Thursday, October 31, 2013

Making Tracks to Florida

We have covered a lot of miles since the last blog and have been to two of my favorite spots along the way so many pictures are coming!
We were heading down past Myrtle Beach, NC at the last blog and heading into a marina due to lows in the upper thirties and low forties. We met several other cruisers who did the same thing, and one was the couple we had dinner with when we were in River Dunes. He showed me a picture he took with his iphone and I could not believe what I was seeing.
Yes, it is a real elephant in the ICW!

An elephant was brought down to the waters edge to enjoy the ICW (Intra-Coastal Waterway for those new readers who are not familiar)! You just never know what you will see on the waterway! Maybe there was a circus in town-it is anybody's guess.

One of many mansions around Myrtle Beach

Then you have the mansions also along the waterway. What a contrast of sights to see.

Our friends, the Mershons, came into Osprey Marina on the Wacamaw River with us, so we rented a car to head to Brookgreen Gardens. We went there last year, but we enjoyed it so much, we decided to go back. It was a gorgeous blue sky, sunny day but was chilly as indicated by our outer ware. 
One of the many fountains.

For those not familiar it is designated a National Historic Landmark due to the explanations of the rice plantations and how they influenced our American heritage. And the description from their brochure says it best. “From its beginnings in 1931 when Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington created this non-profit outdoor museum with its majestic oaks and world-renowned sculpture, it has been a place to restore your soul and renew your spirit. Wide expansive lawns lure you to relax while serene gardens allow space for reflection.”
One of my favorite sculptures was a small bronze one of a man with his cat and fishing pole. I just loved the detail and the smirk on this gentleman's face. It just made you want to smile!
My favorite sculpture.

Loved his smile!
The butterflies were out even though it was in the high fifties!
If you are familiar with my blog, then you know I love flowers, sunrises and sunsets. Here are just a few of the pictures I took at the gardens.
One of the lovely pools with fountains and sculpture.

Water lilies are so fascinating!

Magnolia pods are so interesting.

There is also a zoo at the gardens which we also enjoyed. How often do you get this close to the birds and animals to take such great shots. 
This fellow did not seem happy to see us!

I thought he was so cute.

The otters are always fun to watch.

Mr. Gray Fox was ignoring us.

We also had a new experience here, because the gentleman who feeds the animals was doing the circuit as we were. Not all the sights were pretty!

After visiting the gardens we drove to Murrells Inlet where we walked their small boardwalk and enjoyed a dinner out.
Dave and Toni enjoying Murrells Inlet
The next day we parted to Georgetown, SC and Mershon's anchored a bit further on. 
Georgetown, SC waterfront.

Charred remains of several businesses.

We always enjoy this small town but were saddened to see the charred remains of several buildings along the waterfront from a fire in September. Luckily, the Rice Museum store and our favorite seafood co. were not affected by the fire. We enjoyed fresh shrimp on board that night!
Morning stillness.

We met up with the Mershon's in Whiteside creek north of Isle of Palm for happy hour.
We parted ways because they headed to Beaufort, SC to visit friends for a few days and we decided to take advantage of the north wind and go out in the ocean from Charleston to Cumberland Island for an overnight.

It was like a millpond on the ocean!

Sunset on the ocean.
 We got out in the ocean and we don't know what happened to the wind but it was like a pond out there. Flat as can be, so motoring was the name of the game! It was quite uneventful except for when we got near Tybee River around 10pm which is where Savannah is located. There were ships coming, going, anchored and coming in to anchor. Al got to the point where he just pulled back the throttle and let the ships go where they were headed. Then he got out of there and said, “Next time I think we will go out further and not be in that area again.”

Local man netting shrimp.
We came in St. Mary's inlet around 11AM and headed to Cumberland Island where there were at least 15 boats anchored. Many are awaiting November 1st which is when their boat insurance will allow them to enter Florida. We were tired from the overnight so decided just to “chill out” on the boat the rest of the day.
A beautiful watercolor sky!
While sitting on the boat, we got to watch the local men catch shrimp. It is so interesting to watch as they toss their nets like a matador swinging his cape. The man said the shrimp come to this area to have their babies and eventually will go out in the ocean. There are weights all along the bottom edge of the net and when they pull on the rope, the weights come together to hold in the shrimp. Those guys work hard! There was a fantastic colorful sunset with the sky ablaze with reds and oranges to end the day.
There are marshes too.

We headed in for a day of hiking on our favorite island , Cumberland. We packed our lunch and headed north through the innards of the island with all its palmettos and hanging moss from the various trees. It is always beautiful. The weather could no have been any nicer. Seventies for temps and blue skies and sunshine.

A beautiful white sandy beach to ourselves!

We eventually walked out to the ocean where we were the only people on the beach. And what a gorgeous beach it is with fine white sand. We walked several miles, myself always looking for that interesting shell. 
Always looking for that perfect shell!

Finally, nearer the southern end of the island we saw a crowd of about 10 people walking up the beach. We were wondering if they were people from the tour boat that comes in or cruisers like ourselves. Here they were cruisers from the many boats anchored off the island. We stopped and talked for a while and then continued on.
 This fellow came near our picnic table while we enjoyed lunch.
We saw many of the same sights as before: wild horses and turkeys. 
Wild?  I don't think so!

You can see how “wild” they are. I took these pictures with a small point and shoot camera, so you know how close I had to be! Dungeoness, once the home of Thomas Carnegie. I just had to take another picture of this once magnificent home. I have never seen the sky so blue, it just made it stand out even more! 
Dungeoness, home of Thomas Carnegie.
 We actually walked a few trails we had never been on before and I was lucky enough to catch this beautiful yellow butterfly(moth) on these wildflowers as we headed back to our dinghy. It had been a wonderful day hiking this very special island.
Ahh, the beauty of nature!

We are moving on to Florida just across the river from Cumberland. We are going to by-pass Fernandina Beach and head for an anchorage north of St. Augustine.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Two States Down, Three More to Go!

After anchoring in Old Point Comfort and being the only boat there, we motored to Portsmouth in the drizzle and gray once again.  We tied up to the north basin on the south wall of one of the two little harbors used for the ferry boats back and forth to Norfolk.  There were two other boats there.  We read that there had been signs for no docking but the latest on the various cruisers’ websites said that they do not enforce unless it is a special weekend like the Great Schooner Race.  Luckily, we were there a weekend before it.   
Water up over the dock in Portsmouth.

Unlucky though, in that it was an extremely high tide due to the winds and fall tides.  We only had about an hour to get off and walk around before the tide was up over the dock and we were stuck on board.  So much for that great plan!

We had to make the decision of going the Dismal Swamp route or the Great Bridge way.  We had talked to our friends, Toni and Dave Mershon, and had decided to go Great Bridge.  We are soooooooooo… glad we did.  Afterward we heard about reports of all sorts of boats having problems overheating due to the mass of Duckweed in the Dismal Swamp this year.   
Our friends on Tilt met us at the dock in Great Bridge and Mershons pulled in later the same day.  We had our first Happy Hour of the season on Craig and Chris’ boat and then walked to a good Mexican restaurant nearby for dinner.

Had decent sails for two days and the day we anchored before the Alligator/Pungo canal around 2pm about four boats continued through the canal.  As it grew dark, the boats returned.  We found out that one of the boats hit the bridge because the tide was extremely high due to the north wind.  The other boats did not think they could make it either so returned to the anchorage.  Much chatter continued among the boats and the coast guard.  Finally, it was decided that since the wind was changing to the west, the water level would drop and they could probably get through the next day. 
Fog makes for interesting photos.

Early morning foggy sunrise in the Pungo Canal .
The next day dawned with heavy fog but gave me some interesting photos.  

How did this creature get on the boat?

We also discovered a stowaway on board.  How it got there, we have no idea, but there was a frog stuck to our enclosure.  

The other boats took off before us and we learned they made it through so we knew we would not have any problem.  Our mast is 61ft.  Most bridges are 64-65ft.  
Tug pulling 3 barges came between us and a boat aground.

Al ended up being a hero, helping a boat who went aground in the canal get off just after a tug pulling 3 barges behind went between us.  On to Bellhaven we went with the sun finally coming out and blue skies.  I said, “I never thought I would say this, but the canal is actually pretty.”  Sun and blue skies makes a world of difference after not seeing it for more than a week!    
The Alligator/Pungo Canal beauty.

This is the "Welcome" rug I am working on presently.

I was able to get some rug hooking done on this beautiful day.  For my rug hooking friends, you can see the progress I have made.
Doing my favorite hobby, rug hooking.

Free to roam in Bellhaven

Al read about some free docks that had been built in Bellhaven, and we felt we needed to get off the boat and walk around.  Mershon’s followed us there and anchored out.  We discovered they were charging a $1/ft. which is a good price, but we decided to anchor out also so we could have the Mershons for a chili dinner.  We did our good deed for the day and released our stowaway. 
We also visited the Bellhaven museum.  It was a large massive room with all sorts of things, from agricultural tools, to clothing, kitchen items, quilts, toys, buttons, typewriters, etc.  The unfortunate part was nothing was being preserved the way it should.  The clothing was mostly out in the open and subject to sunlight and moths.  But I guess they were doing their best for a small town.

Chapel at River Dunes- perfect for a small wedding.

Continuing on the next day, we decided to head into one of our favorite marinas, River Dunes, north of Oriental, NC.  It was once again, rainy and gray so a wonderful warm shower and nice amenities sounded great.  We were able to do all sorts of chores such as laundry, groceries, updating computers and phones, and having a nice meal.  We met some fellow cruisers at the dock as well.  One couple (Bob and Jean on Walkabout) we had met three years ago when we rented a car together to see Long island in the Bahamas,  We also met a new couple who boat out of Rock Hall (Nancy and Norm on True Luv), but keep their boat at the marina across from us.  It always fun to see past cruisers and to meet new ones.  As often when we stop here, a wedding was being held here.  They have the cutest little chapel on the premises.  They had it all decorated for the late afternoon wedding.  
The bride and groom stand with water view in background.  How nice is that?  Need a wedding venue anyone?
Sunset in Mile Hammock.

We headed past Beaufort, NC to anchor in Mile Hammock.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunset while we sat out and enjoyed our beverage of choice.  Mershons were there as well as about 8 other boats.  The next morning we arose to a nice sunrise and continued down the waterway to Wrightsville Beach going through several bridges which can be tedious at times.. 
Mershons going through ahead of us at a swing bridge.

Surfs UP!

We decided to stay another day in Wrightsville Beach.  We had our first walk on a beach here with Toni and Dave.  Saw some interesting sights on the way back, such as this frog with the surf board in front of one of the homes.  Another interesting sight on the waterway was this sculpture in someone's yard.
Sea Goddess- I guess?

We are heading to Calebash Creek for tonight which is the start of South Carolina.  A cold front is coming so it looks like a stay in a marina for those 40 degree nights is due,  It is time to plug in the heater!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fifty Shades of Gray

 Well, what a week to pick to leave on our trip. We saw more gray rainy weather this week than we saw in any of the entire trips in the past. We left Rock Hall on Saturday, October 5th on a bright sunny windless day. You can see how smooth it was as we passed the notorious Bay Bridge. 

Flat water around the Bay Bridge, not seen too often!

Kayaking around in the Solomon Islands.

We made it to the Solomon Islands on the Paxtuxent River and decided to stay Sunday because they predicted 15 -20 out of the south, so why fight it. It was a beautiful day and I even got some kayaking in. We had an enjoyable first night dinner with wine compliments of the Oriolds.
Al enjoying our send off gift from the Oriolds at our first dinner .

The next day dawned rainy, rainy and more rainy. We got some projects done as mentioned in the first blog. We left the next day in dreary gray but the winds were in back of us so we made it to Mill Creek off the Great Wicomico River to our cruising friend's dock. There were times we saw the boat reach 9 knots sailing under reefed main and genny only out a little. The waves were probably 4 ft. and at times we would get hit by a wave that would have soaked us if it were not for our enclosure. When we got near Mill Creek the engine would not start! So we had to put our sailing skills to the test to get into this creek which had an L-shaped bend and is quite protected so very little wind. Twice we thought we were going to hit the green marker but God was with us and we inched by and finally anchored off Lynn and Peter Forgosh's (First Edition) dock.
This is the view we saw for most of the week!
Al worked at getting the engine started and we finally got tied up to their dock. He discovered later that a wave somehow got water in the engine. He changed the oil twice and it seems to be working fine.

We never left for four days! It rained constantly. Thank heavens we were where we could plug in a small heater so it kept the cabin from feeling moist. We could not have been at a better spot. 

Lynn and Peter's home.

The Forgosh's home is beautiful. We got to enjoy a wonderful meal with them and caught up on our lives, went out to eat, did laundry, went to stores and I even got to a relaxation class with Lynn at the local Y.

Finally, we left on Saturday still in gloomy gray weather, but the wind had died down, the waves were 1-2 ft. and we sailed at seven knots down to the Hampton area and anchored near Ft. Munroe. It felt good to get moving again. It drizzled on and off but did not pour until we were at anchor once again.

Hopefully, we will see brighter days ahead. We are motoring to Portsmouth in rain and drizzle this Sunday, but the sun actually came out for about 5 minutes. That's a good sign. At least it is nice to know it is still up there!  I have to say thank you to our canvas maker, Victoria, because we sure needed the new canvas this first week  It got a good workout for testing the water proofing.

Now why did we name our blog what we did?  Not for the book, but for the fifty shades of gray we saw all this dreary rainy week!