Sailing off Fort Pierce, FL

We departed Vero in the AM heading south for the ocean inlet called Fort Pierce to go sailing for the day. Being tied to the docks for a week made us long for some sailing. So, with 10 days till our new Drexel U. semester begins, we decided to take off on some Island Spirit Adventures. Here is a video of our day sail. We had an easterly swell of 3 feet with a SE wind of 8-10 knots, so sailing was not that adventurous, but still, it is December and we were sailing! Temps are in the 75-80 degree range and the water temp is 68.8 degrees. After sailing, we headed back in the inlet and anchored off the G9 anchorage.

Right after the anchor was set, the cell phone rang and it was Sam and Carolyn, IP owners of MELAKA II, an IP485, who called as they were looking at us from the balcony of their condo! They invited us to come ashore and share a drink and go out for a bite to eat! What a treat, and what a community of Island Packet Owners! Here we are, anchored off Fort Pierce, FL and an IP owner calls us to come on over for a visit…unreal…community!

Sailing Video of the Day

Merry Christmas from Florida

We spent our first Christmas onboard Island Spirit at Vero Beach City Marina. We went to the beach to watch the sunrise over the ocean on Christmas morning, what a treat. Then back to the boat for a wonderful breakfast and baking of christmas cookies. The afternoon was spent with 95 wayward sailors who also were spending Christmas onboard and we all planned a pot luck buffet for 2 pm in the marina park. The food was international and very diverse and very good. We had 4 turkeys and 3 hams with plenty of deserts for everyone. This was a new experience for us and our first christmas aboard the boat. Here is our photo of the day…

ICW Vero Beach Florida

The ICW north of the Vero Beach, Florida, is a winding and well-marked path fulll of pines and palms. It is the first place we’ve seen many really large waterfront homes. After the Wabasso Bridge, the houses are gorgeous and so is the wildlife. Under our Flordia Discovery Map on the lower right, there is a map point near Vero marking the first place we have ever seen a manatee from the boat. What a thrill! The huge palm trees and mangroves prove that “The Tropics Truly Begin at Vero Beach!”

NOTE: Click videos twice, once to select, once to start.

Video #1 Just South of Melbourne, FL
Video #2 Just North of VERO BEACH, FL

Delta 2 Launch

Image Reference
There SHE GOES….

A Delta 2 missile launch! All day the Coast Guard had been announcing that vessels had to stay clear offshore nine miles north and south of a specified latitude and longitude in anticipation of the launch.

Even though we knew it was coming, it was such a thrill to see NASA launch a GPS satellite ! We were circling around looking for a place to drop the hook outside Melbourne Harbor when the rocket shot off over our bow.

In one photo, it looks like pieces of the rocket are separating. The aftershocks did not hit us until after the vapor trail was dissipating. They were loud and low and long. This is a moment we’ll never forget! Here are the four best photos.

Titusville, FL

Titusville is a great town to stop in for a few days. The anchorage, just south of the NASA RR bridge, is very large with a friendly and accommodating City Marina. We took on fuel and a frozen Snickers bar and pumped out on Tuesday afternoon before anchoring in 8 – 10 feet of water. The dinghy dock is free if you will be using it for less than a week and showers in the spotless bath house are $2. Within easy walking distance there is a Save-a-lot grocery store, a CVS, a 7-11 and a waterfront post office.

On Wednesday, we continued to play hopscotch with our car as we moved our car from Titusville to Vero Beach. We were pleased to find Vero Beach to be a lovely town, with an interesting mix of old and new. The marina feels friendly and cozy and very protected. Seeing three boats on each mooring ball is still a surprise – it looks even tighter than Cuttyhunk Harbor in Massachusetts! It was so nice to find three holiday boxes waiting for us from our family!

Bob Wiley, IP-380 Judith III, had contacted us via the discussion board and kindly offered to meet us in Vero Beach and drive us back to Titusville. A Floridian for over 30 years, he gave us the grand tour of Routes 1 and A1A, pointing out anchorages, bridges, good sailing areas and remaining hurricane damage from the 2004 storms. We stopped at beautiful Cocoa Village Marina to see the progress on his varnish work. The highlight of the day was more interesting conversation over dinner with Bob at the world famous Dixie Crossroads for corn fritters, rock shrimp (like tiny lobsters –yummy!) and chocolate mousse cake. We are so lucky to be a part of the IP community. Thank you Bob Wiley.


ICW Smyrna Beach FL

While running south on the ICW below Daytona Beach Florida, you will snake your way around Ponce de Leon inlet and then New Smyrna Beach Florida area. This being our first time down the waterway, we are amazed at how protected AND beautiful the waterway is. This video we shot in the AM with the sun over the bow, nice clouds, and a narrow area of the ICW just below New Smyrna Beach. As usual with the waterway, there are dolphins playing all around and it has been very difficult to capture any dolphins in a photo or video. In this video I wanted to show the waterway and how narrow it can be, and sure enough, dolphins surfaced right off the bow. We are really taken with the all the dolphins, pelicans, egrets, manatees, and other birds! The ICW is a wonderful trip and we are so lucky….

Here is our short video…(please excuse the grammatical slips, I was simply overwhelmed)

BOARDING in Ponce!

Yes, we got boarded in the Ponce de Leon Inlet area by two very intimidating fully armed Coast Guard Officers! They were checking MSDs, the heads for onboard vs. overboard. The boarding was VERY fast with very little warning and they were in the cockpit through the zipped enclosure before either one of us could even say, “Sure, come aboard!” Two officers boarded while one maintained his boat speed off our stern quarter. These guys were fully armed and with full bullet proof vests and they were very intimidating and LARGE! I welcomed them aboard and they asked…”Sir, if I were to place dye into your toilet and pump, where would that dye show up?” I answered that it would show up in the holding tank. “OK, we would like to inspect that,” and below they went with Radeen following behind. I kept driving around the markers, avoiding the many shoals and making my way through the inlet.

Down below…. As usual with us, we are pumping into our holding tank and keeping a count of the down strokes on a sticky note on the head wall. We know that 330 down strokes fills the holding tank, and our sticker was at 210, so were not yet full. Radeen gave the guards a tour of our head, pointed out our tabulation sticker, and then opened up the locker and explained our plumbing system, showing how it was going into the tank. The lead officer decided NOT to put the dye into the head and pump. Next, they checked our photo IDs and our vessel documentation numbers, asked us our destination, and left promptly to go board the next of 6 sailboats all heading south.

I thanked them for their services and their work, but they were too serious to accept the compliment. I will say, this was a very stressful situation, and I cannot imagine how scary this would be if you WERE breaking any laws. This is only the second boarding on Island Spirit. The other one was offshore approaching Block Island from sea in 2002, under sail with a reefed main. Those three officers boarded our leeward side and were onboard just as quickly. They were training a new officer in vessel boardings. I am happy to help with their training and their work and I appreciate that they are doing the work they are doing. Now let’s inspect a few more container ships BEFORE they arrive in port!

Map…of boarding location

ICW Palm Coast FL

We are finding the ICW south of St. Augustine to be very protected and narrow as we run south in a cold NE wind of 15 knots. This being our first time heading south on the ICW, we are amazed at how protected the waterway is. We are also amazed at how narrow it is, with boathouses and docks projecting out into the waterway. You really have to pay attention or you could easily hit a dock or a boat. We had no idea it would look like this.

Here is a little video of what the waterway looks like near the Palm Coast area in a place called creseant beach.

Brrr…St. Augustine, Fl

Well, it is still better than the snow and ice in the northeast, but it is a cool 65 degrees at sunset and a forecast for 30 degrees overnight, so…BRRRR from St. Augustine!

We did ride out our FIRST FLORIDA COLD FRONT last night which arrived at the usual o’dark hundred, or 3am to 5am Sunday morning December 16, 2007. This front was well forecasted and we know that it was bringing 30 knots of wind from the Southwest, then the West, then Northwest, so we were ready. Ready was, we had out 100 feet of 5/16” chain and a 44 Lb Bruce anchor set well in 10 feet of low tide and 14 feet of high tide. When the 5 feet from water to bow roller is added to these depths, we had a scope at low tide of 100’/15= 6.6 to 1 and at high tide we had 100’/19’=5.2 to 1. Needless to say, we did not move or drag when the winds peaked at 30 knots. What is odd was the way the 2+knots of current effects how the boat swings on anchor. It seems that with an Island Packet’s full keel underbody, the tide has more effect than the winds. So the boat will tend to point bow into the current and then the second effect is the wind, which will push the boat’s stern downwind a little bit. So this means that the boat may not be facing into the wind, it may be off at an angle. The other odd effect is that the bow may be facing into the current yet the anchor is behind or near abeam of the boat as the wind drives the boat downwind. This was the case last night and we found it rather interesting to study. At 3 am we used our Verizon Broadband network to see the Jacksonville live radar and tornado warning areas! Yes, we had tornado warnings for our area for about 2 hours! That was not fun, but lucky for us, they passed north of us and we only had heavy rain and high winds.

Today with the front passage came clear skies and a brisk north wind and a high of 65 degrees. We were getting spoiled by the 85 degrees and 65 degree nights where were above normal. We took the dinghy to town to meet up with IP owners, Debbie and Craig Roser, IP440 Charmed, and had wonderful Cuban sandwiches and coffees at Columbia on St. George and Hypolita streets in old town St. Augustine. It was great to catch up with our good friends and visit over lunch. Tomorrow we head out at o’daybreak hundred to go 50 miles south on the ICW bound for Daytona, Fl.

Sunset St. Augustine, Fl w/old sailboat (a work in progress)

St. Augustine Fl

(Radeen here) St. Augustine’s beautiful 1928 Bridge of Lions is being restored and a temporary lift bridge partially obscures it on approach. This small quaint city is the oldest continuously settled community in the United States! We enjoyed walking around the shops, grand old hotels, horse drawn carriages.
Our mail from home was not being forwarded, as had been so carefully arranged several weeks ago, so this meant a trip to the local post office to fill out more forms. The post office was amazing – everyone has to take a number like at a deli counter and then wait to be called. There were even comfortable chairs for the sitting and the waiting! There were 18 customers in line ahead of us.

P.O. in St. Augustine, FL….TAKE A NUMBER and a SEAT!

In the evening, we went back to the Plaza for an outdoor Christmas Concert by the Southeastern Navy Brass Ensemble. They played a beautiful mix of contemporary and traditional carols surrounded by holiday decorations and palm trees!