Sign sign everywhere a sign
19 February 2021
Tired of the cold and headed to Florida! There were many travelers on the road headed south too. We left a day earlier than planned because of predicted bad weather. Another round of ice was expected in Virginia. So off we went! We left Urbanna at 10 a.m., made a few stops and arrived in Florence S.C. around 4 p.m. We passed a car along the way towing a loaded, tarp covered trailer, with a sign that read, "Goodbye PA and NJ, Hello Florida". A sign of the times.
We left Florence the next day at 9 a.m. after breakfast. 95 South was littered with Billboard signs . Half were for "adult" stores and the other half for Jesus. Satan vs. God. Evil vs. Good. A sign of the times.
We arrived in St. Augustine around 3 p.m. After settling in to our room at the Flagler Inn, we drove to the historic district. Parking is nearly impossible. We have many fond memories here. We have made many stops here over the years, on our way both South and North on S/V Bay Breezin'. Many times we wished for a car when we were here on the boat, but now it seems it would be much easier to walk everywhere from the city marina than it is to drive in all of the traffic and try to find parking! After two rounds we lucked into a parking spot across from the marina. It happens to be right in front of one of our favorite restaurants, O.C. White's. We had talked about walking to a little Polish restaurant that we like. Instead, we were lured under the trellis of the outdoor patio at O. C. White's, by the music of a lone guitar player. Almost everyone seated here had a dog by their side. Obviously, a popular spot for the locals. We enjoyed a glass of their special "St. Augustine Sangria" and we split a plate lasagna. It was delicious! After dinner we enjoyed a stroll over to the marina. It was a beautiful evening.
With an extra day before we check into our air bnb on the Gulf Coast, we decided to stay another night in St. Augustine. The chance of rain today is 100%. Despite the rain, we drove cross the Bridge of Lions Bridge to the beach front. We toured the lighthouse and had a wonderful lunch at Sunset Grille. We had homemade clam chowder and key lime pie...yum. The sign outside said "You are now somewhere on A1A".
16 August 2019
Yesterday I stayed home alone while Heather worked. After work, we went to Root 42 for a drink and then to The Old Stone Farmhouse for dinner. The restaurant is charming. Over two centuries ago, the building with two foot thick stone walls was the hub of a 250 acre Danish sugar plantation. It was a hard decision, but I settled on the Mahi and shrimp over roasted cauliflower steak with citrus butter and green mango salad. Heather had the 8 ounce filet with truffle herb polenta, roasted mushrooms, bordelaise and bearnaise, grilled asparagus and crispy leaks. We enjoyed these with a bottle Chardonnay. Our waitress was great and she was a friend of Heathers. She insisted on sending us home with a decadent chocolate mousse and coconut macaroon to share, on the house. It was truly an amazing dining experience.
Thursday August 15
We were up early to catch the 6 a.m. Fast Cat in Red Hook to the Westin in St.John. This new, very modern air conditioned ferry is owned and operated by Cruz Bay Watersports. It is a 100 foot power catamaran. The interior is beautiful, a lot like an aircraft except the seats are more comfortable and has much more leg room. This is Heather's commute numerous times a week. We were on the dock at the Westin Hotel by 6:30.
The boat for this day long trip to the British Virgin Islands is S/V Daydreamer, a 55 foot catamaran. She is at the dock with two other Cruz Bay boats, Island Time and Jost Boat. There are 45
passengers today. After everyone fills out their paperwork for customs and immigration and hands over our passports, we can board. A continental breakfast of ham and cheese croissants, fruit and pastries is waiting for us. Everyone helps themselves as we depart. Captain Brent is at the helm. Ivan, the other crew member gives the safety talk. Our first stop is back to the north shore of St. John at Lovango Cay for snorkeling. Local legend has it that 18th century pirates visited a brothel located on the island, sought their pleasure and sailed away. The "Love and Go Island", hence the name Lovango. We are under sail, the bar is open and our next stop is a BVI customs office on Jost Van Dyke. We picked up a mooring and Ivan took the dinghy in with our paperwork and passports to clear us in. We motored around to White Bay where there are many boats anchored. Brent pulls Daydreamer right up on the beach. Both aft and bow anchors are set and the guests depart for a few hours on Jost Van Dyke. There is a selection of beach bars and cafes. Heather and I made our way to the most well known, the Soggy Dollar Bar. It is where the Painkiller was born. I got a chicken sandwich with pasta salad and ate while Heather took lunch back for the captain and crew. There is a photo album on the picnic table that shows pictures before the hurricanes and of the aftermath. Everything has been rebuilt. I took a walk on the beach, snapped some pictures and visited the gift shop. There are lots of people enjoying lunch, drinks, playing the "ring toss" game and hanging out in the water. There is a great vibe here. The party continues back on the boat. Some of the passengers take a turn at the helm for a picture. We sail back to St. John where we have to stop at the customs dock to clear back into the U.S. With our passports in hand we file through the office. As Captain Brent explained, they have a great arrangement with customs in the BVI. You pay their fee and they just wave you in. Back in the U.S. they want to see our smiling faces. We motored around St. John to the Westin on Cruz Bay. After the boat was "ship shape", we took the 6:30 Fast Cat back to St. Thomas. It has been a "lovely cruise". A great ending to my time back in the islands. It's always hard to say goodbye. I am so glad to see Heather so happy. She loves her life here!
14 August 2019
The clouds are covering the sunrise this morning. By the time we leave at 8:30 the sky is clear. It is going to be a beautiful day! We arrived at the Ritz Carlton to meet S/V Jammin' at 9 am. Captain Brent and Erin are bringing her from St. John. Heather picks up beach towels and lunch for the guests from the hotel kitchen. We are waiting on the beach when they arrive at 9:30. The captain pulls Jammin', a 63 foot Gold Coast catamaran built in St. Croix, right up on the beach so guests can walk up the ladder that lowers to the water. Boarding is at 10:30 and there are 29 guests today. I am happy that they have room to add me. The max is 45, so it won't be crowded. The wind is blowing 15-20 kts. As soon as we can turn into the wind, Erin and Heather raise the main sail and unfurl the jib. The music is good and " we be Jammin". It is a nice group of people from all over the world. I sat at the helm with Brent for a while. Great view from up there! Our first stop is Lovango Cay, St. John. A small, self -sufficient, eco-friendly island with just a few residents. We pick up a mooring here and spend an hour or so snorkeling the reef. Heather spotted a group of six squid. They look so graceful swimming over the reef. Our next stop is Honeymoon Beach on St. John. It is a National park. We can see what is left of Kenny Chesney's house at the top of the hill. Unfortunately, it was totally destroyed in Irma/Maria. We pick up a mooring and spot a turtle immediately. Everyone is excited to get back in the water. Some swim to the beach. Heather takes people back and forth in the dinghy. She started driving a dinghy when she was 11 years old! The bar is open and lunch is served. This was a nice long relaxing stop. I sat in one of the bean bag chairs on the bow with my Painkiller (signature rum drink of the islands). Time to head back to St. Thomas. There are a few kite boards out as we approach the beach at the Ritz. It has been a wonderful cruise! My trip would not be complete without a sail.
Beach Bars and Iguanas
13 August 2019
Saturday August 11
There is a cool breeze blowing through the five, floor to ceiling, 21 pane louvered windows all night. The bedroom overlooks Sunsi Bay. I can hear the roosters crowing at 5am. The sky is gorgeous in red ord orange as the sun comes up over the residual clouds on the horizon. Other birds join in the chorus. There is a pair of parrots that I have observed every day. Heather slept in until almost 9. She was exhausted from her long day yesterday. Cruz Bay Water Sports is taking local kids in summer camp on a snorkel sail. The first two trips yesterday were filled with thirty plus kids each trip. Her third trip was a sunset/dinner sail to St. John. Our breakfast this morning was at Lattes in Paradise overlooking American Yacht Harbour. We watched fishing charters, day sailing charters and ferries preparing to depart. After breakfast and a little shopping we headed to Sapphire Beach. Since I was here last year, a huge pavilion with a bar and lounge has been built. We stayed to listen to the band. Then we stayed for cheeseburgers for lunch. And then we stayed to see more friends and more music. We decided to take out Chinese food for dinner. I spent a quiet evening at home and Heather went out with friends.
Sunday August 11
It rained some overnight. The sun turned the sky red briefly at sunrise and then slipped behind some clouds left on the horizon. By 6:30 am, the sun is over the clouds and it is too bright to stay in bed. Time for coffee on the balcony. The roosters in the distance are really loud this morning. I see the parrots playing in and out of the trees. We had brunch at Caribbean Seafood Market. Bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys kept us there into the afternoon. Chanda met us and from there we picked up Chris and went to the beach at Magens Bay. Hailed as one of the world's most beautiful beaches, it is popular with both tourists and locals. There is a fee to get in, but is minimal for locals. The grounds, bath house, food pavilion and bar are all well kept. There were no cruise ships in today, so just mostly locals enjoying the beach. We stayed until closing time at 5 pm. We went to the laundromat, threw a load in and walked to ITP for a cocktail while we waited. Another early night back at Heathers for leftovers and a movie.
Monday, August 12
Time seems to be flying by now. Heather is on a private charter today. She is up at 5am to catch the 6am ferry this morning to St. John where they will take the boat to Virgin Gorda to pick up guests and sail to Scrub Island. She should be back around 7pm. Heather's neighbor, Bob, gave me a ride to Sapphires in Redhook at 11 am. I had lunch at the bar and then walked to the pool by the marina where I spent most of the day. The pool was full of kids. There were two huge iguanas hanging around. They are very bold because people feed them. One came up under the chair next to me. It may be because I was just bitten by a snake at home a few weeks ago, but they really made my skin crawl! Too close for comfort! I decided to leave. I walked up the hill to a poolside restaurant that Bob recommended. It was a nice quiet bar with just a few people in the pool. There were some issues in customs, so Heather didn't get the ferry back until 8. We had a late dinner at Slice and headed home. I'm excited to sail with Heather tomorrow.
09 August 2019
From Rivah time to Island time. Not a hard transition. It has been over a year since I've been to St. Thomas to see Heather. That is too long!
Tuesday August 6
There is a steel drum band and free Cruzan rum shots as soon as we are off the plane. A nice welcome to the islands.
I took a taxi from the airport to ITP (Island Time Pub) to meet Heather after she finished her work day. It's just like "Cheers" as everyone yells a welcome to Heather and Heathers Mom! I love all of Heather's friends....her island family. It was great to see everyone and catch up. I was starving so we shared a Hawaiian pizza.
Wednesday August 7
My first full day here was what I call "acclimation" day. We had a late breakfast at Carigas on the water by Independent Boat Yard in Red Hook. It is a good time to catch some of her friends who keep their boats there. We spent the rest of the day shopping like tourists at the cruise ship dock. We went through the Pirate museum (very cool) and chatted with Captain Jack Sparrow (oppps, he uses the name John Sparrow now) He looks just like Jack from Pirates of the Carribean and never breaks from character! Disney won't let him use the name. Then, we had to stop at Kmart for some essentials. Back to ITP for dinner and home by 10 p.m.
Thursday August 8
Breakfast was at Bernie's this morning. We picked up Chanda and met Andy and his coconut retriever, Chuey, at the noon ferry to Water Island. More friends filled the little ferry boat for the short 10 -15 minute trip to the island. I had never been before. It's a great beach to hang out all day. We shared a cabana,swam, played darts and ate conch fritters and quesadillas. We took the last ferry back at 6p.m. Heather and I decided on dinner at Pesce, a great Italian restaurant next to ITP at American Yacht Harbour. Heather had Fettuccine Alfredo and I had Snapper Piccata. All pasta is made in house. Delish! We called it an early night. Heather works a long day tomorrow.
Friday August 9
It stormed overnight. They've been having a lot of rain with thunder and lightning(unusual here). It's all good though. The cisterns are full and the island is lush with greenery and tropical flowers. The Flamboyant trees are.....how should I say...FLAMBOYANT! It was overcast this morning when Heather left at 7a.m. There are still a few passing clouds but the sun broke through by 9 and there is a fabulous breeze up here on the side of this mountain called St. Thomas. Heather was worried about leaving me all day alone. She won't be home until after 10 p.m. After trying to get me to take her car (too scary to drive here for me) I assured her that I would be fine. There is not much to eat here. Heather is out at meal time most days. I "make do" dining Al Fresco with biscotti and coffee with Kahlua. Summer sausage and Gouda for lunch. Tuna, olives and nuts for dinner. Trader Joe's dark chocolate with caramel and Black Sea salt for dessert. I always provision! I'll find a few "Mom projects", like cleaning the fan and painting a table. My very southern mother used to do things like polish the silver when she came to my house! About 10:30 a.m., I saw Heather's boat sailing south to St. John. I spent the afternoon reading. Heather has Saturday and Sunday off. I'm sure we will find something to do!
From E City to the URB
18 May 2019
It was 50 degrees when we left the dock at Pelican marina at 7:15 a.m., but I still had my flip flops on. The Elizabeth City Bridge is on restriction weekdays. We went through on the 7:30 opening. Our new friends on (another) SeaQuel were there for the opening too. It was clear without a cloud in sight. We were first through and SeaQuel follows us into the Dismal swamp. We didn't see another boat until we got to the South Mills lock. There was a sailboat anchored and waiting for the 11:00 opening. We only needed to wait about 5 minutes and the locks opened. After all three boats were inside the lock closed and the water rushed in. We rose 8+ feet and the lock opened at the other end and we were on our way. The guy in front of us was by himself and he was really struggling to keep his boat from hitting the side. It's definitely better to have two line handlers. We followed him through the bridge and to the North Carolina Visitors Center. The Dismal is so beautiful. The birds were singing, dragonflies and butterflies buzzed around us and turtles were sunbathing on the logs. The sweet smell of honeysuckle scented the air. There was no duck weed and we didn't bump anything on the bottom! S/V Liberte kept going and we, along with Sea Quel, stopped at the dock to tie up for the night. We had lunch, caught up with some communications and took a walk to the State Park across the bridge. We could hear Stan playing his guitar as we walked past SeaQuel. Several people stretching their legs at the Welcome Center along Hwy. 17, stopped by the boat to chat about where we'd been and where we were going. One couple we talked to had taught sailing in Deltaville for 25 years and traveled to the Bahamas on their Island Packet. We later enjoyed drinks on the bow of Sea Quel with Stan, Kathy and their cute little mini dachshund, Jasmine. It was a beautiful evening.
61 inside and out this morning. Clear and sunny as we left the dock at 7:50 a.m. We crossed the state line into Virginia at 8:25 a.m. Carl spotted a white tailed deer and we saw a few snakes slithering across our path. At 10:55 we reached the Deep Creek Bridge. There were two boats waiting. South bound traffic held us up. We finally went through at 11:30 for the 11:00 opening. After opening the bridge, the tender hoped into his car and drove to the Lock to let us in. There were four boats this time. Our favorite Lock Master, Robert , who always serenades us with his conch shell, was on vacation for a few days. Once the water level was lowered, the lock opened and we left one by one. We had to wait for an hour at the railroad bridge #7 while they did some maintenance. Then we waited 20 minutes for railroad bridge #5 to open. We said our goodbyes to S/V SeaQuel on the radio since they were stopping at a marina on the Portsmouth side. As we passed by the Portsmouth city docks we saw our friends boat, Wayward Sun. We arrived at Waterside marina in Norfolk at 2p.m. We had a late lunch on the boat and then took the ferry across the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth. The River was busy with tugs, barges, police boats and some small sailboats. We waited for Tim and Michele on the patio at Legends Brewery overlooking the harbor. Stan and Kathy walked by and stopped to join us. We all had a few brews and talked about our winters. Wayward Sun wintered in the Exumas, Bahamas. SeaQuel is going to Annapolis and Wayward Sun is going home to Baltimore. After Carl and I returned to Waterside, we had dinner at the Smokehouse. The ferry horn blew loudly every 20 minutes until 11:00p.m.. After that, except for the music coming from Waterside, it was a fairly quiet evening.
We decided to get an early start. There's a chance of thunderstorms later in the day. We were underway before 7a.m. There was a cruise ship at the dock at Nautilus and another one coming in the channel. Tugs were busy with tankers, barges and dredges. The skies were clear and the temps were around 60. The security boats watched us closely as we passed by the warships at Hampton Roads. We left the Elizabeth River into the James and surfed over the Hampton Roads tunnel to the Chesapeake Bay. The waves were rolling from behind. We were riding the tide at 7.5-8 knots. We passed a Menhaden fleet with pelicans and seagulls all around. We put the head sail out to stabilize the boat. There was less than 10 knots of wind. The winds increased to around 15 and were still out of the east even though predicted to be out of the south west. We continued to motor sail until we turned up the Rappahanock River. We furled the head sail and started dodging crab pots. Once the Norris bridge is in sight, we know that we are almost home. As we pass the town dock some of our friends are waving to us to welcome us home. We waved and Carl blew the air horn. We arrived at our dock in Urbanna Creek at 4 p.m. where some other friends are waiting to catch our lines. We have great friends! We are happy to be back!