Fabulous Fisherman Finale

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Norfolk is that-a-way

3 Mermaid near Norfolk

Summary of week:

The crew had six good travel days this past week: 1 – travelled to Belhaven and took a slip at River Forrest, 2- Anchored just north of the Alligator River Bridge to stage for an early morning crossing of the Albemarle Sound, 3- Stayed at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center Free Dock, 4- took a marina slip at Top Rack, 5- anchored off the shore of Hampton, 6- took a slip on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay at Onancock Wharf.
Onancock
Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who won the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament?
  2. How much was the purse for the first place finish?
  3. Why did the third place finisher win the Fabulous Fisherman contest?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II meet a shrimp boat in Adams Creek, cross the calm Albemarle Sound, transit the Dismal Swamp, and get a few lessons on how to blow a conch shell. Enjoy!


To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, June 10th

A follow up to the ‘Big Rock” Fishing Tournament:  Interesting enough, the fisherman take a break on Sunday and do not wet a hook.  The crews were all onboard their respective boats prepping for the big week ahead.

24.11 Ready for tomorrow

While the fisherman were busy rigging lines, the crew had Sunday Brunch with Satisfied Frog at The Spouter Inn.  The food was exceptionally good.

The restaurant from the water.

24.12

Following Brunch, the crew took a tour boat to learn about some of the local history of Beaufort, North Carolina.

24 Beaufort Whale Tour

Much of the colorful history started with Blackbeard the Pirate.  He had a home in Beaufort overlooking the inlet into town.  His home also just happened to be next door to the county tax collector, interesting arrangement.

The Pirates Revenge tour boat

24.6 Pirates Revenge

The governor of North Carolina once pardoned Blackbeard, but he did not stop his pirate ways.  He just shifted his tactics to attack ships headed to Virginia rather than North Carolina.  The Virginia government eventually killed Blackbeard after they petitioned the North Carolina governor for help with Blackbeard, and got no help at all.

New born colt spotted from tour boat

24.9

Monday, June 11th

The day got off to a good start as the crew made good time thru Adams Creek.  While transiting the Creek, the crew met a shrimp boat who had their nets down.  There must have been several hundred gulls following the shrimp boat looking for an easy meal.

27 Shrimp Boat and Birds

After exiting Adams Creek, the crew ran north along the Neuse River and eventually came to Gale Creek.  At the right angle, looking at the shore in the distance along the Neuse River, the trees and shore seem to form the looks of an alligator.

The tree alligator

28 Tree Alligator

After the Neuse River, the crew entered Gale Creek.  The name of this creek would soon become an omen.  The skies began to darken as storm clouds began to form.  The temperature dropped about ten degrees in front of the pending storm.

The calm before the storm on Gale Creek.

30 Gale Creek

Just after passing under the bridge in the above pic, the rain started with just a sprinkle.  Within just a few minutes, the rain was falling so hard that visibility was down to less than a quarter of a mile.  Then the winds hit.  The skipper put the boat in neutral to allow the winds to push the boat backwards into both deeper and wider water.  Once the boat was in a wider part of the channel, the skipper turned the boat to face the wind.  Visibility had dropped to about 50 yards, and it was difficult to see the shore and Satisfied Frog.  The skipper had turned the radar on when he noticed the heavy rain headed their way.  The radar helped the skipper keep the boat in safe water.

The skipper also checked the weather radar and watched a red cell pass directly over them.  The weather radar showed 40 plus mph winds (gale force winds)  After about 5-10 minutes of these high winds and heavy down pour, the winds died back off and the rain slacked back to a sprinkle.  The skipper looked over at the Admiral and said, “Well, that was exciting!”

The weather predicted more storms for the rest of the afternoon and thru the night.  Rather than anchor, the crew decided to call it a day and pulled into the River Forrest Marina in Belhaven.

Tuesday, June 12th

The original cruising plan was to make Elizabeth City on Tuesday and the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center on Wednesday.  But due to the high winds (20 mph/ plus or minus 5) coming from the east, the skipper did not believe crossing the Albemarle Sound on Tuesday was a good idea. Instead, they choose to anchor just north of the Alligator River Bridge along the eastern shore to get protection from the east winds.

The first half of the voyage was relatively calm as the crew passed thru the Alligator River-Pungo River canal.  After coming out of the canal, the crew entered the Alligator River and ran north along the eastern shore.

Canal conditions were flat

31.1

Conditions in Alligator River were about one foot waves

32 Alligator River

As the crew navigated towards the bridge, they met a sailboat headed south.  The skipper picked up the radio and hailed the sailboat.  After a short conversation, the skipper’s decision to NOT cross the Albemarle Sound was confirmed.  The sailboat captain reported that the waves were 3-5 foot and because of the wind direction, the waves were hitting the beam of the boat.  He reported that the waves broke over the bow of his sailboat several times as he crossed.  The skipper reminded the Admiral that this is supposed to be ‘recreational boating’, and fun.  Three to five foot waves are not fun.

After passing thru the Alligator River Bridge, the crew followed a couple of other boats over to the eastern shore and dropped the anchor, along with Satisfied Frog.  Another indication that this was not the day to cross came when the Coast Guard announced that a 16 foot sailboat had capsized in the Albemarle Sound and asked boaters to keep a look out for the boat.

Passing thru the Alligator River Bridge

33.1

Wednesday, June 13th

What a difference 12 hours made.  The winds died off over night as predicted, and the Albemarle Sound calmed down also.  In fact, this was the 6th time our crew has crossed the Sound, and this was the smoothest crossing to date.  The light wind had shifted out of the south and caused less than one foot following seas across the Sound.

The crew made good time to Elizabeth City, but decided not to stop for lunch because it had started to rain.  However, after passing thru the Elizabeth City Bridge, the weather abruptly changed again.  The grey dreary clouds gave way to a beautiful sunshine afternoon.

Elizabeth City Bridge, dreary conditions

34 Elizabeth City Bridge

Entering the Dismal Swamp

37

An interesting tree ornament 30 feet above the water

41

After 18 miles at idle speed (6 mph) the crew arrived at the South Mills Lock.  The lock raised the boat about 8 feet.  After the lock is a bridge that must be opened, and then only a couple of miles to the Visitor Center.

48 South Mills Lock

The Dismal Swamp Canal is not very wide so when you have a situation with boats meeting, it gets a little tight.

Meeting a boat in the swamp

51.2

When Satisfied Frog arrived at the Visitor Center Dock there was only room for one more boat.  Once Satisfied Frog was safely landed, the skipper pulled up and rafted off Satisfied Frog.  Then another boat arrived, a 32 foot PDQ catamaran.  The skipper got two other boats to adjust their position on the dock which opened a 36 foot spot on the dock.  The  PDQ managed to slip in the tight spot.  Eventually, a 32 foot Nordic Tug also showed up.  The tug rafted off the PDQ motor cat, so there were 6 boats along the dock for the night.

Boats docked at Visitor Center

52 Dismal Swamp Free Dock.JPG

Thursday,  June 14th

Today would be another short day to cruise.  It was about eighteen miles to the Deep Creek Lock and then just a few more miles to the Top Rack Marina where the crew would stay the night.

The Corps of Engineers reopened the Dismal Swamp in the fall of 2017 after dredging the canal.  The controlling depth is now around 6 feet.  With the draft of Still Waters II at 4 feet and only 2 feet of water below the keel, the skipper was a bit nervous.  The depth alarm was sounding almost continuously, so the skipper finally just turned it off.  Luckily the crew made it thru without hitting bottom or a deadhead log.

The water was glassy smooth on the way to the lock.  The reflections on the water looked like a mirror.

5 Reflection in Dismal Swamp.JPG

The Deep Creek Lock experience turned out to be the best lock experience ever.  Robert, the Lockmaster, gave a demo on how to play music on a conch shell, as well as gave a brief history of the Dismal Swamp.  Watch the video to see Robert do his thing.

The Admiral was so impressed, she left one of her prized Bahama conch shells on the lock wall to add to Robert’s conch garden collection.

1100 o’clock opening of the Deep Creek Bridge

10 Deep Creek Bridge

After the Deep Creek Lock, it was time to head towards the Top Rack Marina.  Our crew will stay the night.  However, the crew of Satisfied Frog is off to Hampton where they have work scheduled on the boat to start on Friday.  It has been a blast cruising up the ICW with Berrlin and Debra.

9 Debra and Berlin

Friday, June 15th

The skipper struck up a conversation with a couple that are on a sailboat.  The skipper has passed this sailboat almost daily for the last week.  The sailboat is crewed by Howard and Sue from England.  In fact, they sailed the boat across the Atlantic Ocean.  Their story was a bit surreal.

After leaving England and heading for the British Virgin Islands, they ran into a large storm that raged for a few days.  Howard commented that the waves were in excess of 15 feet.  After the storm passed, their engine failed, day 4 of their crossing.  They raised the sails and soldiered on.  Then they found the doldrums.  For ten days they basically drifted in the Atlantic Ocean because they had no wind.  The winds did eventually return and they completed their crossing in a total of 22 days.

Howard and Sue aboard Sundowner

12.1 Crossed Atlantic in the boat

Today the crew only traveled to the north side of Norfolk so they could stage to cross the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday.  The weather, wind, and waves are much more favorable on Saturday to make way across the Bay to the Eastern Shore.

There were many more US Navy ships at the Naval Shipyard than in years past.  Looks like the Navy is putting those new tax dollars to work.

A sub in for overhaul

14 Navy Shipyard

Even saw the Ike in for maintenance

14.1

OK, only one more ship, but how about that dry dock

14.2

The Waterside Marina also had a new addition.  They have added a Ferris Wheel to the waterfront.

15 Entertainment District

After passing thru Norfolk, the crew completed the Atlantic ICW leg of the Loop.  The crew anchored in Hampton Flats for the night, prepared to weigh anchor and cross the Bay early in the morning.

Mile Zero of the A-ICW

16 Mile Zero AICW

Saturday, June 16th

The crew woke to very calm conditions so they attempted to bring the anchor up and set out for Onancock.  However, the anchor brought up some garbage off the sea floor that the skipper had to untangle before they could get started.  It was only a short delay, and the crew still managed to get underway by 0630.

Never a dull moment

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It was about 70 uneventful miles across the Bay.  About the only excitement occurred when the crew passed thru the large ship anchorage near Cape Charles.

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A helicopter came and landed on one of the ships to drop off a navigation pilot.  Then a boat pulled alongside another large ship and the navigation pilot had to climb some stairs to get onboard.

Helicopter

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The run up Onancock Creek was pretty with many nice homes which line the River.

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Fabulous Fisherman Final update, from the Big Rock

In the Big Rock Fishing Tournament, the boats can enter as many as 9 different contests.  Total cost to enter all 9 events was $23,000 this year.  One of the events is called the Fabulous Fisherman.  The cost to enter the event is $5,000, but the payout was $500,000 to the first boat to land a 500 pound fish.  Well, sorta.

The first 500 pound fish was a blue marlin weighing in at 518.5 pounds caught by Honey Hush on Tuesday.  Unfortunately for them, they did NOT enter the Fabulous Fisherman event so could not claim the prize.

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In fact, the prize remained unclaimed until the last day of the contest when Carterican landed a 500.9 pounder and claimed the cash.  The fish put them in second place for the overall contest, for the moment.

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However, the final results would not be known until the last weigh-in of the day.  Fender Bender landed a  large fish and eventually won second place with a 514.3 pound Blue Marlin.

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With only three 500 pound fish caught all week, and two of those on the last day, you might understand why Honey Hush did not enter the Fabulous Fisherman contest.  However, since they ended up winning the overall tournament and the $753,875 purse, I think they are just fine with the outcome.

Next Week –

The skipper has looked at the weather forecast for next week, and the Bay looks to be calm all week with winds under 10 mph.  If these conditions hold, the crew will attempt to cruise 8 hours each day.  With fair winds, they hope to make Cape May next weekend.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

A Fishy Week

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We picked up two more virtual crew members this week.  Welcome aboard Debra and Picklesnan.

A ladies team first day catch in the fish tournament.

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Summary of week:

Map

The crew had their traveling clothes on this week as they made way from Beaufort, South Carolina to Beaufort, North Carolina.  They anchored out all but one night, and spent the week travelling with a buddy boat, Satisfied Frog.  They made the following stops along the journey:

  1.  Monday, just south of Charleston on Stono River
  2. Tuesday, north of Georgetown off Butler Island in Waccamaw River
  3. Wednesday, just inside the Bird Island Inlet on the Carolina state line
  4. Thursday, took a mooring ball at Carolina Beach
  5. Friday, in Mile Hammock Bay on Camp Lejeune
  6. Saturday, At Town Creek Marina in Beaufort, North Carolina

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following question this week:

  1. Where is the largest fishing tournament in the United States?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II traveling with a bow escort of dolphins and following Satisfied Frog thru a swing bridge.  Enjoy!  (Watch for the dolphin to surface twice for a breathe of air.)


To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, June 4th

The crew set out for an eight hour cruise this morning.  They were in the process of making time towards New York City as quickly as the weather will allow them, so they can spend the summer cruising the Erie Canal.  They arrived at an area just south of Snows Cut which leads into Charleston.

Along the route, they were greeted by several dolphins which are always fun to watch.

8 Dolphins feeding

The skipper also noticed this gator practicing his backstroke.

7 Gator practicing the back stroke

The crew travelled with Satisfied Frog this week.  This is her passing thru Fenwick Cut.

4 Satisfied Frog exiting Fenwick Cut

The day ended with a beautiful sunset.  Ahhh, the beauty of burnt orange.

11 Sunset at Charleston

Tuesday, June 5th

Today the crew met favorable tide and current conditions and were able to knock out almost eighty miles thru the last of the salt marsh that the ICW offers as scenery.  The crew arrived at their pre-day anchor spot way ahead of the anticipated time, so they decided to push on to the north side of Georgetown.

Somewhere along the route, the two boat flotilla grew to three boats.  The third boat transited some very skinny water by McClellanville.  There are seven shoaling hazards in just under two miles of travel.  The skipper was glad they came thru at high tide, but the low water level alarm still went off several times, making for a nervous skipper.  After the safe passage, the third boat peeled off and docked at Georgetown.

Our two boats continued and dropped the anchor off the Waccamaw River near Butler Island.

However, the skipper found time to take only a few pics to document the days travel.

The Battery of Charleston in the background.

12 Charleston

There were many Pelicans out flying today.  The skipper enjoys watching them glide just above the water.

13 Pelican Glide Pattern

At the end of the day, the crew got to witness another beautiful sunset. Red sky at night, sailors delight.  Should have good weather again tomorrow.

14 Sunset Butler Island

Wednesday, June 6th

The crew weighed anchor and headed into the Waccamaw River which winds its way thru a swamp just south of Myrtle Beach.   The run thru the swamp and Cyprus trees was a welcome relief from the days of salt marsh.

A look at the swamp.

15 in Cyprus Swamp

Saw these ladies out for a morning row.

16.1

Cruised by this Osprey nest to see a baby chick.  Looks like mom was giving a speech about ‘failure to launch’ on the chicks first flight.  What is the worst thing that can happen mom?  Oh nothing to worry about darling, there are just alligators down there swimming in the water.  They mean you no harm.

18.1

After cruising thru the swamp, the crew was greeted by the numerous boat docks that line the waterway heading into Myrtle Beach.  Most of the docks have signs warning boaters that they are responsible for their wake and the damage the wake may cause.  So it is a slow go thru the area.

This guy has a strange since of humor I suspect.

20 OK

At the end of the day the crew anchored near Bird Island Inlet just on the North/South Carolina state line..

23

Thursday, June 7th

Today the goal was to make Carolina Beach and take a mooring ball for the night.  The skipper was hoping the timing might work out to stop at Southport for a quick lunch at the Dead End Saloon.  However, upon arrival at Southport, the best decision was to press on and take advantage of the current going up the Cape Fear River.  Just have to put this stop on the ‘next year list’, and try to make it on Tuesday for half price burger day.

There were several inlets that had to be passed by on the journey today.  These inlets present hazards due to shifting sands and shoaling.  The skipper slows down and honors the markers because the Coast Guard seems to be moving them all the time to mark the safe passage.  Sometimes the charts and the actual marker placement are not the same.  In these cases the skipper always honors the actual marker placement in the water.  So far, this strategy has always met with success.

The Lockwood Folly Inlet

6 Lockwood Folly Inlet

The Carolina Beach Inlet

9 Carolina Beach Inlet

After both boats were moored, they decided to dinghy ashore and walk around town.  They learned that Thursday is summer concert and fireworks night, what a deal.

Headed to shore.

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There was a small donut shop in town, supposedly known for great donuts.  The skipper said they were pretty good for an afternoon snack.  He did not let the snack get in his way for the fried flounder and shrimp he shared with the Admiral for dinner.  After eating they  headed back to the dinghy dock and witnessed a few boats pull in with their catch-of-the-day.

Looks like this boat had a good day fishing.

 

 

They all played a couple of games of Joker on Satisfied Frog, and then ended the day with a short fireworks program.

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Friday, June 8th

The challenge for the run today was to negotiate timing three bridges to minimize waiting.  The skipper adjusted speed frequently to make the bridge openings, and at the end of the day they only had to wait about fifteen minutes for the bridges.  Most of that time was wasted at the last bridge at Surf City.  The crew was getting a little worried when the bridge finally opened eight minutes late with the bridge tender apologizing for the late opening.  Seems he could not get the bridge to cooperate and open.

They passed thru a few more of those hazardous inlets again.  But because the path was well marked the crew had no issues.

The New River Inlet

11 New River Inlet

There was a bunch of shallow water to work thru today, also.  This is a good example of why you want to stay in the channel.  This boat was probably only 50 yards off the marked channel.  If you did not know better, it looked safe to travel over there.

Some shallow water

12 Kinda Shallow

After a successful journey, the crew dropped anchor at Mile Hammock Bay.  The crew took the dinghy over to Satisfied Frog to play a couple of more games of Joker to round out the evening.

Saturday, June 9th

During the week, the crew was not sure if they would be able to stop in Beaufort, North Carolina or not.  The Big Rock Fishing Tournament is in full swing.  Who knew this was the largest tournament of its kind in the U.S.  Along with the Big Rock, there is also the Keli Wagner Lady Angler tournament running.  There are 130 boats in the Big Rock and 38 entered in the Ladies tournament.

22

With a little help from our friends, we were able to secure Saturday and Sunday night dockage.

On the way to Beaufort though, the crew took an unscheduled stop in Swansboro.  After weighing anchor and clearing the Onslow Beach Bridge, the crew was about an hour ahead of schedule for their arrival in Beaufort.  To kill a little time, the crew docked at the Swansboro Free Dock and walked to Yana’s for some fruit fritters.  To their surprise, the annual arts festival was gearing up.  Berrlin and the skipper had fruit fritters while the ladies shopped the art festival.

Debra and the mermaid

15

After getting back on the boat, it was off to Beaufort, for a hopeful no current dockage experience near 1300.  As it worked out, the crew arrived just in time to experience slack current and the easiest dockage in these waters ever.  The current can really rip thru here and the skipper wanted no part of that after last years bad experience.

All in all a good day and a good week of cruising.

The Admiral did witness some ladies bringing in their catch for the day. A 16.5 pounder.

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Boat name of the week:

5 Boat

Next Week –

At this point, the weather looks good for Monday and Tuesday to cruise some of the large open waters such as the Neuse River, Pamlico Sound, Pungo River, Alligator River, and Albemarle Sound.  Therefore the crew will make two long days to travel to Elizabeth City and get that open water behind them while the weather window is open.  Then they will cruise the Dismal Swamp Route to Norfolk.  They hope to cross the Chesapeake Bay on Friday, and end the week in Onancock on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

On The Water Again

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We have had several folks jump aboard as virtual crew members in the last few weeks by following the Blog. The Admiral states that with so many virtual crew members, surely she can upgrade to First Class Passenger.  Welcome aboard to the newest crew members:

  • Michael O.
  • Sue F.
  • Germanky
  • Eva N.

However, it was a bit hard to get aboard while the boat was swinging in the slings to repair the prop.

23 back in

Summary of week:

Beaufort

After getting the starboard prop replaced in Brunswick, the crew set out to make it to Port Royal on Saturday.  To reach that goal, they made two anchor stops.  The first was at the Wahoo River and the second at Bull River.

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II being hauled out of the water to repair the prop.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Tuesday, May 29th

The skipper hired a diver to check out the props.  The diver conformed that the damage was to one blade on the starboard prop.  The boat was scheduled for a haul out for Wednesday afternoon.

Bobby the diver, after he completed his dive.

9.1 Bobby

In addition to the diver, the crew also entertained Debra and Berrlin from the Satisfied Frog.  The Admiral did her usual best at hospitality and cooked dinner for them after they arrived from a long day of cruising.  It was great getting time to break bread and to talk with them.  They recently crossed their wake in Fort Lauderdale.  Debra and Berrlin plan to cruise the Chesapeake Bay this summer.  Our crew will Leap Frog up the A-ICW with them until they get to the Bay.

Congrats Debra and Berrlin on going Gold!

Debra and Berlin.jpg

Wednesday, May 30th

The skipper got a call late morning that the haul out would happen at 1300.  So after lunch, the crew moved the boat down to the maintenance yard to be picked up in the slings.  The crew was a bit nervous watching the boat come up out of the water, but the yard did a nice job.

Still Waters II on her way up and out of the water.

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The fouled prop.

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The one blade was barely bent, but it was bad enough to shake the whole boat at 1200 rpms.

The bad  bent blade, the far left one.

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It took the maintenance crew about an hour to change the prop.  After the prop swap, the skipper had to go pay for the services rendered.  Most marinas will not put your boat back in the water until you pay them.  The skipper jokes that this is “No Cash, No Splash.”

After the money changed hands, the boat was placed back in the water.  The crew did a quick sea trial to verify every thing was ok, and then parked her back in their slip.

Thursday, May 31st

The crew shoved off the dock earlier than normal to try and get some extra miles under the keel.

A look back at Brunswick.

10 Brunswick with Lasty Forty and Magic Dragon

It was an uneventful 8 hour cruise.  The crew dropped anchor in the Wahoo River.  For those who have been onboard since 2015, you might recognize the spot.  This was the very first spot that the crew ever tried their hand at anchoring.

The view while at anchor in the Wahoo River.

15 Anchored at Wahoo River

Friday, June 1st

Another uneventful day on the water.  However, the wildlife was out today.

Brown Pelicans hanging out on top of solar panel charges preventing the batteries from recharging.

16 Brown Pelican

Watched an Osprey feed her young chick in this nest.

18 Osprey Nest

Then saw these interesting white birds, not sure what they are though.  There were at least a dozen of them in the surrounding trees.

19 White Birds

Lastly, the skipper noticed Mr. Al Gator.

21 Mr Al Gator

Unfortunately, the best sighting of the day took place just after the skipper had eaten lunch.  If they would have spotted this boat just a few minutes early, they could have had a burger on the water.   Oh, and the aroma of grilled burgers filled the air.  Deep breath, I love that smell.

The Burger Boat

20 Burger Boat

At the end of the day, the crew dropped the anchor in the Bull River just across the sound from Hilton Head Island.  This turned out to be an exceptionally good anchor spot.

Also, the 300 watts of additional solar power has worked as designed.  When the crew left in the morning, the batteries were showing 12 volts.  With the solar panels working in the cloudy day, they still were able to recharge the batteries back to a float value of 13.4 volts before stopping for the evening.

Saturday, June 2nd

The crew weighed anchor and headed towards Port Royal Landing just south of Beaufort, South Carolina.  One of the nice things about this marina is that they offer a free night if you stay for two nights.  The crew will stay for Saturday and Sunday night.  But do to their late start north, they will not take advantage of the free night.  Just an observation, it looks like it is literally killing the skipper to give up a free night of dockage.  But I think he will get over it.

Cruising up the Beaufort River.

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When the crew arrived at Port Royal Landing, the crew of Satisfied Frog was on the pier to welcome Still Waters II.  The two couples had a wonderful dinner and great conversation.

Just before the crew headed over to the Satisfied Frog, the weather turned particularly bad.  Storm clouds formed and lightning was all around.  The crew got a bit wet by the rain on the way down the dock.  After getting aboard Satisfied Frog though the full strength of the storm hit.  Some of the strongest winds that the crew has been in, the radar and weather apps said 40 plus.  Luckily the storm passed quickly and things calmed back down.

Some how during the evening the skipper shared his thoughts on launching kids from the home.  This led to some interesting talk, and eventually a movie titled ‘Failure to Launch’.  The movie was well done and made for a great way to cap off the week of cruising.

And in the news, the ‘Failure to Launch” freeloader in NY finally moved out of his parents home.  The news article said he was moving to just a few doors down to a cousins house.  Cousin beware!

Boat Name Of the Week

Otter B Me

14 Otter B Me

Next Week –

The crew will attempt to travel from Beaufort, South Carolina to Beaufort, North Carolina by the end of next week.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Trouble in Paradise

Hello virtually crew members and fellow adventures!  Yes, our crew finally left Lamb’s Yacht Center and started north on this year’s adventure.

Last sunrise from Lamb’s Yacht Center.

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Summary of the Week

F5A159B6-48AC-4797-92AE-AB0228F5AFA9The work on the boat finished up just before closing time on Friday.  Thanks-a-Million to James for herding those cats and getting the work complete while everyone else was thinking ‘three day weekend.’

1- The crew made way on Saturday and anchored off Cumberland Island.

2- On Sunday, the crew fought the weather most of the day and arrived at Brunswick Landing Marina.

Saturday

It is always interesting how streaks get started.  Many times they just happen without any thought.  As it is with this streak.  The crew had breakfast at the Metro Diner to say goodbye to the Ortega River for the third year in a row.

In 2016, they decided to go over to the Metro to celebrate the launch of their Gold Loop Adventure.

In 2017, Glenda and Rob joined the crew at the Metro to see them off for their Maine Adventure.

In 2018, Lynn and Wayne joined the crew to see them off for their Platinum Adventure.

Wayne and Lynn at the Metro Diner

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After breakfast, it was back to the boat to take on fuel and pump out the holding tanks.  By 1030, all the tasks were done and the crew finally shoved off.

After 50 day’s at Lamb’s, glad to shove off the fuel dock and leave a hole under this awning.

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The crew originally had planned to stop at the Jax Free Dock.  However, because they made such good time, they decided to push on to Cumberland Island, another 25 miles.

The Marina Mile on the Ortega River, with Jacksonville in the background.

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Unfortunatly, just minutes after the crew passed the Free Dock, the water under the boat disappeared.  The skipper had adjusted the readout for depth to show actual depth from the bottom of the props.  He also set the alarm at four feet.  When the alarm sounded, the skipper reached over to silence the alarm and pull back the throttles to slow down.  Just as he got the throttles in neutral, the depth had gone from 4, to less than one foot.  Then the depth went to 0.0 and then blanked out.  The boat continued to drift forward.  The boat made slight contact with the mud bottom but drifted over the shoal and back into four feet of water under the prop.

When the skipper put the port engine back in gear, there was no problem.  When he put the starboard engine in gear, there was an immediate vibration.  This is not good.  First day back on the water and now down to one engine.

On the brighter side, the crew saw many of these faint pink birds today, Roseate Spoonbills

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The crew continued on to Cumberland Island and anchored for the night.  The skipper did dive down to the prop, but could not detect any damage.  He ran his hand around all the blades and felt nothing abnormal.  Oh well, will have to go to a repair facility and get her checked out.

Looking port from the sundeck while anchored.

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Sunday

The crew woke to the storms caused by Tropical Storm Alberto.  After the first wave of rain stopped, the crew weighed anchor and limped forward on one engine towards Brunswick.  With the rain and clouds, there was not much to see, including the markers that were hard to find in the reduced visibility.

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When the crew arrived at Jekyll Creek, it was obvious it was low tide.  Again, this is not good.  Jekyll Creek is notorious for having shallow water.  Luckily, a boat passed Still Waters II just as they entered the Creek.  The skipper radioed the boat and asked the captain what his draft was.  The captain claimed he was 3′ 9 ” just like Still Waters II.

Low tide at Jekyll Creek.

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The skipper tucked in behind the boat and decided to keep a safe distance but close enough to see how he negotiated the Creek.  For 3.4 miles, the Creek was carrying less than 1 foot of water between the bottom of the prop and the mud bottom.  The skipper decided to run on the Starboard engine in this section.  His thinking, if you are going to hit something here, might as well hit it with the bad prop.

Both boats managed to navigate the waters without hitting bottom.  It was a slow and intense hour of boating though.  Ain’t boatting fun!

After clearing the creek, it was not much further to Brunswick Landing.  The good news for the Admiral though was just about the time they arrived to dock, the rains let up.  It was a light sprinkle, but that sure beats the down pours that fell for most of the day.

Next Week

The crew hopes that the starboard vibration is an easy repair.  Best case, the prop has damage.  The crew has a spare prop, so if the repair yard has availability, they could swap the prop Tuesday.  The crew would then continue north on Wednesday.  If it is not the prop, then who knows how long the crew wouldbe here.  Might start an early sabbatical to the just started adventure.  Time will tell.  Tune in next week to see how things turn out.

 

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins.  The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

PS

Wayne and Lynn, thanks for the great times and memories during the last week, especially visiting Woodpeckers BBQ and Driftwood Beach.

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Eternal Rest

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

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Summary of week:

The crew remains in Jacksonville; however, work was started on the boat late on Friday.  Maybe, just maybe, the rest stop in Jacksonville will finally come to a stop.  In the mean time, the crew decided to take a quick road trip to visit grandkids in Bryan, Texas.  While there, they went over to Texas A&M to visit Barbara Bush.  And somehow two grandsons managed to stow away on the return to Florida.

Friday – Sunday

A mentioned, the crew made a road trip to Texas to watch some grandkid sporting events and attend the year end AWANA Awards Banquet.

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Sunday after church, the crew went to Texas A&M University to visit the Bush Presidential Library.  Behind the Library is a small lake that has a trail to the Bush Family Burial Plot.

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After walking around the end of the lake, another trail breaks off towards the burial plot.

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The burial plot is fenced off with a modest area for the graves.

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A plaque is mounted on the entrance gate:

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Barbara’s grave stone:

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After paying their respects, the crew headed back to the lake and the Barbara Bush Rose Garden:

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The skipper thought he would share the crews favorite Barbara Bush joke to end this week’s blog post.

The story goes that George and Barbara were driving in the presidential limo on the way to Houston.  The limo driver pulled into a service station, and a gas attendant came to the car and began to fill the fuel tank.  Barbara recognized the gas attendant as a man that she had dated back in her younger days before George.  She got out of the car, went up to the guy and engaged him in conversation.  After the limo was full of gas, Barbara wrapped up the conversation and gave the old flame a hug.

When Barbara got back in the limo, George asked Barbara who the gas attendant was.  Barbara told George that she had dated the guy in the past.  George gazed out the window and looked the guy over and then looked back at Barbara and said: “I guess you are glad you decided to marry me since I became the President of the United States.”

Barbara did not miss a beat, looked at George, and responded, “Oh George, if I had married him, he would be the President of the United States.”

Next Week –

The crew will be flying by the seat of their pants for the next week or so.  The decisions on when to move north will depend on when the boat work completes.  Since that is still an unknown, the crew will adjust on the fly as the details become more clear.  Another factor to consider is how and when they will return two of the grandsons back to Texas.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red

Lives and Wives

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We had four new people come aboard as virtual crew members in the past week:

Joe F., Peter S., cebuwomen, and catdigger

Welcome Aboard and hope you enjoy the adventure!

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Whitehall, now the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach

Summary of week:

Well, the departure north has been put on hold because the work on the boat still has not started.  So much for that, “We will have you out of here in less than two weeks.”

The crew did entertain Art and Beth (the Admiral’s cousins from Colorado) for a few days.  They took a day trip down to St Augustine, and then north to Jekyll Island.

Art and Beth

The voyage of discovery did unearth some interesting history and answer the following questions?

  1. What is the Flagler divorce law, and how many times was it used?
  2. How did the third wife meet her unfortunate demise?
  3. What is the oldest restaurant in Florida?
  4. What is the birthdate of the US navy submarine force?

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday – Wednesday

The skipper has been passing the time by reading a book, Mr. Flagler’s St Augustine, to learn more about the man who was partners with John D. Rockefeller in starting Standard Oil (now Exxon-Mobile), created the hotel resorts along the east coast of Florida, and extended the railroad from Jacksonville to Key West.

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The skipper was about two thirds thru the book when he decided to lay the book aside and do some investigating about Mr. Flagler’s wives.  Turns out, the story about the wives makes a much more interesting read than Mr. Flagler.

Henry was married three times, and all three of these fascinating women met untimely and unfortunate deaths.

Mary Harkness was the first wife and the mother of the three Flagler children.  She was beside him while he grew the Standard Oil Company, but died at the age of 47 from Tuberculosis.

 

The children’s nanny went on to become Mary’s nurse while she slowly succumbed to tuberculosis.  After Mary died, the nanny became wife number two, Ida Alicia Flagler.  She was beside him while he started his Florida hotel and railroad ventures.  Somewhere along the way, she came across a Ouija Board, got a demon attached to her, and eventually went insane.

To pave the way for wife number three, Flagler would need to divorce Ida Alicia.  Flagler sold his 5th Avenue home in New York City and transferred his residency to Florida.  He then petitioned, some say bribed, the Florida legislature and governor to pass a law that would allow for divorce on grounds of incurable insanity.  The state passed the law and a new building went up at the University of Florida, funded by Mr. Flagler.

He then had friend and doctor, Mr. Anderson, file paperwork that claimed Ida Alicia was insane and incurable.  Mr. Flagler divorced his second wife and married wife number three ten days later.  Interesting enough, this would be the only time the new law was actually used.  A few years later,  Florida would overturn the law.

 

thWXC6PNRFAt age 34, Mary Lily Kenan, married 71 year old Flagler.  All seemed to be well until Henry took a fall and broke his hip at age 83.  He died from complications from the fall two months later, making Mary Lily the richest woman in America.

In December 1916, Mary Lily married an old flame from her youth named Robert Worth Bingham.  This may have been the beginning of the end for Mary Lily, because by July 1917 she was dead.

The events leading up to and following her death are still cloaked in secrecy.  One theory holds that her new husband drugged her slowly starting after the marriage.  After her burial, her parents had her exhumed for a second autopsy.  The results showed opiates in her liver.  However, no charges were ever brought against Mr. Bingham.

When her will was presented to a judge, Mr. Bingham produced a codicil to the will leaving him a bequeath of 5 million dollars.  Interesting since the will contained a prenuptial agreement where he was to receive nothing.

And what happened to the rest of the 100 million Flagler estate you ask?  It went to trusts to continue to fund and run his vast business empire.

Thursday

Art and Beth arrived at the boat in the late afternoon.  They were a bit worn out after the two day journey from Monument, Colorado.  Their plane was delayed in Colorado due to high winds on Tuesday, so they arrived in Ft Myers around midnight.  Wednesday they spent the day kayaking, and Thursday they drove up to Jacksonville to visit for a few days.  This vacation thing tends to wear you out.

Friday

Art and Beth wanted to visit St Augustine, so the group of four drove down to spend the day and explore.  The weather was unseasonably cool and windy, with winds 20-25 mph.  Looks like they brought that cold and windy Colorado weather with them.

Fort Art and Beth

The group took the red train tour around town and then made it to the Fort to watch a canon fire demonstration.  Because the winds were so strong, the four evacuated the Fort after the canon demo and headed into the narrow streets to walk around town.

After walking the town, the group decided to eat at Columbia Restaurant.  The flagship restaurant was built in 1905 in Tampa’s Historic Ybor City.  The flagship restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Florida.  It is also the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.

Columbia Restaurant

If you have been in the restaurant business since 1905, you would expect the food to be good, and the Spanish cuisine did not disappoint.

Saturday

With the winds still blowing over 20 mph, cruising on the boat was not an option so the group decided to drive north and visit the historic Jekyll Island.

Drift wood beach

On the way, the group decided to stop on Amelia Island at Drift Wood Beach.  This is a unique experience because you do not see what you expect to see on a beach.   The beach might be better named drift tree beach because the beach is littered with drift trees.

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After arrival at Jekyll Island, the group headed to the historic homes and walked around a bit.  It looked like there were at least three weddings/receptions taking place around the grounds.

They also started noticing a bunch of men in navy dress uniforms escorting women in formal gowns.  The skipper finally asked a party of four who were entering the convention center what was goin on tonight.  One of the men answered they were celebrating the 118th birthday of the US submarine force.  Turns out that the sailors from King’s Bay Sub Base have a big bash every year to celebrate the birth of the sub force back on April 11, 1900.

USS Holland, SS-1, birth of the US Submarine Force

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The skipper shared with the four that he had served on subs back in the day.  An older gentleman asked, “which one?” And when the skipper answered, “USS Permit, SSN-594.” The guy responded that he had served aboard the USS Haddock, SSN-621.

 

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USS Permit

Turns out that the USS Haddock was the last Permit class submarine built.  Interesting, interesting indeed. So what are the odds that two guys who served aboard the Permit and Haddock would cross paths years later on Jekyll Island on a night of the sub force birthday party?

 

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USS Haddock

 

Sunday

After attending church, Art and Beth loaded up their belongings and shoved off towards Tallahassee.  It was a fun visit.!

Next Week –

The last the skipper heard from the boatyard manager, the work should start later in the week and finish the following week.  So it looks like the crew will be here for at least two more weeks.  Oh, did I mention that the weather folks are predicting an early tropical storm to form the first week of May? It is time to get out of Florida.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

2018 Cruising Plan

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We welcome Joe F. on board as our newest virtual crew member, just in time for the 2018 cruising season.

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Summary of week:

The crew has spent the week in Jacksonville at the Lamb’s Yacht Center.  The yard has looked at the boat, developed a conceptual estimate, and projected the work to start on Monday.

The skipper spent the week ordering material to arrive on Monday so he has time to install the projects in parallel with the yard work.  The largest of these projects is to increase the solar bank 300 watts so the array will be a total of 500 watts when completed.

The skipper also worked on the 2018 Cruising Plan which will be unveiled below.

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

 

2018 Cruising Plan

2018

When work is completed on the boat the crew will head north to launch their Platinum Loop Quest.  Americas Great loop Cruising Association awards a Platinum Burgee for Looper’s who complete the loop a second time.

Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (A-ICW)

The crew will rejoin the A-ICW about mile 740 and head north to mile 0 in Norfolk, Virginia.  Along the way, they will stop at some of their favorite places and visit a few new ones.

In Georgia, they will stop and explore Cumberland Island and revisit Jekyll Island.

In South Carolina, they will stop in Port Royal and Charleston where they will visit Fort Sumter.

In North Carolina, they will run up the Pamlico River to visit Bath before crossing the Albemarle Sound.

They have decided to take the Dismal Swamp Route rather than the Virginia Cut to enter the south side of Norfolk.

Chesapeake and Delaware Bay

After leaving Norfolk, the crew will cross the Chesapeake Bay over to the Eastern Shore where they will visit Onancock to acquire some more of those Best in Class sticky buns at the Corner Bakery. Then they will head back across the Bay to head up the Potomac River to visit Washington D.C.  On the way down the Potomac River, the crew will stop and explore St Mary’s near the mouth of the river.  Then it will be up to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal with a possible stop back in Annapolis.

The crew will then head south down to Cape May for a few days.

New Jersey

The three day run from Cape May to New York City is always dependent on the weather, wave, and wind conditions out in the Atlantic Ocean.  The crew will decide if they will run inside or out in the Ocean the first two days based on the weather conditions after they arrive in Cape May.

The third day from Manasquan to New York City has to be run outside.  The crew plans to anchor out behind the Statue of Liberty after arriving in NYC.

New York

The Hudson River is one of the hidden gems along The Loop.  The crew will take their time up the Hudson and will probably spend a day eating at the Culinary Institute.

Further north the crew will arrive at Waterford and will start the Erie Canal.  At Oneida Lake the crew will make a decision to continue west on the Erie Canal or branch north to Oswego. If the water level is agreeable and the skipper can get their air draft down less than 15.5 feet, they will head west to Lake Erie.  Then cruise Lake Erie west, then north along Lake Huron to Mackinac Island.

If they are forced to go across Lake Ontario, they will head to Clayton to explore the Thousand Islands.  Then they will cruise the Trent-Severn Waterway, Georgian Bay, and North Channel to arrive at Mackinac Island.

Michigan

The crew will head down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to explore areas they have yet to see as they head towards Chicago.

Inland Rivers

From Chicago, the crew will take the normal route down the Illinois River to the Northern Mississippi River.  However, the crew will take a side trip up the Northern Mississippi River to Minneapolis/St Paul.

On the southern run, the crew will once again break from Looper tradition and turn south on the Mississippi River at Cairo and head all the way down to New Orleans, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn style.

Gulf Coast

After arrival on the Gulf Coast, the crew will head back east to rejoin other Loopers at Mobile Bay.  Then back around the panhandle of Florida to Ft Myers to complete the Platinum Loop.

Hope you enjoy the adventure in 2018.

Next Week –

The crew will continue to sit in Jacksonville to complete repairs on the boat.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

The Old City

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

We have several new virtual crew members who came aboard while docked in St Augustine.  Welcome aboard Gayla H., Bikephilosophy, Dave M. And Shan M.

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Summary of week:

The crew took a day trip south to Marineland Adventure and back to Marker 8 in St Augustine so their guest could cruise aboard Still Waters II.  The crew also traveled north two days this past week, spending one night on the Jacksonville Free Dock and then on to the Ortega River, just southwest of downtown Jacksonville.

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Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

1- What was the nickname for the St Augustine Methodist Church when it was first built in 1883?

2- Where was the original Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum?

3- How many laps do you have to swim to equal one mile at the De Leon Springs?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II exploring St Augustine and viewing a rocket launch.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Saturday, March 31st

With David and Shan safely aboard, the gang of four set off to tour St Augustine. They walked across the Bridge of Lions and bought tickets to the Red Train Tour that makes 22 stops in the Old City.

A few of the skippers favorite stops:

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1- The Old Senator, is a Live Oak Tree that is believed to be around 600 years old. The Train Conductor reported that it is named the Old Senator because it is old, it is crooked, and it is shady. That seems a fitting analogy for some of our elected Senators for sure.

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2- The original church was built in 1883 and was nicknamed the Methodist Mud Hut. The church was a small cabin built on stilts above the muddy marsh. In 1885, Henry Flagler bought the marsh the church sat on to build his Ponce de Leon Hotel. He built the Methodist a new church north of the marsh. The elders of the church were initially split about whether to sell or not. The elders sued each other and it took two years to work the purchase thru the court system.

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3- Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, was originally the Hotel Warden. Robert Ripley stayed at the hotel while in town. He attempted to purchase the hotel in the 1940’s but the deal could not be sealed. His estate closed the deal in 1950, a year after his death, and opened the first Ripley’s Museum to house his collection of oddities he amassed during his world travels.

After making the grand tour around St Augustine, the gang hopped off the train at the Castillo de San Marcos, the old Spanish Fort that was completed in 1695. They arrived just in time to walk up to the top of the fort and watch a cannon firing demonstration. One interesting fact about the fort is that it never lost a battle in its history of defending the Old City.

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After visiting the fort, the gang wandered the Old City streets and made their way back to the boat at Marker 8.

Sunday, April 1st

The gang woke early and headed to the sunrise service on Crescent Beach. The morning was initially foggy, so there was no watching the sun rise. The gang was about a hundred yards from the stage on the beach, so hearing over the waves crashing and people talking was a bit difficult. However, it was a neat experience to see that many people out packing the beach for Easter Sunday.

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In the afternoon, the gang headed back over the Bridge of Lions to partake in the second oldest Easter Parade. The St Augustine event started back in 1956. The oldest Easter Parade you ask, well that would be in New York City. Their parade has been going strong since the 1870’s.

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Monday, April 2nd

The gang headed out to tour some of the surrounding area today. The first stop was at the De Leon Springs State Park. There is a large underground spring that provides 19 million gallons of 72 degree water every day. The pool is about 500 yards in circumference. There were a few women swimming laps around the edge of the pool. Nine laps would be just about one mile.

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The only thing our gang came to swim in though was the pancake syrup. There is a replica Sugar Mill on the edge of the pool. The specialty of the Sugar Mill is cook your own pancakes. There is a grill embedded in each table. You order up your ‘all you can eat’ pancake mix, pour and cook the pancakes at your table, and eat to your hearts desire. Very interesting business model, and unique experience.
The next stop was along the Haulover Cut to try and spy some manatees. The stop did not disappoint. The gang spotted a couple of manatees close to the overlook upon arrival. Then at one end of the overlook, they noticed two manatees just hanging out in some shallow water.

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Then it was finally south to the ultimate destination for the day, Titusville to watch a rocket launch. There were several hundred of the gangs closest friends also with the same idea. The gang found a good spot to observe the launch and waited for the countdown to reach zero. It was a good thing that ice cream truck vendor rolled by to provide a late afternoon snack.

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The clouds were moving in and rain was intermittent, but the launch did go off on schedule. This was the third launch the crew has observed. The crew was close enough this time to actually see the rocket on the launch pad, the big fire ball on the ground, and the rocket in the air. A few minutes after the launch, the crew heard the low rumble from the take off. Once again proving that the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound.

Tuesday, April 3rd

The weather has not been cooperating very well to get a cruise in due to high winds. However, today looked like the best day to go, so the gang headed south to visit Marineland Adventure by boat.
The gang arrived in time to catch the end of the dolphin interaction exhibition. After that, the gang headed back to the boat for lunch. Then it was back to Marineland for a few hours to round out the visit.

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The skipper wanted to leave at 1500 so that they would arrive at low tide and slack current to make docking easier. The plan was working well until about 30 minutes before their arrival back at Marker 8 Marina. Without much warning, the calm 10 mile per hour winds kicked it up to 18 mph with gusts over 20. It took the skipper three tries to get lined up to enter the slip because of the strong side winds.

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On the third try he finally got the stern of the boat into the slip and was backing in when a strong gust pushed the whole boat to starboard. The starboard side crashed into the pilling with enough force to break the handrail. Then the bow of the boat swung around and nearly hit the boat in the next slip.

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The two boats would have hit if it were not for the owner of the other boat. He could see that this would be a difficult dockage, so he had retrieved a large ball fender and managed to get the fender between the boats just in the nick of time. The other boats anchor then snagged the handrail and it took a few minutes to get untangled.
With David, Shan, and the other boat owner holding the two boats apart, the skipper was finally able to finish backing into the slip. Two other people came off their boats to catch lines and get Still Waters II safely secured.
Yes, that will have to go down as the worst docking experience to date. The good news is that nobody got hurt, well except the skipper’s ego. The other boat suffered no damage, and Still Waters II handrail needed to be fixed anyway.

Lastly, this is why boaters have a long tradition of dock-tails following a cruise. Someone please get the skipper a whiskey, he sure looks like he could use one about now.

On the bright side, there was a beautiful sunset to end the day.

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Wednesday, April 4th

Today, the gang decided to go over and visit the St Augustine Lighthouse. The view from the top, overlooking the bay at the historic town makes for a beautiful view and what motivates visitors to take the 219 steps to the top. The fudge in the Visitor Center gift shop is good motivation also.

Then it was time to relax and take in the view as the sun set on the Miller vacation.

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Thursday, April 5th

David and Shan disembarked about 0830. So after saying goodbye, the crew shoved off the dock and headed towards Jacksonville. Getting out of St Augustine was a bit of an issue though. Race week started today and there were many sailboats in town to take part in the three days of racing.
The sailboats were all leaving the docks about the same time as our crew. There are three locations for the races: the youth races are just off the fort, there is a course just north of the Vilano Bridge in the ICW, and a course three miles off shore for the truly adventuresome racers. The skipper checked the off shore sea conditions and took notice that winds would be 18-20 mph with seas 5-6 feet. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

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After getting under the Bridge of Lions and past the inlet, the skipper found himself surrounded by thirty sailboats getting ready to start the race on the ICW.  After a few more minutes he finally got north of the race course and things settled down for a nice cruise up to Jacksonville. The crew spent the night on Sisters Creek at the Jacksonville Free Dock.

Friday, April 6th

The crew has made arrangements to get the handrail repaired at Lambs Yacht Center which is just southwest of downtown Jacksonville. The skipper attempted a repair of the handrail and discovered that this is not the first time the rail has broken. The third stanchion has always been a weak point of the safety rail. After getting the rail apart it was obvious that somebody had southern engineered a past repair. That repair was not very good. In fact one piece of handrail is actually about an inch shorter than it should be. To compensate, somebody pushed a half inch pipe inside the hollow handrail and then riveted the pipe to the T on the stanchion.  The Admiral is looking forward to getting the handrail fixed right since she spends the most time out on deck handling lines and is the most at risk of the rail failing.
The crew made it to downtown Jacksonville and thought that they would finally make it past the RR Bridge without having to wait for a train to pass. Unfortunately, as the crew passed under the Main Street Bridge the skipper heard the RR Bridge tender sound his horn. That is the warning that the bridge is about to be lowered. Sure enough, the bridge started down. A few minutes later a train came crawling down the track. Once the train passed, the bridge was re-opened and the crew passed thru. This was the seventh time the crew has passed thru this bridge and they are batting 100 percent. Yes, they have been stopped by a train each and every time. Go figure.

Boat Name of the Week

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While the crew were in St Augustine at the Marker 8 Marina, they met a very interesting couple, Albert and sweet Sarah. They own and operate a couple of restaurants in Newport, Rhode Island along with some Inns.
They invited the crew over for dock tails one evening. They shared tales of raising their kids on a boat and once even owned a classic motor yacht that had been previously owned by Humphrey Bogart.
A special shout out goes to Albert and Sarah for helping dock Still Waters II in that nightmare cross-wind that damaged the handrail.  You just will not find many folks better than Albert and Sarah. Hope to see you again on the water!

Next Week –

The crew will sit at the Lambs Yacht Center all week. While the repair center works on the handrail the skipper and Admiral will also tackle a few other projects around the boat.
The skipper will also spend some time planning the 2018 Platinum Quest. So next weeks blog will unveil the 2018 cruising plan.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Sailabration

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Cruise Ship about to pass thru the Bridge of Lions in St Augustine

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Summary of week:

The crew traveled two days this past week to arrive in St Augustine for the Easter weekend.

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1-traveled past St Augustine to Jacksonville on Tuesday so the crew could easily re-provision
2- then turned back south on Thursday to arrive at Marker 8 Marina

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

1- How many Right Whales were born in the 2018 calving season off the Florida Coast?
2- Define apocryphal and use it in a sentence. A story of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.
3- What city holds the Guinness Book of World Record for longest ice cream sundae?

At the Box office

A short video showing someone having a bad day on the water.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The plan was to cruise up to Jacksonville and spend a few days restocking the boat because there are numerous stores in easy bicycle distance to trade at. However, the weather was not going to cooperate with this grand plan. Instead, the crew decided to sit at the marina for another day to allow the 20 mph winds and all day rain showers pass them by.
While waiting out the weather, the skipper decided to read about Right Whales, or more specifically, the North Atlantic Right Whale. The Marineland Adventure had an interesting display on the whales that had stirred his curiosity.

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Right Whales are on the endangered species list. According to researchers who study these big behemoths, there are only 451 of these whales left as of the 2016 survey. Researchers documented 17 deaths during 2017. But more alarming for the population is that not a single calf has been spotted off the Florida Coast in 2018.

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This explains why the Coast Guard makes a Right Whale warning announcement about every 30 minutes. They ask boaters to slow down and be watchful for the whales. They also ask that any spotting of a Right Whale be reported to the Coast Guard.
A popular apocryphal is the naming of Right Whales. Whalers deemed these big black whales to be the ‘right whales’ to hunt because they stayed close to shore, floated when killed, and did not shy away from boats.

Southern right whales
It will be interesting to watch and see if these whales have the right stuff to mount a comeback. The odds are against them though. The gestation period is one year, and after birth the calf takes eight months to be weaned. The female then takes a year off before continuing the cycle. However, researches have documented that the females are only calving once every 6-8 years in the recent past. Another area of concern for their comeback is the life expectancy has dropped from 60 years to 30 years.

Tuesday, March 27

With the Easter weekend fast approaching, the Admiral was having grand kid withdrawals. She had bought all the kiddos Easter goodies and was eager to get them in the mail. She also ‘needed’ to call and get some FaceTime with the grandkids. So after making the 50 mile run up to Jacksonville she was off the boat and on her way to Fedex. Well, after the crew stopped at the Shrimp Shack for the Tuesday special, 30 shrimp and two sides for $9.99.  She does have her priorities.
Later that night she called the kids and learned that the oldest, Emma, had participated in a Guinness Book of World Record ice cream sundae making event in College Station. The next morning the skipper sent Emma a text to see if he could get a pic of the event for the blog.

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Her response was classic 13 year old girl.

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Off course you do.

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A few stats on the sundae:
1 mile long
500 gallons of ice cream
2000 cans of whipped cream
20,000 cherries

Wednesday, March 28

The Admiral managed to buy a few things yesterday, but today was the day to restock the cupboards on board Still Waters II. She made her way two miles down the road to the local Wal-Mart where she did the majority of her shopping. While she was busy buying food, the skipper made a quick run to the hardware store three miles away. He managed to buy water hose fittings to repair a couple of hoses and some headlights that had burned out.
By the time the skipper returned to the boat, repaired the hoses, and replaced the lights; the Admiral called and requested ‘help’ to haul the groceries back to the boat. The skipper rode down to the store and loaded up his bike and packed the goods back to the boat. The Admiral went back inside to shop some more.
A while later, the Admiral called again and requested ‘help’. The skipper went and fetched this second wave of goods, and the Admiral went back inside to shop some more.
When the Admiral called the third time, she wanted to meet the skipper at an intersection not too far from the boat and transfer the groceries so she could go run a few more errands. The skipper had to arrange a different meeting place, not far from her original suggestion. He had just sat down to enjoy a nice cold Frosty at Wendy’s. Busted!
Once she arrived, they transferred the goods to the skipper’s bike and he returned to the boat. And yes, later the Admiral finally arrived back at the boat with the final load of goods.
The trip to Jacksonville was a success.

Thursday, March 29

The crew shoved off the dock and headed south towards St Augustine. There is one area that the crew cruised by with multi-million dollar homes.  The home owners must be a happy bunch based on this flag the crew saw flying.

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Security must be an issue though because they spotted this hamburgler on one of the docks.

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The crew arrived at the dock about an hour before low tide with the wind blowing at 17 mph and the current ripping thru the marina. The skipper tried twice to dock the boat in a slip but was unable to safely guide the boat in. He opted to go out and dock at the end of the dock where he could bow into the current. A guy on a sailboat came over and helped the crew get the boat safely on the dock.

When the skipper went to check in, the dock master said that an 85 foot boat was coming in later and would need the spot that the crew landed at, so the skipper agreed to move once the current calmed down. About an hour later the current was slack but the wind was still strong. After two more tries at getting in the slip, the skipper finally got lined up just right and managed to get into the slip. The two dock hands did an excellent job handling the lines and securing the boat.

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St Augustine has become one of the favorite stops for the crew on the whole Loop. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously occupied settlement within the United States. The ‘old town’ has Spanish, French, British, and American influences that make for an interesting mix of history.
To see past explorations of St Augustine by the crew, check out these links:

July 2015 Run to St Augustine

July 2015 Shore Excursions St Augustine

November 2015 The Reluctant Boater

Good Friday, March 30

The crew welcomed David and Shan on board, cousins of the Admiral.

David and Shan at Castillo De San Marcos in St Augustine.

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Did you know the first Mass ever conducted on American soil was at the location that the Spanish landed and named St Augustine.  The spot is commemorated by the cross on the point.

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I do not know about you but my sins put him there.

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Boat Name of the Week

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Next Week –

The crew will head back to Jacksonville on Thursday where they will sit a few weeks.  They will prep the boat for the Platinum Quest back around the Loop.

 

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

up Up and Away on the Space Coast

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
We invite you to follow our blog to become a virtual crew member. You will receive an e-mail when the weekly update posts, usually on Sunday.

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Summary of week:

The crew traveled four days this past week to arrive in Marineland on Friday. Stops along the way were:

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1- dropped anchor north of Melbourne on Monday
2- pulled into the Titusville City Marina on Tuesday where they waited out the winds on Wednesday
3- dropped anchor in Daytona Beach on Thursday
4- and pulled into Marineland Marina for the weekend on Friday.

Click on the link to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, and a summary of the day’s experience.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
1- Who was the only Mercury 7 astronaut not to fly a Mercury mission?
2- Where was the worlds first Oceanarium built and what was its name?
3- What is a Porsche Turtle?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II enjoying time at the Dolphin Adventure where humans are interacting with dolphins, and a turtle even swims by. Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The crew had an uneventful run north on the Indian River. They passed under numerous bridges and began to see many Looper boats also headed North. One interesting boat that did overtake Still Waters II was this aluminum hull boat that was flagged in Germany. They were also flying a Looper Burgee. The skipper hopes to see them again and find out more about the boat and crew.

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Tuesday, March 20

The crew took off in calm conditions today with a forecast of much the same. However, at about 1040, the Coast Guard came over the radio on Channel 16 and broadcast a weather safety message on Channel 22a. The skipper swapped over to Channel 22a and was informed by the Coast Guard that a small craft advisory was going to be put in place at 1600 due to a thunderstorm carrying high winds, lightening, and hail. This is never good, especially in a boat.

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The crew picked the pace up by adjusting the throttle to make sure that they arrived in Titusville way before the storm. By noon, the wind was already picking up near 18 mph and the waves had built to 2 feet off the port beam. The crew got docked and safely tied down for the pending storm by 1300.  The calm before the storm.

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When the storm blew thru, the rain was blowing sideways and the crew could not see the red marker in the pic above, much less the boats that were moored out just a few hundred yards away. There was a little bit of hail, but no damage to the boat. The other good news was that the lightening stayed awaaaay off in the distance and did not pose any threat to the electronics on board the boat.

Wednesday, March 21

Since winds continued to be plus 20 mph all day, the crew had chosen not to cruise today. They usually do not venture out in winds over 15 mph. With a no cruise day on the agenda, the skipper wandered over to the Space View Park near the marina.

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The Park is located about 15 miles directly across the Indian River from the launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center. The Park honors America’s astronauts as well as the people behind the scenes who helped America lead the world in space exploration.

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Mercury 7 Memorial

The Mercury 7 Missions were the start of the Space Race for the Americans.  500 applicants initially applied for the jobs as America’s first astronauts.  NASA whittled this number down to 110 using the following criteria: no taller than 5’ 11”, weigh no more than 180 pounds, age under 40, a bachelors degree, 1,500 hours of flying time, and qualified to fly jet aircraft.  I wonder what the nations human resource directors think of that job posting in light of today’s standards?

These candidates were then put thru two rounds of test which dropped the number of candidates to 18.  Then the final 7 were selected.  Of the seven, only one did not make it on a Mercury flight.  Mission number 2 was scrubbed when Donald Slayton was found to have a heart murmur prior to take off.  He eventually made it into space though in 1975 as the Docking Module Pilot on the first docking of an American and Russian spacecraft.

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Apollo Mission Memoriaal

There is even a mention of the 1865 novel, From the Earth to the Moon in the Park. Jules Verne eerily predicted many of the things that the American Space program would later put in place a hundred years later. Such as:

1- his spaceship was named Columbia
2- Columbia took off from Florida
3- Verne estimated that the mission to the moon and back would cost 12.1 billion. Apollo 8, the first manned vehicle to the moon and back to earth cost 14.4 billion
4- the crew in the book and Apollo 8 both had three astronauts
5- one of the crew members in the book is named Ardan, while Anders actually flew in Apollo 8

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Space Shuttle Memorial

Thursday, March 22

The crew headed towards Daytona Beach today. On the way, they cruised thru the Haulover Canal. This is usually a good spot to view some manatees, and the crew was not disappointed. They saw at least a dozen manatees swimming in the canal.  It is not easy getting good pics of manatees but that bump in the pic below is a manatee.

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There was also an organized bicycle ride in progress. The Canal was one of the rest stops. Many of the bicyclists were along the bank looking and spotting the manatees also.

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After the manatee spotting was complete, the crew headed north and made way to Daytona where they dropped the anchor just north of the twin bridges and enjoyed a peaceful night on the hook.

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Friday, March 23

Before the crew could get the anchor up and get started this morning, two Looper boats passed by. As the crew was weighing anchor, a couple more Looper boats went by. When the crew pulled back onto the A-ICW there was a smaller boat a few hundred yards back that looked to by flying a Looper flag.

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The small boat came up behind Still Waters II and stayed 30 yards behind her for most of the day. The skipper hailed the boat and learned that the boat was a 30 foot Sea Ray named Xanadu. This is not the smallest boat the crew has seen on the Loop but she sure comes close. The crew of Xanadu still have a dirt home in Oregon. They pulled the boat to Ft Myers, where they launched their Loop Quest.

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About the time the crew was preparing to dock, the skipper looked back and noticed that Xanadu was no where in site. After our crew got settled on the dock, Xanadu appeared and docked just behind Still Waters II. The skipper went over and talked for a few minutes and learned that they had to stop for gasoline before continuing on.

Saturday, March 24

When a boat stays at Marineland Marina for three nights, they get complimentary tickets to the Dolphin Adventure that is just across the road. The crew used their tickets today to see what the Dolphins Adventure is all about.

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The complex originally opened in 1938 under the name of Marine Studios. The facility was backed by three gentlemen with backgrounds in the motion picture industry. One of the men was Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, the great-great-grandson of the original Cornelius Vanderbilt from Staten Island Ferry fame.
The original mission for the Park was for a place that Hollywood could shoot underwater footage of the dolphins for movies.

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Spray was the first dolphin born in captivity at the facility in 1947.

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It was an interesting place to walk around and explore. There was one tank that had five young sea turtles swimming around. The volunteer working the area claimed that these were Porsche Turtles. He went on to explain that during the January freeze that people had brought 30 sea turtles to the facility that were found on local beaches and in bad health due to the cold spell.  The facility had nursed the turtles back to health and managed to return 25 of them back to the wild. However, these five are too fast to capture. When the turtles see the net coming, they are able to swim away and avoid capture.  Hence the nickname, Porsche Turtles.

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Boat Name of the Week

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9 Lives on the side of this Cat that pulled into the Titusville City Marina.

Next Week –

The crew will run up to Jacksonville where they will take on some passengers over the Easter Weekend. Have a happy Easter week.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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