Monday, December 8, 2008

Dec 7 - Cape Coral

Nov 30 - Clewiston – LaBelle
We woke up fairly early and decided to leave right away as high winds were forecast and we thought it would be pretty difficult to get off the dolphins if it was windy. As we went along the water way there was this wonderful smell like someone baking porridge bread. We figured it must be the sugar factory. We went through the first lock of the day before the rain started, so it was pretty uneventful. When the rain started it really started and it poured rain! Fortunately we didn’t have too long a day and the rain was a warm rain. It came in bands so it was off and on. We thought we were going to get through the second lock of the day during a dry spell, but it was not to be, the rain started again as we were locking through, but it wasn’t as wet as some of the showers we’d had. The wind was piping up too, and when we got to LaBelle we decided to tie up to the face dock at the old motel rather than try to dock Mediterranean style at the free town dock. (To do that, you have to drop your anchor out in the channel, and then back into the dock and tie your stern to the dock.). There was a pool at the motel (unheated) so the kids went for a swim and I got the laundry done. Mid-afternoon we thought we’d walk to town to see if we could find a restaurant where we could watch the football game. It started to pour rain again so we got pretty wet. All the restaurants we found were closed on Sunday. We went to the movie store to see if we could rent a movie, but it turned out that we could actually buy pre-watched movies for less than the rental of a new release – so we bought a few. We went to the grocery store and got a roast chicken for supper and went back to the boat.

Dec 1 – 2 – LaBelle
We planned to spend a couple of days in LaBelle, so when it was calm in the morning we moved across the river and did our med mooring to the town dock. It actually worked out pretty well as the dock was a great height for getting on and off the stern of Bird. It was nice to see the sun again. The kids got some school work done, and I took Kristen to the library to do some research for her Bird Watching badge for Girl Guides. In the afternoon we walked back up to town to get some groceries. We spent quite a bit of time in LaBelle 15 years ago and really liked it, and it was pretty much as we remembered it. It is still very rural. Unfortunately, hard times have hit to some extent and some of the shops are closed. It doesn’t have the same charm as some of the towns we have been to like Fernandino or Beaufort SC, but there is something kind of nice about it. After we got the groceries put away we walked back up to town and went out for supper. On Tuesday the kids got their schoolwork done and Dave did chores around the boat. Kristen and I went back to the library to get more info on birds. In the afternoon we went for a walk/bike ride through town. Kristen made a yummy desert for supper – no bake key lime cheesecake!

Dec 3 – LaBelle to Franklin Lock
We left LaBelle around 8:00 and travelled about 20 miles to the Franklin lock where we tied up at the state park – very similar to the one at the St. Lucie lock. It was an uneventful trip, although it was pretty cold. Overnight there were temperatures in the 30’s along the coast. We were all tied up by 11:30 so it was a really short day. After lunch I took Kristen on a bike ride and we saw all kinds of neat wildlife. In addition to the herons and egrets we see everyday, we saw a turtle, two sandhill cranes, and a huge flock of woodstocks. We also passed a goat farm and stopped to pet some really friendly horses. In the evening we walked out on the fishing pier and watch two guys that caught a Tarpon that was over 5’ and 100lbs. It took them about 45 minutes to get the Tarpon tired enough to get him close to the pier that they could cut him free. They did all that on a light weight (although expensive) fishing rod with 20lb test fishing line. After that we lit a campfire and roasted marshmallows.

Dec 4 – Franklin Lock to Fort Meyers
We puttered around the campground in the morning. Dave waxed the hull on the boat and the girls got their schoolwork done. We left around 11:30 and went through our final lock for this leg of our adventure. We went through the lock with two manatees, they were pretty hard to see, but the lockmaster had seen them. We saw lots of manatees as we went down the river to Ft. Meyers. They aren’t as much fun to watch as the dolphins as you only see their noses and their backs. When we got to Fort Meyers we picked up a town mooring. As we prepared to go to shore a manatee came right up to the boat and swam along the length of the boat – unfortunately I was in the dinghy and I didn’t get much of a look L but the kids and Dave got a great look. After that we went for a walk in town. There wasn’t much to see. There is a really nice little restored district with restaurants and art galleries, but it was pretty much deserted. When we looked through the Misty log our comment about walking around Ft. Meyers was " we had a great time walking around the non-existent downtown of Ft. Meyers" and that pretty much sums it up.

Dec 5 – Fort Meyers to Cape Coral
We left Fort Meyers at 6:00 to try to get to Cape Coral by 8:00 – as close to high tide as possible -- with the hope that we might be able to get the boat up the canal and into the dock at the house. We really had no idea how much water there would be but we knew it would be tight. A number of people we talked to thought we could probably do it at high tide (there is only about 1’ of tide here so not a lot of difference between low and high). We gave it a valiant effort and made it up to the house. We could feel the mud sucking against the keel a couple of times as we went up the canal and we were seeing readings on the depth sounder less than 5’ (and we need 5.5’). When we were off the house, Dave got in the dinghy to see if there was water at the dock, and by the time he got back to the boat we were stuck in the mud. There really wasn’t much water at the dock so that wasn’t going to work. We got the boat unstuck once by putting out the anchor and pulling towards the anchor. By this time we had several neighbors come out to say "hi" and see if there was anything they could do to help. We tried to get up to the neighbour’s dock, but we got stuck again. Finally we called TowBoat to come and pull us off (fortunately we had insurance for just such an occurrence). By that point the anchor was so stuck there was no way we could pull it out. When TowBoat arrived, he didn’t think he could get us out until the tide came back up, so he didn’t even try. He did help us get the anchor back.
At that point we all piled off the boat and into the dinghy and went to the house. The house is great! It was probably built in the 60’s and it’s really funky. It is huge too – probably more square feet than our house at home – all on one level. There are four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, family room, playroom and three bathrooms. There’s a great pool that is lovely and warm. We got ourselves organized in the house and waited for high tide.
At supper time we called TowBoat again and arranged to have them meet us at 8:00. We went out to the boat at 7:00 and were able to move it a little, but we were still stuck. At 8:00 TowBoat arrived with a different operator. He pulled us off, no problem, and we had him tow us the 2 miles back down the canals to the marina. Bird was all settled safely in her new home by 9:30 and we dinghied back "home".

The weekend was uneventful. We did normal things like rent a car, checked on the boat, bought groceries...

The girls got a huge surprise on Sunday night when arrived back at the house from a "trip to Walmart" with Doreen! She is here to visit for a week which will be great.

Now that our travels have stopped for Christmas I won't be boring you with the details of our life here in Cape Coral. You can look back for a summary in early January when we get "back on the road"

We'll be thinking of you all, as we dream of a "bright" Christmas instead of a white Christmas - it's a little sad to be missing the snow and the lights twinkling in the cold crisp air. It's really weird to see palm trees dressed up with Christmas lights and blow up snowmen sitting on these lawns. So from all of us to all of you we wish you a very happy holiday!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nov 29 - Clewiston

Pictures added around 7:30 on Sunday...

Nov 23 – Banana River to Vero (mile 951)
We left Gotta Life and Sandpiper in Banana River and headed out on our own for Vero Beach around 10:00. It was an uneventful day on the waterway, although you can certainly tell the difference between traveling the waterway on the weekend and traveling during the week. There is so much more boat traffic on the weekend, and the boaters are far less polite and going blowing past without slowing down, so you end up rocking and rolling in their wake. We arrived in Vero around 3:30 and picked up a mooring. We were lucky to get one on our own as most have two or three boats rafted together. Gotta Life left Banana River too late to get here today so we are on our own. We went to shore and found out that the bus service doesn’t run on Sunday, so we couldn’t get Annie to the mall today. Instead we walked about a mile East to the beach. There are some shops here, but they were all closed because it is Sunday. We were able to find an Ice Cream shop that was open though! It finally feels like Florida with lots of sun and warm weather. There were pineapples growing in the garden by the beach and there are coconuts growing in the palm trees!

Nov 24 – Nov 27 - Vero
It was nice to have some time off from travelling everyday! We stayed 4 full days in Vero. Gotta Life arrived around lunch time on Monday. Sandpiper decided to keep going on to Fort Pierce where Bob and Ilene have some friends. Gotta Life rafted up with us so we were tied together which was great for the girls. There was school every morning. On Monday Annie Kristen and I caught the bus with Sheryl, Geneva and Erin and went to the mall. Annie was anxious to get a birthday present and she had her heart set on a cell phone. Surprisingly this actually made sense as we could get a pay as you go phone that is a lot less expensive to use in the US than the Blackberry we brought from home. So Annie got a cell phone for her birthday. It took a while to get to the mall and back, so we didn’t get back to the boat until around 6:00. We BBQ’d steak, hamburgers and chickenburgers for everyone for supper and ate on Gotta Life with the folks from Blue Heaven who was also rafted with us. On Tuesday afternoon we went back to the beach and the kids got bathing suits. They went swimming off the arch on the back of Gotta Life when we got back.

On Wednesday afternoon we took the bus to the closer mall to get some food for the Thanksgiving potluck on Thursday – we decided to take brownies. We did a trial run on the brownies on Wednesday night just to make sure they would be okay! (they were). On Thursday morning we got school done quickly and then went down to the Boater’s flea market. Miakado (with the twins) arrived yesterday and they came to the flea market with us. After the flea market we went back to the boat to get ready for the potluck. It started at 1:00. It was a real spread -–there were probably over a hundred people and the food was wonderful. We spent most of the afternoon there and then we went for a sunset dinghy cruise. We didn’t need any supper after the big feast at lunch time.

Nov 28 – Vero Beach to St. Lucie Lock
There were some long faces today as we pulled out of Vero and left Gotta Life. They are heading to Miami and then the Bahamas, and we are turning west today to go through the Okeechobee Waterway and across Florida to the West Coast. The day was saved when we had to wait for a bridge and we had two dolphins come right up to the boat. The water was clear enough that we could see them swimming under the water all around the boat. It was great! We traveled about 35 miles further down the ICW to Stuart and then left the main ICW and turned into the OCW (okeechobee waterway). We went another 15 miles west to the St. Lucie Lock. We locked through and were raised about 14 feet. There is a campground on the other side of the lock and we had a reservation there for the night. After we got tied up we went across the lock to the other side and had a walk on the nature trail. Didn’t see any animals, but we saw three badger tortoise dens. These tortoises burrow under the ground that is kind of different. We saw lots of animal tracks too. We were just as glad not to run into any alligators! It was getting dark so it was kind of spooky walking through the woods.

Nov 29 – St. Lucie Lock to Clewiston
It was another beautiful morning when we got up. I took Kristen down to the lock so she could read the display on manatees and make some notes for a project she would like to do. The lock master came over to talk to us – he was really friendly. He talked to us about manatees and then he took us out on the lock and showed us where one was. We also found a beautiful moth. We left St. Lucie Lock around 8:30, ready for the challenges that lay ahead. We have to go under a 49" bridge, and while we measured and re-measured our mast and we’re sure it’s about 47’ it will be nice to clear through that and know we fit. We also have to go across Lake Okeechobee today. This whole waterway was closed for two years because of a lack of water. Apparently now there is a minimum of 8’. It is also supposed to be windy today and it can get pretty nasty when it is windy on such a large, shallow body of water. In the end we had a great day. We made it under the bridge, we went through the Port Mayaca lock and out into the lake. The lake had only a light chop, and the wind never really materialized. We were across the lake to Clewiston by about 4:00. It took us about half an hour to get Bird tied up to the pylons (aka dophins – don’t know why…) beside the waterway. It was a challenging experience and there was lots of creosote but while we offered lots of entertainment value to the folks in the picnic park across the way, all was fine in the end. We all went to shore for a walk around Clewiston. Clewiston is the "sweetest town in America" because of all the sugar produced and refined here. It also has a huge bass fishing reputation. The Christmas lights on the light posts are of a large mouth Bass catching a dragonfly. There is an entirely different feel to Florida here than on the East Coast. It is a rural, agricultural community. Homes are small and there are numerous trailer parks. Entertainment includes shooting the drag through the picnic park on Saturday evening. We found a grocery store, but all the labeling was in Spanish and we didn’t recognize any of the things we needed. We did recognize the Pizza shop and we ordered a pizza for supper. We were a little concerned walking back to the boat at dusk that we wouldn’t have enough light to see the combination to unlock the dinghy. We really hadn’t planned to be out after sunset. We got back to the dinghy and got it unlocked. The kids got in and put on their lifejackets, and then the Florida Fish and Wildlife Patrol boat came by. He was really glad we all had lifejackets, but was concerned that we didn’t have any navigation lights on the dinghy. He escorted us back to Bird and asked for our boat registration papers. He called them into the office, but apparently Canada isn’t on the same computer system, so they weren’t getting a response back on our boat registration. He was a really great guy, but it was kink of nerve racking wondering what was going to happen. In the end, he gave us a written warning on the navigation lights for the dinghy (rather than the $90 fine) and said he would follow up with us tomorrow if there was a problem with the registration. We felt really fortunate. When we went below on Bird she was full (I mean hundreds) of bugs. We don’t think they were of a biting variety, but we sure wanted to get them cleaned up. We had to keep the pizza box closed so they wouldn’t fall into the pizza!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nov 21 - 22 - Banana River

Finally - here are some pictures -- added some to the last posting too!

Nov 20 – Titusville – Eau Gaille (mile 914)
Mark and Brendan wanted to go exploring in the morning, so we had breakfast and were thinking about taking Rudder to shore when we heard Mark and Brendan coming back from shore. Apparently the causeway is owned by NASA and we weren’t really supposed to go to shore there. Oops. We left around 8:30 and had another uneventful day. Nice to not have things break for a day or two. We anchored in behind the Eau Gaille causeway around 1:30. Sheryl and Brian have friends that live near here, so they went to shore to check things out and to give them a call and they took Annie and Kristen with them. We went to shore shortly after them and there was a great park with a playground and tennis court. As we were going in the dolphins were corralling fish and doing all kinds of splashing around. There are also lots of birds – pelicans, egrets, ibis and wood storks. Were pretty sure there are manatees around as you can see them swimming out in the channel. The kids had a great time playing in the playground. Sheryl and Brian’s friends Brian and Linda came to meet us and they started shuttling us all to a restaurant for supper. There were 14 of us all together and it was a really fun time. Sheryl arranged for the waiters to sing Happy Birthday to Annie!
Nov 21-22 – Banana River
It’s Annie’s Birthday! In the morning we all went to the park. The guys walked up to the Discount Marine store; Erin and Geneva showed Annie and Kristen how to play tennis. We stayed there until about 11:00. Then we dinghied back out to the boats and moved across the Indian River and up the Banana River a little ways to the Telemar Marina. The Brian with a car was there to meet us and he began to shuttle us all to the zoo. Sheryl took the girls in the first trip, and Dave and I went in the second trip with Mark and Brendan. We had a great time at the zoo. One thing that was cool was the kayak trip. We paired up and filled up 4 kayaks, and then had a guided kayak tour around this island that had animals on it. That was pretty neat. The other thing that was really cool was feeding the lorries. We went into the aviary with all kinds of birds flying around. There were cockatoos, a koorkaburra and the lorries. The lorries look like some kind of small parrot, are mostly green but really colorful. You could buy lorry nectar and then the lorries would come and perch on your head, arms, or wherever they could find a spot. The birds were really excited and they would fight over the nectar. A couple of times a hawk flew over the aviary and the birds all got really scared and would all fly away. It was really neat and we stayed there quite a while. Around 4:30 we got a ride to walmart to try to find a birthday present for Annie. We had a list of quite a few things she wanted, but do you think we could find any of them at that Walmart today?? We got a giant birthday cookie and a card and then got a ride to Brian and Linda’s where they had made a wonderful turkey/thanksgiving/birthday dinner for all of us. We had a lovely evening. The kids swam in the pool and watched movies. All in all Annie had a great birthday even though she didn’t get any presents from us!
On Saturday we had planned to leave Melbourne ahead of Gotta Life and Sandpiper and go to Vero, but in the end we decided to stay here another day and get some chores done around the boat. The girls had a great day with the scooters and rip-stiks. They spent the entire day outside. In the afternoon Dave and I went for a walk to the grocery store. On the way we walked through a little park and saw three baby raccoons. They were really cute.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nov 20 - Eau Gaille Fl.

Nov 16 – Jekyll Island to Fernandino Beach FL!! (Mile 716)
We had a leisurely morning and finally pulled away from the dock around 9:30. It was still pretty windy and it was a challenge getting the boats away from the dock. We left last as we were at the end of the face dock and we got blown sideways into the little cove at the end of the dock. Dave had quite a time getting turned around and out of there, but all was fine in the end. We had to cross St. Andrew’s Sound, and in order to get around the shoals you have to almost go out into the ocean. It can kick up quite a bit in a high wind so we were cautious about going across it, but that too was fine. There was definitely some sea, but nothing like what we’re used to up north. We had a hard time deciding whether to stop at Cumberland Island or to go a little farther and get to Florida. Cumberland Island is a beautiful state park with wild horses and great walking trails, but given the cold temperatures, we decided to press on to Fernandino Beach. After some challenges in finding a mooring in Fernandino Beach we did find one and got tied on by 1:00. We had a great walk in this beautiful little town. It has great brick buildings and wonderful stores full of antiques. We got a few groceries at Fred’sa 5 and 10, and ice cream at the treat store. The folks on Gotta Life and Sandpiper went out for pizza, but we decided to stay on the boat for supper tonight.

Nov 17 – Fernandino Beach to St. Augustine (Mile 778)
We planned an early start but when we tried to start the motor at 6:30 the starter motor was making really strange noises. After a couple more tries, the starter wouldn’t work at all. Dave went to investigate and discovered that one of the two bolts that holds the starter in place had fallen out, and the other one was half way out. He was able to find the bolt and put it back together, but it took half and hour and we didn’t get away until 7:00. We expected to have a long day to St. Augustine as it is 68 miles but we had the current with us and we actually arrived at the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine a couple of minutes after their 3:00 opening. There were a few boats anchored on the north side of the bridge including Serenus and Miakado (with the twins that we met in Oriental) so we spent some time talking to those guys as we waited for the 3:30 opening. At 3:30 the bridge didn’t seem to be opening, so I called the bridge, and they said they weren’t opening as no one had requested and opening. That was pretty frustrating as we had talked to them at 3:04 when we asked them to keep the bridge open for us and they wouldn’t. Anyway, we had to wait another 30 minutes until the 4:00 opening. When we got through the bridge we went to look for a place to anchor. The anchorage is a little tricky as there are shoals in the middle of the anchorage, so Dave was watching the chart plotter really carefully, and then it started to get really shallow, even though it wasn’t showing shallow on the chart. To make a long story short, we ran hard aground and couldn’t get the boat off. Fortunately for us, a few minutes later a big power boat went by and rudely did not slow down. He created a lot of wake – I mean a lot of wake – probably 18-24 inch waves. Anyway, it was enough to raise us of the bottom and we were able to back off the shoal. Unfortunately, we also had to deal with the valleys between the waves and those kept slamming us into the bottom. We were hitting so hard that things were bouncing of the shelves down below, but in the end I was both glad to have a steel, full keel boat, and glad to be off the bottom. We were able to find another spot to anchor and had the hook down around 4:30 after a really long and tiring day. By the time we arrived in St. Augustine the bolts had loosened up again on the starter, so we took another crack at getting them tightened up with a different Allan key that Brian had on Gotta Life.

Nov 18 – St. Augustine to Daytona Beach (Mile 835)
We really weren’t sure where we were going to end up today as there are very few good anchorages on this stretch of the waterway. When we listened to the forecast, they were predicting that another front was going to come through so we decided to make a reservation at the Seven Seas Marina, just passed Daytona Beach. We saw lots of dolphins today. When we were waiting at one of the bridges, Dave tried the bow thruster and it didn’t work – at all… After we cleared through the bridge Dave went below to see if he could figure that out. After some trial and error, he was able to get it to work one way, but not the other way – there was a problem with the electrical connections. He spent quite a while trying to fix it, but finally had to give up. Just before we got to the marina we went under another bridge and it was really beautiful – each one of the supports was covered in a mosaic of dolphins and manatees. We had a hard time getting into the marina slip without the bow thruster, but eventually did get tied up. Shortly after we were settled, the wind really started to pipe up and it started to get colder. We were glad to be in a marina. We went for a walk across to the Beach and it was really beautiful. The waves were rolling in and the beach was so flat and smooth with fine white sand. The kids couldn’t restrain themselves and it wasn’t long before they were all soaking wet playing in the waves. They said the water was really warm, but the air was cold and we got them back to the marina so they could get a warm shower. Dave spent a long time trying to get the bow thruster to work with limited success. He finally took apart the connector and discovered that the wire wasn’t tinned so it was all corroded. He didn’t have the parts to fix it so he left if for tonight and we went over and had supper on Gotta Life.

Nov 19 – Daytona Beach to Titusville (Mile 876)
First thing in the morning Sheryl, Eileen and I got a ride with the marina owner to the grocery store. It was interesting to talk to him. They had owned the marina for 30 years. A few years ago they were offered a lot of money to sell the marina, but when he thought it over he said to himself, "if I had that kind of money I’d take it and buy a marina in Florida – I already have one of those, so why would I sell it!" By the time we got back, Dave had the bow thruster fixed! We left around 10:30. It was a reasonable uneventful day, although at one point Dave realized that he had followed a power boat through a bridge and took the wrong turn. Fortunately it wasn’t a dead end and joined back up with the ICW and it wasn’t really any farther. We had dolphins with us all day and the kids had a hard time concentrating on school. It is very sad to see so many boats that have been abandoned and are partially submerged. We saw one today that didn’t even look that old. We were anchored a little north of Titusville by the Jay Jay Railroad Causeway. Turning off the ICW to anchor here it was very shallow, and it was really distracting to have a dozen dolphins swimming around the boat, surfacing and breathing loudly through their blow holes. After we anchored we had a quick trip to shore with Rudder on the causeway. It was a little difficult getting to shore as the water was really shallow and it was hard to get the dinghy to shore. I made lasagna for supper so we had the girls over from Gotta Life.

Nov 20 – Titusville – Eau Gaille (mile 914)
Mark and Brendan wanted to go exploring in the morning, so we had breakfast and were thinking about taking Rudder to shore when we heard Mark and Brendan coming back from shore. Apparently the causeway is owned by NASA and we weren’t really supposed to go to shore there. Oops. We left around 8:30 and had another uneventful day. Nice to not have things break for a day or two. We anchored in behind the Eau Gaille causeway around 1:30. Sheryl and Brian have friends that live near here, so they went to shore to check things out and to give them a call and they took Annie and Kristen with them. We went to shore shortly after them and there was a great park with a playground and tennis court. As we were going in the dolphins were corralling fish and doing all kinds of splashing around. There are also lots of birds – pelicans, egrets, ibis and wood storks. Were pretty sure there are manatees around as you can see them swimming out in the channel. The kids had a great time playing in the playground. Sheryl and Brian’s friends Brian and Linda came to meet us and they started shuttling us all to a restaurant for supper. There were 14 of us all together and it was a really fun time. Sheryl arranged for the waiters to sing Happy Birthday to Annie!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nov 15 - Jekyll Island

Lots of anchorages and not much internet - finally a place to post this!

Nov 6 – Thoroughfare Creek to Georgetown – Mile 403
We left a little after 7:00 so we would be in Georgetown early and hopefully get a place to anchor. It was a beautiful morning. The scenery is wonderful, and the early morning light and a little mist on the water made a beautiful start to the day. We were able to find a little spot to anchor of the town of Georgetown and we dropped the hook a little after 9:00. We went for a walk through town. Then Dave took Rudder and Kristen back to the boat and Annie and I looked in some of the little shops until lunch time. Later in the afternoon we walked to the grocery store and got them to give us a ride back to the boat when we were done. The girls made Peanut Chicken stir-fry for supper with Key Lime Pie for dessert.
Nov 7 – Georgetown
We decided to spend another day in Georgetown. The girls got their schoolwork done in the morning. We went in the dinghy to see if we could find any alligators but we couldn’t find any. We did see family from PEI with a girl on it so we went to go visit. The girl was Annie’s age. They left PEI in October in a van and had bought just bought their boat and were heading to the Carribean.
After lunch we went back to wander around Georgetown and later in the day we went to sit in one of the little restaurants over looking the river to have some nachos. On our way back to the boat we picked up Sheena (the girl) so she could come over for a visit. She stayed until suppertime and then we took her back to her boat. Kristen made Shrimp Creole for supper.

Nov 8 – Georgetown to Graham Creek – Mile 439
We left around 7:00 and had current with us most of the day so we were anchored in Graham Creek by 12:30. It was a warm and sunny day. It is a beautiful anchorage with marsh grass all around. There is a little oyster shell beach near the entrance to the creek were we could take Rudder to shore. We had arranged to meet Gotta Life here. We had been emailing back and forth with them since we were in the Dismal Swamp because they are also travelling with two girls. Sure enough, they arrived and were anchored a little after 1:00. It was great to meet them – Brian, Sheryl, Erin and Geneva. They are travelling with another boat, Sandpiper, with Brian’s parents and two of Brian’s nephews. The girls got a long great and were invited back after supper for a sleep over.

Nov 9 – Graham Creek to Tom Point Creek – Mile 495.7
We left a little after sunrise this morning. It was a beautiful morning and the sunrise over the marsh was spectacular. We had current against us most the day, and had to wait quite a while at two different bridges that only opened on the hour so we didn’t arrive at our anchorage until a few minutes after sunset. We had lots of dolphins swimming around us today so it helped to make the day go faster. Dave and Annie took Rudder to shore and found a huge horseshoe crab shell that measured 2’ from tip to tail. We were invited over to Gotta Life for potluck supper along with Sandpiper. It was a full boat with 8 adults and 4 kids. The adults ate in the enclosure in the cockpit and the kids ate below. It was a fun time.

Nov 10/11 – Tom Point Creek to Beaufort – Mile 536
We had another beautiful sunrise this morning and were underway a little before 7:00. We arrived at Beaufort a little after 1:00. Beaufort SC is pronounced Bew-fort while Beaufort NC is pronounced Bow-fort – it is a little confusing! We decided to go and stay at the marina, while Gotta Life and Sandpiper anchored off. We got tied up and were able to get diesel and water at our dock. We had a busy afternoon getting tidied up. I had ordered a math book for Kristen and had it sent to the marina -- when we arrived it hadn’t which was a bit of a pain. Fortunately it arrive on UPS about 30 minutes later so we had it in the afternoon. After we got organized and cleaned up, Gotta Life came in and met us and we all walked up to the post office. We were able to pick up the stove burner that Dave ordered and put a couple of parcels in the mail. After that we went for a long, long one mile walk to a grocery store. It was such a long walk we didn’t want to carry much back to the boat, and besides it had gotten dark. We picked up enough stuff for dinner and went back to the boat. Geneva and Erin stayed for supper. We got the laundry done in the evening.
We all planned to spend another day in Beaufort and planned to meet again in the morning in time for the Veteran’s Day parade.
In the morning I took Rudder for a nice walk along the waterfront in Beaufort. Beaufort has the most beautiful and gracious antebellum style homes along the waterfront. There are lots of beautiful trees that are covered with spanish moss and there are lots of palm trees too. We watched the parade and tried to borrow the courtesy car from the marina to go and get some groceries. The girls stayed in the waterfront park with the Sandridges and learned to ride on Rip-Stiks – they are like skateboards except they swivel in the middle and only have one wheel front and back. You can wiggle them back and forth to move them along a flat sidewalk. Kristen took a bit of a tumble and hurt her wrist so switch back to riding her scooter. We moved the boat out to the anchorage and then went back to town to walk around and look in some of the stores. We were back to the boat by supper time and we had a simple supper of hamburgers. Everyone went to bed early.

Nov 12 – Beaufort to Herb Creek GA – Mile 584
We’ve made it to Georgia! We had a challenging time pulling up our anchors this morning – in these waters there is a lot of current so you set two – about 180° apart. Normally we are able to pull up the little anchor first in the dinghy, but this morning it was the little anchor that was holding us so things were a little different. There were also quite a few sailboats around us and every one is moving into different places as they pull up their anchors. Anyway, we got away a little after 7:00. It was a little chilly but a nice sunny day. We were able to pull out the head sail and do some motor sailing. Shortly after we left Beaufort the engine started acting up and Dave figured out that there was a problem with fuel. He was able to turn the motor off and change the fuel filter while we were under sail. Unfortunately it is our last fuel filter and it looks like there is probably a problem with the fuel in the tank. We arrived in Herb Creek around 4:00. It is another little creek that winds off the ICW through the marsh and we couldn’t find anywhere to take Rudder to shore. I did try though and I found a little muddy patch in the reeds. He got all covered in mud but I’m sorry to report the mud patch apparently did not meet his high standards and we returned to the boat with lots of mud and some unfinished business.
The boys off Sandpiper met up with some friends in Savannah so there was extra room around the supper table on Gotta Life so we went over for supper. The next day we learned about the big adventure that Mark and Brendan had trying to get back to the boat at 1:30. They had arranged to leave their dinghy at a private dock and had the name, address and phone number of the owner of the dock. They didn’t realize that the gated community had a guard and when they arrived there on foot in the middle of the night the guard didn’t want to let them in. After leaving photocopies of their id at the gatehouse they were let in to walk the 1.5 miles to the dock. After about 20 minutes they were approached by 3 police cars! The guard had called the police to have them escorted to the dock! Anyway one of the police cars took them to the correct address and walked them all the way out across the dock to make sure they got into their dinghy and left the subdivision.

Nov 13 – Herb Creek to St Catherine’s Island – mile 619
It was really foggy in the morning so we stayed put in Herb Creek and didn’t leave until 10:00. I tried again to find some shore for Rudder and went quite away in the fog in the dinghy and didn’t see anything so finally I went back to the boat before I got lost. The fuel continued to give us problems today, but when we ran the fuel pump it seemed to keep the engine going. When Dave tried to clean out the old one it wouldn’t work at all. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it going until we reach Jekyll Island. We got to Walberg Creek around 4:00 and the girls and I quickly got the dinghy down and set off to go the beach we’d seen a mile or so back. We have made our way back down to the Atlantic Ocean and we could see the ocean as we crossed a Sound before the anchorage. We didn’t have time to go all the way up the beach to the Atlantic, but it was great to see sand again – Rudder was impressed. The shoreline was really neat too as the sand had eroded away about 2 feet from underneath all the trees. There were lots of dead trees that had fallen down, and some were still standing with a couple of feet of roots showing about the sand. The beach was really flat and the tide was coming in so we weren’t there very long before the dinghy started to float off the beach so we had to cut our adventure short to rescue the dinghy.
We made pizza for supper and the girls from Gotta Life came over too.

Nov 14 – St. Catherine’s Island to Dalphin River – mile 649
We knew we had a short day today as we couldn’t go through the shallow Little Mud River at low tide, and low tide was mid afternoon so we knew we’d have to anchor before we got there. Gotta Life took Annie and Kristen for another adventure to shore and then we left around 10:30. We continued to struggle with fuel problems, as well as high winds and nasty currents but finally arrived at the Dalpin River and Sapello Island around 4:00. We wanted to take Rudder for a walk so we quickly dropped the dinghy and headed towards the ferry dock. On the way we picked up Geneva and Erin from Gotta Life. When we got to the ferry dock there were signs saying that there was to be no unauthorized use of the dock, but we decided to risk it and tie up anyway. We went for a bit of a walk, but dark was fast approaching and we didn’t want to be getting back to the boat after dark. Sapello Island has an interesting history and apparently has a really nice house that was built in the 1900’s and renovated in 1925 but we didn’t get a chance to see it.

Nov 15 – Dalphin River to Jekyll Island – Mile 685
We got an early start this morning and were heading down the river before 7:00. Little Mud River was no problem with the high tide but we were glad we hadn’t tried to do it at low tide. We finally had to take out the primary fuel filter and run with only the secondary filter. We spent the day hoping and praying we’d be able to get more fuel filters when we got to Jekyll. We got to Jekyll around 12:30, and we tied up at the Jekyll Harbour Marina. Shortly after we arrived the wind piped up and the rain started and we were glad to be here. The transient dock filled up really quickly as about 10 other boats all decided to come in here as well. We were so glad to hear that they do have our fuel filters here! Dave bought 4 and some fuel conditioner so hopefully we’ll be able to resolve the fuel problem. We were also glad to find that our WiFi antenna had arrived here safely so now we should be able to get internet below on the boat and not have to do all the computer stuff in the cockpit (and sure enough it works!)
After lunch we walked over the historic district and looked at all the mansions that were built by the American elite in the late 1800’s. There are a whole series of cottages with names like JP Morgan, Vanderbuilt, Crane, and Carnegie. There is a beautiful old building that was called the Millionaire’s Club where all these folks at their meals. Amazing to think of the business deals that would have been conducted here. There was talk that the Germans were going to bomb Jekyll Island during WWII as it would have had such an impact on the US economy.
While it is wonderful to be here in Jekyll we hope this storm front will pass through tonight so we can be on our way tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nov 6 - Georgetown SC

Just arrived in Georgetown and we have internet so I'll post what I have up until yesterday.

Nov 3 – Wrightsville Beach to Southport - Mile 309
It was pouring with rain today but we decided to leave anyway. We left around 9:00 so that we would have a high tide going through Carolina Beach Inlet where it can be pretty shallow. We didn’t have any problems with the reported shallow areas and we went through Snow’s Cut and then down the Cape Fear River. We arrived in Southport in 1:00 and it was really raining hard! We read that there was a dock you could tie up at by a restaurant if you ate at the restaurant, but that the restaurant would be closed for the season. We found the dock and tied up, only to find the restaurant was still open. They were going to be closed at suppertime so we had a great lunch there. It was a fun little spot and a big hang out for the boaters going down the ICW. It continued to be a pretty wet day, although the rain tapered off a bit and we were able to go for a bit of a walk before supper.

Nov 4 – Southport to Barefoot Landing SC– Mile 354.4
We expected to be staying put today as it was supposed to be another really rainy day, but when we woke up the rain had stopped so we decided to keep moving. It was a fairly uneventful day although at one point Kristen can up into the cockpit and looked back at the dinghy and said "what happened to the dinghy?" Dave and I both looked back to see that one end of the dinghy was no longer supported by the ropes that connect it to the davits. A pin had pulled out of one of the pulleys so it was sort of dangling. Dave was able to drop it into the water so we just pulled it along behind. Today we went through one of the last floating pontoon bridges in the US. It looks like a fixed bridge that is under construction will soon replace it. The are many new bridges being built and lots of new homes. The area around Myrtle Beach has really developed since we were here 15 years ago. We couldn’t get a spot at Barefoot Landing, but were able to stay at a nice marina across from Barefoot Landing. After we got settled we dinghied over to the shops at Barefoot Landing. It is a complex of little shops surrounding a man made lake, selling lots of things you don’t need when you live on a boat, but it was fun to look around. We went out for supper at Joe’s Crab Shack. After supper we went back to the boat to for a bit to hear what we could of the election results, and then the girls and I went up to the hot tub for a bit. We all stayed up in varying degrees of late to hear the election results, but Dave was the only one who lasted long enough to hear Obama’s victory speech. While there were parties all over the US when Obama won, it was pretty quite in the Barefoot Landing Resort marina – we suspected that there were a few people around us disappointed in the result.

Nov 5 – Barefoot Landing to Thoroughfare Creek – Mile 389
It was a little chilly in the morning. I took Rudder for a long walk to try to find a newspaper to get more details on the election. We had a leisurely morning to let the kids wake up slowly after their late night. The hot tub opened at 9:00 and we decided to go for a soak before leaving, so we didn’t actually leave until around 10:30. It continued to be a kind of chilly and overcast day as we carried on with our journey. We traveled through miles and miles of cypress swamp, which sounds kind of eerie but was a nice change from all the over-the-top real estate development we have seen, particularly yesterday. We pulled off the ICW at mile 389 and headed a little way up Thoroughfare Creek to a beautiful, peaceful anchorage. There are beautiful trees covered with spanish moss and vines. Many of the leaves are changing color and the leaves on the vines are bright red, winding their way up the trees. After we got anchored, we put the motor on the dinghy and went exploring a little waterside development off Thoroughfare Creek. I don’t think it took off the way the developers hoped, and instead there were just a few homes and cottages on each of the canals. We explored up as far as a little lake. It was all very peaceful and serene except for the moment when Annie saw the snake in the river! We took the dinghy back near the boat and landed on a high sandy bank and went for a walk across to the lake we had been on in the dinghy. We saw lots and lots of animal tracks. There were deer tracks everywhere and we also raccoon and squirrel tracks. There were some tracks that were about 3-4 inches across and had 4 distinct claw marks, but we weren’t sure what made them – maybe a bear or a bobcat. It was wonderful to be in this great anchorage with not another boat in sight.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November 2 - Wrightsville Beach

Oct 29 – Belhaven
It was really windy and cold again today so we decided to stay put. The kids did school in the morning. In the afternoon the girls went to visit the boat tied up next to us. The boat’s name is Blue Ocean, the people are from Denmark and they have a 12-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl. Unfortunately their daughter doesn’t speak English. Their son’s English is pretty good, but he is shy to use it. The kids played Nintendo for a while and then played a bit of tennis. After that, we were going to go for groceries, but the golf cart was gone so we started the laundry instead. Just after we started the laundry the golf cart came back so we left the laundry and went for groceries. We took "Sailor Joe" with us. He is probably 80 years old and sails alone on a 25’ boat. He is quite a character. In the evening the kids from Blue Ocean came over and all the kids played Pit.

Oct 30 – Broad Creek (mile 172)
We left Belhaven around 7:30. It was a nice sunny day and it is starting to warm up. We were able to sail part of the day so that was great. Dave saw some dolphins in the distance but they didn’t come very close. We anchored in Broad Creek, a little north of Oriental around 2:00. Serenus (Noah and Vicky) anchored with us, but Carpe Diem decided to go the marina. It is really pretty here. The land is really flat and there are tall pine trees everywhere. We dropped the dinghy down so Annie, Kristen and I could take Rudder to shore. Noah and Vicky wanted to go for a walk too, and their dinghy was on deck so we took them with us. We had a great walk on a mowed path through the forest. It was really peaceful. We saw raccoon and deer tracks but didn’t see any animals. I made up the beef dish with beef from both boats and we went over and had supper on Serenus. Vicky went through the french book with me and helped me with my pronunciation. They are planning to head for Beaufort tomorrow and then head off shore.

Oct 31 – Oriental (Mile 182)
After much discussion we decided to have a really short day today and go to the little town of Oriental for Halloween. The free dock was full, as was the marina near the free dock, but they had space for us in the marina by the bridge – managed by the same people. We could have anchored, but figured it was better to be tied up for trick or treating. The girls and I went back to the first marina to register and on the way ran into people we had been tied up with in Elizabeth City. They told us there were some young girls on the catamaran tied up at the free dock. After we registered, we went over to say "Hi" at the cat - Miakado. The girls are 7-1/2 twins – Allianna (Ally) and Emma. They were really excited to meet some other kids and wanted to come right over to visit on our boat. Ally and Emma had lunch with us and played for a while and then went back to their boat while we went for a walk in town. After our walk, the girls went back over to the other marina to carve pumpkins with Ally and Emma. Annie and Kristen had supper on Miakado, and Dave and I had a quick supper of fresh shrimp back on Bird. After supper I took Annie and Kristen costumes back to Miakado so they could get dressed. Annie dressed up as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz by using part of her jig outfit (including the red shoes) and part of her national outfit. Kristen dressed up as Laura from little house by wearing her national dress, and my sundress over top. Their costumes weren’t perfect but they were pretty cute! Just as we started trick or treating we ran into Annie and Dietrich from Calliope and Bruce and Annie danced the jig in the middle of the road (with no music). They all thought that was pretty neat!
Trick or treating wasn’t as great as in Pictou – there are so many vacant homes here – but they still had a really good time. We met up with Dave back at the Halloween party back at the marina. There were lots of people we knew from Dismal Swamp and Elizabeth City so that was fun.

Nov 1 – Oriental to Swansborro – Mile 228
It was a beautiful warm day today. We left at 7:30 just ahead of Miakado. After we crossed the Nuese River we saw lots of dolphins playing in the water really close to the boat. It was so cool!! We passed through Beaufort and Morehead City and went down Bogue Sound. The waterway channel is really narrow here so it requires a lot of attention to make sure you stay in the channel and don’t go aground. We decided to stop at Dudley’s Marina in Swansborro rather than push on to the anchorage at mile 244 as there is a really shallow spot at mile 237 that we wanted to do at high tide (and in the morning). When we stopped in Swansborro 15 years ago it was cold and wet and it seemed like we walked for miles to find a banking machine. This was a totally different experience. It was warm and sunny and we had a great walk to the historic district of Swansborro. There are great little shops and the simple architecture of the houses is really neat. We walked back to the marina and barbequed steak for supper.

Nov 2 – Swansborro to Wrightsville Beach – Mile 283
Another beautiful day! Today we had dolphins all around us. A mother and calf were swimming right under the bow sprit of the boat and we could see them under the water! We didn’t have any problem going through the two shallow spots we were worried about. We had three bridges today that only opened on the hour so we had to think about getting the timing right on those. We ended up sailing for the last couple of hours as we only needed to go about 3 miles per hour because of the bridges so that was really nice. We got to the marina in Wrightsville Beach just after 4:00. We were glad to find a place to stay as a lot of the marinas are full and there is very limited room for anchoring here. After we got settled we went for a short walk and got some groceries.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oct 29 - Belhaven NC

Oct 22 – Norfolk to Deep Creek – Dismal Swamp
We had a busy morning running errands in Norfolk. We started with a visit to a little marine store called WT Brownley’s a few blocks away from the dock. We went there to pick up a guide to the ICW. Mostly they had books and charts and a few marine instruments. Then we noticed the printer that they use to actually print marine charts. I guess this is the way of the future for charts so that they can be printed "real time" with all the updates included as marker buoys and things get moved around. We were talking to the lady there, and it was originally her grandfather’s store that he opened in 1932. After we left there, we took a cab out to a big shopping area where there was PetSmart that had Rudder’s special dog food. I had never seen so many different types of dog food in my life, including special food for Labrador Retrievers, and special food for Boxers – but we couldn’t find Rudder’s food. Eventually we asked where it was and the lady said – oh that’s prescription food, so it would be in the prescription food section (oh oh…) We went to check out and they asked for our prescription…. We pleaded our case and fortunately they let us get the food without a prescription. Then we stuffed the 37lbs of food into our big waterproof knapsack and headed a couple of blocks down the road to Walmart where we picked up groceries and a few odds and ends before getting a cab back to the dock. We packed away the groceries, filled up with water, had some lunch and then left Norfolk around 1:00. There are two different routes you can take for the first 90 miles of the ICW the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal and the Dismal Swamp Canal. The first is still used for commercial traffic and is deeper and better maintained, but the Dismal Swamp Canal is more scenic and more historic as it was originally used by the likes of George Washington in removing timber that was logged in the area. We had opted for the Dismal Swamp route, and we were headed for the 3:30 opening of the lock that would lift us 8’ up into the canal. In order to get there we had to pass under 6 bridges, two of which we had to get opened for us to go underneath. We originally planned to go and additional 18 miles to the Dismal Swamp Visitors center, but some folks at the lock recommended tying up to the free dock just on the other side of the lock, so that is what we did. There were 6 other boats that locked through with us, and all of them stayed at the same dock overnight. Many of the boats were ones we had seen over the past few weeks including Estelle from Charlottetown that we originally saw in Cape May, Lap Cat that were tied up with us in Baltimore, and Calliope that we had passed going down the Chesapeake. We also met new some new people including Randy and Diana on Strider (a Tyanna 37’). When we checked Misty’s log we saw that we had left Norfolk on Oct 22 as well!

Oct 23 – Deep Creek
The forecast for leaving the Dismal Swamp doesn’t sound that great. It is very protected in here, but the wind is forecast to be really high so we decided to stay in this nice little place rather than get stuck down at the other end of the canal. The kids did their school work in the morning. We went on several nice walks through the park. Kristen and I went on a walk to take notes on all the birds, animals, insects, trees and plants we could find for her habitat lesson. It is amazing the diversity of trees and plants and how different they are from home. In the afternoon we walked to town and got a few groceries. This is a great spot!

Oct 24 – Dismal Swamp Visitors Center
This morning we left Deep Creek with the boats that came through the 8:30 lock opening, so we went through the Deep Creek bridge around 9:00. We had about 18 miles to go to the visitors’ center. It was a nice day in the canal. The canal is beautiful with trees and vines growing right up to the edge of the canal. In the 1800’s there was a desire to build a canal to join Abermarle Sound with the Chesapeake Bay so that shipping could be done safely between North Carolina and Virginia. George Washington was an early investor in a project designed to drain the 50,000 acre swamp to try to log the area and develop the land for farming. Beginning in 1793, the canal was dug by hand by slaves. It was miserable work with lots of bugs and snakes, and the slaves would be up to their waists in mud trying to dig. As slaves, they weren’t paid for the work unless they outperformed what was required of them. If they were paid, they used the money to buy blankets or buy their freedom. The canal was open to flat bottom boats in 1805. The water in the canal is a deep brown. It is so rich with tannin from the bark of the trees that bacteria couldn’t grow in it, so it was highly prized to take on sailing ships as it wouldn’t go bad.
We got to the Visitors center a little before lunch. There were already 4 boats tied along the wall so we had to raft (tie along side) with one of the other boats. By the end of the day there were about 10 boats all rafted together along the wall. There is a floating footbridge to take you to the other side of the canal, and we crossed the bridge to go for a short hike through the swamp land. The ground isn’t actually swampy, but there are so many trees and so much foliage it must have been really hard to try to cut a trail through the swamp. There is also a short footpath that identifies 10 types of trees native to the area including Sassafras, Hickory, Black Cherry, Virginia Red Cedar, Sycamore and Sweet Gum. It looks so different from Nova Scotia.

Oct 25 – Dismal Swamp Visitors Center
With high winds still forecast outside the swamp, it didn’t make sense to move today. We got the school work done, visited the Dismal Swamp museum and borrowed the loaner bikes and went for a bike ride in the pouring rain. There is a young couple on a boat tied up behind us and we had them over for potluck supper. Noah bought his first boat and sailed it from California to French Polynesia. He and Vicky are starting another adventure and hope to go back to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. It was really interesting to hear about his adventures and about their trip north this summer.

Oct 26 – Elizabeth City (mile 50)
We left the Visitor’s Center at 7:30 with 10 other boats – only one boat stayed behind. We met with two other boats at the lock, so that 12 boats locked through the South Mills lock together. It was so calm in the canal that we passed our camera over to Serenus (Noah and Vicky) and Noah climbed his mast to get a really cool picture of Bird with the girls on the bow. We got to Elizabeth City around 1:00. It was a nice sunny day and we had a busy afternoon getting laundry done. Then Annie and I went to the grocery store, and Dave and Kristen went to the Abermarle Museum. They said it was really good, but it was closed by the time we got back from the grocery store. Most days, there is a "Rose Buddies" wine and cheese party for the boaters at the dock. The Rose Buddies started doing wine and cheese parties in 1983 after their wives died. They also gave a rose to each woman that stayed at the dock. Unfortunately, the original Rose Buddies have both passed away but the tradition continues. They don’t usually have a get together on Sunday, so the boaters organized their own party. After the groceries got put away we stayed out on the dock until it got dark and cold talking to the other boaters.

Oct 27 – Elizabeth City to Alligator-Pungo Canal (mile 113)
We left Elizabeth City at 7:00 as the forecast sounded pretty reasonable for travel today. Unfortunately the wind was right where we needed to go so once again we had to motor all day. We had planned to stop at an anchorage at the start of the alligator-pungo canal, but when we got there it looked really unprotected for the high winds that were forecast for overnight. We pressed on another 10 miles to a little canal near a bridge. The canal was about 100 feet wide and we ended up tying a line to a tree off the bow, and another line to a tree off the stern. It took us quite a while to get all organized and we were just going below at 6:00 when the rain started pouring down and the wind started howling. We stayed safe all night, and later we heard that a number of boats that stayed at the other anchorage had dragged their anchors overnight. It was another really cold night!

Oct 28 – Alligator Pungo Canal to Belhaven (mile 135)
It was really cold today, and really windy. Once again we weren’t able to sail. We got to Belhaven a little after noon and decided to call it a day and go to a marina. We went to the River Forest marina where we had stayed 15 years ago. Carpe Diem was there too! We hadn’t seen them since Staten Island. We borrowed a golf cart from the marina and went up to town to go to the post office and to the hardware store where we bought a little electric heater. It was great to plug it in and get the boat warmed up! After supper Chris and Penny came over to visit. Chris brought his portable picture printer and made some post cards for us from some of the pictures we had taken.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oct 22 - Norfolk

Oct 15 – Washington DC
Today we got up early and walked about ten minutes to catch the 7:20 train to Washington DC. We arrived at Union Station about 8:30. Once again, the US transit system worked really well. It was another lovely warm day and we walked from Union Station, pasted the capital building to the Mall (not a shopping mall – more like a big grassy park that stretches through most of Washington. We started to walk down towards the Washington Monument, but by about 9:00 there were a couple of people that were tired of walking, so we went to the Smithsonian Castle to learn about the Smithsonian Museum and to try to figure out which buildings we wanted to see. At 10:00 the Air and Space Museum so we went there first. There was a museum tour that started at 10:30, so we thought that would be a good idea. It was a great tour. The lady that gave it was really interested in airplanes and space. It is amazing the collection of airplanes, rockets and space craft that they have collected. We touched a rock that was brought back from the moon. We saw the original airplane that the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk (no mention of Alexander Graham Bell at all in the early years of flight). They had the original space capsule that did the first manned trip around earth - John Glenn flew around the earth 3 times in about 4 hours! They also had the lunar lander from the first trip to the moon. The number of rockets and airplanes was incredible. Kristen though it was neat that they put monkey in space first because they needed to figure out if they can go to the moon. The monkeys survived the trip but after the trip the older monkey died (but they don’t think it was because of going to space). After the Air and Space Museum and some lunch (McDonalds again) we walked across the Mall to the Natural History Museum. We had a good look at their new Ocean Hall that had just opened, but had to do a quick walk through the gem display that includes the Hope diamond, the mammal exhibit and the insect exhibit. We saw a tomato horn worm pupae trying to hatch into a moth – but eventually we had to leave and we didn’t see the moth emerge. We also saw a beehive built inside a Plexiglas container so you could see inside the hive, and there was a tube that led to outside so the bees could come and go. When we finished at the museum we continued our walk to the Washington Monument, but it was too late in the day and too hot and too far to walk to the Lincoln Monument.
We walked a few more block to get to the subway back to union station. We had to buy the subway tickets from a machine, so we bought 1 ticket for the four of us, like we had in New York. When we tried to use the ticket for the four of us it wouldn’t work, and the lady that worked there thought we were pretty stupid – but we explained we were from a little town in Canada and we didn’t have subway there, so she let us on the train anyway! We got safely back to Union Station, and from there caught the train back to Baltimore. We had our final supper in Baltimore at one of the restaurants that overlooks the harbour.

Oct 16 – Baltimore to Magothy River
We had a busy morning trying to finish up some of the chores we had planned for Baltimore, but hadn’t gotten done yet. We finally pulled away from the dock around 12:00. We headed a little way out the harbour and then dropped the anchor where we had gone for groceries just after we arrived in Baltimore. We all got in the dinghy and went to shore. Dave went to the marine store and the rest of us went to the grocery store to get a few things. It seemed like we had just gotten groceries a few days before so we didn’t get a full weeks supply. We finally got back to the boat and got the anchor pulled again around 1:00 so there wasn’t much time to go very far. The place we had planned to go to was about 27 miles away and that would take 4-1/2 hours and that just seemed too far. Instead we went to the Magothy River which is just a little bit south of the Patapsco River that Baltimore is on. The Chesapeake Bay is an amazing mass of rivers that all flow together into the bay. Each one of these feeder rivers is made up of more rivers. In total there is close to 6000 miles of shoreline in around the Chesapeake. It provides a wonderful selection of anchorages. We dropped the anchor in one of a selection of little creeks off the Magothy River by about 4:30. It was a really pretty little spot and a real change from the bright lights and noise of Baltimore.

Oct 17 – Magothy River to LaTrappe Creek.
We got up in the morning and got a little bit of school done before we left the anchorage at 9:00. We headed across the Chesapeake to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We took a short-cut through Knapp’s Narrow that is a little canal cut through the middle of Tilghman Island. This took us into the Choptank River. We were able to actually sail up the Choptank which was great. There was a sailboat race going on an there was a fleet of about 15 or 20 boats all sailing in the river with us. We followed another sailboat up LaTrappe Creek and into another beautiful anchorage. In the cruising guide it said there was lots of wildlife around LaTrappe Creek and within minutes of dropping the anchor (around 4:30) we saw a family of little deer down by the creek across from the anchorage. There were dozens of noisy canada geese around too and we would see flocks and flocks fly by on their way south.

Oct 18 – Oct 19 – La Trappe Creek
A storm front blew over the Chesapeake and strong winds were forecast for the next couple of days so we decided to stay in this snug little anchorage. The kids got their school work done and Dave did a great job of bringing the brass dorade vents back to life (the dorades are vents that rise about the cabin top and bring air down below). We were starting to run low on food again (pretty dumb not getting more groceries in Baltimore) so I made a couple of small loaves of bread. We went on a couple of dingy explorations to look at the little creeks around the anchorage, and we tried to do some fishing – we even tried to catch some crabs – but generally it was a pretty quite couple of days.

Oct 20 – La Trappe Creek to Mill Creek – Great Wicomico Virginia
We woke up before dawn to get an early start today. The Chesapeake has been wonderful but with temperatures in the 30’s overnight, warmer weather is calling. We have about 130 nautical miles to go to get to Norfolk and the start of the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) where wind will have less impact on us. The ICW is a serious of rivers, canals and sounds etc. that takes you the 1000 miles from Norfolk Virginia to Miami Florida. The miles we will be travelling on the ICW are statute miles (like in a car) and not nautical miles that we usually track our progress in. I can’t remember the exact relationship, but a statute mile is a little less that a nautical mile so we will be able to go "farther" (more miles) in a day if we need to. There is another nasty weather system forecast for Wednesday, so if we can do 65 miles today, and then again tomorrow well be in Norfolk without having to wait out another weather window. We pulled the anchor at 6:50 with a forecast of 5-10N and we hoped that the light breeze would push us south down the bay, but the wind was so light that there was no wind at all. The seas were flat and we had a long and uneventful day. We’ve started to see pelicans on the Bay. They look sort of prehistoric but they fly so gracefully and then dive into the water with such a big splash we love to watch them. The girls spread schoolwork out over the whole day, with long play breaks in between in a tent they built on the aft deck. We pulled into the Great Wicomico River, back on the Western Shore of the bay, just south of the Potomac that would lead you up to Washington DC around 5:30. We had the sun setting in our eyes as we wound our way up into Mill Creek and dropped the anchor in Virginia at 6:10 with about 10 other boats. We quickly dropped the dinghy down and Annie and I took Rudder to shore. Just as we got back with the dinghy there was a loud buzzing sound from overhead. We looked up to see a large parasail overhead. There was a man hanging below it, and he was in a seat that had a motor and a big fan attached, so the whole thing was self propelled. He was having a great time flying around and over the anchorage as the sun was setting and Dave got some great pictures.

Oct 21 – Great Wicomico to Norfolk Virginia
Another early start – out of the anchorage before 7:00 again. The forecast isn’t great for today with high winds starting this afternoon from the West (sort of where we need to go) but we thought we’d leave early and see how we made out. Well, we had about 1.5 knots of current with us all day, so instead of going about 6knots per hour we were going closer to 7 or 8. We also had a lovely 15 knot breeze that we almost on the nose, but we could still sail along close hauled, and the seas weren’t too bad either. We did keep the motor on a bit just to make sure we would make good time and we were off the Norfolk light by 2:30, instead of the 4:30 we had estimated. It was a good thing too, because in the morning it looked like the girls were going to mutiny if they had to do another 12-hour day! It took us another couple of hours to get into downtown Norfolk. Coming in up to Norfolk is pretty strange -- this is the home of the US Naval fleet so there dozens of huge naval ships tied up along the shore. There is lots of security by the way of small(er) naval boats patrolling and helicopters flying overhead. In some ways it it busier than New York harbour. When we got into Norfolk we had to get fuelled up at one marina and then go across the river to the marina where we planned to spend the night. While we had no near misses on either docking, both were pretty stressful moving Bird around in tight quarters. We were all settled by about 4:30, which was a lot better than the 6:30 we had expected. We all got showers and then we went out for supper to celebrate making it to Norfolk.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oct 15 - Baltimore

Oct 21 - Added a couple of pictures -- This is one is of Bird tied up in from of Amistad -- kind of hard to tell, but that is Amistad in the background.

Oct 10 – Chesapeake City to Baltimore
It was another beautiful warm day and we were on our way around 9:00. There wasn’t much wind but it was lovely motoring down the Chesapeake Bay under beautiful sunny skies. It was warm enough for shorts and tank tops, which was great after weeks of long pants and sometimes even hats and mitts. The leaves are beginning to change and the shoreline of the Bay is really pretty.
The river up to Baltimore is very industrial with lots of factories and the girls were pretty skeptical about where we were taking them, but the Inner Harbour of Baltimore is great. We were tied up at the city marina by 4:30, right in front of the tall ship Amistad. We had a spectacular docking experience as Dave had to thread Bird ahead of a large tour boat, and around a power boat and then snug into a 45’ space in front of the power boat (we’re probably 43’ overall). There are three tour boats and two tall ships as well as a few sail boats and a few power boats tied up with us here at the small city dock. The Inner Harbour is a real tourist destination with two food malls full of restaurants and bars, a Science Centre, the National Aquarium, and USS Constitution (a boat that fought in the Civil War) as well as water taxis and 4 or 4 huge marinas. We are arriving here at the start of the US Columbus Day weekend so it is a very busy spot.

Oct 11 – 14 Baltimore
Another hot sunny day here in Baltimore. The Inner Habour is crawling with runners and spectators for the Baltimore Marathon and the other races for running day. Over 17,000 people were registered for the various races. We spent the morning doing school and getting the boat tidied. We decided that getting groceries was more important than doing the tourist thing today. After lunch we dropped the dingy down and Annie Kristen and I went for a 20 minute dinghy ride back out the harbour to little place where we could tie up the dinghy and go to the big Safeway store. It worked out really well and we got a big load of groceries, including all the fixings for Thanksgiving supper, but it took us most of the afternoon. While we were gone Dave bought Harbour Passes for us so we can see four different Baltimore attractions over the next four days. The first one was a trip up to the 27th floor of the Trade Center where we got a great view of the city. After we got back we had pizza for supper. The oven is not working that well and it is moving to the top of Dave’s list of things to look at in Baltimore. On Sunday, the girls got some school work done while Dave started to take the stove and oven apart. At 11:00 the girls and I went over to the Science Museum to take a look around before lunch. It was great being so close. We were able to spend an hour or so, then go back to the boat for lunch and to get Dave and then go back again. We spent the whole afternoon there. Amongst other things, we did an experiment that compared how well bleach, dish soap, household cleaner and disinfecting gel did at killing bacteria – surprisingly bleach did better than the disinfecting hand cleaner. On Monday (Thanksgiving) morning we discovered that the stove was leaking kerosene from one of the (irreplaceable) fittings. It’s not looking good for Thanksgiving supper… Dave took the stove out and took it apart again while the girls and I went to the aquarium. When we got back to the boat at lunch Dave had found a place within walking distance that might be able to weld the leak in the fitting for the stove… We’ll have to wait and see how they make out tomorrow, but in the meantime we only have out little microwave (and no stove, over, toaster, kettle etc. etc.) So much for Thanksgiving!! We went back to the aquarium and saw the dolphin show and spent the rest of the afternoon there. After the Aquarium Annie and I walked to the market and got a roast chicken and we had that with some rice and salad and topped it off with the Thanksgiving pumpkin Pie.
We started Tuesday off with a family walk to the place that was supposed to fix the store, but when we got there it still wasn’t done so we went to the Children’s Museum. It was a little farther from the boat than the aquarium and the science center (maybe a 12 minute walk) so we decided to go to McDonalds for lunch. After lunch Dave went back to the boat to follow up on the stove, and I took the girls back to the Kids Museum. We all got back to the boat around 3:00 and Dave had the repaired stovetop. We got the stove/oven back together by 4:00 and gave it a try. Now let’s remember it’s about 85° , and we’re on a small boat, and our turkey breast was ready to be cooked yesterday, so of course we started to cook Thanksgiving dinner! Actually, it worked really well and we had an awesome Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas and pumpkin pie for dessert –in the cockpit where it was cool.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oct 10 - Baltimore MD

Wow - we finally have internet!

Here's the update up until yesterday -- I will update again before we leave Baltimore.

Sept 29 – Westbrook
We woke up at 6:00 and it was pouring with rain so we decided to stay in Westbrook another day. It turned out to be quite a nice day. The girls did school work in the morning. In the afternoon they went over to visit Linda and Ed and make some jewelry. I walked up to the Laundromat and got the laundry done.

Sept 30 – Westbrook to Glenn Cove, NY
We left fairly early – a little after 6:30 – to catch the current down Long Island Sound. Originally we planned to all the way to City Island just north of New York City, with the plan to go into the city by bus on Wednesday. After considering the forecast we decided that we should go through NYC tomorrow, so we only went about 60 miles to Glenn Cove. We were anchored around 4:00. Glenn Cove is on Long Island and we were there with Misty (on Sept 30th). It is surprisingly underdeveloped. There is a good sized park that seems a little tired, but it had a playground and a nice beach. Kristen found some new shells that we hadn’t seen before.

Oct 1 – Glenn Cove to Great Kills (Staten Island)
We left Glenn Cove around 10:45 after the girls got some school work done. It is important to get the current timed correctly to go down the East River through New York with favourable current, so it meant we got to make a late start. Travelling through New York is pretty exciting. You start north of the city with Laguardia airport and the jets are taking off and landing right next the to river so they are flying right over the boat. Next you pass by Riker’s Island prison. Then you go passed a couple of islands and you are into Hell’s Gate where it can be quite turbulent with the current. After Hell’s Gate you are travelling right down beside Manhattan and all the skyscrapers including the United Nations building, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. You go under 9 different bridges in one day. After you pass by Manhattan you are in New York Harbour and can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We crossed under the ninth bridge – the Verazzano and then headed south east to Great Kills Harbour in Staten Island. It took a little while to get organized with a mooring, but eventually we were settle about 4:00 – just a few minutes before the rain started.
Carpe Diem was also here and they came over for a visit after supper. It was really nice to see them and to get caught up.

Oct 2 – Manhattan

We had a great day visiting New York. We walked about half a mile to the Great Kills train station, and then took the train all the way up Staten Island to St. George and the Staten Island ferry. We then took the ferry to Manhattan and the subway up to 81st street and the Museum of Natural History. It is an incredible museum in an incredibly beautiful building. There are beautiful displays of animals that date back to 1920. I’m not usually a fan of taxidermy, but this is so beautifully done with such wonderful backgrounds for the animals that it is really great to see. Annie and Dave went to see an IMAX film on sea monsters, and Kristen and I went to see a display on Horses. They had a great discovery center and we looked at lots of things through the microscope. We were at the museum until around 2:00. After we left the museum we went for a walk in Central Park. It is really nice. There was a pretty pond you could walk around and there were people rowing boats. There were turtles in the pond too. It was really different to have such a peaceful place surrounded by the skyscrapers of New York. We walked down through Central Park and then down Broadway to Times Square. We went into a couple of stores including the biggest and best Build-A-Bear Workshop we’d ever seen. Lucy (Kristen’s bear) and Juno (Annie’s Boxer) are now sporting New York Jets clothing in honor of Brett Favre having joined the Jets, and Carmel (Annie’s girl dog) has a flashy New York t-shirt. We left the city around 4:00 and took the long trip back to Great Kills. The day went really well. Transit was really easy (and cheap), the city was clean, and there were lots of police around so we felt really safe.

Oct 3 – Great Kills
It was windy again today so Great Kills is filling up with boats waiting to go south. It sounds like there is a good weather window to do the coast of New Jersey starting tomorrow, but it is long enough that we can wait and leave on Sunday. We went to shore in the morning and the girls did their school work in the club house and we all got showers. There is no wireless here so we can’t update the log, but there is a computer we can use. I bought tickets online for us to go see Hairspray on Broadway tomorrow – Kristen and I are really excited, Dave will come if he has to. We also found a possible house to rent in Florida. In the afternoon Annie and I walked up to the "Top Tomato" grocery store. On our way we ran into Chris and Penny (carrying their Sobey’s Green Bag!) and Penny can with us too. It had great produce and very reasonably priced meat but very expensive and limited canned and dry goods. There were lots of people in the clubhouse around suppertime as they all planned their departure the following day.

Oct 4 – Manhattan (again)
We made the long trek to Manhattan again – train, ferry, subway and it took a little longer than it did on Thursday as train was delayed and there wasn’t enough time for us to get from the train to the ferry and we had to wait for the next ferry. We took the subway up to Penn Station and when we go there it was raining so we decided not to go to the Empire State building. Instead we went to Macy’s which was really incredible – we went up the 7 floors to kids wear on an escalator that was all trimmed in oak, and on the way back down the whole escalator was wooden. As we continued up 5th avenue we came across the magnificent New York Public Library. It is an incredible building that shows how important the written word was around the turn of the last century. Then we walked over to pick up our tickets for the show and had lunch at the Cosmic Diner across from the theatre. We were sitting in our awesome, fourth row seats by 1:40 and ready for the show. It was terrific. George Wendt who played Norm on Cheers was Tracy’s Mum (the role played by John Travolta in the movie) and he was absolutely fabulous. The show was so well done, Dave couldn’t get over it. He really enjoyed it, as did the rest of us. We were so glad we stayed the extra day so that we saw it. It was pretty crowded walking back to the subway through Times Square after the show, but it was really the only time in New York that we saw big crows and we had walked around enough before to know where we were going so it was ok. Again, we missed the train connection after the ferry and had to wait and extra half hour. It was about 7:00 when we got back to the boat.

Oct 5 - Great Kills to Barnegat NJ
We left Great Kills around 7:00. The seas were kind of sloppy as we went across from Staten Island and around the tip of New Jersey and back out into the Atlantic. It was a little too rough for school so it was a bit of a long boring day. The most interesting (?) thing that happened was overhearing a conversation on the radio between a fishing boat that was dragging about 14 miles off shore and the Coast Guard. Apparently the fishing boat pulled up a wetsuit in their fishing gear and there was still a leg in it… Certainly conjured up some pretty yucky thoughts and sent shivers down our spines. We decided to push on past Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat inlet where we had gone before with Misty. It is supposed to be a sort of challenging harbour but after talking to a guy at Great Kills we decided we would rather anchor there than do the marina in Manasquan. We had a bit of a time getting tied up at the fuel dock as there is quite a bit of current, but we took our time and got tied up safely. We took Rudder to shore and then we went out in the harbour and anchored. We were anchored a little after 5:00.

Oct 6 – Barnegat to Atlantic City
We left Barnegat around 7:00. It was pretty sloppy as we went back out into the ocean but it settled down after a bit. After listening to the forecast it sounded like Wednesday would be a better day to go up the Delaware than tomorrow, so we decided to stop in Atlantic City rather than push on to Cape May. We headed into Atlantic City around noon and were tied up a the Gardiner Basin Marina around 12:30. After lunch we caught the Jitney bus to the Boardwalk and had a look around. We saw a water show with fountains inside a mall near the boardwalk. Then we walked up to the outlet mall and bought a couple of things and caught the Jitney back to the boat around 5:30. (Still no internet!!)

Oct 7 – Atlantic City to Cape May
We left Atlantic City around 10:30 as we wanted the wind to die down a little. School got started early and was almost done before we left. The trip to Cape May was uneventful. The seas were calm which was a pleasant surprise. We had a little bird land on the deck and stay with us for about 15 minutes. We got out the bird book and decided it was a pine warbler. We got to Cape May 5:00 and put down the anchor. Annie and I took Rudder to shore on a little sandy beach off the Coast Guard College.

Oct 8 – Cape May to Chesapeake City
We knew the current would be against us in the morning, so we didn’t try to leave really early. We’re out of bread (as well as most groceries) and there isn’t a grocery store close to the anchorage. Kristen and I tried to make two different recipes that looked like bread – the first turned out to be more like cookies and I burnt them… The second was pretty easy and Kristen whipped up the 3 cups of flour, 2 tbsp of sugar and a can of warm beer and we put it into a heavy pot to cook. We weren’t sure quite what to expect but we ended up with a palatable loaf of bread!! When we make it again I think we’ll try to make it in a coffee can so we get a better-shaped loaf. In the end we left around 8:00. We went through the Cape May Canal and then did the long trip up the Delaware Bay. It was about a 60 mile day and we finally arrived in Chesapeake City at around 6:00. It was just getting dark and we were pretty tired and we had a hard time anchoring. Annie and I went to shore with Rudder and tried to find some groceries but no luck. We went back to the boat and scraped up a supper of hamburgers and noodles