148 Jekyll Island, GA to Vero Beach, FL

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Spring fix up started in early January on Odyssey. A new cockpit enclosure eliminated torn canvas and screens. A bit of cutting transformed a carpet remnant found at Home Depot into cockpit carpeting while underneath giant closed cell foam squares cut like puzzle pieces interlocked to made for great carpet padding. The urge to be on the move was kicking in while we were doing the work so after having enjoyed Jekyll for six weeks, we headed south as soon as everything was completed.

An easy day brought us to the south end of Cumberland Island and an empty anchorage. For two days we explored the southern end of the island having it to ourselves until we went down to explore around Dungeness, the Carnegie estate ruin, where we saw a few folks who had arrived by ferry.

Tucked way back behind Pine Island the falling tide revealed the shoal we’d carefully set the anchor to avoid. Back toward the entrance a couple of boats showed up at dusk and anchored just off the ICW. Gray light was just making the tree line visible as we raised the anchor. Rising morning mist swirled around the sleeping boats as we passed by and continued south.
Bridge of Lions dwarfed by portable lift bridge behind it.

Bridge of Lions dwarfed by portable lift bridge behind it.

St Augustine was a working stop to find Sunbrella at Sailors Exchange for recovering our cockpit cushions. Ruth has planned the upholstery project as part of our spruce up. Curiosity got to us, and we walked into town from Oyster Creek to see how the temporary lift bridge looked from shore. We’d been surprised to see the Bridge of Lions, a St Augustine historic landmark, disassembled for maintenance and in its place a transportable lift bridge handling traffic. From shore the portable bridge had not disrupted the traffic flow.

The sun was setting as we cleared the Haulover Canal and throttled up to blow out the turbochargers before reaching Titusville and anchoring after dark. Things didn’t go well. One of the engines would not come up to speed. Filter changes in the morning didn’t fix the problem so we resigned ourselves to calling a mechanic when we reached Vero.

Odyssey on mooring at Vero Beach

We had one of Vero’s moorings to ourselves. The dinghy motor that had been repaired at Jekyll for the first time in nine years was working nicely making the commute to shore easy. A few days later Talisman rafted alongside. We enjoyed Tom and Marilyn’s company for a bit before they continued to Fort Myers on their winter cruise adventure.

Jim, Joan, Ruth

Jim and Joan helped make waiting for the mechanic bearable since the shop was booked solid for over two weeks. We got together regularly enjoying the conversation and finding it a good excuse for lunches, dinners, or movies out or at Jim’s. We caught up with Tom and Mary Joe who we hadn’t seen in years one evening as we enjoyed dinner Joan’s house. Coming into the dock from the mooring provided opportunities to have Jim and Joan aboard for dinner and to see the boat.

Things turned expensive once the mechanic showed and other items like a leaking mixing elbow, leaking oil cooler got added to needing a new turbocharger. Repairs were going to take awhile since parts had to be ordered.

Heading back to the mooring field we tripled up rafting off Sweet Dreams starboard side they had Ming rafted off on the port side. A few days later we let Sweet Dreams slide out from the middle and head south. We came alongside Ming and got to know Capt. Neil and learn a bit about his unique motor sailing cat we’d seen a number of times on the ICW over the years.

A short walk from the marina took us to Vero’s Garden Show. We poked around enjoying splashes of color from the variety of flowers. Ruth’s desire to grow things got to her, and we bought a bromeliad. Our air plant now adds a bit of color in the cockpit and gets a weekly shower under the galley faucet. It appears to like its new home, and we enjoy the bit of nature and the occasional bit of color from its flowers.

Some things just seem to work out. Unknown to us, Jim and Rita had driven their RV back from Texas and had flown out of Orlando to Auburn, NY. Our spur of the moment call found them in Auburn, wondering where they’d head once they were back in Florida. A couple of days later we added another unique spot in the country where we’ve met up when they showed up in Vero. Their arrival and our pending boat repairs made for a good excuse to experiment and party at the same time as we brought Odyssey back to the dock for the start of mechanical work. We moved the TV to the cockpit and hooked up cable. Then we had a Superbowl party and watched the game from Odyssey’s cockpit.

Small RVs really come handy. We rode with Jim and Rita down to Ft. Pierce to enjoy the farmers’ market there. Jim tucked the RV into a parking space, and we made the short walk to the market. Later we explored one of the local RV parks and took it off our list of potential future stops. On another day we rode with them out to the RV park they were enjoying at Sebastian Inlet. That park we liked and may visit someday by RV.

It was time to regroup and change plans. Instead of heading further south on Odyssey we used a rental car instead. While Odyssey sat waiting for parts and reassembly we took off and squeezed what had been planned as a month of cruising into a few days.

Bobbie fixing dinner

John and Bobbie gave us a feel for the places they hang out; Short Circat tucked into its slip, the beach where they watch the sunset, and drinks at the Venice Yacht Club. As evening approached we settled into the very comfortable home they’d built and sat around the kitchen counter watching Bobbie fix dinner as we continued catching up. Dinner fixing blended seamlessly into dinner as we continued talking. We crashed early, retiring to our sumptuous private suite tucked into their unique home. We headed out early the next morning with memories of a nice day and an impression of what we’d like our house to look like when we finally come ashore.

Seagull Luxury Resort had a rare vacancy to fit us in between visiting VIP’s. Dean and Linda, the resorts hosts, claim Seagull is just an Endeavour Trawlercat 44 but we know better. Each year they turn Seagull over to Endeavour to have the company magicians install all the things in their current boats, and then add a few things that Dean has thought up which will probably appear in Endeavour’s future boats.

Next door (next boat on the face dock) Ralph and Bonnie Jean on Ammy Boo also had a full resort. Their son Parks, wife Kristine, and daughter McKenzie we’d heard so much about showed up for a visit. Just to keep things interesting Rick and Bonnie were staying a few miles away now on a Safari Trek. Needless to say, many stories were swapped, and new friends were made amid much laugher and good times.

A small oasis of nature, the Hugh Taylor State Recreation Area is in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. This little bit of Florida jungle is tucked between the ICW and the Atlantic. We stopped to visit Laurent & Judy working this year as hosts for the facility. Following a winding road back to the staff area well isolated from the public we found their RV tucked in among the palms. We had a ball swapping notes and getting a private tour of some of the areas where they take people on tours. Then later in the afternoon they took us for a ride around the jammed downtown Ft. Lauderdale area. We preferred their quiet bit of nature for living as opposed to the bustle of the city.

Out on a mooring we spotted the distinctive silhouette of Sandpiper. We had last seen her at Jekyll Island. Later we caught up with Mike and Martha and again enjoyed their company as we dinghied over to Riverside for dinner and an evening of catching up.

Rain threatened and the wind blew as we walked over to the Vero Art Museum to see the George Ricky kinetic sculpture exhibit. In the museum, small sculptures moved lazily in the draft from a few fans. In the sculpture garden huge pieces balanced in unique ways fascinated us as they moved in the breeze.

The one side benefit of having the props worked on was meeting Jim Knapp who after many years including Vietnam service is still a very gung ho Marine. He moved right up to near the top of the interesting people we’ve met as he dove, pulled, and later reinstalled our props after a pitch change. The prop shop had pointed out that our props didn’t match–one was high torque added years earlier when we’d broken a prop. We got everything corrected and sea trials confirmed we were back to normal. Our long stretch of repairs was finally complete.

Ruth, Joan, Jim

Finally the sign: “Pick Your Own Strawberries No Kneeling” we’d seen weeks earlier made sense when we pulled into the farm during a ride with Jim and Joan. Before us was a hydroponics farm selling both strawberries and a DIY system where Styrofoam baskets stacked vertically to shoulder height grew plants in a dirt free mix nourished by water and fertilizer. Interesting to see but not a good fit for Odyssey. Later we lingered over dinner, enjoying our time together before saying our good bye before heading north the next morning.

In the predawn February dark we cast off Odyssey’s lines and idled toward the Vero Beach harbor entrance. Turning north flashing red buoy 134 off in the dark distance confirmed where the ICW angled a bit to starboard. We throttled up and started looking for the unlit channel marks as just a hint at dawn begin to glow in the east.

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