Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What have Al and Arleen been up to this Summer?

We have been sailing on the bay but our most memorable trip is the Riverboat Cruise we took on the Danube, Rhine and Mein in Hungary, Austria and Germany with Vantage Travel.  We had 21 sailing association friends and 20 friends and family do the trip.  What fun!  You may get a glimpse at what we did for seventeen days by viewing our photo book I made at Shutterfly.  There are 38 pages so don't stop until you get to the page of windows which is the back cover.  Unfortunately, it is hard to read the writing but enjoy the pictures!
Click on the following:  2014 River Cruise

What are we doing this fall?  Well, we are taking a winter off from cruising to the Bahamas.  We have plans for a week trip to Hyde Park, NY and Vermont to visit with some friends we met cruising.  We also have a trip to France and London planned and a month in Florida mid winter.  We are not letting any moss grow under our feet.  Would love to hear from you cruisers!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Blue Heaven Back to Home Port in Swan Creek

The Mariner's Museum in Solomons, MD
We left Monday from Mill Creek never seeing our friends, but there is always next time.  It was a bit rough in the morning but by early afternoon the winds from the north calmed to almost dead flat, so we got into Solomon's Maryland around 4PM.
Matt & Marty at their home.
The next day we met friends who already were home from the Bahamas a week or so, Matt and Marty on Runaway.  We had lunch out with them and enjoyed happy hour later at their condo near the water. 

The next day we left for the West River where we were to meet some more cruising friends from Sloop John Dee.  We had exchanged DVD's in Georgetown and needed to return them.  Thanks to John and Denise we are caught up with season 4 of Dowton Abbey!   We met them at the restaurant called "Thursday's" and had fun catching up with all our return stories and reminiscing about Georgetown, Exuma.  We said our good byes to them hoping to catch them on the bay possibly this summer since they berth their boat one day away from Rock Hall.

Mermaid Wall Hanging not quite finished.

I got some rug hooking done on these motoring days.  I am not quite done with my brightly colored mermaid wall hanging, however it should not take too long to finish it once I am at home.

 Our last day on the water was as gray as many others we had on the return trip.  Familiar landmarks such as the Thomas Point Lighthouse,
Thomas Pt. Lighthouse
 the water tower in Rock Hall,
Rock Hall, MD

and the local osprey were welcome sights after a cooler than usual return trip.

Blue Heaven back in its slip at Spring Cove in Swan Creek.

We were in to our slip by noon and about an hour later the sun came out shining full force to let us put on our shorts and tee shirts to start the cleaning process.
It was a good trip and a great winter to have missed in Pennsylvania.  We are so thankful for being able to cruise and to all our friends who continue doing so:
May you find gentle harbor as every day ends,
May you lower your anchor amidst peace and good friends.  

We are taking next winter off from cruising but will be back the next winter, God willing.  Now, I have to find some place warm to go for a month or two next winter and try another kind of cruising!  Thanks to all who read my blog and have a great summer.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Al Snags Another, And We Aren't Talking Fish

Blue Heaven at the marina in Oriental, NC
Meeting up with friends in Oriental
Oriental, NC is a quaint little town and with the beautiful sunny weather we had it was even better than usual. We decided to go into the Oriental Marina which is right in town for a night. Carl and Marilyn on Discovery who are preparing their boat for sale in New Bern, NC heard us calling the marina on the VHF radio, so they contacted us.  They drove down to join us for happy hour and dinner at the Toucan Grill at the marina where we got caught up with all the news from them. We are disappointed they are retiring from sailing since we have known them from our first trip to the Bahamas, but hopefully we will continue to see them since they purchased a place in Vero Beach, FL.

After Oriental we anchored the next night right before entering the Alligator/ Pungo Canal. We decided the following day, we were going to do a long day by going throught the canal, up the Alligator River and across the Abermarle Sound into Elizabeth City, 68 miles. It was another ugly gray day with 15-17 knots of wind. We were doing fine until we heard a thump under the boat. OH NO, not again! There were so many crab pots in the river going to Elizabeth City that it was hard to miss them. It was worse than we see near Rock Hall. We were motor sailing, and the motor kept running so we continued on, thinking it must have cut it. When we got to Elizabeth City we realized due to the direction of the wind, we did not want to be tied up to their free docks so we were going to continue on through the bridge into the Dismal Swamp. Unfortunately, we were five minutes late for the 4:30pm opening, so the next one was an hour away. We motored around and finally the bridge tender opened the bridge about 5 minutes early for us. We continued on to Goat Island where we were going to anchor for the night. When setting the anchor Al kept yelling to go in reverse. I said I was in reverse. He did not believe me, so he comes back and sees I am in reverse, and then we realize, the crabpot must have done something to our reverse! We were exhausted after such a long day that we had dinner and went to bed. 
Al trying to rid the crab pot on our prop from the dinghy.

The next morning Al got into the dinghy with a a special knife hook that a friend gave us when he got out of sailing.

Al tried the special hook knife without success

 Al did not have much success with it but at least he knew there was a line wrapped down under the boat because he felt it with the hook. He said, “I guess I have to go in.” Now the water in the Dismal Swamp is brown. When you get any on your white deck, you see that it is brown. Plus our temperature gauge said it was 62.3 degrees! 
To Cape Codders this might be warm but not to us!
Al diving in dark brown Dismal Swamp water.

Al bravely donned his wet suit and went in and in three tries got the line off which then allowed us to have reverse once again! YEAH!!! You can be sure he took a hot shower after that entry!

We motored through the Dismal Swamp with two power boats ahead of us.
We heard more thumps than ever going through the swamp. We tried to stay further back from the power boats, because they sometimes stir up the bottom, and the dead heads (water sodden logs) come closer to the surface.

Getting closer to home!
We made it into Virginia which was a welcome sight.  One more state closer to home! We tied to the free dock at Deep Creek Lock where there were 5 other sailboats. A storm was predicted so it was good to be tied up.

This was an interesting sight when we went for a walk.
No, it isn't snow!
No it is not snow, but foam that formed from a waterfall outlet off the Dismal Swamp.  That evening for the first time we had a pizza delivered to our boat. We usually walk to the Italian restaurant but due to the rain we chose delivery which we were told they did many times there. It was delicious and welcome treat.

Left the lock after having a wonderful breakfast offered by Robert the bridge tender. He is the nicest and most helpful bridge tender anywhere! He had donuts, coffee cake, fresh fruit, orange juice with strawberries and coffee at his lock house for those who spend the night at the dock. This wasn't the first time either.  What a great guy! We promised him a conch shell the next trip.  He loves showing off his skill in blowing a tune on them.

We headed for Hampton City Marina passing a new kind of scenery with all sorts of naval ships, tankards and tall buildings. 
Scenery changes when you are in the Norfolk/Portsmouth area.
Hampton City Marina

We tied up and showered, and then Dave and Toni, our friends for 30 some years from Sequence, came and picked us up to go to their place in Williamsburg. 

Lee Hall Estate which we visited.
That afternoon we went to Lee Hall Estate and learned all about the magnificent home and the family that lived there. It was a beautful spot. The next day we enjoyed a three mile hike in a local park. After being so sedetary
on the boat for so long, it felt great to get moving again! They took us back to the marina in the late afternoon where we met people from the Virgina Beach Yacht Club whose boats were surrounding us in the marina. They generously invited us to their happy hour on the dock and made us feel welcome. We almost felt we were with our sailing club, BRMSA, who would have done the same thing.

The next day we left Hampton and entered the Chesapeake Bay for the first time since October. 
Al raising the main sail as the sunrises on the bay.
We made it all the way to Mill Creek on the Great Wicomico River. The light winds were in the right direction, SE, and so were the tide and currents, which made for a very pleasant day. We anchored off of our cruising friends, Lynn and Peter's dock, who were away for the weekend.
Blue Heaven anchored in Mill Creek.
We planned to continue on the next day, but when we checked the weather forecast, there was a gale warning for the area where we were headed. We decided to hold up for less wind. Over 30 knots is a bit much!

However, the morning of the gale warning started off with no wind, so I took the kayak to explore the creek. It is one of the prettiest creeks on the Chesapeake.
Kayaking on Mill Creek
Since it was so still, there were many beautiful reflections in the water. It was so quiet until some geese took off  which startled me and made me fear I was going to be hit by them. 
Having to watch for low flying geese!

There are numerous ospreys around as well as bald head eagles. We spotted one the first afternoon in a tree in our friends yard. When we went in for a walk we noticed his huge nest in a pine tree on their property.
Mr. Eagle living on our friend's property.
It is definitely out in the country here. I could not get connected to publish this blog and this is one of the few areas along the eastern seaboard that this happened.
The wind definitely started blowing hard late morning so we were glad we did not take the risk and go out. We are so close to home. We could be there in two days really pushing if the wind cooperated. However, it could take a week or more if the weather doesn't cooperate. Time will only tell!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Out of the Marshes and into Civilization Again!

Crazy tourists!  It was only in the low sixties.
We continued north out of Georgia in gray cold weather. We thought it was cold, having long johns, fleece and socks and shoes on and that is inside our cockpit enclosure, but some people must have thought it was warm. Near Hilton Head, SC there were these para-sailors out which we could not believe because it was nasty! They were probably tourist from some place in the north who thought otherwise. It's all in your perspective!

We made it into South Carolina and stopped in Beaufort (that's pronounced with a long u). We decided to take a break from our long days and stayed two days. We anchored in Factory Creek right off of Lady's Island Marina. As we were passing by in our dinghy to motor into town, the dock master hollered over and invited us to a cruiser's gathering that evening for chicken and whatever else people brought. That was mighty friendly of him and told him we would be in. Over in town I got to go in various shops which was nice because we usually are here for some reason on a Sunday and not much is opened. We had a nice lunch out and walked the beautiful waterfront. 
Beaufort, SC waterfront.

The small cruise ship called the Independence was docked there. They travel the inter-coastal to a variety of cities. We often see it down in Fernandina, FL. So if you don't want to take your own boat, you can do part of the ICW with the Independence.

Yummy banana bread.
After lunch we hiked about a mile for some groceries and prepared for the potluck. Luckily, I had baked banana bread that morning. When you have a bunch of bananas that are over ripe and it is a cold morning, turning on the oven to bake is the thing to do!

The people could not have been friendlier at the marina. It was a small marina and so people knew each other. This was a going away party for one couple who had been there all winter and were leaving. We found out it only cost a $1 a foot and laundry was free! We will definitely think about staying there next time we head south.   
Al talking to a cruiser at the potluck.

We left Beaufort on another ugly gray day. We motored the entire time again to a place called Church Creek. We got in just as it started to rain. And rain it did, and blow! Our trusty anchored held. Later we talked to people who had been at the dock in Charleston City Marina for that storm and said we were lucky to be out. The wave and wind action at the docks caused a jerking motion and 3 inches of rain caused some problems as well.

The next day we motored into Charleston Harbor Marina on the Mt. Pleasant side. We were in by noon.

You can see how gray it was in Charleston!

 Had hot continuous running showers (a luxury not found on Blue Heaven, hot but not continuous) and met some past neighbors who now have a house on Isle of Palm. They took us into Charleston and we had lunch at Blossoms which is next door to and owned by the same people who have the infamous, Magnolias. It was very good and we did not have to wait 45 minutes to get in!
Patty and Harold, former neighbors.

Shuttle Bus used to go into Charleston.
On Easter I used the shuttle provided by the marina and hotel there to go into Charleston and go to Mass. The shuttle runs every two hours from 10am to 10pm so it works out great. Even though it was Easter, many stores were open and the Market House was totally open. Al stayed behind and did a lot of the chores that needed to be done before moving on the next day. Later that evening Ron and Mercedes from Samana who we met in Georgetown and dock their boat here, came over for a drink and chat.

We made tracks from Charleston all the way past Georgetown, SC to Butler Island for a night at anchor. I got this unusal photo at dusk. There was no wind blowing so what you are seeing is the reflection of the trees in the water. The sky was dark and so was the water except for the strip of light left from the sunset.
Butler Island after sunset!

The next day was a short day into Osprey Marina traveling on the pretty Wacamaw River. No more marshes but tall trees and hanging Spanish moss. 
The pretty Wacamaw River
Al filling the tanks with fuel.  Ca-ching, ca-ching$$$$$!

Osprey Marina has some of the cheapest fuel and docks are only $1 a foot so we usually make this one of our spots. Al's hand was cramping from holding the nozzle so long filling the two tanks.

 While there, I decided it was time to get some walking in, so I headed out. I was walking around the harbor and someone yelled to me that there was an alligator on the bank. Sure enough, I looked over and there was this 10 -11 ft. alligator sunning itself!
Local gator sunning itself along the bank.
It was one of the first we have seen other than when we toured Cape Canaveral on our first trip. If you look at it's mouth, it almost looks like he is smiling. I don't know for how long he'll be smiling, because the dock master told me they have a nuisance permit which allows them to shoot them if they are out of the water. They are not allowed to shoot them in the water because they will sink and them bloat up and come to the surface and be a hazard in the water.
The real thing!

The following day we had a record breaking day going 68 miles in ten hours with a combination motoring and motor sailing. We hit all the favorable currents and in the Cape Fear River we did 10.4 knots for a time. You have to keep your eyes open because while I was steering I saw something that looked like a moving island or sand bank. It ended up being a huge tree, not only lengthwise but circumference of the trunk was huge too. It was floating down the Cape Fear River. We would not wanted to hit it! Earlier that morning, we passed by Myrtle Beach which had some interesting sites. One which was the gondolas high above the ICW taking golfers across to the course.
Golfer gondolas.

The other was the long boats with everyone paddling in unison and the person standing yelling the orders. It wasn't sculling because they each had a paddle rather than an oar. Does anyone know what sport this is?

Early morning practice on the ICW near Myrtle Beach
 That afternoon we anchored in Carolina Beach for the first time. We did not go ashore because it is mostly private cottages and condos which did not provide much interesting scenery but the two cute girls on paddle boards did for Al!
Carolina Beach Paddle Boarding Beauties.

We had a short stretch to Wrightsville Beach where we put the dinghy in and went ashore to go for some more needed groceries. Since it was lunch time, we ate at a small deli nearby and then did our shopping. We got our 3 miles of walking in which felt good after the long days on the boat.

We are headed to the Oriental, NC area for the weekend. Should be back in the Chesapeake area by the end of next week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finished with Florida

One of our favorite spots is Vero Beach so it is hard to get away from it. We spent six days there. We had been on a mooring with Sloop John Dee and they rented a car for a day to do their chores. 

Denise and John from Sloop John Dee
We benefited because they took us to a Mexican Restaurant called Costa Azul in Fort Pierce which was recommended by the agent who rented the car. It was his sister's place and it was fantastic for a little place in a tiny strip mall. The guacamole was the best I ever had and tried like crazy to get the recipe but they would not budge. All of our meals were delicious and doggy bags were needed.
Luscious shrimp fajitas.

Al helped John go up the mast to try and fix their problem with VHF radio. They discovered it was the antenna because when John put our one year old AIS antenna on the mast, their radio worked fine.

Denise and Al winching John up the mast.

John up the mast replacing the antenna.

 Al offered our antenna to them, and they paid for a new one for us. That way, they did not have to go up the mast again, or wait for an antenna to be ordered, and they could be on their way. They were more in a rush to get home than we were. So Al ordered the antenna and had it shipped to St. Augustine marina where we planned to stop.

We also got in a visit with Harriet and Skip Hardy who gave up sailing last year and bought a house in Vero. We updated each other of what we did this winter and what our plans for the summer are. It was good to see them again.

Fleece in Florida doesn't seem right!
We have been on the move since. We stopped and anchored north of Titusville. The next day was the same in Daytona. It has gotten a lot cooler to the point that Al put on long pants and his fleece jacket in Florida!  Luckily the cold did not last too long.  
Trying not to hit the manatees in the canal.

Through the Haulover Canal we had to be careful because we spotted several manatees.  I was only able to catch the tail of one before going below the surface.

We did stay one day in St. Augustine but otherwise it has been motor, motor, motor. 

Al enjoying his goulash soup. I am enjoying the sangria!

We got to our favorite little bistro called King's Bistro,  in St. Augustines  for lunch which also ended up being dinner as well. 

El Galeon at St. Augustine until July 2014.

The ship whose picture you see was at St. Augustine's Municipal Marina. El Galeon is a replica of the vessels that traveled the coasts of Florida between the 16th and 18th centuries, transporting men, goods, culture and ideas, creating ties between America and Europe. We should have toured it but did not due to time restrictions.

Another pretty sunrise.
Leaving St. Augustine with a pretty sunrise it was once again a long day to Cumberland Island which is just north of Fernandina Beach, the northern most Floridian city on the coast. 

Don't see this too often.          

Passing by Fernandina we saw this interesting work platform. Now that's a way to anchor a boat! 

Shrimp boat at Fernandina.

We also started seeing shrimp boats at the dock which I love to see because that means my favorite food is plentiful!
We did not go ashore even at Cumberland Island because we had done so on the trip down. Because weather was predicted to be ugly for the next 4 to 5 days we could not go out in the ocean to by pass Georgia, so we are joining the no-see-ums and passing through with long days seeing nothing but marsh grasses and mud flats and a few bridges here and there.  We always get greeted by the pelicans at the bridges.  
Pelicans galore in Florida and Georgia.

Everywhere you look, marsh, marsh and more marsh with a few trees here and there.
  It can be pretty on sunny blue skies day, but in raining gray, ugh! (Can you tell this is not my favorite spot!)  We hope to be in Charleston for Easter weekend.