Monday, January 11, 2010

St Augustine to Ft Lauderdale, FL

St Augustine was a great example of what we’d hoped to see along the way, this trip. It’s quite out of the way for us, we wouldn’t have come here otherwise, but it was on our boat route. We learned it’s the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the US. The founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, arrived here September 8, 1565 with 200 colonists from Spain. We had a fascinating time strolling the cobblestone streets – although I have to admit it’s a toss-up which I enjoyed more – the amazing architecture, or the excellent local beer at the brew pub across from the marina. Some of the buildings reminded me of Santa Fe, NM, and I was struck again by how extensive the Spanish influence is in the southern half of the US.
Flagler College, St Augustine

Our next stop was Vero Beach, where we spent Thanksgiving. We ended up staying 6 days, the longest we’d been in any one spot since we left Annapolis in mid-October. For the first time, my climate complaints were that it was too warm, rather than too cold. Ahhh! The town has a reputation as very welcoming to cruising boats and we certainly felt that. Moorings were secure and inexpensive and there was a free bus from the marina to town – great for picking up groceries, boat parts, going out to dinner. For the first time in our lives, we had our mail forwarded to “general delivery” at the post office (no expected bills, yay us!). Nice also was a potluck dinner for all 75-100 boats in the harbor on Thanksgiving day; we made a few new friends who we’re likely to meet up with again in some or another anchorage along the way. Even if events make it impossible for us to go farther, we’re far enough south to have achieved Goal #1: “The only ice I want to see this winter is in my drink glass.”

The other good thing that happened for us at Vero was that we think we’ve finally fixed the problems with the outboard engine for our dinghy that have been plaguing us since the summer. Seems that ethanol in the gasoline is the culprit; causing problems in the marine environment that aren’t an issue in cars. We’d had to have the carburetor rebuilt in Annapolis, then again in Beaufort, then AGAIN in Vero Beach. I declared it wasw to be either “three strikes you’re out” and we’d sell the outboard and go back to rowing; or “three times is the charm” and we’d finally get to the root of the problems. The latter prevailed; Vinny of Complete Marine Services picked up the engine, returned it fixed the next day, and taught us what he could to avoid future problems -- some of which will probably recur when we go back north, but here in the south, marine fuel without ethanol is available.

The guidebook we’re using, Skipper Bob’s, describes the next section as “The Canyon” and notes that it is lined with concrete walls that makes boat wakes reverberate back and forth, making this stretch uncomfortable when the waterway is busy. It also has a large number of timed drawbridges. Unfortunately for us, the timing was not quite a perfect match for our cruising speed, always a bit too fast or too slow, so we spent most of the day either rushing to catch the next opening, or trying to hold the boat in place while the current pushed us toward a closed bridge as we waited for the next opening. I was reminded of a Piet Hein grook about waiting on the subway platform and not getting “…excited and vexed. You’re always too late for the previous train, and always on time for the next.” What the guidebook did not tell us was that in addition to concrete walls, this stretch was lined with some of the most incredible private homes we’d ever seen. All custom and all different, mostly styled in a Mediterranean theme but some strikingly modern, what they had in common was size (humongous) and obvious expense. As the first came into view around a corner, Dan pointed it out to me and said, oh, that must be a bed-and-breakfast, look at the size. But then we saw the one next to it (same size) and the next one after that (larger). I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore and I don’t think there’s a whole row of B&Bs here.
Some random photos of mansions along this stretch. The size, and the juxtaposition of modern and traditional styles, blew my mind:

No comments:

Post a Comment