January 20, 2015

Monday morning we push off as scheduled at 9:00am, heading for Daytona Beach, the next stop on our trip down the east coast of Florida. But just after we pass under the bridge outside the marina, we notice white smoke coming out of our port engine and a quick check shows no water flow. Damn!! The same issue we had earlier. Cindy kills the engine and I jump down in the port compartment, loosen the hose clamps on the raw water line, disconnect the hose and then blow the line clear. I reconnect it and Cindy starts the engine up again, the water appears to be running fine. We debate whether the crud we saw in the marina could have clogged the intakes and whether we should go on but decide to err on the side of caution and return to the marina.

After re-docking, I put on my swim trunks and get my mask and snorkel to go have a look at the saildrive intakes and see if I can see anything, but the 58 degree water nixes that quickly. Lou, one of our new marina friends tells us about Rob, the local boat cleaner. These guys have wetsuits and air tanks so they can handle the cold water conditions. He gives us Rob’s number and we give him a call. Lo and behold, he is already on his way down to the marina to clean some of the boats. While we wait for him, I blow out the lines on both of the engines again, wishing we had the nozzle Sonny had lent us earlier.

When Rob’s guys arrive, one of them looks the saildrives over and tells us they look fine. They are kind enough not to charge us anything since they were coming out anyway. We fire the engines up and the flow looks good and strong on both of them. Since it’s now too late to make Daytona, we stay another night at Palm Coast marina. We take advantage of the down time to clean out the filter on the starboard HVAC unit, which really needed it. The water on most of the ICW, especially at Jekyll Creek is pretty cruddy. I spend a restless night fretting about the engines. I think we have marine growth inside the saildrives and to clean those out the boat has to be out of the water. Cindy and I discuss doing our haulout sooner rather than later.

The next day we fire up the engines, confirm the water flow is good, say goodbye to our dock friends and head out once again. I’m checking the water flow on both engines every few minutes, looking for any sign of trouble. Everything looks good. Eventually we settle down and enjoy motoring down the waterway. We pass by more housing developments, some new and grandiose, others obviously older and less upscale. We pass through sections with no development, where the marshlands are still pristine and wildlife abounds. Flocks of white egrets stand along the shore while lone herons fish in the shallow waters along the banks. A trio of dolphins suddenly broach the water, practically tumbling over each other as they play. They head toward our boat and I race out to the bow to see if they will ride along side us. I look down and can clearly see their three faces smiling up at me just below the surface of the water. I try to get a picture of them but they are elusive. A few sweeps of their tails and they’re gone.

We have a favorable current this whole trip so we make good time getting down to Daytona. We arrive at Loggerhead Marina, tie up to their facedock and then head to the marina office to get signed in. After getting the lay of the land we head up to Caribbean Jack’s, the tropical-themed bar and restaurant that sits at Loggerhead Marina. We’re both famished and order drinks and food, both are adequate but far from exceptional. CJ’s does offer live music nightly and sits right on the waterway, so I think it will be a nice place to go after dinner on the boat if we feel like going out.

Daytona is an interesting town, its relationship to its famous Bike Week and BiketoberFest is obvious. Motorcycle shops are everywhere and loud Harley’s thunder along the roadways, even here during the off-season. Driving down the road, we spot the famed Daytona International Speedway. Its impressively huge and we make a note to tour the place while we are here. Muscle cars are everywhere. You can almost smell the testosterone in this town.

I text an old high school friend of mine, O Kheir, who lives and sells luxury waterfront real estate in Daytona Beach (in fact I can see the condo tower he lives in from our boat). He and I played in the Huntsville Youth Orchestra when we were younger and both went to Grissom High School. We meet at CJ’s for a drink to catch up with each other at 9:00 after he finishes showing a property. It’s been close to 40 years since we’ve seen each other so we have a lot to talk about. We talk for an hour and a half about what has happened in our lives since our teenage years and then I take him down to the boat to introduce him to Cindy, who had to work on our Scottsboro health club’s January sale. It’s a wonderful time reconnecting with an old friend and we part with the promise of getting together with him and his wife Mona when we return from a side trip we’re taking.

Total Distance Traveled: 144 miles