Hilton Head to Boca Grande 11-’08

Hilton Head to Boca Grande ‘08

December 18, 2009 by moonstruckblog

‘08 Cruise South

Please note–by placing your cursor over a picture a caption will pop up to help explain the picture.

Lou and I arrived at the boat on Thursday evening Oct. 30.  We have tomorrow to drop off the rental car and get the boat ready for the trip South.  Raymarine is supposed to have the radar back on Friday for reinstallation.  They were as good as their word, and Ed Webber, ace electrician, with a little help from me installed and calibrated it.

In the process of handling the heavy scanner pedestal, I felt that it was a nice day for a swim.  So, that is just what I did.  Overboard in the marina.  Only casualties were a few skinned places and some hearing aids.  It was very bracing.

Goodbye Shelter Cove Harbor

With everything ready, we left out about 0940 Saturday the 1st of Nov.  Winds were from the northeast 10-15 in the am and 15-20 in the pm.  The Savannah River shipping channel was a little sloppy with the tide opposing the wind.  However, upon reaching the sea bouy we turned to a course of 206 degrees, turned on the auto pilot, and road the quartering seas to the St. Marys River entrance at the Florida line.  At 26 knots, it is 3 hours from sea bouy to sea bouy.

26 knots in 3-5 occasional 6' quartering seas

This was probably not a good introduction for Lou to the North Atlantic Ocean.   She is a good sport, and did not get the least sea sick.

The St. Marys River tide was ebbing at full flow.  It slowed us down 3 knots.  It was like a boiling cauldron.  We took solid water over the roof of the boat, but it was no real problem for anything but the windshield wipers.

Gerry Clare picked us up at the Fernandina Harbor for dinner and football at their lovely new home.  Wonderful meal even if Florida did give Georgia a sound thrashing.  Lucy, the Clare’s dog has more miles under her keel than many experienced cruisers.

Tom and Gerry Clare with Lucy

Welcome to Fernandina Beach

It seems that Lou has been here before!!!

Church around corner from LuLu's Bra and Grill.  Episcopalian, of course.

Sunday the 2nd Gerry picked up Lou for a little shopping and touring.  I desalted the boat and took care of some chores on board.  We needed a rest after the last couple of days.

Wally Drew and Gracia, his wife, stopped by the boat.  They live at Amelia Island in the winter and Door County, Wisconsin in the summer.  They have a Sabre 36 Flybridge in the North.  Being very experienced cruisers they are interesting to talk with.

Dinner tonight (at Capt. Norm Blinn’s recommendation) with the Clares at Arte’s Pizza.  Not your normal pizza place.  Excellent!  The Clares are great cruisers, and have put over 15,000 miles under the keel since 2003.

Tomorrow after fueling at Florida Petroleum it will be on to Daytona Beach.

Monday, Nov. 3, 2008

The railroad bridge at Fernandina was broken and could not open until about 9:30 am.  Tom Clare gave us a heads up on it.  We went over to fuel $2.68/gal. plus 7% tax.

Departed Fernandina at 0930.   After much passing of South bound boats arrived at Halifax River YC in Daytona at 1615 hours.  There was a soft grounding at a channel junction below Palm Coast.  No apparent damage.

Florida Marsh near Jacksonville

Halifax River Yacht Club new building

Wonderful meal at the club.  After a shower and a nice meal, the world looks alot better.  Nice to be away from the election coverage for awhile.

We are looking to be in Vero Beach tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008  Election Day

Departed Halifax River YC 0800 hrs.  Fairly easy and uneventful cruise to Vero Beach.  Arrived 1400 hrs.

If I do say so, MOONSTRUCK is looking good in the slip.  Of course if you look behind there is a yacht with a crew of 5.  That puts everything in perspective.

MOONSTRUCK at Vero Beach

Vero is a great stop.  The yacht club was full, so it meant paying for a night at the marina.  However there is good cable TV on board for the election returns.  So, all is not bad.

The harbor at Vero Beach

The yacht on the end is flying a New York YC pennant.

Vero Beach City Marina

Vero Beach is one of the most cruiser friendly towns on the coast—dockage, moorings, laundry, TV lounge, cable TV at dock, WIFI, and a free shuttle bus to the beach or town.

Wednesday Nov. 5, 2008

Long tiring day.  Stopped in Ft. Pierce to fuel up at the City Marina.  Then it was on to Ft. Lauderdale.  We are at Coral Ridge Yacht Club near the Sunrise Blvd. Bridge.

Lou really got on to reading the draw bridge data.  This helped to time the runs between bridges.

There were many no wake, minimun wake, 25mph limits, 30 mph limits, and 15″ maximum wake height areas to go through.  All this coupled with passing boats and limited bridge openings makes a frustrating day for the captain.

Reservation tomorrow night at Coral Reef YC at Coconut Grove.  That is just south of Miami.

If the wind stays down, we will run out Everglades Inlet and back in through Government Cut at Miami Beach.

More pictures tomorrow.

Thurs. Nov 6, 2008

Did I say that life is good?  We are tied up at Coral Reef YC in Biscayne Bay at Coconut Grove just below Miami.  Good weather, temperature, palm trees, great facility, and great community—-what more can you ask for?  Pictures tomorrow, but now for the trip down:

We left Coral Ridge YC and detoured up the New River into the heart of Ft. Lauderdale.  Beautiful homes and mega yachts not to be believed.

Leaving Coral Ridge YC

Ft. Lauderdale New River

This is a big one

We decided to avoid the slow ICW today and run out Everglades Inlet for the run South to Miami Beach.  We entered Government cut and back over to the ICW.

Busy inlet at Ft Lauderdale

Moonstrucks wake in the Gulf Stream

South Beach from Government Cut

Another great shot of the Miami River by LULU

Friday, Nov. 7, 2008

Coconut Grove!  Florida living at its best.  We did a little of everything today.  Shopping, sidewalk dining, boat fixing and cleaning, and a little action (no not that kind)—a guy backed a boat, trailer, and new Tahoe into the water at the Dinner Key boat ramp.  All the windows were down.  Could it be an insurance accident?  News at 11.

Here are the pictures promised yesterday.

OK whoa, now

Here he comes

Tahoe Trailer and Boat

Tow Boat US at the boat ramp

Barnicle, Dade County's oldest house

We stepped off the streets of Coconut Grove to tour
Barnicle, the oldest home in Dade County.  It was built in 1886, and it could be lived in quite well today.

Coconut Grove

The sidewalk cafe society of Coconut Grove.


Entrance to Coral Reef YC

Lou at Coral Reef YC

Looks like some clouds and showers tonight.  If the weather will cooperate tomorrow, we plan to go out to Boca Chita Key for the night.  Great place to walk the beach and relax.

Saturday Nov. 8, 2008

Pulled out of Coral Reef YC and over to Dinner Key Marina for a pump out.  Then took a slow cruise over to Boca Chita Key.  Do not try to go there on the weekends.  The harbor was loaded.  We took a look, turned around, went outside, and anchored up for lunch.

Coconut Grove from our slip at Coral Reef YC

Same shot at night

Miami looking North from Biscayne Bay

Boca Chita Key

Boca Chita Key was too crowded for us today.

One of the Stiltsville houses in Biscayne Bay

This is just one of the many Stiltsville houses in Biscayne Bay.  You may remember them from “Miami Vice”.

Anchor down at Rodriguez Key

The anchor is down tonight on the North side of Rodriguez Key.  Our first night at anchor for this trip.  The temperature is good, the boat is rolling a little, and the breeze is coming through the hatches.  Should be a good sleeping night.

Sunset at Rodriquez Key

Reservation tomorrow at Marathon YC.  May have to stay there two or three nights to wait out some weather.

Sunday Nov. 9, 2008

Well, the wind shifted to the northeast and picked up to about 20mph steady.  1 to 2′ seas in the anchorage.  We rocked and rolled all night, but Lou slept like a log.
The anchor held like it was welded to the bottom.

Pulled up anchor at 0730 hrs and headed for Marathon.  It was a good but wet ride.  Arrived Marathon YC about 1030 hrs, and it looks like we could be here for a couple of days to wait out the weather.

Hot dog night at the yacht club with drinks 1/2 off.

Monday Nov. 10,2008

Day in the harbor at Marathon YC.  Wind has been steady out of the North at 20-25mph.  It is blowing Florida Bay right into the harbor.  Laundry and grocery shopping today.

Woody Hodgkins at Marathon YC

Woody Hodgkins came by Marathon YC today.  I promised to give him his 15 minutes of fame, and here it is.  Actually, he is the one that interceded on our behalf to get us back in for a visit.  Last time we had  so ungraciously complained about the meatloaf.  The club made up for it with free hotdogs on Sunday night.  Free food will make up for most anything.

Wind is supposed to lay down to 15-20mph tomorrow.  That being the case we will move over to, Keys Fishery, the commercial dock for fueling tomorrow morning and then head for Key West. 

We have a three night reservation at the Galleon Marina.  It is expensive but in the heart of Key West.  Hopefully, by that time the seas will have quieted down enough for the 100 mile or so open water crossing to either Marco Island or Naples.

Lou has continued to use her eye and her Canon (that’s a camera) to capture some great shots of the trip.  She is really quite good in docking and checking for crab pot floats.  A second set of eyes is a good thing. 

Tuesday Nov. 11, 2008—-Veterans Day

We departed Marathon YC at 0720 hrs.  Fueled up with 287 gal. at Keys Fishery.  The commercial dock.  Fuel was $3.25/gal. plus 7 % tax.  That beat the places in Boot Key Harbor at $3.67 plus tax.  The commercial docks are the place to buy fuel.

Departed the fuel dock at 0820 hrs and arrived Key West at Galleon Marina at 1020 hrs.  Key West—–need I say more.  It is like a whole nother country.

We have a great slip in the heart of town near Mallory Square.  The action is near, and there is plenty of it.  Today was Veterans Day, and there was a great parade.  Of course we had to do the sunset at Mallory Square.  I will let Lou fill in about that.  For now here are the pictures from today.

Key West Veterans Day Parade

This is the Navy trying to march.  Sorry, Norm, but for an old foot soldier their marching leaves a little to be desired.

Patriots in training

Little Patriot

Key West Bag Pipes

Galleon Resort and Marina

Mallory Square Freak Show

It has lasted more than 4 hours.  Call the doctor.

Mallory Square Dog Act

Mallory Square dog walking ropes

Great Key West Sunset Shot by Lou

Don and I are at Key West for a 3 night stay after a 2 hour run from Marathon.  The cruise down was just great…a following sea with beautiful sunshine and very little boat traffic.  Keeping an eye out for crab pots and reading the charts kept me pretty busy, however, I did enjoy the trip immensely.

We got tied up before lunch and had time to browse the shops before finally eating at a unique little place called Two Friends.  Thanks to David Dalton, we have suggestions for two great eating places we plan to try before leaving.

This is my first trip to Key West and I have to say it is worth the effort to get here.  I’ve seen sights to behold!!
Some, during the Veteran’s Day Parade, that brought tears to my eyes, while others at Mallory Square, caused me to stare and wonder.  There were various acts being performed…..some participants had little talent while others had none, but all seemed to be enjoying themselves while asking for “tips” .  Don and I stayed at the waterfront til the sunset then returned to the boat for a wine, cheese and fruit dinner.

Tomorrow should be a busy, fun day!!  We still have lots to do and things to see.  It seems there is never enough time to do all the things you want to.

Wednesday Nov. 12, 2008

A day in the harbor at Key West.  We took it fairly easy today.  We strolled around the town and the Truman Annex.  Ate Cuban for lunch and Italian for dinner.  David Dalton’s recommendation of the Trattoria Restaurant was right on.

Of course the action continues each evening at Mallory Square.  Some of it interesting.  Some of it down right crazy.  Pictures from the day follow.

Moonstruck at the Galleon Resort and Marina

LuLu after eating Key Lime Pie for 3 days

Mallory Square musical act

The above was a very good musical act that played and sang island music.  We bought a couple of CDs.

Mallory Square mime

Key West bicycle thing

You see alot of strange things in Key West, but this ranks right up there with the strangest.  This is a bicycle with a trailer attached and a luggage carrier on the roof.  There is one dog in the back compartment and 2 dogs sleeping in the front.  We saw it in several places including going down the street.

Thursday Nov. 13, 2008

Another day in Key West Harbor.  The wind is still blowing, but it is supposed to lay down somewhat on Saturday.  That is delaying our departure for a day to take advantage of the lighter winds.

Today we walked about 3 or 4 miles.  While window shopping we were admiring the little puppies playing in the window.  Lou thought that she might take one home, but their activities changed a little.  It seems they may have adapted a little too much to the Key West life style.

There are only a few pictures today.  One is of the Walgreen’s Drugs that is located in an old theater building with a completely restored front.  Only in Key West would you see something like this.

Key West Walgreens

The others are to show some of the water colors in the harbor.

Key West Dock and Water

Key West Water Colors

Friday Nov. 14, 2008

In the harbor at Key West.  The weather report seems to be holding, so it looks like we are out of here tomorrow.

Here is a picture of Mark at the Jet Ski/boat rental booth behind our dock waving hi to Norm and Kathy Blinn.  Jude was off today, but came by the boat to say hi and to send greetings to Norm and Kathy.

Mark at the Jet Ski Rental booth

Jude from the Jet Ski Rental booth

Fuel prices better than expected down here—$3.15/gal at A & B Marina.

Saturday Nov. 15, 2008

What a difference a day makes.  Wind dropped to light and variable over night.  We departed to smooth seas and a great run.  We topped up the fuel at A & B Marina then departed by Northwest Channel to Green Marker #1.  Then it was 106.3 nm (that is about 125 statute miles) to the entrance marker at San Carlos Bay near Ft. Meyers Beach.  We set the auto pilot to steer 003 degrees magnetic, and let it run.  The seas were so smooth that we were picking up the crab pot floats on the radar.  The only variable from the course was dodging many of the crab pots.  4 hours and we were at the waypoint.

Because the seas were smooth, with the wind predicted to pick up to 25 knots out of the North tonight, we elected to cancel our reservation at Marco Island YC.  We decided it best to go on to the Sannibel/Ft. Meyers area to get into sheltered water for the rest of the trip.  It turned out to be a good decision.

We stopped at Sannibel Marina to eat a late lunch at Grandma Dot’s Restaurant.  This is one of the best we know of.  We then cruised on over to Ft. Meyers to the Royal Palm YC where we are tied up.

Hosed down the boat, showered, and had dinner—life is good.

Pictures of the day follow.

Tarpon rising to bait fish

there were many tarpon in the harbor

The Hatteras sport fishing boat next to us in Key West had under water lights that attracted bait fish.  Many of the tarpon in the harbor would hang around and eat the bait fish.  We once saw about a 250 lb. giant grouper rise into the light.  His head almost came to the surface.  His mouth must have been about 16″ wide.  Never seen anything like it.

It is no wonder that David Dalton knows so much about the restaurants in Key West.  We found where he is hiding his new yacht.

Lucky Dog at Key West

We left Key West with mixed emotions.  We had an enjoyable visit, but I was prepared.  I had stocked up on soap on a rope.

Goodbye to the Galleon and Key West 

Sanibel Island Bridge

Sunday Nov 15, 2008

A day in the harbor at Fort Meyers.  What a difference another day makes.  The wind picked up to about 25mph yesterday evening and veered to the northwest.  We awoke to about 50 degree temperatures and wind.  However we were a snug 72 degrees inside the boat.

The forecasters are calling for cool temperatures until the weekend.  We were planning to anchor a night or two at Cayo Costa and Boca Grande.  Without running the generator all night the upper 40’s would be too cool to be comfortable.  We plan to run on in to Gasparilla Marina, our new home port, tomorrow.  We will probably leave the boat on Tuesday and be home on Wednesday.  It has been a great trip!

Pictures for today are from Fort Meyers. The Edison and Ford estates are right next door to the yacht club.  We walked over there and then down town for lunch.  There is a new Publix market about a block from the YC that is very convenient.

Thomas Edison winter home

Thomas Edison laboratory

Henry Ford winter home

New Ft Meyers Publix that doesnt look like a big box store

The following is a picture of Moonstruck taken from the top deck of the Royal Palm YC.  If you look closely, you may see the dinghy in the cockpit.  We do not do that very often; but for a long offshore trip with no other boats around, it is a safety precaution.

Moonstruck at Royal Palm YC

Monday Nov. 17, 2008

At 1045 this morning we pulled into Moonstruck’s new home port for the next year or so—–Gasparilla Marina at Placida, FL near Boca Grande.  17th day of a great cruise.

There was a single Osprey welcoming us at the turning marker to Gasparilla Marina.

One bird welcoming committee

We are in a temporary slip for tonight.  We will leave the boat to be put away under the care of Capt. John Chaplin.

Tonight we are having dinner at the Fishery Restaurant with Gene and Sue Bell with Sue’s daughter Kim, and Terry and Chreyl Shippy to catch up with them.  Tomorrow Sue will pick us up at noon to take us to pick up a rental car.

We will stay tomorrow night with Bill and Jan Evans in Palmetto.  Dinner will probably be at the Bradenton Yacht Club (our home club).  Then drive home Wednesday.

For you technical guys the trip summary follows:

Trip Summary

940 statute miles
830.2 gal. fuel purchased
17.5 Gal./hr.
1 statute mile/Gal.
48 engine hours
1.1 generator hours (inverter is great)


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