Monday, December 27, 2010

Spanish Wells

Friday 24 December – Monday 27 December

We make the decision to stay at the marina in Spanish Wells to wait out the front coming through after Christmas. The nearby anchorage (Royal Island) would be good holding BUT we would not have Internet access and we wanted to be able to do Skype calls on Christmas. As it turns out it is a very interesting island to spend Christmas on. It is a small island, only about a ¼ mile wide and 3 miles long, and not a “tourist island”, most likely because it's dry – no alcohol. It's income comes from its fishing fleet that supplies over 50% of the lobsters that are exported from the Bahamas, most ending up at Red Lobster. The fishing fleet are all off the week before Christmas until after the New Year to spend time with family. The colorful homes all have beautifully landscaped yards with a huge variety of flowers & trees. It is a pleasure just walking the streets & beaches, although on the 2 main roads running the length of the Island it is amazing how many cars & golf carts go zooming by, seems like everyone is running back and forth from one end of the Island to the other. On Friday afternoon we hear activity from the end of the Island so we follow the noise to see what is going on. Find everyone at the ball park, all the kids are participating in fun & games. Broken up by girls & boys and age groups they do different races. Such as sack hop, wheel barrow, running backwards, carrying egg on spoon held in the mouth, 3 legged race etc. etc. We stay and watch for a while and the little ones are SO cute & FUNNY !!! We learn about a Fire Works display planned for later in the evening. It is at midnight on Christmas Eve, which we think is a strange time to have a fire works display. Talk to a local and she says yes they go to the park up by the bridge (other side of Island) and party and then have fireworks at midnight. The park is actually on another smaller Island (Russel Island) at the top of Spanish Wells connected by a little 80' bridge. So we figure we will go check it out along with Sandy & Jeff on another sailboat at the marina. As we start walking down a little pick up stops to give us a ride so we pile in the back and he drops us off. The park is called Members Only as this is where the locals go to hang out and drink (BYOB). Although the island is dry, meaning they don't sell alcohol anywhere on the island, that doesn't mean they don't drink. Alcohol is sold on the nearby island of Eleuthera, and there is a local ferry that makes “about 30 trips a day” across the 1 ½ mile channel to the ferry dock on the other side that has a two story liquor store right on the dock. The Members Only have Christmas lights on the trees and have made a makeshift “party house” / shed with electricity, complete with stereo system, old refrigerator, stove, microwave, lounge chairs, tables & benches. On Sundays they bring a few TV's to watch football. We learn that the reason the fireworks are at midnight is this is more of an adult gathering and this show is just put on by a few locals and there will be another bigger display Christmas night. As it get closer to midnight more & more people have shown up and are all in a festive mood. The fireworks display is pretty impressive shooting up multiple ones at the same time. As we leave after the show the locals are partying strong, so we walk back to the boats. Christmas day is a beautifully sunny day, glad to be able to talk to & see family via Skype. During our afternoon walk we see the locals out at the ball park for day 2 of fun & games for the kids. After they open presents & go to church they all head back to the park to play. They have great participation, with good incentive since they all get CASH $$ for winning and even for just taking part in the race. It is fun to see the whole community taking part in these holiday festivities. Verify that yes indeed there will be another fireworks display tonight, this one around 7:30-8 right there on the beach behind the ball park. We get there at 7:45 forgetting we are on Island time so get to wait around over an hour for the show. We are entertained by a local band set up & playing behind home plate, and by watching the locals set up the fireworks. They do it a LOT different here, 1st I don't think there are any safety regulations they have to follow, and 2nd they do it all as a “Grand Finale”, setting off a whole lot of them together. For tonight’s show we are standing on the beach 50 yards away (upwind) from where they are being set off ! That is the closest we have ever been to a fireworks show, being able to feel and see them going off right over our heads, It was incredible! Sunday the front moves in and the winds are 25-35 knots, with just a little rain. Monday partly sunny skies but winds still howling, feels like you will be blown off the dock as you walk. We walk over to the Ocean side to see the wave action, finding one crazy guy out kite surfing. From the distance on the beach it is hard to tell how bad it is but we can see a lot of turbulence out on the water. The locals are all gathered again this time in the parking lot of the supermarket doing more fun & game activities for the kids. Can't believe the announcer still has a voice. Tuesday the winds should die down enough for us to head out, we have to wait for high tide at 2 so we will just go back to Royal Island Harbour to anchor out and head out early on Wednesday from there. Once again Merry Christmas to family & friends you were close in our hearts. It might be next year before the next blog update, so HAPPY NEW YEAR !! 2011 WOW time sure does fly.

link to pictures; http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/SpanishWells?feat=directlink

Friday, December 24, 2010

To Eleuthera

Saturday 18 December – Friday 24 December

We leave Marsh Harbour Saturday morning around 9 am under cloudy skies. Once out of the harbour we feel the winds picking up as we head over to Boat Harbour to top off with fuel before heading south. A little over an hour has passed as we approach Boat Harbour and the winds are blowing 20-25 and already starting to sprinkle. Docking at the fuel dock would be okay as the wind direction would just blow us onto the dock, getting off could be tricky. So we turn around and go back to Marsh Harbour deciding to wait until Sunday. Good decision as it rains pretty hard later in the day and Sunday turns out to be a beautiful day. As we pull into the fuel dock Sunday morning, the bow thrusters don't work, now we are really glad we didn't try on Saturday. We have a lovely sail down to Little Harbour, and are anchored around the point of the channel going into the Harbour. It is too shallow for us to go in with our boat so we go in by dinghy. Have a little walk around stopping at Pete's Pub for their famous rum drink the “Blaster”. Not a lot to see and or do here so we go back to the boat and re position ourselves at a better anchorage off Lynyard Cay for the night. Monday we have a 7 am departure and by 7:30 we are out the cut into the Atlantic Ocean. Another beautiful sunny day, seas are pretty calm as we go thru the cut then we have 1-3 foot rollers building during the day to 5-7 foot rollers as the wind builds up to 20 kts pushing us south. The winds are almost right behind us also so we are motoring with just the genoa sail. Of course with the rolling seas comes the wind that keeps changing from a little off to port to a little off to starboard, we lost count how many times Steve jibed the sail from port to starboard. We go south past the pass through the reef between Egg Island and Little Egg Island, since one of the guide books we have reports it shoaled, and go south of a wrecked freighter that grounded on the reef years ago before we turn east onto the bank. The change is dramatic, going from 1500 ft depth to 60 ft in the space of a quarter mile. By 3 pm we are anchored in the Harbour at Royal Island. All our previous concerns about construction interfering with the anchorage turned out to be unnecessary. They are still doing construction but there is plenty of room to anchor, and what a great anchorage it is. Tuesday Steve works on finding the problem with the bow thruster with no luck. He thinks it might be the circuit board which would have to ordered & shipped over. Go for a dinghy ride around the harbour after lunch then Steve works on waxing the boat. Wednesday morning Steve finishes waxing the boat then we head over to Spanish Wells where we've decided to go to a marina as there is no good anchorage and limited moorings. We are docked at the marina by 11 and guess it is the slow season as we are the only boat there with 39 empty slips around us. Go for a walk to find a place for lunch then make our way around the rest of the Island. It is a quite Island who’s main industry is fishing unlike so many other Islands in the Bahamas having their main industry of tourism. It is also a dry Island so no liquor is sold here so no beach front bars. Pretty beaches that we walk along, finding a guy teaching another how to motorized paraglide- that's hanging from a wing parachute with a motor and propeller strapped to your back – about the simplest form of flight, and according to the French instructor, the safest. The guy learning was not ready to fly yet, he reminded us of a young bird just out of the nest as he tried to inflate his wing and control it in the turbulent winds. But the teacher went up and we could not help but think of Sean & Holly & Elena & Joe the 4 people we know that would want to try this out. Find the ferry dock and get some info on the ride over to Harbour Island for Thursday. When we get back to the marina another boat as come in, a huge cat that we had seen moored next to us back in Hope Town during the Box Car Race. We did not get to talk to them long as he was on his way to the boat yard to see about repairs. He was on a mooring down in the Exumas (Farmers Bay) and the mooring line broke and their boat drifted onto the rocks! A lesson he learned the hard way and we now know is to dive to check your mooring lines to see if they are strong enough to hold your boat. He was very lucky considering as just a little damage to each hulls bow at the water line. He had a temporary repair done in the Exumas and came to Spanish Wells to have it fixed, one of the few places in the Bahamas than can haul out his 26 ft wide catamaran. In his dreams Wednesday night Steve thinks of something to check on the bow thruster and sure enough it fixes the problem. Come to find out it was a wire to a relay that he had knocked loose while cleaning out the engine compartment. Yeah an easy fix even if it took a lot of time & work to find the problem. Thursday we are heading over to Harbour Island. It is possible for us to take our boat over BUT, 1st you have to hire a pilot to help you navigate thru the waterway known as the Devils Backbone. It is a very dangerous passage with close encounters with the shoreline and coral reefs. We would not even think about it unless the sea was dead calm, which it is not, plus the fact that a pilot cost $70 each way. The ferry (which sometimes does not run due to sea conditions) allows us to visit the Island without the stress of taking our boat over, it is a fun ferry ride over and it gives us just enough time for a short visit to this BEAUTIFUL Island that we tour by golf cart. The commercials for Bahama vacations are probably made on this island. Thursday night as we are sitting in the boat (me writing this) we hear band music. We throw on shoes & coats (67° out) and follow the music. They are having a kids junkanoo parade, very festive in all their costumes and we get to pass homes along the way all decorated with Christmas lights. Friday, hard to believe it is Christmas Eve !!!!, we are in the planing stage of where & when to go next. We have time to get to our next destination (Nassau/Paradise Island) with good weather BUT then another front is supposed to come thru so we would not be able to leave to go on to the next destination (Exumas). Atlantis on Paradise Island should be a great place to visit BUT way to expensive to get caught there for a weather window. Decisions, Decisions and the weather factors that play into them. We wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS, love and miss you all.

link to pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Eleuthera?feat=directlink

Friday, December 17, 2010

Time in the Abacos

Wednesday 1 December – Saturday 18 December

The month starts with a sad goodbye to our cruising companions for the last 10+ weeks Jan & George Todd. It is hard with the cruising lifestyle to find another boat to travel with for so long. Their friendship & company will be missed. The first few days of December are spent on a mooring in Man-O-War Harbour waiting for Steve's shoulder to heal and waiting for a Fed-X package. The Fed-X package is our Satellite phone SIM card replacement that got fried by trying to put in too many unlock codes. The Fed-X was a next day delivery that went out on Monday from the US and actually arrived at Man-O-War on Thursday on the 4:20 ferry, pretty good for the Bahamas. By Saturday Steve is feeling a little better & we are ready for a change of scenery, so we head over to Marsh Harbour. We go into to town to visit some familiar places, and go to a Christmas festival we heard about on the cruisers net. There was supposed to be a shuttle bus going out to the fair grounds but our timing was off so we walked the 2+ miles out noticing that they are putting up a second traffic light. It wasn't working yet, it is at busy intersection so a good idea but it will confuse directions since now people will have to distinguish between the 1st or 2nd traffic light in town when giving directions. I'm sure the directions will go something like “go to the old light and turn left”, or the “new light and go right”, all the while assuming the person asking directions knows the difference between the old and new lights. The festival was interesting, they even had the Prime Minister attend & the kids got to sing to him. The newly rebuilt Maxwell's supermarket is open and it is like being at a super back in the states, with higher prices, but a great selection. After a few days in Marsh, the winds have died down and Steve's shoulder is doing even better. So we head over to Great Guana Cay & anchor in Fishers Bay. Steve rents a tank to dive and clean the bottom of the boat & change the zincs. He squeezes into his old heavy 3/4 mil wet suit and gets the work done, but the tight fit makes moving his appendages exhausting. We manage to peel him out of the suit which is now for sale, one of those oh yeah I guess I should have seen if it fit before bring it along moments. The next day we rent bikes and do a bike tour of the Island visiting familiar places & seeing some new ones.
On Friday it is decision time on where to go next. There is a BIG front predicted to come in Sunday night and last thru Tuesday. We have time to get down to Eleuthera & Royal Island our next destination, which would be a protected anchorage for the front coming in. BUT there has been some talk about construction going on and that there might not be room to anchor. If we can't anchor there for the forecast storm there would not be any other good choices to hole up during the storm. SO since we are not in a hurry and do not want to get stuck in a bad storm with no good anchorage we decide to hang around the Abacos. We head over to Hope Town and get into the Harbour to pick up a mooring. We have a couple of beautiful days to enjoy the Island before the front hits Sunday night. Just around 11 pm Sunday the winds pick up and we check to see how we are swinging. The dinghy hanging off the davits in back actually gets caught on the mooring line of a small sailboat behind us. We manage to free the dinghy and get it down and tied off on the side of the boat. But we're so close that now the davits are getting tangled with the small boat's forestay, so we get a short line and run it from the mooring line to the boat behind us, letting it drop back and giving us the extra 5 feet needed to swing clearly. By midnight the winds increase & the rain starts. We can hear it howling all night long with Steve getting up to check to make sure all is secure. They reported gusts up to 45 knots, and Monday they did not die down much. A beautiful sunny day 65-70 degrees but with winds 20- 35 knots. Tuesday a partly cloudy day with the winds dying down more but colder 58° the low & high only reached 65°. Wednesday warming up, winds calm, Sea of Abaco still a little choppy as we head back over to Marsh Harbour. Thursday we are back to shorts & tank tops. Hanging around here for next weather window to cross down to Eleuthera. Friday is laundry day, that means packing all the dirty laundry into a couple of laundry bags, loading them into the dinghy along with our dock cart, motoring to a public dinghy dock, unloading everything, locking the dinghy up, and walking ½ mile to the laundry pulling the dock cart behind, waiting for open washers (Friday must be washing day, the laundromat is packed) while Steve goes shopping for batteries and more groceries. The laundromat is a melting pot, with mixed languages spoken in loud animated but friendly voices. There is a group of 4-5 speaking some kind of patois that's a mixture of French, Dutch and English, that is totally incomprehensible, but they're having as much fun as they can, doing monumental loads of laundry – either they take it in for other families, or they've got one monster family. Back to the boat for lunch and afternoon chores (cleaning, engine maintenance, hull waxing – this is the reality of life in paradise). Saturday we will move down to Lynyard Cay to anchor out & be ready to do the crossing on Sunday. Saying goodbye to the Abacos & off to explore a new region of the Bahamas.

Link to pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/TimeInTheAbacos?feat=directlink

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ft. Pierce TO the Bahamas

Thursday 18 November – Tuesday 30 November

After 24+ hours offshore we are in the jetties at the Ft. Pierce inlet by 8 am, low tide has just started but the water at the bridge is still at 64'. So instead of going to the city marina by town like we planned we go to Harbortown marina where we had stayed in July and are docked by 8:30. We spend the next 6 days, doing boat projects, cleaning the boat & re- provisioning, doing laundry, all the things that are so easy to do in the States but not as easy once you leave. Like getting things delivered and walking across the street to West Marine. We reconnect with our traveling companions Jan & George on Wild Thing who traveled down the ICW and spent some time in Melbourne. They leave to cross over on Tuesday but I am waiting on some mail so we do our crossing on Wednesday.
On Wednesday 11/24, 8 months after leaving Kemah we are leaving the country once again for a much longer time. We are up early doing last minute email checks and at the fuel dock by 7:30, then fight the 3 knot incoming tide and are out the jetties by 8:30. It is a beautiful day, warm, blue skies, light 10-15 knot NE winds, 1-2 foot waves, by 10 the engine is off and we are sailing across the Atlantic to the Bahamas. We are steering to a course to allow for the Gulf Stream current but by 3 we are able to track on our direct course to Great Sale Cay. The winds start tracking more to the south so by 4 we are motor sailing and by 5 we have to roll up the genoa. We enter the banks as the sun sets, and with the darkness that follows we are reminded how truly beautiful a sky full of stars is. The almost full moon comes out a few hours later giving us plenty of light to see by. We had been into the easy entrance to Great Sale twice before so doing it at night was easy and by 2 am Thursday we were anchored and ready for a good nights sleep. We have trouble with our satellite phone, so are unable to use it but send out messages over the single side band radio that we had a safe & easy crossing. Thursday we have a short 6 hour sail over to Allens-Pensacola, and are anchored by 4, and are welcomed by Jan & George on Wild Thing. We have a great Thanksgiving dinner on board Ocean Star, thankful for this great opportunity to be living this dream lifestyle, and grateful to have friends to share it with. Friday we are underway by 8 am and arrive at Green Turtle Cay by 1. It is great to be back in familiar territory knowing which island is which and what is there. We learn that they have a golf cart Christmas parade & fireworks event planned for that night. We go back in for the parade that we were told started at 6 when in reality started at 7:30 – welcome to Island time. We enjoy the time walking around seeing the town all lit up with Christmas lights and have dinner at a restaurant on the main drag the parade will take. Well not too many participants only 7 carts !!! this on an island where golf carts are the main mode of transportation. Oh well it was pretty funny as I guessed there would be 75 carts, Steve & Jan both picked #'s in the 20's BUT George hit it right on as he said 6 carts would be in the parade. The fireworks show was totally different, they went all out and it was a spectacular display. Another great evening in the Bahamas. Saturday we hear on the cruisers net (VHF radio channel 68 in the Abacos telling of local events) that Hope Town is having their annual BOX CAR DERBY. We are underway by 9 am and sailing out the Whale Cut by 10 in calm waters. By 1 we have made it into the inner harbour at high tide and have picked up a mooring. Quick lunch & clean up and we are on our way into town, hitch a ride out to the south end where the race is and join the crowd for a fun event. The box cars are designed & built by locals and they go all out for these cars (see pictures). They also serve all kinds of adult beverages, the local favorite being the Swidgel = coconut water & gin. Coconut water just has a slight taste to it but some how manages to cover the generous portion of gin they put in the drink, very refreshing on a hot sunny day. On Sunday after Steve helps George unjam his main sail again we are out the harbour at high tide at 11 for a short trip over to Man-O-War Cay where we need to enter that harbour by high tide also. By 1 we are moored in the eastern harbour of Man-O-War. Steve dons his wet suit and cleans the brown water stain off the boat that we accumulated over our travels up to the Chesapeake. The boat looks so much better w/o a mustache. Jan & George have been coming here since 1985, so they have friends who have homes on the Island and Sunday night we go to dinner at Robert & Mary's house (Dragon Hill) who are down here for the holiday from Minnesota. Island tidbit - address's on the islands are house names, and once named by the original owner that remains the name of the house weather you like it or not. Sometimes the house is even referred to as the name of the person who originally built it even if you have owned it longer. Still like the idea of having a house name rather then a street name & #. Early Monday morning and for most of the day we get several rain showers. We manage to get into town for a short visit after lunch & between showers. At least we are getting the salt washed off the boat. Monday night plans are to go to Marsh Harbour to pick up Linda, a friend of Jan & George who lives here on Man-O-War, and who had loaded their boat up in Ft. Pierce with alcohol & a few other things she could not transport back to the Island by plane. We take the dinghy to her dock to get her 24' center console Boston Whaler to use for the 45 minute ride over Marsh. Steve is the first to climb up, he slips and his leg comes out from under him as he gets thrown back, he tries to grab hold & hang on to the ladder but winds up falling 6' down into the water wrenching his shoulder & chest muscles on his left side. We all have weathers on ready for the wet ride over BUT his fall has allowed the water inside his weathers so he is drenched inside & out. We use our flashlights to guide him to a staircase leading down to the water so he can climb out. Once we are all on the dock we are able to assess the situation, glad nothing is broken or cut but it is evident he is hurting. We get into the Whaler and use it to bring Steve back to Ocean Star where he decides that he just needs some dry clothes to change into and he can still make the trip. After a slight delay we are on our way trying to navigate the dark waters. It is a wet & bumpy 45 minute ride over. We get to Snappas dock where Linda is waiting, we all get onto the dock and go up to the restaurant to shed our wet outerwear and have drinks and dinner. Steve is putting on a brave face but he is hurting enough not to even try to change out of his wet clothes. After dinner we load Linda's luggage onto the boat wrap it in garbage bags to try to keep them dry and are off for another wet & wild 45 minute ride back to Man-O-War. George drops us off at Ocean Star from the Whaler before bringing Linda home. Steve gets out of his wet clothes takes a nice hot shower and some ibuprofen another stiff drink and off to bed. Tuesday Steve is still hurting, it will take several days for his mussels to heel, in the mean time he his moving slow. George has his own recent injury he is dealing with so he also has limited activity, and Linda's husband is out of the country, so the task of unloading her things she sent over on Wild Thing fall to the 3 ladies. We do a great job of hauling the 20 heavy boxes out from below on Wild Thing onto the Whaler off loaded onto the dock loaded onto a golf cart to get it up the hill to the house and unloaded there. Tuesday afternoon we relax on the boat while Jan & George are busy getting their boat ready to be left here while they go home to Dallas, Texas for a few months. Tuesday evening we dinghy back to Linda's house (Landfall) for a farewell dinner. We enjoy drinks on the beautiful deck at the outside bar, have a fabulous Lobster tail & Mahi-Mahi dinner (yes Dad I hate the Mahi-Mahi & loved it). Enjoyed another fun night with Jan & George as they get ready to leave the Abaco's for a few months. Plan & hope to meet up with them down in the Exuma's next year when they return.

picture link; http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Abacos?feat=directlink

Friday, November 19, 2010

Florida Heading South

Wednesday November 10 – Wednesday November 17


We are anchored off the town of Fernandina Beach by 1:15, the day has cleared up and warmed up from its foggy start. Jan & George get a ride from some locals to the liquor store that is not close to town. Later Jan & I go in to check out town. Steve & George come into town later for a walk and to check out restaurants & pick us up. Back to the boats for cocktails and change of clothes then back in to dinner. Thursday we are underway by 7:15, no fog but everything is wet from all the dew. After an hour we are out the channel and turn south with 1-2 foot swells on the beam and wind behind us so a little rocky to start. The winds clock more east and the swells build a little but we are able to just sail all the way down to the St. Augustine Inlet. With the swells breaking it makes the entrance a little rough & hard to see the buoys but we make it in safe & sound and have a 20 minute wait for the 3:30 opening of the Bridge of Lions. A 65 ft tourist schooner “Freedom” is also waiting for the bridge opening, and keeps sailing into us as we both circle around, making the waiting interesting and irritating. We are on the mooring ball by 3:45, great !! mooring balls with new long lines all neatly folded on top of the mooring ball. Real easy to hook & run your line through and clean, as someone from the marina goes around putting the lines up after you leave. Jan & George have some old time friends (Agnes & Ed Danciger) in the area so they come & pick us up and we all go to dinner. Friday we have the use of Ed's car, drop off main sails from both boats for some repairs then off to West Marine & Wall Mart. Guys go back to the boats for some boat work while Jan & I walk through town. Dinner in town Friday night. Saturday get main sails back & more boat work we have now found some genoa sail repair that needs to be done, Steve does some of the sewing by hand but then decides to take it into the shop also. By this time it is too late to get it to her but talk to her and will drop it off Monday. Saturday night we go to the Danciger's beach house for dinner. Sunday Jan & George leave to head down the ICW for a 2 day trip to Melbourne. We spend the day ordering parts and making lists of what else we might need to get on Monday with a rental car. It is a luxury now to have access to a car so we want to make the most of it. Monday as Enterprise picks us up we drop the genoa sail off at the sail shop on the way back to the Enterprise lot since it is on the way. By 9:30 we are on our way for the short 45 minute trip over to Green Cove Springs where our mail forwarding service is located. Steve is also planning to get a Florida license since his Texas one will expire in July and they would not let him renew before we left. Since he does not plan to be back in Texas before July he thought getting a Florida license would be the easiest way to go. Pick up the mail, I am still missing 2 important pieces we have been waiting for, and over to the DMV to get Steve's license. Well he misread the instructions, and just brought his passport but also needed his original SS card. So back to St Augustine, into the dinghy, back to the boat, find where he had put his SS card, back to shore, in the car & back to Green Cove Springs. At least now we know the way. All worth it in the end as they issue the laminated license right then & there & it is good for 9 years. Stop by 2 outlet malls on the way back, looking to see if there are any stores we need to visit. Find a few then stop at Target and another small mall and the grocery store all on the way back to the boat. Like I said it is not often we have a car so we make the most of it whenever we do. Tuesday we spend the day going through mail and then into town for lunch. Getting the boat & ourselves ready for a 24 hour trip offshore down to Ft. Pierce. Wednesday morning we make the 7:30 opening of the bridge and head out the channel, in nice calm water the buoys are easy to see. We have calm seas, light winds and comfortable temperature for our 24 hour trip down to Ft. Pierce.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Georgia

Sunday November 7 – Wednesday November 10

Sunday we planned to go offshore from Hilton Head to St. Catherine's sound, but were put off by the mornings predictions of 25-30 kt winds out of the north with 6-8 ft seas and 50°F and persuaded to go the ICW route instead with only 10-15 kt winds, 60°F and no waves. We left the anchorage at 8 AM, and by 10 were crossing the Savannah River into Georgia, weather is cold but better then being off shore. By 11:15 we are at the 65' bridge at Thunderbolt but due to the tide it is at 64' 9” so we put the anchor down and only have to wait 45 minutes for the tide to go down 2 feet more for us to fit under. Catch up to our traveling buddies on Wild Thing by 2:30 in time to go through the narrow/shallow passage called Hell's Gate. Other than that one little spot this is a very pleasant trip down the ICW. We are anchored by 5 just before sunset (hate the time change) in Walburg Creek behind St. Catherine's Island and have dinner on Ocean Star. We had anchored here on the way up & it is a great isolated anchorage in the middle of nowhere, where you can pick up a Wi-Fi signal & TV – life is good. Monday we are underway at 7, dressed like we are going skiing as it is 41° as we head out the channel to the ocean. We have light winds & calm seas making for a very pleasant trip down to St. Andrew Sound. By 3 it has warmed up to 70° as we take a short cut through the shoals to the entrance to the channel. We turn down Cumberland River and then into Floyd Creek and are anchored by 4:30, time to relax a little before dinner on Wild Thing. Tuesday we have an early departure even though we are just going a short distance. We leave the anchorage by 7:45 and are anchored at the southern end of Cumberland Island by 10. We go into the Island for a quick visit to the other side for a walk along the beach. Check out the conditions of the sand road to see if we can use bikes. Last time we were here the roads were like a washboard, this time they are smooth & hard enough to make bicycling easy. Back to the boats for lunch then back to the Island, taking a bike ride down to see the Dungeness ruins & the beach at that end of the Island. The weather is warming up and we enjoy the beautiful day outdoors. Dinner on Ocean Star as we talk about Florida just 3 miles away. We know that we can have some cold weather in Florida in November but also know it won't be as bad as the cold days we had in North & South Carolina. As we wake Wednesday morning at 7 it is like someone put a blanket over the boat. The fog is so heavy you can not see 50 feet away. We had planed a 9 am departure but the fog did not lift until 11:30. during that time we had the VHF radio on and there were several crazy people out there trying to navigate! It was scary at anchor, can't even imagine trying to travel in those conditions. Once the fog lifted we were underway by 11:45 and crossed into Florida by 12:15, topped off with fuel and anchored off Fernandina Beach by 1:15.

link to pictures:  http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Georgia?feat=directlink

Sunday, November 7, 2010

South Carolina

Friday October 29 – Sunday November 7


We are away from our dock in Bald Head at 5 AM Friday morning, there was one very tense moment getting out through the very narrow (50 ft wide) marina entrance. We were leaving at nearly low tide to catch the outgoing tide in the inlet channel. We knew there was going to be a strong outgoing current combined with a North wind that was going to push the bow of the boat south (left) just as we exited the entrance, so we went to max speed to punch through into the clear channel before the wind and tide pushed us south. Everything went to plan, the bow of the boat just cleared the entrance bulkheads, and WE RAN AGROUND in the inlet. NOT GOOD. The bow of the boat promptly went south with the wind and tide and we were crosswise in the inlet. In seconds. Steve quickly reversed, and fortunately we backed off the shoal right away, but the wind and tide were too strong to bring the bow back north with the bow thruster, so we were backing crosswise in the inlet channel, threatening to bang both the bow and stern into the rocks or bulkhead on either side. Just a few feet from disaster on either side, Steve slammed the boat into forward gear at max speed, the bow went north, stern south, and we blasted through the inlet again just a few feet south of where we went aground a few minutes before. That was an adrenaline moment, and we were both shaking for the next hour while it burned off. Our traveling buddies on Wild Thing were on a dock further into the marina and couldn't leave since they were in the mud. They will wait for the tide to come in and take the ICW route down to Georgetown. We have an easy passage out the jetties into the ocean, and as we turn south we are triple reefed in both sails doing 8.5 – 9.5 knots in 20-25 knot winds with 4 foot following seas. Watch the sun rise and enjoy a beautiful day on the water with several birds joining us for part of the trip to rest. A yellow breasted bird who was so exhausted kept trying to fly and would get blown back. I was wishing him to just stay and rest until we got closer to shore but he kept flying off. After 4-5 tries he did not make it back to the boat even though we could see him trying, not sure of his fate. The other bird was glad to stay put and made himself at home even flying down below for a minute before I could get him back up on deck. By 2 we are turning into the channel leading to Winyah bay. Pass by the place we anchored at on the way north, but this time we are continuing up the bay to Georgetown. By 4 as we go up the Sampit River to Georgetown the place we were going to try to anchor is pretty crowded and shallow so after a few attempts to find a good spot we give up and go to Harborwalk Marina. We take a walk through town between 5-6 and the town is doing a city Halloween night out, so the sidewalks are filled with kids in costume along with a few adults. Back at the marina Steve talks to another boat with the same mast height we have that had come down the ICW route & the last bridge before Georgetown had all the wind instruments knocked off as he went under the bridge. Glad we took the outside route! Saturday we talk to Wild Thing and they let us know that they should get there by noon, we tell them about the anchoring problems and about a free dock that they can tie up to for the day. Once they are tied up we move out of our marina, that wants to charge us extra by the hour to stay past noon, and raft up to them. Go to lunch then Jan & I go check out the shops. Back to the boats and we leave Georgetown to go to the anchorage just off the ICW & inlet form the ocean to be ready for our Sunday morning departures. Steve & I are underway by 7:30 doing another jog offshore while Wild Thing leaves at 9 to go down the ICW where we will both meet up in Charleston at the end of the day. Wild Thing is just ahead of us as we travel in the jetties fighting the current. Have trouble setting the hook, but finally get anchored in the Ashley River across from the Mega Dock & City Marina we stayed out on our way up that is now full with boats moving south. Dinner on Wild Thing. On Monday morning we go over to the Charleston Maritime Marina over in the Cooper River--better rate and closer to the downtown area. After docking & lunch we get to see a cruise ship come in and dock just up from our marina. Steve & George do boat work and Jan & I head into town to see the shops. Charleston has a lot to see & do and many great restaurants to choose from. Monday morning we wondered why our boats were rocking so much in the marina, only to see 2 car carriers (Ro-Ro's) came in & were unloading just down the way. Monday night we dine at the rooftop restaurant of the Market Pavilion Hotel looking out at the cruise ship all lighted up and ready for their evening departure. Jan & George are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. Tuesday a trip across the river to visit the aircraft carrier Yorktown. I come back early as junior high & high school best friend Nancy & her husband are driving down from Charlotte NC to visit. We have kept in touch through the years but our last visit was in 1999. We have a great time catching up and go to Hymans for dinner. They spend the night on board and the next day Nancy & I hit the open air market as they are opening. After lunch they leave for the drive back home. This marina has A free washer & dryer (one each) so we are taking advantage throwing in a load whenever we can. In the evening we walk to King street to have dinner at a great Thai restaurant called Basil. Thursday Jan & George are leaving for the 2 day trip down the ICW to Hilton Head where we will meet them after our overnight trip Friday night. Friday afternoon we leave a little earlier then we wanted but the marina has another boat coming into to take our slip. We are under way by 1, 4 hours earlier than needed but we are planing a slow ride down to arrive at sunrise. Well the predicted 10-15 knot winds turns out to be 20-30 making the 50° feel like 30°as we beat into 2-4 foot waves. We are more then triple reefed trying to keep our speed down to time our arrival to sunrise so it is a long cold, bouncy night. We are anchored in Broad Creek by Palmetto marina where we stayed on the way north by 9 am. Unlike on our way north, there will be no bike rides along the beach as it is too cold & windy! Our friends on Wild Thing spent Friday night at the marina but now come out to anchor nearby as we make plans to keep going south to warmer weather. We go in by dinghy all bundled up to have dinner. Sunday we plan to go off shore down to St. Catherine’s Island, but the weather prediction is for a high of 60°, winds 20-25, and 6-8 foot waves so as with many boating plans they change and we take the ICW route. Georgia here we come.

http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/SouthCarolina?feat=directlink

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hampton Virginia Thru North Carolina

Saturday October 16 – Thursday October 28

OMG 2 weeks worth of updates. Here is a very condensed version of our travels. We have a great sail down from the cove near Deltavile to Hampton Virginia. With following seas and 20-25 knot winds on the aft quarter, we do 8-9 knots with just the genoa, on a cold 55° clear blue sky day. We are docked at Bluewater Marina by 12:30. Our cruising buddy Wild Thing goes on to Norfolk to pick up his wife returning from her trip home. Steve's son Sean & girlfriend Holly are driving down from DC to visit us for the weekend. We have a wonderful visit, playing Blokus & Corn Hole. Sean's friend Javier who lives nearby stops by to visit also. We make plans for a day sail Sunday morning and Javier invites us to the family beach house for an afternoon BBQ. We have a perfect day for a sail along the beach, sailing by Javier's beach house. On the way back we have several dolphin sightings, our first since coming up to the Chesapeake. Taking advantage of having access to a car, Sean takes us to the grocery store to get provisions. Quick tour of “downtown” Hampton and a short drive to Buckroe Beach where we enjoy a beautiful evening and a great dinner, and another game of corn hole at Javier's. Sean & Holly drop us back at the boat and head out for their 3 hour trip home. Monday we are underway by 10 passing by Portsmouth & Norfolk on our way down the ICW to Great Bridge where we planned to meet back up with Jan & George on Wild Thing. This time of year there are a LOT of boats heading South, we have a lot of bridges to navigate between Norfolk & Great Bridge. The one 65' bridge we clear without any problems some of the other bridges open on the ½ hour so you wind up with several boats waiting in a small area for the bridge to open. We also have a lock to go through, this hour we go through with 11 other boats heading south.. After the lock we go through Great Bridge, get fuel & tie up at the free dock overnight where we meet back up with Wild Thing. Our plans for an early departure to get to an anchorage down the ICW in North Carolina are delayed as Steve discovers he left his credit card at the restaurant the night before. Jan & George will travel south slowly for us to catch up after Steve gets his credit card. Three hours later we are under way, and by 1:30 we are approaching the Pungo Ferry Bridge that George had reported the water being high. We can see the gauge is only showing 64', we have to back up and pull over. Steve has to go up the mast to remove all the wind instruments on top. Make it under the bridge pull over again, Steve goes back up the mast to reassemble things before proceeding south. It is now late afternoon and we are concerned about making our planed anchorage past Coinjock. We are in communication with Wild Thing and since they have been traveling slow we catch up to them in Coinjock where there is another 65' bridge that they report the water being high also. So since it is late in the day we turn around and dock at Midway Marina for the night. Next morning Steve goes up & removes instruments again we go under bridge and anchor to put things back. Ocean Star & Wild Thing are on our way south to Manteo. We are anchored off Manteo after TRYING to fit into one of the free slips. I get to have Lobster for the first time on board Wild Thing. Thursday day of rest & visiting town. Friday we depart at 8 am to take advantage of low tide and clear the 65' bridge w/o having to take anything down. Beautiful sunny cool day motor sailing across Pamlico Sound since we have a LONG way to go we keep the boats at 8-9+ knots. Anchored as the sun is setting & full moon rising in Bay River. Saturday we leave anchorage at 10 timing our arrival at the next 65' bridge for low tide. Our anchorage was near where the dismal swamp ICW route lets out so all morning we see boats streaming south. With the full moon the tides are more extreme and we have 67' clearance at the bridge. We are docked at Town Creek Marina by 4. I drop the boat hook overboard and it sinks, try to use dinghy anchor to scrape the bottom to find the boat hook & the knot holding the rope to the anchor comes undone and we loose the anchor, not a good day. Friends of Jan & George come to visit, Sharon & Jake who live near by. Drinks on Wild Thing before we all go out to a great dinner at the marina restaurant. Sunday a visit to town after a diver comes out to find the boat hook & anchor and since we are paying Sunday “overtime” have him change the zinc on the prop also. Late Sunday we leave the marina and go about a 100 yards out to anchor. Off shore weather forecast is not favorable, so we plan another trip down the ICW. Monday 10/25 a 7:15 departure and as we approach the Beaufort / Morehead City 65' bridge at low tide, Wild Thing approaches first. NOT good news only showing a 63' clearance. Ocean Star turns around to go back by our anchorage to the bascule bridge that started to open at 8, which we miss but get through the 8:30 opening. Wild Thing is now ahead of us acting as reconnaissance on depth & bridge height. We get bad news the tide even though it is going out is still too high at the next bridge to Atlantic Beach. So we drop the anchor & wait by the bridge for 3 hours until the tide is low enough for us to get under. As we wait a rain storm passes over so we get to stay nice & dry down below. By this time we have to revise plans on our next anchorage to one closer that we can make before dark. The 3rd bridge of the day the water is low so we make it under. Shortly after we turn off the ICW by the town of Swansboro & are anchored by 6 near Wild Thing, just before the next rain storm. Tuesday 10 am departure from anchorage after Steve & George work on the main sail on Wild Thing. We make the 11:30 opening of the Onslow swing bridge, by 1 we are at the next 65' bridge and it is showing a 66' clearance but we scrape the VHF antenna. Just goes to show that measurements are not always accurate. We have to wait 35 minutes at the next swing bridge that only opens on the hour. By 4 pm we are anchored just off a channel running along Topsail Island between the ICW. We can feel the sea spray and hear the waves crashing on the other side of the Island. Our travels down the ICW have been challenging with the bridges but it is truly a beautiful part of the country and we are glad for the opportunity to see it. Wednesday we have an early departure to catch the opening of two bridges and we time them just right. We are anchored in Banks Channel just off Wrightsville Beach by noon. Enjoy the afternoon on shore with a nice walk thru part of town and along the beach. Back to the boats for a while, before going back to shore for dinner. Thursday will be another early but short day. We are awaken at 5 am to a rain storm, wondering how that will affect our 7 am departure. We need to leave at 7 to make it to the Carolina Beach 65' bridge at low tide at 9 am. Luckily the rain lets up as we are leaving with just a few sprinkles to start with and we make it under the bridge. The sun and clouds compete with each other all day as another front passes off to the south of us. Wild Thing waited for better weather with a later departure as they do not have to hit the bridge at low tide. We have a couple of anchorages picked out but as we get to them and the forecast of a front coming in during the night they do not look very secure. We check with Bald Head Marina and they can get us in. We head over talking to Wild Thing letting them know about the change in plans. We are docked at 12:30 and it works out great as this marina is right off the inlet to go off shore for our next days passage. Wild Thing arrives around 2 and I have decided that the best way to see the Island in such a short time is to rent a golf cart. So by 2:45 we are on our way to cruise the Island which is not very big so we are done by 4:30. Dinner at marina restaurant making it an early night as Friday 10/29 will be a predawn departure to make it out the channel at slack tide for our passage down to Georgetown South Carolina.


http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Hampton?feat=directlink

http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/NorthCarolina?feat=directlink

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moving South

Monday October 11 – Friday October 15


We motor sail down the Chesapeake Bay, then turn up the Choptank River, then up the Tred Avon River and are anchored off Oxford by 6:30. Both boats have trouble setting the anchors but they finally dig in just in time to watch a beautiful sunset. Steve makes a soup with some leftovers of ours & George's and we make tentative plans for the next few days working our way south to Norfolk where Jan will fly back to on Saturday. Tuesday morning from 9 to 10:30 we walk around the town of Oxford. There is not a lot of tourist things to see & do in this part of the state which makes it that much more of a treat. Like being in a different world just traveling up the different water ways seeing the beautiful homes and the trees it is a wonderful way to spend the day. The plan was to go to Cambridge for the afternoon & anchor overnight there. But as we were bringing up the anchor our windlass stopped working, we were dug in really hard & the load did something to make it stop coming up, the down gear still worked, but Steve gets it up with the manual lever. As we are heading out for Cambridge we decide to head to Solomons Island instead. The weather is supposed to get cold & rainy and if Steve needs parts to work on the windlass Solomons is a better choice. We are anchored off Solomons Island by 5:30 to see another beautiful sunset. Ride around the anchorage on a “booze cruise” with Wild Thing sipping on drinks and talking with other boats & into dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. Wednesday turns out to be a beautiful day and Steve works on the outboard motor for the dinghy as it is still not working right, not sure how many more life support fixes he can do on this one. The afternoon he tackles the windlass problem and for the first time in our boating history we have an easy fix Woo – Hoo ! Steve thought the solenoid had burned out but it was just a loose wire. So it only took a minute to fix (once we cleared the way to get to it). The afternoon is spent doing emails & some paperwork over a very slow internet connection. Grilled Steak dinner over on Wild Thing as we make plans to move on. Thursday's weather prediction is not so good as we wake for a sunrise departure the radar shows a storm moving in so we stay put to see if it will pass on by, it does but not until 5 that night. We are glad we are safe at anchor and not traveling in the cold rain. At 5 once the storm passed Steve & George go for a long walk then come back to get me to go to dinner. Friday's sunrise departure looks to be a beautiful morning leaving Back Creek. By 8:15 we are sailing down the Patuxent River heading for the Bay at 7-8 + knots. By 8:45 we put a reef in both the main & genoa and are still making 7-8 K with 16 – 20 K winds on a forward beam reach. By 10 it has warmed up to 65° as we pass the Potomac River. With the west winds and a long fetch over the mouth of the Potomac the waves get pretty choppy as we cross. Next as we approach the Rappannock River it gets cloudy and the winds pick up even more. We miss the rain around us but have to double reef & then triple reef the sails as we get wind gusts 25-30 K and the waves have built to 4-5 feet. It is a fast & exciting sail down until we turn west into the wind when we motor with a triple reefed main into 2-4 foot waves and top wind gust of 36 K. Lots of water coming over the bow, thankful we have a dodger! With the wind out of the west we are able to anchor just off Jackson Creek near Deltavile in the lee of the land. As we get closer to shore the winds & waves both die down, we are anchored by 3, and the sun comes back out to welcome us to the new anchorage. Saturday we will have another early departure to head to Hampton Virginia just north of Norfolk & east of Newport News where we will spend a few days.

Link to Pictures; http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/MovingSouth?feat=directlink

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Annapolis

Tuesday October 5 – Monday October 11

We are anchored just off the Naval Academy on Spa Creek just south of Annapolis by 5:30 Tuesday evening with S/V Wild Thing near by. After a cold trip down here we decide not to journey into town by dinghy for dinner and Steve makes dinner on board, with Jan bringing dessert. Wednesday morning Steve & George go into town for a long walk over to check out Weems Creek as an alternative anchorage. We are in a GREAT location very close to dinghy dock to town & boat show BUT in strong winds out of the east or south we would not have very good protection. So even though that is not the prediction they want to see what & where an alternative could be. George likes his morning walks and has gotten Steve into going with him, so much so that Steve had to go by a good pair of tennis shoes since he did not own a good pair of sturdy walking shoes. Jan & I get to sleep in and are ready to go when they get back. Into town and it is already abuzz getting ready for the boat show. We go to lunch at a place called O’Brien's and Jan tries her first oyster shooter and says it is great. After lunch we go over to the Naval Academy for a tour, the buildings and grounds are beautiful. Bancroft Hall the largest college dormitory in the world is not like any dorm I have seen – a marble palace in the style of Versailles! A walk around town checking out what is where, George makes a run back to the boat while Steve, Jan & I stop at one of the local hot spots Pusser's Caribbean Grill to try some of their famous rum drinks. Jan gets the Rum Punch, I get the Jamaican me Crazy & Steve gets the Pusser's Painkiller, all are great drinks but the painkiller wins. Dinner that night at McGarvey's where Jan, George & Steve all enjoy oyster shooters = an oyster in a shot glass with vodka & bloody Mary mix as an appetizer, no way am I trying one. Thursday afternoon Jan & I get dropped off in town to check out the shops, and I think we saw every one. Steve helps George run speaker wire back on Wild Thing. After shopping and boat work we have cocktails on Wild Thing before going back to town as Beneteau is having a reception at the Marriott, and both our brokers who sold us our boats will be there. The place is packed and we have a few appetizers & drinks while waiting to meet up with friend Gina who is in Bethesda on a business trip and is taking the time to drive over to meet us for dinner. After visiting for a while we head over to Eastport to have dinner since that is where Gina had to park her car. It is always great to see family & friends just hard to say goodbye again. Friday is boat show day for us and we plan to be there when the gates open. George & Jan have a bigger & better dinghy so they have been acting as taxi, on their way over to our boat Friday morning they have engine trouble so they drift over to us and we all load into our dinghy for the ride into the show. We are there all day walking our legs off checking out the newer & bigger boats and all the boat gadgets you could possibly imagine. There are some beautiful boats but after all the looking we all decide we made great decisions on buying our boats. The Catamarans we were all so interested in seeing turned out to be not as spectacular as we were expecting. All the ups & downs into the different hulls front & aft and the room configuration were turn offs to me. They do have fabulous salon areas and big decks forward & aft but the rooms were just average. The monohulls we looked at were beautiful but a lot of the pretty features were not very practical. We did come back with a few gadgets and some ideas that will make cruising life easier, and it was a fun day. Back to the boats about 6:30 Jan & I rest while Steve & George fix George's outboard engine on the dinghy. Late dinner of grilled steaks on board Wild Thing. Saturday we dinghy over to Back Creek and go to Eastport for lunch then dinghy further up the creek to another dinghy dock to hike to West Marine. We have been really lucky with the weather again, sunny days high around 80° lows at night 60°. The winds have been variable but light so the anchorage has remained a great spot even with all the rolling caused by wakes from boats passing through the anchorage or passing by on the river, this is one very busy place. Every day the Navy runs a dozen 70 ft cutters up and down the Severn river by the anchorage, practicing maneuvering and man overboard drills with lots of horn blowing. It's pretty noisy during the day, but quiets down at night. Sunday morning George takes Jan in to catch a shuttle to Baltimore airport as she will fly home for a few days for a family situation. Sunday afternoon I take Steve to where he thinks is closer to his meeting spot with Sean. Our 30 minute dinghy ride really took him further away, but they finally connected and were on their way back to DC to have dinner & go to the Roger Water's The Wall concert as I made my way back to the boat bouncing along the Severn River in the dinghy. When I got back to the boat I noticed a couple of Boat US boats around two other boats. After getting back on board Ocean Star I could see that the sail boat that was anchored too close to a Catamaran had wedged its bow in between the 2 hulls of the Catamaran, not a pretty picture and a good reason not to anchor too close to other boats. Monday Steve calls and says he is on the way back so I get the dink ready to go pick him up BUT can't get the motor started. Luckily George is close by on Wild Thing so comes to pick me up to go get Steve who once again changes the pick up location. We get a nice tour of Spa Creek as we go to find where he got dropped off, load him & the provisions he picked up into the dink, back to the boats where we prepare for departure. By 1:30 Ocean Star & Wild Thing are heading down the Severn River towards our next stop in Oxford on the Eastern shore.

Link to pictures; http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Annapolis?feat=directlink

Saturday, October 9, 2010

SSCA GAM & Back to Baltimore

Thursday Sept 23 – Tuesday October 5

We leave St. Michaels Thursday morning around 11 heading over to the Rhode River for a Seven Seas Cruising Association GAM (gathering). We are anchored by 2:30 in almost the same spot we were in a month earlier when we were here before. There are about 25 boats already here for the GAM that officially starts Friday afternoon, but for those of us that have arrived early there is a dinghy raft up planned for 5 that night. Everyone brings an appetizer to share and we have a fun time meeting some new people. This group consists of people who have been cruising, people that are currently cruising and those that are getting ready to or hope to soon. Over the next few days they have several meetings, seminars and gatherings to mix & mingle and learn from fellow cruisers. It is our first time to attend and have a great time and meet several people with similar plans to head south. We had been in touch with another couple the Todd's whom we met down in the Bahamas & who were planning to come up to the Chesapeake on their boat also. We mentioned the SSCA get together & told them we would be there so they met us there. Sunday afternoon after the GAM was over Jan & George Todd on S/V Wild Thing and us pulled up anchor and went up to Annapolis. The weather prediction was for rain on Monday so we decided to take advantage of Sundays weather that had cleared up from the mornings rain. We find an anchorage in Back Creek south of Eastport and dinghy in for dinner in Eastport then a short walk over to “Downtown” Annapolis. Being Sunday night most of the shops are closed and the weather is still threatening rain so we don't stay long, just make plans to come back. Over dinner the Todd's & us talked over some tentative plans. I needed to get back to Baltimore for a dental appointment that I think is on Tuesday. So Monday we all head up to Baltimore with plans to come back to Annapolis a few days before the boat show to see the town. We knew about a big festival (Fell's Point Fun Festival) scheduled for the upcoming weekend so we decide to hang out in Baltimore showing the Todd's around during the week. We call the marina we had stayed at previously, and he has room for both boats but the weekend might be a problem with the festival since he has booked the slips. BUT he makes some adjustments and rafts up the power boats coming in just for the festival to fit everyone in. I get my dental work completed and we have a great time showing Jan & George around Baltimore and seeing some sights we did not see before. We attend the Fell's point Fun Festival event over the weekend eating food, checking out the vendor stands, and listening to some music. Saturday was a beautiful day, Sunday the clouds started to move in and by 7 that night it was raining. Monday 10/4 is a cold & rainy day so we just hang out on the boat, Steve is warming the boat by cooking all afternoon, as his son Sean & girlfriend Holly are coming to town. After dinner on board all 6 of us go to a concert at the RAMS HEAD LIVE to see Brandi Carlile . It has been a long time since Steve & I and the Todd's have been to a concert, but we all have a great time and enjoy the experience. Tuesday we sleep in a little after a late night, and Steve & Jan make a run to the Safeway with Sean's car before they head back to DC. We say goodbye to Baltimore on Tuesday 10/5, leaving the dock around noon with partly cloudy skies & cool temperatures, but following winds and flat seas for a beautiful sail down at 6-7 knots, no motoring. We are anchored just south of Annapolis right by the Naval Academy just off the Severn River by 5:30 where we will stay through the upcoming weekend to attend the Annapolis Sailboat show.
 
Link to Pictures:

 http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/SSCAGAM?feat=directlink
 
&    http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Baltimore2?feat=directlink

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

St Michaels

Monday September 20 – Wednesday September 24

We are ready to leave the dock Monday morning by 9:30, anxious to get back on the water again. It is a clear cool morning with a good 15 K breeze that pushes us off the dock. Stopping at a marina on the way out to top off with 70 gallons of fuel. While fueling we hear over the VHF radio that the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle a beautiful square-rigged ship, who had come in to the inner harbor the day before, was getting ready to leave port heading out to sea. So as we are heading out we are keeping a lookout behind us hoping we will get a chance to see her. Once she gets underway she is very active on the radio. Being a training ship sounds like they are taking turns on the radio updating their position to any concerned traffic and telling boats how to pass them. She is doing 10.5 knots so she catches up to us and overtakes us, telling us to get out of the deep water channel as she passes. We were off to the side of the channel and we were the overtaken boat so had right away but we opted not to mention that and just kept snapping pictures, unfortunately her sails were not up but she is still a beautiful boat. It is a perfect sailing weather day and we are actually just sailing NO motor doing between 6.5 – 7.8 knots, even took the connector off the bimini to let the sun in to warm us up. Once we turn up into Eastern Bay we slow down some but don't have much further to go so just enjoying being on the water sailing. From Eastern Bay we turn into the Miles River and are anchored off of the town of St Michaels by 6. Get the dinghy out & ready for the next day. Tuesday we sleep in late, get ready to go into town for lunch and the dinghy motor sounds sick. Starts up & Steve thinks it is okay so we cast off and she dies, we don't drift too far so we row back to the boat. A few adjustments and it sounds better but still questionable. Off we go and make it to town enjoy a nice afternoon and make it back to the boat but the motor still does not sound right. Steve spends some time playing with it and it gets better BUT still something is wrong? Wednesday morning he puts the motor back on the boat to take apart the carburetor, cleans it out, reassembles and gets it running smoothly again. South winds so a little warmer today, back into town for lunch then a walk around finding a great nature / bike trail that just opened last year along a wetland restoration & education facility. So you can get educated along the path as you stop to read the placards. Walk back towards town stopping at St. Michaels Winery, where we stop for a sampling of some of their locally made very nice wines. Back to the boat where we watch boats coming & going and to my surprise a small cruise ship, American Spirit came in. Then a bunch of boats started to go out for the Wednesday night races out on the river. Around 9 the winds pick up a little and we have some distant lightning & thunder and a short shower.

Link to Pictures; http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/StMichaels?feat=directlink

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baltimore / Houston / Washington DC

Monday August 30 – Sunday September 19

Wow I know it has been a while since I had time to update the blog so here is the last 3 weeks cliff note version. The boat was docked at Center Dock Marina in Inner Harbor East (downtown Baltimore) during this time. The first 3 days Steve & I took in as much as we could. Historic Fell's Point 2 blocks away to the east, strolling along the brick sidewalks and streets checking out all the different restaurants and shops and bars. Enjoying all the beautiful architecture of the old buildings. That night passing by several tempting restaurants right along the harbor as we walk up to Little Italy a few blocks north, with even more great restaurants. The area we are in is very well patrolled by police and unarmed security personnel, just a presence to aid & make visitors to the area feel safe. As we walk around we find the Whole Foods store and they also have a great selection. Steve is like a kid in a candy store going up and down the isles seeing what is available, thinking about all the great dishes he can make at the same time being conflicted as there are some really great restaurants to check out also. Tuesday we stop at the visitors center to get more info on the area, passing by the inner harbor and its many restaurants and attractions, & take the 11 am trolly tour of the city. There is an active Naval Landing Ship Dock US Whidbey Island (LSD-411) in port and they are giving free tours through the rest of the day, so after lunch it looks like the line is not so bad so we get in line. An hour later we finally get to go on board and it was worth the wait to see an actual active ship. This ship looks like an island, it's so big. It carries heavy armament from tanks down to Humvee's, and moves them from the ship to shore on a gigantic hovercraft. The crew are very enthusiastic and eager to show their toys off, but in tune with the times we live in, they're also selling t-shirts and souvenirs to supplement their basic pay. Afterward we catch one of the free public transportation buses back toward our marina. Tuesday night we decide on the Lebanese Tavern Restaurant, and what a wonderful meal we have. Wednesday we get a taxi ride to the dentist office, they were able to get us both in for a cleaning and I needed to be fit for a crown over my implant I had done right before we left Kemah. The dentist office is located up by John Hopkins University, so after the visit we go for lunch and walk the 2 ½ miles through the university area and Charles Village to Baltimore's Penn Station. There we catch a free bus (purple route) back to the harbor area then the orange route free bus back to our marina. A great way to get around the city along those two routes, soon to add the green route. Once back at the boat, I have to start to pack for my trip back to Houston. That night we head back to Fell's point for dinner, enjoy our meal Al fresco. Thursday I catch my shuttle to the airport while Steve heads off to find a place to get his hair cut. Both of us keeping updated on Earl but feel pretty good that we will not have any serious storm effects. Well Earl turns out to be a non event for Baltimore & Steve, I on the other hand get caught with the side effects from Tropical Storm Herminia on Monday & Tuesday in Houston. Steve has a good time exploring the city of Baltimore during the week, and his son Sean and girlfriend Holly come to visit him over Labor Day weekend. They see a little of the city and then take the boat down to the anchorage on Rock Creek that we had stayed at on the way up. I have a wonderful 10 day visit seeing family and friends back in Houston/Kemah/Seabrook. I fly back to Baltimore on Sunday 9/12, every day while I was in Houston with it's typical September weather hot & sticky, Steve had been telling me about the gorgeous weather he was having in Baltimore highs around 80 with NO humidity. On that Sunday I returned to a cold & rainy day, but I was still happy to be back with Steve on the boat. Monday the weather was beautiful again so I was able to enjoy the trip back to the dentist office. Tuesday 9/14 we had a visitor, Patricia Battaille an old friend of Steve's from NJ who was coming to Baltimore for her aunt's 99th birthday party, so she came in a day early to visit us. We showed her around town and had a nice dinner out, then Wednesday morning we all caught a cab to Baltimore's Penn Station where Pat was picked up and Steve & I boarded a train to Washington DC. We spent the next four days seeing as many sights as we could which only made a dent in all there is to see. We were very graciously offered to stay at Sean's girlfriend Holly's apartment a few blocks from DuPont Circle as she went to stay with Sean in Arlington. It was a fabulous location in a great neighborhood & close to the metro to get us anywhere we wanted to go. My brother Stephen was in town so we were able to all go out to dinner on Wednesday night in China Town. Thursday night we had a little rain so were glad Sean & Holly could pick us up again to go to dinner that night. Friday night Steve & I were on our own for dinner as Sean & Holly left to go out of town for the weekend. Saturday Stephen joined up with us again to do more sightseeing and stayed at Holly's that night and we had left overs for dinner. Sunday morning Stephen caught the metro to the airport and Steve & I catch it to Union Station to get our Amtrak train back to Baltimore. Once back in Baltimore on the boat, we unpack and make plans to leave the dock Monday morning after 3 weeks. Can't wait to be out sailing again, 1st stop will be St Michael’s on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake.

Link to Baltimore pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Baltimore?feat=directlink

Link to DC pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/WashingtonDC?feat=directlink

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moving up the Bay to Baltimore

Tuesday August 24- Monday August 30

Tuesday we wake to another cloudy day with a chance of rain but we are not going to hang around Reedville, we will take our chances with the weather. It is much cooler only 74ยบ so we dress warmly and are under way by 8 AM. Once out of the creek and in Ingram Bay we are beating into 2-3 foot waves with the wind on our nose but we put the main up to try to ease some of the rocking horse motion. We do not have as far to go today, so once we clear the bay and turn north out in the Chesapeake we are still beating into the waves with an occasional 4 footer included making for a rough ride. We decide to tack our way up the Bay and motor sail to the wind. The day remains cool and cloudy but no rain for us. We arrive at the entrance to the Patuxent River, and head for Solomons Island, going in by Back Creek to Zahniser's Marina. It is hard to tell where one marina stops & another starts along these creeks, but with the help of the dock master waving us down we are docked by 3:30. This is a good size marina with a lot of boat work being done but they keep it very neat & clean. Has a swimming pool, restaurant and free courtesy bikes. As we travel north , I am finding the marinas all have their laundry rooms in the air conditioned buildings with the restrooms and showers, how sweet that is. Wish the marinas down south where it is HOT would do the same. I do some laundry and Steve washes the salt off the boat. Wednesday we get a couple of bikes and it always takes some time trying to adjust the seats, I am not real sure about mine but we head off to tour the Island, head south to “main” street, the only street with shops & restaurants. The back streets are residential but we ride along enjoying the cool weather with low humidity with the river on one side & the creek on the other. I decide my bike is too uncomfortable so as we head back, I take Steve's bike and he goes to change mine out for another one for him before we ride to the north side of the Island. Stop at the West Marine, my sail gloves are falling apart but they only have XXL so will have to wait on those, but look around at some other things while we are there and price the oil so we will stop back by later to get oil here at a lower price then the marina. Find the two grocery stores and check them out as we will have to come back later to do some provisioning. Stop and have some lunch and we have covered most of the Island. Head back to the boat and defrost the freezer, make a list of the things we need. One of the grocery stores works with the marinas and they give you a ride back to the marina, it is the smaller of the two but a closer walk to get there. Stopping at the liquor store on the way there & filling up the backpack. Do our grocery shopping and get a ride home from one of the ladies who works there. Dinner that night at the marina restaurant to celebrate 5 months of cruising, as we watch the full moon come up over the marina, life is good. Thursday we leave at 10:30 it is a beautiful warm day with calm seas as we enter the mouth of the Patuxent River to go around Cove Point turning north into the Chesapeake. The wind is just off the nose so we are motor sailing with the main up. Steve is fine in shorts & T-shirt but with the wind and the shade from the bimini I am actually cold so have a blanket around me & it feels wonderful. We have a nice ride up the bay and turn off into West River then Rhode River where we are anchored in a great spot by 5:30. Friday, after it warms up from the low of 68 overnight, we get the motor on the dinghy, and start off to explore the area. We head over to the populated side of the river and notice the motor sounds a little off, so after checking out the many little creeks going back into neighborhoods we go back to the boat for lunch and for Steve to check the motor. As we are having lunch we notice several more boats coming into the anchorage. Once the motor is running better we head out to check on the unpopulated side of the river. A few homes but mostly woods, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center owns 3000 acres along these shores to study the effects of the coastal zone, studying the effects of development on the wild life & the landscape. It is a beautiful undisturbed area and knowing how close it is to our nations capitol makes it that much more unique & special. Which is why as we are riding around more boats come into anchor, by the end of the day we have more than 20 additional boats in the anchorage. Still NOT crowded, just some of the locals getting away from the busier ports nearby for a quite weekend on the water. Saturday morning a pump out boat even shows up winding its way to the boats to see if anybody needs his service. Saturday we decide instead of pulling up anchor and taking the boat over to West River, to go to the “town” of Galesville we will take the dinghy over. It takes us 30 minutes maybe a little faster than if we took the boat since we were able to take short cuts through shallower water. It is a beautiful day starting to warm up again but still nice, we have the time, we like our anchorage, and it will be a good test for the dinghy motor. It was a nice little excursion seeing all the boats out in the bay, and the other river and side creeks. This river is a little more developed and actually has a couple of restaurants, one of which we stop for lunch at. Walk around a little after lunch to stretch and put off our 30 minute dinghy ride back to the boat. We learned that 30 minutes is probably as long of a ride we want to take in our dinghy. When we got back we noticed more boats coming into the anchorage, earlier some had left, with all the fabulous places to anchor it is easy to just go from one spot to the next. We relax in the cockpit watching the boats come into anchor. Sunday we did not have to hurry to leave since we were not going too far, just a little closer to Baltimore. We started to leave at noon and as Steve was doing his check of the engine oil he noticed a little diesel below the fuel pump for the generator, then when investigating the source of that leak found the power wires had pulled out of their crimped terminals. He removed the fuel pump for further investigation, and after a thorough inspection and cleaning found no problems, but when he went to reinstall the pump, found the temporary plugs he'd put in the fuel lines had leaked, and now there was a big pool of diesel in the engine compartment. He reinstalled the pump, tightening up the fuel hose clamps that were a little loose and the cause of the original leak, then cleaned up the diesel pool. The cause of the power wires pulling out turned out to be the wrong size terminals from whoever had installed the pump originally. They were for a smaller wire, so the wires never were properly crimped, and were probably just barely touching and making the electrical contact. He put the correct size terminals on, and powered up the pump, only to find it didn't make the clicking noise it used to make when running. He thought the motor must have died, but a check with the multimeter showed it was working, so he fired up the generator, and everything worked fine, in fact even better than before, no need to bleed the fuel line, even though air had obviously gotten into it from the leaks. He figures the clicking sound from the fuel pump we'd always heard was actually the pump starting and stopping as the power wires connected and disconnected from the pump with the bad terminals. So after an hour of pulling tools and parts out of places that require moving large parts of the boat inventory from place to place, cleanup and replacement, we are ready to go. Just another day in the life of cruising. We are underway by 1, starting at the mouth of the river we are dodging crab pots until we get into the deeper waters of the Chesapeake. Turn north and are able to motor sail with main & genoa. Sunday afternoon on the Chesapeake there are a lot of boats out, sail boats, motor boats, jet skis, along with the big ships and barges & tows it is a busy place. Pass under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 182 foot clearance NO scraping problems here. Turn off at the Patapsco River then into Rock Creek and are anchored for the night by 5:30. Get great internet & TV reception not bad for being on the water. Monday we are under way by 9:30 heading for Baltimore. Not far to go just out the creek up the river, under the Francis Scott Key Bridge (185 ft. clearance) and have the city of Baltimore on the horizon in front of us. It is such a neat feeling coming into a city by water, passing by ships and seeing the city from the water side is unique experience. Steve found a GREAT deal at Center Dock Marina right in the middle of the inner harbor area of the city and we are docked by 11:30. Apparently they have 4 side tie docks that are part of a non-profit organization called Living Classrooms, so for $250 a WEEK we have a dock, electric included that we have booked for two weeks during which time I will make a trip back to Texas to visit Family & Friends while Steve stays with the boat here in Baltimore.

Link to pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/MovingUpTheBay?feat=directlink

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Portsmouth & Norfolk Virginia

Friday August 20 – Monday August 23

We have a great view from our anchorage looking across the Elizabeth River at Norfolk and being able to see Portsmouth behind us. After anchoring we spend the afternoon relaxing on the boat. Winds have died down and it is hot & humid so we are waiting to go into Portsmouth to walk around & find a place for dinner when it cools down a little. We go to the nearby Tidewater marina and tie off by what passes as a dinghy dock. A nice marina with a floating pool, restaurant & ships store that we stop at to get a map of the town and a visitors guide book. Walk into town through the historic district, passing by some neat old homes & buildings on beautifully tree lined streets. Stopping to read some of the history plaques & notice there is also an old mildew smell to the area. The area is clean but with all the shade, moss & mildew grow along the sidewalks. We go to High Street the “main drag” checking out the different restaurants. We notice there are no crosswalk signs telling you when to cross, that is because It is a very pedestrian friendly city where pedestrians have the right of way. Both Portsmouth & Norfolk have a long history with the Navy & ship building. A lot of battles were fought in these waters between the two towns, and it is strange being anchored in the same area. Saturday morning we are alerted to a cruise ship docking across the river by 5 loud blows of his horn, he is turning in the river and looks like he is getting close to the boats anchored closer to the channel. He has escort boats blocking the river froward & back, guess he just wanted to make sure no one else got in the way. The Cruise ship docking interferes/blocks our internet connection. We get great signals in places we think we won't get any signal, and in a big city where we think we should get a good signal we get a weak one or none. Learn that is because there are so many signals out there it makes it harder for our antenna to connect. Saturday morning we head across the river to Norfolk. We had called ahead to the Waterside marina to see if we can use their dinghy dock and they say yes for a $3 charge, they even meet us as we come in to help tie up the dinghy (pretty funny). Get maps & visitor guides from the marina and walk past the Town Point Park area on our way to Norfolk’s “main drag” Granby St. Find a place for an early lunch before going to the Nauticus Naval Museum that includes the Battleship USS Wisconsin. It is a very interesting museum and they kick us out at closing after spending 5 hours viewing the different displays. Wander around the streets for an hour checking out restaurants. Go for an early dinner as we do not want to go back across the busy river in the dark. Get back to the boat just before another beautiful sunset with a breeze & a cooler temperature than the night before. Norfolk is a neat city that we hope to stop at again on our way south in the fall. Sunday we have the alarm set for an early awakening as we are planning an early departure for a long day up the bay. It had started raining in the early morning hours and it is still raining heavy when the alarm goes off at 6, there was a 80 % chance of rain but we were hoping it would be like the trip up the ICW where we missed it. Steve gets up and checks the weather and it does not look good so we delay our departure until Monday. Around 8:30 Steve goes out to see how the weather is looking and calls down to me that the Staten Island Ferry is going by, sure enough it is under tow escort coming down for repairs we guess. The weather is actually looking a little better, still a few threatening clouds around and since we had a long distance to go we stay put. Hind sight is 20/20 if we knew the bad weather would be over so soon we would have started out in the rain or gone into town again. As it is we have a relaxing day on board reading, playing cards & backgammon. Monday's forecast is much better so we will travel then. We wake Monday to a beautiful morning and are underway by 7 AM passing thru Hampton Roads channel to the Chesapeake. Passing Naval Battleships along the way and WOW are they big & impressive. Just as we get to the end we here one announce over the radio that he is preparing to be underway. Hope to see him go by us but I guess they take a lot longer to get under way then we do, probably have a few more lines to undo. By the time he is out we can see him but too far to get a good picture. As he is heading out an aircraft carrier is coming in and they pass each other, even more impressive seeing them moving on the water than tied up at the docks. We get to be a sail boat for a little while as we head east to avoids shoals but then we have to turn north and the wind is on the nose so we become a motor boat again, It is a Beautiful day to be on the water making our way up the Chesapeake, an amazing body of water with more rivers, sounds, bays, & creeks then I can count. We made good time and reach our stopover town of Reedville, passing by an extremely smelly fish processing plant famous for the UN-edible fish Menhaden used for fertilizer and Omega-3 oil, and are anchored for the night by 5:30.

Link to Pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/PortsmouthNorfolkVirginia?feat=directlink

Friday, August 20, 2010

ICW to Virginia

Thursday August 19 – Friday August 20

We have an 8 AM departure from our anchorage off the town of Manteo, on a gloomy cloudy day calling for an 80% chance of rain. Traveling north around the tip of Roanoke Island seeing the stately homes whose driveways we crossed over on our bike path travels. From Roanoke Sound we enter Albemarle Sound, for 12 miles where we then enter the North River. We will be taking the ICW path also known as the Virginia Cut, aka Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal connecting the Chesapeake Bay with the coastal waters of North Carolina. By 2 we reach the “town” of Coinjock, after scraping our antenna on the 65' bridge, and with only one little 15 minute shower. This is considered a mid way stopping point between Norfolk & NC, at the time we can not imagine why as it is only 2 PM and we have plenty of time to go further. We top off the gas tanks with 65 gallons of fuel and are on our way. There are NOT a lot of places to stop along the next leg of the trip, but we are pretty sure we can make it to the Great Bridge where there is free docking available for overnight. We press on up through Coinjock Bay into Currituck Sound and then to the North Landing River where around 4:30 we cross over to Virginia curving our way north. Passing a swing bridge that we only had to wait 5 minutes for the opening on the ½ hour, and another 65' bridge with no problem then another swing bridge that opens on demand. By 7:15 we are in the straight away of the ICW that was carved out to connect the North Landing River to the Southern Branch Elizabeth River, reaching the dock south of Great Bridge, tied off at 7:45 as the sun is setting. A long 12 hour day but we covered a lot of ground, as now we are just 12 miles south of Norfolk. Friday morning we are not in a big rush as we only have to go 12 miles. But we have bridges and a lock to navigate, so we catch the 10 AM opening of the Great Bridge. As soon as we are through we have to tie up on the other side as there is a huge tow southbound who has entered the lock and is waiting on the 11 am bridge opening. He comes out of the lock and under the bridge and we head for the lock, pass out the south end into the Southern Branch Elizabeth River by 11:30. Around a couple of bends and we come to the Steel Bridge that will be opening at noon so we wait and talk to another southbound tow to see how to pass. Next up 65' bridge, pass with NO scraping, very noisy as we pass under as it is also a bascule bridge that can open with 24 hour notice. We are now in a very industrial part of the river, feels & looks like we are traveling up the Houston Ship Channel. Next up a RR bridge that is open only closes when a train is coming and another bascule bridge that sees us coming so opens for us. Another RR lifting bridge that is open next bridge has been removed then one last RR lifting bridge that just came down for 15 minutes to clear debris off the track. We just drift in idle until the bridge goes back up and we pass under and into the Elizabeth River with Norfolk up ahead on our right and Portsmouth up ahead on our left. We are anchored just north of Olde Towne Portsmouth and right across the river from waterside marina in downtown Norfolk by 1:30. With all the bridge navigating this 3 ½ hour day feels almost as long as Thursdays 12 hour day.

Link to pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/ICWToVirginia?feat=directlink

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ocracoke & Roanoke Islands

Sunday August 15- Wednesday August 18

Sunday we go into shore at 10 AM stopping at the visitor center to get an island map & info, making sure we we tied off the dinghy in the right place. Walk down a little way and rent bikes to tour Ocracoke Island. The island is 16 miles long BUT the main part is on the south tip, about 4 miles long & 6 miles wide, NOT very big. The main hub of the island centers around Silver Lake where we are anchored. We rent bikes for the day and start out for the lighthouse, a short ride. A shame it is not open to the public as it would be a great view from up there looking out on the Sound, the Ocean & Lake with all the boats. Next we head for the beach, a little longer ride out the main road to the turn off, the beach is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Once we turn off, the road leading to the beach is hard backed smooth sand. Good thing otherwise I never would have made it as the road turns out to be 3 miles long. The big thing here is to drive your car, preferably a 4 wheel drive, out onto the beach and set up your home base. That would be the way to visit this beach, wish we had our kayaks as it would be a great place to play in the surf with them. No riding bikes on this beach, as it is very deep soft sand, the cars have trouble when they go out of the “tracks” such as they are. The trucks & jeeps all come with their coolers loaded on the back one jeep we saw even had a Bar-B-Q grill fastened on. But we are on bikes with just a little basket to hold a bottle of water, towel to wipe the sand off our feet to be able to put our shoes back on, and my fanny pack. Ride back down the 3 mile dirt / sand road & find a place for lunch. Get the map out & realize it will not take us long to see the sights, now we know why the rent bikes and scooters, and golf carts by the HOUR. Off we go going up & down all the back streets, one thing we notice is that just about every house is either for rent or for sale, the ones for sale saying how much rental income comes from the home. Guess it is a big vacation destination for North Carolina. After riding around we wind up back to where we started after just 5 hours, so we turn the bikes back in early as we rented them for 24 hours/a day thinking we would need them later in the day & or in the morning. The rental place was nice enough to give me a partial refund since we did not keep them for a full day. Walk around checking out dinner menus and to see where we can come back to tie up the dinghy close to the restaurant. Back to the boat, shower & relax before going back to the Island for dinner. Monday morning we leave Ocracoke at 9:30 heading out the channel a ferry passes us and we watch him run aground trying to get around the dredge working in the channel. The Dredge is working right in the spot where we could see the shoaling on the way in, but we will have to pass him on the shoal side, we call ahead to him and he lets us know he has dredged that side and we will be okay to pass him as long as we stay close. This channel is keeping the Army Core of Engineers busy, we are glad they are doing such a good job. Once out in Pamlico Sound we have a nice breeze but it is on the nose so we are motoring. We start to notice a lot of shrimp boats but they do no appear to be trolling and we can not figure out what they are doing. Over the next couple of hours we pass at least 25 shrimpers all around the Sound, all just anchored. The best guess we have is that they are just waiting for night to start trawling for shrimp again. By 4 PM we turn into the channel that will bring us into Roanoke Sound traveling up between Bodie Island to our east and a lot of small little Islands just spits of land then Roanoke Island to the west. A very narrow channel sometimes less then 100 feet wide with 1 – 3 foot depths just outside. By 5:30 we are approaching another 65' bridge, not much of a tide here only ½ foot and we are at low tide, we make it under with no scraping. By 6:15 we are anchored just outside the town of Manteo on the northern tip of Roanoke Island. Tuesday we head into town around 11 am, the city has a real nice pier with a lighthouse on the end with several finger piers that you can tie up for free for a day so we bring the dinghy in there. Go to the main street and they have a “news stand” with free town maps and guide books & papers. Close by is the North Carolina maritime museum. A lot of history on the NC Shad Boat and a workshop where they build small wooden boats. Next we walk over to the festival park where they have an American Indian town, and an English Settlement town and a replica of a 16th century sailing ship, and a little movie about the American Indians who the Island towns are named after. After the park & lunch walk along the waterfront boardwalk then go see about bike rentals and the place that rents them is also a dive shop. We talk to them about their dives which are off the beach on the next Island over – Nags Head. They are wreck dives where you swim 100 yards off shore and dive 20 feet to your choice of wrecks. Apparently the legend lives on as there are plenty of old wrecks and even some new ones to choose from right off the shore. We talked about the current out there and were told it is unpredictable until you get there. I was concerned about being able to walk across the beach with all my dive gear on, I have trouble just getting the few feet to the back of the dive boat carrying all that equipment on me, then to have to swim out 100 yards in possible waves & current I figured I would be exhausted by the time I got there IF I got there. So we opt to just rent the bikes. There is an outdoor theater that we read about that has an ongoing play since 1937 about the Lost Colony of English settlers here on Roanoke. By this time it is close to 5 and the play starts at 8, BUT if you go to one of the participating restaurants before 6 you get 20% off your dinner entree. So we go back to the boat a quick change for me, get bug spray & our head lamps for the bike ride home and then back to town for an early dinner. After dinner we have a nice bike ride out the 4 miles to the Theater, they have a nice paved bike path along the road leading out there. For such a small Island they have a first class outdoor theater. The play is good, we now know the history of this area as well as any local. The bike ride back in the dark is easy enough with our headlights and the light from all the cars coming back from the theater. The occasional car coming towards us causes a glare in our eyes but we make it back to town & are back on the boat by 11. Wednesday is a lazy morning for me, then we head back to town to do some more sightseeing by bike. Head back out the 4 mile bike trail to where we were last night at the theater to Fort Raleigh and the Elizabethan Gardens which are all located in the same area. Well Fort Raleigh is NOT a fort it is just where the fort use to be, part of which is now the theater grounds which are very beautiful. So we go over to the Elizabethan Gardens and what a fabulous landscape job they did here. The gardens are truly beautiful and we enjoy walking around in the shade. Next stop the aquarium which is off on a side road on the way back to town just did not realize it was 3 miles down that side road with NO bike path. Make it there safe & sound & for me a little tired, rental bike is not the best fit for long rides! They have a replica of one of the wrecks off shore in a tank with off shore fish, so we get to see what we might have seen if we did a dive only we stay dry. After the aquarium we ride the rest of the way back to town & return the bikes. It has been a busy day so we decide to have an early dinner knowing if I go back to the boat chances of me getting back out are slim to none. Find a restaurant at a little before 5 when they start dinner so have a drink while we wait. I wanted a Margarita, but we find out there is no liquor allowed on the island, only beer and wine. They have a great beer menu, so Steve is happy trying a few he doesn't know, and I have a hard cider, which is okay, but not as thirst quenching as a Margarita. Enjoy a discussion of beer brewing and food with the owner followed by a great dinner and watch as a small thunder storm forms, so have to have desert while we wait for it to pass over before going back to the boat. The storm provides a good rinse for the salt on the boat, when the rain stops make a dash back to the boat before another shower starts. Cleaned up and making plans for early departure on Thursday heading north where we will join up with the ICW to travel up to Coinjock & then to Norfolk Virginia.

Link to Pictures;
http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/OcracokeRoanokeIslands?feat=directlink