “The Galley”, and their blackened shrimp, fried okra and deep-fried grouper “cheeks” (yes, it was actually cheeks cut from the grouper’s “face”…..so that’s exactly what we did…..

    

    

Today I outfitted my little folding bike with a ringing bell (so I could hail Ron when he takes off and leaves me), a kickstand (hate to admit it but up until now I didn’t have one).  I also got a drink holder for my handlebar.  Oh, don’t forget new flexible hand grips!  Mean bikin’ momma!

The second day on Amelia we took the marina courtesy car again, it had been a long time since we had “wheels”!  We went to West Marine and another trip to Walmart . Since the marina office had closed we could not return the keys, so we took the car out again to dinner at the Down Under Restaurant.  It was “down under” the bridge we had gone under by boat just the day before.  We had fried lobster bites and snow crab legs.

    

    

    

It’s all about people and the water……(Apr 2-4)

What a great way to start the day…..a glowing ball reflecting in the glassy water below…..

    

Today we met with longtime friends and fraternity brother, Fletcher and his wife Devany, who live in Jacksonville.  Fletcher is also comfortable on the water, having crewed on competitive sailing vessels.  After visiting and catching up on the boat, Fletcher had made dinner reservations for us at Marker 32, an upscale waterfront restaurant nearby.  We enjoyed a warm spinach salad, oysters and grouper, and a wonderful bottle of Four Graces Pinot Noir! 

    

The following day was on the docks aboard Jim and Lauren’s trawler, “Oar Knot”.  There we met more fellow loopers, Randy and Sherri, gold-loopers aboard “Priorities”.  Jim and Lauren are accompanied by their loyal ship-mate (and Karen’s new friend), Wally!

    

Our last evening in Palm Cove was spent with non-loopers, but a well-traveled Canadian couple, Rob and Mary, aboard their sailboat “Sojourn”.  Rob not only enjoys sailing, he is a sailing instructor and they shared some valuable information that we will use when we enter the Canadian waterways.

We hope to meet up again with both our new and old friends somewhere along our journey.

Our visit to Jacksonville wasn’t all fun.  While there we we biked to West Marine to pick up some cleaners, then on to Walgreen’s for a few groceries.  Thinking we might never be able to buy groceries again, the next day we biked to Publix for more groceries.  Not knowing what will be available at the next stop, loopers have a mindset of “stocking up”, actually “overstocking”!  We caught up on our paperwork and laundry and had some maintenance work done on Kara Mia.  And before the storm hit, Karen got in a little dinghy ride.

    

tomorrow on to Amelia Island…….

Happy Easter and on to Jacksonville (Apr 1)

We awoke Easter morning to a foggy travel day.  Not sure how the dinghies found their way to the docks this morning.  The dense fog played havoc with our senses on our way to Jacksonville.  As we headed into the St. Augustine Inlet (with intentions of going up the Intracoastal), we ran right out to the Atlantic Ocean!

    

…but thankfully our navigational equipment kept us on target and a u-turn was in order!  Karen was surprised when she saw “Switzerland” on her map!

    

As the fog cleared we enjoyed watching the Easter festivities (Easter egg hunts, Bar-b-ques, dinner parties and family fun) as we headed north on the Tolomato River.

        

Our approach into Palm Cove Marina at Jax Beach was tricky with shallow water and cross current, but we were able to tie up to a T-head and enjoy a beautiful Easter sunset……

    

….as the sun set, we reflected on the meaning of Easter and tomorrow’s new beginning……

St. Augustine (Mar 29-31)

Our focus today was on the water, it’s depth and speed.  While the scenery was beautiful, we were concerned with shoaling that we had been warned about – in both nautical bulletins and a Coast Guard survey boat moving buoys to mark the newly discovered shallowed shoals.  There is a saying regarding this section of the Atlantic Intracoastal – “It’s not IF  you run aground, it’s WHEN you run aground”…..

Our second concern was with a fast moving river current and changing tide.  It was a full moon!  The combination was scary how fast the current carried us.  We slowed our engines to marginal RPM’s and yet our speed continued to increase.  This was great for fuel economy – however – docking was a bitch!  Two boats before us got caught in the current and wind – one forced into the marina office concrete wall (ripping out the boat’s window panels) and another slammed into a docked sailboat (creating havoc and damage).  On our second try, we got docked safely into a slip at St. Augustine’s Municipal Marina, next to the very busy Bridge of Lions bascule lift bridge.

        

Despite hurricane damage to half of the marina and restaurant, this was a very vibrant and busy port – home to the pirate ship “Black Raven”, a sightseeing tour boat, the sail-ship “Freedom”, along with water taxis,  parasailing, kayaking and Putt-putt golf.

        

This port was also a regular stop for the cruise ship “American Star”.  This is a small 100 passenger cruise liner owned by American Cruise lines.  In the winter it travels the southern Atlantic Intracoastal on weekly cruises and in the summer it travels the northern Intracoastal waterway and New England.  Despite it dwarfing us and blocking our view (first picture), we enjoyed visiting with passengers coming and going into St. Augustine.  And yes, despite it’s size, it got through the Bridge of Lions bascule lift-bridge……..

    

St. Augustine, founded in 1565, is the oldest existing city in the United States.  Because of it’s rich history, it is an extremely popular tourist destination, with the Castillo de San Marcos., a 315 year old fort, a lasting landmark of seventeenth-century St. Augustine.   Henry Morrison Flagler was an American industrialist and founder of Standard Oil.  He was a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway (all the way to Key West).  He is known as the father of St. Augustine and is the namesake of the Flagler College.  Along with it’s history, St. Augustine is a natural port with access to the Atlantic Ocean.  It has numerous recreational opportunities and an abundance of boutique shopping (of which Karen spent too much time in).

   

        

           

The mooring fields (boats tied to secured floating balls) on both sides of the Bridge of Lions was popular with the sail boats.  They would dinghy in to be a tourist and enjoy all the port had to offer, which included lot’s of great restaurants.  The attraction of the mooring balls is expense.  They are considerably cheaper than tying up at the docks and yet you get all that the marina offers (showers, laundry, water and supplies).

    

While we were here, Ronnie B. from the west coast (Tampa) joined us here on the east coast.  It was nice to have a car to sight-see and re-provision.  And of course, Ronnie B. and Ronny A. need a chaperone (Karen) whenever they are together.  We started at the beach and another marina, The Conch House.  It had an neat tiki bar and interesting seating options.  And no visit to the beach would be complete without seeing the World Famous Alligator Farm and The St. Augustine Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is the last in a series of lighthouses that have marked the entrance to the old city since the 1500’s.  It is the oldest brick structure in the city and is said to be haunted.

    

    

    

The rain had subsided but it was still cool and windy.  That didn’t stop us from having dinner on the patio at Harry’s.  Being a great New Orleans style restaurant, seafood gumbo was in order.

    

The next morning, it was breakfast at Brunch (the restaurant) and a walk down St. George St. before his drive home.  Thanks again for the car tour.

    

    

Our last evening here was windy and rocking, but we still met “Loopers” on the docks. We had crossed paths with Tim and Ramie and dog Ringo as far back as Sarasota.  They are doing the loop on “Miss Norma”, a beautiful Ranger Tug.  However the real story here is the story they tell in their book “Driving Miss Norma”.  It would be an important read for all of us.

    

Sorry this posting is so long but I didn’t know where to put my little bird in the blog……I just really like him….

………………

On to Marineland, Fla (Mar 27-28)

We had a nice travel day but not so much for this sailboat that didn’t make the bridge “open”….and he sunk shortly thereafter…..

    

Passing boats are always interesting, especially this survey boat which looked more like a government sponsored outing…..and the kayak race….

    

Again we enjoyed looking at the homes along the waterway and yet we found more damage, including this completely shut-down marina…..

            

After arriving at the marina, Ron did his usual dock-tour.  He thoroughly enjoyed the catamarans (thinking of a power-cat someday) and always likes the look of a Nordic Tug.

    

Directly across the street was the famous and historic (opened in 1938) Marineland.  It’s mission has changed from an entertainment center to an education center and as a preserve for injured sharks, sea turtles, and dolphins.  It was fun being up close and personal with the sharks and sea turtles, however, we have already seen a lot of dolphins in their “natural” state.

                

As we sat on the boat, we kept hearing a roaring sound – then we crossed the street and discovered where it was coming from.  A very vibrant and active surf crashing on the rocks along the beach.  Immediately adjacent was a “River to Sea” preserve.  Karen enjoyed the seaside………

        

…..Ron enjoyed the river side…..while on our bikes there, we saw lizards, terrapins, and a 4-foot rattlesnake.  It had a small rustic campground and beautiful trails to the Matanzas River that we had just traveled yesterday.

    

…..we watched the sunset over the Matanzas River……

    

Titusville and on to Daytona Beach (Mar 25-26)

Traveling on the Intracoastal on a Sunday morning was very busy with recreational and fishing boats.  And we are not sure why this guy is standing neck-deep in the waterway?

    

The homes and boats, while still very valuable, were more modest than what we had become accustomed to in South Florida….

        

we don’t enjoy repeating it but we continue to see the hurricane damage along the Intracoastal…..

    

Ultimately we reached the Halifax River and Daytona Beach…..    

It was rain off and on but Ron biked to the post office to mail a package to our grandson from the Space Museum and to CVS for provisions, while Karen caught up on laundry and changing linens on the boat (yes – those chores don’t go away on a boat!).

Later, after the rain had cleared and the sun came out, we biked around to look at the marina park and little shops and restaurants in Daytona Beach.

    

We had docktails on our bridge with Scott and Kristin (boat next to us, from Wisconsin that have another boat in Key West) , Jim and Lauren (Oar Knot) , Clive and Anne (from Australia)…

Went to Zappi’s Italian Garden……for dinner with Scott & Kristin and Jim & Lauren in “a CAAAAAA”……(Boston dialect for “car”)……we don’t have the luxury of a vehicle often…..

On the T-head and around town…… (Mar 23-24)

We were fortunate at Titusville to be docked on the T-head (end of the dock).  It afforded us some beautiful sunrises as the boats came and went through the mouth of the harbor.  If you look close you will see the fins of dolphins topping the water in the early morning and putting on a show for us to enjoy.  They were very active each morning and evening in this harbor.

           

Our Grandson Bryson’s school project for next month is about Astronaut Neil Armstrong.  And what luck that we were in Titusville.  Because of it’s close proximity to the Kennedy Space Center, many astronauts called Titusville home.  With that in mind, we toured the American Space Museum there and learned much about Neil Armstrong that we can share with Bryson.

            

After absorbing as much local history as we could (on our boat bikes), we decided it was time to visit a local brewery located in the old hardware store.  We were fortunate that the food was as good as the beer (and Ron tried them all!).

        

While in Titusville, we biked for provisions and saw some unique “boats”…..

    

    

…….tomorrow on to Daytona Beach…………..