How Daytona does Christmas..and sorry!

Before I move on any further, please allow me to offer an apology for disappearing on you for as long as I have. Back starting in the fall and through into December I had been experiencing significant technical difficulties with the blog and had to put through an upgrade with my provider. It took a few months, believe it or not. The upgrade required that I completely rewrite the entire website and remap to the right Internet address. Long story short, it was a real mess! Plus, it came right as the pre-Christmas chores were mounting. I just had to put it all on hold for a while and wait until I had time to do a full rewrite. That rewrite is finally mostly done and so I am just now getting back to writing the posts of our fall cruise. Thank you all for being very, very patient!

Here, finally, is what you have been waiting for....

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 Well...do I have a great story for you! Shortly after 4:30 in the afternoon on the one night we were staying over in Daytona we saw this strange sight roll by...

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At first we thought "cute....but odd..." This is where we were docked. Right on the river, at the Loggerhead in Daytona, nothing blocking our view. It was a beautiful late afternoon. The weather was perfect. It was a bit chilly, but clear and dry.

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Shortly thereafter, we saw more and more of these holiday decorated boats roll by.....  literally right next to us....

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So we knew something was definitely happening.... 

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And, as you can see, when it began to get dark lights started to appear.....

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More and more.... 

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Until it was a total light show..... 

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Ok, you get the idea. There must have been 60 boats in all. It was truly amazing. What a night! Merry Christmas Daytona!

Back through Daytona

We debated and debated whether to leave on the planned day or to stay one more night in St Augustine. The wind was the determining factor. There was a strong high pressure system pressing in on the area. The weather had the wind lessening to 20 mph early in the morning. Then we might have a window to go. Once away from the Marina we knew we would be fine. The issue was getting out of the Marina in the first place.

We awoke at 5:30 to assess the situation. It was very dark but we could still see enough and feel the conditions. The wind was holding strong but was definitely less than the day before at its' worst. The current was running in the opposite direction from the wind which was very helpful. The two forces combined would be hard to stand up to but opposing each other we would gain the advantage. We were a go. We were to be off the dock at 6:40. 

Why do all that? Why leave in the almost dark using a spot light to illuminate the channel markers? Well, only a few minutes out was the Bridge of Lyons. It opens on the hour and half hour only.  In order to time the needed tide at the Mantanzas inlet 2 hours away we needed to make the 7:00am opening. 

Here we are waiting for the bridge opening. The real sunrise just coming up.

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And here is the bridge as we approach. By the way, on the inland side of the waterway away from the inlet to the ocean the wind was already lessening as expected. 

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We cleared our passage request by radio with the bridge tender as required. We waited and waited. 7:01...7:02...7:03...hmmm. The bridge tender then comes back to say he was having technical difficulties and to stand by. Okay, so we circled around a few times. He let the traffic on the bridge through. Finally, at 7:15 the bridge tender comes back to say he's ready to try again. The horns sounded, the traffic barriers came down... and ever so slowly the bridge finally started to lift. Hooray!!! Here we come Mantanzas Inlet. After all that we are gonna kick your ass!

This was our view as we began our passage through the tough part of the Mantanzas Inlet buoys. The deepest water is always to the west of these green floaters. There are 4 of them that guide you around the curve.  There are no red markers around the curve. All you have is the green ones and literally land to guide you. As you can see, the wind was no longer an issue. Our issue here was water depth. 

See those sailboats? The one furthest up was moving along nicely. The nearer one was at a dead stop. Uhoh.... 

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And this is how far west you must be to find deep water. You can almost pick the grass and pebbles from land. 

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As we came around the turn we saw that indeed the catamaran was hard aground. Poor guys! They're weren't going anywhere for a while.

That green buoy is one of the 4 that you are supposed to stay far west of. I guess they missed the warnings on Active Captain!  

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We did indeed pass without incident. We had no less than 4.5 feet under keel. All that timing and preparation had paid off. The rest of the day would be easy.

The weather continued to flip flop but mostly it was gray and foggy like this:

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Along the way we saw these cute little house boats somewhere in the vicinity of Flagler Beach, FL.  It looks like a potential "development" specifically designed for them. It doesn't look like it's going too well, though. But the little houses sure are cute! 

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At the end of the day, we docked in at Loggerhead Marina in Daytona. It's the same place we stopped at on the trip going north. We like it here because it's super cheap for us. "Loggerhead" is a club-style Marina group. All the locations offer reciprocal docking services to their "members". So on this night we only paid the electrical fee and taxes on what our per foot per night fee would have been. I think the bill was something like $24. Cool! And here we are all tucked in for the night.

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Through Jacksonville to St Augustine

There was one thing I forgot to tell you about yesterday. I promised on the trip north to try again to catch a picture of the wild horses on Cumberland Island. Well... I did... kind-of. They were there alright. 4 of them sweet as you please grazing on the grass. The only trouble was that it was way off the beach and only visible with binoculars. I did take this picture of where they were anyway just because I promised to. I'm sorry you can't see them. They were very very cool.

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Anyway, today's journey took us from Fernandina into Palm Cove, Jax. The view along the waterway for some of the journey was the always fun house watching. Here was a giant house that I swear I'd need an iPad app to navigate. I would have said "map" but I hate maps. 

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Our journey was very short today and consisted of a lot of mixed weather. Some sun, some rain, black clouds blowing over and, of course, a rainbow. We see lots of rainbows in Florida.

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Our next stop was St Augustine. We stayed 2 nights and were very glad we had it planned that way all along. The wind was fierce! We saw 26mph sustained with much higher gusts. We were thankfully docked into a slip and not a face dock. At Conch House Marina, the face dock there would have had us slammed into the side of it for 2 days. At a slip we were facing a much better direction and could tie up in a way that minimized our motion on all sides.

Here we were coming in to C dock at Conch House Marina. 

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