Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Fog, again foiling our attempt to leave St. Augustine, Florida.

Paralleling the ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) meanders a long way—over 3,000 miles
I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning to pee. Our alarm was set for 7 a.m., so after getting fogged in yesterday morning, I climbed into the cockpit to peer out across the darkness before heading back for that last hour of sleep. I felt a huge surge of relief when I saw the lights of St. Augustine reflected across the mirror-like surface of the water.

Imagine my surprise at a few minutes past 7, when Wayne announced he was headed back to bed because it was even foggier than yesterday! 

But from side to side, the navigable part is not that wide—today mostly only fifty feet—hence it’s also referred to those in the know as “the ditch.” 

They’re slow miles, “BAF [boring as f*ck”)” per Wayne, but generally easy in the sense that you’re able to minimize contrary winds and currents, and the waters are generally fairly placid. Yet they require intense concentration to stay on track. Enough concentration that Wayne peed into his emptied diet Mountain Dew can, rather than leave the helm for long enough to relieve himself some other way.

Daytona Florida condos, shrouded in the fog we hope will not slow our progress on the ICW.

This time, we decided to tough it out as long as it got a little clearer. I hung out on the bow for our first few hours, watching for channel markers, shallow-spot warning signs, and other boats. 
Your world gets small when it’s focused on squinting to see that next channel marker and able to make out little else for a long while.

 On the advice of our excellent surveyor, Ceal Potts, I contacted TowBoat US to ask for local knowledge in navigating the JAX and St. Augustine ICW.  “Use your eyes, not the charts,” they advised. The shoals (river shallow spots) move. Recently the markers were moved to reflect those changes, but it was unlikely those updates would be properly reflected in the charts. Heck, we once found an island on a chart that merely referenced a “shallow spot” in Tonga.

Crab fisherman and begging pelicans on Florida’s ICW.

Then came the crab pots, which sometimes drifted into the channel. They can stop a prop if they entangle it, so we slalom them with care, avoid them whenever we can, and curse at them. Yet we can’t deny smiling at the pelicans assertively circling the crab pot fisherman, something we remembered from our 2013 and 2014 travels down Florida’s ICW, too.

S/V L’Estime, a Hunter 37 sailboat, and our shadow until about 4 pm today.

About 45 minutes into our travels, another sailboat, s/v L’Estime XII, a 37′ Hunter with Montreal on its transom, tailed us. They stuck with us until our last hour of sailing today, when they finally zipped past us, never to be seen again.

JB Knox Bridge lift on the Florida ICW
between St. Augustine and Daytona Florida.

Eventually, the fog lifted and we made our way past waterfront homes, miles of sawgrass, and under more bridges, two of which required the tender to lift the bridge for us to pass.

Kayakers on the Smith River portion of Florida’s ICW.

Even though we didn’t see that many birds—and no alligators—this trip, I believe I could’ve seen quite a few kayaking. I kept pointing out little channels that looked especially tempting to kayak, looking wistfully at mine strapped on our deck, though knowing I will get in some excellent kayaking in the Bahamas, as I have on prior trips.

Hoboat, barely afloat, anchored not far from where we dropped ours on Daytona’s Halifax River.

Finally, we arrived, again in time to take a dinghy to shore to stretch our legs and check out downtown Daytona and make it back in time to enjoy another sunset over the water.

Hardcore or humor amongst Daytona, Florida drinkers. You decide.

Location Location

Downtown Daytona, Florida.

Today we traveled 48 miles in 7 hours, to arrive at Daytona, Florida, where we anchored on the Halifax River in 12 feet of water near low tide, at N29 53.286 W81 18.340. Tomorrow, we’re aiming for the same distance again, to arrive in Titusville. We’re hoping we can make it to Fort Pierce before the fierce southerlies stop us in our tracks for a while.

Note: this is a retrospective of our travels yesterday. We are currently anchored in Titusville. Today’s travel is slated for tomorrow’s post.

On a More Personal Note

Our cockpit view: sunset on the Halifax River, Intracoastal Waterway, Daytona Florida.

If you’ve ever thought you should call a friend, or drop them a note, or better yet, drop by, don’t wait. Make the time. Let them know how much they mean to you.

Within less than two weeks, I’ve lost two very dear friends. One was my husband’s surrogate mom. The other was mine. Both had health issues, but both deaths were sudden and unexpected. I am grateful for the time I had with them, hope they understand fully what a huge difference they made in my life.

As well, don’t wait on your adventures. Do what you can, while you can, before it’s too late.