Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Coast Guard cutter that towed us in last spring in NYC

sunset along the way

John at Bray's Plantation with the Raes and Fosters

leaping spotted dolphin

dolphins off Florida

very big cruise ship in Ft. Lauderdale

Nov. 16 Around mid morning, we came into the marina and settled in for the night. They have a “loaner” car so we were able to go get some groceries. Afterwards, we had lunch at the nice restaurant overlooking the marina. Our friends Gail and Scott Ledbetter, whom we see each time we come to St. Simon’s island, joined us aboard for dinner and lively conversation. We both know them from Greenwich when we were children.

Nov. 17 Another gray day and we decided to go on the outside down to the St. Mary’s river. It was sloppy and windy and we rocked and rolled the whole way down. One really big waves and the toaster oven went flying. Our destination was the town of St. Mary’s and our mission was to visit some cruising friends who live there. The interesting part of the trip is the fact that our electronic charts don’t have many if any depths,etc. that far up the river! and neither do our paper charts! We found there were actually some red and green buoys along the way and we decided to anchor just short of town where our charts stopped. Dinner and early to bed to sleep perchance to dream of sun and calm seas in the Bahamas.

Nov. 18 Our friends were delayed with family so we took the tender into town and walked around. Lunch was at an outdoor cafe and delicious. The sun was actually out and the temperature cool but nice. After lunch, we took the tender the 7 miles over to Fernandina Beach to check out where we were going to fuel up the next day. Back at the boat, we got a call from our friends telling us they were back in town and there was a cruisers’ cocktail party in a hotel there. We took the tender in and walked to the hotel and walked into the bar area and right into a neighbor from Mystic who lives in our condo complex no less! She had just retired and was going to spend the winter cruising with her boyfriend. Small world. After cocktails, we had a nice quiet dinner with our friends at a restaurant nearby. 

Nov. 19 Took the boat over to the fuel dock and filled up in record time and at a record low price too. Afterwards, we went down the ICW about 10 miles and anchored in a wide creek with some other boats. Later in the evening, I noticed a masthead light right by the boat and realized there was a small sailboat right next to us. Where did he come from? I think we came together when we both turned 180 with the change in tidal current. We waited a while to see if we would separate a bit but it wasn’t happening. Everything got turned on and we brought up the anchor and moved to a better spot. During all of this noise and movement, not a sound was heard from the small sailboat. What sound sleepers they are!

Nov. 20 First thing in the morning we saw that some friends on another trawler called Valkerie were coming down the ICW right by us. We radioed them and asked them to lead us down the next stretch to the St. John’s river where we planned to go out. The agreed and did a great job of letting us know where the shallow spots were. There were several and I think we dug a new channel in a few places. They dropped us off at the river and we headed down it to the sea. The waves were not horrible and I had battened down all the hatches and the toaster oven. As we were passing St. Augustine, John told me we had to go in so he could fix a fuel airlock issue. We were only about an hour off shore so it didn’t take long to get there. The channel in is always thrilling and doing it into the sun is even more. It takes one person looking for the buoys and one person to steer/ surf in through the waves. The channel is not straight but has several turns to it. We anchored in our usual place and John was able to fix the problem pretty quickly. We decided to spend the night and leave for Ft. Pierce the next morning.

Nov. 21 The sun was out again which made going out through 8-10ft incoming waves in the channel a bit more bearable. The seas outside were still big but spaced out so we could rock and roll with them and we did for the next 22 hours all the way to Ft. Pierce. We finally arrived at 5 am and anchored in our usual spot by the Pelican Yacht Club. 

Nov. 22 Turkeyday! After a nice nap and a long shower, we dressed and took the dinghy in to the yacht club. Marcy Porter, a friend from Mystic, picked us up and took us to her condo at the Moorings in Vero Beach. Her son and his family were visiting and we all had a delicious thanksgiving dinner. They dropped us back at the dinghy, we went to the boat, raised the dinghy,  and went to bed. I think it was about 7pm. 

Nov. 23 Sunny again! I could get used to this. After sleeping 12 hours, we took off for Lake Worth by Palm Beach. This was a quick run as the current was with us the whole time even if the seas were still big. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and anchored in a spot just off the channel where we had anchored last year. 

Nov.24 Sunny yet again. I am seeing a trend. This time we were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale. The current was against us but the waves were much better. A big pod of spotted and white sided dolphins joined us and played off the bow for a long time. Coming into Ft. Lauderdale on a Saturday afternoon is not for the faint of heart! There are so many crazy “knats” of all sizes that get in your way. We had to wait by one bridge for a few minutes with everyone going hither and thither. We were very glad to be finally anchored in our secret spot. This is truly a place with the most yacht eye candy in the world. We saw Cakewalk(281ft), Seven Seas (Steven Spielberg’s 281ft), Tenacious (large beautiful blue sailboat), Tuscan Sun, and Copacetic (expedition boat) along our route. These are all boats we know from the Exumas. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nov. 2 Got the tender launched and Monaise picked us up at the yacht club. She had a tree branch across her driveway and John was the lumberjack for that project. Afterwards, we all met my mom for a farewell lunch at IHYC. Monaise then took us to see her possible new apartment and dropped us off. We later had a friends of hers on board to see the boat and have cocktails.

Nov. 3 John’s birthday! and time to finally head south. We left around 11 am to catch the good tide through NYC. We expected a lot of debris in the water but luckily saw little. The tide spit us out the Sand Hook channel and down the coast of NJ. The weather was windy but the seas were on our stern and pretty low. We slowly got into passage mode sleeping, eating, and playing card games or reading. These are the times my “activity bag” gets a workout! By the next morning, we were off of Cape May and the Delaware river entrance.

Nov.4-5 We proceeded southward at a good clip with relatively benign conditions. The wind and seas stayed off our stern. Watching movies on my computer passed the time during night watches. Not much traffic out here. Off of Hatteras, we were able to get cell phone reception and even the internet so we made a few quick calls and sent a few emails to friends and family to let them know we were fine. This was not something we were used to being able to do on the “high seas”. Finally, we turned NW to go to Beaufort, NC and had the bumpiest ride of the passage. Luckily it was a short ride of only a few hours. Coming into Beaufort at night is a bit of a challenge because of all of the lights. It is hard to pick out which ones were next in the channel but we finally made it inside and anchored off of the Coast Guard station. We had come 469 nautical miles in 61.3 hours with an average speed of 7.63 knots which was a record for us!

Nov. 6 This was a catch up on sleep and tell everyone we were safe day. 

Nov. 7 It was still gray and windy but still from the north so we headed out to do an overnight to St. Helenas sound just south of Charleston. We left around 5 am to be able to get a favorable outgoing tide and we did but soon realized the seas were still too uncomfortable to go the distance. A few hours out, we changed course and headed for Wrightsville Beach instead which would be a day trip.A group of spotted dolphins joined us for about 20 mins which I always love. The spotted ones are more playful and jumpy than the regular gray bottlenose species. Around 3pm, we arrived and anchored inside in the protected anchorage behind the houses that line the beach there.

Nov. 8-9 The sun was out! This time we waited a bit for the wind and seas to go down before leaving around 11 am. The wind was still on our back but the seas were a bit lumpy. We carried on knowing the conditions would get better by morning. A dawn, I crossed the channel leading to Charleston while dodging a rather large tanker coming out the channel. It was nice having a bit of light to see what was going on around me!
By the middle of the afternoon, we were up the Coosaw river almost to Brickyard Creek where we were going to spend the next few days. We had done this last year, visiting Alan and Cathy Rae, but this time we anchored off in the channel near their house. There were several boats already settled in which meant it was time for a party! Their neighbors had everyone over for cocktail so we got to meet some new cruisers and see some we already knew from the Bahamas over the years.

Nov. 10 This was our 22nd wedding anniversary! Cathy leant us her car and we went to the grocery store and did some other errands. Lunch was at a good Mexican place with margaritas. For dinner, we went out to a restaurant in Port Royal with the Raes and one other couple. As an appetizer, we all had fried dill pickle chips which is a local delicacy and quite tasty. It was a fun evening for our anniversary celebration.

Nov. 11 Quiet day on the boat. We went ashore and exercised- John walked and I rode in circles around him on Cathy’s bike. 

Nov. 12 The Raes and ourselves drove to Bray’s Plantation to see my distant cousins the Fosters. We had seen them last year on our way south and wanted to show the Raes their house and the plantation. We all got the 25 cent tour and had a good lunch to boot. Back home, we just watched a movie as we were full from lunch.

Nov. 13 Time to move on and the weather was calm enough to go outside down past Beaufort, SC and all the way to St. Catherine’s island where we anchored in last year’s spot. 

Nov.14 Spent the day anchored off St. Catherine’s island entertaining ourselves and staying warm and dry.

Nov. 15th We went on the inside down the ICW to the bottom of St. Catherine island and then outside down to St. Simons. Coming into the channel for Golden Isles Marina at low tide, we saw 6.2ft below us which meant we were pushing mud! Finally, closer to the marina, we got enough depth to anchor for the night. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oct. 19 Well, we are finally on the road. The Welch’s kindly drove us up to BCHM and cast off our lines. We weren’t sure we would be making the trip south this year because we had put the boat on the market last spring- but she didn’t sell. So,we are going to use her till she does. Our seal problem is finally fixed and we had a good time taking a road trip to Maine for a month. It was fun being on other people’s boats and in some of their homes too. We felt like such slugs being guests aboard with nothing to do but eat, drink, and be merry! Down the bay we motored, around the corner by Point Judith and on to our usual anchorage in East Bay on Fisher’s Island for the night.

Oct. 20 It was a nice day for a motor down Long Island Sound and into Oyster Bay. We anchored at the southern end of the bay for the night

Oct. 21 We launched the tender and went to the docks to meet my family lawyer, Al, and his wife. He had wanted to see the boat for a long time and was thrilled to finally do so. That evening, we went to the MacDougall’s house for dinner. They are old friends of John’s from his SCYC sailing days.

Oct. 22 The short hop over to Greenwich, CT and the IHYC dock went smoothly but the docking didn’t. We had forgotten to check the tide and found ourselves aground about 10 feet off the dock! Luckily, we could just throw our lines to the dock attendant and he cleated us to the dock. As the tide rose, John was able to pull us closer and closer till we finally were really in tight. I went with mom’s caretaker, Louis, to get the extra family car for us to use for the week.

Oct. 23-26 We did errands, worked at mom’s house, went to John’s mom’s house and ate at the yacht club. My newly married son, chris, and his new bride, Corey, and her mom came over too for lunch. We were able to hear all about their honeymoon in northern Italy.

Oct. 27-29 There was a nasty hurricane/tropical storm headed up the coast so it was time to hide from it somewhere. We decided to go back across Long Island Sound to hide in Cold Spring harbor. This harbor is long and narrow and has steep hills on both sides. We tucked right near shore and most of the easterly winds went right over us. The seas never got much more than 1-2 ft. Only one quick gust actually heeled us over a bit. As we heard about all of the damage in the areas around us, we felt lucky to be self contained on our boat. Unlike our land friends and family, we had heat, electricity, a stove that worked, flushing toilets, movies and even TV! Thank God for cell phones.

Oct. 30 By the afternoon, I was getting antsy to move somewhere, anywhere so we went back across the Sound to Greenwich and checked out the damage at the IHYC. They had quite extensive waterfront damage and the club had no power but it was fine.
We then anchored out near a small island that would give us some protection from the SE winds for the night. Gradually, we started hearing from our land and sailing friends inquiring as to our state and telling us about their states.

Oct. 31 Halloween and cold. We launched the tender early in the morning and went into a marina across from the IHYC where we could leave the tender for the day. What a day! First, a taxi to the doctors office for John’s checkup, then we walked to a nearby bank to get some papers notorized, then, Louis picked us up and took us to mom’s house (her road looked like a war zone but was passable by car) to get the family car, then off to try to find Monaise, John’s mom, who was missing in action for 2 days. We drove almost to her house and had to walk the rest of the way stepping over wires and trees. She was luckily there in the dark with no power. Her cell wouldn’t work by the house. We got her generator working, etc. and went back to the tender and back to the boat for the night.

Nov. 1 It was sunny for a while and we lazed around till after lunch when we moved the boat in closer to the yacht club. Another quiet evening aboard.