Monthly Archives: December 2016

Rally Termination… Goodbye (Temporarily) to Friends

Wow, it is hard to believe that our Rally has concluded.  We have traveled more than 1100 miles with the 19 boats in the Sail to the Sun 2016 Rally and it has been a fabulous experience.  Our leader, Wally Moran, has a ton of experience on the ICW and did a great job of balancing a schedule/plan with the flexibility required for sailor types.

img_1756

Wally and his faithful pup, Aduana.

The Rally officially ended shortly after leaving Vero Beach.  From Vero we headed to Peck Lake which is a small anchorage with a spit of sand that connects via a short path to the Atlantic Ocean.  We saw solid evidence of just how far the Ocean reaches because of the green buoy from the Bahamas that had washed up on this shore.  We spent a pleasant afternoon walking the Atlantic side beach, collecting shells and simply enjoying the empty ocean front.

bouy-1

King of the buoy?

peck-lake

Rally friends showing this buoy who is boss.

I cannot possibly complete our posts about the ICW without including a couple more bridge pictures.  Here are two of my favorites from our last few days on the ICW….

fl

This should be called the Disney Castle Bridge, don’t you think?

fl-1

The lines of this bridge were sleek and modern.

Moving down the Florida ICW was one monied area after another.  The houses and yachts were so large it was a little ridiculous.  Even though some of the homes were stunningly pretty, all I kept thinking was that I was very glad I didn’t have to maintain any of them.

fl-6The lighting is poor but you get an idea about the homes.

fl-4Better lighting reveals some details.

fl-3  I did appreciate the Christmas spirit on this little abode.

fl-2Hmmm, which one would you choose?

As I said, there were some rather large yachts as well…. I kept thinking of the credit card ad asking, “What’s in your wallet.”  But instead I would ask, “What’s in your back yard?”

Enough of the money stuff….

Perhaps the most unique anchorage we stopped in was Boca Raton.  There is just a tiny bump out of the ICW in Boca where you can anchor.  You must be cautious because it is extremely shallow in the middle.  Gently nudging our way into the area allowed us to find a spot to drop anchor and enjoy a beautiful evening.  The surrounding area was a mixture of beautiful homes and sky-rises.

fl-5Our view during dinner.

The evening was cool, quiet and calm and Frank and I relished a relaxed dinner in the cockpit.  LIB gently pivoted on her anchor and gave us a changing view as we discussed the trip we were finishing and our plans for having the mast returned to our boat.

fl-10

Enjoying the view and our Christmas lights while reading my Kindle.

Our final Rally stop was at Dinner Key in Miami.  While the other Rally boats awaited bridge openings, we motored ahead and only waited on openings if the bridge was less 16 feet.  fl-8Celebratory drinks in Dinner Key

Once LIB was safely tied up we poured a drink and sat in the cockpit while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive.

Wally had planned a final dinner in Dinner Key to mark the end of the Rally.  This gave us a chance to compare plans with the others and discuss weather windows.  Many of the Ralliers will head to the Bahamas and we are very glad to know we will reunite with several of our friends in the near future.

Wally put a lot of thought and effort into our final dinner including awarding “certificates” for some of us.  Not at all surprising was that Frank received an award in recognition of his willingness to dive any Rally boat to check for crab pots, grounding damage, zinc levels, etc.

dsc08087

Frank’s certificate commemorating at least four dives during the Rally.

I, however, was surprised, and secretly pleased, to receive an award of my own. I might not be recognized for important jobs like Frank, but I am a very positive person and I have the award to prove it. 😉

dsc08088

Nice guys (girls) don’t always finish last.

Frank and I are very glad we joined the Sail to the Sun 2016 Rally and highly recommend it to others considering the trek.  We think the ICW would have been a little tiring if we had been on our own.  Having other sailors to share the experience and socialize with was a huge benefit.  We enjoyed sharing the navigation and history of the ICW as well as the adventures and mishaps with so many like minded people.  It was nice to have Wally’s guidance and experience and have other boaters to discuss ideas for future destinations.

fl-7

The sun sets on the Sail to the Sun 2016 Rally

It is especially nice to know we have 19 other boats we now call our friends and that we already have friends in future anchorages.

dinner-key

Full moon rising at Dinner Key, Miami

This is our concluding post about the ICW Rally.  I hope you have enjoyed seeing a few of the places we passed during this trip.  Have you been inspired to cruise the ICW or are you more interested in island hopping?  I would love to know…

Florida ~ a Very Long State!

little-sisters

Dawn at Sisters Creek Dock

While the beauty and variety of the ICW changes daily and is still captivating, I’m beginning to feel like I am back in school preparing book reports or history reports.  I am far from a history scholar, yet every post while traveling the ICW could become a mini U.S. history lesson.  This week instead of reviewing any history of the cities we visited, I am simply going to share some photos of the places we have seen this week.

florida-2

Several Rally members joined us on a Red Train tour of the city

St. Augustine was founded 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and is the oldest city in the U.S. Needless to say, a broad scope of history is available.  We spent our first day touring the city on the Red Train which allows you to get on and off the tram at about 20 stops around St. Augustine. (Ok, a tiny bit of history. It’s hard to avoid.)

florida-9

Flagler Hotel had electric lights four years before the White House!

Our day was filled with variety as we visited the pirate museum, a micro brewery, Flagler Hotel constructed in 1887 (and now part of Flagler College) and meandered through the pedestrian street filled with shops and restaurants.

florida-8

Rather impressive doorway in Flagler College.

Flagler Hotel was the most impressive building I have seen on this trip.  The architecture was interesting and such famous people were involved in its’ construction!  The electrical system was installed by none other than Thomas Edison!  If that isn’t impressive enough, the windows, in what was originally a ballroom and is now the college cafeteria, were created and installed by Louis C. Tiffany.  In fact, Flagler College has the largest collection of Tiffany stain glass windows and was filmed by The Antiques Road Show in 2013. We were unable to go into the cafeteria to see the stain glass windows, dang it.

 Sample time delighted Ron, Mindy, Frank and Tom.

Late afternoon several of us toured the St. Augustine Distillery.  Specializing in whiskey, rum, vodka and gin, this small company ustilizes local ingredients and is housed in a historical building that was once an ice house.  The tour was short and the guide animated and entertaining.  I must admit, to me, the samples were aweful, but that might be because I don’t drink any of those spirits. 😉

bouy-4

A very clean pedestrian shopping area

Our final night in St. Augustine was also the final night for a couple of our Rally boats.  In celebration, or was it tourture, the group went to a local kareokee bar.  A few in the group demonstrated their considerable talent, while others shared more enthusiasm than vocal prowress.  It was a very fun evening and a unique way to send off a few friends.

This barely touches what St. Augustine has to offer.  It would be easy to spend a lot of time in St. Augustine.

florida-5

Screened pool, must be Florida.

Back on the ICW, I really feel like I am in Florida because most of the pools are enclosed by screens.  Florida was the first place I saw personal pools covered and screened.  We have seen a lot of screened pools in the last week, so I know I am in Florida.

florida-7

Stay between the red and green buoys!

Florida is, of course, full of waterways. Most of them are wide and look inviting, but actually they are often very shallow and have shoals that must be avoided.  Fortunately the waterway is pretty well marked but following the buoys is not intuitive.  In the picture above, the first two buoys are red and should be kept to starboard (right) but the third one is green and should be kept to port (left).  It is disconcerting to look down a wide river but intentionally get this close to a beach.  We did follow the path and, though the water was only a few feet deeper than our keel, we made it through without grounding.

halloween-2

Open sesame!

BRIDGES! Thank you to Frank for having our mast shipped to Miami.  We only thought we had seen bridges in other states.  Florida accounts for two-thirds of the bridges on the whole ICW.  If you don’t think worrying about bridges adds to a sailors stress, think again.

Many sailboats have masts that only fit under a fixed bridge at low tide so they have to study the height of each bridge and plan arriving at said bridge according to when the tide is low.  Of course, these same boats have drafts of 4′-6.5′ which means they also have to be concerned about not running aground at low tide.

Add to this that many bridges are opening bridges and too low to pass under when closed, so they must time their approach to coincide with bridge schedules.  For example, today we are traveling only 21 miles but we have six bridges to navigate…. yep, I am very thankful LIB has been mastless on this trip.  We have affectionately referred to LIB as our “neutered cat.”

florida-6

Thankfully nothing developed from this threatening weather anchored near Daytona.

We spent several days in Cocoa Village taking advantage of the quaint downtown area and long bike friendly roads along the waterfront.  The city of Cocoa Village rolled out the red carpet for our Rally, arranging welcoming receptions, dinners, space center tours and much more.  In a state where so many cities are shunning transient boaters, Cocoa Village welcomed us very warmly and is doing all they can to encourage boaters to stop and enjoy their waterfront.

Frank and I took advantage of Cocoa’s proximity to Orlando to go visit some of our friends there.  I was lucky enough to have my visit to Orlando coincide with an annual lunch my tennis friends share.  About 12 ladies gathered for lunch and I had a great time reconnecting with this fun loving, welcoming group.

img_3444-2

We also met with our favoirite neighbors in Orlando.  Thank  you to the Mosley Family for squeezing us into your very busy schedule.  It was a blast catching up and seeing how grown up the kids are!

Although the rest of the group chose to stay an extra night in Cocoa Village, Frank and I pressed on the Vero Beach.  This popular stop is often referred to as Velcro Beach because many boaters stop here and end up staying for a very long time.  We wanted to see why this town had earned the moniker.

vero-beach

Vero Beach anchorage from the bridge.

We had a great time exploring Vero Beach on our bikes.  The town appears to be somewhat divided with the ocean area on the east side of the ICW and the main town on the west side.  We spent a long day exploring both area from our bicycles.

One bonus was meeting with some folks we had known in Coppell.  Bev and Bob had left Coppell years ago to, wait for it…. go sailing! Yep, they spent about 4 years traveling about on their sailboat before Velcro Beach caught them and they returned to land.

We apprecaited their time and the experience they shared.

img_3465-2

Notice all of these moored boats are sharing a ball.

Velcro is such a small anchorage that the mooring balls placed by the marina are usually shared by several boats.  This is the first time I have seen “assigned rafting” in a mooring field.  Of course we have seen boats choose to share and anchor or mooring ball, but I had not seen a marina assign raft up buddies.

florida-4

If anyone is wondering how Captain is fairing, she is QUITE comfortable on the boat these days.  Before the ICW, she tended to get a little nervous while under motor, but after more than 1,000 StM, she has become very accustomed to the engine.  In fact, we would say she is a little too comfortable as you can see from this picture taken while underway.  (We did immediately call her down from the pulpit and put on her life jacket.)

Fun pics from this week:

stm

LIB passing the StM 1,000 mark on our chart.

img_3461-2

I liked the way the ferns grew on the trees in Velcro Beach

Georgia ~ A History of Wealth

Georgia’s coast is beautiful and full of history.  But it isn’t only the history of wars and changing of ruling countries. Georgia offers a window into a lifestyle experienced by uber wealthy families late in the 1800’s and up to the mid-1900’s.   I’m talking about the opulence of the homes and clubs built on several of the islands along the Georgia coast such as Jekyll Island and Cumberland Island.

Our visit to Georgia began when we picked up Frank’s mom, Jackie, from the Savanna airport.  We went straight into Savanna and took a 90 minute trolley tour of the city.  Even using an hour and a half, the tour was a blur of Savanna and U.S. history.  We enjoyed the tour and the information our driver spouted, but the pace was too quick for pictures.

The first full day Jackie was with us, we chose to leave the ICW and head out into the Atlantic Ocean.  There was almost no wind and the seas were dead calm.  By traveling outside of the ICW, we were able to take a less winding path and cover more miles.

dsc07607

s/v Destiny – a fellow Sail to the Sun Rally boat

The water is so flat, it is hard to believe that the picture above was taken out in the Atlantic Ocean.  Being in the ocean for the day was a very nice change from the ICW.  We are more accustomed to the wide open ocean and we enjoyed feeling the freedom of plenty of space between boats.  Late in the afternoon, we scooted back into the ICW and anchored in Walburg Creek.

cocoa-2

Sunset on Walburg Creek 

The sunset over the flat marshes was one for the record books, but the next morning we awakened to a very different view….

cocoa-1

Fog encased Walburg Creek

The fog was so dense when we awakened we couldn’t even see the other boats.  Our departure for Fort Frederica was delayed, but I rather enjoyed being enveloped in this blanket of mist.

At the end of our day, we anchored near Ft. Frederica on St. Simon’s Island and Frank took Captain to shore as she had a ton of pent up energy.

georgia

One of the few remaining structures of Ft. Frederica.

Access to shore was difficult so only Captain and Frank had a chance to look around the old fort.  Very little of the buildings remained but the grounds were pretty and the trees dwarfed what still stood.

georgia-2

Beautiful greens spaces define the Jekyll Island Club grounds.

Next up was Jekyll Island and the Jekyll Island Club, the playground of some very wealthy families.  We toured Jekyll Island Club via a 90 minute tram tour and learned that the Jekyll Island Club was the brainchild of several wealthy American families who were instrumental in the development of industry in the U.S. Think Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Goulds, Morgans and Goodyears to name a few.  This remote island was developed as a private club for 53 families.

georgia-3

A portion of the main clubhouse.

The clubhouse was completed on Jekyll in 1888.  It was here that these wealthy families would come during January, February and March to escape the northern winters and enjoy the exclusive company of their peers.

georgia-4

One of the “cottages” within Club grounds.

Eventually some families built individual “cottages,” but the club was the main gathering spot. Hunting, tennis, cards, horseback riding, dining and balls were among the activities enjoyed by those allowed on the island.

georgia-1

The Club is now a hotel.

According to our tour guide, the demise of Jekyll Island Club occurred during WWII.  Some of the club members had suffered financial setbacks during the depression and when German U boats were off the coast of Jekyll Island, the government ordered the island evacuated for safety purposes.

Today, Jekyll Island is owned by the State of Georgia.  It is a beautiful place and I spent one day riding my bike through its’ lush grounds.   If you have the opportunity to visit Jekyll, you will surely find the glimpse into this lost, exclusive lifestyle interesting!

georgia-1

Driftwood Beach, on the north end of Jekyll Island, is a hauntingly beautiful place. A graveyard of once vibrant trees that are dying because of the erosion of the beach.

georgia-2

I couldn’t resist climbing on this tree.

We spent an hour or so walking among these former giants, simply admiring their beauty even in death.

georgia

Lace-work roots.

georgia-3

Jackie, Frank and Captain

 

georgia-4

I wonder how long this one will remain standing.

Our next anchorage was Cumberland Island which also has a rich history.  It is believed that the first inhabitants of Cumberland date back 4,000 years. The island was named Cumberland in 1933 after the son of King George II, Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.

We didn’t see much evidence of the military history of Cumberland except for the wild horses which are supposedly descendants of horses brought by the Spanish conquistadors.

georgia-2

We saw about a dozen horses grazing on Cumberland.

In 1880, Thomas Carnegie bought land on Cumberland as a winter retreat.  The Carnegie Family built a modest 59 room structure designed after a Scottish Castle.  They also built a swimming pool, stables, a golf course and several other buildings.

georgia-3

The remains of Dungeness

In addition to these, the Carnegies built 40 smaller structures to house the 200 servants who worked in the mansion they named Dungeness after a hunting lodge built on Cumberland by the English General, George Oglethorpe.  Dungeness was last used by the Carnegie Family in 1929 for a family wedding.  It fell into disrepair after the depression and in 1959 it was destroyed by fire believed to have been started by a poacher.

georgia-1

Remnants of Dungeness.

Eventually, Cumberland was designated a national seashore, bought by the US Government and dedicated as a national park.

The Thanksgiving holiday was fast approaching and we were scheduled to spent it in St. Mary’s, a small but friendly town that has hosted a cruiser’s Thanksgiving dinner for 16 years.

Local townspeople of St. Mary’s go out of their way to help cruisers who stop in the area by offering rides to the grocery or other needed stores.  In addition, each year the locals provide ham and turkey for a Thanksgiving feast held at a hotel.  Each boat contributes a dish for the dinner and locals and boaters share the meal.

I would guess that about 100 people participated in the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving and the buffet tables were overflowing with dishes of every variety.   We had a fabulous time and I think Jackie enjoyed socializing with the others as much as we did.

The boarder between Georgia and Florida is right in the middle of the St. Mary’s River and.  interestingly, our anchor was actually in Florida, but we had Thanksgiving in Georgia.

sunsets-1

Evening in St. Mary’s

Our friends, Ron and Mindy, from s/v Follow Me, rafted up with us for two nights in St. Mary’s and we all had a great time preparing decorations for our table at the Thanksgiving feast.

15219589_1242590449130715_6684075723798196133_n.jpg

Martha Steward watch out!

We didn’t win any awards for “best table” but we sure had a lot of laughs creating these beauties.

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island was the next stop and marked our first entry into Florida. What a darling town!  The anchorage is nothing to brag about and was actually off putting with an industrial plant on either side of the town.  However, once you entered the town of Fernandina, the story was COMPLETELY different.

The fact that the town was having it’s annual “Pajama Day” added to the charm of this quaint place. Families embraced the opportunity to dress up, or rather down, and groups of matching ensembles walked the streets. Near the information center a woman was performing Christmas carols using hand bells.  And later in the week there was a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  How fun is that?!

georgia-1

So cute with their carrot noses.

Fernandina was overlooked as a stop during the railroad age and as a result, the town didn’t go through a post-railway development phase.  Today there are more than 450 historic buildings in Fernandina and 50 of this small city’s blocks are listed in the National Register of Historic Places!

georgia

Snowmen were a popular choice.

We rented a car one day and three rally members joined us for a drive around Amelia Island and a stop at Ft. Clinch.

dsc07735

An overview

This site was first fortified by the Spanish in 1736 and has been used by several countries as strong holds since then.  Today the Florida Parks oversee the maintenance of Ft. Clinch.  They have “Union Soldiers” on site to talk about life in 1864 during the Civil War.

georgia-2

Jackie and Frank exploring Ft. Clinch.

Fort Clinch is very well restored and allows entry into many of the buildings, so it is easy to imagine what life was like on these grounds.

georgia-1

Solitary confinement cell ~ no thank you!

georgia-4

The lighting gives a church-like feel.

It was interesting to walk down the tunnels and looks through the windows that were so important to defense of the St. Mary’s River and the Cumberland Sound.  The sunlight and beauty contradicted the violence seen from these walls.

Fernandina was Jackie’s last stop with us along the ICW.  We are so happy she is willing to visit us in our floating home and share our adventures.  I’m truly blessed to have such a capable, caring and kind mother-in-law.

dsc07620

All of us were sad to see Jackie leave.  Captain really misses the extra love Jackie gave her as we motored along.

Photos you might like:

georgia

Stylin’ poodle in Fernandina Beach

sunsets

Of course there is a sunset!

georgia

Biggest mooring ball award!!

%d bloggers like this: