Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If we leave this early will they still call us snowbirds?

After crossing Shuttle Launch off our bucket list we pulled away from Titusville still shocked and amazed that we had seen Discovery fly.  Unfortunately it was really time to finish up our stay in Florida and begin to get up the coast.  As we started to think back on it, we could not believe that we had been in Florida for FOUR months.  When you think that this trip will take us a year it is sort of strange to think we gave up that much time to just one state.  This figure of four months is actually skewed by the fact that we stopped for a month in Marathon, we have come to learn that the locals consider this a whole different country.  None the less we think it is time to try out another state.  After leaving Titusville we stopped in two great anchorages, first being Rockhouse Creek and then Fort Matanzas.  What was amazing at both of these anchorages was that the landscape and vegetation had begun to change in such a way that it was beginning to feel more like home to us.  We loved looking at the moors as we sat on Blues top deck and watched the sun go down.  When we anchored off of Fort Matanzas we were right by the ferry path that takes the visitors to the fort.  As we were concerned that we were in the way, we asked the Ranger if we were ok.  She promptly told us we were fine and we even received several compliments on our boat from visiting tourists.  I couldn't resit saying how excited I was that we had finally found a group of tourists in Florida with good taste.  Let's just say that went over like a fart in church.   That night a huge wildfire burning in the area was choking us and leaving ash all over our boat.  We began to wonder if it was so smart to be there but thankfully a heavy rain came and the wind shifted allowing us breath a little better.  From the fort we had a short run up to St. Augustine.  A friend of the family kindly let us stay at the St. Augustine Marine Center where we were a short walk to downtown St. Augustine.  Amazed and pleased is a great way to describe how we felt to be in such a wonderful historical town.  The architecture and history were a most welcome sight.  After walking around the first day we decided to do the ultimate touristy thing and ride one of the trolleys.  The trolley was well worth it as we got to listen to the history of the area and visit some of the museums.    St. Augustine is a stop not to be missed.  Epping Forest Yacht Club was our next stop.  We had met a wonderful couple in Canada on a boat named Benelle.  I had actually helped fix their dingy engine which had fallen victim to the dreaded affects of Ethanol.  We had kept in contact and they invited us to stay at their absolutely beautiful yacht club.  The people who worked and lived at and around the yacht club were amazingly welcoming to us and once again renewed our faith in the boating community.  Josh and Jan were the ultimate hosts and had us over to dinner and drinks as well as lending us their truck to borrow for a day of sightseeing and provisioning.  Besides their company the best gift they gave us were some wonderful fresh bagels  as we were saying our goodbyes.  It is hard in the south to find any place with bagels.  From here we hit our last stop in  Florida- Fernandina Beach.  We were originally going to anchor off of Cumberland Island but the winds were so strong we decided to head in and we were glad we did as Fernandina is a wonderful little community.  We heard the best time to be here is at the end of April for the Shrimp Festival but you better get there early as is is a big crowd.  On our run up to Fernandina we learned that it is no joke about following the Magenta sailing line and going on a rising tide.  Drawing a little less than four feet we more than once bumped and pushed our way along the bottom.  To our friends behind us who draw more than us- Hug the Magenta and go on a rising tide.  Well the time has finally come for us to say Good Bye to Florida and Hello Georgia, the temperature is dropping and the winds are picking up but we are excited to be headed home.

If you painted this Lighthouse white we could have been on Nantucket

It was amazing to watch a pod of dolphins swim through the anchorage at sunset

This cloud of smoke was from the brush fire burning near by

View of Fort Matanzas from our boat

The old streets of St. Augustine are beautiful with the moss hanging off the trees

On our trolley tour we went to the old jail.

Old historical downtown St. Augustine

Many weddings take place in this famous courtyard

These wonderful fountains can be found throughout the city

Check out the amazing landscaping
This old store has been around since the beginning of the city

There are many beautiful churches in downtown

This winery has a great tasting to enjoy for free at the end of the tour
Anna fell in love with this fountain and said if she ever lives in the south she wants one like it

The buildings on the right are a part of Flagler College

You can't see it from this angle.  Behind these trees is the College pool and sand volleyball court
The Walrus.  This boat is beyond belief.  Custom made at the St. Augustine Marine Center.  She is for sale, check her out on Yacht world.

Can you say repower. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

These St Augustine fishing trawlers are also built here at the St. Augustine Marine Center.  You should see the mold for this hull.  It is just huge!

With a 250 ton railway here, it seems no boat is to small.

This guy was getting repowered.

These Transmissions are almost three feet in diameter.

One of the molds for the St Augustine Trawler.
The view of St. Augustine from the ICW

This cross in downtown St. Augustine is actually taller than the arch in St. Louis

You see all kinds of things on the ICW

You have to hang one of these from your ICW man cave

The St. John river that takes you up to Jacksonville is a true shipping port

This is just one of the big boys that we passed on the St. John

As you leave the boat and head up to the Epping Yacht Club this is the beautiful front view of the mansion

The plantings around the Yacht club are beautiful

This is the front entrance to the beautiful mansion at Epping Forest

The estate was once owned by the Dupont family.  This building housed a perpetual motion machine that was designed by one of the Duponts.
These gates guard the boats

No detail is spared at this yacht club.  This is the base to the flag pole

Our hosts in Jacksonville- Josh and Jan

You can actually smell the coffee in the air as you come past this plant in Jacksonville

I guess this is where the big boys get their work done.
For some unknown reason Anna was drawn to this fellow

Downtown Fernandina

This Pirate guards the downtown of Fernandina

Crossing these train tracks going into Fernandina Beach reminded me of crossing the tracks at good old G-burg

Our final shot as we leave a Florida Marina for Georgia

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We have Lift Off!

When Anna and I started our Loop we had always hoped that when we arrived in Florida we would be lucky enough to witness a shuttle launch.  Well as luck would have it on a beautiful Thursday afternoon in February we got just that. 

Enjoy the Launch and Space Center.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Boating Community

The boating community never fails to amaze us.  I know we have said it a lot but we just can't say it enough, we have met so many awesome people along the way. All to often now we find ourselves saying goodbye or rather see you later.  Our arrival in Ft Lauderdale meant more of this for us.  Many of our fellow loopers have headed over to the Bahamas or are in in the process of preparing for this.  Although we would have loved to have gone to the Bahamas we decided we will save that for a future adventure and focus our efforts on this crazy thing called "a job".  So many times our friends have asked us why aren't you going to the Bahamas with us, we tell them well we have to get home and find jobs, this response is always met with laughter.  Retired people can be cruel that way.  We also parted ways with our friends the Parrent family who are headed on a much slower path that we are up the East Coast.  It was a sad thing to leave the Parrent family, we made hopeful plans to connect again up north once again parting with will see you soon.  On the happier side we got to have a great dinner with our old friends from Monkey Girl, Bill and Laura Peters.  They live in Ft. Lauderdale and were kind enough to drive us around to help us provision and then invited us to have dinner at their home.  We got delicious authentic Italian ingredients from Mimi's and drank our favorite wine.  I would tell you what it is but Bill has sworn us to secrecy since it is harder and harder to find.  As a matter of fact we had to go to two stores to get enough of it for our dinner.  I will give you a hint, it's cheap and good.  We spent a great night eating in a house and sharing stories of the people that we had met and where we had been and are going.  It was great to see Bill and Laura but it was another reminder that our time for reentry is coming closer.  They like many other loopers who finish the trip were trying to decide what to do next.  If you have spent a year preparing and a year doing you feel rather confused at the end.  At one point in our visit Bill spoke to me with great concern for our state of mind when we finish. He always surprises me, he comes across as a funny light hearted guy but in truth he is one of the most thoughtful and caring people we have met on our loop, his presence on our final leg will be greatly missed.  We had a great stay at Cooley Landing while we were in Ft Lauderdale which included an interesting nail biting trip up the New River.  If you have never done this then I suggest a walk along it or a dingy ride up or down if your boat is at one of the other marinas.  Taking your boat up the river it is quite intimidating and will test your nerve, even for us on a small boat the river felt tight with its mega yacht on ever turn.  Pulling out of Ft. Lauderdale we continued north up the ICW.  The houses along here are truly amazing with all the different styles their is always something to look at.  As we continued north the boaters got to be a little friendlier and even on occasion slowed down so as not to wake us too extremely.   Our path north finally connected us with our Island friends Kim and Ellen Tonkin near Jensen Beach.  They own the Nantucket Ship Chandlery on Nantucket and we see them often at the Angler's Club as well as for social visits in and out of their store.   They live in a gated community filled with some great people all whom like them enjoy the winter months in their own little paradise.  We enjoyed a great dinner with them at Shuckers Restaurant, a great place on the beach across from their home.  They looked tan, happy and relaxed, a combination that is hard to come by when we see them at their store on Nantucket.   The next day we furthered our northern push, we have an item on the bucket list that might finally get checked off.  In two days with any luck we will see the Space Shuttle Discovery rocket itself into space.  I can't wait!
Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale

Our Coast Guard friends in training

Ft. Lauderdale in the distance as we arrive

Our final view of Negotiator before we parted ways. 

This train bridge was one of our bigger challenges up the New River as the tide was screaming and we were headed towards it with a large casino cruise waiting to come through from the other direction.  Lets just say he wasn't stopping.

You will see many diverse boat sizes and styles as you cruise in and around Ft. Lauderdale.

Big boats and building line the shores of the New River

That building would be a great spot for an apartment. 

Look at this big boy being towed down the New River. 

The tugs in the bow and stern allow the mega yachts to navigate their way around the hair pin turns.

Here is that boat about to round the corner on the new river.  You can see how tight it can get with the bow and stern tugs working to keep it in the middle.

A huge home under construction.  It is amazing to see all the different styles and materials used on these homes especially when you are coming from an island that has many restrictions on building codes

A big home hidden among the palms

A beautiful and classy home along the ICW

It is strange to see the city rising up above the trees

Bye Fort Lauderdale

Their are big yachts everywhere in and around the Fort Lauderdale area.

As we got closer to these big boats we realized we knew this one who often comes into Nantucket.  I think I smell a bunch of Yankee Candles.

Imagine having the shrink wrap job on some of these boats.

This was the second boat we saw in less than 10 miles that was a frequenter of Nantucket Harbor.

You never know what sort of things you will see along the ICW

Our family friends the Turners keep their boat here in Jupiter.  The water in the inlet was some of the cleanest we had seen since the keys.

We learned that their are many kinds and styles of Golf Carts.  This one of course being the best, it was no shock that it belonged to Kim and Ellen.

Kim and Ellen in front of their convertible.

A view of Kim and Ellen's great community.

So long Kim and Ellen, we will see you back on the Rock.

This is truly bizarre.  The crane flew up and landed on our dingy while we were underway.  He hung on for a few miles and then just flew away

The dolphin started swimming along with us just after the crane landed and I was joking that we were becoming the Ark

Sunrise the morning of the Shuttle Launch

We could not figure out what this boat was doing aground just off the ICW.  That is going to be a big job for Sea Tow.