Back in Connecticut

Overall our trip back north was uneventful, well … except for our haul-out & … a hail storm!  While docked at Delaware City Marina, we walked to get take-out at a nearby crab shack, as we were under several weather warnings which didn’t disappoint!  Although only quarter-sized, we had quite the show & boy was it loud on our fiberglass hull.  While hail may be common in many parts of the country, this is only the second time in my life I recall sizable hail – the first was in the late ’90’s.  Our house in Essex sustained several thousands in damage including damaged windows & broken glass.  For several years you still saw the occasional dented car.

 

 

We like redundancy, which is one reason we like catamarans … 2 hulls, 2 engines, etc.  While our main navigational electronics are 13 years old & were working sort-of o.k., our flybridge chartplotter would often go dim and/or beep warnings about this or that.  We have been supplementing them with an iPad mounted at the helm … again … redundancy.  I have often considered a major upgrade, but had stopped counting at a $17,000 replacement cost, as we have a large chartplotter both on the helm below & on the flybridge.  With changes in technology, we would also have to replace our radar, our heading sensor & so on.  “Just living with them” ended during our trip north when our flybridge chartplotter went dark at the same time our iPad’s internal GPS “got lost”.  In a particularly hazardous portion of the ICW, we had to navigate by iPhone.

Still, not wanting to spend $17,000+ along with several weeks of installation – eBay to the rescue!  For only $400, I replaced our flybridge chartplotter with a similar used model which works perfectly.  We will replace our iPad this summer with a new model.

Do you recall in the “olden” days when the postal service offered package delivery sent to a Post Office c/o General Delivery?  Well, they still do!  We had our eBay purchase sent to a town we knew we would be stopping at a week later & it all worked out well.

Lots of osprey nests, as usual.

A lovely sunset over Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Never tire of transversing the East River in NYC

The Old Saybrook, CT breakwater for the 200+th time. Home!

We’ll be at a slip in Deep River, Connecticut for a few weeks, before wandering around Long Island & the Vineyard for the rest of the summer.  It looks like returning to Maine will have to wait until next summer.

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A Small Detour on our Way North

Some things you can only put off for so long … 

After almost 3 years, our bottom paint was no longer doing its job very well, which meant more swimming to scrape off barnacles & scrub off growth – almost fun in the Bahamas – not so much elsewhere.  We attempted to haul-out in Florida, but the yards were extremely busy, as many cruisers (especially Canadians) haul-out & leave their boats in Florida for hurricane season.

The sanding isn’t fun either…

… but I had my best helper working hard!

Ahhh …. as good as new!

We found a recommended boatyard in Deltaville, Virginia which could handle our wide beam, allows do-it-yourself labor & living aboard “on the hard”.  It may be called “on the hard” because you’re on hard land, but living aboard while hauled out is pretty hard as well!  We had electricity to run our refrigeration … but that was about it.  Our A/C can’t work on land.  The water at the marina is not potable – we only had the water in our tank.  Deltaville is fairly remote, so no taxis, Uber or rental cars, which also meant no restaurants, grocery stores or take-out.  Our timing was bad with the Memorial Day 3-day weekend, so we had to hustle and finish in 4 days or be stuck for 7 days.  Boy, did we hustle – successfully launched Friday afternoon with 2 coats of bottom paint & hulls (mostly) waxed.

In the end, Stingray Point Boat Yard was a good yard to work with & they were very accommodating to our hauling/launch schedule.

How many times have I hauled out?  Well, this is me “on the hard” around 1966, so I’d say too many!

Britt’s Donut Shop – North Carolina

While you may think we joke around about donuts – we do not.  Our travels thru North Carolina were timed around the limited (in spring time) Friday – Sunday opening of Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach.  Soooo delicious & they must be eaten while hot out of the oil!  Bonus points for burning your mouth!  Britt’s Donuts are consistently rated as one of the top 5 best donuts in the U.S.  Celebrating their 80th year in business – we had to be there!

 

 

We also enjoyed a fun night out with good cruiser friends Jim & Laurie.  We first meet in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas while they were cruising on their sailing catamaran & have since met up many times including at their cabin in Maine as well as their “new” (100 year old)  house in Wilmington, NC.  The Surf House Oyster Bar in Carolina Beach was outstanding.  This was a lovely complementary app called the Red Neck Picnic.  We enjoyed catching up & much laughter!

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, without a doubt, is our favorite city to visit.  We learn a little more of it’s history with every visit.  This time we toured the 1771 Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon.  Originally built as a Custom House & as a testament to the city’s growing trade, the Exchange in 1788 hosted South Carolina leaders as they debated and approved the U. S. Constitution. Today, the Old Exchange Building is one of only four structures remaining where the nation’s founding document was originally ratified.  In 1791, city leaders wined, dined & entertained President George Washington.  Back during the American Revolution, British forces converted the bottom floor of the Exchange into a military prison known as the Provost or “dungeon.” American prisoners of war, British soldiers, private citizens, and enslaved people all endured its harsh confines.

Enough history – we came to eat!  Lori enjoyed her oyster pie at a new restaurant named Hooked.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary with brunch at High Cotton.  Fantastic fried oysters & shrimp cocktail.  You (we) have to love any restaurant which serves donut holes as an appetizer!  Really, really, tasty with a bacon, cinnamon glaze.

 

 

 

One of Charleston’s newest restaurant’s is also one of the smallest.  167 Raw is very small – only 2 tables plus some seats at the bar.  Lori’s gourmet salmon salad & my oyster Po’ Boy  were outstanding!  Preceded by a sample platter of oysters, clams & shrimp, it was well worth the wait!  Even on a late Monday morning, there was a bit of a wait outside the restaurant.  At times, there is a several hour wait.

Georgia

Enjoying nice weather & low winds, we decided to push on thru Georgia.  Having higher tides while transiting certain areas is critical.  Many areas need serious dredging (to transit at low tide), but with 7′ tides, there is plenty of water if you time your trip correctly. Cumberland Island is one of our favorite stops.  Most boats anchor near the southern end of the island at Dungeness, but this time we anchored near the northern end in the Brickhill River.  While we arrived too late to spend time ashore, we were treated to quite the show right next to our boat.  These 2 feral horses decided to sample the tender shoots growing on the muddy bank.  We were getting a bit nervous as this one explored further into the muck & kept sinking deeper & deeper.  We couldn’t do much – would the Park Service respond if we called?  These are wild horses – would they just let nature take it’s course?  After a while, no worries, he just plodded out as if it was no big deal.

Lori spotted a log in the water – then the “log” made a blood curdling cry – not a log.

Next the birds arrived – Dozens of large birds gathering to roost for the night.  This photo can’t capture them all, as many blended right into the trees.  The bird to the right is a wood stork.

Earlier, we spotted a family of feral boars checking out the water’s edge, but were scared away by our approach before we could get out our camera.

It is a bit funny that during our first trip to Cumberland Island 9 years ago, we didn’t see a single creature, even though we walked across & about for several hours.  Since then, we’ve been rewarded with hundreds of sightings of the horses, armadillos, etc. – sometimes so numerous that they’re blocking our way as we walk down a path.

Cumberland Island is a fascinating place to visit with an amazing documented history going back to the 16th century, although possibly occupied as early as 2000 BC by aboriginal people for it’s diverse & delectable food sources including oysters, crabs, fish, deer & bear.  In the 1800’s, it was a getaway for rich Industrialist families including the Carnegies.  Now it part of the National Park system.  Wikipedia has a great summary of the island & especially of it’s fascinating history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberland_Island

 

Heading North thru Florida

Not every day you come across the Nina & Pinta cruising down the ICW.  These replicas had been visiting Vero Beach, Florida & were now heading around to the Florida Panhandle, then up the Mississippi & eventually to Iowa.  Our AIS screen (to the right) showed them on approach (in case there was any doubt!).  A few years ago we had a similar sighting of the Charles W. Morgan in Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts – kinda crazy.

Where was the Santa Maria you ask?  We found the Santa Maria on the waterfront in St. Augustine.  This replica was recently built in Spain (by a completely unrelated organization) & sailed across the Atlantic for it’s 525th anniversary.  As our dinghy was tied up on the same dock, we went aboard for a tour.  Here is a view from the poop deck.  Like all replicas, they are built with modern safety equipment, navigation electronics & engines, but was still a shock to see how small it was (even though it was the larger of the 3 ships).

Back in the Good Ole USA

By the time our (2nd) Bahamian courtesy flag becomes tattered, it’s time to return back to the USA.

There is an app for that.  Clearing into the U.S. is now done via the ROAM app.  You set it all up advance, then clear in on-line.  Being the upstanding citizen I am, I promptly received my confirmation, however, some shadier characters may have to endure a video interview with customs officials.

We had a great weather window to cross the gulf stream & shot right into the Fort Pierce Inlet.  After anchoring for the night we headed into the Fort Pierce City Marina for a week of stocking up – yeah! – real grocery stores!  We had also carefully planned out months in advance our dentist & doctors appointments, as we are now Florida residents with Florida health insurance.  Fortunately, we are healthy.  Unfortunately, so many people are moving south that there are simply not enough doctors.  Especially as new patients, there was a very long wait for our initial appointments.

While Fort Pierce is know as the “Sunrise City”, we usually sleep through it, so we enjoy the sunsets instead.

Although one of the nights, quite the storm blew thru.

Of course, could we return to the U.S. without …. donuts???

Certainly it was worth a $30.00 car rental to visit Love Bug Bakery in Melbourne!  At least we made it completely worth our while to also stop at a bead shop (for Lori) & the Melbourne Beach Market for the best sausages ever!

Time to start heading north!