Mill Creek (Virginia) to Great Bridge Lock

Spent the night on the Elizabeth River just south of the Great Bridge lock.

Spent the night on the Elizabeth River just south of the Great Bridge lock.

Pretty quiet night for sleeping in Mill Creek. Morning was overcast, threatening rain but not too cold. 60F in the enclosed cockpit. 

Hoisted anchor at 7:30 a.m. and motored against the tide and moderate 10-15k winds — our speed by well under 6K for four hours. With as tide change and hoisting the main, we made 7+ knots sailing around Rappahannock entrance to Wolftrap light and beyond. 

Our destination was Hospital Point on the Elizabeth River near Norfolk, but with heavy northeast winds forecast for the night, we decided to keep going to a more protected anchorage.

Made it through the Great Bridge Lock and found the last spot to tie up just before the Great Bridge Bridge. Did 72 miles today.

Very warm evening. Another nice day. — dj

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Snowbirds once again

 

Heading due south.

Heading due south.

Boat projects completed!

Boat projects completed!

Said goodbye to many friends at a going away/birthday party last night. It was a blast living aboard in downtown Annapolis, but time to move on.

Completed all of our projects and shoved off at 7:45 am into a bright and cool morning. Put up enclosure and stayed toasty most of the day. Winds were 10 to 15 from the south.

Sunset on the Wicomico River in Virginia.

Sunset on the Wicomico River in Virginia.

Did 77 miles in 11 hours. Helped that the bottom was just cleaned. Got into an anchorage at 6:45 pm just as it was getting dark. This is a dangerous place to sail at night — fish ponds everywhere.

Anchored in Mill Creek off the Wicomico River, just south of Reedville. A good first day in what likely will be a two-week journey to Ft. Laudersale.

Nice to be cruising again.    —dj

 

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New Symrna to Vero Beach

Thick fog in Mosquito Lagoon caused us to veer off the channel and run aground.

Thick fog in Mosquito Lagoon caused us to veer off the channel and run aground.

Tuesday, January 13 — We left the marina at 8 a.m. and headed back down the ICW. Nice bright cool morning. This is another pretty part of the inside passage through the Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Reserve and the Canaveral National Seashore.

A nice breeze from the northwest allowed us to sail the narrow channel with just the jib.

Just near Haulover canal, thick fog set in and we lost sight of the channel markers and ran hard aground. It didn’t take much to get off, but scary nonetheless. We found the channel markers for the canal, went through the draw bridge and headed back south around Cape Canaveral.

Once the fog lifted, it was a warm and sunny day, and the wind continued to strengthened, pushing us nicely towards our anchorage. Just after dusk, the wind was blowing from the north at 20-plus knots. We anchored on the lee side of Melbourne bridge, hoping to get some protection from the wind and waves. It was a bit rocky, but a nice anchorage all the same.

The morning met us with strong northerlies, overcast and moderate chop on the ICW. The passage to Vero Beach is mostly straight and rural. With just the jib flying, our speed was quick, 6 to 7 knots the entire way into Vero. In early afternoon, the clouds gave way to a nice bright and warm day as we settled into our slip at Vero Beach City Marina. Nice day.

The view from our cockpit at Vero Beach City Marina.

The view from our cockpit at Vero Beach City Marina.

 

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Hanging out at Vero Beach

Vero Beach City Marina — View from our bow. Nice place to hang out for a week.

Vero Beach City Marina — View from our bow. Nice place to hang out for a week.


Wednesday, January 21
— We rented a slip for a week to check out Vero and see friends in the area. The city marina is a nice facility with many slips and a large mooring field. The wifi was sketchy, making it very difficult to work. Many of the boats look like they haven’t moved in awhile. Talking with some of the cruisers here — mostly older, retired sailors — we learned that many snowbirds come here year after year and go no further south, hence the earned nickname “Velcro Beach.”  Boaters love this place.

Vero’s an interesting area with a modern beachfront and nice-looking beach. There’s obviously a lot of well-heeled people living here, at least on the beach side.

View from our cockpit at the marina in Gifford Cut,

View from our cockpit at the marina in Gifford Cut,

Inland across the ICW, it’s typical suburban Florida with mile after mile of shopping malls. We found a few quaint sections, but were mostly disappointed. Nightlife seems nonexistent. Saturday night we visited four bars. Best was the Kilted Mermaid, a small fun Irish bar and restaurant with acoustic music. Other places had tons a TVs for the 20-something blue-collar crowd, and then there was an overly priced piano bar where the average age seemed to be in the triple digitals. Well, this is Florida, after all.

The weather during our stay was sunny and warm (70s). We took one day to explore the area by dinghy. There are many islands, inlets and parks to see for several miles. To the north there are miles of mangroves.

Another highlight of our stay was visiting our friends, Vic and Judy, who took us on a tour of the Sebastian River in their Cabo powerboat. Beautiful scenery with many different birds, fish jumping and at least one manatee.

As our week came to an end, we were more than ready to move on. Next stop: Stewart, about 33 nautical miles to the south.

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New Smyrna – strange name, but a cool place

Clouds finally gave way to another clear, beautiful and warm day by mid-morning. This is a nice section of the ICW with interesting scenery and wider channels in which to navigate.

Canal St. is the place for good restaurants, special activities and entertainment. There's also a great art center featuring local artists.

Canal St. is the place for good restaurants, special activities and entertainment. There’s also a great art center featuring local artists.

We pulled into New Smyrna City Marina a little after noon. It’s a small facility with perhaps 40 or slips. No clubhouse or tennis courts, but that’s OK. The staff is very helpful and friendly.

Our stay will be for 10 days to allow us to explore the area (and be in a sports bar for the national NCAA championship on Jan. 12).

Smyrna is more than another beach town. It has a cool historic district with nice restaurants, an outstanding art center and a drug store right out of the 1950s, complete with a lunch counter and soda fountain. We met several northerners who have settled here and understand why. People are friendly,  there’s an interesting culture and lots to do.

New Symrna Beach City Marina

New Symrna Beach City Marina

 

The beach is nice too. Many are either way upscale, rundown or tacky. This one is none of those — plus you can drive on the beach, which we did in our rental car. In fact, you can drive all of the way to Ponce Inlet to the north. Great way to see the ocean, especially if you do it in rain as we did on our second-to-last day here.

The only downside of our stay was both of us got sick. Julia with bronchitis and me with the flu and a cold. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our stay and will be back.

Our slip at Symrna Beach City Marina

Our slip at Symrna Beach City Marina.

 

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Down the Tolomata River to Daytona

Beautiful clear and still morning leaving the anchorage. Motored about 65 miles to Daytona. Only glitch was having to wait a half hour for the Bridge of Lyons in St. Augustine to open. It’s a beautiful old bridge, but a pain in the ass.

Arrived at our anchorage a bit after dusk and dropped the hook  just south of the Memorial Bridge in Daytona. Quiet night, but a productive day making our way south.

We never considered hanging out in Daytona. Spent a couple days here a few years back and just weren’t impressed. It was during annual bike week and the noise and exhaust were irritating.

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Starting off 2015 in Fernandina Beach

Celebrating New Years Eve at the Falcon's Nest with Gus & Joan and the Davis Turner Band.

Celebrating New Years Eve at the Falcon’s Nest with Gus & Joan and the Davis Turner Band.

We flew back to Fernandina Beach December 31 in time to celebrate the New Year with good friends Gus & Joan Lucini, and one of our all-time favorite bands, Davis Turner.

Earlier in the day, I attempted to start the engine to change the oil and found the starter battery dead. I knew I was pushing my luck with a six-year-old battery. One of the marina workers took pity on me and lent me her car so I could pick up a new battery.

Location of the Falcon's Nest on Amelia Island

Location of the Falcon’s Nest on Amelia Island

We shove off New Year’s Day late morning, heading down the ICW since strong winds out of the south would have made an outside passage uncomfortable. Nice day in the 60s and mostly sunny. Made it down to MM765 at Pine Island where we spent the night anchored next to a salt marsh.

We left the hatches and ports open since it was a warm evening. What a mistake! About midnight, we were awaken by a swarm of mosquitoes that invaded the boat. Spent the next hour killing the insects so we could get some sleep.

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