Saturday, November 28, 2009

Heading South - To Where the Weather Fits our Clothes!!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends - we know we did (although we ate way too much!!!) We spent a great day on September Song with Stephanie (the master chef) and Bob (the master bartender) enjoying amazing food and company. Unfortunately we were so busy stuffing ourselves all day/night, I forgot to get lots of pictures - the few I got don't do the amazing array of delicacies served up by our master chef justice.
Dinner is About to Start
Dinner is Now Complete!
By the time we were inhaling apple pie and carrot cake for dessert and finishing up the last of the wine, I don't think any of us could eat another bite (not even a wafer for those Monty Python fans out there!!) What a wonderful day with great friends - thanks Steph and Bob - you guys are the best!! Bootsie wholeheartedly agreed as Aunt Stephanie even sent us home with some turkey which the boat kitties proceeded to inhale, nearly chomping several of my fingers off in their delight! Puss likewise was dancing on the table she was so happy - turkey day was a huge hit!!

We left St. Augustine the next morning and I have to tell you all that it was cold, darn cold - now I don't usually complain about the cold (mainly because I know I'd get no sympathy from our northern family and friends) but when we awoke on Friday morning, there was frost on our windows (OK maybe it wasn't exactly frost but it sure looked like it and it was really, really cold!) and while that may be OK in Maine where you expect it, it just isn't right in Florida!!! So off we headed south hoping to find someplace warmer!! We drove from the inside pilothouse almost the whole day, emerging only for moments at a time to snap a picture of a cool boathouse, funny tugboat or some laughing pelicans along the way.

There are four bridges in rapid succession in downtown Daytona, two of which we have to have opened for us since even with our antennae down, we measure about 23 feet high (trust me, we've measured!!!) Last year we ran into the worst bridge tender we've ever met at one of these bridges - she fought with us over whether we actually needed the bridge raised or not - she thought just by looking at us from a half mile away that she could tell we could fit under the bridge - UGH!!! Well sure enough - the witch (decorum prevents me from repeating here what I was calling her on the boat!!) was at the same bridge and proceeded to do the exact same thing!!! What did she have us on a list or something??? No other bridge tender anywhere has ever given us any grief about opening for us!!!! No one else had any problem with her....obviously she is not a Buffett fan (that must be it since it sure couldn't be us - we didn't turn nasty until she did!! I think she was particularly PO'ed when we asked her if she was assuming all the liability for damages to our boat if she didn't open the bridge - what, it's a fair question!!!!) As we headed through the bridge finally (she opened it only because a sailboat came up behind us) we heard her proceed to tell a catamaran further behind us that she couldn't tell them if they could fit through the bridge for liability reasons and they had to make that decision for themselves...huh???? What the hell had she just been doing with us??? Luckily our anchorage for the evening was only a short distance away so adult libations were close at hand! We watched a gorgeous sunset
and the moon rise high above the condo highrises that dot the Daytona landscape
- nature (and lots of rum) always have a way of calming us after a particularly stressful day (actually the day was just fine other than that one butthead!!!!) For all you snowbirds out there still traveling south, be weary of the bridge tender at the Main Street Bridge in Daytona - she's a real piece of work and not in any good way!!!! I wonder if she's ever even been on a boat before????

Anyways, after a peaceful night at anchor we woke this morning at o'dark hundred for another early start - while maybe not quite as cold as the prior morning, a couple degrees warmer is not what we're looking for - I want it to be warm and so far, not so much!!! I'm running out of sweatshirts to layer (OK I didn't bring that many with me in the first place!! I want shorts and tee shirt weather!!) Today's run has been really cool though - we have seen unbelievable wildlife including about seven manatees!!!! Last year on our whole trip down the coast we didn't see a single one while we were cruising - we'd see one at the docks here and there usually when some tourist was giving them water from a hose (which you aren't supposed to do!) - in fact we never even saw a single one until we reached Pompano despite having to slow down through most of Florida for the manatee zones - we were beginning to believe they didn't exist! Today they were out in force - hopefully this means they are making a comeback and the populations are increasing!!
We also saw hundreds of dolphins - a whole pod of whom decided to play with us for miles!!!! I love these gentle, funny creatures - they have a way of swimming on their sides so they can look up at you as if to make sure you are enjoying the show and taking lots of pictures (we did!!!!)

We passed rookeries filled with pelicans (brown and white ones - hanging together without any issues of race!),
cormorants and even one with bushes full of roseate spoonbills - way too cool!!!
If you think the ICW in Florida is all full of gorgeous italianate or spanish homes with flowing pools and gardens filled with statues and fountains (yes there is a lot of that especially south of here - think West Palm and Jupiter), then today's cruise would have been an eye-opener. Trailer parks flying confederate pirate flags (I can honestly say that was the first one I'd seen),

almost sinking houseboats
and definitely sinking dead aboard (rather than live aboard) boats provided the fodder for our cameras when the wildlife wasn't otherwise occupying them!!!

We're making better time on the water today than we had thought (gotta love the current when it's behind you) so we're pushing further south - the butter is still hard (and that is the bellweather of if we're far enough south - we're not!). We plan on anchoring in Cocoa this evening and hopefully will arrive in Stuart on Monday where we will kick back and relax for at least a few days with September Song and Steve and Di of Aurora! September Song plans on being there for at least a month - after a couple days, we will head south about 30 miles where we are going to have the boat pulled to do some bottom work on her. Gypsies needs some barnacles scraped off, new bottom paint and zincs and something to do with the stabilizers (that's Doug's area....) We're going to do a bunch of the work ourselves so we plan on whooping it up in Stuart before it's on to serious boat chores!!! But then we should be heading much further south - we are hoping to be at our winter home in Key West by mid-December!!! Yippee!!

Click here to see our anchorage in Daytona.

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