Fort Pierce- A bit of everything

Ah, a sparkling day on the ICW

Hello again!

I’m going to devote precious little space to what it took for us to establish ourselves as Florida residents, with a new mailing address, new local bank, new storage place, new drivers licenses, register and title the dinghy, register to vote, apply for Florida healthcare and then add, change and delete all that one must when you have a new address. Russ deserves a gold medal for his patient, tireless efforts and for putting up with my exasperated discourse every time things went awry; oh and you know they zigged when we wanted zag, changed plans on the fly and lord, I am so, so glad it’s done.

Even getting our Enterprise rental car on Nov 15 so we could get to DMV, dentist, etc, had him gone one solid hour and the place was less than a mile away from the marina!!  If you need to know more, I’ve added a page (tab) for the topic.

We arrived at FPCM a few days early which meant we could check out the well-known and extensive Farmers’ Market.

2017 is Year 21

Sunny, breezy and delightful. Live music too. Every Saturday and a much smaller one Wednesday afternoons.

Marina in the background- great location!


So colorful


The crafters’ section- about three times what you see here.

DMV or not? We opted for what may look like a DMV office but is in fact the county tax collector’s office. Everything is much larger here in Florida compared to Connecticut.

We had # 541, not a long wait from #537

This place is in Vero Beach. Been in an old neighborhood for many years.

Donuts- yes we managed to work in plenty of those. Donut Circus in Fort Pierce was the best- not super fancy but fresh and how can you beat $4.21 for 6? plus we often got a 7th included for free. 🙂  The local law enforcement could be found there too, only they tried to go incognito. Got a tip about Jupiter Donuts in Stuart but never got that far.

Oh look, am I not so very attractive??

Egrets- ah they kept me busy one morning. You get the idea.

Not giving up!

Flew on Spirit Airlines from Orlando to Windsor Locks, CT. Spirit is no frills and their version of First Class is four seats in the first row. We took two to keep Russ and his long legs comfortable for the 3-hour non-stop flight.

The Marriott Springhill Suites was pricey but only a very short walk to the Uhaul pickup location. We opted for, so as to get some good deals for all our hotel nights this trip.

Spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday carefully loading the Uhaul, then turned in our keys and bid farewell to our storage unit of seven years. Felt like early Christmas as I peeked into boxes and the drawers of my linen press; first glimpse of the contents since packing up in 2010.

Done and packed so nothing should move

Enjoyed a happy family Thanksgiving in Ivoryton, CT. Benj drove down and we got to spend a few extra hours with him on Friday before we needed to start the long drive back to Florida.

An apres shopping warm bevvie and dessert at Dagmar’s. Father and son I’d say


He has my lovely teeth! And the Rackliffe curly hair. He also travels to some cool places 🙂

There’s no avoiding I-95, but we wanted to avoid tolls as much as possible and the Cross Bronx Expressway leading to the GW.  Our EZPass could not be used on the Uhaul and we couldn’t know which toll plazas still had a cash lane or were electronic only.  And as you may guess, we wanted to drive over the new Tappan Zee Bridge and make sure that final span was properly in place. 🙂

Tappan Zee Bridge- the new one


No missing spans here! Glad they got it in place between Sept and now

Traveling, flying and driving can be stressful, but if you have a nice room and a king bed to fall into, how great is that? You all may be spoiled but we sleep in a cave-like space just this side of Queen. And by that I mean “down” side.

Yippee another King bed!

Two and a half days after leaving Connecticut we arrived back at the marina without incident; just a few traffic backups on Sunday. Gotta love Google Maps for driving.

Monday we got back into the heavy lifting and managed to get 95% packed into the new unit.

The hard part is done: setting up the table for the boxes on left, and carrying in and nestling the other table pieces

The St Lucie County Christmas parade took place a snowball’s throw from the marina. Talk about weird- not cold, no snow and hot beverages to warm you up. Still, was festive and I got to wear what minimal warm weather Christmas-y things I have.

Christmas parade and tree lighting afterward

What’s a Florida parade without a boat or two?

The park where the weekly market takes place has all these tall palms and not long after arriving here we watched the county workers wrap lights around the trunks. Each tree had some sort of small box as part of the light strands. Then the day came for the parade and tree lighting- Dec 2 and we watched the palm tree light show as the colors changed, often rapidly, in keeping with the music.

The palms in the park at the marina are lit with special lights that change color with the notes of the song. This year seems to be Mannheim Steamroller. Excellent choice!

May you all be blessed with the joy, love and peace of the holiday season. Wishing you superb health and happiness in the New Year!


Bummed about The Bums

We come upon the BUMs when we take the marina courtesy car to shop. Allie & kids, no Pat-we should have stopped then.

If you’ve been following us you know about the Bums, right?  If not sure, then check their blog that’s been up and running for oh, must be at least 12 years, since they headed off on a sailing catamaran named Bumfuzzle, to circumnavigate. First, just Pat and Allie circumnavigating, then they changed gears and modes of transportation several times, but always some very vintage-y cool vehicle, like a Traveco, or a VW Bug. Across the country, to Mexico, across the pond and back- when oh, Allie was due with Ouest, who is now SEVEN! Then along came Lowe, so now the perfect family of blonde Bums. There’s so much more to their story, you will just have to read it for yourself.

How do we know about them? Well, several years prior to 2010 we needed to figure out “how much would we spend out there?” Keep in mind this is before blogs, when people just had a website. Pat had the knowledge and background to construct a great site, even had a “Buy us a beer” feature. One thing they did that almost no one else did, was to put up a page that showed their spending by category; not very many categories mind you, but hey it was better than nothing. From that fateful moment on, Russ checked that blog regularly. Jimmy Buffett was our musical inspiration, Latitudes and Attitudes (Lats & Atts) our monthly magazine inspiration and now was our online addiction! Buy the boat and we are good to go! 🙂  Oh wait, we bought their book too and Russ had them sign it for me as a gift.

Imagine our excitement when we read the latest news; they’d bought a Grand Banks 42 and would be cruising Florida and Bahamas! Good news: the boat is located in St Augustine, Florida. Bad news: Irma is on her way. Good News: Boat is in a snug and sturdy marina, one that we’ve been to and were planning to visit again. More Good News: The marina sustained next to zero damage and all boats were fine- yay!  Bad News: even with several attempts we never did get to met the amazing Bums in person. But hope springs eternal and as long as they are on the East Coast, it may happen.

There you have it; just some background for you as I take you through Florida.

After leaving Jekyll Island (and the fog) behind we crossed the FL/GA line south of Cumberland Island, sans musical accompaniment.

While we didn’t see much worse than this (below), had we ventured up the St John’s River (Jacksonville) or down into the Keys, the sight would be heartbreaking.

Hurricane results as we come along Fernandina

Just before this spot is one of those sections where we are happy to have Navionics running on the iPad, and to be a shallow draft boat. Hoping the dredge will continue north around the corner.

Much needed dredging happening south of Fernandina in a major problem area

The tide was nearly high as we transited the Fernandina area but almost low through Sisters Creek. Not much wiggle room as the northbound tug approached us, so Russ slowed to a crawl and moved over as far as he dared- into 4 1/2 ft- yikes. A few minutes later I looked back to see the tug getting his comeuppance for pushing us out of the channel.

Soon after making us nearly go aground, the tug receives payback. AIS showed him stopped and stuck …..

We’d snagged the last slip that was wide enough for us at Camachee Cove Marina and Russ backed in like a pro. The marina isn’t within walking distance of downtown St Augustine, but either Uber or Lyft will only set you back $8 one way. Everything else about the marina is “what’s not to love?”.  I was thrilled to receive a second highball glass in the goody bag as now we have two glass drinking glasses that fit where I keep them.

Moon Rise over Vilano Beach opposite Camachee Cove

Full moon brought a king tide one morning that kept us aboard until the water receded enough so we could jump off the floating boat dock onto shore. Eventually the ramp became usable again.

Full moon HIGH tide at Camachee Cove


Lunch and libations at The Floridian. Love my Garden Gimlet made with St Aug Distillery gin

Flagler College is very impressive but that’s because railroad magnate Henry Flagler built it as the Hotel Ponce de Leon, going all out with scads of imported artisans and craftsmen and the best architects from NYC. Built in 1888, the hotel was a resort like no other. More than a place to stay- it was an exclusive and opulent playground for the world’s most privileged elite. Eighty years later, the college was founded and has no doubt invested millions in restoring and preserving this architectural wonder in the heart of St Augustine.

Fountain inside the main gate entrance. Behind me is the bldg entrance door way


Flagler College Rotunda

Guided tours are offered twice a day. We missed the 2pm tour, so a tour will be on the list for our springtime stop.

Can you find the mistake in the tiles? Searching for mistakes is a common student diversion.

I’m gonna remind you how lovely the Mosquito Lagoon is and we love traveling through it on beautiful days to better see and photograph its wildlife residents- like dolphins, manatee and birds of all sorts.

Sometimes I get kinda lucky. Mama and child.  Been spotting more young families than usual lately

At the end of the Lagoon you use the Haulover Canal to get over to the Indian River of grapefruit fame.

Haulover Canal where manatees abound- love the shallow water

I know you can’t see the manatee in the above photo, but I was zoomed in to take that shot. Hadn’t refocused yet when a manatee surfaced at our bow where I just happened to be standing, camera ready- but oh bummer too zoomed. Would have been a good shot otherwise.

Perfect photo op ruined – but let your imagination run wild!

Just after exiting the short Haulover Canal, where only a very few locals were fishing:

Yay- a two-fer! Great Blue Heron and Dolphin- bonus if you spot the Bald eagle in the tree!

Our month’s reservation at Ft Pierce City Marina was due to begin Nov 13 but since we were in the neighborhood early and the weather was going to deteriorate, we decided to go early. That meant just one night at good ole Velcro Beach where we took the bus to Publix and tried to open accounts at a new bank. More on the “establishing residency” process later.

Our one night stay at Vero Beach. We couldn’t miss stopping and ruin our perfect record!

Thursday, Nov 9 we arrived at FPCM, “A” dock, our home for at least the next 30 days. Power, floating docks, good wifi, laundry, secure, on-site restaurants and 15% off gift shop purchases- happy us. Packages would be arriving shortly- thank you Amazon, and others.


S. Carolina & Georgia: 10/20 to 11/2

So many regal eagles sighted since August!

I’ve been thinking that postings of late are lacking in the proper cruising excitement that readers hope to find; and while I’m tempted to greatly embellish or just downright tell a tall tale, I can’t bring myself to do it. Please content yourselves with lots of photos and know that if anything remotely interesting happens, I will write about it!

We’ve started using Navionics on our iPad now. We’d been using Garmin Blue Charts as a backup to the Navionics we have on our old E120 chartplotter because it shows all the ActiveCaptain hazards, anchorages and marinas. It also has a sonar setting that shows depth contour lines and is generally more detailed and up-to-date than the Garmin charts. Garmin, while very pretty, is not known for updating often or well. On Ortolan, we had a touchscreen Garmin chartplotter with Sirius XM radio; one of the fancier pieces of equipment on that cat.

So the newer version of Navionics that runs on the iPad (but not on the old E120s at each helm) is the Captain’s new best friend. It’s got color, dots that show the shallower water (you define the depth) and shows you the deepest water path through the channel/ICW. Traveling through the southern half of South Carolina and all of Georgia requires luck, nerves of steel, accurate electronic charts, oh and a boat that only needs 3ft of depth! 🙂

We used to stop at Osprey Marina for diesel and extremely competitive (if not THE lowest) fuel prices; dockage was a good deal too. Over the years we watched Bucksport Marina come alive and become a bit more substantial; and then we stopped this past Spring to check them out.  Easy to stop, friendly service and competitive fuel price. Twenty-five minutes and off we go, down the scenic Waccamaw with a favorable current.

School ferry crossing! On the Waccamaw, south of Myrtle Beach

Our next travel day would include the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge stretch that lies south of Georgetown as you travel toward Charleston.

Love the early morning lighting


Cape Romain stretch of ICW- the happy couple hang out


Sort of a prairie look here


All in a day’s work along the ICW

As we approached the two guys below I could have gotten a better shot but the distance was too great, even with cropping, so just pretend he’s got a water jet shooting him up a few feet.

South of McClellanville- not in distress just trying to jet up out of the water

The night before going into the Ashley River Marina in Charleston, the anchorage in Dewees Creek was simply idyllic. Our first time using the creek; two thumbs up!

Last fall we pulled into Ashley and met Richard and Jan, owners of PDQ34 Soul Sauce. Lovely people who live nearby, with a long cruising history, more recently local cruising on their PDQ. We’d reserved a few nights at St John’s Yacht Harbor as they offer a two-hour courtesy car and lower dockage rates (being farther from town). Wanting to meet up with Soul Sauce, we let them know our plans. By fantastic coincidence, friends on m/v Kemo Sabe who own the slip opposite theirs, were leaving the day we planned to arrive and said we could rent their slip for a very reasonable amount. Hard to say no to that. Felt bad cancelling with SJYH though.

Not a coincidence though was that we each planned our arrival and departure around the time of slack current; this makes for much less drama and therefore no excitement. We waved to Kemo Sabe (pretty sure I’d read reviews they’d written in ActiveCaptain) as they headed off. Richard and Jan got more experience in the helping cast off and catch your lines department; not that they need it, but was nice they were there for the exchange.

“Kissing Cousins”

Does the design remind you of holly?

Tucking into a slip during windy/rainy times has pros and cons; the downside being it’s unpleasant to walk around in the rain but if very windy then I feel safer and can enjoy some hobby time. We prefer to travel on non-rainy, low wind at our backs days as we (mostly Russ) are exposed to the elements up on the flybridge, with sun protection but only minimal wind thanks to our low front wind screen. We move right along during nice weather and hunker down when we don’t like the conditions. Being able to do 80+ mile days is helpful when we want to move along.

After Charleston, a stretch of lovely days would enable us to enjoy traveling to Brunswick, GA. Deeper draft boats became scarce, but they should have stuck with us as we had higher tide through nearly all the shallow spots.

Where is everyone on this fine travel day?

Tried out another new-to-us anchorage and it’s a keeper. Morning offered up this pretty red glow that perhaps warned of lousy weather to come, but not today.

Another gorgeous day begins. Crescent River off the ICW.

Delayed leaving this peaceful spot until 8:30 so that the tide would be up a bit in the Little Mud River- another stretch where if you draw more than 4 ft you want some tide assist. We went through two hours after low tide and saw no less than 8 ft- but the moon cycle is providing at least a foot more water than typical.

Cows on marsh-y island, south of Little Mud River

We’ve seen goats and horses along the ICW but cows are a first!

Brunswick Landing Marina (BLM) is very popular for re-fueling and as a former naval hurricane hole, is a perfect spot to leave your boat for extended periods of time or just make it your year-round home base. Slips were in short supply as many boats hadn’t headed off yet and I’m guessing a few had come up before Irma. But while our slip had no protection from southerly winds, most of the strong stuff expected would be from the West to North.

We got to meet the owners of Kemo Sabe, and they both are Buffalo, NY natives. 🙂 but not living in that frigid northland anymore!

Brunswick Landing Marina. Nordhavn Kemo Sabe is docked stern-in to our left.

And what did I tell you about distilleries and craft breweries? This will give downtown Brunswick a much-needed boost; plus a craft brewery will be opening across the street. What’s not to love? Oh right, no donuts. 😦

The Farmer and the Larder is changing course, but one of the owners is opening a restaurant across the street; we look forward to checking out Strong Roots in the spring.

Downtown was very quiet for a Saturday, but we learned from a shop owner that the BIG Florida/Georgia football game was this afternoon, so that’s where everyone was. Georgia won.

Here a distillery, there a distillery, EVERYWHERE a distillery…


Looked like it was headed right for us at BLM; we’d be the first line of boats to get rammed!

But the loading dock south of us was the intended destination, whew.

And in she goes

Tuesday and Wednesday nights would find us nine miles from Brunswick, at Jekyll Harbor Marina. Loaner bikes and a golf cart; everyone is happy. We needed to be stationary on Nov 1 to accomplish a long list of to-dos in changing our domicile from CT to FL. The “stay or go” decision hinged on Florida’s healthcare and those costs/subsidies weren’t available until Nov 1. Once we saw the numbers, it was full speed ahead to tackle the loonnngggg list, that we’d only begin to check-off on Nov 1.

Tuesday, after we arrived- that was Halloween but sure didn’t look or feel like it- got the golf cart for a shopping/grocery run then biked the southern part of the island in the afternoon.

Love golf cart shopping!

Yes! A beach. First one in months.

The ICW channel brings you close to shore- spooky when its foggy


Near southern tip of Jekyll. Northern tip Cumberland Island in distance


Spartina and Black Needlerush- looks like burnt fields

The squirrels left out the remains of daily snacking- gave us a never-before look at the inside of a pine cone that’s been stripped.

Squirrel snacking cones- before and after

This info panel contained several pieces of interesting historical information from the year I was born.


S/V Fleetwing, whose ActiveCaptain handle is Bob423, comes past the marina to anchor off to the right

Over the past few years we would focus on comments from Bob423 as they were precise and concise. Not that we usually had to worry but it’s good to be prepared. Then Russ discovered not only does Bob423 have a blog, he also produces a guidebook. So I’ve added a link to his blog from ours.

Normally, Bob423 is ahead of us and most snowbirds, but not this year. We are a week ahead of last year and Bob423 is a bit behind thanks to weather. So when Russ said that he’d be catching up to us today and anchoring off the marina, I joked that he’d come by at 4:23.  What is the likelihood that we’d see him come past at 4:23? not sure, but doubt me not when I say that after I took the photo the wall clock said 4:23.


Jekyll Sunset

Thursday we would continue south and cross the FL/GA line: Anything Goes, It’z Just What We Do, Round Here- oh wait not that- the actual state line 🙂

Morning fog showed signs of lifting, but whether it did or not, we had to get going with a long day ahead.  Next stop, Pine Island- north of St. Augustine.

Good foggy misty morning Jekyll Island

The 3 Bs: Belhaven, Beaufort & Beaches

6:34 Sunset over Belhaven, NC

Belhaven offers several options for visiting boats: marina dockage, town docks with power and water, free town docks or anchoring. Easy in and out and a wooden breakwater that does a reasonably good job but not perfect since it’s not solid nor very high.

This visit we used the town docks at $1 per foot.  Immense quantities of water were required to wash all the green goo off poor Twins; thus we (Russ actually) spent the late afternoon hours and some the next morning, getting the boat, the dinghy, etc all clean again.

That was Wed Oct 11. The day before, when we left Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake VA, was Oct 10, the 7th anniversary of the beginning of our nomadic wanderings. Can you believe it? Seven years. Truly fortunate souls we are. And how to celebrate that, albeit two days late? Dinner at Spoon River on Thursday would do just splendidly!

That afternoon we walked through the couple blocks that comprise downtown; a variety of friendly shops, eateries, Chamber of Commerce, the Belhaven Memorial Museum (open 1pm-5pm) and the well-stocked ACE Hardware/Hand Picked Sister where one can purchase hardware, clothing, gift items, local wines and pillows! I found a dark charcoal gray short-sleeved top that I had to have to update my “wardrobe”. 🙂

Every other time we’d stopped in Belhaven, the museum visit just didn’t happen; this time we made it happen. Housed in the upper level of the former historic town hall, the current museum builds upon the original collection of Mary Eva Blount Way, or “Miss Eva”, who was an extremely avid collector. (1869-1962)

Her love of unique items began with a treasured collection of buttons, given to her by her mother-in-law. Apparently word spread that she loved to collect, and friends and neighbors began to bring her treasures from their own lives and travels. And the collections grew and grew.

The collection that started it all

She began to showcase her collections in her home in 1940 in an effort to aid the American Red Cross. By this time her collection had grown to more than 10,000 items. Lordy, how do you even count all that?

When she died in 1962, concerned citizens of Belhaven purchased the entire collection which included a fascinating array of unique and priceless artifacts from the county, throughout North Carolina and afar.  The Belhaven Memorial Museum officially opened in April 1965. Items range in time from the early 1800s to the 1960s; most portray life in and around Beaufort County, NC.

Free of charge, the museum relies on contributions from families and businesses.

Look at the metal- it’s an x-ray machine

Hair accessories made from human hair seem a bit squirmy. I know, what about a wig made from real hair? Somehow that doesn’t seem as weird. Maybe using hair as a decoration is what makes me feel uncomfortable with it.

Not sure I’d ever wear one of these. Would you?

Dinner at Spoon River, where we were remembered, greeted warmly, seated in the window table we love and served amazing creations!

A Baker’s half dzn stuffed oysters- look at the huge presentation platter!

Bread and a large quantity of lightly herbed butter is brought immediately. My favorite entree, Shrimp and Grits is no longer on the dinner menu, only offered at Sunday Brunch. However; I made a plea to bring it back to both the waitress (who seconded that notion) and the sous chef.

Tonight’s entrees and tomorrow!

Next stop, Beaufort, NC. (did you say BEAUX? Not BEW)  where we spent two nights at Homer Smith’s Docks and Marina waiting for the near-perfect day to head offshore down to Wrightsville Beach.

Classic yacht sighting along the way.

Tripletail was available and Tony promised we’d love it. Velvety smooth and mild like sole but a bit thicker; he was right. We selected one that looked like four meals worth and it was. The below photo isn’t great but you can sorta see the three “tails.”  I also added three pounds of fresh caught shrimp to the Engel freezer.

Perfect- will be dressed and waiting upon our return from shopping in the “new” courtesy van

Another first, the Beaufort Grocery- wow just wow and that was only lunch. We arrived just before 1 pm on Saturday, no wait yet but things picked up while we ate. Seated promptly, our server was friendly and patient with us newbies. She gave us a verbal explanation of the day’s specials; which included some wines by the glass. I wanted white (instead of my typical cocktail) and we were offered tastings of both red and white since Russ wanted red.  How great is that?

The owners, one of whom graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park, NY established the restaurant in 1991 where the Owens Grocery Store operated for many years. So that explains the name. Charles serves as executive chef and Wendy his wife manages the front and doubles as Pastry Chef. Trip Advisor reviews claimed a delicious Bourbon Pecan Pie. I went for it and due to its extreme size, was able to enjoy it over several days.  Ignoring the scale at the next Publix may be advisable.

A MUST stop when in Beaufort

Beaufort Grocery is well-known for several unique menu items and while we couldn’t try all, I think we got two of three: Sweet potato chips and gougeres, leaving the flaming Saganaki to simply be admired when neighboring tables ordered the cheese appetizer that I will order next time!

Sweet potato chips sprinkled with sugar, egg & bacon salad gougere, Russ: Shrimp Melt and SP chips

This year we are about one week ahead of last year, which is good except for warmer temps mean more insects and bugs. The really good thing is that more cruisers are behind us than “with” us, allowing easier travel (passing and being passed takes time) and no problem being where we want to be. A good amount of buffer days is beneficial for when one needs to hunker down for weather, take more time to sight-see or spend more time attached to a dock. 🙂

Sunday was a lovely day to be offshore and several others thought so too; power boats not sail. Dolphins popped up from time to time but the biggest surprise was the one who swan at our bow (s) for several minutes; seemed like longer but the camera time doesn’t lie.


Life IS Good!


Lovely creature.

The beaches: Wrightsville and Carolina. Can you say “dining and donuts”?  You know we can. We can also say “unplanned get together with friends!”

Our go-to dining spot in Wrightsville Beach is Tower 7 that just happens to sit one block from the dinghy docks. The menu revamped, and my favorite choice eliminated but the Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese was very satisfying; way more pork than cheese.

Good Morning. 7:10- time for early risers to get going

Carolina Beach is very close to Wrightsville but we needed a donut fix and a place to wait out a couple of rainy/windy days.

The seagulls love when the locals drag- when the net first goes in it stirs up lots of fish

The southern end dinghy dock was still under reconstruction so we tied up (oh I can’t say where) and walked to take care of a things- all food and drink related now that I think about it. The important stop was Wake ‘n Bake Donuts (Britts isn’t open off-season) and the last stop was lunch.

Lunch time!

Cruising friends who we last saw in Maine during the “RV” year sold their sail cat and found a remarkable home just outside the historic district in Wilmington, NC which is up the Cape Fear River a 30 minute drive to Carolina Beach.  Summer at the Maine lake cottage, winter in NC; I’m becoming envious.

So you know the power of Facebook, right?  Jim and Laurie- and if you are counting, this is Laurie #3!! -posted that they were driving down like now and I replied that we’d be waiting for them in Carolina Beach, but not really thinking we’d get to see them, as who the heck wants to drive even more after days of driving and then unpacking a Uhaul?!?!

Cheers to meet-up with friends at the Surf House. We are so lucky!

I was impressed that our waiter knew exactly how to make a NY Sour and he assured me the bartender would craft one worthy of my high expectations.

The Surf House nailed the New York Sour

And so we continue down the ICW; dining, drinking and searching for donuts.

Flies, flies and more flies!

Maybe I should title this, “Lordy! the flies!”, or “Flies of the Chesapeake.” At any rate, being very intelligent readers, you get the drift of this post.

After departing Havre de Grace (mid-Sept) a massive swarm of teeny insects (I call them black pepper flies) descended upon Twin Sisters.  Before I realized it they were inside, being teeny enough to fit through all the screens. We had to close up, which was a huge bummer given the very warm and whisper breeze day.

12v vac in hand I attacked every inch of every inside corner in our salon area until, hours later, they were no more.

Didn’t see ‘em come, didn’t see ‘em go, but had some excitement while they stayed. Sorry no decent photo, plus I was too busy getting rid of them!

Over the next two weeks came the fruit flies, a well-known nuisance around the Chesapeake, for some reason. One minute we had the typical one or two, and the next minute Twins hosted many multiples of ten!  Day and night, night and day for more than a week.

Oh I did the usual tricks and what worked best was the “seduce and drown” method; a bowl of: water, cider vinegar (or red wine), pinch sugar and a few drops Dawn. Got over two dozen one time. The other effective method consisted of brute force and lightning quick accuracy. 🙂

You might be thinking, yes so what? Nothing new about flying things. But wait dear reader; I’ve saved the best for last, because it did in fact all happen in just this order.

No sooner had we bid a fond, oh a very fond farewell to the fruit flies, we then were introduced to midge flies (a comprehensive term for a variety of flying insects that maybe even the black pepper flies could belong to) at an anchorage south of Coinjock, NC. (the day we left Atlantic Yacht Basin) North Carolina has grown on me over the last few years, but this, our first night over the border caused us to question that liking; but perhaps worse, our earlier than ever timing heading south.

Without further ado, here’s the scene:

We awoke to find half of the boat plastered with these things; they preferred being out of the wind and the sun. So many that you could hear the wrrrring sound produced by 10 bazillion sets of teeny wings. ActiveCaptain reviews had warned of this possibility during certain (unlucky) times of the year and boy we sure nailed that time. A bit of research said to turn off all lights at dusk in an attempt to discourage them. Well, maybe next time.

The “morning after”- anchored Camden Bay south of Coinjock- bazillion midge flies

Running from the flybridge was not going to be an option right away, but after 30 minutes we’d be entering Albemarle Sound and Russ wanted to be up top for that run. Chilly, breezy and loaded with midges. I manned the inside helm while Russ tried to make the flybridge helm decent for sitting at. Not much could be done except to sit on a crappy towel and keep wishing them away.

Grossssssss!!! ewewww

The lines we’d used at the marina still sat, guess where? Piled at the stern, providing more surface and hiding space for the midges. Once across the Sound, out came the Dewalt wet-dry vac which we plugged in, turned on the inverter and began the forever process of sucking up those critters!

It wasn’t as easy as you’d think. They scare easily and fly up (but not away) when you or the vacuum nozzle come near. Over the course of hours, during the rest of the trip into Belhaven we took turns. Look up under the T-top; they were there. Under the dinghy, in the lines at the dinghy davits, on the SUP paddle; any place that offered wind protection.

There they are! and more green goo

And the green goo residue they leave behind! Not sure what it is; your guess is as good as ours. Good news was that it all would clean up, so we read. Several others had anchored near us, as well as plenty of boats at Coinjock Marina; did we now have a shared experience?

AYB: Location, location

AYB, officially Atlantic Yacht Basin, is a new marina stop for us. Ideally located just south of the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge in the Great Bridge section of Chesapeake, VA. Got that? 🙂

Observant readers may recognize the area as we’ve stopped at the free docks before- one you can see below, south of the bridge and the one just north of the bridge that sits between the bridge and the Great Bridge Lock.

The 20+ miles south of the lock is non-tidal, affected by wind direction and strength. Another plus is the stretch from the lock to AYB is a no-wake zone, making for comfy alongside docking and the opportunity for safe and calm rowing and paddling in your small water craft or board. See photo below. 🙂 Recognize anyone?

SUP-ing and kayaking on ICW by Atlantic Yacht Basin (out of photo on left), south of the bridge

Are you surprised to read that we also found a new donut place that opened since we last walked “that far” five years ago? Didn’t think so. Maybe a 20 minute walk from boat to shop, on sidewalks mostly; easy Sunday stroll.

A new donut place for us, farther than we usually walk to Chili’s, or the Farm Fresh.

The place seems like a mini chain, everything just so and boy they can churn out plenty of custom topped doughnuts. I’d doubted that ability but when we saw the operation, it made sense.

Two batters to choose from- regular and pumpkin (seasonal)

A printed menu is available; Chinese menu style. Pick a batter, this time pumpkin was the second choice in addition to regular. Select a frosting from a short list. Then select from a long list of toppings, and finally a drizzle of which there’s roughly six choices. There’s also a board with large photos and descriptions in case you need decision-making help. Yes please!

Decorated while you wait, shown to you for your approval as you pay, and off you go! People and organizations call in large orders too.

And there you go- made fresh before your eyes. Not quite as large as most, but ample enough

Have you seen this? (below) Not that I’m promoting wasteful extra plastic but the idea is clever and the wine was actually a better price than we typically pay for it. The bottom of the ice bucket is overlapped in an attempt to stop water leakage. We bought three, kept one bucket- you know, just in case.

At the Farm Fresh we picked up an old fave SB, Santa Rita 120- in unusual packaging

We spent several nights here waiting for decent conditions to cross the Albemarle Sound; day two after the marina. The boat parades got interesting at times, although with the crappy weather not as many passed by as typically would. Still ahead of “the pack” we are. 🙂

The bascule bridge opens on the hour. Northbound boats  proceed under the bridge, then into the lock. At the same time, southbound boats are exiting the lock and they proceed through the bridge on the hour too. At times the lock is full, but not usually. Sometimes things get interesting when a  tug and barge commands an entire side of the lock, leaving just one side for the rest of us.

The noon bridge opening on Monday, Oct 9 was shaping up to be worth watching as two northbound tugs lay in wait.

Tug & barge has to angle over to get enough room to maneuver straight through the bridge. It’s  few minutes before noon so the bridge is preparing to open- timing is key.

The boats you see on the left edge of the above and below photos are those docked at AYB along with Twins and many others. In the above photo the tug & barge looks huge doesn’t it? I think the barge is 50+ feet wide. But below, not so intimidating from that angle.

Two mins later, bridge opens, tug and barge is in place to proceed

The second tug had been waiting further south, just past where the Yacht Basin ended. Had to wonder what the two southbound boats were thinking, but the tug operator never yelled at them.

But wait, there’s more. Even to us, those two boats looked to be in the way.

As the dynamic duo passed by us we got a good look at the barge.  Yep, easily amused today.

Hard to see, but the numbers in yellow seem to indicate that right now, empty, the barge only draws 2 ft and full could be 8 to 10 ft draft

You realize don’t you that every time the bridge opens, traffic stops. Battlefield Blvd is a busy road and traffic gets majorly backed up when the wait is this long.

12:06- here comes the second barge. You can see that a southbound power boat is scooting under the bridge before the barge gets too close

The trawler had hailed the bridge wondering if he had time to get through, but the bridge tender isn’t going to be responsible for that call.

All is well; barge transits at 12:09 and the trawler preps to dock at the free dock

Any southbound boats are still waiting their turn to pass under the bridge after the barge gets through.  Oh the traffic backup. Times like these make us glad we travel the waterways.



Hampton Hang Out, Again

This past May was our first stop at Hampton Public Piers; the name makes it sound not very inviting, but the reality is that it’s quite the opposite. Floating docks with good power/water pedestals, good communications and help with lines, and no extra charge for the fact we take up two spaces.  We knew from our long Matthew stay last October that the dining and donuts would bring us in again and again. The Preferred Boater Program was a no-brainer for us even though it’s geared toward local boats.

But first, two new stops after departing Solomons, MD.

Stop #1:Heard about Deltaville forever from fellow cruisers, never had reason to stop. With two to three decent days to get into Hampton, we decided to swing by Deltaville,VA which like most stops is several miles in from the Bay.

The channel in needs regular dredging and brings you quite close to the sandy shore

Oh Look! A Maine Cat 30 at the dock.   We could have been at the end of the row of boats already anchored, but decided to turn back and anchor part way up the next creek. Very pleasant.

Approaching Deltaville Marina

Ok, check that one off the bucket list.

Stop two was one we’d been hoping to make happen for well over a year- well not the place but the boat/owners who are full-timers like us from our neck of the woods in Connecticut.  Connections are made for many reasons; boat type, location, chance, etc. Heading up the Cape Fear River spring 2016 the lovely Kadey-Krogen, m/v Tapestry passed us and we both saw very familiar home ports on our sterns. Thus began a FB friendship but one that had yet to be, shall I say, consummated?

Finally we made it happen while they were enjoying an extended stay at York River Yacht Haven; family nearby is always nice. Even though Tapestry is 58ft we saw many similarities to the 42ft Krogen, Viking, we were married on in 1990. Just a gorgeous yacht and Lisa is an accomplished seamstress with beautiful cushions, window treatments and more to prove it!  A long, leisurely lunch at the on site restaurant for that “getting to know you” stuff.

York River Yacht Haven – Tapestry bow out two in from Coast Guard vessel

Another bucket list item completed.

While in Hampton we had another item to check off and since it’s a fort, it would add one more to our fort list that’s grown stale lately.

Here’s the fort history overview:

Built from 1819-34 and named for US President James Monroe, the fort occupied a strategic location for maritime defense and commerce. It remained a Union stronghold throughout the Civil War, earning the name, “Gibraltar of the Chesapeake.”

Even before this time, English explorer Capt John Smith and the Virginia Company recognized the same strategic locale for the Bay and in 1609 Fort Algernourne was built here on what is known as Point Comfort.

In 1619 a Dutch man-of-war arrived at Point Comfort with the first “20 and odd” Africans brought to the English colonies.

Freedom’s Fortress

The fort has remained a national symbol for freedom and protection. It continued as a base of defense and training until being deactivated in Sept 2011- I think we anchored nearby a month later. Fort Monroe National Monument was established on November 1, 2011.

Fort Monroe- they get mail too

Robert E Lee, a 24 year-old West Point-trained engineer, was stationed here 1831-34 to oversee construction. Lee and his new wife, Mary Anna Custis Lee a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, occupied quarters similar to the one several photos below. Their first child was born here in 1932.

Fort Monroe. Forts get remodeled too


Back in the day 1861


Oh well

Entrance to the fort and casemate museum is free and you can tour and walk around at your leisure.

How many men does it take to load and fire a canon? I counted at least seven!

The view from the Flagstaff Bastion Overlook was expansive and afforded us a look from an entirely different perspective than what we usually see from water level in a “small craft.”

When we leave Hampton our course is (south) toward the top center, to the left of Craney Island


President Lincoln stayed here during his visit 1862

In addition to President Lincoln, the above Quarters No 1 was occupied by Major General Benjamin Butler when he made the 1861 pivotal contraband decision.”

Good thing the three-mile limit wasn’t changed when this gun was invented


The complex is large enough for a couple of traffic lights

Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. It has been home to thousands of military families throughout the centuries.

After an exhausting fort tour, lunch at the Deadrise was in order. A great spot with a view overlooking Old Point Comfort marina, the Deadrise was very busy but our food was worth the wait. Among the best fried calamari ever.

Old Point Comfort Marina- lots of empty slips but none wide enough for us

The anchorage area is the empty  area outside of the marina.

We enjoyed another delicious meal and artfully crafted cocktails at Venture, which is at most a six- minute walk from the docks. Dessert tempted us this time.

Pumpkin assorted dessert plate at Venture

I think the fenders ruin the authentic look.

Replica s/v Goodspeed stops one night on her way back to Jamestown, up the James River to our NW

And yes, donuts were a fresh daily event for a few mornings.

Best tasting burgers ever at BCBC

We also discovered a favorite place for fantastic burgers at Brown Chicken Brown Cow, almost next to Venture. Grass fed, pastured with the “right” official rating, they weren’t huge, so you could actually eat them without dislocating your jaw. Served on a lightly toasted brioche bun you could pick from named combos on the menu or create your own by selecting three toppings. Ground beef often disagrees with Russ, but these he found to be very agreeable in many ways!  Totally yum. And his choice of a local brew- wow. Ok then, we will return.

Weather (what else?) was dictating when and where we’d move to. Plus we had leave here so the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous boats could arrive on the 12th… or not, given what the conditions ended up being as that day drew near.