After 2 1/2 months at Rivers Edge Marina, we were finally going to move again. St. Augustine was awesome, and we made a lot of new friends, but we were itching to go. Thursday was the day, but the wind was blowing hard out of the south, making it impossible to get out of our slip without running aground. So we left Friday, and even that was a challenge. Anya reversed Ronya out of the slip, but the current pushed us straight back towards other docked boats. Fortunately we had our friends from the Barcelona Explorer on the dock, and along with a wonderful wave-off, we got some help and support.
They were dredging the Matanzas River where we ran aground on our way north (sandbar party), so we got some more nice adrenaline when the dredging barge told us to follow the pilot right across the sandbar where we had been aground. We didn’t immediately follow (traumatized), but when we gave in and did, there were 2 hearts pounding heavily!
We decided to spent that night at a marina, as where we could get to Friday had no decent anchorages. We went to Palm Coast Marina, a great choice! Very friendly, accommodating and affordable, with wonderful facilities. And a friendly wild duck on our pier, which happily ate some scrap bread we had on board, the whole time eyeing suspiciously the 2 black cats circeling them :-).
Saturday we left the dock fairly early to make our way down to New Smyrna Beach. We had decided to anchor at our anchorage from the way north, and again it proved to be fine, minus the 25 knot north winds that were blowing. The night was a bit rough, but we were ready to go again at 6:30 am to get 60 miles to Cocoa.
We made good progress and arrived in Cocoa by 3 pm, and found a nice anchorage just south of the bridge. After some boat work we settled down for a nice dinner, a couple of beers and went to bed early. At around midnight, there were loud thumps against our hull, and Rob went to see what was up. It was a guy on a kayak, motioning that the boat right next to us was on fire, and did we know if anyone was on board there? Rob roused me, and a nightmare enfolded. When I came up on deck, the sailboat 50 feet north of us was burning, and the first thing I thought was “is anybody on board or in the water” and the second thing was “unless they are in the water there is nothing we can do”. There was a helicopter overhead scanning the water with a searchlight, but nobody was in the water. We brought out our own searchlight, but could see nobody in the water or on the burning boat. There was a frantic call on the VHF that someone was on the bow of the burning boat, but even with binoculars there was nobody to be seen there. Then we realized we were in danger too, because if the boat exploded or the wind shifted, we would be in the immediate aftermath. So we raised our anchor and went south, away from the blazing boat. We dropped our anchor another 500 feet away and all we could do was watch as somebody’s “house” went down.
We waited until 2 am and the fire was out (at 1:45 finally a fire boat arrived, before it was only Boat US circling, and lots of law enforcement on shore half a mile away) before trying to go back to sleep, but of course the rest of the night we worried about arsonists and fire escapes.
The next morning, we saw the boat owner pull up to the marker on his dinghy. The marker was all that was left. After some circling around, he came over to us. Turned out he was a fairly old guy, and after asking us if we had seen anything, he started telling us about submarines that had been pulling up under his boat, divers that had been cleaning the bottom of his boat because they were going to steal it and drilling holes into his hull while they were frying chicken, and people that had been going on to his boat and drinking his beer for days, like the night before when they shot at him while he was on the boat north of his, and this is why he shot a flare gun at them (on his boat) and reported one of those people on his bow begging for help (there was nobody on his bow). As sorry as we felt for the crazy guy for losing his house, we were just so happy nobody got hurt and we got away before this fire could reach us. Go figure – there is one boat fire in the ICW and we are anchored right next to it.
That day (yesterday) we pulled into Anchorage Marina in Melbourne, and had Ronya hauled for bottom painting and lots of extra work which we are doing. We were both still shaken by lack of sleep and the crazy fire night, but Rob did a wonderful job of backing Ronya onto the travel lift. We moved everything we would need off the boat (you would not believe how much sh… you need to take with you for the cats), and up Ronya went for much-needed maintenance on the hull!
We took an Uber XL to our AirBnB across the causeway and moved in, cool place with a yard for the cats. Dinner, and finally sleep without fires, scares and worries!