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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Slow boat to Georgia

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We’re three weeks into our trip North on the Intracoastal Waterway, and some things are becoming apparent:

  1. No bridge tender has ever heard of a boat named Slappey ll. When we call them on the radio to request an opening, we most often are met with, ‘Sloppy, our next opening will be in 7 minutes.’
  2. To the extent that you can count on a power boat politely slowing down as it passes you, so as not to throw a king-sized wake your way, you can count on it happening much more frequently the farther North you are. This happened zero times in Ft. Lauderdale, rarely by Jupiter, but frequently beyond Vero Beach. So now we have been warned.
  3. Manatee signs, manatee zones, and boater info about manatees abounds. We can only conclude that the waters are plastered with them. This is only a supposition, however, as our official manatee sighting total number remains……ZERO. Sure, hide all the manatees from the West Coasters, the only folks who actually WANT to see a manatee!
  4. If the wages of sin is death, then the wages of Florida warmth and beauty are thunderstorms and bugs. Would that we had a photo of the Slappey made black by a giant swarm of flying ants. And I’m sure this is only the beginning.
  5. The East Coast equivalent to Mr. Heater Little Buddy, named Mr. Frosty, will become even more beloved.

The ICW, so far, has encompassed everything from a narrow canal, lined with private properties, to wide-open but shallow areas such as Lake Worth, and the even wider Indian River Lagoon. Within those bodies of water, there is a narrow, marked channel where you must remain, and even then,  you can get into some trouble with depth. The deepest parts so far have only been about 20 feet deep, and most often it is 9 to 13 feet. Once, and for the first time ever, we bounced on the bottom as it shoaled up to 4 1/2 feet. Our draft is officially 4’11”, and before then, we had NEVER gone aground.  There are also lots and lots of opening bridges where roads cross over the waterway. Most of them open on a certain schedule, such as the quarter and three-quarter hour, or the hour and half-hour. The greatest number of these were between Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach County, but we will continue to encounter some as we make our way North. They all have an actual bridge tender who you must call to announce your request for an opening. Once, we had to ‘tread water’ for nearly two hours in front of a bridge because some fool car had hit the gate that morning, and it was being repaired. There is wildlife to see: many birds, pods of dolphins, manatees…oh wait, NOT MANATEES. Once, a sea turtle with a head as big as mine surfaced right next to us  and he (or she) glared right at me. She was probably thinking, “Slappey? Who would name a boat Slappey?”

So far, stops have included Sunrise Bay in Ft. Lauderdale, Lake Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach, Vero Beach, Melbourne, and Cocoa Village.  Some of the stops were just anchorages for the night, but we stopped for a time in North Palm Beach, Vero Beach, and now Cocoa Village.  There is a lot to see, and we’re only scratching the surface this time around. The season is also winding down, as most boats have already passed Florida for points further north. It’s kind of like Mexico in that regard; only the hardiest folks stay down in Florida on their boats for the Summer. We’ll get beyond Florida in the next few weeks, but only just. We don’t want to have so far to travel when we return in the Fall. Slappey….always a rally of one.

Las Olas bridge, Las Olas bridge, this is the sailing vessel Slappey ll, requesting your next opening

Las Olas bridge, Las Olas bridge, this is the sailing vessel Slappey ll, requesting your next opening

crowds and loud music in Sunrise Bay, Ft. Lauderdale,  but a quiet anchorage by nightfall

crowds and loud music in Sunrise Bay, Ft. Lauderdale, but a quiet anchorage by nightfall

West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach is on the mainland and has no actual beach

West Palm Beach is on the mainland and has no actual beach

Palm Beach proper borders the actual ocean, though we didn't see much of it

Palm Beach proper borders the actual ocean, though we didn’t see much of it

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We walked to the Henry Flagler museum in Palm Beach, through this neighborhood

We walked to the Henry Flagler museum in Palm Beach, through this neighborhood

The museum was his Winter home in Florida

The museum was his Winter home in Florida

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I have to say, I much preferred Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale to Henry Flagler’s over-the-top mansion. Bonnet House was built by Frederic Clay Bartlett, an artist who didn’t take himself too seriously. This place should have a plaque that says, “I’m Henry Flagler, I built this damn state, this is my Winter home, and I’m likely the most important person you’ll ever meet. Behold my glory.” But it is in Palm Beach.

Hobe Sound, a wildlife refuge

Hobe Sound, a wildlife refuge

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Vero Beach mooring field

Vero Beach mooring field

the beach in Vero; we could walk here from the marina

the beach in Vero; we could walk here from the marina

first Spanish Moss we've seen was in Vero Beach

first Spanish Moss we’ve seen was in Vero Beach

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Slappey, near the mangroves, Vero Beach mooring

Slappey, near the mangroves, Vero Beach mooring

famous Cocoa Village Playhouse

famous Cocoa Village Playhouse

 a heron flies away in Cocoa Village

a heron flies away in Cocoa Village

why did the Ibis cross the road?

why did the Ibis cross the road?

Brevard County has a Natural History Museum  John, with Sloth

Brevard County has a Natural History Museum
John, with Sloth

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Sand Cranes, in case you were wondering

Sand Cranes, in case you were wondering

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and here he is, doing yeoman's service, with clever companionway mount designed and built by John

and here he is, doing yeoman’s service, with clever companionway mount designed and built by John

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Mexico to Florida, the fast way…

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…..was supposed to start from La paz. We had contracted with a company that shipped from there, and were hunkered down for the Winter, just waiting on news of our ship. The news came in early March that our ship was not coming, a common refrain when dealing with cargo transits. They aren’t really trustworthy most of the time. The key is to have a critical mass of boaters who want to take your chosen route, at the same time. Going East from Mexico is not a popular route; most boats on the West Coast just want to head back up to the Pacific Northwest. But we knew, through the grapevine, of a couple of boats waiting to go East from Mazatlan, with a different company. It was the one we had discounted owing to  particularly egregious  contract language.  When faced with another Summer in Mexico, that contract looked just fine, so Mazatlan it was. Back across the Sea of Cortez we went, to meet up with our two partners in transit, Miss Scarlet and Sisu lll. It was fun planning, scheming, and commiserating with them, as they had been waiting a lot longer than we had for this transport. After all the frantic paperwork had been completed, we got to enjoy Mazatlan again for a couple of weeks. Soon the day came, and we all traveled an hour south to the old port of Mazatlan to anchor for the night before loading up the next day. It all went well, but it’s not for the faint of heart (and I am usually faint of heart.)

here is the Slappey tied up to the ancient, concrete Customs dock

here is the Slappey tied up to the ancient, concrete Customs dock

 

and this is the BBC Bergen

and this is the BBC Bergen

yes, we are in the Slappey, about to be dumped over onto the deck of the Freighter, over the water, way down there

yes, we are in the Slappey, about to be dumped over onto the deck of the Freighter, over the water, way down there

here we are threading our way around the big ship

here we are threading our way around the big ship

our photo of going through the Panama Canal

our photo of going through the Panama Canal

and here we are coming down on the other side

and here we are coming down on the other side

The water was rough and choppy that day, and we were unable to get close enough for the crewmember on our boat to be able to get back off and onto the big ship, so we circled around Port Everglades for about a half hour with him till the water taxi came to get him. He was pleasant about it. It took about two weeks for the trip around, so we had some time to explore Ft. Lauderdale before the Slappey arrived. We were here about 10 years ago for a charter, and as I remember, not really impressed with it. This time, it looked better.

lush flora, everywhere

lush flora, everywhere

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens....a new favorite

Bonnet House Museum and Gardens….a new favorite

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every beach pic here will feature some combination of tanker/freighter...Port Everglades is busy!

every beach pic here will feature some combination of tanker/freighter…Port Everglades is busy!

Water taxi ride, and a glimpse of days to come on our traverse up the ICW

Water taxi ride, and a glimpse of days to come on our traverse up the ICW

and this is DEEP water

A low, bascule bridge, shallow water, and Manatees  

 

more Ft. Lauderdale

more Ft. Lauderdale

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And this is where we kept the Slappey on the Dania cut canal......we look like a gnat

And this is where we kept the Slappey on the Dania cut canal……we look like a gnat

I could not get off the boat at low tide...at first. Even I can learn to be bold if given enough time

I could not get off the boat at low tide…at first. Even I can learn to be bold if given enough time

 

So that’s what happened in April. On May 1st, our lazy trip North began.