5/24/2000 - First night living aboard
5/25 - 6/01 Unpacking, stowing, running errands.
6/2 - Did nothing. Actually, I set out to replace the gasket on the portlight above Leslie's berth. I broke the glass in the process. We drove into Annapolis to a glass shop to get a new piece cut. It'll be ready on Monday.
6/3 - Washed boat.
6/4 - first day away from dock since we moved aboard. We motored to Big, Flat, & High Islands, about 5 miles from our slip in Galesville. Engine out of alignment. Attempted to align. I'll know tomorrow whether I fixed it. Also tied new exhaust pipe so that it won't knock against the seawater intake.
Anchorage was very crowded, it being Sunday afternoon. Several jet-skis and ski boats were enjoying buzzing the anchorage. It got quiet about 4:30, with just a few sailboats left for the evening.
I just read "Captain Blood"' for the first time. It was a free electronic book that came with the pocket PC. It was strange to read it on the little screen, but it offered the advantage that I could read at night without using any lights, which is a plus.
5-10 kt East wind
Woke this morning to find a Beneteau 40 with his anchor practically in our cockpit. Guess it came in after we went to sleep last night. While I was making coffee, they dragged almost down to the dock at the west end of the anchorage. This was accompanied by some yelling and screaming as 5 men scurried around retrieving the anchor. They then motored on their way.
We got moving shortly afterwards. Our engine vibration is much improved. The depth sounder is also ok, since I adjusted the TVG all the way up. We had discovered that it got flaky when the engine was throttled back below a comfortable idle. Apparently, the vibration was at just the right frequency to confuse the depth sounder.
Back at the slip, we saw George and Brenda aboard Unity getting ready to go out for a few days. She was worried about cooking from cans, and discussed it with Leslie. This led to comparing cookbooks, and Leslie wanted one like Brenda's. Don't know if Brenda wanted one like Leslie's. We added this to our shopping list, along with fluorescent lamps.
Off we went to Fawcetts and West Marine. I also saw the new ICOM M1V handheld VHF. It has Lithium Ion batteries, and claims 14 hours between charges. Just the thing to have in the cockpit cruising down the ICW. Fortunately for the budget, they were out of stock. We got both things on our list, and had sandwiches at Ego Alley in Annapolis for lunch.
Back at the boat, I installed one lamp over my reading spot. I helped Leslie install the other over her reading spot. She's now a marine electrician.
We're both tired, and ready to try out our new reading lights.
The reading lights are fine!
We woke up to a rainy day and found leaks to fix. The starboard prism and foredeck prism both need to be rebedded. The doors at the companionway are letting rain in as well.
Today's our first laundry day, too. I left Leslie at the laundromat to get started, while I picked up the glass for her portlight.
Portlight is now fixed; laundry is done.
Rebedded prisms. Leslie the electrician installed a terminal block under the head sink and cleared out a real rat's nest of old wiring. I took another look at the engine alignment and discovered a broken mount. I'll install the spares when we get back from Savannah. We're driving down on the 9th to clear out the house. It's sold! Good thing we've had so much practice dealing with getting rid of stuff.
Leslie's PEO past presidents' luncheon is today, so we're up and out early. On the way out, Leslie noticed the depth sounder was once more not working. I took Leslie to her luncheon and spent the day running errands while I worried about replacing the instruments. This would require not only buying new instruments, but hauling the boat out of the water, cutting a new hole in the bottom, sealing up the hole for the old depth sounder, going up the mast to replace the anemometer (part of the packaqe), etc. Got home, and while Leslie packed for tomorrow's drive, I trouble shot the instruments. I discovered that the wind speed didn't work either. With that clue, I finally tracked the problems to an internal wire which had pulled out of a crimped lug on the depth sounder circuit board. Boy do I feel good.
Drove to Savannah. We're in a hotel, with a copper telephone line. Here comes a web site update and a bunch of email.
Spent the day with Alice, Connecticut Carroll, and Uncle Duke. We made substantial progress toward clearing out the house.
Same as 6/10.
House is empty. Bud had more work to do, so Leslie, Alice and Carroll took the day off. There are two outlet store malls between Bluffton and Hilton Head (SC), and we could all think of reasons to go. Leslie got four new boat t-shirts, and secured deep-water dockage on the May River for use this fall.
On the way home.
Back from Savannah yesterday. New engine mounts installed. Greased and adjusted seacocks under head sink, to stop them from dripping. Brutally hot and humid [90+/90+]. Leslie is wilting.
Pressure seawater system not working. Found obstruction in intake line. Fixed.
Rebedded leaking chain plate. Leak was into the hanging locker, dampening our good clothes.
Away from the dock! Sailed across the Bay in light winds to the Wye River and anchored in a favorite cove.
At anchor, sharing the cove with several turtles, a woodpecker, a Snowy Egret, Blue Herons, and an eastern Kingbird who likes to perch on our headstay. Swam in the afternoon. Cleaned barnacles off the prop, and vegetation off all through hulls. A 35-foot cabin cruiser with two couples aboard anchored at the other end of the cove.
Woke up and noticed that our neighbors had dragged their anchor all the way across the cove. As we were getting ready to leave, they woke up and discovered their new location. They got themselves off the shore and reanchored. One couple came over in their dinghy to report that they had in fact lost their original anchor.
Waiting for the house sale in Savannah. We're going back to hang around the Post Office and deal with house related paperwork. Motored out to the Eastern Bay and had a really fast exhilarating sail back to our slip. Walked to the post office and retrieved our mail, which we had ordered from the forwarding service a day or two ago.
Discovered some things in the mail that dictated a trip in to Arlington. Oh, well, the transition will be over soon. We needed to go anyway, to put a few small mementos from Savannah into our storage room. Went to Trader Joe's, Bonsai Grill, Saigon Imports to stock up on favorite hard to find foodstuff. Lots of interesting canned goods. Dolmades, lump crabmeat, among others. Paid bills from our first mail packet. Put mementos from Savannah in safety deposit box. Carroll called with details of the furniture move from Savannah.
Errands in Annapolis. Studied lifelines at Fawcetts. Need to replace the old ones before we take off. Bought lifeline cushions. Went to the Annapolis mall, where Leslie bought some items of clothing that she particularly needed. Leslie still has tremors of recollection when she gets close to a mall. It reminds her of work. Went to Home Depot, for an oak plank from which to fashion a new helmsman's seat. Home to boat. Built new helmsman's seat, installed new lifeline cushions. Both great additions.
Finished helmsman's seat. Removed old pedestal base, and let in a small teak patch. Spilled uncatalyzed epoxy on teak deck. Cleaned up mess. Leslie spent day sanding the new seat. Bought cushions at West Marine.
At dock. Leslie wanted to varnish the new bench, but the weather didn‘t allow it. Bud replaced gaskets around the portholes to keep rain and splashing water out. Leslie relocated the radar detector in the nav station, flexing her newfound electrician's skills.
Still waiting around for the house papers, phone calls, etc. Very hot today. Decided on the spur of the moment to anchor a few miles from the slip, which we did. Anchoring generally lets us have more cool breeze than we find tied up at a dock. We were swimming within an hour after leaving the dock, scrubbing the bottom of the boat.
Still at anchor. Raining.
Motored home. House closing delayed until 7/13. Still waiting on the papers I have to sign. Bought line for block and tackle to hoist Bud up the mast. Laundry, grocery shopping, dinner out.
In to Arlington for various errands. Bought a spare alternator. Decided to go anchor in the Choptank River near Oxford, MD, for the 4th.
6/30 – 7/4
Left for Oxford at 9am. Forecasted wind didn't happen. Motored to Trippe Creek and anchored. Swam, watched birds, watched boats. Worked on minor boat projects. One night, listened to an impromptu jazz clarinet concert from a boat anchored nearby.
Left to sail home. There was only enough wind to induce us to hoist the sails. Gave up and motored back to Galesville.
7/6 through 7/10
In Galesville, waiting for papers which the lawyer mailed on 7/3. We used the time as best we could to get more projects done, including upgrading our main anchor rode to chain.
The papers came! Got them signed, notarized, witnessed, and overnighted back to Savannah. We're off for a couple of weeks, until we have to go to Washington for a doctor's appointment on 7/25.
Sailed to Solomon's Island, MD in a 15 knot NE wind. Fast trip. We motored through all of the creeks around Solomon's to see what had changed in the 7 or 8 years since our last visit. It's really built up. We finally anchored for the night in Back Creek, near most of the marinas and shopping.
Got a slip in a marina for the day and night, and made arrangements to receive a fax (damned house). Took care of business, had lunch and dinner out. Renewed our membership at the Calvert Marine Museum.
We filled the tank with diesel and set off for Mill Creek on the Great Wicomico River. No wind. Anchored in Mill Creek. Great spot; rivals some of the best. As best we can remember, not much has changed since we were here in 1991 or 1992. Found and fixed a clogged vent line on the holding tank, which was causing the head to behave strangely. Having a working head and holding tank can be important.
At anchor in Mill Creek. Decided to check engine alignment, as vibration has increased. Thought it might be that the mounts had settled. Discovered the two front mounts were broken. They were an old design. The new spares, which I had just received, came with the information that Volvo had updated the front mounts. Turns out the new ones are the same as the old rear mounts, which have never given any trouble. Spent the day reaming out the holes in the engine brackets to fit the new design mounts and got them installed. Hope this is a longer-term fix.
Spent a rainy day at anchor in Mill Creek.
Left for the Corrotoman River. Alternator is working intermittently. As we were approaching our anchorage we got hit with a tremendous thunderstorm. Winds were in excess of 50 knots. Blinding rain, and hail that hurt when it hit. As we were in a narrow creek and couldn't see either side, we dropped the anchor until the storm blew over, which was only a few minutes. Then we went on around the bend to our planned anchorage. Bud replaced the 9-year-old alternator with our recently acquired spare. Guess our plan for a shakedown summer was wise, since we really haven't used the boat much in the last few years.
Moved from the Corrotoman to Carter Creek, a few miles away on the Rappahanock River.
Sailed to Indian Creek, about 16 miles, in 3 to 5 knot winds. Indian Creek is much more built up since our visit in the early 90's. Discovered marks in our teak decks from the hailstones of a couple of days ago.
Back to Mill Creek on the Great Wicomico.
To Reedville, VA, on the Great Wicomico. Filled up with diesel, bought lunch (great oyster sandwiches), and arranged for overnight dockage at the Reedville Marina. Toured Reedville, saw the Fishermen's Museum, learned about the Menhaden industry and Elijah Reed, the founder of Reedville, and father of the local Menhaden fishery in the late 1800's. Had a great dinner at Elijah's, run by Reed's great grandson.
Back to Galesville. 15 hours under power. Forecasted winds were somewhere else again. Typical of summer on the Chesapeake.
Spent the day relaxing after our long trip yesterday. Picked up the mail. Read. Did some minor grocery shopping.
Leslie caught up on email, and carryover PEO work. We worked on this web page update in anticipation of our trip in to Washington tomorrow, when we will check into a hotel and get to use a real wire phone line again.
Here we are in Washington. We ran lots of errands this morning, including making travel arrangements to go to see our West Coast Dougherty outpost. The next web update will probably happen about 8/12 or so, when we are out there in another hotel.
Log 8/3 - 9/3
It's dangerous to wait a month before updating the log. Our biggest excitements of the month were not boat related. We spent a lot of the month with family members, traveling by air rather than by boat. We went to California to see Ryan, Kim and Bailey. It was so good to see them again, and it was a big thrill for Bud to meet his granddaughter for the first time. He was quite taken with her, and Kim & Ryan are doing well. Dede met us there and came back with us to the boat. She's our first overnight visitor since we moved aboard. She seemed to do alright; she didn’t beg for a hotel room after the first night. The boat didn’t get to go anywhere exciting this month, but we did take it out for two very nice day-sails. One was with Dede and the other was with all of the Conways and Sister and Kay. We spent most of the month with family, and the rest of the month recovering. Not much of our time was devoted to the boat, but we did manage to accomplish some tasks of note, and buy some last minute cruising items. Once again, I'll rely on my memory and our poorly kept task log.
We started off the month tackling two big projects! We installed a wind generator and two solar cells. These two things will provide us with alternative energy. Power tools, refrigeration, and the like are big consumers of the boat’s battery capacity, and with two new ways to recharge the boat’s batteries, we can use the energy we need without having to run the engine to get power. Bought new spare alternator, too, so that when we burn one out recharging the batteries, we’ll have another. It makes me feel like one of those survivalists…. The solar cells were putting out so much sun that day we went sailing with Dede that the voltage regulator on the alternator shut off the alternator, so the tachometer stopped working. Bud installed a separate voltage regulator for the solar cell's output.
Our best improvement of the month has been our new screen doors. The fabric edged screen for the companionway had developed several more rips in it, so it either needed to be fixed or replaced. We had been thinking about replacing it with a solid structure, but hadn't finished thinking it through. Bud accelerated the design process and then built beautiful teak-framed screen boards for the companionway. There are two drop boards, and one big hinged top piece that clamps down to the sliding hatch cover's frame. It's so easy to get in and out quickly, and the screen won't rip like the old one. Not only are they very functional, they look professionally done. I did the sanding, and he did the rest. It took a while, but we can't stop admiring them. Another improvement that we'd wanted to make for some time has been completed. When we went to town for our last dentist's appointment, we picked up some caning from Woodworkers Warehouse, and removed the ugly fake stained-glass window between the main and forward cabins. The caning looks light and airy, increases ventilation, and suits the boat better than the other.
Common wisdom around boat yards is that all boats leak. That’s fine for everyone else, but leaks don’t interest us. We consider rain to be an opportunity to discover leaks; rain manufactures projects for us to do to earn our keep. One day when the rain was really coming down, I noticed a drip of water on the louvered doors of the anchor locker. Turned out the seal between the samson post and the deck had come loose. First, Bud tried recaulking the three seams that can be reached, but the leak didn't stop. The fourth seam is under the bowsprit, and to get to it we'll have to take the bowsprit off. This is a major project, and one that we don't want to be forced to do until we're ready to replace the bowsprit. Parts of it have started to delaminate, but it will be useful for another few years. So instead of caulking the last seam, we've tried GITROT, an epoxy liquid that is squirted into leaks. Kind of like putting oatmeal in the radiator. We'll pour some water on it in a few days and cross our fingers. If it doesn't work, we'll have to perform surgery when we get back to Galesville for the bon voyage party. Bud used this stuff to stop the mystery leak by the aft-most chain plate knee on the port side. He’d been chasing a minor leak there for several years. First we thought it was the port aft chainplate, then thought it was the scupper immediately above the chainplate. The knee kept filling up with water. After eliminating these, he decided maybe there was an attachment screw for the rub rail that penetrated the hull inside the knee and allowed water standing on top of the rub rail to fill the knee. He squirted GITROT into several gaps between the rubrail and the hull, and it seems to have stopped the leak.
The need to replace the two cockpit scupper drain hoses last month had been gnawing at Bud for a while, and he couldn't stand it any longer. He pulled out the batteries so he could reach the starboard seacock end of the last forward hose, and replaced it as well as the hoses for the rest of the scuppers. It wasn't a very hot day, and he claims that it wasn't as bad a job as he feared. While he had the batteries out, he found some more wasted space in the bilge, and is now pondering a way that we could rearrange the battery box so as to turn the space behind them into useable storage space. But that's a project for next year….
It had been on my list since June, and I'd procrastinated because it seemed so unimportant. I added a second coat of white paint to the instrument pod on the steering pedestal. I'm glad I did it, because it looks so much better and it doesn't scold me every time I go by anymore. The other task that I'd been putting off was rebuilding the head. It didn't seem as pressing once Bud found the clog in the vent line, but I'd wanted to do it before we set off for good. Bud disconnected the pump housing from the bowl, and helped me clean it once I'd disassembled it. We greased up all the parts, and had the job done by noon. It doesn't seem as bad a job with two people working on it.
We got over our indecision and had Fawcett's craft some new lifelines for us. Bud finally decided on 3/16" 1x19 rigging wire with swaged fittings. They look great, and seem to be much more practical than the plastic coated kind. Bud replaced the spliced lines on our new green fenders with longer ones, so that we can tie them in more places. We've even found a use for several of the old shorter lines, including giving three to the Conway children and teaching them how to lasso things with their new toys.
Building on the success of our fluorescent reading lights, we added a new one above our berth, just below the forward hatch. It lights up the forward cabin from the head of our 'bed' forward to where our knees rest, and lets us read in bed without burning the hot, energy consuming brass lights. We'll leave them installed, of course, because they're so pretty. I tripped over and bent the pull-ring on the forward-most floorboard, forcing Bud to replace the 1st floorboard handle with the new lock-down kind. It looks great, and the board is secure for when we roll the boat over.
West Marine sends us these monthly dividend checks for spending our money there, and we used seven (7!!) of them to buy new oars. Now we don't have to refinish the old ones. West Marine is the only place that carries the Baja fuel filter, and they ordered one for us.
Since we were losing our cars, we wanted to restock groceries as best we could. After buying the last of our car-trip provisions, I created a database for our provisions' locations on the big computer. When we synchronize that with the pocket-pc, we can keep track of what we're running out of, and where to find the next jar of it. When stock gets low, it can be added to the shopping list. When you're at the store, you can see not only that you need it, but also how much you have left at home. Another domestic task - I finally sewed the black snaps onto the white sheet thingy insert that I made before we moved aboard. This way we can sleep clean for more days between laundry days.
We found a new cushion for our bench that looks much better than the white life preservers. It's an shiny ivory foam slab, and sits better, too. To add a bit more shade over the bench, our plan is to make a lee-cloth type shape that we can lace onto the solar cell bows to serve as a bimini. We bought some sunbrella fabric for the frame at Bacon's, but we haven't sewn it up yet. It should be a simple, but effective, solution. On the same trip to Bacon's we spotted a Luke fisherman's anchor, the kind that Bud's been coveting as a storm anchor for quite a while. We went back the next day and bought it, since it was very heavy and we were going to sell our car that night. Oh yes! An important link to life ashore has been severed. We have sold both cars; our only transportation is our boat.
On a light note, we both have new Tilley hats to protect our necks and faces from the sun, and we've picked up several new cruising books for the ICW and the Bahamas. We're trying to decide how long it's going to take us to get down to Florida, and where we should plan to meet Dede at Christmas, but we can't seem to stick with the research long enough to make a decision. Ah, retirement….
We sat out the Labor Day weekend at Hartges, and adjusted to life without a car. Met Larry and Suzie MacDonald (Kanau), who are in their third year of living aboard along the waterway. Waited two days for the strong NE wind to die down, as we plan to go north to the Sassafras River.
We're off! We plan to spend a day or two in Annapolis. We want to get "Skipper Bob's Guide to Anchorages on the ICW" which was highly recommended by Suzie and Larry, and we need a few screws to finish the screens, so we will get a mooring and walk to Fawcetts.
When we settled onto the mooring, the harbormaster pulled up to check us in. Turns out he’s a live-aboard cruiser. He also recommended "Skipper Bob's". He tried to persuade us to take a mooring for a month for $225 and work for the city to set up for the boat show. Couldn’t entice us. We did end up staying through Sunday morning, just because Annapolis was nice and we could.
We set out early for the Sassafras River. We had gone about 10 miles under power when Leslie went below for a glass of water and returned quickly to report that we had water over the floorboards. We immediately checked the bilge and found it dry. We weren't sinking, but where was the water coming from? It was warm, so we figured it was coming from the engine. We checked all of the hoses, and they were fine. We finally found a crack in the water lift muffler. It was squirting water through an opening into a locker, from which it found its way into the main cabin, wetting our carpet, among other things. We figured Hartge’s was the closest place likely to have a muffler, so we turned around and went back there. We were in luck; they had one in stock. We installed it within a few minutes, and changed the oil since it was time. We also moved several hundred feet of heavy rope that was stowed in the bow into the stern lockers, so we are no longer down by the bow. Tomorrow, we're going to the Magothy River, and then on to the Sassafras.
We left Hartges anticipating that we would be motoring to the Magothy, but when we left the West River, we found light winds on the Bay. We raised the sails and had a slow sail up to the bridge, under which we gibed. The wind picked up as we took up the course for the mouth of the Magothy, so we had a quick trip in. We anchored on the north side of Dobbins Island, a long, narrow island that's mostly one big cliff, 20 ft high. Popular place - we're anchored next to a raft-up of 4 power boaters blasting Jimmy Buffett music for the rest of us to enjoy. I hate Jimmy Buffett music...This is a gorgeous spot, however. The island is too small to have anything on it save one director's chair on the point. It must be there for watching sunsets.
We left the Magothy pretty early - about 7:15 - again expecting to motor for the 35 miles to Georgetown. After about an hour under power, we had enough breeze to sail, although it was directly behind us. We sailed under just the main all the way into the Sassafras, mostly at about 4 knots. We anchored at about 4pm, in a bend of the river opposite R10, tucked in against a high bluff in 10 feet of water about 100 yards offshore. Bluffs are my favorite shoreline characteristic; they offer great protection from the wind and provide great scenery. This bluff was so nice that we stayed for an extra day, but we never got around to going into Georgetown.
We're off to the Corsica River. The Sassafras was very pretty, but we wanted to see our once favorite anchorage at Jacob's Nose. We ran the engine the entire way, as we had no wind to speak of. We found the Corsica mostly unchanged since our last visit a few years ago. The anchorage is just as beautiful as it ever was, but after staying there for a while, we decided that it was no longer our favorite – the one on the Wye River is better.
We spent our time reading and working on minor maintenance projects. We installed three more floorboard latches, caulked a deck leak, and cleaned up our exterior teak.
We're heading back to Annapolis today. We plan to spend a couple of days there, mostly to restock our groceries. We got in, got a mooring and rode the bus to Graul’s supermarket. It's an OK store but didn't have a lot of things that we wanted, so tomorrow, we plan to bus our way to Fresh Fields.
After we took the load of groceries to the boat, we were rowing back to town to treat ourselves to coffee. A couple standing on the seawall at the Naval Academy hailed us to ask if we were liveaboards. We ended up having coffee with them, and learned that he was recently retired from the faculty of Fresno State University. She had grown up in Fresno, so she and Leslie had lots to talk about. They had moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, and were considering buying a sailboat and trying out this cruising thing. Hence their interest in our boat and us. After taking leave of our new friends, we treated ourselves to dinner ashore.
9/19/00 – 9/22/00
We got a rainy, nasty day for the rest of our grocery shopping. We got it done, though. Rode the bus to Fresh Fields and bought what we needed, came back soaking wet and spent a couple of hours putting it all away and updating our inventory system. Later, after the rain let up, we went back ashore for fresh bread and cheese from the city market and minor hardware from Fawcetts. We saw the Baba 35 Timothy Lee from Duluth, MN tied up at Fawcetts and stopped to visit with Len and Jo, who were six weeks out of Duluth, beginning, they hope, a circumnavigation. We talked about how wonderful our boats were for a little while, and learned about a Baba website.
Because of the rain slowing us down we've decided to spend another day in Annapolis and do laundry. I’ve found laundry to be the biggest unexpected nuisance to living aboard. I thought I’d miss nice long showers the most, but I was wrong! Just to make me like laundry even more, we hauled our five loads of wash to the laundromat only to discover that we’d forgotten our soap. Fortunately, they have vending machines in laundromats that sell soap at an incredible markup. Bud bought some packets, and I didn’t ask the price. From now on, I’m in charge of gathering the clothes and he’s in charge of remembering the soap.
All this bus riding, laundry hauling, grocery shopping and errand running wore us out, so we stayed an extra day to play. There are lots of cruising boats in Annapolis just now, because of the upcoming boat shows. Annapolis seems to be a gathering spot of sorts, and is becoming increasingly hectic around the harbor. Even the lady who sold us the bread and cheese was getting ready for the boat shows; it’s a busy time for her too. But if it’s busy there, we need to be elsewhere. We left for Galesville in the morning of the 22nd, and tomorrow we’ll be picked up and taken back to DC for our bon voyage party. We’ll be spending the night at our hostess’ house, and she’s going to let us publish our much overdue web site update.
Those of you who have been to this web site before will notice that we’ve changed the layout a bit. We did it in hopes that it would make it easier for you to follow, but we’d love some feedback. Tell us if you like it; tell us if you’d rather we put something else in the web site too. Hearing from all of you after we publish an update is so much fun.
Gianni and Billy showed up at 2:00 PM to take us to Gail's house for our bon viaggio party. What a wonderful surprise that Gianni came from Milan to see us off!
We got to Gail's in time to upload the web update before the other folks started to show up for the party. We had a wonderful evening visiting with everyone. The Ownbys and the Hatfields drove from Raleigh and Shenandoah, respectively!
We spent the night at Gail's, so that no one had to drive us back at midnight. Midnight! It's been a long time since we've seen midnight. We've become "early to bed, early to rise" people since we moved on the boat.
Gail fixed a wonderful breakfast for us, Leslie took a nice long bath (1 large tub of water is probably a week’s worth for us on the boat) and Gianni and Billy drove us back to the boat. Saying goodbye was difficult.
We stowed our gifts and visited with Bob next door on Persuasion. He gave us a printed copy of the web pages. Now I have to puzzle out why they printed so strangely.
Rained like crazy all day. Bud cleaned and oiled our teak countertop. Bob rapped on the hull late in the day to say goodbye.
Leslie's birthday. More rain! Cleaned and oiled the engine compartment cover. Leslie finished reconstructing her winter sweater, then relaxed the rest of the day to celebrate her 40th. Bud cooked a fine pasta dinner, and cleaned up too!!
A decent day, finally. We filled the tanks with water and diesel fuel, and left our slip, maybe for good. Leslie learned when arranging for fuel that Nan, the lady who has worked in the ships' store, is leaving for Florida on a boat named Redemption on October 15. She said they call their dinghy 'Sin'.
We found no wind on the bay and so had to motor for 4 hours to our favorite cove on the Wye River. Once the anchor was down, Leslie scraped old varnish from the mainsheet blocks, and Bud repaired the cracked rub rail which we had discovered in Annapolis last week.
Spent the day at anchor, enjoying our cove. The cacophony of the geese tells us that fall is here. Leslie finally gets to put another coat of varnish on the helmsman's bench. I install two more floor board latches. We now have six of the seven in place, and have decided not to install one on the lift out board under the end of the sewing machine. The sewing machine is strapped down on top of it, so if we roll the boat, it won't come out. This way, we can lift the machine slightly and slide the panel out from under the machine for access to the storage underneath. If we install the latch, the panel won't slide. Now I just need to install pins in the other ends of the six panels, and that project will be done.
It was cold this morning! Fell into the 40s last night, so we know it's time to move south. Went ashore and hiked some of the trails on Wye Island. We were welcomed ashore by a muskrat having a midmorning snack of acorns on the beach. He grudgingly moved aside to give us room. The Ferry Point trail (new to us this trip) was bordered on both sides by big trees, planted so close together that they practically formed a fence. They shaded a path wide enough for a one lane road. It was reminiscent of the oak alley at Wormsloe, but not quite as grand. Surely it once was a road or driveway, as it is too old to have been built as part of the DNR's effort.
Washed the hull sides from the dinghy, particularly along the waterline. Leslie put a third coat of varnish on the bench and scraped another block. I reglued the loose trim on the refrigerator doors, and cleaned and oiled the rest of the galley counter top. "Our cove" was invaded by two weekend cruisers, and we don't share well with others. It's hard to believe that there's a more beautiful place in the world that we should be leaving to go find. We'll never know until we go look.
Ok, the 'real' world got us again. Property taxes are due by October 5 on the cars that we no longer own. It's October 1, and there's no mail pickup in our favorite cove on Wye Island. Actually, it's more complicated than that. We got the tax bills in our last mail packet last week. They were based on the county's assumption that we would own the cars through the end of the year. Leslie called from somewhere where we had good cell phone service and explained that we didn't own the cars any longer. " No problem," the lady told her," don't pay the bill - we'll send you a revised statement." Leslie gave her our new address, and we thought everything was fixed, 'til we realized that we wouldn't get the statements in time to pay them before the due date. We called the county the next time we had good cell phone service, got the amount of the revised bill, and then realized that we had to find a post office.
So, here we are, anchored off the Strand in the delightful town of Oxford, Maryland, one of Maryland's two official seaports in the 1600's. It still has a post office, but not too much else that it didn't have back then. Actually, we've been here before, and we wanted to come back, to continue our survey of crabcakes. Robert Morris, Jr. who financed the American Revolution, lived in Oxford, in a house that he inherited from his father. Junior invested all of his savings in the Continental Army, not realizing that he had just invented the national debt. The family appears to have fallen on hard times, as his house is now a boarding house. James Michner, who wrote books about people eating, among other things, once said that the Robert Morris Inn had the best crabcakes on the Eastern Shore. We had to check that out.
We decided that the crabcakes were indeed the best we've had.
Still anchored off Oxford. We decided to cover the whole town on foot today. That's not a huge challenge, as the town is probably about a mile square. We bought a set of four wineglasses for Leslie's birthday, and had lunch in a little deli that was quite good. Can't recall the name, but it had a big sign out front that said "for sale by owner." We also replenished the chocolate locker, but it's only Hershey's. Dinner was Gianni Migliorini's cheese smuggled from Italy and the Ownby's wine smuggled from North Carolina. A couple paddled by in a kayak as we were finishing dinner in the cockpit. "Doesn't get any better than this," they offered, talking about the weather. We didn't disillusion them, but we thought, "If only you knew how good it really is."
We made the ambitious journey of about 7 miles to La Trappe Creek, one of the places that we've always wanted to see. It's quite beautiful; we debated over whether to stay tomorrow or go into Cambridge for a night. We anchored for the evening in Sawmill Cove. Leslie broke the middle toe on her left foot while tracking a family of 5 swans through the binoculars.
Made arrangements to pick up Leslie's prescriptions in Norfolk in a couple of weeks, and reserved dock space in Solomon's Island for the weekend so that we can do some serious grocery shopping and a load or two of laundry.
Lethargy wins! We decided to skip Cambridge and spend the day exploring Sawmill Cove on La Trappe Creek by dinghy. We took apples and a thermos of coffee and spent from 8:30 until noon slowly rowing the shoreline, watching birds. The cove is very large, and deep water extends much farther into it than shown on the chart. On future visits, we'll take the big boat well up into the cove.
Spent the afternoon aboard, nursing Leslie's toe and my arthritic back. Definitely time to get further south. Checked out the HF ham radio transceiver, and spent some time listening to short wave broadcasts. It's gotten hot enough today so that I will wait for the promised cooler weather this weekend to install a new antenna for the ham radio.
Plan for tomorrow is to go to Hudson Creek on the Little Choptank River.
We motored to Hudson Creek off the Little Choptank in light, variable winds and fog, which reduced our visibility to about a mile. Hudson Creek is very shallow and open, with low banks and no snug little coves in which to anchor. We're anchored in 7 feet of water about 300 yards from the nearest banks. The fog lifted a little in the afternoon, but it was hazy even as the sun was setting.
The forecast for tomorrow still promises that we can sail to Solomon's Island. Hope that we remember how.
Solomon's Island. Motored with the mainsail up. PATHETIC! When do we get to sail? Anchored with all the other snowbirds. Took apart the sill at the base of the companionway doors, looking for an elusive leak. Found it! Cleaned and caulked. Watched the promised cold front blow in. Discovered the anemometer doesn't work. Worked at Oxford. Something else with which to tinker. Cooked a nice dinner, and opened the second bottle of wine from the farewell party. Wonderful!
Cleaned all connections I could get to on the anemometer. Seems to be working.
We plan to spend the evening getting our act together as far as what we have to do tomorrow and Sunday, as this is our last provisioning and laundry opportunity before we get to Norfolk. That's not far, but we plan to spend a couple of weeks getting there.
Ready to shop! After checking in to Zahniser’s Marina, we planned our day. First stop was a Mobil station, the only place in town that would refill our propane tank. (We carry two 20 lb. tanks aboard, and one of them ran out last night in mid-dinner. Great timing!) After strapping the empty tank to our two-wheeled cart, we walked two miles round trip for this errand. Picked up some M&Ms for fuel, and quarters for laundry.
Next on our agenda was Woodburn’s grocery store, a great place to provision. It has most of the good stuff that we were used to buying in the DC area, and is also a great place to browse. But best of all, they gave us a ride back to the marina with all of our stuff! It seemed like a large order for us; it’s the first time I’ve ever filled a grocery cart. When the boy bagged it, he thought it would be better to use two carts so that the soft food wouldn’t get smashed. But Woodburn’s didn’t have everything , so we planned to head out the next day to finish our list.
After putting half the stuff away, we borrowed two of the marina’s bikes to ride to the nearest marine supply store, but they didn’t have what we needed. Riding through this normally quiet town was a little different this weekend. There was a big two-day festival in town called Patuxent River Appreciation Days, and it drew a large crowd. They even had bagpipers!
Because it was Bud’s birthday, we had a great excuse to splurge and eat at the marina’s excellent restaurant for dinner. Even Bud had dessert!
We had high winds last night. It was really noisy. We walked to Food Lion this morning and bought the rest of our provisions - mainly canned meat. We stopped back by Woodburn's (the store we shopped yesterday) and picked up a few fresh items for tonight's dinner. Based on our progress, decided to stay another night. We didn't finish putting away groceries until about 4:30. We still had to do laundry, plus some boat maintenance. We also wanted to walk around the town a little, and pay a visit to the Calvert Marine Museum. The extra day should see an improvement in the weather, too.
We're still adjusting to how long it takes to get basic tasks, like grocery shopping and laundry done. It took us four days to accomplish these tasks in Annapolis about a month ago, so I suppose we're getting faster. We also bought a lot more groceries this time. We now have enough food aboard so that we're having to invent more storage. On the other hand, we don't know when we'll see another grocery store again. Maybe we don't spend anymore time on a monthly basis doing these things. It's just that the intensity of the experience is greater than it used to be.
Bud spent the morning rebuilding the companionway door sill to stop a leak. We also changed the engine oil and added water to the batteries. We checked the transmission oil. Leslie set up the sewing machine and restitched the leg of her blue jeans. She had used an iron last night in the laundry to dry one of the seams. The iron was apparently too hot, as it melted the stitching. She also tailored her Tilley hat, so it fits her much better. We went to the hardware store for some odds and ends. Leslie got herself a key chain - sized tape measure, which she has wanted for months. She saw one somewhere, failed to buy it, and has regretted it ever since. We went to the Calvert Marine Museum, and to the grocery store one more time! We bought a pork loin to roast for supper. We did a little more laundry that we found when we put away our clean clothes last night. At the laundry, we met a young couple from Rome, Georgia, cruising on a boat with a Savannah hailing port.
The forecast for tomorrow is for more cold weather with blustery winds from the worst possible direction, given that we want to go to St. Mary's City, MD. We decided that we will make one last grocery run in the morning for more fresh blueberries, fill the water tanks, and leave the dock to anchor a few hundred yards up the creek. We're tired of the erratic motion of the boat jerking at the dock in the wind, although shore power for our electric heat has been nice.
We got our blueberries, a couple of loaves of fresh bread, and a couple of bottles of wine. We filled the water tanks, and took off up Back Creek. We dropped our anchor in the midst of all the other snowbirds. The areas suitable for anchoring near any kind of shopping are getting crowded. We wonder if this is what we will find all the way down the waterway.
Up and away! Everyone else left along with us, too, just like geese at sunrise. We've got a perfect forecast for sailing south, of 15 knot west winds. Though there was none on the Patuxent River, we found the wind on the bay and raised our sails. We were flying along on a beam reach at 6 to 7 knots. Finally, we were sailing. It was a little cold, but we were dressed for it, so we figured it was a really good day. After about an hour, the wind had picked up to 15 to 20 knots, and we took the first reef in the main. We made it into the mouth of the Potomac in about 4 hours. Although we had made great time, the wind had shifted to northwest, which is the direction in which we wanted to travel for the next ten miles or so. Oh well, sometimes a less direct route is the best way. We spent three hours beating our way up to the St. Mary's River, and another hour sailing close hauled up the river to our anchorage. It's large and well protected, and would easily accommodate a hundred boats. We shared it with one other boat, so far away that we could barely see it. The snowbirds kept going south, we guess to somewhere not so far off their migratory route.
We spent today visiting St. Mary's City. The archaeological work has progressed to the point of some reconstruction. This was fascinating for us, as we've been here before, starting in 1989. Back then, excavation was the major activity. St. Mary's College has a fine new student center with a Starbuck's and a cafeteria where we stuffed ourselves at lunch.
We checked our log and found that we were last here in 1992, which visit had marked our worst sailing experience to date. We had left for Solomon's Island with a forecast that was worse than the conditions that we observed. By the time we got to the bay, the weather had deteriorated well past the forecast of 15 - 20 knot nw winds to a full gale out of the northwest, which was the direction we were going. After 2 tacks across the bay and back, we decided to retreat to St Mary's. Where it had taken us an hour and a half to reach the bay, it took us 8 hours to get back to our anchorage. We learned a lot of things from that experience, including that the boat could take more punishment than her crew and that it was faster to sail downwind than upwind. We also learned to wait for more favorable weather. Now that we're retired, we do that a lot better than we used to.
Left St. Mary's at 8:30 am. Very light breeze; not enough to sail. Anchored behind Sandy Point in the Great Wicomico River at about 2:30. This was a new anchorage for us, and it was full of spider webs flying through the air from the trees on shore. It was pretty, for a big, open place. Sort of like Horseshoe Bend, where we were last night, but there's more boat traffic in the river, so it's not as calm and peaceful. We played with our old autopilot today. It still works about as well as ever, and was kind of nice when motoring on long straight stretches. We're still trying to decide whether to replace it with a modern one that will steer a course from the GPS.
We had hot water on tap for bathing, since we ran the engine all day - some compensation for not being allowed to sail.
Dividing Creek. Beautiful. Anchored one cove up from Lawrence Cove (unnamed). Great stop, not far off Bay.
Deltaville, Virginia; Jackson Creek. Landed dinghy at public pier and hiked several miles. Post Office, Library, couple of restaurants. Lots of boatyards, little else. Only reason to go would be to get work done on boat. Passed a Tayana 37 aground in the channel on our way out, but they weren’t trying to get her off, so we didn’t stop.
East River, Mobjack Bay. Anchored in Woodas Creek, where we were on 10/13/93. Very pretty river. Quite peaceful. Snow geese; pelicans.
Sailed from mouth of East River all the way to Hampton Roads. Anchored in Mill Creek / Phoebus Channel. This is a readily accessible anchorage from the Bay, and it's pretty well protected, but we found it unattractive otherwise. It is a good place to stop for the evening before going on into Norfolk or Newport News. Our last day on the bay was sort of gray, but at least the sailing was great. The seas were sloppy, and the current opposed us, but it sure beat motoring. We started on a close reach, and moved through beam reach and broad reach to a run. As we were putting the sails away, Leslie remarked that we probably won't do much sailing during the next couple of months. Tomorrow we will see if we can get a slip at the Newport News Municipal Marina. We want to go to the Mariner's Museum, and Leslie thinks she might want (I can't believe it!) a new pair of jeans. We'll probably move to Norfolk on Friday and see about getting our mail and Leslie's prescriptions.
We motored up the James River about 7 miles, and found a spot at the Newport News Municipal Marina. It was a little tricky getting inside, because the current kept pushing us out of the shallow channel. Once there, we got a copy of a tourist map and set out for the museum. After walking about a half a mile, we saw the sign that advertised the museum, saying that it was only 3.5 miles away. It was a long walk. When we were almost there, we saw a side entrance to the park grounds, and ducked in there for the rest of the trip. The park grounds surround a small lake, and have a walking trail through the woods. This beautiful path took us the long way around to the museum, so it was an even longer walk that we expected. Boy, were we hungry!
The Mariner's Museum was worth the walk. They have expanded since Bud was there a few years ago, and their new facility is quite nice. There were displays on nautical exploration, a special display on the Chesapeake, and a wonderful room full of miniature ships. Not just models, but actual working ships. They were fascinating; one man’s life’s work, and they were beautiful. We happened onto a special tour/lecture of the ships given by one of the museum’s staff, accompanied by the builder’s widow.
We moved to Waterside in Norfolk in the morning. We shot a roll of film of the boat at the Leeward Marina from various angles starting at the port quarter working counterclockwise to straight off the bow. We happened to have a slip that gave us pretty good shots. Hope they come out, because our boat looks very different to us since its last picture was made. The film was 4 years past its expiration date; does that really matter?
At Waterside, the municipal marina right on the Norfolk waterfront, we got the same slip that we had the last time we were here, eight years ago. The marina looks the same, but Waterside (and downtown Norfolk) has changed quite a lot. There are very few shops in the Waterside complex. The whole place is full of restaurants and bars. We noticed a Tayana 37, named China Pearl, which was last seen aground leaving Jackson Creek. I spoke to the man about double enders as we were passing by, and told him we had a Baba 35.
We went to the post office to arrange for general delivery service, and went to MacArthur Square Mall. It's huge, and about two years old. This is where all the stores are now that they aren't in Waterside. Leslie got her blue jeans and we had lunch at Nordstrom. We stopped by W. T. Brownley Co. (nautical instruments and charts) to get a coast pilot for our trip south, and ran into the folks from China Pearl. We chatted for a few minutes and introduced ourselves. They are Jan and Mike Hilley. We saw them again on the dock, and they introduced us to Tim Orton and Dot Skelly, who are going south on China Doll, a Tashiba 36 (a newer version of our boat). We had a tour of the Tashiba, and it does indeed bear a strong resemblance to the Baba. We all ended up going out to dinner together at La Galleria, where we had eaten last time we were in town in 1993. The waiter got some salad dressing on Jan's blouse, and she was quite annoyed. She said, "this was almost clean when I put it on. I was planning to wear it several more days." Maybe only a boat dweller could really appreciate the humor in that. Then everyone toured the Play Actor, and welcomed us to the group of " homeless, unemployed, liveaboard scum" (their term).
We walked out of the newly redeveloped downtown area, and found the Norfolk that we remembered. It was still a little run down. Got Leslie's prescriptions and a few groceries. After dropping that stuff off, we went to Nauticus. It's a big, hands-on type museum, and is clearly designed for children. Since we had just been to that fine museum in Newport News, this was not worth the money. Dinner with Mike, Jan, Dot, and Tim at Harry's BBQ on Granby. We're getting evicted tomorrow, as the marina is completely booked for the wine festival, so we will all anchor across the river for Saturday evening.
Moved to the anchorage. Fixed HF antenna. Mike and Jan came by and invited us to cocktails at 5 aboard China Pearl. Tim and Dot were there, as well as Bill and Barbara Crosby from Fox Aquila. Bill is a retired eighth-generation boat builder from Cape Cod. His family built the Crosby cat boats. Barbara had been a cruiser with her first husband, and had been a solo liveaboard cruiser after he died. She has two Atlantic crossings to her credit, and she and Bill have lost count of their ICW trips.
Peaceful evening at anchor.
China Pearl and Fox Aquila left this morning for Elizabeth City. We did some house cleaning until noon, when we and China Doll moved back to the marina to finish our errands. Leslie borrowed baking powder from Dot and made cornbread. We did laundry and went back to Harry's on Granby Street for fried fish.
Dot and Tim came by for cocktails and cornbread.
Hope our mail comes tomorrow. We're itching to get on our way.
No mail. Leslie called the folks at St. Brendan's Isle and found out that they couldn't get into their building on Friday, so didn't send any mail out. She arranged to have it sent to Elizabeth City instead, so we are now free to leave. Dinner with Dot and Tim at Nordstrom. Evening with them aboard China Pearl. Their friends, the Vuich's, were waiting for them when we got back. They are former cruisers and were quite entertaining company. We took our leave at about ten, as we plan to leave for the Dismal Swamp Canal tomorrow.
Off we go to explore places that we haven't seen before. It was exciting to enter the Intracoastal Waterway at mile marker 0, after wanting to see the waterway for so long. We joined a parade of boats that had obviously timed their departures around the draw bridge restrictions on the Elizabeth River, as we had. We just followed the parade through both Jordan Bridge and Gilmerton Bridge, listening on the radio but having no need to call the bridges ourselves. Most of the parade went on toward Coinjock (Virginia Cut Route). We turned off to take the Dismal Swamp Canal Route, a more scenic but less reliable route. It's only open if the water level at Lake Drummond, VA, is high enough. To get there, we entered Deep Creek, where I was so busy avoiding construction at the entrance that I grounded us hard on the shoal making out from the north shore. I was so surprised that I reacted incorrectly and got us stuck solidly. As we were launching the dinghy, a couple in Tantara happened along and took our halyard and heeled us over, so we were able to power off. Back on our way, paying a lot more attention to the depth, we made it to the Deep Creek Lock at about ten, and anchored to wait for the 11 o'clock opening. We locked through uneventfully, after being raised up nine feet, and started through the canal. We dragged bottom between miles 12 and 13, but not hard. After mile 13, we began to regularly strike submerged logs and stumps. Erie feeling, but no problem with our well protected prop.
We reached the North Carolina Welcome Center about three to find the dock full. It's the only Welcome Center in the US that serves visitors arriving from either boat or car, so it has both a dock and a parking lot. We rafted alongside a Kady Krogen 42 named Interlude, whose owners were former sailors. We had a very quiet, peaceful evening. We were away the next morning at about 7:15 and made the South Mills draw bridge by about 8:00. We tied up along the wall and waited for the lock tender to come open the bridge. Once through the lock, we motored down the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City. The canal through the cypress swamp was pretty, but the river was absolutely beautiful. We tied up at the Elizabeth City municipal dock at about 12:30 and started immediately for the post office, where we found our mail. Nothing too exciting there. We had lunch in a little bakery/deli, and spent the afternoon relaxing. Elizabeth City is famous among the cruising community for its hospitality, which includes a welcoming wine and cheese party every night with roses for the ladies. At 5, the famous Fred Fearing, whose brainchild this party is, hosted the gathering, which was quite nice. We met the folks from the other boats, as well as Fred and two of his co-hosts, John and Lou, who came here as cruisers 10 years ago and stayed. We had dinner out at the Cypress Creek Grill and turned in early.
Spent the day walking around. Ran into Fred Fearing on our way to the grocery store, and he took us to his house at 109 East Fearing Street to show us all of his antiques and mementos of Elizabeth City. His family have been here for a long time, it seems, as one of the streets in town bears his name. He entertained us for an hour or so, and then got busy preparing for the cocktail party. He had gotten a phone call from the South Mills lock keeper advising him that 30 boats were on their way. We went on our way and got our grocery shopping done. During the afternoon, I discovered that our depth sounder had quit working. I spent the afternoon tinkering with it and tore myself away for the wine and cheese party, but couldn't really enjoy it. I left Leslie to fulfill our social obligations and went back to the boat to work on the sounder. I finally isolated the problem to one printed circuit board, but was unable to get farther with the information (no schematics) and instruments I had. It's 21 year old technology anyway. Time for new instruments, but where to find them? I decided to go for a simple digital sounder and forget about wind instruments and the knotmeter. We never used them anyway, except occasionally out of curiosity.
Walked across the bridge to the Pelican Marina and found exactly the depth sounder I had picked out of the West Marine catalog. It was the only one of any kind that they had in stock. Spent another couple of hours running between hardware stores for odds and ends needed to complete the installation. Got it in and working, thank goodness. The prospect of navigating hundreds of miles of shallow, winding channels with a leadline was daunting.
Leslie has come down with a cold, and the wind is blowing like crazy, so we will probably stay here until Sunday morning.
Well, we're still in Elizabeth City. The weatherman got us again. The forecast was really nasty, but it was changed during the day to match Monday's which is decent. Everyone here is getting anxious - we're all gypsies at heart, and it's time to move on.
Went to the S&R grocery store to pick up some last minute things. Took a trip back to the 50's. No bar codes, no computerized cash registers, no debit cards, and no out of state checks. We paid cash. We also got trading stamps!
Wally and Jane Jansen from Salty Dog asked us and two other couples to join them in taking Fred Fearing out to dinner, which we did. One of the other couples was from Massachusetts on a trawler - can't remember their names. The other was Bill and Betsy Morse from Shadow. Turns out Betsy is a UF grad - '73, I think it was.
Also discovered at the cocktail party that Steve Craig (Carnival) who we first met when he was temporarily in George and Brenda's slip at Hartge's is a ME from UF, class of '69. Bud hadn’t known either one of them then, but they had mutual friends.
We're away. Left with a whole crowd at 6:20, just at first light. Had a rip roaring motor sail across Albermarle sound. It was a little rough from several days of high winds, but at least we had following seas. Anchored in the Alligator river at about mile 102. Depth sounder is great.
Baths, big meal. Fresh rutabagas in the pressure cooker. Ready to read for an hour or two. Checked depth sounder so that I could rejoice over my good luck, and the thing had stopped working. So much for relaxing. Tore it apart, thought the transducer cable might be broken - almost cut the molded connector off. Glad I didn't, as I eventually discovered the cable was good. In desperation, I removed the transducer, which I had glued into the hull with silicone. Hung it directly into the water, and it worked fine. Clearly, the silicone's sound transmission properties changed as it cured. Worried about this during a fitful night's sleep.
Gave up trying to sleep at 5 am. Got up, dressed, taped depth sounder transducer to the old boathook from the Fusdat, and tied it over the side. Works as long as we go slowly, but looks a little strange.
Went into the River Forest Marina where we were second class citizens because we were not staying there. Finally got diesel and left, with little help from the staff. Went to Pungo Creek and anchored to work on the depth sounder.
Bud was pretty discouraged with cruising that afternoon. Being cold, tired, hungry doesn't help anyone's morale. He ground a flat, smooth surface inside the hull where he had mounted the transducer before. Mounted it again with just a dab of silicone. Works perfectly. If it holds up for more than 4 days, we'll permanently install the cable - again. Maybe we will find warmer weather before something else breaks. Leslie says cruising still beats working, but right now Bud’s not sure.
From Pungo Creek to South River off the Neuse River. Nice, quiet anchorage with no other boats. Rerouted cable from depth sounder. Discovered leak in cooling pump on engine. Thought it was gasket on seawater pump cover plate - replaced gaskets, impellers, and seawater pump seal with old seal from the mystery pump in spares locker. Didn't stop leak. Figure it's the cam screw.
On to Beaufort, NC, where we took a slip at the town dock, figuring that it would be easier to do this serious repair job if we had easy access to land. As we called the docks on the radio, Salty Dog heard us. Turned out they had spent last night in Oriental and were 5 minutes behind us, although neither of us knew that until we broke radio silence. They wound up a couple of slips over from us. Went to Town Creek Marina looking for seals for pump. Can't quite figure out which ones to order. Tore down pump, sealed cam screw. Now it's leaking fresh water, at too high a rate to ignore. Dinner out with Wally and Jane, who reminded us that cruising is just doing maintenance work in exotic places.
Back to Town Creek Marina, where we ordered 8 of each of the possible 2 part numbers. We figure one or the other has to fit. They'll be in tomorrow, and I'll tear into the pump again. I’m still not sure this beats working, but it's at least close to a tie. We're staying another night to get the seals and fix (I hope) the pump. Beaufort is a really nice place, and it's warmer. Washed the boat, oiled more of the interior teak. The docks offer a courtesy car, which we borrowed with the crew from Salty Dog to go to a distant grocery store and a hardware store. Leslie did laundry, in what she declared to be the best laundromat so far. After cocktails on Salty Dog, Mike and Elizabeth Ownby called to say that they would be driving down from Raleigh to see us tomorrow.
It seems that most mid-size towns on the water have their own small maritime museum, and Beaufort is no exception. We toured this one in the morning while we waited for both the parts and the Ownbys to arrive. Both were scheduled to be here around noon, and both were on time. After Mike took Bud to pick up the parts, we all ate, then Leslie and Elizabeth went shopping, and Mike kept Bud company while Bud fixed the cooling pump on the engine. Success!!! Another dragon slain.
We tripped ourselves up this time. Knowing that we would have to wait for the engine parts, we asked the accountant to send some papers to Beaufort (overnight, for Saturday delivery). On late Saturday afternoon, we all found out the Federal Express doesn't make Saturday deliveries to Beaufort. Thankfully, there are worse places to be stuck. We'll enjoy Sunday and Monday, and take off south on Tuesday.
11/5 & 11/6/00
Bid a fond farewell to Salty Dog on Saturday morning, and spent much of the afternoon at the museum library, where they had all the current sailing magazines on hand. After dealing with the papers on Monday, we took one final tour of the town, including the original cemetery, and went back to the museum's library.
Up and away early. Expecting to stop in Swansboro for the night, but wishing we could go farther. Problem is that the next possible anchorage beyond Swansboro at Camp LeJeune is too shallow for us to get into, according to the cruising guides. Arrived at Swansboro at about 11 a.m. Anchorage looked ok, but it really seems too early to stop. Checked the tides at the basin at Camp LeJeune and discovered that we would be entering at high tide and leaving 2 hours after. Decided we could get in and out with care. As it turned out, we got there two hours before high tide and found 8.4 feet in the entrance channel, where the guide had indicated 4.5 at mean low water. Nice anchorage. More Canadian boats than US.
From Mile Hammock Basin to Wrightsville Beach. Thin water going in around G19, G20. Had to try three times to get the anchor down. 1 Drag, 1 too close, 1 ok. Phone rang during this exercise. Checked voice mail. Wally called to tell us that if we ever got the anchor down, to call them. Turned out they were anchored maybe 1/4 mile from us. He said if we came over in the morning, he'd give us a tide and current software package.
Got the program from Wally. Filled up with diesel at Seapath Yacht Club. As we pulled out into the Cape Fear River, we noticed a boat circling near the first channel marker. When we drew even with them, they called for help on the radio. When we asked what was wrong, they said they didn’t know where to go next. We established that they wanted to go south on the waterway, so we told them to follow us. Lost Boat followed us down Cape Fear River and beyond. Tough time through Lockwoods Folly Inlet. 6.3 ft near R48 at mid tide. Anchored with Lost Boat in mouth of Shallotte River. He dragged at slack low (around midnight), spending the rest of the night far up the river. Talked to Wally on VHF. Salty Dog stopped at Holden Beach Marina. We plan to meet at Barefoot Landing tomorrow.
We went through Shallotte Inlet at slack before ebb. 14 ft on red side of channel; why did we worry? Rafted to Bonnie Winds at Barefoot Landing with John and Bonnie Anderson. Two Canadian boats rafted outside us. Lunch at Mad Boar, recommended by Mike and Elizabeth Ownby. Salty Dog showed up midafternoon. Dinner with Wally and Jane at Umberto's.
Salty Dog left before we did! We went down into the Waccamaw River, where we anchored for the night in a beautiful cypress swamp.
We had a leisurely morning watching woodpeckers, then went on to Georgetown. Anchored, walked around. Found espresso cups in antique store. Saw Neil and Stephanie from Rhapsody - part of the Elizabeth City bunch. They had come all the way from Little River, trying to go all the way to Charleston tomorrow. Bought two books at Harborwalk books, a neat little bookstore that had a small, superb selection. We decided to stay another day, because we liked the town so much. The town is just the right size for exploring on foot.
Bud got a haircut, then we walked around town, looking at old houses. Bought bread at the Kudzu Bakery. Saw rice museum and maritime museum, which only contained the remains of the "Brown's Ferry" vessel - the oldest known vessel in N. A. (early 1700's, 50ft coastal freighter). Had lunch at Thomas' Café, which featured good gumbo, plus a $5.50 lunch special of fried chicken and three vegetables - good eatin'. Bought rubber baking dishes, so now I have no excuse not to bake bread. The Canadian boats that were rafted to us at Barefoot Landing showed up this afternoon. They came all the way in one day. When we see someone else making such good time, it makes us feel like it must be time to move on. Telling ourselves that it’s not a race is the next step, but we don’t always believe it.
Woke to a nice morning that suddenly changed into a gray, rainy day in Georgetown. Lots of NW wind - forecast of 15 to 20 knots. Generally unpleasant, although with the wind shift, I can smell the paper mill, which I like. While waiting on slack before ebb to give us a favorable current for the ride down Winyah Bay we debated staying versus going, as I was worried about our planned anchorage in the South Santee River. It would not provide much shelter in a NW wind. Wanderlust prevailed, and we left at about 10:30. The South Santee did indeed look pretty unpleasant, so we kept going. We thought about McClellanville, but the channel looked pretty tight - nowhere to anchor, and the marina didn't have enough water at the docks. On to Awendaw Creek, which we had planned for tomorrow night. Wonderful anchorage. Deep, wide entrance leading to 12 foot mlw basin, well off the waterway, but only 5 minutes away. Right in the middle of the Cape Romaine wildlife refuge. Disappointed that I can't spend the night in the river where my folks' ashes were scattered, but maybe next year. This will put us into Charleston a day earlier, which will be fine.
In Charleston. Signed up for two weeks at City Marina. The porpoises played with Leslie several times today. One pod nudged the boat, we think. Temporary stupidity – ate dinner at KFC.
11/16/00 – 11/25/00
What a great city to enjoy! If only it were warmer, it’d be perfect. After a couple of days of running errands and doing laundry, Bud’s sister came to join us for two days. She gave us a quick course on how to be tour guides in Charleston, because Mom and Alan were coming to spend the week of Thanksgiving with us. She walked us around downtown a bit, sharing her knowledge of the city, and drove us out to the Citadel. We sat in the car waiting for the weekly parade of cadets, but they must have called it because of the rain.
She also drove us out to Magnolia Plantation; you can’t get there without a car! The main attraction was the swamp garden, through which they’d built a wooden walkway. After seeing so many cypress swamps from the water, it was neat to walk through the center of one. It was too cold, however, for the alligators to come out to play. Instead we saw lots of birds and floating islands. These islands float around attracting vegetation until they grow large enough to put down roots. A bunch of these had been blown to new locations during the last big hurricane.
Alice left Sunday, and Mom & Alan came in on Monday night. Mom came with a large box full of my favorite items from Trader Joe’s! Since then, we have toured the town and enjoyed one another’s company. Bud fixed Thanksgiving dinner on the boat; a roast pork loin, red potatoes, and rutabagas. Not a traditional feast, but a good one!
After touring the Charleston Museum, which is the first city museum in the nation (1773), we toured two of the museum houses that they have here. One of the most interesting things to do here is to walk around and look at the architecture. Most of downtown Charleston is residential and old, so it’s great visual stimulation. The city also has an outdoor market that runs all the time, so Mom and I had to spend an afternoon looking at that. After we were sure that we had our bearings, we all took a carriage ride through the city, so we could hear a professional guide tell us about the places we’d seen. She was pretty good, even though she was from Ohio, not Charleston. We’ll be in Charleston until at least 11/29, and then we’ll keep going south.
Carol and Alan left. Leslie did laundry. I installed the Link 2000. Dinner with Bill and Bessie at French restaurant on Broad Street.
Charleston to Ashepoo River anchorage. Beautiful spot just north of channel against the shore.
Beaufort with Bill and Bessie on Shadow. Walked all through town; looked at houses. Very pretty. Wine with Bill and Bessie on Play Actor.
Beaufort to Bluffton. Saw bald eagle at Pinckney Island. Power line across the May River scared us to death. Although the chart promised that our mast would clear it, it surely looked low. John Mew, our host in Bluffton for the next few days, hung a banner on his dock so that we could identify it. We saw John's "Don't Tread on Me" banner from Palmetto Bluff, about 1.5 miles away.
In Bluffton. We went to a Church bazaar and the Christmas parade, which was most entertaining. Dooley brought his boys over to visit for the afternoon. We spent a delightful evening with John, Kathleen, Kay and Alice.
A rainy and bitter cold day. Even had some sleet. Cancelled plans to go to Thunderbolt with Alice and Kay as passengers. We'll try tomorrow. Drinks at Carolyn and Billy Bremer's, just down the river from John's and Kathleen's.
Left John and Kathleen Mew's at about 8:30 am. Ice on dock and deck. Carolyn Bremer came out on her dock to see us off, in spite of the thirty degree temperature. Alice and Kay came with us. They were real troopers - stayed above deck to see the sights the whole time, although it was cold. It was a beautiful, clear day. Stopped at Tidewater Boat Services. Dinner at Harris's.
In Savannah with Alice. Shopping. Dinner at Zanzare's(?) in Sandfly.
Ice on deck again. Thunderbolt to Kilkenny Creek. Felt like I should be going much faster, as the last time I made this run was at 30 knots in the Fusdat, 30 plus years ago. It's somewhat more developed now. Crossed Moon River(in style). Fell in with Baba 40, OZ. Spoke with him on the radio after I heard him tell the bridge tender that he used to hunt on Skidaway. OZ called on the radio as we turned into Kilkenny Creek. They are planning to spend a couple of days at Cumberland Island and thought maybe we could visit somewhere down that way. Anchored in Kilkenny Creek, about a mile past the edge of the ICW chart. Beautiful spot. Cold night, but warmer than last night.
Kilkenny Creek to Crescent River. Dolphins jumped just below the bowsprit to entertain Leslie. We followed another lost boat, which we dubbed "Richochet", based on his style of navigating. He bounced from one side of the channel to the other. This worked better in narrow channels. When he got out into Sapelo Sound, he ran aground about 1/2 mile outside the marked channel. We called him on the radio and offered help, but he wanted to wait for the tide. We anchored in the Crescent River, again about a mile off the ICW strip chart. We watched a heron fishing, and saw a wild boar as well.
Anchored in Frederica River just off Fort Frederica. We visited this spot by car about 12 years ago with the children. As soon as we got the anchor down, Leslie asked if I had thought 12 years ago that we would one day be anchored here. I think I did - at least I know that I hoped we would be. This is a truly beautiful spot. The north entrance from the waterway had about 8 feet at dead low tide, and the rest of the way was deep. We're finally not cold anymore!
We left the Frederica River at high tide, and we found some pretty shallow spots, particularly just before it rejoined the waterway. We might not have made it out of the south entrance at dead low. We passed by Jeckyll Island, and saw the cupola that was part of the suite we stayed in during that same trip with the children, years ago. There was a brass telescope up in the cupola then, and I remember looking at the passing boats from up there with Ryan and Dede. We found very shallow water - less than 7 feet - in the Cumberland River at the downstream end of the Cumberland Dividings. We anchored for the night off the Sea Camp dock at Cumberland Island, where we indeed found the Baba 40, Oz.
We went ashore at the Sea Camp dock and checked in with the ranger. We then hiked the trails, gawked at the remains of the Carnegie mansion at Dungeness, and strolled up the unspoiled beach, admiring the astonishing array of shells at the high water mark. We discussed the futility of trying to collect sea shells, when each new one is prettier than the last, and decided that they are best admired in situ.
We rowed back to the boat for lunch, and visited with the man on Oz from the dinghy for a few minutes. After lunch, we went back to the island and hiked north, up past Greyfield Mansion, once a Carnegie retreat, now a resort. When we got back to Play Actor, Leslie composed the following ditty to remind us of all we had seen.
Cumberland island Christmas
12 boats a-boating
11 gulls a swooping
10 trails for hiking
9 roosting buzzards
8 wild horses
7 other hikers
5 skittish deer!
4 park employees
3 wild turkeys
2 lonely squirrels
And a woodpecker in an oak tree.
We were fogged in this morning. At about 1pm it had cleared somewhat, so we moved 5 miles farther south to Fernandina Beach, Florida. As we filled up the diesel and water tanks, we finally got to shake hands with Steve, from Oz. They tied up at the marina for laundry and shopping. He recommended two anchorages north of Saint Augustine - the Fort George River, and Pine Island. We decided to anchor off the town of Fernandina, and visit it another time, in spite of a strong recommendation from our friends Wally and Jane on Salty Dog, and the intriguing characterization of the town as "Florida cracker meets San Francisco" by Bill and Bessie on Shadow.
After studying the charts and tide tables, we decided to take Steve's suggestion on the two anchorages between here and Saint Augustine. That will not only make it an easy trip; it will also take us through the shallow spots during high tide.
We were fog bound again until about 9 am, at which time we left for the Fort George River. The fog gave way to cloudy skies, and then the sun finally broke through. For the first time since Halloween, we opened the hatches and put in the door screens. This must be Florida! We dropped the anchor at about 1 p.m. It's another beautiful spot, (never stop in ugly spots) right in front of Fort George Plantation. Oz pulled in at about 2, and soon three more boats joined us, but it was not crowded. The sun teased us on and off all afternoon, and when it set, provided us with our first pastel Florida sunset.
12/13 - 12/20/00
On our way to St. Augustine, we passed through a dredged canal lined with houses and docks that were obviously participating in a contest to see who could come up with the best (tackiest ?) Christmas Decorations. Leslie borrowed Bessie's idea, and characterized this as "Florida Cracker meets Lillian Vernon."
We're in St. Augustine at the city marina. This is a laundry stop, so we were planning for two days. On the second day, the forecast was for a couple of unpleasant days to come - cold and blustery. We have plenty of time to get to Melbourne, where we are going to meet Dede for Christmas, and the marina offers a 50% discount for a weekly rate. They were kind enough to give us a retroactive weekly rate, so we will enjoy St. Augustine for a few more days. The folks in the next slip, aboard Prime Interest, from Toronto, have a rental car, and generously let us go grocery shopping with them. They also had us over for cocktails, and we all went out to dinner at Columbia - a fine old St. Augustine spot.
We went walking one day and found the San Sebastian winery, where we had a tour and a tasting, and bought a few bottles of "not too bad" Florida wine. We shared a couple of bottles with Mandy and Harry from Prime Interest, and Mandy fixed pizza for dinner.
Spice Island Lady tied up on our other side. Lynn and Lois are on their 7th ICW trip. During a sabbatical some years back, they had also cruised the South Pacific. We all had cocktails on Prime Interest. Lois cut Leslie's hair the next day and did a first rate job. This is a relief, as Leslie needed a trim and was beginning to snip at her own hair. When she does this, the parts that she can see and reach get shorter and shorter. Anyhow, the haircut was a good trade for the loan of a few critical tools that Lynn needed.
We set a record low this morning in St. Augustine of about twenty-five degrees. Having done our job of attracting record low temperature, we moved on. We pushed 50 miles farther south and anchored for the night in Daytona, where we also brought record low (freezing - 26) temperatures.
We made another 50 miles, and anchored off the Titusville City Marina. This looks like it would be a good place to pause for a few days, although the anchorage is a little open to the north and east.
We had an easy 40 mile day to Melbourne, where we anchored south of the bridge. The temperature is pleasant, finally, with lows around 60 and highs around 70. We are less than a mile from the marina where we will spend the holiday week with Dede, but we are enjoying being at anchor in pleasant weather for a change. We decided to wait until Christmas Eve to tie up to a dock again.
Into Melbourne Marina. This is a really nice place.
Merry Christmas! We hiked to the Melbourne Airport and picked up our rental car. With wheels and no agenda, we did a lot of sight seeing. We rode to Vero Beach, to look at the municipal marina. Leslie spotted Mandy, in the midst of cleaning up after a potluck Christmas dinner. We ended up going back to Prime Interest for cocktails with Mandy and Harry and Garreth and Carol from Concert, fellow travelers since Elizabeth City. The weather is warm and pleasant. We drove home to wait until midnight, when we will drive to Orlando to meet Dede.
12/26/00 - 1/1/01
Dede arrived safely early this morning (12/26) after typical peak season travel delays. We spent the holiday week relaxing and visiting with Leslie's Uncle Bruce and Aunt Joan. We bought ourselves a 2 hp outboard to power the dinghy, so rowing is no longer mandatory.
We discovered that we were solidly aground in our slip. We had to take a line from a piling to one of our sheet winches to pull ourselves out. We had a pleasant trip to Vero Beach. We picked up a mooring and dropped the dinghy. We found Mandy and Harry, and learned that everyone was still here. The unusual weather has caused a traffic jam of boats south of here. There hasn't been a good weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream for several weeks.
1/3/01 - 1/13/01
We really like Vero Beach. The weather is pleasant, although cold, and the community is friendly to cruisers. The city has free bus service, so it's easy to do shopping and laundry. Bruce and Joan drove down for dinner one night. It's as close for them as Melbourne was. We met the folks on Kismet, with whom we've had a waving acquaintance since Charleston. Kismet is a Union 36, a Bob Perry design contemporary with and similar to Play Actor. All of our friends are leaving. We decided to stay a couple of days longer.
We started moving again. We're anchored south of Causeway Island at the Fort Pierce inlet. We've decided to avoid shallow water and drawbridges for a while by going out into the ocean. Meanwhile, we're surrounded by little fishing boats. The weather is sunny and warm, and this is a great spot.
We got up early this morning, planning to go offshore to Lake Worth Inlet. While we were listening to the weather, fog closed in around us. We decided to wait until tomorrow. The forecast is generally better anyway.
Up and away at dawn. We just made it into the ocean before the fog closed in behind us. For most of the morning, we motorsailed in and out of fog banks. We had a sloppy ride to Lake Worth inlet, where a cruise ship named Palm Beach Princess followed us in. We anchored just inside the inlet, off Palm Beach, had dinner, and crashed.
We left Lake Worth at dawn. Today the ocean is much more attractive, but there is not much wind, so we are still motor sailing. We heard Prime Interest on the radio, talking with Bahati, their mooring mate from Vero Beach. We gave them a call, and discovered that they were now behind us, having stayed on the waterway to Lake Worth and spent a few days there. They are planning to stop tonight in Fort Lauderdale and go on to Miami tomorrow. We are a few miles ahead of them, and are determined to make Miami tonight.
At 6 pm, we passed the Miami sea buoy as the sun was setting. We worked our way to a quiet spot north of Venetian Causeway and anchored in the dark.
1/17/01 - 1/31/01
We woke up this morning looking at the time and temperature sign on a bank in Miami Beach that advertised a current temperature of 72 degrees. We're warm again! We moved to an anchorage off the Miami Yacht Club, where we ran into Neil, from Rhapsody, one of the boats that was with us in Elizabeth City. He told us about shopping , etc., and said they had been here for two weeks. We dinghied in to Miami Beach and walked around for a while. When we got back to the boat, we found Prime Interest and Bahati anchored nearby.
We thoroughly enjoyed Miami and Miami Beach. We spent a good bit of time at the Miami Yacht Club which is most hospitable to cruisers. We were a thirty minute dinghy ride from South Beach, which offers virtually everything one could want, including great people watching. The weather was wonderful. We spent one Sunday afternoon at the art deco festival with Harry and Mandy (Prime Interest), Bob and Karen (Bahati), Ray and Kayla (Kismet), and Lynn and Lois (Spice Island Lady). We discovered that the Hotel Leslie was for sale, and everybody thought that we should buy it. No one, however, wanted to give up cruising to run it, so we settled for a few postcards instead.
Carroll (Connecticut Carroll) came to Miami on business and was able to spend an afternoon and evening with us, checking out a day in the life of yacht bums.
We rented a van one day with Prime Interest and Bahati and drove to Key West, which was interesting, but didn't really look like a compelling place to take the boat. We also rented a van one weekend with the same folks and ran various errands, including a trip to West Marine in Fort Lauderdale, where we picked up inflatable life vests that include harnesses to keep us on the boat in heavy going. We also bought a satellite emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), which, when triggered, transmits an SOS, including our identity and location within a few feet. The signals are relayed by satellite to a search and rescue coordination center in minutes. We're ready for anything now, if the weather would just settle down enough for us to cross the Gulf Stream in comfort.
It looks as if the weather will cooperate this evening. The northerly winds have been gone for a day or so, allowing the seas in the Gulf Stream to settle. We went in to South Beach for one last Cuban sandwich and a few groceries. We topped off the water tanks, and took showers at the yacht club. Bahati left at 4 p.m., while Prime Interest plans to leave with us at 1 a.m.
We went to bed early last night and set the clock for midnight. We got the anchor up at about 12:45 a.m. And motored out of Government Cut with Prime Interest slightly ahead of us. There was a very light south wind, so we raised the mainsail for stability. We found the stream almost immediately after passing the Miami sea buoy, and had to steer at about 130 degrees to make good a course of 99. This reduced our velocity made good toward Bimini to something around 4 knots, although we were making close to 6 knots through the water. The 42 miles to Bimini suddenly looked like a long way. The seas, at least, were quite peaceful. As dawn approached, the wind and seas picked up a little, so that, with the staysail up, we were able to make a little better time. We finally saw Bimini at about noon, and by 2:30, we were waiting off the range to let Prime Interest go in first, since they draw less water and the channel has supposedly shoaled. We made it through the channel with water to spare. Bimini is a great place - all the people who pass it up because it's too shallow are really missing out. At half tide, the shallowest spot we found in the entrance channel was about 7 feet, and that was just a narrow patch. We pulled in to the Bimini Blue Water Marina and took a slip for $30 per night. The water is so clear that it's like being tied to a dock in a swimming pool. I have the uneasy feeling the if we were to bump the bottom at low tide, we would be hitting concrete, although I know it's really sand. We checked in with customs and immigration and made ourselves at home.
The weather trapped us in Bimini, as it has in other places. We had to stay for 10 days, although we thoroughly enjoyed it. We saw the Bimini Museum and the Compleat Angler, both heavy on Hemingway memorabilia, and snorkeled off the beach, although the water was too rough to really enjoy that.
We ate dinner at the Anchorage, formerly Michael Lerner's cottage, where Hemingway wrote To Have and Have Not. We also had dinner at Sandra's, a sports bar catering to locals, and had great stuffed lobster dinners for $10 each at Tiger and Pat's, a grocery store where you eat outside at picnic tables. Tiger himself sang gospel songs for us (Sunday night), blessed us, and welcomed us to the Bahamas.
We spent our days reading and beach combing. There was the wreck of the Gallant Lady, an island freighter from Belize, on the South end of the beach, and the Lazlo, a pretty, new, Waquiez 42 sloop lost by charterers when the anchor dragged at the North end. She was largely intact, even to her sails. When we first saw her, there was little damage, but bouncing against the rocks in the surf took its toll while we were there.
We met Mark, on Stellaluna, and Billy and Sue on Anastasia.
We finally got a break in the weather, and left on Sunday, February 11.
The alternator belt and mounting bolt broke as we were leaving our slip in Bimini. Fortunately we had spare parts, so we were only delayed by half an hour. We went south from Bimini and crossed onto the Great Bahama Bank between Triangle and Piquet Rocks. We motor sailed across the bank as far as we could go in daylight, and anchored with Prime Interest about 10 miles west of Russell Beacon. It seemed strange to be anchored in the ocean, 40 miles from any land, in 15 feet of water. At about 8 o'clock, the wind picked up to 15 to 20 knots from the east, and we spent a very uncomfortable night.
We were off at daylight, headed for Chub Cay. Right after we passed Northwest Channel Light and got into deep water again, I saw a Pilot whale - my first view of a whale at sea. He passed within 50 yards of us, headed in the opposite direction, and he seemed oblivious to our presence. We anchored in the cove at Chub Cay by dusk, with Prime Interest and Anastasia right behind us. We rolled a little bit in the anchorage, but it was quite peaceful compared to the night on the banks.
2/12 - 16/01
We spent four days anchored at Chub, waiting for a fair wind for our trip to Nassau. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We had lunch at the Chub Cay Club one day, and went to the Hilltop Bar one night for a beer with the locals. We snorkeled around the boat and scrubbed the bottom to get rid of the slime that had accumulated since our last antifouling paint job last August. There were no barnacles, except for a few small ones on the propeller. We bought conch from a local fisherman with Mandy and Harry. $12 bought 14 conch, enough for two meals for the four of us. They cooked conch chowder and conch fritters. We had marinated conch and conch sautéed in sesame oil with garlic.
On our last evening in Chub Cay, we saw the green flash as the sun set. It caused exclamation throughout the anchorage. One woman on a nearby boat saw it, but her husband missed it. It was so fleeting that he didn't believe it had happened until others of us confirmed that it had.
We got a break in the strong southeasterly winds today. It's not perfect, but it gives us a reasonably comfortable window to motor sail to Nassau. We actually got to sail for a couple of hours, but the wind was so light that we wouldn't have made Nassau until after dark. As it was, we tied up at the Nassau Yacht Haven at 4 p.m.
2/17 - 21/01
Predictably, we got stuck in Nassau waiting for good weather to get to the Exumas. We took advantage of the time to restock with groceries, and we were able to replace the spare parts used back in Bimini. Bud got a new diving mask. We discovered in Chub Cay that his twelve year old one leaks, probably because the rubber is no longer as flexible as it once was. We also took a sightseeing hike to the Atlantis Casino complex over on Paradise Island. The last time we were here, it was still under construction. It is an amazing place. People can stay there for a vacation and be completely isolated from the Bahamas. It's a self contained fantasy world, which is alright if it suits, but it would be sad for someone to go there and think they had seen the Bahamas.
We finally got a break in the weather! We left Nassau at 8:00 this morning and sailed all the way to Allen's Cay in the Exumas by 2:00. We're still in the company of Prime Interest. The 4 of us went ashore on Leaf Key to see the iguanas. Allen's Cay and it's neighbors are uninhabited, although there are probably 25 boats anchored here, not counting the two cigarette boats that each brought 20 or so hard core tourists on a half day excursion from Nassau.
We got up and away from Allen's Cay at about 8, and sailed most of the way to Warderick Wells. Prime Interest has the better VHF radio, and they were able to arrange moorings for us at the Exuma Cay Land and Sea Park. We made a contribution to the park and joined the support fleet, which helps fund the conservation effort. The park covers 176 square miles, most of it water. There are a few private islands, but most are public and uninhabited.
We planned to stay two nights, but the magic of the park captured our fancy, and we decided to stay longer. The alternator belt that we replaced in Bimini twisted and started slipping on the way out of Allen's Cay, so repairs were at the top of our agenda the first day. The alternator mount never lined up the two pulleys properly, and the new kevlar belts don't tolerate misalignment as well as the older, more elastic belts did. A little grinding on the mount improved the alignment, and we put on the spare belt that we got in Nassau. We remembered Wally's (Salty Dog) comment to the effect that cruising was just doing boat maintenance under adverse conditions in exotic surroundings.
We hiked the island trails and snorkeled over a soft coral reef where the marine life was unbelievably prolific. It's like swimming in an aquarium. We saw all types and sizes of brilliantly colored tropical fish, as well as three large lobsters hiding in a hole in a coral head.
In the afternoon, the Grand Mariner, one of the little coastal cruise ships that is bringing the bus tour business to the Intracoastal Waterway, took the outermost mooring. It disgorged a seemingly endless stream of sunburned fat tourists who swarmed frantically over the island making pictures of each other with the whale skeleton and the sand. In four hours, their cruise director herded them back aboard. It took several trips with their 24 foot launch, and we guess there were a hundred or so people. Apparently, this happens every week or ten days, and we were just lucky with our timing.
We planned to leave the next day, but the wind was blowing so hard and we liked it so well here that we decided to stay another night. The morning of our second day, we hiked with Harry and Mandy to look at the blow holes on the east side of the island. These are actually labyrinthine holes that lead from the cliff top down to the surf line. As the surf rolls in, it forces air out through the upper opening quite forcefully, with occasional salt mist. A look at the island map shows that there are both wet and dry blow holes.
On the morning of our planned departure, the wind was blowing 20-25 knots, which gave us just the excuse we needed to stay another day. On Saturday evening, there was a happy hour at park HQ for all the cruisers in the anchorage. Mandy made appetizers for both of us to take, since she and Harry were our dinner guests that night.
On Sunday morning we went over to the park office and took on some volunteer work, as that's what makes the park possible. We went snorkeling again in the afternoon, and Leslie found a lobster. But for the fact that the park is a protected area, he would have been our dinner. Our plan is to make a short, 20 mile trip to Staniel Cay tomorrow. We'll most likely spend a couple of nights there.
As we were listening to the weather this morning, Harry and Mandy came by to tell us that they had decided to turn around at Warderick, as they were getting anxious about getting back and getting the boat stored before they have to move to Ireland. We are disappointed, as we have become good friends. We certainly hope to see them next fall, when they plan to resume their adventure, and we miss them already.
We left as planned for Staniel Cay, where we anchored west of Big Majors Spot. We went into 'town' looking for a spare alternator belt, but had no luck. When we got back to the anchorage, we found Ray and Kayla on Kismet, and their new buddy boat Palm Latitude anchored nearby. We gave them the news about Prime Interest.
We gathered up our snorkeling gear and went to dive Thunderball Grotto, where the underwater parts of the James Bond movie were filmed. The crews from Kismet and Palm Latitudes hopped in their dinghies and rode ashore to Big Majors Spot, which is uninhabitated except for two domesticated pigs, who belong to someone on a neighboring island. They live on the handouts from boaters. These pigs come out to greet any dinghy that runs ashore, and beg from them. The pigs are reluctant to believe that any dinghy has come ashore without remembering food for the pigs. We watched through the binoculars, since Leslie didn’t want to meet the pigs.
We had a nice time, so stayed another day. We had lunch at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club with Ray and Kayla and Augie and Rena from Palm Latitude. Kayla had us all over to Kismet for cocktails, and we all decided to go to Black Point Settlement tomorrow.
As we were leaving, the alternator belt went up in smoke. I got out my grinder and worked more to straighten out the mount. I think it's done. I now am running my last belt. I sure hope that the problem is fixed, and that I can get another belt in Georgetown. We made it to Black Point, which is a really nice, non-commercial kind of place. We hauled 9 gallons of r.o. water from the town tap, so our tanks are full now. We met Willie Rolle, a local figure who specializes in found art, and talked to him for a while. He invited us to see his Garden of Eden, but it was so hot we decided to do it another time.
We had a fine dinner with Kismet and Palm Latitude and Rick and Jill from Wave Wacker, at Lorraine's Cafe. Kayla had called this afternoon on the vhf radio to place our orders. Turns out that Rick and Jill had lived only a few miles from us in Arlington.
We went out Dotham Cut this morning and motored down Exuma Sound to Adderly Cut and Lee Stocking Island, where we anchored behind (another) Leaf Cay. It's very calm, especially with no wind, but we can hear the surf breaking all around us. Kismet and Palm Latitude will follow in a day or two. Leslie spoke to the folks on Bahati today. They were in Staniel, and are on their way to Georgetown again for provisions before they take off to go further south. We may get to see them on Sunday. We also spoke to Concert, a Canadian boat who went through the Dismal Swamp Canal with us. They spent a week in Georgetown and are going back north now. They were anchored in Rat Cay Cut, just a few miles south of us.
Last night was not fun. With no wind, the gnats put in an appearance, and even found their way past our screens. We sprayed the cabin with Raid several times, to no avail. Finally, at about three o'clock, we remembered Benn's insect repellant. It worked; we slept.
We woke up and put the waypoints for today's trip into our GPS while eating breakfast. It was so still, and the water so glassy, that I could see the anchor lying unburied on top of the sand, 15 feet below us. We had backed down hard against it to set it yesterday, with no dragging. Interesting how well 120 feet of chain will hold the boat. Wonder if we really need the anchor on the end.
When we got out of Adderly Cut into Exuma Sound, we saw a parade of boats to the north of us. One caught up with us, and it turned out to be Wave Wacker, our dinner companions from Black Point Settlement. We spoke on the radio for a few minutes. They had anchored at Galliot Cut and left at daybreak. We also talked to Concert again. They were interested in anchoring at Leaf Cay, where we were last night.
We got into Georgetown at 1:15, right behind Wave Wacker, and found ourselves a spot to anchor off Sand Dollar beach. I changed the oil, and we tried without success to call China Doll, our friends Dot and Tim, on the radio. We dropped the dinghy and went into town to dispose of the used oil and try to find a spare alternator belt. Before we even got the dinghy tied up, we saw Neil, from Rhapsody, one of the boats that was stuck in Elizabeth City, NC with us in October. (Always seem to see Neil at or in the dinghy.) We do wonder how many people are actually cruising - it seems that we know a lot of them, at least by sight. There are over 400 cruising boats anchored in Georgetown's Elizabeth Harbor, by the harbor master's log. When we mentioned China Doll to Neil, he said he had seen the boat here recently. Another man on the dock volunteered that he had seen it yesterday, out of the water at Georgetown Marine Services, so we may yet get to see Dot and Tim. Small place, this cruising community.
We did find a belt, although it's an inch longer than we wanted. There should be enough adjustment in the new alternator bracket to take up the slack, if we need to use it. We're really hoping that we solved that problem. We also learned that there is free, slightly brackish water available at the dinghy dock, so we can keep our sunshower full while we're here. The harbor master has a drop for used oil, so we felt as if we had accomplished quite a bit.
After riding back to the boat, we decided to have a nice dinner and celebrate our arrival at our southern end of this year's journey. Gianni Migliorini had given us a bottle of fine Italian wine as a bon voyage present, and we needed this for our 'party'. It was as good as we'd expected, and we toasted our good friend after toasting our accomplishment. From here on, we'll be going north. Given this, we've decided to take the weekend off and do nothing. No alternator belt hunting, no grocery shopping, no schlepping diesel jugs; just nothing.
Since I wasn't supposed to do anything the next day, I made yogurt and baked brownies before I went to bed.
Well, that plan didn't work. There were rumors of bad weather coming our way, and high winds make for wet dinghy rides. Off we went in our dinghy to schlep diesel, fill our sunshower, make telephone calls, and look at the grocery stores. The walk around the town that we took while looking for an unoccupied phone revealed a pleasant town center and a peaceful area just away from it all. Bud got to talk to Dede for a good while, but it was too early in the day to try for Ryan (given the time difference). We ran into Dot from China Doll on the dinghy dock; Tim's in Ft Lauderdale looking for parts to fix their broken cutless bearing etc.
After a wet dinghy ride back to the mother ship, Bahati cruised into the anchorage. Bob and Karen dinghied over a short while later to catch up on the gossip. They've got family aboard, so we probably won't see too much of them for a while.
The promised cold front arrived on schedule, with sustained winds of 25 knots and gusts well over 30. Our anchor held, but others didn't. The Rachel B. Jackson, a 60' sail training schooner had anchored a couple of hundred yards from us yesterday with one 75 -100 lb fisherman anchor on chain. When the wind piped up, she dragged by at uncomfortably close range. We watched as they dropped a second fisherman without a chain leader, and put someone at the helm with the engine slow ahead. They continued to drag during the day, making several boats nervous, until they finally reanchored farther out with the anchors at a 45 degree angle bisected by the axis of the wind. They seemed to hold there, at least while the wind was down. Another nearby boat's anchor broke loose when the front went through, and after several attempts to reanchor in the same place, they moved out into deeper water. Many boats have two anchors out, on the theory that if one breaks free, the other will still be holding them. We're supposed to get two more fronts through here over the next 48 hours, so we're hunkered down with everybody else. With 30 plus knot winds, no one wants to leave a boat unattended long enough to dinghy ashore, even if they're bold enough for a dinghy ride in this kind of weather. We don't usually mind being confined to the boat for a day or two, but judging from the radio chatter, it seems that others have more trouble avoiding cabin fever. All of the organized activities announced on the cruisers' net this morning were cancelled one by one, from the aerobics class on the beach to the volleyball practice.
Still here. Winds moderating, but still too choppy to leave the boat. Polished faucets and pumps at galley sink.
Ditto. Oiled galley counters, dining table, navigation desk.
Got off the boat, went in to town. Got cash and bought another jug of diesel. Hiked to next 'town' north, about four miles, and got spare belts and some plumbing supplies that we needed. Wet dinghy ride back.
Launched the trusty old Avon inflatable. It hasn't been used in years, but it works well with our new little outboard. It provides a somewhat drier ride, and is much roomier than the hard dinghy. Found Kismet and Palm Latitudes anchored off Volleyball Beach.
Met Ray and Kayla (Kismet) and Augie and Rena (Palm Latitude) on the beach for the opening ceremonies. Also met RL and CJ from Misty Breezes. They fell in with Kismet and Palm Latitude after we left Black Point. There were conch blowing, lip synch, and dance contests, which were pretty entertaining. The best acts didn't always win, though - just like in the real world.
Got another jug of diesel - the tank is full now. Went with Kismet, Palm Latitude, and Misty Breezes by dinghy to hike Crab Cay and look at the ruins of a Loyalist plantation, c. 1790.
Sundays are very quiet in the Bahamas - nothing much is open, and not much happens.
Called Georgetown Marine and learned that China Doll left last week. Went to look at the sand sculpture contest entries. Some were pretty good.
Watched the regatta.
Learned to play dominoes.
Went to a presentation on cruising the Dominican Republic, by Steve Pavlidis, who has written several good cruising guides to this part of the world. This made Leslie want to keep going south.
Stayed on the boat and watched the regatta round the island.
3/16 - 23/01
Lived in Georgetown. Had ribs at Two Turtles. Had ribs at Chat n' Chill. Chat n' Chill has the best barbecue ribs we've ever eaten. This was a farewell dinner for Ray and Kayla on Kismet, who are going to Luperon, D.R. Went to the closing ceremony. Got our visas extended through June 1. Had another front with 30+ knot gusts. We will certainly have a different view of anchoring after this and our time on the banks. Spice Island Lady showed up 2 days before we're leaving. Sort of sad to be leaving. Kismet is going south with Wave Wacker, Misty Breeze is going north with us, and Palm Latitudes is staying another day or two.
As we were leaving, Kismet called on the radio to say they weren't going south, but were going north with the rest of us. Hmmm. We motor sailed to Lee Stocking Island in company with RL and CJ on Misty Breeze. We picked up moorings at the Caribbean Marine Research Center, and were surprised that two were vacant all night. This is a truly beautiful spot. We wanted a tour, but noticed that the CMRC wasn't answering their radio. Maybe next time we come this way it won't be on a weekend. Had cocktails and played dominoes on Misty Breeze and went to bed early.
Left Lee Stocking at eight and motored up the sound to Black Point Settlement with Misty Breeze. Went ashore and arranged for supper at Lorraine's Cafe. Walked up to Willie Rolle's Garden of Eden. He gave us a guided tour, commenting on his found art (mostly driftwood) and sharing freely the many fruits and vegetables that he grows using his pothole farming technique. When we got back to the boat, we found Palm Latitudes anchored near us. They report that Kismet changed their minds again, and are going south with Spice Island Lady! We'll see.
At Black Point with Palm Latitude and Misty Breeze. Hiked to sound side. Found a really dramatic blowhole. Fed everybody gumbo.
To Staniel with Palm Latitudes and Misty Breeze. Lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club with the group. Walked around the settlement. Snorkeled Thunderball Grotto again. Much better this time, as low tide was earlier. We had a lot more light, so the colors of the corals were more dramatic. C. J. and R.L. had everybody over to Misty Breeze for spaghetti.
Went to town with the group. Bought 3 big lobsters. Augie and Rena grilled the lobsters, Leslie made peas and rice, and C. J. made chocolate dessert.
Nasty day. Lots of wind. Lunch at Club Thunderball with Augie and Rena - they gave us a ride in the Novurania.
Grand Mariner is here letting the pigs chase tourists. (See Feb 27)
Stormy, rolly night last night. Waiting for weather today. Rhapsody came in to the anchorage and reported that they had a sleepless night at Black Point last night.
Last night was very peaceful. We got up this morning and said goodbye to R.L and C.J. on the VHF. We left at 8 in company with Palm Latitudes. About an hour out, we dug out the cruising spinnaker and hoisted it. We were soon boiling along at 6.5 to 7 knots, beam reaching in 10 or so knots of wind. We had a wonderful sail most of the way to Norman's Cay. Palm Latitudes was motor sailing, so they were able to pass us and make pictures, which they plan to send to us. We blazed past Xanadu, a Cape Dory 36, also under sail.
We anchored off the west side of Norman's, and Augie and Rena took us to McDuff's, a small, funky resort, where we had their (justly) famous hamburgers. We then took a walk around the island to see the ruins of the resort commandeered by Carlos Leder, a drug lord who is now doing life. It was quite a place, judging from what's left. It was sort of eerie walking around the ruins, thinking about what had gone on here. There is also the hulk of a cargo plane out in the shallow water of the inner harbor - an indication of how big his business was. All of that happened in the 80's, not so long ago.
We ran into the folks from Xanadu at McDuff's on the way back to the boat, and they wanted our address as they, too, had made pictures of us flying by them (Photo above).
Ugly night. Winds from SW at 25+ on a lee shore. Rough and nerve wracking, could not leave until daylight because of coral heads. Left at daylight with Palm Latitudes for Nassau. SW winds held for about an hour, then swung out of NW - into our faces. Made Nassau about five, took the last two slips in the harbor, at Atlantis. Enjoyed our first indoor showers, and being at dock.
Moved to Yacht Haven - like being home. Walked back across the bridge to Paradise Island for the excellent chocolate ice cream.
Washed boat, washed clothes, went to City Market (Winn Dixie). Walked back across the bridge to Paradise Island for the excellent chocolate ice cream. (Leslie misses ice cream.)
Went to Pirate museum with Augie and Rena. Relaxed. Ate wonderful ice cream at Haagen Daz downtown.
Went to cruisers luncheon at Crocodiles, held every Thursday during the season. Met Caroline & Nick Wardle. Carolyn gives the daily weather reports for the Bahamas on ham radio, so it was nice to have a face to put with the voice. She didn’t look too much different than we imagined. Bought rum cake, had no ice cream.
We plan to leave tomorrow and may go all the way to Fort Piece - roughly a 40 hour trip. Lunch at Crocodile's. Walked around downtown. Checked out the new Hilton British Colonial. It's really nice, at least in the public areas. We listened to the weather at about 4, and decided to wait a day and leave Sunday. The wind will be down tomorrow, but the extra 24 hours will give the seas time to moderate as well.
At ease in Nassau. Walked downtown and gawked at the tourists from the cruise ships. Watched one cruise ship leave. Tried a different ice cream shop, and saw a junkanoo parade heading down the main street. A junkanoo band is a marching percussion section, accompanied by loud whistles and other noisemakers. Its chief attraction is the melding of rhythms that is hard to ignore, and is quite popular in the Bahamas. There are national competitions, and I’d love to see/hear one.
Palm Latitudes left at about 7:30 this morning. We said our goodbyes and hope to see each other next year, or maybe this summer in California, if we go to see Ryan and his family. We still had to check out of the marina, so didn't leave until about 8:30. We got out of the harbor and put the main and staysail up, mostly for stability. Not much wind, but sloppy seas, which didn't moderate until dusk, when we were opposite the northern Berry Islands. We stood 3 hour watches, as we planned to go all the way to Ft. Pierce Inlet. We passed Freeport / Lucaya between 3 and 5 a.m. Between Great Stirrup Cay and Freeport, we saw a steady parade of cruise ships several miles south of us, coming from Miami up around the Berrys and into Northwest Providence Channel. Along the coast of Grand Bahama, from Freeport to West End, it's fairly lonely. At about 9 a.m., we were off West End and beginning to cross toward Florida. It was a beautiful day, with light easterly winds and calm seas. The only thing that marred the perfection was the steady, monotonous thrumming of the diesel, which had been running merrily for over 24 hours. As we got farther offshore, we began to go faster and faster as we got a lift from the Gulf Stream. This peaked within sight of Florida, at about 9.5 knots. The vector solutions had us steering at 295 degrees and making good a course of 320. Estimated Gulf Stream current is over 3.5 knots. About 10 miles off the Florida coast, our cell phone started working, and we called Dede. Leslie tried to call her Mom, who wasn't home. We were excited to have a phone again. Just after the excitement of having a phone wore off, a pod of eight dolphins swam out to welcome us back to the states. Four or five swooped back and forth under the bow, several swam in the back next to the cockpit, and the two biggest ones held their distance off the boat. We made the Fort Pierce entrance at sundown, about 7:45 p.m. After dropping the main just inside the inlet, we felt our way into the anchorage behind Causeway Island, where we anchored at 8:30. Home.
We called Customs first thing this morning to clear in. We're legal now. Bud called his sister, who will forward a month's worth of mail to us. After a leisurely morning, we motored up the waterway to Vero Beach, where we plan to spend a couple of weeks. Vero is a good spot to reprovision, do laundry, and get used to being back in the states. We also want to see Leslie’s uncle and aunt again.
Rebuilt cooling water pump. Replaced leaky hose in cooling system. The boat is ready to go again. Now Bud can relax.
We rode the buses to the mall and the grocery stores, contrasting life here to life in the Bahamas. Got a new mooring mate, Irish Blessing, and had cocktails aboard with Dick and Mary. They're from the Chesapeake, and have a Pearson 385, so they know Salty Dog and Palm Latitudes from the Chesapeake Pearson owners' group. We enjoyed their tales of the cruising the west coast of Florida and the Florida Keys. Like us, they're eager to get back to the Chesapeake.
Our next mate on the mooring ball was Kahlua, a Baba 30 owned by Ken and Cathy McIntire. The boat was featured in an article in Good Old Boat magazine, and also in Latitudes and Attitudes. (It was in the same issue of Lats and Atts that Augie's article about Palm Latitudes' trip up the waterway was in.)
Leslie's Aunt and Uncle from Melbourne, and her cousin Jeff and his family, came to Vero Beach to see us. We all went out to lunch, and then Leslie took Robin, Jeff, and Kira out to the boat in the dinghy. I haven't had much practice using the new motor, so the ride to the boat included several side trips; an encounter with a mangrove tree (nasty scratches!), a close look at the stern of a docked boat (thanks for the push, Jeff), and a good look at the seawall covered with oyster shells (no collisions there). I now take the dinghy out on training missions.
Our next mooring mate, Jasper J, was tied up to us for several days before we noticed their hailing port; Lincoln Nebraska! After a quick game of ’do you know’, we found no friends in common. But Bud’s suspicion was right; Edwina is a P.E.O. She even had several copies of the P.E.O. Record, which Leslie hasn’t been getting since we hired the mail forwarding service. Leslie happily spent an evening reading them cover to cover, getting a P.E.O. fix.
Uncle Bruce and Aunt Joan picked us up one day for a trip to the Yellow Dog for lunch. They then offered to take us shopping in their car, so we requested stops at the local health food store and West Marine, neither of which we can find in the Bahamas. After that, we all went to their house for a delightful afternoon and evening. We swam in the pool, jumped in the hot tub, ate microwave popcorn, and had a great dinner. Bruce and Bud played guitars, and Joan and Leslie played with the cats. We didn’t get home until 11pm, which is about 2 hours after our normal bedtime. It was nice to spend the day with family.
We also shared the mooring with Sanddollar, a Canadian boat sailed by Pat and Wayne.
Left Vero Beach and Motored to Melbourne, where we anchored for the evening.
Left Melbourne headed for Titusville. About 2/3 of the way there, the engine overheated. We pulled over to the side of the channel and had lunch while the engine cooled down enough for me to work on it. I checked the thermostat, since I had just rebuilt the waterpump in Vero. Needless to say, the problem was the water pump. The replacement impellers that I bought last fall as new and improved over the original design failed. I put my last two original design spares in, and we were back on our way. We anchored off Titusville, planning to go ashore in the morning and buy spare impellers. Sanddollar was anchored here as well, and they planned to tour the Cape Canaveral complex from here.
From Titusville, we could look to the East and see the tall 'silo' where NASA works on the space shuttle. The launch tower is tall enough to see for miles, and NASA has even moved some older missles over to a display site near the ICW.
Took the dinghy into Titusville, where we learned that the nearest place to get spares is Daytona. We're off to Daytona, and on the way we saw lots of birds in the Mosquito Lagoon. Great name, huh? Makes me glad there's a little breeze. Pretty place though, and we even saw five roseate spoonbills, big pink birds that look like small flamingoes. We took a slip in the city marina at Daytona for a change. It's the weekend, and all of the anchorages around here are exposed to wakes, uncomfortable with all of the small, fast boat traffic. Besides, we can use city water to wash the salt off of everything. We haven't been dockside in the states since Christmas week.
After dinner, we walked around the island in the ICW where many city services are located. A new library is there, as well as the Jackie Robinson ballpark. We walked to the top of one of the drawbridges across the waterway, for a different view.
We found all of the potential suppliers closed for the weekend, so decided to stay until Monday. We went to the Saturday morning farmer's market and got tomatoes, onions, corn, bananas, and strawberries. This is the first good produce we've seen in months.
Our 17th anniversary was yesterday, so we celebrated at a nearby Italian restaurant, Rosario's. It's on the ground floor of the oldest house still standing in Daytona, which is now a B & B.
We hiked over to the beach. Seeing cars on the beach was new for Leslie. I had forgotten that the beach in Daytona is one of the best. I probably haven't been here since college. The business district associated with the beach was rather seedy looking, and geared to the biker crowd that gathers in Daytona.
We spent the afternoon using lots of city water to wash the boat, and Leslie got in the dinghy to scrub the algae off the bottom. Play Actor had even grown a small grass mustache right along the waterline, which was stubbornly attached. After that, Leslie dove on the propeller to see if barnacles were aggravating the overheating problem.
We learned first thing this morning that the only place that we could get the impellers was a one man shop, who seemed to work out of his truck. After several unsuccessful attempts to call him, I called Hartge's, where we used to keep the boat near Annapolis. They are shipping two spare sets of impellers for delivery tomorrow. We learned of this novel approach to getting spare parts from Jasper J, who always calls the same place in NC whenever he needs a spare. Saves a lot of effort and frustration. Since we will be here another day, we also ordered our mail, and Leslie made arrangements to meet one of her PEO friends Kay Ikeler, for lunch tomorrow.
Kay and the parts and the mail all came at about the same time. Leslie had an enjoyable reunion with Kay, and we got everything ready to go tomorrow. Took the opportunity to do laundry.
Have we mentioned that Bud has grown a beard?
We left Daytona early this morning and carried a foul current all the way to St. Augustine, where we anchored for the night. The engine seems to be running a little hot.
Since we spent so much time here on our way south, we anchored out and stayed on board. I miss all of the lights that were up for the holidays.
We left St. Augustine this morning and motored all the way to the Fort George River. I added coolant to the engine. It seems better. We anchored near where we did in December, and Leslie wondered if we were going to go anywhere new this trip. Visiting the same places is comfortably easy. Bud saw an otter fishing near the shoreline in the morning.
We left the Fort George River headed for Fernandina Beach this morning. It's a short trip, so we waited for the tide to turn so that we would have a favorable current. We filled up with diesel at Fernandina Harbor, then anchored and took the dinghy ashore to do a little sightseeing and buy some bread. We also found fresh shrimp in a small seafood market and bought a pound and a half to steam for supper. It was Leslie's last chance to find a Florida souvenir, but she failed.
We're anchored in the Frederica River, behind St. Simon's Island right by the Fort Frederica National Monument. As we were anchoring, we noticed a couple sitting on the dinghy dock, looking forlornly at their dinghy a few feet away in the mud. We figured they were from the other sailboat in the anchorage. When the tide came in and they were able to get back into their dinghy, they came over to say hello and warn us about the tremendous tides. They had been stranded ashore since about 11:00. They were from Stuart, Florida, where there is little tide.
We motored out of the Frederica River headed for St. Catherine's Island this morning. As we entered the Sapelo River, we found an Island Packet sailboat, about a thirty-eight footer, completely out of the water on a mud bank, with the skipper sitting on the high side deck looking frustrated. Even his dinghy, which he towed behind the boat, was aground. He had obviously misread the channel markers and gone straight when he should have turned, running hard aground on a very shallow bar at close to high tide. His entire five foot draft was now high and dry - nothing to do but wait for high water and try to get it afloat then. Another visitor is learning about the 8 to 9 foot tide.
We're anchored in Walburg Creek, behind St. Catherine's Island, tonight. The last time I was here would have been 35 to 40 years ago with my father, probably in the last of the three Fusdats. Papa and I spent many a weekend fishing the waters around St. Catherine's Island, most of the time in boats not much bigger than the Play Actor's dinghy. Where the south end of Walburg Creek joins the Intracoastal Waterway at daymark 125, we used to beach our boat at low tide and fish from a shell rake - a bar of dead oyster shell. It was here that I saw my first big sailboats, making their way to Florida in the winter and points north in the summer. It was here that my dream of liveaboard cruising began. St. Catherine's Island is a private nature preserve, so there are no houses ashore except those for the caretakers. It's one of the best spots on the waterway for its pristine beauty, and we had it to ourselves. Going ashore is prohibited, so we watched from afar. Leslie saw what had to be a mink fishing for supper, and the red wing blackbirds were everywhere.
The engine was running a little hot today. After it cooled down, I checked the coolant level and found it low. I also found a good bit of coolant in the sump under the engine. I believe it was leaking at a hose connection that I didn't tighten after I checked the thermostat. I tightened it securely. I'll fill the cooling system again in the morning and see what happens.
The engine ran very hot today. Fortunately, we had favorable currents and enough wind to help us along. We were able to make pretty good time even though we kept the engine throttled back. We did not lose any more coolant. Since the problem isn't anything we've already fixed, it must be our heat exchanger. It serves the same function as the radiator in a car, except that the waste heat goes into seawater, which is then used to cool the exhaust.
We limped into Tidewater Boatworks in Thunderbolt, Georgia, where Bud removed the heat exchanger. Indeed, the seawater tubes were badly clogged. The boat yard sent the heat exchanger to a local radiator shop, where they will clean it out and return it tomorrow. We decided to have an anticipatory celebration for the solution of this problem by eating a big seafood dinner in Thunderbolt.
I spent the morning cleaning the sump under the engine, while Leslie worked on the computer. The sump was awash with a year's worth of oil drips and spills, as well as the antifreeze mix that drained from the engine through leaks and as a result of removing the heat exchanger.
We called our friend Kay Bart, who lives just a few minutes away, and she came to visit for a little while. At about three o'clock, our heat exchanger was delivered. The installation went smoothly, and a test run of the engine at the dock showed no signs of overheating.
We had dinner with Kay at a local seafood restaurant and turned in early, eager to try our cool-running engine tomorrow.
We left at about 7:30 this morning and pushed the engine hard for 50 miles to Beaufort, where we anchored for the night. Even running the engine 10% faster than normal cruising speed only got the temperature up to 160 degrees F. Much better than the 195 to 210 that we have been seeing at cruising speed. We reckon it's fixed, now, and life is good again. By the time we went ashore, the business district was closed for the evening. After stretching our legs a bit, we sat in one of the park swings that overlooks the bend in the Beaufort River, taking in the scenery and admiring the anchored boats.
We left Beaufort and motored all the way to Charleston, S.C., where we anchored off the City Marina. It’s funny how our notion of a protected anchorage has changed since we were in the Bahamas. On our way south last fall, this one seemed far too open. Now it seems wonderfully calm and protected. We went shopping at Harris-Teeter, one of our favorite grocery stores along the east coast, and spent a couple of days just walking around and enjoying Charleston.
We moved along to Georgetown, S.C. today, where we anchored for the night. We debated staying for a day, but decided that we are a little homesick for the Chesapeake, so decided to move on.
We’re anchored tonight in the Waccamaw River, one of the prettiest places we’ve found. We’re right in the middle of a cypress swamp, and the birds and critters keep up a constant but soothing level of background noise.
We decided to try to get a slip in Southport, N.C., because we keep hearing that it’s a nice little town. Unfortunately, all the slips were taken. There’s no good place to anchor around here, so we took a slip at the St. James Plantation Marina. It turned out to be one of those plantations that have appeared in the modern south where they plant retired Yankees and harvest dollars. It was quite pretty, in a sterile way, and the transient rates were reasonable, although we learned that they were selling condo slips for $2,000 per foot. The man we were talking with seemed to think this was reasonable, and commented that most of the slips were sold, although most of the owners didn’t have boats. Interesting. Unfortunately, it’s a little too far from Southport to allow for a casual exploration of the town on foot, so we’ll have to postpone that adventure.
Anchored in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. As we worked our way through the shallow channel, we kept thinking about a vapid book that we recently read called “Message in a Bottle” which was set in Wrightsville Beach. The author referred several times to the “deep waters of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway” as he had his characters sailing along it. We know he didn’t bother to research the boating aspects of the novel, because the water isn‘t particularly deep around here. Wonder if he’s ever been to Wrightsville Beach.