Thursday, November 26, 2015

Busy Time in Vero Beach

Starting a new pine needle basket.
Our time in Vero Beach has been quite busy with doing a variety of things. I have taken a lesson once again on doing a pine needle basket from Prue on the boat Exhuberant. I had learned how to do one two years ago but have not done one since.
I needed some reinforcement on how to get started but have not had much down time to work on it because of the many social commitments we have had. One other educational opportunity I had was to go to a yoga class. I have done yoga on the beach in Georgetown, Bahamas but never here in the states. I found out about muscles I did not know I had!

The entry to Chef Lins Chinese Seafood Buffet
We have had lots of get-togethers with friends mostly centered around eating. (Isn't that always the way!) Thirty-one cruisers went to Chef Lins Chinese Buffet for a great buffet lunch.

We also have had a great Happy Hour at the marina catching up with past cruising friends and meeting new ones. They even had a jam session making for a fun time.
Jamming at the marina happy hour.

 Another night we had Happy Hour with our friends, Tom and Cathy on Zin, formerly Perserverance II. They went to the dark side with a tug/trawler.

Over the weekend we rented a car from Enterprise. I had reserved a weekend special for $9.99 a day. It was $40.38 for Friday to Monday. We were suppose to get a small compact car but they offered us a Chrysler Town and Country Minivan with 80 miles on it. What a deal!

Mckee Botanical Gardens
Maryann from Cavu and I took advantage of the car and drove to McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach.

It is eighteen acres of native and exotic botanicals with streams,
One of the many beautiful water lilies.
waterfalls and ponds throughout.
 We spent a very enjoyable afternoon seeing unfamiliar flowers and watching the butterflies enjoy them as well.
An unknown to me and there was no identity tag.
Monarchs flew all around us.
Another butterfly enjoying the nectar.

Saturday we traveled to Ft. Lauderdale to see Al's Aunt Betty Jane and cousin Leslie and her husband, Thomas. We had a very enjoyable day catching up on our families and an enjoyable lunch out. The time sped by quickly before it was time to leave.
Al's Aunt BJ and cousin and her husband.

Besides the Happy Hours and the Chinese Buffet, we met our friends, Skip and Harriet for dinner at Bone Fish Grill. They used to be cruisers and decided to buy a home in Vero Beach and give up boating. Another night we met the Wismers, Bill and Sandy for dinner. They live in Jensen Beach and got to know them through mutual friends on one of our river boat cruises. We also got invited to the Thorsens, another CLOD (that stands for, “cruiser living on dirt.”)  We had a great time catching up with what they had been up to all summer long.
Good bye dinner for Cavu
Another night we had Ron and Maryann over for dinner because they were heading home for the holidays. We won't be seeing them any time soon. We plan to move on before they come back, and they are staying in Florida for the winter. So it was sort of a good-by dinner. We hope to meet up again in the spring.

The Veteran's Memorial Park

With all this eating we have tried to get off the boat and walk daily. Vero Beach is great for walking because it has lovely shady neighborhoods or Riverside park to do so.
Over in Riverside they have a small island dedicated to Veterans. It is quite pretty and a great memorial to all who served our country.
All the armed services are recognized.

I prepared for our cruiser's Thanksgiving by baking an apple and pumpkin pie. The boat was a mess while doing it but the results looked pretty good.
They tasted pretty good too!
We shared Thanksgiving with about 200 cruisers at a community center that the town of Vero Beach loans us. It is close to the marina which makes it convenient.  The CLODs bring the cooked turkeys and hams, and the cruisers bring all the rest.  You can see there was quite a variety and that was only one of the six tables of food!
This was just the salad/vegetable section.!
There was plenty for all with even desserts left over!
Some get fancy with their table settings, while others bring paper plates. No matter what we all have a good time!
How about this one with a silver wine bucket!

After dinner the musicians brought out their instruments and the singing began.
It seems strange sitting outside on Thanksgiving day enjoying the entertainment.

The few youngsters in the group provided us with some entertainment as well!
These young girls did a dance to the music.
This little guy showed his moves too!

The day ended and Kathy from Five and Dime who was in charge of the dinner, finally enjoyed her glass of wine or two,
Our fearless leader finally relaxing.

While Al and Corbett from Cookie Monster enjoyed their cigars.
Hope everyone else had a grand Thanksgiving.  We did!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Blue Heaven the Wild Life Magnet

After Marineland we moved on to Daytona and went into Halifax Marina to fill our one empty tank with fuel. We then went across the ICW from Halifax and anchored. That night after dark, Al said, “Arleen, I think there is an owl on our boat.” Now you have to realize we were not in a remote area. There were homes and condos and commercial buildings all around us. Then I heard the hooting that Al heard. We went out to our cockpit and looked up, and sure enough there was this huge owl sitting on our spreader, hooting away! We could see his pointed ears sticking up and his head turning once in a while to look at us. I said to Al that no one will believe us, so I had to get a picture somehow.
An owl on Blue Heaven in Daytona!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Spell of Nice Weather is Broken!

Going over the bridge into Beaufort,SC
We were heading to Beaufort, SC the last time I wrote. We got into Lady Island Marina by lunch time. The weather for the next few days was to be rainy so we took advantage of the sunny day and borrowed the marina's bikes to ride into Beaufort. Lady's Island Marina is on the other side of the river from Beaufort so we rode over the bridge to get there.
 It gave us a great view of the marshes and Beaufort from a distance. Since it was Sunday, not all the stores were open, but many more than a few years ago when we could only find an ice cream store and maybe two restaurants open. They have learned to take advantage of the cruisers heading south to boost their coffers. The waterfront there is a great place to spend some time especially on such a beautiful sunny day.
The waterfront at Beaufort, SC
Al patiently waiting outside a store.

Delicious shrimp and grits at Dockside.
The weatherman for once was not wrong. It rained most of the next day so got a load of wash done at the marina, borrowed the loaner car and got some groceries and Al got a haircut. That evening we treated ourselves for some wonderful shrimp and grits at the restaurant at the marina called “Dockside.” It was quite busy so must be a local favorite as well as for tourists.

We wanted to leave the following day but once again the weatherman said rain for the majority of the day and he was right. I got a few things done like cleaning and pulling out more summer clothes and packing away a few heavier things. We prepared to go out in the ocean for an overnight the next day.

Heading out for an overnight to Cumberland Island.
Al had met a single cruiser at the marina named Dave, on Island Queen who asked to be a travel buddy with us and Cavu for the overnight. We left Beaufort around 11am and motored to Port Royal inlet to head out into the ocean. We scheduled our leaving so that we would be entering the St. Mary's inlet at day break which made it about a 22hr. run.
The wind was blowing only eight to ten from the stern quarter with waves probably two feet. The conditions were not bad but for some reason I got feeling very queasy and never recovered. There was a slight jerking side to side motion and it just did me in. Al had to take all the watches. Next time I will take some medicine to ward off sea sickness. We did get a nice dolphin show while out there around dusk.

Once off of the ocean, Cavu and us headed for Cumberland Island while Island Queen headed to Fernandina. We slept until 1 pm and then Al , Maryann and I went in to see the island. Ron just wanted to keep sleeping. It was Maryann's first time so we showed her the beautiful live oaks with the hanging moss,

wild turkeys that are not all that wild
wild horses that are not all that wild either
and Dungeoness the former home of the Carnegies, with pictures when it was in its heyday found at the small museum there, and seeing the actual ruins of it after the fire.
What is left after the fire.
Dungeoness during it's glory days.

Due to the rain we had been having, the mosquitoes were ravenous so we did not get into the forested areas as much as we would have liked. Due to the bug problem we decided to move on the next day instead of exploring Cumberland more. Bad weather was predicted over the weekend so we thought we move on to get to St. Augustine. We called for a mooring reservation and found out they were full and we had to go on a wait list. I guess everyone else was trying to get there too for the bad weather. We ended up anchoring north of St. Augustine at Pine Island. There were more boats there than we have ever seen. We have noticed the entire way, there seems to be more cruisers heading south than in past years. We never got a call that they had an available mooring so unfortunately we passed right by one of our favorite spots to head to Marineland Marina about 2 hrs. south by boat.

The weather has been hotter and more humid than normal for November in the south. I have heard your November has been great in Pennsylvania! You can see how still the mornings were with the clouds reflecting in the water.Add to that about 90% humidity and 85 degree days and you get
it actually feeling more like the Chesapeake in mid summer. Not very pleasant! So it was great to get into a marina and plug in the air conditioning and get rid of that damp, clammy feeling in the boat. We had never stopped at this small marina before. It is right across the street from Marineland which was highly popular in the fifties for parents to bring their children to see dolphins. Now the University of Florida has research buildings all around along with the original Marineland. It was nice that all we had to do was cross the street and there was the beach. It was very small beach at high tide but at low tide it was great for walking.
Looking through a board on the small boardwalk.
At the Marina on Sundays they have a small Farmer's Market with everything from vegetables, to hot sauces, to baked goods, and even beautiful succulent wreaths.
Wreaths made of succulents.

 The market was great for entertainment as well as buying some needed fresh veggies.
Small farmer's market at Marineland Marina.
Ron and Maryann on Cavu, came in to the marina on Sunday. They had been lucky enough to have gotten the last available mooring ball at St. Augustine so joined us a day later. 
Maryann and myself enjoying the beach at Marineland.
We enjoyed a walk on the beach and later that night had a delicious meal on Cavu. Afterwards, we taught them how to play Mexican Train Dominoes. We lucked out with the bad storms. All we got was some rain around 5pm. We did not get any strong winds or even downpours that they had predicted.
From Beaufort, SC to Marineland, FL we saw some interesting changes in the landscape as well as some sights on the waterway that I thought I would share with you.
This is a site you don't like to see. 

Hopefully they will be successful in pumping it out!

People enjoying the fishing at an inlet right off the ICW

The clouds were interesting as we passed by St. Augustine.

This is common on the Chesapeake, but you never see boats rafted on the ICW.

From primitive Cumberland Island to industrial Fernandina Beach, FL. what a change!

How about this house on the Marineland Beach.  I wonder how long it will be there?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Two days of rain give way to two days of brilliant sun!

After leaving the small community of McClellanville, we motored the intracoastal partly in the rain to a creek north of Isle of Palm. The only other boat was CAVU who had been anchored there during all the rain yesterday. We were off by ourselves and enjoyed the birds visiting the oyster bank which was next to us. The marsh is not all that pretty until the sun comes out and blues skies visit which is exactly what happened. 
One lonely pelican.

American Oyster Catchers preening and sampling.

Sunshine and blue skies make a world of difference in the marshes.
We enjoyed watching the typical terns and few seagulls, but the one pelican was funny to watch as well as all the American Oyster Catchers. (How fast does an oyster move that they have to be caught????)
Sunrise in the marshes.

We enjoyed a peaceful evening in the marsh and were welcomed by a pretty sunrise as we left the creek and entered the ICW.

When we reached the Ben Sawyer drawbridge for the 9am opening there were at least 12-13 boats waiting to go through. I really don't know from where they all came. We all got through and once into Charleston harbor we headed in all different directions. We headed for a marina we had never tried before, The Charleston Maritime Center. 
Charleston Maritime Center
 It is a very small marina with only space for about 12-15 boats. We had called ahead for a reservation and were lucky enough to get one. We found it convenient for a grocery story and for walking to town. The staff were helpful and friendly and we will come back if the wind conditions are good. It would not be the best in an east or southeast brisk wind. You do get some roll from the large ships that pass by, but it is quiet at night.  Also there is a beautiful view of the cabled-stayed Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge from the marina.
The beautiful cable-stayed bridge in Charleston along with the palmetto trees for which SC is known.
Al checking a menu inside "Amen" restaurant.
Cavu had reservations as well and when we got there, Simple Life was already there since they had gone off shore. One of the first things was going to Harris Teeters for some groceries we needed. We were told that Thursdays are senior citizen days and you get an extra 5% off, so why not take advantage? After lunch we walked into town with Ron and Maryann to see the action. We checked out various restaurants for future meals,

  my favorite cooking store,
and of course the Market. 

This market has just about everything!
The men made it barely inside the market and then decided it wasn't for them and walked back to the marina while Maryann and I did lots of window shopping with a few purchases as well. Al went back and changed the oil, so I was glad not to be around. When I returned I threw two loads of laundry around 4pm. It is free which is quite unusual, but unfortunately, one of the machines took over an hour and fifteen minutes to fill and wash. It was suppose to close at 5pm but luckily the guy left us in until about 6:10pm when we went back to the boat with towels that were almost dry!
Maryann and Ron were meeting their friends who stayed at Charleston City Marina downtown for dinner, so we met them at the restaurant that they had selected called Tbonz Gill & Grill. It had very good, prime rib, steaks and ribs. Tbonz is also connected to Kaminsky's Dessert Cafe next door and so we ended the night on Cavu for dessert and the Sandeman port we learned to enjoy in Portugal this summer. The bourbon pecan pie was delicious as well as the port!

Our second day in Charleston we visited the Visitors Center 
One of the largest sweet grass baskets I have ever seen!

Al checking some photos out.

 and watched a movie on the history of Charleston as well visited a small railroad museum which explained the role it played in history as well.  We also went to the free Fort Sumtner National Monument near the marina. 
The monument is free which is like a museum inside.

Besides learning about the fort and Charleston history, we saw how rice looks grown, and learned there is such a utensil as a rice spoon!
Rice, once sown.
They say the wooden spoon was for the poor (I have one of those, and the silver for the wealthy!)
 It was a picture perfect weather day so we chose to walk all around town admiring the beautiful architecture and gardens on many of the side streets. 

Such southern loveliness!

Wouldn't be in Charleston without a carriage!
After enjoying lunch in town we came back to the marina to get a few chores done. A boat from our marina, with whom we were once boat neighbors, Island Spirit, with Raydeen and Hayden on board was in the marina. They had invited us for happy hour with the men going to Cavu and the ladies to Island Spirit since it would have been too crowded for all of us on one boat. It was a nice get together sharing ideas and knowledge about places we have been. Afterward, we went back to the boat for a light dinner, a little TV and then to bed.

Halloween morning I awoke and decided to get my 2-3mi. walk in before breakfast and when I went outside the sky was just phenomenal. 
It doesn't look real but I took the picture!

Some of you might have seen this photo I posted on Facebook but I know many do not do Facebook. The other thing that surprised me was all the action in the harbor. A cruise ship was leaving, a container ship was heading right for the marina basin and turned sharply just before it got there to head up to a dock not too far away. 
I was standing on the dock next to our boat to take this.  A bit scary!!!
 Another small cruise ship came in and anchored out in the harbor waiting there turn to get to the dock once Splendor of the Seas left. Charleston is a busier place than I thought!
We left at almost slack tide around 10:15am to leave the marina and head south for a stay in the marshes again. Once again a very peaceful night. We are onto Beaufort, SC for a day or two.