Day 159.  Lamb’s Yacht Centre, south Jacksonville

We gingerly took Gracie up the Ortega River south of Jacksonville to her home for the next six weeks or so. Lamb’s Yacht Centre is a full service marina that will haul her out next week, paint her bottom and do a full service on her engine. We will spend the next few days cleaning her up before we get a hire car on Saturday and go to Clearwater to revisit our friends Dale and Marsha. Gracie’s owners will still be on the western side of the country and will return to pick her up in October.

So our waterborne journey is winding up and there will be no more daily blogs. I will get myself to Victoria BC, Canada to visit my daughter arriving a bit ahead of my wife who is coming over from Brisbane in the first week of Seotember. Deveen will be meeting his wife around then too, but in their case that will be in New Orleans.

You can see Gracie’s position in the SW corner of the air photo below with the city of Jacksonville in the NE corner which is where we were last night. The Ortega River flows into the St. John’s River just south of the city.

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Day 158.  Jacksonville and crossing our wake, woohoo!

Another great night with new friends. Don and Erin joined us for sundowners on the dock and when it started to rain Bob and Sue also joined us onboard Gracie. Erin cooked us a pasta meal onboard their immaculate Baba 40 yacht that Deveen has fallen in love with. Erin sent us this dawn photo from our dock at St Augustine looking across to the harbormaster’s tower.

At 3pm we crossed our wake and are now at Jacksonville Landing, going to celebrate somewhat tonight. Five months and one day, 6000 miles culminating in a final large day, epic journey and a good serving of feeling contented.

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Day 157.  St Augustine layover

Spent the morning sightseeing this beautiful city. Above is the Hotel Ponce de Leon built in 1888 by Henry Flagler. Flagler was a wealthy hotelier, railway magnate and co founder of Standard Oil along with John D. Rockefeller.  When opened the building was equipped with electric lights installed by none other than Thomas Edison, who was a friend of Flagler. The building is now a university known as Flagler College.

The Castillo de San Marco stands at the entrance to the harbour at Matanzas Bay and was built commencing in 1672 taking 23 years to complete. It is made from quarried blocks of soft seashells, laid out in the sun for a year known as coquina. It is surrounded by a dry moat and has cannonball damage on the seaward wall. It was built after Sir Francis Drake attacked an earlier wooden fort on the same site.

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Day 156.  St. Augustine, Florida

Here we are at the oldest town in the USA and it looks and feels like Spain, probably because the Spaniards first settled it in 1565. Nice and handy to downtown at the Municipal Marina, we are only 30 miles away from crossing our wake and completing the Great Loop. That is scheduled for Tuesday. 

We had a milk shake in Georgie’s Diner, all stainless steel carriage like on the outside and neat US diner style on the inside.

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Day 155.  Daytona Beach layover

It’s been ten days since we had a day off so slept in and then had brunch at Pat’s Riverfront Cafe, all of about 200 ft from our marina slip. I had eggs Benedict with crab cakes and grits while Deveen had an omelette and blackberry pancake. Met Bella on the way back at the marina, made me realize how i’m looking forward to walking my JD in about five weeks. 

Major excursion today was a swim in the Atlantic Ocean and walked a couple of miles checking out bars for a Saturday night drink. Looks like the Surfside Tavern again and or maybe Yayas. Then back to Gracie for a restful afternoon in the bunk.

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Day 154. Daytona Beach

There was a new cruise ship at Port Canaveral this morning, the 129,000 ton Disney Dream. We thought we had finished with locks but to get to Port Canaveral Yacht Club we went through yet another lock that neither rose us or sent us lower but increments the number of locks we have done up another two, up to about 122.

We saw a number of manatees today, sometimes in groups of three or four. Hard to photograph so I grabbed photo from Wikimedia commons. Similar to Australia’s dugong but much bigger at 8 feet long. They were on the endangered species list but have increased populations 500% in the last 25 years. Our location tonight and probably tomorrow night is the Seven Seas Marina, a snap at $32 a night and only 10 minutes walk to the main drag at Daytona Beach, Atlantic Avenue. There is a neat cafe here at the marina as well open for breakfast and lunch.

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Day 153.  Cape Canaveral, Florida

We were expecting rocket ships at Cape Canaveral, but instead a cruise ship appeared out of the rain haze, the 101,000 ton Carnaval Victory. The NASA facility is behind her. Unfortunately the next rocket launch is not until the 19th of August and I have a better offer that day. The shot below shows Gracie at the Port Canaveral Yacht Club, the Carnaval Victory is above her in the West cruise ship basin and the NASA rocket launchers are in the top right corner.

On the way to Grills restaurant tonight as recommended by Kate from the yacht club, we passed Port Canaveral’s own version of Dubai’s Burge. The Exploration Tower is a tourist Centre on the Canaveral waterfront.

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