Friday, December 16, 2011

Help! We're trapped in Daytona Beach and we can't get out. Dec. 16, 2011 ICW Mile Marker 878

Sometime the best plans are not to be. On Friday, Dec. 9 we happily tied up at Halifax Municipal Marina, Daytona Beach, FL., safe, out of the wind and rain headed our way. We did all the tourist things, sans the beach as it would have required another cab ride like groceries did. We passed the wet weekend doing small projects and taking in a a movie at the “Cinamatique.” There we reconnected with the couple from Timaru and saw Margin Call (highly recommend it) in a very intimate/dinner theater. On Sunday we walked to a Chart House for Susan’s birthday dinner, a great meal despite the rain. Laundry done, well rested, we made plans for a Monday departure.

Plan we did, sail we didn’t. The rains in our county were record breaking, filling the Halifax River with run off. Winds continued (it was a week of wind by now) at 25 Knots from the N, NNE and we had an astronomical high tide, though tide here has about a foot range. The Port Orange Fixed Bridge was 1.6 miles south, almost in sight from the moment we left the marina inlet. Are you ahead of me on this one? When we approached the bridge at dead low, the bridge board read 63 foot and we had to abort our transit.

Undaunted, we accepted the situation and returned to the marina, leaving the departure date open until tide and winds subsided; that, good friends, was not until this morning. Rick spent the week marking the cement pilings at different tide stages so we could track reality against the guides. We could see by the local weather reports that this was not an error on our part but truly a combination of runoff, winds and tide that pushed water into our passage and prevented us from moving south. Our new calculations were confirmed by “locals” for a Friday, Dec. 16 departure at 6:30 AM.

But wait, the adventure continues. Rick woke at 5:15 today and by 6 we were heading down the channel from the marina to the ICW channel, with me on the bow with a flood light to read the markers. When it was time to make our turn, I came on board and in that split second, we were aground. Mind you it was still dark, Tow Boat US didn’t answer until we resorted to a land line, but they did responds and a tow boat had us off our 2.8’ lump by 9:30. Boat US Membership: Priceless! We lost three hours but now it was light and we made our bridge, smooth sailing ahead. The boat is fine, I have my confidence back, but Rick has a bruised ego. We have traveled over 1,000 miles with no incidents and were feeling quite immune. Note to self- plans are only plans.

Since we had days to fill, we took a cab to the famous Daytona Beach. It is amazing to me that one can just drive out on the beach here which is what precipitated the auto and motor cycle races early in the 19th century. When air flight shared the same beach at the same time, things got really busy, especially for bathers and tourists. Later an airport and the Daytona Speedway would elevate the risks at the beach; tourists continue to flock here in season for all the combined attractions the area offers. Henry Flagler and his partner John Rockefeller developed this area as well. Like most of America devastated by malls and urban sprawl, Daytona Beach today has little focus, though the art deco restoration in a 10 block stretch is admirable and is really busy in season. We took in a second film (The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez. Fabulous!) The beach area has also experienced restoration and preservation, but it doesn’t compare to the Jersey Shore. On the day we walked the beach, we were shocked, then impressed, that this huge expanse of beach was covered in a foot of seaweed that will not be recovered by man. In a beach restoration effort, it is the law that you cannot clean the beach any longer, nature rules. We like that idea, even if conditions were not ideal for us that day.

You can see Cape Canaveral from the waterway, the shuttle hanger soaring in the sky. We are sad there are no launches for us to see. Today we are on our way to Titusville for the night, then off again early in the morning, trying to get to the Palm Beach or Miami area before Christmas.