16 February 2020
Our crossing from Lake Worth to Great Harbor Cay started off with calm seas and light winds. We rolled for a couple of hours in the middle of the Gulf Stream but then the seas and winds were calm again until about midnight. Winds and close together waves on the nose came earlier than predicted so we "bashed" for the remaining part of the trip and arrived in the marina around 10:30 a.m. We had never travelled that part of the Northwest Providence Channel before with its busy commercial traffic. In addition to fuel tankers and cargo ships going in and out of Freeport, Grand Bahama we passed 7 cruise ships en route to either Coco Cay in the Berrys or Nassau. Needless to say, between the conditions and the traffic, it was not difficult to stay awake.
We stayed in the Great Island Marina for 8 nights because of winds. It was difficult to explore much by dinghy because of the weather, but we managed to get in a few nice beach walks and we used the marina bicycles to explore the town and much of the island. Just before we left it was calm enough to dinghy through the intricate mangroves in Shark Creek, a trip only to be taken at high tide.
Although we knew it would be a little uncomfortable because of seas and wind direction, we ventured out of the marina on Weds.2/12 and made our way down to Soldier Cay. We were finally able to anchor in the beautiful blue Bahamian water, drop the dinghy and go for our first swim. The next day we took the inside route along Hoffman's Cay at high tide, well aware that the shallow depths would be a challenge. Sure enough, we bumped several times and had to back off in one spot, but Dave was determined to try to get through and we did!. Next time I think we could fine tune our course a little and make it through without stopping...
We anchored in the channel behind Little Gaulding Cay and enjoyed a beautiful view of the multiple small cays around us for 2 nights. We hiked to Hoffman's Blue Hole and enjoyed a dip in its seemingly bottomless water and we walked several of the gorgeous, unspoiled surrounding beaches. It was our first time in that area and we now appreciate its reputation for having some of the prettiest anchorages in the Bahamas. I could have stayed there longer but we needed to grab a good weather window to move south to Nassau.
We attempted to fish on our way down early yesterday but arrived with no fish and 2 fewer lures. We've provisioned with fuel and food and plan on heading out tomorrow.... destination Exumas! Once again we'll be achieving our goal of getting there by Dave's birthday. Yay! Check out the pics in the gallery...
Hanging out in Stuart
01 February 2020
When we rented a car before we flew home to Maine, we drove over to Clewiston (on the SW side of Lake Okeechobee) to visit my cousins. I hadn't seen two of them in well over a decade, so it was really fun to catch up. Hopefully we can make it an annual event!
As I expected, our trip home was a whirlwind. We were sorry we didn't get to see Eric, Sara and the kids, but we had a nice visit with Mike and I got to spend some fun time with Hutch and Morgan. We were fortunate to get snow and I even downhill skied for the first time in a decade.
We kept the car for a week when we returned to Stuart and did some exploring. We had a guided tour of Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge Museum on Hutchinson Island. Built in 1876, it is the last remaining of ten refuges built for shipwrecked sailors in Florida. The organization that ran it, The United States Life-Saving Service, was a predecessor to today's U.S. Coast Guard.
Ross Witham Beach, right nearby, was named after Ross Witham, an early biologist in charge of the Department of Natural Resources turtle rearing program in Stuart. He was one of the country's first turtle conservationists.
We also visited the Elliott Museum, also on Hutchinson Island. The most interesting exhibit there was of historic cars, including one of the largest collections in the world of Ford Model A and Model AA commercial vehicles.
We checked out several nearby beaches but our favorite was the Hobe Sound Beach, abutted by a national wildlife refuge. We were unable to get in the water due to rough surf and an abundance of Portuguese man o' war following high winds, but we enjoyed walking the long stretch of undeveloped beach.
We've been watching the forecasts since we returned from Maine and there have been a few marginal opportunities to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas but nothing we've been comfortable with. We've had some cold nights requiring our little portable propane heater for comfort, but for the most part the weather has been pleasant. We have been taking extensive walks, averaging 6 miles. We usually opt for the route in the photo or some variation of it. The riverfront boardwalk that surrounds the historic district begins right at the marina and connects with the Banyan Tree lined campus of the Cleveland Clinic, then into riverfront neighborhoods of beautifully landscaped homes. We've been listening to audiobooks which helps to pass the miles. Other than that Dave's been doing boat chores, I've been cooking and vacuum sealing and we've been reading like crazy. Sunset Bay Marina really caters to cruisers and has been a very comfortable place to stay.
It finally looks like we may have a window to cross on Monday. We plan to leave for Lake Worth tomorrow morning, anchor near the inlet, and leave Monday mid day for Great Harbor in the Berry Islands. It will be roughly a 22 hour trip. This year we will be trying out myisland wifi, a mobile hotspot rental with unlimited data. We'll set it up when we get there and will post again then!
Check out more photos in the gallery...
Finally, the Treasure Coast of Florida!
07 December 2019
Conditions in the multiple Sounds in Georgia can get pretty snotty but, overall, we cruised through them uneventfully and mainly with fair currents. I sort of hated bypassing Cumberland Island, but we decided this year to leave the dinghy deflated on the bow until we got somewhere warm and could launch it easily.
We tried a new marina in St. Augustine (the Marker 8 Marina), right across the river from the Municipal Marina. Other than the strong current there limiting its access to slack tide only, we found the facilities quite boater-friendly. Right across the Bridge of Lions from town, it was very convenient and much quieter than the Municipal Marina. The replica of the Santa Maria was in town and the Christmas lights were turned on while we were there. We never get tired of walking through the historic district.
We made it to Stuart in the St. Lucie River the day before Thanksgiving. The Sunset Bay Marina, where we are on a mooring, sponsored a nice Thanksgiving potluck dinner. They provided the turkey and fixings while the cruisers brought sides or desserts.
Stuart, the 'Sailfish capital of the World" is a great little town and the marina is right in the heart of it. We walk daily all around the area and there is a free courtesy shuttle that runs 3 times a week from the marina to all the big box stores, Publix, CVS, etc. So far we have managed fine without a car, but we plan on renting one for a week before we go home to explore a little and load up on some provisions we'll need as we continue on in January.
Dave has managed to keep up with Ohio State football and especially enjoyed the Michigan game. Little did he know that the guy rooting for Michigan while they watched the game in the marina, turned out to be on the boat right behind us. Lets just say he wasn't very enthusiastic when Dave introduced himself to him the next day...
We're looking forward to going home to Maine for a few weeks on December 17th. Happy Holidays to everyone!
(More pics in the gallery)
Escaping the cold??
15 November 2019
Our start to the new season went much more smoothly than it did last year. Cay Paraiso fared well over the summer and during Hurricane Dorian, so other than routine maintenance and a few minor repairs, we were ready to go in a little over a week. We left the marina in New Bern and headed down the ICW on November 4th.
We had a good 3 day run with 2 nice anchorages then a mooring in Carolina Beach where we timed our run down the Cape Fear River with the current. A push of 2-3 kts the whole way enabled us to cover a lot of distance that day. We made it to the Barefoot Marina in North Myrtle Beach for 2 nights, where we plugged in to ride out wind and cold. Temps in the 30s first thing in the morning aren't bad if the winds are light and the sun comes out, but throw in 15 kt winds from the North and that's a different story. We enjoyed a great seafood dinner with Dave's High School friends, Janet and Fred.
We managed to squeeze in 3 more long days of pleasant and uneventful progress before tucking into the Safe Harbor Marina in Beaufort, SC to wait out the "Arctic Freeze" being experienced by most of the nation. There was a mass escape from the ICW into marinas for most of the boats around us on Tuesday. It doesn't seem right when the morning temp here is the same as it is in Wiscasset! Many of the trawlers (and some of the sailboats) have since left, but we're staying put until Sunday or Monday. We don't have the desire (or need) to endure rainy days with highs in the 40s and 15-20 kt Northerly winds.
I am again reminded of the beauty of the tidal marshes, vast rivers, creeks and ocean inlets of the Carolina(s) ICW. We're looking forward to a nice stretch of weather next week when we can get back to spending our nights at anchor and enjoy our solitude and peaceful surroundings.
Check out the gallery for more photos...
The final stretch
17 May 2019
We left Charleston via the ICW, went all the way through Myrtle Beach and anchored in Calabash Creek. The next day I grounded us near the Shallotte Inlet where we adhered closely to the latest navigation alert recommendations but couldn't stay in deep enough water and avoid the dredge that was moving side to side across the channel. The dredge crew pulled us off and we warned cruisers headed that way. We read later that a handful of other boats grounded in the same place. We anchored that night in Wrightsville Beach and had easy access to go outside the next day. We had an easy offshore run to Morehead City, anchored right off the ICW, and ran our final stretch, arriving May 2nd. We had one final blessing of the appearance of many dolphins feeding around crab traps in Adams Creek, shortly before we entered the Neuse River and reached New Bern. We spent 12 days getting the boat ready for the summer and had a bittersweet departure on May 14th.
28 April 2019
While in Hopetown we enjoyed several long walks through beautiful flower gardens and pastel colored cottages and a fun boat ride with Froggies Adventures to Nippers Bar and Grill on Great Guana Cay for the final Bahamas Barefoot Man concert. We made a brief stop in Marsh Harbour for provisions then worked our way to Treasure Cay for a long walk on their famous beach. We still think there are others way more beautiful in the Bahamas but this one seems to attract the attention, likely because of the resort location. I'm more into the wild, more primitive ones.
The hardest part about leaving the Bahamas is leaving the beautiful water. We planned to take our time in the Northern Abacos, but we were starting to anticipate the crossing back to Florida and saw a brief opportunity followed by what looked like no opportunity for a couple of weeks. We decided to grab it and after one night visiting "the other" swimming pigs and taking a beautiful, long beach walk on No Name Cay, we headed for Fox Town, Little Abaco. We planned to spend a day exploring but our window came a day sooner than we expected. We left for Great Sale the next day with plans to sleep a few hours and leave around 9 p.m. Our departure from Great Sale was delayed by 4 hours due to thunderstorms, but we ended up having an easy crossing to Ft Pierce, arriving around 6 p.m. the next day. The new customs check-in process with a phone app video conference was a piece of cake.
Once again, the weather kept us from going offshore, so we jumped back in the ICW, anchored overnight in Daytona right off the ICW then spent 4 nights on a mooring in St. Augustine while the winds blew like crazy. We were glad to be back there after skipping it the last couple of trips. Our big adventure this time was walking across the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island and exploring the St Augustine Lighthouse and the gorgeous State Park. I would have never expected to see such a nice beach with huge sand dunes right near the city! It was over nine miles of walking, but well worth it.
We were able to enjoy calm, beautiful weather for a trip offshore from St Augustine. We had the unexpected joy of seeing at least 8 Loggerhead Turtles between northern Florida and Georgia. Our friends on Minx suggested we go into the North Edisto Inlet rather than the Charleston Inlet for the quiet and beauty. We appreciated his suggestion as our anchorage in Church Creek, off the Wadmalaw River was lovely. The conditions for the remainder of the trip to Charleston were quintessential Carolina Spring. There's nothing like it!
Having skipped Charleston the last couple of trips, we were happy to
return. Our third or fourth time in the Charleston Maritime Center, we love the proximity to all the historical attractions and the convenience to Harris Teeter and laundry. The other marinas are huge and out of the way. We have continued our recent trend of taking huge walks. We revisited the Citadel Thursday and yesterday we walked all the way from the marina across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, through the park underneath and back. Friday we took the water taxi over to Patriot's Point and spent the whole day touring the USS Yorktown and the Vietnam exhibit.
Since we're not in a hurry and the weather is so beautiful, we have decided to just stay in the ICW the rest of the way back to New Bern, NC. While we dread going through a few skinny spots, going up the Waccamaw River and along the barrier islands will more than make up for it. We're heading out this morning...