Guest Blog from the First Mate

Hello to all of Captain Jim’s blog readers.  I am Jim’s wife, Janet, as well as First Mate aboard our boat, Magic Carpet.  I thought it would be fun to do a little writing and share some of our boating life with you.

Our boat’s address is the T-head of G dock at Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach.  It has called that space home since late 2010.  Originally, I used the boat as a floating condo when I took a job just south of Daytona, prior to us moving to the coast.  I loved getting up early and eating my breakfast out on the aft deck, watching the birds and the dolphin before heading in to the office. Although the boat hardly moved that first year, we had fun spending time at the dock, getting to know our dock neighbors while working on countless projects aboard Magic Carpet.

Once most of the big fixes were complete, we started with short day trips that allowed us to get comfortable handling the boat.  Jim became adept at the wheel pretty quickly.  We practiced docking under different winds (blowing us off the dock, onto the dock, etc.) and I improved on my methods for getting lines around the cleats on the dock and other first mate duties.

We installed a new windlass and anchor rode a while back and put in several days of practicing our anchoring techniques as well.  We found it works best if I take the wheel and Jim goes down to the bow to man the windlass operation.  We really do make a good team!

More recently we have ventured out on overnighters and weekends aboard.  We’ve stayed at marinas in Palm Coast, St. Augustine and Titusville as well as at anchor at Rock House Creek (Ponce Inlet).  It has all been lots of fun, relaxing and satisfying.  With my recent retirement (wow, that still seems strange to say), we now have more free time to venture out.  We decided last month to head south on the Intracoastal Waterway  (ICW) and put some hours on the engines.

Our first day took us from our home port in Daytona Beach south to Titusville.  It is a really beautiful stretch of water and it was just picture perfect weather that day.  The scenery includes the Ponce Inlet lighthouse, beautiful homes along the river in New Smyrna and Edgewater, and then lots of natural areas heading into and including the Mosquito Lagoon, an acclaimed destination for inshore fishing and bird watching.

ponce lighthouse

On the waterway approaching New Smyrna with Ponce Inlet Lighthouse in the background.

There is a long No Wake Zone in one section of this trip where I spotted several manatee off our bow.  And we had dolphin jumping our wake on several occasions which is just so much fun to watch!

Two dolphin

Haulover Canal connects the Mosquito Lagoon to the Indian River, and from there, you can go further south along the ICW.  The canal is man-made and about a mile long.

haulover aerial

In the center of this aerial photo, the word ‘Allenhurst’ shows the location of Haulover Canal.  The body of water to the right of that is the Mosquito Lagoon and the water on the far right is the Atlantic Ocean.  The water to the left of the canal is the Indian River.

Haulover Canal has important historical significance in the Shira family.  Jim’s great uncle George Shira owned Allenhurst Fishing Camp on the canal back in the 1950s and 60s, until NASA came along.  The fishing camp was popular with locals and tourists; however, all the people in the area had to be relocated in order for NASA to have the land necessary for the space program.  I like to think of it as George and Jib Shira doing their part in getting man to the moon by quietly taking what the federal government decided was fair value for their property and their business.  Back then to open the small bridge that crossed the canal, George had to manually turn a large crank in the center of the bridge.

old haulover-1

The old Haulover Canal bridge with Allenhurst Fishing Camp in the background.

A new bridge was built in the 1960’s and today there is a bridge tender there to open the bridge upon request, although we can make it under without an opening. Haulover Canal is known for some pretty good fishing and as a great place to spot manatee. Jim and I have spent many days in our kayaks in and around the canal.  As we traversed the canal on this trip, we saw lots of people fishing from the shorelines and several herons and osprey.

haulover canal

Haulover canal and the current bridge.

Once through Haulover Canal, the Indian River is wide and the shoreline is mostly undeveloped.  If you look east, you will see Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is only about a half hour from our house.  We love the fact that so much of it is open to the public.  It includes a beautiful and serene beach as well as a 7 mile wildlife drive where you may see alligators, bald eagles, herons and my favorite, roseate spoonbills.

roseate spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

There have even been panther spotted on the refuge!  When my sister Maureen was visiting last month, she and Jim decided to bike the area.  On their way in, they saw a bobcat and wild boar as well as lots of birds.

After a few more nautical miles, we are approaching the City of Titusville.  The industry here is primarily space-related.  The end to the shuttle era was awful here, but there are signs that things are picking up again.  There always seems to be a rocket launch lately, whether it be government or privately funded.  Jim has always been fascinated by space exploration.  He tells the story of being 19 years old and looking out his bedroom window up at the moon the night Apollo 11 landed and thinking “There are PEOPLE up there!”

We were on one of our boats in Titusville the day John Glenn returned to space aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1998.  Even though we were about 7 miles from the launch pad, as the shuttle lifted, you could see ripples on the water, and our boat shook.  There were at least a couple hundred boats crowded in the water that day to witness Mr. Glenn making history.  We all sounded our boat horns at lift-off.  An awesome memory I think of often when we’re on the water in Titusville.

It is about 4:30 p.m. as we approach the Titusville Municipal Marina where we will end day one after about 5 hours on the water.  I’ll catch up with you tomorrow for the next leg of the trip which took us south to Vero Beach.

titusville marina

View from our slip at Titusville Municipal Marina.


About TwoCaptains

The TwoCaptains are Jim and Janet, both US Coast Guard licensed boat captains home-ported in Daytona Beach. We recently sold our 1990 Ocean Yachts 56' CPMY "Magic Carpet", and now we're in the hunt for a replacement.
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7 Responses to Guest Blog from the First Mate

  1. Jim Feudale says:

    Loved reading about your adventure Janet.
    Your blog took me aboard the ‘Magic Carpet’.
    Big Jimmy

  2. Jerry Bonds says:

    I would love to be there with the both of you. I miss our home when we lived there it was the greatest life to live there and no one wanted to move. George never open the bridge. There was a trailor across the canel from Allenherst that belonged to the Core of Eng. The Bridge tender lived there. Every time a big ship came through they would blow their horn and my brother and I would run out and pull down the stop sign gate and unlock our side of the bridge and the bridge tender would do the same on his side then we meet in the middle put the crank in and open then close the bridge.
    Do you know who the man in the picture standing on the bridge is??

    Thanks for the memories!!

    Do you have any more of the old pictures of Allenherst?

    • TwoCaptains says:

      I was always under the impression that George opened it, but now I know who the real workers were! I’m not sure who is in the photo…it sort of looks like George Jr. to me, but I barely knew him, so I may be wrong. I do have a couple other photos, but I’m hoping to get some from George himself one day. Every time I go there are drive past the small part of the main building wall that remains, I wish I could have spent more time there as a kid. I bet it was great to grow up there in that time.

      • jerry bonds says:

        Hi Janet, As you can tell I’m not comp savy. Ever time I tried to reply my comp would lock up.So I tryed to write on your facebook page and I don’t think that worked either. Back to the man on the bridge. That is my Father. I know that George and Jebb had alot of pictures. I sent Jim a lot of pictures when you lived on the Gulf Coast. I’ll try to send you a picture of my Mother and Father at Allenherst. ________________________________________

      • TwoCaptains says:

        Hi Jerry, it’s Jim. Sorry it took so long to reply, but we are busy with work here at the house and I just kept forgetting. That’s really interesting that the fellow in the photo is your father! Whenever I’m there, I always wish I could have grown up there at that time. I was only at Allenhurst twice that I remember, but I think I would have loved the life there. George and Jib did leave lots of photos, and as far as I know, George Jr. must have most of them. He is in his nineties now, and lives in South Carolina. I’m going to see if he will give some of them to me before he passes, and we may in turn donate some of them to the local historical society. It’s sad that just a tiny part of the main building wall is all that is still standing, but if you look closely from the canal, I can still see some of the old pilings that would have been the dock, etc. Most are now just rotted stubs, but with some imagination, I can see the place in my mind. If you ever get down this way, please look us up, and we’ll take a drive around the area. We’d love to hear about it from someone who lived there.
        Take care,

  3. Taft Chatham says:

    A voice from what might as well be outer space here. My dad (born 1907) and his friends were regulars at the fishing camp at Allenhurst during the 50’s. On two occasions I (born 1950) accompanied him on fishing trips there, and I distinctly remember my dad introducing me to George. I was maybe ten when I was there, but I remember extremely good trout fishing on Mosquito lagoon, lots of cockroaches in the room my dad and I stayed in (which he bombed, successfully), and a beer sign in the bar/restaurant that had a hypnotic bouncing light that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Typically, my dad and friends would drive down from Atlanta, fish like crazy for two or three days, then drive back and give away fish to people they knew. It was a funny mix of fun and food-gathering, and my mom was very good at frying trout. Anyway, I have a good memory and when I googled Allenhurst I found out about its interesting ghost town status. –Taft Chatham, Eugene, Oregon

    • TwoCaptains says:

      Thanks so much for your comments and memories. I too am a 1950 guy, and although I only got to visit George and his wife at Allenhurst a couple times, I loved it there. So glad to hear from someone else who enjoyed that special place and time.

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