Saturday, March 31, 2018

Peep Show

Marina Cam at Herrington Harbour South Marina. One of the many cams the good folks at HHS had onSpot install. Watching these birds build their nest is fascinating.
Thanks Herrington Harbour - Very Cool

Link to other onSpot wifi Marina Cams

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Winding Down - Brunswick, GA

Brunswick, GA — Tied up at St Simons; a Golden Isles sunset reflecting off the sound, pelicans and gulls ending the day doing what it is they do, all appears peaceful. Though, just a couple days ago, Thanksgiving Day, this was a different picture all together. A damp northerly wind was blowing hard and there was no sunset to be enjoyed, just gray, grayer, then darkness and cold.

In several ways, this trip is winding down.

Leaving Beaufort: With the winds blowing and seas in the unsettled state they were in, the choices were to run the ICW or stay put. Staying put was no longer an option, so it was decided, the long plod down the ICW with all it's bumps and curves was the way home.
When piloting a deep drafted boat, motoring south and winding down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, one must contend with the many twists and turns, there are shoals around every ocean inlet to be taken seriously, and almost every mile of the way is some obstacle to cope with. Most are not as precarious as reputed (ActiveCaptain), but all bets are off, you're compelled to give these complications your attention or one of them could make for a very bad day.  Stress.
(Hindsight is 20-20: Unless there's an unusually low tide, if you stay in the center of the channel there's little to worry about.)
The stretch between Beaufort and Cape Fear is crossed with low hanging bridges that must be lifted or swung to pass through, all these spans across the waterway are seemingly set up on schedules that are timed to penalize any boat requiring an opening—of course a fierce current is always pushing as you approach them and the incommunicado bridge tender's watch invariably runs 5 minutes slow.

Needless to say, if one has taken on the mindset to get home, this is a chore, and this portion of the ICW is not much for stopping and smelling the roses so...  Push.

Past the Cape Fear River and back into the ICW, St James Marina is just a short distance past Southport. A nicely manicured marina with an excellent restaurant onsite.

The Southport to Georgetown, SC run is not nearly as dreadful as it's reputation. The ICW water's fairly deep and there are fewer shoals to overthink. Once pass Myrtle Beach, other than strong currents, this bit is not bad at all. It's nice, actually.
Osprey Marina is a good stop. Tucked back into a forest of moss draped low country cypress trees is a little sanctuary of a marina. A pleasant stop that's out of the current and staffed by nice folks who are happy to give you a hand tying up.
Back in the ICW and a full day's run in deep water is Georgetown, SC. Harborwalk Marina is the nicest and closest marina to the restaurants and shops that Georgetown has to offer. A charming little town that's at least worth a couple of days.

The next morning, looking across the harbor at a stack towering over a nearby mill, the winds have settled, the smoke bellows straight up towards the clouds.
The run out Winyah Bay and into the ocean is uneventful as is the run into Charleston and all the way  up to Ashley Marina.

The winds were relenting and the seas stayed somewhat still. Leaving Charleston Bay and easing out the inlet, all remains calm and the next leg down to Hilton Head is an easy day.

Passing by the 140' Sailing Vessel ~ Athena

Soon however, the blow's back and the affected seas have picked up considerably; the pleasant days in the ocean now turn less than so, but still better than working the ICW.

The next run, Hilton Head to Brunswick, offered up quite a bit more texture.

Plowing away from Hilton Head's Calibogue Sound and out Tybee Roads, the approach was rough and busy. Turning south, the northerly winds and the following sea brought on nice speed; St Simons Sound got closer sooner than expected.

That same strong north to south wind created continuously tall nasty breakers that were crossing the channel all the way past St Simons Island. About 7 miles of contending with beam bashing seas makes this a less than pleasurable approach.

Though once it's done - It's done

Easing under the Sidney Lanier Bridge you'll find Brunswick Landing Marina. A nice community of a marina that's quite large. - Free Beer 24/7 - Nirvana for many.

= = = = = =

We stayed at Brunswick Landing for a few days and had a nice time while getting a bit of work done. We've tied up here before but it was a long time back. 14 years ago we brought the original Istaboa, a 62 Offshore, to downtown Brunswick and celebrated Melonie's mother's 80th birthday. The place hasn't changed much since then... just the names and faces.

 Thanksgiving was aboard. Excellent Roast Beef for dinner then a few episodes of the Netflix series, Alias Grace. Brunswick Landing did put on a nice Thanksgiving feast for the boaters, but it was rainy and cold out so we decided to lay low with the pups and enjoy ourselves.
We've now moved over to Morningstar Golden Isles Marina to stage our departure for Florida as soon as possible.

Brunswick marks the end of a long nautical business trip. A campaign to visit the increasing number of marinas that we do business with as well as those we'd like to build a relationship. We've caught up with many old friends and made several new contacts. It's time to stop for a while and take stock of our labors.
This little marina WiFi company is a win for all those it touches; we're proud of onSpot and it's service.

This trip is also winding down for Mel and me.
Personally, I'm ready to be back home in Jupiter. To walk with my dogs on the warm sunny beach and sleep in a king size bed, to spend all the time I want in a large hot shower and have a car at my disposal; all the trappings that Mel and I happily left behind last May.
Mel is not quite as pleased as I am about tying up Istaboa, but me thinks she'll enjoy all these things as well ... in time.

This life is in our DNA, it's not a hobby, nor an item to scratch off a bucket list, but sometimes, stepping away makes it all just that much better.

Something I wrote a few years back:
And, yes I know, there are those who feel there's no better life than full time living aboard our boats, however we've been doing this cruising thing for many years and we like to think of the boat life as a dream being realized. Though sometimes, for us anyway, it's fun to hop on the bus and say, "there's no place like home", and our dream remains floating somewhere awaiting our return. 

So yes, we're happy to be heading home and now, conveniently, the boat is just minutes away and we see it almost every day.
There are a few projects needed to be done; a radar that blinks, electrical gremlins, but all in all, since the start of this trip, Istaboa's been as kind to us as we've been to her. She likes to be run and enjoyed; we've been doing just that.

Like us, she also enjoys warm weather and Jupiter's pleasant winter is getting closer each day.

There are Palm Trees in our future.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

South To Beaufort, NC

It's a cold morning in Beaufort. The wind is brisk and out of the North, conditions we've not felt since leaving Memphis last winter. We actually broke out the jeans, sweatshirts, down jackets, and—oh my god—socks.

For the last couple of days it's been rainy too. We've mentally kicked ourselves for not going with the original plan of spending one night and continuing on South.
On the other hand, after a few hours here, it quickly became apparent that Beaufort's a bonafide boaty little town, a good hang. It would be shame to leave Beaufort and not get acquainted - as usual we caved to impulse - glad we did.

The first 2 days of our stay the weather was perfect. 72º and sunny

The walk from the marina to downtown is through a picturesque little historic neighborhood. Only about 3 blocks and you're on Front Street, lined with waterfront shops and small restaurants that overlook the harbor and town docks. Our first walkabout took us to Spouter Inn where lunch was excellent, but after some investigation we discovered the Beaufort Cafe. A local favorite.
Not on Front Street, not a place most tourist would seek out, not expensive—however, The Beaufort Cafe is certainly worth the long walk down Cedar Street to experience this genuine Beaufort style diner. The best Shrimp and Grits we've ever been served. $8.95

Yep, we really like it here, however the run down has been appealing as well.

As is always the case, leaving Atlantic Yacht Basin is good; we've been here far too long.
When we come and go we always stop and contribute to the AYB Fund, though I must admit the last few trips it has seemed like paying the troll to cross the bridge. But, it is what it is and AYB can be invaluable sometimes so we don't burn that bridge.

Finally, after almost 2 weeks, AYB dude is driving in the last screw as I'm warming up the engine, waiting on the bridge to open—then we're off.

Deciding to bypass the customary stop at Coinjock, we keep pushing to Alligator River Marina. This makes for a longer day, but we really like this little marina in the middle of nowhere. Rumors are there's not enough water for a boat such as ours, but,  as rumors often are ...  that's not accurate at all. FYI: Leaving the channel there's good depths all the way to the entrance of the marina. Then, it does shallow up to 8' right up to the long transient dock. The gas station has excellent gas station food. Yes, it's surely bad for you, but - are we actually doing this stuff for our health? Buy some fried chicken, it travels well.

Full Moon Over Alligator River

Next stop is Belhaven's River Forest Marina. We stayed here for the first time on our way up this year and found it to be one of those places we'll always visit.  It seems many boats pass by River Forest and go to Belhaven Marina because it's closer to town, but Henry gives us a golf cart to make the short run to Spoon River Restaurant and we can use the cart all day.

Sticking with our plan this time, we stayed here for a couple of days.

On our second day, a pleasant Indian Summer day, all was good until a boat full of gentlemen came roaring in to get fuel and waked the crap out of us.  Slamming us against the docks, and badly bending our boarding ladder, we weren't too happy, nor was the dockmaster . After a few words, with difficulty due to the captain being Argentinian, we got the appropriate insurance info and a possible resolution. We'll see. Geico?

Leaving Belhaven, promising to come back, we made our way South unsure where we might end the day. 

We made a call to Morehead City Docks, but they wouldn't commit to a T-Head slip - even though there was one available. At the time our plan was rise early and head outside to wherever. We've been held here in the past by a strong unrelenting current pressing us against the dock for hours; we didn't want to repeat that so a T-Head was important to us. No joy from Morehead City Docks so we started looking for something else.

Mel did some research, made a few calls, and at the last minute we pass Jarrett Bay to go to Homer Smith's Docks. Not doing any homework, we're unsure where to get off the ICW and into the marina, but after a call and some fuzzy directions, we make it in and tie up. 

Homer Smith's Docks and Marina is a perfectly descriptive name. Homer Smith was an old time fish broker, looking around you'll see his docks, crowded with shrimp boats and fishing boats; where we are out at the end is the marina portion. It's small but the service is good and attitude here is refreshing. First they give you - for free - 2 pounds of shrimp that you just witnessed being taken off a boat, then they offer to let you buy more at $6.00 a pound so we bought 6 pounds. Floating docks, loaner car, usable WiFi that's soon to be excellent, we've found our, "always stop at", marina in Beaufort.

The next morning, planning to crank up and leave early, I walk up to find dense fog that's only getting worse.

Knowing we'd need every bit of daylight to make it to Masonboro Inlet and down to Southport, we quickly realize that staying put for another day will be a good idea.
It was, and around 11:00 AM the sun burned off the fog and presented us a glorious day, the perfect conditions to explore our surroundings.
Checking the weather for the next day, it was forecast to be the same or worse in the morning. So, it was decided to give Beaufort yet another day. And we did—and a week later—we're still here.

Not entirely because of weather; we really like this marina a lot, just the smell of the place pleases our senses, and they offer a weekly rate after 4 days stay making the next few days were free.

Watching the shimpers and fishermen come in to unload is fun. They're a friendly bunch, always happy to strike up a conversation as they go about refueling or unloading the days catch.

Staying here is being backstage at the fish docks.

Today, the weather's howling and outside the Atlantic is building huge seas.

Tomorrow, our time's up, we'll untie and head south on the AICW.  Not much fun, but it's time to go.
Hopefully, the seas will soon subside and we can point outside towards Charleston, Hilton Head, Brunswick, then home as fast as we can go.

We've had a great time this year. Worked hard, but enjoyed doing it, got a lot accomplished while living the life we love. Probably stayed at more marinas in more cities than we ever have and that's been a blast.

We left Jupiter in May with a plan to go to the Bahamas for a couple of months then return. It's now November and we've not made it home yet.

We always seem to know when it's time to go home.

It's time.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saying Bye To The Bay

We've had a great time on The Chesapeake this year and we're somewhat sad to say it's time to head South. Though on this day, the weather is beautiful and it's forecast to be this way for a while longer, we know cold and colder is inevitable — so...

This year was just a continuation of our normal cruising habits, we carried on by revisiting our favorite places and discovering a few new ones, making new friends while catching up with a few old amigos.
We've really enjoyed connecting with Jenny and Ted, our running buddies aboard Southern Star. Jenny, a Kiwi, gave us Yanks an excellent tour of our nation's capitol and it's history. We're all hoping to cross paths again before they start their long and epic passage back home to New Zealand. Yes, as it ofttimes happens, the last minute decision to ditch plans and run up the Potomac to DC was one of our all time better redirects. A large time was had, a capitol idea. (pun intended)

Mostly good experiences and nothing but great memories.

It truly has been a pleasant trip and at this point in our boating life, pleasant is what we're looking for. No, our run's not over; we've still got a lot cruising to do. As written in an earlier post, point A and point B is the same place to us and that would be Jupiter, but who knows where we'll indulge an impulse and, again, alter plans for the better. With all that said, we do look forward to going home and spending some time by the beach. Life's pleasant there as well.

And then there's Memphis —

We'll be adding more pics as we get the time and motivation.

Adios, Chesapeake — Good fortune and good health allowing, we'll do it again.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Plans Change

Waking early and going up top to put together a cup of coffee, I take a look out the window and see the winds have indeed stopped blowing. The cool temp and warm water has coalesced to paint this image of a foggy morning inside Solomons Island Harbor.

During our last couple of days at Solomons, we put together a loose plan to run down to Deltaville then on to York River to hang for a couple of weeks. Eventually, we'd motor to Atlantic Yacht Basin where we'd officially put an end to the Bay and have a bit of work done before starting our return South.

With that idea in mind, we left and made way out to the Bay. It was another nice soft day and the forecasts predicted the weather to hold for a week.

We'd been running for a few hours when the radio crackled and a friendly Kiwi accent was heard, it was Southern Star.
We asked about their time at Trawlerfest and they asked about our plans and told us they were about to turn and head up the Potomac to spend a few a days in Washington, D.C.; I could see on AIS they were just a few miles in front us.
I told them our intentions and said hopefully we'd all meet up somewhere soon, wished them safe travels, and signed off.

I guess it was somewhere around Point No Point Light when Mel and I started rethinking our plan... then at about the same time we both said, WTF. We'd actually thought about DC a few weeks ago, but scrapped the idea due to business in S. Carolina. However, the Hilton Head project had been rescheduled, so.
Quickly looking over charts of The Potomac, we did some calculations, discussed things a bit, then decided to forego the current plan, (typical for us), and like Southern Star,  head to DC.

A right turn at The Potomac was made.

For the sake of the pups, we found a little marina that wasn't too far up the Potomac and made arrangements to stay for a night.

White Point Marina

This little marina reminds us of some of "off the beaten path" marinas we loved to visit while running the Tennessee River. I'd forgotten the restful sound of quiet.
As the sun set and the moon rose, not much was resonating other than a skein of geese honking in the distance, an occasional fish breaking the surface, and the ringing in my ears.

The next day we caught up to Southern Star and it was decided we'd both stop and anchor just up river from Quantico, VA. We set the anchor at a little state park where we dropped the dink and took the boys to shore for their biz. Leesylvania State Park.

Another nice night and another fat moon.

Rising early, we both pulled anchor and motored toward DC.

Mel and I have been cruising rivers for many years and, while we do find The Potomac to be a pretty river, we're just not too excited about it until we get closer to Washington. Then, we start to see things along the shore like the above pic.
George Washington's digs, Mount Vernon.

As we get closer, the Capitol building and the Washington Monument appear on the horizon. Now, we're interested.

So we finally pull into Washington Channel, tie up at Gangplank Marina, and wait for Southern Star to arrive. After much confusion we end up moving slips where we tied up next to Jenny and Ted.

Here's another story: Istaboa and brand new Bellingham Marine docks don't seem to get along. After tying up and attaching our power cord to the pedestal at Gangplank, we kill the electricity for whole dock. Needless to say we weren't very popular with the other boaters. A bit of a discussion ensues with the dockmaster about the source of the problem, ELCI type breakers, and their pros and cons. Eventually we're moved to the older section of the marina and just next to Southern Star; no problem there with power, all's well that ends well. This has happened to us before with these new Bellingham docks and their new highly sensitive breakers. It's our inverter that's at issue, however I do find it interesting that we don't have the same issue with new Technomarine docks we tie up to. I also find it interesting the Harbormasters at the marinas with these new Bellingham Marine docks are overly defensive when discussing them. (think Ft Pierce Municipal, Marathon Marina, Stock Island Marina)

There are a couple of fixes, though not cheap.


But I digress ... We've had a nice time in DC but, Damn! It's hard work being a tourist here. Averaging about 6 miles a day of walking amongst the swarms of sightseers has taken a toll on this old guy.

All in all, Washington is an amazing city and we've seen things that we always wanted to see. Maybe next time we'll stay a month. DC's worth a long stay.

 Now we're on the move again. The weather's being weird so plans are in flux  — Surprised?


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Deale, Maryland

Herrington Harbour North - Tracys Landing

Just a quick hop across the Bay, the run to Tracys Landing and Herrington Harbour North was an easy one. On our way, there was hardly a breath of wind, the Bay was flat and the sky was clear. We were in no hurry so we saved some fuel and took our time crossing ... a good day.
Being here on marina business, the staff gave us a nice T-Head slip with a clear view of the harbor's entrance. After tying up and shutting down we walked the boys and familiarized ourselves with this huge marina.
At first glance, Herrington Harbour North appeared to be a nice clean marina with old fixed docks and a boat yard; after spending some time there we soon realized the place is so much more than that.

This little clip was shot with my phone just off the back of the boat. Again, it was worth getting out of bed every morning to see this.

We really didn't do much other than what we came to do, nevertheless HHN is certainly nice place to knock around. We'd been to the South marina before but never made it over to the North side. Big Mistake.
Herrington Harbour North is a definite do over marina. The grounds and the facilities are beautiful.

This Cheney family owned marina has a quality and personality you won't find anywhere else on the Bay. They call it Central Maryland Charm; Mel and I tend to agree. Everyone's pleasant, the staff, the contractors, and management team are hospitable, and the boaters all seem genuinely happy to be here. During our stay, not a negative comment was heard about the marina or the whole facility.
The yard is immaculate and has the ability to lift boats up to 80 tons; the many onsite contractors and vendors can do about anything needed. I'd been told there were depth issues getting in, but we saw nothing less than 10' all the way to the docks.

The onsite restaurant is quite good and certainly convenient. A warm Sunday afternoon brought a pleasant walk to Dockside's for a dozen Blue Crab; they gave us 20 and they were some of the best we've had on the Bay.
Pickin' Crabs and watchin' football — Mel was in heaven.

Local favorites, The Brothers Osborne, recorded a video just across the creek from our slip at Skipper's Pier. Not being a big country fan, I'd never heard of these guys, but I've since been told they are more than just local favs.

Nice video —

Mix it with rum mmm mmm mm mm

So we stuck around for 4 days and really enjoyed ourselves while taking care of biz; we'll be back again and stay longer next time,  just for the fun of it.

On this Sunday morning, we're down the Bay at Solomons Island again. This place is really starting to feel familiar; the track lines on our charts have become thick with the frequent trips in and out.  The nice folks at Zahnizer's have come to know us as well and they always seem to find us a good spot to tie up.
Terri, the dockmaster, was just over tying on a fender for us. She didn't think we were aboard and took it upon herself to protect the boat from the strong winds that had started blowing.
Like I said, nice folks.

Across the way, the Krogens are stacking up. There must be a rendezvous coming up.

Not sure where to next, I guess we'll see when the wind quits blowing — it's been blowing like hell for two days and the weather's starting to cool off.

It's October already... Fall has fell... The days are getting shorter... Time flies...


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saint Michaels, Maryland

It must be Sunday morning...

Leaving Annapolis and heading for Saint Michaels, the weather was beautiful. It wasn't a sunny postcard day, instead; a muted, desaturated depiction of a day that made for a comfortable cruise and a few interesting photos. Mel and I have always enjoyed running from inside the boat on cloudy misty days; much the same way as our dead of winter boat trips on the Tennessee River, it's kinda like cruising through an old black and white movie.

On this day, the Bay was flat, the winds were light; sunless and foggy, but not uncomfortably so.

Relaxation was our only reason for visiting St Michaels and we certainly accomplished that.
No work on this stopover, just a good time visiting friends and exploring one of our favorite places.
Steve and Jane, long time friends from our days at Sunset Bay in Stuart, have created a beautiful home with views that pan the harbor entrance; so they saw us coming in to tie up. Their thoughtfully renovated house truly looks like a page torn from a Chesapeake Bay Magazine; not too big, just Eastern Shore cool. It was good to spend time with them again, they're awfully nice folks, as are most of the locals we met. We're finding friendly to be the norm up here in Maryland.
That night, we all sat for dinner at the marina's Crab and Steak House. The small town lifestyle of St Mikes was prevalent; everybody knew everybody and now, much thanks to Jane, they know us too.

Hanging out at St Mikes is like stepping back into time, everything is as it should be. The harbor has the appearance of a 19th century fishing village. Walking the dogs through the neighborhoods is like stepping back into the 50s until you pass one of the old churches, then you realize just how old the town really is.

After a couple of days, we moved over to the Harbour Inn Marina and it was good that we did.
The distant Hurricane Jose passed by and pushed the Bay waters up so high that St Michaels Marina was underwater. No danger but we couldn't have hopped off the boat without boots. (we have no stinking boots, we're from Florida)

Steve and Jane loaned us their car and we drove over to Oxford to check out Campbell's Boat Yard. Scott Kinney at DeMillo's Yacht Sales actually let us test drive a 41 Back Cove downeast style boat. An interesting boat that would make a good little Bay cruiser. Pretty too.

Dinner for our last night in town was at 208 Talbot. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was even casual enough for us in all our boatiness. (we've been out for 5 months and we're quite boaty) The restaurant's an old house on the main drag that's a local favorite and understandably so. The steaks were great, however the homemade ice cream?!

St Mikes is a always a good hang and we always leave here not wanting to. The Lindemanns showed us a really nice time and we'll always stop here when on the Bay.

As I write this... We're tied up in Deale, Maryland at Herrington Harbour North Marina — another new stop for us on the Chesapeake.

More about HHN later.


ps: Happy Birthday, Jane!!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


The Hurricane is over, Florida is busy rebuilding itself and quickly coming back to life, our home in Jupiter has returned to 100%, and now, we're back to doing what it is we do.  Currently, that's walkabout Annapolis.

Here, The weather's perfect.

We've spent quite a bit of time in Annapolis and we always find it interesting. The Annapolitans are  friendly folk. They seem to go out of their way to be kind to strangers. They love their city, boats, good food, and they don't seem to mind sharing all those things. We're grateful, we love all those things as well.

Everywhere you look is a photo that needs to be taken and I've taken quite a few.
The photo to the left is Back Creek. We were tied up at Port Annapolis before moving closer to town and Annapolis Yacht Basin. The Yacht Basin's pricey but worth spending a few bucks for a couple of days in the middle of all things Annapolis

Speaking of Hurricanes, before I forget — this link is to Southeast Cruisers' Net's list of marinas that have been affected by Hurricane Irma. Pretty useful.

A beautiful weekend with perfect weather brought out all kinds of vessels and their toys. The harbor was crazy busy.

So to better enjoy the day, we dropped the dink, loaded up the boys, and went out to join all those boaters doing the same.

Dinkabout Spa Creek

The end of another good day, the sun goes down.

This is truly a cool town, our kinda place. We always daydream about picking up stakes and moving here to enjoy the city and the convenient cruising lifestyle that living on The Chesapeake Bay allows. The weather is a disagreement, Mel likes the idea of seasons, I do too — if we could exclude winter.

We'll stick around another day to watch some football and probably do another dingy ride; tomorrow we're booked into St Micheals. Just a short ride over to the Eastern Shore, it's an altogether different experience. There are old friends at St Michaels and it'll be fun seeing them again, been a few years.

After a week of stress and worry brought about by Hurricane Irma, it's certainly relaxing to kick back and absorb Annapolis.

Unfortunately, we're forced to remain mindful of the new storms currently spinning out in the Atlantic. Right now there are 3 different disturbances that could become something to pay attention to.

As Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, once said.

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...”