St. Augustine to Stuart, FL 2009

Fort Pierce to Stuart:

Today we don’t have to rush, as it is only 29 miles from Fort Pierce to Stuart. We take the dogs for a leisurely walk around the downtown before leaving. Nothing is open this early but we do a lot of window shopping. We see several nice restaurants including a local Greek and Italian Restaurant which look very inviting. Fort Pierce has a huge farmers market here on Saturdays just next door to the marina. It is too bad we will not be here for that. Although here for only a short time, we have enjoyed our stay at the city marina and hope to return for a longer visit someday.

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The winds have picked up today so I am a little nervous about getting out of the marina. Maybe we should not have dilly dallied with a walk around town. The winds were not blowing so hard earlier. We will have to contend with both the current and winds as we exit the safety of the marina harbor and make our way back out into the ICW. Like usual, Jeff does a great job of easing IT out of our narrow slip and we are soon working our way back out into the channel. There really was no need to worry. Larry, Jane, and Ziggy from Knotty Dog are out to wave us goodbye as we leave the safety of the harbor.

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Sebastian has already received a nice email from Ziggy this morning. In the email he learned that Ziggy thinks Daisy is cute. Sebastian is a little baffled with that as he only thinks of Daisy as his big sister. What could Ziggy possibly see in Daisy? We were all thrilled to finally meet the crew of Knotty Dog and hope to cross paths again in the future.

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There is a light chop out on the water today as we continue traveling south on the Indian River. Hutchinson Island is on our port side and stretches for 22 miles from Fort Pierce down to Stuart. It seems that condo developments are one right after another on the island. We are soon once again joined by the dolphins as the ride our bow wake. We have seen many dolphins since leaving St. Augustine. They are always friendly and wanting to play. I enjoy looking off our bow seeing three or four of them happily swimming just in front of us. They always seem to know I am watching and they peer sideways to get a good look at us. Yesterday I was lucky enough to snap a photo as one dolphin was playing behind our stern and came up to check us out. These dolphins always seem so happy with a smile on their face. Life seems good for these sea creatures.

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As we approach our turn for Stuart, the boat traffic increases significantly. Big fishing boats are coming and going in all directions. Where did all these boats come from? What happened to the peace and quiet of the waterway? We leave the ICW at mile 987 and pick up mile 0 of the Okeechobee Waterway. The St. Lucie Inlet leading out to the Atlantic Ocean is just to our port. I take a glance out the inlet and the ocean looks really rough today. Glad we are not out there. As we round Sewell Point, Jeff slows IT and we cautiously study the charts. This area is prone to shoaling. The Coast Guard channel markers are all temporary in this area as they constantly have to be moved depending on the shoaling. A huge yacht is right on our tail. We continue working our way into the St. Lucie River at a slow speed as we have lots of boat traffic and are unsure of the water depths. This big yacht radios us to ask where we are going. We tell him that we are turning off just ahead at the Harborage Marina but are going slow because of all the traffic. He responds that he will follow. He continues to push us, staying just feet from on our stern. It is really making me nervous with him this close on our tail. A few minutes later he radios back and says he wants to pass. We are glad to get rid of him and politely pull over to the side of the channel so that he can safely navigate around. Once past us, he quickly speeds up. What is all the rush? A few minutes later we look ahead and see this big yacht quickly reversing engines. He has run aground! All that hurrying got him in trouble. We can’t help but laugh as we slowly work our way around the area where he ran aground. We are soon entering the breakwaters for the Harborage Marina. Before we can get IT backed into her slip, several other Krogen owners are on the dock waiting to take the lines. It is great to see some familiar faces. This is a favorite winter spot for Krogen owners. Glancing down the dock, I spot many other Krogens in the slips. It looks like we have picked a good place to stay for the next month.

Total Miles Traveled Fort Pierce to Stuart: 29
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 219

Cocoa Beach to Fort Pierce:

It is another early morning. We are up before sunrise and cast off the docks as soon as it is light enough. We have a long 72 miles to go today, so we want to get an early start. It is another perfect day out. The ICW is very tranquil and no one is out except the birds. It is like a lake out on the water today.

The Florida section of the ICW is so much nicer than that of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. There are very few nail biting stretches where the water depth shoals to 3-4 feet. Unlike Georgia, we don’t have to time our trip for high tide. Most of the Florida ICW is wide and deep. This type of cruising is much more relaxed and enjoyable. There are also many marinas and anchorages available to choose from.

We are entertained all afternoon by the pelicans.

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We watch has they repeatedly climb high up in the sky and then dive head first into the water like a missile.

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A huge splash follows and they soon reappear with fish in their bills. We have seen birds everywhere during the last few days. Just before Vero Beach, our mangrove scenery changes to multimillion dollar water front homes, packed side by side. They are very impressive. We wonder what famous people own these estates.

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We near Fort Pierce at 4:00 PM and give the city marina a call for directions. They tell us that their marked channel is just past the bridge and to follow that in and give them a call back when we get to marker 14. He warns us to be cautious as the current is extremely strong. As we locate the marked channel and start to make our turn, we also see a second set of markers just past the first set. They both seem to lead to the marina. As we are trying to sort this out, the current is pushing us past both sets. Which channel do we take? We are both flustered and after a brief discussion quickly radio the marina for clarification. He tells us that either channel is O.K. I wish he had told us there were two channels to begin with. As we enter the marina he gives us directions to our slip. I was hoping that we would have an easy face dock but that is not the case. Our slip is in the very back of the marina and we have to back in between two big yachts. It is a really tight fit. Jeff does a great job of docking and no harm is done to our neighbors. We have literally just inches on each side.

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We quickly secure IT, take the dogs for a walk, and check in with the marina office. Sebastian is in a hurry to go meet Ziggy, his long time pen pal aboard the boat “Knotty Dog” here at the marina. Ziggy, like Sebastian, is a Jack Russell Terrier but with a rough coat.

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We have been following Ziggy for the last few days hoping to finally catch up with him. We started reading the travel logs of Kotty Dog (www.knottydog.com) many years ago before we even had IT. They started us dreaming of one day doing the same thing. Now here we are finally meeting them in person. Ziggy’s mom and Dad graciously invite both Sebastian and Daisy aboard.

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Ziggy is a little unsure of having guest but the dogs quickly get it sorted out. Sebastian brought Ziggy some of his special treats as a boat gift. We spend a very enjoyable afternoon getting to know Larry and Jayne, Ziggy’s parents. Sebastian and Daisy then invited Ziggy over to IT for a quick visit. They all enjoyed a tasty snack together.

Total Miles Traveled Cocoa Beach to Fort Pierce: 69
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 190

New Smyrna Beach to Cocoa Beach:

Just after sunrise, we back IT out of our slip and continue down the ICW. It is another beautiful Florida day. The next 10 miles follow a dredged canal. There is row after row of wooden docks protruding out into the Indian River and mangrove marsh on the ocean side.

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It is finally warming up nicely and the migrating birds are out taking advantage of this nice weather. Sebastian also takes advantage of the warm weather and enjoys a nap on the deck. He is now a happy camper since it has warmed up.

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We must go slow on most of this section as it is a no wake zone due to both the many docks and also because this is a manatee zone. We are hoping to see some manatee but I am afraid the water is too cold for them right now.

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They are probably hiding in some warm springs. There are lots of fishermen out today in their little skiffs. We have passed several fish camps along this section of the ICW.

We next enter the wide Mosquito Lagoon. The dolphins are out feeding today. They join us for a few minutes of play before going back to their feeding. We can now see part of the Kennedy Space Center off in the distance. The large hanger building for the shuttle is impressive even from many miles away. From Mosquito Lagoon we take a starboard turn into the Haulover Canal. This one mile long canal connects us back with the Indian River. The entrance to the canal is heavily congested with local fishermen out in their small boats.

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These small boats are everywhere. They begrudgingly ease out of the main channel for us.

As we get closer to Titusville, we have a great view of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

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We can see the launch pad off in the distance. There is a scheduled launch several days from now. We are not quite close enough to see if the space shuttle is on the launch pad. Our propeller on the boat must be churning up the bait fish. We are suddenly engulfed with several hundred sea gulls trailing behind our boat picking up these fish. It is quite a strange site seeing all of these birds flying just behind us.

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We have seen lots of bird life out today taking advantage of this nice weather. Earlier today we watched for several minutes as a pelican chased a cormorant. The cormorant had a fish in his beak and the pelican was chasing him across the water just in front of our boat.

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It has become a common sight to see the cormorants sitting on the channel markers. Just before arriving at Cocoa Beach I do a double take as I notice a strange bird on one of these markers. It defiantly is not a cormorant. As I ask Jeff what kind of bird that is, I am thinking to myself that it looks a lot like a bald eagle. It is a bald eagle! Wow, I didn’t know they were in this area.

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We arrive to Cocoa Village Marina around 2:00 PM. We have a great location just one block from the historic Cocoa Village with its many shops and restaurants. Many people are out enjoying lunch at the outside tables of the cafes lining the sidewalks. We even see one couple with their pet bird sitting in his cage on an adjacent chair. Hey, maybe we could bring Nate and Homer with us when we go out. (I think not. We would be kicked out within five minutes.) We also find a nice park along the waterway. The dogs enjoy a good walk along the wooden boardwalk which parallels the ICW. Cocoa is a very nice town and we hope to spend more time here on our return trip.

Total Miles Traveled New Smyrna to Cocoa: 51
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 121

St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach:

After two months of being land bound, it seems a little strange to be finally getting underway once again. We are up early to take the dogs for their morning walk before leaving. Once they realize that we are leaving today, they quickly assume their positions in the pilot house and are soon sound asleep. As we wait on the sun to come up, I go over the departure procedures in my mind. How quickly I seem to forget. Is this old age setting in? Jeff ran the engine yesterday to double check all the systems but decides to start the engine early again today and let things warm up. Although IT has been at dock for almost two months, everything runs like a charm.

The morning darkness is soon replaced with a pink horizon in the distance and daylight soon follows. At 7:00 AM we ease off the docks and carefully work our way down the fairway of the Conch House Marina, cautiously avoiding the boats lining both sides. We are soon out in Salt Run and follow the numbered channel markers leading us to the Matanzas River. As we round the bend, we see the city of St. Augustine glistening in the morning sun.

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We radio the Bridge of Lions to ask what is the correct bridge clearance. They are building a new bridge here and we wanted to double check on the height of the temporary bridge. It is high tide now and the bridge operator tells us there is 25 feet of clearance. We lower the antennas and should be able to clear the bridge without waiting on the next opening. As we go under the bridge, Jeff has me go up on the top deck to make sure that our wind generator clears o.k. We have estimated that this height is 21 feet but are not 100 % sure. It clears with about 4 feet to go so it looks like our estimate was pretty good.

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Several dolphins escort us out of town and we are soon traveling through a very picturesque marsh area of the ICW.

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It is still very cold here and Sebastian is all wrapped up in his blanket. Even the pelicans are all huddled up together on the barrier islands.

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The temperatures continue to improve during the day and Sebastian even makes a brief appearance on the front deck for some sun time. We had expected the waterway to be busy as it is a beautiful sunny Saturday. We are surprised to see very few other boats on the water. Today would have been a great day to run offshore. As we listen to the VHF radio we learn that there are many sightings of Right Whales just offshore from here. We decided to run inside today because we wanted to check out some other anchorages and marinas for future trips, but right now we are wishing that we were outside with the whales.

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As we approach Daytona Beach the ICW takes us through several man-made canals with homes lining both sides. We have two bridges to go under in Daytona which are only 21 feet. In addition to lowering our antennas, we decide to also lower the wind generator for these. It would be just too close with the generator up. We approach the bridge slowly as it looks really low. It doesn’t seem like we can fit under but somehow we barely squeak under.

Our destination for tonight is the New Smyrna Beach City Marina. The marina is just a few feet from the ICW and we have an easy docking. This marina was originally a WWII Navy sub chaser facility. The city has recently upgraded the facility and we enjoy the new floating docks just a block from downtown. We take the dogs for a short run. We are disappointed to find out that there was a Mardi gras dog parade just a few hours ago. We order takeout at the Sea Harvest Restaurant along the marina docks. While waiting on our dinners, we watch as the local charter boat returns with their catch for the day. It was a good day for them and they unload many snapper, jacks, grouper, and a few sharks. The local pelicans congregate around the docks while the fish are being cleaned. They seem to be used to this routine and know where to find dinner.

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Total Miles Traveled St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach: 70
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 70

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