This begins our latest adventure to once again cruise the waters of Maine for the summer, with a few side trips along the way. On our way north we intend to spend time in North Carolina completing the “Albemarle Loop”; stopping at several of the 10+ towns along the Albemarle Sound offering free dockage for up to 2 nights each. We also intend to go up the Hudson River for the annual Pig Roast at Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore, NY in June, and then head back down the Hudson River and through Long Island Sound north into New England. We also are hoping to get to Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and other spots on Cape Cod, either on the way up or on the return trip home.
St. Augustine, FL – Tuesday, 4/13
Having loaded our boat full of fuel, food, clothes and personal items, we went to bed Monday night exhausted from all the prep work for this adventure. Special thanks to Denise’s sister Jeanne who took us and all our stuff to the boat, and then to a fun dinner at Grill in Port Canaveral.
In the morning we had not much to do to get off the docks, as Mark had done most of the work before going to bed. Truthfully, he just wanted that extra 15 minutes of sleeping-in time. With that in mind, we did leave just after sunrise and headed down the barge canal to the ICW. Here the undisturbed water was so pristine and the wildlife was out chasing their breakfast.
Once on the ICW we moved quickly and in no time we passed by Titusville, the Haulover Canal and entered Mosquito Lagoon. We watched a few boats from the Boston Whaler plant in Edgewater go through a few checkout runs and passed a few other Loopers heading north for the summer. We continued making good time through New Smyrna, around Ponce Inlet and into the Halifax River. As we passed through Daytona Beach we discovered that (finally) all the bridge construction was done and there was fast and easy passage underneath them all.
As we got north of town we noticed the wind had picked up, and there was a bit of chop on the water. Because it was on our nose it bounced the boat a bit, but it was tolerable and short-lived. Eventually, the ICW turns narrow again and the wind was blocked by the land and buildings along the way. It was about this time that we saw a south-bound vessel approaching flying a Gold Looper Burgee. About the time we realized it was the boat “Velomer” and our friends Bob and PM, and they hailed us on the VHF radio. We chatted about our last encounter (Jekyll Island in Nov 2019) and our respective plans (they are headed to Vero, then on to SW Florida). It is this chance meeting that never ceases to amaze us in the boating community.
We continued north without issue and before long we passed through Flagler Beach, then Palm Coast, then past Fort Matanzas in South St. Augustine. Finally, we prepared to turn up the San Sebastian River, where we encountered not one, but two pirate ships out with their tours. Only in St. Augustine!
Fifteen minutes later we moved to the Marine Oil and Fuel Supply to fill up on fuel. This year the prices are higher than they have been in a long time and we will be searching for the best price, even if it means going a little out of our way. After we completed the fill-up we moved back down the river to the Rivers Edge Marina where we had reservations for the evening.
Our plans for the night included meeting up with an old high school friend of Denise’s and her husband. We last saw Staci and Todd in Panama City Beach when we were on the Great Loop in 2015. They have since moved to St. Augustine and are now closer to their family and old friends like us. We ate dinner at Hurricane Patty’s, the restaurant at the marina as it was convenient and the food was pretty good, but the service was slow. However, the conversation was great and we hardly noticed. Two hours later we finally said good bye and promised to connect again on the return south. Despite claiming all night long that we should take pictures, we forgot and when we remembered it was too dark to do so. Oh well!
Once back on the boat, we looked at the weather, made plans for the next day’s departure, and went to bed early for some much needed rest.