Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cape Caneveral & St. Augustine

Monday July 26 – Friday July 30

Monday we spend the day doing last minute cleanup and getting the boat ready to leave port. Make a run across the highway to the grocery store for a few more provisions. Check the weather and all is good for our Tuesday departure from Fort Pierce after 2 ½ weeks the longest we have stayed at one place since leaving Kemah 4 months ago. We are not sure if we will have to wait for high tide in the morning which is not until 9 am so we are up and ready to go at 7 am with slack tide & no wind. We are sitting slightly in the mud so we are able to release ALL the dock lines and stay in place instead of the usual scramble to release them all at once as we start moving out. Then Steve just has to hit the throttle a little to plow out through the mud and once in the fairway we have plenty of water and are on our way. We are glad to be leaving before the rising tide causes too much adverse current going out the inlet, as it is we still hit several eddies one whirlpool over a hole where it dropped from 30 to 60 back to 30 feet in depth. By 8 am we are out the jetties in flat calm seas, motoring with the main up and the sun trying to burn off some of the haze. By 1 the winds have picked up a little so we put the jib out and throttle back for a little quieter ride up to Cape Canaveral. Port Canaveral is not one of the pretty port entries but it sure has a lot of neat huge military ships to see on the way in. We are docked by 5 pm we had nice cool ride up BUT coming in the channel & docking at he marina sure gets you hot & sweaty fast. After checking in we take showers, as friends we met in the Bahamas who live in Satellite Beach are coming up to go to dinner. Kay & Harold get to the boat at 7 and we visit for an hour before going to the famous Grills Tiki Bar & Grill for dinner. We enjoy a delightful evening with good food, atmosphere, conversation and company.

Wednesday we do not have to leave too early since we decided to take the slow overnight passage instead of leaving at daybreak and going full speed to insure our arrival before sunset. By 10 am we are heading back out Port Canaveral looking at all the ships again, heading east for a good 10 miles to avoid some shoal areas before turning north to head for St Augustine. Once again motor sailing in very calm seas with almost no wind. The Atlantic was so flat & calm you could have water skied out there. Once we turned north we were able to carry both main & jib but still need to motor at low RPM's, to keep at a slow gentle ride up the coast of 4 - 5 knots which puts us at the entry to the inlet for St Augustine at 8 am. As we travel out the inlet & up the coast for miles from 10 am till 6 pm you can see NASA's vehicle assembly building standing tall, an impressive sight, just wish it could have been during a launch with a shuttle on one of the launch pads, maybe on the way back down. It is a beautiful evening the moon comes out around 9 providing good visibility during the night. Around 10 we have a group of dolphins swim along with us jumping along side the boat for 15 minutes. We take turns & each get a little sleep, by 8:30 am we are going in the St. Augustine channel by 9 we are at the Bridge of Lions and it opens just as scheduled by 10 we are docked and checked in meeting Dennis & Carol on a Grand Banks trawler, who suggest a good place to get lunch and give us some info about the town. We change and walk into town going for lunch and get trolley tickets for a riding tour of the town to get the lay of the land. You can get on & off the trolleys all day long at any of their 16 stops, catching another one when it comes along. Most of the places in the downtown area are within walking distance but it helped give us an idea of where things were located. We did get off at the Castillo de San Marcos Fort to take the self tour. As we are buying tickets Steve sees the sign saying seniors 62+ can pay $10 and get a card for free admission for them and any other 3 adults to ANY National Park of which there are almost 400. A great bargain, as two adult tickets are $12, and perfect timing as Steve had just turned 62 three days prior, and we will most likely be near a few more National Parks as we work our way up to the Chesapeake. Instead of catching the trolley we walk back through downtown stopping for ice cream to help beat the heat. Checking out some restaurant menus and shops on our way back to the boat. Take showers, rest a little as we decide which place to go to for dinner. Head out for dinner on our way to one place pass by a Cuban restaurant with live Latin Jazz music playing that sounds really good so we stop to look at the menu and some ladies inside eating are shaking their heads saying it is good food and the menu does look good so we change plans and eat there. Had a great meal with some really good live background Latin music,which ended as we were finishing our meal but then a young girl was starting to play in the adjoining bar so we went and listened to her for a while. Back to the boat at 10:30 and to bed as we were running on about 3 hours of sleep from the overnight trip up. Friday I slept in a little but we are out walking into town by 10 am. Making our way the Flagler College (formerly the Ponce de Leon Hotel) for a tour passing through the old Alcazar hotel that is now the St. Augustine city hall, a museum & shops with a restaurant in what used to be the casino swimming pool. Both of these hotels were built by Henry Flagler, who made his fortune as one of the three founders of Standard Oil, and then spent a large part of it building a railroad and elaborate hotels down the east coast of Florida. The Ponce de Leon was the first of his “destination hotels”, opening in 1889. You had to be filthy rich, AND have an invitation to even stay there. He spared no expense in building it, and the complementary Alcazar across the street. They were state of the art buildings at the time, and even today they are remarkably beautiful buildings. The college dining hall, formerly the hotels dining room, has bullet proof glass on the outside to protect it's $3.5 million Tiffany glass windows. After we go for lunch then walk around some more, catch the trolley out to one of the sights a little further out then get the trolley back to the boat by 5. Showers, then some planning for our departure the next day. We head out to dinner making it to the Tasting Room a Contemporary Spanish Tapas & Wine place that we had planned to go to the night before. Have another wonderful meal with great live music in the background. It has been a very pleasant visit to the oldest town in America. We check the weather and it looks good for our departure Saturday morning up to St. Mary's inlet at the border of Florida & Georgia.
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