We headed out with the ultimate destination of Longboat Key, for our mid December to early February stay. Another great travel day as we approach downtown Jacksonville on the St John River.
We enjoyed Longboat Key very much last year so we are returning to it as "home base" for a while. It will be our third December/January in the Sarasota area (Marina Jack was "home" in 2015/2016).
Day one was 67 miles to an anchorage south of St Augustine. It was behind a low tide sandbar just off the ICW. We had a nice peaceful night at anchor here. A nice full moon rising.
The sunrise and another early morning departure.
Julie made good use of the travel time. A little background first. She has completed wonderful baby books and scrap books (almost) for each child. This is the last scrapbook she is completing, Brett's scrapbook. All others have been delivered!
Next stop was Rockhouse Creek anchorage near New Smyrna. This was on the recommendation of Larry and Lena (Hobo) our neighbors at Ortega. A wonderful anchorage. Thanks for the tip Larry and Lena!! We dropped the dinghy in and went over to the low tide huge sandbar near the New Smyrna inlet for a nice Sunday afternoon walk. It was a bit chilly so this person's business was not too robust.
On Monday we proceeded to an anchorage near Malabar (S of Melbourne) in the Indian River. Again we were just off the ICW but boat traffic stops near sunset and it was a convenient stop.
We departed on Tuesday at 7 AM to another gorgeous sunrise.
And were soon accompanied by some dolphins having an early morning surfing session. We never tire of these guys! And this group followed us a couple miles....great stamina as we were traveling at 10 MPH!
We arrived at Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce around 11:30 AM. We were met as planned by a technician and the service manager from Whiticar Yacht to make an adjustment to the starboard shaft seal. It was still spraying a bit of water from the installation they did in June. A quick adjustment, a sea trial and all was good so we took our slip at Harbortown for the evening. A quick wash of the boat, a walk to Publix and it was time for bed!
On Wednesday we left around 8 or so bound for Stuart where our friends Carole and DeVere (Job Site) were planning to meet us to travel across the Okeechobee canal system. We arrived at Sunset Marina before they did but they certainly made good time from Hilton Head Island which they left on Sunday! We travelled the 283 miles from Jacksonville in 5 travel days. They made the almost 400 miles in three and a half given they did not start till 1PM on one of the days due to a repair! It was great to see them again. They were travelling with Carole's sister and brother-in-law and we all had cocktails aboard Job Site and then a great dinner at the Boathouse.
Thursday morning we left at 7:30 to start our Okeechobee crossing. It was a nice day on the water and given the strong head currents we encountered (they are dumping a lot of Irma water from Lake Okeechobee) we ran at cruise (about 18.5 MPH for our boat) across the 16 or so mile lake route to make up some time. We wanted to be sure we hit the third lock, Moore Haven, before the 4:30 last lockage. DeVere (aka Turbo) complied with this slow cruise speed....thanks DeVere!
We arrived there shortly after 3 PM and took a nice walk and had cocktails aboard Sum Escape and then each cooked aboard. We received a good rain storm that evening tied to the Moore Haven city dock. $1 a foot including electricity and halfway across the Okeechobee waterway....nice stop.
Friday we departed in some fog
for our 79 mile trip to Snook Bight Marina in Fort Myers Beach where we will meet Brigitte an Scott (Putz'n Around) our other "Bahama buddy boat" for a couple nights. We again ran at cruise for a number of miles once near Fort Myers to be sure we could make the pot luck party Brigitte and Scott had arranged and invited us to. The "white" in the wake is not snow!!!
Here is Job Site making sure they beat us to Fort Myers Beach.
The pot luck was a marina get together and they kindly included us. Surprisingly, it was a sort of Michigan reunion as the majority of the boaters hailed from Michigan. We all of course used our "built in" map (hand) to show where we were from!
Saturday our friends Pat and Tim visited us for a couple hours. They are staying in a condo on Bonita Beach for the month. It was great to catch up with them. In the evening we went to Mantanzas Restaurant and had a great dinner with the Bahama crew. Some preliminary plans were made and we plan on an early February crossing to West End and then work our way south to the Exumas.
Sunday we departed for an anchorage near Cape Haze. It was quite windy so Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor were choppy and we got "salted" pretty well. Oh, and it was a bit chilly so I was using the lower helm.
We got anchored in early afternoon and a large manatee swam by shortly after. It was again just off the ICW and in a manatee "slow speed" zone so very minimal wakes. The eastern shore was lined with homes but many were apparently seasonal and not yet occupied.
Monday morning we departed for Sarasota in 40 degree weather and stopped for fuel along the way. We only had about 45 miles to go but due to fueling and the no wake/ slow speed zones we did not arrive till after 3 PM. We got the salty boat washed and dried, took showers, had dinner and crashed. The last 9 days of travel covered 519 miles and 59 travel / engine hours and does take a toll just as any form of travel does...even if it only averages 9 miles per hour or so. Remember we have bridges, locks, manatee and no wake zones, etc that all add to the slow travel pace. But it sure beats a crowded highway!
We got all the salt off Sum Escape (yes we needed a sweatshirt, it was chilly....keep that North wind up North would you all!!) soon after checking in.
We are all settled in at Longboat Key Club Moorings Marina for the next 8 weeks or so.
We expect that we might meet a few "class of 2017" Loopers as they continue to travel south through this area. We always enjoy meeting new cruisers so we hope a few do come through. We also have visitors scheduled from time to time as we find this facility quite conducive to entertaining company. We look forward to all the planned visits.We will also see doctors and dentists, get some maintenance done on Sum Escape and generally make ourselves at "home". Here is a photo of our partially decorated Christmas tree on the stern as we rest comfortably at Longboat Key. Still working on those Holiday decorations!
Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for following our blog.