Mar 192017

We were looking for something to do today and thought a beach day would be in order. As we looked at opportunities we found that the Banana River just south of Cape Canaveral would be a good anchor spot as it would be near the manatee centre, a ramp to leave the dingy to head to the beach and also a decent depth. The river seems to have several very shallow spots so we called our marina for local knowledge. He stated there would be a launch of a rocket at Cape Canaveral. We know have our mission for the day.

We head out from Sebastian on a northward path. It’s an easy pass the entire distance. We see those dolphins today but none of them want to play. Several Loopers are heading north as we pass them. The more humble homes of the catch our attention. There are lots of causeways heading to the Oceanside. We pass Vero Beach and Melbourne. The only way we know we are passing these cities is by the causeways and our charts. There are no high hotels and condos. We did put in the video from the day that they were jumping in our wake. Please ignore my dog training response squeals for the performance by our dolphins.

We make our way to the Cape Canaveral Barge Canal and head east. There are anchor spots at the north and south part of the entrance to the Lock. The Canal itself has 2 marinas available where the locals go for hurricane holes for their boats. It is a natural setting with a no wake zone the entire canal. Several fisherman are here in the canal as well as boats getting ready to go through the lock and head out to the Atlantic Ocean.

As we exit the canal the area opens up to a large area. We see several day boats beached on an island to the north of the lock and several sailboats and trawlers to the south of the lock. We head to the northern side where the island is. At Ski Island we take the dingy in to this tiny 200 foot island. It’s crowded on a Saturday. The island effect is quickly over as more and more people show up. We hop back in “Low Voltage” and head over to the next island and through the bay where there are 3 cruise ships waiting to disembark.

Now we wait for the launch. It’s a Falcon 9 capsule on a Delta 4 rocket. It is a military communication system satellite that is being launched. Apparently it is more powerful for the military comm than all of the combined systems available now. There are 6 countries involved including Canada, The Netherlands, USA, Luxemborg, and a couple more. The window for launch is from 7:44 to 8:59. It’s now 8:02 as there is an issue with a swing arms. So we wait…….8:08…….T minus 4 minutes.

We had lift off at 8:18. Awesome!!! Spectacular! Tick off another item on the bucket list!

 Posted by at 1:11 AM
Mar 182017

We left in the morning for the 30 mile trek to an anchor spot we found on Active Captain. It is the closest we could find to the Sebastian Inlet and still anchor in 6 feet of water. The morning proved to be more than we expected as we cruised the beautiful estuary area between Fort Pierce and Vero Beach.

We were passing boats of all sizes including sails, catamarans, cruisers and lots of fishing boats heading out for their morning catch. We didn’t expect that we would have several trailing dolphins several during this stretch. The pods of dolphins followed directly behind our boat in the wake. They liked the big wakes more than the little ones as they played and we cheered them on for more. In fact one dolphin started the whole thing when we heard his familiar squeal behind the boat. Both Aiden and I went back and started clapping and coaxing them. Sure enough there were at least 5-6 jumping our wake and enjoying the applause. They continued to dive and jump at the rear of the boat in the wake for several miles. We had to slow for a slow moving boat and they moved on. What a great experience.

As we traveled past Vero Beach the many marinas and large homes stood out. The homes were equal in size to the ones south but it seemed they had more land which were perfectly manicured. The water is a crystal blue colour and really clear. I’m sure we can see several feet down.

Then again as we started up again more dolphins started jumping in our wake. We could see them at the back of the boat just under the props as they kept the same speed and then would give us a show with a jump. We would take pictures and videos as they jumped. They continued with us for several miles again until we had to slow down for other boats. Then we saw 2 manatees. One was just coming up for air as Scott happened to notice him. Then another had a flipper come out of the water and Aiden caught sight of him.

Eventually we found our anchor spot just off the channel leading out to the Sebastian Inlet. It is not protected from winds at all but we checked the forecast and winds are to die down overnight and only start building by tomorrow afternoon. Our spot is just off the channel, before the sea grass area in about 6 feet of water. The tide here is only about 4 inches where the inlet is 2 feet. So we feel comfortable staying put. There is a bit of current from the tidal flow.

We headed by dingy to the inlet area where there is a safe and shallow snorkeling area deemed excellent. It is a beach area, with rocks at the water side of the inlet to allow a safe haven for swimming for the smallest of persons. The beach is a white soft sand. You can snorkel by these rocks on the “lagoon’ side in about 3 feet of water. For the more experienced snorkel you can go on the outside of the rocks on the inlet side and ride the tide either in or out depending on the direction. Note that at tide changes the current is at least 3 knots. Be sure you know the direction of the tide before heading outside the rocks to snorkel. Both spots are excellent for viewing fish and sea life.

After a day of snorkeling we headed to the beach which is on the other side of the “lagoon’. It was only a 5 minute walk to this secluded beach area. The pier has several local fisherman, the beach is one of the most natural beaches and doesn’t have many people. The beach has untouched shells which includes finds of several types of very large intact shells. On a calm day you could spend all day swimming, searching for shells, snorkeling, and beach time. There are no amenities close by so bring whatever you need.

 Posted by at 2:17 AM
Mar 162017

We stayed another night here by the Harbortown Marina on the hook. We decided to head back to the Navy Museum with the dingy to our new found mooring spot. The museum opens at 10 AM and we are there shortly after opening. It is worth a look if you like learning about military and historical war scenarios. We did it in about 2 hours only because we read everything there is to read about something. The original “Captain Philips” lifeboat is here complete with bullet holes where the Seals saved him from the Somali pirates. There are also several retired helicopters and various Seal boats. The video was too long at probably about 1.5 hours. The boys like it but I was done in about 30 minutes.

I had made sandwiches for lunch as there is no food anywhere near the museum. The museum has a vending machine with chips and pop. We decided to head to the Manatee Centre located directly next to the Fort Pierce Marina just south of our anchor spot. This museum is small but has an interactive display with some small starfish, coral and crabs to touch. They also have “Big Red” the largest hermit crab I have ever seen. He must be the size of a lobster. No one picks him up. It’s a quick informative tour but we didn’t see manatees today.

We had docked the dingy at the Fort Pierce Marina while we toured the Manatee Centre and visited downtown Fort Pierce. It’s a cute town with lots of construction around the waterfront to attract more visitors. We stopped to have some craft beer at Sailfish Brewery on the main drag. Aiden saw an ice creamery and that also became our stop. At the brewery we played some corn hole and then strolled back to the dingy to make our day complete.

Back at the boat it was now dinner, probably a movie and hoping for some reprieve from these cold temps where we are wearing pants, layers of clothing and the north winds are strong. It is supposed to change but not for a couple days yet. At least we are not shoveling…….

 Posted by at 12:12 AM
Mar 152017

We stopped at anchor spot #24 on the Active Captain app which is just after the Fort Pierce Marina at the 2nd causeway to the west of the ICW. It is located just before the Harbortown Marina. There isn’t much wind protection here but there is about 8 feet of water with a good hold on the anchor. It is a no wake zone as well. Not all Captains are adherent to the rules so you will get rocked by the occasional Captain that feels his time is more important than your comfort from his wake. It was the closest anchor to the Navy Seal Museum on the beach side. We took the dingy to the area closest to the Navy Museum and found that the docks were in so much need of repair that sections were taken out so that people didn’t use them. Also they had No Mooring signs on them. We found one area where a large drain pipe was coming out near one of the viewing docks and used that to tie up on, close to shore, and carefully slide on a 2×6 with our butts, or walking on it. It wasn’t a far butt scoot with only about 4 feet from shore. It was on Wildcat Cove. The viewing docks are being replaced one by one so that anyone coming in later in 2017 should have easy access. They are adding a low dock as well.
We made it to the Navy Seal Museum with an hour before closing. The outside exhibit was available so we did take in the Seal boats, the practice course with its high ropes, low ropes, rope swings and any other type of military obstacle course you might see on TV. Of course Scott had to try all of them. Aiden and I did the easy ones at a much slower pace. We decided we would come back tomorrow. The winds are very strong today so we knew the ride back to Conductance would be a long 20 minutes.
The temps are falling and the winds are strong. A NE to N wind causing the temps to fall to the 40”s overnight with a high of only about 62 degrees. It’s a chilly day in Florida but not the 18 inches of snow at home.
We’ll be taking in a movie tonight and preparing for our day tomorrow.

 Posted by at 12:11 AM
Mar 142017

We have been having difficulty with electronics today. The new navigation electronics has been acting up and now it has lost most data. No explanation as to why. Then the app that we use to navigate and find anchor spots, Active Captain, stopped working claiming a network error. We did find it wasn’t working on anything but the laptop. Then the media player that we watch movies from stopped working. We decided it might be a good idea to head to a marina and find wifi to find out if updates are available and have a safe place to work on these problems. Scott fixed what he could on the navigation system however our Simrad has been flakey. Active Captain still isn’t working on our apps so we decided to use the laptop with the hotspot to our ipad. The media player was bogged down by too many pictures so we blew them away as they were saved elsewhere. So we are back in business. \

This marina is beautiful. There are 3 pools, hottub, laundry, breakfast, restaurant, restrooms, bike rentals, gorgeous manicured grounds and security. Diesel and gas is available as well. If you’re looking for a break from the boat lifestyle this is the place to be. The slips are all stern in with short docks and pillars to tie to. We went in bow first so that we had the dingy available.

We took the dingy to a dock that we found on Google Maps that is adjacent to the beach area. The area is called Jenson Beach where snorkeling is considered the best in the area. The area known as the “bathtub” where a reef keeps the area well sheltered. The waves break over the reef but it is a great spot to snorkel in about 5 feet of water. We spent the day at the beach enjoying the warm weather. There is a cold front coming in that will bring temps much cooler over the next few days.

 Posted by at 12:01 AM
Mar 132017

Winds were to continue today with SE direction so the surf on the beach would prove to be a great day to body surf and boogie board. We decided to stay put one more night. The anchor is holding well with some shelter from this direction of wind. The spot doesn’t offer full protection however it is a good hold in mud. The proximity to the beach adds to the attraction.

We spent the day on the beach back and forth between the boat and beach. The surf was perfect for boogie boarding in the morning. We had to take a break from the boogie board to fill the tummy of a teenage boy. After lunch it was back at the beach for the afternoon. The surf wasn’t good anymore so body surfing became the passtime. It would have been chilly without the wetsuits. Glad we packed them. We walked on the beach for awhile as well. It’s so nice to be where the beach is not crowded knowing that very few folks ever get to this spot.

We took the dingy to Loblolly to check out their facility. Quite a nice marina with resort type atmosphere. No gas or diesel.

The winds were still quite strong but we were entertained by dolphins swimming by the shore.

 Posted by at 11:51 PM
Mar 122017

We heard that the railroad bridge would be opening manually as needed today. We decided to head out despite hearing bad weather is coming in later tonight. Winds would be 9 mph on the anchor.

We headed out and easily passed through St. Lucie Lock with 2 other boats. As we traveled closer to the inlet we noticed that boat traffic was significantly less than when Scott and I came through a couple months ago. The marinas were not as busy either.

We headed toward the Hutchinson Island area just north of the St. Lucie Inlet to check out an anchor spot. At that time our new Simrad electronics decided to take a dive and we lost info. Scott managed to get her working again but not with all his settings. We had to abort the anchorage at this area and traveled south of the inlet to Peck Lake. We scouted this area when we were through the last time and thought it would be a great spot.

Peck Lake has about 10 foot depths at high tide. We anchored in with about 10 other boats. The day was sunny and warm. The area at the Atlantic side is a nature preserve and we were able to take the dingy to shore and tie to a tree. There is a short path of about 3 minute walk to the beach directly by the “danger sign”. This beacon is mainly for weather and readings. We walked about 2 km before heading back to the ICW. The wind was breezy. There is a natural barrier where you can see the reef out on the horizon where it breaks the water before it gets to the beach. Excellent snorkeling in this area according to sites that we have been looking at.

The main reason for coming here is “bathtub reef”. Just north of Peck Lake near Hutchinson Island is the area on the Atlantic side known as the “bathtub” for snorkeling. It is about 3 feet deep at low tide and 5 feet at high tide. It has been created by sea critters where the reef creates a “bathtub” for other critters to live. We really want to do this so we are hunkering down to watch the weather as this cold front passes. The winds will get stronger by tomorrow night so snorkeling is out of the question until at least Wednesday.

Instead of snorkeling we took the dingy to an area just north of Peck Lake. Traveling along the island to the north of Peck Lake there is a small inlet into a “reserve”. We find it and travel in through a tiny passage where we hear the snapping crabs make themselves known. We see wildlife that isn’t afraid of us humans. Birds in trees within a few feet is one of the highlights. It’s about a 10 minutes slow dingy ride into the open area. We didn’t find much in there other than shoals that we had the dingy stuck on. No biggy, it’s a dingy became the motto. It was an interesting “cruise”. As we made our way back out we watched a storm to our north. We knew we wouldn’t make it back before it started. Sure enough the skies opened and we became drenched quickly. About 200 ft from the boat the dingy quit. The gas tank had turned on its side cutting off flow to the engine. In the pouring rain and 200 ft away from our mother ship Scott is getting the “Low Voltage” going again. She takes about 8 pulls before she gets underway.

It’s been a day where our electronics decide to do whatever it is that they aren’t supposed to do. We decide to watch a movie and our media player decides not to work. Scott is more than frustrated after the Simrad quits, the gas flips to the dingy engine and then the media player.

Tomorrow we decide to stay at a marina with 25 mph winds coming in. I’m guessing we’ll be working on, you guessed it, electronics.

 Posted by at 2:14 AM
Mar 112017

Scott made his way from Nashville to get the boat ready and put back in the water for when Aiden and I would fly in. He had a great flight and landed in West Palm Beach Airport where he rented a car for a couple days. Conductance is scheduled for a splash the day after Scott arrived. She’s dirty and a bit dusty after being on the hard for a couple months. Until then Scott must spend the night with no power, water or amenities and it’s hot. Not a breeze.

During the day Scott heard news that the railroad bridge just east of the marina had a maintenance issue. They closed the swing bridge blocking boat traffic for those higher than a few feet. Boats were backed up and anchored on the waterway until Saturday morning. The marina became full.

Aiden and I would be landing a day later coming in on Friday. Unfortunately there was a large storm over NYC where our plan was coming from which delayed us for over 2 hours. Scott drove from the marina to Orlando, a 2 hour drive, to meet us after dark. Scott was able to catch up on some maintenance, laundry and make some new friends. There are a lot of Canadians in this marina. We eventually arrived back at the boat and settled in for the night around 1:00 AM.

Today, Saturday, we heard that the bridge was opening occasionally and then closing at 6:00 pm for the night. A work crew is out there trying to get her working but opening manually throughout the day on a scheduled basis. We were doing groceries, washing the boat, cleaning up and trying to get everything put away and missed the openings. We decided to stay at the marina 1 more night. That led to coconut hunting, husking and eating fresh coconuts.

Now that the night has fallen the sun has a warm glow on the horizon above the tree line. We are lucky to have resident alligators, flying fish and the boys saw an armadillo. The boys had made their way to the Okeechobee waterway and flew Aiden’s plane. He’s been excited to fly again and the regular boats had stopped coming now that the bridge is closed for the night.
We have 12 hours of sunlight now. It’s daylight savings time with the clocks going forward tonight which gives us an hour less of sun in the morning to leave early. Sunrise is 7:30 AM.

Tomorrow we are anchoring however the forecast is for thunderstorms and rain. A cold front is starting its way through. We’ll see how long it lasts.

 Posted by at 9:34 AM