Yes, We Are Still In Maine

Well actually it would be better to say that we are back into Maine. After completing the last blog post, we went to New Hampshire and spent 2 weeks with Samantha and our grandsons and family including a birthday party for Jeremy Chris and Ryan and had a good time there. We then all returned to Maine  and enjoyed a week at a cabin on Great Island, not far from Great Island Boatyard where we had left our boat. Everyone enjoyed time at the beach, climbing among the rocks and eating the seafood (except Jenn, our vegan daughter). Jenn joined us there after two weeks of camping as far as Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

The sunset view from our cabin’s deck

At the end of the week, Sam and her family left while Jenn stayed for a couple days so we could take advantage of her car to get some provisioning accomplished. The she headed back south, and we headed downeast. 

We continued to be blessed with good weather as we headed to Rockland. The harbor is large and full of all sorts of boats including a Navy ship. It’s also protected by two lighthouses, one at Owls Head and the other at the end of the harbor breakwater. ( I got pictures of several others on the way there.)

Lighthouse at the entrance to Rockland Harbor

We were surprised to learn that the annual lobster festival was under way as we arrived. Hence the town was a bit busier and noisier than normal. That didn’t prevent us from checking out several shops downtown or enjoying a great lunch at Clan McLaren.

We were contacted by Donna Schlahman, a cruiser we had met in Marathon who was to be  in Rockland with a group from Boothbay Harbor visiting the Sail, Steam…Museum. She invited us to join them for a tour led by the curator. It was fascinating, and we learned quite a bit about the history of Rockland and the importance of sailing ships that were built there. 

Next we headed east again to Vinalhaven. Thanks to our Active Captain app, we learned of a great protected anchorage in Seal Bay, complete with the seals for which it was named. We spent a couple of days there exploring the islands, watching seals and generally enjoying this beautiful spot that represents so well the rugged coastline.

Some of the seals of Seal Bay

Below are results of our exploration of the Bay.

Even Maddy enjoyed our exploring.

Lots of rock

And of course beautiful sunsets

 We then moved further downeast to Mt. Dessert Island and Acadia National Park. We spent our first night here anchored by Southwest Harbor. We went in for a meal, lobster for Sandra and mussels for me. The next day we sailed up Somes Sound, the only fiord on the East coast. The steeply rising hills on each side were quite spectacular.

This is what portions of the shoreline looked like in the Sound. 

 Anchoring in a great spot at the end of the Sound, we dinghied in to the town dock of Somesville and checked out the town. The commercial center is comprised of a bank, post office and a general store – not too exciting. But the anchorage made up for any shortcomings of the town.  And we even saw and heard a loon that was swimming near us. We were surprised to see one in the ocean during the summer, but we did.

This may be a good time to digress a bit to focus on the lobstering that we see here on the coast. Lobster pot bouys dominate the coast – as much as we’ve seen at least. We rarely traveled anywhere that didn’t have bouys around, and in some areas they were so numerous that one had to steer carefully to avoid catching one on the prop. 

Lots of lobster pots

In Somes Sound alone there were hundreds, and the Sound was narrow and less than five miles long. In one area during our transit to Mount Dessert Island, we saw eight lobster boats picking up traps. They were all less than a quarter of a mile from each other. It’s just hard to imagine how many lobster are down there to be caught. Last year more than 100 million pounds were sold, and all the studies indicate that this is a sustainable level!  

We bought these two from a lobsterman as he was hauling traps near our boat.

While I’m not sure how accurate this info is, I did hear of a couple of reasons for the increase in the lobster population in spite of the expansion in the number of traps. The coast of Maine has been over fished, so the predators of young lobsters are gone. The other part is the lobster trap itself. When a camera was placed in traps, it was learned that these devices are not really trapping them. The bait put in the traps is feeding the lobsters who then get back out as easily as they got in. The ones unlucky enough to be in the”trap” when it’s hauled up are the only ones caught. Some call this operation farming rather than trapping. The bottom line is that the lobster population is not shrinking in spite of the increases in the number hauled each year. Of course for us the real bottom line is to enjoy eating them while we’re here and to watch carefully to avoid getting tangled in a trap line.

This schooner returned to Bar Harbor from a foggy sail.

As this post is being written, we are anchored by Bar Harbor. We’ll be here another day before checking out a few other great stops in the area before getting serious about heading south.

Till the next time we have good Internet coverage.. .

Carpe Diem

Captain Bob

Maine At Last

A bit of time has passed since the last update. We spent a portion of that time in Onset getting the boat cleaned and reorganized after our travel from the Chesapeake. That included a 5 mile round trip walk to a grocery store and several loads of laundry. We also got our first order of fried clams since entering New England – really good!

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                  Relaxing in Onset

We had family visits during our time in this quaint coastal village. First Sandra’s sister Paula arrived with Pam, her sister-in-law.  We had a great, relaxing visit.

Then Sam came with her family and Jenn.  She and Jenn had just completed another trail run together, this one a 25K in Stow, VT. The boys had a great time on the boat as well as kayaking or on dinghy rides.

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                Nathan kayaking

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     Chris and Ryan in the dinghy with Jeremy.

All left at the end of the day except for Jenn and her dog Kaya who would be joining us for the next leg of our cruise.

Having filled our water and fuel tanks, we headed out through the Cape Cod Canal the next morning as soon as the tidal current had began flowing the right direction for us.

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  Jenn and Kaya on the bow as we head up the canal

The sun was shining and the wind made possible for some motor sailing most of the trip to Boston Harbor. Our anchorage provided a sunset view of the Boston skyline, and the nearby beach offered us lots of sea glass as well as ample running space for the dogs.

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  Yet another lighthouse, this one south of Boston Harbor

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           Our sunset view of Boston

Since the forecast called for continued decent weather, we continued north the next morning, making our way between the many islands in Boston Harbor before heading back out to sea.

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One of several older forts on islands in the harbor

After a couple of showers and some rolly conditions, we got north of Cape Ann and set a course for Kittery Point, our first stop in Maine.

Pepperill Cove has moorings near the town docks and a small grocery story (very small). The cove is not well protected from ocean swells, so we spent a night being rocked to sleep…or not.

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  The fog lifted briefly before we headed out.

We woke up the next morning to thick fog. By the time we were ready to leave, the fog had lifted a bit in the cove, but we found thick fog once we were out of the harbor. It remained with us all day, during which our greatest challenge was avoiding lobster pot buoys.

As we approached Casco Bay, a line of thunderstorms came through. The only good aspect was that it cleared out the fog and provided us with bright sun and a rainbow as we arrived at our anchorage at Jewell Island, one of our favorite spots in the Bay.

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      The anchorage at Jewell Island is well protected.

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   This side of Jewell is open to ocean swells.

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    First to welcome us to Casco Bay

Jewell is open to the ocean on one side but provides a protected anchorage on the other. It was a site for submarine watching during WWII. To that end two towers were built to provide a clear view of the water out from there. There was also a gun emplacement, tunnels to store munitions and supplies as well as a  barracks for soldiers. Much is now gone, but the towers can be climbed for a view of the area and the tunnels can still be explored .

Next we were off to a mooring in So. Freeport and a 3 mile walk into Freeport to LLBean and a number of outlet stores. We always find it fun to wander through LLBean’s even if we don’t end up buying much.

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South Freeport is full of boats on moorings.

Having a mooring meant we could do laundry and refill the water and fuel tanks before heading out the next morning. Casco Bay is familiar territory for us, since we sailed here for several summers before moving to Virginia. We headed over to another favorite – the Gosling’s – where we can walk around a couple of small islands and pretty much guarantee that we’ll see seals on neàrby rocks. We weren’t disappointed. We did some kayaking and I set my dinghy for sailing and enjoyed a breeze that afternoon . 

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  Seals gather on these rocks each day at low tide.

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       Jenn and Kaya enjoy kayaking.

The next day we got a bit of nice sailing  in the big boat as we traveled to Long Cove well up into Harpswell Sound.  Getting there required  passing through a maze of lobster buoys far more congested than are the crab and lobster buoys in the Keys. It’s not really a problem for us, though, as long as we pay attention.

This hurricane hole of an anchorage is now providing us with time for more kayaking and to see more seals as well exploring the neighborhood by foot and dinghy.

We do seem to by bouncing around a bit now, but the anchorages are between 5 and 12 miles apart. So we aren’t spending much of each day traveling.

A number of people we’ve talked with concerning cruising in Maine have expressed worry about the fog and the rocks. We’ve experienced both during this trip already. The fog is less of an issue if you have radar, AIS and a good chartplotter. The good thing about rocks, unlike the sand and mud of more southern areas, is that the rocks don’t move, so the charts are accurate. A good example of this can be found in the Active Captain description of how best to enter Long Cove, our current anchorage. Ledges were described on both sides of the entrance making entry sound a bit intimidating. However, following the instructions and acting cautiously, the entry was without issue and turns out to be well worth the effort.

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These rocks may be hidden under the surface at high tide, but the chart tells you where they are.

Too many miss the opportunity to cruise the spectacular coast of Maine for these unwarranted fears.

More to come of our Maine adventure.

Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

Transition to New Territories

Just as transitioning from the ICW to the Chesapeake Bay was an obvious change, so too is the transition from the Chesapeake Bay to the Northeast. We left Chesapeake City on schedule Monday afternoon and headed out to an anchorage in the Delaware River. There was nothing special about the view from this location unless you like to look at a nuclear power plant.

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The next day we traveled down the Delaware River and Delaware Bay to Cape Henlopen, a very peaceful spot with good protection from pretty much all directions.

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This lighthouse protected our anchorage at Cape Henlopen.

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We had delayed our travel down Delaware Bay so that the next day when we headed up the coast in New Jersey for an overnight sail to New York the weather would be conducive to comfortable travel. Tuesday turned out to be as predicted – surprise, surprise. The seas were a little lumpy at times but by and large it was comfortable sailing especially through the night. Although I did my best to guess the time it would take us to travel, once again I found it difficult. The tidal current at times would slow us as predicted, but other times wasn’t as strong as predictions. Although we wanted to approach NYC in the daylight and slowed our progress to help make that happen, we still approached the busy area before sunrise. That said, there was enough light from so many sources as we approached the metropolis that we had little trouble. 

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The Verrazano Narrows Bridge welcomed us to New York Harbor.

What did surprise us was the number of freighters and barges attached to tugs that were anchored in the harbor. Thanks to AIS, we knew which were moving and which were parked. By 6:30 AM we were anchored in the cove at Liberty Park, just in from Liberty herself.

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The anchorage was more crowded than we like, but we were crashing for a few hours before moving up the East River and on to Port Washington where we were to spend a couple of nights. We figured we could handle the time to get a few hours sleep even if it was a bit crowded.

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The view of the New York skyline were magnificent. Here is the 9/11 MemorIal,

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       And the Empire State Building

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And one of the many ferries we had to watch for

The travel from Liberty to Hell’s Gate where the East River is met by the Harlem River was pretty bizarre. We’ve been to NYC a number of times, but one gets no sense of the river traffic when driving around Manhattan. We were on constant watch for tugs, ships and high speed ferries which can move up to four times our speed. They know where they’re going, but we have to guess about it and do our best to stay out of the way. The heavy traffic only lasted an hour or so, and then thing settled down some.

We had planned to arrive at Hell’s Gate at slack tide, and that worked out well. So the final stretch to Port Washington was easy and peaceful. This town offers free moorings close to the town docks, and several were available when we arrived.

After a day of recovery and  grocery shopping, we moved on to Long Island Sound. The forecast for the next few days was good, but then stormy weather was forecast. Therefore we wanted to get to Onset by the western end of the Cape Cod Canal before that hit.

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One of several lighthouses on the Sound. In each area we traveled,the lighthouses had a little different look to them.

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Just one more beautiful sunset, this one at Block Island.

After two days travel in the Sound, we ended at Block Island for a night before heading up through Buzzards Bay to Onset. All went well, and we were safely anchored for the night before the thunderstorm hit. We’ll stay here for a few days preparing for a couple of family visits to our boat on the weekend.

Onset is a stop we’ve made in the past, and we always enjoy our time here. Although not officially part of Cape Cod, it does seem like it’s part of it with character typical of the Cape. The Bay here is well protected and just off the Canal. We can time our departure to take advantage of the strong current that runs there. It can run up near 5 knots at times, helping to carry us in to Cape Cod Bay and points north.

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Had to include another lighthouse, this one on the north end of Block Island after sunrise.

So in the past week or so we’ve come from one setting (the Chesapeake) through a second which is quite different (NYC) to a third with its own special character (southern NE and the Cape).  This sort of travel points to one of the real advantages of cruising and helps us better appreciate the rich variety our country offers.

More variety to come as we move up the coast.

Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

Completing Our Travel in the Chesapeake

In the three weeks that have passed since the last blog update, we have been busy preparing the boat for travel and also beginning the northern portion of our summer trip. 

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Doing my duty, giving the boat a fresh coat.

We spent time painting the boat bottom, waxing the hull and getting other chores accomplished, in part with help from the crew at Severn Yachting Center. They took care of replacing the anchor light and getting the new halyard installed. Our outboard motor had issues they were unable to address before we had to head north, so we are rowing until we get to Maine where we hope to get it repaired. I replaced the exhaust elbow, but that was not easy, since I was not warned that the bolts holding the replacement part in place were of a different length from the originals. Getting the correct size was both annoying and time consuming. All of this work was made possible thanks to our daughter Jenn who took care of us and let us use her car.

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The view from the docks at Severn.

Severn Yachting Center, formerly Severn River Marina, is a peaceful spot we enjoyed for a few years when we lived there. The staff was ready and able to help make our stay comfortable and worthwhile this time as in the past.

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                Sunset at Mill Creek

We left Severn on Monday, June 6th and traveled to Mill Creek off the Great Wicomico River – a beautiful, peaceful stop. Then we moved on to Solomon’s Island.

As we headed up the Bay, we passed several lighthouses. One, Wolftrap Light had an interesting aspect in that it is for sale. Anyone interested in a home on the water?

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On the way to Solomon’s, I noticed that the alternator wasn’t charging properly. After doing a bit of reading and calling a couple of mechanics, I decided somebody else needed to deal with this. We were lucky to find a good tech, but it meant going to a marina. It all worked well and the problem was easily solved – a bad wire. Next time I’ll know to do it myself. This was an expensive lesson, but one worth learning. Because of some wind due in the next day, we spent an extra at day at Solomon’s Island . We took in the marine museum there which was really quite interesting. It covered everything from paleontology to Bay boat designs and lots in between.

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A lighthouse we toured at the museum

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This ancient shark swam much of the world and grew to 40 feet or more.

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Some of the prehistoric artifacts were found in these cliffs near Solomon’s Island.

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A resident of the Bay we saw at the museum

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These clouds looked almost like mountains in the distance.

From there we traveled to Annapolis, truly the sailing center for the Chesapeake. We went ashore to get a glimpse of the Naval Academy as well downtown. We’d never been there before when a boat show wasn’t in progress, so it was good to see it under more normal circumstances.

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DRC

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J27s sailing in amongst the moored boats after the race.

We got a mooring right in front of the Academy. We saw boats involved in at least three sailboat races that evening, all returning past us.

The next day we headed further north to the Sassafras River for a quiet anchorage before continuing on to Chesapeake City at the western end of the C & D Canal. Chesapeake City is a busy place on the weekend. Lots of tourists by car and by boat . We enjoyed a tour of the Canal museum after we arrived. Surprisingly this is the busiest canal in the country and the third busiest in the world. It’s history is really quite interesting.

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The Canada Geese present remind us we are no longer in the deep south.

We will stay till Monday when we will do a short trip out to the Deleware River. This will make the day sail down to Cape Henlopen easier and give us time relax before the overnight sail up the coast of New Jersey to the Big Apple

Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

Arrived at Jenn’s and the Chesapeake

Leaving Carolina Beach State Park, we traveled the rest of the way to Virginia only challenged by the normal travel issues – that is of weather, shallow water, tidal currents and waves. We spent a day in Wrightsville Beach although it was only a short run from Carolina Beach State Park.  We just wanted to spend a day there.

From there for the remainder of the trip to the Chesapeake, it was travel most of the day, find a good place to stop at night and the more travel the next day. The weather cooperated most of the time.  We had very little rain and no real hot or cold weather. We spent one night in a marina at Morehead City, since no suitable anchoring spots were available. The only real challenge between there and the Chesapeake was the Albemarle Sound, where the wind was blowing over 20 and the waves were four to five feet with short period – what I call square waves. The two or three-hour trip across the Sound was not pleasant, but we survived with no ill effects.

As we approached Norfolk, the change in scenery was dramatic. We went from marshes and cypress swamps with little sign of civilization to an abrupt change with lots of houses, commercial buildings, industrial areas and other obvious signs of civilization. The ICW became busy with barges pushed by tugs and other boats all waiting for each Bridge.
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We spent a night at mile marker 0 of the ICW at Hospital Point across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. We had great views of the cityscape, tugs, pleasure boats and ships going by from there. The next morning heading up the Elizabeth River into the Chesapeake, we saw more tugs; we also passed a couple of ships and the part of the Atlantic Fleet that was in port – very impressive.
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Our time in the Chesapeake was pleasant and of short duration as we motor-sailed up to Mobjack Bay and then the Severn River to Severn River Marina to haul the boat, paint the bottom wax the hull and solve some other issues. We lived here for a few years and enjoyed our time in this peaceful setting.
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At this point the bottom is painted, but we found blisters for the first time. (We will be required to address them on our next haul out.)

We still had projects to address once we got the boat back in the water earlier this week. These included replacing the halyard and anchor light. (Sandra noted when she was up the mast that the current light was cracked.) Our outboard is overheating and the problem, it seems, won’t be addressed till we get to Maine. I also got the new exhaust elbow installed and changed the engine oil and fuel filters. We want to eliminate as many potential issues as possible.

Since these are now completed and the weather will cooperate to let us leave in à days. We will continue our journey north to Maine, heading up the Chesapeake as the first leg of that journey.

Our visit with our daughter Jenn was short, since she was as busy as we were. Hampton Roads Academy is arriving at the end of the school year, giving her lots of end-of-year activity. We’ll get to visit her more when she accompanies us during part of our NE travel. Although we spent less time with her than we would have liked, she was a lifesaver, letting us use her car for numerous errands related to the boat work in addition to doctor appointments and provisioning for the upcoming travel.

As always, I end this with an assurance of more to come.

Captain Bob
Carpe Diem

P.S. In case you were wondering, Sandra keeps busy as we travel. Here is one of her most recent additions.
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Made the Local News

Since the last update, we traveled for two days to get to the marina at Carolina Beach State Park. All went well until I hoisted Sandra up to the top of the mast to change the anchor light bulb. As she reached the top, I found that I had an overwrap at the winch. After several attempts to free it, I went to the park office seeking assistance. Since nobody there really understood the problem, I had to explain the issue a few times.

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I finally determined that I should drop the jib and use that halyard to get Sandra back down. A park ranger helped me with the jib, but by that time the fire department had been called and had arrived with their ladder truck and an emergency vehicle. I then had explain to the captain how I proposed to get her down. He wasn’t convinced, being concerned for Sandra’s safety. He wanted me to move the boat to another dock where the ladder truck could reach her. I didn’t want to move the boat under these circumstances.
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The captain was the one with the white shirt on the boat.

Finally I was able to convince him and then cut the original halyard that was jammed and lowered her back to the deck after an hour of her being up in the air in more ways than one. She was a bit sore but otherwise fine.

So everyone left, but then a representative from the local NBC news affiliate arrive to do an interview. Sandra ended up on the news including part of her interview. If you Google NBC news Wilmington, NC, you should be able to see the news clip.
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Sunset from our slip

Aside from that bit of excitement, our time here has been quite pleasant. We went for a long walk in the woods to collect Long Leaf pine needles for more baskets. A longtime friend of Sandra also arrived for lunch and a bit of catching up.

The only issue here was the fact that the marina depth at low tide was less than what our keel needs. Although we sat on the bottom at low tide, it was not obvious, since it was so soft that the boat could still move some. We’ll leave at mid tide and should have no problems.

Not everyone has it that easy, or so it would seem. These shrimp boats ended up quite hard aground. We passed them as we traveled.
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More to come, but we hope not as exciting!
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People cross the ICW on these gondolas to get to a golf course in Myrtle Beach.

Captain Bob
Carpe Diem

Charleston and beyond

We thoroughly enjoyed our two days in Beaufort, thanks in large measure to our friends Brian and Jann, whom we’d met in Marathon. They took us to the grocery and hardware stores as well as touring us around the area. A highlight was the visit to Hunting Island State Park.
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The beach at the park.
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The damage done by storm tides
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The lighthouse at the park

Of course we also managed to get a bit of extra rest after the overnight sail up from St. Augustine. Then we managed to fill up our water tanks and fill up on fuel and also get some laundry done.

But our goal continues to be to move further north. So after our two day stop, we left before 7AM and headed north to Charleston. It’s a two-day trip when you’re doing 6-7 mph, so we managed to get halfway there on the first day and finished the trip up to a marina in downtown Charleston on the second day. The Charleston Maritime Center is not only located within walking distance of the downtown but also provided us great views of the shipping traffic heading back and forth. At the marina, quite near our boat was a replica of a Spanish Galleon which we had first seen in Key West earlier this spring. While we did not tour it when we saw it in Key West, this time we decided it was appropriate for us to do a tour. We thoroughly enjoyed touring around the boat and especially talking to and asking questions of the Spanish crew that had traveled with the boat over from Spain.
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The galleon view from our slip
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This anchor is just a bit larger and nearly 2000 lbs heavier than ours.

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What a contrast – the galleon vs a new car carrier, probably full of BMWs from the SC plant.
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This may not look like much, but it was at the center of the slave market prior to the Civil War. Now it’s a center for tourist sales

A walking tour of Downtown Charleston included a Great Southern meal at a restaurant we had visited a few years ago when stopping there and also a chance for Sandra to buy some praline which she bought during our last visit and was anxious to try another sample. And as is our custom, we filled out water tanks, bought some diesel fuel and took advantage of the marinas shower and laundry facilities.

After two nights in Charleston we left the next morning bright and early as the sun arose and had challenges immediately. First as we were heading out of the marina we noticed a barge being pushed by a tug going right by the entrance so we had to slow down to accommodate its passage. Then we noticed that our GPS was not functioning properly and had to grab the tablet which had a GPS on it to use as a backup. A few minutes later we realized that a large car carrier was headed out and was not far behind us heading out the same channel we were going so we had to make some adjustments in our course to accommodate its Passage. Shortly thereafter we noticed that the GPS started functioning again. After that everything seemed to go Fairly smoothly and we traveled up the ICW to our planned anchorage on the South Santee River.

Traveling along the ICW, we had to deal with tidal currents and areas where the water was shallow. Even though we traveled through all of it at mid to high tide, there were places that we found the water not more than three or four inches deeper than our keel, so it was a bit upsetting. All ended well, and we had a pleasant anchorage that night on the South Santee.

Next day we headed out as the sun rose once again and managed to do well as we had tidal current pushing us along all the way past Georgetown and up the very picturesque Waccamaw River. Portions of the land on the shoreline of the Waccamaw were part of a National Wildlife Refuge.
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This shoreline was a cypress swamp. Perhaps you can see the eagles nest.

We saw lots of interesting birds along our route and not too many boats until we got further up the river. And since this was Mother’s Day we managed to begin to see lots of boats with husbands and wives and sometimes families taking to the water in their family boat. By afternoon it was a bit crazy with the numbers of boats steadily increasing. We anchored in a new spot not far off the river and watched à steady stream of small, fast boats and jet skis pass by for the rest of the afternoon.
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Boats passing all afternoon.

In preparation for our continued travel, we spent a bit of time looking at tide charts and notes from previous trips through this area to determine our best departure time for tomorrow in order to avoid skinny stretches at low tide. Hopefully we’ve got it right.

Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

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