Thursday, 29 November 2012

Florida the Sunshine State

We had yet another beautiful day as we continued down the ICW to Vero Beach where we booked a mooring ball for a few nights.  This was a good location to shop for supplies as there is free transportation.  We got to a dive shop where I tried on a few BC's and a grocery store then spent a day doing chores, making calls and doing laundry.  Al and I went for a ride out in the dinghy and on the way back he turned the drivers seat over to me - yikes! When we returned to the boat Al got out and left me to make my way over to the dinghy dock with the laundry.  Parking was a bit of a challenge for a newbie as dinghies were already parked 3 deep.  It took a few minutes maneuvering but I eventually got docked :) I was even more surprised that I got the motor started again for the return trip.
First solo drive

There is a lot more boat traffic now and we feel like we are in a convoy as we make our way south. Many we have heard calling on the radio and/or have followed or anchored near in the last 6 weeks.  We are sure to run into some of them again when we reach the Bahamas.

Today we moved down the ICW a couple of miles to Ft. Pierce where we had arranged to meet someone at the public boat launch who would take Al's diving tanks in to be hydrostated. It turned out that his tanks needed to be replaced so we got a lift over to a dive shop and picked up 4 used tanks, 2 bright pink for me (so I'm easy to spot) and blue ones for Al.  We spent a bit of time chatting with the owner, had Al's BC and regulator tested and picked up a couple of other items.  Tomorrow we will check out a marine supply warehouse nearby.

Pelicans awaiting scraps from the fish cleaning station

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Quiet day on the ICW

One of many derelict boats we saw today
Today we travelled just over 40 nautical miles down the ICW to Coco. It was another warm, sunny day with light breezes.  We stopped early to take a bike ride around town and stopped to pick up a couple of slices of Key Lime pie for dessert tonight.  We are now anchored out just off the channel enjoying a cold beer before dinner.

Island life mile from shore

Friday, 23 November 2012

Quantum Joy Breaking Surf

Wilson survived the fall
We departed St. Augustine this morning, what an exciting time we had getting out to the ocean! The surf was amazing. We crashed through 15 foot waves as the dishes rattled and watched helplessly as Wilson took a dive from the cockpit to the salon. He's ok just a scrape and has bounced back quickly from his mishap.

We enjoyed a leisurely sail down the coast to the Ponce de Leon inlet under sunny skies and moderate winds.  We have anchored out for the night and will proceed down the ICW tomorrow to Cape Canaveral.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thanksgiving dinner al fresco

Today we spent the morning on our bikes touring St. Augustine the oldest continually occupied European settlement in North America. Ponce de Leon claimed Florida for Spain in 1513 and the first Spanish settlers came in 1565.  We visited the Castillo de San Marcos a stone fort built in 1672 and then enjoyed turkey dinner on the patio of a local pub. A great way to spend a beautiful sunny day!

Panarama from the top of Castillo de San Marcos
One of the rooms in the Fort
Spanish 15" Mortar made in 1794, captured by the Americans in 1898.  Range of 1.2 miles

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

We are here Florida!!!!

We departed Charleston at first light Tuesday and sailed through the night on the Atlantic to St. John's inlet (near Jacksonville) where we joined the ICW again. The winds were out of the North/North East at 20 knots and even went down to 10 knots for a while.  What a treat not having the huge seas that we had on our last outside passage.  We even had the spinnaker up for the daylight hours.  After rejoining the ICW we sailed down to St. Augustine where we anchored out for the night.  Total of 205 nautical miles.  It would have taken us likely a week to get to St Augustine from Charleston via the ICW with all its twists and turns in Georgia.

Good news is the sun is shining again and it is about 20 degrees warmer. The weekend is supposed to be sunny and warmer as well.

The depth on this section of the ICW has been good so far and we have not come across any shoaling mentioned in the guide.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


We arrived in Charleston at first light Friday morning after a 125 mile off shore passage from Southport.  The weather forecast called for 20-25 knot winds and 3 to 5 foot seas; however, what we experienced was 30-35 knot winds gusting to over 40 and 6-8 foot seas for most of the trip.  Al was feeling sea sick and didn't get his sea legs until nearly 10 hours in.
Downtown Charleston

Beautiful manicured gardens

We docked at Charleston Maritime Center; located within walking distance to downtown and steps to the aquarium and Fort Sumter memorial centre. After a brief nap we took a tour of the city and saw many beautiful old homes and heard about  the history of Charleston.  We then went for a walk and out for dinner where we experienced some southern cuisine (hush puppies, shrimp and grits, collard greens and red rice).

Saturday morning we took a walk, stopping at the farmers market and taking a tour through the Aiken-Rhett house; one of the old Charleston homes. It was a great way to get a feel for how some people lived during the early 1800's.  After lunch we went to the aquarium where we saw lots of fish, birds and other wildlife and enjoyed a 4D version of the Polar Express the 4th D adds a sensory journey, with snow, wind, pine scents and rumbling chairs in the theatre.

Tomorrow we will take a tour of Fort Sumter memorial and head across the river to tour the aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN CV-10.

Ornate architecture for a school
notice the bolt above which all old Charleston building have after the earthquake

Kitchen the slaves used to cook for the household of a wealthy family

Outhouse of the rich in the 1800s

Aiken-Rhett house

Kiss the Frog

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Update from Wrightsville, NC

We have spent the last two days on the Intercoastal Waterway waiting to find an outlet that isn't silted over and for favourable winds to make an outside passage.  Yesterday was glorious and we were roasting in our bathing suits as we meandered along the ICW in North Carolina.
The waterway is lined with large homes and some are very colourful
There was constant chatter on the radio as many people were getting stuck due to low water and shoaling.  We grounded out a couple of times but luckily didn't get seriously stuck.  Yesterday evening we pulled over to the side and dropped anchor in over 10' of water but woke up after midnight listing 45 degrees.  Apparently we were right on top of a pile - there was nothing we could do but wait for the tide to come back in and float us off.  The listing made sleeping impossible as we jumped at every creak and shift and had to lay horizontally on the bed with feet against the closet so we wouldn't roll off.

Dolphin playing in our bow wake

Crane wading alongside the ICW

Beach art at Wrightsville, NC

Today was overcast and rainy, so we made a short motor and anchored in the seaside town of Wrightsville Beach.  The radio continued to crackle with more boats calling in to be towed off shoals.  The next section of the waterway doesn't look any better which makes navigation a real chore as water levels change so rapidly you can't take your eyes off the instruments for a minute.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Norfolk to Swansboro, NC

We left Norfolk Thursday mid morning and motored down the Intercoastal waterway heading to Beaufort, NC.  It was a fairly uneventful trip except when we grounded out (a number of times).  Luckily Al was able to get us unstuck and we didn't need to call for BoatUS towing service.  We were surprised not to see more wildlife in the Dismal Swamp; however did see a couple of Bald Eagles.
Eagles seen near Coinjock, NC

The weather has been warm and sunny during the day but cools off quickly at night.  We anchored out the first night in a creek north of Coinjock, NC and the second night near Oriental, NC before arriving in Swansboro Sunday afternoon where we went ashore for a walk.  The town is all lit up and decorated for Christmas which seems strange given the weather.

We have begun to see dolphins and palm trees; sure signs of good things to come.  Winds look like they will continue to be very light until Wednesday so we may do another ocean sail tomorrow and make our way down to Charleston, SC.  We will take a look at the weather again in the morning before heading out.
This dolphin hitched a ride in my bow wake for a couple of min.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Ocean voyage New York to Norfolk

New York harbour is closed but we got permission to pass through New York Harbour (as long as we didn't stop) Saturday morning. It was sunny but cool and we were very comfortable inside the enclosure.  We were surprised not to see any quanity of debris in the water.
Lady Liberty - too bad we couldn't stop

We decided to sail through the night to take advantage of the off shore breeze and to ensure we had time to make it to Norfolk (320 nautical miles) before the next storm which is due to roll in on Wednesday. The 30 knot (gusting to 60) winds had us double reefed for Saturday.  The winds were a little lighter (25-30 knots, gusting to 40) on Sunday and the skies remained clear; it was so nice to see the sun after a week of dreary weather.  With AIS, Radar and MARPA tracking we felt safe to know the location of other vessels around us.   The Coast Guard were warning of navigation bouys may be out of position and new shoals have appeared since Hurricane Sandy so we took a track that was 30 miles off shore to avoid the fishing nets and traps and shoals.

With so many large container ships queuing up to get through, sailing into Chesapeake Bay (in the dark) early Monday morning was a little intimidating.  As the sun rose we made our way to Norfolk where we saw huge boatyards that were built to maintain the American navy ships as well as large commercial vessels.
Norfolk is the US Navy Headquarters

Norfolk is a major shipping port, thank goodness for AIS

We arrived in Norfolk tired after more than 48 hours of non stop sailing. Norfolk is a clean town and the downtown waterfront is very pretty and well appointed. We walked to the Freemason historic area where we saw cobbled streets and many old homes/buildings which have been restored. We were surprised that so few people were out and about on such a beautiful, sunny day.

There are several tall ships here on tour and we took a tour of the Norwegian ship today.  The boat was in to take on fuel (7000 gallons, 2 tankers came to fill). We also spent several hours at the maritime museum where we could easily have spent a full day. We got a tour of the battleship Wisconsin. The tour was led by retired seamen/women who shared their vast knowledge and answered all Al's questions.

HNoMS Statsraad Lehmkuhl

Wisconsin  887 feet long, 108 feet wide, 58,000 tons
212,000 hp, speed > 33knots, 2.3 million gallons fuel 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Our journey resumes

We got an early start as we knew we wanted to get past NYC today as we had heard on the news that the situation there is quite serious.  However we did not hear until we were underway that the harbour is closed to all pleasurecraft.  So now we are anchored just north of the George Washington bridge waiting for the harbour to open.  Information is hard to get so who knows how long we will be here.  Oh well, the sun is out and Al is putting the BBQ back up - hot dogs for lunch and roast for dinner!

This evening we learned we can request an exemption for travel through the harbour. Tomorrow morning we will call and hope to get moving.  The lights have started to come on in some areas of the city and we have a nice view of George Washington Bridge from our anchorage.
George Washington Bridge at night

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Last look at the Haverstraw area

We spent yesterday preparing the boat once again for travel. The genoa is back on the furler and the Dodger, Bimini and enclosure was put back on.  We took a bike ride into town and tried to get a view of some of the other marinas around but were not able to get through road blocks for low lying areas.  Grocery store refridgeration sections are empty - waiting until trucks can get through with fresh supplies.
The shelves are empty, no hydro, all food and milk that needed refrigeration
Al got more propane for the stove today with his bike. Al and Rob from Hammertime went out in the dingy to check out the surrounding marinas and see the carnage.

This is the gas docks, all the pumps and dock office gone
Devistation at Belle Harbour Marina
This is where the boats ended up at the marina next door.
This is 3 marinas over, half mile away