High Stepper Cruising

05 December 2011
04 December 2011
22 November 2011 | Albemarle Plantation
01 May 2011 | Albemarle Plantation, Hertford, NC
20 April 2011 | Carolina Beach, NC
17 April 2011 | Charleston, sc
11 April 2011 | Daytona Beach, FL
10 April 2011 | Melbourne, FL
06 April 2011 | Vero Beach, FL
31 March 2011 | Vero Beach, FL
26 March 2011 | Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
24 March 2011 | Boot Key Harbor, FL
18 March 2011 | Crandon Park Marina, Key Biscayne
15 March 2011 | New Providence Island
12 March 2011 | Staniel Cay
06 March 2011 | Pipe Creek
02 March 2011 | Staniel Cay
25 February 2011 | Rocky Point
24 February 2011 | Flamingo Cay, Jumentos
20 February 2011 | Raccoon Cay, Jumentos

High Stepper for Sale

05 December 2011
Doug & Connie
Well, High Stepper, our wonderful Hunter 44DS is now officially for sale. She is docked at Deaton Yacht Sales in Oriental, NC.

If you know of someone who is looking for a great cruising boat, tell them to look no farther than this. She served us well for 6 years and she is all set up for full time cruising.

For all the particulars on the boat, call Deaton's at 252-249-0090. You can also go to their website at: http://deatonyachtsales.com/.

Or go to the listing on Yachtworld at:http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/pl_boat_detail.jsp?&units=Feet&id=2416569&lang=en&slim=broker&&hosturl=deatonyachtsales&&ywo=deatonyachtsales&

Oriental, NC

04 December 2011
Doug & Connie
12/2 - Left the dock this morning at about 9:30. The Sound was dead calm and a pleasant motor to the Alligator River. The only problem was the slow going due to the number of barnacles on the bottom. We dropped anchor at the bottom of the Alligator River with 5 other boats heading south.

12/3 - We departed the anchorage before the sun came up this morning so there was a light ground fog as we transited the Pungo Canal. Another beautiful day. We came out of the Hobucken Canal at almost 3 PM and decided not to try for Broad Creek and get caught coming in in the dark. So we went over to the bottom of Bonner Bay and spent a peaceful night on the hook.

12/4 - We left the anchorage about 7:30 and got to the dock in Oriental about 11 AM. Then we madly ran around unloading the boat, getting everything secure and then winterizing all the water systems. By the time we got done, we were exhausted and ready to crash. One final look at the boat and we were homeward bound.

Plans Change

22 November 2011 | Albemarle Plantation
Doug & Connie
We wanted to post this to let you know what is happening in our lives and what our plans are for the next few months.

Our original plan was to head for the Bahamas again this year, since we enjoyed last year so much. With that in mind we loaded the boat and set a departure date of October 18th. However, back in August our family physician noted that Doug's PSA score had jumped about 20% over the last year and he could feel something when he did the DRE (Digital Rectal Exam), so he referred me to a urologist in Greenville, NC. After a couple of visits to him, he felt we should to a biopsy of the prostate gland which was done on October 5, and believe it when I say that was not fun. On October 14 we got the results of the biopsy back and they indicated the presence of cancer in the prostate. In fact, 10 out of 12 sites showed cancer cells. After some discussion, we made the decision to go ahead with surgically removing the prostate. This decision immediately resulted in the decision to not go south this winter and to spend the time dealing with the cancer. On October 25 the prostate was removed using robotic surgery and this procedure went very well. The big downside to this surgery is the fact that you have to have a catheter implanted for a week. Doug was up and walking the day of surgery and continues to feel very good. On November 3rd we went back to have the catheter removed and found out the pathology on the prostate indicated the cancer had also been found in the seminal vesicle. This will likely mean a course of radiation sometime after the first of the year.

At this point Doug is doing very well and we are doing a lot of research on prostate cancer and preparing to spend the holidays with our kids.

We have decided to put High Stepper on the market. See the listing at Deaton's Yacht Sales in Oriental. NC: http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/pl_boat_detail.jsp?&units=Feet&id=2416569&lang=en&slim=broker&&hosturl=deatonyachtsales&&ywo=deatonyachtsales&

We plan to buy a smaller boat to mess around in and to continue our travels by car, ship and plane.

Back Home

01 May 2011 | Albemarle Plantation, Hertford, NC
Doug & Connie
Sorry for the late post on this. We have been a little busy!

4/25 – We got an early start today to try to beat building winds on the Albemarle Sound (not a good place when there is wind as it is shallow and the waves build very high). The forecast was for South winds at 10 to 15. When we got out on the Sound about 11:00AM, we found the winds were anywhere from WSW to SSW and ranged from 6 to 20 knots. Since it was very hard to trim the boat correctly with these conditions (and we couldn’t point to our destination) we chose to motor sail to the marina. We made it in and to the dock by about 1:30 PM and began the process of moving off the boat and into the condo. Tonight we slept in a real bed (although we don’t do too badly on the boat).

4/24- By this morning, the strong winds from yesterday had died down and we were able to get off the dock very handily (or rather Connie did). We had a pleasant day traveling at times under power and at times under sail. Just as we came to the anchorage for the night, the winds kicked up with gusts to 28 knots so we were happy to put the anchor down and sit back. We are at the bottom of the Alligator River with almost no TV, no phone, but more importantly - no jets flying overhead. Many times there are Navy jets over this area and they are very loud. Tomorrow we will head for Albemarle Plantation and home.

4/23 – After a lazy start this morning, we sailed up the Nuese River to Broad Creek and worked our way back to Jerry and Donna’s home. Jerry guided us into his docking area assuring Connie that there was indeed deep enough (showing only 5’) and she managed to get the boat into a very narrow opening onto the dock, whew. A very short day as it was 1pm. We also found other cruisers we knew there – Jim and Bentley on Salty Paws were spending a few days here as well. We spent the afternoon catching up and touring Donna and Jerry’s beautiful house. Later we headed into Oriental for a very nice dinner.

4/22 – We got an early start this morning since we wanted to cover quite a lot of ground. We almost touched the ground a couple of times in some shallow spots today, but we missed them somehow. As we traveled the Bogue Sound towards Morehead City, the wind and the current were right on the nose, slowing our progress a lot. We turned the corner at Morehead City and headed north about 1 PM. As we neared the Nuese River, we found the winds were 20 knots out of the northeast and there were rain showers approaching. At that point we pulled off into an anchorage at Cedar Creek and were happy to have the day over. Shortly after we anchored, our friends on Bluejacket (Donna and Jerry) called and asked if we were going to stop in Oriental to see them. We were delighted to hear from them and said of course we would.

4/21 – We got an early start this morning and then had to wait 20 minutes for each of the Wrightsville Beach and Figure 8 swing bridges. After that we thought we would miss the opening of the Surf City Bridge two hours away, so we took our time. After about an hour, we realized the current was with us and we still might make the bridge so we pushed down the throttle. Lo and behold we not only made the opening, we caught up to a tug and barge (all bridges open on demand for commercial traffic) and got through the bridge early. Then it was on to Mile Hammock Bay on the grounds of Camp LeJuene. We got there about 3 PM and set the anchor. Shortly after the rain came so we were very happy to be set. We didn’t see much activity from the Marines tonight, but we heard a lot of heavy guns firing.

Carolina Beach, NC

20 April 2011 | Carolina Beach, NC
Doug & Connie
4/20 – With an early morning start we managed to pass through the former shallow areas at Shalotte and Lockwoods Folly Inlets. We did see 12 feet in Shalotte at high tide (+5 feet). Later we stopped for fuel at a marina just before the Cape Fear River. Just after noon we headed up the Cape Fear River against the current, but we managed OK. We did have an encounter with a tug and barge that wouldn’t communicate with us, but we missed him. Tonight we are anchored in the basin at Carolina Beach, NC

4/19 – We waited a while this morning for the current to change and then we headed out up the Waccamaw River. This is a pretty stretch of the ICW with lots of trees and a winding stream that is quite deep. With the timing of the current we were traveling over 7.5 knots most of the way and once we crossed the height of land where the water flows out to sea via the Little River Inlet, we picked up speed again. We are tied up at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, SC tonight.

4/18 – The day dawned with a beautiful sunrise and light winds and we decided to head out to sea and make the trip to Georgetown, SC outside, returning to the ICW via Wynah Bay. For a change things worked very well – the seas were calm and we had an outgoing current in Charleston and an incoming tide at Wynah Bay. It was a long day of over 70 nm by the time we got the anchor down a few miles above Georgetown.

4/17 – Doug got up early this morning and washed the salt spray off the boat. Then it was quite a job to empty the lockers, take everything out, rinse it off, and dry it down. We managed to get this done by shortly after noon. Later we took the shuttle into Charleston and walked around with Matt & Marty for a while.

4/16 – Today was a very nasty day! We were on the outside of the Megadock with about a 1 mile fetch to the southeast – and that is where the winds came from. We had winds over 25 knots for most of the day and 30 to 35 (the highest was 41 kts) for much of the afternoon. We spent the day adjusting fenders and watching each other’s boats. The boats were being pounded into the fenders and more than a one broke during the storm. We finally decided that if we rolled up the side curtains and let the wind through that the boat it wouldn’t be shoved so hard against the dock. Of course this meant that the spray of the waves and some wave were now in the boat. In addition, the waves were hitting the stern of our boat and pushing water into the aft lockers. Fortunately the winds died down in the evening and we were able to get some sleep.

Charleston, SC

17 April 2011 | Charleston, sc
Doug & Connie
4/15 - We reached the channel into Charleston at daybreak having slowed down to accomplish this. As we came in the channel we were passed by an in-bound container ship who at one time let loose 5 whistles (danger) trying to get a small sail boat out of his way with no results , and a out-bound tug and barge, and a out-bound tanker! By 8:45 AM we were tied up to the Megadock at the Charleston City Marina, the first time we have been at a dock since November in Nassau of last year. We took naps and then washed the boat and did laundry. This evening we walked up to a restaurant for snacks and beers with Runaway. This is where we first met Runaway over 7 years ago almost to the same spot on the dock.

4/14 – As the sun came up we dropped the mooring and headed out to sea on the outgoing tide (just like they say in the books). A combination of moisture on the windows and sun glare caused us to have a very very narrow miss with a fishing boat anchored in the center of the channel (what’s up with that?). The fisherman seemed unconcerned about the whole thing while we were hyped. Once on the ocean we headed north and soon dropped our plan to come in to an inlet about 50 miles away. The weather was quite good and all our sources indicated it would probably continue to be good. So we motored north in 1 to 2 foot seas with the winds at about 8 knots from the southeast. One interesting sidelight, some freak of the atmosphere allowed us to talk on the VHF radio (normally line of sight limited) to Gordon and Lorrie on Mystic while they were in Charleston, 145 miles away. As usual, as the day wore on the winds began to pick up a little and move more on the nose. At dusk, a couple of dolphins startled Connie as she sat on the stern of the boat. They blew right next to the boat and stayed with us for about 15 minutes amusing us with their antics. Our plan at this point was to continue on to Wynah Bay, about 40 miles past Charleston, SC. We had almost a full moon tonight so that made things much easier. About midnight we made the decision to divert to Charleston as the winds were up to about 12 to 13 kts and were north of east (our course was northeast) and the waves were building and the boat was beginning to pound. After we changed course to Charleston, things improved quite a bit, but there still wasn’t any sleeping going on.

4/13 – We left early today to keep our options open. The last 30 miles we had to cover would be at low tide and in some very shallow areas. We put on the speed and reached the St John’s River at 11:15 AM. At that point the current was flowing strong out to sea and the winds offshore were calm, so we headed out the St John’s River to the ocean (reaching 9.5 kts over the ground at one point) and motored up the outside to St Mary’s Inlet near Fernandina Beach, FL. We saw tons of jellyfish on the water off the St John’s River. When we got to the inlet at St Mary’s, the current was flowing in strongly so we got a nice push in to Fernandina. We went to the fuel dock and filled up with fuel, water, etc. and then went out on a mooring. Our friends, Matt & Marty on Runaway are here and we got together with them and decided to head out tomorrow.

4/12 – In order to have a little more water from the rising tides, we left a little later this morning and headed through the bridges at Daytona. There were showers and thunderstorms in the forecast, but they did not appear to be too serious. The only excitement we saw in the morning was the manatee in the middle of the channel that we had to slow down for. As we approached Matanzas Inlet, we began to see some shallower water – just 6.5’ in one spot. Then to compound the problem the cold front came through just then with high winds and rain squalls. But by carefully following the channel (and knowing which side to be on) we successfully made it through the inlet. Then it was on to St. Augustine and the new Bridge of Lions. We only waited a few minutes here and then headed north a few miles, anchoring in a remote spot just off the waterway.

Vessel Name: High Stepper
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter 44DS
Hailing Port: Hertford, NC
Crew: Doug & Connie Merrill
About: Have cruised the Bahamas and the east coast for five years.
Home Page: http://sailblogs.com/member/highstepper

Who: Doug & Connie Merrill
Port: Hertford, NC