Heading North

23 Mar

IMGP2539It is hard to believe that already we are turning the bow north… back in “the ditch”. When we set off, the focus for me was on the Bahamas – the journey south and even the ICW were incidental. I certainly had not realized the length of time that the ICW demanded – and that is without delays. Well delays there were aplenty. And lolling about in the Bahamas on Gyp was not in the cards for us this year. In hindsight, this cruise has proven that saying so often heard – it is not about the destination, it is about the journey… just like life. It is about the people you meet along the way and those funny little moments that hold a special place in your memory.

Saturday, March 16 – the renewed engine heat exchanger seemed to be behaving so we set off. We waved goodbye to Eddy and Rybovich (our home away from home). We will miss everyone including Eddy who is like a first class concierge! It was a bit of a late start the first day, just getting the last bits done, so we didn’t make it to Fort Pierce as hoped but stopped at Nettles Island. What a funny place, a square island (enhanced by mankind) and mostly filled with trailer homes, but gated with security. As we have seen so many times, there are so many different ways to enjoy a winter in Florida.

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It was a week of the tortoise and the hare. We would set off early and through the day the same faces (boats) would pass us and wave. We often ended up making the same overnight stops and enjoyed meeting them – several Canadians and a few Americans.

As we headed north the flora changed – less palm trees and more pine and live oaks, still mangroves though not as much it seemed. Tuesday, it got cold – I didn’t know it could get this cold in Florida – we dug out our fuzzy slippers from the depths of a locker. On deck David wore gloves and I wound into a blanket! Big day on Wednesday as both David and I finally saw manatees!! So it is not an urban myth. Heading north into less densely populated areas we began to see more dolphins again though not as many as in the fall.

We anchored some of the nights and they were lovely nights if somewhat chilly. On Sunday, we passed through Fort Pierce and called Gerry who had traveled with us through Dismal Swamp last November. He was anchored in Fort Pierce and we waved as we passed. Titusville was an interesting stop. A cute place but struggling since the loss of about 10,000 jobs due to the closure of the space program. In St Augustine we went in to the marina one day and then on a mooring so we could really enjoy the town. What a great place – so much history and great old architecture. The biggest name in Florida is Flagler and we have learnt so much about this amazing man since being here. St Augustine has a strong Spanish and British history with forts, old buildings, cobblestone streets to wander – and great pubs and restaurants. We went to a great Mayan place for dinner. It is a prosperous town, focused on tourism and with a surprising number of hi-end restaurants and shops. One of the things I like most of the marina stops is a chance to get out for a walk and the people you meet, always great. And to meet a town from the water is somehow so different than driving or flying in.

Friday was a banner day! We set off at first light, with plans to make Mayport at the mouth of the St John’s River. The wind direction allowed us to fly the jib so we made better time and kept right on up the river to Jacksonville – they have free docks downtown (rare!).  That night we went to a Johnny Mathis concert – I’m serious, we did! The comedian at half time was hilarious. The riverbank that night was beautiful with fountains and bridges lit with coloured lights. Saturday in Jacksonville dawned grey and gloomy. The bright spot was a panhandler on the boardwalk playing his trumpet just near us. Then gloom descended to doom and the thunder and lightning began. So much for sightseeing and the art market. We are really hoping the choir singing happens at 4. Finally we found Internet access – at Hooters – OMG, what depths we will stoop to, to meet our connectivity addictions.

Next stop, Green Cove Springs Marina to put baby to bed for April. Upriver, south about 4 hours tomorrow and then start getting things organized.IMGP2614 IMGP2615 IMGP2618


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