Christmas in February???

                                              Some of the many local signs in Hope Town

So sorry, but just a few highlights from the holiday season (seems like forever ago now).  After arriving in the Bahamas, we headed to Hope Town and visited with the friends that we have made over the past couple of years.  We were early enough to see the annual BoxCar Derby, which was a real hoot.  Kids and adults took part and they close one of the more hilly roads.  It was a good way to spend an afternoon and see a different part of the island – also a good reason to drink beer on a sunny afternoon!

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This was our second Thanksgiving in the Bahamas – last year we didn’t cross until the Saturday of Thanksgiving week.  We celebrated in Hope Town with Sue & Garth, and our friends Will & Muffin, who are also from Annapolis.  Since there is no way a turkey will fit in our oven, we grilled Cornish hens instead – super yummy.  Dessert was Key Lime Pie from the local baker – Vernon, who runs a little grocery store and bakery in Hope Town.  So not exactly traditional fare, but everyone loved it.  We can seat six very comfortably in our cockpit – nothing like eating Thanksgiving dinner outside.  Make that seven – Hobie was hoping for some Cornish hen too!

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Moira and Mike flew into Marsh Harbor on December 4th; she wanted to be in the Bahamas to celebrate a “big” birthday on December 11.  We quickly took advantage of a good weather window to get us north.  We went to one of our favorite spots in the Abacos – Powell Cay – where Gary proceeded to get THIRTEEN lobsters.  It was work to get them all into our very packed freezer, but I made it happen.  Got to get them while you can.

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Moira had never been on a golf cart before, so we rented one for the day and buzzed around the island.

One of our favorite stops is Pineapples – a bar located in the town of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay.  Not sure if I have mentioned this before (I really need to re-read my blog from the beginning to check I’m not repeating myself!), but most of the bars and restaurants connected with the resorts have pools and they have no problem with you using the pool even if you’re not staying there.  Moira and I enjoyed sipping our Goombay Smash and sitting poolside.

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We took Moira and Mike back to Marsh Harbor where they reluctantly returned to the cold weather in Rochester.  Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco Island is a great place to get provisions, fishing supplies, and hardware needs and is only a short hope from Hope Town.  When we went ashore to the fishing store one day, we could hear the Abaconian Amazon parrots flying around.  After looking up in the general vicinity of the squawking, I found one of them sitting in a palm tree chowing down on the red berries almost right over our heads.  It holds special meaning to both of us to find a wild Amazon parrot, mainly because they are endangered almost everywhere (there’s about 50 different kinds of Amazon parrots), but also because Webster was an Amazon (double-yellow headed) who I had for 34 years.  So wonderful to see them in the wild!

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Dick and Kay arrived, bringing with them tons of fabulous meat for Christmas and New Year’s – steaks, chops, tenderloins, etc., and some great cheeses. Not to mention a bunch of boat stuff (as did Moira and Mike)!  Getting stuff delivered to the Bahamas directly is a real palaver (knew I would get that word worked into my blog eventually!), and it costs a fortune.  So we are very thankful when people visit and bring stuff with them.  Gary had to repack the entire freezer to get everything, and ice cubes were the sacrificial offering to make more room.  But we got it all in, thank goodness.  Dick and Kay had a real scare when they were flying from Nassau to Marsh Harbor (they flew Toronto to Nassau and then had a layover); after they had taken off, the pilot came on and told the passengers that not all the luggage had made it and some of it wouldn’t arrive till the next day.  Kay was in a panic thinking about all the defrosting meat!!  They were so relieved when it arrived with them.

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Of course we had to have yet another visit to Pineapples to visit the bartender, Yvonne.  She wears the most amazing make-up!  For Christmas she had red and green eye make-up and lipstick!

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Christmas is a wonderful season in the Abacos.  We went caroling around the town and visited the Christmas Village.  They had set up an “ice” rink for the kids (and Santa!) to skate on.  In reality, it was something akin to something called Starboard – basically a big sheet of very heavy duty plastic.  With a little fake snow swirling around, it really set the scene!

One day in Hope Town harbor, Kay, Sue and I were sitting in the cockpit making sea glass jewelry when a SEAPLANE came motoring into the harbor!!!  What a racket!!  And such a juxtaposition to see a plane right in the midst of all the boats and houses.  It calmly pulled up to one of the mooring balls, tied up, and then the captain and crew went ashore in one of the local boats.  Pretty amazing!

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Christmas dinner was surf and turf, with steaks from Toronto and lobsters caught by Gary.  Dinners on the holidays here are $98 a person, NOT including any drinks!!  So we are happy to have our feast on the boat.  Hobie made sure that I was making the Christmas napkins correctly.

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We joined in the street party on New Year’s Eve and then watched the New Year’s Eve Fireworks on Garth and Sue’s boat in Hope Town harbor, since they had the best seat in the house.

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On New Year’s Day, we had another great surf and turf dinner to celebrate Sue’s birthday.  Seems like all we do is eat and drink!!  (Am I complaining??)

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On January 2, we rented a power boat and the six of us zipped down to Tahiti Beach and down to Little Harbor for lunch.  It was a good way to visit there without taking the sailboats down there, and it was great to have six people split the rental fee!

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The boys got their testosterone fix with a power boat!

One day, while the boys were snorkeling, Kay and I took a beautiful long beach walk on Powell Cay.  Along the shore, we found a “semi-conscious” Spotted Sea Hare (having never seen one before, I could barely tell if it was dead or alive!).  We didn’t know what it was – it looked like a big yellowy-green slug with spots.  Kay ran off and got me a stick (just in case it was poisonous) and I carefully picked up the gelatinous glob and waded him out to deeper water.  It seemed happy to be in deeper water and started moving off.  Of course I didn’t have my camera with me, so I am including this picture out of my Reef Creature Guide (I have Reef Creature, Reef Fish and Reef Coral guides and a seashell guide on board – would die without those!).  Gary was very disappointed he missed it – it’s very difficult to find one of those.  We went back to look for it but it had disappeared.

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Dick had treated himself to a new GoPro camera for underwater shots, and we were super impressed with the quality of the photos.  Gary was so impressed that he bought one for ourselves, so there’s lots more underwater pictures in our future.  Here is a great one of a Moray Eel that Gary and Dick came across while diving for lobsters.

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On January 5, we said goodbye to Dick and Kay who headed back to a frozen wasteland in Toronto.  Ugh.  Now we just had to wait for a good weather window to cross to Eleuthera!  Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long, but I’ll leave that to the next blog.

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A huge thanks to Dick for all the shots he sent me – they are the ones in “frames”.

Backtracking ……….

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How would you like HER job????
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The classic yacht “Columbia” sailing in Newport, RI

Happy New Year to everyone!  Before I begin backtracking, I thought it would be helpful to mention the following.  I was recently reading my blog (to see where I left off!) on my cell phone and realized that all the pictures that had been so perfectly arranged into nice little circles and squares and in a certain order on the computer were all higgledy-piggledy and all over the place!  Very annoying (well, for me anyway, when you try to make something look a certain way, but maybe you thought that was just the way it was meant to be!).   I discovered that after opening the blog on the phone (or whatever you’re opening it on, for that matter), if I hit the title of the blog at the top of it (not the subject line of the email – the title of the blog within the blog), it relaunches it to the actual WordPress site and, miraculously, things appear the way they should.  So please try that now or next time if you want to see what it is supposed to look like.  Secondly, as a reminder, if you want to get an automatic email when I post, just go to the bottom right hand corner of the blog and you will see a “Follow Me” button.  Hit that, enter your email address, and the next time I post, you will automatically get the email notification.

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Anyway, this is my backtracking blog – ugh.  I was hopelessly behind in the beginning of December, and then we had too much fun with our visitors – my sister and brother-in-law, Moira and Mike, and then Dick and Kay, who spent Christmas and New Year’s with us.  Even before we got to the Bahamas, I hadn’t caught up with my diatribe.  And the blog is my best way for record keeping so that I can remember what we did and when.  So here we go – back to the ICW!!

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First, I thought I’d hit some of the highlights and lowlights of our last portion of the trip down the ICW since I left off last time (mostly because I have some nice pix from then).  One of the highlights was anchoring in a place called Minim Creek in South Carolina.  We anchored just before dusk quite a distance up the creek (a few other boats had already hogged the spots closer to the ICW channel).  But it was worth it – the sunset that evening and sunrise the next morning were just spectacular.  And there were birds EVERY-WHERE.  Roseate spoonbills, white ibis, great white egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, great blue herons, grackles, and probably tons more that I couldn’t get close enough to identify.  Taking pictures of the birds was tough in low light, unfortunately, but the sunset and sunrise the next morning were both spectacular.

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Our friends, Garth & Sue, in the anchorage at dusk
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Unbelievably beautiful!
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It’s like a painting
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Even Hobie admired the scenery (actually, he’s saying – “Are we close enough to shore so I can jump off this damn boat?????”)
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Sunrise the next morning

As you can see from the sunrise picture, we got an early start, only to run aground a few minutes later in soft mud.  So we re-anchored and had breakfast while we waited for the tide to come up.  I could have slept in!

Once again, we got to visit with our good friends Wayne and Gretchen in Beaufort, SC.

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Wayne out racing in his friend’s cat boat

We went for dinner and had these bizarre oyster clusters – you literally buy them by the bucket.  There are small ones growing on top of larger ones, layered, so to speak.  They were delicious!

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While we were in the Beaufort area, Wayne and Gretchen took us to Parris Island.  It is an Army base and really interesting.  You had to check in with proper documentation before they would let you on the island (felt like I was crossing into Canada!), and there were troops marching around and training everywhere.  Well worth a visit if you are down that way.  It was a pretty overcast, drizzly day, but we made the most of it.  Some weird looking trees, fungus and crabs on that island!!

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We had a few minor encounters with the mud bottom of the ICW along the way, but nothing to speak of.  Unfortunately, on November 7 in a stretch between Fernandina Beach and St. Augustine, we had what I call the “Bridge Day from Hell” (November 7).  Every one of them was a nightmare due to the extremely water levels.  Gary got impatient waiting for the water to drop at one bridge and, after waiting for about an hour and half and running aground and re-anchoring during the wait, he decided to make a run for it.  The bad part was that the bridge was under construction, and there was netting hanging down below it.  Although we would have cleared the bridge without the netting, our wind instruments snagged on the netting and that was the end of them!  Cha-ching, cha-ching – add that to the list!  So on we went, waiting and scraping under each bridge that day, but no further “injuries” to the boat.  The next day, we went outside and avoided a lot of bridges – something you can’t always do because of the weather, so we were lucky to catch a break.  Sue took pictures of us clearing one bridge.  As close as it looks, that one wasn’t a problem!

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Me – on the bow – looking up – like I could do anything about it!!!
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You hear clinking noises as the VHF antenna scrapes the bottom of the girders
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And breathe a sigh of relief as we get to the other side – looks like I fell to my knees in silent prayer!  Actually I was getting the dock lines out to tie up for diesel.

We stopped in Fernandina Beach on the way through – sort of an industrial spot, but I like this picture of Gary coming back to shore in the dinghy.

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When we got into the north part of Florida, we started looking at the weather forecast for the next week or so.  It was a really lousy forecast coming up – a tropical depression that could potentially turn into a hurricane.  That meant we had to boogie down the Florida coast to the West Palm area as quickly as possible so that we could cross before the depression became an issue.  So we flew through Florida; long days where we arrived at anchorages just before the sun set.  Normally, we like to stop to see friends in New Smyrna Beach and Vero Beach, and sometimes we cross the state to see our friends, Stan and Shirley in Homosassa, and visit our bird Nicki (who is doing well, BTW, and is now in an enclosure with four females!).  Unfortunately, Mother Nature prevailed so we had to skip all of that.

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Pix of Nicki in his new enclosure with his girlfriends, sent from the sanctuary

We knew we needed to do one last big provisioning before we crossed to the Bahamas.  Fortunately, our very gracious friends and long-time cruisers, Bill and Linda, live in Jensen Beach, very close to Stuart, and also close to where we planned to depart for the Bahamas.

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All three of us were in for a special treat – Linda and Bill invited us to stay overnight in their guest house.  They have a beautiful home, complete with pool and hot tub (which was a huge treat since we miss ours from home), and a nice guest house which Hobie really enjoyed!!

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He’s not toooooo spoiled!

 

They were so accommodating and drove us around to Sam’s Club, the liquor store, the grocery store, the pet store, etc., etc.  We bought eight cases of Hobie’s special veterinary cat food – $1.90 a can in the States, $4.25 in the Bahamas!  Four cases of wine, three cases of beer (should have bought more of that – the cheapest we have found so far is $53 a case!!), all the things that cost so much more in the islands – beef, paper products, cereal, potato chips – the list is a long one.  And cash – you can’t forget to get cash, since banks are few and far between in the Bahamas and the ATM charges are pretty steep.  US dollars and Bahamian dollars are on par, which makes life easy.  We were also supposed to pick up our new wind instrument there, but the USPS, although they guaranteed delivery to Bill and Linda’s house the day before we left, did not come through.  That is a really long, dragged out story that needs to be told over several glasses of wine.  Needless to say, Gary was not happy about crossing the Gulf Stream without wind instruments, but we had no choice.  Fortunately, we were doing the crossing with Garth and Sue, so they could provide information if needed.

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So, after a lot of dashing around, we crossed to the Bahamas on November 13 – our earliest crossing ever. Our crossing wasn’t bad (although we’ve had better!) – it started out kind of yucky at 6:30 am with big waves and breeze out of the south east, where the weather forecast had promised to have winds more out of the south.  We all (including Hobie) doubled down on the meclizine, so at least we weren’t seasick, although Hobie was not a happy camper at all.  After a while, it leveled out, then got worse again, then it was fine for the last third of the trip as we got closer to shore.

 

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UP we go!
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And DOWN we go!  Sue took these pix from her boat

We were very happy to arrive in the Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End on Grand Bahama Island, with our friends Garth and Sue not far behind.  The boat needed a good wash down to get all the salt off it – it was coated!  We made the mistake of going to the local beach bar for a celebratory Goombay Smash – until we found out they were $11 each!  Needless to say, we only had one.

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The beach at Old Bahama Bay

After a wonderful morning swim in the pool and a walk along the beach while we waited for high tide the next day, we were off to Great Sale Cay through the very shallow Indian Cut, but we got through without incident, following our track from last year.  As soon as we got to Great Sale, Gary was off to lobster hunt.  He came back with two lobsters, which we shared with Garth and Sue.  Yum!  Welcome back to the Islands!

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Hobie watching the “big cats” on TV!!!

 

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Christmas Card 2018I swear that I didn’t stage this photograph – I was walking along the beach on Farmer’s Cay last year, and this little guy was just lying there.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!  My apologies for being so out of touch and out of date with the blog; I have started to work on a new one and am trying to catch up.

We are spending Christmas and New Year’s in the Abacos in the northern part of the Bahamas.  Christmas will be at Green Turtle Cay and New Year’s at Hope Town.  We have Dick and Kay from Toronto spending the holidays with us, and it is nice to have friends to share them with.

Hobie, Gary and I are all doing well and hope that all of you are too.  The holidays are the hardest time to be away from family and friends, and we miss each and every one of you.  Hope your Christmas is merry and bright, and the new year is happy and, most importantly, HEALTHY.  Take care and stay in touch – we love hearing from you!  M&G&H xoxo

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All dressed up for the holidays in his new bow tie (he matches the new pillows down below!)

Third Time’s a Charm!

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View from our anchorage in Back Creek, Annapolis

Hard to believe, but here we go again – our third trip south to the Bahamas.  The past few weeks in Annapolis went by so quickly.  We were lucky to find an absolutely perfect anchorage, where there was very little boat traffic and great protection from the remains Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

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Here is Hurricane Michael seen from our weather app called Windy

For both, we saw wind (but nothing more than 20 knots), rain (keeps the boat clean) and rising water levels (plenty of chain out, so no worries there), so we were perfectly happy.

During our stay, our good friends Todd and Linda Hiller lent us their spare car, which was a godsend.  One night, they brought their power boat alongside and came aboard for dinner.  Their daughter, Kaitlyn, hopped on our paddleboard and had fun paddling around the anchorage.  Hobie thought he had got his own private yacht and happily jumped on to the power boat and made himself at home.

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Our boat is packed within an inch of itself, from canned food to meat, veggies and fruit.  Provisioning is much easier now that (1) I have the big separate freezer, and (2) I have a system on my cell phone where I record what is stored in every bin.  During our Annapolis stay, I made new throw cushion covers for the main cabin, and we bought new throw rugs since the rubber backing was starting to degrade (poor Hobie was wiping out when he had one of his scat attacks, which was pretty amusing, actually!).  So I feel like we have “remodeled” and have a fresh start for our third trip to the Bahamas.

So off we went on October 18 – a bit later than planned due to all the weather delays – first to Solomon’s Island, which is our usual first stop out.  Sue and Garth are traveling with us once again on their boat, Jabulani, and Sue took this fabulous shot of our boat in the morning mist as we got ready to pull anchor.

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Then it was off to to Deltaville, VA, where we saw Anne, but not Jonathan (miserable cold!), and had a great dinner at a new restaurant called “The Table”.  From there we headed to Hampton, VA, where we connected with our good friend, Carolyn, who was nice enough to ferry us around to the grocery store and West Marine.  There’s always something that we need!  After two nights at Hampton at a marina (waiting out some crummy weather), we headed off through Norfolk and in to the ICW.  Mile Zero!  There were some interesting warships lined up in Norfolk.

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Since a lot of boats had waited for the storm to go through in the Hampton/Norfolk area, it was a real bottleneck at the bridge.  To top it off, both railroad bridges were lowered while we were passing through, which really delayed us.  Can’t ever tell when something like that is going to happen – and here we thought we had an early start!  The result was a big bunch up of boats, all jockeying for position at the bridges as they opened.  Gary was chomping at the bit and trying to get away from the pack, which thankfully we could do with the 110 hp turbocharged engine.  Garth and Sue weren’t so lucky and got stuck mid pack.

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That night, we anchored off Buck Island, near Coinjock – all by ourselves.  Very peaceful and calm.  Both the sunset and sunrise were spectacular.

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Then we were off to Belhaven.  These places are now like familiar friends to us.  It is nice to be back in the places we know as we make our way down the ICW.  Belhaven is like a throw back to an earlier time of small American towns.  If it weren’t for the new Mercedes parked in the street, you would think this was 1950’s American.

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Unfortunately, Belhaven and many of the surrounding towns were hit hard by the hurricanes.  Florence was particularly painful.  We went for breakfast in town that morning, and the woman serving us said that they had 35 inches of water in the restaurant.  They had just reopened two weeks ago.  But other residual mud and muck in the street and some stores and restaurants still closed (our favorite restaurant, Spoon River, still under wraps), they have done a remarkable job of cleaning up after the storms.

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Belhaven Police Department – check out the barbecue grill at the end of the porch!

The next night we spent at an anchorage in Adams Creek, and then it was off to Mile Hammock, which is in the Camp LeJeune military base.  Helicopters and armored tanks and humvees were all part of the scenery.  Noisy, but not for long.  We literally left before the sun came up, and it was very nerve wracking to move along in the pitch dark, looking for red and green buoys.  Thank goodness for the chart plotter!  But we had no choice.  We either had to move out at 6 am to get to the bridge two hours before high tide, or else we would have had to wait until late morning to get going as the tide was going back down.  And since the weather was getting crummy in the early afternoon, we knew we couldn’t afford to wait for long.  So there we were – in the pitch black, keeping our eyes peeled – stressful!  Fortunately, the sun appeared like magic before we got to the bridge, and we got underneath it, dragging our VHF antenna, as expected.

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The sun coming up behind us as we make our way to the first bridge of the day

The rest of the day was spent trying to coordinate the half hour and hourly openings of draw bridges.  We were able to drag our feet at one bridge to give Garth and Sue a few more minutes to catch up and make it through.  Some bridges open on the hour and half hour, but some only open on the hour.  It is bad enough to wait a half hour for the next opening, but to wait an hour when you’ve only missed the opening by a minute or two is a real killer!  Especially with yucky weather on the horizon.

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Carolina Beach Inlet looking out over the Atlantic Ocean

We approached our anticipated stop in Carolina Beach, NC, where we had reserved a mooring ball for both us and Garth and Sue.  Unfortunately, it was not to be, as there was no enforcement whatsoever in place, and boats had picked up all the available balls, even without a reservation.  We were not happy and wasted a lot of time on the phone trying to determine whether anyone was going to show up and correct the problem.  To make a long story very short, no one did, and we ended up anchoring for the night very close to the mooring field.  It is very unsettling to have made plans and then find that you can’t rely on them.  High winds and thunderstorms were anticipated that evening and through the night, which is one of the reasons we even booked a mooring ball to begin with.  Needless to say, the Town of Carolina Beach (who runs the mooring area) got an earful.  But we were happy it was a protected area, and we stayed safely anchored the whole night.

The weather has been so unlike any weather we have experienced on our treks up and down the ICW.  The past few mornings, the temperatures have been as low as 41 degrees and the days have only reached temps in the high 50’s.  The sun must be on vacation – we haven’t seen much of it.  Apparently, it is true of the whole east coast, since looking ahead, even Charleston is only in the 60’s!  And the water levels have been very, very high, which is making for some interesting bridge “scrapings”!

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Last night (10/27) we stopped at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club – always a very welcoming place.  We (Gary) washed the boat down with lots of fresh water, while Sue and I went and did laundry.  After an enjoyable dinner at the Officers’ Club there (they had a costume party in full swing and some of them were quite entertaining!), we took Hobie for a walk – he was a happy cat!

This morning, as we head for Georgetown, we are seeing some of the hurricane damage from Florence first hand.  Not pretty.  Houses have water lines half way up them, boats have slipped off their docks, sandbags are still heaped in front of houses, and docks are cockeyed.  All in all, a real mess.  We feel sorry for these people – at least the colder weather has probably delayed the onset of any mildew and mold!

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If you look at the shed, you can see how high the water levels came up
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This area was a total shambles!
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Look at the red shutters on the right – the water was higher than the windows and 2/3’s of the way up the shed
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This one is an optical illusion – it looks like the boat fell into a hole

Tomorrow we will head into Charleston, one of our favorite spots along the ICW.  I do see one 77 degree day in the forecast, so we are looking forward to that! M&G&H

Safe in Annapolis

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Goodbye, New England!

We have been getting tons of emails and texts from our friends and family wondering where we are with Florence headed for the East Coast.  Thanks to Gary’s meteorological skills and some consultation with our own personal meteorogologist, Kevin Bowley, we decided to get the hell out of Block Island and get to the Cheasapeake asap.  So on Wednesday, September 5, we left Block Island (never even got to go ashore since our plan was to stay another day – we had arrived from Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard the night before).  We figured that if we didn’t leave then, we were going to be up in the Long Island Sound area for at least another two weeks, and the weather in the Fall along the Atlantic coast can get nasty, hurricane or no hurricane.  We went almost the entire way along Long Island Sound to the Huntington area (south shore).  Long day number one!

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View from Menemsha
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Sculpture on beach at Menemsha

The next morning, we were up at 6:30 and off through the East River.

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Lost some time trying to find a conveniently located place to get diesel fuel and finally found some very close to the Statue of Liberty at Liberty Marina on the New Jersey side.

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We then continued down to Barnegat Bay – winds were supposed to be south (on the nose) at 8 knots.  Unfortunately, they built to 20 – and of course so did the waves along with it.  So after hobby-horsing for a while, we finally pulled into our anchorage just as the sun was going down.  Good thing we had been in and out of there several times before, since it is a very shallow anchorage.  Long day number 2!

The next morning (9/7), we started early again and headed farther down the coast towards Cape May.

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Cape May Light

The winds had shifted to the north and were behind us, so it was quite a nice ride but we needed to have the motor on with the sails up to make good time.  We decided to turn up the Delaware River and get as far up as we can, because the forecast was NOT good for the next few days.  The farther we got from the Atlantic, the better – waves were forecast for 9 feet the next day!  We did go through a few thunderstorms – one was literally overhead – no time for “1001, 1002” between the lightning and the thunder – it was crash, bang, boom all at once.  A little unnerving, to say the least.  Fortunately, we managed to miss the worst of the storms and had a peaceful night at the anchorage.  Long day number 3!

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Thunderstorm in the Delaware River – we missed most of this one

Another early morning as we went the rest of the way up the Delaware River to the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal and through it to the Bay.  The Bay was kind of ugly!  Even though the winds were behind us, the chop was pretty bad, and as the day wore on, the winds kept building.  The anchorage we had anticipated staying at on the Sassafras River was NOT a good choice.  So we said to hell with it, and kept going to Annapolis.  By the Bay Bridge, it was blowing 30.  It rained almost the whole day and whole night.  Long day number 4!

So here we are – on a mooring ball in Back Creek in Annapolis.  The mooring ball is a good choice because any rising water/storm surge will not affect us.  If you are at a marina and the water rises too much, you can literally run out of dock!  The Harbormaster has prohibited anchoring in the Creek during all this rain and impending wind, so we were very lucky to pick up a ball.  We are presently booked on it through Sunday.

One of our favorite weather apps (free!), called “Windy” (used to be called WindyTV for some reason) is now our most utilized site.  If you’re not familiar with it, you may want to check it out since you can see weather patterns all over the world.  Here’s a picture of Florence on it’s way.

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We promise to stay safe and will let you know if there are any dramatic changes.  Otherwise, we plan on staying put through Columbus Day.  Thanks to everyone for all their concern!  M&G&H xo

Happy Two-Year Anniversary to Us!

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Hard to believe it is two years today that we sailed away from Youngstown, New York and began our live-aboard lifestyle.  In some ways it seems like yesterday, and then sometimes it seems a distant memory.  Our other milestone is having traveled over ten thousand miles!  We will celebrate this evening with a bottle of Piper Heidsieck and a rack of lamb – yum!

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We thank all our family and friends for their love and support along the way.  For those who ask: no, we are not tired of this life, and we are still enjoying living on the boat.  At least two out of the three of us, anyway.  I think Hobie, although perfectly happy, would prefer to be running around in a much larger space.  But he only gets one vote, so we win!

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Thought I’d share some pictures from Nantucket, although we are currently on Block Island and headed west.  Weather is not looking very promising as we try to head back to Annapolis, but we will play it safe.  More bloggery soon!   M&G&H xoxo

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Finally!

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Apologies to those who have asked “where’s your blog?”.  We have been computer-less for almost two months, and I haven’t been able to write since we got back to Annapolis in June.  After having it repaired once (which took forever), it promptly died four days later and then we finally got it fixed again.  Very happy to have it back and working properly.  I suppose I could have written one on my iPad, but all my photos are on my camera, and I think my blogs would be pretty boring without pix!  Anyway, as I write this, we are anchored off Nantucket.  I will do my best to capsulize the past few months and give you only the highlights (or lowlights!).

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Coming up the ICW from St. Augustine was uneventful, except for finding occasional sandbars along the way.  Got some nice pictures of the local fauna.

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And some not so nice – big green headed horseflies that take big chunks out of you!  We rolled down our screens and were very happy.

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We got into Annapolis on June 16 and were glad to see our friends at our home away from home.  On June 21, we hauled the boat out to have the bottom power washed and to finally put on our repaired prop (which you may recall had been damaged in the ICW when we hit a submerged log in the fall).  One night, it was quite warm, and we can’t run our air conditioning when the boat is out of the water since it’s water cooled.  We had all the hatches open.  At 4:30 am, Hobie drops INTO the forward V berth hatch, right where we were sleeping.  Needless to say, we were surprised, since we always close and latch the doors in the companionway so he can’t go out on deck at night (we leave about a three-inch crack in the slider that pulls across the top for air).  But the little monkey apparently climbed out through the forward hatch while we were fast asleep.  So I jump out of bed to see if I had indeed closed the doors (and I had), and there was a dead bird at the bottom of the stairs!  Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about that!  Now we are totally puzzled.  How did he catch a bird in the middle of the night on the boat?  Finally, after we put two and two together, we realized that he had climbed out of the forward hatch window, jumped off the transom of the boat (about 8 feet in the air in the jack stands), proceeded to have a whale of a time running around the marina grounds, killed a poor defenseless bird and was so proud that he had to bring it back to show off to Mom and Dad.  Which means that when he got back to the boat, HE CLIMBED THE 15 FOOT LADDER!!!!!  Then realizing that the doors were closed, he dropped the bird through the 3 inch space and proceeded to walk to the front of the boat and jump back in the same hatch he had originally escaped from.  But we couldn’t quite wrap our heads around him climbing the ladder until the next night, on his nightly walk around the grounds, we got back to the boat and I turned to him and said “go ahead – show me how you did this!” and he did!  Just climbed all the way up like he’d done it a thousand times.  I was half proud and half pissed (because of the dead bird)!  Amazing!  Not only was I amazed that he climbed the ladder, but how he knew to climb back onto OUR boat as opposed to all the other boats around us is mindblowing.  Needless to say, we now pull the screens across on the hatches before going to bed.

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This is the ladder he climbed up!

A few days later, our friends Jim and Julie Carminati were bringing their son, Jack, to the Naval Academy, and offered us a ride home.  We jumped at the opportunity (since our boat was still out of the water on the hard) and had three days there before renting a car and driving back.  Great to see Dad and some of our friends at the memorial service for our very beloved Duff.  When we arrived back in Annapolis, it was so disgustingly hot that we had to move in with our friends Garth and Sue, who generously allowed us to bring Hobie, since he was dealing with the heat worse than both of us.

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While we were there, the magnolia trees were in bloom, and they were absolutely stunning.

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On Tuesday, July 8, we finally leave Annapolis.  New prop was on, the bottom had a fresh coat of paint, gelcoat had been touched up by the famous Gelcoat Kate, and the boat looked beautiful………………………………………..

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for ONE DAY.  After going north of the Chesapeake, through the C-D Canal, and into the Delaware River, we hit rocks after rounding an island to anchor for the night.  NOT PRETTY.  But it could have been a whole lot worse.  We were all sitting down when it happened, so none of us were hurt (as in me, Gary and the cat).  The first thing I do is run down below and start ripping up floor boards to see if we are taking on water.  Fortunately we were not.  We managed to get ourselves off the rocks and got safely into the anchorage for the night.  The next morning, we went north, back to Delaware City Marina and got hauled out to assess the damage.  Our freshly repaired prop was a mess!  And there was a nice bite out of the rudder, along with some various scratches on the keel and bottom of the boat.

The before and after pix of the prop are mind blowing.

Except for the prop, Gary was able to do all the repair work himself.  We rented a car, rented a hotel room that was pet friendly, and just dealt with it.  Poor Gary was dying working in the heat, but we managed to enjoy ourselves on the last night there by meeting our friends Mike and Nancy at Longwood Gardens, where I was a picture-taking whackadoo.  The flowers and water lilies were amazing, and then there was a fantastic fountain light show, all set to music.  A nice end to three somewhat miserable days.

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So after three days, we got back in the water and were on our way again.  Hobie was a little sad, because he really enjoyed the hotel!

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The rest of our trip (down to Cape May, out into the Atlantic, through the East River and into Long Island Sound) was uneventful, although we saw large schools of stingrays, which was very cool.

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Cape May Light

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We were anchored in Port Jefferson on the north shore of the Sound, in bed reading (about 10:30 at night), when we hear a large commercial-sounding horn.  Sure enough, a tugboat had just pulled in a big barge and needed us to move so he could maneuver to a commercial mooring ball.  So here we were in the pitch black, pulling up anchor and trying to find a safe spot in a harbor that we are not familiar with – having not been there before.  We pull out the trusty mega-watt spotlight and finally get comfortable for the night.  It’s always something!  All good learning experiences, though.

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A crab boat at sunrise

On July 18, we arrived inPortsmouth, RI where we have our second annual get together with my family.  It was a bit touch and go there for a while after hitting the rocks as to whether we would make it on time, but we did.  Once again, my sisters and family brought the RV with my Dad and we had fun having campfires at night and sailing and swimming during the day.  Dad still got in and out of the dinghy, just fine at 100 and a half.  My youngest great-nephew Ethan was doing the Floss on the paddleboard with Gary!

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Then it was on to Onset, Massachusetts in the fog almost the entire way.  Ugh.  Hate the fog.  Thank goodness for radar.  Even with the radar we were glued to the horizon to watch for oncoming boats.  They materialize out of nowhere and the radar only shows you a purple blob.  Your eyes start to imagine things.  Next day we were off through the Cape Cod Canal, which we timed perfectly – at one point we were doing 13.2 knots!

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Then up to Provincetown, which we just love.

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They have the most amazing and freshest seafood. We bought sole and I made Sole Meuniere, which was to die for.  And we had scallop and tuna sashimi – Hobie was very interested!

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I just loved paddleboarding with the large Gray Seals in the anchorage – they pop their heads up and watch you go by.  No whales this year though.

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At various points over the next few weeks, we were lucky to connect with various friends on the Cape.  We really enjoyed seeing Tony and Sue Byrne, our fellow liveaboards whose boat is currently in Europe.  Exchanging stories with them was so interesting – we probably could have yacked for days.  We picked up a mooring ball in Quisset (where we caught the Cape Cod Trolley and rode to Falmouth and Woods Hole) and went out to watch the classic Herreshof dinghies race.  Just beautiful.

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After a nice stay at Hadley Harbor on Naushon Island, we headed back to Portsmouth, RI where we left the boat on a mooring ball while we drove home to deal with our unruly tenants at our duplex in Lewiston.  We had our fingers crossed that the solar panels would charge our batteries sufficiently to keep our fridge and freezer running properly while we were gone.  The capsulized version of our the state of our duplex upon our arrival was as follows:  DISASTER.  Disgusting.  Up and left literally everything – furniture, clothes, dirty dishes, photographs.  EVERYTHING.  We rented a dumpster (thank you, Chris Guard!), a veteran who was looking for work and his girlfriend who cleaned, and went to task – painting, fixing, cleaning, you name it, we did it.  We were there from August 12 and finally got back to the boat on August 24 at 1 am.  Unfortunately, we hardly got to see any of our friends since we worked non-stop and were exhausted most of the time.  I do have pictures of the mess, but you sure as hell don’t want to see them!  The good news was that, when we got back to the boat, the batteries were at 99.2% and the boat, the fridge and freezer were just fine.  If you know anyone who wants to rent a nice place in the Village of Lewiston, let us know – it’s immaculate again.

So that brings you up to August 24 and I’ll stop there for now, since this is interminable!  Thanks to all of you who expressed interest in hearing of our further adventures.  I’ll try to be better now that the computer is behaving again.  Love to all, Melanie, Gary & Hobie the crazy cat xo

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