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ICW, bridge drama and the poo police

I awoke to a brisk 48 degrees inside of Cat Maudy. Soxy was glued to me under the covers and it was obvious that we had not yet reached “the south”.

Today would be a full day of motoring on the ICW, with many 65′ fixed bridges to navigate under. Rumor has it, that the water levels are up. In addition, the state of Florida has “adjusted” some of the bridge water markers to reflect the low hanging LIGHT instead of the fixed bridge height. Thus, you wouldn’t know if the marker was for the fixed bridge…or the low hanging light.

Cat Maudy needs 63’8″ to navigate under the bridges and clear the mast. I dusted off my digital Stanley “measure stick” and began practicing to hit distances 60+ feet above me. We need an accurate read on the bridges to assess if there was sufficient height for clearance.

The first fixed bridge of the day — we came upon nearly at high tide. Pat navigated slowly under the bridge allowing me to do my belly-flop on the bow, and press the “measure” button on Stanley until I could get a read. Luck was in our favor! I got 2 reads on the bridge — both at 62′. Add approximately 4 feet for the bow above the water line — and this gives us 66′ clearance. 2 full feet of glorious room to spare. It was a good start to our day — and we easily cruised under this bridge.

The 2nd bridge we came to — was at lower tide — should be easy to get under eh? Same routine, Captain Pat inched us up to the bridge – and my first read shows 60′. AIIIIIII! My second read – confirms 60′ feet of clearance. Add this to our 4′ from the bow line….and we’ve only got a few INCHES to clear. OMG.

Our travel mates Rick & Linda on MakeItSo – decided to give it a try. I cringed as I watched their mast BARELY clear. This would be painful. With a huge leap of faith, and cheers from the fishermen along the banks near the bridge….Cat Maudy – with only inches to spare…made it under this bridge. My body began to ache from the stress. Hopefully the remaining 7 fixed bridges we would navigate under….would not be this painful.

At this point, MakeItSo takes the lead under the fixed bridges – and we calibrated the remaining bridges based on the clearance that MakeItSo achieved. One bridge was marked as 63 feet — tho actually it had more like 66 feet of clearance. Another was marked at 64 feet….and by now Pat and I were complete basket cases of nerves.

There must be A LOT of car traffic in Daytona FL. Bridges are constructed everywhere.– connecting the mainland to the barrier island. In approximately 5 miles, we encountered 6 fixed bridges. Most of the bridges were excruciating close encounters. My thoughts are focused on getting south of Daytona — so that we would be done with fixed bridges on our travels to Cape Canaveral. Just one more bridge to go.

But wait! We’re being chased by the boat Sheriff! And, this is not just the “Sheriff”….it’s the POO police! Yep, they boarded our boat – to inspect our toilets….to make sure that “bad stuff” did not escape into the waterways. The POO police dropped bright yellow dye into the toilet…and then flushed away. In true Cat Maudy always-in-need-of-repairs form, …the toilet with the fresh dye overflowed all over INSIDE of our boat — spilling the dye everywhere. Oops. Minor detail. I forgot to tell the Sheriff that head doesn’t work.

So, you’re wondering “what about the other working head?” YES, of course we are compliant with POO rules! No yellow dye escaped into the water. By now, Soxy was meowing wildly. Who was this sheriff intruder? If he wants to inspect POO — Soxy has a lovely litter box to demo. Just please keep the dye away thank you. We said goodbye to the friendly poo police in Daytona…..there would be no fining Cat Maudy today. Just another toilet to fix.

Gradually, the currents in the ICW began working against us, and our motoring speeds slowed. We would not make it to our destination at Titusville FL. Instead, we would anchor at Mosquito Lagoon for the night – and enjoy temperatures in the upper 50’s.

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