Muddy Waters as we head out of Four Fish Marina into the ICW, proudly flying our America’s Great Loop Cruiser Association burgee and starting Part II of our journey.

We spent about a week in Jensen Beach at the Four Fish Marina, restocking supplies, adjusting a few boat systems, relaxing (some more!), eating out, and catching a few movies. It was wonderful to see all the family and friends who were able to join us throughout the week.

From morning pancakes and coffee at local diner (Jan’s Place), Persian lunches onboard, cajun-spiced fish and live blues at Crawdaddy’s, strolls among quaint shops and boutiques in the historic districts of Jensen Beach and Stuart, jazz music along the river, to all the cousins and friends playing football and capture the flag in the park and running among the fountains down by the waterfront, it was a fun-filled week!

We even had a visit from good ol’ Ginger (our doggie), who looked in amazing shape for the grand old age of fifteen. She was not however, so interested in joining us for a boat ride! She’s a rags to riches story, since I found her wandering the streets, desperately thin, and searching for food about 13 years ago. Though she’s still got her street sense about her, her vision and hearing aren’t so sharp any longer. I think she prefers her air conditioning, cool tile floors, comfy bed, and familiar sniffs – all found in Miami. We really miss her on this family adventure, but we know she’s in great hands with Oma, Pappy, Sima and Doug, who regularly provide all the pats, kisses, scratches behind the ears, belly rubs, and walks, not to mention the chicken and turkey scraps around meal time!

After having spent the last few months anchoring out in nature, often by ourselves, in the pristine Bahamian waters, we were eventually itching to throw off the dock lines and get moving again! First stop, the Four Fish fuel pump! We would only get part way up the east coast on our remaining 300 gallons of fuel, and we have a lot farther than that in mind. We burned through almost twice as much fuel down in the Bahamas as we’d expected, running at higher RPMs and battling against wind and ocean currents in order to reach far flung islands before weather changes could affect us. So back to the fuel pump we went. The prices were slightly higher this time, but we should make it last at least through the Mississippi.

Though we never underestimate the weather (ever), the wind shouldn’t be quite as much of a travel issue this time because we are in the relatively protected waters of the ICW. The land on each side protects us from most wind and choppy waters. On the flip-side, now we are on high alert for shoaling (where sand or mud is pushed by currents or storms, creating very shallow spots not typically marked on the charts), other boats, markers, currents/tides and tight docking spots, etc.

Traveling up the ICW from Lake Worth to Fernandina/Amelia Island, we have passed by some of the most spectacular homes and scenery. From the Hobe Sound area with their sweeping green lawns, New England style old homes or Johns Island’s modern-Mediterranean, mini-mansions to the smaller more quaint ranch bungalows and quirky trailer parks, they all blend together to form a certain charm and scenic ambiance along the ICW.

It’s quiet except for the hum of the engine as we cruise along at about 8 or so MPH (we’ll start using statute miles instead of nautical miles now that we’re on the ICW). Generally speaking, weekdays are the best days for traveling longer distances (anywhere from 50 – 70 miles) because we have the waterway to ourselves a lot of the time. We like to arrive in some of the larger towns and historic sites late in the week so we can spend the weekend exploring museums, attending cultural events and farmer’s markets.

The ICW is constantly changing from wide open bays with deep channels bordered by sandbars with birds “walking on water”, to narrow, winding channels snaking along through overgrown mangrove islands with scrubby trees and low-lying marshes. These little islands overflow with all kinds of water loving-fowl, flora and fauna. Nesting sites high in the trees are home to osprey, hawks and bald eagles, while the pelicans, herons and occasional pink flamingos seem to nest lower down in the bushes. We even saw a raccoon swimming across a cut between islands the other morning. The sounds and sights are beautiful as we move north.

So that’s all for now. We’re in the town of Fernandina Beach (the northernmost coastal Florida city), leaving for Georgia on Friday. Michael promises me he’ll write a little about the places we’ve visited along Florida’s ICW. The kids are back into the online portion of their homeschooling classes in Math and Science and are working hard to complete the semester by the end of June. They continue to review American history and geography as we start to pass through some of the places we’ve been studying in class. I keep busy with my cooking and running, trying to fit in a 5-10K in each new port of call. I love all the change in scenery!

Till next time,