08 August 2017 | New Jersey
25 July 2017 | Intracoastal Waterway
17 July 2017 | Southport Village Marina, Southport NC
08 July 2017 | Georgetown, South Carolina
25 June 2017 | Charleston, South Carolina
04 June 2017 | Brunswick, GA
26 June 2016 | Houston Texas
14 June 2016 | St. Augustine Florida
05 June 2016 | St. Augustine. Florida
25 May 2016 | Man-O-War Cay , Abacos
19 May 2016 | Elbow Cay/Hope Town Abacos
15 May 2016 | Treasure Cay, Abacos
12 May 2016 | Great Guana Cay, Abacos Bahamas
10 May 2016 | Great Turtle Cay
30 April 2016 | Little Bahama Bank
24 April 2016 | Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Club West End Bahamas
13 April 2016 | Marathon Key Florida
12 April 2016 | Marathon Key Florida
05 March 2016 | Stock Island Marina, Key West Florida
Cruising the New Jersey Coastline
08 August 2017 | New Jersey
Barbara/ hot, windy and rainy
Cruising Dates July 20-26
Cape May, NJ - Guardian of the Shore
Picturesque Cape May is the oldest seashore resort in the United States.
Located about halfway between New York and Annapolis it is a very popular stop for boaters. We were captivated by this town as soon as we arrived.
Exploring Cape May is best done by bike since several must see attractions are at the shore making for a rather long walk from the marina especially in the summer heat. Our first morning there, we set out on our boat bikes. While riding through the neighborhoods I stopped frequently to take pictures as there are about 600 "painted ladies", Victorian-style homes, concentrated in Cape May. It is the second largest collection of such homes in the nation after San Francisco. Needless to say, I was lagging behind Pete as I got pictures of these grand dames!
As we neared the shore we saw many elegant mansions built in the early 1900's by the wealthy families from Philadelphia and New York who summered in Cape May.
Several local naval facilities played important roles in the protection of the East Coast during WWII especially from submarine threats. We rode our bikes out to the last free standing fully restored WWII Lookout Tower. Today it is a museum and memorial and is one of the must-see attractions while in Cape May. It was interesting to learn about the "war at the shore" and the defense of the Delaware River and Bay from enemy invasion. After months of losing ships from submarine attacks, the military ordered light control regulations in the community to prevent light from escaping from windows. It was also illegal to take photographs of the ocean and fishing around bridges and causeways was not allowed. Meanwhile, shop keepers and other resort-related businesses continued to promote Cape May as a vacation destination and were opposed to the dim outs and blackouts. Tourism came into conflict with military necessity and national security prevailed!
At the end of our long sightseeing day on the bikes, we found a cozy little Italian place for dinner- "That's Amore Cafe". We tend to gravitate to smaller family-run restaurants and frequently get into conversations with the owners of such establishments. I am not sure why this happens but I believe once you get north of the Carolinas Texans are uncommon! In this case, the owner Alfredo Fishioni told us he planned to retire to San Antonio! It seems many people have a relative or a friend in Texas (it is a huge state).
Most of our blog postings have described the places we have visited or people we come across. However, while sailing to Cape May we picked up a unique "hitchhiker". About 10 miles offshore, a small brown land bird landed on our deck. Oscar seemed like a good name for him. We could tell he was exhausted because for several minutes he just rested. Once he started moving about we offered him water (which he finally drank) and small pieces of bread (which judging by his avoidance probably intimidated him). He was a curious little bird though and seemed to feel right at home as he walked around the boat- hopping up the starboard deck and making his way around the bow and then along the deck on the portside . He saw the open companionway and flew inside the cabin. Once he checked it out he returned to the deck where he settled at Captain Pete's feet. He was fearless. Once we were close enough to shore he flew away. He was great entertainment for the last couple of hours of the sail. We can only speculate how he got so far away from home but were glad we were there to help him back to shore. On the water you do feel closer to nature so perhaps that allowed him to trust us. See Photos of Oscar in the New Jersey Coastline Album Gallery along with this blog entry. If you are on Face book, a short video is on my page.
Atlantic City, New Jersey- A Marina with a Casino
We stayed at the Golden Nugget Marina which was part of the Golden Nugget Casino. We arrived Saturday so there were live bands playing in the outdoor casino. Not so bad when they were playing our type of music but just noisy when the hard rock started .We planned to stay at this marina for two nights to recover from the hectic pace of staying at 13 different locations in the previous six weeks.
Sunday was a nice day and we took the shuttle to the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk. We found many establishments - casinos, restaurants, shops- shut down. It is a city on a decline and has been for a long time.
We did not get a weather window conducive to going offshore for several days. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and ours was making great, new friends - Carroll and Rob- who were waiting it out on S/V Kindred Spirit. We shared many interesting conversations and added to our cruising memories bank while visiting with them over drinks and dinners over the next few days. We hope to see them when we are in the Chesapeake area. Another sailing couple- Erin and Kara anchored out on S/V Vela - who happened to be from our former marina in Houston joined us for dinner the last evening and the six of us had a wonderful time together.
Manasquan, New Jersey- Not a Good Place for Sailboats!
Hoffman's Marina East caters to large sport fishing boats as do the two previous marinas we visited -Atlantic City and Cape May. Let me explain the above sub-title as it pertains to Manasquan. When we arrived there was a fishing tournament in progress and the lone overworked dock hand was busy fueling up these large sport fishing boats which take gallons and gallons of fuel! $$$$ He directed us to a pier and said he would come to help us dock. To get to the designated pier we had to pass through a railroad bridge that lowered periodically for commuter trains to pass. It was open at the time so we got to the pier and together managed to secure the boat to the dock since he was still fueling fishing boats $$$$. We were just feet from the bridge. The next morning we knew the current would be pushing us toward the bridge and it would also be prime commuter time for the trains. We requested a dock hand to come at 7:00 a.m. to help us manage the lines with the expected current. Our concerns were not only the current but the unpredictability of the railroad bridge as some are computerized. No help showed up the next morning and calls to the dock master went to voice mail! Imagine our relief when preparing to leave on our own, I saw a man - the bridge tender- up in the railroad bridge office. Whew! At least some one would see us approaching the bridge and allow us to get through safely!
Stay tuned as we continue our travels to New York!
Take care, Barbara and Captain Pete
Portsmouth VA to Ocean City MD
01 August 2017
July 15th -July 19th
Dear Friends and Family,
We enjoyed our brief stay in Portsmouth, Virginia, one of America's most historic seaports. It is the site of the very active Norfolk Navy Shipyard. The shipyard upgrades, remodels, and repairs ships of the US Navy and is one of the few facilities in the world with the capability to dry dock an aircraft carrier. As we sailed in we saw several aircraft carriers as well as other military ships and the hospital ship, USNS Comfort. This floating hospital is operated by Military Sealift Command; their primary mission is to provide on-site care to our military personnel with a secondary mission of support for disaster relief and humanitarian operations. Just a short walk from the marina was the Olde Towne where we found several good restaurants and many trendy, eclectic shops. One of the joys of cruising around the country is the chance to connect with local friends. It was great visiting with IVUmed friends, Carol and Kurt McCammon. We hope to also see Val and Stewart Welch on the return trip.
The next leg of our journey was a 124- mile overnight trip to Ocean City, Maryland. We left Portsmouth early afternoon to time our arrival in Ocean City in the morning. There was very little wind and fortunately no weather issues so we motor sailed for the entire 18-hours. Typical of our night sails, neither of us got much sleep- Pete napped for about two hours and I got about three or four hours sleep. Tired and ready for this trip to be over, we went through some fairly rough jetties at the breakwater and then arrived at the channel entry of the marina. We congratulated ourselves on this accomplishment unaware our uneventful trip was about to have an "event"! The paper and electronic charts we relied upon for navigation indicated water depths of at least thirteen feet of water in the channel. Suddenly our depth finder showed we were in less than five feet of water and we hit bottom! (We have a six foot draft.) Pete got the boat out of the sand and we tried 3 more different approaches unsuccessfully. We learned later there was a lot of recent shoaling in this area. Meanwhile, the channel was very chaotic with many recreational boats around us. We called the marina asking for local knowledge that might help us navigate this area. The woman in the marina really had nothing to offer and advised me to call the Coast Guard as there was a station nearby. Finally, an "angel" in a dinghy came over and told us he had experienced the same problem in his sailboat and gave us good advice on how to approach the channel and find deeper water. Once we were safely docked, Pete dove the boat to check for any damage. Fortunately, all was well. After some rest and a hot meal we were in a better frame of mind. When we left the next morning we decided we would not recommend this marina for other sailing cruisers.
Barbara and Captain Pete
"Only two sailors in my experience never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar."----- Don Bamford
Cruising on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)
25 July 2017 | Intracoastal Waterway
Dear Friends and Family,
For the next 200 miles of our journey we traveled through the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The waterway provides a 3,000 mile navigable route without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea. Although it is a very scenic route, we were not looking forward to it. Many cruisers on sailboats avoid the ICW because of the shallow areas and the numerous bridges to pass under or through. These factors were of concern to us because our mast is 64.5 feet tall and our draft is nearly six feet. With our dimensions we need to time passage under the 65-foot fixed bridges to avoid high tide. Other bridges such as bascule and swing, open at scheduled times usually on the hour or half hour. To avoid delays you want to arrive just prior to scheduled openings. Logistics are challenging!
We entered the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Southport, NC for the short 28-mile hop to Wrightsville Beach, NC where we anchored out. Arriving early afternoon, the water was crowded with traffic from recreational boats still celebrating the 4th of July holiday. We found a nice place with about a dozen other anchored boats and dropped our anchor in15 feet of murky water onto a soft, mud bottom. It was quite a different experience from the gin-clear blue waters of the Bahamas. Fortunately, it was a cool night as the generator was having problems and we could not run the AC. Pulling up the anchor early the next morning made for an easy departure into the Atlantic to get the 70 miles to Morehead City, NC.
We reached Morehead City, NC and met up with friends, Bob and Clare Perkins. We had a great evening catching up with them. They had just returned from attending the America's Cup in Bermuda and had lots of interesting stories. While in Morehead City, Pete fixed the generator. We also had the opportunity to visit the small, historic town of New Bern on the Neuse River where the Perkins call home base. After a trip to the local grocery for provisioning we all enjoyed a relaxing dinner on Bob and Clare's boat, Sofira.
We were back in the ICW early next morning for the short 40-mile trip to most rustic and economical destination to date- Hobucken, NC. When I called Mayo Docks to reserve a space, I was surprised when told the fee was 40 cents/foot. Typically, we have been paying $1.50- $ 5.00 /ft. This location was very basic - just an old wooden pier with pilings to tie onto. Commercial fishing boats bring their catch here to be processed. I must say it was a pretty, serene setting especially after the fishing boats left however I was glad we could close up the boat since the smell of shrimp permeated the evening air.
Our next ICW stop was Belhaven, NC a town of about 1700 people located on the Pungo River. The downtown area (all two streets) was a short walk from the marina property. Belhaven is another quaint, cute town which in our opinion has one huge claim to fame-
The wonderful farm to fork restaurant, Spoon River Artworks and Market. This restaurant alone warrants stopping in Belhaven again. Food, service and ambience were outstanding. Pete and I agreed this was one of the best dining experiences we have ever had.
Continuing on in the ICW, we covered 77-miles the next day and reached Coinjock, NC in the early evening. We had dinner and early to bed since the next day we knew would be a most challenging day in the ICW getting to Portsmouth, VA.
To reach Portsmouth, our 42-mile route included passing under or through 14 bridges and one lock. While most open on the hour or half-hour it is important to keep one VHF radio on channel13 as the bridge tender will sometimes open a bridge a few minutes before the scheduled time and you need to be close enough to get through it. We were not monitoring 13 but luckily Pete saw the bridge starting to rise. He revved up the engine while I called the bridge tender to tell him we were on our way. Otherwise we would have to wait another 30-60 minutes. Not good when you are also trying to beat the tides. Some fixed bridges had water boards indicating the real time height from the water to the top of the bridge. I am happy to say our antenna touched only once, gently scraping the Pungo Ferry Bridge. From there on out we made it through without problem. It was a bit nerve-wracking and I can fully appreciate why sailboats avoid the ICW.
We arrived in Portsmouth VA early afternoon and were congratulating ourselves for making it through all the bridges in decent time. But Mother Nature was not through with us yet! A huge thunderstorm pounced on us just as we were preparing to dock in the marina. No time to get into our foul weather gear, we threw out the dock lines, tied up and got an early shower! Better to be drenched at the end of the trip than at the beginning!
Despite our concerns of dealing with bridge heights, timed openings and tide changes, we considered our first trip on the East Coast ICW to have gone well.
Barbara and Pieter
More Southern Hospitality in Southport, NC
17 July 2017 | Southport Village Marina, Southport NC
Southport, North Carolina
July 3rd- July 8th
We left Georgetown just after day break with a weather forecast predicting possible rain but favorable winds. Four hours out we experienced a heavy rain storm but fortunately saw no lightening. During and after the storm a solid 15 knot wind was behind us which increased our boat speed to overall average of 8 knots! We arrived at Southport Village Marina at 5:20 p.m. and enjoyed a great dinner at the marina restaurant, Joseph's.
Celebrating our nation's birthday is a really big event in this area .Each year, Southport holds the week-long North Carolina Fourth of July Festival easily increasing its usual population of several thousand to 20,000 -30,000. Many boaters in the area reserve slips in the downtown marinas months in advance to be near the various activities.
On the 4th we took the dinghy into Southport since our marina was quite a ways from town. We saw numerous food stands up and down main street as well as a huge area of stalls showcasing arts and crafts. We enjoyed a delicious crab cake sandwich and browsed around the stalls. After lunch we walked over to the Waterfront to see the Shine and Show Classic Cars. From there we were lucky to find two comfortable rockers on a breezy, waterfront balcony-- the perfect spot to watch the Cape Fear Yacht Club Commodore's Regatta. To avoid river traffic from the many small power boats speeding up and down the river, we returned to Marco Polo well before dark and settled in our cockpit with an adult beverage to watch the culmination of the Festival- an impressive fireworks display shot from a barge on the Cape Fear Riverfront.
Of course the visit would not be complete without seeing the local maritime museum. We always learn something new in these local museums. We are both WW II buffs but neither of us knew about the special "Ruptured Duck" insignia issued to WW II service personnel who were about to leave the military. It allowed them to wear their uniform for up to thirty days after discharge since there was a clothing shortage at that time.
Another common feature of the many Southern seaport towns are the eye-catching, colorful homes surrounded by lush gardens. With its magnificent backdrop of massive live oak trees, Cape Fear River, ornate Victorian house and friendly people, Southport enjoys " bragging rights" as a favorite Hollywood filming location. Several TV series - Under the Dome, Dawson's Creek, and Matlock to name a few were filmed here. The town is also the location of the movie based on Nicholas Sparks' book, Safe Haven.
On Wednesday, July 5th, my dear friend Terry Sorsby picked us up at the marina. We spent a relaxing day with the Sorsby family at their gorgeous beach house on Figure 8 Island. Later, we all enjoyed an outstanding meal at Manna's Restaurant in Wilmington which specializes in serving dishes made from ingredients sourced from local farmers and fisheries of North Carolina. It was a real treat to spend time with them and for them to get to know Pete better.
Friday we had a chance to reconnect with fellow cruisers, Christy and Morris who live in Southport. It was great seeing them again and sharing stories of of sailing experiences.
Thus far, weather has not been in our favor on this trip. Strong winds kept us in Southport for two extra days. Our next leg to Wrightsville Beach is in the Intercoastal Waterway. Although we are seasoned boaters in the deep ICW which runs through Texas and Louisiana and has many commercial vessels traveling on it, this will be our first time to venture into the sometimes notoriously shallow eastern portion of the waterway. Stay tuned!
Barbara and Pete
Southern Charm in Georgetown, South Carolina
08 July 2017 | Georgetown, South Carolina
June 26-July 2
Prudent boaters move from port to port guided by the weather forecast and not a personal schedule. We monitor the weather using a variety of sources including Chris Parker, a marine weather forecaster familiar to many cruisers. Although we did not get a Sunday update from Chris, we felt confident with the reports we had to go ahead and leave Georgetown Monday. We left Charleston for Georgetown just after 6:00 a.m. expecting forecasted winds of 10-15 knots with 3-4- foot seas .Once we left the channel and entered the Atlantic Ocean we were surprised to get 20 knot winds with 25 knot gusts and six foot seas with a steep chop. Marco Polo looked like a Texan bucking bronco - with the bow rising up and then pounding the water as we came down from the crest of the wave. This slowed us down significantly. It took 13 hours to go 70 miles- three hours longer than expected. Needless to say it was a very uncomfortable day!
Despite the rough beginning, we enjoyed our stay in this quaint town with lots of personality! Founded in 1729, Georgetown is the third oldest city in South Carolina. Hazzard Marina, where we were docked is a short, shady stroll to the colorful commercial district, situated primarily on Front Street. We never tired of the fresh local seafood served in the restaurants we visited. I managed to browse through ALL of the shops at least once. South Carolina has some of the friendliest people we have come across. Tuesday evening we were sitting on the boat having a "sundowner" when a couple walked by the boat and we started chatting with them. Deanie and Micky live in the neighborhood. When I asked about grocery stores in the area, Deanie kindly offered to take me to the store the next morning as there was not one within walking distance. On Thursday evening we joined them for dinner at the Tuna House ( the locals gather here on Thursdays to avoid the weekend tourists). We had a great time and look forward to seeing them on our return trip,
It seems all the seaboard towns have pride in their historical ties to the sea. Georgetown as the state's second largest port is very proud of its maritime museum which happens to be free of charge. We spent a couple of air-conditioned hours visiting the South Carolina Maritime Museum learning about the area's history from the many displays featuring photographs, documents and other artifacts related to South Carolina's rich maritime history.
That same day, we enjoyed a very informative tour of the Rice Museum. During the mid- 19th century, Georgetown led the world in rice exports. The fertile low-country flats near the Sampit River were ideal for growing what was then known as "Carolina Gold" as well as the highly prized blue dye- indigo. At the time, nearly half of all the rice consumed in the U.S. came from this area. At the end of the tour we bought a bag of their special rice. We were told once you try it you will never be satisfied with ordinary rice! The Civil War and its aftermath followed by a series of hurricanes in the early 20th century put an end to the rice industry in Georgetown. It was replaced by the lucrative Atlantic Coast Lumber Company in the early 1900's until the Great Depression. In 1936
The International Paper Mill was built which to this day remains as Georgetown's industrial base.
Prosperous plantation owners built massive homes, many of which survive in the Georgetown Historic District. The Kaminski House (Georgetown Photo Album) overlooking the Sampit River is pre-Revolutionary War and one of over 60 antebellum landmarks in the Georgetown Historic District. On our way to town each day we walked through the neighborhoods admiring them. I particularly liked the homes with the inviting wrap-around porches.
We are slowly getting into a slower pace as we visit these small towns. Georgetown residents know how to maintain work-life balance. Many of the shops have abbreviated hours opening at 11:00 a.m. and closing at 5:00 p.m. I had hopes of getting a manicure/pedicure on Saturday morning- too bad ...all nail shops were closed!
For the cruisers on the blog list, Hazzard Marina is a very convenient marina having all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay. A word of caution, Pete sighted a huge alligator (at least 10 feet long) crossing the channel early one morning. After a smaller gator was seen in the marina, the local diver refused all requests to dive boats. A couple of days later we saw a dead alligator near our pier. The diver then cautiously cleaned our boat bottom with Pete on alligator watch!
If you are cruising by boat or car on the East Coast, Georgetown is a stop worth making!
Next port-of-call, Southport, North Carolina!
Barbara and Pete
Welcome to Charming Historic Charleston
25 June 2017 | Charleston, South Carolina
June 25, 2017
Stormy weather kept us in Brunswick for a few extra days providing us the opportunity to check out Saint Simons Island and Jekyll Island. (See photo album-St.Simons Island).Once the weather cleared we made the 90-nautical mile run to Harbor Town Yacht Club in Hilton Head where we stayed overnight. This marina was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew and still does not have electricity on the docks. We had had a long day and were happy to have dinner and turn in as we wanted to leave at daybreak. We got an early start and throughout the day the Captain was pleased the winds were conducive to hoisting the sails averaging about 7.5 knots. We had a lovely uneventful cruise into Charleston. The only excitement was docking the boat along the side of the mega-dock (instead of in a slip) with strong 2-3 knot currents. We were told we would have a starboard side tie up so it was not necessary to have any docking lines prepared on the port side. My gut feeling was to at least put a bow line on the port side but I did not do it. What we were NOT told in advance was that we would have to BACK up the boat to get along side the dock! Not something you want to attempt in opposing currents! Quick change to Plan B- tie up on port side....I had to move really fast to get dock lines on the port side and throw them off. It was challenging but Captain Pete and a couple of guys on the dock got us in safely and securely.
This is the first time either of us have visited Charleston and we love it! Downtown historic Charleston is just a quick shuttle ride away so we have been exploring every day. Charleston was founded in 1670 and is defined by its cobblestone streets, beautiful antebellum houses and friendly people. It is so relaxing walking through the neighborhoods and seeing the moss draped trees shading the beautifully restored homes most with inviting porches. We have also visited several of the historic sights and enjoyed many delicious meals here. (See Photo Albums Middleton Place and Charming Charleston).
Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired is close by. Last week we took the ferry out to the fort and did the self-guided tour. Fort Sumter played a significant role during the war. With the fort in Confederate hands, the port of Charleston was able to receive needed war supplies and ship out cotton in payment. To close the port and capture the city it was necessary to seize the Fort Sumter. For 20 months, Fort Sumter withstood Federal siege and bombardment with a loss of only 52 men and 267 wounded. Do you remember the ending? General Sherman's troops advancing north from Savannah caused the Confederates to evacuate Fort Sumter. On April 14, 1865, Fort Sumter was in Union hands.
One morning we drove out to Middleton Place House, a pre-Civil War home and site of America's oldest landscaped garden. The main house, now in ruins, dates back to the early 1700's. Two smaller structures (flankers) were built on either side of the main house; the north flanker contained the library of some 10,000 volumes, a music conservatory and many pieces of art. Union troops set fire to Middleton Place on February 22, 1865 burning the main house and north flanker beyond repair. After the war the less severely damaged south flanker was restored by the family to be their residence. It has remained under the same family stewardship for over 300 years.
Charleston's Historic Market is also a popular attraction. In existence for over 200 years, outlasting tornadoes, hurricanes, a major earthquake, devastation by fire and Civil War bombardment, it serves as a public market for locals selling a variety of items e.g. crafts, local foodstuffs, jewelry , souvenirs, etc. One of the oldest handcrafts of African origin in America is hand-woven, sweet grass basketry. With over 50 resident artists, the Market is the place to buy one of these sturdy baskets. If you like to buy indigenous items on your travels as I do visit one of the basket stalls and you will leave with a unique basket plus a significantly lighter wallet! You will also be treated to a quick demonstration on the weaving technique!
Our stay in Charleston was longer than most ports to allow time to enjoy the city and also because we flew up to New York to visit family. Reflecting on the last couple of weeks, we agree we love Charleston and the wonderful welcoming people we have encountered.
As I type this note, we are carefully watching the weather. Although we were planning to leave (Sunday) for Georgetown, SC we delayed because of a cold front pushing through bringing squalls and lightning. Thanks for following us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Barbara and Pete