July 26, 2018
Shrimp boats in Daytona Beach
After a good night’s sleep, it was a lot easier to work my way through checking into the US. I finally discovered that since my US phone had been turned off for almost five months, the Google Play app needed to be updated. Once it was updated, downloading the new ROAM app was quick. I filled out an application for each of us, took a picture of our passports, pressed submit and five minutes later we had an email with a four-digit number that was our clearance number. Done!
Pelicans watching us pass through at a lift bridge
But we still needed a cruising permit. All foreign flagged vessels must have a cruising permit and every time we move to a new location, we must call an 800 number and report our coastwise movement. They will ask for the permit number, our current location, where we left from, our next destination, and any other question they feel necessary. Every single time we move! If you are a Canadian with a US registered boat, you don’t have to do this!
To get our permit, we needed to go to the airport in Fort Pierce. Our friends, Jon and Marilyn from Escapade, one of the boats we travelled with most of the winter, live in Vero Beach, so they came and picked us up and drove us to the airport. Security abounds in the US. The office was tiny, with four chairs and a small window with a microphone in it to speak through. The officer pushed a thin drawer out towards me and I slid all our paperwork for the boat and our passports into the slot and pushed it shut. Twenty minutes later, he came back, slid everything into the drawer and pushed it back out to me. Done!
We spent the next two days as downtime, doing laundry, a bit of shopping and an afternoon in Jon and Marilyn’s pool. Mike and Debbie from Resolve and Kim and Les from Willamia joined us and we toasted a successful winter in the Bahamas together. They are all great friends that we hope to sail with again next winter.
Bridge of Lions St. Augustine
On the third day, we said goodbye to Mike and Debbie and headed north. It was blazing hot and the no-see-ums were nasty. I was covered from head to toe with small red dots where they had bit and I was itchy, itchy! We anchored in Titusville the first night, then in Daytona Beach the next night, far out from shore and in the breeze to stay away from the bugs. The trip north was sunny and slightly breezy which made the trip comfortable. There wasn’t much traffic in either direction and we made good time. We had stopped in St. Augustine on previous trips, so passed through without spending the night. We continued north of the city for about 15 miles and found a wide creek that meandered through the reeds for about a mile before it got to shore. We tried to go up the creek, but the depth sounder warned us off. The chart plotter told us there was lots of water, but hurricane Irma must have rearranged the bottom somewhat. No problem. We dropped anchor at the mouth of the creek, just off the ICW. We were joined by three other boats and the night was very quiet.
Dolphins riding along beside us
We left at 6 am and headed out for the last day of travelling. Along the way we saw a huge manta ray jump out of the water just off the port bow. It was spectacular, but unfortunately not a Kodak moment as it was unexpected. We also saw a pod of dolphins playing close by and one big one broke from the pod and accompanied us through a narrow passage under a bridge. As soon as we were out of the heavy current, he disappeared. (I really need to do some research on these amazing animals. They seem to know when Adamant is approaching a confined area! This was our third encounter with them in these situations.)
Our final hurdle of the trip was to cross the St. John’s River, the huge waterway that leads down to Jacksonville. It is a major shipping port and there are tons of ships and tug boats moving around. There are also a lot of marker buoys scattered around, some for the shipping lane, others for the different channels leading off the shipping lanes. It got very confusing and required both of us to keep watch to get across without getting in the way of a ship or on the wrong side of a marker.
Navy ship in drydock St. John’s river near Jacksonville
On the north side of the river is a ship repair facility. That day there was a navy ship in drydock, a cargo ship backed in and two very large private yachts having work done. Lots to see! We did a few more miles of the ICW and finally passed under the Amelia Island bridge. We managed to scoot past the open train bridge before a train came along. Rounding the point we could see the two pulp and paper mills and the town of Fernandina Beach in front of us. I called Tiger Point Marina and we were able get on the dock right away. Nice!
Things to avoid on the ICW
We immediately got to work getting the sails off and folded, the dinghy deflated and on the deck. We removed the solar panels and made the boat hurricane ready. It was unbelievably hot and we were only able to work for a few hours before we had to quit for a while. We spent the down time visiting the island, attending the art festival in town and eating ice cream. It took three days to “summerize” the boat and late on Monday they hauled Adamant and gave her a fresh water bath. The bottom was almost free of barnacles, with no major slime growth. We use CSC Micron for antifouling and it worked great this year.
Along the ICW
On Tuesday morning, we closed all the hatches, made a final check of all the internal systems, made sure the screens on the through hulls were firmly in place and checked the cradle once more. We got into our jampacked Mazda and headed north for the summer. It had been a great six months!
Until next time………