June – Project month at the Point

Home for two months!

Pilots Point that is. I’ll bet if you looked back to every time we arrived in CT, you’d read the same words: Projects, busy, getting it done, unexpected, friends, family, and let’s not forget the Donuts!

The only other words I am thrilled to add to this summer’s two-month stay in Westbrook, are: unlimited constant hot water, 50amp power, cable TV and comfy wide slip!! For all of you who take the easy land life amenities for granted, you are probably hard pressed to imagine my joy, but I know some of you can relate. Life is good in our slip, R7. We even got the correct dock; R.  Right?

We got right to work because even arriving two weeks earlier than expected we know how things go; the unexpected stuff consumes the time and there’s always that one thing that takes FOREVER. Can you say “window treatment nightmare”? We can.  Even as I write this on July 10, having new curtains is still not 100% guaranteed. Space constraints, desires and cost all combined into such a mish-mash of options that at one point I threw in the proverbial towel and said, “let’s just clean the ones we have and forget new.” Not gonna happen. Took them all down, made notes because two needed sewing repairs, lugged them to the best dry cleaners around with a seamstress on site. Then they wisely did a test. Result- nada. No change. That mold and mildew didn’t budge. Took ‘em home, tried a few natural remedies, same result.  Soooooo, hang around for the next post to see how this all ends up.

We continue to see strange sights in the sky. This looked like an ultra-light helicopter.

Look- he’s waving!

Pilots Point utilizes these very cool, environmentally friendly mini pump-out boats.

Such a cute pump out boat

 

Bonny in to fix coolant leak

A slip and a car! Does it get much better? Not much. Bonny had a bad experience last summer and she spent the winter at our nephew’s place knowing a trip to the fix-it spa was due upon our return.  Our nephew brought Bonny in to a well-known local place ahead of our arrival so we could get her quickly.

Not only did she get fixed up within a few days, she also was in fabulously cool company and had a bit part on Cardone’s website. Who doesn’t love our escape pod? Well, the night guard at the marina sure does. When we’d return after a wild night out on the town, we’d see this big smile. Turns out he’s a huge Star Trek fan and always enjoys a good escape pod experience.

Our new Air Conditioner unit under the salon seat

Replacing the salon air conditioner unit was one of those unplanned projects. The old one was a bear to remove but Russ caught a break with the new one which was just a tiny bit smaller and only required one shoehorn to fit it in! Let’s not forget the (unplanned) hot water heater replacement and the routine oil and filter changes in both engines and the genset.

With Linda and Thom: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins together

Thanks to our friends and Tower Labs we enjoyed a touch of culture at the world-famous Ivoryton Playhouse in Essex.  The show was foot stomping, hand clapping, make you sing out loud excellent. So much fun and very well done. Inspired a slew of iTunes purchases 🙂

Excellent balcony seats for the show

Driving around- not aimlessly…- but with a long list of stops and things to accomplish mind you- we watched this chomping display.

Bye Bye building

After hunting down Tony’s Square Donuts (truck) we tried to make up for the “bad” food stuff by stopping by a local farm for fresh eggs and to scope out their meat offerings.

Four Mile River Farm. Payment is on the honor system.

Father’s Day arrived and so did our son! Seriously heavy fog crept in Saturday morning and ruined a hoped-for meet up with…our nephew Matt, aka “new boat owner.” Dinner with dear long time friends was just the best! We did get into Essex for a tour of Main Street and then headed over to check out Matt’s new ride.

Thankfully the fog didn’t ruin Benj’s arrival!

Food gifts are highly prized. Benj never fails to treat us to old favorites as well as introduce us to potential new ones. He also brought greens from the farm and a delicious loaf of rustic bread from The Laundry in Vergennes.

And there was that one small project that needed an extra set of muscles and more height than I had. First off Russ had to use a large hole saw which managed to end up in the drink. Shallow water but murky. What if we fished for it with a magnet? A magnet that once belonged to Benj! No luck, even with serious effort- thanks sweetie!

New way to fish?

The real project was to construct a brace so we could lower our mast for the trip to Lake Champlain.

Benj helped construct and test the mast brace for the August trip to Lake Champlain

A few ups and downs, a few tweaks and adjustments and…. well done men. I helped too- holding the line; aka the backup lady.

Before and after Father’s Day we lived in a window treatment nightmare. There’s always the extreme option- one that really expands the interior visually, but not one we prefer.

Maybe we’ll go naked

Not content with giving up one thing to the murky waters, the chamois blew in -somewhere.   A few days later Russ is walking near the power/water/cable TV pedestal. Low tide and the sun is shining down brightly. What? You think you see the chamois down there? Yep. Retrieved, washed and washed and sorta good as new. Yuck

Yuck, what’s that? A chamois from the mud bottom perhaps?

The PWC docking stations (is that what they are called?) caught the attention of this heron who carefully walked across one from the dock.. and then slipped. Wings help with keeping one’s balance.

Slippery- gotta watch that

 

Before and After

One of the easier projects was to sand and repaint our two propane tanks They look mahvelous dahling now! As the crowning touch at the bottom, Russ tapped on edging strip material.

We both had our to-do lists; Russ wins the prize for quantity and longest duration. I have retained my lofty status as supreme assistant, as well as chief cook and bottle washer, recycling separator, photographer, blogger and finder of new hobbies to keep me occupied. Remember back in grade school when art wasn’t optional or in Jr High when you had to take some art class? Not my favorite subject; if I managed a “C” I was happy. Copper enameling and paper mache, both in 5th or 6th grade, were the only art forms I recall liking.

Growing up I sewed- clothes, not household stuff like curtains. Just sayin’.  But being able to make jewelry has piqued my interest and the techniques can be applied to decorative endeavors too. Call me a late bloomer, but it’s easier to do on a boat than say, candle making.

Uh oh. I try out a new braiding technique. Not new at all, but new to me

 

Very nautical- like a jellyfish

Some time during the month Russ began the buffing, waxing ordeal. One small section at a time weather permitting. This process continued into July- figuring he will finish up by July 15. Lordy. But her ladyship is looking and feeling very spiffy!

You probably get the idea of our month; I could share much more, but this post was long enough!  Hope you all are enjoying summer!

May 31- June 2: NJ, NY & CT!

Foggy departure out Cape May inlet. Happy to have a lead vessel.

When you see an opening, take it. Squeeze through it any way you can and continue on. Wed, May 31 was predicted to be very low winds, not the best direction but not an issue. So what frequents  New Jersey on windless days? Answer: FOG, and plenty of it.

And when we thought it had departed on those little cat’s paws, back in it oozed, surrounding us like a cool, moist blanket. Even the wind picking up didn’t completely dispel the persistent fogginess.  For the most part, visibility was just good enough to safely see ahead as we sped along at 13kts.  The morning fog was so dense we kept to a slower 8kt pace for a couple of hours, running radar, two sets of eyes, happy to have AIS and listening carefully to any nearby VHF convo.

Rounded Sandy Hook with no issues and no fog. You may recall years ago we dealt with fog up the NJ coast, getting too close to the channel’s edge at Sandy Hook, and then bam! surprised beach fishermen and us, as we were closer in than we thought. I think we couldn’t see the large buoys and relied on the chartplotter, but the channel and buoys had been moved further away from the growing sandy beach so we found ourselves outside of the actual channel- but only briefly!

We tucked in for the night just behind the breakwater at Atlantic Highlands, with plans to transit through NYC, the East River and east through Long Island Sound as far as we could get, the next day- Thursday June 1.

Surprise! Morning fog crept in to greet us, then ebbed only to return. Nerves of steel, AIS, our trusty VHF and chartplotter got us through the harbor with ferries, container ships, tugs, small fishing boats and other pleasure craft all messing about as always.

We watched the process depicted below a couple of times; the first happened when before we upped anchor in the morning, and this time was a better view. Clams?

Drop in a big trap thing, pull and drag it, and then bring it up

 

SeaStreak- called to let us know she’d do a two whistle pass. Invisible until very close by

As we closed in on the Verrazano, the fog lifted for the day- ahhh.

Your consumer goods have arrived!

 

Joint effort? or Tug rendezvous?

 

Always an honor and a pleasure

 

Turbulent water near Hell Gate. The current was with us- against would not be good

 

Plane makes a very steep ascent on take off from LaGuardia over Rikers Island

We enter into eastern Long Island Sound and decide to keep up our speed as conditions are calm and we want to get as close to Westbrook as possible tonight- ok how about Clinton 2 miles away?

I often check the AIS list to see at a glance who’s out there, but hadn’t looked in a while. Such a pleasant surprise when I looked and saw s/v Amistad headed into New Haven Harbor. The first time we ever saw her, she was being constructed at Mystic Seaport. Laid eyes on her a couple of times since then but never under way. I rushed up to tell Russ and insisted we divert for a photo. The shot below shows the path we were on and how we turned nearly 90 degrees to hunt her down.

Changed course from the dotted line to check out the Amistad, the large triangle.

I took a slew of photos, but the sun was wrong. This was the best one.

S/V Amistad heads into New Haven Harbor

Friday morning we began the long 15 minute trip into what would be our summer home for two months; a blessed slip at Pilots Point Marina. Could I ask for more? I’d better not. But then again, we’d be reunited with Bonny our Mini Cooper, with friends to see, lobster to consume, appoints to keep and all the shopping we cared to do. Oh and those pesky boat projects too.

Mind that sandy point!

 

 

Offshore jumps get you home fast

Watching aircraft carrier head in to Norfolk, while anchored off Buckroe Beach

To rush or not to rush, that is the question. Weather be ideal to head offshore, or up the Bay; nay say he. Saturday 5/27 promised to be a 5 star low wind, calm seas day. What’s not to love? Such is the nomad life.

Hampton to Cape May was gonna be a few miles, more than we’d ever done in a day of daylight. The original plan to anchor at Lewes, DE got scratched and Russ said Cape May would only be another five miles; we could make that.

Thanks to winds blowing out of the west Friday and Friday night, we couldn’t anchor at Cape Charles but we left the marina and came around to anchor off Buckroe Beach where we’d have protection. This only saved four miles on Saturday plus the time to get off the dock with no help, since we’d be leaving at OH SO VERY DARK THIRTY!!

So how was the trip you ask? Ah, can you say, “accurate forecast?”  Calm Mother Ocean provided the slightest of gentle swells just so we’d know we were actually in the ocean. No wind wavelets to speak of. We zoomed along at top cruising speed, 3,100 rpms.

First light is before 5:30 am, which helps a lot.

The sun rises over Cape Charles- early bird photo at 5:54!

I’d prepped breakfast the night before by cutting up fruit and getting out cereal bowls and plates for the coffee cake. We raised the anchor as soon I was dressed and could see (put my contacts in)! Breakfast was consumed underway as we let the engines warm up enough and then Russ pushed the throttles forward.

To give you an idea of how wide the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay is, it was at least 15 nm (18 land miles) from our anchorage to the tip of Cape Charles. Once we rounded Cape Charles and passed all the small boats out fishing, the ocean was our oyster.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge- we are on the water- traffic is under us

At 7:10- finally in Mother Ocean- but look, who’s that PDQ? Miss Agnes– headed home to Ocean City MD

The only negative was the “chance of scattered rain and T-storms” near our destination. That too was accurate.  Slowing down to let it pass didn’t work but we did time our arrival to Canyon Club Resort/Marina well enough to not be docking in the rain. Our spot was a T-head, stern-to a 47ft Leopard power cat, named Gypsies Palace. Guess who they love? Huge Buffett fans.

Sunday looked like the only decent day to go into town, so we did. Shared the courtesy van ride with Debbie & Steve of Gypsies Palace. They are Loopers and brand new full timers from Florida as of April 1.

 

Fancy tide minders slide up and down in a groove in the piling at Canyon Cove, Cape May.  Clever.

 

Pool at Canyon Club- can you say, “our most expensive marina stay in the last 7 years”?

We stayed at the Canyon Club for two nights, but with rain coming there was no point in paying to be at a dock stuck on the boat, so we fueled up (at the dock) and anchored across the harbor in sight of the marina

This anchorage is sorta close to the Coast Guard station with plenty of room for  8 or more boats as long as some are like us and don’t mind being in 4ft at low tide. Being near the CG station doesn’t mean you should feel safer though. We turned the VHF on and heard the Canyon Club call for help that a boater at the fuel dock had fallen in and was likely injured. Whoever was on call at the station must not be from the area, nor was familiar with the marinas around the harbor- that’s all I’m saying. Shakin’ our heads at the standard but ludicrous questions when the Canyon Club is across the harbor, in sight of the CG station. All ended well thankfully.

Coast Guard Memorial Day tribute through the harbor and the Cape May Canal

Wednesday, May 31 we planned to head offshore up to Sandy Hook or Atlantic Highlands, another long-ish day but not like the last one.  Wondered how calm the trip would be and would we spot a whale like we did last year?

 

Yes Virginia, we love you too!

Lazy builders or got caught short?

Remember when Virginia’s slogan was, “Virginia is for Lovers?” or maybe it still is; can’t say we have any clue. But crossing the state line into Virginia put a smile on our faces because the free dock awaited us by the bascule bridge in Great Bridge (Chesapeake)VA and Hampton was right up the road a piece. (teeny inside joke there)  The osprey were in full family raising and I had ample time and opportunity to photograph to my heart’s content. Sorry the day was overcast though.

Osprey receives mid morning visitors

We seldom require a bridge opening with Twin Sisters but the approach to Norfolk/Portsmouth from the south offers the chance to “dance with other boats at bridges” a few times. The spring snowbird trek north is more spread out than in the fall/winter and the ICW isn’t usually as busy. However, whether fall or spring, nearly all boats “travel inside” between Norfolk (Mile 0) and Beaufort, NC.  Hey, we may live a crazy life but we aren’t insane enough to round Cape Hatteras!

Therefore, we travel with more boat traffic north of Beaufort, with bridges being the gathering spots. This day being a Sunday offered a small benefit, the bridge after North Landing opened on request (I dislike the term “demand”) which meant we could proceed at a more sane pace to make the third bridge which opens only on the hour. For us and most in our “pack” that would mean being there at 1pm.

 

In line at North Landing Bridge for noon opening

We hoped to snag a spot on the free dock immediately south of the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge, but just in case it was full, no way did we want to dance around for an entire hour. Good move on the part of the travel planner (me) as the dock was full; we went last under the open bridge at 1pm and slid easily onto the free dock just past the bridge! Much appreciate having two docks. Only one sailboat mid-way so we took our preferred spot at the far northern end- farthest from the bridge.

Snarfed a quick lunch then did the easy couple block walk to the Farm Fresh grocery, noting the Chili’s and Panera along the way. Battlefield Blvd is one busy road, but sidewalks and crossing signals make walking very easy, and safe.

Nighttime is another story because as many of you know, “it always happens at night.” The bridge opens on request after 8pm, the time when pleasure boats should be tucked in all comfy for the night. Commercial vessels love the dark hours, I’ll bet. We heard the horn signal for the bridge to open and did what any self-respecting person nearby would do; we stepped outside, binoculars and photo-taking device in hand. Lordy, that tug pushing that barge sure looked monstrous in the narrow waterway that is between the bridge and the lock.

Look carefully to see the dark mass of barge that lies under the tug’s bright spotlight.

The duo passed by slowly and carefully and although we were “this close”, did not feel even the slightest wake.

The next morning, Monday May 22, we took the 9am Great Bridge Lock opening with one other boat. The water level never changes more than 18” up or down (my kind of lock!) and today’s change was even less. Easy in, tie up and out in no time. Next stop was Top Rack Marina (SM 7) for cheap and easy fuel-up.

 

Green light on right- OK to enter- watch out for the goose!

The northern gates (exit) start to open. 15 mins from the first photo of entering and on our way

Between the lock (SM 12) and Mile 0 are several railroad bridges that are very high when open, but when they occasionally close (often in the morning it seems), no one fits under. These closures are announced on CH 16 and you sure better know which bridge is which; we eventually learned to make a note on our flip chart. No sooner did we get past the one at Gilmerton, and the warning came it would close “shortly”. Whew- doing well today.

Not all the fancy yachts with assorted toys are in the tropics!

 

In for an extensive spa treatment

We closed the book at Mile 0- yay! another trip logged successfully. This would be our 12th; seven years, less one RV year, for six boat cruising years.

All done with this chart book for PDQ Year 2 !!

Warship 56 pulled out from Pier 5- like we know where that is, but we had an idea- after several warning announcements. Pretty sure she’s headed south to the live fire practice zone off Camp Lejeune in Onslow Bay.

Warship 56 heads out to sea from Pier 5

She’s a good size, but looked tiny compared to the container ship who passed us both heading in.

Destination: Hampton, VA, a place we’d heard tell of many times but had only stopped for the first time last fall to hide from Hurricane Matthew. Our reservation was at Hampton Public Piers, in the heart of downtown Hampton. The only slips we’d fit into had short finger piers so we backed in. A short finger pier can mean a piling further out you have to toss a looped line over. Note to self: try to remember that in the future!!

Fenders were set, lines ready to toss but not one (we don’t use our good blues ones for this) ready for the piling. I clearly was acting like a clueless crew member, so Russ came down to do the job. Not a good idea to leave the helm, let me say that, but two guys had our lines and with virtually no wind, no harm could come.

The wind blew, the rain pelted down in buckets and in between we visited Glazed Doughnuts- bought some too!, enjoyed lunch one day and dinner the next at Venture, pondered a visit to the brewery but the walk was so far (yep like right behind us), snipped some parsley from the Boater Community Garden and chatted with dock neighbors.

Art in view. Very creative

We’d hoped to visit the fort but Mother Nature had other ideas. Guess that means another visit. 🙂 . Really love Venture- drinks, food and the service. Plus we always get a booth opposite the kitchen.

Glazed Doughnuts in Hampton VA

“Meat Za” pizza at Venture. Really yummy

 

 

Strong wind gust. Even we recorded 21 mph all protected.

The above news story caught us by surprise; buildings around us provided so much protection, and of course the wind would be stronger “out there”.

Saturday looked like an amazingly benign day to head up the coast to Cape May; a long day for sure but doable. We planned to stage 4 miles closer by leaving the marina Friday afternoon, but due to strong west winds had to stay on the western shore rather than anchor off Cape Charles which would save plenty miles.

So what’s our rush? Nothing, except someone wanting to take advantage of a perfect day. We’d miss seeing Ann & Mike in Solomons, which was a bummer, but to not do laundry with Spot and steal a sniffy kiss, well that was downright depressing! Next trip- promise!!

Beaches, boats, birds through North Carolina

When I downloaded my Sony camera every picture included at least one or more of the items in the title.  I wanted to include donuts, but although a “d” is a flipped around “b”, one donut stop wasn’t enough to earn a title spot.

All along the way from Florida we’ve spotted curious dolphins, sometimes in places we didn’t expect. Been lovely as always to see these intelligent creatures. Many are youngsters with mom and dad showing them the ways of the life aquatic. I haven’t mentioned them, but I wanted you to know they are there!

Whenever I mention places in NC we like to stop at; and there’s quite a few, Russ often remarks, “I thought you didn’t like North Carolina?”  Sigh. Yes, I still have not-so-fond memories of severe thunderstorms, very nearby tornadoes, hiding out from hurricane Sandy, going aground and fog, fog. But those are in the past- maybe the most recent event was 2013, and memories fade faster after age 50!

North Carolina has a great deal to offer boaters and cruisers and that’s just along the many miles of shoreline. Looks like this post might turn out longer than I first imagined!

First off a close encounter with a dredge. It would swing back and forth across the channel, doing a good job of allowing room for boats to pass by as they came along. We would be proceeding between the dredge and the red marker.

Dredging Phase 2 at Lockwoods Folly- room to pass? Just about.

Compare and contrast the dredging method above with the laborious dredge method below. Also note the smooth waters of the ICW versus the rougher Cape Fear River. We didn’t choose the best day to go up the Cape Fear River from Southport, NC to Carolina Beach, but the next two days looked worse and Britts is only open Friday through Sunday until Memorial Weekend. So there you have it.

One scooper-full at a time dredging- Cape fear River

We reserved and paid for a mooring ball at Carolina Beach using Dockwa but not everyone does, so Randy comes out to collect your $20, chat and offer to take trash.

Britts!! Always fresh, hot and delicious!!

Others love them too!

8pm donut run by the Coasties. They were down at the “dead end” for just long enough to visit Britts.

Mothers’ Day was warm and mostly sunny, unlike the dreary rainy day before. We had to use the dinghy dock a stone’s throw from our mooring because the small boat/dinghy dock at the south “dead end” was completely dismantled. This makes for a longer walk down to Britts and the boardwalk shops but we needed the exercise.

A stop at Britts- surprise!- but hey, these have to last us an entire year because they aren’t open when we come by in October. We walked back on the beach with smiling faces, full bellies and “happy in the sand” toes.

Clever benches- the back flips so you can sit facing either way! Beach view or boardwalk view.

Monday brought an offshore day of 80 miles to Cape Lookout which is six miles past the Beaufort, NC inlet and a pristine paradise. Some compare the water and beaches to the Bahamas, but take it from one who knows; the beaches are wide and loaded with shells, the dunes picturesque, but the water no way.

Still, the Cape has a lot to offer and if you are there during the week, you can avoid the weekend craziness.

Anchored off the abandoned CG station at Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout- looking out to the ocean – small boats fishing and a red buoy

 

The ocean facing beach is long and loaded with shells and well-worn pieces

Just some of the millions on the beach at Cape Lookout

 

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Over by the lighthouse which opens to visitors/climbers every May 16, is a ferry dock. The ferries bring people in from Beaufort using the inside route which gets regular dredging to keep it usable by the large pontoon ferries, small local boats and smaller shrimpers.

These two were just tooling around. Surprised to see they spent the night anchored at Cape Lookout

 

The creature from the Cape Lookout bight!!

Russ took an hour in the late afternoon to gently scrub the moss-y stuff off the bottoms and scrape away the few barnacles that had attached themselves. Maybe this place is more like the Bahamas than I thought!

I’m also certain I saw a huge loggerhead turtle as we headed back from the beach. They are fairly common in here but other than that one sighting we didn’t spot any others.

Small shrimper heads into the Cape from inside route. No collision- only looks that way

 

Sunset at Cape Lookout

I’m sure you have all heard the red sky saying, and if you are like me you may not know exactly what conditions are being predicted by the night or morning red. Read on and you too will be all the wiser:

Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning’? In general in mid latitudes because the prevailing winds are westerlies, storms move in from the west. A red sky at night means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow. A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.

Interesting uh?

Our next stop was close by, six miles back the way we came; head in the Beaufort inlet, catch the 10:30 Beaufort Bascule Bridge opening, hang a right and nose into a slip at Homer Smith’s Docks. You may recall this is the shrimp place. 🙂  Tony lends you his truck for errands and this baby was a new white Ford pickup; very comfy but as usual many of the bells & whistles left us baffled. We returned to find a new neighbor; Captain Bob: swordfish vessel.

Captain Bob- a good neighbor

 

Swordfish at Homer Smiths- brought in by Captain Bob and crew.

Could we purchase any swordfish? Why sure! One of the guys pulled out a partial and cut us two thick fillets. Mahi had also come in, so we bought an entire four-pounder and watched an expert filet job. That and three pounds of cleaned shrimp all for much less than we’d pay anywhere else.

Traveling Soul recommended the bus tour of historic Beaufort and it was excellent Sunny and hot though, but most wanted to sit up top anyway.

A touch of class. Double decker in Beaufort. Authentic bus from England, top removed for a better view

 

Douglas, our delightful tour guide. Originally a Maryland native, he moved south for a warmer climate

 

Grave of a young girl

Continuing north as we do this time of year, Belhaven would be our next stop. Anchor in the protected harbor, dinghy in to the public floating dinghy dock, walk one block and well what do you know? If it isn’t Spoon River.

Russ chose pretty food- Red Drum. More lovely than my swordfish selection, but mine was delicious

The day we left Belhaven would be a great travel day, except for one event; a cold front was due to sweep by and that meant chilly winds out of the north.The tricky part was that we’d be crossing the Albemarle Sound; 15 miles of water shallow enough to get rough and choppy in just a moderate wind. Foolish nomads we are, we believed the forecast which had the front coming around 3pm. Our plan was to depart early and pick up speed in the Alligator River so as to be across the Sound in time. Twenty miles in the Alligator-Pungo Canal, twenty miles in the Alligator River, fifteen across the Sound. Plus 6-8 miles on either end; very doable assuming the front doesn’t come early. Ha.

I must say we could not have timed it better, had we wanted to do the last five miles of the Alligator River and the entire Albemarle Sound in strong northerly headwinds that gave us the roughest trip, pounding like no tomorrow. Spray flew up over the flybridge but Russ couldn’t retreat to the inside helm because then he couldn’t see the pot floats which lay scattered about. Miserable I tell you. And I was down below, much warmer and drier. I haven’t felt so happy to drop the hook as I did that day.

Near Coinjock, a bald eagle surveys his domain

Our final bird photo to round out North Carolina is one we’d been hoping to spot but couldn’t recall ever seeing in this area. We crossed Currituck Sound without a pounding repeat and crossed the line into Virginia by noon.

 

 

South Carolina: if you blinked, you missed it!

Cape Romain Refuge, north of Charleston- always see a bald eagle

We (me and all of you!) have arrived at a milestone- my 500th post! Can you imagine? I can’t and I’ve been dreading this one. How to make it worthy of such a lofty accomplishment. Where would we be? What topic would grab your attention? And now as I sit here, with 499 posts under my fingers, I acknowledge that I’ve said it all before. Sure, the photos are different but the trip is much the same. I look back to older posts and wonder who penned such witty prose, so clever and at times mildly informative? Frankly dear Followers, I’m losing steam.

So my friends, to those of you who’ve read every damn post, I raise my glass, offer up a donut and salute you for following along on this nomadic life Russ and I have led for seven years!!  Even if you haven’t read them all (you are the more normal ones) 🙂 I’m still happy and blessed you are here. Without further preamble, let’s get to this!

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than… well not much, but hey we crossed into South Carolina the morning of May 8 and greeted North Carolina in the early afternoon of May 11.  AND, we stopped in Charleston for one night.

The weather dictates so much of how and when we travel, as I may have mentioned a time or two; thus Plan A and B are usually readily available. Two nights at St John’s Yacht Harbor was the plan, but when we did the long view, which included being at Carolina Beach for Britts Donuts (only open Friday-Sunday for now), one night in Charleston would have to suffice.

You can get the most out of a day if you arrive early, and with a favorable current push the entire way- a minor miracle- Twins was secured to the dock by 11am. Fantastic dockhands and we were glad to give the marina our business. You may recall that last fall we anchored across the river because due to Matthew the docks required repairs, but the marina offered their amenities free to anchored boats. We’d stayed there twice before and always use the loaner car (always in good shape) for the two hours allotted.

This time we used Uber to get into downtown Charleston.  Later, at 6pm we took the last slot for the car and shopped at Publix, picked up some of Melvin’s famous pulled pork and slaw for dinner. The liquor shops close at 7pm, which we forgot and so no chance for a bottle of Firefly’s Southern Lemonade Vodka. A one night stay meant no time to get to the Firefly Distillery.

 

Bucksport Marina & RV Park. The restaurant wasn’t open but we had Melvin’s leftovers

Wed, May 10 we pushed on, finally beginning to see a few more sailboats; namely the ones who skipped GA and southern South Carolina. The big question of the day was, “could we all get through McClellanville without going aground?” We had almost five feet of tide but the tide would be falling, not rising.

This five-mile stretch spells trouble if you move more than 20ft off the “magenta line” in some spots when the tide is lower than mid-ish.  I made sure Russ knew that through this stretch he was not to veer off the magenta line and certainly he wasn’t to move off it toward the “green” side; since we were headed north, that would be our starboard or right side. Practically the last thing any boat wants on the ICW is to go aground on a falling tide, so be careful here.

We could hear several boats ahead of us- chatter on the VHF was the clue. We caught up to a sailing cat and Russ hailed them that we’d like to pass on their starboard/right/green side. Hey- what did I tell you???? You guys know- see above- do not go toward green side!!  So he moves maybe 20ft over and changes his mind. Yes, I do serve a purpose other than galley-slave :-).

Then we get to a short stretch where the advice is to absolutely be on the magenta line, it’s about one –half mile south of Jeremy Creek… and I see the sail cat move slightly toward the green side-uh oh- honey don’t follow.  Captain announces, “we grounded.” We pass very slowly favoring the red side of the magenta line and call off depths- 7ft, 7.4ft- so yes, more water here. I mean how much does this cat draw? Couldn’t be much more than 4 ft. Yikes. This wouldn’t be so bad except the tide was just past mid falling tide- so not even low yet. They got themselves unstuck after a few minutes and turned into Jeremy Creek.

Our day ended at Bucksport Marina and RV Park- yep we felt right at home :-). Fueled up with diesel at $1.96/gal that had just been delivered that day and at a lower price. Over the last seven years we have watched this place (upper Waccamaw apprx 4 miles south of Osprey Marina) slowly become a viable marina. Recent favorable reviews enticed us as did the .75/ft dockage.  Reviews also spoke of this yummy country sausage they sold; some of you may know we really like sausage and try to keep a variety in our freezer.

Moonrise at Bucksport Marina & RV Park.

In the North Myrtle Beach area are two marinas opposite each other; both with Barefoot in their name. These cool water pedal-board gizmos came from Barefoot Landing Marina which is a long face dock right next to the Barefoot Landing Shops & dining complex. Not sure what they are or how they operate but I’d be willing to find out!

By Barefoot Landing Marina, with Barefoot Marina in the photo.

An hour later we crossed into North Carolina; our nights’ destination South Harbor Village Marina and …..

Georgia- the whole way through

Wild horses at Plum Orchard

I love creating blog post titles for Georgia because so many descriptives, phrases, songs, etc come to mind. However; think I’ve used most of them over the last seven- yes SEVEN years!

Our first Georgia stop was the lovely but tricky Plum Orchard anchorage on the Brickhill River. Tricky because a hard mound shoal guards the entrance “on the green side” over to the center and if you don’t know that (thanks to ActiveCaptain), TowBoatUS or SeaTow might become your best friend that day. It’s a few miles north of the larger, more accessible Cumberland Island anchorage down by Dungeness. (accent on the “ness”).

We’d been here before and this time, finally, we’d hoped to tour the Plum Orchard mansion, aka a summer cottage. Ha. We dinghied to the large floating docks and did the 11am tour with a group from St Mary’s who arrive by ferry and van.

Plum Orchard- a Carnegie summer home, built in 1898. Additions to left and right added 1906.

Carnegie wealth knew no bounds; the latest and greatest was evident throughout; the only disadvantage to living on Cumberland Island was that it is an island and certain amenities, such as electricity had not yet been brought over from the mainland.

With 30 rooms, 12 bathrooms, a squash court with ladies balcony, indoor pool and a full basement, Plum Orchard served well as a winter getaway home.  It contained one of the first Otis elevators, many Tiffany lamps, and many servants.   The property was sold to the US govt in 1972 to be added into the national park system.

Inglenook. Very comfy and cozy

 

Poinsettia lamp- able to be changed out so to have different flower for each season. Not sure if true Tiffany

 

Tortoise shell design Tiffany lamp in the Game Room, valued at $5 million- oh and there’s a second one.

 

 A corner of the huge kitchen- these shelves would have been filled with serving dishes, etc

 

Large stoves and cook tops- note the servant yellow/gold color

Wealthy families with servants had a “servant color” that was used in, well, the servant areas. Also pointed out were the different door knobs on doors that led into the family areas. One side had a smooth globe doorknob and the other a faceted doorknob. Always good to know where you are.

When a Carnegie family member pulled a cord, one of these numbers would light up and a buzzer sound. Note the quantity!

 

In the huge basement. Can you even guess what these produced?

 

This tray held what was produced.  Ice.

 

Nine feet deep, but looks more

After Plum Orchard we needed fuel and a protected dock for a few nights thanks to the nasty approaching cold front pushing rain, severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings ahead of it. For all that, we’d tuck in at Brunswick Landing Marina. But before that stay we had a perfectly lovely day- oh what should we do? Let’s see.  Jekyll Harbor Marina is on the way and with a change of plans it so happened that Traveling Soul was there for a few nights.

The marina offers free loaner bicycles and has two golf carts for those who need to more in less time. Mike & Ann had already scouted out the new shops over on the beach side at the new Wyndham hotel so she knew just where to go. The shops in the historic area came first though and we both scored big time; especially Ann.

The guys took to their bicycles- separately. Russ rode through the southern part of the island which had been closed off due to flooding the last time we were here.

Camp Jekyll- wow

Then he gave Twins a much-needed wash-down. Gotta look classy on ritzy Jekyll Island.

Ann wanted me to show her how to make knotted/macramé bracelets and anklets. Back in February I didn’t know squat and now I have helped others. Could this activity help ward off brain cell decay? I hope so- just keep learning, learning. 🙂

Spot wanted a piece of the action too.

Spot learns to macrame. At first she’s very attentive, after batting the satin cord around a bit

Then the “look”. Ann keeps working- we only just got started.

Uh oh, she sees me with a photo-taking device

Spot is used to Ann holding up the iPad, so when I held up a small iPhone, she wasn’t quite sure what to think. If I’d muted it, she may not vocalized her displeasure.

Spot dislikes having her picture taken and she tells you so

The dry and often breezy conditions are just right for fires to start. Florida had them all over; many significant and at times we could see a slight haze and smell the smell. Georgia isn’t much different.

Tuesday night the four of us chose Zachary’s, located at the marina, for dinner. Easy and under new ownership. Uh oh, only one other couple there. No worries, it’s because of the fire! No, not in the kitchen, but a short ways inland and the road into the marina was closed off. A helicopter would be dumping water. The only restaurant diners would be those who walked up from the docks. Luckily a few others did come up, but we were the main attraction for sure and kept the talented bartender busy with our cocktail choices.

Wednesday May 3-off to Brunswick. Eight miles that took over an hour because we crawled through Jekyll Creek only one hour after low tide. Very, very shallow in a few places and a smaller trawler had been aground since before low, getting free two minutes before we came by. Whew. This is one, if not the biggest, reason that boats skip Georgia (even northern Florida) and sail/ motor-sail/motor offshore if conditions are favorable.

Brunswick Landing Marina is well protected, sells fuel at the best price around and offers goodies such as free laundry in large machines in two separate buildings, wine 3 nights/week, beer on tap every evening and more! With hundreds of slips and many T-heads they seldom run out of room. It’s very popular with those who want or need to leave their boat for a while and it has a large full-time or seasonal group.

The place used to be a naval base and hurricane hole. So it’s not exactly pretty but the grounds are well-kept, the washers and dryers all in working order, the lounge and the main gathering room neat and tidy with plenty of wide-screen TVs and places to sit and relax.

We had a package to mail and that gave us the opportunity to chat with David who was being recognized for 50 years of service! He said, he’s not sure about retiring any time soon; the Honey-Do list was too long!

When we are where we can walk into town, the TripAdvisor app gets reviewed for what’s good to do and where to dine. Indigo Coastal Shanty- isn’t that a cool name?- is rated #1 in Brunswick so we checked it out.

Indigo Coastal Shanty- as great as it looks funky

Lunch at Indigo Coastal Shanty (Pac-Rim Noodle Salad & the Jerk Shrimp special for Russ)

Friday, May 5th is our wedding anniversary and we always make sure we can enjoy a good meal out. That basically means, being at a dock with dining options nearby. Friends Linda & Glenn of m/v Mintaka tipped us off to an unusual place, The Farmer and the Larder, a short walk on Newcastle Street.

Small, maybe seats 24 tops, open kitchen, farm to table-esque with a southern, African-American flair. We loved it. The top-mentioned server was Jess and we were delighted to be at one of her tables- what a fun person!

Place seats about 24. Cozy.

 

Charcuterie board appetizer

The charcuterie board sounded too good to pass up so we used it as appetizer and entree. It contained: thin sliced cured meat, whipped feta cheese (still with teeny chunks- yummy), pickled mushrooms and summer squash and their famous bacon jam!!  OMG it was divine! In a mouth-watering, gee this works really well like a maple brown sugar bacon doughnut does, only better.

That’s Jess opening our bottle of Ventisquero Carmenere, which we’d discovered at another farm-to-table dining spot in Niantic, CT in 2009 (ish).

Behind her is the open kitchen. You can see how compact the place is.

Open cooking area at The Farmer and the Larder- chef/owner at work

 

Double Oink and roasted veggie with apple “sauce”. I think “Oink” is the new clever pork term.

Our other entree choice was a reviewers fave- Double Oink. A 5-star choice we both agreed and enough to share. Room for dessert? Why sure. Chocolate Bun Bun. Heaven in a small bowl, and it was gluten-free. We’ll be back.

The primary reason we decided to spend 3 nights at BLM was the nasty weather arriving Thursday, bringing lots of wind and possible severe thunderstorms. Felt we’d have better wind protection than at Jekyll where at one point we’d planned to be for May 5.

Anniversary sunset- a pretty end to a lovely day

Saturday, May 6 was the Kentucky Derby and for once we thought we had a fool proof way to watch the race. However, when the time came- all the pre-race stuff begins at 2:30- we discovered that certain markets are blocked and darn but we were in one. We raced over to the lounge, managed to get the wide flat screen TV on the correct mode and settled in for a teeny bit of pre-race prancing.. then they were off!  Twenty 3-yr-olds, no standout favorite this time, but one of the betting favorites, Always Dreaming, won easily.  Good thing we’d stayed an additional day 🙂

Our Sunday morning departure would find us racing to Charleston, two long days and a short one.