30 December, 2012

Grounded

Location: Vero Beach, Florida
Position: N 27 39.725 W 080 22.384

We've been sailing for 13 years, owned Rachel for 8 years and have been cruising full time for over 5 years. In all that time we've been members of BoatUS, a boating association that offers reasonably priced unlimited towing insurance. This insurance offers free towing if you run aground, have engine problems etc. So far, knock on wood, we have never had to use it. That is until this month.

Within 4 days we grounded twice and both times we had to call Tow BoatUS and be towed off. We were in a hurry to get to Vero Beach to see an ailing friend (who we missed by one day and who sadly died the day before Christmas). Because we so wanted to see Bruce one last time, we were taking chances traveling through known shallow problem areas at low tide.

The first spot was just south of Fernandina Beach, Florida. In our log from last year when we transited the Amelia River at high tide we wrote “Several shallow spots. Do not travel through this area at anything less than mid-tide”. So we obviously were not thinking clearly. As we were approaching a turn, a passing boat told us we should keep way to the right of the channel. For some reason we decided to follow their advice and …...boom. We hit bottom. We rode up over a hump, then bumped into another one. So we ended up being stuck unable to go either forward or backward. Luckily it was only mud. A sailboat passed by us, about 25 feet further into the channel, and shouted “we're in 12 feet right here”. Great! We sat for a while but the tide was still going down so we would have been sitting there for at least 3 or 4 hours. Well, we were in a hurry and that's what we pay the insurance for, right? So we called and Captain Joe who came by and towed us off.


Then, three days later we were just south of Daytona Beach at Ponce de Leon Inlet, another known problem area. In these places the sands constantly shift so we called the local Tow BoatUS operator and asked for some local information. We were told we would be fine with our 6 foot draft except for at red marks 18 and 18A where we should favour the right side of the channel. Ok, great. We thanked him and headed down through this problem area. Everything was going fine. We had no problems and as we approached the 18 marks we stayed well over to the right side. Then.....bonk, we were aground. Again. Once again it was low tide but this time the wind was 20 knots from the side and it was pushing us further aground. Mark tried using the engine to get us off but the wind kept pushing us further onto the shoal. The boat was heeled over about 20 degrees and we kept feeling it bonk as we were pushed further onto the sand bar. Yikes!! We called Tow BoatUS and the guy that gave us the “advice” came to tow us off. He apologized and said that last week when he was there the right side was deepest. We were a bit skeptical about that statement – seems like that's an awful lot of shoaling in just a weeks time. Pretty good way of drumming up business just in time for Christmas, eh?

Today we thought that we might try going 56 miles from Vero Beach to Lake Worth, but due to the timing of a falling tide at a trouble spot between here and there we've decided to just go 10 miles to Ft Pierce today. Then we'll leave Ft. Pierce first thing tomorrow morning so we can get to the trouble spot near high on a rising tide. We're turning over an old leaf, being cautious and doing it the way we've always done it – slowly and carefully.

If the weather predictions hold we'll be heading over to the Bahamas sometime this week.

25 December, 2012

Merry Christmas

Location: Vero Beach, FL
Position: 27 39.738 N   080 22.358 W
We just wanted to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a peaceful, happy, and fulfilling New Year.  We are aboard our "Rachel" in Vero Beach, FL. and will be here for Christmas.  We had hoped to be in the Bahamas by now, but various boat jobs needing attention before a prolonged voyage outside the US prevented that from happening.
on the beach

Reindeer cookies & gifts


Even though we'd rather be on our way sailing to the Caribbean, we are nonetheless looking forward to celebrating Christmas here in Vero.  Our solar powered LED Christmas lights are up and the stuffed moose head on the mast is decorated.  Tonight we'll begin our tradition of watching one of our old favorite Christmas movies each evening as the big day approaches.

Love to all,


04 November, 2012

Serenity

Location: South Santee River, SC
Position: N 33 08.978 W 079 19.308


In this bustling world we live in it's often hard to find a quiet place. Wherever you go there is noise, neon and over-stimulation. We, on Rachel, are lucky to have managed to escape from that, for the most part. Right now, in this serene spot, we are feeling especially thankful.

Containing some areas of “civilization”, America's Intracoastal Waterway is, for the most part, a wonderful natural and man-made aquatic highway. Just a few miles from the industry and naval ship yards of Norfolk, VA we entered the wilderness. Now, over 300 miles later, we are still a part of that wilderness.
 

This evening as the sun sets we sit in the cockpit looking out over the marsh grasses. The sky is ablaze with reds and oranges, birds skim over the water looking for their last feed of the day, a couple of guys sit quietly in a little fishing boat. Nowhere do we see neon signs, billboards, or buildings. Nor do we hear factories or planes or cars. We just sit and absorb ourselves into the serenity, the calming feeling of just being in this place. Physically and spiritually at peace.

We are so blessed to be able to enjoy this feeling on many nights and days. The ICW brings this especially close and more real. Not every day is like this but in the last 300 miles we have spent most days and most nights in spots just like this. The scenery is always different, the birds, grasses, trees, and flowers change, but the quiet......it's always there. We immerse ourselves into it and it warms our hearts.

28 October, 2012

Hunkered down, safe and sound

Location: Little River, SC
Position: N 33 51.706 W 078 38.271  

In case you didn't already know, there's a hurricane named Sandy traveling up the east coast of the US. We stopped in here to visit friends last Thursday and, given the size and projected path of the storm, decided to stay put tied to the floating docks at the marina until the storm passed.

We're doing fine. The marina is in a very protected basin so we're only seeing a fraction of the storm winds. Every once in a while a strong gust lays us over a bit, but we're feeling safe and secure. The worst is over now but unfortunately the hurricane is followed by a strong cold front so we'll be having windy and cold weather for the next few days.

Yesterday evening the buoy at Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear, NC, 30 miles from here, reported 42 gusting to 52 mph and 20 ft. waves with a 12 second interval. We're really, really glad we weren't out there!!

Stay safe and warm and dry out there,

15 October, 2012

It's show time!

Location: Annapolis, MD
Position: N 38 57.962 W 076 28.914

For the last month we've been hanging out in Annapolis, Maryland – one of the many 'Sailing Capital of the World'. October is boat show month here and we secured positions on the boat show staff. Sounds pretty exciting eh? Mark got certified as a fork lift driver and Julie's bookkeeping experience qualified her as a ticket seller. The whole gig was about 2 ½ weeks We helped set up the sail and power boat shows, worked both shows and then worked to strip the show back down.

For those who do not know, this show takes over the entire waterfront of downtown Annapolis and half of the harbor. Fences are erected around the exterior, huge sections of parking lots are covered with wooden flooring, and enormous tents put up. Then 50-some pilings are driven down into the mud and barges are towed in by boats and connected together to form a floating town which is filled with boats and more booths. Boats are brought in, bridges are built behind them, and more boats and barges are brought in. It was really something to watch the whole show emerge in just 3 days and it was very exciting to be part of such an amazing feat. And of course Mark had loads of fun zooming around on the forklift lifting things and putting them down.
 
We worked long hours but we had a great time and met a really great crowd of people. We were fed 3 meals a day and a lot of camaraderie developed as the days proceeded. It's been a fun and rewarding experience.

Today was our last day at work and tomorrow the winds will be from the north so we'll haul our anchors in the morning and start heading south, hoping to make tracks before the weather gets too cold.

03 September, 2012

Oh say can you sea

Location:  Sassafras River, Chesapeake Bay
Position:  N 39 21.895   W 075 58.887


Labor Day weekend. 

Cape Cod/Buzzards Bay area. 
 
For those of us who live on our boats and enjoy stopping in quiet, serene anchorages, these two just don't go together.  But that is where we are on the Thursday before the long weekend, the last fling of  summer in the US.   There is no way to escape the crowds and we are trying to decide our best plan of action for the weekend.  Our friends on Osprey and Celilo are going to make the jump down to the Chesapeake Bay but we aren't really prepared for a long trip.

But what the heck!!  What better place to spend the busy Labor Day weekend than out in the Atlantic Ocean?  It is a good weather window and with storms brewing down in the mid Atlantic, who knows when we'll get another opportunity?  At least we don't have to worry about crowded anchorages when we're offshore!

Mark prepares the boat, Julie cooks some passage food, the dinghy is stowed on deck, everything below is well stowed so it won't go flying around while we're underway.  After a flurry of activity  we suppose we're ready.  We all celebrate Mike on Celilo's, 60th birthday with mudslides (a very dangerous drink) ashore and a shared dinner aboard.  6am comes way too soon after a restless night, always the case before a passage, but we suck it up and haul anchor.

We head out into Buzzards Bay with good winds and a good forecast.  By 2:30pm we are passing Block Island, at the eastern end of Long Island.  We set a SW course for a straight shot in the Atlantic, a 230 mile leg.  The sails are set and our plan is to get to a waypoint at the bottom of the Delaware Bay at 4:30am on Monday, 38 hours from now, to catch the tide going up the Bay.  It's not pretty bucking an outgoing tide in the Delaware Bay, especially when the wind is southerly and against the current, which is what the weather gods were predicting.  For now, though, it's just a matter of sit back, enjoy the ride and make sure our timing is as close as possible.

The first night we're romping along on a broad reach at 7, sometimes 8 knots when, just after 9pm, we notice some fireworks off in the distance.  We watch them for over 30 minutes.  It is spectacular, an amazing display.  The thing that intrigues us is that we are 15 miles offshore, so the origin of the fireworks has to be at least that far, somewhere on Long Island AND we can hear the “whee...pow!!” as the fireworks rise and explode.  And we are upwind from the display.  Amazing.

The next night we are 8 miles off Atlantic City, NJ, a big gambling mecca, and we can see all the brightly lit hotels off in the distance.  We see another firework display, not nearly as spectacular but still a lovely surprise.

Around midnight we all decide that we are going to arrive too early so we adjust our sails to slow down - an intriguing and unusual process that we are not used to performing.

At 4:30am we are at our waypoint and enjoy a raucous trip up the bay with a 2.5 knot boost from the current.  At 12:30pm we pop into the Chesapeake Delaware Canal just as the current shifts to take us all the way through the canal and into the Chesapeake Bay.  We have the pleasure of sharing the Canal with an enormous car freighter from Oslo, it's as close as we'd ever want to be to anything that big.  We have to scoot way over to the side to give it room to pass.


As we exit the canal we run through a big thunderstorm with 30 knot winds and lightning striking way too close.  Welcome to the Chesapeake!  We work our way down the bay to the Sassafras River, drop the anchor, and have a good night's sleep.  It has been a long trip, 3 full days and 2 nights, but we were all glad to be back on the Chesapeake, home ground for all 3 boats, and glad to have the miles behind us.


Chilling in the Chesapeake

23 August, 2012

What a drag!

Location: Jewell Island, Maine
Position: N 43 41.286 W 070 05.455

Jewell Island is another picture perfect Maine Island made different by the fact that it was also a submarine spotting station during World War II. The remains, a couple of concrete watch towers over looking the Atlantic, bunker tunnels, and the remains of quite a few buildings, stand a lonely sentinel over the southern reaches of Casco Bay.

The anchorage here is a bit tight. It's shaped like a long, narrow “U” with rocks on both sides, shoal water ahead, and a narrow entrance to the north. It's also very popular so it can be a bit difficult to anchor without being on top of your neighbours.

As we arrive a large sailboat is just leaving, what luck! We slip right into his spot and drop the anchor. We're a bit closer than we'd like to our new neighbour behind us, but we are satisfied and have complete confidence in our anchor and our ground tackle. We should sit tight in anything less than a gale.
Jewell Island anchorage on a less busy day

The next day a smaller boat comes in and anchors right in front of us. A bit close for our taste, but not too bad. Mark has some chores to do in the basement (under the cockpit), so he takes Julie ashore for a walk, then proceeds to haul everything out into the cockpit so he can get at what he's working on. Both seats, the cockpit sole, everything is covered with the stuff we stow in the basement when it's not in use. Lines, buckets, oil change pumps, storage boxes full of various stuff, all conspire to completely clutter the cockpit. The big lazerette hatch is wide open and Mark is busily doing whatever it is that he does down there in that cavernous, yet tiny space.

Julie has a lovely walk ashore and when she returns calls Mark on the VHF to come and get her. She notices the new boat is a bit closer than it was so she tells Mark to stop by and tell them on his way in. Mark clambers out of the basement and sees the boat heading toward us – but no one's on deck! He hops in the dinghy to let them know. He hears a “Holy shit!” and they both pop up. She starts the engine, he starts hauling up the anchor by hand. “The anchor is caught on something – I can't haul it up.” he says. Mark says “you could be caught on our chain. Just sit tight – don't do anything until I get back with my wife. We'll haul our anchor and get it all sorted out. You just keep still and fend off if necessary.” He rows in quickly and picks up Julie.

While Mark is picking up Julie (a two minute trip each way), another boater has dinghied over to the smaller boat to help them. In our absence, they have decided to put their anchor rode on one of their winches to help them haul it up. As we arrive back aboard Rachel they've succeeded in lifting their anchor out of the water and, sure enough, our chain is caught on it. Unfortunately, their little exercise has also managed to pull our anchor loose in the process. So much for waiting until we got back like Mark asked!!

Now both boats are starting to drift back onto the boat behind Rachel. The smaller boat is still attached to Rachel by our anchor chain and their crew is starting to freak out!! We see what is happening and rush back to Rachel. Julie leaps aboard, grabs a boat hook, and fends the other boat off while Mark secures the dinghy, fights his way through all the basement stuff in the cockpit and gets the engine started. By now we're only about 15 feet from the boat behind us and closing. Mark motors slowly forward and that disaster is averted.

Julie suggests to the crew of the other boat (in no uncertain terms!!) that they would be well served to post one of their member to focus their energy on keeping our two boats from bashing into each other while we get things sorted out. Meanwhile, Mark has been leaping back and forth (still over all the basement junk in the cockpit) between the helm and the port side of the boat where he is intermittently fending the other boat off and tying on fenders to protect Rachel while keeping us all from drifting any further back.

Up on the bow, Julie is letting out more chain to take the tension off their anchor. Finally the small boat is able to unhook and drop our chain from their anchor. Now that they are free, they again start to drift......once again right towards Rachel. “Fend off” Julie shouts. She's on the bow madly getting the anchor up so that Mark can maneuver away. Finally the anchor comes off the bottom, Julie signals Mark “she's up” and he steers out into open water. Phew.

The little boat moves further up into the anchorage to reset their anchor. Rachel is finally anchored slightly ahead of her original spot with some extra chain out, and we can now relax and take a deep breath. Phew!!! Is it cocktail time, yet?

But wait! The cockpit is still full of 'stuff'! Poor Mark still has his boat jobs to finish, then has to re-stow the basement when he's done.


What a drag!

11 August, 2012

Musings From Maine


Location: Somes Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Maine
Position: 44 21.699 N 068 19.665 W


Tuesday, 10 July
The Goslings, Casco Bay, Maine

A week ago we were leaving the Chesapeake Bay. Today we're in Maine. How things change when we're cruising! This time we moved our home and traded 100 degree days and afternoon thunderstorms for crystal clear blue skies, chilly mornings, and daytime temperatures in the 80s.

Maine is a special place. Morning coffee in wooly jumpers and sweat pants just after daybreak at 05:30. Chilly, calm, peaceful.

A blue heron flies by and Mark is transported back in time. Gathering driftwood logs, boards, and lobster warp from the rocks to make rafts. Running around the islands almost flying from step to step, rock to rock (not much chance of that now <g>). Wearing raggedy old sneakers, up to his knees in mud digging for clams with his dad. Heading out on the “Sylvia Jo” in the the fog, wearing oil skins and hip boots, to check Uncle Ned's lobster traps. Swatting mosquitoes while hiding under the cottage, waiting to be found during a game of “Border Patrol”. And most of all, generally messing about in small boats. 

Always restless, ever seeking new experiences, the seeds of his desire to go cruising were sown right here in Casco Bay.


buying lobster in Cundy's Harbor
Roberta holding lobsters just before 'the feast'
 












Awash in memories, he notices several small ducks floating on the surface not far from Rachel. They slowly paddle together into a flock, then within seconds of each other, they dive. A minute or so later they begin popping up, scattered about, wherever their hunting has taken them. Then they leisurely gather back together again and repeat the process.

Like these ducks, we cruisers also tend to flock together to chat, socialize, and share our experiences. When it's time, we dive off, chasing our own personal muses and searching out our own personal experiences. When we surface again, we see other boats on the horizon, are drawn together to socialize and share, and the process begins again.


Sunday, 15 July
East Boothbay

We're in East Boothbay on a mooring visiting family for a week. We're all staying most nights at Mark's cousin's cottage with Mark's mom, uncle Bill, cousin Kitty, and uncle Bill's helper, Peggy. It's almost like summer camp for old folks. Our crisp, sunny days have evolved into foggy, cool, damp mornings opening back up into sunny afternoons. We're spending lots of time on the porch looking out at the ocean. With 10 foot tides the view changes constantly. We watch kids playing on the pebble beach, swimming in the COLD sea, kayakers paddling by, schooners full of tourists out for sightseeing trips, lobstermen hauling their traps. It is almost like being on Rachel except we're the ones on land looking out at the boats instead of the other way round.

Mark's 97 yr old uncle Bill (a.k.a. “Guppy”) says “I remember my first Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was a tired old thing. The front hub was so worn the tire used to rub against the front forks.” This was followed by several minutes of reminiscing about the various Harley and Indian motorcycles (and their associated mechanical problems) he owned when he was younger.

This first one was apparently inherited from a friend at high school. The friend asked if he could walk his newly acquired, heavily worn motorcycle over to Guppy's so Guppy could tow it with his old Ford to see if they could get it started. They towed and towed to no avail. His friend finally gave the motorcycle to Guppy and left in disgust. The next day another friend came over and found that the valve and ignition timing were both way out. Together, they made the correct adjustments and were able to get it started with it's own kick starter. He then proceeded to “ride that thing into the ground”.

The stories continue and, as always, are punctuated and made more poignant by Guppy's warm wit, sweet disposition, gentle manner and boyish giggles.

This afternoon Nat Wilson brought his 1915 Hereshoff wooden sailboat down the river to the mooring right next to us. This is a rare and extremely beautiful classic wooden sailboat. There aren't many of these around and the view from Rachel's cockpit is vastly improved by it's presence. Then we realize that this 21 foot sailboat and Uncle Guppy are the same age - and they're both true classics.


August 8
Thompson Cove, Deer Island, Maine

Owls Head lighthouse
Wow, we've been here a month now, time has really flown.

Seals in Seal Bay, Vinalhaven
During this visit to Maine, we've sailed past and enjoyed looking at hundreds of small islands. Their pine- and fir-topped rocky shores peek up out of the sea, seemingly offered up like rocky cup cakes for us to enjoy. We have managed to get ashore most days for walks (at times more like clambering) around the rocky shore to circumnavigate an island, walk through a town, or climb a mountain. And, of course, many of the wildflowers are in bloom, painting the landscape with their colors and adding their delicate aromas to our walks.
61 boats attended the Seven Seas Cruising Assoc. gam in Islesboro

We've watched loons swim by and listened out for their distinct and haunting calls echoing off the cliffs. We've seen seals cavort in the water and sun themselves on the rocks. Barking at each other, they plop into the sea then hump and bump their way back on the ledges. And we saw another whale – a minke this time, we think.

We've hung out with old friends, made new friends, and spent time by ourselves - it's been a perfect balance. 


Our lives are rich beyond measure.
 






Seguin lighthouse
Taking a break after hiking all the trails on Seguin Island


View of Camden from the top of Battie Mtn.
good job there was an artists depiction of what we were looking at!!


 busy Camden harbor without the fog






Sunset behind a schooner anchored beside us





09 July, 2012

The Whales of July

Position: N 42 26.160 W 070 16.042
Location: Stellwagen Bank, Bay of Massachusetts

After 2 ½ months in Deltaville we are ready for something different.

This afternoon we find it.









We're motor-sailing in nearly flat-calm seas from Onset, Massachusetts to Casco Bay, Maine with our friends Mike & Roberta on “Celilo”. On the horizon we see a a few whale watching boats just sitting there. A closer look reveals what appear to be whale spouts!













We head over and, sure enough, there are whales. A pair of humpback (we're pretty sure) whales is lounging on the surface. They dive and we see their tails flip up in the air. We get closer. We watch. There they are again!











After about a half hour the tour boats head back to port, leaving us alone with the whales. What a treat. We can hear them breathe. We can see what looks like barnacles on their fins. We're closer than we've ever been to whales on the ocean.

At one point they're between Celilo and Rachel, on a collision course with Rachel! Like an old sub movie we imagine “AAH-OOH-GAH! AAH-OOH-GAH! DIVE! DIVE!!” We cringe, hold our breath, and, just in time to avoid us, they dive. Absolutely spectacular. Nerve wracking, but thrilling and exceptional.













Something different, indeed. 


01 July, 2012

Deltaville

Position: N 37.32.93 W 076 19.90
Location: Deltaville, Virginia

Wow! It's been a really long time since we wrote a Khronicle. We've been really busy, and our focus just hasn't been on writing about our lives.
What have we been doing? Hmmm...
We've had 2 of our 4 grand kids visit with us for 10 days each, that was lots of fun. Quality one-on-two bonding time.
We've had several visitors from other places in Virginia for a few days here and there.

Julie made a quick trip down to Radford to visit and pick up Alex.
Caught up with all of our extended Deltaville family, the crowd we met when we were at Deltaville Marina before we took off cruising.
Lots of cruising friends passing through Deltaville have stopped for a few days to catch up. Some were heading north and others were hauling their boats out to leave them for the summer or to work on them. We really scored on free food when they were emptying and turning off their fridges!
Mark celebrated his 60th birthday on June 5th. Our friends Anne & Jon hosted a wonderful party at their home and 25 of us enjoyed a Cuban dinner and music on their patio. A meeting of dear friends old and new helping the old guy chalk off another year.
Then of course there's the boring but necessary work, boat jobs, boat maintenance, provisioning, now into HOT, humid days......
We are currently waiting for weather to head up to Maine. We will try to send out more timely news in future, but no promises.

18 April, 2012

Welcome to Bath

Position: N 35 28.552 W 076 48.973
Location: Bath, NC

It seems we've just broken our own already badly scored non-Khronicle-ing record. We started this one in mid-April and are just now getting around to sending it out. Sorry!!

As we were in no hurry to get to the Chesapeake before the end of April we decided to take a little side trip up the Pamlico River in North Carolina. Washington and Bath are two historical towns that we'd been wanting to see but somehow have managed to miss so far. It seems we've always been too busy or too much in a hurry passing through on our way north and south to take the time to go up there. So this time we decided to take a little detour off the Intra Coastal Waterway and do some sight seeing.

We arrived in Washington, NC on Saturday afternoon. The public waterfront was covered with tents! Turns out it was the last hurrah of a week-long bicycle fest (called “Bike NC”). There wasn't a whole lot going on as most of the festivities took place on Friday. But it was nice to see so many people in this small town and it was pretty cool watching the tents come down and the throngs melt away on Sunday.

Washington has several free docks, although the Rachels chose to anchor out, it being much quieter on the hook over the busy weekend. We had a really nice historical walking tour, a lovely chat with Visitor's Center lady and managed to recycle every bit of the copious amount of literature she provided us by returning it against her protests. Washington also has a nice, long boardwalk along the waterfront, great for boat and people watching.

Washington is bigger and we enjoyed wandering around, but we loved Bath, mostly (as always) because of the people we met. Bath is the oldest town in NC and, at it's biggest, had a population of around 350. According to a (new) local friend, the current population is 132. The state has kindly installed a dock there that is free for visitors to tie up to for 3 days, to encourage boaters to stop here and explore. Due to the size of the town everyone knows you are visiting and as we wandered around everyone we met said “Welcome to Bath”.

As you can imagine there isn't THAT much to do here. Our first day we went to the Visitors Center, which was closed, but true to form, we picked up a walking tour brochure and wandered around the streets checking out everything of historical significance. There are some great views of Bath Creek and the Pamlico River and lots of benches to sit on and enjoy said views.

The next day we found the visitors center open. There were 3 bus loads of school kids on a field trip, 6th graders (age 11-12), with several demonstrations dotted around that we were encouraged to join in on. We saw sawing, rope making, toys, and quill pen demonstrations. The kids were having a lot of fun. We watched a film showing the history of the town and then wandered around again. Not sure of the order of what we did but we enjoyed personal tours (just us and the guide) of 2 of the historic houses for only $1 each per house – what a bargain!

There's a great little library with WiFi that was open every day we were there, surprising for such a small place. We went and hung out there one morning, as we had some internet business to take care of, and really enjoyed chatting with the librarians and other library patrons. Everyone was SO friendly. They made sure we didn't leave without giving us some paperback books (they were well aware that new reading material is very important to us cruisers).

Julie bought a birthday card but had to return to the boat to address it, not very forward thinking of her. At 6pm she realized we would be leaving the next day and it needed to be posted. Rather than walk the 45 minutes each way to the post office she tried to flag down a car to see if they would give her a ride. After almost getting run over and almost causing an accident she finally asked someone sitting on their porch if she could put it in their mailbox. “Of course, help yourself”, they said (not surprising since they'd witnessed her near-death experience with the traffic).

One afternoon we met and had a nice long chat with a nice woman out walking her dog. She had grown up in Bath and told us lots of stories about it and her childhood. The next day she came by the dock and invited us for cocktails at her house overlooking the river. During our visit she and her husband offered us the use of their spare vehicle for a day of sightseeing and to do any shopping we needed. Having already made plans to leave the next morning we gracefully (and gratefully) declined. But we were impressed. This offer served to underline the openness and generosity we found in these people in this small town “off the beaten path” in North Carolina. Needless to say, we'll be going back to Bath.



Be nice to each other and those around you,

Mark & Julie

25 March, 2012

Say Cheese!!


Position: N 30 46.005 W 081 28.307
Location: Cumberland Island, GA

We are often asked why we don't have more pictures on our blog. Perhaps we can help you understand....
We arrive in Cumberland Island, one of our favorite spots on the Eastern seaboard, in the late morning, looking forward to several days of walking the trails and enjoying the beaches.

Day 1: Off for a long walk with the camera and two of our friends, we dig for sharks teeth, walk through the forest and along the beaches. We see nothing outstanding worth photographing.

Day 2: Off for a walk alone. We forget to bring the camera so, of course, we see a big snake on the trail. Back at the visitors centre we meet the two friends we walked with yesterday. They take a picture of us on the patio and disappear for their own walk. Luckily they walk the same trail,  see the same snake, and get a good shot of it. “Want to trade pictures?”

Day 3: Off for a walk alone, this time making sure we have the camera. Right away we see some of the wild horses. Julie whips out the camera. However, it will only take ONE picture and then says the battery is dead. Sheesh. After that we see several deer, some wild turkeys gobbling and fanning their tails. That would have made some really good pictures.
Back to the boat and charge the camera battery.

Day 4: Off for a walk alone. We make sure not to forget the camera. Today we take the guided tour of the Dungeness mansion. We like to do these every time we visit Cumberland Island because we often get a different ranger with a different perspective and a different set of info. Today the ranger includes all of the crowd into her history of the island giving everyone a part to play and makes the history of the island come alive. Out comes the camera to take pictures. We notice it doesn't turn on. Yes, we have the camera but, no, we've forgotten to put the charged battery back in!! Doh. So suffice it to say the tour and following walk was lovely.

Day 5: With camera AND charged battery we take off walking up the main road. It's a dirt road that goes all the way from north to south, about 20 miles. After about 30 minutes we hear some rustling and a loud “SNORT” from the undergrowth right next to us. Julie climbs onto Mark and we see several wild pigs who are just as surprised as us, running around and looking at us. Then they all disappear into the forest. Of course it all happened so quickly and by the time Julie climbs back down to the ground it was too late to get the camera out.


So 5 good days of walking and exploring ends up producing only one (yes, one!) unremarkable picture of some wild horses. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence for us. Sad, isn't it?  Thanks to the Internet we've been able to let you see what it might have been like if we'd had an operative camera with us....

At this time we'd like to express our appreciation to those of our friends who are willing to “trade” pictures with those of us who are a bit more photo challenged. You know who you are and we really, really appreciate it.

Cheese,
  
Mark & Julie

20 March, 2012

Wild & Wonderful


Position: N 28 40.160 W 079 59.932
Location: 30 miles east of Cape Canaveral, FL

The Gulf Stream is a strong ocean current. It rounds the west end of Cuba, follows the north Cuban coast then curves around Florida and heads north and then east across the Atlantic to Great Britain. It is wide and strong, sometimes moving at 4 knots or more, especially off the coast of Florida. We've talked about this before, but it bears repeating - the might of the Gulf Stream is not to be sneered at. On a good day we can be in the current making almost twice our normal speed. On a bad day if the wind shifts to the north and we have wind opposing current it can become a wild and crazy washing machine, swirling, twisting, and leaping. Or, to take aline from that old nursery rhyme, “When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid!!”.

We had a good 3 day weather window to leave Miami and bypass the entire east coast of Florida to Cumberland Island, GA, one of our favorite stops. If the wind gods were in our favour we would have been able to complete the trip in about 48 hours. The forecast was for clear skies and east to southeast winds 10-15 knots for almost the entire trip – dream weather, for us.

Sunday morning we arose at 3:30am for one last weather check. Then we hauled anchor at 4am, as we wanted to get out of Miami at slack tide. There are 2 channels to get out of Miami, one is used by the cruise ships and the other is for everyone else. If there is no more than 1 cruise ship in the channel us lowly recreational plebs are allowed to traverse. Otherwise, for security reasons, we have to take the more southern channel.

As we headed toward the turning basin we saw only one cruise ship at the docks, so we decided to go ahead and go that way. It trims a bit of time and what the heck, since we could, why not? We got to the turning basin and the huge Norwegian Pearl was turning. Julie tried to call them on the radio to find out what their plans were but they didn't answer, so off we went around them and into the channel.

The ship finished turning around and we assumed it was heading out to sea so we slowed down and hugged the docks to let it go by us. But then it slowed down, too. What the heck? Then we noticed another big cruise ship coming into the channel from the ocean. Ooops!! Now there are two cruise ships in the channel – and we're no longer supposed to be in here.

The Norwegian Pearl called us on the radio and said they needed to get into their berth just ahead of our location. They asked if we could stop and let them pass around us. Of Course, we said, no problem. It would have helped if they'd answered our initial hail so we could have just headed straight out, but, oh, well. So we pulled way over to the side and had one huge ship passing us really close and the other passing him on the other side going in the other direction. At about 100 feet it was about as close as we ever want to be to one of these things. A very humbling experience.

When we finally got outside Miami harbor the waves were a little weird but after a few days of NE winds this was to be expected. We were not too worried, figuring that once we got out a couple of miles it would settle down. Well, not so much. The day was wild from beginning to end. There was just enough north in the wind to make the seas in the stream really rambunctious. Basically, we sat in the cockpit all day and got flung around with short choppy waves coming from all directions. Even Rachel just couldn't get into her usual groove. By 3pm we were just off the coast of Lake Worth when we decided we'd had enough and headed in to shore. We dropped the anchor south of Peanut Island, ate a scant meal, and went to bed exhausted.

Ever the optimists, we were up again at 6am the next morning, even though we were still really achy from our workout the day before. We checked the weather and checked the current wind at the offshore buoys and found it really was going to be E 10-15 today. Oh Joy!! We decided if we got outside and didn't like it we'd turn right around and come back in. We did not want another day like yesterday! We poked our noses out of the harbor. Hmm, no squirrely waves, no north in the wind. We just looked at each other nodded agreement. “Let's go for it”.

28 hours later we've had a lovely day. Reasonable winds, 2-3 ft seas, sun, no weird boat motion and...we're making just under 10 knots. We have a good 4 knots of current which means we can make the trip in just over half our originally planned time. Wonderful.

Most of the day we traveled north with a tug boat, named Sea Robin, with a long tow rope pulling a huge barge about a mile off to starboard. We thought it was weird as usually they blast past us. We figured he must have a really heavy load to be going only 10 knots in the Gulf Stream. Towards the end of the day he called us on the radio to see where we were going - he was going to Savannah, GA. He said “I've never had a sailboat travel at the same speed as me”. We laughed and thought “bet he doesn't ever tell his tug boat buddies about that!”

Feeling wonderful,

18 March, 2012

A few pictures from Miami/South Beach


49ers racing through the anchorage with Miami skyline in the background


Boca Chita lighthouse, Biscayne Bay


Interesting Art Deco hotels in South Beach



09 March, 2012

Julie's swearing - in

Just a quick note to let you know that Julie is now a US citizen, as of March 9, 2012. Her oath ceremony took place in Roanoke, Virginia. Daughter Charlotte and grandchildren Alex & Emma were in attendance.