Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29 - Washinton DC

May 19, 20 – Oriental
On Tuesday there was school in the morning again. It was still really windy, but Seahawk had spent their two legal days on the free dock, so they left around noon. We pulled in behind them and took their spot. We had another nice walk in Oriental, and Dave started working on the teak.
On Wednesday, the water started leaving the harbour, and the boat on the deeper side of the free dock left, so we moved around to the other side of the dock. It was another quiet day of school, with the added excitement of finally picking a puppy! After much debate, we’ve decided on a black lab pup from Holly Farms, in Belcherville Mass. His Dad is a very well behaved black lab called Oliver, and his Mom is white lab named Sky, and she loves to play frisbee. He was born May 6. We will be able to go meet him on June 13 when we are up in Connecticut, and we will be able to take him home on July 4. We have named him "Boom", and his call name will be "Holly Farm Highlander". While we know we can never replace Rudder, it will be nice to have a dog again. We couldn’t imagine being home without one.

May 21 – Oriental to Alligator River mile 104
We left Oriental at 6:00 after a nice break. We motored up the Neuse River and we were impressed as "Bird" kept up or passed all the other sailboats. We debated back and forth as to whether or not we should go out to Ocracoke… we had pretty good weather to get out there, it would be a really neat place to see… we spent five days in Oriental and we should get moving… we weren’t sure if we would be able to sail all the way there… the Pamlico can get pretty rough… In the end we decided to skip Ocracoke and we pressed on through the Alligator Pungo Canal and anchored at the top of the Alligator river around 5:30. The anchorage was very calm and we had an uneventful evening.

May 22 – Alligator River to Elizabeth City – mile 51
We left at 6:00 again. It was really beautiful pulling out of the anchorage. The sun was rising and making all the trees silver in the mist. We motored down the Alligator River, and pulled into the Alligator River marina around 10:00 to fill up with fuel. We were on our way again fairly quickly. It was a nice little marina and we could see why lots of people recommend it as a good place to stop. We got to Elizabeth City around 2:30 and tied along side a face dock, rather than trying to struggle in the slips like we had in the fall. After we got settled we went over to the Museum of the Abermarle where Dave and Kristen briefly visited in the fall. It is a great museum and it’s free! They have 4 large exhibits representing different periods of history in the region. They had some artifacts that had been retrieved from the wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship sailed by Blackbeard the Pirate and sunk in near Ocrakoke. There were also two small very old building that had been moved from their original locations and rebuilt in the museum – one was a house, and the other was a smokehouse. Kristen had fun finding all the answers for the scavenger hunt. When we finished the exhibits the kids went to play in the play room, where there were lots of period clothes, a puppet theatre, kitchen utensils and other things to play with. After we dragged them away from there, we walked around town, looking for a place to go out for supper. Nothing really caught our eye, so we ordered pizza instead. While we waited for the pizza, the girls played soccer on the field right by the boat, Dave took the bikes off the boat, and I went for a bike ride and rented a movie "Hotel for Dogs". The movie was fun and the girls enjoyed it.

May 23 – Elizabeth City to South Mills Lock – Mile 32
We lazed around in the morning. We wandered around the farmer’s market that was set up on the field right by the boat. I called the grocery store for a ride, and went to the grocery store to get some provisions for our trip up the Chesapeake. When I got back, Dave rode the bike up to get the laundry done and to return the movie. I took the girls back to the play room at the museum. After lunch, we went to Port Discovery, a little science center about a block away from the boat. It had some neat things to do, but it would have been more fun if someone had walked us through the experiments. It was a little hard to figure stuff out on our own. By the time we were done there, the wind was picking up and blowing us onto the face dock. We decided to leave Elizabeth City and pulled away from the dock around 2:00. It was a lovely day on the river that leads to the Dismal Swamp – there were lots of people out enjoying the water, wake boarding and water skiing. We got to the lock at South Mills around 5:00. We thought maybe there would be a place to tie up there, but there wasn’t, so we anchored in the river. We saw a huge brown water snake sunning itself on a tree stump near where we were going to anchor. They aren’t poisonous, but it sure was big! A park ranger we talked to thought maybe it was a pregnant female and that was why it was sooo large. After we anchored, "Varuna", a Contessa 26 sailboat passed us and went up an old barge canal to anchor. Varuna has an exciting history as she circumnavigated the world in the late 80’s, sailed by 18 year old Tanya Aebi. We remember reading about her back when we started sailing. Sure enough it is the same boat, and the folks that own her now are the fourth owner since Tanya. They are heading back up to their home in Maine after taking her south for the winter.

May 24 – South Mills Lock to Dismal Swamp Visitors Center – Mile 28
We were up around 7:00 and had breakfast before we pulled up the anchor a little after 8:00. We locked through at South Mills with 3 other sailboats and 2 trawlers. We were through the lock and bridge around 9:30. We puttered down the Dismal Swamp with other boats until we got to the Visitors Center four miles from the lock. When we got there the wall was full with a sailboat and the two trawlers. Varuna was rafted to the other sailboat. The trawlers were only planning to stay for about 30 minutes, so we rafted up to Varuna. After the trawlers left, we moved back onto the wall, and then Varuna left too. It was a lovely day, so we decided to borrow bicycles from the visitor’s center so we could all cycle back to South Mills. We had a great bike ride through the woods along the paved path that runs beside the Dismal Swamp Canal. By the time we got to South Mills, clouds had gathered all around, and the heavens opened up. It poured with rain. We hid out under the canopy of a gas station convenience store until the worst of it was over, and then we biked down to look at the boats locking through. There was so many boats that they filled the lock the first time, and had to lock through a second group. The first group of boats had to wait between the lock and the bridge for the second group to be locked through before the bridge was opened. While they were waiting, the heavens opened again – with even more rain than the first time. We hurried back to the gas station to wait for it to stop. We waited and waited, and worried about the boat because we hadn’t closed any hatches. We decided that when they closed the bridge again we would set off even if the rain hadn’t stopped. Fortunately, by the time the bridge was closed, the rain had stopped and we set off back for the visitor’s center. We only rode a short way before the pavement was dry… apparently it was an isolated rainstorm! As we got closer to the boat it did start to rain a bit, but Dave was able to get the boat closed up before it got wet down below. We beat all the boats that locked through back to the visitors center – even the trawlers. Five boats stopped and tied up, so we had a boat rafted on the outside of us. After lunch we decided to go over to other side of the canal where the little interpretative center is. The rain had stopped so we left the hatches open again. Just as we went in the center, the rain began to pour down again. It was way too wet to go back to the boat, so we figured we’d just have to make the best of it. After the rain tapered down a bit, the girls and I walked the boardwalk and then the short walk through the woods. Dave went back to the boat. Even though our neighbours had closed the main hatches when they saw the rain start the boat was soaked. There was a huge puddle on our bed in the aft cabin that had run down and under the mattress. The mattress was really wet, as was the bedding and the pillow. We got that all mopped up and stood the mattress on end with the fan blowing on it to help dry it and we thought we were done. They Dave started to put the lunch dishes away, only to find that the kitchen drawers were full of water too… So he cleaned that up… Then when he finished that and turned around, he found more water… Finally, we thought we had it all cleaned up and we had supper. We slept in the main cabin.

May 24 – Visitors Center to Deep Creek to Norfolk
We left the visitor’s center around 8:00 after draining all the water out of the dinghy and putting it up on the davits. We motored along the canal down to Deep Creek for the 11:00 opening, but there was a Southbound boat, so we had to wait. We tied up on the wall in Deep Creek and went across the street to the grocery store and got bread and milk, and to the auto parts store to get some oil. We were back in plenty of time to go through the bridge when it opened at 11:30. We went through the bridge and tied up on the wall between the bridge and the lock, so we could go back to the park we had enjoyed so much in the fall. We BBQ’d hot dogs for lunch, and then went for a walk in the woods and along the marsh. We put our bed back together as it was dry now, and when the 1:30 opening for the lock came, we were ready to go on to Norfolk. We locked through with 3 other sailboats and 4 trawlers. At 2:30 we were on our way, down the narrow twisty river. It was full of jet skis and people on wake boards. I was at the helm as we came to a corner and there was a ski boat stopped mid channel. I thought I would take him to starboard, and as I came around the corner we slowed to a stop in the mud. Dave took the helm and backed us off, but it was pretty stressful with five of the other boats from the lock behind us and all the ski boats around. We arrived in Norfolk around 4:30 and pulled into Waterside marina. We thought it would be a good idea to do laundry and get all the towels and sheets clean and dry. We went for supper at Joe’s Crab Shack, and when we were there, guess what? It started to rain again. I went back to the boat just to double check that it was all closed up and to get rain jackets.

May 25 – Norfolk to Mill Creek, Great Wicomico
We headed out at 6:00, planning a long day to the mouth of the Potomac. The day started off quietly enough with calm seas and no wind, and the forecast was only for 10-15 SE. When we were leaving Norfolk, we were told to keep 500yds away from a submarine being escorted into Norfolk - If we didn',t they had authorization to use "deadly force" to keep us away -- they didn't have to ask us twice! By lunch time we had 20 knots of wind right on our beam and the seas were getting larger and larger. We decided that it didn’t make sense to try to go to a new anchorage if we’d been dealing with this kind of weather for 6 hours, so we altered course a bit to the protected anchorage we had stayed at in the fall off the Great Wicomico. It was a long afternoon. The waves were large and close together and they would tip the boat from side to side, as well as wash over the cabin and into the cockpit. It probably would have been fine if it had been a lovely sunny day, but things always seem more ominous when it is cloudy and overcast. We were really happy to turn west at 4:00 and get the wind and waves behind us. The anchorage was lovely and calm – barely a breath of wind! We made hot chocolate and played cards until supper and then we went to bed early.

May 26 – Mill Creek to Tobacco River, Potomac
We left around 7:30 in the thick fog. We inched our way out with the radar on, and were relieved to find that the seas from yesterday were gone. We motored our way through the fog and turned up the Potomac River. We were lucky that we didn’t have a lot of current against us and we traveled all day without much effect from the current at all. The fog lifted later in the afternoon, and it turned into a lovely, hot day. After looking and looking in the Cruising Guide at options for places to stay tonight, we finally decided to push on about 50 miles up the Potomac to the Tobacco River. It made for a pretty long day, about 65 (nautical) miles, and we dropped the anchor around 6:00. The anchorage was wide open, but the wind was calm and there weren’t any other boats around. It is pretty here. There are steep red and yellow cliffs that lead down to the water, and they are covered in lush green trees. Sporadically, there are huge, older homes that look really spectacular from the water. There are lots of crab pots here where we are anchored so we had to be careful coming in that we didn’t get tangled in one.

May 27 – Tobacco River to Washington DC
We were on our way before 5:30 this morning, trying to stay ahead of the current flowing up the river. We were lucky and had a nice boost from the current most of the morning. Once again it was really, really foggy when we left, but the fog was gone by around 8:00. It turned into a beautiful sunny day, but then it got humid, and by the time evening rolled around there were thunder showers. Coming up the river to Washington was similar to going through New York – very noisy! There were airplanes taking off over our heads, lots of helicopters flying around, and Harrier aircraft buzzing overhead. We were tied up at the Capital Yacht Club a few minutes after 1:00 – a lot earlier than the late afternoon we were expecting! The staff at the yacht club are really friendly and helpful. The yacht club is wonderfully located about a 10 or 15 minute walk from Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Museums. After we got settled we left the boat around 3:00 and went for a walk up to the Natural History Museum. We spent 2 hours there and still barely touched the exhibits. We bought tickets to go and see "Night at the Smithsonian", the sequel to "Night at the Museum" at the IMAX theatre there tomorrow.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


At the fort in St. Augustine

Wild Horses in Cumberland
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May 18 - Oriental

May 5 – Palm Shores to Daytona Beach mile 830
We had a really long day today. We left early and we traveled all day in the hot sun. We called the marina where we stayed in Daytona, but they didn’t think there was enough water for us to get into their marina! We tried to anchor in a spot where the cruising guide and the chart showed plenty of water, and we could barely find 6’ at high tide! Finally we went to Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona. It is a lovely facility and it was nice to be there after such a long day. We had a nice walk through the "historic" area of Daytona. We tried to find an ice cream store, but everything was closed so we went back to the boat.
May 6 and 7– Daytona Beach to St. Augustine mile 778
Another hot, hot day! We left Daytona around 7:00 arrived at the marina in St. Augustine around 2:00 and got fuel and then tied up. We went for a walk through this historic town, and it is a lot older than Daytona! St. Augustine is the oldest city in North America. Europeans have been living there since the Spanish settled there in 1565. After a while, Dave and Kristen went back to the boat and Annie and I kept walking around and looking in stores. As we were walking down a cobble street, Annie said – Hey, look who that is! It was Chad and LeeAnn of Cambyration. We originally met them in the Exumas and it was LeeAnn that helped the kids win the Sand Sculpture contest in Georgetown. It was so nice to see them again! And hey – they were close enough to kids to count as kids for Kristen’s birthday party. We arranged to call them tomorrow after we settled on plans for Kristen’s big day. After supper Kristen and I checked out some restaurants for her birthday supper for tomorrow. On Kristen’s birthday we had a big day planned! We went to the Castillo de San Marcos, the spanish fort built beginning in 1670, in the morning. It is now part of the US National Parks system and it is a great museum. The walls of the fort are built of Coquina, which is a like sedimentary rock full of shells. They weren’t sure if it would be a good material for a fort, but it ended up being great as there was enough give to it that the cannon balls bounced off it. In the afternoon we played mini-golf at the mini putt right in front of the marina – it was orignally opened in 1949! Then Kristen had a mini scavenger hunt around the marina. We met Chad and LeeAnn for supper at Harry’s Seafood restaurant. The food was great! After supper we went back to the boat for birthday cake and presents. All in all it was a busy, fun day!
May 8 – St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach mile 716
It felt like another long hot day today. We left before 7:00 so that we could get through the Bridge of Lions before the restricted openings started at 7:00. We thought we were doing pretty until about 11;00 when we reached another high bridge, that didn’t require an opening, but they were doing construction and they had the ICW blocked off. They said they could have it blocked until noon, so we dropped the anchor and got ready to wait, and about 5 minutes later they pulled the barge out of the way, so we pulled up the anchor and went through. Not sure why they couldn’t have told us they’d only be 10 or 15 minutes. The ICW was really shallow today and by the time we got to Fernandina Beach we decided we’d had enough. We took one of the town mooring rather than continuing on to Cumberland Island which was our original plan. We had a really nice walk through Fernandina Beach again. We got ice cream at the ice cream shop, a few things at the 5 and 10 store, and got showers at the marina. Then it was back to the boat for supper and a movie.
May 9-10 – Fernandina Beach, Cumberland Island Georgia to Charleston SC mile 469
Dave and I got up and away from the mooring by 7:00. We motored the 5 or so additional miles to Cumberland Island in Georgia, and were anchored before 8:30. We all had breakfast and went to shore to explore this great island. Cumberland Island is part of the National Park system and the government owns 85% of it. There are no paved roads, and the only access to the island is by boat. It was as beautiful as we remembered it. There are big beautiful trees, covered with spanish moss creating a canopy overhead as you walk along the dirt roads and pathways. Lucy Carnagie, the sister-in-law of the famous financier, built an estate near the south end of the island at the turn of the last century, and the ruins of it still exist. There is a little museum with pictures of how it looked in its hey day – it must have been incredible. There are wild horses that have the run of the island and we saw three different groups of these horses – some look a little old and hungry, but others are really beautiful. We looked hard to see some armadillos, but they were being nocturnal, and we saw some wild turkeys instead. It was Saturday, and there was a program for birders on the island. We took part in a obstacle course that tried to emulate what the birds go through on their annual migration. Then we had our picnic lunch and headed back to the boat.
We pulled up anchor about 12:45 and headed out to sea. There was a cold front forecast to arrive tomorrow afternoon and we wanted to get to Charleston before the rain. It was an uneventful night. It was our brightest overnight ever with a 98% moon rising one hour after sunset, and setting 5 minutes before sunrise. During one watch there was a swallow that came out and fly by the boat a couple of times. We also had dolphins with us part of the way. We were fighting our way against the current up the channel into Charleston around 1:00 when the first showers hit. Then there was a break in the rain and were tied up as the Charleston Maritime Center a little before 2:00. Later in the afternoon and over night there were really heavy thunder showers and we were glad we had made it safely to Charleston. The marina was great with free laundry and a terrific grocery store only a couple of blocks away.
May 11 – Charleston SC
It was sunny in the morning so we thought we’d head off to see a bit of Charleston, including the Charleston museum. I thought that all of old Charleston was south of the marina, so without looking at the map we headed south to the Market, and then south down Meeting Street to find the museum. The Market was interesting with lots of stalls of crafts and gifts. Meeting Street was really pretty with lots of big houses. After we had walked quite a ways, I decided to look up the address for the museum, only to discover we should have gone north from the marina. We decided to walk the rest of the way down to see the park at the south end of Charleston at the juncture of the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers (Sheila are you reading this??). The homes were really beautiful. They have narrow facings on the street, and their "piazzas" or porches run along the side of the house, facing beautifully manicured, walled in gardens. For the most part, their "front door" or "Privacy Door" is a door in a full wall, that opens on to the piazza, not into the house itself. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera with me so I don’t have any pictures of this beautiful part of Charleston. We went back to the boat for lunch and to get a few things done – like laundry. Of course this all took longer than expected and it was 3:00 before we were ready to leave again for the museum. We found it no problem once we followed the map! It was a great museum. The museum was set up in chronological order with the displays taking you through the history of Charleston. At the end was a nature history exhibit that dated back over 100 years. It was really interested to see the artifacts that had been imported into Charleston a hundred years ago to educate the people about the rest of the world. There was lots of taxidermy of animals from all over the world, including a polar bear. There were copies of Egyptian artifacts that had come from museums in England. There was a real mummy! There was also a Kidstory exhibit for children that had different activities for the kids to learn about Charleston History. We left the museum about 5:00, thinking we’d be able to walk back to the Market and do a carriage tour in the evening. The lady at the museum said that the carriage tours had to be finished by 6:00. We rushed down to the Market and got on the last tour. It was fun and informative, but I think it would have been better if we had gone earlier in the day.
We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up some groceries before we went back to the boat to have supper.
May 12 – Charleston to Georgetown mile 403
We left Charleston a few minutes after 6:00 to get through a bridge a few miles away before 7:00. We had an uneventful day and arrived at Georgetown around 4:30. We finally found a good spot to anchor and got settled right off the town dock. Dave and I went to shore to see if we could find a post office while the girls stayed on the boat to play. We bought some shrimp for supper, and then after supper we all went for a walk. We chose to walk away from the water and through the old residential district. The houses date back to 1750, and there are plaques on the houses indicating their ages. It was fun to try to guess how old the houses were by looking at the size of the window panes and the house construction before you read the plaque. The streets are wide and beautiful, and the big old trees create a canopy right over the street. Georgetown remains one of our favorite places!
May 13 – Georgetown to Barefoot Landing mile 354
We had a leisurely breakfast and then left Georgetown around 9:00. We’re getting a little tired of travelling!! We got to Barefoot Landing around 5:00 and decided to go to the marina we were at on the way South. The kids had a great time swimming in the pool. It is one of the nicest pools we’ve ever seen – too bad it isn’t heated. There are little concrete islands in the pool and shallow (1’) sections leading out to them. The girls had fun sliding on their bellies on these little "beaches". Tiffany Rose was also in Barefoot Landing. We first saw them in Atlantic City and also saw them in Vero, but didn’t get a chance to talk to them. They are from Ontario, and are doing this trip with their 16-year-old son who has Downs Syndrome. They had stopped in Barefoot Landing hoping to meet up with another family with a Downs child that has a traveling Downs Quilt. The Quilt is moving around the country spending a week at a time with Downs children. It didn’t sound like it was going to work out for them to get to see the quilt, which was too bad.
May 14 – Barefoot Landing to Southport NC mile 309
We pulled away from the dock at 7:00 under overcast skies and it started to rain a little while later. We didn’t do a very good job timing our one restricted bridge today, and we had to wait for a long time for an opening. We decided to stop in Southport at 2:00 after a relatively short day, rather than pressing on against the current up the Cape Fear River in the rain. We were really fortunate and there was a spot available at the dock in front of the Provision company restaurant where were able to tie up for the cost of our lunch. We had a great lunch at the restaurant and then Dave and I went for a walk in town (in the rain, without our umbrella). We learned that there was a Lowes hardware a couple of miles away, so we went back to the boat and Dave got the bike and biked out to the highway to get more alcohol to light the stove. I took the girls back to town so they could go to this great gift store Dave and I had found. They had done such an awesome job merchandising all the books and stuffed animal by animal type I really wanted the kids to see it. They used every inch of the store, including the ceiling to display their wares – it was really well done!

May 15 – Southport – Mile Hammock Bay mile 244
We had a little walk around Southport in the morning before leaving at 8:00. We knew it would be a long day, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to get off the boat tonight. We were away from the dock at 8:00 as planned, but we must have miscalculated the current a bit as it was still against us, instead of being at slack water. We pressed on anyway and had an uneventful trip up the Cape Fear River. It was dark and gloomy in the morning, but it didn’t rain, and by the afternoon it was sunny and warm with a nice breeze. When we turned off the Cape Fear river and went into Snow’s Cut the depth kept shoaling up, then it seemed to get deeper again before "thunk" – we hit bottom. Fortunately we pushed right through it and didn’t get stuck. We were once again thankful for having a full keel and a steel boat. We had three bridges today with restricted hourly openings and so we had to travel slowly between the bridges rather than spend 20 minutes at each bridge doing circles waiting for an opening. It gave us a chance to sail slowly along the waterway without the motor, as there was no point in going at speed. We saw lots of nesting Ospreys today – it seemed like there was a nest on every marker in the channe. A couple of times we were able to see the babies in the nest and that was really neat. There were a bunch of other shallow spots, but fortunately we didn’t touch bottom again. We arrived at Mile Hammock Bay at around 6:00. It is on the Camp LeJeune forces base and so you aren’t allowed to go to shore. It was a pretty uneventful evening. There were about 10 other boats in the anchorage, including "the Dove" and we talked to Larry for a while on the radio.
May 16 – Mile Hammock Bay to Oriental NC mile 182
We left Mile Hammock Bay at 6:15 in order to be through a restricted bridge 5 miles away before 7:00. A couple of other boats also left around the same time. One was called Radical Jack and is a 34’ sailboat from just outside Yarmouth, NS. We (ok, I) had a confusing time getting through Beaufort and Morehead City. There were lots of small boats out fishing on a Saturday afternoon – it is amazing how they think they can anchor right in the channel! We arrived in Oriental a few minutes before 4:00 and decided to go into the marina rather than anchor off, as it was pretty windy and the anchorage isn’t that protected. We had a nice walk to the grocery store that is about a mile away, and then someone offered us a ride back to the marina. We heard from Seahawk and they are going to be here tomorrow so we are thinking we may wait out the cold front here
May 17, 18 – Oriental
Dave and Kristen went for a bike ride around Oriental on Sunday morning, and then the girls went for a swim in the pool. A little before noon the rain and thunder showers started, and shortly after that Seahawk arrived. We went over for a visit to Seahawk in the afternoon. It rained really hard and there wasn’t any opportunity to go for a walk, which was disappointing. Seahawk knows another family here - they spent quite a lot of time traveling with this family from Ontario with 6 kids. They are in the process of selling their boat and moving aboard a 42’ catamaran they just purchased outside of Oriental. Seahawk went over to visit them later in the afternoon. We went back to Bird to look at the rain and have supper.
On Monday we did school in the morning. It is still raining really hard! Dave and I walked up to the grocery store in the afternoon, and on the way a man asked if we wanted a ride. We said it was ok, it’s a nice walk. Then he asked if we’d like a ride home in 20 minutes, we said it was no big deal… we went on to the grocery store and were finishing up the groceries when the man came into the store to find us and see if we were ready for a drive back to the boat!! Seahawk came over for a visit in the evening.
The high wind is blowing all the water up the river to Oriental and the road is flooded!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vero Beach - May 3

April 22 – May 3 – Vero
We had a long and busy stop in Vero. The first highlight of the stop was when we went to the children’s bookstore and saw that Mary Pope Osbourne, the author of the Magic Treehouse books, was going to be there for a book signing on Wednesday. These books have been some of Annie’s favorites since grade 1, so on Wednesday, Annie and I rode our bikes back to the bookstore to meet her. I have never seen a bookstore with so many people and kids in it!! It was a great event and Annie got a couple of books signed. On Saturday, Dave’s brother John came to visit us for a week with his wife Ingrid and their six year old daughter Margaret. They rented a really nice house where there was room for all of us – as well as a pool (and a washer and dryer!!) We played the tourist and had a car too. They arrived on Saturday afternoon, so we went to their house where the kids swam and we had chicken on the bbq. On Sunday we all went over to the boat so they could see the marina and where we were. On our way out to the boat in the dinghy with Margaret, we saw some dolphins up close and that was great. We had lunch on the boat and then Dave, John, Margaret and Kristen went back to the house and Ingrid Annie and I went shopping. On Monday we traveled north to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. It is huge! You couldn’t really see it all in a day, and it was pretty hard to figure out what to do first. We went to the space shuttle exhibit where there is a mock up of a space shuttle that you can go inside and see the cargo bay and the control station. There is also a shuttle launch simulator that is really neat! You sit down and buckle up, as if you are in the cargo bay, and they take you through the launch and out into orbit. Very cool! We also took the bus tour out to see the shuttle launch platform and the Apollo/Gemini exhibit. Not only did we see interesting stuff about the space program we saw alligators, raccoons, roseate spoonbills as well as eagles, ospreys, herons and egrets. We finished the day by watching a 3D IMAX film on the building of the international space station. It was really well done and really interesting. Even Kristen who hates 3D movies kept her glasses on for the whole thing. On Tuesday we had a quite morning, and then went to the Environmental Learning Center on Wabasso Island in the afternoon. There was a great boardwalk through the mangrove swamp and there was a scavenger hunt for the kids. We managed to find everything on the list including green anoles (lizards), animal footprints, a bat house, and butterfly, as well as learning about the mangrove swamp and the Indian River Lagoon – did you know that sea horses lived in the Indian River lagoon? On Wednesday we to the Oceanarium in Ft. Pierce. It is similar to the environmental learning center, but there are more exhibits. They also have a big pond with sport fish in it, and we watched them being fed and learned about the different species. Then we walked their nature trail which was very well done, with lots of plaques with information about what you are seeing. The mosquitoes in that swamp can produce 38million offspring in a single summer! After our walk we fed the stingrays. That was really neat. Their mouths are underneath their bodies. To feed them you stand a shrimp or small fish up between your fingers, and then place your hand flat on the bottom of the tank. They swim over your had and suck the fish out from between your fingers. It feels like a vacuum cleaner! On Thursday we headed up to the Brevard County zoo in Melbourne where we had gone for Annie’s birthday. We did the kayak trip, fed the lories, petted armadillos, a monitor lizard and alpcas, and fed a huge giraffe. When you fed the giraffe, you had to stand back a couple of feet from the edge of the platform. The giraffe would reach over and stick out his 18" black tongue and wrap it around the cracker and pull it away from you! He really didn’t want us to pet him, but he loved to have his ears scratched by the keeper and the curator of the zoo. We went for supper at Unos, and then the guys went off shopping while the rest of us when to see the Magic Treehouse Musical, based on the Magic Treehouse books. It was very well done with great effects like a beautiful flying stag, dragons guarding a magic caldron and huge white stallion with a red knight. It was interesting to see how they made the dragons really beautiful so they weren’t as scary for the wide range of kids in the audience. On Friday we went for a kayak tour on the Indian River up and around where the marina is. We didn’t see as much wild life as I would have liked, but it was really nice and peaceful. On Friday night we went for a lovely supper at the Ocean Grill restaurant in Vero, and then went back to the house for an early birthday party for Kristen and John. At Kristen’s request we had 60 candles on the cake – 10 for Kristen and 50 for John! On Saturday we tidied up the house and said goodbye to them as they headed back to Orlando to catch an early flight to Toronto on Sunday. We had a busy afternoon trying to get some shopping done. On Sunday we got up early and drove to Orlando to meet our friends the Quanns at Seaworld! It was pretty neat that it worked out that their Florida vacation coincided with us being so close to Orlando and at a time when we already had a car rented. We had a great day and I think we saw the whole park. Probably the coolest thing was the brand new roller coaster Manta was unofficially open and Annie got to on it with the Quanns (Dave Kristen and I went and did the Shamu express). Apparently it is the only roller coaster in the world where you are strapped in and then tilted so you are facing down for the whole trip. Annie says that it feels like you are flying! (I think I’ll find anther way to learn how to fly). We also saw four shows: the Dolphin/Whale show which was fabulous, with acrobats and beautiful birds as well as the whales and dolphins; the sea lion show; the Shamu killer whale show; and another show that was done with cats, dogs a skunk and a pig that all came from animal shelters. So like I said, it was a busy busy time in Vero!

May 4 – Vero Beach (951) to Palm Shores (909)
We finally got away from Vero about 10:45 after getting groceries, returning the car and filling up the water tanks. We had an uneventful trip, getting back into the routine of travel on the waterway. It was a really hot day – mid to high 80’s with a 15 knot SW wind. We decided to anchor in Palm Shores around 4:45, as we were looking for some protection from the southwest, and there wasn’t anywhere else to anchor for the next 20 miles with any protection. We pulled off the waterway on the side of the bridge and carefully sounded our way into a spot with about 8 feet of water. We had a couple of dolphins come over to see us. I went snorkelling in the murky, murky water to try to clean off the growth on the knotmeter so it would spin again. I’m not sure how successful I was. I guess we’ll see tomorrow.