Today we took the boat outside the harbor to Sombrero Reef because 1. there was no wind and 2. Walt had to put two zincs on the shaft under the boat. We have tried to snorkel at the reef other winters but it's always been too windy. We anchored just in front of the lighthouse but the water was cloudy and there was just sand and sea grass. We saw lots of fishing boats to the ocean side of the reef so we hoisted our anchor and went to see what was going on........
there were no boats fishing, they were all snorkeling! There were 13 mooring balls close to the 4' reef with lots of fish and coral to see. The water was crystal clear and aqua-marine. The sun came out just after I snapped this shot of our diver down flag and Sombrero Light.
We are enjoying all of the wonderful sites that make Marathon special to us here in the Keys. We are playing tennis again with Bill coaching us as he has done in years past. We biked with Sid to happy hour at the Sunset Grill near the 7 Mile Bridge complete with pool, beach, and band. Yesterday Roy and Yasmine came in on their new 41' catamaran and took ball M-8 next to us. Their new cat is roomy and beautiful! We have a NYS section out here in the mooring field-three NY boats in a row! Not many folks made the trip down here all the way from NY!
We had a great sail today in 15 knot winds on Hawk Channel from Rodriquez Key to Marathon and we arrived just in time! Although it's only early December the mooring field is quite full and we took a ball on M-9 near Sister's Creek. Once we checked in we discovered that the bathrooms have been updated and the marina has several lit designs in their garden...very spiffy! Tonight was the Christmas boat parade and the boats were awesome! A snowy egret visited our dinghy after hours, very content to welcome us back to Boot Key. Did I mention that the band is still playing in the community park? So glad to be here again in the Florida Keys!
We had a great ocean run today from Lake Worth to Miami in 17 knot winds and anchored just south of the Rickenbacher Bridge in Key Biscayne. We motored past the working docks and container ships of Miami and then through some high rise condos. The sight of the city from the anchorage was awesome at night. Just north of Ft. Lauderdale I took a photo of this unique light house.
We left Vero Beach and headed out to the ICW where we saw the sailboat in front of us go to the far right of the red buoys....hard aground they were....watch those buoys! We did not go out the Fort Pierce inlet as usual but took the ICW with Sid all the way to Lake Worth where we anchored for the night. The St.Lucie inlet and the Jupiter Inlet were both wide and looked inviting. There was lots to see with beautiful homes dotting the waterway and 8 bridges to pass through. There many sailboats traveling with us....a conga line!
Here is Fui going through the Hobe sound lift bridge and also a photo of the Jupiter Lighthouse all decorated for Christmas.
We arrived in Vero Beach on Monday and tied up next to Sid on his sailboat Fiu. The mooring field was full at the City Marina as so many boats have been waiting out the strong NE winds....it's near impossible to sail to the Bahamas in this kind of weather. We were three sailboats on ball #39, the third boat was from Switzerland and had crossed the ocean with their 4-year old son. Some folks are so gutsy! Anna and Rich on Snowgoose also pulled in and plan to spend a few days waiting for their canine paperwork to come in so they can cross to the Exumas. We had a great time catching up since we last saw each other in Marathon last year.
We have been motor/sailing by ocean and ICW since Nov 28th and plan to be in Vero Beach this Monday. Our ocean ride was bumpy in 4-5 foot seas with winds from the NNE on Thursday so we are now on the ICW viewing lots of expensive homes in Daytona. The weather has been getting progressively warmer and sunnier! That's what we love about the south! Last night's sunset just north of St. Augustine at M771 was spectacular and this morning we cleared the Lions Bridge at 8:30.
We visited the sights on Tybee Island today including Fort Pulaski, The Crab Shack Restaurant, and the Tybee Island Lighthouse. Ft. Pulaski only lasted 30 hours under Union Bombardment from rifled canons on Tybee Island. The fort had live re-enactments and included a movie in the welcome center. This is a federal fort so we used our senior pass to get in free of charge. There were many furnished barracks, mess halls, officers' quarters and casements to explore. When we arrived for lunch at the Crab Shack, gaters were waiting to greet us!
We were delighted to host friends from home Tuesday at the marina. We toured Fort McAllister, enjoyed cocktails on Waves of Grace, and had dinner at Fish Tales, the dockside restaurant here that is so popular with the locals. Wednesday Walt and I joined our friends at their rented former French consulate house in Savanna for pizza, wings and beer.....the Wing Crew was true to form and our 25 year tradition of sharing wings together once a week continued here in Georgia!
There are some very unique challenges here in the warm salty south that we just don't experience back home on Lake Ontario....like mold, tides, and current! We are tied to a floating dock here in Georgia but we appear to be in the middle of a fast flowing river because the current runs so quickly through here. Don't drop anything in the water---it's gone! We have an 8' tide and the dock ramps are always at an angle...sometimes so steep that Ranger has to be careful when leaving the docks! We found some mold inside the boat but most of it was on the lifelines and
on the dinghy and Walt has spent hours scrubbing her clean. But there are trade-offs....we have beautiful sunny days EVERY day! and we're on the boat enjoying dock life where the pace is slow and the scenery awesome!
Today we loaded our boat bikes into our car and drove to Savanna where we toured the parks and the waterfront on our bikes. The port of Savanna is a huge commercial seaport 10 miles from the Atlantic. We saw multiple ocean freighters coming up the Savanna River and past the river front which used to be piled high with cotton bales waiting to be loaded. The wharf is now filled with seafood restaurants and tourist shops, but no small marinas for cruisers. There is a courtesy dock where you can tie up for 2 hours, but we saw only one sailboat there.....too much commercial traffic! The city itself is elegant and rich with history. We'll be visiting Savanna again in the next few days.
Today Bob, Greta and their grand-daughter, Heather visited us at Ft. McAllister Marina in their RV. They are on their way to visit Bob's sister, Marie, who lives in Florida. We had dinner at Fish Tales and then drove through the park. So nice to see them!
Today we spent a relaxing day visiting Ft. McAllister which is a Civil War sand pit fortification on the Ogeechee River about a half mile from our marina. There is a nice welcome center complete with video, cannon replicas, and underground barracks. The fort was bombarded from the water by Union troops in 1863.
Fort Mcallister Marina is a bit off the ICW but worth exploring. There are floating docks here, free laundry, loaner car, friendly dock hands and a fabulous restaurant called Fish Tales with inside and outside seating and live music on the week-ends. We'll be staying here for six weeks! Richmond Hill is 10 miles away and Savannah is about 25 miles. We rented a car and drove to Osprey to pick up our car today so we are ready to explore Savannah and the area.
We moved Waves of Grace from Osprey Marina to Georgia via Winyah Bay to Charleston and then out to Port Royal Sound. The winds both days were great...up to 22 knots from the NW and then the NE so we had a good run. We anchored across from the Charleston City Marina where we were joined by another cruising Catalina. We anchored in Cowan Creek Thursday night across from Parris Island. Since our destination marina was in Georgia we had to take the ICW through Field's Cut, Skidaway Narrows, and Hell's Gate....but we made it to Ft. McAllister Marina on the Ogeechee River without going aground, no minor feat in Georgia!
We are anchored in 12' of water just east of the ICW in Winyah Bay positioned to head out into the ocean tomorrow. Here is Shyanne on the bow of the boat with the sunset behind her. We were greeted by three dolphins while we were having dinner in the cockpit. This is why we sail!
Waves of Grace is spending the summer months this year in Myrtle Beach at Osprey Marina. We decided to drive down with our niece, Shyanne, and do some boat jobs. We ordered a new 140 watt Kyrocera solar panel and a new rockna anchor for those storms we always seem to find. The heat here has been incredible....97 degrees on the 4th, 93 degrees yesterday and 95 degrees today...too bad we have a northern boat with no AC! We have been eating lots of ice cream and we all spent 4th of July watching awesome fireworks at Surfside Beach while standing in the ocean! Shyanne is enjoying southern life and is especially fond of reading, either at the beach, the bow of the boat or in the club house. We head out this Sunday for a cruise to the ocean. On our way south we stopped at Hershey, PA to take the chocolate tour and see the 3-D presentation...what fun!
We have arrived at Osprey Marina where we'll be leaving the boat until October when we'll continue our sailing adventure. We are hoping to go to Key West, the Dry Tortugas, and up the west coast of Florida for the winter months and then sail back to Sodus Point for the summer. Today Walt's sister, Annette, drove for a visit and we all went to Nance's Restaurant in Murrell's Inlet for oysters. We sure had our fill!
Today we made time coming into Charleston and were doing 10 knots in Elliot Cut as we approached the Wappoo Creek Bridge for a 3:45 opening......not to open again until 6:30. So it was quite important to make this opening! Once in Charleston Harbor we had time to spare because the Ben Sawyer Bridge would not open til after 6:00. As we were waiting in the harbor we heard a distress call....a 30' Sea Ray motor cruiser had just caught fire under the bridge in the Cooper River with 4 people onboard. We saw lots of smoke rising over the bridge. Another boat raced over to rescue the people and the coast guard came but the boat burned to the water and sunk. As you can see, we made a 6:05 opening at the Ben Sawyer swing bridge and headed north.
This looks like a serene anchorage in Bass Creek, an offshoot of Parrot Creek in South Carolina. There is nothing to see but swamp grass and no noise to disturb us. NOAA called for 5-10 knots from the north so we anchor in the middle of the river and only put out 50' of chain....it's only 8.8' deep. At 1:30 in the morning we awake to 32 knots of wind and we rush out on deck to see nothing but water...we have a 9' tide! No sleep til 4:30!
We enjoyed a wonderful Easter week-end with my cousin, Marilyn, and her family in Fernandina Beach. We attended the Vigil Mass on Sat with my cousin and then on Sunday we took her daughter and family for a sail on the ocean and had Easter dinner at the Pelican's Nest....Marilyn's waterfront shrimp dock. We wanted to take the ocean route today but the weather was uncooperative and we are stuck in Georgia on the ICW-the cruiser's nightmare. We could only do 50 miles today because there is an extremely low tide and we can't get through Little Mud River. Tomorrow we have to wait for mid-tide around 10:00 before we can resume our journey. We did have an exciting trip past Cumberland Island as a huge submarine came into the ICW and we had a personal police escort! Then I was being followed by a fishing boat near Jekyll Island. Never a dull moment....
We pulled into the new mooring field here in St. Augustine yesterday so that we'd be able to attend Mass today for Good Friday at the Cathedral, the oldest church in North America. We wanted to stay north of the Bridge of Lions because the view of the city there is wonderful. That mooring field is 1/3 full....why?....because the city made a mistake when putting in the mooring balls and put an entire row too close to shore in three feet of water. The next row can't be used by large cruising boats because there is an 8' tide here. So we are in the south field with lots of boats, all with long dinghy rides into the marina. The good news is that there is a free pump out boat and also a boat that will pick you up at your mooring and take you in to the dock. Sweet! Today we visited the fort of Castillo de San Marcos and bought our life-time senior Federal Parks Pass. This fort was the northern most outpost of Spain's New World empire. It was started in 1672 and replaced the nine successive wooden fortifications that had protected St. Augustine since 1565.
We are headed north and had a great motor sail from Vero Beach to the west side of Eau Gallie to anchor with Gorma and Overdaught in about 9' of water. We all met for happy hour at a beach bar called Squid Lips.....wings and beer were on special. Stuart and Heather are from Hamilton, Ontario so they know about the Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing thing just over the border in New York. It's amazing just how many people you meet while cruising! In the photo are Walt, Greg, Stuart, Heather, and Corinne.
We see a weather window to the States and head to Great Sale Cay to spend the night before crossing the Bahama Banks and heading into the ocean. As we pulled into the anchorage at 6:30 there were already 25 anchored boats.....so the migration north has begun! Walt snorkeled again to scrape more barnacles from the prop and hull. The warm salt water here is so bad for the boat, but we just have to give it a lot of TLC. We crossed into the ocean about 10:00 with 3 other sailboats very near to us and by the time we reached Vero Beach we were friends. I rented a car, we met the "voices in the night" from Gorma, Greg and Corinne, and Luna, Russ and Jane, and headed to customs in St. Lucie. We stopped for burgers and fries at 5 Guys and then all got some sleep since the crossing took 20 hours. There were lots of cruise ships and tankers plus fishing boats near the Bahamas...we had to tack to avoid one ship that passed between the three sailboats around midnight. Walt could track everything on his new AIS-vessel name, speed, and course. AIS is a great safety feature! Nice to be back with internet and phone service 24/7!
We rode our bikes 4 miles from the Bluff House to New Plymouth and stopped along the ocean to admire the breaking waves on the reefs. New Plymouth is a small, quaint village filled with pastel colored homes where the kids all wear school uniforms and walk home for lunch. We went to the Wrecking Tree Restaurant for fish and chips, biked back and had happy hour aboard Side by Side with two other couples....one of which owned a 57' trawler that was three stories high, with a full fridge, dishwasher and three bedrooms, three baths and a living room set..Wow! He uses 9 gallons of diesel/hr. We still are on the same gas tank that we filled a month ago in Florida and we'll make it back to Vero Beach without buying any more fuel. We are sailors!
We have pulled into a dock at the Bluff House Marina here in Green Turtle for three days. The beach, ocean side, is great for snorkeling and the Bluff House has a nice beach on the Sea of Abaco. We have a tennis court on the property plus a pool which is always refreshing. There is one main road on this cay that goes to New Plymouth, all other roads are really stone and coral lanes with lots of potholes.....the bikes are taking a beating! We plan to head to Manjack Cay on Thursday since the winds will be less than 5 knots....unheard of here for this month. We'll anchor and do some snorkeling.
You can see the storm clouds starting to enter the Treasure Cay Marina and we are anchored in the adjacent basin with about 25 other sailboats. We watched the lightening off in the distance for about an hour after sunset and it was beautiful. At 11:00 at night the storm was right over us and raged until midnight with winds clocking 180 degrees and blowing 39 knots. It was ugly.... and scary.... A moorings sailboat pulled anchor and slid between two other sailboats and then he couldn't get his anchor up because it was so windy and raining so hard. There were spotlights helping him out from the two nearby boats. Every GPS was on as each sailor monitored his vessel. No one else dragged, but it's not an experience I will ever forget.
We pulled into Treasure Cay at high tide and had no trouble anchoring in the basin adjacent to the marina. This is an upscale resort community with the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. The water is clear turquoise and the beach looks like sugar...it is truly magnificent. There are many condos, villas, and townhouses here. Tonight we went to Mass at St. Andrew's Church which is a small stone church with great music and the same priest that we had in Hopetown. He travels to three churches on three different cays! The music was wonderful...we thought we were at a retreat house.
We checked out Man-O-War Cay this morning and pulled into the VERY narrow channel to check out the south anchorage which was really a mooring field and a very tight one at that. We saw a trawler from Rochester, NY but there were so many boats that we went out and anchored in the lee side of the cay with 8 other sailboats. Then we took our dinghy in to visit with Lou and Jean aboard Both Sides Now, from Rochester. They gave us all kinds of info on Man-O-War which has a bakery, boat building company and a great beach. The town is actually a real community with lots of streets and modest homes where people actually live, and not just when they are on vacation!
We had some great sailing in 14 knots of wind from Hopetown to Fisher's Bay at Great Guana Cay. We joined about 40 other sailboats all anchored in about 9' of water in front of Grabber's Beach and Tiki Restaurant. Everyone had come in for the Barefoot Man Concert Friday and Saturday at Nippers.....which is quite the little bar and grill, where just about anything goes. Nippers is painted all different pastel colors and over looks the ocean, whereas Grabber's is quite classy and has its own beach on the Sea of Abaco. There were bands playing non-stop all three days. Both bars had pools and the beach in front of Nippers was beautiful. We walked to the Oyster Bay Marina, not far from town. With a small cafe, some shops and a little grocery story this area seems to have FUN written all over it.
We biked to Tahiti Beach today to experience low tide on the sand flats and it was a delight. We saw sea stars, sea urchins, huge sand dollars, and more sunrise shells. Walt is presently tuning up our bikes and storing them away on board for tomorrow's departure to Great Guana Cay. The weather is supposed to be nice for the next few days...East winds 10-15 knots which is next to nothing here for this time of year.
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