After 2 really good days in St. Augustine, where we did some reprovisioning as well as some great sightseeing, we moseyed on down the ICW to Daytona Beach. We didn’t have a very long way to go so we didn’t leave until 10:50 and we kept our speed down around 8 knots, which is very easy going and saves fuel, both of which are good things.
Once again we started out going past several miles of fairly densely developed housing along the waterway, followed by several miles of open marshland. What was different today was that the marsh grasses seemed to be shorter than in the Carolinas or Georgia, because we could see wide vistas of marshland over the grass. We were a couple of miles from the barrier beaches and the ocean most of the time, but we could see them all day, which was not the case before. It actually made for better sightseeing as we went along, and after hundreds of miles of marshland it was a welcome change!
Also for the first time, today we saw signs warning boaters to be careful about manatees, which are very big but very slow and not particularly aware mammals that have a bad habit of bobbing up right in front of passing boats. They’re a protected (endangered?) species and there are substantial fines for hitting them, in addition to the emotional cost to the person at the helm because such collisions usually result in significant propeller injury to the animal. So we kept a sharp eye out for manatees but didn’t see any all day. Personally, I still want to see an alligator, but we haven’t seen one of them yet, either.
We’ve seen dozens of dolphins every day since North Carolina, in the canals and marshes as well as in the open sounds and bays, and they’re always a treat. They also have the sometimes disturbing habit of surfacing right in front of us, but they’re so quick and they always seem to know exactly how fast we’re going and how close they can come safely – even when they have little ones with them. Sometimes they’re obviously just swimming along, maybe looking for food and maybe just checking us out, but sometimes they’re obviously actively hunting and we’ll see a group of them swimming in tight circles and even jumping out of the water after a fish. We never get tired of dolphins.
Daytona Beach is a very busy place, and as we got close we passed under a half-dozen or so bridges and past several big marinas. We had made a reservation at Halifax Harbor Marina, only because the folks next to us at the marina in St. Augustine were going there and we didn’t know enough about Daytona Beach to pick otherwise. Halifax Harbor turned out to be huge – over 500 slips – and there were interesting boats to look at as we walked around, but other than that Daytona Beach turned out to be kind of disappointing. Again not knowing any better, we had both expected to be able to walk on the famous highway along the sand on the ocean beach. But we were surprised to find that the marinas along the ICW are on the mainland side of the water, and you have to go across one of the big, high bridges a couple of miles to get to the ocean-side barrier island where the beaches are. So we figured we’d just walk around the town instead but were frustrated there, too, as we found that the marina wasn’t close to downtown at all. Which actually wasn’t so bad after all, because the temperature never did get out of the mid-50’s. Even though we got out our warm jackets and gloves again, which we hadn’t worn in a couple of weeks and thought we wouldn’t need again until we went home, we were chilled walking around and cut it short and went back to the boat. Oh well, there was a nice guy in the boat next to us, who was also in the same marina as us in St. Augustine, and we chatted with him for quite a while. Marinas can be really social places, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation with people on other boats because we all have something in common,
We’re not far from our winter home base now so we don’t have to push ourselves at all anymore; tomorrow will be another pleasantly short day.
Today: 46.5 nautical miles
Running total: 1,363.4 nautical miles