Fernandina Beach, FL Architecture

A photo essay and tour of the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Florida. Home of the American Shrimping Industry.

A different kind of Architecture, French Ships sailed into the harbor for a two day visit

Tonight we depart Fernandina at the St. Mary’s inlet and we will sail north 120 miles to Beaufort, SC via Port Royal Sound. This leg will take 20 hours anchor to anchor and we plan to be offshore by sunset running the leg at night. We will arrive the Port Royal sea buoy at 0900 for the flood tide up the sound. Fernandina Beach FL is a great town and like all great towns we hate to leave….but on we go…

St. Augustine to Fernandina

The newly restored Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine, FL

Running the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway from St. Augustine, FL to Fernandina FL presents a wide spectrum of interesting homes, marshes, forts, and commercial traffic. The trip is 62 statute miles, that’s the kind of miles you run on land in your car. On the boat you run at a much slower speed more like 6 mph! So imagine riding your bicycle 50-60 miles every day along a canal and you will begin to get the full picture. With that said, this trip is really fun and enjoyable.  The diversity of the waterway makes it so rewarding. Sure, it is not the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas, or the indigo blue of the Gulf Stream, but it is unique in its own way.

Radeen exploring St. Augustine, FL

Running from town to town is one of the pleasures because you can dinghy ashore and get off the boat and walk the town sightseeing. But the real mission is….looking for ICE CREAM shops! Yes, Team Island Spirit will find any and all ice cream shops on the ICW from Maine to Florida. (Ice cream in the Bahamas was bad, but then think of how far it had to come and how long it was kept frozen during transit, and let’s not talk about power outages in Abaco!)

Anyway, back to the ICW in northern Florida. It is easy, winding, scenic, built up with a few remaining marshes for the birds to enjoy. It is interesting to focus on the old Florida homes vs. the new Florida homes. You see the casual, simple lifestyle of the old replaced with the modern metropolitan lifestyle of the new Florida. I am not sure it is a real improvement, but some must think it is better this way.

After 4 days of 50-60 mile days, 10 hrs each, we will stay here in Fernadina for a relaxing day tomorrow and enjoy this wonderful town.

Photos of this diverse section of the ICW…

Great Blue Herons in the marshes and mangroves
Typical view of the homes and docks as seen from the boat

Spanish Fort Mantanzas just south of St. Augustine, FL

 Here is a look at the OLD Florida along the ICW

Typical home with a simple boat and boat house

Typical rancher with no dock

Fun boat house / dock and simple home

Now for the NEW Florida…buy up the old….tear it down…build bigger and taller

Two story with a sweeping lawn

Beautiful arches, decks, pool and “golf course” lawn

Spanish tile sorta makes this blend in….but then next door is an OLD Florida home
And then there are white arches, trellises and multiple wings! 

 And, don’t forget that this is also a COMMERCIAL waterway

Tug and barge pushing south on the ICW
I have no clue how they manage all the turns
Amelia Island Bridges one twin bridge and one Railroad bridge

Welcome to the PAPER PULP FACTORY and Fernandina Beach

Diversity, that is what I think of when we transit this section of the waterway and that is what makes this leg a treasure and so interesting to explore.

Vero to Cocoa to Daytona

Vero Beach Raft: IP460 Cutter Loose & IP35 Island Spirit

With the Bahamas / Abacos adventure behind us, we are now focused on moving Island Spirit north towards our home dock in Rock Hall where we will conclude year #1 of full time cruising. We plan to be back “home” Memorial Day weekend. This trek north on the ICW will be our second, as we did it in March of 2008 from Vero to Rock Hall and really enjoyed it. Highlights of our time in Vero included breakfast with Cutter Loose & friends Marlene & Don at Mrs. Mac’s Filling Station and going to the the farmer’s market in Ft. Pierce together. We pulled out of lovely Vero Beach after 5 relaxing days and two storms / squalls and powered our way 50 miles north to Cocoa Village.

Anchored off Cocoa Village, FL

Anchoring there, we took the dinghy into town where we met up with our good friend and IP380 owner, Bob W. The great aspect about IP ownership is the people and the IP owners you meet along the way. Bob is one of those owners who has always gone above and beyond to support us and connect with us as we pass by the “space coast” where he lives. Also joining us was Blaine P., long time friend and sailor, who helped us avoid Hurricane Irene last August as we dashed from Block Island to Rock Hall.

Our good friend and IP380 owner Bob W. always makes us feel welcome
 Blaine, our #1 IP Delivery Captain joins us as well

We enjoyed a great dinner in Cocoa Village  at Murdock’s with Bob and Blaine, IP delivery captain of http://ParksMarineServices.com  Blaine has recently relocated his business from Charleston to the Tampa area. We wish him all the best!

The next day, we pressed on, with our good buddy boat and close friends Eric and Patricia on IP460 Cutter Loose for our destination of Daytona Beach. This was another 50+ mile day with 8 bridges and an 11+ hour run under full power. Upon arrival at Daytona, we needed to anchor twice as we were too close to a sunken wreck that a local boater alerted us about. Thanks to this kind local boater, we were directed to a better location and set our anchor finally. Since we had a hot lunch under way today in the sunny but cool weather, we simply had cheese and crackers for dinner. Ahh….the boating life can be so simple and so relaxing that sometimes you forget what it is really like to live in a house…

Radeen manages the log book. Yes, that is fleece she’s wearing!

Tomorrow we need to make a bridge opening by 0730, so it is anchor up at 0700 and underway again. Destination will be St. Augustine where we will go ashore and enjoy some time off the boat. With our good buddies Eric and Pat, we will revisit the wonderful Spanish Restaurant in town, along with the local micro brewery which we will thoroughly re-evaluate.

Photos of Vero and area

The massive squall line approaching, see video on previous post

Departing Vero with the Merrill Barber bridge to the port bow….sad view

During the run to Cocoa, we took on the most salt spay ever on Island Spirit
25-30 knots NW, port bow, continual spray over the solar panel roof
The NASA VAB, Vehicle Assembly Building….it can be seen for over 20 miles!

This run north on the ICW is easy, the markers are many, it is very clear where to go, and it is so protected. To some it is boring, to us, it is interesting and enjoyable. We look forward to places like Charleston, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Dismal Swamp, Newport News, and the home waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Life is fun on a cruising sailboat….

Vero Beach Squall

We decided to stay at Vero Beach, FL on their mooring balls until this next frontal system moves through. Today, a day before the real front is due, we had a warm up with a thunderstorm, hail storm, squall packing 50 knot winds. Here is a 2 minute video of the event. The storm lasted 20 minutes….

Video of Squall
Watch below or on YouTube here

Added NOTE: April 21, 2012

Vero Beach Papers reports that a tornado touched down just south of the bridge, about 1/4 mile south of where this video was shot. Winds peaked out and were reported at the bridge of 92 MPH! This must have been the outflow from that storm.

Also marina people and other cruisers are reporting that they all say 50-55 knots of wind, so our wind meter is not too far off.

Cutter Loose recorded 50 knots as well.

Arrival USA Ft. Pierce FL

Mid way home, center of Florida Current, Gulf Stream

After 7 weeks out of the USA exploring the Abacos, Bahamas, we sailed back into our homeland with mixed emotions. Sad because we enjoyed the Bahamas immensely, yet happy to return to the conveniences of USA. Life over in the Bahamas is peaceful, slower, more calm, relaxing, unplugged, and the people are respectful, polite, happy, proud, welcoming, and sincere.

Back in USA, the smart phones fired up and began ringing, dinging and vibrating, the Internet connected and the router and WiFi rig went live 24/7 with emails, facebook, and web surfing back up to full speed. Yes, USA is a digitally connected world which is good in many aspects, yet distracting, and very time consuming. We need to find that happy space between the calm of the Bahamas and the rapid fire of the USA. Somewhere in between there is a happy medium.

Wing on Wing, jib with pole set to starboard

Our sail, motor sail, home from West End, Bahamas was calm with following winds of 10-15 knots, seas 2-3 feet and beautiful BLUE waters. We settled in on a poled out jib and a prevented main with a reef for a wing on wing sail set. With 2500 rpms on the motor we were many times pushing 7-8 knots. So we made the crossing in 13 hours departing at 0630 and anchoring down at 1930 just in time for sunset and conch blowing salute. Welcome HOME….it is good to be here…

Here are photos of the run home…

Heading WEST out of West End, Bahamas for Florida
Sunrise over Abacos, we are sad to see this off our stern…

Beautiful sailing with the wind at our backs
There is a saying…”May the Winds Always be at your Back!”
This means smooth sailing


Look at the BLUE water of the OCEAN
this is an untouched photo, it is really this BLUE!


Blue water as seen from the helm looking over the bow

SADLY we drop the Bahamas Flag and raise the Q flag
We need to check in with customs before we may drop the quarantine flag

Radeen expertly takes the helm as we sail into the Ft. Pierce inlet

Rock Jetties protect the inlet, but it also funnels the currents in and out of the narrow inlet
Radeen is very calm and drives us in between the jetties

You DON’T want to mess up in an inlet, we are sailing and motoring
with our main still up on a beam reach doing 9 knots!
We sure will miss this…..we will happily rush back next winter 🙂

OK, time to pick up anchor here in Fort Pierce, drive up the ICW into Vero Beach, FL and start a new journey. A memory tour north from Florida to Maryland on the IntraCoastal Waterway. Come along and join the ride….

Abacos Bahamas Reflections

A Rainbow we enjoyed in Hopetown
Dreams can come true…

Accomplishing a lifetime planned dream and reflecting at the end of the goal is very rewarding and also sad at the same time. For over 15 years, we have been dreaming of the day we could retire, not go to school anymore, move aboard our 35 foot sailboat and set sail to the Bahamas. Now after just completing 7 weeks in the Abacos, northern Bahamas, we are so happy and excited to DO IT AGAIN!!!!!

When you plan a trip and study the itinerary and places to visit, you get an image in your mind’s eye of what it will be like when you arrive. Usually, when you arrive, it is never like envisioned and it is different. That is not to say it is worse, but it is just different than envisioned.

This trip, this adventure, this discovery of the Abacos for our first time…..IT WAS FAR BETTER than envisioned. Yes, this could be one of our first trips, one of our first travels, where the destination far exceeded the dream. There is just something very special about the Bahamas. Their travel tagline is…”It’s Better in the Bahamas!”…and we have to agree 100%, yes, it truly is.

Treasure Cay Beach, one of the world’s best beaches

The beaches are spectacular, the water is crystal clear, the spring weather is not hot and not cold. There seem to be no bugs, no jellyfish, so no problems…mon. And, the local people are incredibly polite and friendly, making it a joy to be guests in their beautiful country. It is simply paradise, at least it was for us in March and April of 2012. Sure it is windy, but hey, we have a sailboat, we like wind. We traveled nearly 600 miles since we left Miami on Feb 29, 2012 and here in West End, Bahamas, we have burned a total of 22.5 gallons of diesel fuel….that is because we SAILED NEARLY EVERYWHERE….because of the east blowing trade winds. The Island chain runs mainly north and south, so with the east trade winds, it is beam reach north or south. Choose a destination, motor out of the harbor or off anchor, set sail, shut down the engine and sail where you want to go.

350 Watts of Solar Power, we make our electricity from the sun!

With our 350 watts of solar power, we had all the electricity we needed to run lights, freezer, refrigerator, two computers, i-Pad, Kindle and WiFi networks. We hardly ever ran the engine to make electricity, it nearly all came from solar!

As for food, we provisioned all the food, flour, meats, cheeses, and snacks in Miami for two months (thank you Jeff & Sharon) and here we are heading home with a lot of food left over. So, we over provisioned, but that too was a learning experience. Try to imagine buying all the food, paper products, and snacks you need for 2 months. Act as if you will not go to a store for 2 months. It is interesting. We did very well with this and only spent about $195 during the seven weeks on fresh vegetables, milk, fruit and of course ice cream! We have been making our own bread since Thanksgiving, so bread is now very easy to make and we make it all the time now.

Rental home on the harbor in Man-O-War Cay, arrive by kayak

As for PHOTOS….in 7 weeks, we have taken 2,200 photos and 40 short videos and we have tried to share the best of the best each day or with each destination.

We thank everyone for following our first Abaco exploration and we thank you for the comments, emails and private messages as we sailed.

Hayden and Radeen self photo as we realize the accomplishment
of a lifetime dream as we close the Abacos Loop
7 weeks, 600 miles

Tomorrow, we depart West End Bahamas at 0630 hrs, heading west for the Fort Pierce inlet only 85 miles across the Florida Current (i.e. the Gulf Stream) We will then anchor in Ft. Pierce and the next day move up to Vero Beach, FL.

Our Next adventure….rediscover and re-enjoy the springtime trek northward on the ICW, IntraCoastal Waterway returning to Rock Hall, MD for Memorial Day.

Here are a few reflection photos of the DREAM COME TRUE….

A Sea Biscuit Shell from down deep
A treasure to bring home and share

The beautiful blue waters below Tilloo Cay

Love this beach….it is our #1 spot…
Tahiti Beach

50 MPH winds will snap your WiFi antenna
Lucky for us, OII, Out Island Internet sold me a used one to fix it

We had the honor of sharing the lighting of the Hope Town Light House
Sam, the light house keeper is a very special person

Grabbers Beach Bar on Great Guana Cay, dinghy in, drop anchor
Spend the day by the pool and dance away

Pete’s Pub, Little Harbor, a treasure we found and left behind
Take only pictures in the Land and Sea Parks

Palm Sunday Services at the Hope Town Methodist Church
overlooking the ocean and beach

Afternoon dinghy races observed from our anchored spot, Hope Town

Nipper’s Juice…One, Two, Three…Floor
Stop at two or you could lose your mind!

Sailing the Sea of Abaco, look, another beam reach

Our Island Packet Fleet as we ran into Abaco

The Island Packet Fleet Admirals at Green Turtle in their own ladies lounge

The presentation of our Island Packet Shirt at Spanish Cay Marina
Happy Birthday to Radeen and Alan

Yes, it is WINDY in Abaco…the cold fronts come in every week

Beaches….endless beaches….all for us to explore and enjoy

Great friends and team leader…SP CATSPAW, Carey, Bobbi, Tiller and Heidi

Sunrise over the bow of buddy boat Dragon’s Toy, Great Sale Cay

Happy Day, we arrived, raised the Bahamas Flag and planned our explorations

We will never forget this scene as we came up onto soundings, and observed
the blue water on the coastal shelf at West End, Bahamas

Overall…it has exceeded our expectations and we will forever have wonderful memories of our first sail into the waters of the Bahamas. We look forward to many more years of the same, and with deeper south trips next year in the Exumas.

Nipper’s Easter Egg Hunt

Nipper’s Easter Bunny points the way

Nipper’s on Great Guana hosts a family Easter Egg hunt on the beach and on the reef. These people really know how to host a party and they get the locals and the boating community to attend their events. High up on the sand dune, maybe 30 steps down to the beach, we watched the kids of all ages dig into the sand to find over 1,000 prize marked eggs.

Sections of the beach are marked off for different ages and it is very well organized and managed. Age groups are lined up and allowed to begin at a given time, allowing only one age group to be on the beach at a time. The massive egg hunt ends with the 15 and up to 100+ age group digging into the beach looking for eggs.

The end of the adult egg hunt….
over $300 of prizes were unclaimed, never found!

This all goes on for about 2 hours, while oldies are playing and blasting across the beach by the DJ, and the observers are sipping on the “NIPPERS JUICE” via their custom Tervis tumblers. Nippers for the Easter Egg Hunt was yet another entertaining time and fun day. The children AND the Adults had a fun time and that should tell it all…

Here are some photos of the event….

Hayden enroute to the mighty NIPPER’s
Radeen poses next to the Nipper’s Tractor
Nipper’s Tervis Tumblers for the juice
The children love this event, and so do the adults
The reef was too rough for a snorkeling egg hunt
Look at this typical beautiful Bahamas beach!
Radeen on the beach at Great Guana Cay, Abacos

Thank you to Nipper’s for running one of the best beach bars in the Abacos. It must be something in the Nipper’s Juice. The saying goes….One, Two, Three, FLOOR!!….don’t go past 3…..

Man O War, Abacos

Albury Grocery Store, with Man O’ War skiffs in the foreground.
Note the marine railway.

We spent 2 days on Man O’ War Cay in the Abacos. This is one peaceful little island with a very industrious population. The waterfront is a hub of business activity, with several boat building enterprises, engine repair centers, sail lofts, grocery stores, ice cream parlors, lumber yards, bakery and hardware stores. Every property is tidy and well-maintained.

The people are very friendly and obviously very proud of their work. High quality production such as the Albury Brother boat builders and the Albury Sail Loft and Edwin Boat Builders are representative of their work. If you need it build, sewed, or fixed, then Man O War is the island in the Abacos to go to, because these people know how to get it done!

Here are some photos of Man O’War…

Albury Brother Boat Works with a hull ready for the deck
Albury Brother Boat Shop
Completed Albury Brothers 23 footer with a 300 hp and T-top

No visit is complete without cinnamon buns from Lola, delivered by golf cart
Edwin Brothers Boat Yard, Marine Railway with a 40′ Tartan hauled out
Pet Green Turtle named “Penny” visits the Albury Sail Loft for her daily feeding of conch.
This Green Turtle is 2 years old and the ladies have raised her in the wild.

Penny, the pet Green Turtle at Man O’ War
2 Yr old Green Turtle at Man O War
Typical Dock at Man O’ War

Typical waterfront home on Man O’ War
Man O’ War wooden sailboat at sunset
Rental cottage, Man O’ War, reachable only by kayak or boat

Abacos Video

We have been amazed by the beauty of the water color and water clarity while sailing in the Sea Of Abaco, Bahamas. Here is a short video showing the water as we sailed to Sandy Cay, near Lynyard Cay to go snorkeling. The water here is so blue because this area is at an ocean cut, so the sea rolls in and out of this area of the reef. The water is only 10 feet deep, and you can easily see your shadow on the bottom. When you drop in to snorkel, you are in 30+ feet and you see the bottom as if you are in a swimming pool. We have really enjoyed this first time exploration and discovery of the Sea of Abaco. We look forward to many more trips and to sharing this with our friends…(do you hear us Wendy & Craig?)

Video below…YouTube link here