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Port #70: Cumberland Island, GA…Feral Horses and Hogs

Great Loop II Date: 05/20/2015

Day #292 (Wednesday) 68.3 miles (4102.1 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 0 (5 total bridges)

Port #70: Cumberland Island, GA

Anchorage: Cumberland Sound – north of Sea Camp Dock

Since sunrise was still well after 6AM and daybreak just a little before 6AM, keeping the alarm at 5:50AM gave me ample time to get my few duties done before cast off.  It also let the Captain catch a few extra winks.  He was up and about by 5:15AM.  We were underway before 6:30AM.  Running earlier in the mornings brought us to our port by early afternoon and gave us more time to relax in the evening hours.

Sunrise over St. Augustine mooring field.
The Bridge of Lions at St. Augustine.  We were able to pass under it without waiting for it to open.
The El Galeon Tall Ship.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse.
Sunrise over the Augustine Inlet.
Charlie doesn’t like getting underway so early.
This part of the AICW gave us vast vistas of open water and salt grass.  We passed sailboats and trawlers tucked in nice anchorages.  There were a few eagles in tall trees along the way but too far away for my camera to catch.

These were tents over two boats instead of regular boat canvas…interesting.
Nice decks over the boat lifts.
We passed under bridges leading to Jacksonville that let us know civilization was nearby.  Once past the bridges, we were back into the quiet backwaters.

Wednesday is a work day.  Cars commuting into Jacksonville from Jacksonville Beach.
Mayport Naval Base at the Jacksonville Inlet.
Shipyard…it looked empty until we turned the corner.
Two luxury yachts and a freighter in for repairs.  You’ll have to click on the picture to see the smaller yacht behind the bigger yacht.
The bigger yacht was Freedom.
The smaller yacht was CYAN…and it really did look small behind Freedom.
Freedom pretty well covers CYAN in the picture…and even as we passed by until…
…I noticed the man standing on the back deck of CYAN!  Just some of the things we see along the AICW.
The Sister Creek drawbridge in Jacksonville is being replaced with an ICW height bridge (65′ minimum).  The drawbridge is scheduled for demolition June 2016.
A tour boat from Mayport.  We see a lot of tour boats in different parts of the trip.
Fernandina Municipal Marina where we stayed in 2011.  Nice little town close to the marina.
We elected not to stay there this time because of the noxious odors we had from two paper plants…one on each side of the marina.
Nice wall cloud right at the Florida/Georgia State line and the inlet.
We reached our anchorage mid-afternoon in a falling tide and brisk winds.  OB’s anchor set quickly.  With her bridle in place, we were ready for a quiet evening.

Our anchorage in Cumberland Sound.
Kings Bay Degaussing Station across the river from our anchorage.
Sunsets are pretty in Georgia, too.
These feral horses came to feed each morning near our boat.
The tides were getting deeper and deeper at this point.  Tides next to Cumberland Island were 7 feet.  It was a little worrisome at first with the wind and the strong current.  However, OB moved in a perfect circle around her anchor throughout the 36 hours we were anchored.

We have an anchor set mode on our electronic charting program.  It shows us our pattern around the anchor.  It’s easy to see when it’s set or if it’s dragging along the bottom.

Our new chain and bridle system changed anchoring for OB.  The chain is heavy and adds weight behind the anchor helping make it more secure.  The bridle lowers the angle of the chain coming back to the boat much like our keg (kettle or 10# mushroom anchor lowered on the line following a line and chain anchor system).  The low angle helps and keeps the anchor plowing into the bottom mud or sand.

Cumberland Island is a popular stop for Loopers.  Cumberland Island has a long history of civilization dating back to BC.  Its popularity now is the ruins of the Dungeness, a mansion built and owned by the Thomas M. Carnegie family.  It wasn’t the first Dungeness on the sight.  Thomas and Lucy had nine children.  We were told some of the descendants may still live on the island.

The old arched Oaks draped in Spanish Moss leading up the lane from the dock at the old Ice House.
A picture of the front of Dungeness before it burned.
The gated entry to Dungeness.
The ruins of Dungeness from the front.

A picture of the back of Dungeness before it burned.

The back of Dungeness now.
The backyard at Dungeness
A statue of Mercury.
The Pergola entrance near the backyard of Dungeness…where the Carnegies entertained in the summer evenings.
The Pergola.
The ruins of the Recreation and Health building.
The Recreation Building ruins in the foreground and Dungeness in the background.
The beach at Dungeness…quite a walk from the ruins.
Todd taking a break from the long walk.
The boardwalk that went through the salt marsh from the beach to Dungeness.
The second sight making Cumberland popular are the fetal horses that run wild throughout the island.  They were everywhere.  Most were smaller than most horses we’ve seen possibly do to the fact that the forage off the land and are not kept.  They looked healthy and beautiful.

There was a lot of other species of wild life listed as cohabitants of Cumberland.  Wild hogs were on that list, however we saw none.  We did find large herds of middle school age children on field trips.  By the time we came across them, they looked hot, tired and depleted from their adventure.

Our second night at anchor the winds died to nothing before sunset.  OB turned into an oven.  We turned on the generator, cooled her down with the air conditioning, relaxed and watched some television until well after sunset.  Before bed, I turned the AC and generator off and opened OB’s windows and doors to let the cooler night breeze flow through.

Port #69: St. Augustine, FL…Rendezvous with Good Friends

Great Loop II Date: 05/18/2015

Day #290 (Monday) 53.2 miles (4033.7 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 1 (5 total bridges)

Port #69: St. Augustine, FL

Mooring: St. Augustine Municipal Marina

Early rising continued during our stay in Daytona Beach because the repairman wanted to work during the cool hours of the morning.  I was back to my work day routine that ended 12 years ago.  Since we wanted to make time heading north, early rising would continue on all travel days.

Midway through our run from Daytona Beach to St. Augustine, the terrain became more rural and the AICW narrowed.  Big boat traffic picked up leaving us wakes of various velocity.  Some were kind enough to slow down for a ‘slow pass’ while others ignored our request and sent us on a roll.

Spoils on one side of the AICW…from dredging the channel long ago.
Rip rap on the other side…to keep the shoreline from washing away.
That’s what it looks like down the middle.
We continued to see many interesting sights we’d seen on the last Loop.  We were also amazed at the new housing and developments.  The one constant is the AICW.  It stays the same much like any highway frequently traveled.

We saw this retired Navy tug in 2011. She hasn’t changed at all.
Lots of new housing in Palm Coast, FL. None of this was here in 2011.
Marineland looks like it’s grown some.  It used to be a sea life park  It went downhill when Sea World became popular.  University of Florida picked it up before our last Loop and has turned it into a research facility. 
We get glimpses of the Atlantic all along the AICW where inlets provide a view.  She looked a little rough out there.
Another interesting B&B.
Todd liked the fish on the roof.
Coming into St. Augustine Municipal Marina, I could see a tall ship at the dock.  I was anxious to find out if we’d come across the Nina and Pinta again.  We hadn’t.  This tall ship was the El Galion.

The St. Augustine Municipal Marina.
The mooring field where we tied to a mooring ball.
Our good friends, Nancy and Pete drove from Jacksonville to have dinner with us and take us to the store for reprovisioning.  They have met us in three parts of the Loop now: in the Illinois River at Peoria, in the Gulf of Mexico at Cape Coral and now in the Atlantic East Coast at St. Augustine.  There are rumors they will make the full circle by meeting us in Lake Erie this summer, possibly Put In Bay!

Nancy and Pete at the A1A Ale House across the street from the marina.
Todd and I decided to stay an extra day in St. Augustine to relax and catch our breath.  Even though we spent 4 days in Daytona Beach, we were up at the crack of dawn each day to have OB ready for the AC repairman.  Those days were mostly spent with Todd helping the repairman and me walking to nearby shopping to reprovision on a limited basis.

After a lazy morning, we walked through Old Town and looked in shops along the way.  Todd found a barber shop and got a much needed haircut.  St. Augustine changes but manages to stay with the old world theme.

Scenes from Old Town.  We took the Trolley Tour in 2011.  We decided to see what we missed on foot this time.

The old part of Trinity Episcopal Church.
The new section of Trinity.
The Lightner Museum…and other offices.
The courtyard in Lightner Museum.
Conch Girl…
…she won’t be blowing that conch anytime soon.  It’s not cut!

Port #68: Daytona Beach, FL…Home of Bike Week

Great Loop II Date: 05/14/2015

Day #286 (Thursday) 47.7 miles (3980.5 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges)

Port #68: Daytona Beach, FL

Marina: Halifax Marina

The night’s sleep was 100% better with the breeze that flowed through OB.  The morning alarm came early before daybreak.  OB was prepped and ready to leave the mooring at daybreak.

The mooring field outside the Titusville Municipal Marina.
Another beautiful sunrise.
It was great having the notes from the last Loop.  We were able to recollect what we had seen in these same areas and what changes have occurred.  The notes also made us aware of long, monotonous areas ahead.

We saw this bird island in the Indian River (just before the Haulover Canal into Mosquito Lagoon) in 2011 during Loop #1.  After spotting some really large, pink birds and getting a fair picture of one, I identified them as Rosette Spoonbills.  We looked again this time and only saw two.
This is what they look like from a distance (2011 picture).
This is a good picture I found and recorded in 2011.
The Haulover Canal that connects the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon.  The bridge at the end began an exercise I would repeat throughout our trip in the AICW.  Any bridge less than 27 feet clearance sends me to the bridge to lower the antennas.  I like to leave them down however if there is a lot of distance between bridges, I have to raise them up again.  When they are down, we don’t have the communication distance needed with our VHF radios.
Two of many spoils areas we saw along the Mosquito Lagoon.  They are the dredgings dug up during making the lagoon and AICW.
A state primitive campsite on one of the spoils.
A fish net area.  The little white stakes support fish nets that run from stake to stake.  It replicates how the indians used to net fish.
More fish stakes, one displaying an American Flag.
More derelict boats.  The one in the foreground had an interesting sign spray painted on it.
I proceeded follow the directions and looked it up on Youtube.  It’s an interesting way for folks to make money and not work.  Check it out on Youtube:  After this video, their ‘dream’ came alive:  Then there was this one:  Just click on these links and the videos will come up.
As we approached New Smyrna, FL, we saw newer housing taking the place of trailers in the same areas in 2011.  New Smyrna was an area of confusion in the AICW markings during the last Loop.  The AICW took a sharp turn to the west away from the approach to the Ponce Inlet leading to the Atlantic Ocean.  We ended up in the ocean the last time.  This time we made the turn to the west.

The osprey are happy with the new housing before New Smyrna Beach, FL.
Sunken sailboat at New Smyrna Beach.  Many of these sunken boats are left in the drink to rot until the state has enough money to send out a wrecking vessel to haul them away.
Civilization!  It’s always jaw dropping to go from very rural, uninhabited areas and small fishing camp type areas to city life right around the corner.
Sailboat aground.
Really cool idea for a Bed and Breakfast in New Smyrna Beach.
The Ponce De Leon lighthouse in the Ponce Inlet….we went straight at this point in 2011.  The markings weren’t clear and we ended up in the Atlantic Ocean only to turn around and come back in to the AICW..  Knowing that, we took a left turn right after this picture.
Fisherman on a spoil in the Indian River at Daytona Beach.
As we approached Daytona Beach, the channel leading into Halifax Harbor Municipal Marina was not apparent.  Todd made the turn into the channel before we reached the Halifax sign and found shallow water.  We ended up grounded just outside the ICW channel in the river.  It took us almost 30 minutes to work our way out of the mud.

When we made way to the Halifax Harbor entrance, we were coming from the left side of this picture.  All we could see was the Halifax Harbor sign.  At that point, no channel marker was visible.
The big red arrow on the left is where we began our turn into what looked like the marked channel beyond.  The green marker (circled) was fully hidden by the Halifax sign visible to the left of it.  The true channel is where the outlined red arrow is in the center of the picture.  It’s not fun to feel your boat come to a sudden stop! 
There’s a closer look at the green marker as it sits behind the Halifax sign.  It’s easily seen when approaching from the north.  Not so from the south.
Finally safely in our slip at the marina, Todd was able to contact the air conditioner repairman.  He came to the boat that afternoon to assess the repairs.  It took him three days but he got the two non-functioning units up and running.  We were finally relieved from the heat we had endured for the last month.

Halifax is a huge marina with 880 slips.  They send a tender boat out to your slip to check you in.  The marina office is nearly a full mile walk away from the transient slips.
There was a Classic Auto Show while we were there.  Santa Claus was there!  Who knew he was a triplet!  Now we know where he summers.

Port #67: Titusville, FL…No Space Shots for Us

Great Loop II Date: 05/13/2015

Day #285 (Wednesday) 73.7 miles (3932.8 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges)

Port #67: Titusville, FL

Mooring: Titusville Municipal Marina

Our trusty clock brought me out of bed for another early start.  The run to Titusville was going to be a long one and we needed to start early.

The night had been very warm with no breeze.  Even the little camp fan did little to make us comfortable.  However, we both noticed a big improvement in the side effects from the vertigo.

We dropped our line to the mooring just before sunrise and made way up the calm and quiet AICW.  The shores were dotted with huge multi-million dollar houses and condos.  Neither Todd or I remembered the area being so developed in 2011.

Already moving along when the sun peaked over the trees.
Big housing boom…BIG houses.

Nesting osprey on the Waterway markers.
Very protective mother!
More development along the way with houses replacing trailers we saw in 2011.
This dive boat was in the same spot in 2011.
A builder of model tall ships and pirate ships.
Thunderhead over Titusville.
The Addison Point bridge (NASA Parkway) opened for a sailboat but we could make it under easily with it closed.
The trip to Titusville was uneventful.  Some things along the way had changed.  The most notable was the disappearance of the abandoned ship, Princess Grace, the former USCGC MALLOW, WLB-396.
Princess Grace is gone!  She’d been grounded off channel for years.  She was sold for scrap metal to a company in Salisbury, MD in October 2011.  I took this picture of her in April 2011.
We made good time and decided to take up a mooring at the Titusville Municipal Marina.  They didn’t have these moorings in 2011.  They were quite a ways away from the marina and seemed fairly unprotected.  They were in a No Wake area so the waters remained calm.

There were storms throughout the area but they dissipated before they got to us.  We were able to leave the doors, windows and hatches open and enjoy the wonderful breeze that came through OB.

Port #66: Vero Beach, FL…Back on Common Ground

Great Loop II Date: 05/12/2015Day #284 (Tuesday) 14 miles (3859 total miles)Locks: 0 (30 total locks)Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges) Port #66: Vero Beach, FLMooring: Vero Beach Municipal MarinaTodd and I decided to sleep late and go a short distance to Ve…

Port #65: Fort Pierce, FL…Taking Advantage of the Gulfstream

Great Loop II Date: 05/11/2015

Day #283 (Monday) 99.2 miles (3845 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges)

Port #65: Fort Pierce, FL

Marina: Harbortown Marina

The clock gave us the wakeup call at 4:50AM.  First morning light was evident by 5:30AM.  We left West End before sunrise with 3 sailboats.

Sunrise over rolling following seas…a preview of the day.
Seadeuce…one of our crossing buddies.
Seas were rolling at 3 feet on our portside quarter stern with a 4 to 5 second period between waves.  All that combined gave us a constant roll.  Todd took a heading for Fort Pierce to take advantage of the push from the Gulfstream.  It also helped keep the rolling waves to our stern.  If he had taken us the shorter distance to Lake Worth, the rolling would have been on our port beam and not tolerable.

The constant rolling eventually took its’ toll on both Todd and I.  Vertigo set in and stayed with us until the waves decreased about 10 miles from the Fort Pierce Inlet.  We tried peppermint candy, ginger ale, cola drinks, salty carbohydrates and none of them settled that constant queezy feeling.  I had Dramamine on board but Todd didn’t want to endure the side effects.

We both breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the inlet and were formally stateside once again.  Todd called Customs after we were settled in our dock.  The process was so easy with our LBO cards.  The Customs officer was extremely nice and funny at times, calling me Paula Abdul.

The vertigo stayed with us throughout the evening.  We both went to bed early and slept like logs.

Port #64: West End, Freeport, BS…Last Stop Before the Bank

Great Loop II Date: 05/09/2015Day #281 (Saturday)  62.7 miles (3746 total miles)Locks: 0 (30 total locks)Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges) Port #64:  West End, Freeport, BSMarina: Old Bahama Bay Marina and ResortThe morning came early with little …

Port #63: Great Sale Cay…Beginning the Trek Home

Great Loop II Date: 05/08/2015

Day #280 (Friday) 59 miles (3683 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges)

Port #63:  Great Sale Cay, BS

Anchorage: Tom Johnson Harbor

Although there was more to see in the Abacos, we knew we needed to get OB back to the states and on toward Lake Erie if we wanted to enjoy any summer at our home dock.  Todd’s best calculations had us getting to Lake Erie and Bay Point by the first of July.  To keep that schedule, we had to head OB back through the track we had taken to get to Green Turtle.  Also, that schedule didn’t take in any weather delays.  Were we to take more time in the Abacos, we probably wouldn’t get back to our Lake Erie dock until late August giving us only 6 weeks or so before we’d store OB on shore and drive back to Cape Coral for the winter.

We waved goodbye to our new found friends and had OB underway at 6:30AM.  There was a mass exodus of sailboats both ahead of us and behind us all day long.  We listened to them discuss where they planned to anchor, changing their plans as the wind changed and generally happy because they could maintain sailing all day long with no motoring.

We watched thunderheads grow around us but never threatened us.  OB arrived at her anchorage early afternoon.  Her anchor set well and I followed it with adequate chain to allow for wind.  Once we were settled, Todd, Charlie and I took to the bridge to watch the sailors go to different parts of the island to anchor.

The clouds began forming into thunderheads, as they did everyday.  Rarely were we caught in the rain.
The cloud formations were always interesting.

The evening was delightful until sunset when the bugs came out to dine.  We put all of the screens in place and retired to the inside for the night.  The winds died after sunset and the night’s sleep began humid and warm.

Our anchorage for the night…Tom Johnson Harbor.
Even with the ripples from the breeze, the waters were so clear we could see everything on the bottom of the aquarium.  Even a small black tipped shark came by to invest us.
This was our position on the chart.
One of the thunderstorms that formed to the south of us.
Another storm to the east of us.
A great sunset.
Reflection of the sunset on the thunderheads to the east of us.
Around 1AM the burgee (flag) on our bow started to rattle.  I got up to check our anchor.  The winds had picked up and we were taking 1 foot rollers from the east.  It was interesting to see all of the anchor lights on the sailboats in a circumference around the island.  I guessed there were at least 2 dozen sailboats dispersed between the north anchorage, Northwest Harbor (where we anchored 3 weeks before) and Tom Johnson Harbor (our anchorage for the night).

I went to bed satisfied that OB was holding fast to her anchor.  My sleep continued to be broken by the lurching and rocking of the boat.

Port #62: Green Turtle Cay BS…The Eye in the Storm

Great Loop II Date: 04/26/2015

Day #268 (Sunday) 17.6 miles (3623 total miles)

Locks: 0 (30 total locks)

Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges)

Port #62: Green Turtle Cay, BS

Marina: Bluff House Marina and Resort

More difficult weather was in the forecast.  Todd and I knew we needed to get through the Whale Passage.  We reluctantly dropped lines and left Treasure Cay for Green Turtle Cay.

Our day’s travel was uneventful.  We docked at Bluff House Marina and Resort once again.  This time the dockmaster had us add an extra line.  The day after we arrived, we found out why.  A large storm came through with winds up to 35 to 40 MPH.  OB strained at her lines and bumped abruptly into the ladder at our stern.  As she loosened those important two lines to take another shot at the dock, I tightened them further.  We never hit the dock again!

The non-tropical storm…which ended up being windier than the real tropical storm!
Sunset after the storm…the sunsets just kept coming.
Our stay became extended by a developing tropical weather system between the Bahamas and the Florida coast.  We felt somewhat marooned.  Doug and Dahri took us out on their boat to anchor at Manjack Cay, hoping the waters would be calm enough to snorkel.  Unfortunately, the winds kept us from that but it was fun to get away and see a new landscape.

We also rented a golf cart for a few days during Green Turtle’s Heritage Festival.  It was a small festival with lots of music, games for the youngsters, and many booths with trinkets and food.  Again, it did get us away from the boat for a while.

The restaurant, pool and water taxi dock as seen from OB’s bow.
Todd and I took the dinghy to the Heritage Festival the opening day.
A fishing boat in Black Sound near the festival area.
St. Peter’s Anglican Church in downtown New Plymouth.
The inside of the church was beautiful and sparkling clean.
Loved seeing the British, American, Bahamian and Canadian flags proudly displayed.
A cute little bungalow on the main street (Bay Street) in New Plymouth.
More houses in New Plymouth.
We took the dinghy around on the Sea of Abaco to the Tranquil Turtle (part of the Bluff House Resort).  This is where Todd was found in the hammock the first day here the week before.
Doug and Coco with a cute little Bahamian girl.
The Police Band and solo singer.  The folks on Green Turtle really love this band and are very proud of it.
This is one of the school girls that really liked Coco our first week in Green Turtle.
The school kids playing musical chairs with the Loyalist reenactors.
More Goombay Smashes at the Pineapple…where the conch graveyard was.
Doug and Dari from All In…a really sweet couple we’ll certainly see again in Florida.
THAT’S a Tranquil Turtle in my hand!
Think this turtle needs to have a Tranquil Turtle.
Dari and I both loved these signs posted right outside of the restrooms.

The tropical storm became known as Invest 90L and eventually TS Ana.  We did get two days of heavy rain but no wind to speak of.  OB got a good bath of fresh water and I got a lot of exercise pumping water out of the dinghy.  We did enjoy the delicious food and exotic drinks at the Bluff House…and it all showed up on our waistlines as well as the final bill!

The final dinner at the Bluff House.

Port #61: Treasure Cay BS…Paradise Found!

Great Loop II Date: 04/25/2015Day #267 (Saturday) 12 miles (3606 total miles)Locks: 0 (30 total locks)Bridges: 0 (4 total bridges) Port #61: Treasure Cay, Great Abaco Island, BSMarina: Treasure Cay Marina and ResortWeather came into decision making onc…