Florida

After leaving Fernandina we noticed two couples in Hawaiian canoes lurking on the side of the waterway.   As we passed they zipped out into our wake !   Having one of those canoes himself, Garth adjusted our speed to give them the perfect wake and they stayed with us for quite a long while – they were stoked!

After the beautiful marshes and natural scenery in Georgia and the Carolinas, we find Florida to be long straight stretches of houses and bridges!   Opulent is a word that quickly comes to mind.   I’m a little fascinated by the mosquito screen cages that they build around their pools and outdoor living areas, but having experienced the mosquitos and no-see-ums I fully understand.  

We love the stop in St. Augustine and were excited that Roy and Nicky Todd drove down from Jacksonville to have dinner with all of us.    We got good exercise walking all over town and had a feathered boat visitor too!

You may have heard the expression that “it is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”?   In the old days they used to stack the cannon balls like this on the deck, and they were contained by a brass ring called a monkey.   When it got really cold, the brass ring would freeze and contract – and all the balls would tumble out.   Nothing to do with primates!

Next stop New Smyrna and Gary and Mel showed us an anchorage we had never been to before.   Perfectly calm and protected (the clouds and wind were still around).   They came to our boat for a drink and  suddenly this flock of grackles swooped in and made a home in their rigging – it looked like they had dressed ship!    Garth couldn’t stand thinking about all the bird poop on the deck so he jumped in the dinghy and went across and was banging on the hull – nothing budged them (but he probably succeeded in scaring the daylights out of Hobie the Cat downstairs!!!)    Then he found something and banged on the rigging with it – success! – they all flew into the air.    As he was heading back to our boat, we saw the whole flock had simply done a big circle and they landed right back where they had started.   We were falling about laughing!!!

The morning brought a beautiful sunrise and wonderful bird life. 

This guy looked as though he was trying to disguise himself as the tree stump next to him!

On the next stretch from New Smyrna to Cocoa Beach we saw lots of dolphin.   I have finally conquered my quest for a dolphin picture – they normally duck below the water the minute I get my camera.   Not great shots, but enough for me to feel as though I have shaken the bad dolphin-karma that was beleaguering me!!

The Haulover Canal is where you normally see Manatees – none this year.   But some cormorants drying their feathers and always a gathering of pelicans. 

It had been a very cloudy day and so we were not hopeful of seeing the SpaceEx launch at Cape Canaveral taking four astronauts to the International Space Station – both because of the clouds and because we were anchored about 15 miles south.   But we went up onto the flybridge at the appointed time with the live commentary playing and were treated to an amazing spectacle.   The sky was dark but the clouds were completely lit up on takeoff.    Fortunately Mel had her phone on her and managed to catch it – the red glow is when the first stage was jettisoned.    It was eerily quiet for a while and finally the noise caught up – we all had goosebumps!   What a treat and a privilege!

The next day we headed to Vero Beach and had a huge storm along the way.   (Another check mark for our PDQ – we could drive from warm and dry down below).   But even with windscreen wipers the rain was so heavy we could literally not see a thing for about ten minutes.   Thank goodness for our instruments.  

At Vero Beach on Thursday night we were checking for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas.  We planned to visit our good friends Dick and Carol Tuschick in Stuart and Garth wanted to spend time talking all things PDQ with them.   They were PDQ dealers before they retired and their daughter Beth has taken over their business – we bought our boat through her and there was so much we wanted to share and learn.   We needed to  re-provision, get our Covid tests done and expected to have three or four days there at least.   The weather gods decided otherwise and presented us with the perfect crossing day – on Saturday!!!    So Friday saw us racing to Stuart, tying up at Camp Carol (Dick and Carol’s house pictured below) and they were just wonderful and took us to the health center, supermarket, liquor store, West Marine as well as providing us with wonderful food and advice and friendship.   We couldn’t have done it without you guys!  

Saturday morning saw us leaving their dock at 6.30 am (getting caught by the railway bridge being down so we could have taken more time!) and heading out into the ocean  before 8.00am.    A beautiful sunrise and then deep blue sea and no-one else in sight.   We only saw one freighter the whole time.  

It was the perfect day – benign seas and glorious weather.   And being able to travel at 14 knots very comfortably for much of the way, we reached West End, Bahamas at 1.30pm!!!!    You know you’re getting close when the water gets shallower and turns that beautiful turquoise blue.   

After clearing customs we headed for the restaurant at Old Bahama Bay and had a Goombay Smash (a delicious rum and pineapple drink) and some cracked conch.    On the way back one of the fishing boats had their underwater lights on and I saw these little squid pillowing about – never seen them before!

Heavy weather was forecast so we moved quickly and spent the night at Grabbers Beach Bar on Guana Cay. It had been totally destroyed in Hurricane Dorian but they have done a great job of rebuilding.    Another rum drink on the beach and then we headed the next day to Hope Town, which is our home away from home and happy place.   

Garth quietly turned 70 on November 16th (we are saving the big celebrations for when the family arrive after Christmas) and we had a lovely dinner with our friends Will and Muffin Heyer.         

7 thoughts on “Florida

  1. All looks so amazing. How lucky are you. Come a long way since bumming it in Europe in 1974. Your blog is amazing except makes me a bit green. Love the photos and explanations

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    1. Thanks Harriet! We had thought we would spend more time in Vero but with that window opening up we put the pressure on. I’m glad we did because it took Mel and Gary another two weeks to cross. Hope to see you on the way back.

      Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Beautiful Sue! You certainly capture the heart and soul of Nature.
    Thank you for sharing – have a wonderful sojourn in this tranquil land.

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