Day 116 (5/31) – Palm Coast

When the rain stopped last night around 7PM, we had a very calm and peaceful night in the anchorage. We had to contend with mosquitos and no-see-ums, something we never really had to deal with in the Bahamas, but we were used to that. There was one funny, and all-too-common scenario we watched unfold in the anchorage. A boat anchored near us included a couple our age and a small dog. The owner walked the dog to the bow of the boat with a small square of green Astro-turf in the hopes the dog would relieve himself on the fake grass. It didn’t work, and there was a lot of dog vs. human staring for a while. Finally, the dog won the battle as shown in the below picture.

This doggy refused to go on the grass mat his owner put out on the bow of the boat. He had to be taken ashore for some real grass.

We left the anchorage just after sunrise so as to arrive at two known ICW shallow spots on a rising tide. Once we got past those, the main part of today’s trip was to go through the city of Daytona and all of the bridges that cross the ICW. The featured picture is of the approach to Daytona on the ICW from the south. Unlike the area between Palm Beach and Ft. Pierce which is riddled with restricted-opening drawbridges, the city of Daytona now has only one drawbridge, and it opens on demand at any time. All the other bridges are high rise 65′ footers that we can fit under. However, that one drawbridge has a unique challenge. Technically, it is a “double leaf bascule” type bridge which means it has two halves that swing up from the middle. During hurricane Irma, a sailboat sank in the ICW channel directly in front of the eastern half of this bridge. It is still there, and a temporary navigation marker has been placed to the side of it so boats won’t hit any of the underwater parts. Because of where it is, only the western half of the bridge now opens, making it a very narrow slot to get through followed by an extremely close shave past the sunken sailboat. Throw some current into the mix along with other boat traffic and voilà, you’ve got a super tense and scary boat handling situation.

The drawbridge is closed in this picture, but you can clearly see the sunken sailboat in front of the eastern (left) span. You can also see the small green buoy in the water marking the front of the sunken boat that is underwater. That buoy is actually in the center of the ICW channel. Only the right half of the bridge opened, and it didn’t open to a completely vertical position (it was slightly tilted toward the center). Driving C Ghost through this was very nerve-wracking.
We’ve just gone through the half-raised bascule bridge and had to pass very close to the sunken sailboat immediately after. At least it wasn’t raining.

Once through Daytona, we went through a short stretch with some very large and beautiful homes. This was followed by a long stretch of pretty and unpopulated shoreline where we saw more dolphins and a couple eagles. The two eagles were fighting with an osprey over custody of a plump fish that the osprey was carrying. As the birds dive-bombed each other, the fish wriggled free and fell back into the water with a splash. The osprey and one eagle flew off, still locked in aerial combat mode.  The second eagle (pictured) landed on a piling, where it stood looking miffed.

This mansion was just north of Daytona.
We saw two eagles today for the first time in a while.
This is what the ICW looked like for most of todays trip north of Daytona.

We finally arrived at Palm Coast and tied up in almost the same spot we’d been docked to last time. We looked for our friends’ Chris Craft trawler, but didn’t find it. They are likely in Ocean City for the summer.

We took the shuttle to the resort proper and had dinner there at a very nice restaurant with a view of the golf course and the ocean. Paula had steak and Tommy had mahi-mahi. Afterwards, we walked the grounds and went down the ocean. There was a stiff, damp breeze and 3 to 4 foot waves visible against a purpling sky.  We are excited to think that we should be home tomorrow afternoon.

The trip to Saint Augustine tomorrow is only 25 miles. There is a tricky shallow area in the ICW about 10 miles north of here at the Matanzas inlet that we have to traverse at mid-tide or higher to get across safely. High tide occurs at that shallow spot just before 11:30AM tomorrow and then not again until midnight. This is the reason we chose to stop here at Palm Coast for the night, so we could get to that shallow area on a rising tide in the morning.

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