March 27-29

After St. Augustine, we move north to our next marina on Amelia Island. What a gorgeous place. Arrived late, rested a bit on the beach then ate aboard and went to bed without ever seeing the town until the next morning at daybreak while walking the dog before departing. Dang. It appeared as if you could walk down oldtown cobblestone streets lined on both sides with fabulous shops of every kind and end up on the other side of the island on the beaches after a dozen blocks. Dang. Oh, well. There is so much to see at every bend in the ICW that we will never get to see most of it. Sigh. Most Loopers say the same. Gotta do it again to see the things you missed.

BIG boat repair yard

 

We are scurrying to arrive in Myrtle Beach by early April. Then on to the Chesapeake by early May and into New York Harbor early June and on into the Great Lakes by July and then complete our trip in September.

 

Another boat destroyed by hurricanes.

March 28. We moved up to St. Simon’s Island.

Visited the Lighthouse and beach. Drove around the island. Not much else since we’re tired and moving fast. There is current here with rivers entering the ICW and the ocean moving into the many Sounds we must pass through. It’s tough tying up and moving around. I love looking out into the open water! Imagine what lays beyond….

Our marina

 

Moving from St. Simon’s we were inspired by the vast salt marshes. Miles and miles of water prairie. Don killed the engine and we just sat in the silence. It choked me. I miss Idaho and the quiet and the empty sky.

March 29. Now we’re on St. Catherine’s Island.

We moored at Kilkenny Marina. 12 miles from any settlements. Banjo players??? Lovely people, salty marina, few amenities (toilets and power), creaky wooden docks. But it is quiet and calm. Nice people

We walked down the narrow road that leads inland among giant oak trees towering above us, draped with yards of Spanish Moss, their enormous limbs reaching down over our heads, shadowing the ground. Very pretty. We might just stay here a few more days.

The road to town…12 miles
Back to the marina

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March 24- 26

St. Augustine

The city has a rich history as the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument has been closely intertwined with the city and the neighboring structures which served as the city’s outer defenses. The Castillo and the town serve as outstanding reminders of the might of the early Spanish empire in the New World. The Castillo took 23 years to build (from 1672 to 1695). Fabricated of coquina, a virtually indestructible limestone comprised of broken sea shells and coral, the walls of the fortress remained impenetrable through 300 years of enemy shelling and pounding by violent storms.

City Gates

 

We enjoyed cannon fire and flint lock rifle fire. BOOM.

Flagler College is here, celebrating 40 years of educational excellence. Located in what was once Henry Flagler’s first St. Augustine hotel, it exhibits incredible architecture which has been painstakingly preserved through the years. The campus grounds are equally impressive with their rows of towering palms and well-kept gardens

 

There are many museums in the area. The Lightner Museum is among the most unique, featuring an    intriguing array of items, from shrunken heads and mummies to stunning collections of stained glass and crystal. When it opened its doors in 1889, Henry Flagler’s Alcazar Hotel delighted guests with its gigantic indoor pool and retractable roof, casino, spa, and movie theater.

Beautiful shops in the districts offering souvenirs and antiques, arts and crafts and unique clothing, and carriage rides through cobblestone streets.

The entire place is jaw dropping.

4 a.m. I heard a funny noise, tried to ignore it but it persisted sounding like light rain splatting on plastic, but the night sky was brilliantly clear. I walked outside and looked around hearing more of the drip-drop. Turns out it was fish sucking the barnacles off the bottoms of boats and pier posts; millions of them sounding like  babies sucking on pacifiers.

Our marina

Zorayda Museum

Interesting. Zorayda built this place with 31 different windows. Superstition says spirits leave a house at night and return at dawn through the same window from which they left…none of the 31 windows are alike.

Didn’t make it to the Ripley Believe It Or Not Museum, but our sight-seeing trolley drove us there and all over the city. We were foot sore and sleepy afterward. Wanted to do more, like see all the museums and factories, but couldn’t leave the dog on the boat that long.

Too many pictures, here a just a few more.

 

 

March 22

New Smyrna Beach Marina

Our plan was to move north to St. Augustine after leaving Cocoa Beach so we hopscotched forward to New Smyrna Beach on our way. Smaller, quiet marina here. We are just inside the ocean on the intercostal waterway.  We drove the dinghy over the bay where we sat looking across the wild Atlantic at the green waves cresting and breaking on the beach, the foam sliding back into the surf. It is a wonder.

Loggerhead turtle in the marina and a Manatee visited us dockside. We learned they love freshwater and while they can live in salt or brackish water, they must return to fresh water every 2 weeks. So, we coxed it with bottles of Aquafina. We learned later that it is illegal to do so! Yikes. Signs are posted everywhere stating we are NOT to feed them, but water???

Watering the Manatee

Had a gathering on our dock with other Loopers. Since the season has changed, everyone is moving north, following the seasons to be out of the Great Lakes by mid-September when those waters can turn treacherous. Timing is everything. If you languish in the Keys too long you might need to scurry up the north shore missing many glorious anchorages and historic sites.

Each evening we plan a route and then review all the available marinas along that path, decide on one that suits us and call ahead for reservations. Sometimes they are booked and we find another. On this occasion, they could only accommodate us for 2 nights. Then the weather turned cold and windy, and our slip reservation expired and we had to vacate early due to weather. We chose Daytona Beach to wait out the storm and found a marina who would take us. Now we’re learning that many of the marinas north of here are booked solid or they’ve been closed since Hurricane Matthew barreled through last fall. We see numerous sunken boats all along the way.

 

March 23

Halifax Harbor Marina, Daytona Beach

Halifax Marina
Halifax Marina from our boat

Gorgeous marina in the heart of Daytona Beach located right off the Intercoastal Waterway at mile marker 830 it has 550 slips on 60 acres where there is easy access to nearby shopping, restaurants, and entertainment – just minutes from the Daytona International Speedway and the World’s Most Famous Beach! Aren’t we blessed to see all this?

Daytona Beach

The weather is still cool and cloudy and it dampens our mood; makes us want to read and relax, but we must press on. Our goal is to be in New York Harbor by early June.

 

March 20

Village Marina, Cocoa, Florida.

Causeway bridge
Under the causeway bridge

Nice smaller marina, with nice town 2 blocks up. No grocery stores for 2 miles though, so we either rent a car or do without until the next stop. I have enough milk for tomorrow’s cereal, some crackers and cheese, lettuce, and eggs. We’re forced to eat out…dang.

Approaching the marina

Had delicious Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day at Ryan’s rooftop dining overlooking the harbor. Great fun.

Ryan’s roof top dining for St. Patty’s
Roof top dining

Roof top dining looking back at Panacea in the marina

Much strong wind has rocked the boat, throwing us off our feet. It gets old.

Don’s daughter, Sarah K. and her family came for a visit, taking us to the Kennedy Space Center; the only spot in the United States from which humans have been hurled into space. It was amazing. Our hearts jumped into our throats during the many patriotic presentations.

The  Vehicle Assembly Building is one of the largest buildings in the world.  There are 4 High Bay doors. Each opening is 456 ft.  high and  each panel in those accordion type vertical bay doors weighs 38 tons.The Statue of Liberty can be housed in ONE of the bays with over 100 feet of free space above her. The VAB is 525 ft. high, the Statue of Liberty is 305 ft. The magnitude and scope of size is beyond description. In our excitement we took way too many photos; pictures cannot capture the immensity of this place. It is truly astonishing.

Vehicle Assembly Building
Rocket on Crawler
Rocket on Crawler at the VAB
Shuttle in VAB

 

From the start of space exploration to current and ongoing missions, we had an up-close, hands-on feel for the story of humans in space. We stood in awe of an American icon at the permanent home of the actual space shuttle Atlantis on display.

Actual Atlantis split open for our view

Behind Joan is the rocket booster that carries the Shuttles.

A shuttle bus took us on a 40 minute drive around the entire complex where we saw the launch site and the equipment developed to carry the rocket to the launch sites, the arms that hold them in vertical position, and the enormous buildings where the rockets are built. I’m at a loss to describe the scale of all this equipment. For instance the “Crawler-Trasnporter” machine that carries the rockets to the launch pad burns 38 gallons every 2 feet. It travels slowly on rock strips made from Tennessee River Rock that do not spark!  Good plan. It straddles a grass strip with its tracks and crawls to the launch pad. It weighs 6 million pounds, is 131 ft. wide and 114 ft. long.

The Crawler-Transporter
The Crawler Road

Rocket Garden, which is an awe-inspiring collection of engine replicas, full-size Titan rockets, spacecraft and scale models, and the 363 ft. Apollo Saturn 1B rocket.

After dark back at our marina, we witnessed a SpaceX launch across the harbor. Spectacular!!! We monitored the launch from their website right up liftoff…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…there was a magnificent glow on the horizon and then a visual of the actual rocket climbing into the sky toward us and then it was overhead followed by a thunderous ROAR as it drove deeper into space followed by flaming fire underneath. Ohhhhhhhh, we will never forget it. Impossible to film without proper equipment, we simply enjoyed every second. This successful launch will connect with the International Space Station for reprovisioning; you may remember a previous launch of this kind failed.

 

 

March 15…Ft. Pierce Marina

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Beautiful marina with 2 Tiki Lounges and an easy walk into town where there are any good restaurants and shops.

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Weather turned cold; 43 degrees with high winds. Waaah. We complain about the heat and humidity and then when climate changes to cool, we grumble. The Atlantic is gorgeous and vast, the water turquoise and clear. We will move up to Cocoa Beach tomorrow for a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 13…Stuart, Florida

We are moored at Loggerhead Marina.

We made it to the ATLANTIC today.  We rented a car and drove to Bathtub Reef Beach on Hutchinson Island.

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View of the harbor from the cafe’

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The River Walk in Stuart

 

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Going here for dinner and will sit in that boat

 

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Spelled wrong again!

 

 

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Bathtub Beach on the Atlantic

 

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March 12….Spring Forward

March 6, 2016..Fort Myers

We have been in a slip at Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, Florida for 5 weeks. We knew going into this trip that we would be wintering in sunny, warm Florida until the season changed. We have rested and relaxed, and eaten in almost every café in this lovely city. It is an easy walk to Publix and into town.

Marinas are neighborhoods. We interact, we look after each other, we exchange information, we socialize, we share experiences, and ultimately, we get attached. As others leave for their homes north of here, and Loopers move toward the Atlantic, we must say, “Fare Well” and it hurts. We’ve met some charming, happy people. Will we meet again? No one can say. We exchange boat cards and promise to stay in touch, but inevitably as we all move on it is hard to stay in touch UNLESS we follow each other’s BLOGS.
It is time for Panacea to move on. We had planned to leave here March 1, but a severe wind alert kept us in safe harbor for another week. Now we plan to move up the Caloosahatchee River into and across Lake Okeechobee, then into the Atlantic Intercostal Waterway and eventually north to Cocoa Beach. Our middle daughter, Sarah K., and her husband live in Orlando and we will spend time with them before chasing the season north along the Atlantic.

This is an exciting time for us. We completed the rivers portion of the Great Loop and lazed in tropical southern Florida, now it’s finally time to complete our odyssey. This northern tract is the most exciting as we will be catching a rocket launch in Canaveral, cruising the Chesapeake shores, anchoring behind the Statue of Liberty and attending a Yankees game in New York City before traveling up the Hudson into the Erie Canal. Amazing.

Florida is crowded. Large populations, especially in the winter when all us Snow Birds cram the marinas and roadways. There are enormous bridges crisscrossing every waterway. The noise of traffic is ever present. I’m a country girl, population and traffic are an offense to all my senses; I am deliberate to avoid it and desperate to escape it.

March 8, 2017…LaBelle…City Warf

This morning we left Fort Myers, and traveled the Caloosahatchee River east to Labelle, FL where we anchored at the city warf. Traffic noise from the overhead highway bridge was so thunderous we couldn’t deal with it. So, after a nice lunch at Forrey Grille we move to the local park docks. There were two alligators cruising the shore around us. The docks are short and fixed (they do not float with the tide) requiring Joan and Inky to exit the boat through the bow hatch. Inky panics, Joan becomes a contortionist; all part of the experience.

LaBelle docks at the park

Late afternoon after securing the boat to the docks, we took an exploratory dinghy ride up river where we noticed a Black Angus calf standing alone belly deep in the river at the shoreline. It just seemed odd so we cruised closer to find a 7-foot alligator cruising nearby. Our wake caused it to dive and we could then see that the calf was in distress. After determining that Inky was secure and the gator well away, Don pulled onto shore and Joan climbed out to investigate. The poor little creature was blind in both eyes and had been attacked, possibly by a panther judging from the open wounds on its flanks. It allowed me to approach and stroke its head and neck, but when I grasped its ears to encourage it up the embankment it balked in fear and swam toward the gator. What a rodeo. I finally ran a quarter mile up the hill to a neighbor who followed me back and after three of us making another effort to bring the beast to land decided to contact Animal Control, at which point we got back into the dinghy and made our way back to Panacea with heavy hearts. Poor creature. As I ponder what more we could possibly have done, I had to accept we had done all we could, short of taking it home with us. In retrospect, we had only two choices: provide comfort until the merciful end by man’s hand, or just close our eyes and drive on by. I will NOT sleep well tonight.

March 9, 2017…Clewiston

After a quick breakfast, we departed LaBelle for Clewiston. Nice trip along the Okeechobee Waterway, an 8-foot-deep trench that winds through farmland, sugar cane plantations, and cattle ranches. It was beautiful and put me in mind of cruising the Snake River. Ahhh. There’s no place like home. Idaho is paradise!

St. Lucie Canal

 

We arrived early afternoon and entered the marina through 30 foot?? seawall gates that remain open until there is a looming catastrophe caused by flooding from a storm surge when strong winds drive water over the mud dikes that circle the lake.

Seawall Gates
Panacea cruisin’ along
Rowland Martin Marina


The Rowland-Martin Marina had floating docks and a great Tiki Bar. We took a long dinghy ride out on Lake Okeechobee. We saw many alligators basking on the shoreline and walking on the islands. Huge dragons. Scary.

March 10, 2017….Indiantown

After a huge breakfast at the Rowland Martin Marina in Clewiston we headed for the open water across Lake Okeechobee (the canal route along the southern shore was closed for construction) intending to enter the St. Lucie Waterway via Port Mayaca Lock. The lock was wide open and we passed through quickly on our way to Forrest River Marina, however arriving at Indiantown we found that the railroad bridge was closed for repairs. We dropped anchor in the canal along with other stranded boats on both sides of the bridge, and waited for news of the bridge reopening. Late afternoon Indiantown Marina, which had previously been booked, called to say they had an opening for us so we spent a peaceful night tied to floating docks with electricity and Wi-Fi and showers. Great place for Inky too. We have our own personal alligator too.

Indiantown Marina
Norman

While fishing off the boat Don caught a big bass and as he reeled it in 2 alligators zoomed in to snatch it off the line, a fight ensured then ended with a 10 minute  gator stand-off.

March 11, 2017…the bridge opened and we are moving on..

Blogging Issues

I have great difficulty providing posts and photos. WiFi is rarely provided and good enough to post. Our hotspot is dedicated to Don’s business and I can not use it when I need to.

Adding photos is very difficult. I’ll add whenever I’m able.

February 13, 2017

Sad news. My laptop was infected with Ransomware. I lost all my photos from the entire trip. GONE.  Also, all my documents, including those for tax reporting. As I’m reeling from this blow, my flesh looks for someone to hate, to blame. I must  LET IT GO. No one died. I’ll take more pictures. I WILL NEVER again open any social media sights which are notorious for Ransomware. So sad.

My last post was made while moored at Marker 1 Marina in Dunedin, FL. We stayed there December 13 through January 15. Dunedin was charming. Lots to see and do: Art Fairs, Farmer’s Markets, Parades, Mutt Meets etc. We bought folding bikes that enabled us to travel far from the marina. Living on a boat without a vehicle we are unable to get to town for doctors or groceries or hardware. The bikes gave us great freedom with mobility, although leaving Inky aboard we could not be away longer than 3 or 4 hours. We spent Christmas with Don’s sweet sister, Debbie and her handsome, solid, sons. She’s a great hostess, cook, and friend.

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Non-floating docks and huge tide swings created issues for getting INKY off the boat
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Joan loves grouper sandwiches at Frenchy’s
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Panacea gets her bottom washed
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Christmas at Marker 1

Joan went home for a few days in January to have low back treatments. Didn’t get much visiting due to “Snowmageddon”. The roads were horrid. I’ll have surgery next fall when we end our trip.

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Our street

January 17

Gulfport Marina, Gulfport, FL. Floating docks but no laundry, no internet, and road construction alongside our dock made a great marina a negative experience. It’s an older town on the bay with lots of fun shops and cafe’s. We finally got to enjoy  our dinghy again. (Remember we lost our dinghy motor crossing the open Gulf in hard seas, and didn’t get the replacement until late January at Marker 1). HUGE hassle.

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Greedy Pelicans getting fed at cleaning station

January 20

Marina Jack, Sarasota, Florida. Large, full service marina. No other Loopers here. Many Ultra Yachts. Great Cafe’s. We spent most hot afternoons at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar with great food and fruit drinks adjacent to the marina where we walked Inky and he could chase squirrels. Floating docks too. Expensive, lots of services. Nice showers and toilets. Excellent restaurant.

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Entering Sarasota
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Marina Jack

Sarasota is the winter home of Ringling Brothers Circus. Today, it hosts a number of cultural institutes. Numerous high-end shops and trendy cafe’s. Huge Saturday Market with numerous musicians. Expensive. Not bike friendly. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens were fabulous. Orchids of every variety and size…amazing.

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Ringling Mansion

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Miniature Museum
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Art Museum at Ringling

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January 28

Palm Island Marina, Boca Grande, FL.  Small, beautiful marina with huge outdoor pool and hot tub. Excellent showers and toilets. Lovely restaurant, Leverdocks, which brings folks from all around. Quiet, calm, very dog friendly. Fixed docks are a challenge, but they were wide and tides were reasonable while there. Town is a 15-minute Uber ride to Boca Grande. Rum Bay Restaurant across the Intercostal Waterway has great beaches and walking paths. We met a lovely couple, Charles and Dorothy (not Loopers) and hope to see them again.

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February 1

Paradise Marina, Fort Myers, Florida on the Caloosahatchee River.  Very isolated. We chose it because we like quiet and dark, but it was a bit toooooo salty. Older and removed from any amenities, without a vehicle we would have been stranded. Stayed only one night.

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February 2

Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL. Very high-end. Very nice. Excellent amenities, and dog friendly. Big outdoor pool too. Many enormous ships, larger boats, and a few small craft. Everyone is lovely. Only down side: a LONG walk to shore. But, our view is breathtaking. Really, we have the best moorage in the place. Don’s brother, Doug and sister-in-law, the fabulous Karen, came for a visit. We took the fast boat to Key West with them. Way too much fun.

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View from the back of our boat
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View from the front
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Every sunset is spectacular…Ahhhhh

 

February 12

While dining outside in town last night Don overheard a group enter the restaurant saying, “Nobody knows where Idaho is.” Don piped up that WE knew. Laughing I turned around to see former Governor and Secretary of the Interior under President Carter, Cecil Andrus smiling in our direction. I jumped up like a teen groupie and threw my arms around him. so happy to see an Idahoan, and WHAT an Idahoan he is. Although a Democrat (sorry) he devoted his life to wilderness and public land protection. It was a thrill. The vast majority of snow birds here are from Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New York. All northerners are escaping the cold. It is hard to visualize extreme cold when we are sweating under 80% humidity in 83 degree temps…ahhhhhh.

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Joan and the Governor

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