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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.