Along The Way

New bridge construction with the old drawbridge in the background

During our 9 years of cruising, we have seen dozens of opening bridges replaced with 65′ high bridges – nice for all of us & especially sailboats.  Particularly in the south, it is remarkable how fast they build replacement bridges.  In as little as 2 years, they’ll build a new high-rise bridge complete with approaches as well as removing the old bridge (unless they keep part of it as a fishing pier).

 

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) requires frequent dredging – historically under-funded.  Fortunately, the last several years has seen a large surge in much needed dredging.

 

While dredging is great, there are times it is a challenge to get past the dredges … or in this case … their goods.  This is a tug, a barge with pipeline AND hundreds of feet of trailing pipeline moving to their next job.  This photo shows only 1/2 of the pipe – it was TWICE this long including 2 small work boats attempting to “steer” it around the bends of the river.  Right after we stopped to let them go by, we heard on the VHF radio a police boat responding to “pull over” the tug as they were accused of hitting a boat docked at a marina a mile before … oops.

Almost more important than regular dredging is keeping channel markers & charts accurate & up-to-date.  While all of the agencies involved usually do a good job, there are a few spots which are so frustrating.  One particular half-mile stretch of the ICW in SC was just dredged at a huge cost.  Not only has it already partially filled-in making passage at low tide difficult, there is an  adjacent, parallel naturally-deep path with plenty of water – why not just move the channel markers to where there is naturally-deep water?

 

This is an another example of the need for proper placement of channel markers.  This shoal on a curve has been growing for years, but if you simply follow the red channel markers (leave them on your starboard/right – circled in yellow) you can go aground as this boat did (he’s high & dry).  On the other hand, this is a curve in the channel – you must follow the curve & take it wide.  Still, this shoal protrudes much too far & needs to be dredged back and/or marked better.

 

Speaking of expensive miscalculations, we cruised by the Golden Ray cargo ship which also grounded on the inside turn of a channel & capsized last September in St. Simons Sound, Brunswick, Georgia.  They are still formulating plans to cut it apart, remove it along with the 4,000 automobiles contained within & all of the pollution – it may take up to 2 years & the blame-game, environmental damage & legal battles will likely go on for decades.  Ironically, Georgia is in the midst of being the first state in the nation to pass strict anchoring regulations & nightly fees for cruisers because some politicians think we’re polluting their waters!

South Carolina & Georgia

We love to stop in Charleston for a few days on our way thru – I think we’ve only missed it once.  While we have stayed at a marina right in the city a few times, it is often simpler to stay at St. John’s Yacht Harbor Marina.  It is a 20 minute Uber ride into downtown & they have a loaner car you can use for 2 hours to do errands. 

In addition to the usual restaurants & tourist spots, we like to add a new museum or such every time.  This time … a new donut shop!  BKeD Shop.  Fairly expensive, but very good!

 

That is the shrimp boat at the dock in the background

We’ve been on the hunt for fresh shrimp, but have had bad timing at some of our usual stops.  Fresh shrimp is truly right off the boat, so you need to be there when a boat comes in, as it’s unloaded, processed & shipped off within hours.  While stopping at Thunderbolt, Georgia we spied an old building that had “the look”.  We walked up, but were disappointed as a sign on the door said “NO SHRIMP”, but as we continued around the building, an overhead door was open & we saw shrimp!  The workers were about half-way thru the unloading & promised us some if we came back in an hour – “whole or headed?”  An hour later, we bought 5 pounds at a great price – headed – thank you.  We had some for dinner (they were fantastic!) & now our freezer is nicely stocked with enough shrimp to last us a few months.

 

From our marina in Thunderbolt, it is only a 15 minute Uber right into downtown Savannah.  Unlike Charlestown, we’ve only stopped a few times, but looked forward to visiting again.  Our new stop for Savannah was … no … not a donut shop, but a new museum – the American Prohibition Museum.  It was really comprehensive & quite interesting.  There were so many aspects of Prohibition which I had never considered:

  • While the 18th Amendment & the resulting nationwide prohibition of alcohol wasn’t passed until 1919, “the movement” & various Temperance Societies had began in some areas of the country almost 70 years previously.
  • While the theory was to keep the men in-line, sober & stop them from spending their pay on evil, there were so many downsides never considered.  Tens of thousands of farmers, brewers, distillers, coopers, distributors, truck drivers & workers of all kinds were instantly out of work.
  • The first national Income Tax was enacted to offset the loss of liquor taxes.
  • Organized crime got it’s big start with bootlegging – a multi-million dollar business.

On the other hand:

  • Auto & boat engine technology exploded – more horsepower was needed for the bootleggers and then by the authorities chasing the bootleggers.
  • Women rarely drank alcohol before Prohibition, but sure started during Prohibition.  Speakeasies, although illegal, were everywhere & for the first time, women could freely socialize with men in an informal setting complete with dance to this new music (to many) called jazz & wear risque clothing.  It is also said to be the real start of integration – people of all backgrounds, colors & social standing gathering together just to have a good time & mingle with each other for perhaps the first time.

Continuing Down the North Carolina Coast

Beaufort, NC is another must-stop on our way thru.  We usually stay at Homer Smith’s Docks, somehow an easy name to remember.  This is an old-time shrimp boat dock/processing facility which is adding more modern marina space with a free washer/dryer, loaner car & a coming-soon clubhouse building with even better offerings.  It’s always a pleasure dealing with Tony, the owner, who I don’t think would be offended if I called him a “good old boy”.  Before they had a loaner car, he just threw us the keys to his new personal $50,000 pickup truck.  We also stock up with the best shrimp, right off the boat (and sometimes mahi or swordfish), but were disappointed the shrimp weren’t cooperating that week, although a boat with flounder was coming in soon.

A 10 minute walk brings you thru a historical neighborhood of small houses from the late 1700’s to the early 1900’s, to the Beaufort waterfront of shops, marinas & restaurants.  We hadn’t visited the North Carolina Maritime Museum since our first time thru & were pleasantly surprised at their expansion.  Much of their new space is devoted to the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s flagship, which ran aground attempting to enter the Beaufort Inlet in 1718 while trying to hide from the British.  The British were determined to end piracy for good after Blackbeard & his men successfully blockaded the port of Charleston the month before, causing panic, partial evacuation & much embarrassment that a bunch of pirates could overwhelm such a fine, southern city.

In 1996 the wreck was discovered just off the inlet & a careful recovery began. It took 3 years just to confirm the ship’s identity, as there are thousands of shipwrecks off the Carolinas with hundreds near this inlet alone. It was a painstaking process – one clue was that the cannons recovered were such a mishmash of calibers & countries of origin – this lead to the conclusion that they had likely been removed from various captured ships. To date, over 300,000 artifacts have been recovered, with a few hundred restored & displayed at the museum, as it is such a slow process. Interesting, chests of gold are not expected to be found, as what do pirates do?  They take their treasure & bury or hide it.  After the grounding, Blackbeard, his men & likely any treasures escaped onto another ship.  Blackbeard soon surrendered & received a royal pardon, only to return to piracy after only a few months & was killed in battle soon thereafter.

 

A beautiful sunrise, but darn – requires waking up early …
The parade leaving out from Beaufort

With an excellent weather forecast, we decided to head offshore from Beaufort Inlet to Masonboro Inlet (Wrightsville Beach), onward to Carolina Beach & down the Cape Fear River into Southport – about 100 miles. We like to do this trip offshore if possible, as this portion of the ICW has some of the worst shoaled areas, a few opening bridges & there is a spot near Camp Lejeune which sometimes gets shut down for hours at a time due to military training & live fire exercises.  The perfect weather was … perfect & we even had a 2 knot current with us down the Cape Fear.  At Southport we enjoyed a great dinner at Joseph’s – one of our favorite Italian restaurants & it’s even located right in the marina.

 

With remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor heading our way, we zoomed down the rest of North Carolina coast which even meant grilling our chicken dinner underway just before setting anchor at sunset up a creek.  Surprisingly our grill often gives me problems, always blowing out, etc., but apparently it must be a marine grill, as it worked perfectly underway zooming down Winyah Bay!

The next day we arrived in Charleston to wait out the rain & wind.

To Belhaven, NC – the Hard Way

He’s gaining – going 14 knots!

A few minutes later.

Continuing south down the Chesapeake brings us to “Mile 0” – the official start of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in Norfolk, Virginia.

Norfolk is one of the east coast’s busiest ports & you can encounter anything & everything from ordinary ships to bulk gas tankers to naval ships to submarines.  We lucked out & our only close encounter this time was a container ship.  In most places, you just stay out of the channel & let them pass, however in ports such as Norfolk, they’re slowing, turning & docking at some point along the way.  We decided to just keep speeding up to stay ahead of him, but a powerboat coming out of a nearby channel was not as lucky – he seemed oblivious to this huge container ship, which was really close & was rewarded with a very loud horn blast, which probably involved an underwear change as he looked up to see what was almost on top of him!

We’re pretty casual at locks by now.

The first few miles of the Elizabeth River narrow down, taking us thru several bridges, a lock & more bridges.  This lock, the Great Bridge Lock, is fairly old & often undergoing repairs with accompanying transiting delays.  Some of the railroad bridges are automated with only a computerized voice on the VHF radio, “The Norfolk Southern #7 railroad bridge will close in 5 minutes”.  It took us a year or two to figure out their numbering system which is a good thing, as they silently lower right in front of you with no other notice.

 

Many highway bridges are troublesome as well.  This one, the Centerville Turnpike Bridge, has broken down so often that they had to “bite the bullet” & completely re-build it.  This is unusual – they usually have to perform all repairs while still allowing all boat & car traffic to flow.  They completely removed this one with cranes & placed it on a fabricated temporary platform.  Great for us – bad for the vehicle traffic who has a long detour for many months.

 

 

We weren’t so lucky with the Alligator River Swing Bridge about 50 miles later.  Although they recently completed a 16.7 million dollar repair project on this 3 mile-long bridge, it still breaks down, in addition to not operating when winds are over 35 knots (which seems too often in the spring & fall).  As we planned our day to pass thru it, we learned another break-down had occurred a few days before.  Thinking any repairs would have to be completed by then, we continued on, with rumors that it would attempt an opening that day at noon. As we got closer, the new reports were “who told you that?” as repairs would take at least 2 more days, learning the primary opening system had been damaged in the last hurricane (& not yet repaired), while the backup system was now broken too! There is an alternate route (shown in green), but is longer if backtracking to the Town of Belhaven – which we really didn’t want to miss.  Of course, days of stormy weather were coming, beginning at noon that day.  So idling in the middle of Albermarle Sound, we made our decision, pushed the throttles forward to cross the Pamlico Sound before the winds increased too much.  While we did encounter some nasty, choppy 2′ – 4′ seas, the angle improved as we advanced around Swanquarter & up to Belhaven giving us a large, following sea.

An otherwise empty town dock – we were one of the only boats making it around the bridge.

We really like the Town of Belhaven.  As with many small, North Carolina towns the population is declining, but Belhaven definitely wins the prize for trying the hardest.  It’s a cute little town, with an inexpensive town dock, several marinas & great restaurants.  Diana, director of the Chamber of Commerce, has an office right at the waterfront & goes out of her way to welcome every cruiser.  When we mentioned needing a few groceries, she insisted on dropping us off & picking us up at the local Food Lion grocery store.

 

 

Oh, did I mention restaurants?  The several restaurants are a huge draw for cruisers, as well as area North Carolina residents & vacationers who drive up to an hour just to enjoy the waterfront & dining.  Our favorite is Spoon River Restaurant, which never disappoints for a special meal.

Belhaven really deserves our support, getting a big “A” for effort.  To top it all off, downtown Belhaven gets flooded every few years with tropical storms or nearby offshore hurricanes, which is devastating for the businesses who have to recover once again.

Another favorite restaurant is The Tavern at Jack’s Neck.  They have been slowly expanding their restaurant into adjoining vacant space with additional food themes.  This is their new bourbon & oyster bar area (can’t go wrong with those two!) which will be opening soon.  Being a friendly southern town, the owner stopped by our table, told us to grab our wine for a private tour!  You can’t tell from the photo, but the decor & woodworking are over-the-top beautiful & high-end.

As we were departing our VHF radio crackled with someone calling “Vessel Twin Sisters” – who the heck?  It was Diana, the Chamber lady, who noticed us pulling away & called just to thank us for visiting – like I said, they try the hardest!  Our detour to Belhaven as well worth it.

Visiting Baltimore

A whale’s tail off NJ

We had a nice voyage thru Long Island Sound, NYC, down the NJ coast, up the Delaware River, across the C&D Canal & finally headed down the Chesapeake.  This year, we had considered detouring to visit the City of Baltimore.  When I heard from Jack (my brother) & Kerry from CA that they were visiting Baltimore at about the same time, that made our decision easy!  Hey, it wouldn’t be a family get-together without Benj, so he flew in for a few days too!

 

 

With a good weekly rate at Anchorage Marina, we settled in for a fun, busy 2 week first visit to Baltimore.  Anchorage Marina is in the Canton section of Baltimore about a 20 minute walk on the waters edge promenade to Fells Point.  Directly next to our marina was Professor Trash Wheel.  His job is to gobble up the street trash which floats down the street grates from the city directly into the harbor.  The orange booms direct the heaps of trash right into his “mouth”, up a conveyor & into a removable container.  During times of heavy rainfall he has to be constantly emptied, but it didn’t rain a drop during our 2 weeks, so no show for us.

 

 

The main tourist area, the Inner Harbor, was a bit further, so we usually took an Uber.  Benj only had time to visit 2 tourist attractions, so he chose touring the historic ships downtown & then taking a water taxi out of the harbor to Fort McHenry.  We toured 2 of the 4 historic ships, including the USS Constellation (the last surviving sailing naval warship, having been built back in 1854) along with the Chesapeake Lightship.

After lunch, a 20 minute water taxi ride brought us out to the historic Fort McHenry.  Originally built in 1798 & used in various forms up to WWII, it is more famously known for it’s role during the War of 1812.  On September 13, 1814, the fort successfully thwarted an attack by the British navy with superior firepower (including a new style of rockets – versus conventional cannons).  The morning of the 14th saw the British navy retreating, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry”, which eventually became our national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”.  That’s probably all you learned in High School, but there was much, much more including…  There was a simultaneous land attack, which almost succeeded.

The flag… you probably learned that “the” famous flag was celebrated by Francis Scott Key as it was still flying.  Actually, at dawn, the 17′ x 25′ American “storm flag” was lowered (which took the breath of Francis Scott Key – waiting for perhaps the British flag to be raised in victory).  However a larger 30′ x 42′ American “garrison flag” immediately took it’s place – hence the “our flag was still there” actually referred to the new, larger garrison flag which had just been raised.  It’s always good to hear, “the rest of the story”, versus the tiny amount we learned from school.

Both before & after Benj’s visit, we toured many sites, including the National Aquarium & The Museum of Industry.  The museum was especially interesting, showing the huge influence of Baltimore to manufacturing, inventions & distribution, especially with the B & O Railroad right in town.  Right near our marina had been the American Can Company & the National Can Company – the largest can manufacturers in the world.

 

Ahhh… pies for dinner!

We celebrated Lori’s birthday at a fabulous B&B named Rachael Dowry (George & Martha Washington ate there when the road was called the Columbia Highway – not sure if they slept there), enjoyed the most fabulous dinner ever at the Charlestown restaurant (number 1 of 1855 on Trip Advisor), bought a cannoli in Little Italy, had “dinner” at Dangerously Delicious Pies & much more.  We also enjoyed spending time with Jack & Kerry, including a relaxing harbor cruise on a Krogen 42 trawler.

 

 

Ohhhh… donuts?  Can’t live on pies alone!  We had to make a side trip on our museum day to stop at Diablo Donuts across the harbor.  Well worth the trip!

Where Has Summer Gone?

We spent a month at a slip in Deep River, CT catching up with friends & family, along with our various boat projects.  Then for the past month, we’ve been away for our summer’s New England cruise.

While we were tempted to head back to Maine, we didn’t want to rush thru (so next year!)  As we haven’t even been over to Long Island in a few years, we decided to spend our month more locally.   We planned to start at Provincetown, then back thru the Vineyard, Block & Long Island.  However, the more I researched Provincetown, the less appealing it appeared to visit by boat.  There is one marina there, semi-protected, but very, very expensive (almost $250/night w/power).  Moorings are unprotected (residents get the good ones behind the breakwater) at over $100/night.  We could anchor out, but it would be completely unprotected with over a mile dinghy ride in open water with limited dinghy dock options.  Taking into consideration the long trip (including the Cape Cod Canal), we quickly reconsidered.  Where else?  How about Nantucket?  Perfect – we haven’t been in 15 years, with Benj in our old Sea Ray.

Being New England, you can’t just go to Nantucket – you need reservations.  A slip was only a bit less than Provincetown, but they have a large, protected mooring field.  So with a week to go before our reservation, we headed off.  Some stormy weather was to begin our trip, but we wanted to at least get started, so we jumped over to Point Judith Pond we’d stopped at once before which was, well, as calm as a pond.

Entering the Point Judith breakwater on the way into the pond

No trip out this way is complete without the required stop at Cuttyhunk.  A magical place!

We have stopped here many times, with 3 or 4 of our boats over the years.  We always walk-the-walk to the top of the island for this great aerial view.  The highlight is always fresh Cuttyhunk oysters right off the boat.  Cuttyhunk was recently in national news as their very last student graduated from their one-room schoolhouse – officially the smallest school in the U.S.  Their year-round population has dropped to only 25 with no young children, so their school is closing after almost 150 years.

Menemsha, near the western end of Martha Vineyard, was our next stop.  We anchored off the beach which is famous for their sunsets.  Every night on the adjacent beach, hundreds of people descend to watch the sun set, with appropriate applauding & cheering.  Years ago there was a sailing catamaran which did a sunset cruise every night with a bagpiper playing on the bow as it sailed in – very memorable.

Edgartown, near the eastern end of Martha Vineyard, was another must-do stop.  While there is much to do & see there, we had to include a bus trip down island to Oak Bluffs for – you guessed it – donuts! Back Door Donuts began, as the story goes, when locals in-the-know would show up at night at the back door of the bakery & knock until the baker opened up to slip them a donut or two.  You still walk up to the back door, but now there is a long, snaking line with up to a hundred people patiently waiting for fresh, hot donuts, ideally eaten right there.  Two years ago they even re-named the bakery to simply – Back Door Donuts.

Weather & fog (lack of) nicely cooperated for our scheduled arrival to Nantucket.  After 15 years, all looked the same, well … except these weren’t here!  The boats (yachts!) have gotten much larger.  They can’t even fit at the docks anymore – these are “med moored” – they maneuver up, drop their massive anchors, then carefully back-in between the other yachts to a dock at their stern.  Of course, the captain isn’t in the pilothouse spinning the wheel & hastily gunning the throttles – no he (or she) simply stands on an open side bridge with a handheld joystick controller calmly operating the engines, bow & stern thrusters to slip right in without any (expensive) drama.

Nantucket is very expensive, so we only enjoyed one meal out, but it was fantastic, up on a deck overlooking the harbor.  If you like to people watch – this is the place.  All of the elites in their expensive clothing spending hundreds in the expensive stores. This might be the only stop where Lori didn’t buy a single thing!  We spent one day touring the island by bus with a stop at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum.  It was slightly larger & improved since our last visit.  We received a private tour which was very educational.  As many times as we’ve read about, looked at paintings & seen old photos of rescues of wrecked sailing ships during the 1800’s, it is still unbelievable.  How anyone was ever saved and how any of the rescuers ever made it back alive is beyond me.  It was especially a miracle in places such as Nantucket as the reefs were mostly miles off the coast & the winters particularly stormy.  Let’s say you were wrecked on a reef 3 miles out.  You could try starting a smokey fire to attract attention or at night they would hoist a burning mattress up the rigging (maybe not too successful in stormy, 50 knot weather).  If anyone on the island saw you, a volunteer crew (early on – later paid – the early beginning of the Lifesaving Service – later to become the Coast Guard) would attempt to launch their rescue “rowboat” from the beach thru the huge surf to begin their 3 mile row out to your stricken ship – if they could even find it.  That was the easy part.  To come alongside of a sinking ship during these conditions was nearly impossible – much less remain alongside while attempting to bring a few lucky crew aboard.  There was a dramatic painting of such a situation.  A line had been thrown between boats, with the stricken crew (too) frantically pulling hard on the line, while a member of the rescue crew stood with a hatchet up in the air ready to cut the line.  The French crew quickly understood & were eventually  saved, although the row back wasn’t any easier.  Did I mention there are also strong currents in these waters?  Sometimes they would row for hours, just to remain in place, waiting for the current to change.

One foggy morning at Block

On our return from Nantucket, we stopped back to the Vineyard, this time to Lake Tashmoo, to visit with some friends, then onward to Block Island.  Block is always a favorite, but more & more popular every year. We hoped that stopping by on a Tuesday mid-morning we would have a good chance of picking up a town mooring, or at least the anchoring field wouldn’t be too busy.  Wrong on both counts!  The moorings were all taken & we struggled a bit to find a good anchoring spot.  Fortunately our little powercat only needs 3′ of water so can almost beach her. This chart shows we almost did, but in reality we had over 4′ at low tide.  It was a little disconcerting though when I noticed a man walking thru the water past our boat!

We enjoy exploring & eating on Block, but wait … donuts … again!  Killer Donuts are pretty famous here & really good!  They’ve been on Block since 1963 & their slogan is “Worth the Weight”.  Only 3 varieties – plain, sugared or cinnamon/sugar.  We think their secret is sour creme, but Lori says more research is required!

Stopping at Montauk, Long Island was on my bucket list, as I hadn’t been there since about 10 years old.  Rather than stopping at an expensive marina, we saw we could just anchor further in.  We were foiled though, as there is absolutely no (legal) place to bring your dinghy near Montauk Harbor, so we had to pay over $30 just to tie up our dinghy for 3 hours in order to explore & have lunch.  The next day we brought our dinghy to a nearby beachy area near the main road & hailed an Uber ride to Montauk (the town) 2 miles away.  There happened to be a high-end bakery called the Montauk Bake Shop.  Famous for their jelly-filled donuts (not our favorite), we found a few fantastic donuts & pastries – really different & delicious!

By accident, walking back from a small grocery store attempting to get an Uber ride back, we stopped in front of a storefront for shade to use my phone – what is this place – Round Swamp Farm??  Ahhh … if you have $$$$, want convenience & to eat healthy … this is the place!  All sorts of gourmet food & lots & lots of healthy, prepared salads.  We bought & loved their Mexican Sweet Corn Salad!

Continuing back along Long Island, we anchored in Coecles Harbor, part of Shelter Island.  I spent dozens of weekends here in my youth as it was one of my parent’s favorite spots.  Next, we rented a mooring in Dering Harbor, around the other side of Shelter Island.  After exploring the very small town there, we enjoyed lunch at a small restaurant at The Chequit Inn.  The next day we took the short ferry ride over to Greenport to visit some old haunts, including lunch at Claudio’s Restaurant.  Claudio’s was established back in 1845 & was famous during Prohibition for having a secret trapdoor under the bar which allowed small boats underneath to bring up bootleg liquor.

Our last Long Island stop was Sag Harbor, another favorite, in the high-end “The Hamptons”. By accident(?) we came across a former ice cream shop – now a donut shop.  Probably our most expensive donuts ever.  They were good, but not great.  At least our lunch at Dockside did not disappoint.  Yet another restaurant I enjoyed as a youngin’ which is still there & very successful.

By Sag Harbor it was time to do laundry once again.  We discovered we were truly in “The Hamptons” when we went to the laundromat & discovered that the large washing machines were … $9.75/load!!

Back over to Connecticut.  While we’ve stayed at various Mystic marinas over the years (including at the Mystic Seaport itself when Benj was about 8 – Benj & his friend Leonard roamed the Seaport after closing, having fun evading the security guards!), I was intrigued by a possible anchorage just past the Mystic Seaport.  The Mystic River pretty much fizzles out past the Seaport, but there is a tiny area for shallow draft boats to anchor – otherwise only 1′ of water at low tide.  Being a weekday towards the end of summer, we figured we would give it a try.  It was a little weird going thru the famous Mystic River bridge with dozens of tourists taking our picture.  We continued past the Seaport & sounded the bottom looking for a good spot, although a trawler was right where we would have chosen.  After some careful checking, we anchored, only to see the trawler leave 10 minutes later.  Oh well, we picked up our anchor & moved to their perfect spot.  It was a wonderfully peaceful, with the Seaport just off our bow, complete with entertainment.  When the wind suddenly became gusty one afternoon, several of the little sailing dinghies from the Seaport flipped over & their chase boats were busy for quite a while picking everyone up & towing the boats in.

If anyone is looking for the Mayflower replica from Plymouth, MA, it is here at the Seaport for a 3-year restoration, being launched in September.

Our daily dinghy rides took us right past the Seaport, so we couldn’t help from taking a selfie at the stern of the Charles W. Morgan.  I was aboard her many times as a child (back then, she wasn’t even floating – just sitting on a bed of rocks).  After her full restoration, we cruised alongside her when she was “sailing” down Buzzards Bay back in 2014 – quite the transformation from a wreck on the rocks to fully operational & able to sail.  For those not in the know, the Charles W. Morgan is the last remaining wooden whaleship in the world, having been first launched in 1841.  To be honest, there is supposedly only one small piece of original wood remaining, but after 178 years, what would you expect?!

We enjoyed several fine meals in Mystic at favorites including the S & P Oyster Restaurant, the Oyster Club & Sift Bake Shop.  While Sift may not be officially a restaurant, it has recently doubled in size, added a huge rooftop patio & it’s owner, Adam Young, just won as Food Network’s “Best Baker in America”, so we’ll call it a must-go-to restaurant!  Their deserts & pastries are unbelievably good!

It was a great month cruising around “home” waters.  After a Labor Day weekend driving trip up to Vermont to see Benj for his birthday, we’ll be getting ready to soon head south once again.

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.