Slow Sailing

15 May 2019 | St Augustine
30 April 2019 | Black Point, Exuma
16 April 2019 | Bahamas
02 April 2019 | Washington, NC
15 March 2019 | Washington, NC
10 February 2019 | Washington, NC
22 January 2019 | Washington, NC
07 January 2019 | Washington, NC
15 December 2018 | Washington, NC
03 November 2018 | Thetford, VT
21 September 2018 | Bradford, VT
13 August 2018 | Thetford, VT
02 August 2018 | Thetford, VT
13 July 2018 | Thetford, VT
12 June 2018 | Hurricane Boatyard, Bayboro NC
29 May 2018 | Cumberland Island, Georgia
14 May 2018 | Vero Beach, FL
29 April 2018 | Dragon Point, Melbourne
02 April 2018 | Chub Cay, Berry Islands
24 March 2018 | Farmers Cay, Bahamas

Last Passage

15 May 2019 | St Augustine
We said goodbye to the Bahamas a few days ago and crossed over to St Augustine where we've spent the last couple of days hanging out waiting for a good forecast to head north. We've enjoyed our time here and were glad to move around after a few hot days underway. On the last day, we had a swarm of lovebugs come visit our boat while still well offshore. They like white and our deck was just perfect. It became a sort of nightmare as they piled up on every surface including us, doing it the whole time! But we kept our cool and took turns taking refuge inside the boat, then pulled up to the dock to wash them away. What a mess. We took 3 showers that day since we were so grossed out. I now really dislike love bugs!

Turns out there's great biking here at Anastasia state park because the beach is wide & long with firm sand. A ways out there was nothing but us, the birds and about a hundred discarded bagels, for some reason. We did a bunch of sites in town too like the distillery, and enjoyed walking under all the big old trees. We got to really feeling sunbaked in the Bahamas and craving shade. Its hard to find when we're underway and we sometimes use the shade of the sail on deck.

The weather did finally improve in the Bahamas and we had several days of light conditions which allowed the four of us to explore some really beautiful anchorages in the Exumas Land & Sea Park. We walked trails together, snorkeled, sailed and hung out on each others boats. There was a lot more life on the reefs within the park and the water was a mix of colors that is crazy beautiful.

Jon & I spent hours in the water poking around in the shallows, drift diving the cuts and exploring some of the deeper reefs. I love doing this together and it brings back so many memories of all the beaches & drift dives we've done over the years. Being in the park meant there was lots to see. We sure can't hold our breath like we used to and were recalling that our deepest free dive was to the bottom of a blue hole somewhere in the Bahamas which was 50 feet. A tap & go but still, how did we ever do that?

Lobster season is over and the females are carrying their eggs under their tails. We usually don't get to see this because we're not here in this season. In the park the lobsters are so big and unafraid they just walk around in the open. On one snorkel we came upon two in an argument, and Jon had to break it up!

All four of us were really missing the overall brilliant color & corals of the Pacific and also we were wishing there were more nudibranchs on the Atlantic side since we enjoy looking for them when lo & behold Jon found one. It belongs on the Pacific side though and according to the ID book, a few have come over in ship's ballast tanks and set up shop in Florida & the Bahamas. Nice to see one though.

I had to lift my fins for this reef shark that came over to say hi and we had nice views of several eagle rays and lots of turtles too. Most of the time we had a big barracuda following us around like a dog, not wanting to miss anything. Fun times.

As soon as we all got our snorkeling and pretty anchorage fix we felt ready to move on to our next respective chapters. Jon & I are anxious to get back to work on the RV build and get busy on the projects (well not really) we need to get done on our boat as well. We plan to put Evergreen on the market this summer as we feel ready to dive into a new lifestyle in the truck. We have been adjusting to this idea for quite a while and feel OK with it now. We hope to find someone who wants to pick up where we left off.

Our fridges were pretty much empty of produce so the dinners together were getting interesting- time to set sail for Publix! We are now restocked again- phew!

So another passage awaits tomorrow, two more nights underway, 4 days. Might be our last one for awhile. Should have a nice moon and good wind. As we were bucking current the other day and moving at 5kts, we joked that we have run marathons and a 50k faster than that which translates to: we can run faster than we can sail at times! Except for not as long, but still. We'll try to push that out of our mind. If all goes well we'll be back in our slip by Sunday and look forward to going out for a nice dinner next week for our silver anniversary!

Island Time

30 April 2019 | Black Point, Exuma
We are working our way up the Exuma chain having reached Georgetown last week where we turned around. It feels good to be taking miles off the return trip now. We've had a fair amount of unsettled weather. Last year when we passed through here it was a little earlier and things had already settled down and we'd hoped to nail that again arriving even later. I'm kind of tired of weather! Some people say cruising is about working on your boat in exotic places. I say it is sometimes about waiting on your boat in exotic places.

On the way to Georgetown, we stopped at Staniel Cay to wait out a blow. That place has changed so much over the years, now a megayacht & expat destination, and it always cracks us up how some domesticated pigs set up on a beach can draw so much attention. They're even pinned on Googlemaps! People from all over come to this place with their produce scraps (or in some cases top notch produce) to hand feed these pigs while wading in pretty blue water. They arrive on tours by speedboat from Nassau, short jaunts from adjacent resort islands, megayachts, normal sized private sailboats or sea plane. Yes, a sea plane maneuvers right up to the beach. Jon & I joke about what the pigs must be saying to each other late in the day when their bellies are full of strawberries & avocados. "It's your turn, I'm stuffed! No, you go, I haven't slept all day! I need a vacation from this!" Gone are the days of the sleepy little Staniel Cay yacht club that serves a slice of Pepperidge Farm pound cake for dessert when you make your dinner reservation and they tell you what else you'll be having that night. We did some drift diving at Staniel and it was nice to be in the water again. Plus, pig beach is a great anchorage in a blow.

Georgetown is always nice to pull in to because you can get things done like check in, get your phone working and fuel up. But this time it was made very nice by being there to greet Jan & Rich on Slip Away as they completed their last & biggest leg of their circumnavigation. We first met them in Mexico, then Maine, New Zealand, Australia, cruised through SE Asia together, then now. We'd planned to meet up in San Salvador for some scuba diving but the wind was too strong for us to get there or for any of us to stay there in the roadstead anchorage so we had to bag it. We got choked up watching them pull in and anchor beside us like old times. It was both the start of a few weeks of cruising together and most likely the last time for all of us too. We had a great first evening catching up and have had several more since now we're cruising together. Yay!

The four of us made a day out of checking in, doing some chores and getting some lunch in town. Jon & I walked all around on Stocking island, for us the best beach in the Bahamas, while they caught up on 2 months of having had no internet. The Georgetown Regatta started while we were there and it was nice to watch the boats sailing through the anchorage with their extra large sails and balancing crew. We saw the tramp steamer arrive with all the boats on deck a couple of days before. Its cute. In a country that seems hard to see a distinct culture compared to other more remote places we've been, the regatta is something that is their own thing, not related to tourism or cruising sailors and we like that part about it. I really like the Bahamian flag as well. It is turquoise, black and yellow. For the blue ocean, the strength of the people and the yellow sand. Jon appreciated spectating this time and not having to be rail meat like he did eight years ago when we passed through the Bahamas on our way to Panama.

After a couple of days, we headed up to Rudder Cay. It was such a great sailing day that it was hard to douse the sails when we got there. The anchorage view at Rudder gave us a subtle reminder of French Poly, minus the basalt spires. Jon & I went snorkeling that first afternoon in and around the pass on an incoming tide. We were looking for a school of jack like we remembered from our first trip here 22 years ago. We found the jack, but also an annoying reef shark that wouldn't leave us alone. We like seeing sharks; they are part of the reef ecology here but every once in a while we get one that makes us uneasy and this one kept hanging around, surging toward us and getting bolder and bolder as he kept coming closer & closer. Finally he came charging up from the bottom to within 10 feet of us and we had to get out. But the next day we went back with Jan & Rich and it wasn't there, but neither were the jack and all the other schooling fish.

We've been at Black Point the past couple of days and have stayed longer than we wanted because there's another batch of 25kt winds and lots of squalls. It's disappointing because we wanted J&R to see the best of the Bahamas which is under water. But its still been fun. And the water still glows despite the squalls.

We've been enjoying S. African wines and dinners together. We got lunch ashore yesterday and I was so looking forward to some Bahamian food. But it seems like nowadays here it is mainly the fryolator. It is a slow pace in the islands and there are all manner of houses in various stages of unfinished. So many abandoned resort starts and housing lots. Jon & I end up walking all over the islands using the roads made for these developments in search of exercise and time ashore.

So we hope to move into the Exumas park islands either tomorrow or the next day and we're hoping for some great snorkeling. We saw several mature conch today but we've made a moratorium on any conch harvesting because there seem to be so few and we'd rather see them alive. According to park literature, the ban on any fishing inside the boundaries has helped rejuvenate the reefs and re-populate the conch & fish extending way outside the park lines. So we're hoping to see much better reef life there. In the next couple of weeks we'll both be looking for weather windows to head our separate ways. I wonder where the next meet-up will be??

Sail South Till the Easter Bunnies Melt

16 April 2019 | Bahamas
Its been a little less than 2 weeks since we dropped the lines at our slip in Washington, NC and we're now in the Bahamas! We've forgotten how cold we were last week and it felt good to shed the layers. I'm bringing Easter candy since I don't even remember the last time I had any- most other countries we've been visiting at Easter time don't have easter bunnies. And I wanted to bring some for Jan & Rich, since they wouldn't have had any either. Well, its pretty warm on the boat these days and the fridge is packed with meat & produce so the easter bunnies got a little soft in the v-berth! I had to move them closer to the hull so the cooler sea can keep them somewhat whole.

It was a good trip down overall because we really worked to use what weather we had in order to keep moving. That meant that except for the 4 days we took off to rest, we pretty much kept moving around the clock. It was near freezing the first day and we never took off a single layer all day despite it being sunny. We had planned to keep going that night right out the Beaufort Inlet but the wind hadn't switched from being on the nose yet and we feared things could get dangerous if something were to go wrong in the night and we had to actually go up on deck in the cold to manage it. So we anchored for the night and got going at dawn. By then our short weather window had changed somewhat and the wind was piping up that afternoon so we did something we hadn't ever done before which is start going in & out of smaller inlets that we haven't used before to keep moving. This allowed us to get around things like shoals that would be blown up in the winds or stay closer to shore in the ICW for a frontal passage with thunderstorms. So we went out the Beaufort Inlet and then in the Masonboro inlet, did 30 miles in the ICW and then came right out the Cape Fear river by 10pm and kept going, then came in the Wynah inlet the next morning before the frontal boundary and did a day in the ICW in heavy rain at times and then went out the Charleston Inlet to head to Cumberland Island. It worked out great! Except we both have difficulty sitting nowadays and we look longingly at shore wishing we could move around.... that is the price you pay for trying to move your home with you on the water. It pays off later... When we were in Charleston, we got a text from Frank & Deb that they had just pulled in too. They had decided to leave the Bahamas early to take care of a sun spot- the downside of so many years of sailing. We know how that works! Your Bahamas souvenir. But it was a bummer to know that we were going to miss them and we weren't stopping in downtown Charleston.

Meanwhile, everything that is really important on the boat is up and running and our outboard, which was smoking a lot at first and had us worried, cleared up now that we've been using it and its fine. And we're still really enjoying the new tri radial mainsail. This boat already sails wonderfully but now we go faster sooner. The new mainsail track is great with a tighter fit and we're no longer worried the whole thing will unzip from the mast- progress! We got the last of the fittings for the dodger delivered to Palm Beach and Jon installed them so that is complete and its nice to be able to see out of the dodger glass again! It seems our wind anemeter doesn't work anymore so we can't tell the wind speed so we just make it up!

Cumberland Island NP was as good as always and we love it there. It is its own special world unlike anyplace we've seen before and the anchorage is great. This time for some reason, we saw the most wildlife ever and its always a great place for armadillos. They don't really mind if you pat them, they just get real still. We even saw a bobcat who had sadly just gotten a deer. But that is how everything eats and we tried not to feel sad, but we did. Even though we've been there several times now, we keep finding new trails and things we haven't done yet and so every time has something new to offer. Great fun and we were glad to take a breather.

We approached Cape Canaveral early evening on the passage and we heard the coast guard talking about a restricted area on the VHF. Upon tuning in, we found out that the Falcon Heavy Lift rocket was scheduled to be launched at 8pm. We had to pull in the jib to slow down so we wouldn't enter the zone. What a front & center view it was going to be; what great timing. We were so excited. Then, as fast as we found out about it, we then found out the launch was scrapped because of high upper level winds. So pretty much my whole first watch I could see the rocket sitting there all lit up on its launch pad, pointed to the sky as we sailed by it. By happenstance, Mike & Karen on Chapter Two had just pulled in to Palm Beach a couple days prior and were now ready to head north. We were excited to see them but just like us, they are pressing to get north to make flights back to the UK so we ended up passing each other under sail on the way down! We could see each others sails and we chatted on the phone instead of in person. So we told them about the launch the following day and they got to see it and sent us a pic. We later read that everything went really well, the mission was a success and we are glad that space research is continuing despite a lack of government interest.

The whole time we've been underway, we've seen more huge sea turtles than ever before. We've seen 2 leatherbacks which we seldom see. They really do look like leather. Turns out it is nesting season and they are all hanging around off the coast getting ready to make the trip ashore to lay their eggs. On one of the days off in Palm Beach, we biked all over the place on several paths and one was out to a John MacArthur beach state park where they have a pretty piece of beachfront that is undeveloped. There are already 7 leatherback nests there and the season has just begun. In the afternoon, we biked over on Palm Beach island on the Lake Trail which runs in front of all the mansions on the ICW side and is beautifully landscaped. Its pretty interesting that a public path runs through there. It was a really nice day.

Then we had a chore day to do some final stocking up before crossing to the Bahamas as we had a weather window with an approaching cold front. It wasn't much fun and we were anxious to move on out of the area. S Florida is too built up for our taste and on a Saturday, being on the water is maddening. It turned out that the SW wind was going to come too late and stay for too short a time to make the gulf stream crossing so we needed to move to Ft Lauderdale to improve our sailing angle to take advantage of the S wind instead. And since Ft Lauderdale is due south, we needed to do 40 miles in the ICW to get there. Needless to say, S Florida on the water on a Sunday is just as bad as a Saturday. Everyone has a boat, everyone is using it on the weekend and there must have been a memo that we were passing through there so please wake us and drive us nuts. It was a most unpleasant day with I am not kidding you TWENTY (20!) lift bridges to pass under, nearly all of them on a schedule. Several times, we missed the half hour opening by less than 5 minutes and had to circle for 25 before we could get by the bridge troll. It took us over 11 hours to make those miles and all of them in a washboard of powerboat wakes, drunken pilots and a million backyards with sprawling lawns that have more chairs than I can count. At 930p, we finally got to the inlet, raised the mainsail and headed out into the waves, ready to start the crossing. I felt so happy to have the radio quiet down, the boat under sail and the waves, while lumpy, be from the wind and not a prop.

We never had any squalls, we sailed as tight as we could to the courseline, the wind clocked through the night under the moon and we made good time flying off the waves as we crossed the gulf stream. We got set 5 miles from the current but made it up easily on the other side. The boat is now cloaked in salt but it felt good to be blasting along again offshore with consistent sailing wind. By morning we were in Bahamian waters and continued till dark over the top of the Berry Island chain to Little Harbor where we anchored for the night and slept like the dead. Now we are using the last of the NE wind from the front to have a beautiful sail to the Exumas where we can finally move in to cruising mode. I've got the champers in the fridge for sunset and we hope to start spending a whole lot of time in the water.

Happy Easter!

Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Hello! We are Heather & Jon Turgeon of S/V Evergreen. We started sailing in 1994 on our first boat, a Cape Dory 31, then sought out a Tashiba 40 that could take us around the globe. It has been our home for 19 years. We've thoroughly cruised the East coast and Caribbean and just completed our [...]
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