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don't go to church when it's blowing 30knts
02/05/2008, St Augustine, Florida

you can vaguely see the ketch up against the bridge. The owner had left to boat but divine intervention didn't help today....note TowBoatUs hovering around like vultures. But another sailor at the anchorage and I dinghied over to drive it off but not before $5k of damage to the rigging after slamming on the bridge for an hour.

crusty pirates
02/04/2008, Cumberland Island, Fernandina Beach, Florida

that's the Russell family... great sailing buddies....
Not known to be native of the Island but we understand they came here to plunder and walk amongst the live oak trails....

Show me the way to Armadillo
02/04/2008, Cumberland Island, Fernandina Beach, Florida

wierd little animals these...long tail with a full metal jacket and snouty anteater nose...found amongst the bushes on Cumberland Island, a stopover on the way to St Augustine.

Twisted Sister
30/03/2008, Brunswick, Georgia

the result of my encounter with the dock in Brunswick - a twisted mess of stainless pipe formerly my wind vane. Tried in vane (sic) to get it fixed locally in St Augustine, but (of course) the pipe size is proprietary to the manufacturer. After sending it across the States, $2000 later I got it back all new....whatever... just another couple of boat bucks eh?

Journey so far
windy and warmish
23/03/2008, St Augustine, Florida

St Augustine is our first stop in Florida with reasonable boat facilities and a good chance to get some stuff done. It's been a hectic couple of weeks but it's nice to finally be somwhere warmer and the two-legged scenery is certainly getting better! Here's a look at my log so far.

Dock disaster
cold front, squalls and 52knts max
11/03/2008, Brunswick, Georgia

After midnight things started to get less pleasant with the wind right on the nose and building - crap, the front was coming through early! After a bit of discussion over the VHF, Pierre and I agreed to head for Brunswick, about 20 miles short of our destination. Motor sailing close-hauled in a building sea and wind, trying to hold a rhumb line to the sea buoy marking the entrance to the channel made for an uncomfortable ride. I fell off about 20 degrees to cut the corner a couple of leading lights up the channel. We were coming in at high tide and the first part of the channel was showing plenty of depth on the chart so it should be no drama.

Pierre was ahead of me by about 2.5 miles and half way up the Brunswick channel when I got slammed by the first of many squalls to come through. Rather than risk a channel entry with no visibility, I hove to to wait it out. The wind was now gale force at over 25 knots, but after the squall passed I had to get in before the next one came through.

I was safely into the Brunswick River when I got slammed by another squall, this one was a white out with lots of rain. Rather than risk the shoals in the river I hove-to again. I called ahead to the marina for directions. After passing under the span bridge I turned up the narrow East river to the marina and stopped briefly to hang fenders and dock lines. It was still pouring rain with gale force wind but luckily the marina had given me the end of a T-pier to pull up to.

I went back to the cockpit to continue but I had no movement from forward gear....tried reverse but still nothing. F!@# this was serious! I raced below to manually engage the gear lever at the transmission. Still nothing.....F!@# me....what do I do!!!! I looked around to see me drifting in the wind toward the squid boat docks about 50 metres away.....I leapt below to grab the windlass remote and fed out the big 60lb CQR and 20 metres of chain, hoping it would hold. I held my breath as I waited for the pick to bite, all the time watching the docks getting closer.....Then finally with about 20 metres until I was going to hit the docks the bow turned around as the anchor set and looked like it was holding.

Just then a fresh squall hit and I started dragging and picking up speed in the wind gust. I'll never forget the crunching sound as the stern hit the steel plates of the little shrimp boat. The wind then swung Kipona broadside into the dock and I thought 22ton of boat was going to take it out!

Funny how things like this make you think whether you had paid the insurance premium or not! I jumped onto the dock with a spring line before the boat could inflict anymore carnage.

Check out the dayafter photo with anchor chain still laid out and the angle of the danbouy flag in the wind.....

Charleston into the Atlantic
fine light winds

After two nights in Charleston we headed out on a classic spring day into the Atlantic. The forecast was for light easterlies then southeast 10-15 after midnight with the chance of rain. The next afternoon another cold front was coming through so we had 24 hours to get to Cumberland Island on the border with Florida.

The morning was beautiful and I was sitting on the bow reading a book with shirt off, jeans rolled up getting a suntan! After an early dinner, I was up the bow again but this time to fix the port nav light which was playing up. Out of nowhere came a pod of spotted dolphins cruising effortlessly and playing with the bow wave. Cool!

Hanging out in Charleston
overcast and nasty overnight
09/03/2008, Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, like many of the old towns lining the east coast, is full of history and "Charlestonians, while known for their hospitality, are also protective of their ancestry. We decided to walk the town as its pretty much all flat here in the "low-country" and along the way visited a couple of museums where I got a history lesson in the American Civil War. We found a great fudge shop and shopped in a really old brick market in aptly named Market Street. Pierre nearly had me convinced it was an old slave trading market until I saw the plaque on the entrance that it was actually built as a meat, fish and vegetable market. But who knows, the east coast does have a shadowy past, not to mention infamous pirates like Blackbeard who terrorised these waters in the 1800's.

When fronts come through here, they really come through. As the wind built to 40 knots with gusts to 50, we sought shelter at the Mustard Seed for dinner with Walter and Erin, friends of Kim and Pierre whom they met at the yard in Annapolis. Back at the marina it was time for double dock lines as the night turned nasty. Lucky we decided to tie up after the 1st night at anchor in Charleston harbour.

No stop in town is complete without a mandatory visit to West Marine so, after they successfully relieved me of more "boat bucks", we re-provisioned to leave in the morning for the next overnight leg to Cumberland Island, Georgia. Florida, here we come!

Cape Fear to Charleston
fine light winds

My first "outside" into the Atlantic turned out to be a bit of a non-event....I guess that's something I should be thankful for! We sailed pretty much dead downwind for the whole trip from Cape Fear to Charleston. We had planned to get a little further, perhaps to Hilton Head, but the wind died and we had an ugly front coming through the next day so Charleston made a good stopover.

On the way up the Ashley river to the Charleston City Marina a freeloader decided to hitch a ride. Scared the crap out of me when he landed on the boat, but he seemed right at home as if he owned the place. At least he didn't take a dump on the deck!

waiting for a weather window
05/03/2008, Southport

The IntraCoastal Waterway officially starts at Mile 0 at Norfolk and extends all the way down the east coast to Florida. Feburary is not the best time to head offshore here due to the frequent passage of c-c-cold fronts marching through, so "The Ditch" as it 's affectionately known, is a safe alternative option.

The journey so far has been a series of land cuts through swampland and then wide expanses of shallow water over the Albamarle and Pamlico sounds. The ICW is well marked but the land cuts and inlets shoal up in places making navigation a challenge. One eye on the channel markers and another on the depth sounder is highly recommended! Still, we managed to get sailing on a couple of days.

Currently we're holed up for a day's rest at Surf City in North Carolina waiting for a weather window (NW) tomorrow before heading offshore. The plan is to leave from Cape Fear for an overnighter down to Charleston and I must say I'm looking forward to my first venture out into the Atlantic.

From there we wait for another cold front to come through before heading out again further south. Standby for an offshore report!

Norfolk to Cape Fear on the ICW
30-50 F
27/02/2008, Surf City in North Carolina

It's hard to drag yourself away after 3 months of Thai hospitality, but more adventures await in the Bahamas and Carribean! Before that I have to get to Florida.

So after 20 plane hours, 4 stops, navigating a rental car 2 hours through the backroads of Virginia (thanks GoogleMaps!) I got back to Kipona at 2:00am and crashed.

The next day I had to catch up to cruising friends Kim and Pierre who, after enduring winter refitting their boat in Annapolis, are finally on their way. They're already at Great Bridge, 12 miles into the ICW and I've got a full day ahead of me to get off the Chesapeake and through Norfolk.

In the morning I held my breath as I kicked over the trusty Westerbeke on Kipona....nothing! Crap, maybe she didn't like sitting 3 months idle in the cold and was now paying me back for leaving her behind.
After several attempts it was time to consult Nigel (Calder, that is). Seems the fuel and lines may be too cold to get ignition (I can sympathise with that!). Out comes the heat lamp to warm up the engine. An hour later I kicked her over again and with a crank or two she started. Thanks Nigel!

After a visit to WalMart for provisions, I dumped the rental, settled up at the marina and headed off.

Norfolk is the location for a famous sea battle with the English and also houses one of the largest Navy bases in the world. Throw in lots of commercial shipping and there's a lot of stuff to watch out for. Just to make it even more interesting, I arrived at nightfall so had to navigate through the maze of lights to find the first of many swing bridges and locks to traverse on the ICW.

Back to Thailand for Xmas
Hot and hot....
18/12/2007, Somewhere near the Cambodian border...

How to stay warm when its winter...? Change to the tropics of course!

After a short stop in OZ to check on business and family, I'm back in Thailand for Xmas and New Year to escape the cold in the US. I feel a bit guilty about leaving Kipona tied up, but I'll be back soon enough to continue south.

Always up for an adventure, I joined Phil from Gulf Charters and Captain Lek to take delivery of their new work/rescue boat. With a 30Kva genset, this little boat could power a whole village in Thailand! The genset is used to run the squid lights on booms from the cabin top but could also run a mean stereo system and ice maker....perfect as a mother ship for those flotilla weekends.....Check out that winch!

Sailing the Bay

The Chesapeake truly is a great cruising ground....plenty of wind, wide expanses of water to give you a good reach for a couple of hours, local history and heaps of crabs (and crab pots)!

I was surprised by Kiponas speed and she's in her element when the wind picks up. She feels strong and safe in 30kts and the cutter rig allows you to de-power quickly and keep the boat balanced. Everything I expected from a Valiant.

When the sun went down and the crabbers and fishing charters had gone home, I had much of the Bay to myself except for the tugs and commercial traffic. I'm kinda used to that from my sailing back home in Thailand....especially dodging the squid boats and fishing traps!

Hi to my buddies at Gulf Charters in Thailand. If you're looking for a charter in a new cruising ground I can recommend a week around the Kho Chang island group in the South West monsoon season. Check em out at

Not exactly Paradise!

While I'm happy to be in the water finally and on my way, I'm leaving behind my new-found cruising friends , Pierre and Kim, while they finish the refit on their Lord Nelson 41.

With their two boys who are the same age as my son Jared, they're also beginning an adventure to sail the Pacific to Australia.

Until they can get out of Annapolis they have to endure a little hardship..... should make arriving in the Bahamas that much sweeter...!

The Adventure Begins

The difference between a fantasy and a dream is that dreams are something you can make happen....

And so with a sigh of relief and great anticipation of the adventure ahead, I cast off from Annapolis on a grey day in Fall, head out of Back Creek and turn south down the Chesapeake for Norfolk.

Over the last 6 weeks I've been over every inch of the boat and the rig from top to bottom and stem to stern. I've removed, polished, replaced and re-installed every nut, bolt, block, screw, shackle, tang and tunbuckle. With all new wire rigging, sta-lok terminals and chainplates, I don't have to worry about the rig if things get hairy out there.

Thanks goes to the Brian Duff and team at Southbound rigging who made sure I didn't cut corners and in the end made the right decisions. Hi also to Frannie, the best looking rigger on the East Coast!

On the Hard
09/11/2007, Annapolis, Maryland, USA

"Not all who wander are lost." JRR Tolkien

I couldn't have found a boat to buy any further away from home than here! It was kind of fun when it was warm, but living on the hard miles from home while you work on your boat is no fun, especially in the cold and rain as fall turns into winter. Had to chip ice off the deck today! Break out the foulies...Brrrrrr

Perhaps if I was better organised I could have been gone already, but the upside is I'll have all new rigging (sta-locks - cool!), batt-cars and storm trysail. And it took forever to get the boat documentation cleared from the USCG. But I've also met some real nice cruisers while I've been here.

I can't wait to get somewhere warm. The new rig has arrived and we'll step the mast on the 12th. New antifoul (3 coats) over the weekend and we'll launch on the 14th. I'll leave Kipona (her new name - much easier to pronounce than Aquilegia - try saying that 3 times over the VHF) and go home for Thanksgiving (read pay bills and show my face in the office!) and then kick off again in the New Year. Later ...

like mother like daughter?
31/12/1969, somewhere out there

so will our latest addition to the family inherit the sailing instincts of her mother and grandmother.....only time will tell! You can be sure that she'll be a water baby .....

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Port: Mooloolaba
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