Posted on November 26, 2016
Florida tries to win us back
Ok, Florida. Possibly, there are some ways in which you are not terrible.
We managed to have a couple of really nice days in Saint Augustine. Both Wildcat and Mafalda were in the marina’s mooring field with us, so we spent some time walking around the old Spanish fort together. I’m not sure if this is still true, but growing up in the far northern wilds of Minnesota, I don’t remember much discussion about the Spanish influence in the United States—it was non-stop British history. It’s easy to forget that the Spanish had a permanent settlement in what is now the US, long before Jamestown was trying to work it out.
It’s surprising to find an old-school Spanish fortress on American soil as well. The National Park Service has been running a promotion where any family with a student in fourth grade can have free access to the parks, but apparently there’s some paperwork that needs to be downloaded in advance. We missed that step, but couldn’t feel too badly about spending $20 to check out what’s basically a castle, complete with weapons discussion by a very enthusiastic park ranger. All the boat kids were horrified with the glass cannonballs, designed to shatter on the decks of ships and cut up the sailors’ feet. Yikes.
St. Augustine was absolutely very touristy near the water, but somehow it managed not to be tacky and horrible. The older parts of town are right by the marina (often the case; harbor=town, for the most part), and the streets are great for strolling around. Also: excellent ice cream! Aaaand—we heard someone playing an acoustic guitar version of Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance.” How do you even top that?
From there, we had an uneventful passage to Titusville in company with Mafalda, with one overnight stop in Daytona Beach. On the ICW (as in the Potomac and the Hudson), stopping for the night sometimes means moving the boat out of the marked channel to a spot with good depth and calling it a night. It’s often not very scenic, and we usually don’t go to shore; it’s just a pit stop, like pulling your RV to the side of the highway when you’re too tired to keep going. That was our Daytona experience, but since it wasn’t even spring break, we figured that was fine.
Titusville was maybe not our favorite place, but it did have a few advantages. We mostly anchored outside the municipal marina’s mooring field, but we did pay for one night’s mooring—although we didn’t bother moving our boat. We just wanted access to the showers, internet and dinghy dock. We had fellow kids boats to hang out with—Wildcat, Mafalda, and our old friends on Perla, whom we hadn’t seen since Annapolis. Eric and Cynthia had a car, so I managed to get in an initial provisioning run at the Walmart (the first of many such trips; getting the boat prepped for remote islands takes some work). But the highlight of Titusville came on Saturday, where we had a great view from our boats of a rocket launch at the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Yes, it is still pretty cold (a cold front tore through over the weekend, and we actually saw temps in the low 40’s). Yes, we are constantly stressed out about the possibility of going aground. Yes, we have seen some pretty big cockroaches waltzing through the free book exchange at the marina. But Florida is starting to grow on us. We are fans of quiet travel and isolated anchorages, but for the moment, we’re enjoying the company of the vast and varied group of people moving south on the water. Certain areas we’ve passed through have been beautiful. Excitement about spotting dolphins has been superseded by excitement about spotting manatees and crocodiles (alligators? both?). And seeing all the pics of the snow up north has reminded us how different, and interesting, and fun this particular season will be for us all.