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Daytona, FL: Warmer Days Ahead

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

St. Augustine, FL to Daytona Beach //


On our way to Daytona, down the Halifax River, I remember Tom saying something along the lines of: “You know, we’ve had a great trip so far, nothing major has broken down and we haven’t run aground...” I almost stopped him midsentence but followed up by saying: “I don’t know that you should have said that out loud. Every blog I keep reading says there are two different types of sailors: those who run aground, and those who lie about it”. Tom quickly knocked on wood, but I felt it was a tad bit late. He had said it with such confidence...

It was late afternoon and we were nearing one of the anchorage areas listed on the Waterway Guide in the Halifax River. After passing under a number of bascule and fixed bridges we had reached Daytona Beach and were ready to settle in for the evening. We had had a full 8-hour day of motoring on the ICW (I call it a typical workday) and were beat. We approached the anchorage by hugging red marker #40 towards the various sailboats that we could see were anchored safely in the distance. As usual, we were watching the depth gauge to make sure we weren’t going through any shallow areas, and our chartplotter was showing us pretty reasonable depths. But suddenly —and unforgivingly —we ran aground. A soft grounding is the correct term. We felt the boat slide into a bit of a soft bump and then it wasn’t moving any longer. Tom was at the wheel and quickly tried to reverse with no luck. We stayed still for a minute before figuring out next steps.

We researched calling a tow but quickly found out service would not be available until the next day! We also realized we did not have a good towing package with our insurance company, so, in lightning speed, we went online and bought an unlimited towing plan through BoatUS which would have been valid immediately after purchase (whew!). If we were going to continue spending time in the ICW, it was very much worth it on our minds.

We then dove into our sailing library for guidance. Tom was familiar with a few solutions worth trying having read Chapman’s piloting book. He rowed our small Danforth anchor out in the dinghy and dropped it off our stern. We ran the line from the anchor to the main winch on the boat to try and kedge us off when the tide started to rise. We quickly found out, however, that the tide differential were of a few inches only. We were uncertain it would work in our favor, but were eager to try it out either way. After a few unsuccessful tries we gave it a rest and decided to pause, clear our minds, and get dinner going. High tide was scheduled around 9pm that evening so we had plenty of time to sit and wait. The boat was in no danger. Being in soft mud, the worst scenario would have been some scuffing on the paint at the keel. We were actually more nervous of having to recur to a towing service, as we’ve heard plenty of stories of a vessel’s rudder being compromised because of how it’s being towed.

As we patiently waited, every now and then a powerboat would pass and create some wake, so we tried to use the movement created by their wake to winch the anchor in and see if with the rocking, we would get lifted. Still no luck, but by 7:30pm, the current must have shifted because we felt the boat started to get going. We both bolted out to the cockpit and were excited to find out that indeed we were moving with the current. We turned on the engine and reversed on our previous course. We were SO relieved.

We motored on a couple of markers down further and turned on the sonar on Navionics to get a better sense of the depth in the anchorage area. Fingers crossed we hopped outside the ICW channel hoping the previous scenario wouldn’t repeat itself. We found good depth but had to deploy our anchor a couple of times since it was having a hard time setting. By 9pm we found a good hold, popped open a couple of cans of cold beer, and turned in for a good night’s sleep right after.

The following morning, Sunday, December 9, we woke up to some pretty windy conditions. The was some heavy rain coming as well so we decided to call a marina nearby and stay put for the day. As soon as we pulled the anchor it started pouring. Under the rain and strong winds we came into Halifax Harbour Marina and were welcomed by a generous staff member who helped us with the lines. We cooked breakfast and relaxed for a bit until much of the rain had passed. Once the sun came out, it was time to pick away at projects. Mainly, the packing nut at the prop shaft had been leaking more than it should, at least we thought. Tom went in the lazzarette compartment after the rain had subsided and took at stab at tightening it. We then did laundry, got showers, got the boat tidied up and I walked up to Main Street and found a cozy coffee shop to work on the blog for the rest of the afternoon.

We found a neat little ramen joint right on Main Street by dinner time. We reminisced on the previous day’s highs and lows. Even though running aground was such a downer, we focused on the happy highlights which included seeing a pod of dolphins swimming alongside us. Aside from that, we had also experienced our second 70-degree weather on this entire trip so far. We were eager to continue moving toward South Florida and very much looking forward to warmer (and accident-free) days ahead.

Finally captured a pictures of these babies swimming alongside us

Nothing much to see here except the marker near where we rman aground...

Last bridge before entering Daytona Beach

Enjoying the 70 degree weather

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