Final stretch in USA

 

PHOTO LINK—>>   https://photos.app.goo.gl/rs5htExrFfdfx5Tp2

The end of 2017 was for us spent in Marathon at Boot Key Harbor on a mooring ball.

We had left Vero Beach and headed south on the UCW to Fort Pierce where we headed out the waterway to the open sea. With the sails up we sailed comfortably south through the rest of the day and the night to reach our destination of an anchorage south of Miami, near No-name Harbor Biscayne Bay. (The weather while good was VERY COLD, as can be seen below)

Overall it was a very good 132-mile passage with only one scare. As we were passing the Lake Worth area in the late evening it was quite busy with watercraft of all types so John was in the cockpit with me, thank goodness!

We has just crossed the main channel leading into the Lake Worth Harbor, we thought we had cleared all the ships that were entering when the AIS alarm went off…. Dangerous Target!! Dangerous Target!!

Suddenly from our starboard aft we could see a huge ship coming straight for us. John spun the wheel to starboard to do a sudden about turn, sails went all over the place, but thank goodness the engine had been running too and we were able to avoid a collision. The ship skimmed by, never even knowing we were there. That was when we decided to get an AIS transceiver…. this sends out a warning to others of our presence. We had for the past years only had a receiver, which alerted us to the presence of ships. Anyway we were safe, lesson learned and our AIS has already arrived and is being installed by John.

Arising early we left from Biscayne Bay and motor-sailed to an anchorage by Tavernier Cay. There we had a very peaceful evening in a quiet anchorage. Again early the next day we set off on our final leg south. There was no wind so it was a motoring day spent avoiding the numerous crab pot floats/buoys for 45 odd miles to Marathon.

Marathon was hit very badly in the recent hurricanes, but we have found that the area has recovered remarkably well. There is still work to be completed and rubbish still to be disposed, but all businesses are up and running and everything is returning to “normal”.

Here we met up with friends Leta and Roland on Kokomo and Bill and Mara on Puddle Jumper from our first Bahamas trip 5 years previously. It was fun chatting about old times. We went to a few musical evenings, including Christmas dinner at “The Sunset Grill”.

We had our bikes ashore and rode to the shops daily and took rides just to enjoy the ride too.

We ordered all that we needed and did all the chores necessary. And now are completing our “to do” list being almost ready to set off to Cuba.

“This world is but canvas to our imaginations.”

― Henry David Thoreau

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ICW south, Jekyll and Cumberland island, Fernandina, St Augustine and other stops

 

PHOTOS LINK —>> https://photos.app.goo.gl/nRSNofkZpu45lPmA2

The ICW Jekyll and Cumberland Islands

We were said to say goodbye to our friends but we were very happy to be heading out from Brunswick and onto our next adventure.

The ICW was our route of choice towards Florida. The first part of the ICW was passing through Jekyll Creek at mile marker 684. Here the water is very thin/shallow, as the creek is known for its shallow shoals. We had timed our passage so as to be moving on the rising tide, (Tides here are up to 7 feet), that way we had plenty of water under the keel.

Jekyll Island

Arriving at our anchorage across from Jekyll Island marina just after lunch meant we were able to go ashore for a walk and to explore.

We headed down a wooded trail towards the Atlantic shoreline where we deceived to walk the beach. It was a cool windy day, the tide was low and the walk was exhilarating. There were many Horseshoe Crabs lying on the beach where they had been washed ashore, some of them were just huge!

We met a ranger from the Jekyll island turtle/ reptile project. She was hunting in the shoreline-wooded debris and carrying a huge antenna. Asking her what she was hunting, I was surprised to hear, “Georgia Diamond Back snakes”. Apparently there was a female within 5 feet and she was checking on her. They keep records and research the snake population of Jekyll Island, as they are quite unique. We had an excellent few hours ashore and returned just in time as our dingy was nearly stranded in the mud with the low tide.

Setting off early again our next destination was Cumberland Island.

Cumberland Island

I had read about Cumberland Island and its wild horses and really hoped to visit. It was an early 7:00am start as we had a good 20 miles of the ICW to cover before the end of the day.

Most of this stretch of the ICW is through extensive marshlands as the canal just winds and twists its way along it is wild and lovely. Before we reached the northern end of Cumberland Island we had to cross the St. Andrews Sound and to avoid the shoals and bars our track lead us quite far outside and the back into the sound next to the north of Cumberland Island. Just after noon we reached Cumberland Sound where we anchored near the National Park and Sea Camp Ranger Station of Cumberland Island.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is Georgia’s largest, southernmost barrier island. Congress protected it under the 1964 Wilderness Act. It has 36,000 acres of pristine maritime forests, wild beach, freshwater lakes and saltwater marshes and 9,800 acres of wilderness a magnificent national park.

There are many many species of bird, from Peregrine Falcons to Great Horned Owls to the Rails and Terns. Animals range from bobcat, to raccoon to deer and horses, which the Spanish freed in the 1700s. It is only accessible by boat and has no services except rough camping. Cumberland Island has the largest barrier island wilderness on the East coast of the USA.

We went ashore that first afternoon to have a walk and we’re thrilled to find out that we could take our bikes ashore and ride along the trails. That afternoon however we walked across the island to the Sea Camp Beach and headed north along the beach. And WOW! What a beach, as long as you could see in both directions and wide as the tide was well out.

The next day we went ashore with our bikes and headed south on Cumberland to explore as much of the island as we could in one day.

Stopping at the Ice House we read the history of the Timucuan people who first inhabited the area 2000bc until the British annihilated them and saw some of the artifacts found from these ancients lives.

Our next stop was the Dungeness ruins via the Duck pond and the back entrance. The Dungeness ruins are what are left of a mansion built in 1884 by Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy. From the bit of history we read I don’t think the family had much luck as each of their properties burnt down. The ruins look quite dramatic sitting above the water on a slight rise.

We also encountered the Cumberland wild horses in this area of the island; apparently they were released by the Spanish in the 1700s. We had a look at the cemetery where the Carnegie family was buried and passed by other cottages in the southern end of the island.

Our lunch stop was the Sea Camp Station where we relaxed in a rocking chair eating our lunch.

After lunch we set off down the shady lane towards the north stopping first at the Greyfield’s area to have a look. There we followed another lane passed a few cabins that looked deserted and finally coming out at the Little Greyfield’s beach.

We were going to ride north along the beach but the wind was blowing towards us and it would have been a cold hard slog, so we returned inland. We decided to take one of the trails that ran north – the Parallel Trail.

This was quite challenging riding along trails designed for hiking and quite often we had to lift the bikes over the fallen trees. Our aim was to get to Stafford beach, well, we found that the trail seemed to go on forever, finally coming out on the main lane which we then had to follow for a few miles to get to the beach, in other words we took a very long route.

At the beach we rode the bikes south with the wind behind us and it was fabulous! The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and we were whizzing along effortlessly.

The previous day John had seen some huge poles with stainless nuts and bolts attached, he stopped and using the tools he had brought along her helped himself. I just beach combed for shells along the way, finding some nice whelks.

We had a wonderful day on Cumberland and I calculated we rode between 13 and 15 miles.

Fernandina Beach

Our next stop was Fernandina Beach where we got a mooring buoy from the City Marina. Fernandina Beach is a lovely little town, full of old historic buildings like the old historic courthouse and the oldest saloon in the south.

We enjoyed walking the streets seeing the sites. This visit coincided with the day after Thanksgiving and many folks were wearing PJs….. Very odd. After asking we were told that it was a town tradition and as it was a big sales/shopping day you would get an even steeper discount if you wore PJs.

There are 2 paper mills at either end of the town and it was interesting seeing the slow trains run between them and off to the port. Apparently paper is a big industry in this area. I really enjoyed the antique shops with all the different odds and ends.

On our last day there before we set out on our overnight passage we found the farmers market and bought 2 small quiche from “Me Myself and Pies” for our dinner and they were the best quiche we have ever had! If you come across them be sure to buy one!

Aeeshah sailed from Fernandina Beach in the afternoon and arrived in St. Augustine the next morning after a quiet night sail. We did encounter many ships and shrimp boats off of Jacksonville and we even saw the Oleander the Bermuda freighter, but the weather was calm.

St Augustine

John and I found St Augustine to be such a beautiful city. It has a reputation for being one of the most attractive cities in the USA and it really is.

The city has existed for 450 years founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Ayiles. Named St. Augustine because his fleet reached the Florida shores the day of the festival of San Augustin. The city has a colourful history with many historical buildings.

The massive Castillo de San Marcos that was constructed in the 17th century to defend the ocean inlet that allowed entry into the bay. This was our 1st place to visit. The great coquina, (shell stone), fort was built to replace the original wooden fort due to a brutal attack by pirates.

It has high thick stonewalls and is designed with four diamond-shaped bastions to prevent attack from all angles. The 70 cannons are still present facing out to sea and in towards the land to prevent any attacks on all sides. We spent several hours wandering around reading the comprehensive history of the Castillo de San Marcos and St Augustine which the United States took possession of in 1821. St Augustine then became Americanized.

Another very interesting visit was to the Flagler College, formally Hotel Ponce de Leon.

This amazing building was one of many built by Henry Morrison Flagler. He was a self-made millionaire who along with John D Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company.

Henry Flagler decided to develop St. Augustine into a winter get away for the rich. He employed the so-called Spanish Renaissance Revival as the architectural style for his huge hotels. This style called for extensive red terracotta ornamentation, red clay roofs, and rounded arches. In 1888 at a cost of $250,000 the Ponce de Leon opened for guests.

Today it functions as the Flagler College and is open for tours twice a day. John and I were very impressed with the Flagler College, the tour was excellent telling the history of the Flagler family, the family and of course the building.

The Tiffany glass windows, all the gilded roofs, artwork and décor are the original and perfectly maintained. The chandeliers are worth over $50,000 each for the small ones, $250,000 for the largest and there are numerous chandeliers.

Our friends Don and Pam arrived and we went together to visit St Augustine Lighthouse and museum. We walked there across the Ponce de Leon Bridge…. Bridge of Lions, to Anastasia Island.

The St. Augustine Light Station is an active lighthouse, and was built in 1874.

We had a very comprehensive tour where we saw the keeper’s house, toured the boat building exhibit, heard all about the history of the area and the lighthouse, plus saw artifacts from shipwrecks off shore St Augustine.

On our return walk we stopped for a lovely ice cream at Wetstone Ice Cream.

The weather was great, but there was no wind to sail down the coast soooo, we decided to do the ICW again.

ICW south

We motored for 53 miles to Daytona Beach where we were shown to a very nice anchorage by our friends Don and Pam on Rainbow’s End.

This journey along the ICW was a very straight forward one compared to our ones in North and South Carolina. The canal is straightforward with few shoals and twists and bends.

There were numerous birds to see in the marshland areas, the houses were interesting to see and most of the traffic was going our way. There were also many dolphins swimming by, playing in the waterways.

The next day was a 37-mile motor to Titusville.

This day we had engine “problems”, the engine was struggling, surging then decreasing, and unable to maintain the steady 5kts that it usually finds easy at 17 hundred rpms. It was quite a worry. We hoped to get a mooring buoy, but none were available, so we anchored. John got his snorkel and mask to go over and see if the growth we had accumulated could account for our problems. What he found was thin blue line from a crab-pot buoy, fishing line and a few barnacles on the shaft and prop. He cleared everything and the next day we found that everything was fine. So somewhere early the previous day we picked up the debris, it wrapped around the shaft and prop and was preventing proper engine performance. We were very relieved.

The next overnight stop was the Banana River, by Dragon’s Head in the Palm Bay region. The passage here was uneventful, along wide waterways, actually quite a boring passage. However when we neared our destination we saw our friends Alan and Claire’s boat Moonstone. So that afternoon they dingied over and we were able to catch up on each other’s news.

Vero Beach

Vero Beach is/was more or less our last stop on the ICW. This time we were able to get a mooring buoy, but when here they raft boats together, up to 3 boats per mooring. We were rafted to Autumn Bourne. Our main concern was Chico and how he would be received and how he would behave. So far all is great, Sue and Dean are a nice quiet couple too and they don’t mind Chico sometimes wandering in to say hello/meow!

 

Vero Beach is mainly a residential area, very upscale manicured properties that must cost a small fortune. The beach area is just that…a beach area. The marina is very convenient, good laundry, handy free transport and excellent wifi.

 

John and I have enjoyed riding our bikes each day looking around the neighborhoods and the beach.

Vero Beach is just a weather stop; a deep cold front is passing and then we need wind, but in the correct direction for our next leg south. We will travel the ICW for 12 miles to Fort Pierce, then we sail south along the Atlantic coast to Marathon.

Soon we hope to be off again, heading south ……

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” — Neil Gaiman

 

 

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Savannah and the Golden Isles.

 

PHOTO link–>> https://photos.app.goo.gl/pJn7yuCNsatR3x272

When I returned to Aeeshah at the end of October we were planning to leave fairly promptly for Florida, well that didn’t happen…..

For the 1st week we had a car so that we could drive the generator to Savannah, the closest repair place. However, three weeks later and the generator is still not ready and we are nearing the end of November.

Savannah

We drove along the scenic route 17 to Savannah avoiding the interstate. It was a very enjoyable drive looking out at the marshland, the wooded areas and the small towns along the way.

After dropping off the generator we headed to the Water Front area of Savannah. Once there we started walking from the West end and walked down river to Morrell Park.

Along the river walkway interesting information stops are posted giving the history of the area and the people who lived there. In Morrell Park is the Waving Girl Monument. This Savannah icon, a statue of Florence Martus, waves a handkerchief at passing ships on the Savannah River in hopes that her departed sailor lover would be on one of them. The Olympic Monument is also found there. This is in memory of the 1996 Olympic sailing that was held in Savannah.

From there we walked along the Emmet parkway above Factors Walk.

This is a network of very old narrow cobbled arched streets where cotton producers once sold their crops. The warehouses and shipping terminals now hold residences, restaurants and such. The day we were there they were setting up to film a movie so the whole area was a great big “set”. Once we reached the City Market area it was time for us to drive back to Brunswick.

Jekyll Island

Another day we drove to Jekyll Island. There we walked along Driftwood beach.

When we had 1st arrived in the area we had anchored off Driftwood beach. Now the shoreline is somewhat different with all the damaged trees from Irma.

It is still a very scenic beach and the skeletons of the trees standing along the beach are testament to the encroaching sea level.

St Simons Island

Our next destination was to St. Simons Island. There we first visited the lighthouse built in 1872. It is protected and maintained by the Historical Society, but is still a functional lighthouse.

We toured the museum and lighthouse keepers dwelling and climbed the 129 steps to the top to enjoy the view.

Fort Frederica was our next stop. General Oglethorpe brought colonists and soldiers to St Simons in 1736, building Fort Frederica as Georgia’s first military outpost on the banks of the Frederica River. Now it is a national monument where you can still see the tabby powder magazine, the foundations of the original towns buildings and the cannons used to protect the town.

The English withstood a Spanish attempt to take Georgia in 1742 in a battle know as Bloody Marsh. Also in this area at Gascoigne Bluff oaks were harvested for the new country’s battleships one of them being the USS Constitution aka Old Ironsides. The USA government still has some acreage of live oaks designated for ships repairs. We really enjoyed the informative movie, which we watched there. Walking around the old town ruins and out to The Frederica River was lovely…. the oaks are spectacular. 

Riding around Brunswick

We have enjoyed using our bikes to ride around Brunswick and the surrounding area. We rode to the marsh area opposite the marina. Having been told that there we fossilized sharks teeth being found in the mud dredged from the ICW and dumped in the marsh, we thought we would ride over and explore, maybe even find sharks teeth.

Well the ride over was enjoyable and the ride along the dirt roads of the marsh was fun, but when we stopped and tried to get to the dredged area we were attacked by mosquitoes by the thousands. They even bit through our clothes and chased us as we rode away as fast as posssible.

Our friends Don and Pam came for a bike ride with us around historic Brunswick. We stopped at the parks, rode along the lanes, through the neighborhoods looking at all the older buildings.

They showed us the Shotgun houses which is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than about 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house. It is an African American cultural architectural form that originated in the American South and was used extensively throughout the region.

The Victorian, gothic style of homes with the lovely gingerbread designs, cast iron fencing and long wide porches were on every street. And we visited the Oak Lovers tree, a massive oak tree in the middle of Brunswick.

The Brunswick old cemetery was the highlight. We spent a long time wandering around reading tombstones that dated back to the 1700s. The Spanish Moss hanging from the trees really gives the graveyard a dramatic effect. We really enjoyed our many rides adventuring around Brunswick.

Savannah again

Finally after nearly a month our generator was ready. Don and Pam volunteered to drive us there and we ended up making a day of our trip. We picked up the generator and then headed into downtown Savannah. I had a walking tour that we decided to follow.

Madison Square was our first stop. General Sherman’s home and Civil War headquarters were there. We continued towards the river passing through Orieans Square. There we found a Pecan festival being held. Georgia being the main area for Pecans, people were selling all things pecan. We enjoyed many samples of pecan pie and listened to some oldie goldie music being played by “The Crabs”.

It was on to Telfair Square where the oldest art museum in the south holds art and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries. We stopped and had a wonderful lunch at Goose Feathers Cafe, the food was just excellent!

It was on to the City Market area where we even saw a few cats on leashes a group was playing lively music and many folks were sitting enjoying the sunny day.

We passed through Johnson Square and could view the gold dome of City Hall. Down the old stairway to Factor Street and the Waterfront area where another arts festival was being held. We briefly looked at the arts and crafts being sold and then cut up to Reynolds Square and rounded the bend to go to ……

Leopold’s Ice Cream. Now the line was out the door with people waiting to buy an ice cream, but Pam assured us the wait is more than worth it. When we did get ours I had to agree as it was just excellent old-fashioned ice cream, really, really good!

Onto Oglethorpe Square and across to the Colonial Park Cemetery where we walked and read many of the old gravestones.

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist was our next stop. What an amazing cathedral, the stained glass and artwork inside are just awe inspiringly beautiful. The architecture too was just wonderful, the spires outside and the domes inside are quite incredible.

On passing through Lafayette Square and Calhoun Square enjoying looking at the beautiful homes with the old windows, Victorian Colonial architecture, cast iron railings and quaint fixtures was very enjoyable, I do love old architecture.

In Monterey Square we saw the gothic Temple Mickve Israel built in 1734 and the Mercer-Williams house, famous as described in the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”.

Our last stop was Forsyth Park where they were just packing up yet another festival. There we looked at the beautiful two-tiered cast iron fountain with its statues.

We all had a wonderful day in Savannah. It was a great way to finish our time in this area of the USA.

The boat is fully loaded and finally we hoping to be off soon…..

There are no wrong turns only unexpected paths. – Mark Nepo 

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will. – Charlotte Bronte

 

 

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Two months and two new Grand-babies in Bermuda

 

PHOTO link–>> https://photos.app.goo.gl/r91RlBMg9ruuxTNL2  

For the past two months I have been a dirt dweller back home in Bermuda.

Our daughter Christina/Chrissie was expecting her 1st baby. This baby boy was a child that had been wished and prayed for over many years. Chrissie has a pregnancy blood disorder which without treatment causes miscarriages. In Bermuda a woman does not receive any screening coverage by insurance until she has lost 3 babies, Chrissie had lost 4. Chrissie had to inject herself daily with the blood treatment in order to carry this baby.

I had promised to be home with her for the new baby, especially since the baby’s daddy was no longer with Chrissie. Quest was born on September 11th, a few days earlier than expected. We of course were stuck in Georgia thanks to Irma. Once we arrived in Bermuda we hit the ground running…..

It happened to be Friday the 15th, our son Gavin’s 40th Birthday. We were driven home to drop our bags and to go straight out to drinks followed by an Indian dinner. The evening was fun, seeing Gavin’s friends some of which we have known since they were just toddlers. Then it was back home to help a very anxious new Mummy with her 4 day old baby.

3 days later it was John’s 65th Birthday. We had a small family celebration, which again was very enjoyable. In Bermuda you have to redo your driving license on your 65th. So John had the delight of being tested, afterwards he was given his driver’s license PLUS a Special Persons license!

Before we knew it we were right into the thick of house maintenance, cooking, cleaning, babysitting, pick-ups from nursery, stable work, feeding and mucking the horses, gardening, and so forth. This is life as normal when we are back home in Bermuda.

John stayed in Bermuda for just over 3 busy weeks. He enjoyed the family times especially with Lily, who was nearly 2 and May who is 18 months. I stayed in Bermuda for nearly 2 months. Most of my time was helping Chrissie with Quest and all the new Mummy experiences.

Quest is a lovely little angel, but quite challenging in the evenings. During the hours of 6pm and sometimes as late as 9:00pm he was not happy with anything, its called the “witching hour” for a good reason! Just before I left Bermuda at nearly 2 months he seemed to get through this difficult stage.

A few weeks before I left, Gavin and his wife Katie welcomed a new baby girl Evelyn into the world. She is an adorable addition to the family, being number 6 of our precious grandchildren.

Lily Gavin and Katie’s other little one turned 2 years old. There was a wonderful Birthday Party in the garden at Gavin and Katie’s home. The young ones played in a kiddies’ pool and finger-painted, also painting themselves. It was a lovely couple of hours!

It was a busy but very enjoyable family “holiday” back home. We realize we need to spend longer at home with the family as there are 4 Grandchildren under the age of 2 to get to know.

October 29th arrived and I flew back to Georgia where we have been preparing to leave……

In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, and bridge to our future. – Alex Haley

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Charleston, South Carolina and on to Brunswick, Georgia

 

PHOTOS LINKS–>>  https://photos.app.goo.gl/El4XfmTnsxDWSC6L2

https://photos.app.goo.gl/8XO3kRXd8VB9Ar0K2 

We left the Georgetown area at dawn via the Winyah cut and sailed for Charlestown. This was our first outside passage since entering North Carolina and Moorhead City.

Arriving in Charlestown after an easy day passage we chose to anchor for the night in the Ashley River in an area just south of where the Charlestown City Mega Dock Marina is located. We desperately needed laundry, foods, John’s beer and other essentials, as we had been unable to get ashore really since Morehead City.

The following morning we went into the marina and had a slip at the end of the mega dock. The dock is 1/3 of a mile long, getting to the laundry or bathrooms was a major trek. Our plan was to use the marina for a few days to stock up, do laundry and clean up the boat, after the ICW we needed all the facilities. We planned on just a few days in Charlestown and then sailing the outside to Brunswick, stopping at different places each night, but the weather kept us hostage there for 6 days.

Most of the days were sunny, but the winds were in the wrong direction for our sail south. A few days we had strong winds and massive thunderstorms during the afternoons and I was very thankful for the shelter of the marina.

We really saw a lot of Charleston, by foot of course, but after being dropped off where we wished, as the marina had a courtesy car/van. We would tell them where to drop us and then get a ride back from the Harris Teeter grocery store. When we arrived Harris Teeter was where the courtesy van dropped us to shop for groceries. Well, I had never been in one of these before, but quickly found what excellent produce, breads, cheeses and sushi they had for sale. So nearly everyday we met the van driver at the Harris Teeter grocery store for pick up and of course bought back sushi for dinner.

“Founded in 1670 Charleston is the oldest and largest city in South Carolina. It is known for its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel antebellum houses, particularly in the elegant French Quarter and Battery districts. The Battery promenade and Waterfront Park both overlook Charleston Harbor, while Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War rang out, lies across the water.”

Our first day out in Charlestown we walked the entire historic King Street Antiques and fashion district, plus the French Quarter, starting at The Confederate Museum along Meeting Street to The Battery and then along East Bay Street to the Water park area. We explored the historic Market on Market Street, visited the Confederate Museum and really enjoyed the whole flavour of the city.

Another day we went to the Maritime Center and got a water taxi across the Cooper River to Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. There we spent the day exploring the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, destroyer USS Laffey, submarine USS Clamagore and the Vietnam display. John really enjoyed all the displays.

The aircraft carrier USS Yorktown is the tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the USA. She played a significant role in the Pacific offensive in late 1943. The ship earned 11 battle stars for WW2 service. It carried a crew of 380 officers, 3,088 enlisted men and an air group of 90 planes. During the 1950s she was modified for jets and converted to an antisubmarine carrier. The Yorktown served in the Vietnam War and recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts. We visited every deck and every display. John was fascinated.

The destroyer USS Laffey was built in 1944 and decommissioned in 1975. Again we enjoyed the information and exploring the ship. I found the submarine USS Clamagore quite amazing, as it was so small and cramped inside. She was built in 1945 a few weeks before the end of WW2 and decommissioned in 1975.

Another visit was to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

The building is South Carolina’s most historic building. Completed in 1771, the Exchange and Customs House was the economic, social and cultural center of the colony. The SC delegates to the First Continental Congress were elected there in 1774. The Declaration of Independence was presented to the citizen from the steps there. The Constitution was ratified in the Great Hall. George Washington entertained there in 1791 and the British used the cellar as a Provost prison during the American Revolution, plus pirates were imprisoned there in the early 1700s. Another interesting visit!

Yes, we enjoyed Charleston, loved the old architecture and atmosphere.

 

Our next stop was going to be Beaufort SC, then Savannah, but we got to the mouth of the river near Beaufort, a beautiful anchorage there, –

http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=31.177385&lon=-81.410600  

and decided to sail through the next day and over night for Brunswick. Reason being there were hurricanes around, Irma being the main threat.

Our overnight passage was again one that will not be forgotten! We had very unexpected, not predicted squalls. The lightening was everywhere around us across the skies, striking down into the ocean, the thunder was banging and I was a nervous wreck. I had to abandon the cockpit and hide down below, poor John was left the whole night watch to tend to as the weather continued through the entire night. He told me how he had to watch the radar and try to avoid huge cells developing ahead and around us, they were just morphing all around! It was very tense and stressful for him he had never seen anything like it before.

Arriving in Brunswick we anchored off of Driftwood beach near the entrance and John slept. Later in the morning we moved to an anchorage near Morningstar Marina. This is a very sheltered peaceful anchorage close to Morningstar marina where they allow you to use their dingy dock in order to get ashore and get supplies. We went to the nearby Harris Teeter grocery and were once again able to get sushi.

http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=31.177385&lon=-81.410600 

We decided to get into Brunswick Landing Marina ahead of time and ready for the fast approaching hurricane Irma and our trip home. And we were sooo relieved that we did….

We checked in and it soon became apparent that we needed to secure Aeeshah very well for the possibility of a hit or a near miss from Irma. This included all the canvas, jib, main sail, covers and everything on deck that could move. The forward cabin became the storage locker. I did take advantage of having every cover off and did any necessary sewing repairs, which meant it wouldn’t be a wasted effort if Myra gave us a wide berth.

We were/are very impressed with the marinahttp://www.brunswicklandingmarina.com   The dockage includes wifi, laundry, use of 2 clubhouses, beer on tap, wine different nights a week and many socials. The staff are excellent, other residents very friendly and helpful, – we had 5 offers of a car to borrow! The Brunswick area is handy with all the shops we needed and areas to ride our bikes. However with all the preparation we hardly had time to explore the area.

With the approaching hurricane we decided to hire a car as a get away plan. We were in a mandatory evacuation zone which actually means you are supposed to leave, but can stay. There was a curfew put in place from 6pm till 8am, if you were to leave the county you would not be allowed to return till government decreed it safe. So with those conditions in place we decided to stay with Aeeshah. We needed to be there in case the docks broke loose, floated above their restraints or incase another boat were to break loose and crash across to our dock. Also we had volunteered to watch our neighbour’s boat. So we had a car and as the area evacuated with little traffic on the streets we were able to get to the shops to buy what we needed, but do little else. There were about a dozen boats in the entire marina with people aboard, it was deserted.

The wind started the night of September 9th and blew through that day and the night of the 10th and morning of the 11th was particularly bad. The wind blew up to 84 knots (as recorded on our instruments), the boat was taking a beating, shaking and straining. Outside in the early hours of the morning there was a dreadful banging. Upon investigation John discovered that a boat across from us, (the only one not to take his jib down), the jib was unfurling and slamming back and forth. Its mast was literally bending in the gale.

Sooo John along with Don a neighbour braved the elements to try to secure the jib. John got wacked in the eye by a halyard with a cleat attached that had broken free on the rebel mast. It was not possible to secure the jib as the halyard had snapped/broken and so the jib was left. – By the morning it was a shredded mess and John had a nasty sore eye.

The water rose during the morning so that there was little room left on the supports for the floating docks. The water rose over the car park, the docks were higher than the land as the water flooded ashore, but finally it rose no more and settled somewhat and finally by day’s end started to drain. The next morning dawned a beautiful day!

During the drama of September 11th our daughter Christina, gave birth to her son, Quest in Bermuda. This was the baby that she had wanted forever, after so many lost, finally she had a baby boy, thus he was called Quest.

“Everything we experience—no matter how unpleasant—comes into our lives to teach us something.”

—  Iyanla Vanzant

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Down the ICW Mile 205 to Mile 410

 

PHOTO ALBUM –>> https://goo.gl/photos/XV3LypU49onwrGr76 

Morehead City is located at mile marker 205 on the ICW …. we need to be at Brunswick Georgia by September 5th which is mile marker 680 – a distance of 475 miles. Our plan is to travel the ICW for  30 plus mile stretches a day. Or if necessary sail on the outside along the US East coast to make time if we need….What is the ICW?  This is the Inter Coastal Waterway, which is an inside channel which goes all the way from Norfolk, Virginia – mile 0 heading south all the way to Florida. It  travels through the “countryside” plus the towns  along the way meaning that we can stop nightly, plus can visit historic sites, have hikes and explore. The outside passage along the US East coast is not usually easy to travel as it opposes the Gulf Stream, so can be rough going against the current, slow and the weather can be nasty too, but it can be quicker and doable in very favorable weather.  

John and I were up at 6:00am and set off for our 1st stop, which we planned to be Mile 244 Hammock Bay at mile 244. First we needed to travel from Cape Lookout along the outside shoreline to Morehead City at mile 205 and then the 40 miles to our anchorage. This was a very ambitious day ahead.

Once out of the shelter of the large bay at Cape Lookout we found that the wind was against us and there was a good size sea rolling in. It was most unpleasant and we took a bit of a beating, thus putting us at Morehead City at 9:30am. John was very doubtful as to whether we could make it.

 1st leg: Morehead City @ Mile 205 – Swannsborje @ mile 229

The ICW travelled past lovely homes and marshy areas full of egrets and other wading birds. It was lovely despite the cloudy weather, the threatening thunderheads and cloudy conditions. The waterway was very busy with Sunday boaters full of people whizzing past making their way to the inlets.

There were the occasional fishing boats returning to port, and fishermen wading in the shore waters. We had the Atlantic Beach Bridge at mile 206 to pass under. Whenever going under these bridges you know that there is enough clearance by a few feet, but it really looks close. Our mast is 58 feet and the clearance is normally 65 feet, from below it looks impossible. Our second bridge was the Cedar Point Highway Bridge at mile 226. Here we needed to be mindful of currents too, but all was fine.

By afternoon those thunderheads were rumbling nearby, the rain was damping the cockpit and we had stronger currents against us. There was little hope of making our destination comfortably, so we opted to stop at Swannsborje at mile 229. Our anchorage: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=34.620763&lon=-76.548910

There we anchored just off the main channel in a side channel that led to a low bridge next to Swannsborje. Normally not ideal circumstances as there were strong currents running, 15 knots of wind and a bridge behind us. However John believed our online advice from the Active Captain site that had 28 recommendations.

As we were settling in with a cup of tea a boat approached from the shoreline. The man aboard introduced himself as Dave, the “harbour master” and self-appointed mayor of the little island next to us. He welcomed us to Swannsborje. We mentioned walking to any nearby grocery store and before we knew it he returned having arranged transport with a couple ashore. Off we went meeting Shannon on the dingy dock. She then very kindly took us to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. It was a random act of kindness bestowed upon us! We were able to replenish our fruits, veg, breads and dairy. As it turned out this was an excellent anchorage, had a peaceful nights sleep and the anchor came up clean.

2nd leg: Wrightsville Beach @ mile marker 283

Again we were up with the sun at 6:am. There was a dead calm over Swannsborge with a pretty sunrise shining through the misty early morning light. It was lovely!

And then the mist started to close in so we had fog like conditions, making the waterway quite eerie. Camp Lejeune is found at this stretch of the waterway it extends for 18 odd miles. This is actually a practice area for all the armed forces, used as a firing range it can sometimes be closed. For that day it was open, but we did see blown up tanks and vehicles in the marshes. It was quite eerie.

 

Following we had the Onslow bridge, this is a swing bridge which only opens on the hour and half hour, we had a 10 minute wait for the opening. Luckily there were no real currents running.

We were going along carefully at New River inlet mile 246 when BLAM!! We came to a sudden stop! The canal had gone from 4 foot under the keel to 0ft and we were aground! So John tried forward, didn’t work then finally full reverse pointing towards the inlet and we were free. However there was still considerably shoaling, very thin water which I find scary. I know it is mud and soft, but still hated hitting the bottom.

Just after this I saw a large alligator. It was on the surface ahead, swam under as we were approaching and then surfaced about 15 feet off our side. – Still John swims at various anchorages, I think he’s crazy; I also lock Chico in at night. Meanwhile as we travelled on it was still quite misty in areas and foggy in others, but the scenery was lovely. Many birds along the shoreline and ospreys nesting on top of the marker poles.

The US 210 Highway Bridge was our next obstacle, shoaling was mentioned in the ICW guide book as being a problem here, but we were under the bridge and fine. Looking at the homes along the side of the river is fascinating. There are many grand properties. Some as high as 4 stories with full porches and then long walkways on stilts out over the marshes to the shoreline where they have their boats pulled and stored. We hardly ever see a property that is not beautifully maintained. The properties really are very impressive.

At mile 260 we had the Surf City Swing Bridge, this one was to open on the hour, we arrived with half an hour to wait, so well back from the bridge, John cut the power to idle and we eased up to the bridge for the opening.

Next, yes another bridge: the Figure Eight Island Swing bridge at mile 278, which opened every half hour, but we missed it by 5 minutes so had a 25 minute wait. It was then 4:30 and we knew we had our last bridge for the day ahead; it opened only on the hour. We needed to make the 5:00pm opening for the Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge or be stuck waiting. John pushed Aeeshah as much as we dared, still needing to beware of shoals and we made a good attempt, but missed the opening by just a few minutes. This time we had an hour more or less to wait. Then the bridge operator opened late, by 10 minutes, I had to call him on the phone to get his attention. By then it was 6:10pm, there still were a few miles to go. We arrived at our anchorage at Wrightsville Beach mile 283 at 6:45 after covering 50 difficult miles. We were both exhausted! Our 2nd anchorage: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=34.684713&lon=-77.119263 

This anchorage was lovely! It lay between the seaside banks and the marshy islands down the inlet to Wrightsville Beach. We did have boats whizzing by, but there was a wonderful sea breeze, plenty of room to swing and the holding was excellent. A bonus for us was that the anchor came up clean, not muddy!

3rd Leg: Southport mile 310

Our next destination Southport on the far side of the Cape Fear entrance. The ICW along this stretch was a mix of marshlands and very nice properties. I enjoyed looking at the different landscapes while watching the depths on the depth sounder.

The first challenge was a bank of shoals off the Carolina Beach area, once again we kissed the bottom, but John was getting better at finding the way off. He simply guns the engine in different directions till we slide off. Our first bridge was Snows Cut Bridge followed by Snows Cut, which as its name suggests is a cut through in the form of a channel. Now being in the cut was like entering a different land. The sides were made of rock with high banks a large fir trees.

However this cut at the Cape Fear end is reputed to have very shallow shoals due to the strong currents that run with the flow and ebb. To avoid the shoals John took us, as was advised by our Active Captain Garmin navigator, 150 feet off the red maker, however we still kissed the bottom or rather we hugged it. Right aground we were and it was quite a supreme effort to get us off this time, but John eventually managed to get us off. Afterwards we were into a ships channel and over Cape Fear with no problems and at Southport Marina.   http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=34.684713&lon=-77.119263 

We had called ahead and requested a side tie at the marina; the fellows were waiting for us. They were very nice chaps, did our pump out (sewage tank emptying), fill our diesel and had us hooked up to electricity in no time. Awwww, AC was just wonderful.

The rest of the day we were busy doing, laundry, cleaning inside and out and getting rid of all trash and such. Then that evening we walked into Southport, which is a very nice village, and we had an excellent seafood dinner at “Provisions”.

SOUTH CAROLINA

4th leg: To Calabash Creek @ mile 342

We left Southport around 8:00am with “just” 30 odd miles to do and we didn’t do too badly as we arrived in Calabash Creek just after 2:00pm. However, as usual, we went aground a few times. The first was at Lockwood’s Folly. Again we knew to be careful due to shoaling, but we still kissed to bottom, John ran us off. This area of the ICW is close to the sea so is really affected by tides and currents and has a 5-foot drop with the tide. Now we were travelling on a rising tide, but it was just starting to rise.

There were many lowland marshes and scrublands along the sides, again the birds were prolific, and all types ospreys, seabirds and wading birds. For the later half of the day there were many houses on the mainland side of the canal, these homes were quite substantial spaced further apart with long walkways to their docks. Quite a nice area to live.

Entering Calabash Creek we were fine even with a 5ft shoal that was reported at the entrance, we anchored up. Our anchorage: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=33.917198&lon=-78.027923 

We soon went to explore in the dingy. Heading up the creek towards Calabash village was all marshland with tall trees in the distance we wondered if we would be able to dock. Well, Calabash was a really tiny little place that seemed to specialize in very local fishing boats and crew, or a big tourist boat to go to the outer shoreline for a visit, no place to dock and signs saying so. We did go and check out Little Inlet too, but there again was nothing of much interest there.

5th leg: Waccamaw River – Enterprise @ mile 375

We knew this was to be our most challenging day so far because of what we had ahead.

1st Mile 347.2 Nixon Crossroads Highway bridge 65ft

2nd Mile 347.3 The little River swing Bridge – opens on demand

3rd Mile 349.1 The North Myrtle Beach Connector bridge 65ft

4th At mile 349 till mile 352 The Rock pile

5th Mile 355.5 – 65ft – Conway Bypass Twin Bridges Mile

6th Mile 356 cable for an overhead gondola, clearance 67ft

7th Mile 357.5 Grande Dunes Bridge – 65ft

8th Mile 360 Grissom Parkway Bridge – 65ft

9th Mile 365.4 U.S. Highway Bridge – 65ft

10th Also at Mile 365.4 SCL Railroad Bridge – which is usually open

11th Mile 366.4 Fantasy Harbour Bridge – 65ft

12th Mile 371.0 Socastee Swing Bridge – opens on request

13th Mile 371.3 Socastee Highway Bridge – 65ft

14th Mile 372 Construction/restrictions – Carolina Bays Parkway Bridge

It was another lovely sunny day for travelling. We found for most of the day we past through areas newly developed properties. It is known to be an area that has been developing rapidly and is very popular with visitors to the coastal region. The waterway was very busy with jet skis and powerboats. We were challenged for most of the day, but fully entertained too.

From bridge to bridge there were areas of shoaling, submerged pylons, tree stumps, and rocks. The most worrisome area was the notorious rock pile; here the canal had been blasted away from the rock and thus leaving rocks lining the sides and bottom. We had been advised that traveling through on low tide was a good idea as you can actually see the rocks. Plus to call ahead making sure nobody else was entering this stretch, especially barges, as we needed to stay in the dead center. We were fine all went well, and actually the rock pile was a very pretty area, lined by the rocks but also large trees, I even saw turtles on the rocks sunning themselves.

So we entered the Waccamaw River in the early evening without having any problems. The Waccamaw River is very beautiful, peaceful and full of birds of all types; huge trees including Cyprus trees with Spanish moss line the shores. That evening there was the most amazing sunset over the river.

6th leg:  Waccamaw River – Butlers Island anchorage @ mile 395

Traveling down the Waccamaw River 20 odd miles to Butler’s Island was relaxing. The river became wider and deeper, the scenery was beautiful. There was the settlement of Bucksport that we past, and some very large plantation homes but generally the river was lined with massive trees. We saw numerous ospreys and their nests, many many wading birds, dragonflies and butterflies hovering around, the amazing Cyprus trees with Spanish Moss hanging from their boughs in all peacefully quiet atmosphere.

We anchored off of Butler’s Island as I had been told it was a good area to explore. It was very lovely and we did enjoy dingying around during the afternoon, but the mosquitoes and no- see-ums in the evening and early morning made it an area we were happy to leave.

7th leg: (Georgetown mile 402) Western channel mile 410

We enjoyed the rest of the Waccamaw River on our way to Georgetown where we planned to get a slip at the marina and stay for the eclipse on the 21st August. However when we called we found that everywhere was fully booked as 100,000 or so people we also traveling to Georgetown for the eclipse, so we went further down river to an anchorage just off the ICW with marshes on both sides.

Now this anchorage was lovely, with schools of fish being chased by dolphins and bombed by birds all around us. However the marshes meant that the bugs were about in the evening, which made life somewhat uncomfortable. So we moved the next morning.

8th leg: Winyah Bay, mouth of the Waccamaw Bay

Here we anchored next to the North Island and planned to stay for the eclipse. The day was just lovely, sunny with a nice breeze. We dingied to the shore and tied our dingy to a pylon of the lighthouse dock and set off for a shoreline walk.

Along the way we spoke with locals enjoying the day, watched fishermen wading in the shallows and others wading and swimming off the sandbars. At the mouth there is a long breakwater made of large boulders, it extends out to sea for some miles thus making the approach much calmer. We continued walking along the shoreline beach. There the water was much cleaner and John even dove in to cool off. It was a long, much needed walk after our days traveling the ICW

It was the 21st August, the day of the eclipse; John was excitedly awaiting the phenomenon. As the hour approach, so unfortunately did the clouds. However we lucked out as just for the few minutes of the eclipse the clouds did separate enough of us to see the sun covered fully.

The first, unusual symptom was that there was a rainbow in the clouds. Then gradually the light got dimmer and dimmer, stars could be seen shining in the dull blue sky, on the horizon was a continual sunset around us and then trough the clouds we saw the eclipse.

The atmosphere was eerie, surreal like being in the twilight zone and then it gradually got brighter again and all was over. It was an experience that we both will never forget.

The beginning is always today .- Mary Shelley

 There are no wrong turns only unexpected paths. – Mark Nepo

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Short visit to Cape Lookout and Shackleford island

 

PHOTO ALBUM –>> https://goo.gl/photos/76dGdxurBcBxgAo59 

Friends had recommended the Cape Lookout area to us, saying it was very beautiful and well worth visiting. We didn’t have much time as the bad weather held us hostage in Morehead City for an extra few days, but we decided to visit the area and we were not disappointed.

Lookout Bight and Cape Lookout National Seashore

The guide book described it as “one of the most beautiful anchorages in all of the Carolinas, Lookout Bight “ “ Miles of unspoiled, dune backed beaches of Cape Lookout National Shoreline provide the perfect setting to search for seashells of the giant whelk or watch the antics of Laughing Gulls, a variety of terns, willets, dunlins, cavorting oyster catchers…”

Anchoring in the large Lookout Bight by midday we had lunch and set off to explore. We headed to what we thought was a boardwalk that would lead us to a track and to the abandoned village. We were wrong; this was a disused, falling apart boardwalk that led into the marshes that was not an access to the “village”. So we opted to walk along the beach and exposed sandbars.

We walked along the inside of the bay for miles as the tide went out. It was wonderful to be taking pictures, walking and enjoying a new adventure. We crossed the huge dunes separating the bight from the Atlantic seas and were just stunned by the beauty of the beach and shoreline. The beach goes on for miles and miles, in fact 7 miles out and then the sand bars for a further 8 miles into the Atlantic. Again we walked the shoreline, now I was collecting shells too, so I was even happier. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

The following morning we dingied over to the famous Cape Lookout Lighthouse. It has been a landmark since 1812 and still shines the way to those that travel/sail the waters. The lighthouse’s unique diamond markings actually mark north and south with the black diamonds and east and west with the black, again showing the way. At the lighthouse we climbed to the top, all 200 plus steps and what a fabulous view from the top! We could see for miles. The ranger gave me his binoculars so I could view the wild horses across on Shackleford Island. They were in the water of a marsh bay happily splashing and enjoying the cool.

We then set off to walk to the abandoned village, but the sandy track was very hot with the sun baking down and we just reached the first of the structures. For our walk back we crossed to the other shore and enjoyed walking the beach back.

After lunch we went in one of the parks ATVs for a tour of the Cape. This comprised of a very interesting history of Cape Lookout, the village, (we found out we had made it to the village store on our walk) and then along the beach out to the end of Cape Lookout. The island was made a national park many, many, years ago, but the people who owned the properties were allowed to stay for 25 years. The last of the islander left in 2005. We opted to stay out on the bar for an hour and walk around; again it was just wonderful and so very beautiful. The sandbars extend for another 8 miles off the shoreline, just incredible!

Back at the dingy John suggested we pop over to nearby Shackleford Island. This is where the wild horses of Shackleford banks have roamed from the 1500s when Lucus Vasques de Ayllon’s colony failed and the horses were turned free. They are now protected as they have their own unique bloodline. They number about 150 and care completely for themselves. We were not disappointed as there were several right there grazing. We had an excellent day.

We were planning on leaving the next day, but the weather came in so that the morning was just pouring with rain and very miserable, so we stayed. As the weather lifted in the afternoon we went for a very long walk over the dunes on the shoreline. We walked to the end of the peninsular and back to the boat via the other side. It was wonderful; birds all round, wide open beach, wind blowing, waves crashing and nobody around for miles.

“What I like most about change is that it’s a synonym for ‘hope.’ If you are taking a risk, what you are really saying is, ‘I believe in tomorrow and I will be part of it.”  — Linda Ellerbee

 “To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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Leaving Bermuda twice and arriving in North Carolina

 

PHOTO LINKS —->>

1 Back in Bermuda  https://photos.app.goo.gl/tHIRHhlHotkwae1h1 

2 Final crossing to North Carolina   https://photos.app.goo.gl/s3gWCgpM2ACmIDUh2 

There we were on our second return trip to the U.S. East coast! Yes second try, a week before we had to abort our passage due to the weather coming off the US coast.

 

We checked out of St Georges on July 4th. The weather looked great despite localized squalls. We were all set, had Ethan, our excited Grandson aboard, we were all fueled up, plenty of food, off we went, the weather forecast was good, but turned out to be false.

After the 1st 12 hours we had encountered dreadful weather, winds up to 42.8 knots, squalls, high seas, and all coming from the south west exactly where we were trying to head in North Carolina. However we persisted as the weather according to our information was going to become settled and winds were to blow from the south. However this did not happen, we had ever increasing seas, we were having to sail very close to the wind, the going was very slow and uncomfortable. So after 48 hard hours we headed back to Bermuda.

 

We had a good-sized stainless shackle holding the jib sheet block that gave way… broke. John and I were trying to reef the jib at that the time and bang! It just went. The jib was all over the place sheets slamming and oh what a mess, of course this was at night. Then other various small breakages, lines that were chaffing, water had entered due to waves crashing right over bow and landing near the hardtop, it was practically impossible to move through the boat, it really was quite dangerous. Plus our auto pilot muscle – driving arm/mechanics was busted, so no auto. Luckily that gave way just as we limped back into St Georges harbour. The authorities were great! There they were waiting for our arrival and had been monitoring our progress. Anyway we were back in Bermuda on the 7th. Once back we found out that flights on the east coast had been cancelled due to the system we were heading into, soooo glad we headed back!

Back in Bermuda we had repairs, plus had to get new expensive auto pilot muscle flown in. We restocked ready to leave again.

Our family was really happy to have us back and we did get to go to our daughter Chrissie’s baby shower, which was just lovely.

I got to do the walk around St Georges taking pictures of the old Town. I just love St Georges!

Plus we spent one afternoon at a beach off of Paget Island with Rhianna, Gavin and Lily.

By July 15th we were off again, – no Ethan, he had enough the previous trip. The weather looked great and our first 2 days out were amazing, but not enough wind. However neither of us was complaining.

Following were 2 days that we had good sailing wind, plus bigger seas and nights with rainsqualls accompanied by thunder and lightening. We actually saw lightning striking the water off a ways, which I found very worrisome. However the seas weren’t bad and we were making good progress.

Our final day was another lovely day; blue blue skies and a good breeze lending us a nice board reach to finish our crossing. It was fantastic entering the channel – the Inter Coastal Waterway and passing under a bridge and on to the marina. Just after noon we were dockside at Morehead Yacht Basin, as suggested by John and Kay off svBad Bunny. I can honestly say, “I will NOT be doing a long passage again for a long time” I am happy to do the over nights, short hops, island to island, for now anyway.

Since arriving here in Morehead City we have been doing a massive clean up and fix up. On the passage over the engine’s regular fuel leak which had been a drip,    drip,   drip,    filling a cup a week turned into a drip, drip drip, drip, filling the same cup in a few hours. So the mechanic – Mike – told us a new fuel pump was needed. That’s one of the jobs. The list is quite long thanks to the beating we took on the 1st passage.

We have enjoyed our marina, the 1st in a year. There is everything we need, plus friendly folks and the use of the marina car.

We have borrowed the car most days to drive and get all we need and to have a quick look at the surrounding area.

We enjoyed a walk along the waterfront and through the neighborhood. It is a very nice area. Dinner out was excellent, one restaurant, “Floyds” the dish I had was amazing. Shrimp with a cheese grits side. I discovered grits are really good.

Rig heavy, reef early, and pray often; for God does not assure us an easy passage, but He does promise a safe anchorage…

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have” Eckhart Tolle

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America’s Cup, Tall Ships, J Class races, family times and fun with friends

 

PHOTO LINKS—>>America’s Cup  https://goo.gl/photos/KqPG3SoxFg17XNtD6

Tall Ships–>> https://goo.gl/photos/4kNmF1VHCGpg4E4C6 

Canada, Ethan’s Graduation —->> https://goo.gl/photos/Jhta8knd5qRpAEbC7

PHOTO LINKS below, 1st J-Class racing, 2nd our 40th anniversary –>>

 https://goo.gl/photos/FqR9UjLm3p7iQyfGA     

https://goo.gl/photos/w9cEQ2gwdBNDHPj46   

Bermuda on Aeeshah

When we first arrived in Hamilton Harbour on Aeeshah we were confused/uncertain as to where would be the best spot to keep the boat. We needed an anchorage or mooring, which afforded easy access to the shore and home. So we looked around and decided to anchor up in the islands of the Great Sound, between Nellie’s and Hawkins’s islands, until such spot could be found. For our 1st weekend the family visited and enjoyed the regular swimming. Gavin had brought his boat and Jae had brought his so we had a boat along each side of us, – that was a 1st. We had a lovely family day with swimming and early dinner.

The following weekend we moved Aeeshah to an anchorage along the north side of Long Island. Jae, Kate and May came along in our boat while Gavin met us there on his boat. Again the day was enjoyed swimming. Gavin also took a number of the family to Somerset where they enjoyed the sandy, shallows of the King’s Point area. Another early dinner together was enjoyed – an excellent day.

Meanwhile we had secured a mooring off of Hinson’s Island and a private dock along the shoreline of the mainland where we could easily and safely leave the dingy. Plus we had the loan of one of Gavin’s bikes for transport, so we were well set up.

America’s Cup racing

 

 

We visited the America’s Cup racing in the Great Sound during the 1st America’s Cup race-week; this was on the second day of racing. It is amazingly exciting to watch! The AC boats just fly! Literally fly at times, the speeds are amazing! The screech from the forces, the sight of the AC boats up in the air on their foils is incredible! We had gone out on Gavin’s boat with several others, and then Katie and Lily came along later on Will and Kathleen’s boat. However the races were quite boring for the little ones being not even 2 years old and so afterwards we went to the islands to swim. It was an exciting day out for the adults.

The following week we were out again on board Gavin’s boat, to watch the races, this time our friends John and Kay off Bad Bunny and their friends Michele and Randy came along. This day was extremely windy, it was doubtful if the boats would race, but they did…. And what exciting races they had too. It was during one of the races that Emerities pitch-poled, yep right in front of us was the turn marker and around they came and over they went. It was quite incredible to see. Oracle won that race.

Meanwhile back at the boat, John and I were heading to the house each day to do chores, mainly maintenance, John patching leaks in the roof, painting etc. I was doing cleaning, clearing and organizing, helping Chrissie who is expecting a baby boy in September. Plus we had regular appointments and such to catch up on. So it was very handy having the boat off the shoreline of Darrel’s Warf and just riding down Harbour Road and home when necessary.

We visited the America’s Cup Village during one of the first weeks of the racing. We went with our son Gavin, wife Katie, her Dad, Uncle, aunt and sons.

What and incredible set up! It really was worthwhile as we were able to wander around and appreciate the technology close up. The set up is just incredible, as my daughter Kate said, “it’s not even like being in Bermuda” To get there we caught the America’s Cup ferry and we had lunch in the Gosling’s enclosure which looked out over the finish line. However the wind died that day, so we did watch the boats practicing, but the races never happened as by then the wind was under 6 knots. Afterwards we walked to Dockyard and caught the regular ferry back to Hamilton. Another excellent day!

 

The Tall Ships

The Tall Ships arrived in Bermuda and were docked in Hamilton. We went to the Harbour Nights street festival where they were along side. Our daughter Chrissie, – Island Fusion – was also set up as one of the vendors selling her fused glass jewelry. We walked the length of Front Street looking at all the stalls and of course at the tall ships. It was a fun evening.

When the Tall Ships left Hamilton there was a parade of sail along the North shore. John and I first had a close up look at the Tall Ships by taking a dingy ride in Hamilton Harbour. Then we went with Gavin on his boat, along with our daughter Chrissie, friends Kay and John off Bad Bunny and Gavin’s fellow photographer Becky to follow, photograph and watch the parade of sail along the North shore. It was a wonderful day, the weather was just perfect, these Tall Ships under sail are magnificent! Again an excellent day out on the water!

 

Ethan’s graduation

The time arrived for me to travel with Gavin, Katie, (son and daughter in law) Lily and Rhianna, (Granddaughters) to Canada to attend, (Grandson) Ethan’s Graduation from Pickering College in Ontario, Canada. We flew out on the Thursday, had 2 cars, as there were a few of us and plenty of baby gear and stayed in a large rental house.

 

On arriving Gavin, Rhianna and I quickly got ready to attend a reception for the graduate’s families. We were a bit late arriving, which was fine as we only missed the drinks and snacks. However we were in time for the special presentation and awards. All of which was very entertaining and really helped with understanding the atmosphere of Pickering. The school was founded by Quakers and is still run on the Quaker principles.

The following day we had to be ready for an 11:00 start to the graduation. It was held in the school auditorium and we were lucky to get seats halfway from the front. There was the processional with all the faculty filing in, followed by the graduates. After which there were various speeches, the award of certificates of graduation, the valedictorian speech, which was excellent, further speeches and the school hymn. Overall it was an excellent ceremony, which lasted 3 hours, but really was very interesting.

Following the graduation there was the throwing of hats on the front stairs and refreshments in the cafeteria. I must say the refreshments were excellent!

That evening we all went out to dinner to an excellent Oriental restaurant, which served a huge buffet of amazing foods.

Our final day was Katie’s birthday. We went to Newmarket, which was the small town where the school was located. There we had an excellent breakfast and then wandered around. It is a lovely town and it just happened to have a Gay Pride march on, plus a farmer’s market and an artisans market. We spent the morning meandering the markets, pond side and pathways. The weather was excellent and we had a wonderful morning.

On the Sunday we were back to Bermuda arriving on Father’s Day. It had been arranged to have a Father’s Day/Birthday celebration at Gavin’s that later afternoon. There we all had a very nice evening together.

J Class racing

It was really the final week of all the sailing that followed. We went to the J Class races off of the North shore. Off in Gavin’s boat we went along with our friends John and Kay again. Watching the J Class sailboats was thrilling. They are just amazingly huge classic sailboats that are so very elegant when under full sail. It was a lovely day watching the races and quite nerve racking when the boats were hard under sail and crossing each other’s way when tacking.

The final week the Red Bull races concluded, Bermuda did very well as the beginners! Plus the America’s Cup was battled out between Oracle and Emirates teams. We did see some of the finals from a distance, but with Emirates way ahead it was a foregone conclusion that they would win. The really amazing spectacle was all of the hundreds of spectator boats including mega yachts across the Great Sound watching the racing.

40th Anniversary celebration

Katie and Gavin held a 40th Wedding anniversary celebration for John and I at their house. It was for just family and our close friends. Again an excellent evening! They had organized our favourite Indian restaurant to supply curries, our daughter Chrissie did decorations and the weather was perfect. Everybody had a fun relaxing time.

Meanwhile John and I have completed just about every chore we had been challenged with during our time on island. And our time was just about over as July was looming which meant time to move on to the East coast of the USA.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. – Anais Nin

When you are grateful – when you can see what you have – you unlock blessings to flow into your life. – Size Orman

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Aeeshah’s Passage to Bermuda

 

PHOTO LINK —->>>   https://goo.gl/photos/kB4Luroc3zWj5gycA 

Boot Key, Marathon to …..

The time arrived for us to start to head to Bermuda,

so on the morning of May 5th we left Boot Key. We had heard over the radio the warning of some approaching showers, possible squalls, but John was confident all was fine. Once outside Boot Key Harbour we could see large black clouds approaching, then we could hear the distant sound of thunder.

We were heading downwind with the main and jib out, but as the wind increased we brought in the jib, just in case…About an hour into our trip the black clouds had caught us and were right on top when WHAM! The wind just blew hard out of the opposing direction sending the main slamming kablam into a jibe, thank goodness for the preventer! This was short lasted as the wind came around again to behind us and just blew hard from downwind. There wasn’t much rain but the wind reached 42 knots and there was still distant thunder rumbeling, we really only just had a glancing blow from this “front” that passed over.

The winds decreased and we motor sailed to the Key Largo area, 49 miles in 8 hours. We anchored on the north side of the key in gusty conditions. During that night we were awakened twice by the anchor alarm, once was a false alarm with just a wind shift. The second time was the real alarm, our anchor was dragging and we were heading towards the shallows. So we attempted to re-anchor and finally found a spot on the south side of the key where it was more sheltered.

The next day the 6th May we really did every imaginable job on the boat in order to make her ready for the up-co0ming crossing to Bermuda. I basically stripped any loose items and packed them snugly into the bow cabin. The wind changed again so we moved once again into the inside – north side of the key, finally finding another spot to anchor.

May 7th the wind was still blowing with too much north, so we delayed leaving, until noon. Then we set off for Bermuda.

It was a really lovely day, the waters were beautiful, the breeze was perfect, we saw dolphins jumping around the boat, the colours were just wonderful blues, turquoise and greens.

Off towards the North Bahamas coast we sailed due to the direction of the winds. However as the afternoon progressed so did the wind increase and as we were by this time in the Gulf Stream, the wave size mounted higher and higher as the wind was against the current of the Gulf Stream. It became quite rough so we altered our course to head more towards Bimini and out of the main flow of the Gulf Stream.

Sometime around 11:30pm when I was “sleeping” in the aft cabin, I was awakened by John who was exiting the engine room with a cup, which he said was oil, but not to worry as he had everything under control. About 20 minutes later there he was again, this time with a full pint cup of oil, but again John reassured me all was fine. However just a short while after that he was again in the engine compartment the entrance that opens into the shower and he said I’d better go up top to help out as we had a big problem.

Well it turned out that an oil pipe had broken/cracked and we had an oil leak. As the wind had died we had been motor sailing, but now we turned off the engine while John attempted to fix the leak. Another problem was we were just off Fort Lauderdale, the second busiest cruise ship port in the world, and yes, there were cruise ships all around us. We had to contact several cruise ships to warn them of our position.

John was in the engine room with the stinking hot engine trying to fix a leak while I was in the cockpit keeping watch and starting the engine when instructed, with a large swell rolling the boat all over, and cruise ships stalking us.

Wellll, the pipe then broke right off and the engine sprayed oil all over the engine room and into the shower area….what a mess!! So now John had to try to rig a fix of this pipe. He tried plugging it with various homemade plugs, but they all blew out again spaying oil everywhere each time. Nothing was working, and then John saw we did not have any oil pressure! No oil pressure means no working engine. It was nearly 4 in the morning by then, so with nothing we could do we gave up and drifted along in the Gulf Stream.

By morning we had contacted home using our sat phone, to tell one and all we thought the trip was cancelled. We contacted some friends in Florida to ask about the best place to make for to get engine repairers or as John thought a new engine. We were very sad, so depressed. We rested and drifted in the Gulf Stream trying to head for the Florida coast.

Around lunchtime, after some sleep,  John decided to have one last go. As the engine was cold he took off the whole piece which the pipe was on, plugged the hole with some epoxy we had, let it dry, filled the engine with a whole lot of oil we had on board and crossed our fingers it would work. Turning on the engine there was a slight flutter in the oil gauge, which told us we did actually have oil pressure, which was excellent news. John fed the engine as much oil as needed, started her up and voila we had oil pressure, the plug held and we were back on course. All we didn’t have was an engine alarm as it had been dismantled, so we had to constantly watch the oil pressure if the engine was running, while on watch. It was such a relief to be back underway!

By this time it was May 8th, late afternoon, we had lost about 18 hours, but never mind, we were on the way again.

The following days and nights had winds of 10 – 15 knots or less, the seas were rolling swells, the skies were beautiful blue with white fluffy clouds, just lovely weather. At times the sea was so calm it was glassy and the sky and ocean blended together with no horizon being seen. We were just averaging about 5 knots, which meant we would take longer to get to Bermuda, but as it was so comfortable, we didn’t care.

There then followed a couple of days with semi overcast conditions, it was misty at night, the wind did increase and with it the seas and it became quite rough making moving below deck or trying to stay in bed quite challenging, however, we didn’t really mind as we were over halfway home.

While out we had a wonderful full moon, saw dolphins, had Longtails – Bermuda tropic Birds flying around Aeeshah, saw Portuguese Men Of War and lots of seaweed, life was very peaceful each day just blending through the night into the next day. At night we found there were a surprising number of ships, several we had to contact, one of which we couldn’t see his lights but knew from the radar was close.

Bermuda…..

On the morning of May 16th, 9 days after we started I saw Bermuda in the distance. It was just a wonderful feeling to actually be heading home. Both John and I were overjoyed and very proud of our achievement.

We sailed along the Southshore, our daughter Kate saw us from just below Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. We had been in contact with Bermuda Radio and welcomed home.

As we approached the Eastern end we could see other sailboats approaching too, we had not seen even 1 when we were crossing, now we could see over 8 others arriving too on slightly different courses. Through the Towne Cut we went and over to HMS Customs at Ordinance Island to check in.

After 9 days, 2 hours, we had arrived…. From Key Largo, Florida we had travelled 955.2 miles at an average speed of 4.3 knots, very slow, but we arrived!

That evening we just rested, enjoying being at anchor where the boat was steady and not rolling, we crashed out and slept for nearly 12 hours.

Gavin our son, visited the next morning bringing us some odds and ends we needed. We wandered around St Georges enjoying walking on land. We got our data set up and started the huge tidy up. Everything that had been packed away needed to be unpacked, the boat needed cleaning inside out and we had a huge amount of laundry.

Our daughter Kate with baby May and partner Jae visited that evening having dinner with us. It was lovely to see May who was now over a year old, walking and starting to talk. We had a very nice, simple barbeque dinner.

The following day was again another of cleaning, sorting and unpacking. Our daughter Chrissie visited us for lunch and a few hours aboard, she is now 5 month pregnant. Again we enjoyed walking around St. Georges. It is such a scenic, historic, town.

Then it was time to move to Hamilton, so off we set along the Northshore to find an anchorage in the vicinity of Hamilton.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end” – Ursula K. Le Guin

Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it. – Pema Chodron

 

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