Florida and the Keys


It has been a month since we both officially retired and it is almost starting to feel real. We have allowed ourselves a vacation that started with a trip to Amelia Island for the 4th of July. It was strange not being in Block Island for the 4th as that is where we have spent the holiday weekend for 18 of the past 20 years. Amelia Island is a beautiful spot with a historic district that is reminiscent of
a Sag Harbor, New York with a splash of Nantucket. The weather was very warm but the torrential rain storms managed to cool everyone down including the 1,000 spectators for the annual parade. The rain managed to show some respect when it abated for the fireworks display that was directly behind us and so close we had look out from under the covered upper deck to see the display.

The highlight of the weekend was a dinghy trip to Cumberland Island. Chip and Stacey had taken us by there earlier in the weekend and after they left for Daytona we returned twice to explore the sights. Cumberland Island is preserved as part of the National Sea Shore with some residences and camp grounds. They do allow dinghies and there are mapped trails to hike the island. The foliage is so green and mature images of Jurassic Park come to mind. The Island is inhabited by herds of wild horses that can be seen from the water as they graze along the marshes. We were lucky to see many young horses that were carefully guarded by the herd.

We left the northern most city in Florida and traveled to the southern most spot, Key West. Seabird is not a very fast boat (perhaps an understatement) so the trip to Key West was about 60 hours with lots of stops along the way. My brother Chip and his wife Stacey aboard Jaybird planned the trip and they took the west coast approach to Key West and we took the east coast. Jaybird travels at 24kts as opposed to our 8.5-9kts so if they took a long run we were not likely to end up in the same port so different approaches worked out well with a rendezvous at Galleon Marina. A stop in Daytona and a desire to visit family in Vero Beach took us down the ICW for what we swear (once again) will be the last time. We kept a watchful eye on Hurricane Dennis and took a slow trip (like we have a choice) south. We successfully dredged a few harbors along the way…Titusville and Melbourne…they are now deeper than 6 feet. Steven’s sister Diane and husband Mike arranged for us to dock right at the Moorings and the price was right for a couple of unemployed wanderers!! Diane hosted a family picnic that included Steven’s Mom and three of his four sisters. It was a great evening with lots of story telling. No trip south is complete without a trip to South Beach. Sight seeing at the beach is a favorite past time and dinner at China Grill was as good as ever. A new port for us was Marathon Key and it will remain a favorite. We had quite a meet and greet reception by the marina locals on our arrival. They were very helpful in getting us tied up and acquainted with the area. We docked at Faro Blanco on the ocean side with a perfect view of Steven’s new hamburger heaven……Burdines.

We had the pleasure of meeting new friends Don and Ann aboard a 55 ft Nordhavn in Key West. They were on their maiden voyage with 2 other couples and 2 dogs and it appeared a good time was had by all! The boat is a new model and this is hull #2 and it was a thrill for us to be welcomed aboard for a tour. The two Nordhavns spent a night anchored in Rodriquez Key which gave us both some nice photo opportunities.

We are now spending a restful week in Vero Beach before heading back to St. Augustine for a week or so of maintenance before heading to the Chesapeake where we plan to cruise until late fall. One more highlight that cannot be forgotten was our view of the space shuttle Discovery from the Atlantic. We were able to see the arcing craft as it crossed the horizon right in front of us a sight that Steven and I will always remember.

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