Charleston And Points North
14 April 2013
Puffin's crew enjoyed a gorgeous sunrise at breakfast today while anchored in a piece of water a few hundred yards south of the Figure Eight swing bridge. It's a no-name cove that's also a "no-go" anchorage in anything but the calmest weather. It's too narrow to swing 360 degrees without running aground at low water. Last night, however, was totally calm so the tidal ebb and flow kept us positioned within the channel's narrow confines, though we did awaken at 3:30 AM for a quick position check as low tide approached.
What really stood out in cruising this stretch of the North Carolina ICW near Wrightsville, were the unusually large number of loons. We saw dozens, without even trying. Dare we say the loons easily outnumbered the cormorants? Saw a lot of least terns as well, at least that's what they looked like. (sorry).
We last posted en route to Charleston while off the coast of Georgia, cruising overnight in company with Alan and Gerri aboard Civil Twilight. Good weather and good luck combined to make it an uneventful trip. Swapping watches with Nancy through the night, I went to sleep about 5:00 AM. I awoke several hours later as Puffin was gliding through Charleston Harbor under Nancy's pilotage.
We remained in Charleston Harbor for a couple of nights, meeting up with the crew from The Good Life, Mark and Mary, and new friends Mike and Betty from our home town area. They were getting to know the brand new Benneteau they took delivery of in Charleston. We also received a dubious "award" from Alan and Gerri, in the form of a T-shirt proclaiming to all, that the wearer hadn't always been "old geezer", at least in his own mind.
Reluctantly Puffin departed Charleston, our favorite city, and started up the waterway anchoring the first evening in the Santee River. The next evening found us at Cricket Cove Marina and then we moved on to last evening's dubious anchorage at Middle Sound.
Gannets and Gulls
08 April 2013
t's three bells into the afternoon watch or so it would be if Puffin had a real ship's clock. Puffin's running up the coast to Charleston, accompanied by friends on the sloop, Civil Twilight, pictured above. It's bright and sunny but the wind isn't enough for a 47 foot sloop to sail by though her main is up to steady the roll as moderate swells sweep by us from east to west. The seas are lumpy with 3-5 foot swells, looking like so many squirrels under a blanket.
We called Civil Twilight to ask about the birds we see that seem like large gulls. Gerri tells us they are (northern) gannets. According to Sibley's, these are large birds with a wingspan nearly a large as the brown pelican. They seem more agile then the pelicans as they wheel and dive from as much as 20 or 30 feet in the air. They dive deeper than pelicans and have air sacs in their shoulders to cushion the impact of hitting the water (as do the brown pelicans). They're more skittish than the shorebirds along the ICW so it's hard to get a good picture. Intermittently a few terns spiral down to skim the surface for a snack, but it's mostly loose groups of gannets we see during the day.
One brown pelican and couple of laughing gulls swing by but we're a little far out for gulls and others who prefer the shallows.
Later an Atlantic spotted dolphin surfaces briefly but didn't lope along Puffin's bow wave as we'd hoped. Later in the afternoon Civil Twilight reported a dozen or more dolphins, several turtles and even a group of rays. Over the years that the our two vessels have had occasion to cruise together, they've consistently reported more frequent and better sightings of nature's nautical creatures - a nettlesome matter that we're sometimes reminded of.
06 April 2013
The sun is setting over the mooring field at Fernandina, Puffin's last stop in Florida for this season. It's been another great winter here most of which was spent on the west coast. We've made some great new friends and had a chance to re-visit with other "old" friends, unquestionably the best part of cruising. But to add icing to the cake, we seen lots of new places and gotten to do and see so many things. And of course we can never forget the magnificent shorebirds and other wildlife we've enjoyed throughout Florida. If I'm ever reborn I want to return as a pelican, so down the road if you see one wearing sunglasses and crocs, please wave.
Tomorrow, if the forecast remains promising, the plan is to head offshore to Charleston, in company with long-time friends, Alan and Gerri, aboard Civil Twilight, a beautiful Passport 47 sloop.
New Smyrna, Florida
01 April 2013
The lighthouse at Ponce De Leon (New Smyrna) Inlet
01 April 2013
Puffin is anchored in Rockhouse Creek, a little cove just outside of New Smyrna, Fl. Unexpectedly warm temperatures near 80 this evening convinced us to enjoy dinner on deck. It's a pretty cove surrounded on two sides by little islands and overlooking a sandbar that separates us from the ocean entrance into New Smyrna.
Boats occasionally glide in and out of the entrance under the protective gaze of the 159 ft. Ponce de Leon lighthouse, painted in red like a New England barn. Since it's low tide, a great blue hero and a couple of snowy egrets have dropped in to check the exposed sandbars for snacks.
Halfway through dinner Nancy noticed something on a rocky portion of the island shore nearest. Binoculars quickly revealed a raccoon prowling the shoreline for dinner. This particular shoreline is a mat of broken coral, many about the size of a grapefruit.
Working his way along the shore's edge, our raccoon quickly rolls over rocks with one quick motion of his paw. He's occasionally rewarded for his efforts when we see him stop to chew something, perhaps every fourth or fifth rock. Nancy soon noticed another raccoon and then a third, all looking for dinner. No time is wasted as they patrol the shoreline: flip a rock, look and move on to the next, stopping only to gobble some found morsel.
We wondered how they got here, on an island. A quick lookup on Google showed they are excellent swimmers and this island obviously also provided good habitat with brush, grass and mangroves edging the island.
Ft. Meyers, A Reluctant Departure
28 March 2013
Bike night in Ft. Meyers. We was thinkin' we could look good on a puppy like this! LOL