R/V SLOTH & M/V NOMADIC SPIRIT

The Great Loop Continues

13 August 2018
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
Last season when we finished working on our new-to-us trawler, Nomadic Spirit, we circumnavigated the southern part of Florida. The Florida Mini Loop was the perfect "Shake Down" cruise for us and we stretched it into three months. The blog is out there if you want to read it. Being that we had been in the keys a few times on our previous boat it didn't really feel like we were 'Looping' even though we were flying our American Great Loop Cruising Association burgie. I think the reason for that was that we met very few Loopers as The Keys are not really on the main Loop route. The mini loop was a very enjoyable with clear waters and sandy beaches, something that you don't often get on the Intracoastal Waterway.



This year, when we finally were able to throw off the dock lines, we headed to the Abacos in the Bahamas. (the Bahamas adventure was my last blog post). We then started up the east coast section of the loop. By doing the loop in segments we could take the time for several side trips without worrying about staying ahead of the seasons.



We finally visited Vero Beach, a popular winter cruisers hang out. I didn't see the attraction but maybe that is because we were out of season and most boaters had already moved north. After Daytona Beach we wanted to get off the ICW for the weekend because of huge wakes from inconsiderate sport fishing boats. An opportunity arose in Palm Coast to visit some MTOA hosts that we had met at a Rendezvous and meet more fellow cruisers. We enjoyed the stay immensely and hope to see more of the Colkets, they were wonderful hosts!



Saint Augustine is always special and this time was no exception. Anchored next to the historic Bridge of Lions, we were afforded spectacular views of the city. The lions that adorn the bridge were a gift from a philanthropist of this ancient city that spent decades putting art in public places. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest masonry fortress in the United States and is surrounded by early Spanish architecture. This is definitely a town to walk around to take it all in.


A visit from other cruising friends on M/V Tika, Kevin and Marlene, joined us for lunch and delivered some of our mail. The thing about always being on the move is that it's hard to order anything without wonderful people that let you use them as a mail drop!



Now the plan was to explore the St John's River and a few of its crystal clear springs. The St. Johns River is home to some of Florida's most stunning freshwater springs, which sit along the Ocala National Forest. At a constant 72 degrees they attract manatees in the winter months.
Jacksonville has two free docks and one of them even supplies electricity for a small fee. We appreciated being able to run the air conditioning when temps rose into the 90s. Our timing was perfect to join the Marine Trawler Owners Association mini cruise weekend at Ortega Landing Marina. MTOA, like AGLCA has port host that we can contact as we enter new areas and might require a ride or help finding needed parts. They can even be used for mail delivery and some have dockage available. We met many wonderful new friends and enjoyed get togethers and pot lucks. From Ortega we were heading father up the St Johns but were thwarted by the heat. I realized we needed to get back closer to the Atlantic coast and the ocean breezes. It was late June and we were still in Florida and it was HOT so we headed north on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The Springs will be another visit.



Just north of Jacksonville, at Cumberland Island National Seashore we crossed into Georgia and left most other traffic behind. Wild Horses, beautiful beaches and miles and miles of national wildlife areas replaced the busy ICW and bad wakes of Florida. I joke about growing up in God's Country but the scenery here was outstanding with plenty of great anchorages. Some boaters find this stretch boring but i can't imagine why. A variety of birds, jumping fish, and dolphin escorts kept our spirits high. We had decided not to travel up river to the busy port of Savannah as we had just visited there in our motorhome. If you do visit be sure to eat at Mrs Wilks Dining Room, southern cooking served family style.



Our anchorages through Georgia were quite remote areas and were often visited by alligators, turtles and dolphins at sunset and sunrise.



South Carolina started becoming more populated in areas and our first anchorage was a lunch stop at Hilton Head. Boats everywhere, tourists para-sailing, groups on jet skis and passenger ferrys abounded. To busy for us after the tranquility of Georgia! Beaufort, our first overnight stop, was charming enough to extend our stay to three nights on a mooring ball at the municipal marina. Several restaurants overlooking the delightful waterfront park, historic downtown with antebellum mansions, museums, and water dishes for DeeO'gee everywhere. The marina even had a courtesy car so we could make a provisioning run and I even manager to get a haircut. A large town dock is complementary for day stops and there is certainly no reason to pass by without taking advantage of this hospitality.



After two more peaceful anchorages we arrived in Charlston, South Carolina's oldest city, and our first marina since we left Florida. I will also add: the first air conditioning! Our air only runs with shore power and the cool air was wonderful. We had planned our arrival to take advantage of the fireworks. The Maritime Center was perfectly located for the event and we had a 'Looper' cocktail party with six boats and the AGLCA Home Port Crew. It was nice to meet Kimberly Russo, the current director of AGLCA, and add several new boat cards to our file. Boat cards are must haves on the loop to pass on your contact information. Several times I've said 'We know that boat' and quickly looked up the boat card so I could remember names. We often remember the boat name and the dogs name before remembering the owners.



Georgetown was the third historic town we visited in a row. Actually that makes three of the four oldest towns in S.C., a state rich in history. Georgetown has a boardwalk along the waterfront and again free dockage for day stops are provided. Street concerts, farmers markets and southern charm makes this darling town another top pick. We would have loved to stay a bit longer but the anchorage was small and crowded so sadly we moved on after the leisurely afternoon to find an isolated spot.



Boat traffic was really picking up around Myrtle Beach so we pulled into Osprey Marina to get off the ICW for the weekend. Rates were so good we stayed through the following weekend. Another Looper cocktail party with two gold loopers we already knew and one new boat flying the platinum flag ensued. A gold flag indicates that you have crossed your wake and completed the loop. A platinum flag is the badge of honor for multiple loops. Meeting other Loopers is one of the most enjoyable parts of doing the loop.



DeeO'gee had several friends to play with at the marina and enjoyed access to land several times a day. We took advantage of the time to work on some bright work and Steve analyzed battery issues. We are still fighting refrigerator and charging issues. Cruising will always be 'boat maintenance in exotic places'. When boaters get together the conversation always turns to maintenance, batteries, solar, and heads.



Moving on again, we headed to an inlet to take advantage of some beach time. We've been traveling parallel to the Atlantic but rarely get a glimpse of that big expanse of water. Sometimes, even though we are loving the scenery and visiting small towns on the waterways, we miss sailing and anchoring in crystal clear water. Bird Island was just inside North Carolina and it took just a second to get our toes in the sand. Temps were more comfortable and evenings more pleasant as we moved farther north.



North Carolina continued to impress us with its historic towns and free docks. Our first free dock was Southport just south of Wilmington. Friends from our Caribbean sailing days live near and came for a visit. Not far was Carolina Beach State Park and we parked at a dock there for a day where Eric and Jackie visited us again and took us on a tour of Wilmington. Carolina Beach was a lovely anchorages the next night but the forecast made us move early to get ahead of bad weather coming in.



That forecast stretched on and forced us to keep moving towards the Neuse River. New Bern has very affordable marina and we spent a week of heavy rains there. A few times the sun peaked out, or at least the monsoon let up, so we could enjoy another darling town. Eric and Jackie drove over for a marathon card playing day and a stroll to take in the 'Bears'. New Bern has a variety of whimsical bears on many street corners. Painted as a doctor, lawyer, pirate, british soldier etc. and they only add to the ambiance of what has become another one of my top picks for places to visit by land or by sea.



The night before we left the rains let up enough to attend the waterfront park weekend concert with new Looper friends on M/V Jim's Joy. The band featured Buffet style music and the obvious Parrot Heads were in attendance.



Oriental also has a free Dock in a working shrimp and scallop boat harbor. The town is about as big as a minute although it has a certain appeal and very fresh seafood.



From Oriental we crossed Pamlico Sound, heading to the Outer Banks and the island of Ocracoke. Part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the visitor center provides a large dock with electricity and water. Another boat, S/V Journey, that we had met at the last two stops joined us and DeeO'gee had two friends to play with. Those dogs humans, Kevin, Charlene and Matt were up for card games (and air conditioning) each evening. The beach here is listed as a top U.S. Beach and ferrys come and go all day long bringing tourists for the day or longer. The notorious pirate Blackbeard was from this region and was killed just off the Outer Banks here.



Our next stop on our way north was the dock of Rip and Barb Tyler, AGLCA Harbor Hosts. These harbor hosts go out of their way for fellow members, they provide a dock, electricity and a ride for reprovitioning. We had mail and even had a replacement refrigerator sent to them. M/V Lab Partners will continue their loop this coming winter.



Little Washington, or Original Washington, is a short side trip up the Pamlico River. The weather has been hot during the day but cools down nicely at night. The free dock here like so many others is along the waterfront park, and small shops and restaurant dot the main street. Gailey painted crabs, not bears, are scattered around the town.



If you think you are seeing a pattern of free docks, you are correct. Lunch stops, overnight stops, small historic towns wanting cruisers to stop by, walk the town, spend some money.



Now we have come to the end of our journey north on the waterway. At Albemarle Sound we left the ICW to follow the shore around the sound and that will be the next blog.


I love North Carolina! Town after cute historic town and so many free docks.

The Journey Back

24 March 2015
Many people sail long legs of their journey, across oceans, as part of a circumnavigation. Some cross the ocean just because it is there, crossing back and forth several times. I envy these people who set out for exotic islands knowing they will not see land for weeks at a time. I wanted to do that at one time. One time before I experienced a several short 2 day crossings with seas crashing over the side, or worse, the rail in the water for hours at a time. Days of every object not nailed down crashing around below. Before I experienced seas so bad I could not even manage to put together a meal or able to get to the head when I needed to. Realization finally hit that I, it turns out, am a wimp. Steve is made of stronger stuff than me but he has no desire to cross oceans. I couldn't even convince him to visit the Western Caribbean after years of begging.

Once we made the decision to take the boat back to Florida I planned a comfortable route with as few overnight legs as possible. The longest leg of just over two days, would be to Luperon in the D.R. We would spend a few days with ample time on land. Then in less than two days and we would clear into the Bahamas at Great Inagua and casually meander north to transit the shallow waters west of the Exuma Cays again with plenty of sand beneath my feet. Definitely we would visit one of our all time favorite places, Whale Cay. That just leaves an overnight to Bimini and another overnight to Florida. Right. As the trip wore on the schedule changed. Steve decided we needed to get to Florida sooner as his to do list is ever growing since we listed the boat. We needed to shorten the trip. Alright, skip Luperon and head for Great Inagua. What next? Skip the Bahamas as well. That means sailing around 900 miles in one shot. Maybe more depending on how many tacks and jibes are included. Oh well, how bad can it be? A friend told us the trip could be done in 6 days. Was he really a friend?

Remember in the movie where Captain Ron says 'If it's going to happen, it's going to happen out there'? He forgot to add 'and in the middle of the night'.


Day 1:
Anchor up at noon. The wind is out of the west once we clear Boqueron Bay, so we sail up the west coast of Puerto Rico where the wind suddenly shifts easterly once we near open water and with a vengeance! We tuck in behind the lee of Isla Desecheo, sailing close in for a bit flatter seas to eat a quick dinner. Set on a broad reach with only the jib we average a sloppy 6 knots. Swell, wind chop and crashing seas keep us cold, wet and miserable.

Day 2:
Last nights wind of 18 to 22 knots with gusts to 32 continued through mid day. This weather is horrible but at least we will get to Luperon ahead of schedule.....or so I think. Winds die down off the north coast of the D.R. and seas start settle a bit.

Day 3:
What a difference a day makes! Fairly flat seas and little wind have us all but drifting with the current. At least I can cook and straighten things up. Preparing for rough seas crossing the Mona Passage, I had prepared food for the first few days that could be eaten cold. We had also loaded up on snacks like carrot sticks and trail mix. This is a good time for a hot meal. By the time we approach Luperon it is well after dark and neither of us would enter a busy unknown harbor in pitch blackness. The decision is made to continue on to Great Inagua.

Day 4:
The winds pick up most nights but the days still have us bobbing like a bottle in the ocean. A message in a bottle, and the message is 'Send More Wind'. We break down and motor one hour when our progress falls below 2 knots. We haven't seen much freighter traffic here and virtually none during the day. Around midnight a moving mass of destruction is bearing down on us. After repeated radio calls do not elicit a respond we finally motor hard to starboard and out of its way.

Day 5:
Along the south coast of Great Inagua I get a cell signal and post an update on facebook, using my Kindle 3g that works on any signal in any country. Now we (we?) have decided not to spend a few weeks in the Bahamas and move on. So.... the break of dawn comes as we approach Matthew's Town but leave hard dry land in our wake once more.

Day 6:
Screams from the helm wake Steve from a sound sleep. After hearing a quick snapping sound the helm was spinning freely in my hands, a steering cable had broken. My MacGyver pulls out the emergency tiller. And auto helm still works! He says he will sort it out in the daylight so we just try to make it through the night. Brisk night wind again have us making good progress but once the sun comes up over the horizon the wind is chased off. Again. The overnight boat speed of 6 knots is reduced to less than 3. A course gets plotted for the bank behind the Ragged Islands to install the spare steering cable. This is crazy, by mid afternoon our speed is less than 2 knots. We need to get to protected waters and fire up the iron jenny for a few hours once the wind takes it's mid day siesta.

We almost arrive at the south end of the Ragged Islands by sunset. Almost, if we hadn't been stopped and boarded by the nicest Bahamian Officials. A 200 foot Cutter boasting a big gun on the bow is clearly after us at high speeds, then they launch a 30 foot RIB without even stopping. 5 seamen holding more guns ask nicely to drop an anchor if we have enough rode for our depth of 50 feet. We oblige and the first of three is on the boat in an instant. Once assured there were no Haitians aboard they were as pleasant as we wish all officials in the islands would be. Permission was granted to find a calm place to anchor to work on our steering issues. Remember, we hadn't cleared into the Bahamas.

No work tonight. The anchor goes down a second time and we pour a strong drink! And golly after five very long days it sure tastes good.

We have traveled 540 miles in 5 1/5 days and have 360 miles to reach Key West. Fortunately we have only burned 8 gallons of fuel at this point. (I think in car terms that gives us over 65 MPG. Unfortunately our speed has averaged 4 MPH. We can walk faster than that!).

Day 7:
It felt so good to sleep through the night! Sleeping in shifts, a few hours here and there was starting to take its toll. Steve can lay down and fall asleep instantly which is totally unfair. The morning forecast told us to get as far as we can while we have what little wind we have so we take off.

Day 8:
We have made painfully little progress in the last 24 hours.

Day 9:
More of the same. We could crawl faster than this!

Day 10:
What day is it? We drifted across the Tropic of Cancer this morning leaving the tropics behind.

Day 11?
It's it still March? Is this Florida? Can I get off the boat now? Yes, yes, and yes.

I have determined that no one makes this trip in 6 days unless they motor sail. That would require stops for fuel or a bigger tank than we have. It also losses the feel and sound of sailing. Heck, we always say we have more time than money anyway.


A weeks rest and boat maintenance and then 220 more miles to Tampa Bay.
Vessel Name: Nomadic Spirit
Vessel Make/Model: 32' Island Gypsy & 36' Monaco
Crew: Janice & Steve
About:
This adventure began in October of 2007 when Steve came to look at a boat that Janice had for sale on Craig's List. Steve wanted to learn how to sail and Janice needed a new kitchen. [...]
Extra:
FAVORITE QUOTES: 'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do then by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' Mark Twain 'We went cruising not to [...]
Nomadic Spirit's Photos - Main
AICW: Stewart to Albemarle Sound
95 Photos
Created 11 August 2018
A side trip on the Great Loop
27 Photos
Created 3 June 2018
25 Photos
Created 9 November 2017
66 Photos
Created 29 September 2017
17 Photos
Created 29 September 2017
94 Photos
Created 4 July 2017
33 Photos
Created 4 July 2017
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Created 3 June 2017
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Created 16 January 2017
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Created 12 November 2016
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Created 31 October 2016
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Created 22 September 2016
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Created 22 September 2016
33 Photos
Created 25 August 2016
23 Photos
Created 5 August 2016
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Created 5 August 2016
29 Photos
Created 11 July 2016
31 Photos
Created 9 July 2016
Mamouth Cave NP,Milwaykee, Indiana and Cuyahoga NP,
16 Photos
Created 7 July 2016
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Created 19 May 2016
7 Photos
Created 25 March 2016
11 Photos
Created 22 October 2015
29 Photos
Created 16 October 2015
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Created 15 October 2015
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Created 15 October 2015
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Created 15 October 2015
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Created 19 September 2015
24 Photos
Created 19 September 2015
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Created 22 August 2015
27 Photos
Created 12 July 2015
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Created 11 July 2015
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Created 10 July 2015
8 Photos
Created 28 June 2015
6 Photos
Created 28 June 2015
29 Photos
Created 22 June 2015
Our 'new to us' Monaco 36 with super slide.
7 Photos
Created 21 June 2015
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Created 8 June 2015
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Created 19 January 2015
10 Photos
Created 28 September 2014
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Created 28 September 2014
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Created 8 September 2014
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Created 8 September 2014
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Created 8 September 2014
10 Photos
Created 31 August 2014
20 Photos
Created 29 August 2014
My grand sons frog spent time with us on the sea
24 Photos
Created 5 August 2014
My grand daughters pet is traveling with us for the summer.
20 Photos
Created 5 August 2014
27 Photos
Created 3 August 2014
31 Photos
Created 13 July 2014
16 Photos
Created 13 July 2014
52 Photos
Created 8 July 2014
15 Photos
Created 5 July 2014
8 Photos
Created 1 July 2014
10 Photos
Created 22 June 2014
VIRGIN VIEWS
58 Photos
Created 23 March 2014
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Created 13 February 2014
11 Photos
Created 26 October 2013
9 Photos
Created 13 September 2013
11 Photos
Created 13 September 2013
Before and after pictures
4 Photos
Created 14 March 2013
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Created 12 July 2012
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Created 2 May 2012
8 Photos
Created 29 March 2012
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Created 29 March 2012
22 Photos
Created 15 February 2012
8 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
22 Photos
Created 19 December 2011
18 Photos
Created 10 December 2011
9 Photos
Created 26 November 2011
20 Photos
Created 10 November 2011
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Created 6 August 2011
26 Photos
Created 23 June 2011
17 Photos
Created 23 April 2011
5 Photos
Created 9 April 2011
20 Photos
Created 29 March 2011
19 Photos
Created 18 March 2011
Daughter Amie visits Sailacious
34 Photos
Created 1 March 2011
10 Photos
Created 12 February 2011
8 Photos
Created 16 January 2011
12 Photos
Created 16 January 2011
12 Photos
Created 28 December 2010
7 Photos
Created 28 December 2010
10 Photos
Created 15 December 2010
15 Photos
Created 28 November 2010
24 Photos
Created 21 November 2010
6 Photos
Created 26 October 2010
26 Photos
Created 1 July 2010
31 Photos
Created 15 June 2010
26 Photos
Created 5 June 2010
17 Photos
Created 25 May 2010
12 Photos
Created 25 May 2010
11 Photos
Created 11 May 2010
36 Photos
Created 19 April 2010
5 Photos
Created 14 April 2010
13 Photos
Created 7 April 2010
41 Photos
Created 25 February 2010
18 Photos
Created 5 February 2010
36 Photos
Created 20 January 2010
11 Photos
Created 20 January 2010
Various shots during our time in the Bahamas
59 Photos
Created 25 November 2009
19 Photos
Created 25 October 2009
Our two week Shake Down Cruise
31 Photos
Created 18 May 2009
Sailing with Morgan and Kate on Winergie
15 Photos
Created 4 December 2008
Various pictures of day sails.
10 Photos
Created 5 August 2008
The boat that started it all, the bartered kitchen, and Sailacious
5 Photos | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 6 May 2008

One for the sea, One for the land...... Living the Nomadic Life is our plan

Who: Janice & Steve

Click: Where are we now?

'OMG It's Almost Time' in 'Getting the Boat Ready' attempts to describe my excitement of our impending departure.
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Check out our Favorite Anchorages and best snorkeling spots in Blog Catagory 'Our Favorite Things'
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And our thoughts on the completion of our first year in 'Our Cruising Advenures'!
'You're lucky if YOUR LOVE loves what you love the best' Eileen Quinn