Arriving Vero Beach, FL

Dancing with DOLPHINS….

 Greeted by Great Blue Herons…

 Perplexed by Pelicans…

 Blanketed by Blue Skies…

 Entertained by Elegant Homes

 Bounded by the Merrill Barbor Bridge…

We arrive VERO BEACH CITY MARINA and raft up with our boat buddies, Catspaw & Cutter Loose

 Our FLEET of Island Packet Yachts in Vero on mooring #40.

 We check in, and pay $13.90 per night for a mooring ball….what a DEAL…

 Off we go, for our first walk down DATE PALM DRIVE….

Welcome to Vero Beach Florida, a city that knows how to build, manage and run a city marina. The location provides everything so well, that it has been given the name “VELCRO BEACH” because many boaters arrive here and never leave! We too love this location and we look forward to a few days of relaxation before pressing on towards the Florida Keys!

Kennedy Space Center

We awake to a beautiful sunrise over the Space Coast
Today we rented a car and spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center out on Cape Canaveral. What an inspiring place, demonstrating our countries ambitions and accomplishments in the race to conquer space. Rockets and vehicles are on display, from the first Mercury-Atlas up to  CURIOSITY, the Mars rover which we saw launched last week. The exhibit on the moon landing with the full size Saturn rocket, the Apollo Command Module, moon rocks and the Lunar Landing Module was very interesting! 
We learned that in the 1960′ when President Kennedy put forth the vision to land a man on the moon and return him safely, we as a country allocated 7% of our national budget to NASA. Sadly today, we have cut the funding to NASA and it is severely underfunded and recently they have laid off thousands brilliant employees as the USA is exploring the privatization of our space program. Currently the SHUTTLE program has ended and it will not be until 2016 that we have a vehicle capable of sending men and women up to the service the International Space Station. We currently pay the Russian Space program $68 million dollars per astronaut to launch us into space! Next year the fee goes up to $85 million dollars per astronaut. Everyone needs to tour this Kennedy Space Center to fully appreciate our amazing accomplishments in space. 
Arrival at KSC with the rocket garden under the USA flag
Eric, Patricia, Radeen and Hayden with the VAB in the background
Thank you Bob W. IP380 Judith III, for this fun photo
The VAB, Vehicle Assembly Building. 63 stories tall
used to assemble the rockets
This building has not been open to the public since 1976
Looking up into the VAB, the Saturn Rocket moon launch
was assembled in this building as well as all Shuttles. Look at the crane
One of the cranes used in VAB to lift the Shuttle and fuel tanks
Eric, Bob and Hayden in front of Shuttle Endeavor
Pad 39a, this is THE PLACE where the moon launch happened
as well as most of the Shuttle launches.
Radeen and Hayden overlooking Pad 39A and the diagrams
Saturn rocket engines!
Saturn Rocket, stage one. Still the largest, most powerful rocket ever built
Apollo space capsule
Retired Shuttle now being built into a new exhibit building
MARS CURIOSITY rover, just launched. This will take 8 months to reach Mars
Powered by plutonium and electric motors! About the size of a Jeep!
What a fantastic tour, what a great day. Thank you Bob W. IP380 owner of Judith III and knowledgeable space scientist, for enhancing our day at KSC. It was wonderful! Next stop….Palm Shores  anchorage, then VERO BEACH….

Arriving Daytona, Fl

Welcome to Daytona, Florida where the bridges
have mosaic tile work like this! Beautiful

Arriving Daytona Beach is always fun because of the bridge bases tiled with mosaics of manatees and dolphins. Welcome to Florida! We have been here 3 times now and have never been to shore, we always drop anchor, sleep, wake up the next day and move on. Sometime soon we will actually have to stop in Daytona and spend some time exploring.

One exciting aspect to today was passing over 999 NM, that is 999 nautical miles from Rock Hall, MD where we departed Oct 22. Moving a boat 1,000 miles takes some effort and most of all, TIME. We travel at 6 knots, which is 6.6 MPH or at a fast jogging / running speed. So, imagine jogging from Maryland to Florida. You need to run 8 hours a day for about 20 days to do that. It takes time and time is what we have. Lucky us, we count our blessings every day!

There it is…999 NM nautical miles from Rock Hall, MD!
This needs to be added to our 1,560 nm summer up to Maine and back.

OK…here we go again, let’s run up another 999 NM 🙂
Radeen…1,000 miles….actually this makes 12,000+ miles for her
Ocean Sailor Girl, who loves to be on the boat.
Boat house roof at a fishing club / restaurant
Fort Matanzas, built in 1750, Spanish Fort just south of St. Augustine
Beautiful and typical view heading down the ICW
Arriving Daytona, FL, the high rise condos begin to appear
Thank you Daytona for these beautiful bridge base mosaic art pieces

 Next stop….Titusville and Kennedy Space Center….

more St. Augustine, Fl

Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, a National Park

We spent 3 days in St. Augustine, Fl and really like this town. We could see spending a longer period here next visit and even leaving our boat here as many cruisers do. We enjoyed walking around the fort, strolling across the Bridge of Lions, and exploring the historic streets. Radeen couldn’t resist touring the former Ponce de Leon Hotel again, with Tiffany glass window, amazing tile work and detailed murals. The students of Flagler College eat in the grand dining room, which is beautifully maintained. There are many opportunities for dining within blocks of the marina. Columbia is a lovely Cuban restaurant, owned by the same family for 6 generations.

The mooring field is very nice, except at slack tides when the mooring ball bashes into your bow like a big bass drum and wakes you at night. We tried several processes to shorten the scope but the mooring pennants are too large to come over your bow roller and the pennant is long enough, 9 feet to still allow the ball to hit the bow. There was no way to prevent this that we could work out. Next stop….DAYTONA, FL…

IP37 Still Crazy under palms off the fort, St. Augustine, Fl

The newly restored Bridge of Lions, a great bridge to walk across
Great Blue Heron guards the St, Augustine mooring field
New IP arrives from Denmark!

GOOGLE MAP of this location

St. Augustine, Fl

Our buddy boat, IP460 Cutter Loose and the Bridge of Lions

We departed Pine Island, raising anchor just after sunrise at 7am, motoring south towards St. Augustine. We enjoyed toast from our homemade bread that we baked last night on anchor. This cruising life is a dream. I know I have said that before, but life returns to a very simple daily routine. We live each day, exploring the towns where we are anchored or moving the boat 30-50 miles to the next town along the waterway. When you move the boat, you are busy driving and navigating as you cannot use the autopilot as you would offshore. On these moving days, it is sometimes stressful due to shallow water or unclear charting, but we stand 1 hour watches and that tends to help.

When in really great towns, like St. Augustine, Fl, we tend to stay for a few days and enjoy the sites, pubs, museums, shopping and yacht services. This is our third visit by boat to St. Augustine and now they have 140 mooring balls for rent at $20.00/night. That is not bad as it cost $10.00/day to dock your dinghy if you are anchored out. The marina includes a very nice bathhouse, laundry, ship’s store and a pumpout boat. Daily adventures are walking the town which is well lit with white Christmas tree lights in all the trees, touring the winery, exploring the fort, Castillo de San Marcos and the Tiffany glass at Flagler College, the former Ponce de Leon Hotel. This luxury hotel built as a stop on Henry Flagler’s railroad, led St. Augustine to become the “Newport of the South.” What great history – we really enjoy this town.

Snowy egret greets us on the dinghy docks, St. Augustine, Fl
The Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler, now Flagler College
Historic streets in the oldest city in America, beautiful
Radeen reads about the oldest original house in St. Augustine
Typical vista down a street with fort Castillo de San Marco in the background

More exploration and discovery today around St. Augustine, Fl. We find it hard to move on after staying in great towns like this. Our plan is 3 days here, then press on towards Vero Beach Fl. with stops in Daytona, Titusville, Melbourne, then Vero!

Pine Island, FL

Departing Fernandina, FL, with sunrise over the paper plant

We departed Fernandina raising anchor at 0730 and ran 4 miles down the ICW to Amelia Island Marina where we completed the “big three” service items. #1 Diesel, #2 Water, and #3 Holding Tank. This marina was well protected from the 20-25 knot winds blowing this AM, which were projected to blow all day. The nice aspect to the ICW is that even when the wind is blowing like this, it is still a calm day on the water. The waterway is never rough and the trees protect you as well. On the other hand, the canals are tight and any engine trouble or fuel filter problems would be a real challenge, as there is not much room to anchor. The photos for today show the contrast of industrial Fernandina with the paper plant at sunrise, then the waterway homes with their docks and powerboats, and finally the isolation of Pine Island. There there are no homes, lights, cars or people in view, other than 3 boats anchored with us. Next stop….St. Augustine, the oldest city in America….

Tug boat working the dredge pipes near the channel
St. John,s River homes and their boat docks on the ICW
The Florida waterway is narrow with a nearly constant show of homes to enjoy
End of the day, the anchor is down off Pine Island, Fl…no one is sight
See this location on our Google Map here

Bread is baking…dinner on Cutter Loose at 1830…Life is good.

Our homemade bread, ….. thank you Sandy and Jeff on IP380 Xperience
Bread Recipe HERE

Fernandina Fla Photos

While in Fernandina, Florida, I always get these fantastic pelican photos at the Atlantic Seafood dock. The fisherman toss out the remains from cleaning fish and the birds have been trained to stand near by and wait for the door to open to be fed.

So you can wait on the dock for the feeding frenzy and the pelicans come right up past you to the easy food. Eventually these birds allow you to stay within a few feet of them and “Photo Boy” has a blast taking tons of photos.

Here is my photo essay….

Returning to the boat on anchor in the harbor
Enjoying the sunset from the boat with a glass of wine
Another sunset from the anchor, Fernandina Beach Florida…..beautiful
Tonight….another night in town with boating friends and buddies

Living on a sailboat and exploring coastal towns along the waterway is a lifetime dream. Now that the dream is here, we have to keep reflecting on how great an accomplishment this has been. We love this life, it is easier than expected, it is exciting, and adventurous all at the same time, as well as really peaceful. Life is a dream aboard a cruising sailboat!

The adventure has just begun….we have all of Florida….all of the Keys…..the West coast of Florida,,,,and then the Bahamas to explore….Thank you for following our blog. Please leave comments…

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Beautiful…spectacular…remote…undeveloped…breathtaking…scenic…a must visit….
bucket list… CHECK!

Photos are the best way to show Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia.
I shot about 100 photos but here are a few!

Typical path across the island
Sunset on Cumberland Island with Radeen
Wild Horse eating Spanish Moss, Cumberland Island
Isolation on the wind swept beaches
Eric and Patricia stroll the Cumberland Island Beach
You have to love Georgia
Birds along the beach working the shoreline
Space LAUNCH to MARS….We could see the trail. Thank you Bob W. for the call.
It will take eight and a half months for Curiosity to make the 345-million-mile journey to Mars!
One of my favorite sea birds….check that hair 🙂
Crowded day at the beach, other than Eric and Patricia, this was it for many miles!
The Carnegie Estate called DUNGENESS in the 1880s
Today, the estate is in ruins and is part of the National Parks Property

St. Marys Thanksgiving, Georgia

We arrived at St. Marys on Tuesday with plenty of time to take in the town and relax before the famous cruisers’ Thanksgiving event. This is one of the largest gatherings of boating cruisers that I know of for a holiday. This year, our first year, it was attended by 65 yachts from all over the world with several from Australia and New Zealand. Each day leading up to the event, there is a VHF cruisers net at 0900 with information and helpful tips about making the event a success. The town is very accommodating to the visiting boaters providing trash cans, recycle cans, bathrooms, shuttle cars, and more. Much of this work is organized by the owners of the yacht Sea Tramp, our gracious hosts Ann and Len. They worked so hard to make everything flow and keep on track. Imagine organizing 140+ people, who don’t know each other, to assemble a Thanksgiving feast for all. UNREAL work, fantastic job. Along with Ann and Len, the town has the gracious owners of Seagle’s Restaurant and Saloon. This establishment opens their doors to the cruisers and provides the bar, cocktail lounge and full restaurant tables for all to enjoy. Thank you SEAGLE’s. Last but not least, would be Cindy Dean, wild bartender at this establishment. Cindy keeps the drinks flowing and also keeps the room in check as she hurls adjectives, expletives and barbs you would normally only hear in a locker room. In all, it is a blast, and Seagle’s is a real treasure for the cruising community. No other place on the waterway from Maine to Florida has been so accommodating.

Thanksgiving 2011 Cruisers, Gathering in St. Marys Georgia was outstanding. Thank you to all who made this event one of our key destinations for this year!

Photos to follow….

Beaufort, SC to GA

We anchor Island Spirit off the town with Spanish moss

We arrived Beaufort, SC….that is BEWwwwww-fert as the locals pronounce it, and we love this town. It is classy and upscale with a spectacular public waterfront park and a well managed main street with active shops, coffee bars, restaraunts and upscale waterfront condos. Yes, Beaufort has done an outstanding job of building and managing their waterfront. Thank You! Our goal was to spend the day here and then wait for the ebb tide (tide that runs towards the ocean) so we could ride this tide the 26 miles out to sea. Once offshore, we ran all night about 10-12 miles off the Georgia coast toward the St. Marys inlet 100 miles south. This planned route bypasses all the twists and turns of the well known Georgia ICW, where you go 3 miles west for every one mile south. The weather was perfect, large high pressure and the winds were calm, 8-10 mph, so we had a beautiful night at sea.

Daybreak, with a crescent moon 12 miles off Georgia coast

One of the spectacular aspects to being at sea at night is the morning daybreak. When you live in a house, you very rarely take time, like an hour, to go out side and watch the sunrise. This process takes well over an hour, and who has an hour for that? We do….and watch we did. We have seen many sunrises at sea over the past 10 years, but this has to be the best one. I love when the sun illuminates the bottoms of the clouds and bends the light into so many refracted colors.

Shortly after daybreak, we arrived at the St. Marys inlet where we continued 7 miles up river to the town center. We will spend Thanksgiving here as the town is well known for the feast they host for the visiting boaters. We are looking forward to a break, as we have been moving the boat 30-40 miles almost everyday for 4 weeks. Time to relax….then, Florida here we come!

Our home, at anchor Beaufort SC with the sun setting in the clouds

Beautiful, historic waterfront homes overlook the river
Large trees with Spanish moss, notice Radeen at base of tree!
Waterfront park with swings and beautiful landscaping overlooks the Beaufort River
Sundown as we exit the river for an overnight run at sea to St. Marys inlet
Daybreak at sea, spectacular morning
30 minutes before sunrise, the sky lights up and illuminates the clouds
10 minutes before sunrise, the show peaks with the clouds lit a fiery red
Sunrise, the day begins. Look at the colors and the water reflections.
Beautiful at sea!
Local Shrimper works the morning light off Georgia coast