Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Florida and North

After leaving Old Port Cove, we arrived safely and soundly in Fort Pierce, Florida. Ft. Pierce has a nice marina that is cheaper than Old Port Cove by about $23 per day. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but hey, $23 here and $23 there and after 43 or so days, you have a BU. Okay, so we only spent six days there, and didn’t quite make a whole BU; it is the principle of the thing. While at Ft. Pierce Ann walked around quite a bit, we Ubered to Publix and West Marine, I sanded the aft railing on the boat, and we got re-acquainted with our friends Scott and Teri Miller aboard their huge 58’ Kadey-Krogen named … what else? … Miller Time.

The real news from Fort Pierce, though, is that our friends Dave and Joan drove all the way from northern Virginia to bring back our cat. YES, SPOT IS WITH US ONCE AGAIN!!! As I am certain Ann will tell you below, Spot fit right back into her first home. After a quick “sniff over,” she approved Traveling Soul for cat habitation and settled right back into her regular sleeping habits. In addition, Dave and Joan are joining us for a couple of weeks during our trip up the Intracoastal. So, with four humans and a cat, we had a pretty full boat when we left Fort Pierce the morning of the 9th. Our destination was the Space Coast of Florida – specifically Cape Canaveral.
We had, of course, passed what Floridians call the “Space Coast” many times. And while we had visited Cocoa and Cocoa Beach, we had never taken the extra time and effort to cross the Indian and Banana Rivers to get to the area around Cape Canaveral itself. This time we did. To get to our marina we had to locate and traverse the Canaveral Barge Canal which has two bridges and one lock. I think the lock raised us a total of about one foot each way, so it was not a very big deal. The marina where we stayed, the Ocean Club Marina at Cape Canaveral, was pretty nice; it had a swimming pool that Joan checked out, clean restrooms, good showers and very nice docks.

Ann's photo of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket.
Appreciating the marina, however, was not why we were there. What we really wanted to do was get to the Kennedy Space Center. We took Uber (a cruiser’s best friend) and paid less than half of what a taxi would have cost. It took us about 20 minutes and cost about $30 for the four of us (Spot did not want to go; she wanted to sleep instead.)  Now for those of you who have not been to the Space Center, I can only describe it as Disney-like. After paying a healthy sum up front ($57 for seniors), you can attend several different Imax theaters where you can see a number of alternative three dimensional movies. You can also take a bus tour of the Cape Canaveral Space facility where you can visit various launch pads (including “39A” from which nearly all Apollo Missions were launched), see and receive information on different kinds of spacecraft and rockets, see the original “Mission Control” from the old days and enjoy number of other exhibits – some fascinating, some interesting and some ho-hum. In short, I would probably recommend it to just about anyone for different reasons. Kids will enjoy the 3-D movies, some of the simulations that are available and a number of different kids’ exhibits. We seniors will get more of a kick out of seeing in person what we had previously seen on TV and usually in the company of Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

While at Canaveral, we got lucky. The night we were there, there was a launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. It was cool having seen the rocket on the launch pad earlier in the day and being able to watch it take off and disappear on its way into space. I have kind of “before” and “after” pictures.
The Bridge of Lions at St. Augustine.
After leaving the marina and anchoring one night where we ate some luscious steaks cooked on the grill by yours truly, we were off to what is undoubtedly our favorite location in Florida, Saint Augustine. There, we took Dave and Joan to the restaurant that serves what is probably the best fish and chips in the country – the Prince of Wales. The following night we tried to go to Harry’s, our favorite Cajun restaurant in Saint Augustine, but even on a Monday night it was too crowded; the waiting time was 45 minutes. Instead, we went to the Tini Martini Bar, then to Aviles, the restaurant attached to the Hilton. The martinis were, of course delicious, but the meal was only okay and for the price should have been better. In fact, Ann’s was cooked so poorly that she had to send it back. I don’t think we will be returning. For future reference, I think the only way to get into Harry’s without waiting forever is to go to the Tini Martini Bar (our favorite place for a drink before dinner) at 4:30. That should put us at Harry’s by about 5:15. I am guessing that by going that early, we should be able to get a table.
Other than go to restaurants, we went to Starbucks each morning while in Saint Augustine, went to the market street a couple of times and visited the Spanish Military Medical Museum – a fascinating experience for anyone interested in either the military or medicine. In addition, Ann, Dave, Joan and Teri Miller (from Miller Time) went on a tour of Flagler College while I vegged out on the boat. 
We left St. Augustine on April 16th. About ten miles north of the city we saw three individual Customs and Border Control boats checking on local fishermen. Okay, now think about this. I understand that our president is concerned about the security of our border with Mexico, but at least eighteen border control officers, three machine guns and several hundred thousand dollars in equipment are currently massed protecting America’s border with … uh … no one along the ICW north of Saint Augustine. Maybe they were trying to keep the Georgian Rednecks from fishing in Florida’s waters, or maybe some Cubans were trying a strategic envelopment along the coast.  Otherwise, I am confused. 
Since we had spent three days on a mooring in St. Augustine and a day before that on the hook in the Indian River, we needed to fill up our water tanks, so we headed to Beach Marina just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. Now most every cruiser knows that the water throughout the marina is very shallow. We were kicking up a lot of mud in our slip on the outside of the T-dock. But what most people don’t realize is that the individual piers do not have any rubber or plastic trimming. That means that when your boat ribs against the pier, it is aluminum on fiberglass – a battle that the boat is sure to lose. Sure enough we had two long scars on the side of the boat. (Yes, I know we should have had a fender down there. We did, but our fender got squeezed out of the space between the boat and the pier.) Dave and I managed to clean the black mark off, but the scar will probably remain until we get a god waxing.
One of the still-standing slave cabins at Kingsley Plantation
After Beach Marina, we cruised only about 13 miles to Fort George and the Kingsley Plantation. It is a very small anchorage just outside a National Park Service facility based around the Kinglsey Plantation just outside Jacksonville, FL. We had visited twice before and thought Dave and Joan would enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, one of the things that had made the trip so informative was the use of the “Audio Tour” capability that the NPS had maintained – until recently. For technical reasons (read budgetary reasons) the audio tour is no longer available. Since so much of the facility was based on the audio tour, it was kind of a letdown from previous visits.

Our initial intention had been to cruise from Ft. George to Cumberland Island where we would anchor for a couple of nights, then travel to Jekyll – which is just  few miles down the waterway – and finally to Brunswick, GA where Dave and Joan would leave us. However, because a front was coming in and Gale Force winds were expected, we decided to reverse the order of our Cumberland and Jekyll visits. In other words, we would go to Jekyll first so we could enjoy the relative protection of a marina, then we would backtrack a few miles so we could anchor at Cumberland in better weather. 
Spot back on board and in one of her favorite haunts.
Ann’s Notes: Our sweet little feline is back!!! Thank you Dave and Joan for taking such good care of her when she got so sick. She has been eating like a little oinker; put it in her food bowl and she goes right to town eating. Like Michael said, she adjusted to the boat in just a matter of a few hours. It is wonderful to have that sweet feline spirit back on board.
The time has really flown by with Dave and Joan on board. We all had a great time together. We went back to some of our favorite locations and experienced a few new ones.

I really enjoyed the Kennedy Space center, I remember watching all the space launches and splash downs with my dad. He was a real fan of NASA. It just really brought back so many fond memories.  My dad would be just amazed on how different space exploration has become. When the SpaceX was already in orbit, the two fuel  rockets  were returned to earth on two different landing pads, and will be used again for another launch, the sonic boom told us that the they had returned to earth. No more parachutes and splashdowns.

I know Michael wants to get this blog out so I am going to keep it short.

We are slowly making our way home, we have more friends to visit on the way. We should be back in Solomons, MD by the end of May.
We will keep you posted..
Traveling Soul…OUT

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