We traveled from Titusville to New Smyrna last Thursday afternoon and anchored for two nights across from town. We made dinner and watched a beautiful sunset and enjoyed a very calm and quiet night at anchor! It’s been awhile since we’ve had a night at anchor that still.
Friday morning we spent time on school. That afternoon we took the dinghy into town and tied up at the free dinghy dock. The kids immediately spotted the fabulous playground. It was about 85 degrees and very sunny so Ben and I found a bench in the shade while they turned bright red burning off some energy! We then walked around town a bit and had a fabulous dinner at Yellow Dog Eats. Such a fun place with great food. Saturday morning we ran into town one more time for another park trip and the farmer’s market. We found a large supply of wonderful fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market.
At this point we had really enjoyed the cute little town of New Smyrna. We pulled anchor and headed north towards Halifax marina in Daytona Beach. Just past the Ponce Inlet in the middle of the ICW marked channel we hit ground. Hard enough to stop us in our tracks. We hadn’t heard that awful sickening sound since October in the middle of the Tenn Tom. It’s terrible. There was a sailboat aground as well. We both drifted off. The sailboat with their keel was completely fine. Us, not so much. Once again the unprotected props have become an issue. Ben will type up a blog with more technical details once he drops the props off to be fixed yet again. I’m frustrated. Ben is beyond frustrated. Even the slightest bend and we have a horrible shake when the boat is in gear. We had Tow Boat US lead us through the section where we ran aground. We were free but followed him through with him reading depths. We followed him for a couple of miles and limped into Daytona Beach with our shaking boat. Ben started calling the list of divers that the marina supplied us with to work on getting the props swapped out and our spares put on. Given that it was 5 PM on a Saturday night this seemed like a tall order and we assumed we wouldn’t have any luck before Monday morning. We walked into town and grabbed some dinner and let the girls run around for a bit and then turned in for a fairly solemn evening.
Sunday morning I went for a jog and Molly joined me on her scooter. We covered over 4 miles and had a good time. Ben heard back from one of the divers who said he could come swap the props that day! Things were looking up. The girls and I spent the day puzzling. Maddy worked on one of her puzzles and Molly and I are tackling a large dolphin puzzle.
Sunday afternoon the diver and his apprentice showed up. It took him awhile to get the bent prop off the boat and then the other prop – which thankfully we think is ok. Then started the process of putting the spare props on. While the diver was under water he managed to slice his hand badly enough on the prop that he cut through tendon down to the bone. Yikes. Molly and I were up on the fly bridge working on a puzzle. She kind of freaked out when she saw Ben bandaging the diver’s hand. The diver was nothing but calm and said he’d go call another diver. He came back a bit later and said he was going to head to the hospital and would have a diver here first thing Monday morning. So, that was terrible for him and another hiccup for us.
Monday morning around 9:30 the injured diver showed up with his apprentice and another diver. His hand was very bandaged and he told us he’ll need surgery since he cut through tendons. I feel terrible since he has to have his hands to do his job! I know it’s not our fault and this is why we hired him instead of Ben trying to tackle this job. But still…I feel terrible and wish him the best. But to continue on….the diver he brought couldn’t get the prop on by himself. Ben can explain in more detail but the prop was too heavy for him to lift onto the shaft under water by himself. To give an idea, our props are 29″ in diameter and weigh about 100 lbs. each. So, off they went to call yet another diver to come help them. Alas, around 11:30 AM or so Monday the props were back on the boat!
Once the girls and I finished school we took off into town while Ben finished up with the divers and got the boat prepped to head on north very cautiously. We haven’t gotten their scooters out since we were in the Bahamas and they had a lot of fun riding around. Daytona Beach has a great water front path that runs right along the sidewalk. We scootered the length of the little downtown area (not the big boardwalk – that was across the ICW on the other side) and stopped for some frozen yogurt before heading back to the boat.
We hoped to anchor Sunday night and Monday night before arriving in St. Augustine today. However, after the prop issues and looking at Active Captain (a website that shows full maps and reviews of anchorages, water hazards and marinas) we determined there just was not a decent place for us to stop. So Ben made a reservation about 35 miles north of Daytona Beach in Marineland, FL. The trip north was actually quite easy and very beautiful. There were not too many hazards in that stretch however Ben and I both kept Active Captain up the entire time and had two sets of eyes on all the comments at every hazard mark. We pulled into Marineland in VERY high wind and blew right into our dock. The harbor master there lives up to his Active Captain reviews and was so helpful. Tensions relaxed for a bit as we settled in for the night.
Ben and I spent a long time last night looking at every inch of the 18 miles between Marineland and St. Augustine, FL. The Matanzas River has had a lot of serious shoaling post hurricane. Much of it right in the channel. Ben called Tow Boat US for advice twice yesterday. And talked to Eric at the marina twice. And made plans to follow another boat docked with us. It turns out that two boats who pulled in with us last night both hit ground in the same place we did by Ponce Inlet. But…keel…no damage. Sigh. Anyway, we were able to follow one of them today which was a huge relief. They were so sweet and called us on the radio with constant updates through the diciest parts of the passage. The worst part was just dredged and was all good. Ironically this was the deepest water we’ve seen in months….but the unknown of the random shoaling in the middle of the channel was the problem. And again this part of Florida is quite pretty!
The current pushed us along and we got to St. Augustine about an hour and a half early. We needed to pull into the marina at slack tide. The girls and I have learned that this means either dead low tide or high tide. The current through the river here is very strong and at slack tide it stops and changes direction making it simpler to dock. Ben did donuts in the channel for an hour or so and then we pulled in and tied up without issue.
We walked into town for an hour or so this afternoon. I love it already. I’m so excited we have a full week to spend here. There are so many things to see and do. We had dinner on the boat tonight and then enjoyed the colors of sunset.
Tomorrow Michael and Cathy from Trawler Life are coming to meet us with their grandson. Ben and Michael will take the props to be fixed and then we’re all heading to the Alligator Farm! Should be a fun day. Thursday Ben’s parents arrive and we will save most of our sightseeing for their visit! And Saturday is a big day…Madelyn’s 7th birthday! She wakes up every morning with a countdown of how many days left until her big day. She’s so excited. I hope we can make it special for her even though it will be a little different this year.