Back to October 2001
Thursday, November 1st, 2001 Pungo Ferry, VA
Day 1 of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)! We awoke to pea soup, zero visibility fog. We puttered about working on a few chores in hopes that the stuff would clear. It refused. As we hoped she would, Jill appeared at 9 a.m. saying she had been able to clear her schedule for the day and would be able to go for a little cruise. We headed out into the fog at about 10 a.m. with Jill on the foredeck watching for large threatening vessels. Roger was navigating us from buoy to buoy and I was clutching the helm. Jill was describing to us what we would see on either side of the shipping channel if in fact we could see. Roger and I nodded as we frantically searched for our buoys. The only thing to pop out of the fog at us was a motor yacht we had last seen in Newport R.I. "Detroit Eagle" has a horn that will put the fear of God in you.
We had gone only about two miles when the fog began to clear and we found ourselves between Waterside Pavilion and the Hospital Point anchorage. We passed "Mile 0" with great jubilation and headed into the wilderness of bridge openings and barge traffic.
By noon we had arrived at the Great Bridge Lock. The place was jammed with southbound cruisers. Tied up in front of us in the lock were the Lewises, the couple who had written our three chart books of the Bahamas. We took advantage of their being trapped there to pepper them with questions about the places we have thought of going once we finally get there. They were very gracious and didn't flee into their cabin.
At the Great Bridge Lock, a very relaxed Jill decided that she would stay aboard until Pungo Ferry, her only worry being a ride home. Her afternoon was filled with food, drink, sightseeing and the cell phone. "Lana? Is that you?" Happily Lana came through in the end, meeting us at Captain George's Restaurant in Pungo Ferry to deliver Cousin Jill back to Norfolk. We fell exhausted into bed.
Friday, November 2nd, 2001 Great Bridge, VA
I realize we left our gentle readers in Pungo Ferry, Virginia last night, but due to unforeseen circumstances we now find ourselves back sixteen miles in Great Bridge, VA.
We spent a leisurely morning in Pungo Ferry preparing to continue our journey south. We departed at about 7:40 and had gone only a mile when we heard an evil noise coming from the engine. It seems that a bolt, which holds the alternator bracket to the engine block, had sheared. After several hours of playing with screw extractors and drill bits Roger grudgingly admitted defeat. He was able to jury rig the bracket and we headed towards the nearest full service Marina. So here we sit, back in Great Bridge. The folks in charge of repair seem to think they'll be able to get to us on Monday.
The day wasn't a complete bust. We met some nice people from Florida who tied up their 42' catamaran behind us. We chatted for a while and got a tour of their boat. Today's catamarans are not the catamarans of my childhood. This thing was HUGE. Roger says he prefers something a bit more traditional but I could easily have been seduced by the storage.
Saturday, November 3rd, 2001 Great Bridge, VA
Not much to report today. We didn't go anywhere. Mostly we did chores. We saw the Neale's of Cruising World fame come through the lock aboard Chez Nous. Pretty exciting. The highlight of the day, for me anyway, was a trip to the Chinese Buffet for lunch. We both made three trips to the trough, pigs that we are. The food was quite good and the price was an incredible $4.95 per person!
Sunday, November 4th, 2001 Great Bridge, VA
Less to report today than we had to report yesterday. The hourly parade of boats coming through the lock has been quieter today. We did see the folks on Gray Starling come through. We've been seeing them since Sandy Hook. I met a nice woman in the laundry room. She and her husband left September 15th from Toronto and are headed towards Grenada. We swapped adventures and took advantage of the cheapest washers and driers in a great long while. That's it.
Wednesday, November 7th, 2001 Southeast of Buck Island, NC (ICW mile 58.4)
Well, we're on the road again finally. After five chilly days at our shaded dock at the Atlantic Yacht Basin in Great Bridge, VA, we were more than a little excited to be fixed and moving. Jim the Mechanic fashioned a beautiful new plate to hold our alternator in place. It's really a work of art. Thanks Jim! We find ourselves in North Carolina this evening. It's a milestone of sorts when you're looking for such things. We passed, once again, through Pungo Ferry, continued down the North Landing River and through the North Carolina Cut. We stopped for really cheap diesel (.94 cents per gallon) at Midway Marina. A highlight on any day. We saw a sailboat at a dock across the way, which had suffered a fire. It was still afloat so it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but boy was it eerie.
Got here relatively early this afternoon and enjoyed the sunset. Tomorrow we tackle the dreaded Albemarle Sound. The forecast is for 0 wind so the trip shouldn't be too traumatic.
Thursday, November 8th, 2001 Off of the Pungo River (mile 127.5)
We conquered the Sound with no resistance and made our way down the Alligator River and through the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal to boot. It was a blissfully uneventful day. The anchorage is a wonderful spot sort of reminiscent of the Cohansey but wider.
Friday, November 9th, 2001 Cedar Creek, NC (mile 187.7)
Today held a variety of weather and sights. We headed down the Pungo River bright and early and were actually able to hoist the sail. As we headed into Goose Creek from our crossing of the Pamlico River we saw our first dolphins. Lots of them. They were coming up right next to the boat looking for all the world like they were interested in us. Silly, I know. That was not the end of our wildlife excitement. As we exited Goose Creek and entered Bay River we saw our first pelicans. Yes, it's true. I was barely able to contain myself. Roger was pretty excited too because he was able to sail AGAIN when we reached the Neuse River. All in all it was nifty day. We are anchored in a place called Cedar Creek, which is off of Adams Creek. There are the strangest bird noises coming from shore...I hope we aren't snatched up in the night.
Saturday, November 10th, 2001 Swansboro, NC (mile 229.0)
Today was long and less than stress free. We left Cedar Creek not so bright and early due to fog. Although we now have radar we thought we'd give it a chance to lift a little before tackling the day. We finally took off at about 8 a.m. with a hint of clearing in the air. We made our way through the Adams Creek Canal without being run down by any commercial traffic and passed into Core Creek, headed towards Beaufort. I was clad in several layers of outerwear, including a fleece hat and mittens and was horrified when we passed fishermen in waist deep water with NO SHIRTS ON. They appeared to be dragging giant rakes of some sort. I'm certain that the pay for that work can't be enough.
We had decided to continue on the ICW instead of going for an outside leg from Beaufort, so we turned right at Morehead City and headed into Bogue Sound on our continued journey south. What a zoo. Every fisherman for miles buzzed up and down the waterway in their small powerboats shaking things up. Weekends can be difficult. To add to the list of thrills we experienced today we can add "grounding". We didn't have to get hauled off the side of the channel but it was definitely more than a bump. At about this time we were thinking a trip outside might have been a good idea.
We made it to our somewhat tenuous anchorage at a blissfully early hour. This was a good thing since we had to moor Bahamian style (bow and stern, to keep from swinging). This was, naturally, a long and messy process since it's not something we had done before. By the time we sat down and called it a day we were toast. Happily we had stashed a steak in our wee little quasi-freezer and broke it out to end the day on a cheerful note.
Sunday, November 11th, 2001 Wrightsville Beach, NC (mile 283.4)
Another busy day on the Waterway. Here we sit 54 miles, dozen bridges and two groundings later. Somehow today didn't seem quite as bad as yesterday. Perhaps we are adjusting to the pace. We started the day by traversing Camp Lejeune. No marines were to be seen, happily.Our first grounding happened fortuitously as a sport fishing boat was approaching. The nice folks on "Good Vibrations" threw us a line and moments later we were once again on our way. Our second grounding of the day occurred as we tried to stay to the side of the channel so a barge could pass. We were able to get ourselves off this time.
Several of the day's bridges were restricted, opening on the hour only. We were a half-hour early for the first one and missed the second by minutes. Currents change with each inlet alternately slowing and speeding you on your way. Thus far we're having a hard time with the timing. We made it to Wrightsville Beach despite ourselves. It looks like a pretty nice spot if you like the beach and boats.
Roger is not suffering as much as he had feared he would on the ICW. The scenery can be beautiful and the traffic is bearable in most areas. The bumps are definitely unnerving, but other than that the waterway seems to be safe if you use some judgment.
We are hoping to head outside from the mouth of the Cape Fear River to Charleston SC in the next few days but, once again, the weather looks like it might not cooperate.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2001 Carolina Beach, NC (mile 295.5)
It looks like another inside leg for these cruisers. We have waited for two days in hopes that the forecast would improve for our outside trip. No luck. NE 20-25 with 6-8 foot seas for the foreseeable future. Tomorrow we head back down the ICW. We have managed to get a few things accomplished over the last few days. I can't remember what they are right now but they were accomplished and we are ready to be on our way.
Wednesday, November 14th, 2001 Little River, SC (mile 342.0)
We left Carolina Beach this morning under somewhat overcast skies. The offshore world was experiencing its sixth straight day of small craft advisories but the ICW was reasonable as usual. We headed through Snow's Cut and down the Cape Fear River towards Southport. We passed a small sailboat we had seen leaving the anchorage ahead of us and discovered they were "Moby" from New Bedford. I think we had seen them once before, in Annapolis perhaps. Today's challenge was the crossing of several inlets. Inlets are passageways to and from the inland waters to the ocean. They are interesting to cross because they have a lot of current. Before you know what hit you, you're sucked sideways toward nasty shoaling and are frantically trying to steer back to your course. We crossed both Lockwood's Folly and Shallotte Inlets without any nasty incidents but we sure did sweat a lot.
Today we crossed into South Carolina. It feels pretty much like North Carolina so far. The other interesting happening of the day involved passing through the last pontoon bridge on the East Coast. As luck would have it we arrived (along with more than a dozen other boats) at dead low tide and the bridge was aground. We had to wait about an hour for the tide to rise enough so that the bridge could float itself open.
We anchored for the evening in the Calabash Creek side of the Little River Inlet. The anchorage is really pretty nice and pretty. Unfortunately we managed to get ourselves keel-wrapped shortly after anchoring. Happily we had arrived fairly early and were able to spend the time allocated for relaxation extricating us from our predicament. By the time darkness fell there were eleven boats lined up in the creek. One of the boats, Charlotte D, we had seen in Horseshoe Cove, ME this summer.
(Trudi: Calabash Creek leads to a town that is famous for Calabash Seafood. What exactly is Calabash Seafood and should we have gone out to dinner?)
Thursday, November 15th, 2001 Georgetown, SC (mile 403.0)
The reason I was sort of hoping the weather had allowed us to go outside at the Cape Fear River was that I wasn't really looking forward to passing through the "Rockpile" in the Pine Island Cut behind Myrtle Beach. It's an area of the ICW that is bordered, as you might guess, by lots of rocks. As you are about to enter the area you call ahead to any interested barge traffic headed in your direction because there is really no room to pass. Needless to say I clutched the wheel for all I was worth. By the time we had passed through the area I had a knot in my neck the size of a softball. Happily we hit nothing. The stretch of the ICW in this area, hazards aside, is really pretty unattractive. You see the back end of a lot of restaurants and shopping areas. As a reward for surviving Pine Island Cut you get to travel the Waccamaw River. It's a wonderfully deep river with dark brown water and weird flora. You definitely get the sense that you're in the middle of nowhere.
As we rounded a bend in the River we saw a fairly good-sized sailboat wandering aimlessly. As we approached we saw that it was Bill, the solo sailor we had met in Great Bridge, VA. It seems that his engine was leaking oil and he had to keep running below to feed it. He said he was all right and we headed on our way.
Georgetown, SC, our destination, is an interesting place. It is home to one of the largest paper mills in the country as well as a steel mill. The anchorage was loaded with boats. The backdrop was a bit surreal but the town itself was kinda neat. This area is considered to be in SC low country. In days gone by it was known for its rice paddies. Now the town is trying to attract tourists with galleries and restaurants. We commenced our first trip ashore in ten days. The moment we stepped on land it started to rain (the first time in weeks.) We had bloody mary's and steamed clams at a raw bar called "Big Tuna" and called it a night.
Friday, November 16th, 2001 Inlet Creek, SC (mile 461)
We left Georgetown fairly early and headed into low country. The scenery from here to just outside of Charleston is quite beautiful. It's mostly marshland that is a barrier to the ocean. There are rivers that cut through it which allowed our passage. We saw an amazing number of birds including a bald eagle. After exiting the marsh we passed Andersonville, SC. Andersonville is the site of a civil war prison that was apparently pretty horrific. The area has seen an influx of trophy homes but it still had an eerie feel to it. We managed to avoid going aground on our approach to Charleston despite the shallow waters. Perhaps a step forward for us. We decided to spend the night anchored in a creek just outside the city and head in in the morning for the municipal marina. This was the first night that it didn't get cold after sunset.
Saturday, November 17th, 2001 Charleston, SC (mile 469.5)
We arrived at the City Marina by 10 a.m. for a day of provisioning, laundry, oil change, etc. We docked next to some friendly folks from Atlantic City New Jersey on a Catalina 34 called Summer Breeze. They sent over egg muffins the recipe for which they had discovered in Elizabeth City and we lent them our potato masher so they could move forward in their preparations for an early Thanksgiving dinner.
After a long day of chores, including the engine servicing that would not quit, we showered and caught the van into town for dinner. Hank's, a seafood restaurant, was our destination. We managed to get a seat because we were early and sat at the community table. Several people from the van also ate here, including Huma from Toronto and a couple on a trawler headed for their new home in Vero Beach. Our waiter, Damien, was a piece of work. He reminded me of one of the leads in La Cage aux Folles.
At this point the weather looks good for an overnight offshore to Fernandina Beach, FL.
Sunday, 18th & Monday 19th, 2001 Cumberland Island, GA.
We awoke to some fog in the a.m. It didn't seem to be stop the trip fog so we headed over to the fuel dock to fill up before going offshore. We encountered two boats already at the dock, though not getting fuel. One was a Westsail 28 called "Jumby". The other was an equally heavy duty little craft named "Katie K". They were both crewed by several twenty-somethings and were headed from Nantucket to wherever they could get to. This morning they were getting ready to head out for an offshore to the Bahamas. They were very enthusiastic and fun to chat with.
By 10 a.m. we were southbound from the Charleston sea buoy. We made contact with another sailboat which appeared to be heading in the same general direction. "Yaquina" was a boat from Portland, OR. that we had seen as we passed through Camp Lejeune a week or so ago. They too were headed for Fernandina so we planned to check in before dark.
We spent a very uneventful night. Happily it was much warmer than our previous overnight (around New Jersey). We arrived at the entry to the St. Mary's River at about 11 a.m. and encountered zero visibility fog. This is the part of the story where our newly purchased radar paid for itself. Without radar we could have made the entrance IF it had been slack tide. It wasn't slack tide. The tide was headed out in a big way and we were hard pressed to keep a course. With the radar on we could see the parade of buoys and follow them in. Add to the mix the fact that The St. Mary's River is a fairly busy shipping channel and you're loving your radar. Yaquina, who was slightly ahead of us, called and said that they were headed to the anchorage at Cumberland Island which they had used before and which was easy to find. We decided that we'd head in that direction also. We felt that finding a place to anchor in Fernandina in the fog was more work than we wanted. We were very glad about our decision. The fog persisted but we were able to hug the inside of Cumberland Island using our radar, and make our way to the anchorage.
After it was all said and done it took us six hours to get from the entry channel to our anchorage. Needless to say we were pretty pooped. We had just enough energy to put together a dinner of cheese, pepperoni and scotch before crashing. We decided that we'd spend tomorrow here relaxing and being tourists and then the next day, weather permitting, head offshore to Lake worth/Palm Beach.
Tuesday, November 20th, 2001 Cumberland Island, GA
We awoke to a fog free day. The sight that greeted us was wonderful. Cumberland Island seemed to have a magical quality about it. White beaches, palm trees and curious bird calls. Perhaps it was because we had not seen the Island on our approach through the fog that made it seem like it appeared out of nowhere. The Island was the private summer hideaway for the Carnegie family until the depression. It is now a national park.
We said goodbye to the folks on Yaquina as they headed out. They were going to leave their boat at Jekyll Island and head back to Oregon till after the holidays when they'll fly back and head over to the Bahamas.
We packed a lunch and our camera and headed ashore for our first choreless shore leave since October 3rd. We checked in with the ranger when we landed. He gave us a few ideas about trails to take and sent us on our way with a warning to watch out for rattlesnakes. RATTLESNAKES?! We headed into the forest with some trepidation but were quickly taken in by our surroundings. What we did see in the way of wildlife were armadillos, lizards and horses. We headed south past the ruins of the Carnegie mansion then out through the maritime forest to the beach. We met a woman who, with her pastor husband, has been camping here regularly for fifteen years. She says that she has never seen a rattlesnake in all that time. We were greatly relieved.
We returned to the boat relaxed, recharged and ready for the next leg of our journey.
Wednesday, November 21st, 2001 Offshore
We headed out in the early a.m. for our two-day trip to Lake Worth, which will probably be our take-off point for the Bahamas. The St. Mary's channel was a different place without fog. Quite benign. We saw "Emily's Moon", a sailboat which we haven't seen in some time also exiting the channel. We can tell we are making good time by going offshore when we see these bigger, faster boats which we thought we had lost.
The weather was warm and the wind was light and from the right direction. It feels like we're in the tropics finally. Within two hours of switching lures Roger caught his first fish. Boy was it big! I guess until you've done it a few times, landing and slaying of the catch is a bit crazy. I can't go into the details of the offing of the lovely fish, other than the fact that I was hiding in the vee berth a bit teary and Roger was covered in blood. I think that next time we'll try squirting a little vodka in the gills to stem the slaughter atmosphere. At any rate, once the fishy was looking like something from the supermarket there was a sense of relief for everyone but the victim. We're not sure what it was we caught. It was about 2 feet long and quite pretty. The meat was dark like tuna and we nearly set the bimini on fire grilling it. It made for good eating and the diners were pleased.
The night's sail was very pretty. The air was warm, the moon and stars were out and there was very little traffic.
Thursday, November 22nd, 2001 Thanksgiving, Offshore
Thanksgiving morning found us sailing past Cape Canaveral, making our way slowly towards Lake Worth. It's another beautiful day. It's great to be able to sail again after so long on the ICW. We decided to hold off on the Thanksgiving feast till we are at anchor somewhere with nothing to do. At our Charleston stop I purchased a turkey-like item about the size of a small water balloon. It is frozen and with any luck will remain that way until we are ready for it. For our midday meal we had, you guessed it, leftover fish. Roger was so pleased with his fishing success that he insisted on dropping the trolling line back over the side this morning, claiming it would be strictly catch and release. Within minutes we had hooked another, even bigger fish. This fish had giant teeth though. Luckily for Roger as he was carefully trying to release the fish, it managed to escape, taking only the hook with him.
We both took naps in anticipation of yet another night of sailing. It will be nice to reach Lake Worth but this sure was a different way to spend Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 23rd, 2001 Lake Worth/Palm Beach
We arrived at noon after a trying night of sailing. We were tired and things went wrong. I jibed the boat in light winds but moderate seas. The jib sheets got tangled as Roger tried to get us back on track. It took us 20 minutes to fix. Transmission fluid seemed to be leaking (we were motorsailing) and Roger wanted to work on it but I kept falling asleep at the wheel. I did manage to stay awake for long enough for him to do what he needed to do. We were both pretty crabby. During my late shift I was able to stay awake by watching dolphins playing and swimming under the stern of the boat.
The wind picked up as the sun rose. Lots of sport fishermen were out as we approached Palm Beach but we managed to not hit anyone. The seas were fairly substantial and the wind was a steady 22 knots. It made for an interesting morning for two tired sailors. Happily the tide was heading in to the Lake Worth Inlet so we didn't get thrashed there. We fought our way through the jet skis and the speedboats to our anchorage at the north end of the lake. It was a sight for sore eyes. We had two beers apiece, ate leftover macaroni and cheese and were in bed by 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 24th, 2001 Palm Beach, FL
Over the next few days we will do our final provisioning before crossing over to the Bahamas. This involves lots of schleping. We went ashore today and encountered all manor of exotic things. There were ficus hedges looking healthy as can be. I can't keep a ficus alive at home to save my life. There were also hibiscus and oleander growing like weeds. On the human side of things there were lots of Mercedes and other fancy cars threatening to run you down, and the thinnest, blondest, most well dressed women I have ever seen anywhere. There were women in sequins in the Publix Supermarket on Saturday afternoon... before 4 p.m.! As far as provisioning goes this place is a mecca. There are lots of boats in the harbor here to take advantage of the huge variety of stores within walking distance. I went to an eyeglass store to buy polarized sunglasses and the optician referred to the anchorage as "Hong Kong Harbor". In his defense he did let me write a check for my glasses.
Tuesday, November 27th, 2001 Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale
With our provisioning completed we decided to head a bit further south to try to lessen the effect of the Gulf Stream on our crossing. Our intended plan was to anchor in Fort Lauderdale for the night and head to the Bahamas the following afternoon. We had a great sail down the coast to Fort Lauderdale. We were only a mile offshore so the sightseeing was great. We entered the Port Everglades Channel just before dark and headed north on the waterway towards the Las Olas anchorage. The anchorage was basically full. After trying five or six times to anchor in a legal fashion (not hanging out into the channel) we gave up and went in search of a place to drop the hook. This was at 9:30 p.m. After several aborted attempts to anchor north of the Port Everglades Inlet we decided we would go south. That is when we got a palm frond wrapped around our propeller stopping us dead in the middle of the shipping channel. Needless to say the Coast Guard, The Broward County Sheriff's Office and Sea Tow arrived within seconds. We managed to get the bulk of the frond removed before any ships came into the harbor but the engine was not sounding great. This was at 11:30 p.m. After the local powers that be departed we continued our journey south. We attempted to anchor to the side of the channel at one point only managing to go aground. After a half-hour the tide and a wake combined to lift us out of our predicament and we were on our way once again. This was at 12:30 a.m. After getting lifts from two bridges we found a spot next to the channel with enough water (barely) to anchor mostly out of the way and get some sleep. This was at 1:30 a.m.
Wednesday, November 28th, 2001 Gulf Stream
Right after breakfast, Roger put on his mask and snorkel and dove under the boat to inspect the previous evening's events. When he resurfaced he was very relieved to find that the prop still had fronds left on it to explain our very slow speed, the rudder was not damaged, and the keel was bruised but fine. He removed the last fronds and after a test run we seemed to be no worse for the wear.
After another visit from yet another sheriff we decided it was time to leave Fort Lauderdale. By noon we were exiting the Port Everglades channel and very glad about it. We headed south till we were outside Miami and then turned towards the Bahamas and hoped for the best.
Thursday, November 29th, 2001 Lucaya, Grand Bahama
We arrived here at 4:00p.m. after a fairly long crossing. The Stream itself wasn't a problem, it was the wind which was. The forecast for 10-15 SE never materialized and instead we had to work with 15-25 E. This made for some interesting seas and a good deal of sailing to windward. Yuck! The trip took us about 8 hours longer than it should have but it wasn't ever dangerous as a north wind would have made it.
We tied up at the Lucayan Marina at 4:30 to clear Immigration and Customs. The Marina places the calls and the officials come to your boat. By 10:00 p.m. we had seen only the Immigration fellow. When we threatened to go to bed tied up at the gas dock the Marina staff managed to round up a Customs person and we were on our way to an anchorage by 10:30.
Friday, November 30th, 2001 Lucaya, Grand Bahama
SLEPT LATE. Boy did we need it after our previous two nights. After a morning of relaxation we took the dinghy to shore and went for a walk around the Lucaya waterfront. It seemed sort of empty but very pretty. We found our way to the beach and put our feet in the water and life was good.
To December 2001