"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

May 31, 2011

May 31 - Jacksonville, FL

Day 86 - Travel Day
Metropolitan Park Marina

The tide is beginning to play an important role on when we arrive and depart because it produces a very strong current. We left at slack tide this morning, which made getting out of our slip and marina much easier. As we moved up the ICW we traveled with the tide which gave us a boost in speed. We lost the extra time we had made when we turned in to the St. Johns River, because the tide was moving out. It slowed us down considerably. We'll be sure to travel with the tide when we leave.

We are at Jacksonville's Metropolitan Park Marina. It's a nice facility, but from what we have read, it's empty most of the time. It's a free dock; you only have to pay $8.56 a day for electricity. It's in a pretty park and right across the street from the Jacksonville Jaguar football stadium. I guess the marina is probably full on game weekends. We rode our bikes to Winn Dixie to pick up a few things we weren't able to get at Stewart's Market, had dinner on the boat and then took a walk through the park.

St. Augustine as we left this morning
Scenery as we traveled today
Some of the ships we ran into on the St. Johns River going into Jacksonville
Metropolitan Park
A little lonely in the marina...but a pretty view

May 30 - St. Augustine, FL

Day 85 - Concert in the Park
Anchorage Inn & Marina

We sat on the fly bridge this morning enjoying our coffee and watching the boats come and go. The ones that couldn't fit under the bridge would have to circle around until it opened. They open the bridge every thirty minutes...on the hour and half hour. Our first outing today was Stewart's Market to pick up a few more things before we leave tomorrow. Then we walked across the bridge for lunch at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill.  It was very good, Stan had an oyster po-boy and I had shrimp tacos. The weather was wonderful so we sat in the courtyard. Our final stop was a concert in the park. We took our blanket and relaxed on the grass as we listened to jazz music. It was a very relaxing afternoon. Since it was Memorial Day we grilled hot dogs for dinner. It felt like an all American day to us.

Stewart's Market
This little bird thought he owned the pier...he would chase all the other birds away
Bridge of Lions is 25 feet tall and has to open for taller boats
Bridge of Lions opened
Looking towards Flagler College
St. George Street was the main street in St. Augustine's early days, and today the thoroughfare is still considered the heart of the city. Full of restaurants, shops, galleries and historic buildings.
One of the little side streets in St. Augustine
Memorial Day Jazz concert in the park
Anchorage Inn & Marina (taken from the bridge)

May 30, 2011

May 29 - St. Augustine, FL

Day 84 - Fountain of Youth
Anchorage Inn & Marina

We went to the Fountain of Youth Park this morning...a little touristy, okay...a lot touristy, but it's where the history of colonization in America began in 1513. It's a good place for us to start our American history lesson since we'll be traveling up the east coast this summer to many other historical places. We even got to drink from the fountain of youth...so no more worries about getting old. 

We stopped at Fort Castillo de San Marcos on the way back. It's the oldest masonry fortification in the United States built in 1672. It was built to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World. Though caught in the whirlwinds of colonial warfare and intrigue, it was never defeated in battle. Its scarred walls still stand witness to over 330 years of history and culture. The rest of the day we spent on the boat…catching up on things.
Part of the grounds at the Fountain of Youth Park
Indian village demonstration at the park
The Fountain of Youth
Cannon firing near the site where Ponce de Leon first landed
City Gates of St. Augustine
Fort Castillo de San Marcos

May 29, 2011

May 28 – St. Augustine, FL

Day 83 – Busy Day Exploring
Anchorage Inn & Marina

Our first stop today was the St. Augustine Lighthouse. There has been a lighthouse in St. Augustine since 1824, but during the late 1800’s it was replaced several times until the present one was commissioned in 1874. The original watch tower was Florida’s first lighthouse. The present lighthouse rises 165 feet above sea level and contains 219 steps. At the top, a first order Fresnel lens serves the beacon. Fresnel lenses were originally divided into six sizes. The one in this lighthouse is the largest and has three bulls-eyes, which are approximately nine feet tall. Its beam can be seen nineteen to twenty-five nautical miles. The St. Augustine lens consists of 370 hand-cut glass prisms arranged in a beehive shape towering twelve feet tall and six feet in diameter. One interesting thing we learned today is that all lighthouses have unique distinguishing features and no two are exactly alike. The daymark of a lighthouse is its colors and they never change. The timing of a lighthouse’s flashing signal at night has a signature or pattern of light called a nightmark. This varies from one lighthouse to another, enabling mariners to identify the source of the light.

Our next stop was at Stewart’s Market to do a little shopping. It was the only grocery store close to the boat and I wasn’t expecting much. It was very small, but had wonderful meat and fresh fruits and vegetables. It was a true find…the meats were fresh and very reasonable priced.

After lunch we walked back across the bridge to do a little more exploring. I think we must have walked down every street in the historic downtown area. Every building seems to have some kind of history…very interesting. We walked through the Memorial Presbyterian Church. It was an amazing site. It was built by Henry Flagler and construction of the church was completed in less than a year so it could be dedicated on the first anniversary of his daughter’s death in March 1890. Flagler was very influential in the development of the east coast of Florida…his name is on everything.

We spent a quiet evening on the boat…enjoying a great meal of fresh seafood and vegetables from Stewart’s Market.

St. Augustine Lighthouse
One of the views from the top
Lens of the lighthouse
Looking up at the center of the lighthouse with the 219 stairs spiraling up
Flagler College...Flagler originally built this as the Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1888
The British Pub...one of the neat old homes in town
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Some of the stain glass windows in the church
The dome rises 100 feet and encompasses several religious symbols. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are symbolized, as are the crown of thorns, the Trinity and the Hebrew written letters for God (Yaweh)
At the base of Bridge of Lions

May 28, 2011

May 27 - St. Augustine, FL

Day 82 - Oldest Town in America
Anchorage Inn & Marina
This area of Florida is known as the Palm Coast...for good reason; there are forests of palm trees everywhere. We continued to see lots of dolphins and even a few manatees today. We've seen more dolphins the past few days than we have in the last two months in the rest of Florida. We're staying at Anchorage Inn & Marina right over the bridge from the historic section of St. Augustine. We wanted to stay at the municipal marina right in the heart of town, but they were full since it’s a holiday weekend. It's only a five minute walk across the bridge so it isn't bad. The docks are very nice, but I wouldn’t want to stay at the motel. I think this marina is used mostly by locals and they are very nice.

We wandered over the bridge and walked through some of the old town area. It looks very quaint, you feel like you're in a city in Europe somewhere. We're going to have fun exploring here. The weather was a little threatening so we stopped for a beer and snack at A1A Ale Works. We also did a wine tasting at Vino Del Grotto Winery; it was fun and interesting, they were featuring wines from Bulgaria and Austria this evening. More exploring and pictures tomorrow.

The tide fluctuates about four feet here...so people have long piers. They look a little weird during low tide.
Our view this weekend...Bridge of Lions
Oldest Wooden School House in America
Sunset view of the bridge

May 27, 2011

May 26 - Daytona Beach, FL

Day 81 - Manatee Spottings
Halifax River - Anchorage

We were greeted this morning by dolphins and one manatee. The manatee came close to the boat while Stan raised the anchor. Stan uses a hose to rinse the anchor off as he brings it up, manatees like fresh water so he came over to check it out. He didn't stay long once he figured out it was salt water...but we enjoyed the brief visit.

We had a long day, a lot of it was through a more rural area with small fish camps. One pass we went through was full of manatees. We weren't close enough to take good photos but it was fun to see them. We are anchored out in Daytona Beach, but it was too windy and rough to take the dinghy ashore. We spent the evening looking ahead at marinas. We want to leave the boat somewhere the middle of June and go home for a visit.

Our morning visitor
There were at least five or six manatees in this area playing.  So cool.
Ponce de Leon Lighthouse - The ICW doesn't get us very close to lighthouse...unfortunately.
International Speedway Bridge in Daytona Beach. Every piling has a tile mural of dolphins and manatees.
We have traveled 2005 miles since we left Port Lavaca on March 7

May 26, 2011

May 25 - Cocoa, FL

Day 80 – Took Our Dinghy to Town
Indian River - Anchorage

We continued to travel through the Indian River today. It's wide and looks more like a lake to me. People were out skiing and jet skiing...summer is close. We anchored out in Cocoa; it's near Cape Canaveral and was the setting for 'I Dream of Jeannie'. This was our first time to anchor and leave the boat where we couldn't see it while we were ashore. Cocoa has a dinghy dock near their historic downtown area, so we left the dinghy there and walked around town. 

Stan had to take a look at the S.F. Travis Hardware store...it's been in business since 1885. They advertise they have everything you need. Reminded us a lot of Melcher's Hardware, and they truly had a little of everything. We wandered through a few of the other stores and then had an early dinner at a little sidewalk cafe. Our anchorage tonight is right by a bridge, so it won't be as quiet and peaceful as last night, but it will do. We're planning on spending the holiday weekend in St. Augustine, so we have a couple of long days ahead of us.

S.F. Travis Hardware
Historic Cocoa Village
We had company while we ate dinner