In my last blog, I commented on the 3 tropical storms/hurricanes that we had this summer in Florida and hoping that was it for the season. That wasn't it, and in October, Hurricane Matthew came roaring up the east Florida coast. Jacksonville was set to take a direct hit but the storm passed by offshore sparing us from the truly bad part of the storm. Fernandina Beach, the Jacksonville beaches and St. Augustine were not spared and incurred a great deal of damage. Ernie and I prepared MGT for the blow and we went to Pensacola to wait out the storm. It was a nice little vacation and everything was in good order when we returned. The Marina at Ortega Landing where we kept MGT during the summer and fall, did a great job during the storm. Staff was out walking the docks for the duration and posting pictures to their Facebook page so everyone could keep up with their boats. Extra lines were added if necessary. All the boats came through with flying colors. The worst was a couple of shredded headsails.
More Good Timin' ready for Matthew
Boat damaged by Hurricane Matthew
A couple of weeks before Matthew, we experienced at big thunderstorm at the marina. Lightning struck very close to us. The stray current started our bow thruster going and making a loud noise. We were watching TV and immediately started shutting everything off to try and find where the noise was coming from. The bow thruster controls were knocked out. We had a technician over and he replaced/repaired the controls and we were good to go. Or so we thought.
We watched the weather for weeks looking for an offshore weather window that never came. We finally decided we would start heading down the ditch for our move south. All our preparations were made and we were set to leave on Monday, November 7. Except, when we started the engine and tested the bow thruster, it didn't work. So the technician came back out and fixed it once again. We left Jacksonville, the next day.
Leaving Jacksonville isn't that easy for a sailboat due to ongoing work on bridges going through downtown. We left in time for the noon opening of the Main Street bridge. But a railroad bridge before we got there was closed for repairs. So, we anchored and waited. We were able to transit the railroad bridge in time to make the next scheduled opening of the Main Street bridge at 4:15 pm. We only went a few more miles and anchored for the night.
Exchange Island Anchorage outside of Jacksonville
November 10 - Continued down the ICW to Daytona Beach. Water levels remained high since Hurricane Matthew which caused problems with bridge clearances. Most fixed bridges on the ICW in Florida have a 65' clearance at high tide, we require 62.5' so we usually do not have a problem. We were experiencing 63' clearance at low tide. We were able to continue, just barely, but many sailboats with taller masts had to turn back to St. Augustine so they could continue south offshore.
November 11 - We stopped in Titusville for the night. Nice marina and nice people.
November 12 - On to Melbourne for the night. We treated ourselves with dinner out at the local restaurant.
November 13 - We traveled to Fort Pierce and stayed at the Fort Pierce City Marina. We had spent a couple of months here before and I was looking forward to having dinner at The Tiki. I guess the marina was really busy because this stop was not the good experience we had in the past. We ate on the boat and were on our way the next morning.
November 14 - Next stop, North Palm Beach. We were getting farther south and there are more bridges. Most of the bridges are bascule bridges and have certain times they open. We passed through 8 bridges in our last 8 or 10 miles.
November 15 - An unexpected stop at Riviera Beach. Another 65' bridge but the clearance was under 62' when we arrived. We anchored off the channel and waited for low tide. By the time we could get under the bridge, it was too late to continue.
Sunset at Riviera Beach
November 16 - Finally, we are able to get out of the ditch and go offshore. We had a really nice run to Fort Lauderdale. We stayed at Las Olas Marina for the night. If we had stayed in the ditch, the day would've been a short 45 miles but there were 21 bascule bridges we would need opened to keep going.
November 17 - Offshore again, yay! This time to Miami. We stayed at the Crandon Park Marina for 2 nights waiting for the wind to die down a little.
November 19 - Left around 3 p.m. for an offshore run to Boot Key Harbor.
November 20 - Arrived at Boot Key Harbor around 8 am and picked up a mooring. Thanks to our friend, Michael Gandy for making this overnight trip with Ernie.
We stayed at Boot Key Harbor for a month and enjoyed our time in Marathon. Moored very close by was Bob Womble, a friend from home. The weather was unseasonably warm and we didn't enjoy the hot nights so we made arrangements to move into a marina at Marco Island. We had stayed at the Marco Island Marina for a month a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it so we looked forward to coming back.
We left Marathon on December 19. We anchored that night at the beautiful Little Shark River anchorage. The anchorage is peaceful and the wildlife abundant. The only drawback is the bugs. We had to stay inside the boat after dark. The next day, November 20, we arrived at the Marco Island Marina. The boat will be here through the end of March. We're going to take some time off and go home to Texas for a visit.
Little Shark River Anchorage