Harborage was a speck in the distance when the excitement began! Fishing boats on their way in from the ocean were fast approaching us, seemingly from all directions. Thank goodness for Captain Patti's calm demeanor as my hands shook on the helm. I must admit feeling a few seconds of panic as I steeled myself to not turn the wheel every which way. At one point Patti suggested we simply slow down (how much slower can this thing go before we stall I thought) so that the fishing boats would know we were yielding to them. Great idea, let 'em go!
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, though what a thrill to ask the bridge tender to raise the bridge for us! At the appropriate time, Captain Patti asked me to contact the bridge giving our height and ETA for going under the span. As we approached, I heard the bells ringing, saw the cars stopping and lo and behold, the bridge slowly began to rise! All because of little ol' me! Wheee!
Our first stop for the night was Melbourne Marina, which in trawler terms, made for a very long day on the ICW. We got tied up around 5:15, took on some fuel (didn't really need any but I think the captain - Tom - felt it was the thing to do), pumped the holding tank and decided we were famished. All that adventure made for some very hungry mariners. I must say dining at the Chart House in a pair of shorts, polo shirt and topsiders was a first for me. I don't normally go anywhere dressed like that, let alone a white-tablecloth restaurant. But hey, we're boaters and (almost) anything goes! Once seated, we were amazed to see at the top of our menus that it was "Captain Patti Moore Night". To this day, we still don't know whether it was a coincidence or just a maitre d' with a sense of humor.
(Very) early the next morning, we were on our way north once again under mild sunny skies with a bit of wind. I was starting to get into a routine: up before dawn to check the weather, then down to the engine room with Patti and my checklist, back up to the galley for coffee and a discussion of our plans for the day. Our lines were off as the sun rose over the horizon and another day of adventure had dawned.
We were away from the marina for about a half hour when we were treated to the spectacular sight of dolphins playing in our bow wake. Patti explained that our speed was perfect for the type of wake the dolphins enjoy. They seemed to be having the time of their lives as they leaped out of the water and disappeared under the boat only to reappear on their sides in our bow wake. I have to tell you that I was moved to tears. Once the show was over, it was time for breakfast: granola bar for Tom and something a bit more substantial for Patti and I. Since we were cruising, we had to run the generator for electricity - another lesson for me: how to start the generator! Once the mystery was solved, breakfast could get underway. To illustrate how fascinated I am with all things marine, I was amazed to see my waffles pop up as we sailed under a fixed bridge. An ordinary occurrence achieved elevated status on a boat! Who would've guessed!
Later in the afternoon, Tom got to try out his autopilot. Another source of amazement! To add to the excitement, we turned on our music, courtesy of Sirius XM radio (which Tom had installed throughout the boat, including the flybridge) and cruised along singing to tunes of the 60s and 70s. Believe me, it doesn't get better than this! Another long day ended at New Smyrna Beach. We thought of trying for Daytona Beach, but decided to call it a day while we were still alert (and hungry of course). This marina was municipal, so a little less glamorous than Melbourne. However, it had good laundry facilities, a friendly cat, entertaining birds and a surprisingly good restaurant, Jason's Corner.
Tonight a dream came true for us.... we sat on our "back porch", had a cocktail and watched the sun set. After dinner, I sat down with a book and reveled in living my dream.