Thursday, December 6, 2018

Winter Destination, Stuart, Florida!

We have arrived at our December home port of Stuart, Fl., and we are sitting in the Stuart Yacht Basin, aka, a boat yard.  We have been in this boat yard several times before and all of those were extended stays.  This time we hope for a 2-3 week turn around so we can go have some fun somewhere else. For now we are having the broken stern rail replaced and the battery charger replaced under warranty. So where have we been along the way?

We headed out from Beaufort, SC on a windy, cold day after Thanksgiving and had a busy kinda cruise. There were many serious shoals to find safe routes through, lots of current to contend with and we used the high tide to get through an area that at low tide would have given us a few feet of water beneath the keel.  The tide was so high at the point of this picture that the channnel marker barely poked out of the water.  That tiny red triangle is on a post likely at least 9’ tall!

The clouds were thick making it feel like evening instead of daytime.  We passed this odd little house boat anchored seemingly on a permanent basis, just off the channel.  That would be a cold place to live!  We covered 63 miles and dropped anchor in Breakfast Creek off the Vernon River.  Anchoring was done in a cold light rain!

Saturday, 11/24, we continued our journey with fog following us off and on through the day.  Behind us are 2 sailboats we have passed every day of cruising since leaving Southport, NC.  

It seemed the gulls thought we were a fishing vessel so they followed, hoping to pick up the scraps thrown over board, but eventually they left to find a more productive boat. With fog adding to the challenge we traversed a short cut, known as Hell Gate, that is impassible for us without most of a high tide and we were lucky that we could hit it just at the highest point of the tide without having to purposely slow down or speed up.  Sometimes hitting the tide right is just pure luck as to when it happens during the day!  (Well we do check all the tide charts to know when it changes so it isn’t luck to find high tide, just luck when it is a good time for us!)

We anchored after covering another 55 miles in Duplin River, where we could access a ferry dock and take a walk on shore.  The cold and fog lifted to allow for a walk with shorts on.  But we started the day with several layers top and bottom!  The next day was the same, cold in the morning with calm seas.  Again we traversed several known shoaling areas using the tide that served us well.  Once more we passed the same two sail boaters but this was our last day to see them.  It is interesting to travel with the same boats day after day and not actually meet the people.  We stopped on Sunday, 11/25 at one of my favorite anchorages across from Jekyll Island early enough to go to shore for a late lunch at Tortuga Jack’s!

And had a nice walk along the empty beach (Al has our left overs!).  There was still a chill in the air and at this point we were in Georgia, when will we get to a warm latitude? 

When we got back to the dingy at the town dock, we were relieved to find some water under Victory Lap.  We left the dingy at high tide and the Captain tucked her into the inside of the dock because of a strong current and only realized on the walk back, that the 8’ tide would be low and the dock could have been in mud.  But she was floating, thank goodness! 

InSpeyered 2 is all by herself in this anchorage.  

We woke on Monday to rain with some thunder and lightning so we waited an hour before pulling the anchor with the rain still pelting the boat but no lightning in sight.  Thank goodness the anchor came up clean and easily so it wasn’t a soaking wet experience. Plus the temps were only low enough for a jacket, not a sweatshirt plus a jacket.  The day remained dark but we had some interesting sights to pass and more shoals to negotiate.  Not sure about the paint job on this boat.  Every evening, once we are stopped for the day, we both start the research on the next day’s travel, looking at shoals, tides and currents, plus weather and where to stop.  But wind is not as big a factor in the ICW so that is a plus.  Our plan for Monday was to stop at the Jacksonville free dock provided by the town and it was also the same plan for lots of boats.  When we got there, the boats were tied up 3 deep to each other and there was not an inch of dock space and a near by anchorage was also full.  Because we left late and traveled 60 miles to get to the northern border of Florida, we had to work fast to find an alternative place to stop before it got dark.  I called marinas and while Al searched and found an anchorage, yeah, a quiet spot to drop the anchor only 4 miles off the ICW, up the St. John’s River.  No place for a walk but one day off is ok.  

Tuesday was a better day, with sun, a fairly easy cruise with minimal shoaling, and no crazy currents and the tide changes in Florida are 3’ or less.  Our destination was a slip at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina which we made into a 2 night stay. But getting into the slip against a strong cross current in a narrow fairway made for a harrrowing  situation which pinged us into a cement piling but Al was able to power InSpeyered 2 out of the fairway without hitting another boat for a second try at a much easier to access slip.  This town is a Christmas destination because they have beautiful decorations, “the night of lights”, which is very special and lots of places to shop. Santa was driving this carriage around town, entertaining the many tourists.

When the darkness descended, the lights were spectacular! 

This park was a short walk from the marina.  And beyond this park, is a favorite pizza stop for us! 

This stop over not only put us in the spirit of Christmas, it also allowed us to get more shopping done for family presents.  

This sailboat went out at night, taking tourists around the harbor to see all the town’s lights from the water.  We had a nice surprise also in St. Augustine as a boat that has completed the Great Loop pulled in next to us.  The boat is Velomer and Pat and Bob are folks we met the fall of 2015 going down the rivers in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.  The boating world stays small!  
Thursday, we timed our departure from the marina for slack current to avoid any mishap getting out of the slip and with Pat and Bob shipping lines for us, it was an easy departure.

It was another cold cruising day that gradually warmed up but look who we have escorting us!!  The dolphins are back in high numbers and entertained us the rest of our cruising days.  We got lots of video but posting videos on this blog is not in my skill set.  On Thursday 11/29 we covered another 54 miles and pulled into a slip in Daytona.  There was no good place to anchor and get to shore so we chose a slip for walking purposes for both that afternoon and the next morning.  That way we could anchor on Friday near Titusville and not try going to shore.  We were in travel mode, slowly eating up the miles to get to Stuart.  Only 3 days left of 50 mile travel days.  

There is not much we won’t do to get to shore for a walk! On Saturday 12/1 we cruised to this wide area just off the ICW in order to access a boat ramp dock in very strong wind that made for a very choppy dingy ride and challenging tie up at the dock.  But we could walk to a Publix after walking to the beach and got just what we needed for 2 more meals on the boat before Stuart.  

This very sad boat was on the bottom, not far off the boat ramp dock.  Perhaps it succumbed to Hurricane Irma.  

And look, we are finally far enough south in Florida to don shorts and tee’s with windows open!  On Sunday we made it a “no walk” day and easily dropped anchor near Ft. Pierce at Harbour Isles, a place we’ve anchored before.  Always easier to get into places we know.  On the way, after passing Vero Beach, we passed a sailboat going north and I recognized it as the boat belonging to an old friend from Canton, Ohio days, John Miller.  Again, this boating world is amazing.  We chatted on the radio briefly to catch up a bit and went on our opposite ways.  

It was a warm and quiet night near Ft. Pierce.  Only 37 miles left to cruise to Stuart Yacht Basin where they expected us to arrive mid afternoon on Monday.  

Stuart Yacht Basin is down the south fork of the St. Lucie River and it is a curvy, shallow waterway with a full U turn in a tight area to get to the boat yard.  But the sky was blue, the air was warm (a bit too humid, but this is Florida) and we were both happy and sad to end this long journey.  As the crow flies, we are 1500 miles from Tadoussac, Quebec and about 4 months of travel since we were there this summer.  I haven’t done the math to see just how many water miles we covered from there to here but it is likely double the straight line of travel.  We are looking forward to time with Erik while we watch the work get slowly done on the boat.  It will be some weeks of sitting here before we start moving again and may be that long before there is much to post on the blog.  Merry Christmas to all!! 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Continuing to Move South, Wondering What to do on Thanksgiving!

With the saga of the boat repairs behind us (we can only hope that lasts), Friday, 11/16 dawned as a blue sky day, cool but not frigid so it was a great day to untie and take off.  It was a special day because it is Erik’s birthday and this one was his 30th!  We had friends from the Firestone days who live in Mount Pleasant, SC that we wanted to visit along our way.  Problem was, we got stalled for so long that we only had 3 days to get to that area before they were leaving for Nashville for the holiday.  So we put on the push and ran 64.5 miles to get to Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach, SC.  All done with North Carolina!! We were armed with updated information about the shoaling areas that plague the ICW in South Carolina from a packet we got in Southport and added that to info on Active Captain.  Tide and current didn’t cause problems for us so we made good time.

We came across a channel marker that had recently been damaged and took this shot to send it to the the guy in Southport who passes on traveling info to the next boaters down the line.  It is so helpful to have updated reports on shallow areas as we watched a boat go aground by getting too close to a marker with a known shoal.  Not all boaters read Active Captain warnings and it’s too bad for them! 

Also on the way, we passed Barefoot Landing where we had hoped to stop and meet up with our buddies on California Lady but our slow schedule messed that up as well.  They are off the boat and at their “dirt house”.  Cal Lady can be spotted on the inside of the larger yacht on the face dock.  Osprey was about 10 miles more and we got in with time to walk in the daylight.  Osprey is a great little marina that is a good price, has very nice facilities, gives all transients a goodie bag and even provides bagels/ bread/ donuts etc. for a light breakfast!  We indulged in the donuts!  

Continuing down the Waccama River on Saturday, we spotted these two Ospreys sitting atop a mangy old  tree.  We got a good start to our day and were happy with a push from current along the river.  It was another perfect travel day with sun and a blue sky.  The only complaint is that the sunny days create glare on the water which is hard on the eyes.  The fall sun is low in the sky.  The tide was in our favor as we left at low tide and rode a rising tide all day.  That was a big help as we passed through McClellanville, SC which is a long time area of severe shoaling.  Again, with the updated information we had, cruising through the shoals was only a tiny bit stressful!  We ended another 64.5 mile cruise in a great anchorage on Awendaw Creek.  Not far from Charleston so we will make it to see our friends!  Yea!  On Sunday, we waited a bit to leave because we needed the tide to rise enough to pass severe shoals on the waterway along our 27 mile cruise.  We came to a full stop several times when the water under the keel got to 2’  and even saw 1.8’ twice. 

We got into Toler’s Cove Marina in Mount Pleasant (just across the harbor from Charleston) in plenty of time to walk over to Sullivan’s Island for a beach walk.  Love those hard packed beaches! 

We crossed the Ben Sawyer Bridge on foot which we cruised under before turning into Toler’s.  

And our push to get to Mount Pleasant was paid off by a very fun visit with Donna and John Baratta! They not only took us out for a delicious grits and scallops dinner,  but they patiently took us to 2 grocery stores so we could stock up and have what we needed for Thanksgiving!  Well worth the 2 longer cruising days!! 

We took our time and walked again on Sullivan’s Island because the tide was lowering in the morning and we had more known shoals on our way further south.  Plus we had to pass through Elliot Cut which can have serious currents and we timed it for slack current.  We cruised only 43 miles, after leaving late morning and stopped at an anchorage named “west of watts” because it was after a shoaled area called Watts Cut which is being dredged presently.  This was our spectacular sunset in the anchorage which we shared with only 2 other boats.  

Later during the sunset, the sky became even more dramatic!   So that evening we pondered what we would do for Thanksgiving.  I had been trying to figure out a plan for several days and just couldn’t set a plan.  Then we looked at tides again along with known shoals and put it together that on Tuesday 11/20, we could only go 30 some miles until the tide would be too low to continue on.  That took us to Beaufort, SC.  When we up anchored early on Tuesday, we thought we would just use a mooring ball at the Downtown Marina but as the morning progressed, we decided to take a slip, knowing we had not given Beaufort a chance to show us her beauty last time we came through here.  And it is so much easier to check out a town when tied to a dock.  

On the way, close to the Ladies Island Bridge, we passed a large group of loons likely using the Beaufort River as a stop over on their way migrating further south.  There had to have been 15-20 loons on all sides of our boat!  We pulled into the marina by noon on Tuesday and soon decided to just stay put for the holiday!   The ladies in the office told us of a local church that provides a traditional Thanksgiving meal to anyone who wants to enjoy their hospitality and they provide “take out” plates. That was enough to seal the deal and we signed up for a 3 night stay!  

We have enjoyed lovely walks along the water and through the historic district and I have done lots of Christmas shopping so this was a stop well timed!  Our dilemma of what to do for Thanksgiving was answered by tides stopping us and a giving church feeding us!  

Last night we were surprised by the arrival of a cruise ship coming into the marina. 

Tonight’s sunset looking south into the mooring field was beautiful . 

And today, Thanksgiving Day, was sunny, a bit chilly but so lovely to be in this historic town.  We thoroughly enjoyed our “church lady” meal and are thankful for each other, for our chance to travel by boat, for our son and family members and for great friends, both old and new.  We are blessed! 

Boat Repair Issues But We Are Fixed and Traveling!

It has been over 3 weeks since this blog was last updated because it just isn’t interesting to report about boat repairs that seem to take forever.  We also have moved south, far enough that the shallow waters need help from tides and currents, so there is a lot of planning before each day of travel and lots of concentration while cruising.  The good news is, we have our list of boat problems repaired for the most part and we have traveled just under 600 miles with under 500 miles to go!

The sun warmed up the colder days up on the Chesapeake and the trees were just beginning to make us think of fall as we sat in the Zimmerman boat yard trying to be patient.  Our refrigerator failure lead to the ordering of a new thermostat and when it was being installed, it broke.  So it had to be reordered and the second one was installed on November 1st.  Still no refrigerator cooling so some wires that had been respliced at Pleasure Cove Marina were tested and found to be crossed, rewired those and voila, the refrigerators started working.  But the freezer didn’t cool to a low enough temperature because the wrong thermostat was installed!  (Hind sight: we likely never needed a new thermostat anyway!) Oh My!  But the battery chargers were good, the engine oil leak was fixed and we were at the end of the work week by the time we determined the freezer was not right.  So we chose to take off and get another thermostat at another Zimmerman location in Southport, NC.

We were stalled in leaving by one more day due to high winds and waves on the Chesapeake Bay.  We finally took off on Sunday, 11/4, dressed in our winter clothes in layers!! The time change got us up at the crack for a nice early start and we went 56 miles, past Norfolk and were finally into the Atlantic ICW.  Our stop was at Atlantic Yacht Basin for the night.

Off we went on Monday, only to reach the first bridge to be told the next bridge was closed for an undetermined amount of  repair time. On the way we scooted over to let this big girl go by slowly.   So we turned around and tied back up at AYB and had a lovely walk followed by a lunch out.  Lemonade, not lemons for us! 

We do find great places to walk!  This was across from AYB and easy to access.  On Tuesday we had a smooth cruise with some wind and current to our next stop at Coinjock Marina in North Carolina.  All done with Virginia and the temps are getting somewhat warmer during the day.  But we had a little mishap while parallel parking along the marina wall in front of the mega yacht in the next picture.

The current was strong and pushed us back toward the yacht ‘s bow and Al could not bring our boat forward fast enough or our bow would have crashed into the dock.  

So part of the rail on the stern got knocked off and the yacht ‘s bow had a paint scrape.  It was a low point for the captain who, just the day before, was given an “attaboy” for the great parallel parking job at AYB.  Can’t be perfect all the time.  Luckily the captain of the yacht was gracious and took it all in stride along with our contact information for future notice on his boat repair!  The good news is the next day was beautiful with minimal wind so we had an easy crossing of the dreaded Abermarle Sound and went another 55 miles to a nice anchorage in Tuckahoe Point.  


We had plenty of boat neighbors that night as the trek south is the way for boats to go this time of year!

On 11/8 we up anchored to find thick mud on the chain and anchor and it was a cold, brisk morning for getting hands all wet and muddy, but that’s just part of the adventure!  We had a slow trek with lots of sailboats to pass along the narrow Alligator/Pungo Canal.  But it was an uneventful day for another 54 miles.  Our stop was on the fishing dock of R.E.Mayo Seafood company.  

This dock is a bit scary to walk on because some boards are cracked and rickety, but the benefits are seafood to purchase, a road to walk on, and its right on the ICW for easy access.  Scallops for dinner and tuna and grouper for the freezer, yum! Next stop was Moorehead City, a neighbor to Beaufort, NC. Nice marina in Moorehead City with a courtesy car to get some groceries and local streets for the walk.  On the way there, we crossed some wide water that had waves but nothing that we couldn’t tolerate except for a brief period, just when I went below to fix breakfast!  We rocked and rolled, making my stomach do flips while toasting bagels as fast as possible.  Just when I had it all done, and thought I would not recover, we turned into the waves and all was good again!  Bad timing for me. 

On 11/10 we woke to strong, cold wind and wondered about continuing the cruise.  After consulting with the dock master, we decided to venture out and the nice protected ICW was nothing but calm water.  We did experience crossing some shoaling areas, so had 3-5 feet below the keel at times on our way to an anchorage at Camp Lejeune.  We also began to see the severe effects of Hurricane Florence. And on 11/11 saw many boats where they shouldn’t have been.

Blue tarps on roofs were abundant this far past the storm.  

Hard to imagine the day of the storm when our day was calm with a blue sky. 

 This was a day of seeing too much damage while dealing with currents that would not cooperate.  We had several low bridges that had to be opened for us and they were on a schedule that would have been doable if the current against us let us go our normal speed. Then just when we didn’t need the speed the current would give us a push!  

One more boat on the shore instead of on the water.  So our long day of stopping to wait for bridges and slowing to not get to bridges too soon, got us to a mooring field at Carolina Beach late in the afternoon; no time to dingy to shore for a beach walk.  That was 15 miles from our destination of Southport, NC which took the direct hit of the eye of Florence.  We pulled into the Marina a bit before our part was delivered so had time for a walk and a lunch out.  Then our one night at Southport turned into a 4 night stay!  The thermostat was easily installed but in that process, it was noted that the refrigerant level was low and we needed a refill.  We were aware of a tiny leak so were not surprised with this news.  The bummer was, no one was available in Southport to fill us with refrigerant and it took until Thursday 11/15 to get someone to come to us!  In the mean time, we had been searching for an annoying, tiny leak somewhere in the fresh water system for months that reared up and sprayed lots of water so I tracked it down and we had that repair done while waiting for refrigerant; one for the plus column.  So bottom line, by Thursday 11/15, all repairs were finally done, we had enjoyed walks in Southport and I did some Christmas shopping in the lovely town.  The next post will take up where this leaves off when we finally could start cruising once more! 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Time at the Dirthouse and Now Back to Cruising

After we enjoyed 3 quiet days and nights anchored in the Magothy River we saw predictions that the powerful Hurricane Michael, that decimated parts of Florida’s panhandle, would come all the way across the US and bring wind and rain to the Chesapeake later in the week.  So, since we had already planned to tie up at Pleasure Cove Marina for a  bit over a week as a place to safely leave InSpeyered 2 while we flew home, we decided to move sooner and pulled anchor on Wednesday 10/10.  It was a short run of 14 miles back up north on the Bay to Bodkin Creek where Pleasure Cove is tucked into a protected area.  Marinas always mean work, so I spent the day cleaning inside the boat and Al spent the day cleaning the outside.  Pleasure Cove was recommended by friends who left their car in the marina’s lot to be moved to Florida at a later date.  So we had access to their car and the marina was very nice which made for a couple of pleasant days to pass the time until our flight took us home for a week. The trip home was made primarily to attend a wedding celebration for a long time friend, Mike, and his new bride, Jane.

The remnants of Michael did pass over us with some boat cleaning, fresh water rain and some wind but it didn’t do any damage.  Al caught this heavy cloud reflecting the sunset over Pleasure Cove Marina.  While there, we had a great overnight visit with our friends on Leilani who live in the Annapolis area.  They had other boater friends also visiting so it was a fun night of 4 boat living couples sharing cruising stories.  

The highlight for me while home, was spending time with “my girls” who make up the Heiss family. We also met up with home friends for some meals out and some nice walks, along with the required annual doctor visits.  It was an accomplished week at the dirthouse.  
We flew back to Baltimore airport on Monday 10/22 and were happily greeted by Jim and Linda from Leilani who then drove the 4 of us into Annapolis to have delicious crab cakes at our favorite Chesapeake restaurant, Chick and Ruth’s.  Great way to arrive back to our water home!!

We were back to cruising south on the Chesapeake in the afternoon on Tuesday 10/23.  The morning was spent stocking up with much needed groceries, filling tanks with drinking water and prepping to get back to our cruising life.   Plus I got in a fast 3 mile walk! Our 30 mile cruise took us under the massive Chesapeake Bay Bridge.      


It also took us past the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse which I already wrote about the summer we spent as Chesapeake tourists in 2016. The conditions for this short cruise were calm so except for the glare of the October sun low in the sky, making the search for crab pots a slight challenge, it was an uneventful afternoon.  We vowed to avoid cruising in late afternoon sun! 

Our destination was an anchorage we’ve enjoyed in the past, on the Rhode River.  And as always, we were treated to a lovely but chilly sunset. Gotta get moving south, the fall weather is getting cold.  

The thing we like about the Rhode River anchorage is the close proximity to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Facility where there is a nice public dock and great hiking trails.  Since Wednesday was too windy on the Bay to travel, we took Victory Lap to the dock and had a brisk walk in the woods away from the cold wind.  Before leaving for our walk, we discovered that the refrigerators were warming up and only the freezer was running.  So we did some immediate ice making and moved the most perishable food to the freezer. That night was too cold to go out to watch the sunset and we were glad for extra blankets on the bed for sleep.  Temps dropped into the high 40’s in the night! Not so good for living on a boat, but the cold temps helped to not stress the refrigerators. And the soup I made in the crockpot, could be put outside on deck over night to stay cold!   

Thursday, 10/25 we crawled out of bed into our chilly stateroom and donned warm clothes to get started cruising early in an attempt to get as far south on the Chesapeake as we could.  We needed to get to Zimmerman Marine to have the inverter chargers worked on, plus the new job of fixing the refrigerators and we only had two good weather days to get as close as possible.  The cold morning was made a tad worse when the anchor chain came up solidly caked in thick mud. My hands were plenty cold once the chain was clean and the anchor was cleanly pulled up to the bow pulpit.  On the way, I snapped the picture of the trees that were just beginning to change color.  Colder weather at least makes the scenery pretty! 

Also along the way, we crossed paths with this gigantic commercial ship that was getting steering assist from the tug attached to its stern by cable.  The tug could move side to side to pull the stern around for turning.  We managed to cover 87 miles to reach Mill Creek off the Great Wicomico River before the sun started getting low in the sky.  It was a long and at times choppy cruise but we were happy to have gotten so far south.  Our Zimmerman destination was only 50+miles away and doable on Friday before the wind was predicted to increase late in the day.  

Mill Creek is well protected so it was a quiet night spent with 6 other sailboats sharing the anchorage. 

We made it to Zimmerman by mid afternoon just in time to have an extra foot of water with help from the tide so we could pass through the very shallow entry way into the cove where Zimmerman has their working docks.  Here we sit just off the East River which flows into Mobjack Bay with other boats all needing some work.  

We love the sign in front of Zimmerman’s office.  This place has an excellent reputation for doing solid work on boats so we were feeling good about getting here before the weather turned rainy and windy.  We had a quiet weekend sitting and waiting for the work to commence on Monday.  

This place has a courtesy car so we treated ourselves to pizza Saturday late afternoon and had a nice surprise that the town of Matthews, Virginia was celebrating Halloween in the town’s business square.  Yesterday, Sunday was clear so we got to know our boat neighbors and had docktails on the aft deck of the Kadey-Krogen.  The conversation started with “what are you in here for” as if we were all in the waiting room of a hospital’s emergency room;  well we are in fact all a little injured or broken with need for a boat yard repair!  
Today is Monday and so far we know we need a part for the refrigeration, more testing on the battery chargers and oh, we also have oil leaking from one of the engines and that requires a part as well.  So we’ll settle into this yard for a few more days!