Our Day On Staniel Cay

Earlier this week, we ventured over to Staniel Cay for the day. There are few options to dock your dingy on the island. You can pay to dock it at the yacht club, but the logistics of our dingy make that difficult. The public beach next to the yacht club is available for free, but you have to anchor off shore and wade in..hmmm. The general store that we visited earlier in the week has a dock behind it, but it’s reserved for their patrons.

There are several places on the island that rent golf carts, the general store being one of them. The idea of a golf cart was fun, and we would also have the most hassle free dockage. We again tied up at the dock behind Isles General, were given a golf cart, and told that there was a battery charger under the back seat should we need it. Hmm…people use golf carts for long periods of time (like playing 18 holes of golf) without needing to charge a battery, but oh well. We were off and running..

We first did a spin through “town,” which consisted of the yacht club, two other restaurants, a church, a clinic and two more grocery stores; the “blue” store and the “pink” store are literally right next to each other.

Pink Store

Blue Store

When getting our golf cart, we’d asked about buying fresh bread. We were told to check at the yellow house, before the blue store. We found the yellow house, just before the blue store like they told us. I expected some kind of bakery, with a sign, but this was definitely someone baking out of their house.

I poked my head into the open side door (of someone’s house) and gave a hello. A woman appeared behind us with a big smile, and asked if we wanted bread. We had a choice of either white or coconut, we chose white. She pulled a saran wrapped loaf off of a shelf, where it sat between her paper goods and various other things. I blocked out the condition of said kitchen where I assumed this bread was baked, paid her 7.00 and we went on our way (the bread, by the way, is terrific!). I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll go into someone’s home for what we need.

We continued on, stopping at the “wholesale” liquor store and laundry, where we bought beer and then to the Atlantic side of the island. There are really big houses being built there, complete with ocean views on one side, protected piers on the other, clubhouse, etc. I’m sure this island will look very different in the coming years.

As we continued on, we quickly realized why we were given a charger. Our battery was obviously on the older side, and wasn’t going to last us the entire day. Our golf cart had really hard time on inclines. This was a frustrating, as the hills here are not big by any means. Big, four-wheel drive-type carts would pass right by us, making Scott crazy. We’d rented the cart at 9:30, and by 11:00 we were at a quarter charge, and on the Atlantic side of the island. We decided to head to the yacht club for lunch and a plug-in.

All routes back to the west side of island involved a hill. We chose the one with what seemed to be the smaller hill. Once up that hill, our only road took us up another, bigger hill. Yeesh. Scott got out and walked to the top of the hill to make sure that there was a public road on the other side, and not someone’s private, do-not-enter driveway (this had happened before).

By now, our battery light was blinking, meaning that we were on borrowed time. Trying to save every bit of usable juice we had, Scott got out and pushed, while I floored the gas pedal (ha…if we only had gas!). We just made it up the hill without rolling backward, and Scott got his cardio for the day!

We paused at the top. Scott caught his breath, and we took advantage of the views.

The term “road” was used loosely, for the route down on the other side of the hill. It was a steep decline, made up of ruts and large stones. In addition to being power-challenged, our gimpy little golf cart also lacked good breaks…on a flat surface. The whole way down this stupid “road,” I was terrified that we’d blow one of the tires (which were low on air, so maybe that was harder to do), break an axle or just plain flip over. I prayed that disaster would happened sooner than later. Flipping at a slower speed meant less chance of death.

By the time we reached the bottom, the poor cart was rattling to beat the band. The road bottomed out into a big puddle from the previous night’s downpour, and veered hard right, toward the road to town. Thankfully, no one was coming or going, and Scott mercifully missed the lake-like puddle as we careened to the main road. At this point, I considered an entire liquid lunch. I hoped that their beer was cold.

We literally coasted into the yacht club, and were shown were to plug in (no one around us was plugged in, because their carts worked!).


Our lunch in the bar at Staniel Cay Yacht Club was great (I decided to add solids to my liquid lunch). The James Bond movie, Thunderball, was filmed throughout the Bahamas, and underwater scenes were shot right near the yacht club in Thunderball grotto. There are photos on the wall of the cast, hanging out at the bar. The yacht club has been around since the late 50s, and seemed to be quite the hangout in the 60s. It’s polished up a bit since then, but still has a great atmosphere.

So we’ve eaten lunch, had some beer and cooled off. It was time to check the battery. On the way, we stopped to see the nurse sharks at the sea wall. The yacht club feeds them, and some were sizable.

Back to the cart. The battery was still blinking bars for “empty.” It was time for a trade in. We managed to get back to the general store, having to push up a small hill along the way. They close from 12-2 for lunch, but we lucked out and found the man who had helped us in the morning behind the counter. We explained our dilemma, and he brought us a replacement cart to use for the rest of the afternoon.

It soon became clear that we had gotten his best cart the first time. This poor thing had an even harder time going up hill. It also made a random, scary, shuddering noise. Determined to see the ocean, we continued on. When we found the ocean path, Scott backed the poor cart up the path as far as it would go…until it stalled. I was now sure that we’d either have to walk back to the other side of the island, or spend the night right where we were. Luckily, we’d had a huge lunch and I had brought plenty of bug spray with me, so we were good either way.

We followed the rest of the path to the ocean over look. The views were beautiful, and we were glad to not be traveling out in it. There were white caps out as far as you could see.

When we returned to the cart, it had half a charge, and she thankfully started up for us. We headed back to the yacht club for another drink, and another shot at a better charge. Here’s our second, even sadder ride.

After some mango daiquiris, we gave in and decided to head for the general store. I wanted to make a stop at the blue store along the way, and it was getting close to sunset.

We coaxed the cart up the ant hill of an incline to get to the blue store. This one was half the size of the general store, not offering hardware or auto parts. I grabbed some fresh stuff for salad, more milk, some Ramen noodles and Scott added some cookies to the pile. Here’s the scale the the woman used to weigh my tomatoes. Scott loved it.

We drifted down the ant hill and back onto the main road. There was one more hill that we had to get up, to get to the general store. So once again, I floored it while Scott pushed the even bigger cart up the hill. The cart shuddered it’s way into the general store lot, and we left her to die. All in all, it was a fun way to see the island, and was worth the hassle and the heavy breathing.

On our way home, we stopped at the yacht club’s fuel dock, for gas. They are the only location on the island that offers fuel, and regularly run out! We’d heard on the vhf radio (aka island phone) that they currently had fuel so we stopped. It was comical how high the fuel dock was.

We paid for our 5.35 a gallon to fill the tanks for the Aluminum Princess and then headed back to the boat. Quite a day!

Here are the rest of our Staniel Cay photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”












Lobster, Lobster, Lobster!

This week has been quiet. Aside from our trip through the mangroves on Monday (you can see our path on the Where Are We Now page), Scott’s done a lot of snorkeling and spearing of lobsters, which has made for yummy lunches! We’ve also been doing the  usual, boat maintenance and assorted projects (painting and varnishing).

Scott has been waiting to get a chance at spear fishing, and he’s finally gotten his chance here in the Berry Islands. He ventured out on Tuesday, and here is his day’s catch:

The conch shell was beautiful, and temping to keep.

We really wanted a conch shell that we’d found on our own, but neither of us wanted to attempt to get the conch out…ick. So we tossed it back.

But all in all, a good catch!

Scott is now on a mission to hone his new found spearing skills on some fish. Unfortunately, the fish and lobster seem to move around daily. We think that they are trying to stay one step ahead of the many jet skis that buzz around the wrecks that are near us.

There is a private island for Royal Caribbean in sight, just to the north. When the ship is anchored, there is a flurry of activity: parasailing, glass bottom boat tours and jet skis. Luckily, only the jet skis come in our general direction. We mainly see boats taking workers back and forth between the ship and Bullocks Harbour here.

We went to dinner in town, at Cooliemae’s. Her restaurant sits up on a high hill, with a great view of the sunset..and our boat at anchor!

On Wednesday, we planned to go to the Atlantic side of the island and anchor there. The water here is very clear, but it’s a greenish color, reflecting the grasses on the bottom. After our trip to the beach, and seeing the gorgeous blue water (comes from a sandy bottom), Scott wanted to change locations. We started out, but the head sea became too uncomfortable (head seas are the worst), so we turned around to wait for a better window.

On Friday, we took the Aluminum Princess to the dock at Bullock’s Harbour and went for a walk through town. There are just a few businesses scattered around the area: three very small grocery stores, a police station, a hardware store and the government building which houses the post office, clinic, and court offices. Of course there are also three or four bars and take away stores, where you can get something simple to eat and a cold freezer beer! These Bahamians are geniuses! We ducked in more than one, to try and cool off during our sweaty walk…freezer beer hit the spot.

Tomorrow morning, we plan to try again for an anchorage on the Atlantic side. It will take 5-7 hours, depending on the waves and our speed. Going into a head sea tends to slow us down, adding time to the journey. We’re leaving at 5 am, so fingers crossed we get there without too much banging around. Here are a few photos from this week.

Catch of the week: Lobsters! And a catch and release conch.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Fort Lauderdale Tidbits

We have heard that Fort Lauderdale is referred to as the “Venice of America,” so we decided to spend a day on the local water taxi, taking it in. The water taxi service here is extensive, with several routes and transfers. We paid one price and rode all day, from 11am – 10pm.

We boarded the first taxi right near our marina and headed south, passing the mammoth preparations for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. There are three miles of temporary piers being put in place at our marina, extending south through three more marinas. truckloads of pier sections are coming in several times a day, to be put in place by crane. The marina piers are extended north and south, and also west, into the Intracoastal, cutting the size in half! I cannot imagine the malay of boats trying to get through that shrunken path!

All of the boats currently in these marinas have to vacate, so that show boats can be brought in. It takes over a month to prepare and set up, and they tell us that it comes down in three days! The show brings in 300 billion dollars in boats, and half a billion dollars in revenue for the city. Scott and I would love to be in a hotel room in the area with a balcony, so we could watch the comings and goings. It’s got to be a zoo.

Farther south, we passed the largest boat currently in Fort Lauderdale.

Infinity is 287 feet long, and is rumored to have been purchased by the owner of a “Marine” hardware store. We were told that it won’t be near the largest when the show starts.

Just before the inlet we changed taxis, to catch one going south to Hollywood. We stayed at the marina there on our way north in 2008, and had planned to stay there again this time, but they were full. The taxi allowed us to spend some time on their “broadwalk,” made of concrete pavers.

The ride south was about 45 minutes, and took us past the Port Everglades and several parks. There were four cruise ships in port when we went past. We were told that in peak cruise season, there are more like ten docked here. Royal Caribbean owns the two largest cruise ships, that both dock here. They are currently building one even larger, and will keep that one here as well, bumping Port Everglades up to the largest cruise ship port in the world (edging out Miami).

In Hollywood, we checked out the new Margaritaville Beach Resort.It was really nice, complete with a margarita glass chandelier and a “blown out” flip flop.

There are several bars and restaurants, named after Jimmy Buffett songs, two pools; a “Flow Rider,” for waverunners and boogie boards; a spa; day care and of course a gift shop! Jimmy Buffett has one great marketing team! Check out the website.

After wandering through his resort, we were good and hungry. We wandered down the broadwalk until we spied the Taco Spot….sold! The food, and sangria, were terrific. With full bellies, we wandered around a bit, and then back to our taxi stop to head north.

We transferred taxis back near the inlet, and got on one that took us north, toward the New River. Along that route, we passed the current home of Wayne Huizenga.

Wayne has started three Fortune 500 companies: Waste Management (yes, all of those dump trucks you see across the US are his); they say that the WM stands for “Wayne’s Money;”  Blockbuster Video, with his nephew and AutoNation owned. He was the initial owner of  the Florida Marlins baseball team, the Florida Panthers hockey team. At one time, he also owned 50% of the Miami Dolphins.

He has purchased several homes along the Intracoastal here, and given them to family members. His current house, above, has a movie theater, bowling alley, and guest house. The pagoda has stairs that go up to a hot tub on the second level. Bells in the top play over 100 tunes.

We transferred taxis again, to a smaller one that took us a bit farther up the New River. The river is narrow and winding, with all sizes of boats using the channel, and again…more bridges. I guess this is the status quo around here. We got off at a few stops and walked around, and then made our way back to transfer to our final taxi of the day, which would take us back to our original stop.

It was now getting dark, and we were enjoying the evening scenery. The weather was comfortable and our taxi had an upper deck, giving us great views of the area. We decided to stay on and ride to the end of the route. getting get off at our stop on the taxi’s final trip south.

The taxi was a great way for us to see the area, not having a car. On the road, we’d have missed all of the huge houses and boats on the water. It was also fun to learn some local knowledge about Fort Lauderdale.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Our Week In St. Augustine

We have spent the last week on a mooring ball in St. Augustine. When we passed through on our way south in 2008, we had a great time, and wanted to stay longer this time around.

We arrived on Monday afternoon, checked in with the dockmaster and relaxed for the evening. On Tuesday, we cleaned up the boat and prepared for a visit from our friends Larry and Lena. Scott found Larry two years ago, on an online trawler forum. He and his wife, Lena, have been living aboard and cruising on Hobo, another 42′ Krogen. They have a paravane system that Scott wanted for Sea Life, so he flew down to Jacksonville, Fl. and drew up plans to install our paravanes based on Larry and Lena’s. He hit it off with them, and has kept in touch over the last two years.

Scott met them onshore, and brought them to the boat by dingy. We spend several hours visiting, and exchanging boat information. We also picked their brains for cruising tips, as they have spent years circumnavigating the globe, visiting 46 countries! After our visit, Scott and I walked through town, and stopped for happy hour at the White Lion…1.25 draft beer!

On Wednesday we rented a car, and had another day of errands and store stops. While we had a car, Scott wanted to locate Sailors Exchange. A marine thrift store that he’d heard was in the area. We searched online, and came up with an address that led us to an industrial location, full of stuff piled everywhere

Scott poked around a bit, and then we found out that this was a warehouse for the actual store, which was just a few miles away….so off we went. The store was unbelievable. Before we even got inside. Scott spent time in the vast amount of stuff they had outside in the parking lot

We made our way inside, to sensory overload for any mariner or boater. Scott had a hard time taking it all in. We wandered through the place for quite awhile. I couldn’t believe all the things they had in there…even a reading room!

After our field trip to Sailors Exchange, we pulled up to a load/unload spot in front of the marina, loaded all of our stuff into a dock cart, wheeled the dock cart to our dingy and loaded it in, took the dock cart back, took things to the boat and unloaded, put groceries away, dingyed back to the dock and car, and returned rental car…..whew! We shared a grouper dinner and drinks at OC Whites, right near the marina, and then headed back to the boat for the evening.

Thursday was boat day. We stayed onboard and worked on various jobs and projects. On Friday we stayed onboard again, due to a strong cold front that passed through, bringing steady 25 knots through the mooring field all day. The howling of the wind, and the constant chop of the water became really unnerving, but we reminded ourselves that this front was keeping Joaquin at bay. We’d rather be tolerate this, than dealing with 130 mph winds; we watched a six hour miniseries.

On Saturday, we met my friend, Kevin, for lunch. He’d met us in Fernandina Beach, and had time to drive down from Jacksonville again, which was great! We had lunch, drinks and fun conversation, and then he headed back north, to retrieve his dogs from day care, before they were locked in for the night. Thanks so much for taking time to meet us twice, Kev!

Scott and I continued to wander around St. George Street, and ended the day with pizza from Pizza Time. If you are in a 50 mile drive of this place….GO! The pizza is amazing! They make their own sauce, and are very generous with the fresh toppings. Along with a slice of white and a slice of margarita, we also tried eggplant and lasagna!

Yesterday we met Larry and Lena again, for lunch in town. We shared burgers and a few hours of conversation, before they headed home. Thanks to them as well, for  making the drive to visit us!

We went back to the boat, so I could do a load of laundry and hang it out to dry. Then we headed of for a walk across the Bridge of Lions, and to the Conch House. We’d seen an ad for it in one of the local magazines, and it looked interesting to us. After leaving the boat, and getting to shore, we realized we’d left our phones onboard, with the directions on how to get there. So, we went back to the 1980’s, and just figured it out as we went!

The Conch House has great atmosphere, their website doesn’t do it justice. They have a restaurant, dock bar, hotel and marina. A lot of attention to detail was put into it, and the place has a great feel.

It was Reggae Sunday, which is what drew us there. They had good drink specials, and the beer was cold (for those of you who know me, that’s a big deal)! We spent a few hours listening to the music, watching the crowd and wandering around admiring the details.

Before it got dark, we walked back to town and went back to Pizza Time for more pizza! We had a few slices for dinner, followed by some gelato, and then ordered a whole pizza to take back to the boat with us. It’ll make for yummy lunches, while we make our way farther south this week! The thing weighed a ton. It was too big to fit in the box, so some of the crust was folded over! We walked it back to the marina, took our dingy back to the boat, and prepared to head south in the morning.

Here are the photos of our week in St. Augustine. Boaters will enjoy the additional pictures of Sailors Exchange.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Our Tour Of Charleston

<< Previous | Next >>

Yesterday, we took a two hour walking tour of the city with John, from Charleston Strolls. We learned quite a bit:

Charleston (Charles Towne) was named after King Charles of England. He gave all of the land south of Virginia, north of Florida, and west to the Pacific to his eight best friends. Pretty great of him, considering he didn’t own the land! The friends originally settled up the Ashley River, which borders Charleston to the west. The mosquitoes wreaked havoc on them, with yellow fever and such, so they moved down river to Charleston city.

The city was originally walled, for protection from Indians, pirates and the Spanish. It was one of three walled cities in the region at the time: Charleston was the British walled city, Quebec was the French walled city and St. Augustine was the Spanish walled city.

People of any and all religions were free to live and practice in Charleston, as long as they paid their taxes. The money went to fund King Charles’s church, St. Phillip’s Episcopal. In the 1700s, the church was badly damaged by a hurricane, and a second St. Phillip’s was built just a short distance away. Less than fifty years after it’s opening, the congregation at St. Phillip’s grew so much, that St. Michael’s episcopal was built at Meeting and Broad streets, the original location of St. Phillip’s.

Charleston was the nation’s capital of the slave trade, the place where many of those enslaved people first landed in the New World. About 40 percent of enslaved Africans brought into the country passed through Charleston Harbor. The city was built on slave labor and, for nearly 200 years, thrived under a slave economy.

Considered the grandfather of long grain rices in the Americas, Carolina Gold rice became a commercial staple in the coastal areas of Charleston. Originally seeded in Madagascar, it’s a delicate,  non-aromatic rice with “chameleon” starch properties that allow it to mimic creamy risotto or sticky Asian-style rice, depending on how it is cooked. It brought fortunes to those who produced it. Most of the big houses in Charleston’s Battery were built by those owning rice plantations.

There are nine or so cobblestone streets left in the city. One of which was once called “Labor Lane.” Women would be driven up and down it in a horse drawn cart, in hopes if inducing labor. Not sure of the success rate.

Traditionally, houses in Charleston were only one room wide, and extended back several rooms. This allowed you to open up the windows on each side of the house, and get breezes from the water moving more easily through the house. People spent a lot of time on their porches, or piazzas as they are called here. They were used for eating dinner, entertaining or sleeping in the hot summer evenings.

Kitchens were separate from the main house, and built of brick, to help prevent the house from catching fire. As servants brought food to the main house, dogs would bark and jump up, trying and get to it. The servants would toss the dogs little balls of fried cornmeal to keep them quite….hush puppies! (we have heard of this in more than one southern town)

Elliott Street was the red light district in old Charleston. In the 1700’s, the women who worked the area were made to wear red shoes to distinguish them from the “proper” women of Charleston.

Baskets made of sweetgrass have been part of the Charleston area for more than 300 years. Brought to the area by slaves who came from West Africa, this basket making is an art form which has been passed on from generation to generation. Today, it is one of the oldest art forms of African origin in the United States. Charleston, and some areas around it are the only places where this particular type of basketry is done outside of Africa.

Functional baskets for everyday living were made by women. They were used for bread, fruits, sewing, clothes, storage, etc., and made from the softer, pliable sweetgrass because of its pleasant fragrance, similar to the smell of fresh hay. The baskets are very labor-intensive to make, and therefore very pricey. They were beautiful, but out of our budget.

After the tour, we rode our bikes to Harris Teeter, and parked them there for a grocery run. But first, we called an Uber cab to take us to TACO BOY! Scott found out that they have a Charleston location, and he had to have more tacos, so off we went.

We enjoyed the same great food and atmosphere, and then headed back to Harris Teeter for a small food run. Several evenings before, we met our favorite Uber driver, Corbin, who spent many years in Baltimore! We used his club card number, so he could get the gas points that Harris Teeter offers in Charleston. From there, we biked with our groceries back across the peninsula to our boat, where we unloaded and prepared for our am departure south.

Here are a few photos from our stay in Charleston.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Catching Up In Charleston

<< Previous | Next >>

We’ve been here in Charleston since Wednesday am, and it’s been a low key week so far.

After having dinner out on Wednesday evening, we didn’t leave the marina for the next two days. Thursday was mostly a rain out, and Friday wasn’t too much better for most of the day. We used the time to clean the boat.  I worked inside, and Scott did outside, washing the ocean salt off of Sea Life. I also did laundry, and spend hours, and hours and hours pouring over our refit photos to post them. We have spent time with others who are here at the marina. And have enjoyed meeting the locals.

On Saturday am, we rode our bikes to the Charleston Farmers Market. It’s spread out in Marion Square, a park in downtown Charleston. They had several farmers’ stalls, as well as crafts and food. We bought some delicious soda from Cannonborough Beverage Company. It’s made in Charleston, and the flavors are awesome. We had Grapefruit Elderflower…tae-sty! They will soon be shipping their yummy, fresh-tasting soda, so check them out!

Aside from the soda, we bought some fresh ravioli, vodka sauce, veggies and some pastries. After we were through shopping, we grabbed something to eat at one of the food stands, and went to watch some break dancers that were performing. You may be poo-pooing the idea of break dancers, and so would I, but some of these guys were really terrific. We watched one of them do a back flip, and jump over seven people!

Late Sunday afternoon, we did a short pub crawl, visiting the Blind Tiger Pub, Tommy Condon’s and The Griffon. They all have a great atmosphere, and we enjoyed scenic walk to each one, cutting down alley ways, and peering down scenic gated walkways.

Yesterday, we rented a car and made stops at Home Depot, West Marine, Petco, etc Once our errands were finished, we found ourselves 20 minutes from Folly Beach, so we headed there for lunch.

Folly Beach is a great little beach town. It sits just south of Charleston, and is made up of approximately 18 miles of land and 6 miles of water. There are only two hotels to speak of, the rest are inns and private rentals. Route 171 is the town’s main drag, and has a perfect amount and mix of beach stores, shops and restaurants (all with great outside seating). In addition to renting bicycles, you can also rent golf carts….this earns a big nod from Scott! There is also a terrific fishing pier, complete with rod holders, cleaning stations with sinks and an elevated viewing level.

We started our visit by stuffing ourselves at Taco Boy. The food here is fantastic!

Taco Boy - Folly Beach, SC, United States. Taco Boy (Folly Beach, SC)

Taco Boy - Folly Beach, SC, United States. Front of the bar area

From there, we walked around the corner to the Surf Bar. It was a neat, dive-looking place, and I was anxious to check it out. Sadly, they open at 4 pm, so we kept walking. Our next stop was Rita’s Seaside Grill, where Steve made us some delicious drinks! They use a lot  of fresh juices in their drinks, and unusual ingredients (honeysuckle vodka…yum!), and the end result is great. We didn’t eat here, due to our Taco Boy stuffing, but it smelled terrific there.

After leaving Rita’s, we walked out onto the fishing pier which stretches way out over the ocean. There were many people fishing all along the pier and at the end of it.

Scott and I walked to the end of the pier, and up onto the observation level, before heading back to our car. We drove back to Charleston, with a plan to return to Folly Beach in the future, for a longer stay!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Our First Ocean Leg: Beaufort, North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina

<< Previous | Next >>

Please forgive me, this one is long. A lot of hours and details to cover…settle in.

Our ocean journey took us out of the Beaufort inlet, and then straight for a point off of Cape Fear, where we would make a turn to put us in another straight line before making the turn toward Charleston inlet and harbor.

I started out planning to document our ocean journey every so often, save it in  my lap top, and then just upload it to the blog when were in internet range again. It was a good idea, just not feasible at the end of the trip. Here’s what I started with:

6:30 am: We planned to leave at the first crack of light on the 15th. When the first crack of light came, it became clear that we weren’t the only ones with this plan. Two others boat near us fired up their motors, and other stuff went past the docks as well (ferries, fishing boats, etc). We waited until the big guys left, to avoid them passing us while pushing a wall of water in front of them, and leaving a painful wake.

7:00 am: The Beaufort inlet is very wide, much more so than what I’m used to in Ocean City, MD. And, thankfully, there is much less traffic coming out to fish. We are currently officially in the ocean, and things are good!

7:30 am: At 6 am, I gave Howard something to “calm” him, and hopefully prevent nausea, as we’ll get more “roll-ly” toward the end of the day. At first, It took the edge off enough that he wanted to walk around, jump up onto the “dashboard” area of the helm, go downstairs to look for food (he can’t have any for 6 hours), wander around the saloon and jump up onto the counters. All while wobbling around, and just missing falling and cracking his head. He is now fighting a coma sleep, with much eye squinting.

8:00 am: We are currently in one foot waves and 3-4 foot swells. There are almost always swells in the ocean, caused by far away winds. We don’t have any weather to speak of where we are, but weather happening farther north drives the swells south. This happens all over the ocean. In addition, local wind causes waves to develop on top of, and along with the swells. For the moment, this swell/wave combination is very tolerable.

12:26 pm: My 7 hour watch started at noon. I took a nap for about an hour, while Scott was on watch. Trying to sleep is a bit weird. The rolling motion below is  not completely from one side or another. Compounded by the noise of the waves and water down below, it was unnerving.  At Scott’s recommendation, I laid diagonally in the bed, to try an offset my movement. I wasn’t rolling all over the place, but  definitely moved. I didn’t get into a deep sleep, it was more of an in-and-out nap-state. It would have to do, because I wanted to allow enough time to wake up and go over some things with Scott, before my watch.

When I came up, Scott was munching on pasta salad, and watching a movie. Since there are no immediate things to watch for, this is completely feasible. He’ll watch for 20 minutes or so, and then pause it, to check horizon, instruments, radar, etc. He showed me what to be aware of on the radar, and we set up our two way radios, so I could wake him up if needed, without going downstairs. He went off to sleep, and I’m with Howard, who is now in a full-on coma.

Ok, so the thought/sight of the water depth and distance from shore that I was concerned about is not affecting me, which is great. So far, the movement is very tolerable. Every few minutes, swell and wave sync up, and we do a pretty good roll from side to side. We have the doors on either side of the pilot house open for ventilation, and there is considerable surf noise; makes sense, considering we’re rolling around and traveling through water!

The water color is gorgeous blue, with maybe a tinge of green. I’m sure our photos won’t do it justice. The color of the surf at our side, and in our wake is pure white, unlike the tea-brown of the Chesapeake. The Dismal Swamp was brown, but that was from tannins in the water. The good old mid–upper bay color is from pure ick. The water is also really, really clear. You don’t notice how clear, until some brown sea grass floats by (again, pretty brown), and it just pops in the clarity of the water.

We, especially Scott, are seeing a ton of flying fish out here. They are almost translucent in color, and their wings flap like some kind of remote control toy. Sometimes whole schools jump off to our side. They can really get some distance.

I have seen two boats pass us on the horizon, so we’re not the only ones out here. So far….ok.

That’s all I was able to “pre record.” Here’s the rest:

My watch was pretty uneventful. I got used to the rolling, which varied from side-to-side, to corner-to corner and back to front; it was never severe or jerky. As I mentioned before, there isn’t anything immediate to watch for. We only had to make two or three course changes, and there was little to no other boat traffic. What there was, never got closer than the horizon.

This made it very easy to leave the pilot house to use the bathroom, make something to eat or drink, etc. I also used the laptop to pour through our refit pictures (which will be added to the blog soon!) Scott slept off and on. He also did several engine room checks, spent time out on the bow and in a chair in the cockpit (one of his favorite spots to view the waves).

Eventually, we deployed the paravanes, with stronger winds predicted overnight. The “bird” in the water is actually 15 feet below the surface!

The birds make a vibrating sound, as they go through the water. It almost immediately drew a big pod of dolphins. Some were huge! They stayed and played of of our bow for at least an hour! Video coming…currently having technical difficulties.

We made our turn off the coast of Cape Fear, at Frying Pan Shoals before dark. There is a shorter route, closer to shore, but it also takes you closer to the shallow water. Swells can get pretty nasty there, so we chose to stay out in the deeper depth, and take a bit more time. We had no problems passing by. Now we were on the second straight course to Charleston inlet.

By 6pm, it was time for Howard’s second dose of “calming” meds. Since the first dose had worked so well, and we still had 18 hours left to go, I wanted to keep on schedule. Getting dose number two wad way more of a challenge. I tried mashing it up in some avocado, and putting it down his throat. This worked great the first time, but now he was wise. Then I tried dissolving it in water, and giving it to him with a dropper. I think a drop or to got into him, the rest went everywhere. I finally went back to the avocado, with more force, and was successful.

His second transition was much worse. I think that with all of my trying, I may have given him more than the required dose. In addition, I think that dose one was still somewhat in his system. He stared off for awhile, eyes slits and mouth a gap. Then he jumped to the floor suddenly (again, nearly cracking his head), and wobbled to the steps. I was betting it was the litter box that he was after, and I was right. The poor thing could barely stand up long enough to do what he had to, before slumping down in the litter. I pulled him out, cleaned him off, and placed him on our bed, making a pillow nest around him. Thankfully, he stayed there and the drugs leveled off.

My watch ended at seven, but I stayed up with Scott until it got dark. I wanted to avoid a panic attack, coming up at midnight to pitch black all around me. “Nautical” dark happens considerably later than on shore. I watched it slowly come on, and went down to sleep  at about 8:30, before pitch black happened….too tired.

At 10:30pm I came back up into the pilot house, wanting to give myself enough time to come awake (after more nap-sleep) before taking my watch. We have dutch doors on either side of the pilot house. Scott had the bottoms secured for the night hours, but the tops were open and our screens were pulled, so you could still hear the waves going by us in the dark. The darkness and sound of the waves outside the doors was pretty creepy to me. Scott was getting pretty tired by 11:30, so I told him to go ahead and sleep; I would start my 12-3 watch early. I asked him to sleep on the bench eat to me, because of the creepy factor.

Eventually, I became used to the night noises. We actually had some light pollution off of the starboard side; port side black. The moving horizon would catch my eye, making me realize that we were in a big roll. I decided to stop looking out. I’d check the radar and the other instruments, and then focus on things inside.

We had our ipod hooked up to the pilot house speakers, so I played a “mix tape” of songs. I kept the volume at sleep level for Scott, and dusted off some stuff I hadn’t heard in awhile (Better Than Ezra and Crowded House – a nod to my Bussing Court roommates!). I also chose to stand versus sit, to keep more awake and alert. Focusing on the music and my dashboard tasks kept my mind off of the dark rolling ocean outside, and I was on watch from 11:30 until about 3:15 with no issues. I woke Scott up, and went down to try and nap.

Scott was on watch until 6 am, and then it was my turn again until noon. Keeping the watches shorter overnight reduces the chance of falling asleep. Case in point, by the time I came back upstairs, Scott was fighting sleep. I came back up at 5:30, wanting to watch the sunrise. By now, I was very ready for light; it took forever (nautical dawn). The winds had increased overnight, so I was now nervous about the state of things outside the windows once it got light.

Today, was my birthday, and in addition to being irritated that the sun was taking so long, I was also complaining that I’d ushered in my birthday on watch in a dark ocean, and would be spending the next several hours still at sea. Scott surprised me with a slice of peanut butter pie, with a candle in it. Yum! That should hold me over.

We’d been hearing thuds outside the boat throughout the night. Scott discovered that flying fish had crashed into us, and to their death. In the am light, we discovered more than a few casualties!

We were now in bigger swells (6-7 feet), so I again asked Scott to sleep on the bench. The idea of him right there was calming. After an hour or so I acclimated, and told him to go down below.

My nap sleeps were catching up with me as well, and I was having trouble fighting sleep as I tried to do some computer work, so I went back to the iPod music plan. Food was also not cutting it; I wasn’t seasick, thank goodness, but just felt off.

At about 9 am, things started to deteriorate outside. Scott was up, so he took over, as we had to start  making our turn to Charleston inlet. We turned bit by bit, to reduce the amount of time that the boat had to be in a beam sea (side to side, everyone’s least favorite). Eventually, Scott told me that we were in for 90 minutes or so of nasty crap. Since he didn’t need me (thank God), I went down below with Howard. If I can’t see the big waves and impending pitching of the boat, it’s better for me.

For the better part of the next two hours, Scott maneuvered through 8 foot swells, with 2-3 foot breaking waves on top of them. Autopilot is useless in situations like this, so he was steering by hand. He said it was like driving over cargo vans. He admits that he was quite nervous about it at first. He’d steered in seas like this on a sailboat, but not in this boat. At one point, he looked over to the pilot house door, and saw a wall of water. He was convinced that it was coming inside, and right for him, but the boat rolled up, and then back down away from the wave.

Luckily, I didn’t notice nearly the pitching and rolling that I’d expected. I was, however, wearing ear plugs. Water that angry is damned noisy on the hull! Howard, who was more alert now, handled it like a champ. In his pillow nest, he didn’t move around, and he did well with the loudness that my ear plugs were muffling.

Sea life handled the sea state like a champ.We chose this boat for it’s hull design and weight, to handle well in big seas, and installed the paravanes to help in these situations. Both decisions proved right, and we were now coming through Charleston inlet, at approximately 11:30am. By 12:30, the motors were off; 30.1 hours after we turned them on in Beaufort.

We maneuvered our way into Charleston harbor, and then Scott slowed to bring in the paravanes. As of now, we are in a slip at Ashely Marina, which is on the west side of downtown. We’ll spend a week here, doing some boat work and projects. I have yet to organize the cabinets in both heads (stuff is just shoved in there), and our guest stateroom looks more like a basement, with all of the stuff that’s been thrown in there “for now.”

I ushered in my birthday on watch in the pitch black ocean, so once we got tied up and cleaned up, Scott took me out for a birthday dinner. He took me to FUEL in Charleston, where he’d eaten when here for a conference. It’s located in an old Esso gas station building. The atmosphere, food and service were all awesome. I highly recommend it: http://www.fuelcharleston.com/

Here are the photos of our ocean leg…before things got too dark and then too bumpy.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Beaufort, North Caroline

<< Previous | Next >>

Beaufort is a nice little town, and has gotten even better in the seven years since we last visited. We got a slip at Beaufort Docks. Just on the other side of the piers is a small boardwalk that runs the length of the dock, with some restaurants, parking and a shop or two. Across the street from the boardwalk area is Beaufort’s main street, lined with many more shops, restaurants and such. The area is all very walkable, but we got our bikes off of the boat and rode through the side streets, admiring the houses and getting our legs moving a bit.

We made sure to stop in at Backstreets Pub, a great little dive bar that we visited on our previous stop to town. Being Sunday evening, we had the place to ourselves. The bartender served us, and then went back to work scrubbing and cleaning the outside patio..I mean scrubbing, even the bricks! I’ve never seen a dark, divey bar so clean! The various stuff hanging around had dust on it, but you could eat off of the floor, even in the corners! Scott spilled some beer onto the bar, and I jumped up to get some paper towels from the bathroom, to wipe it up! I felt terrible about our peanut dust on the floor (we were given cups to deposit the shells).

The bartender then sent us to Queen Anne’s Revenge for dinner (Backstreets doesn’t offer any food, just the peanuts). It is located in one of the buildings directly across from our slip…perfect. We sat at the bar, where Joe, the bartender, introduced us to a tasty beer called Red Oak. It’s delivered cold and kept cold. He told us that Coors was handled the same way when it was first released.

We chatted with Joe while we drank our beer, and waited for pizza to go. He sent us on our way with two bottles of Red Oak, from his private stash (the bar only sells it in draft). Thanks Joe!

We spent today (Monday) preparing for an offshore run to Charleston, SC. Scott did some motor maintenance and checks. I did a small grocery run, and go to use one of the trusty “70s (ok, maybe 80s, I’m bad with cars years) flash-back” courtesy cars.

Fred, at Olverson’s still has these guys beat, as you can just jump in a car and go, keys in it. Here, you have to sign these beauties out. Use is limited to an hour at a time, and you are asked to replace any gas used Fair enough, but I have to walk two blocks to where the cars are; take an orange cone off of the roof; spend five minutes or so trying to figure out how in the world to move the seat forward, because I am miles from reaching the pedals (for possible future reference, it’s a mechanical control…on the door); place orange cone in parking spot, to save it; drive the ten minutes or so to the store; maneuver an unfamiliar store; check out, with a wait for a register glitch; drive back; find a gas station; fill tank with some gas; drive to meet Scott with the dock cart, so he can take the groceries to the boat; take car back to spot; remove cone to park in spot; place cone back onto roof and walk back to dock office. That takes more than an hour, no matter how you cut it. I took 75 minutes, door to door. Luckily, they let me slid..whew. I’m glad we’re not staying long, and I only had the need for one courtesy car run…too stressful!

I also hit the local laundromat across the street, to wash some blankets and rugs. You walk your laundry through the general store, past people ordering fudge and ice cream, and perusing t-shirts and trinkets, to the laundromat our back. Again, eat-off-the-floor clean. While waiting for the washing and drying to finish, I shopped some of the main street stores.

Scott and I did another bike ride, and then loaded them back onto the boat, before heading to get something to eat at Clawson’s. It’s located in an old bank, and has a neat interior, with a lot of the details still intact. We ate in the bar, and Danny served us. He was great, and even gave us an extra large take-home size of the house made ranch dressing…DE-LISH!

So now we head out at dawn tomorrow (Tuesday) for a 30-35 hour offshore run to Charleston, SC. We will  head straight for Cape Fear, and then turn, to curve around the shoal (shallow area) that extends out from it. From there, it’s a straight shot to Charleston. There is only a sliver of a moon tomorrow night. Great for stars, bad for pitch blackness!

We’ll take turns on watch: Scott will start out (6:30am or so), and be on until noon. Me – noon to 7pm, Scott – 7pm to midnight, Me – midnight to 3am, Scott – 3am to 6am, Me – 6am to noon, and then Scott will finish and take us into the marina slip.

If you pray, pray that I don’t panic when I think that we’re 60 miles or so out from shore, or when I look over at the depth finder to see that we’re in 100+ feet of water, or when it’s PITCH BLACK DARK all around us, or, that Scott admits it’s a bit scary and unnerving. If you don’t pray, cross your fingers, toes and eyes!

Be sure to follow our progress on the Where Are We Now? page of the blog! Look for my post, once we’re safely ensconced in a slip at Ashley Marina!

Here are a few pictures of our quick trip to, and in Beaufort.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Traveling To The Potomac

<< Previous | Next >>

We’d planned to stay at Herrington Harbor until Saturday, but the wind forecast for travel that day went down hill. So, we cut our stay short at our favorite marina, and made way for the Potomac River, where we would visit my parents and family.

Scott had charted us a twelve hour day, but the tide was with us all the way, and we cut some corners on the route, shaving us down to nine hours…yay! Once you pass the Patuxent River, and Solomon’s Island, the color of the bay water changes dramatically. It’s much more green-blue, and you see wildlife that is too smart to try and live in the northern bay. We spotted our first pelican yesterday…and a sea turtle!

We were somehow inundated with hundreds of biting flies, that swarmed around the outside of the boat as we traveled. Scott went out to try and secure the paravanes (which we didn’t need to use, because of the terrific weather), and was attacked. Of course, some made their way into the boat, to feast on us. We hoped that Howard would help us out, as one of his favorite past times is chasing and eating flies, but he was busy….

We arrived at Olverson’s Lodge Creek Marina, where we were warmly greeted by Bill, and the dock master, Rodney. They helped us tied up, and we then went to check in with Fred Olverson. Fred is a great guy, and a fellow cruiser. He and his wife have been traveling by boat to Marathon, Florida for the last nine years, to spend the winter. (More about Fred’s terrific marina later)

Once we’d iced the cooler, cut Scott’s hair (yes, it’s my job now) and took showers, we headed out to Los Portales for dinner, because we never turn down a chance to eat Mexican! We were more than pleasantly surprised with our food, service and the whole place. It was awesome….and very, very affordable! If you’re ever in Callao (pronounced Ca lee o), Virginina, stop by and stuff yourself!

We’ll stay here, happily ensconced at Olverson’s, for the next few days.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”