Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Florida and the Keys


Alice, Douglas and Bonnie, SV Tranquila
 Anchored in the harbour on Abacos Island we noticed a big Cat flying the Bluewater burgie from its' shrouds. It was Alice and Douglas aboard SV Tranquila from Kelowna BC. and their adorable teddy bear dog, Bonnie. As fortune would have it, they were fellow members of the Bluewater Cruising Association and we were traveling the same way so planned our joint departure to Great Sale Cay and then on to Florida the next morning. We rode the Gulf Stream overnight easily for a morning arrival into Port Canaveral, Florida. Back in the land of abundance we rented a car and drove to Orlando to visit friends of Daragh's, Doug, Marlene and grandson Dylan. Also with Donal at his Fiddlers Green Irish Pub.Eight lane freeways, mega-stores and fast food outlets as far as the eye can see. It's great to be back in the Rat Race!  Florida is almost completely flat and laced with pleasant, winding waterways and lakes. A sailors paradise! Many of the 'Snowbirds' from up north live in beautifully landscaped communities with all the modern conveniences. This was a bit of a reverse culture shock after traveling in Central America. 
Donal & Alan at Fiddlers Green Pub

Key Largo of Humphrey Bogart Fame
     We have now entered the Intra-coastal Waterway, also known as 'The Ditch', heading for Titusville. This large waterway runs from Maine all the way to the Gulf Coast of Florida, over 3,000 miles in length. Along the 1,000 mile Atlantic section there are over 100 bridges, some of which, (the Bascules and Swings), must be hailed to open for sailboats to pass through. One passes a myriad of scenic sights including old plantations and manor houses, bleak swamps and bayous, jungles, historic towns and modern skyscrapers. The Waterway it seems is a veritable minefield of shoals, shallows and obstacles with constantly shifting sands, so we creep along with eyes peeled for imminent dangers. One must watch out for the lounging bulk of large Manatees, sea lion-like creatures that bathe in the warm waters of the channel. 

Manatee drinking fresh water drops
      In Titusville we tied up in the marina, rented a car and drove 350 miles south to Key West. The last 100 miles is a vast span of bridges joining the islands, one of which is 7 miles long!  An incredible feat. Only in America! Key West, which must have been an idyllic spot at onetime, is now home to the inevitable cruise ships, and tarted up for the tourists. However, it still exudes that "Jimmy Buffet' small town charm with funky bars, crisp white colonial cottages with picket fences, and a very hip arts community. 
Cigar Factory Folkart

       We will spend a couple of days at Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center, absorbing the fascinating story of the American and Russian astronauts and the Space Program, and then blast off ourselves into the blue. Next stop Daytona Beach, and life in the fast lane!

Lounging at Key West
Kennedy Space Center
One small step for mankind
at Cape Canaveral

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