Boy, if we thought St. Augustine's fog was thick before, this set a new record. We had been anchored in a little river with 4 other boats the night before and when we awoke we could barely discern two of them. We waited a while for the fog to lift a bit and heard the sounds of boats leaving the anchorage. Once we could see that there was only one boat left, we decided to follow the others out into the gloom. Navigating by GPS and the occasional apparition of a day marker looming into view, we slowly crept southward. Near a bascule bridge, we could hear the other boats talking with the bridge tender wondering if they could see the bridge before passing under it. We anchored for a while by the channel then continued on to find the bridge ourselves. After passing under it, the fog lifted and we were able to resume our normal speed southward. We followed another series of long, narrow channels that wound around the Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Spaceport structures far in the distance. Even at a distance, the Vertical Assembly Building was unmistakeable as we passed by Cocoa Beach and it disappeared behind us. We anchored for the night off a nice group of homes and had a comfortable stay there.
Ghost ships in the anchorage
Foggy shoreline reflections
"I think I see a marker!"
The local Pelican Lounge
The Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. We missed a rocket launch by one day!
Sunset south of Cocoa Beach
Tuesday, December 11th - Will We Make It To Vero Beach?
Jeff did his usual check of the engine in the morning before getting underway and - yikes - the inside fuel gauge reported only half an inch of fuel remaining in the tank! We quickly looked at the fuel gauge in the cockpit and it was reporting 1/4 of a tank. Which one was correct? Did we have enough fuel to make it to Vero Beach, another 25 miles southward? Jeff concluded that, since the internal fuel gauge was indicating the amount of fuel above its sensor that was 1/2 inch above the bottom of the tank and the cockpit gauge was the one that came with the boat, that the actual amount of fuel was somewhere between the two readings. This calculated to give us a range of about 5 more hours and Vero Beach was only 3 hours away. It was with some relief that we glided into the Vero Beach City Marina's fuel dock but, alas, there were already two boats there! As we circled around and around waiting for one of them to leave, we knew we at least did not have far to be towed! Fortunately, we were able to get to the fuel dock and, after filling the tank, learned we had only 3 gallons of diesel left in the tank. At least we know that the cockpit gauge is reliable, or how far we can go on "fumes".
On the way to the marina, we passed Grand Harbor where Neala had visited with her friend Kristin Patterson the week before. Kristin was out on the dock waving to welcome us though she was pretty far away and could only be seen in binoculars. But we knew she was there and it was nice to be welcomed to Vero Beach.
After fueling, we were directed to a mooring ball in the marina next to the sailing vessel Galatea. It was commonplace for 2 or 3 boats to share a single mooring. When we approached the mooring a very nice British couple appeared and helped us tie up. Ken and Glennis, from Yorkshire, UK, have been cruising on their home-built, ferro-cement sloop for over eight years and had just crossed the Atlantic to the US recently. They had been on the mooring for a month doing some boat repairs and we were fortunate to have been paired with such an interesting couple.
Later that evening, Kristin came to pick us up and we went to dinner at the Ocean Grill, a Vero Beach favorite. After dinner, we dinghyed under the bridge to the Riverside Grill to meet with our friends Ted & Shirl of Serenity (our buddy boaters from Amsterdam, NY to Hampton, VA) for drinks and to catch up on each others' adventures.
"Hi Kristin!" We know you're there!
Entering Vero on fumes. Note full fuel dock!
Ken & Glennis, our mooring mates
Vero Beach City Marina
Bonding time for Northern Lights & Galatea
Wednesday, December 12th - Lay Day in Vero Beach
Neala took the dinghy for her first solo to pick up Shirl from their mooring to the south of us. Shirl was quite impressed to see Neala approaching and Neala was happy to see their dinghy in the water in case she needed a bumper-boat! They went ashore to walk on the beach and met Kristin in front of the Ocean Grill. Jeff had MiHIN calls and worked in the morning. After lunch, he finally got a chance to rig the whisker pole and set up our hammock. When Neala and Kristin returned to the boat Jeff was comfortably reclined in the hammock where - according to our humorous neighbor Ken: "He's been there since ten minutes after you left this morning!" Thanks, Ken. We went ashore and toured Kristin's lovely townhouse, visited with her mother Nat, and went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Kristin brought us back to the marina, then we took the dinghy again to the Riverside Grill to hang out with Ted & Shirl.
Yep, been here all day!
Ted, Shirl, Jeff & Neala reunion in Vero
Under the Vero Bridge to the Riverside Grill
Thursday, December 13th - Vero Beach to West Palm Beach
We dropped our lines at 0730 and motored quietly out of the marina to continue our southward passage. High above us on the bridge, Kristin waved goodbye and snapped some pictures that are below. The weather was chilly after the previous warm day in Vero so we bundled up again. We motored past rows of multi-million dollar waterfront estates in Palm Beach before getting a slip at the Palm Harbor Marina where we were dwarfed by the super- and mega-yachts there. We went ashore and had a lovely light meal at Pistachio's, at an outside table where we could hear the live music in the adjacent park that was festively lit with Christmas lights.
Bye bye Kristin, see you again soon!
Kristin's shot of Northern Lights departing Vero. If you look carefully, you can see Neala holding the little live Christmas tree gift from Kristin!
Sing along: "Trailer for sale or rent..."
Some megayachts along the way
Downtown West Palm Beach on our way to Pistachio's for dinner
View from our table at Pistachio's. Loved the animated lights in the square
You and 11 of your friends can charter the 200 foot megayacht Diamonds Are Forever for a mere $400k per week. We are currently looking for the other 10... not!
Yeah, that's a big boat!
Friday, December 14th - Destination: Delray Beach!
We had only 20 more miles to get to our Delray Beach condo this morning but several timed bridges remained. The weather was warm again and the trip was comfortable with lots more beautiful homes and a noticeable increase in other pleasure vessel traffic. Just past the Woolbright Road Bridge, Neala's mother's longtime friend Marjorie waved to us from her daughter Pamela's condominium. We were getting close now! Two more bridges and we turned into the Tropic Bay channel where we were greeted by our friends Jeanne & Terry Persily who also live in Tropic Bay and keep a sailboat there. We unloaded clothes and food from the boat into our condo that afternoon and went to dinner at their condo that night where Terry had prepared a delicious lasagne.
One last look at Palm Harbor
Ocean Avenue Bascule Bridge
Finally, we move the buoy marker to Delray!
Atlantic Avenue Bascule Bridge
Our favorite, Deck 84
Gettin' into the 'hood
Yes, this is our canal!
Passing our neighbors, Tropic Bay in the distance
Northern Lights, arriving!
Our Terry & Jeanne welcoming committee
Welcoming the welcoming committee
Neala, Jeanne & Terry
We have finally arrived!
Saturday, December 15th - Dock Space: Plan A
We cannot get a slip at Tropic Bay until we have been in residence there for 90 days, so Jeff had arranged for a temporary slip in Lighthouse Point, 11 miles to the south. We left the marina and headed down the ICW once again, waiting at every bridge on the way. About 1300, we pulled into the canal at Lighthouse Point and gingerly motored to our slip. Bump! At just a little past high tide we ran aground only meters from the dock. Another pass and a steeper approach angle and we were able to get tied up, but the depth sounder said we had 6.5 feet of water and the tide still had another 1.7 feet to go out. Jeff was very concerned about this situation, as we require 6 feet, and called the dock owner, explaining that the depth was not going to work. The owner thought he could get it dredged the next day and invited us to take Northern Lights to his yacht club - Lighthouse Point Yacht & Racquet Club - a mile to the north for the night. As we approached the club we called the harbormaster to announce our arrival. He was expecting us and, asking our boat's dimensions, exclaimed "Oh, you're a little one!". Considering the yachts at this club, we agreed that our 42 foot sloop was, indeed a "little one".
The Persilys picked us up at the Yacht Club and Terry had found us a Plan B. A friend of a friend of his had a large dock in Boca Raton with space and enough water for our boat, so we went by to check it out. The new dock owner was really nice and turned out to be a fellow PhD Computer Scientist. We went back to the condo to relax a bit and, though we had reached our destination, were already missing our life on Northern Lights. Later that evening the first dock owner called to say he could not get the slip dredged and agreed we should go with our Plan B. Although we enjoyed dinner in the condo lanai overlooking the poolhouse and marina, we knew we were not going to be relaxing there any time soon.
The Tropic Bay Marina
Sunset at Tropic Bay
Sunset view from Jeanne & Terry's balcony
Christmas decorations at 900 Dogwood Drive, Tropic Bay
Sunday, December 16th - Dock Space: Plan B
In the morning we returned to Lighthouse Point to move the boat to Boca Raton. We made every one of the bridges and arrived at our new slip by noon. We were very happy with the depth and amenities there and spent the day cleaning the boat. This included removing the "ICW mustache" from our bow that had accumulated in the tannin-rich waters of North and South Carolina. Fortunately, Sno Bowl toilet cleaner (recommended by Terry) worked miraculously and the bow is now cleaner than before we left. Once again, the Persilys came to pick us up. Thanks, Jeanne & Terry!
Northern Lights' temporary new home in Boca Raton
Monday, December 17th
We got up early and went for a long walk in our new neighborhood. Then Jeff spent 5 hours on the phone with Comcast, futilely trying to get our internet service turned back on. Later that evening we had dinner with them at the Oyster Bar in downtown Delray Beach. Even though it was a Monday night, the town was bustling with activity and all of the restaurants and bars were doing a booming business. We had happy hour drinks and then took an outside table to watch the people go by and enjoy a delicious meal.
Dinner at the Oyster Bar with Terry, Jeanne, Neala & Jeff
Tuesday, December 18th - Epilogue
Today we boarded a plane to return to Erie for Christmas with Neala's family and then to Colorado for a New Year's week of skiing at Breckenridge with Jeff's family. We will return to Delray paradise in mid January. Neala, who always likes the window seat, shot these images of some of the inlets we had traversed on our trip down the ICW. We will label them if we get a chance, but they give you an idea of where we have been in the last month.
Here are two pictures that capture our journey from Erie, PA to Delray Beach, FL over the last 2 1/2 months.
The Erie Canal transit from Buffalo to Albany, October 5th to October 14th
The route down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from New York to Delray Beach, October 21st to December 14th
Thanks for all your comments, we are glad you could share in our adventures so far. Stay tuned for more of them in the New Year...
Happy New Year!!!
Neala & Jeff