Saturday, August 30, 2014

Still heading north

The days following our relaxing stay in Vero were a bit challenging, day 1 we hoped to get from Vero to Cocoa Beach.  It would be a long, mainly tedious day motoring the ICW although there are some monster houses along the waterfront and early on we did see a great boat although raft is probably a better description.

Look at this for a home!

Not sure how he copes in bad weather but he looks prepared even has a bike
The day deteriorated for us, later afternoon we could see the thunder clouds forming over the last to the west of us but we had been lucky at Vero and only had a few rain showers in the afternoon BUT not today.  As we passed Melbourne (not Australia) a large powerboat ahead heading north turned and frantically started waving at us to turn round, we could see the clouds ahead so assumed they had radar and we concerned about the weather but with Magnum travelling 5 knots we were not going to out run it.  We rushed to get the internet to look at a radar picture, this showed severe thunderstorms with risk of tornados up ahead.  We decided to pull off the ICW immediately and get anchored, lucky the water to the edges was 3m, we pulled off with the wind starting to build, dropped anchor and Mark dumped 40 metres of chain just as the wind started to exceed 30 knots.  Within minutes the wind was up to 44 knots and the rain was torrential, we suddenly had a 1 metre chop in 3m of water and were getting battered all over the place with lightening hitting the land all around.  We ducked downstairs popped all our electrical equipment in the oven and hoped for the best, this lasted for an hour, after the last few weeks this seemed like the last straw but we upped anchor and headed to get a bit more shelter for the night.  As we got back in the channel the winds were still unpredictable, we had the foresail up and when we had to furl quickly due to the wind, Amanda fell and this really was the last straw, we were glad to get anchored tucked in behind the bridge at Cocoa beach and thankfully no more thunderstorm for the night.

Just after the worst of the storm
The calm after the storm
Next day and up with the sun and more motoring, didn’t get off to a great start as when we approached Daytona  the channel was  blocked by a flurry of small fishing boats who were throwing fishing nets into the channel.  How did the expect us to get through? Were they even aware that we were rapidly approaching? As we  got closer we had to furl the headsail as there was no movement from any of the boats, Amanda moved to the front of the boat to give a loud whistle to make them aware we were approaching, still nothing from the offending boats, all other boats outside the channel completely aware, we are then about a boat length away when Amanda shouts to one boat in the middle of the channel, one lone guy is stood on the front and he throws a net right in our track, Amanda tries to explain we need to stay in the channel as we have 7ft draft, oh no he tells us to **** off to the otherside of the channel, this does not go down well with Amanda and a huge argument erupts and soon we have various fishing boats shouting and swearing at us even through they have no idea what has gone on.  Finally we do have to move to the edge of the channel feeling very uncertain about the depths still with a bunch of idiots telling us to get back north, clueless!

The rest of the day we try to forget about these idiots and just enjoy the countryside, we saw more manatees on this day than ever before but I still struggled to get a photo. We ploughed on knowing that we needed to make miles, at this point feeling even more desperate than ever to just get home and avoid any further bad weather.

Huge heron in the tree

Manatee just disappearing!

One of the many many pelicans

Lovely heron looking for his dinner
Generally the fellow boats were very friendly, there are very few sail boats at this time of year and mainly small fishing boats and what we refer to as ice cream boats – they are like a floating patios with armchairs and coolboxes, very popular in this area due to shallow draft and you imagine they are a  reasonable price.

Ice cream boat whizzing on by
We were lucky with todays thunderstorm, it came just before arriving in New Smyrna Beach but passed quickly with wind topping out at just over 20 knots.  We had visited New Smyrna beach the previous year but this time we tried the free dock, great place, yes there are quite a few local fishermen but mainly families that want to have a chat to find out where you and from and where you are going, it was nice to meet some friendly locals in this lovely little location.  We decided to stop 2 nights so that we could wander over to the beach the following day and visit the lovely Nichols coffee shop, bit shabbier than we remember but friendly quirky little place.  But we were so worn out we didn’t take one photo!

Our next 2 days were not very eventful, the first we stopped in Palm Coast and enjoyed a beer in the local Europe village in the evening, didn’t look much a village in the UK but it was nice to have shower and go out for a cold beer, the weather was still way into the 30’s all day every day and night.

We then had a shortish hop to St Augustine, the day was a little nerve racking as the depths were under 3metres on many occasions but we did see our first alligator on the ICW, just swimming along minding his own business!  On our way South, Amanda had been really keen to visit St Augustine but we had arrived one afternoon to find that mooring buoys could be booked and we hadn't booked one but this time of year there were only round 10 boats on the 100+ mooring buoys available so no problem and only short dingy ride to shore.

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