Tag Archives: Ed and Jacqui Lippisch Adrift

Tales of the St Johns-Stuart to Ortega

So my blog has been quiet for a while. I have been away, but today I look forward to sharing with you Ed and my recent journey. On September 2, 2021, Ed and I began our trawler excursion number two.  Last year we christened “Adrift” by completing the Southern Loop. This year our goal was something a bit more unfamiliar, the St Johns River.

Always worried about leaving in the heart of hurricane season, we were pleased that the weather was nice leaving “Stuart on the St Lucie.” Inching around the southern tip of home, the peninsula of Sewall’s Point, we headed north on the Indian River Lagoon. Honing our skills, we anchored-out the first night in Wabasso, and again the second night in Titusville. The third night we docked at the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona; and the forth at St Augustine Municipal Marina.

St AugustineIt was St Augustine that awoke us from our South Florida slumber. Historic St Augustine lies at the intersection of what is named the Matanzas and Tolomoto Rivers and sits directly across from the St Augustine Inlet.

Docking at the marina went well, but our departure, not so much. In the pastel clouded morning, as wading birds and rock pigeons flew in every direction, Ed and I pulled away to continue on to Jacksonville. As we were slapping ourselves on the back for “an exit well done” the strong current pushed our craft aside sending us in the direction of two enormous yachts. We were headed for collision. Time froze, Ed and I could not believe our eyes. It happened so fast!

I followed orders grabbing a starboard line, but realized there was really nothing I could safely achieve. The force of the tide was overbearing. Ed’s instincts kicked in, he exercised full power, stern hitting a lone piling that swung wildly as we pulled away.

I heard a gentleman holding a cup of coffee yell to Ed: “Nice save!”

Ed and I looked at each other incredulously, both knowing it was more luck than skill that saved us. Miraculously, there was no damage other than our egos. From here on out, Ed and I paid great attention to the tides and currents of the region.We didn’t talk much that day, and the Tolomato River region revealed its most beautiful residents to sooth our spirts. At one point along the miles of bright green marshes, forty-two roseate spoonbills flew past! It was spectacular! Eventually we entered “the northern part of the ditch, better known as the Intracoastal Waterway and suddenly we we entering the mighty St Johns River.

Jacksonville

The Intracoastal and the St Johns intersect just west of the inlet at the Atlantic Ocean and Mayport, one of the largest naval stations in the United States and historic fishing village. As we veered west, Jacksonville came into view. It was impressive and intimidating. The river was wide and ships the length of skyscrapers filled the shorelines. I kept looking down, thinking I could “see” the tide. This river made the St Lucie look like a brook. In spite of the size of the river and the heavy industry, I kept noticing what appeared to be Monarch butterflies flying low across the water to the other side of the St Johns.“Unbelievable,” I thought. “How do they do that?”Everywhere I looked there were tugboats and container ships. A pod of dolphins joined our wake to say “hello.” Ed and I laughed and for a moment in time, nothing else existed. Just joy! “I can’t believe there are dolphins here!” Ed exclaimed.The dolphins finally pulled away and Ed shifted his eyes to the horizon. Our destination was an historic neighborhood, Ortega, about eight miles away located on the western bank of the St Johns River. Ed slowed down, called on the radio and little Ortega River Bridge slowly opened. The horn blew – a sound from a simpler past. “Thank you!” I waved from the bow and shortly thereafter we slid into a slip at the Ortega Marina.That evening we met Captain Paul, the Ortega Marina Dock Master, who became our guide, friend,  and confidant.  In the evenings he held court on his boat, “Passages,” telling stories of tides, time, and fishing tournaments.

The next morning Ed and I used the marina bicycles and rode throughout the historic district of Ortega. It was stunning! Oak trees and mansions the size of dinosaurs filled the landscape. Ortega got its start in 1769 so history includes many tales. I enjoyed seeing that Florida has many live oak trees that can compete with our northern neighbors. Breathtakingly beautiful trees, branches to the ground! Almost back at the marina, we visited nearby classic Chamblin Bookmine, Highway 17 – wonderful to browse for hours as most in Stuart are now long gone. After a final cool down and walk to Publix where we met displaced Canadian Geese searching for last year’s wetlands, Ed and I  visited again with Captian Paul. I informed him I had researched and found out the beautiful flowers growing in the Ortega Marina were swamp lilies;  we were already fast friends even though I was a “tree hugger.” Ed was looking to Paul as a mentor. Planning for tomorrow, we  talked tides and weather figuring out our departure.

Night fell. Ed and I slept like babies with the sound of the train echoing in the distance. I dreamt about Henry Flagler, riverboats, and Canadian Geese. I was excited about our next stop, September 8: Palatka.

 

 

Adrift’s Indian River Lagoon Water Report, June-July 2019

July 5, 2019

Hi. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! Wasn’t it exceptional? Exceptional because the St Lucie/IRL’s water wasn’t toxic like so many times in recent years. So nice to be able to enjoy our waterways. No dumping of Lake O. I am grateful!

Today I am a back with an Indian River Lagoon Report for the entire Indian River Lagoon.

During my husband, Ed, and my recent 156 miles trip up the IRL, aboard ADRIFT, I contacted Duane DeFreese Ph.D., Executive Director for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. I called Duane because I knew why the southern lagoon looked better but was impressed by how good the water in the central and northern lagoon looked as well. No brown tide. No superbloom.

Since am unfamiliar with the waters north of the Treasure Coast, except by books, I wanted a scientific update. Well, boy, did I get it! See Dr. Duane’s comments below. Also included is the invaluable, recent St John’s Water Management District’s “June 20th Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update.”

For visual input as well, I am inserting some of Ed and my photos, with comments, of our incredible journey along what is still considered to be one of the world’s most biodiverse estuaries. What a treasure! From north to south, we must do all we can to ensure a toxic-free future.

Keep up the fight!

Jacqui

IRL map: Researchgate
Ed and JTL start of the trip on “Adrift.”
Location: Jupiter Island near the Jupiter Inlet, as almost always the water here is like the Bahamas, looking great! Near the border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties.
Near Jupiter Inlet, border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties. Wow!

JTL:

Duane, hi. Hope you are having a great summer. At this time, are there algae blooms reported in the IRL near Melbourne, the N. IRL north of Titusville, or anywhere in the Mosquito Lagoon? Thank you for letting me know. Jacqui TL

Duane DeFreese, Ph.D. Exec. Dir National IRL Estuary Program, http://www.irlcouncil.com

Conditions being reported to me by the local guides are consistent with the report and my own observations. Overall water quality looks pretty good, but small, patchy areas of poor water quality continue. The fishing guides tell me one day it looks great and a day later the same area will have color and turbidity (probably patchy bloom conditions). My personal observation is that we have been lucky so far and the system is vulnerable. I would not be surprised to see blooms intensify as we move deeper into summer and the rainy season. Lagoon water temperatures are also really warm. the SJRWMD Report documents that we have had patchy blooms occurring of multiple species. Two confirmed species of concern are Pseudo-nitzschia, a marine diatom and Pyrodinium bahamensis, a dinoflagellate. The worst water conditions continue to be in Banana River and in Sykes Creek. There are boater reports of patchy poor water quality in some areas of the northern IRL. The third species of significant recent concern has been Brown tide (Aureoumbra lagunendis). It was in almost in continuous bloom for most of last year in the Banana River. Bloom conditions have subsided. Aureoumbra thrives in warm, high salinity environments. It is not known to be toxic. Blooms of pseudo nitzschia, a marine diatom, can produce a neurotoxin called domoic acid. Blooms of Pyrodinium can produce saxitoxin. I expect that we will see patchy and flashy bloom conditions of multiple species throughout the summer. If we get lucky, I hope none of these blooms get intense enough to elevate toxin levels, low DO levels and fish kills. I’m very concerned about the slow recovery of seagrasses, even in areas of good water quality. Feel free to call me anytime.  Have a great 4th July!

Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update June 20

JTL:

Dear Duane, thank you so very much for the super informative reply! I wrote because my husband and I are taking our maiden voyage in a trawler. We have gone from Stuart to Jupiter to Vero to Cocoa, north as far as possible in IRL, past Titusville, and today-through the Haul-over Canal into the Mosquito Lagoon. Not being familiar with these waters, all I have seen visually appears quite good compared to the St Lucie and even parts of the S. IRL. Some varying coloration is apparent, but overall seems good and in the north, many baitfish balls are shimmering under the surface and dolphin families are gorging themselves and teaching their young! We have seen many dolphins everywhere. Throughout Indin River County, Ospreys nesting in channel markers. One after the other!  In the Mosquito Lagoon there were many more wading birds than S IRL. Even saw a few roseate spoonbills. I was not expecting it to be so full of life up here… a nice surprise. Not off the chart healthy, but marine and bird life very visible! I really appreciate the info you sent. I plan to blog on trip once home, so I can quote your knowledge. Happy 4th of July to you as well and I hope to see you soon.

 

The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon off S. Sewall’s Point, Bird Island. Near Stuart, Martin County.
Sewall’s Point and Stuart, Martin County.
Beautiful blue water near the Ft Pierce Inlet, St Lucie County. Ft Pierce rocks!
Waters of Vero Beach, Indian River County.
Old map showing the designated area of famous INDIAN RIVER LAGOON CITRUS. Citrus Museum, Vero Beach, FL
1920 Blue Heron Map shows clearly the area of the Everglades, Heritage Center and Citrus Museum, Vero.
Street sign in Vero Beach, as everywhere ALL canals lead to Lagoon! No trash, fertilizer, pesticides, etc!
Sebastian Inlet, Indian River County, brings blue waters to the area. So pretty!
Approaching Cocoa Village, north of Melbourne in Brevard County.
Waters nearing Cocoa Village in Brevard County
Ed and I visited the Kennedy Space Center along the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River. Surrounded by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Space & Nature. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/visit/plan_your_visit.html Such an inspiration!
3-D movie at Kennedy Space Center really took us to the moon, Mars, and beyond!
The ominous Vehicle Assemble Building, NASA, so large it is visible no matter where one is are along the central and northern IRL. It’s like it is following you!
Eau Gallie, Melbourne. The Eau Gallie River, or Turkey Creek,  is a small version of the St Lucie and also impaired due to runoff from agriculture and development.
Like a sentinel, the Vehicle Assembly Building as seen over the Indian River Lagoon north of Titusville.

Baitfish!

Waters approaching Titusville, Brevard County.
Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County.
Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County. Shortly beyond channel turns right through the Haulover Canal and into the Mosquito Lagoon.

Ed navigates through the Haulover Canal, connecting the northern IRL with the Mosquito Lagoon.
Water in the Haulover Canal was greenish.
Entering the stunningly beautiful, peaceful, undeveloped Mosquito Lagoon. This area is flanked by the Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary and Canaveral National Seashore. Wildlife abounds.

360 of the unforgettable Mosquito Lagoon:

Flora and fauna along shoreline, Mosquito Lagoon
Anhinga twins, Mosquito Lagoon

Incredible footage of 4 dolphins in our wake near Ft Pierce welcoming us home!

ADRIFT is a 2007 Mainship 400 trawler, top speed about 8 knots 🙂