Monday, December 30, 2013

Manatees and Maniacs

We started out from the New Smyrna Beach anchorage this morning for what looked like a long, straight course down the ICW of Florida with only one bridge to contend with, the Haulover Canal Bascule Bridge. Now, keep in mind that you use cruising guides for a reason. They help with the behind-the-scenes information about places, the kind of info you get from sharing a beer with another cruiser at the barstool next to you. The kind that would be hard-earned otherwise. Somehow, despite having three cruising guides, we turned the corner into the Haulover Canal completely oblivious to the scene that would unfold. It was a narrow canal (140ft to be exact), of which we could only be in the middle third due to our draft. As we turned the corner into the canal we were greeted by a vista bespeckled with small fishing boats, all of them right where we needed to be, all of them completely oblivious to our presence, our draft, or our predicament. They were seriously not even looking up. We drew down the throttle to a crawl and proceeded to basically push them out of the way.

In the middle of the canal is a bascule bridge that only opens on request, and is manned by a rather cranky bridge tender who got just a tad rude with me. As we approached the bridge, a fishing boat with three burly guys in it towing a kayak pulled right into the channel in front of us and proceeded down the channel at a snail's pace, forcing us to follow and to delay the bridge opening to the absolute joy of the tender. It was so much fun that they continued right down the middle of the channel the whole way to the bay at the end and beyond. After a half mile or so, they hauled the kayak up onto the boat and took off at about the 25mph manatee zone speed limit. We bid them a hearty goodbye.

The only good thing about that canal is that we caught sight of our first manatee this trip. Can't say as I can vouch for his choice of cruising grounds, and I didn't get any pictures since I was busy pinballing fishing skiffs, but he was the coolest thing I've seen in awhile. Tim didn't get to see him since he was engrossed with the boat steering, but he got to see one at the anchorage this evening so all is well.

The ICW in Florida is a truly strange  place. Earlier in the day we saw this "boat"(??) and I went to the youtube channel and watched their little video. They are purportedly on a mission to save the Florida ecosystem. Uh huh...very strange indeed.

For all it's weirdness today, the afternoon sky turned blue and the temps soared all the way to a balmy 69°. We still had our jackets and hats on but it was good to be warm for a change. We have a couple more days to Vero Beach where we will be visiting with friends from Boulder and then on to Ft. Pierce for more visiting. They tell me that Vero is the warm/cold line in Florida and that it has earned a nickname of "Velcro" Beach as a result. I am looking forward to finding out.

This fisherman was over a 1/2  mile from shore. He walked out to this spot to fish which was 50 ft from the side of Kintala


Richard Klyce said...

They are called "Floridots" for a reason.

Latitude 43 said...

Weird is what makes Floriduh interesting.

Ken and Cathy said...

You passed the Marina where our boat is staying in Titusville. We will be about a month behind you so I am listening carefully! Hope you can stay warm now. Ken & Cathy

Rharriscpa said...

73 more miles virtually no tides, 1 inlet (Sebastian) and no more bridges. Should me smooth motoring if the beast cooperates. Fair winds.