We move from Titusville to
Fort Matanzas Daytona. And we are reminded we really don’t like Florida.
Start: Mooring ball, Titusville Municipal Marina, FL, 0744
End: Anchorage, ICW, Daytona Beach, 1602
Total Distance: 38.4 nm
Average Speed: 4.4 kts. WHOOOOOO!
Nothing personal to the people who live in the great state of Florida. And there are a lot of you. Something like 20 million, third largest in the United States. Apparently hot and humid weather, hurricanes, overcrowded roads and tiki bars are a HUGE draw. Oh yeah. And winters to die for. On a day when my brother is up to his groin in snow in April in Wisconsin, suddenly we see the draw.
But on this day, we are cursing Florida.
As we looked at the forecast to pick a day for moving from Titusville (Motto: “City of ACTION”), it appeared that today, Monday, looked to be pretty good. Storms passed through last night, temperatures dropped in the night and the high for today will be 68 degrees; wind from the west at 12 gusting to 20. We were going North and North West. Perfect! We could put the sail out and get a big push. Maybe get a huge day in and go all the way to Ft. Matanzas. Or at least Daytona.
And the morning looked fantastic. Sun was up, wind blowing gently from the west, cool, dry weather. We pull up the dinghy, drop the lines to the mooring ball and slowly turn to the NNW. And two surprises. First? The wind is right in our grill. And second, it is, shocking as it may seem, the wind much stronger than predicted. So instead of 12 gusting 20, it is just 20. While we planned to fly out of Titusville, instead we will be slogging our way north.
And as an added bonus, we started to get affected by the tidal flow. Tides come and go four times a day, but for the 60 miles we were in the Indian river, the tides had basically no effect because of the large surface area and small inlets. But that was all coming to an end when we went through the Haulover Canal bridge and turned towards some of the larger inlets. Suddenly we were fighting both wind and tide. Florida went ahead and kicked in the crotch with the wind, and when we bent over, kneed in the nose with the tidal current. Curses abounded on the boat.
4 knots with the engines wide open and screaming for mercy. A whopping 4 knots. Or 4.4 miles per hour. A nice walk in the park. Don’t even need to worry about breaking a sweat. Minnows pass us by and thumb their noses at us. Dolphins helpfully push on the back of our boat to help us along (we assume they thought we were in distress). I was going to call TowBoatUS and fake an engine problem and have them tow us 100 miles north. The irony of the situation is that just after lunch when we approached New Smyrna Beach, we were getting a huge push because of the tide. Our speed was increasing and would peak above 7 knots. We were flying as we approached the Ponce De Leon Inlet just north of New Smyrna. But Florida had another surprise for us.
Bridges. We love bridges. Specifically the 65’ bridges that rise high over the ICW, soaring 20’ above the top of our mast. We care less for the bascule bridges that we have to call and ask for a bridge lift. We had two today. One early (Haulover) and one in New Smyrna. Our books told us the first one was ‘on demand.’ We call on the radio, they put it up. And it was. The New Smyrna was to open, according to our literature, on the 20s. 3 times per hour. Jan was driving and our arrival time was 1310. I called the bridge tender on the phone to confirm and he told me to slow my roll. Only two opening per hour, top and bottom. I pass the info to Jan who throttles us back. To no real avail. The current is kicking and we are being swept along. And when we get into New Smyrna, the ICW turns east, so the ^#%@* wind which had been opposing us all the way until now, suddenly starts to HELP US! We are freaking flying. And all this speed is going to waste…we have to burn little circles in the channel to wait for the bridge to open. And not get hit by another boat.
Fortunately New Smyrna has an island that the channel skirts, so when we approach the bridge (at 1310, 20 minutes early), we tell the bridge tender we are there for his 1330 opening, then simply hang a right, enter a side channel and now are going against the wind and the tide. I adjust the engines and we sit perfectly still in the water. Which is what we would have done for the next 20 minutes.
We have been monitoring a paddle wheel type boat that was in the marina in Titusville and left after us, but has been slowly catching us. I say paddle wheel type boat because it looks exactly like a paddle wheel boat, 105 long, 30 feet wide, two smoke stacks, two floors, tall as crap, and I presume a calliope with which they blast annoying pipe music at 747-level decibels. But no paddle wheel…just exhaust for two enormous diesel engines. And by the time we get to New Smyrna he has almost reached us. When we turned up the side channel and patiently waited, we could see him on AIS screaming down the ICW. He didn’t get the message about bridge opening times either, and waited until he was mighty close when he called for a bridge opening. Same answer. 1:30. And now we get to watch a 100’ long boat turn in a very small channel. Towards us.
I get it. He did what I would have done. Looked at his chart, saw a big circle, did the calculus, figured one lap around and he would get them setup perfectly for the 1:30 opening, turned quickly to not run into the (closed) bridge. And hello. A teeny little cat.
We moved quickly to the right and hugged the red channel markers as the monster chugged by us. Then took up our position in the channel holding steady against wind/tide until the big dude came around on his second pass, fell in behind him and we headed through the bridge together. Back to flying. For about 10 minutes. Until we got to the inlet, water against us, and then we went back to our four knots.
Couple hours later we finally made it into Daytona. Pull off on the side of the ICW, get a little space between some underused boats and drop the hook. Done for the day.
One nugget we did get today. Up to this point in our trip, almost every time we have seen a manatee, they have been in marinas. And every time we have seen a manatee, they have been moving slowly (if at all). Kind of like a sofa with a fin tail that ended up in the water. Until today. We had passed through a bridge and were coming up a channel when we saw some grey bodies in the water rolling around. “Dolphins,” we say. But as we get closer we realize they are manatees. And they are rolling and playing in the middle of the channel. Jan walked up to the front of the boat to direct me around them; whatever they were doing, they were digging it and not giving up ground. Pretty awesome. We may like Florida. A little anyway. We will see act tomorrow brings…