Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Thursday, June 12, 2003  We finally made it back on the Loop.  We spent May in NY and Rhode Island moving into the condo on Long Island and attending our 45th reunion at Brown in perpetual rain. We drove back to Florida, packed up the boat, and are ready to have a different kind of fun.
After a winter of work for Kay, well only 3 months as temporary director of therapeutic recreation, she said it was nice to be the one recreating instead of just telling others how to provide the services.  Pearce spent his “lonely” hours painting.  No, not the townhouse wall, although Kay convinced him to paint an underwater seascape on the bathroom wall.  He came home one day with an easel, some canvases, a whole lot of oil paints, and an assortment of brushes.  During our Loop and while we were in Boynton Beach, we had gone to several art shows, saw some things we liked, and saw a lot that was not even art.  Pearce decided that it was time to resume an avocation he had enjoyed when younger.  The walls of our townhouse are now adorned with paintings of our courtyard, various birds, waterfront scenes, flowers, and some portraits.  We even have a triptych hanging above the bed on Kibon.  Pearce brought along his easel and a few blank canvases, so if we have any spare time on the trip north, we’ll have a few more paintings hanging before we get to Long Island.
We left our dock at Boynton Beach Inlet at 4 pm and reached Singer Island and the Peanut Island Anchorage by 7:30.  Since most of the bridges stay closed during the commuter hour, we had to wait at Southern Bridge for 45 minutes, but the rest of the trip was uneventful.  This has become our “home” waters.
Friday, June 13  Kay had had some minor surgery on one of her nasal passages Thursday before we left, and she woke up this morning with what appeared to be a terrible head cold and a raspy throat.  Pearce wanted to get an early start, so he took his coffee up to the bridge to get underway and suggested that Kay stay in bed for a while longer.  As the morning hours progressed, the cold gave way to lethargy, and Kay slept the day away.  Pearce stopped at Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce for diesel.  It was $1.33 including tax with the Boat US discount.  Kay merely grunted and flapped her hand when he suggested staying for the night ($1 a foot plus $7 electricity).  She slept on while he had a delicious meal of mussels at the restaurant.
Saturday, June 14.  Today is Flag Day.  We are already carrying our flag, but Kay wanted to put up another appropriate decoration.  Unfortunately, nothing has been properly stowed, and she didn’t feel up to hunting for anything.  She retreated to the stateroom again.  Sometime during the afternoon, she came up for air and found that Pearce had made a profound discovery.  As long as he was not in congested areas, he could navigate Kibon from the lower helm where it was AIR CONDITIONED.  Kay felt up to sitting in the Captain’s seat and monitoring Hal’s progress between the markers.  Hal, the autopilot works beautifully, and only occasionally does he go crazy and try to devour one of the poles. 
This is definitely too late in the season to leave Florida.  80+ degree weather is not pleasant, but this year we had no choice.  We couldn’t leave until mid-April, and we had the commitments up north in May.  Hopefully, next year when we head north again, it will be in balmy weather when we can enjoy the ample bridge area.  Hey, Dale and Gregg, we’ve only lived on your boat for three days, and we love it! 
We took a short (less than one mile) side trip to see the Dragon at Dragon Point at the lower end of the Banana River.  This has been a local wonder since it was commissioned in 1971 by Aynn Christal who lived in the house adjoining the point.  She decided that her children needed a plaything in the backyard.  She hired a sculptor from Tampa who started a 200 foot statue of a dragon.  It was completed in 1982.  The guide book says this is “how the juncture of the Banana and the Indian rivers came to be guarded by a creature that would seem a bit more at home in the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.”  The sculptor had better come back.  The poor dragon  has collapsed, his head is almost in the water, and only his tail remains to threaten any trespassers.  We anchored today at Addison Point south of Titusville, north of the bridge nestled next to a spoils area.
Sunday, June 15.  Happy Father’s Day.  Our friend Marilyn told me that her grandson invited his sister and their dad to a showing of “Nemo” – and he has earned the money to pay for it.  I think that’s a great idea.  Everyone has a good time.
Kay is finally back in style, she made breakfast while Pearce navigated from the inside station.  Then she spent the morning organizing the huge piles of junk stowed in the forward cabin.  We stowed all kinds of empty bags and boxes under the aft master bunk.  The forward drawers and cubby holes are now places for sewing and office supplies, a linen cabinet, art supplies, fishing things, and other kinds of gurry that are needed.  Pearce had installed the computer and accessories in the ‘makeup’ desk in the master stateroom.  It has all kinds of storage behind the doors and drawers.  Kay certainly won’t miss a makeup area!!!
We traveled through New Smyrna Beach, Dayton Beach, and up the Halifax River/Tomoka River Basins.  These areas mark their civilizations back to (our) pre-history of Native Americans.  The more modern history of settlements under Spanish rule with the unfortunate destruction of the plantations during the Seminole wars is even more difficult to understand.  The vast plantations that people had built that would cultivate our country were lost.  These areas have become towns and homesteads rather than agricultural lands.  The area has grown to meet the demands.  It was beautiful to cruise down the miles and miles of lovely land.  Homes were built on some of the eastern shores, but it was great to look out over the western areas of water, trees, and nothing else but Nature.
We entered the Concrete Plant Canal Anchorage – actually Pearce said, “We haven’t gone 80 miles yet”, and Kay said, “We’ve gone 76 miles and there’s nothing further.”  We entered this anchorage, which is at mile 809, is an old Concrete Plant, and is currently the testing facility for Sea Rays.  Pearce suggested that we can always test out a new boat – many of you have done this before!  Anyway, we anchored at the end of the canal (I hope they don’t start work at 6 am).  We have been followed by another trawler who successfully anchored near us.  Two sailboats have been maneuvering for two hours to anchor here.  One is very successful, the other can’t seem to handle anything.  They have been moving back and forth, going out to the entrance, coming back, trying to find a place to spend the night.  On that note, we say “Good Night.”

Monday, June 16.  Another beautiful morning.  We were up and ready to leave just about the same time the workers were arriving at the Sea Ray plant, and we headed north again.  We passed many beautiful homes along the Palm Coast.  We scooted by Marineland with Pearce promising that we can visit on the way back south.  We continued up the Matanzas River to St. Augustine Beach where we docked at the Municipal Marina (for $5 an hour!)  We went looking for a restaurant we had enjoyed on a previous trip, but it was so hot that we had lunch at Harry's New Orleans's Bar and retreated back to the boat.  By that time, the clouds had gathered and cooled the sun by a few degrees.  We soon passed the inlet and the high rise bridge, looked to the right to Vilano Beach and soon saw the roofs of the condos where sister and spouse Margie & Gene spent a few winter months a year ago.  We waved.

The trip up to Jacksonville Beach was interesting, to say the least.  Many miles are wide open stretches of marshland -- lonely but beautiful with birds and fish (oh, could Pearce wish he could catch one).  Dolphins swam along with the boat, and we even saw a Manatee.  The homes along the way are incredible because there is no rhyme or reason to them.  They jump from old-time (50's) Florida ranches to state-of-the-art multi-storied mansions.  The building boom seems to have arrived here--small places are being replaced with huge mansions.  Most of the plots are small, but they are being maximized.  There are no large boats.  Most are small and fast and are kept in lifts out of the reach of nasty wakes from huge power cruisers.  The styles of the homes are also interesting.  Southern belles, fretwork encrusted Victorians, Spanish haciendas, friendly Florida splanches, and even a castle or two -- all are in evidence along the waterway.  Even the shoreline changes.  Most everyone has some kind of bulkheading, but the shore goes in and out.  Are people reclaiming 10' or more of land, or did they put in their stakes before the rest eroded away???

We passed Jacksonville Beach, watched the Navy helicopters maneuvering over their air space (one came over to check us out -- must have been a quiet moment), crossed the St. John's River, and were observed (closely) by a small craft who wanted to be sure we weren't taking pictures of the shipyard, entered the Sisters Creek and continued north.  We took a right turn at Fort George River and continued cautiously down to the Kingsley Plantation where we are anchored right in front.  This is a shallow river that is traveled by small boats so we are not impeding anyone's passage.  The history of this island goes back to 1674, and three of its owners were prominent in the development of the state.  The house opens at 8 am -- maybe we can bring our bowls of cereal while we tour.

Tuesday, June 17.  We left too early to tour Kingsley -- that's another thing to do when we come back down next Fall.  We crossed  Nassau Sound, ran up to Fernandina where we bought diesel and filled up the water tanks.  Pearce wanted to get some fuel consumption figures.  It worked out to 1.3 miles per gallon, which is not very good.  We have had the generator on since we left Fort Pierce (where we last filled up) because it has been so hot we even needed the air conditioner at anchor.  We used 6.67 gallons of fuel per hour of travel.  We'll see if the numbers improve as we cruise through less sticky climates.

As we were crossing Cumberland Sound we spotted one of the new Trident submarines being escorted to the Atlantic.  It didn't even have any markings on it yet.  The escort vessels were loaded with all kinds of personnel, and the small Coast Guard boats were keeping other boats at a safe distance.  We had to pull out of the channel to watch the parade go by.  The Navy complex at St. Mary's is where they built these submarines.  We headed into the Sea Islands of Georgia.  They're also known as the Golden Isles -- right now they are lushly green.  We crossed St. Andrew's Sound.  There are shoals where the Satilla River empties into the Atlantic, so we really go out to the Ocean before we again head back west and north.  Thrilling.  Pearce said, "'s a piece of cake.  Let's just head north."  Kay said, "And miss all those beautiful, golden islands?"  So we continued up the ICW, passed the Millionaire's Island of Jekyll, crossed St. Simon's Sound, passed St. Simon and Little St. Simon's Islands, crossed Doboy Sound and found a nice anchorage up the Duplin River between Sapelo and Little Sapelo Islands.  We are tucked in for the night between the University of Georgia's research vessel and a cruising Mainship.  Pearce had written a story years ago about Doboy Sound and Sapelo Island.  He said the real thing is exactly how he imagined it. 

Wednesday, June 18.  We cruised through the twists and turns of the marshlands.  We can see other boats that seem to be sliding through the grass.  Then the grass parts, a waterway opens up, and the boat chugs by.  Yesterday we passed a car riding through the grass closely followed by a low-lying boat.  When they got to open water, we saw a boat pushing a small ferry with a car and other freight piled on board.  There are summer homes out on the islands -- accessible by boat, no electricity, and everything has to be brought in.  Just like the houses out on our Great South Bay at home.  Somewhat like the more primitive houses we saw on the islands in Georgian Bay last summer.  We looked for the house we'd liked several years ago near Darien -- it had a deep water creek at its back door that lead out to the Sapelo River.  There are many homes lining the mainland shores.  Most of them are down the end of long dusty roads from the main road, but their backyards look out across the gorgeous marshes.  Pearce said, "What a wonder to be a child growing up here with an outboard to explore all the twists and turns. 

Speaking of exploring, we passed an encampment of young boys (Scouts?) who were cleaning up from their breakfast and getting ready to take on the new day.  They had packed in on their kayaks from somewhere.  We crossed Sapelo Sound followed by, following, and encountering shrimpers with their nets flung far out like wings.  The guide book warned cruisers and sailboats to give wide berth to the shrimp boats.  They are concentrating on their nets and are not paying attention to cruising boats.  Apparently, sailboats who presumed that the rules of the road gave them precedence over shrimpers have had untimely dismasting when neither boat gave way!  We crossed St. Catherine's and Ossabaw Sounds, ran through Hell Gate.  Pearce said that some of these passages are very interesting at high tide.  The chart indicates land and all you see in front of you is water.  Yesterday's trip during the afternoon was at low water, and we could see wide swaths of mud flats.  The navigational aides are necessary and good.

We're parked at The Landings Yacht Club on the Skidaway River.  Ann and Jerry Hanley live here, and we used to stop in Savannah on our way South each winter by car.  We're looking forward to spending a few days visiting and restocking.  They plan to play a twilight golf game with friends, and they have left their car for us to go to the store.  We will join them for dinner and catching-up. 

Tomorrow's a rest day... but little rest for cruising sailors: wash and vacuum the boat, do a load of laundry, fill the water tanks,  update the charts, etc., etc. There's news that the Skidaway Narrows portion of the waterway just ahead will be closed for cable laying activity Saturday and Sunday, so Friday will have to be getaway day. Love Savannah, but time to forge ahead...
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