St Lucie River

 We had to make our way through several bridges in the St Lucie River to get back into the Florida Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is the door to get us back into the Atlantic Ocean, when possible. Once we were in the Indian River, we were headed north to our next destination, St Augustine

**We had stopped in St Augustine briefly last year, without spending much time exploring the oldest city in our nation. 

Intracoastal Waterway

 After we checked the weather again, we realized the winds were expected to pick up as we headed toward Ft Pierce. We decided that we may remain in the ICW if this didn’t change, instead of going out the inlet into the ocean. 

**There were also several storms brewing in the south. It it still the heart of hurricane season, so were watching the weather closely. 

Ft Pierce Fixed Bridge

 We enjoyed a few hours of watching the water clarity improve while the winds picked up. This made us miss the ocean even more. It had been awhile since we had been in the Atlantic Ocean. While we knew we could make better timing if we Inlet hopped up the coast, we didn’t want to deal with extremely high winds.   

North Ft Pierce Bascule Bridge

 Once we made it through the last bridge in Fort Pierce, we were hit with another fast-moving storm.  The “Sunrise City” didn’t provide much sunshine today. 

The weather had become so unpredictable. Storms would roll in and pass just as fast as they arrived. Admittedly, We were still disappointed that we would need to stay in the ICW for an unpredicted amount of time. 

Willow Mist Anchored in Vero Beach

Willow Mist Anchored in Vero Beach

 We made our way to Vero Beach for a familiar anchorage. We anchored for a peaceful night north of the mooring field hoping for clear weather the next day. 

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise and ready to provision so we could get on our way. Vero Beach is very cruiser friendly, with great city marina amenities and no Uber required. The local buses are free! It is a perfect town for provisioning. 

**Another great thing about Vero Beach is the fact that someone found 4.5 million dollars worth of Spanish gold here last year from a sunken Spanish ship. Gold pieces found along the beach is the reason it is referred to as the “Treasure Coast”. You can still see the flag staked in the shallow waters, less than 20 feet from the beach, where the “Queens Jewels” treasure was found. 

ICW Sailing

After provisioning, we left Vero Beach heading north. By the time we made it to Cocoa Beach we had decided we would stay in the ICW at the next inlet, to avoid going through the Canaveral Barge Canal

While it would’ve been nice to get a closer view of the Kennedy Space Center, we were not ready to head through another canal this soon to get to the Cape Canaveral Inlet. We quickly realized being able to see a rocket launch would be worth it though. 

We checked the NASA website to ensure we wouldn’t miss any upcoming launches and kept heading north. We were ready for ocean sailing and hoped the next Inlet would be good weather to do so.

We made it through Titusville and New Smyrna Beach, to anchored near Ponce De Leon Inlet. We were able to get so close to the beach here, we were literally on it. 

The anchor held strong, even with a current of around two knots. We jumped in to take a swim and walked the beach to enjoy some time on land. We had a perfect view of the lighthouse as the sun set. 

Now that the weather had improved, we were ready to go. We took a quick swim, pulled anchor, checked the maps and ran straight aground, before even getting to the jetty walls!

**Due to the strong current at this particular inlet, the charts were not accurate. The shoalings were constantly shifting. We ran aground on a sandbar with 9 feet of depth predicted on the Navionics chart. 

Well, that was discouraging. Willow tried using the engine power to maneuver us off of the sandbar, with no luck. Since we were literally inches from breaking free, we decided to not radio for towing assistance yet. 

Willow attached the halyard line to the dinghy to pull weight from the top of the mast using the dinghy and engine, in hopes of tilting us sideways. After 3-4 minutes of him pulling the halyard line, we were free. I immediately threw out the anchor to keep us from drifting back onto the sandbar. 

Willow hauled the dinghy engine into the sailboat and secured the halyard line back into place. He pulled the anchor and we were on our way out, between the inlet jetty rock walls. 

Open Ocean Sailing

Finally! We were back to ocean sailing after leaving the Ponce De Leon Inlet. It was great to not worry about running aground, channel markers, spiders or scorpions. Nothing but the wide open ocean. It is the perfect place to be!

We had an amazing sail, even though we spent the day outrunning storms. We passed Daytona Beach to watch a storm downpour over the city and beach. 

We did manage to keep dry most of the day. It was a straight shot all the way to the next inlet,  with a little over 50 miles. We saw several dolphins and those strange-looking Cannonball Jellyfish, to keep us entertained on our journey to St Augustine

Bridge of Lions in St Augustine


We finally made it to Saint Augustine. This city has been one of our favorite destinations. Since visiting last year, we have wanted to return with more time to explore the history of the old town. 

One of the brewing storms in particular was a concern for us at this point. A tropical wave has came off of the African Coast organizing into a tropical storm. 

Invest 97L is now Hurricane Matthew. We watched the weather closely as we made plans for options. It has reached the eastern Caribbean Sea and now headed our way. 

 

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it”. 

~Viktor E. Frankl