Saturday, April 30, 2016

Florida Bird & Photo Festival

I have greatly enjoyed the Florida Bird and Photo Festival in St. Augustine this week! This 5-day event includes seminars and field experiences in both birding and photography in a variety of locations. Seminars led by well-known photographers were held at Guana Tolomato Matanzas Preserve, a few miles north of the city. The timing of this annual event coincides with the breeding/nesting season for egrets, herons, spoonbills, and many other native birds.

My favorite activities were the field experiences I went on. It was tough choosing from so many offerings, I settled on Horses on the Beach at Sunrise at Surfside Beach. The group of 12 had to be on the beach at 6:15 in order to catch the sunrise!

Silhouetted riders

My second field experience was at the Alligator Farm. I have never seen so many gators- I couldn't begin to count them! However, I was there for the rookery. Native birds nest in a marshy area in this zoological park surrounded by gators.

Roseate Spoonbill

Wood Storks


Day 3- the beach at Anastasia State Park, again at 6:15.

Lonely dead tree at sunrise
St. Augustine lighthouse

Royal Terns

Brown pelicans

Meanwhile, back at the boat, Mark has been holding down the fort. He has washed and waxed parts of the boat, done the laundry, and more. What a guy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Playing the Tourist in St. Augustine

St. Augustine is one of my all-time favorite cities! I love the architecture and the history of this old city.

The gates of the old city

St. Augustine Distillery

We toured Flagler College, which was built by Henry Flagler as the Hotel Ponce De Leon in the 1890's. It became a 2-year all female college in 1968 and is now a 4-year co-ed college. 

I wonder how many of the 2,600 students here appreciate the beauty of their school.

12 frogs around the fountain represent the hours on the clock and the months in a year.

The dome above the lobby

The student dining room, with over 130 stained glass windows by Tiffany valued at $130 million. The windows are covered on both sides with bullet proof glass.

First Memorial Presbyterian Church

This church was also built by Henry Flagler in memory of his daughter Jenny Louise.
The interior of the church. Henry Flagler, his first wife, and his daughter are interred here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


We arrived in Marineland on the 22nd.  We stayed here last year and were happy to return to this marina, and to Captain's BBQ- one of the best barbecue restaurants in the country!

Pam and John's car was brought here a few days ago, so we'e been able to see the sights, grocery shop, attend church, and eat out.

Osprey eating a fish

We took a 2-hour eco-tour with Ripple Effect Tours in a jet boat powered by vegetable oil- interesting exhaust fumes!  It was disappointing- we didn't venture off the main waterway and saw a few birds and dolphins at a distance. But it was fun to be out there in a small fast boat, and to see the fort. This area is the GTM- Guana Tolomato Matanzas- National Estuarine Research  Reserve. "Estuary" is the technical terms for the area where salt and fresh waters meet. Brandon shared lots of information about the birds, dolphins, and importance of this environment.

Our naturalist guide Brandon, with Mark, Pam and John

Fort Matanzas was built by the Spanish to guard the Matanzas Inlet.

The cannons and watch tower

Fort Matanzas

Matanzas is Spanish for "many slaughters."

We also visited Marineland Dolphin Adventure, right across the road from the marina. Marineland opened in 1938 as a movie studio where underwater scenes were filmed.It used to be a popular tourist attraction, but now not much of interest is happening here.

Dinner at Captains Barbeque

These are ruins from Mala Compra plantation at Bings Landing near Marineland. 

Sunset at Marineland. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Smyrna Beach

We arrived in New Smyrna Beach after a 6.5 hour cruise today that took us past Titusville and the NASA facility at Canaveral. We saw quite a few manatees, especially in and around the Haulover Canal. They are extremely camera shy!

We passed this slow moving solar powered vessel.

We took advantage of the Food Festival near the beach here this evening.

The dock master here offered to drive us to the event. We sampled a few tidbits and then had dinner in a restaurant before walking the 2 miles back to the marina. 

Pam samples a lobster roll.

Vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach here for a $10 fee. It looks like fun!

Mark, Pam and John

We watched a shuffleboard game for a few minutes. These club members are serious about the game and play with unbelievable finesse. 

This is our second stay in New Smyrna Beach- a great place!

Banana River to Canaveral

Yesterday (April 30) we cruised from our delightful anchorage to the Harbortown Canaveral Marina on Merritt Island near Cocoa.  It was a short 28-ish mile trip requiring about 4 hours.

We ate a late lunch/early dinner at the Marina restaurant before tackling a few small boat chores. We then took advantage of the marina's swimming pool to relax. 

For the first time in over a month we were able to pick up network TV, so I happily watched my favorite show of all time, "Hogan's Heroes."  It's the small things in life....

We left early this morning on the next leg of our trip, along with our buddies on "Short Vacation."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cruising Again

We pulled out of Fort Pierce yesterday morning after a pleasant 3-week stay. We enjoyed our time here with numerous friends and activities, but we are excited to be cruising again. We are headed north with good friends Pam and John on Short Vacation. Today's trip was lovely, perfect weather for our 55-mile run to one of our favorite anchorages on the Banana River. By the way, we've added a link to our web page which you can use to see our exact location on a map- the link is near the top left corner of this page.

Much of our route today followed the Indian River section of the Intracoastal Waterway. The tide line- where the Indian River and the Fort Pierce Inlet waters meet- is clearly visible. The river water is much browner than the Atlantic.

Not sure what there folks in their rubber overalls are doing.

This plane is spraying for mosquitoes- hoping to keep the Zika virus away??

I enjoy watching the pelicans scout the water and then dive headfirst to grab (or miss) a fish.





This is our third overnight stay in this anchorage, and there are several reasons why we like it so well: first, we pass through a swing bridge named Mathers Bridge just south of us. Second, its a protected, quiet spot. Wind doesn't bother us in here. Third, free entertainment. This area is heavily used by rowers in every size boat from single person to 20 rowers and a coxswain. Schools here have crew teams, and rowing clubs are abundant. We love to watch the rowers, who range in age from children to people our age.

And then there are the beautiful sunrises, like this morning's.

We love being surrounded by nature's beauty!