25 April 2014 | Closing in on Home
25 April 2014 | On to the Alligator River
25 April 2014 | North of Charleston
05 March 2014 | 2014 Georgetown, Exumas
29 November 2013 | Vero Beach, FL
23 October 2013 | Oriental, NC
29 March 2012 | Fernandina, FL
25 March 2012 | Bahamas & the US
25 April 2014 | Closing in on Home
Wednesday we headed north on the Alligator River, aiming for the Virginia Cut of the ICW. But first......as we turn north onto the river, we are met with strong north winds, in the 20-27 range, making for a rather bumpy ride. Another boat, well ahead, radioed back that the Albemarle Sound was ‘not very nice’ and he would not recommend crossing. Great! Alternate plan - take one of the anchorages at the north end of the river, past the bridge, and try again tomorrow.
But wait....Now one of the boats calls the bridge tender of the Alligator River Bridge, a swing bridge that must open to allow the boats to go through, to verify that the wind is not too strong for an opening. Nope, the wind is not too strong, BUT there is a maintenance crew starting to do repair work on the bridge and the bridge will not open and they don’t know when it will open. Great again! Was there any announcement of this? No. A half-hour later the Coast Guard makes the announcement. Gee, thanks.
So now there were six boats in wait status. One anchored close to the opening span; four of us opted to anchor close to the western shore; one was far behind and just slowed their approach. If the bridge did not open again that day, we could not get to the north anchorages, there was little protection where we were, guess we could turn around and retreat to another anchorage.
Suddenly - JOY! They were going to do a test opening of the span, and boats there could go through. Six anchors pulled, six boats skeedaddled, and one power boat came charging up the river and we all get through! One amazing thing-this is an area well known for submerged logs/deadheads that can entangle an anchor, cause havoc, and maybe even anchor forfeiture. Not one of us ran into this problem.
By this time, we all acknowledged that the wind seemed to have calmed. We were only seeing 12-14 knots, not the earlier 20’s. Skip those northern anchorages, across the Albemarle Sound we charged. Not the calmest ride, but not horrible. Once on the other side, we were again seeing gusts over 20. Another windy night was predicted, so we opted to tie up at Coinjock Marina. Thursday could get us to the Norfolk area - we were getting close to home!
Thursday into Great Bridge, VA, just outside Norfolk, and Friday, thru Norfolk into Hampton, to visit with two sets of friends at the Hampton Yacht Club. Sixty miles from home.
25 April 2014 | On to the Alligator River
Another spell of unpleasant weather was being forecast, and not wanting to be stuck in Myrtle Beach, we again hopped outside and went from Winyah Bay north to Southport, NC. Rain and wind coming - time for another marina. One day to walk around the town with the azaleas and dogwoods blooming, one rainy day to get some chores done, and one cold/windy day to stay onboard.
On Thursday, April 17, we left Southport, went north on the Cape Fear River, then back on the ICW to Wrightsville Beach and Mile Hammock - an anchorage area in Camp Lejeune, NC. A cold trip! Checking weather forecasts determined that it was actually 1 degree warmer in Burgess, VA, than where we were. And we are south why? On Friday we pushed out of Mile Hammock and went all the way to Oriental, NC. Another weather spell of cold, wind, rain was headed our way. Into another marina. Rain from Friday night, through most of Saturday, and still some on Easter Sunday. Sunday saw the north wind gusting to over 30. Finally, on Monday, the sun came back out and it actually felt warmer by the afternooon.
Tuesday we were back ‘on the road again’, intending to stop at the south end of the Alligator-Pungo Canal. But we were moving so well! And others we were talking with wanted to go further. So we ended up stopping at the north end of the canal, another 25 miles off the return trip. Three of us had been talking on the VHF radio, but there were 8 boats scattered in the various anchorages in this area.
25 April 2014 | North of Charleston
We had wanted to spend a few days in Charleston, but marina space would not allow it. So after one night at anchor, not in the main Charleston harbor, we hit the ICW to head north. Saturday, April 12, we traveled from Charleston to Winyah Bay on the ICW. Became reacquainted with the shallows of several sections of this stretch. Imagine being in a stretch where three other boats are hitting shoals and you manage to squeak through, without touching, but with only about 6 inches to spare! Further on, this stretch usually gives us a spring glimpse of an alligator or two, and this day was no exception. This trip they were all in the water, not sunning themselves on shore.
2014 #9 St Augustine-Charleston
25 April 2014
A few days in St. Augustine stretched into almost a week at Rivers Edge Marina. Not super fancy, but very close to a lot of things, and very friendly. With friends nearby from Belum, Shearwater, and Sequence, our social calendar was not lacking. We managed to attend a Rhythm and Ribs Festival (great barbecue) and depart before the skies opened in a deluge. We enjoyed an Art Walk, toured a museum, and walked through the historic section of the city.
We left St. Augustine on Wednesday, April 9, and headed north on the inside/ICW to Fernandina Beach. This is one of our favorite stops, but this time we stayed on the boat in the anchorage area and made contact with Warrick and Wendy on Belum, who had left St. Augustine earlier and were in the area. On Thursday, we both headed out the Fernandina/St. Mary’s Inlet, intent on going north overnight to Port Royal Sound or Hilton Head. Weather forecasts led us to believe it was going to be a motor-only trip. To our surprise, we could sail, we could head in the right direction, and we could move as fast as if motoring. Belum stayed with their Hilton Head destination; we, however, modified our goal and headed further north to Charleston. The sailing did not last the whole night, but the rest of the trip was uneventful.
We arrived in Charleston around 1PM on Friday - just in time for some of the Charleston Race Week races to come screaming down the channel. We could only power back and try to stay out of their way.
2014 #8 USA Again
01 April 2014
We did our homeward-bound crossing that Wednesday and arrived in Lake Worth/Palm Beach, FL, Thursday morning, March 20. An uneventful, calm, motoring trip of 28+ hours. A day and a half to rest, recuperate, clean fuel filters, and on Saturday morning we headed back out to go north to Fort Pierce, which would get us back to Vero Beach. However....., about 1 mile outside the inlet, having bounced on the way out in some heavy swell, the engine quit. Not a sound you like to hear. We found those white things, otherwise known as sails, were very handy to get us back inside, and into an anchorage area. Tom’s efforts to get the engine to continue running more than 30 seconds failed; diagnosis - possible bad fuel from the Bahamas; remedy - call the towboat and be towed into a marina which could arrange fuel polishing (running the existing fuel through a cleaning process to remove impurities and sometimes to also clean the bottom of the fuel tank; synonymous with $$$).
Fortunately, in his spare time on Sunday, Tom worked with the engine, changed the fuel filter, and then repeatedly bled air from the lines. The engine started and ran with no problems for over 30 minutes. This meant we could leave Monday morning, avoiding the costly fuel polishing.
So Monday, we departed, stopped for good old American fuel, and pushed our way north. We made it a long, hard day and pulled into Vero Beach Monday night about 7:30PM, just in time for rain.
And there we stayed until today. We were not lacking things to do. There was necessary shopping to catch up on and numerous boat-acquaintances to check in with. We had made arrangements to share a mooring in Vero with Dave and Tony of Sequence (now of Williamsburg, VA), and toward the end of the week were joined by Warrick and Wendy of Belum (of Northern Neck fame and Pittsburgh residence).
Today we headed north again, stopping near Cocoa, Fl, for the night. The plan is to get into St. Augustine on Thursday and spend some time there. We are looking for some indication that all that cold weather in Virginia is done for the year! Otherwise, we will find some more places that either we skipped on the way down in October and places that have just too much draw to pass by again.
2014 #7 George Town to Nassau
18 March 2014
We moved north through the Exumas and, of course, had to find a spot to protect us from some coming strong west winds. We did a tour through an area called Pipe Creek, about which everyone raves. We agree it was beautiful, but yikes, the pressure to stay in the deep areas, don’t anchor in the channel, good holding vs. poor holding....we went further north and fortunately snagged a mooring at Cambridge Cay, part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. We knew one other boat there and were faintly acquainted with a couple of others. After we rode out a few days of strong winds, we were all better acquainted, at least by radio. Nothing like sitting on your boat, watching a 60-foot power cruiser drag its anchor through the sand in 20-30k winds, on its way toward rocks, while all occupants are off the boat, on a dinghy trip to a nearby marina and restaurant. They got back in the nick of time, saved it from the rocks, and finally reanchored much further away from the main group.
One thing we did learn was that the cell phone coverage was more spotty as we moved north of Georgetown. As we hiked over Cambridge Cay one day, Tom paused at the top of a small hill, and held the phone up in the air to receive email. By the time we left, we felt that we could hold the phone up in the cockpit, pointed slightly south toward a more developed cay and get some internet! Advances in technology can only go so far forward in semi-wilderness.
A quick trip north to pause at Normans Cay (where we could hold the phone up in the air in the cockpit and get internet and email) and then onward to Nassau. We planned to anchor east of Nassau, behind one of the small islands, but when we saw it and noted that our chart plotter didn’t plot there, we opted to go into the harbor. While friends on another boat chose to anchor near a bridge in Nassau, we took the slightly-easier way - we took a slip at a marina. No worry about current, wind, or anchor holding.
On Monday, our friends on Sequence took us by their dinghy into Atlantis - the Bahamian equivalent of a Las Vegas resort/casino - with a marina that is primarily used by ocean-going mega-yachts. Now picture a 8-9 foot dinghy sliding in between two 100-foot power yachts, to a dinghy dock. Realize that the dinghies of these power yachts are many times 20-40 foot power boats! As we walked down the dock, we were able to see one of their personal helicopters, parked on the top deck of their boat. Yep, we have plans for that addition too.
Today, we did our own walking tour - down to the Straw Market near the cruise docks (if you come here by cruise or your own boat - skip it or allow 5 minutes), then on to a few landmarks. Thought you would enjoy a photo of a Bahamaian traffic director. We lucked out and stopped at a restaurant where we had one of the best meals we have had in 2 months; a cab ride back (who can do that distance twice?!? and here we are on our own boat, planning for Wednesday.
IF NOTHING CHANGES, we will leave here Wednesday, about 10AM, and head on a course that will bring us back to the USA on Thursday afternoon.
Thought you would enjoy former-British island traffic director that we saw today.
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