Tuesday, November 25, 2008

St. Mary's, Georgia -Mile Marker 712

We arrived in St. Mary’s early Sunday evening. As for how our coastal cruising went…. depending on who you talk to you will get a different answer. I would tell you that although there was no wind and we motored almost the entire way that the trip was good since there were very limited waves. The Captain would tell you the trip wasn’t good with fairly big waves and no wind. So who to believe?

But that is the past. Let’s talk about St. Mary’s and the present! St. Mary’s is a great little town on the Georgia – Florida border. They are just finishing putting up the holiday decorations. All of the light posts are adorned with wreathes, garland stretches along the rails of patios and across the park gazebos and today the town Christmas tree is being put up on the waterfront.

Town has several great shops. We’ve already spent time in the both the bookstores. The used bookstore is particularly fun since it is just loaded with books of all kinds. We spent about 2 hours there yesterday just pulling books off the shelves and reading the back covers. They even had a small room with just nautical books that David took particular interest in and a wall where all the boaters sign in that they have been there. We will likely go back again to rummage through the shelves a bit more. There is also a submarine museum nearby – likely because of the nuclear submarine base on the outside of town – old churches, Orange Hall and plenty of restaurants to sample.

The boating community here has already put on a great program and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet! They have transportation available to drive us out to the larger grocery and laundry outside of town. We are also enjoying cruiser Happy Hours every night this week at the local tavern. Yesterday was our first. The tavern offers a cash bar and all the boaters bring a snack to share. Yesterday we made our spinach artichoke dip which got rave reviews. It will be a challenge to top it but we are going to see how crab and cheese pinwheels go over tonight.

More soon!

The Admiral

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Change in Plans....

Just a note to let everyone know we've decided to leave Charleston early. With my parents (The Admiral's) both suffering from colds, they have had to cancel their plans to meet us in Charleson. With the family plans cancelled we've decided to take advantage of a weather window and bump out from Charleston tomorrow - Saturday - and head for St. Mary's, Georgia.

We will be out of contact for the next several days but will drop a note on our return to shore. In case we don't have internet access for a while, have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

Best regards.

The Admiral and the Captain


We are definitely getting acquainted with Charleston. Our first day touring the city we found ourselves on King Street, in the shopping district, and as we passed all the upscale stores asked ourselves where historic Charleston was. Well we were a block or two off but since then have found the Old City Market with its flea market and restaurants and the old residential community.

The houses are amazing and while the Calhoun Mansion boasts that it is the largest home in Charleston at 24,000 square foot, the reality is that it just seems a mere bit bigger than many of the other homes in the area. The gardens, even in the off season, are a delight as is the varying architecture.

We continue to be surprised by Charleston history and the its significance in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Thursday we toured the Old Exchange and the Provost Dungeon. The dungeon was used over the years to hold pirates prisoner until they were put on trial and later hung but was also used to hold captive those who committed treason against Britain’s Charles II. As an exchange it was the building which levied stamp and customs taxes. The proceeds from which were returned to Britain. With Charleston plantations flourishing, the taxes were estimated to represent about one third of the royal revenues. We often hear about the significance of the Boston Tea Party in our US history classes but rarely do we hear of other US communities rebelling as well – which is exactly what Charleston did. Pretty interesting stuff.

The Admiral

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mother Nature...

Mother Nature reminded us who was boss this morning. We left Georgetown mid morning yesterday and dropped the hook in a low lying marsh area around mile marker 435. While we thought we were about as well positioned as we could be given the options, about 4:00am this morning the winds pick up and told us otherwise.

Dave and I had been up checking on the anchor and our position twice in the morning but around 4:00am we felt the winds shift and the gusts grow more intense. This caused us to get up and check again and within two minutes of doing so we found ourselves dragging anchor and at peril for hitting another sailboat. I am sure you have never seen two sailors leap for the ignition of the engines as quickly as we did. We successfully started the engines, hauled up the anchor and moved out of harms way.

But that left us in darkness with 30 mile an hour winds and no ground tackle down - a bit intimidating even with two 30 hp engines purring beneath us. Nevertheless, we did get the hook re-secured. Of course with the adrenaline rush of the incident neither Dave nor I was ready to go back to bed. Instead we sat up in the cockpit making certain we were not going anywhere (again). While on watch we observed 3-4 other boats in the basin also start to drag - just not a good night for remaining in one spot on the hook.

Given our morning and the knowledge that even worse weather was approaching, we made a bee line for Charleston today to get a dock. The ICW has been incredible the last two days as we’ve observed spots of extreme low water where the channel markers have been on land and extreme high water as the channel markers have been nearly underwater. Just amazing. Notice the attached photo of a dock that is all but a dry dock!

We will be in Charleston the next 2 weeks playing tourist. Unfortunately, the camera has decided to quit working so I am not sure if we will be able to get photos in the near future but we will certainly try.

More to come.

The Admiral


Friday, November 14, 2008

Mile Marker 403...Georgetown, South Carolina

Ahhh….it is sunny and in the upper 70’s today. Dave and I have been anchored in Georgetown the last two days taking a break from the ICW traffic and enjoying the small community. The town is lovely with its 4-5 block downtown area. A great opportunity for window shopping. We found a local bookstore which has become a favorite pastime to just go in and browse. We also discovered a seafood market where the fish has come in just off the boats and you can buy it by the pound. We’ve been trying several of the markets offerings but our favorite so far is the shrimp. Though, admittedly, we haven’t sampled the soft shell crab or the grouper as yet.

Our next big stop will be Charleston where we plan to enjoy Thanksgiving. We will be leaving Georgetown today - Friday - and take a slower approach over the next several days toward Charleston a mere 70 miles away.

So until Charleston - enjoy.

The Admiral

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mile Marker 261...Wilmington, North Carolina

What a difference 200+ miles makes! The weather has improved dramatically. We are now seeing palm trees – admittedly planted in the front lawns of homes but nonetheless, palm trees – and we’ve seen porpoises. So how exactly did we get from mile marker 50 in Elizabeth City to mile marker 261? Well let me tell you….

Wednesday evening the weather finally cleared. So we headed out early on Thursday morning from Elizabeth City across the Abermarle Sound and into the Alligator River. We were making great time as the winds had shifted and we were once again able to hoist the spinnaker for a nice downwind run. That was until the winds picked up and split the spinnaker in two. No more Nestles Crunch colored spinnaker – oh my! At least not until we get to a sailmaker. We finished crossing the Sound with the main and jib and made our way down the Alligator River. We were surprised by our progress ending the day at mile marker 127.

Friday and Saturday were more of the same. Motoring down the ICW and sailing when we could. In the evenings we’d drop the hook in a creek or basin somewhere along the route.

That brings us to today – Sunday. Unfortunately, no sailing today but we have found a nice little anchorage in Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington. We made the three mile walk to a quaint shopping area which includes a West Marine (Dave’s favorite store), a grocery, a cafĂ© (with wireless) and more. After several days on the water it is nice to stretch the legs and be on land again.

It feels great to have made such progress. We are now about two days away from the South Carolina border…and then Georgia.

Stay tuned.

The Admiral

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Dismal Swamp Route…

I know some of you were actually wondering if I, the Captain, would ever write something, well here it goes…

We started out of Norfolk a little later than most of the other boats and went through our first opening bridge (of many more to come). This is nothing new to us, as we have bridges at home, but hearing everyone calling the bridge tenders on the VHF by bridge name I was wondering what bridge we were approaching. After successfully making our way thru the initial maze of bridges – 5 bridges in 7 miles - we approached the split of the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) to either take the Virginia Cut or the Dismal Swamp Canal. We had already decided to take the Dismal on the way down, so we made the sharp right turn and headed for the canal. The first thing you run into after about 4 miles is Deep Creek lock. After that you get to a little draw bridge and then about 20 miles of motoring STRAIGHT down the canal, which is only about 60 foot wide at it’s widest, with only one turn about half way down. You have to constantly pay attention because there are stumps and logs floating in the canal which can do quite a job on the bottom of your boat and overhanging trees which can rip off your masthead wind instruments. We didn’t see much in the line of wildlife but the leaves were changing colors. We spent the night at the North Carolina visitor center dock with most of the other boats which locked through with us. The next morning we continued on to the lift bridge and lock on the south end of the canal. After that, we wound down the Pasquotank River into the town of Elizabeth City a most welcoming community. We were even greeted by the Mayor and they had a wine reception for all the cruisers. The weather has turned bad here so we have been waiting it out for a couple days. As you can see from the mileage board, we have a long way to Key West!

Well now you can see why I don’t write many of these because I just ramble on and on….

The Captain
11/2/08 – 11/5/08

P.S. You can check us out on the harbor web cam at http://www.discoverelizabethcity.com/, we are the last boat you can see.

To Norfolk...

We motored across the Hampton Roads basin to Norfolk Saturday passing lots of commercial and naval vessels. The boats are enormous. Just imagine how many washing machines one of these boats could carry!! One of the commercial vessels shows trucks on board in open containers. The trucks look like Tonka toys amidst the other cargo.

The air craft carriers were amazing. I find it hard to believe they don't capsize with the size of the deck. We were also fortunate enough to see vessels in a floating dry dock. Quite and engineering feat!

We have now passed red buoy “R36” which is the unofficial Mile Marker Zero for the Intracoastal Waterway. We are here – FINALLY!

The Admiral

Saturday, November 1, 2008


As expected, the storm kept us in Solomons Island for two days. It was good we decided not to continue on as we heard reports of 50+ mph winds in some regions of the Chesapeake. With the storm passed we made our way further south over several days passing the mouth of the Potomac and finally crossing into Virginia waters.

Virginia has already proven to be a bit different than Maryland. The other night we anchored in a small river which also happened to be the backyard of Langley Air Force Base. We saw fighter jets coming and going throughout the day but the unexpected treat was that in the evening we heard a trumpet playing taps over the base loudspeaker. Of course, in the morning (a bit early by my account), we also were greeted with the same trumpet playing revelry. Nonetheless, a nice acknowledgement that we had arrived in Virginia and a US military area.

Of course that was nothing compared to our arrival in Hampton Roads. Hampton Roads is the bay entrance to Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth and the community of Hampton. Norfolk, being the most significant as it is home to the word’s largest naval base. As we entered the area there were naval vessels, big and small, in the area as well as the normal commercial traffic. Additionally, we saw huge helicopters flying overhead. Quite exciting!

We opted to tie up at the docks of Hampton. Hampton is a wonderful community away from the hustle and bustle of the naval base. Its downtown is lovely with Victorian homes, the Cousteau Society and the Virginia Air & Space Museum. The oldest building in the town is St. John’s Church. There we are reminded that we are now in the south as the cemetery includes a large monument commerating lost Confederate comrades. Finally, as if we were expected, the town held a parade!! The occasion, the Hampton University homecoming. Their mascot, a pirate – what fun!!

Next stop – the entrance to the Intracoastal Waterway!

The Admiral