Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Movin' on up the East Coast

As we left Myrtle Beach we passed this college rowing team practicing. We spent the first two weeks of April in North Carolina, stopping at some towns we bypassed on the way down.

We spent a couple of days in the quaint little town of Southport, where we were allowed to tie up to a dock at the Yacht Basin Provision Company in exchange for eating a couple of delicious meals there. Several movies and tv shows have filmed in Southport, most recently the film Safe Haven.

We took a guided tour around town on a golf cart where our guide pointed out various points of interest, such as this house from the movie "Crimes of the Heart." We also saw the home where author Robert Ruark spent part of his childhood living with his grandparents because both of his parents were alcoholics.

Dan found the grave of a long lost relative.

We spent a couple of days at Beaufort, where we visited the nicest museum so far, the North Carolina Maritime Museum. There were a lot of nice shops and galleries along the waterfront where we were docked.

We then moved on to Oriental, a sailing town that provides free slips to visiting boaters. We found a nice sports bar there, the Shanty, to watch the NCAA final, which unfortunately did not include a Michigan team.

We returned to Elizabeth City, a stop we enjoyed on our way down. No exciting weather this year. We were hiding from Hurricane Sandy the last time we were there. We then transited the Dismal Swamp in one day, as opposed to the three days we spent before.

From South Carolina on we have been seeing a lot of Osprey. This is their nesting season and many of the waterway markers have nests.

We spent two nights anchored in Virginia. The first night we were at Willoughby Bay near Norfolk. The second night we went up the Wicomico River and were the only boat anchored in a beautiful spot in Mill Creek. We then had a long day sailing up Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis.

We spent a week in Annapolis, enjoying local bars and restaurants. One highlight of this week was seeing Ben Taylor (son of James Taylor and Carly Simon) at the Ram's Head. It is a comfortable intimate setting for a concert and he is very talented. On Easter we enjoyed the food and atmosphere at the Boatyard Bar and Grill, a local sailors hangout.

Another beautiful sunset, the view from our mooring in Spa Creek.

We are now in Chesapeake City, Maryland. Tomorrow we head through the C and D Canal, down the Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey. Weather permitting, we should be in New York City by this weekend.

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Location:Annapolis, MD

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Back on the ICW, March 28, 2014

We have not done a very good job of keeping up our blog. There are several reasons. We have left the islands and we are on our way home. Although this is still a part of the Glory Days voyage, it has not seemed all that exciting or interesting (like the rest of our trip, some would say). We are covering the same waters that we travelled on the way down and not taking as many pictures.

We left Grand Cay in the Bahamas on March 14th and sailed northwest in the Gulf Stream, arriving at the Florida coast about 24 hours later. We were disappointed that the winds were lighter than forecasted, which meant we motored a lot of the way, but it was a good safe crossing.

We came in at the Ponce Inlet, south of Daytona and entered the Intracoastal Waterway.

After one night anchored in Daytona, we pushed on to St. Augustine, where we sat out some rainy, cool weather for three nights.

After St. Augustine, we bundled up for an all day motor to Fernandina Beach. Here we stayed two nights and enjoyed a day with our Michigan friends, Craig and Cindy. They have a Tartan called Windigo and were getting away from the Michigan winter for a couple of months in Florida.

After carefully watching the forecast, we decided we had a great opportunity to "go outside," and sail up the Georgia coast and not motor up the ICW. The Georgia section of the ICW winds and twists through marshland. There are many shallow spots and severe tidal currents. We (Dan especially) wanted to avoid it if at all possible.

We left Fernandina, went out into the Atlantic and 18 uneventful hours later, we arrived in Beaufort, South Carolina. This trip that would have taken three days in the ICW. We really like Beaufort and after walking around the town a bit, we decided to move to a quiet anchorage north of town.

We now find ourselves playing a "timing game," of when to move and when to sit. We have a tentative goal of reaching Michigan by Memorial Day, but we know if we go too far too fast, we will run into colder weather. A very smart man once told Dan, "the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar."

On days like this, we sit.

After three nights in Georgetown, SC, waiting for the weather to warm up, we continued to a beautiful spot to anchor for the night in the Waccamaw River.

Now we are at a dock in Myrtle Beech, where we had an opportunity to connect with our friends, Lee and Mary Pat.

We sat at the bar at Dirty Don's Oyster Bar and watched Michigan and Michigan State advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament. Now we will stay here until after the games on Sunday.

Go Blue! Go Green!

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Location:North Myrtle Beach, SC

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our Last Stop in the Bahamas was Grand, March 13, 2014

We are sitting at a dock at Grand Cay watching the weather and expecting to leave in the morning to cross to Florida. We are hoping to take advantage of the north flow of the Gulf Stream and sail all the way to Ponce Inlet, near Daytona Beach. This will be approximately 30 hours.

In the mean time, we have thoroughly enjoyed walking around Grand Cay. This is another cay that is "off the beaten path" for cruising boats. We have noticed that places that don't see a huge number of boats are the most welcoming. Virtually everyone we encountered during our two days here greeted us with a smile and said, "hello."

We ate take-away food at the places the locals eat and had opportunities to engage in real conversation.

This community survives by fishing and there are small boats everywhere. This little boy had been out with his dad.

Sister was on shore to pull them in and politely refused Dan's offer to help.

These guys were shooting hoops in the school yard and stopped long enough to get their picture taken.

We wandered through the well maintained cemetery.

We encountered this little cutie being pushed in a stroller by her big sister.

This is the view of one of the two streets that run the length of the island.

As we prepare to say goodbye to the Bahamas, we are reflecting on our time here and treasuring our last day at this Grand Cay.

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Location:Grand Cay, Bahamas

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Homeward Bound

After Rock Sound, we spent a couple of nights at our old stomping ground, Hatchet Bay. This was one of Dan's favorite fishing spots from last year. He went out our first day there and came back pretty quickly with this guy.

The second night there we had a delicious meal of stone crabs that we purchased from a fisherman at the docks. We decided to move quickly through Eleuthera this year in order to make it to a songwriters festival in Hope Town.

We spent one night at Spanish Wells. This is the view from our anchorage.
We then headed to Hope Town where we met up with our Canadian friends, George and Jackie on Heritage and Guy and Louise on Miss Ellie.

We really enjoyed the performers at the Patrick Davis Hope Town Songwriters Festival. They are a talented bunch who have written hit songs for established country artists, but are also good singers and musicians in their own right. A couple of our favorites were Casey James, who had been on American Idol, and Jessie Rice, who cowrote the song "Cruise" which was a big hit by Florida Georgia Line. It was a fun couple of nights listening to good music in a beautiful setting.

After a relaxing week in Hope Town, we anchored at Matt Lowes Cay for a night. In the morning, we snorkeled on Mermaid Reef outside of Marsh Harbor. There Dan learned that feeding Cheerios to the fish is best left for the end of your snorkel. He couldn't shake a huge school of fish that followed him around long after the food was gone.

We then moved on to Man O War. This is a pretty little town known for boat building. It is also the only dry community we have encountered in the Bahamas.

This is one of several churches we saw in Man O War.

We next spent a few nights at Treasure Cay, waiting out a big blow. There is a nice marina with good provisioning available. We had been hearing about the beautiful beach here from other cruisers. It was long and pretty, but we can't say it was better than many others we have seen in the Bahamas. There are just a lot of spectacular beaches here.

After leaving Treasure Cay, we stopped at the uninhabited Powell Cay. We took a long walk on the ocean side and found a lot of shells and a couple more sea beans.

We then spent a night at Allans-Pensacola, where we met up with Greg from Rainbeau, whom we had first met in St. Augustine. He is looking to cross back to the US the same time we are, so we may have a buddy boat for that crossing. He understands though that we sail fast. When you have a 30 hour crossing ahead of you, you don't want to slow down for another boat. At least that is our attitude, hence our previous solo crossings. We might not be the best people to buddy boat with, but are probably better than nothing for a solo sailor.

We are currently at Fox Town, our next to last anchorage before crossing.
This is a typical Bahamian village, not touristy like some of our recent stops in the Abacos. We went into town and had a delicious lunch of grilled hogfish and cracked conch. We watched some black tipped sharks circling in the harbor near a fish cleaning station and we talked to some friendly locals. These last few nights have been the kind of experience we most enjoy in the Bahamas: the remote, isolated anchorages and the small communities where there the local residents dramatically outnumber the boaters. These will be the places we will look back on most fondly when we are back home.

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Location:The Abacos

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Back to Eleuthera

After a one night stop at Little San Salvador, which is owned by a cruise ship line, we sailed into the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Yacht Club. It is a beautiful place that saw better times back in the 1970's when there was a world class golf course on the property. They sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Andrew and we saw foundations of small cottages that were destroyed at that time. It is now under new management and the staff is very friendly and helpful. Pascal's Restaurant had just opened the week before we arrived and we had two delicious meals there. Since we rarely stay at marinas and eat in restaurants, we dubbed these two days, "Dan and Laurie's vacation."

While at Cape Eleuthera, we toured the Island School and the Cape Eleuthera Institute. The school opened in 1998 with a goal of conserving marine life and providing alternative food sources and jobs for the residents of South Eleuthera. The yacht club (owned by Dick DeVos from Grand Rapids, Michigan) donated 18 acres of land to the school. They now have local middle school students who study there as well as high school and college students from around the world.

All of the high school students who come to the school for a semester of "Study Abroad Learning," get certified in SCUBA. They also train and complete either a four mile open swim or a half-marathon run at the end of the semester.

One of the students, Alisha, gave us a tour and explained research projects involving marine life and sustainable development initiatives.

The school was built using "green design" using recycled and locally produced and sustainably grown materials. They have their own farm where they grow citrus fruits and their own vegetables. They also raise pigs and chickens. They power all of their vehicles and some of their boats with bio-diesel. They reclaim the cooking oil from local restaurants and cruise ships and turn it into usable fuel.

The school is powered by wind and solar. It is an inspiring place and seems to be a great place for students interested in marine biology or conservation to get some hands on experience.

We had a light air day and motored the short distance to Rock Sound. On the way, Laurie got this shot of a dolphin. This looks like a swimming pool, but is actually 12 feet deep water in Rock Sound.

Before we left Rock Sound, we went for a long beach walk on the Atlantic side of the island. The beach is about two miles from town where our boat was anchored. On the island of Eleuthera, it is hard to walk very far without someone stopping and offering a ride. We caught rides both ways without even putting out our thumbs.

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Location:Cape Eleuthera and Rock Sound

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just when we thought beaches couldn't be any prettier.....

...we got to the north end of Cat Island. This is an area that is not often visited by cruising boats, due to the out of the way location and lack of protection. We had heard about this beach last year from Dave and Teresa, on board Deep Blue. When we got a favorable weather forecast, we decided to check it out.

It is as magnificent as they had described. The white sand stretches for miles and no one else was here. We walked and walked and saw only our footprints.

To get to Cat Island, we left Long Island on February 8, from Calabash Bay. Clearing Cape Santa Maria, we could we the Columbus Monument in the distance.

We set fishing lines as soon as we were in deep water and fished all the way. Our only success came when Laurie caught this nice Wahoo on a hand line. He was delicious!

After a night at New Bight, we headed north up the coast of Cat Island. On the way, we enjoyed the company of three dolphins that played in our bow wake for a long time.

This is Laurie looking for more dolphins.

We spent a night at place called Orange Creek, then moved around to the northwest point on the island. In the short trip to this anchorage, we saw a whale in the distance. This was a first for us! No pictures though. He breached a number of times, but was too far away to photograph.

From here, we plan to cross to Eleuthera and continue our slow progression north.

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Location:Port Royal, Cat Island, Bahamas

Rum Cay to Long Island

After three days at Conception, we had a nice sail to Rum Cay. Our intention was to stay in a marina after a month at anchor. About an hour out, we reached a man on the radio who indicated the marina was in between owners. We could tie up for free, but there would be no showers, laundry, or electricity. On our sail over, we landed this fish. We were excited thinking that we may have landed a tuna, however after consulting our fishing guide, we found out it was a horse-eyed jack and no good for eating. Darn!

When we first entered the marina, Laurie saw a big shark in the water that she could tell was not one of the nurse sharks we are used to seeing. We continued to see big sharks in the water and were advised not to swim in the marina. Sharks are used to coming in looking for food from the fishing boats. Dan went spear fishing a couple of times on a nearby reef, with Dennis from the boat next to ours. On his first trip, he encountered a lemon shark bigger than he is, but luckily the shark turned away from him. On one of his expeditions, he speared this lobster. Despite being assured by locals that no one had been attacked by a shark at Rum Cay in their lifetime, Laurie declined to snorkel here.

On our first day on the island, the local cop was kind enough to pick us up while we were walking in Port Nelson and to let us know about the local businesses. We ended up renting a golf cart and touring the island. At one time, there were about 6,000 people on the island. Now there are only about 60 residents, all in the Port Nelson area. While at Rum Cay, we enjoyed Kaliks at Kaye's and a delicious wahoo lunch at the Ocean View.

We drove to a beautiful beach on the north side of the island, where we took a long hike and collected shells and sea glass.

After two nights in the marina, we anchored out, which we would not recommend due to surge that resulted in a couple of rolly nights. We then sailed to Long Island, catching this nice Mahi on the way.

At Long Island, we finally got the access to showers and laundry that we had been wanting. We enjoyed Mike's hospitality at the Long Island Breeze, including a fun Super Bowl party. Bo and Joyce from Dream Catcher were at Long Island when we arrived. One day we rented a car with them and toured the south end of the island. We enjoyed lunch at Max's Conch Bar. This is Gary, aka Max, making his famous conch salad.

This is Laurie and Joyce at Max's. In addition to the conch salad, we had grouper that was very good.

We visited Dean's Blue Hole as we had last year, but this time we knew to bring our snorkeling gear. Dean's is the deepest blue hole in the world and international free diving competitions take place here. There was a diver practicing when we arrived. He went down 280 feet.

We visited Saints Peter and Paul's Church in Clarence Town, one of Father Jerome's churches.

We walked a beautiful beach on the southernmost tip of the island.

On our way back we encountered some children walking home from school who readily posed for us.

Before leaving our Salt Pond anchorage, we took a couple of walks to ocean beaches.

We spent our last two nights in Calabash Bay near Cape Santa Maria. It is a beautiful anchorage where we both enjoyed snorkeling. Not a shark in sight! We also were both excited to see the green flash at sunset for the first time.

Location:Cape Santa Maria