The end of North, Much of South.. Carolina: Oct 25 – Nov 1

Town dock with a "view" :-)

New Holden Beach floating town dock on right, with a “view” 🙂

With less trepidation thanks to postings and photos by those brave souls ahead of us, we bravely entered the realm of Myrtle Beach ICW flooding. First though, before that came the sections of Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte where the ICW passes through these small boat inlets that are determined to keep as much sand as possible in the channel. They were dredged a few years ago, after our sand smushing with Ms Ortolan (click here) but with time and storms have once again become ornery, Shallotte worse than her sister to the north, Lockwoods Folly.

In order to properly deal with this passage we felt a fabulous Italian meal at Joseph’s Bistro in Southport was in order and long overdue. A long trip (haha) of 14nm gave us plenty of marina time for laundry, blog work, a boat washing and chatting with our dock neighbors.

If you wondering why we are soooooooo cautious when we only draw 3ft- a number many would love to claim, here’s why. 1) Twin Sisters is our home and we are extra protective of her, 2) Ortolan had dagger boards which we used as feelers in situations like this and if we touched bottom we’d raise them and back off.  Twins has no such equipment and her lovely, expensive and newly refurbished props are protected by thin skegs that are lower by only 3 inches. And 3) we’d be mortally embarrassed if we went aground with a 3ft draft boat!

A few miles south of Lockwoods Folly inlet is Holden Beach (one beach north of the scene of tense moments when silly crabbers strung a float line across the ICW- it was new and didn’t sink; we came by in Ortolan and one rudder snagged the line (click here for that story). See, I told you cruising has been pleasantly boring lately. Wouldn’t it be nice to have GOOD feelings about Holden Beach? Yes, there’s hope for that. We read about, new in 2016, town docks along the ICW in Holden Beach. Space for 2-3 boats, water power, access to laundry and wi-fi. Described as courtesy docks by whoever added the info in ActiveCaptain, the town website calls them town docks and the cost is $1.25/ft, plus power. Still, they are a welcome spot in a desert of anchorages. If we (read: RUSS) hadn’t wanted to get moving after 4 nights in Carolina Beach, Twins might have stopped.

What really makes crossing these inlets the worst is doing so on a weekend. Well not this trip for this crew thank you. Dodging little fishing boats with their lines in the channel, assuming you can even see that invisible filament, boats that at any moment go from stopped to moving and who knows which way. No thanks.

Actually North Myrtle Beach

No club membership required ! Excellent protection, super diesel price and plenty of southern charm

The 20-plus mile stretch between Barefoot Marina in N Myrtle Beach and Bucksport Marina in Myrtle Beach was a no wake zone due to the extreme flooding. While most boats,including us, didn’t quite crawl at No Wake, we only used one engine to stay at 6kts and much slower by the homes with water lapping up their yards.

Still waters south of Barefoot but this odd wave appeared at times

Still waters south of Barefoot Marina, but this odd wave appeared at times

With every few more miles we saw more damage, more water and adjusted our speed accordingly.

Dock and boat damage

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How can you not feel awful for these folks?  And this is but a tiny drop in the bucket of properties with damage.  Four days earlier boats said it was difficult to determine visually just where the ICW really was, the water so high.

The water has receded- believe it or not

The water has receded- believe it or not

For many days the current in the Waccamaw River spent way more time ebbing out than flooding in, so much water was rushing down from streams and rivers further north.

Strong current shows no wake buoy making a wake

Do you report a No Wake buoy making a wake?

You might think all that extra water might have added a bit to the shallow stretch at McClellanville, SC which lies between Georgetown, SC and Charleston opposite the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. You would be wrong.

Given the Socastee bridge closure for many days, the flooding which made it impossible for masts of a certain height to fit under most fixed bridges, the bad shoaling through McClellanville, many boats both sail and power chose to jump offshore because the weather has been mostly perfect since Matthew departed.

ICW stretch thorugh Cape Romain Refuge

ICW stretch through Cape Romain Refuge

I’d given up hope on seeing a bald eagle, because we always do here….

Bald eagle points the way

Bald eagle points the way

 

Look- a dock that floated!

Look- a dock that floated!

 

Smile, we are stronger than any hurricane

Smile, we are stronger than any hurricane

 

1,100 ft container ship appears to dwarf the buildings in the distance

1,100 ft container ship appears to dwarf the buildings in the distance

Charleston was a must stop this trip even before we heard …  named #1 Best Small City!  Maritime Center closed due to damage and we don’t care for the City Marina aka Mega Dock, so we tried the Ashley River Marina. Here we found a couple more PDQ family members Chloe Grace (for sale) and Soul Sauce whose owners we met.

The fog rolls in at Ashley River Marina. PDQ Chloe Grace is for sale

The fog rolls in at Ashley River Marina. PDQ Chloe Grace is for sale

One has to cross the peninsula to get to historic downtown from the Ashley Marina or the City Marina, but we were up to the walk. A marina shuttle is available too and we used it for the grocery trip.

We were soooo tempted

We were soooo tempted. And I’m not talking about stealing a pumpkin.

 

REAL gas lights

REAL gas lights

 

Cath- this one's for you!

Cath- this one’s for you!

Lunch with a street view and questions answered.

Answers to all your southern food questions

Answers to all your southern food questions

Farm market luck was with us Saturday.

Artist in costume at Charleston Farm Market

Artist in costume at Charleston Farm Market

 

What great names!

What great names!

Umm, get a job and maybe afford to live in Charleston!

Shall I apply?

Shall I apply?

The Charleston Distillery is new – 2014 and same as others we’ve visited- very contained. This one may have the most space so far. Vodka, gins.img_3006-800x600

 

The very basic low tech bottling table- 4 peeps gets the job done

The very basic low tech bottling table- 4 peeps gets the job done

 

This thick mash goes to goat farm- Very frisky spoiled goats!

This thick mash goes to a goat farm- Very frisky spoiled goats!

 

Made using Reaper peppers- hotter than extremely hot, hot!

Made using Reaper peppers- hotter than extremely hot, hot! A pinpoint droplet taste was more than enough for me!

Some may recall that another distillery is a must visit when we are “in the area”. Stay tuned for “Charleston Part II” to see how we managed it this time.

 

 

Happy Nomads have Boring Blog

Warship on our tail.. might be due to our zooming to get past him

Warship on our tail.. might be due to our zooming to get past him

In the end, Matthew was a non-event for us and probably for most cruisers north of Beaufort, NC. Boring I know. And I’ll spoil things for you and say that nothing exciting has happened since then either. However; we’ve experienced the longest stretch of settled weather ever during a fall or spring trip. Summer not included. Beautiful to travel or to stay put and explore. Often we need to choose one, but ever since Matthew departed and cleared out all the bad stuff, we have been happy cruisers. Sure, a mild cold front or two has come by; short-lived and we just stayed put someplace protected and turned the air conditioner to Heat mode.

Our primary form of entertainment is reading about, listening to and hearing about all the problems that the thousands of snowbird cruisers could, might or have encountered. Maybe entertained isn’t the proper word, but it has kept us interested and given us each lots to check into. Now that we have a semi-decent over the air antenna, when we get somewhere (anchored, mooring or dock) we turn on the TV and it will scan for available stations. We kept up with national, local and hurricane news during our nine days in Hampton, VA.

Matthew dumped record-breaking inches of water inland in South Carolina and parts of North Carolina. The devastation of the after-effect flooding is heart-breaking. Low areas, primarily west of the ICW at Myrtle Beach, namely Socastee, have seen the highest level of flooding ever recorded there. Flood stage is 11ft- the water rose to 19ft!! (Oct 17) (last yr when we went thru it was 16ft) The bad part was the delayed flooding. The first flooding happened during and right after Matthew; low opening bridges remained closed, people moved their cars to higher ground, some evacuated.

The waters receded but not for long when millions of gallons arrived as all the inland rivers brought their accumulated waters closer to shore. Historic flooding took many by surprise. Footage on the local news stations showed homes with water lapping at kitchen counter tops! Many were rescued in small boats. One story told of a couple who each kayak to their workplace.  Snowbirds were pretty much, but not entirely, stuck in the area of North Myrtle and Myrtle Beach ICW thanks to the Socastee Swing Bridge refusing to swing.

Between information coming from cruisers and locals on the ActiveCaptain FB Group and Dockwa.com setting up a page for a listing of the status of marinas, bridges and waterways, it’s very easy to keep up to date on conditions. We contributed info as we headed out ahead of the Snowbird Rendezvous boats as well as the thundering herd still barreling down the Chesapeake.  Fears of debris laden waters really didn’t materialize, at least not for us. If you are a power boat making your first trip you might not have realized the water was a bit higher than usual. (as I write this we are in Carolina Beach so I am talking about north of us). Masted vessels had to worry about reduced clearance at the fixed bridges but most got through fine with 63ft since up thata way there’s little to no tide range.

We’ve been taking things kinda slow. Last year we left Tracey’s Landing, MD Oct 26!  This year our blood must have thinned out; Russ says we need to get going to keep warm and stay ahead of that herd. The other day the Socastee opened and now we will push on.

Starting in Norfolk/Portsmouth- let’s take you along.

Tug with two barges- one on each side

Tug with two barges- one on each side, a unusual sight

We thought other PDQs might be around based on what we’d heard in Hampton, and then we saw two at a marina in Portsmouth. Still, we were surprised to see this as we approached Buck Island, that being basically marsh grass allowed us to see across it to where these two sat comfortably tucked in. Yes we went up and said Hello but didn’t become a 3 boat raft-up!

PDQ anchorage south of Coinjock south side Buck Island

PDQ anchorage south of Coinjock, NC south side Buck Island

Our next multi-day stop was Belhaven, NC. Calm conditions allowed us and others to anchor in the harbor and let others shell out $ for a slip.

More motors anchored at Belhaven than sailboats

More motors anchored at Belhaven than sailboats

This active plant was within eyesight but not especially noisy nor did it spew ugly, smelly exhaust but we were curious as to just what they were up to.

Perdue Grain & Oilseed Plant

Perdue Grain & Oilseed Plant

A very short stones throw past the Perdue plant is the town’s free dock; not to be confused with the Wynne’s Gut Town Dock which you pay to use. We watched a few boats approach to check this out, but they must surely have gagged like we did. One boat claimed bravery. That night a tug and barge arrived at the plant, using a giant spotlight to get close; surprise!

Free dock at Belhaven is COVERED with bird poop. In good condition but who'd use it? Not close to town

Free dock at Belhaven is COVERED with bird poop. In good condition but who’d use it? Not close to town

Belhaven gets high marks for being boater friendly. Walking around town (about 2 blocks worth) we ran into Diana, grand poohba with Chamber of Commerce and she presented us with a welcome bag full of local info and things to know about the town.  She didn’t recognize us so that meant we must be cruisers!  In a town of 1,600, you know people. We walked to a Walgreens and on the way back met a couple of men; we chatted about current events and then one presented me with a rose. Told how it came from bushes at the home of a man who recently passed away and he thought it a shame not to share the roses.

Spoon River had only re-opened today after being closed six days thanks to Matthew. No water flooded in, but some did drip in from the roof so they painted. Theresa (owner) took care of us (and all the other patrons I’m sure) that night by not only ensuring awesome cocktails but a free glass of wine with dinner.

Creative craft libations at Spoon River

Creative craft libations at Spoon River

Diana welcomed us!!

Diana welcomed us!!

Across the street sits The Tavern at Jack’s Neck. Along with Belle Porte and Matcha Pungo, Jack’s Neck was once the name of Belhaven.  This visit we had time to dine at Jack’s and while they lacked a cocktail menu :-), the food and service was very good and next time we may order one of the yummy pizzas. The woodwork dazzled!

The Tavern at Jack's Neck

The Tavern at Jack’s Neck. Do you know the purpose of the wood covered openings in the brick?

Next stop- Oriental, NC. More lovely, good to anchor anywhere weather. Happy nomads we!

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Looking toward the Oriental Inn & Marina from the Provision Company

Since our last stop the shorter walk Town & Country Market had closed, thanks to a Wal-Mart Express that ruined business. But then the WM Express closed! Leaving the town without a local grocery store. Piggly Wiggly to the rescue!  Although we had a longer walk (no problem, we need the exercise), the store was worth it. Very well and creatively stocked.

Come evening, decisions, decisions. We chose O’Town for dinner and planned lunch the next day (Monday) at Toucan at the marina. We’ve toured the Woodchuck Cidery with Benj & Lily in Middlebury, so Russ said “why not?”. Yay, he likes it!

Hard Cider time at O'Town Cafe

Hard Cider time at O’Town Cafe

Unfortunately, Toucan is not open on Monday, a fact we overlooked when we popped in to check it out on Sunday. Next time.

We are as guilty as the next boat of stopping at the same places you know and like; one less worry. But, what about adventure and finding new favorites? This trip, mostly thanks to Matthew, we had or would make a few new stops, Homer Smith Docks being one of them. Tucked in a basin on the north side of Beaufort, NC (like bow tie, bow) this marina hasn’t quite been discovered yet but it will. Once the home of large and smaller shrimpers, it now has just the smaller ones with new docks for seasonal and guest boats. Floating docks a huge plus and what we prefer.

Tony lets you take his pickup for errands, so off we went for a quick trip to Morehead City and the Harris Teeter.

Seafood and Dockage- clean docks, office, laundry & shower

Seafood and Dockage- clean docks, office, laundry & shower

I was apprehensive when we first stepped into the building as it definitely was a seafood place with wet cement floors and that telltale aroma. But the office, laundry, bathroom, shower were all to the right behind doors and very, very clean. Free laundry BTW. New front loaders, table to fold on, chair to relax in. Works for me.

Fresh shrimp coming in!

Fresh shrimp coming in!

 

Shrimp! at Homer Smiths

Shrimp! at Homer Smith’s. If I told you the super shrimp deal they might stop doing it!

 

Could this be ice? bbrrrr

Could this be ice? bbrrrr

Just come in and shovel up what you need!

Just come in and shovel up what you need!

No worries, we tossed the ice. We had originally planned to stay a while and Traveling Soul would catch up, but a good offshore day was coming up so we only stayed one night.

Beaufort bascule- soon to be gone

Beaufort bascule- soon to be gone. Cruisers may be more inclined to come here then.

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Dredging on Beaufort channel edge on our way to Wrightsville Beach

Dredging on Beaufort channel edge on our way to Wrightsville Beach

 

Dyad stands out in the crowd

Dyad stands out in the crowd. They took our spot too- but we found a better one.

Carolina Beach is 11nm south of Wrightsville and we love it for many reasons; good moorings, protected, long beach, dining, and all that a popular seaside town has to offer… like doughnuts!! Yes, Britts is closed for the season but Wake N Bake suffices very well. Did that walk Sunday then picked up a few things at Food Lion next door where I was handed two pink carnations. 🙂

More pro every time

More pro every time. Easy in light winds, not so in 10+

 

Wave coming atcha birdie

Wave coming atcha birdie

The waves brought in more foam than we ever typically see.  Oh, did you know that if the foam is brownish you might not want it on you?  Yikes, that’d be due to waste material in the water. Another hurricane not so fun fact.

Russ gathers foamy footware

Russ gathers foamy footware… maybe not a good idea we later learned

 

While on the other side TW floats peacefully on Mooring #1

While on the other side Twins floats peacefully on Mooring #1

Matthew somehow, we couldn’t figure out how exactly, did a number on the railings of the ramp. Other than that, the docks the ramp all perfectly safe. The town spent money and materials to fence off the ramp entrance and the yellow tape thing too, but hey we need some excitement!

We walked a short ways to the Surf House for a tasty meal, crafted cocktails using amazing ingredients (read: we had no clue as to what they were) and on Wed and Thurs 1/2 price oysters and $8 burgers. Yes, there are those (we’ve met them, heard them on VHF) who are hell-bent on getting south quickly and if not for an insurance limit (i.e, Brunswick Nov 1) would be crossing to the Bahamas by now!  We still have roses to smell and places to visit.

Being bad

Calm Days Before the “Storm”: 9/24 – 10/7

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Oh give me a home where the paddle boards roam and the waters are calm all day; Where seldom is heard, “Oh crap I fell in”, and the SeaDoos don’t come out and play.

Yes, we know a place like that; Harness Creek off the South River next to Quiet Waters Park. We’d anchored there for nearly a week 5 years ago for weather and to get Ms. Ortolan’s screecher repaired after Russ lost the race with s/v Pride of Baltimore off New Jersey. 🙂

And first off a few good boat pics as we headed down the Bay.

Time to clean

Time to clean. Too messy and LOUD to do at the dock.

We keep out of the channel, which is for the big ships, but at one point just before I took this shot, it sure looked like we’d be meeting up head on. The day was overcast and not very pleasant so we were surprised to find lots of local boats anchored in Harness Creek.

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft. Prometheus Leader – probably a car carrier, left a negligible wake. Good boy

Sunday was sorta warm and quiet pleasant so why not practice? In the top part of the photo you can see the yellow rental kayaks, (SUPs too) at the floating dock. It’s where you can leave your dinghy to walk through the park.

Looking good!!

Looking good!!

The resident blue heron kept me busy but I missed a good in-flight shot.dsc04099-800x584

Monday brought breezy and a chance of showers but we bravely walked through the park headed for lunch at Main Ingredient, another great dining spot only one mile away.

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Because Main Ingredient also caters, the dessert offerings are extensive and from our booth I could hear them calling out to us. The Andes (Mint) chocolate multi-layer cake served us for two dinner desserts.  We share. 🙂

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Next stop Solomons, where we’d re-connect with our friends Mike & Ann of Traveling Soul, now also owners of a beautiful condo unit. Spot was more active than we usually have seen her, as she’s got more leg room (even though Traveling Soul is a large Defever motoryacht) and an attentive audience.

Spot is mezmerized by the garbage disposal

Spot is fascinated by the garbage disposal, but you should have seen her with the Soda Stream!

Do you know you can grow more romaine lettuce from the ends?  Ann told me you just do like in the photo below and soon you will have more for your money. Nice uh?

The lettuce whisperer

The lettuce whisperer: growing more from the bottom hearts

We were invited not only for dinner and Vodka & Tonics made with Ann’s magical formula homemade tonic, but to do a load of laundry. I know some of you can’t imagine how great that was, but it was pretty special.

My best new laundry helper

My best new laundry helper

We got to spend three nights at Calvert Marina (same place as this past June), but they were booked for the weekend due to the upcoming Krogen Rendezvous and a Defever Rendezvous after that. Rain was the word, especially Wednesday which of course was errand day. Ann took me to shop and we both got some things off our lists.

After leaving the dock we moved less than 1/8 mile up Back Creek to anchor. The wind was still honkin’ in the Bay although we felt little all tucked in, and rain came and went through Saturday evening. During our Solomons stay the wind display function on our wireless weather station crapped out. I don’t think you will be surprised to learn that the one year warranty recently passed.

The last hurrah of a line of scattered heavy rain. Was so narrow you could see brightness beyond.

 

Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann's Solomons Landing condo

Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann’s Solomons Landing condo complex.

Early on during our Solomons stay we began reading about Tropical Storm / Hurricane Matthew. The models disagreed, the spaghetti strands fanned out like octopus tentacles and we devised several plans, each based on severity and guestimate location of the storm as it headed up this way.

Top Rack was a planned stop for diesel and dining but they’d kick us out if a hurricane warning was in effect, so we had to cancel. I mean did we want to just assume we could find room at a protected marina close by? Not many choices for those.

One option was to head way up the Potomac as far in as possible; either find an acceptable anchorage or protected marina with floating docks.

One suggested marina could only offer us the outside of a T head, so even though it was a floating dock we declined and kept calling.

Then I came across Sunset Boating Center in Hampton, VA. Up the Hampton River and down a dead end canal, it met all our criteria.

We arrived on Monday Oct 3, well ahead of the very slow moving hurricane. The NE Bay winds were forecast to pick up mid week so why endure a rough trip when we can avoid it?

Never visited Hampton before, so a few days of settled weather allowed us to explore by dinghy and by land.

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Over by the side street entrance sits the Barking Dog where we ate dinner. Casual atmosphere as you can see. Hot dogs, several types of sausage grinders are menu’s focus but they also make a fantastic crab cake-super thick and virtually all crab. Hush puppies were great too.

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog. Our waitress was an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10!

Tuesday morning we walked approximately 1/2 mile to a nearby Food Lion. At the checkout the woman ahead of us pegged us for boaters (lugging a cooler bag) and offered us a ride back. She told us of a great dining spot downtown, “next to Goodys” with pizza, tapas and more. She even gave us her name and phone number should we need anything.

After stashing the groceries we head for downtown and well what do you know? we stumble (ya right) upon a doughnut place. If you dinghy up the Hampton River to Hampton Public Piers there’s a place to tie up and walk one block to downtown Hampton. The area is small but has many restaurants, a few gift shops, the Air & Space Museum Hampton History Museum, water access, tour boats and a restored carousel.

We easily scout out the dounut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

We easily scout out the donut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

Intersection of Queen & King

Intersection of Queen & King

We find Goodys and next door is Venture. (hidden behind the trees)  The posted cocktail menu was all we needed to lure us in. Priced to entice with Classic and Crafted Cocktails averaging $7, you can see below these were not eensy teensy drinks.

One size crafted pizzas made with their own dough, sandwiches, salads and seafood; tapas items served starting at 4pm. But what are Tots? Our waitress- phenomenal- plopped down this free sample. Cook potatoes and skins, add just the right amount of seasoning, spread in a jelly roll pan, chill, cut into small squares and fry em up fresh!!  Served with a side of spicy mayo, they were out of this world delicious. Some entrees are served with a side of Tots but you can also order them as an appetizer.

Venture's signature Tots- to die for

Venture’s signature Tots- to die for

Another great spot with a view! Excellent menu and cocktails too!!

Another great spot with a view!

 

This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection

This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection

 

Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy, Watch Hill and Greenport (especially)

Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy (CT), Watch Hill (RI) and Greenport (NY) (especially)

Each day small boats arrived to be hauled out and placed into rack storage. We had a front row view. The only other transient boat here was the blue sailboat you can see a bit of in the below photo.

Lifting up and into storage building

Lifting up and into storage building

Matthew was due to be at its closest to us sometime Saturday night-ish, and Friday’s weather was pleasant so why not one more trip into town? This time we walked and before ending up at Venture for an early dinner, we popped into the Hampton History Museum for a side of culture.

At this point any of our considered options would have been fine, even Top Rack but we were happy with Sunset as many days in a slip can add up those $$$$ and this place was “B2G1F” and only $1/night for 30amp power (only had 30amp). It’s a smaller boat place lacking nice scenery; even across the water is a huge barge. But the power was great; many places cause our ground fault warning to sound, the wi-fi worked well and we could easily get to downtown,groceries, pharmacies and yes, ok doughnuts!

Thank you to all who checked on us. 🙂   Next up; fun times during and after Matthew.

 

 

“Smokin'” or “Warp Speed”: same result!

a see-yourself shine

Russ worked long and hard for this shine. Pretty good teamwork getting those boot stripes on straight.

After four weeks hauled out Twins and crew were ready to find a happy place on the water. NOAA and other weather sources indicated several days of benign traveling conditions. That clever Captain devised an aggressive schedule that would land us near the C&D Canal at the end of the third day. I mean is he crazy?  Getting up at o’dark thirty?? This guy hates getting up before 7:30!! You’d think we were going to be flying out on a tropical vacation.  But in all fairness, I am ALL for calm traveling conditions and since we were ready to go; let’s do it.

Each day brought rougher conditions than the previous, but with luck, skill and damn long days we covered 317nm (that’s 365 landlubber miles) in three days, anchoring in the upper Chesapeake’s Bohemia River Thursday, September 22 at 5:15.  Whew.

Wow, what a way to start what I call PDQ Yr 2, but you can also call it Nomad Yr 7 (4 yrs s/v Ortolan, 1 yr m/h Anne Bonny and this will be Yr 2 with m/v Twin Sisters).  Getting to be so many years I am losing track.

Kitchen Little- place of birthday breakfast dining- as we pass by on Sept 20

Kitchen Little (with blue awning)- place of birthday breakfast dining- as we pass by on Sept 20

We left Mystic very early so that we’d have time to pop up the CT River a few miles and fuel up at Old Lyme Fuel Dock, which saved 20cents/gal.  Long Island Sound gave us no trouble plus a bonus of favorable current most of the way to our anchorage immediately before the Throgs Neck Bridge.

M/V The General- the first of what will be many interesting vessels we see along the way. Yes a tree

M/V The General– the first of what will be many interesting vessels we see along the way.  Tree at stern?

fish going crazy

Fish going crazy!

When Russ started looking at the things we always do, like; current, especially in New York’s East River (which isn’t technically a river) and Hell Gate; weather (wind, waves, rain) and offshore conditions, we got a surprise. The United Nations would be in session that week and on various days much of the East River by Roosevelt Island would be closed to pleasure craft. Between the short good weather window and the need to get past the UN before 9am, we needed to end Day 1 as close as possible and the moderate-sized anchorage next to the Throgs Neck Bridge was as close as you could get.

The night was very calm but boy the highway noise never let up.

Sunset as seen from Little Bay anchorage next to bridge

Sunset as seen from Little Bay anchorage next to bridge

 

just before 7am Looking back at Throgs Neck Bridge

Just before 7am.  Looking back at Throgs Neck Bridge. Three photos with our devices; Russ had the winner

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Our CG escort past the UN bldg

Our Coast Guard small boat escort past the UN building. Keeps them from getting bored.

 

On the Roosevelt Island side, more enforcement vessels wait to enforce the 9am west channel closure

On the Roosevelt Island side, more enforcement vessels wait to enforce the 9am west channel closure

Our goal Day 2 was Atlantic City. The inlet is decent, not great, but boats have two places to anchor. One is subject to current so you will swing when it changes, and the other is tricky but you are more protected. We chose tricky and protected.

Waves and outgoing tide made for a slow soppy ride- but we sped up

Waves and outgoing tide made for a slow, sloppy ride- but we sped up

We are heading for the narrow cut between the grass and the beach

We are heading for the narrow cut between the grass and the beach

As often happens, we are entering a very narrow entrance, trying to follow stakes that mark the way in and a tour boat is coming out on our left side. We move right, too much and almost run aground in mud. Russ quickly reverses and I firmly indicate we NEED to go toward where that boat had been.  Leaving the next morning at low tide- oh I didn’t say that we’d come in one hour before low today- was really going to be “fun”.

Harrahs large moving lit sign

A red-sky-sailors-delight sunset behind Harrahs

Departing the Atl City anchorage at 7am

Departing the Atlantic City anchorage at 7am. Followed the stakes and the path out was obvious.

We moved along at 3000 rpm which means roughly 13kts, headed for the tip of Cape May, then rounding up into the Delaware River.  With wind and waves behind us the ride was OK but rougher than yesterday. Rounding Cape May was quite unpleasant as the wind and waves were more broadside, and larger. Russ mentioned later that we often hit 19kts down a wave. Once further into the River we slowed down and by golly the forecast was accurate and by noon we’d reached very mild conditions. Ahhhh.

A bit of sun and all was pleasant on the often yucky Delaware. Sorry George. An incoming tide moved us along with an extra 2kt boost and we realized we could also have a favorable boost through the C&D Canal if we continued on, so we did.

Wowza! What a start. Three days from Mystic, CT to the Bohemia River on the upper Chesapeake Bay.  We did it!  The re-balanced props boosted our speed and we are finally in line with other PDQ 34s. Burned a bit of fuel as expected; price one pays for smokin’ at warp speed!

 

Ft Pierce to St Augustine, 4/6-4/16

Snug on the J dock T-head at Ft Pierce City Marina

Snug on the J dock T-head at Ft Pierce City Marina

A Mom-ism I often heard growing up was, “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” Could this possibly apply to blogging? Nah. Bloggers get to blog about anything; good, bad, indifferent or nasty. But since you want to interest your readers and hold their attention for a few minutes, then, I subscribe to the thought that if you don’t have anything interesting (and that can have a broad definition) to write about, wait until you do… or if so much time has passed that you might be thought dead, then, write.

Nothing terribly exciting or interesting has occurred in the 10 days we’ve been in Florida, and since you’ve all been buried in last-minute tax return preparation, now is a good time to come up for air (maybe spring has arrived in time for Easter!) and a new blog post from Ortolan and her crew.

The 3 nights at Ft Pierce City Marina were the first ever we’d spent in Ft Pierce which is to Vero Beach what Deep River was/is to Essex, CT.  🙂 Some will get this and if you don’t, no worries. We had a great stay enjoying the historic district with its plethora (I do like that word) of intriguing shops, the well-known Sunrise Theatre, the tasty Importico Café and Bakery and The Original Tiki Bar and Restaurant set along the Indian River at the marina.

Excellent libations and fast service!

Excellent libations and fast service!

Lily Tomlin was to appear soon- what a blast that would be

Lily Tomlin was to appear soon- what a blast that would be

The nearest Publix is apprx 2 miles away; forgive us our taxi sins for we could not walk that far and back loaded with six bags of food and wine. And still we’d be buying more in Vero Beach. Four months away uses up a lot of staples and paper/plastic goods. The store had a scale; the first we’ve seen in a long time.

Been a long time- but I did turn and smile

Been a long time- but I did turn and smile

Russ almost began drooling at the very excellent wi-fi; three nights of House of Cards (a Netflix original series) and characters you love to hate.

The cockpit, decks, strataglass panels and back screen panel all got a much needed cleaning and we felt ready to take on the dirty air of the U.S.

The freezer repair was a success (as I write this it is resting comfy at 16F) and the faux Engel was placed into fridge service which is more to its liking.

Marc spent 3hrs and the price was very fair

Marc spent 3hrs and the price was very fair

Did we stop at Vero Beach? Of course we did; however it wasn’t as sticky as usual and we only stayed two nights. That was enough time to provision, get a propane tan re-filled, a haircut for me and ice cream for Russ.

The freezer seemed to handle new items reasonably well so we gave it a pop quiz and dumped in a whole bunch of meats and sausage we always buy at Melbourne Beach Market. The new temp held at 22 for a couple of days but since we were moving every day, generating power, it gradually got down to 16.

A little bummed on two counts. One, our bows already have a brownish mustache and below the waterline that Russ scrubbed less than 2 weeks ago has gotten scummy already. Not the clean and clear Bahamas. Two, we heard on the news (Ok Russ read it on his iPhone news app) that former CT governor, John Rowland is under arrest for campaign fraud. Gee, didn’t one prison stint cure you buddy? Good thing we aren’t from CT anymore. 🙂

After Melbourne Beach we’d planned to stop at Cocoa; funky shops, great bakery/café all an easy walk from the accessible town dinghy dock by the park. A weather check showed that if we wanted to arrive in St Augustine in good weather with at least one decent weather day, Cocoa needed to be cut; and so it was. Ended up being the right move. Saturday’s stop was Titusville, another new place for us.

Usually a weekend finds many local boats out and about but not so much Saturday and only a very few cruising boats, many heading south. We seem to be between packs.

Titusville installed a huge mooring field a couple of years ago, but only half (if that) of the balls are in because more aren’t needed. We stopped for fuel and water; so why not do an $18 mooring too? The wind was blowing us on the dock for a bit of a crash landing, but that’s why we have a rub rail.  The older gentleman who mans the fuel dock was exemplary and asked all the right questions as well as understood the best order; start the water first because that always takes longer than the diesel. Oh and did we need to also fill our water jugs? Not this time but no one has ever asked that. We also filled the outboard tank with gas ($4.99/gal- pricier than roadside). The original plan was to arrive here early Sunday morning to allow time to explore around, but the 36nm trip plus fueling time got us in too late Saturday to bother launching the dinghy.

Sunday, (weather: ESE 8-16kts, high temp 78, sunny) all the local boats were out in force, especially around the Ponce inlet where several low tide sand bars provide the perfect hangout.

Rockhouse Crk- looking through it toward Ponce de Leon inlet

Rockhouse Crk- looking through it toward Ponce de Leon inlet

The 43nm trip took us through Mosquito Lagoon where we always hope to see manatees and this time we sure did!

Almost looked like gators, but when they moved, you knew they were manatees

Almost looked like gators, but when they moved, you knew they were manatees

The water is so dark that they are hard to spot unless you are quite close but we saw at least eight and some were mom and pup pairs. Osprey and dolphins too, not to be left out.

They raced past us, then Ship did Happen; they stopped cold

They raced past us, then Ship did Happen; they stopped cold

Our anchorage was with four others, just off the ICW channel north of a bridge in Daytona Beach.

Monday was a 45nm trip to St. Augustine and with the wind behind us (SSE 8-15kts) and a mostly favorable current the entire way (surprising) we ran on one engine for most of the day. Another first, a MAYDAY call; loud and clear. Scared me just hearing a man’s loud and urgent voice calling, MAYDAY, MAYDAY. He’d just seen a center console with several persons on board capsize near the Matanzas inlet. He reported that the people were conscious as they could be seen moving and standing on a sand bar (perhaps the one they ran into by accident). He assisted and the last we heard, the Coast Guard was getting his info.

A bald eagle and manatee sighting rounded out the trip which ended easily thanks to a slack tide mooring ball pickup. Our mooring neighbors who arrived over the next couple of days had all kinds of fun getting that mooring line. This gave Russ a chance (after we’d already raised the dinghy) to provide mooring assistance to a single-hander who was fighting wind and current, and after 4 tries, we took pity. He was grateful.

S/v Gambrinus made valiant attempts but the wind proved too great a foe

S/v Gambrinus made valiant attempts but the wind proved too great a foe

The rain and wind ahead of the approaching front began Tuesday around noon. Looked like the entire east coast had rain and/or snow- you poor things, but we got cold too- 49F 8am Wed morning. Brrrrr… and I almost laughed to see Russ wearing jeans- what an odd sight. No rain Wed so we spent the morning changing engine oil and filters, fuel filters, genset filter and the impeller which still looked good but wasn’t functioning properly.

Me in blue fuzzy socks and Russ in jeans and a jacket. Warmed up a bit later on

Me in blue fuzzy socks and Russ in jeans and a jacket. Warmed up a bit later on

With the “blue” chores complete, we moved on and in for the “pink” chore; laundry. But that also meant we’d take showers, which are very nice and just across from the laundry room/lounge.

Spanish galleon replica, El Galeon is hanging out for a six-month stint at St Augustine. She is berthed along the new “outer” floating docks with her sister (smaller) ship whose name I don’t know. We learned she is not made of wood, but sure looks realistic. We passed up paying $15/pp to step aboard.

El Galeon with the bow of her sister ship to left. Bridge of Lions behind

El Galeon with the bow of her sister ship to left. Bridge of Lions behind

Took this as we left the mooring field to catch the 10am bridge opening

Took this as we left the mooring field to catch the 10am bridge opening

This church tower caught my eye. We'd seen repairs underway when we walked by

This church tower caught my eye. We’d seen repairs underway when we walked by the day before

Farewell St Augustine; two hours would find us in marsh-lined creek. Looking and feeling more and more like Georgia every day.

Breakin’ Away

A classic sailboat sunset at Great Sale Cay

A classic sailboat sunset at Great Sale Cay

Once we departed Allan’s-Pensacola Cay, it was the beginning of the end. From this point we’d be working our way west, only this time, with so many favorable crossing days, we planned to not do an overnight. 🙂 This would be a welcome change from years prior when we quickly got our act together and crossed over 200 nm in one fell-swoop.

Paul Simon assures us that there’s 50 ways to leave your lover, well let me assure you that nearly as many ways exist to leave the Bahamas! Given our current state of drunkenness, we used the 3-step method of ever-increasing daily distances. Not only would this keep us in the Bahamas just a little while longer; we’d also score pirate points by staying past the 120 days Mr Grumpy allowed on our visa. The boat gets one year, but we don’t; however you can extend your time by visiting a nearby customs/immigration office right before (not sooner!) your time expires.

Step One: sail to Great Sale Cay from Allan’s-Pensacola. 30nm, 85% sailed. Gorgeous, low humidity day. Cleaned and began to pack away my beach treasures. Great Sale is three miles long and its main purpose (maybe only) is to provide anchoring protection. Winds out of the east through south allow you to use the north side; just pull up and drop the hook in the area noted on the chart as “good holding.” By nightfall nine boats were comfortably nestled in for the night. Or so we thought. Anchoring etiquette notwithstanding, common courtesy should come into play, not to mention common sense.

In the middle of the night a boat dropped their anchor and noisy chain about two boat lengths off our starboard (sleeping) side. What was wrong with our plenty-of-room port side? Or farther behind us? I bet others lost some sleep too. In the morning, we noted the boat name, Bad Betty! Darn right she is. Too funny. Close enough to hear them talking, I had no trouble seeing the captain remove the steering wheel; “bad wheel, you made me get too close!”

Step Two: sail to a banks anchorage in the Goodwill Channel approx. one mile above West End, Grand Bahama. 48nm, 81% sailed. Another lovely day with an accurate forecast. Watched several boats (all monohulls here except us) raise anchor, raise main, turn about 60 degrees south and head off. Would have been our MO too, if not for too close s/v Bad Betty.

After raising the anchor- oh let me backtrack a second- sometimes the anchor comes up with gobs of sand that takes a few minutes to rinse off, so Russ lets the anchor dangle then finishes bringing it up and securing it. I make sure to proceed very slowly until the anchor is secure.

Ok, so we raise anchor and Russ comes back to the helm to help me reverse far enough so we have room to get the main up and turn behind BB. We make this happen successfully and get going on course. I hear a clanking noise and go into detective mode, first checking where the sound seemed to emanate from; the bow area. Uh oh. “Honey, the anchor is still down!!!” she cried out urgently. Well, not all the way, just still dangling in the water. Note: when you are old and deaf you shouldn’t go cruising.

Several boats were ahead of us headed toward West End, maybe the marina, maybe to anchor in a bit of land lee on the banks just above West End. One was way behind.

Find the blue A; that's about where we spent the night. Alone with no other boats to worry about

Find the blue A; that’s about where we spent the night. Alone with no other boats to worry about

Our selected spot was going to look and feel very weird; dropping the hook practically in the middle of nowhere in shallow water with the Atlantic Ocean (Straits of Florida) one mile away. This was preferable to anchoring about 10nm further north on the banks at Memory Rock with no land in sight and no shallows to cradle you. The wind would settle in around 8-10kts but then pick up during the night (sure, why not?) so that we’d be seeing 14-16kts into the early morning hours.

Anchored in Goodwill Channel, looking Northeast at nothing but water

Anchored in Goodwill Channel, looking Northeast at nothing but water

Around 5:30 a sailboat came down Goodwill Channel and we watched her go around and enter the marina. Umm, s/v Bad Betty perhaps? Then we hear the dockmaster calling, “sailing vessel attempting to anchor in turning basin, this is Old Bahama Bay.” No reply. Again. No reply. Third time brings in that charm thing and s/v Bad Betty answers. Oh boy, the anchoring baddies. A very annoyed woman returns, “I guess we were mis-informed.” You know that tone of voice; I know it’s one I would be tempted to use, but know better. (at least not over the air waves) Then when she asks the dockage rate, the dockmaster says they don’t discuss rates over the radio. Can you picture the faces, screwed up, pissed off and steamin’ mad? Entertainment for the rest of us who enjoy a diversion from thinking about the upcoming night and the 80plus nm trip on Saturday.

A clear view in 5ft of water near sunset

A clear view in 5ft of water near sunset

Sunset off West End, Grand Bahama Island

Sunset off West End, Grand Bahama Island

Step Three: crossing to Ft Pierce, an 88nm trip that took 14 hours. About 6 hrs able to sail. We allowed 14 hours so that our coming in to the channel would not be right at full raging out ebb tide at over 2kts. This meant the alarm chimed at 4am; nice and dark with some West End land lights helping. Our path in was the same as we’d take back out to the channel that led from the banks into the ocean.

Having a path to follow when you can’t really see is immensely helpful. Within 10 minutes of raising the anchor (and securing it too!) we’d left the banks and were in open water, crossing through small breakers we knew were there, but we hardly felt them. By this time the wind was blowing around 16kts and the angle would give us an excellent sail. I always dread raising the main in the dark when I can’t see outside and can barely read the dimmed dials. But when you do this out on the open water, no other boats, land or objects close-by, the fact that you have to do this by instruments and the Captain’s direction only, is no big deal; it only feels that way.

We zoomed along between 8 and 10kts, hitting 10.4 for a few tense (only for me) seconds once. The swells were coming at our stern quarter, maybe 4ft high but a comfortable 10 seconds apart. No matter; I wasn’t too keen on looking. By sunrise, the wind dropped down and for much of the remainder of the day, was generally no more than 10kts- oh and it shifted, which made sailing very difficult.

Sunrise... and the seas are down, so too the wind and with it our speed

Sunrise… and the seas are down, so too the wind and with it our speed

The northward pull of the gulf stream means us slow boats need to set a course at least 20 degrees less than the 305 degree heading called for to get from West End to Ft Pierce. Sails up and down, in and out. Heading changes; yep at least 50.  An active day passes the time. A couple of hours out found us motoring in flat, calm seas as the ridge of whatever weather moved out, down, or away.

Did the flag exchange and when cell service was good enough, Russ called to clear us in. Easy. Switched the chip in my phone to remove the Bahamas one and put my U.S.one back in. We anchored for the night behind Causeway Island, the same place we left from on Dec 1.

Sunday would find us on a T-head at Ft Pierce City Marina. Hanging out to have our Frigoboat freezer repaired (please,please), re-provision, deal with misc chores and maybe some historic downtown sightseeing.

George Town Parting Shots

Some call it chicken harbor, others offer this one, “a trailer park combined with junior high”- ooo- zing!  Hole One is the “fruit bowl” among the regulars; several of the house boats are named after fruits- cantaloupe, mango, etc. Some cruisers arrive and never travel further, others can’t wait to leave. With more to do here than you can spike a volleyball at, great provisioning and your choice of anchorages, Elizabeth Harbor is also a good jumping-off spot for Long Island, The Jumentos, Cat Island and Conception.

Regardless, the time has come our calendar says, to mosey along and visit the Bahama cays and islands we missed when we zoomed down here. Hard to believe we sailed in here on Dec 12, with less than 30 boats anchored. The latest count is 225, including a rare 190 ft yacht, Intuition II.

This used to be the Red Shanks Yacht Club- lined with conch shells instead of burgees and usable only at low tide

This used to be the Red Shanks Yacht Club- lined with conch shells instead of burgees and usable only at low tide

We explored the beach on the harbor side of Red Shanks. This is one determined tree.

We explored the beach on the harbor side of Red Shanks. This is one determined tree.

Had a run-in with a monohull!  Or maybe the photo just looks that way

Had a run-in with a monohull! Or maybe the photo just looks that way

We'd be leaving before friends Cort and Carolyn returned, so we hung with their newly delivered concrete blocks instead :-)

We’d be leaving before friends Cort and Carolyn returned, so we hung with their newly delivered concrete blocks instead 🙂

Inside the market- just like you might find at home. Happy mon!

Inside the market- just like you might find at home. Happy mon!

Prime Island picks up cruisers in their truck- too comfy will piss off the taxis

Prime Island picks up cruisers in their truck- too comfy will piss off the taxis

I scored some chocolate chip cookies with nuts- delicious!

I scored some chocolate chip cookies with nuts- delicious!

My final parting shot goes like this: The very day we’d heard the “trailer park/jr high” description a story was told to us from a different source that portrayed it with pathetic accuracy. Say the cruisers in the harbor have a bake sale to benefit the local school and cruisers are asked to bake and/or buy; no set prices (can’t be that organized with a setting of picnic tables under the casuarinas by Volley Ball Beach), just pay/donate what you’d like to give. And say someone who you ( the Mayor-ess of the harbor) knew (and this someone supplies you with sea treasures to hand out to your peeps) arranged with you ahead of time that they wanted to surprise their spouse with a hefty amount of the item you were baking.  Follow that?

Does it matter that much if the entire pie is purchased by someone, or if it’s sold among 5 different people? And if your cliquey friends helping out didn’t bake it, where do they get off telling the person how many slices can be bought and override an agreement? So petty and so what if not enough admiration is bestowed upon your creation before it gets sold off in chunks? Ok, I’m done.  See you on Cat Island.