The Travels of Marco Polo

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
05 February 2016 | Marco Island Marina
17 July 2015 | Stock Island Marina
30 June 2015 | Stock Island Marina, Key West
24 June 2015

Welcome to Charming Historic Charleston

25 June 2017 | Charleston, South Carolina
Barbara/ thunderstorms
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.

Take care,
Barbara and Pete

2017 Sailing up the Eastern Seaboard

04 June 2017 | Brunswick, GA
Barbara/sunny and hot
June 3, 2017 Marco Polo Sets Sail on the Eastern Seaboard!

Hello everyone! After being land-lubbers for nearly a year we are back on S/V Marco Polo. One year ago, we left the boat at the beautiful Marina at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville, FL. Located 26-miles inland it is a terrific "hurricane hole" which was reassuring to us when Hurricane Matthew hit in October. Fortunately, no boats in this marina were damaged. However, during a September thunderstorm, a sailboat on another pier was struck by a massive lightening bolt, sending the charge to over 20 adjacent boats and across the water to our boat. To our dismay most of our electronics were fried. Thank goodness for our boat insurance which took care of all replacements.

With the boat sitting for so long, we had a long list of things to do to get it ready for cruising again. In March, we hauled the boat out for a bottom job and replacement of prop shaft bearings and seals and rudder bearings and other routine maintenance in preparation for our East Coast cruising adventure. A few days before our anticipated departure, we tried to replace an old topping lift line that ran through the mast, and in so doing the messenger line parted inside the mast. Yikes! Again we were lucky to be in Ortega because Jovan, an Ortega Marina employee who is also a rock climber, was able to climb our 62-foot mast and work above the mast head and fix the problem as well as get an accurate measurement of the height of our instruments on top of the mast which is important whenever we pass under fixed bridges in the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW).

Weather is critical to planning for safe sailing. If the weather is projected to be bad, we stay put! We are retired and don't have a schedule to keep. Pete constantly checks a variety of weather sources. On Memorial Day, we decided June 2nd looked like the most favorable weather window for the run to Brunswick, GA. At this time of the year, brief rain showers are the norm but nothing indicated storms. Getting an early start was key to arriving before dark and also for timing the opening of the Main Street bridge in Jacksonville. We would be traveling offshore for the 98-mile (85 nautical mile) trip and our average speed would be about seven knots (8 mph).

We left the marina at 5:45 a.m. and made it to the bridges with time to spare, but a train had stopped on the railroad bridge that just preceded the Main Street bridge. We talked to the bridge operator and the train operator, who were helpful and got us through just before the "mandatory" closing time, which would mean we would have to wait for two hours. Whew! We then had smooth motorsailing (running with the engine and with help from the sails) until about 25 miles before our destination. We went through a massive thunderstorm, which we tried to avoid but could not. Fortunately, Pete had taken the sail down and we had donned our "fashionable" foul weather gear before the rain and wind started. Fearful of lightning strikes, I stowed our cell phones, iPad, computers, hand-held GPS device and portable radio in static shield bags and placed them in the oven and microwave. Over the next hour or so we experienced six foot locally generated steep waves with wind over 50 mph. Definitely one of the worst storms we have been through. Captain Pete had to hand steer throughout the storm because the autopilot could not handle it. Admiral Barbara was hanging on and praying! Finally it was over! The storm slowed us down but we still managed to arrive at Brunswick Landing just before 6:30 p.m. It was quite a memorable trip! We enjoyed a hot meal and a glass of wine that evening.

On Saturday, we explored the Brunswick Old Town Historic District. We saw many quaint shops and old homes surrounded by beautiful gardens. There are six dedicated protected green spaces from the post Civil War days (album photo of Hanover Square). Brunswick was also a strategic military location during WW2. Blimps from the Brunswick Naval Air Station patrolled the coast protecting US ships from German U-boats. Business in Brunswick was booming during this period. The J.A. Jones Construction Company employed over 16,000 workers and produced 99 Liberty ships which were used to transport materiel to the European and Pacific theatres. (album picture of Pete in front of a steel model of the Liberty ship).

Our plan is to watch the weather forecast and possibly leave mid-week for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Thanks for following us and keeping us in your thoughts for our safe travels.


Barbara and Pete

P.S. In case some of you did not get our message regarding our little three-legged furry crew, Cody, we lost him in October. The cancer that took his leg returned and despite the best efforts of his oncologist and ours, he did not respond to treatment. We miss him. He was our Ambassador of Friendship collecting two-legged as well as four-legged friends in every port of call. RIP Cody with your brother Sammie.

Happy to be in Texas!

26 June 2016 | Houston Texas
Barbara/ hot with scattered thunderstorms
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Marco Polo is settled in a safe marina/hurricane hole in Jacksonville, Florida and we are back in Houston.
As Pete and I reflect upon our five months of cruising we are grateful for so many things:
• wonderful cruising experiences
• nature's beauty in the Abacos and Florida
• friends (new and old)
• safe sailing weather
• good health
• Cody -our little Ambassador of Friendship and
• Marco Polo doing what we wanted it to do!

We are also appreciative of our family and friends, for supporting us through your comments, well wishes, and prayers for our safety.

Cruising has enabled us to meet many interesting people who we now call friends. Boats are our common denominator but it is amazing to find out how many other interests we share. Cruisers never say goodbye, just safe boating until we meet again.

Have a safe and wonderful summer,

Pete, Barbara and Cody

P.S. It seems the fresh air, sunshine, beach time as well as the extra attention Cody received from every friend he made, were highly effective "drugs" for him. On Monday, his oncologist told us the two nodules in his lungs had disappeared and the remaining one had decreased in size!

St. Augustine, Florida

14 June 2016 | St. Augustine Florida
Barbara/watching Tropical Storm Colin
June 1st- 8th, 2016

St. Augustine, Florida

Pete, Cody and I sailed into St. Augustine on June 1st. The marina is just across the street from the town. St. Augustine has a fascinating and illustrious history. Sir Francis Drake, pirate Robert Searles and philanthropist, Henry Flagler who started the Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller are all well-known figures in the city’s history.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city. Governor Ponce de Leon of Puerto Rico tempted by legends of gold and a spring that brings eternal youth journeyed north and discovered a land he named La Florida. His land fall was where current day St. Augustine is located. While he never discovered gold or the “fountain of youth” he did discover something that would become even more valuable-the Gulf Stream, a strong current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico up the east coast of the United States. This current could shorten the voyage from the New World back to Spain by as much as three weeks. Even today cruisers have a healthy respect for this great current using it to their navigational advantage especially on the passage between the U. S. mainland and the Bahamas.

Since we had limited time and there is so much to see we took the Old Town Trolley Tour to get an overall view of the places we wanted to visit. We hope you enjoy our St. Augustine PHOTO GALLERY. The city has strict rules regarding preservation of historical buildings. Many of the restaurants and shops are located in renovated historical sites. We enjoyed our stay in St. Augustine but were eager to get to Jacksonville – our final cruising destination!

Barbara, Pete and Cody

Passage back to Florida

05 June 2016 | St. Augustine. Florida
Barbara/sunny/windy/waiting for TS Colin?

May 21-29- West End, Grand Bahama Island
May 30- Fort Pierce, Florida
May 31- Cape Canaveral
June 1- St. Augustine

After anchoring out in Great Sale Cay we sailed back to Old Bahama Bay Marina (photo is of the resident marina manatee) where our Bahamian cruising originated in mid April.

With an anticipated departure date of May 25th we watched the weather forecast carefully as activity picked up. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Bonnie delayed our departure until Sunday May 29th. Rain and strong winds held off as we motor sailed for the 14- hour trip. However, the seas were not as kind as swells from Bonnie hit us on the beam resulting in uncomfortable rolling (at least for me.) I was really happy to reach Fort Pierce and to set foot on American soil.

After a good night’s sleep, Monday’s 8-hour trip to Cape Canaveral was uneventful. Tuesday afternoon we left the Cape at 4:00 pm and sailed through the night reaching St. Augustine Marina around noon Wednesday. We are looking forward to exploring St. Augustine-the nation’s oldest city and plan to stay here until June 8th.

Happy to be back in the USA,
Pete, Barbara and Cody

P.S. For those of you wondering about Cody, he is a real trouper on these long trips. We have been unsuccessful in teaching him to use his “artificial grass mat”. This smart little dog limits his water/food intake until he smells land!

Man-O-War Cay

25 May 2016 | Man-O-War Cay , Abacos

Man-O-War Cay and Marina
May 15-18

Shortly after arriving in Man-O-War we took our usual walk to get the ‘lay of the land” and let Cody check out the beach. There were no cars and only a few golf carts on the narrow streets. Much less activity than we have seen on previous cays. One reason might be, until a few months ago, MOW was an alcohol-free community and perhaps not on the itinerary of charter cruisers who are generally attracted to the waterfront bars and restaurants. The residents here are very conservative and devout church goers. At one time even the sale of cigarettes was prohibited. Beer and champagne are now available at the marina Dock and Dine Restaurant.

The settlement was founded by a Loyalist by the name of Albury. Even today nearly everyone in the town carries the Albury surname either by birth or marriage. As someone from another cay mentioned, the” DNA is rather tightly knit in Man-O-War!’ I think studying the genetics of MOW’s population would be fascinating however the task of creating genealogy charts might be challenging! Seventy percent of the townspeople can trace their ancestry to the first Albury settler.

MOW is famous for its 200-year history of boat building and sail making traditions. Even today, Albury runabouts (small motor boats AKA smacks) are seen throughout the Abacos. Folks here are very industrious as evidenced by the many small family businesses you see. Albury’s Sail Shop is the place to go if you are looking for hand made items fashioned from sail cloth such as duffels, totes, hats and other accessories. In the shop were several women and one man sewing the sturdy, beautiful bags from colorful sail cloth.

Across the Sea of Abaco from MOW, 20 minutes by Albury’s Ferry, is Marsh Harbour, the 3rd largest town in the Bahamas. We went over mainly to check out Maxwell’s, an American style supermarket. It lived up to its reputation! We were happy to find fresh turmeric and ginger root for our juicing. Before leaving Marsh Harbour, we had a delicious lunch at Wally’s Place, a charming up-scale restaurant where back in the day you would have expected to run into Ernest Hemingway. After our time in Key West earlier this year, I thought I had my fill of Key Lime pie. But Pete twisted my arm and I ordered Wally’s Key Lime Pie. It was one of the best pies I have tasted!

One of the most interesting people we met was our boat neighbor Nick, a very colorful, American entrepreneur, who keeps his 40-year old 50-foot Mason yacht in the MOW Marina. Forty years ago Nick and his family left MOW on a 2 ½ year circumnavigation. Although sailing trips of this caliber are more prevalent today because of advances in electronics and navigational tools, at that time he relied on a sextant and radio direction finder, the only tools available then for pleasure craft. He had lots of great stories to tell. He no longer sails but frequently comes to his boat from his home in the Midwest for his mental health.

In our MOW photo album are pictures of some of the Bahamian-style sail boats that we saw in the harbour. One of the most illustrious sailing vessels is the 70-foot schooner, William H. Albury. She represented The Bahamas in the Tall Ships Race and Operation in 1976. Unfortunately, she is in a state of disrepair. An effort is being made to raise money to restore her.

MOW was our last major port of call before heading to West End -our jumping off point for passage back to Florida. Pete and I agreed we liked Hope Town the best but Man-O-War was 2nd runner up. Everyone we met was very welcoming and appreciative of our visit. You could tell they were proud of their little piece of paradise! We wished we had planned a longer stay.

It started raining just as we left the marina. We traveled through a very big squall with plenty of rain, lightening and wind gusts to 40 knots. It was not pleasant but fortunately we made it safely to a late afternoon anchorage at Great Sale Cay.
Vessel Name: Marco Polo
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau 46
Hailing Port: Kemah, Texas
Crew: Pieter and Barbara
About: Pieter is a retired engineer and very experienced sailor. Barbara, is an advance practice nurse, and looking forward to the new adventure of cruising. Our "furry crew" Cody - a 3-legged miniature poodle- enjoys sailing and making new friends of all kinds in every port.
Extra: Our boat is not named after the water game or the famous explorer but after an industry-award winning deepwater oil production platform designed by Pieter and his engineering company.
Marco Polo's Photos - Main
Pictures from our many visits into This beautiful city!
18 Photos
Created 25 June 2017
11 Photos
Created 25 June 2017
Beautiful vacation spots!
9 Photos
Created 24 June 2017
Brunswick,GA -first port of call
23 Photos
Created 4 June 2017
"The aspect of St. Augustine is quaint and strange, in harmony with its romantic history...It is as if some little old ...Spanish town, with its fort and gateway and Moorish bell towers, had broken loose, floated over here, and got stranded on a sandbank. --Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1873
22 Photos
Created 8 June 2016
a few photos from this extraordinary peaceful and self-contained little town
19 Photos
Created 25 May 2016
Hope Town and the people we met there captured our hearts.
14 Photos
Created 19 May 2016
The last operating lighthouse of its kind. The lighting source is a 325.000 candlepower "Hood" petroleum vapour burner. A hand pump is used to pressurize the kerosene.Two dedicated keepers share the responsibility of lighting the lantern at dusk and winding the weights (similar to a grandfather clock) every two hours from dusk to day break. They live in two identical houses just a few yards from the lighthouse.
10 Photos
Created 17 May 2016
10 Photos
Created 15 May 2016
A few photos from our visit on Great Guana Cay and the Wild Pigs of No Name Cay
11 Photos
Created 11 May 2016
Our first encounter with the gorgeous beaches, and quaint settlements in the Abacos.
20 Photos
Created 2 May 2016
Photos from our crossing to West End Bahamas.
15 Photos
Created 27 April 2016
Marathon Key attracts many cruisers waiting for a good weather window for passage to the Bahamas. We enjoyed delicious food at several restaurants and Cody especially liked Sombero Beach.
25 Photos
Created 12 April 2016
We had a wonderful month in Key West. While there,we made some new friends and enjoyed a great visit with Linda and Jim. Luck and wind were on our side when a huge boat on our dock caught on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured. We especially enjoyed watching the Navy planes train over our Marina.
31 Photos
Created 4 April 2016
We rode our bikes into Key West and explored a different area of town.
14 Photos
Created 5 March 2016
The sail from Marco Island to Key West was beautiful and uneventful! I like that!
5 Photos
Created 4 March 2016
Pete enjoyed his day!
8 Photos
Created 3 March 2016
Two days in Miami at the Boat Show
4 Photos
Created 3 March 2016
A few photos from our home away from home in Southwest Florida.
11 Photos
Created 5 February 2016
Almost 70 miles west of Key West, nestled among spectacular coral reefs, fascinating shipwrecks and sandy beaches lie seven undeveloped coral and sand islands initially named Los Tortugas by Ponce de Leon. Soon noted as Dry Tortugas on charts to show mariners islands had no fresh water.
16 Photos
Created 30 July 2015
Enjoying the local color,food, people of Key West
17 Photos
Created 30 July 2015
Photos from Stock Island Marina, Lower Keys, Florida
21 Photos
Created 17 July 2015
some photos from the trip from Marco Island to Key West
6 Photos
Created 24 June 2015
photos from Key Largo and Key West
7 Photos
Created 27 December 2014
photos related to 12/9/14 blog post
10 Photos
Created 9 December 2014
clip taken by Connie Lipsey during day sail
No Photos
Created 22 November 2014
various photos taken when exploring the Marco Island area
5 Photos
Created 22 November 2014
3 Photos
Created 26 July 2014
Extra photos
8 Photos
Created 26 July 2014