8th November 2004 - 31st January 2005

Back in Florida our first stop was at Fernandina Beach, just over the border from Georgia.   We were fortunate to finish our chores; refuelling, taking on water, getting safely anchored and cycling to the supermarket for supplies before the wind began to howl.    After an uncomfortable and restless night of 25 knot winds in the exposed anchorage, we decided to press on to a more protected anchorage, which had otherwise little to offer.

From there we made an exceptionally quick trip down to St. Augustine with the help of the northerly wind and tidal current.   St. Augustine was established as a base by the Spanish and its impressive Castillo de San Marcos fort, now a national monument, was designed to protect the Spaniards against the threat of the dastardly British, based in Charleston.  The influence of the Spanish on the architecture of the pretty town was obvious.   

Our first trauma in the anchorage was realising that all the neighbouring boats had two anchors set, meaning that unless we wanted to swing into them when the tide turned, we'd need to do the same.   Wherever possible we're reluctant to set two anchors, believing that two anchors often just means twice as much trauma in the event of an emergency.   Sure enough we awoke next morning to find that somehow our two anchor rodes had decided to cuddle up to each other in the night and were now firmly entangled on the sea bed, the buoy marking the position of our second anchor having disappeared into the tangle.    Although it was nothing personal, we were happy when our neighbours left the anchorage and we were able to retrieve one of the errant anchors.   A feat which involved a lot of aggravation and mud!   Now settled in properly, we went ashore to explore.

View of St. Augustine from the fort.

On touring the fort, we discovered that our arrival coincided with the 302nd anniversary of the British siege of San Agustin, as the town was then known.    We were in time to catch its re-enactment the following dark and stormy Saturday night.    It was a pity that nobody had thought to light the proceedings better but perhaps the idea was to maintain the authenticity of the event.    We found ourselves mostly bewildered, stumbling around in the dark with cannons and muskets being fired nearby, whilst trying not to be blown off the battlements by the ever increasing wind.   We soon decided we ought to head back to Anju before the weather deteriorated any more.    For the next two days we were stuck aboard waiting for the wind to ease off.
In St. Augustine we encountered Conrad, a friendly pirate, proprietor of the wonderful Pirate Haus Inn and Hostel.   Although always dressed the part, he didn't live up to the pirates' nasty reputation, allowing us to use his internet facilities for free and even inviting us to a cheese and wine evening at the hostel, where we met many interesting fellow travellers and backpackers and realised that even those touring the US by bicycle were moving much faster than us!

Our next port of call on our way south was Daytona, where we dinghied ashore in search of provisions.    Luckily we'd invested in $5 lifejackets to carry in the dinghy, as we were stopped by the Police for our first ever safety check!    Happy with our lifejackets, they ticked us off for having no identifying name or registration number on our dinghy.   Normally our dinghy isn't identified as we don't like to advertise our absence from our yacht to thieves and the half-hearted attempt we'd made writing the boat's name on the dinghy with felt-tip marker to comply with the US regulations had faded away.   We assured the officers that we'd get our marker pen out again as soon as we got back to Anju and were allowed to continue on our way!    Brian the dock master at the private yacht club in the town kindly let us dock our dinghy there while we sought out a shop.   However, it seemed that Daytona boasted mostly hairdressers and gift shops, the only food we managed to track down was a shop which sold only Florida oranges and orange products, so we had to make do with just some juice.   It was lucky that our neighbours Dick and Jan had invited us to dinner on their catamaran Cambia!

The next section of the ICW had both Cambia and Anju worried for different reasons.   We were worried about a shallow section at Ponce de Leon inlet, so Cambia, with a shallow draft, kindly volunteered to go ahead of us.   Meanwhile they were worried about some of the bridges which were below ICW regulation height.   There wasn't much we could do to help them, with our mast being 15 feet shorter then theirs but at least we were behind them for moral support as they gingerly approached the problem bridges and managed to squeeze through with at least an inch to spare each time!

We anchored next in Titusville, where the folks in the marina were very welcoming, allowing dinghies to tie up for free.   They even offered a special boat cleaning service, provided by the many manatees inhabiting their harbour, who seemed particularly fond of dining on the growth on the waterlines of the moored boats!

Titusville Marina's unusual boat cleaning service

From Titusville we treated ourselves to a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre, a place we'd long wanted to visit.   First we were amazed by the full sized mock-up of the Space Shuttle and were surprised just how small it was. From close up you could see that the outside wasn't solid colour but made up of millions of small heat-resistant tiles where burn marks from re-entry were visible. The crew living area was very cramped, making Anju look pretty spacious.

Space Shuttle outside and inside - at least Anju's galley and heads (toilet) are in separate cabins!

We then took the bus tour which first passed by the VAB (vehicle assembly building), a huge building, large enough for rockets to be fully assembled inside and the Space Shuttle to be attached to its fuel tanks, whilst hanging vertically. They had recently had to fit nets to the large doors, as buzzards had started roosting inside!  The building had been damaged in the three hurricanes that summer and was still being repaired.  We saw the enormous "crawlers" which transport the finished Shuttle and fuel tank assembly, in vertical position at one mile an hour to the launch pads.  Next we visited the launch observation deck, from where you could view the two large launch pads.  Only Space Shuttles are now launched at the Kennedy Space Centre but we could also see the air force base at Cape Canaveral, where a rocket was waiting for launch. It was due to take off that day but unfortunately the launch was postponed. Step-by-step activities prior to launch were explained in an informative film.

Next we called at the Saturn V Rocket Hall, where we were now amazed by the immense size of the rocket.  Its size was almost entirely made up of fuel tanks and engines, discarded during take off and flight, leaving only a tiny crew capsule to return to earth.  The whole area of the Space Centre is a nature reserve and during our tour we spotted alligators, turtles and numerous bird species including bald eagles.  Back at the visitor centre we watched a fascinating IMAX movie, mostly of views taken from the Space Shuttle in space.  Later at a briefing about the Space Shuttle, we were able to see the CCTV pictures of some of the restricted areas where they work on the shuttles. We also got to hold the Shuttle's silica heat protection tiles, which despite their light-weight construction, when heated by a 2000 degree blowtorch, were cool to touch immediately afterwards. 

After we'd visited the memorial to astronauts lost during the space programme,  the rocket garden, the space museum and the natural history section about the wildlife in the centre, we drove the six miles or so to the Astronauts Hall of Fame. Our visit started bizarrely in the pitch black, we were locked in a dark room with no escape until we'd watched a movie, then we were allowed into another dark room where we were kept until we'd watched yet another movie before we finally got to visit the actual museum and see astronaut memorabilia and history.  By now we were "spaced out" and after trying the very uncomfortable cockpit simulator (reminiscent of a visit to the gynaecologist!), Christine decided not to try the G-force or moon walk simulators.  Instead we headed back to Titusville, to our more down to earth means of transport!

....and we thought sailing could be uncomfortable.........

......at least you're not riding into space on a giant bomb!

As we made our way south towards Miami on the Intracoastal Waterway, we saw plenty of evidence of the destruction brought by the summer's three major hurricanes which hit the area.   In Fort Pierce, the municipal marina was totally destroyed taking many of the boats with it.

We also spotted the surreal sight of a three-storey house being moved onto a barge and floated down the river.   Apparently the historic house was to be torn down to make way for yet another new waterfront mansion but a local had managed to purchase the building for a song just before it was torn down and was in the process of relocating it into the garden of his existing house!

By the time we'd made it as far south as Palm Beach, we were getting tired of life on the ICW.   Other boaters, mostly locals in power boats, were becoming increasingly rude and inconsiderate and the frequent bridges were becoming more of a hassle.   We decided to make the last part of our journey from Palm Beach to Miami not along the ICW but on the outside in the Atlantic Ocean.   


Hurricane damage in Palm Beach


The monotony of our journey to Miami was broken by a small jet plane, which seemed to be using Anju as a target to fly around whilst being filmed from a helicopter.  Later a tug and tow just off Fort Lauderdale, decided to cause panic by making a U-turn right in front of us!  However, taking the outside route saved us passing through around twenty bridges and we arrived at Miami well before dark.    

Uncertain whether the Government Cut, the area where the numerous cruise ships dock, was open to pleasure traffic, we decided to give it a try.   What we hadn't realised was that two days before Thanksgiving, when we were arriving, five cruise ships were making their way out to sea, giving us a few nerve-wracking minutes.   We survived and were almost through the Cut when a passing tow boat told us we weren't allowed through and would have to turn around and take the long way around to the anchorage instead.    To us, this made little sense, after all he wasn't an authority figure and secondly we'd already passed the five cruise ships at close quarters, so if we'd had evil intentions it would already be too late.   Certainly we felt that making a U-turn to take another run past the ships would be far more suspicious, so we continued on our way regardless.    As the Police boat we passed on our way to the anchorage ignored us, we felt we'd probably made the right decision.


Although we weren't planning to fly to the UK from Miami for about three weeks, we were glad we'd arrived early, giving us the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends Cole, Natasha, Chrissy, Micheal and Asia aboard their boat Red Flash in the marina/boatyard where Anju would be spending Christmas.   We even managed to find a Thanksgiving turkey small enough to fit in the oven of a yacht.   Cole volunteered to be chef and we all enjoyed a delicious, traditional Thanksgiving family dinner together.

Thanksgiving chef Cole and assistant Natasha hard at work

    Chrissy, Micheal, Asia, Phil and Christine....

....eagerly awaiting their Thanksgiving dinner.

After all our adventures in 2004, Anju was ready for some much needed tender loving care, so once we'd finished partying, we got to work on maintenance projects.    First we stripped the windlass from the foredeck, checked for rust underneath, serviced and replaced it - a job not possible at anchor.   We changed the front windows in our doghouse, so we'll actually be able to see where we're going from inside the cockpit for a change, the old ones had become very crazed and opaque.   We treated rust spots, painted everything in sight and even some things which are normally well hidden.   Christine was treated to a new angle grinder as an early Christmas present, when our old one gave up under the pressure.    
After spending Christmas in the UK with family, Anju was hauled in the yard, principally so we could replace the stuffing material in the stuffing box.   This is a critical job as the stuffing material is what stops the water coming into the boat where the prop shaft goes out through the hull.   The existing stuffing had worn with all the motoring we'd done and the stuffing box was beginning to drip and worry us.   It was certainly a much less stressful job replacing the stuffing on dry land than afloat with water pouring in!   We then repainted Anju top to bottom ready for her next adventures and when we'd finished she looked like a brand new boat!   

We were tired but happy when Anju was relaunched after just a week in the yard and started planning our trip to the Bahamas.

Anju after her extreme makeover!

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