Meet Mr. and Mrs. Manatee

Today we were off at the crack of dawn or at least as soon thereafter as possible. The crew was scrambling at 0630 to loosen the lines and take in the power cords and by 0645 we were underway. Turning northward in the ICW we vowed to try and stay within the channel and avoid striking bottom. Our readers will be glad, I hope, to hear that it was a successful day.

As the morning progressed we realized that we could likely take advantage of the good weather and light winds and travel further than we had hoped to make up for our lost days with the prop. Several doctor and dental appointments await us in March and we would love to leave Cbay in freshwater while we are gone. The only way to do this is to get far enough up the St. John’s River at Jacksonville and we would also like to spend some time in St. Augustine before getting to Jax. Every time you try to meet a schedule on a boat you are asking for trouble but here we go.

Covered around 73 miles today which is a long day for us at cruising speeds under 10 mph. We did run it up on plane a few minutes just to test the props. All seems well but a new set of cutlass bearings would not hurt the next time we haul the boat out. Perhaps on the Hudson River would be a good place when we have it waxed after getting completely out of saltwater. For the uninitiated a cutlass bearing is what holds the prop shaft in the struts under the boat. Think of it like the axels on your car going through a bearing on a strut just before it gets to the wheels.

The homes along this stretch of ICW are different than south of here but just as spectacular and perhaps even more charming.

This guy was riding above us on his powered parasail. Too high to get a really good shot.

This is an example of how shallow some of the water was today.

A beautiful antique yacht passed by at midday. The captain was at the helm and the owners were being served lunch on the aft deck. That is living. The name was Enticer.

Riding along was pretty boring for most of the day. However there were a few entertaining tidbits to share.

First, the story of the reluctant pioneers. We passed by an area known as Pineda. Back in the 1910’s the state was attempting to attract settlers and offered homesteads in that sandy pine forested portion of Florida. You could get 40 acres but you had to supply your own mule. If you would settle and work the land for a certain number of years then it would be yours free and clear. Jan’s father’s parents decided to move from Florence, AL with their new baby boy John Jr. That was not Jan’s father as he was not yet born. They were accompanied by her great grandfather’s brother who would one day marry his brother’s widow but I get ahead of myself.

Anyway, they took Flagler’s Florida East Coast RR down to Pineda and claimed their land. John would get a job with the RR and Vestus the brother would build a cabin as he was a carpenter. Both would work the land. Their parents would soon come to visit from Tennessee bringing a wagon with two mules pulling it. Tied behind the wagon was a milk cow for the baby and a coup full of chickens. That was a heck of a long ride. Then they traveled home by train.

All was going very well until one day when Rosa decided to put the baby John Jr. in a small wagon and take him for a walk. That is when she discovered why they were giving the land away. She came upon a rather large rattlesnake on the path and quickly ran screaming away leaving the baby in the wagon. Eventually she overcame her violent fear of all snakes to return and rescue the baby.

When John came home from work she was packed and said she would not live in this snake infested place and was taking the baby back to Florence. John told Vestus that he could have the land as he could not bear to lose Rosa. Good thing because otherwise Neal would never have made it into this world. Vestus would soon become discouraged living alone and he too returned home. So much for pioneers. That land today probably has a thousand condo units on it. I would sure love to find out just where it was located and go see it. Maybe that will be a future adventure. Can’t break any props on that trip but probably should carry a snake bite kit just in case.(In Jan., 2013 I wrote a blog telling the true story as we traced these pioneers. It explains a lot.) 

The route today also passed by Cape Canaveral where our space program got it’s start. There is not much to see from the water unless they were launching a rocket. We did get a picture of one of the buildings where they assemble the rockets before launch.

Arriving at the Titusville Municipal Marina was hairy. The wind was blowing pretty strong and we tried backing in twice and were afraid we might hit a boat. This was getting to be a three screamer so we went bow in and will deal with the inconvenience of climbing off the bow for one night.

Washing the boat was first priority and using the freshwater soon attracted a manatee couple who were quite friendly. They would come up and suck the dripping water off the side of the boat. They even thought they could drink the water being pumped out by the AC units but soon found out it was saltwater and returned to sucking the sides of the boat. They are so gentle and have zero fear of humans. This has led to much tragedy for them as you can see the prop scars on their backs from close encounters with boats. They are so slow moving that algae grows on their backs just like it grows on boats that sit still too long. Our bottom is pretty clean as a rolling stone gathers no moss.

We will dine onboard tonight and get out of here early in the morning.