After spending four post-Jamaica days getting caught up on work, provisioning our boat, getting Missy a much-needed haircut at PetSmart and meeting for a very nice sushi dinner with O and Mona, Cindy and I are ready to push off from Daytona Beach and head to New Smyrna Beach, our next stop down the ICW. Early Sunday morning we fire up our engines and push off from the dock (without assistance, a first for us) and point our bows south. We pass through three bridges within the first couple of miles, including a drawbridge that opened up for us as we were waiting for a marina worker to help us dock at Daytona (it was only a few hundred yards from the marina), thinking we were just too inexperienced to radio in an opening request. We hope that the intervening two weeks were enough that they forgot about that incident (not our fault, we did not request an opening) and sure enough we get though without a problem.
Missy with Her New Haircut
We cruise down the Halifax River, surfing on a following current that helps speed us along. One of the things we notice is how much busier the ICW is today. It’s Sunday, the weather is beautiful and the weekend boaters are out in force. As a whole, cruisers are responsible boaters who follow the maritime rules and most errors are due to inexperience rather than just not giving a damn. The weekend hot doggers, not so much. Powerboats, cruisers and fishing boats zip past by our slow moving catamaran as if we were anchored. Most manage a friendly wave as they blow by us, rocking us side-to-side and threatening to pitch Missy overboard and causing us to question their ancestry. I lose track of the number of cigarette boats I see pounding along the waterway with manly types standing up at the helm like Captains Courageous while semi-miserable looking wives sit hunkered down in the back looking like they want to be anywhere else but there.
Daytona Beach Moonrise
At one point, we pass a fishing boat that has anchored itself squarely in the middle of the channel. Even an amateur boater should know better than this. As we squeeze past (getting a friendly wave from its three resident ichthyophiles), another power boat blasts past both of us, throwing up a roostertail like something out of Miami Vice. A moment later we hear one of our fishing buddies on VHF Channel 16 (the channel all boats monitor) saying brusquely “Thanks for the wake, cowboy!!”. This is followed a moment later by a “Yippie-Ki-Yay”, which we presume is from the aforementioned cowpoke. This in turn is followed by a message from the United States Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Florida station stating “To the broadcasting sailors, Channel 16 is to be used only for hailing and emergency messages. Be advised that the Coast Guard monitors and records all traffic on Channel 16”. Weekends bring out the best in Floridians. Experienced sailors tell us this only gets worse the farther south we head.
Fortunately, this is a short day for us. The passage from Daytona Beach to New Smyrna Beach is only 16 statute miles long. In short order we arrive at the New Smyrna Beach Marina, a new upscale facility right on the Indian River and our home for the night. After a failed attempt to dock following the marina worker’s instructions, Cindy whips the boat around again and docks her way, landing on the dock like a boss. This just again reinforces our resolve to do what feels right to the skipper, no matter what.
After tidying up the boat, we head up to Outriggers, the marina restaurant. Cindy orders a Zombie (limit 2 per customer) while I opt for a beer. We order food and enjoy it sitting out on the warm sunlit patio. The restaurant is buzzing on this beautiful Sunday and the food and drink soon chase us back to our boat for a nap. We snooze until awakened by a rowdy group that has just returned from their deep sea fishing trip. They yak loudly and drunkenly and alternately turn their boat’s radio volume up and down as various “Oh I LOVE this song” tunes come up in the DJ’s rotation. We pray that they are not spending the night, which they fortunately do not.
After dark I head up to shower in the men’s bathroom, which true to the reviews we read is incredibly nice. The problem is that unlike the bathroom facilities in all the other marinas where we’ve stayed, New Smyrna offers only one men’s and one women’s bathroom. Access is via a four digit code, there is no lock on the inside and the same code is used for the men’s and the women’s bathroom. This means that any male can unlock the women’s bathroom and enter, which unsurprisingly makes Cindy feel unsafe and seems like a serious security oversight. I offer to stand guard while Cindy showers but Cindy opts to shower on the boat instead.
Early Monday morning we get up and make preparations to light out for Titusville. Unlike the previous day we have a long 36 mile leg planned and want to get underway as soon as possible, especially since there is heavy wind and rain predicted in the afternoon and we want to be safely tied up at the marina by then. I top off our diesel tanks, estimating by the Yanmar fuel consumption curve that we will need about 13.5 gallons, half the capacity of our admittedly small 27 gallon tanks and am pleased to find each tank barely needs 10 gallons. Filling the tanks is a bit of a wrestling match since the pumps at New Smyrna are designed to accommodate large fishing boats that need hundreds of gallons to fill the tank. At 50 gallons per minute, I could be spewing diesel over our sugar scoops and into the water if I’m not careful.
Haulover Canal and Bridge
We push off from the dock before 9:00 am with gray clouds visible on the horizon. The difference in traffic between today and yesterday is remarkable. We share the ICW with very few other boaters today and those that are there seem fairly well behaved. Rainclouds alternately gather and break throughout the morning without any rain falling and we make good time. We pass through drawbridges and under fixed bridges without batting much of an eye by now. I spell Cindy at the helm sometimes and track buoys and crab pots when not steering.
This part of the waterway is lined with older waterfront homes which lack the “I came, I saw, I conquered” feel of the newer McMansion developments. Even these eventually give way to endless stretches of pristine marshlands, teaming with birds and wildlife. At one point, I see a pod of at least half a dozen dolphins, thrashing about in the water and playing. Even though we sight dolphins several times per day (sometimes even in the marinas), we never grow inured of seeing them.
After five hours of motoring we arrive at the Titusville Municipal Marina, a large city-owned facility across from the north end of Merritt Island. Cindy puts us safely inside the catamaran slip and we tie up with extra lines in anticipation of the bad weather to come. The marina crew here is particularly helpful, lending us a 50 amp pigtail when our won’t connect to the power plug, helping us figure out why it didn’t work (we have a 125 volt plug and need a 125/250 volt plug…who knew), helping us order a new one and get it delivered to the marina by morning. Then they offered us a cheaper alternative by finding a used one for half the price.
As we leave the marina office, the rain begins to fall and we run to the dry safety of our boat and hunker down for a night of watching “Person of Interest” on Hulu.