28 May 2020 | Keyport Harbor
13 May 2020 | Adams Creek, NC
06 May 2020 | Charleston, SC
02 May 2020 | St. Augustine
20 April 2020 | Royal Island
04 April 2020 | Rock Sound Point
24 March 2020 | Rock Sound Harbor
09 March 2020 | Black Point Harbour
29 February 2020 | Lee Stocking Island
24 February 2020 | Calabash Bay
22 February 2020 | Thompson Bay, Long Island
18 February 2020 | Conception Island
15 February 2020 | Sand Dollar Beach, Elizabeth Harbour
13 February 2020 | Lee Stocking Island
10 February 2020 | Rudder Cut Cay
09 February 2020 | Oven Rock, anchorage, Great Guana Cay
06 February 2020 | Black Point, Exumas
Welcomed by Whales in the Raritan Bay
28 May 2020 | Keyport Harbor
Delfina plowed through fog on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey on Tuesday, May 26, the final sail of our second voyage to the Bahamas. There were fishing boats darting in and out of the inlets along the way, and beeping radar warned us of their imminent approach. Delfina's foghorn wasn't sounding...another item for the long list of repairs.
As Delfina rounded Sandy Hook and entered the channel into the Raritan Bay, the fog lifted, and two whales sprayed their greetings, surfacing to welcome us home. It was a grand gesture and we were elated. We arrived in time to watch the sunset from our mooring in Keyport Harbor. We were home.
We had come through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal on Monday, and traversed the Delaware Bay in favorable current; the speed and fair weather encouraged us to continue past our planned anchorage at Reedy Point, and instead sail all the way to the Coast Guard anchorage at Cape May Harbor. We arrived just before midnight. It had been a big push; the wind blew steadily our of the North in excess of 20 knots. The air was cold and thick with moisture as we looked for a place to anchor among a dozen boats. Once the anchor was set we slept soundly.
The wind, which had been forecast to shift to the Southeast, hadn't changed direction by morning. Nevertheless, we slogged through Northeast winds for the 40 miles to Atlantic City. At this point, there was no stopping us; we just wanted to make our way home. There was only one other sailboat at anchor near the bridge outside the Absecon Channel. It was eery to see the dark Atlantic City skyline, normally blazing with electric lights. People fished along the breakwater and listened to hip-hop in the parking lot along the shore,celebrating Memorial Day in these disconcerting times.
Ever since coming back to the United States, I have felt confused and discouraged by the pervasive lack of regard for social distancing precautions, and the politicization of the Covid-19 health crisis. We felt safer in the Bahamas, where compliance with strict curfew and lockdown was the norm. Coming home, we will have to find our own sense of security on land.
I have been reflecting on why I am drawn to this sailing life. One reason is certainly its aesthetic beauty: the endlessing shifting patterns of sea and sky; watching the phases of the moon and feeling its effect on the tides; the thrill of being propelled by wind. The experience is visceral. I am an integral part of nature, and subject to its raw power. I feel closer to Spirit when I am out on the ocean, lifted by waves, watching them shimmer in starlight and sunlight. There is a paradox--a sense of safety along with the terrible knowledge that the ocean can be a truly dangerous place. There is no other place that confirms how much I belong to this great mysterious earth in which nothing is fixed and everything is in motion. The ocean is the essence of impermanence.
Dolphin Dances in Adams Creek
13 May 2020 | Adams Creek, NC
Since leaving Charleston, Delfina has been traveling on the ICW, accompanied by gulls, pelicans, and our muses, bottle-nosed dolphins. Following a night at anchor in Georgetown we treated ourselves to two nights at the Osprey Marina, named for the majestic water birds that nest nearby. We were glad to be tied up when heavy north winds blew through.
We were excited to rejoin our friends from Lost Shaker and Jubilee in Myrtle Beach for a reunion. All three boats had last been together at Eleuthera, sheltering in place in Rock Sound and harbors north. Outdoor dining had just become available at the marina and Rosie assured us of an outdoor table for six so we could enjoy delicious Philly style cheese steaks at the Officers Club, on the deck overlooking the busy marina.
Christoph made me his famous German pancakes for Mothers Day breakfast, and we took a long walk along the intracoastal with our friends. It felt great to be on land again. The family came together for a spirited call with Grandma Cyn on Zoom. She's been in isolation in her room at her assisted living facility for the past two months and was overjoyed to see her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on one screen for Mothers Day. Later we celebrated Gabe's 29th birthday on another zoom call. It was wonderful to experience a day filled with so many expressions of love.
Our friends on Jubilee invited us to raft up with them at their cousin Wayne's dock in Carolina Beach. We arrived in the afternoon and took advantage of the nearby Publix to pick up some groceries. We were glad to see that masks were required and shopping carts were wiped down; however, not everyone wore a mask. Wayne and Noreen invited us to join them on their deck for a socially distanced happy hour. With true Southern hospitality, they invited us back for coffee and continental breakfast the next morning before we left the dock for another day of motoring through the ICW.
Our next anchorage was the creek at Camp LeJeune where we rafted up with Jubilee for our final night together of the sailing season. We left together at 06:15; Jubillee continued down the Neuse River towards their home dock in New Bern while Delfina anchored in Adams Creek, where we happily watched dolphins surface and dive.
I have spent my time on board this week listening to the US Supreme Court arguments by phone. What an incredible opportunity to hear important issues argued in real time. It's the first time I've ever heard some of the justices and I've been captivated by the issues, the justices' questions and the advocates' arguments. This term will determine critical issues regarding the separation of powers. I was also totally blown away by Colum McCann's latest novel, Apeirogon, which argues against the Israeli Occupation through heart-breaking personal testimonies, devoid of polemics. Highly recommended.
Home is starting to enter my thoughts more and more; even my dreams are turning from water to land. It's a remarkable transformation, since I have been living on the water since January 7.
I am still counting the Omer, the 49-days between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. Today is the 34th day, Foundation within Presence, a day filled with the beauty and spaciousness of open sky and water.
Laying Low in the Low Country
06 May 2020 | Charleston, SC
Delfina is on the move! With great ocean sailing weather, we sailed from St. Augustine to Brunswick, GA and anchored in St. Simon's Sound. The Golden Ray, a 600 foot cargo ship that ran aground and spilled 4,000 cars into the Sound has been on its side since September 2019. It remains in the channel, and is being dismantled piece by piece.
Despite our desire to visit Savannah, the weather was great for overnight sailing, and so we pushed on to Charleston in variable winds, and dropped anchor near the South Channel Range at 02:00. A slip was waiting for us at the Charleston City Marina, and we pulled in just after noon. We walked to town in sweltering heat and it was truly surreal to see the deserted streetscape. The last time we were here in November, 2019, the streets were bustling with tourists. Most businesses are still closed as a result of COVID-19. A few restaurants just began offering outdoor, with socially distanced tables, hand sanitizer and wait staff wearing gloves and masks. This will be the new normal. We stopped for refreshing cocktails at Sipango, which offered drink specials for Cinco de Mayo. People seemed to be venturing out tentatively.
We headed down King St. to check out the expanded version of our favorite restaurant, 167 Raw. It was offering a take out menu and Jack remembered us from our last visit in November, 2019 when we were on our way south. Our dinner was fabulous-the best homemade taco chips ever with ceviche, ahi tuna tacos, a carnitas taco for Christoph and a Caribbean fish sandwich. We brought it all back to the boat and feasted.
With strong winds expected off shore, we are likely going to continue toward Georgetown on the ICW. There are bridges for which we require low tide and shallows for which we require high tide, which is why we prefer to go outside whenever we can. In the meantime, we are taking advantage of being in a marina to wash down the boat and charge up all our devices.
Soaking up the Florida Sunshine
02 May 2020 | St. Augustine
Delfina left the dock at Great Harbour at 07:30 on April 28 along with s/v Jubilee to cross the New Providence Channel and the Gulf Stream to Florida. Sailing began on a spectacular beam reach, but as the wind died and and came around to the south, the trip became an endurance exercise in rolly seas. My nei guan bracelets did an amazing job of staving off motion sickness, and with the sun shining, I was happy to be making the long-anticipated crossing. We arrived in Cape Canaveral after a 36 hour sail from Great Harbour. Just outside the channel, a vessel called Go Navigator was practicing retrieval of some kind of space capsule. The capsule slid off a platform and into the ocean; then dinghies and divers were dispatched to retrieve it. There is always something cool happening near Cape Canaveral.
The approach to the Kennedy Point Marina, where we had a reservation, was super shallow and about 300 yards from the entrance, we ran aground. Christoph backed hard and freed us up; we were fortunate to find the last dock space at Westland Marina. We tied up, grateful to be off the ocean. No one seemed to be wearing masks or practicing social distancing, which, after the strict enforcement in the Bahamas, came as a surprise. Jubilee took their slip at Kennedy Point a few hours later. We slept well, grateful to be off the ocean and on a dock.
Bill's dad lives in Titusville, so on Thursday Bill and Julie picked us up and took us food shopping. We stocked up on enough food, wine, beer and rum to get us all the way back to NJ. Then Bill, who loves old boats, drove us to Melbourne to look at a Moonbeam that is for sale. It would be a massive restoration project for Christoph, but it was fun to imagine sailing a classic day sailer with such a storied history. Bill had caught a magnificent wahoo in the New Providence Channel and gave us half the fish. Since we caught nothing, we were delighted with this gift.
We enjoyed a final pizza dinner with Bill, Julie, Bill Sr. and his girlfriend and said farewell for now to our sailing buddies. As we slept soundly at the dock, Christoph awoke to the sound of scratching––some kind of critter was walking across the opening to our hatch. He said he thought it was a rat and I said that was impossible; it must have been a bird. When I saw two half-gnawed avocados the next day, I had to imagine that rat scurrying down our companionway and onto the stove, rooting around until he found my avocados. A rat on board! This was definitely the creepiest boat experience I've ever had.
Friday was a lovely day to motor on the intracoastal from Canaveral to Rock House Creek near the Ponce de Leon Inlet. The creek was filled with fishing boats and pleasure boats, and we exulted in the balmy weather, knowing it will end as we travel north. This morning we took the Ponce de Leon inlet to the ocean and motored to St. Augustine. Wind was light and on the nose all day, but finally came around to the northeast to allow one hour of sailing. We're now anchored in the busy St. Augustine harbor, between the Fort and the Mission. Dolphins are swimming and spraying water as we plan the next few days of travel. We are looking forward to spending a few days in Savannah, a city we have long wanted to visit.
Protected at Great Harbour Marina
27 April 2020
In order to spend the weekend at Great Harbour Marina, we had to check in on Friday afternoon, so we joined Jubilee and Safari in crossing New Providence Channel due West to Great Harbour in the Berry Islands. We were sorry to leave Royal Island, where we had dinghied on a stormy day to a small cay with Carol and Derek of Safari. As Christoph and Derek went spear fishing, Carol and I spotted seven sea turtles swimming in a great arc in the shallow water. It is now nesting season and turtles are laying their eggs in the sand.
Our first stop in the Berry Islands was Hawksnest Cay, a place we had been three months before, at the beginning of our trip. Facing the same stretch of sandy beach filled with sparsely occupied vacation homes, Christoph and I reminisced about the long walks we had taken, the meal at the beachside restaurant, and the fish we had bought from local fishermen. The restaurant is now closed, the vacation homes empty, the airport silent.
It was a three hour sail to around the island in order to reach the Great Harbour Marina. We passed Coco Cay, a neon playground for cruise ship passengers, and its large sign reading "Perfect Day." We also saw six idled cruise ships at anchor. The Bahamian economy is based on development projects funded by the cruise lines. It's hard to imagine how the economy will recover from the demise of tourism.
We came into the narrow cut to the marina just before the weekend lock down. We were asked to wear our masks as we handed our dock lines to the dock hand, and informed that we would not be permitted to leave our boats at all over the weekend. It was windless and hot in the marina, and we used the electric hook-up to run our air conditioning for the first time all season. As we tied up, I recognized Anna Marie of s/v Rita Katherine, who was cooking up some food on her induction grill under the gazebo. She had led wonderful yoga classes back at Brunswick Landing Marina. We were really happy to reconnect, and snuck off for some yoga under the abandoned gazebo of the Pool Bar Restaurant. I could imagine floating in the beautifully blue and white tiled kidney-shaped pool, but it has fallen into disrepair and is now filled with junk and algae, apparently the result of another business-deal gone bad. It isn't part of the marina. It's a shame...
Last evening at 5 o'clock a fierce thunderstorm struck the Berry Islands, and we were glad to be tied onto the marina dock. Winds were clocked at 55 knots! As the palms bent in the wind and rain slashed us, the power in the marina went out. I was on a zoom call with my high school girlfriends at the time, so Christoph kept watch on deck to make sure there were no mishaps. The storm lasted about an hour, power was restored, and all is well.
We are busy prepping for our Gulf Stream crossing on Tuesday. Weather will be wonderful for the 30 hour sail. We expect to make Cape Canaveral and tie up there for a night or two, until conditions allow us to proceed north. Sitting on our boat in sweltering heat, it's hard to imagine that in a few weeks, we'll be back home in New Jersey. I'm looking forward to seeing our blossoming trees.
Slowly Heading Homeward-Royal Island
20 April 2020 | Royal Island
We spent the past several weeks moving from the north side of the Rock Sound anchorage to the south, seeking protection from prevailing winds. On April 11, our family held a wonderful seder on Zoom, with each of us offering any two minute ritual, song or reading that moved us. It was Sara's first seder, and we explained that although every seder is different, this one was really unlike any other. We were all delighted to watch Juniper find the afikomen (the hidden matzah) several times. The next day we celebrated Easter with Sol Eier, a delicious way to eat hard-boiled eggs that reminds Christoph of his German childhood.
The benefits of being under curfew in the Bahamas during the COVID-19 crisis cannot be overstated. The government is doing an excellent job of managing the crisis. While the number of confirmed infections has grown to 60, they are primarily on New Providence Island, and the deaths have remained at 9 for several weeks. Residents are wearing masks and observing the 24-hr curfews, leaving their homes only to buy food, fuel or perform essential functions.
Until the lock-down was imposed in the days leading up to Easter, cruisers could walk on deserted beaches, swim and snorkel anywhere, and obtain deliveries of provisions at the dock. The Farm at CTI delivered our order of fresh veggies directly to Frigate's dock, and we were able to enjoy their delicious greens, beets, salad and radishes. Yum! Lock down now occurs every weekend, when residents are ordered to remain at home and cruisers are required to remain on board.
The government requested that all cruisers either shelter in place or provide a plan of departure to the Designated Government Official. Our plan of departure has been officially approved. We will proceed from Royal Island to the Berry Islands to the West End of Grand Bahama Island, as weather permits. We are fully provisioned and have no need to take on additional provisions or fuel before we cross the Gulf Stream.
Delfina and our friends on Safari and Jubilee left Rock Sound for Ten Baby on April 16, and were happy to be back at the beautiful beach. We saw dolphins and a large sea turtle as we approached the anchorage. Christoph and I had a wonderful snorkel to the rocks at the point, where we spotted a large green trunkfish, many grouper, tons of angelfish, and the obligatory barracuda.
We had been confused whether cruisers could proceed in accordance with their departure plans during the lockdown on weekends. We finally obtained clarification from another cruiser who had been in touch with the Designated Government Official: While we are expected to proceed with the least number of stops, we may proceed as weather permits. That was a very helpful clarification, which we took as permission to sail north to Royal Island. We sailed on a beam reach between 6-7 knots and anchored in the afternoon. A strong front is expected to bring squalls this evening and tomorrow, and we are now in an anchorage that is protected from all directions with about a dozen boats and one workboat. There are construction projects on the shore, but it's impossible to tell how much progress is being made.
I finished a first draft of my first novel, begun in November during National Novel Writing Month. My first readers were Julie and Carol on our buddy boats, and they have given me lots of encouragement to keep working on it and eventually look to publish it.
Days on board waiting out the weather provide opportunities for cleaning, cooking, repairs, laundry, reading and writing. This morning as I practiced yoga and Christoph defrosted the freezer, a load of laundry danced on the lifelines in 20 knots of wind, and dried in 1/2 hour.
We hope to leave for the Berry Islands on Wednesday, after the weather has passed. Until then, I stay on track with the passing days by the practice of counting the Omer, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, when, it is said, the Israelites received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Each week and day of the week have a specific divine quality. Today is the 11th day, with the quality of Eternity within Courage. May we have the strength and courage required to come through this world-wide moment with greater recognition of our vulnerability and interdependence, and may that recognition lead us to build a world based on compassion and care.