Friday, December 26, 2008

Florida Turning Warm and Cheery

This set of photos show the range of December 14 from the Florida  beach skyline and the view backward over our dinghy, the beard that was and Annie still very happy and finally the Christmas lights at the Delray Beach Marina.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1. Our day at Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center was inspiring. This is the Rocket Garden. 2. BIG
hotels along the Florida coast, taken from Calliope on the ICW, looking east. 3. That furry beard was mostly gone an hour after this shot. 4. View from our cockpit at the Del Ray Harbor Club Marina. We motored through a canyon of huge yachts to reach our slip, the only sailboat in sight. The swimming pool is always open, so we swam in the dark.

We walked and walked in the old city of St. Augustine. It's narrow streets were lined with buildings that dated back to the 1700s. Plant life was colorful and abundant and the holiday spirit was in full swing.

We anchored on the Matanzas River (that's us out in the middle, in an impressive current) and toured the nearby Fort Matanzas, restored and complete with a talented interpreter. That gun was heavy!

1. and 2. The shrimp boats invite ooohs and aaaahs! They sprout wings that fold when not in use, they carry gorgeous nets in rich colors, they sway from side to side in the waves. At night, the decks are brightly lit, passing like a big party. 3. Dietrich jumped in the dinghy to follow the shrimp boats as they went home. Later, he returned with the freshest shrimp, complete with heads and long whiskers. Yum. 4. and 5. We had many really cold mornings throughout November and early December. Those blue mugs are full of strong, syrupy coffee, hot, hot.

These are the neighborhoods where we walked in Beaufort, S.C. The second one is the house where THE BIG CHILL was filmed. Landscapes were lush, Spanish Moss was ethereal, the two story front porches were so...Southern.

1. The Beaufort, S.C. bridge, in mid swing 2. Boat in the harbor
3. Some towns do turtles, some do cows...Beaufort does mermaids!
4. and 5. Spanish Moss on Live Oaks, southern porches and little neighborhood streets

Dietrich's solo run from Charleston to Beaufort, SC

Annie left the boat to visit her parents, leaving me to sail a couple of days alone. These images show the scenery and what happens when the Captain attempts to enter a shallow anchorage at low tide. Especially awkward with a 6 foot tidal range. No harm done.

ICW Skies

Somewhere north of Charleston, SC, both the sunset and sunrise were amazing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Southeast Coast

Residents of St. Marys, Georgia have made a tradition of providing turkey and ham to cruisers each Thanksgiving. More than 200 of us gathered in the dining room at a local hotel for a wonderful dinner. Each boat represented shared a dish to pass. What fun!

The tides along the Georgia coast range from seven to nine feet and currents are strong, often unpredictable. It was beautiful country, but we were glad to reach calmer waters. St. Augustine, Florida was an oasis we hope to visit again. Vero Beach was another good stop, especially nice because we caught up with several cruisers we had met earlier in the trip. We stayed an extra day to meet Traverse City cruisers, Laurie and Paul Welser. It was a wonderful visit! They are full time cruisers now and their boat is truly a warm, welcoming home.

The ICW has been a shallow ditch through much of Florida. We often see less than a foot of water beneath keel and room to pass is at a premium.

Ken Richmond, another Traverse City friend, will meet us in Miami on the 17th, with hopes of sailing across to Bimini with us. We won't cross that Gulf Stream unless weather is just right, so we may need to wait for a few days after Ken arrives. We're prepared to spend that time eating as much Cuban food as we can tolerate!

Happy holidays to all of you. Take time to have fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Now We're Really in the South

Hello! Our ability to post photos is sporatic when we use our dial-up wireless connection. When we can use a local library, we'll try again.

The past month has been cold (36 to 42 degrees in the cabin most mornings). Our northern Michigan Cold Weather training has served us well. In spite of chilly air, we are treated to the fragrances of roses, still blooming profusely, and sweet marsh grasses. Families of porpoises do water ballets beside the boat while pelicans dive bomb waves. (They have protective air sacs that cushion their wings on impact, just like shoulder pads for football players)

We are still dodging crab pots. Shrimp boats pass, bedecked with impressive out-rigging and colorful nets...ah, we have discovered that really fresh shrimp are crisp and juicy. While crab is still $16. - $20. a pound, we buy local 16/20 lb. shrimp for about $9. a pound. They look like what we call prawns. The shrimpers boil them in beer and Gullah seasoning for no more than three minutes, just long enough to turn pink and barely opaque. They are often served over cheesy grits with onions and stewed collard greens. In an effort to be polite, we have tried to sample regional cuisines all along the way. It has absolutely not been hard.

Charleston, S.C. was a major stop. We had a wonderful reunion with Annie's high school friend, Floy Work. Her generous help with local contacts, personal sight-seeing tours, and introductions to the best food was invaluable. And we laughed a lot.

Dietrich spent several days on boat repairs and maintenance, then explored Charleston. He put about eighty miles on the bicycle and, while browsing a Filson clothing rack, came abeam of THE Jimmy Buffet. Dietrich especially liked the H.L. Hunley exhibit, restoration-in-progress of a Civil War submarine...who knew?

After five days, Dietrich solo sailed to Beaufort, S.C., along a sometimes too shallow ICW (Inner Coastal Waterway). In the meantime, Annie rented a car to visit her parents ( the venerables Lee and Gene Cavin) in Ohio. She enjoyed snowy mountain views all the way into southern Ohio. A week later, she caught up with Dietrich in Beaufort.

We spent two extra days in Beaufort, S.C. because it was such a grand place. Restored homes from the early 1700s through the mid 1800s. They were built on fancy stilts, fronted with graceful double staircases and deep covered or screened porches on two or three levels. They sat on narrow streets near the water, canopied by live oaks and Spanish Moss. Centuries of traditions were evident everywhere, including the Joggeling Boards we saw on many lawns (children's bouncing toys, unique to the Beaufort area). We walked for hours each day!

Now we're on the ICW in Georgia. It is notorious for shoaling and forceful currents. Dietrich says they are wildly unpredictable, with boat speeds varying from three to seven knots over ground. There are nine foot tides whose cycle varies by about fifty minutes daily. We study three printed guides throughout each day, as well as our GPS chart plotter. We listen to the Coast Guard weather updates and we subscribe to an XM weather service, displayed on the GPS screen. Travel days are from dawn until just before sunset and both of us are on deck most of the time. We talk to many bridge tenders (some open on the hour, others by request) and almost every passing yacht captain waves or chats on the VHF.

Tonight, we are anchored near Shellbuff Creek. Shrimp boats hurried up the creek just before sunset as Dietrich followed in the dinghy. He returned triumphant, clutching two pounds of shrimp from today's catch (at $5.00 a pound!). He beheaded, Annie boiled and a pile of shrimp soon disappeared from the cockpit table. Dinner started as the sun was disappearing, ended in darkness. Shore birds were saying their good nights in the marsh and we could hear porpoises exhaling as they surfaced around the boat. And it was suddenly cold, time to get below decks and post this blog entry. We hope you all have a good Thanksgiving holiday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

As of November 10, 2008, we're two days north of Charleston, South Carolina, still readily impressed with each day's adventure. The photos are 1) Annie and Dietrich at MOMA, NYC
2) The Dinghy Dock at the Annapolis Boat Show 3) A fella and his spinnaker and 4) The chute, the beautiful spinnaker, on the Chesapeake.

The pix will follow soon, really. Blogger is acting strangely and I may be able to add the pix in Charleston.

Monday, October 20, 2008

On the Chesapeake

Photos from the C and D Canal to the mid Eastern Shore: 1. Dietrich roamed Chesapeake City at 2:00 a.m. for this shot 2. A Skipjack bowsprit, an oyster dragger in use until the 1980s
3. Skipjack and a Cat Boat on the Miles River outside St. Michaels 4. Rescued Screwpile Lighthouse at St. Michaels and 5. Watermen at work on the Choptank River, near Oxford

Hudson River and New York City

Here they are:  1. Sunny day on the Hudson, nearing West Point   2. Greenwich Village, NYC,
fire escapes   3. 9-11-08, midnight view of Ground Zero, from the boat, NYC   4. Our N.J. marina,
five minutes from the subway  and  5. "Oh say, can you see.." the Statue of Liberty