Do you remember how we said we wanted to do a 2-day offshore run from Fernandina to Lake Worth/Palm Beach? Well, Mother Nature apparently decided that we were being too aggressive. We planned to jump offshore Wednesday morning, but a last look at the weather forecast scared us off. 20-30kts of wind, 4-6' seas building to 6-8' plus a 2' northerly swell on top of that, with a 6-second period between the waves. Big waves are one thing; big, closely-spaced waves are a different animal altogether!
So, into "the ditch" we go. We aren't exactly thrilled that our 50-hour trip to Lake Worth has turned into a 6-day voyage, but there's something to be said for calm seas and not having to clean up after a seasick kitty! We've also had three days of low temps in the upper 20s, which would've made for a miserable couple of overnights. On the positive side, the tides have been with us so far, and we managed to travel 65 miles to an anchorage south of St. Augustine on Day 1. As Rene said, it was a good ICW day - we didn't ground and only scraped one bridge! (Fortunately, it was only the VHF antenna.)
Day 2 turned out to be just as uneventful. After being passed by three power boats early on, we had the waterway to ourselves. Our only real excitement came near Mantazas Inlet, where our cruising guide warned of shoals and plenty of groundings. Nothing like being told by the chart plotter that we’re traveling on land! Truth be told, we never saw less than 12’. Note to selves: no matter what the chart says, always trust the markers. We’ve again been lucky with tides, and our 6.5+ knot boat speed has brought us to the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach much earlier than planned. It’s a good thing, too, since we’ve discovered a leak coming from…uhhh…”somewhere”. The bilge pump began coming on half-way into Day 1, and while we initially thought it was our water tank leak again, Rene has since determined that it’s salt water…as in “outside water is somehow coming into the boat”. Nooooo! After taking everything out of the lazarette, Rene found the source and was able to fix the problem. Disaster averted…other than having a heck of a clean-up job ahead of us. We spent the rest of the day checking out the city’s rejuvenation of Beach Street in downtown Daytona, followed by a stop at the local West Marine (as a marina neighbor said after seeing our WM bags, “you’ve been to church!”). We couldn’t find a grocery store nearby, but discovered – thanks to Trip Advisor and Google – a fantastic Italian restaurant less than a mile from the marina. If you’re ever in Daytona Beach, PLEASE go to Don Vito’s on Int’l Speedway Blvd. It’s rated #1 on Trip Advisor’s list of Daytona restaurants, and for good reason. The owners, Barbara and Jimmy, are incredibly warm, friendly hosts. How often do you go into a restaurant and get to have a real conversation with the folks running the place? It’s a true “family joint” in every sense of the word (their sons even do much of the cooking), and everything is home-made using fresh ingredients. The marinara recipe has been in Jimmy’s family for five generations, and there are so many mouth-watering dishes on the menu that you want to order a second meal to take home. We started with the garlic knots: think of golf ball-sized knots of dough, oven-baked and served with garlic-infused olive oil and marinara sauce. YUMMY! Our main dishes were lasagna made with tender, homemade pasta, and the owners’ favorite recipe, Boscaiola Alla Don Vito, with meat sauce, peas, and mushrooms. Absolutely delicious! The portions were huge and the prices were incredibly reasonable. Don Vito’s has only been open for four months, but they’ve already got a strong following thanks to local word of mouth and some great online reviews. While we were there, two young guys came in because they’d been told that Don Vito’s had “the best pizza in Daytona Beach”…very useful in a town with three colleges! We had such a fun evening talking to Jimmy and Barbara, and wish them continued success. They certainly deserve it!
Day 3 has begun with a bit of a surprise – RAIN. It poured overnight, and showers have continued to pass through the area. We got out of the marina and into the ICW by 7:30am, and were amazed to find ourselves passing three trawlers traveling together (it turns out one had a mechanical problem, so all were taking it slowly). The skies cleared by mid-morning, and we saw an incredible double rainbow behind us as we reached Ponce Inlet. The wildlife has been out in full force, with rare white pelicans in Mosquito Lagoon and random dolphin sightings throughout the day (I borrowed this pelican shot from Google). It’s apparently too late in the season for manatees in the Hanover Canal (we saw dozens of them last fall), but we may get to see them in Fort Pierce or Lake Worth. We’ve again made great time, and managed to get through the NASA Causeway Bridge before rush hour – very important since it shuts down for 90 minutes! We’re anchored on the south side of the bridge, and have 80 miles to go to reach Fort Pierce. It’s too much for a single day, so we’ll break it up over the weekend and should arrive by Sunday. We’re hoping to hook up with friends LA and Susan from Genesis in Fort Pierce, and will likely be more than ready for a “rest day” (read “non-travel day”) by then. That should put us in Lake Worth on Tuesday or Wednesday, where we’ll get some water-maker maintenance done and will continue on to Dinner Key, Miami.
We’ve learned that our friends Rick and Linda on Sojourner and Alan and Gerri on Civil Twilight have both made the jump from Lake Worth to the Abacos. We’re really sorry we didn’t get to see them before they left, but hope they had a safe voyage and that we’ll meet again somewhere surrounded by blue water. Carryn, Brandon, and Bella from Sol Mate are in Dinner Key now, and we may make it down there before they jump over to the Exumas. If not, we’ll just have to catch up with them further south. We’re also excited to see our old Kemah neighbors, Deana and Troy, who are starting their cruising adventure this month along with another Kemah friend, Steve. We’re meeting up with them in the Exumas as well, and plan to buddy boat through the Bahamas and Caribbean over the next few months. Can’t wait!