We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas in Key Largo with Laurie and Lars, Stacey, and Steve. Even my cousin Marilyn came for a visit. We made three trips to the Ft. Lauderdale airport which was extremely busy this year. Stacey arrived just ahead of the ice storm that hit up north. We had a Toyota mini-van for three days that seated seven people! It was great! Not so great was the trip to the ER in Marathon after church on Christmas Day. Walt has been sick for over a week and come to find out he has strep throat.....not good on a boat with seven people... but he is on medication and slowly getting better. While Walt was at the hospital I showed everyone the City Marina where we'll be spending the winter, the community park, Sombrero Beach and the prayer gardens at San Pedro Church.
We had an amazing day yesterday. We went to visit with Mike and Brenda at their beautiful apartment which is located one block from Marina del Mar in a private villa. The owner is from Freeport, Long Island which is near Baldwin where I grew up. He is also Cuban and his wife is from Ecuador so I'm getting lots of practice with my Spanish. We met the owner's son, Rick, who is a born again Catholic and a tennis player. We played a bit of tennis and then after dinner he drove us to Islamorada where the Baptist Church put on a magnificent Christmas Pageant at the high school. It reminded me of productions at Family Life Ministries in Bath, N.Y. The focus was totally on Jesus Christ and the music was wonderful.
Today Rick picked us up again and we all attended Mass at San Pedro on Islamorada. Coffee and donuts were served after church and we met lots of really nice people. They were having a Christmas bazaar in the church hall-lots of nice gift possibilities.
Ranger seems to attract people....he's like a magnet and everyone wants to pet him. So we met a couple from Quebec, Pierre and Gisele who were admiring Ranger. I got to practice my French and learned that his family was one of the first to arrive in New France. He is in an RV and stays at all the Moose Clubs around the US. He's also a singer and does karaoke here in Key Largo at the Moose Club. He's 74 and doesn't look a day over 55. Must be the warm weather here acts like a preservative!
I am tutoring some people at Marina del Mar in ESL and I have contacted the ESL director for some materials. There is such a need for tutors as lots of the employees in Key Largo don't speak any English at all. Rick (who is bi-lingual) is getting trained and when Walt and I head back to Marathon he'll be continuing the teaching.
We sure do seem to keep VERY busy!
We are back in Key Largo and loving every minute of it. Here Waves of Grace is backed into her slip so that we can easily get on and off the boat. We had breakfast with Diana and Howard from C-Horse on the veranda. Mike stopped to say hi although he and Brenda are renting a place here in Key Largo this year rather than staying on their boat "Foxy". After the reunion Walt and I played tennis and then cooled off in the pool. We are having record high temperatures this week and I had to take Ranger into the air-conditioned lobby to cool him off.
We spent a few hours at Sombrero Beach which is just around the corner from our mooring field. We can take the dinghy through Sisters' Creek or we can ride our bikes on the new sidewalks. Today we took our bikes because McDonald's is on the way back and we wanted to order some hot fudge sundaes and senior cokes. It's a three mile bike ride to the beach one-way so that keeps the pounds off! The beach is beautiful with picnic tables, bath houses, and a playground.
Marathon City Marina has been upgrading their facilities in the last three years to attract more and more transients. It has now become a winter destination and by mid-January the 226 ball mooring field will be full of boats that will be spending three or four months here. There is a Tiki Hut near the water with grills and a huge new dinghy dock. We have met cruisers from Lake Ontario and tomorrow we are all going for Buffalo Wings at the Hurricane Bar and Grill right down the road. Our wing tradition carries on!
We have arrived at Marathon, Florida via Hawk Channel. We had a great sail in about 12 knots under sunny skies from Key Largo to Marathon City Marina. We are on a mooring ball with about 200 other sailboats. The Community Park is adjacent to the marina with tennis courts, basketball, soccer fields, and a skateboard park. Best of all there is a Winn Dixie, Publix, Home Depot and I-Hop within a mile. We have bike paths along both sides of highway 1. We attended Mass at the San Pablo Church which had prayer gardens outside plus Stations of the Cross next to the water. After church we biked to Sombrero Beach which was beautiful with white sand and turquoise water. There are two flat screen tvs in the boaters' lounge so Walt got to see the Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins!
Steven left us today via taxi for the Ft. Lauderdale airport and on to Rochester where two more quarters await him for his senior year at RIT. After his departure Walt and I headed into the ocean, down past Miami, and into NO Name Harbor where we anchored. It was Thanksgiving Day and the anchorage was jammed with boats, lots of people enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. Around 10:00 at night we had a wind shift with gusts to 27 knots....you guessed it, we started to drag a bit even with 80' of chain out. There were so many boats around us that we decided to pull anchor in the dark and leave the harbor. We anchored just outside in 10' of water and listened to the wind howl all night. We were on anchor watch til dawn but the boat stayed safe! Today we are heading to Key Largo.
We had two choices today: take the ocean route to Fort Lauderdale or take the inside route and go through 20 bridge openings. Normally there is only one option-the ocean-but the winds were blowing 17-20 knots from the south with thunderstorms, wind gusts to 30, and water spouts. We chose the bridges......Actually the day turned out great. The bridges were all timed so that if we maintained 6.5 knots we basically could run down the ICW with very little delay and so we did. We saw all kinds and sizes of iguanas sitting on the bridge pilings...brazen little fellows! There were mega-yachts dotting the waterway and billion dollar mansions. Once we reached Las Olas Marina at 3:00 there was one mooring ball left (God was watching out for us) so we took it and spent some time touring the beach while looking at the side-walk cafes next to the waterfront. Steve flies back to Rochester tomorrow and we head for Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.
Today we took the ocean route from Fort Pierce to Lake Worth. It was a glorious day with abundant sunshine and winds 6-10 knots so we motor-sailed. We put in to the south anchorage just before sunset and enjoyed a great view of the Palm Beach waterfront and lighted skyline.
Vero Beach is a real cruisers' net.....as the boats come in it is easy to meet new cruisers and re-connect with cruising friends from seasons past. We were happy to see Dick and Libby Mills again here in the basin. We met them two years ago in Green Turtle, Bahamas, and we have kept in touch via our blogs and e-mail. It was a special treat to have them over for happy hour with new friends Frank (also on our mooring ball) and Darick (another Catalina owner) and then to spend time on their boat, Tarwathie, sharing Libby's home made lasagna. Al, Tanya, and their three year old daughter also shared dinner with us. They were the former owners of Tarwathie. The sailing stories were in full swing!
Vero Beach is a very special place for sailors. It has a free public bus system that picks you up at the marina and will take you to the beach or to some serious shopping downtown or at the mall. There are 11 different bus lines with transfer stations making it easy to get around town. Every Saturday at 4:00 is cocktail time at the picnic pavillion where you can share food, stories, and boat cards. This year there was lots of talk about going to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Steve is all dressed up for his flight to Houston, Texas for his interview tomorrow with Texas Instruments. He has been keeping us busy getting him outfitted for the interviews and then to the airports so that he can fly out to strange places in the southwest for various companies that we have only read about. It's strange to see him in our dinghy in his new suit......usually the dinghy sees us in old shorts and t-shirts with a sandy, salty dog up in the bow!
We are in Vero Beach for five days and we are meeting and greeting friends. We enjoyed visiting with Jim and Joyce Ebmeyer from our dock at Katlynn Marine. They are staying with their daughter for a month here in Florida and they drove to our marina to say hi. We had snacks on the boat and then went to dinner at the Riverside Cafe just around the corner from our boat.
We saw the shuttle lift-off yesterday and it was amazing! We were about 100 miles from the Kennedy Space Center but could really see the red flame from the boosters. The shuttle arched over our heads into a perfectly blue sky.....beautiful.
This morning we left Ponce de Leon inlet at 6:30 and were treated to a splendid sunrise off the bow of our boat. We typically don't see really nice sunsets because there is always land to our west. But the sunrises have been spectacular! We'll be in Vero Beach this Thursday where we'll be meeting dockmates Jim and Joyce from Katlynn on Sodus Bay. It's always nice to see friends from home.
Today was sunny and warm so we spent the afternoon at the beach. Steve was on the surfboard for three hours and would have stayed longer but the parentals were getting hungry. The Sunday special today was lobster for $5.00-what a deal!
Fernandina Beach is truly beautiful with a board walk, parks, a basketball court, a skate park, and a bathhouse all close to the ocean.
Construction on Fort Clinch began in 1847. It was a masonry fort constructed at the mouth of the St. Mary's River to protect the coastal port of Fernandina. The fort was never totally completed, neither did it see any action during the Civil War. With the advent of the rifled barrel cannon, forts constructed of stone and brick were no longer sturdy enough to withstand an assault. In 1935 Fort Clinch became one of Florida's first state parks.
This pelican is on watch! We are nestled between two shrimp boats here at the dock and these guys are always looking for fish. We have two crab pots in the water but have only caught one crab. We just moved the two crab traps and we'll keep you posted!
We have arrived in the sunshine state and we are taking it easy here in Amelia Island for the next ten days. Fernandina Beach is on the Atlantic just a short bike ride from our boat. The town is filled with quaint shops, lovely parks, and friendly people. We are tied up to my cousin Marilyn's shrimp dock, complete with a former shrimp processing plant and a boat launch. In this photo we are sitting in her waterfront studio looking out at the anchorage. There is an 8' tide here so Ranger only goes for walks when we can easily get him on and off the boat....he's not really good at climbing ladders.
Steve and I walked this beach in Georgia with Ranger. We had a small shark next to the beach surfacing every once in awhile while he searched for dinner. Several dolphins were also at water's edge. The forest was filled with palmetto trees and Spanish moss that draped from the larger tree branches. This is a wonder-land!
We are at a beautiful anchorage just north of St. Simon's Sound in southern Georgia. For the past three days an army of little black no see-ums have been out in force. They arrive about 30 minutes before sunset and they absolutely love to bite at your ankles, wrists, neck, etc. They seem to be everywhere and unlike the mosquito that buzzes these little guys strike with no warning.
Luckily for us I spent three weeks before leaving the Great Lakes sewing screening that velcros completely around our cockpit. We put the screens up every night and can sit outside with very few bugs. Many of the homes we pass along the way have their outside patios completely screened in. We are in the middle of the salt marshes and sawgrass so common along the ICW in South Carolina and Georgia so bugs and critters are to be expected!
We visited Fort Sumter before heading out today to Bull Creek, Mile 565.5......a beautiful anchorage with a beach and a wildlife preserve for Ranger.
South Carolina held Fort Sumter from 1861-1865. The fort experienced one of the longest sieges in modern history. For two years, 46,000 shells were fired at Fort Sumter by Union troops.
Viv, Harold, and Eric all came to the boat for a visit and then drove us to North Charleston where they now both own beautiful homes. It was nice to be in a house complete with large bathrooms and a fenced in yard for Ranger. We shared southern KFC for dinner and played cards til late.....which was not too good for Eric as he has to get up for work at 4:30 AM. His wife, a pastry chef, drove us back to the marina. What a nice stop!
We have visited cemeteries in both Beaufort, NC and here in Charleston, SC. The headstones tell stories of plagues, wars, infant mortality and family ties. But most interesting are the glimpses one gets into the faith of these former residents. Etched in stone is their hope in eternal life through Jesus Christ and a belief that this world is not all there is-paradise awaits us! I especially like the saying on this grave......"life is eternal, love is immortal, and death is only a horizon".
Charleston, SC is one of the most elegant cities on the eastern seaboard. It is steeped in history and is noted for its hospitality and charm. We spent the week-end at the Maritime Marina in the Cooper River across from the new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge that connects Charleston with Mount Pleasant. We can see the USS Yorktown from the waterfront. St Mary's Church, the battery, and the specialty shops of market street are just a few blocks away. There is so much to see and do here that we could spend a month!
We have reached Myrtle Beach and we are staying at Osprey Marina, one of our favorite stops. This marina has a small restaurant, beautiful and clean facilities, an outside picnic deck, and lots of fields and roads for jogging. We are planning to leave our boat here next Nov and Dec so we can come home for the holidays. In this photo Walt and Steve just finished their ice cream cones, yes we needed ice cream because it was so hot and sunny ALL day today! Tomorrow we head to Charleston where we will visit with the Pfuntners-our neighbors from home.
This is the only pontoon bridge on the ICW and it floats, of coarse! However, it is being replaced by a new 65' high expansion bridge which will make all the sail boaters very happy. No more waiting for this bridge to open.....
Carrot Island is across from the Beaufort waterfront. Like Shackleford Banks, Carrot Island is home to a herd of horses that descended from Iberian stock carried by Spanish supply ships. Some are believed to have swum ashore from shipwrecks, others were left by an abandoned Spanish colony.
I walked Ranger on the Island but I was unaware of the sand nettles that are so very sharp. Within two minutes he was limping...... We pulled several out with tweezers but he is not a happy dog. There are also small prickly cactus that we have to watch out for-different from NYS!
Town Creek is the anchorage on the northern side of Beaufort. You can access it from the ICW by taking the Russell Slough Channel to the Gallant Channel. To get to our anchorage on Taylor Creek you must then pass through the Beaufort Bridge.
We have discovered the historic town of Beaufort, North Carolina where the waterfront has two dinghy docks, a park, two public bathrooms, lots of quaint shops and the NC Maritime Museum. The anchorage here is large and it is located between the Front Street marinas and boardwalk of Beaufort and Carrot Island. We spend three days here exploring the sights.
Blackbeard, that famous pirate sporting a long black beard that covered his chest and all the way to his eyes, was killed in the bay here after he tried to come in and ran his ship-Queen Anne's Revenge, aground. He was beheaded and his head was mounted on the bow of a sailing vessel for all to see.
We put in 77 miles today and anchor in the Pungo River about 6 miles north of Belhaven. Just as we are ready to back down on the anchor Walt discovers we can't go into neutral or reverse.... But the anchorage is quiet for the moment so we shut off the engine, hope the anchor will hold, and take Ranger to land for a run, and then have one of Magaly's recipes-Shrimp Alfredo. Delicious! Walt problem solves for an hour and fixes the gear shift. The guy is amazing!
Six other sailboats pull in and three trawlers. We are heading to Beaufort, NC tomorrow to spend the week-end as it looks like a great place to spend some time.
Another beautiful day with sunny skies and warm temps. We head into the ICW this morning and motor to Coinjock, North Carolina, where we stay at Midway Marina with lots of other cruising boats. We visited with our dockmates, helped other boats in, and Walt rescued another boater's dog that fell in the water while trying to jump on his boat. Never a dull moment!
We had to wait for two small swing bridges today: Centerville Turnpike Bridge and the tiny North Landing Bridge.
It's a beautiful, WARM, and sunny day today so we set sail from Deltaville and head into Norfolk. The size of this harbor always amazes me. It is lined with Navy Vessels and container shipyards.
We try hard to make the Gilmerton Bridge but miss the last opening by 20 minutes...... It doesn't open during rush hour traffic from 3:30-5:30. But not to worry - we are in good company with several sailboats and two trawlers waiting to pass. We'll spend the night on the west side of the lock.
Today was sunny with 18-22 knot winds out of the north so the sailboats left Solomon's as fast as they could....what no rain? The wind was behind us all day so we made incredible time. We left at 9:00 and we dropped the anchor at 4:50 in Jackson Creek, Deltaville. It's beautiful here and very quiet. There are three anchorages and they are full of cruising boats. Tomorrow we head to Norfolk.
Yes, it's still cold, rainy, and windy but this boat can sail! We left Chesapeake City in a small craft advisory and went to Annapolis where Pete Lawler and Steve toured the town in their foul weather gear. Today we left in high winds and waves to go to Solomon's Island where we are anchored. I am at my limit of bad seas and bad weather....this boat is staying here until the sun shines and the winds are below 25 knots.
My nephew Peter, and his wife, Kate, drove two hours to visit us on the boat. It was great to see family. We went to Catamaran's for beer, wings, and oysters and we didn't have to walk-they had a CAR! It was a great time. Thanks Pete!
When traveling south on a sailboat from Lake Ontario there are many bridges and locks to contend with. Our sailboat has a mast that is 60 feet high so there are some bridges that we can go under and some others that have to lift up so that we can get through. This is a lift bridge that raises up the bridge bed itself. It used to be on the C & D Canal but it has been replaced by a very high bridge. Other kinds of bridges include the swing bridge and the bascule bridge. Both of these bridges must open for a large sailboat to pass through.
There is a new railroad lift bridge on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal but it is usually up.
Walt and I have been avid sailors for 38 years. Our retirement dream was to sail to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter months which we did for the first time last year, 2007-2008. We decided that we loved the cruising life
and four days after our return to Lake Ontario we traded our Catalina 320, Eagle's Wings, in for a Catalina 42 which we named Waves of Grace. We hope to continue to cruise in the Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas for many years to come