There is a trap many would-be cruisers fall into, I call these traps black holes, a place where a cruiser goes and then cannot seem to escape from. For one reason or another many of these cruisers end up never getting underway again. Florida is particularly bad for this as the weather is warm there are other cruisers around to enjoy time with, and time seems to slow down the farther south one travels. Boat repairs drag on never seeming to end, and why rush the weather and cold drinks are pleasant. I was determined we were not going to fall into a black hole in Florida. We had to escape Melbourne!
We had planned on a 6 week stay in Melbourne, instead it was going on 4 months. Many projects had been completed on the boat but at some point you have to say enough is enough and get back to cruising. We could have continued working on the boat as there were still plenty of things we would like to get done and a few projects not quite complete. However unless we wanted to become another black hole victim, it was time for us to pull up the anchor and escape this particular black hole.
4/29/22. We finally got underway in the morning with a 10-15 knot east breeze giving us a nice easy beam reach to send us on our way. We stopped for fuel and water at the nearby marina before heading up the waterway under sail and power, but mostly sail. It felt good to be finally underway and leaving Melbourne in our wake. Not that we did not like Melbourne but we spent more time there than we wanted and were ready to move on. The anchorage in Melbourne is not great. You have to anchor near the bridge and one side or the other is exposed to wind and waves. There were only two places to secure our dinghy when going ashore. We had to move with the wind to one dinghy dock or the other to stay protected from the winds as they shifted. Marina space was either too expensive or did not allow live aboards.
Our first day went well sailing up the waterway, we had planned a short day only going as far as Coco Beach or Titusville. With good winds and good progress we went as far as Titusville where we dropped anchor just north of the A. Max Brewer bridge right around 5 PM. There was a rocket launch at 5:45 but the view was not as good as we had hoped, otherwise it was a pleasant evening in a nice quiet anchorage.
4/30/22. The next morning we got a bit of a slow start, it seems the engine was not in the mood to get going as it was very hard to start which is unusual. The boat has an older Yanmar 3QM30 diesel which has always been very reliable. After finally get her started we carried on however this was a warning of more issues to come later. Once started the motor ran fine and we made good progress up the waterway to Daytona Beach. As the wind remained out of the East Southeast we were able to do some sailing again which was nice. Although sailing in the waterway is not always easy due to narrow channels, changing directions of the channels, and shifting winds we did get some fun sailing in.
As this was the weekend the small boat traffic was thick and a bit annoying. Many cruisers simply will not travel the ICW here in Florida on weekends due to the heavy small boat traffic. I suppose we all have to share the waterways but it can be a bit challenging dealing with inexperienced boaters traveling a little too fast for the confined channels. As we watched them buzz in and out of the channels it was a wonder there were not more accidents.
Watching all these boats dart back and forth I was amazed to see how many of the passengers, and often the helmsmen as well, had their faces glued to their cell phones. What is the point of being out on a boat enjoying the water when all you see is the same technological crap found ashore? I simply do not understand it myself.
We anchored that evening just past and somewhat under the Daytona Main Street Bridge in Daytona Beach. Not the most peaceful of places but good for a quick overnight. As usual there were the abandoned or near abandoned boats to share this space with. This is an issue that has become a real problem for those of us traveling the waterway, many of the good anchorages are filled with old boats going nowhere leaving little space for the true cruisers.
5/1/22. This was a bit of a disappointing day. We had a nice run to St Augustine but things went downhill after we got there. We had planned on spending a couple of days in St Augustine to see the town. We made reservations for a mooring a few days in advance of our arrival once we had a good idea when we would get there. Shortly before we arrived Teresa called to confirm our reservation but was told by a rather rude employee that there was no reservation and that they had no open moorings or slips and a waiting list. This despite the fact we had a email confirming our reservation. As we had nowhere else to go we anchored near another anchored boat near the mooring field. After a short time a boat from the municipal marina came out to tell us we were too close to the mooring field and had to move. They suggested we anchor in a location five miles from town. When we explained about the reservation they told us to talk to the office but that we had to leave. Again they were not pleasant and somewhat rude. Nice welcome to St Augustine. Well it was clear we were not welcome there so we headed out of town to a nice secluded anchorage a few more miles up the waterway. This was just as well as we tend to like the quiet peaceful anchorages over those crowded with boats zipping back and forth, some tossing out giant wakes in the process.
5/2/22. Leaving our peaceful anchorage we carried on up the waterway mostly under power. This would take us past Jacksonville and north to Fernanda Beach. I had never run the waterway North of Jacksonville so this was going to be new territory for me. Turns out that was not a good thing as we managed to run firmly aground in the Amelie River. In my defense the charts indicated good depths where we hit and it was a straight run so shoaling did not seem a big concern. Ahhh you got to love the waterway and at least we hit on a rising tide so a couple of embarrassing hours later we were on our way. After this we were running short of time before it got dark. Being a bit gun shy and worried about finding the bottom again we slowly worked our way north to an anchorages just south of Fernandina Beach for the night.
5/3/22. I awoke feeling off with a cold. Teresa had gotten sick in Melbourne delaying our departure a few days so it was no wonder I too was now feeling sick. It was only a few miles to the anchorage at Fernandina so feeling a bit weak we retrieved the anchor and worked our way up a somewhat confusing channel to our new anchorage. Shortly after the anchor hit bottom I crawled back into the V berth where I spent the next two days fighting a low grade fever.
After recovering and taking a day to gain my strength back it was time to visit the town of Fernandina. The weather reports called for a strong north wind so that made the offshore jump north impossible for a few days so might as well explore the town, as well as doing shopping and laundry. We found Fernandina to be a nice little town with lots of nice shops and restaurants. A bit touristy but still nice and the people were friendly.