Living large in high cotton

My father use to tell me when I was young that I was the only one he knew who could fall in a barrel of horse manure and come out smelling like a rose every time. I wish that were true all of the time but today at least it was totally true.

Casting off at 0645 again allowed us to take advantage of the calm that usually comes with dawn and to put a goodly number of miles beneath the keel by mid-afternoon. Today was a long run up well past Daytona and it would take us through some potentially tricky waters that we had not experienced before in terms of narrow passes and swift currents. A little prayer couldn’t hurt. A lot might be needed.

As we left the marina a Mainship trawler came out with us and would dog our trail all the way to Daytona. I only spoke one phrase on the VHF to them the whole day and that was to warn of a manatee swimming in the tightest passage of the day. They said thanks and that was it.

Our first challenge was to negotiate Haulover Canal which connects the bay behind Cape Canaveral to Mosquito Lagoon. This pass is cut through solid coral rock and is as narrow as a two lane road and clogged with dozens of small fishing boats blocking the way and they do not intend to interrupt their fishing by moving. Tommy Gray had told me this was the weirdest pass he had ever been through and he was right. Fun but weird.

Once in Mosquito Lagoon there is a large body of very shallow water where flats fishermen love to go. But their boats are either flat bottomed or have a hydraulic jack lift for the motor to ride up and down vertically while running. The rest of us must maintain a tight line through miles and miles of dredged channel that is about 9 feet deep and 50 feet wide. Slip outside and there goes another prop.

As you exit this area on the north side you suddenly see that this is the temporary end of the rich and famous sights and the beginning of a trip back in time to the old Florida of tents and trailers and fishing communities. All of this is a no wake zone so you have ample time to see all the sights and it is most interesting. You can talk to fishermen or watch a crab boat empty it’s traps and throw back the small ones as pelicans scramble to catch them before they can escape.

It was upon us so suddenly that my mind was racing! How could the Chicken Boat have gotten this far? Then as it passed I realized this was a luxury yachy compared to the infamous Chicken Boat. That does remind me I need to check on it and give my readers an update.

Later as you approach civilization as we know it from a tourist point of view, you come to some familiar names. Ormand Beach where side currents can catch you unawares, New Smyrna Beach where the route twists and turns and currents from passes to the Atlantic can push you sideways out of the channel if you are not careful, and finally Daytona where boat traffic picks up and shallow water and sandbars abound. All in all a fun day that tested us and kept us on our toes.

We saw manatee, bald eagles, dolphins and all manner of birds. Still no alligators though.

Upon arrival at our destination of The Yacht Harbor at Hammock Beach Resort we thought that we had died and gone to boaters heaven. You would not believe it and tomorrow I will try to do it justice with a tour. But for now just try to imagine being met at the gorgeous docks by an attentive young dockmaster named Neil who could not do enough for you and refused any tip. He tells us that Jan’s first cousin Frank Owings and his lovely wife Fay have already taken care of our dock fees, there is free ice, a complete workout room and spa, a pool and jacuzzi, a concierge at our disposal and he hands us plastic credit cards with our names on them for charging throughout the resort. Add to this the fact that Frank and Fay arrived and took us in a luxurious big Jaguar sedan to a 5 star Italian restaurant for dinner and gave us the keys to a knockout set of wheels to use for the weekend. When you see what we are driving you will say get outta here!

I just do not have time to upload all the pictures tonight but will add them tomorrow. It will be worthwhile to take a second look at the Beverly Hillbillies arrival in high cotton.