Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Low Country

Well, that didn't take long. Our intentions were to push out of Charleston with a heavy load of fuel and water and run all the way up to Beaufort Inlet. All the weather sites showed doable seas until Tuesday afternoon or later.
But, weather is as weather does, things changed. TS Gert became Hurricane Gert. Though the blow is not a threat to the coastline, the seas were getting crazy and they're predicted to become even more confused.
We looked at Southport as the next stop, but our timing was all wrong. We'd arrive in the dark.
Much closer was either Winyah Bay and Georgetown or Myrtle Beach.

We turned toward Georgetown.

We'd never been here though good things are often said about Georgetown.
Surprisingly, those good things were understated. What a cool little town.

We literally rolled into Winyah Bay Entrance with seas on our tail and made the fairly long run up to Georgetown. It's pretty far inland, 14 miles,  but we found deep water all the way and it's carefully marked.

 We've tied up at Harborwalk Marina where we found a nice long dock. From here it's a block walk into the quaint little downtown area that's neat as a pin. Even though it was Monday and many restaurants were closed, Alfresco Bistro was open; it's fare and service was truly fine. It's a funky little place, the hostess leads you through the kitchen to get to the main dining room, however it's the best dining experience we've had on this trip.

 All of this makes Georgetown a good hang.

Georgetown is a very old, (1500s), and interesting little town. Back in the 1700s their cash crop was the color blue. Really.  Indigo was the crop of choice, more so than rice. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgetown,_South_Carolina

So, here we'll stay for another night. There's biz that's needing some attention and another day at rest won't be a waste.  If the seas ease up tomorrow, we'll continue our run up to Beaufort Inlet, if not, it's the freakin' ICW for a while.

A small complication: There may not be a slip anywhere in the Carolinas this weekend. Eclipsemania has taken hold of the area and it's seems everyone want to see it from their boats. All slips are booked.


Sunday, August 13, 2017


Charleston - City Marina

Currently, we're tied up in Charleston

Yes, I know— it's been a long time since anything's been posted on this blog. We've been somewhat busy, but really, that's no reason. Usually it's photographs that inspire me to write something and I really haven't taken any photos that have roused me to open the blog and post.

We're always flattered and somewhat surprised when along the way a stranger speaks fondly of Istaboa and the blog we've done for more than a decade; I really don't know what to say when asked why I've not been writing much. That's happened several times on this trip.

Once again, it's a lazy Sunday morning, I've ingested a sufficient amount of caffeine, and gone through several days of unprocessed pics.
It seems we're always catching up, so ~~~~
Because it's August and we're just now heading north up the coast, this year's cruise has been somewhat different from those of the past. Hoping to avoid the packs of yachtistas at the marinas along the way, we waited till late May to leave for the islands. This strategy worked as we figured it would and most of our favorite marinas have had slips available without reservations.

Our last post was at the beginning of our run up the East Coast so I'll pick up there.

Leaving Old Port Cove we made a short run out in the ocean to Ft Pierce where we waited out an almost continuous line of thunderstorms. Storms have been the daily deciding factor for this whole trip.

After Ft Pierce, the seas had picked up so we ran the ICW all the way to Vero Beach. 15 miles.

Then out of nowhere Tropical Storm Emily popped up. We had just left Vero Beach Municipal Marina in the rain, (not realizing it was the outter bands of a tropical disturbance), and made way to Titusville.

Happily, TS Emily was a flop, just rain. We had a peaceful night at Titusville Marina streaming movies and fell asleep to the sound of raindrops falling on the boat. The next day we shoved off and motored to Daytona.

We stayed at Daytona Marina and Boatworks. We like this little marina with it's easy in, side tie docks, plenty of water, and there's a Charthouse restaurant onsite that's excellent. Happy Hour is great; small plates of gourmet appetizers, happy hour prices, and all just feet away from the boat. 

Our next stop was Palm Coast Marina. A nice/quiet little marina where we always stop for a night and to buy fuel.  Best prices in Florida, easy in and out.

The next day was a short run to St Augustine and Camachee Cove Marina. We pulled into Camachee Cove on a low/low tide and had to try several slips before we found one deep enough for us.
As you see from the above picture, storms are following us pretty much all the time, however we keep on running the ICW and manage to avoid most of them.

I hate the ICW - Mel likes it. After a day of negotiating the ICW, I'm exhausted. It's not just shallow water, actually it's not that shallow in Florida, it's the constant attention one must maintain to successfully make it to your next stop.
At last we to make it to Jacksonville and back out to the ocean. St Augustine to St Simons was the day's leg. No storms and relatively flat seas.

 There's a reason they call this area, Golden Isles

Saint Simons/Brunswick is Mel's hometown and here she had family waiting. I took this time to do a little business and catch up with chores on the boat. Mel visited the farmers market and brought home a few pounds of Georgia shrimp and fresh vegetables.

Next stop: Hilton Head. We've never been into Hilton Head, always passing it by saying that someday we should stop and check it out. We'll, we did and it really is a nice place.
We choose Harbour Town Yacht Basin to tie up. It's a great marina, though last year's Hurricane did extensive damage that they are still working through. We took a few days off and explored the island a bit, though the storms were back in full force giving up only half days before running us back in the boat. Still, we liked the area and we'll be back.

After a few days we chose a time to run out Calibogue Sound with good tide and pointed north toward Charleston.
Another fairly easy run with calm seas ended where we are now. Charleston City Marina.
We couldn't have timed it better. We eased in and called the marina, they asked us to turn around in the basin and back down about 500 feet on the inside of the Megadock. Slack tide allowed this to happen without incident.

We've done a bit of sightseeing while here. Took a buggy ride through downtown to see all the historic sights, a young fellow narrated the tour, and did a nice job of it.

Of course, we passed by Ft Sumter on the way in.

As we entered Charleston Harbor, in my mind (as there often is), a song played over and over again.  I've heard Randy Newman's Sail Away many times and always liked the melody and the hook, but I never really listened to it until I heard Etta James bring it home, as only Etta James can do.

On this day, the lyrics are painfully ironic:

In America you'll get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You'll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It's great to be an American

Ain't no lions or tigers ain't no mamba snake
Just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cake
Everybody is as happy as a man can be
Climb aboard little wog sail away with me

In America every man is free
To take care of his home and his family
You'll be as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree
You're all gonna be an American

Sail away sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
Sail away-sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay

We'll be leaving soon, maybe tomorrow, depends on weather. We've realized that time aboard is good for us no matter where we are. We're still heading north, maybe the Chesapeake, maybe not. Point A and Point B is the same place to us and that would be Jupiter.

We'll be back when we get there.

One thing is for sure, Istaboa is a happy boat.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Catchin' Up

Over a cup of coffee on a peaceful Sunday morning I realized it's been a while since our last post. There hasn't been anything unusual to speak of, almost everything we did we've done before and written about it, but there are a few photos to share so I'll just write around them.

We're now back in the USA... nothing's changed here and we won't go into that. It is nice to be back; it always is. We sometimes complain, but there really is no place like home.

Our first stop was Ft Lauderdale.
Istaboa's been kind to us on this trip, however there were (as always) some minor fixes needing to be done and we can always count on Craig at Hogan Marine to knock 'em out quickly — so Bahia Mar was our first stop. We did a little technical work there at the marina and caught up with old friends — then to take advantage of flat seas, we eased north.

Now, temporally home at Old Port Cove and continuing on with those fixes: the cook range needs attention, this time of year the ACs can always stand a flush , and some technical stuff.
We've been experimenting with a new more powerful onboard cellular network and it's feasibility in the islands and offshore. Heading to Ft Lauderdale from Cat Cay we saw Verizon Wireless at about 15 miles out from the US coast and connected at 12. Not too bad. This same system hooked us up well at Great Harbour, Highbourne, Nassau, and Cat Cay where we enjoyed fast and relatively inexpensive internet most of the time. (It is Batelco)

This trip has been both interesting and entertaining. Compass, for the most part, was peaceful little Compass, though while there we observed the most chaotic 4th of July we've ever experienced at any marina. It seems the marina was double booked and all the boats showed up at the same time.
Needless to say many unhappy folks, mostly mega-yachts, who thought they had reservations, were turned away. Forced to anchor wherever, the radio was buzzing with heated exchanges, expletives, then finally resignation as the long boats faded into a stunning Exuma sunset... later the real fireworks started — Literally.

"Freedom", a very large yacht we've known for sometime eased in and tied up. As soon as they were secure the crew started unloading fireworks. That night, to the delight of those with a slip at the marina, a massive fireworks display took place.

The Real Stars of Compass Cay

Compass is like a third-world fishbowl. The haves, the havealots, and the havemores, all spend time together enjoying Compass's simple and primitive beauty. However, all that comes without any modern conveniences other than electricity and water; no restaurants, no store, no bars here, but if you ever wanted to swim with sharks...

                             Jamal Rolle
The locals from Black Point who help out at the marina are mostly affable fellows who have learned an attentive attitude accompanied by a smiling face is compensated handsomely. They treat us all the same; sports stars, movie stars, super models, and plain folks like us are all tourists to these guys.
The young man to the left is Jamal, son of Tucker Rolle. Everybody likes Jamal.

Our old friend, Tucker.
This man is not only a legend in the Exumas, he's known and loved by many all over the world. When the rich and powerful, famous and infamous come to the Exumas they make it a point to stop by Compass Cay to spend time with Tucker.

Tuck's a quiet reserved man who can be hard to get to know, though once he learns to trust you, all agree, he's a hell of a nice guy.  His island is your island if you respect it. With that respect, you will become family.

Leaving Compass, we followed our tracks back to Highbourne. We stayed there for 3 or 4 days before  moving on to Nassau.
Highbourne, a nice resort, is a good way to start the inevitable process of re-acclimating to civilization. It's a remote little island, although there is a little grocery, a restaurant, and a few killer beaches.

Next stop, Nassau with all the trappings of a large city. We like Nassau, in many ways it reminds us of Memphis.

I'll stop here for now, there's several more photos to post. So more later.

No, not done yet. We'll start heading north soon — not sure where that will take us — as far as we want.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

Exumas From Above

Flying out of Staniel Cay on a clear day - The Blues!

A post shared by Bob Taylor ~ (@istaboa_pics) on

A post shared by Bob Taylor ~ (@istaboa_pics) on

Big Major's Spot Anchorage
A post shared by Bob Taylor ~ (@istaboa_pics) on

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Photos and Thoughts of Compass Cay

Yes, we're still in the Exumas and, yep, life remains pretty good.

There are probably those who wonder how we maintain our sanity while hanging out static, tied up at Compass for weeks, even months. And we admit, sanity is subjective, but this thing we all do on boats is not exactly rational behavior. — is it?  So we do what makes us happy at the moment.


We've said it before. One must be conscious of what it is to be at Compass Cay. It's an acquired taste if you're lucky enough. We're down with that, we do feel fortunate to be here and we're always sad to leave. Those who have put in extended time here at Compass will understand.

This trip has had several unavoidable diversions, forcing us to redraw our cruising plans.
Future plans? Nothing is off the table yet - everything is back on - like rebooting, we're mulling over our intentions for the next few months with fresh eyes wide open.

But, while here we've been busy; island busy, anyway.
Good news for those who cruise this area. A whole new source of less expensive and relatively fast island communications has become available so we're puzzling over how to extend that out to the family island marinas.

In the meantime, the sky has offered up some spectacular vistas and island time has allowed me the opportunity to get out and use my camera.

Last night was such an occasion. The bugs made it an adventure, but I quickly snapped a few photos before seeking protection in the boat.

This week starts with an early flight back to Ft Lauderdale for a meeting with the new owners of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. An exciting opportunity that's worth pursuing.

Next week, we may be forced to compile existing data and make a decision on when and where to head next. There's another island wanting our services so that's a factor. Another consideration: we've still got a hankering to do some cruising up the east coast.

As always, no decision will be made before it's time.

Happy Problems

Yes, as previously stated • Life's good

A little work, some play, island zen, and we end our days with scenes like these.

Who could complain?

And meanwhile
Summer turns to fall
Roses bloom and fade
Life goes on - You can measure it all
By the difference that it made
Mac McAnally


Monday, June 19, 2017

Exumas Return ~ Exhale...

It's nice to be back; though there was a disturbing moment as we walked onto the boat hearing a highwater alarm.  But, barring a faulty primary bilge pump, a quick look revealed all was well.
Yeah, but still -

Our stay in Jupiter was longer than we had expected. After all that had happened there was a lot to be taken care of and high-speed internet / reliable cell phone service certainly made life more manageable.

Finally, after a week's stay, we caught a ride to Ft Lauderdale and hopped a little Watermakers plane back to Staniel Cay. Tucker had dispatched a small boat to pick us up and the last leg was a beautiful ride back to Compass and Istaboa.

Crew Istaboa - Happily boarding the Watermakers flight back to the Exumas
(Thanks to Norman, from Chicken Cay, for the pic)

So, literally, at the end of the day, we're back on the boat; a bit tired, but happy to be home. For the first time in more than a week we've stopped to take a breath. Then an apt finale to a week that has only gradually improved — we look out to the west where another amazing Exuma sunset was painting a sky that would've made Maxfield Parrish envious.


It's going to take a couple of days to re-acclimate and the wind is puffing up a good blow — so we'll be here a while.

After that?
Who knows...

It's nice to be back

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Islands Interuptus

Just as we'd eased into the restful state of mind that being in the Exumas brings about, the phone rings and reality says hello.

Life's been good. Lots of old acquaintances have surfaced, some we see often around Jupiter, others we haven't caught up with in years. The weather's been nice, hot, but better than you'd expect for June.

And to keep my mind from lulling into total cognitive atrophy, we've enjoyed taking on a little technology refresh project on a nearby island.

 The famous "Pickle Barrel Houses" 

Of course a stay at Compass Cay wouldn't be complete without a visit by Beacon Won. Capt Bruce and Sheila brought in a charter crew from Memphis. It was interesting to see folks from home all the way down here in the Exumas. They were shocked to see homeys as well.

From aboard Beacon Won... another stunning Compass Cay Sunset

As always, Capt. Bruce invited us over for a Fried Turkey Dinner... and as always a feast aboard Beacon Won was enjoyed

Just as we were about to say how life couldn't possibly get any better... Reality rings.

I'm awfully sad to write, Mel's mom has passed away. Not a tragedy, more of a blessing, but sad all the same.
Oddly enough, here on Compass, just a few years back, I got the same phone call regarding my own mother.
As we did then, we'll do now... Friends will run us down Pipe Creek to Staniel Cay where we'll catch a plane back to the states to take care of what we must.

So it's off to Florida where we'll switch gears and clothes then drive up the coast to Brunswick, Ga for services.

Life goes on ±

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dylan Speaks

And articulates like he sings — his words like his lyrics — draw images

Truly worth your time to listen to in it's entirety -