30 October, 2016
Well…….. The weather and seas were about what we expected on our fifty-one hour passage from Morehead City, NC to the St. Johns River inlet near Mayport. It was just wavey enough to keep us from doing a lot of reading or writing, but not enough to be uncomfortable. The wind was predicted to pick up, precluding our heading further south, so we ducked in to the ICW at the St. John’s River. Our old pal, the Zumwalt (U.S. Navy’s first 1000 Class destroyer, and the vessel that we saw being built in the yard in Bath, Maine 2 years earlier) hailed us on the VHF, asking us to wait for her to pass before entering the inlet. I suspect that we’re in her database, since we’ve talked to her 3 times, once in Maine, once as she was leaving her berth in Norfolk, and now, here outside Mayport. They must think that we’re “groupies”. Anyway, three hours later, we were at Palm Cove Marina, where we spent the rest of the day desalting the Girl. While we were washing, we spotted “Alba”, a new Krogen 48, toodle down the waterway past us. The next morning, we headed out around first light, hoping to get past St. Augustine, and in to one of our favorite stops at Marineland. During the course of the day, the havoc wreaked by Matthew became more visible. Where docks had once been, there were now only twisted pilings remaining. We saw literally scores of boats, many of them beautiful yachts, completely on land. In the early afternoon, we pulled in to the familiar haunts of Marineland Marina, where a large dredge was hard at work. Finally, the dream that Eric, the harbormaster, had told us of three years previously was coming to fruition. He told us that the dredging would be done, and the new floating docks should be installed by the Spring of 2017. Suz and I love the feel of this place, and hope that all of the new improvements don’t change its’ character. A four-mile bike ride to “Captain’s ,”(we were craving barbeque) revealed more Matthew devastation. The first-floor contents of most houses were piled at the roadside, awaiting pickup. Many in low-lying areas were still actively pumping storm water out. D.O.T. and utility company crews were scattered along the roadside, clearing splintered and uprooted trees. The dunes that comprised the spine of the north end of the island were now completely gone. All that remained was the roadbed, with the sea on one side, and the ICW on the other.
We love this stop, but it was time to keep moving. We were up early, motoring from “Cain’t see to Cain’t see”, making it to the NASA Causeway bridge, where we anchored after dark for the night. We were up before dawn, motoring to the Vero Beach Municipal mooring field. There, we planned to stay a couple of nights to catch our breaths, eat some fantastic tuna nachos at the Riverside Café, breakfast on the beach at JC’s Seaside Café, hit the farmers market, and visit Krogen friends, Bruce and Sue, who have a condo north of town. We did it all. It sure felt good to hop on the bikes and pedal around one of our very favorite little towns. (they don’t call it Velcro Beach for nuthin’). Bruce drove over and picked us up, taking us out to Sue and his fabulous home (there’s nothing “condo” about it), where we enjoyed good food, great company, and a little college football. Joining us were Brian and Judy, who had arrived on “Alba” that day. Many bottles of wine later, we called it a night. Sunday morning, we began the leg which would bring us to Sunset Bay Marina, in Stuart. There, we would pick up our mail, do our provisioning, and boat maintenance in our last U.S. port.