Today is our last day in Daytona Beach. The 2009 Daytona 500 NASCAR race has been over for almost a month now; the hoard of accompanying stock car fans having all gone back to their normal lives. With them went the lumbering blimps, darting planes and grandiose banners that once filled the daytime skies. Bike Week too has ended, it’s final day being yesterday. Now the town seems eerily quiet without the constant, low-level roar of motorcycle engines rumbling in the distance or the roving bands of bikers, stalking the sidewalks at all hours of the day and night. With their passing, we’ve carefully filed both events away as fond memories of the people we’ve met here and the fun we’ve had while in Daytona Beach. But, rather than being quiet and relaxed, our last day started off with a bang.
The morning began with loud voices and excited conversation outside of our boat. Schooner woke up first and alerted me that something was not right. I got out of bed, threw on some clothes and scurried up the ladder to see what was happening. Boy was I ever surprised when I saw that the boat at the slip behind us was more than half under water. It was still tied to the dock, but it had definitely sunk. I went out onto the T-head and took a closer look and it was clear that the sinking had occurred recently, because there were still air bubbles coming from the seams and joints where the deck assembly joined the hull.
Well, in no time at all, there were people everywhere on the dock. Daytona Beach Fire & Rescue Crew, the Coast Guard, Daytona Police, the Florida EPA, Marina Security, and the usual contingent of spectators had all gathered to stare at, and comment on, what had happened to what was once a pristine 2000 Monterey, Model 296 Cruiser. Salvage people were called, along with the vessel’s owner, and soon they too joined the crowd. Kim and I watched the sideshow for an hour or so, but finally decided to leave, run some last minute errands and let the official types do what was required to get the boat up off of the bottom. So, leaving Schooner on board to guard the boat, we jumped on our bicycles and headed for town.
First on our “to do” list was brunch at HOUND DOGS, Daytona’s best, locally owned, fast food restaurant. Mike and Anne, the owners, were both on hand and in between the steady flow of customers, Kim and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch accompanied by good conversation. With appetites satisfied, we all said our good byes and Kim and I promised to see them again on our way back north.
From HOUND DOGS, we made an ATM run at the bank, went to the local drug store to replenish some first-aid supplies and finally made our way back to the boat. There, we discovered that our sunken neighbors had been raised, floated onto an awaiting trailer and hauled out of the water. The salvage crew, who were still cleaning up equipment on the dock, told us a plastic fitting, (we replaced all of these on our boat with bronze fittings during the first month of ownership) connected to a thru-hull fitting, had failed. Apparently, the overworked bilge pump finally gave out and the result was a sunken boat. We hope the owners have good insurance.
Last thing on the “to do” list was a trip to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club to restock our cupboards. To get there, we took the bus that passes right by the marina, which drops off passengers at a stop between the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. It was a short 12-minute ride to the stop, so in no time at all, we had visited both stores and our shopping was done. Then, it was back to the bus stop (a bus comes by every hour) and another 12-minute ride back to the marina. For $3.00 each, round trip, you just can’t beat the convenience.
With all of our errands complete, we retired to the boat and made ready to leave at first light in the morning. Kim and I are both excited to be moving on south, but sad at leaving Daytona Beach. This is one of the best spots along the ICW and a really great spot to come and spend a day or a month. We’ll both really miss it.