Wow! We’re finally off.  Anticipating our Thursday departure, our Krogen pals, Lisa and Mark threw a “Bon Voyage” party for us at the Sunset Bay Marina.  Being the partiers that they are, around thirty fellow Krogenites showed up for heavy apps and sips.  We were touched by the gesture, realizing that we probably wouldn’t see this gang for a few years.  Ever the sentimentalist, Randy quickly brought me back to Earth with the comment that having a party was the only way that they could get our “*sses off the dock”.  True to form, we DIDN’T get off the dock on Thursday.  Angel and his guys weren’t quite finished with the varnish (yes, we broke down and hired it out this year).  It was a good thing, too.  We discovered that one of our heads was leaking, which required breaking in to the inventory for some spare seals.  That crappy job accomplished, I was under the galley sink looking for disinfectant, only to discover that the trap was dripping through a rusted-through elbow.  A quick bike ride to Ace Hardware, and a few minutes of work had that problem cured.  I have to admit that I was a bit shocked by a plumbing job that actually went smoothly.  Somewhere during the course of the day, I got a text from Scottie, our ace mechanic, techie, friend, moral supporter asking if the parts had arrived.  Parts?  Oh yeah, those parts (spare alternator and starter for the generator that I had ordered a few weeks earlier and completely forgotten about (they didn’t make it on to my checklist, which was now empty)).  We weren’t too overly concerned about not getting out quickly, as the weather looked very UNfavorable for a crossing to the Bahamas until the middle of the following week.  Long story short, within a few hours UPS tracking said the parts would be here Friday by 10h30, we went out to dinner with our pals Larry and Deb, and the weather forecast changed.  Surprise! It looked like we would have a very short window to cross the Gulf Stream on Saturday.  So, this is boating, right?  The goods were delivered, and we were off the dock by Noon, headed down the Intracoastal Waterway, planning to exit the Lake Worth Inlet off West Palm Beach.

Since we would be heading into unfamiliar territory this year, and aren’t real familiar with the weather patterns there, we decided to contract with a weather router for personalized reports.  We made our first contact with Chris Parker, weather guru of the Caribbean, for his advice.  He concurred, saying that a midnight departure should provide us with a good ride ahead of an approaching front, which would bring heavy winds with it.  In fact, if we ran non-stop, we might even make it to Georgetown before it caught up with us two days hence.  Sounded good to us.  We pulled in to the anchorage near the turning basin in Lake Worth(Palm Beach) right at dusk, got the hook down, and were treated to the spectacle of a cruiseliner departing through the inlet.  We hit the sack at 19h30, anticipating an 00h00 departure.  Problem was, at 21h22, (but who’s counting?) up on the roof, there arose quite a clatter.  No-it wasn’t Santa and his reindeer.  Suzanne elbowed me awake, exclaiming that there was a boat next to us.  I was in the total fog that envelopes us in the second hour after sleep, but I could totally look up out of our porthole, and see a boat with floodlights ablaze, looming above us.  I pulled on my boxers and scrambled out on deck for a look.  The guy on the boat 3 feet away from us is screaming at me that we were dragging anchor, and that I needed to “get the Hell away from his boat!”  I wasn’t quite sure how we had dragged anchor, then drifted upwind in a 17 knot breeze, against a 3 knot incoming tide to hit him in the stern, but it was no time for debate.  By this time, Suz had the main started, and I was hauling in the anchor, which was well-embedded in the bottom on a 5:1 scope.  We moved about a quarter mile away from the anchoring expert on the 65 foot motoryacht with the rope rode and shiny (and probably seldom-used anchor).  Yes, that was sarcasm.  Two hours later, we woke up and motored out of the anchorage, past the aforementioned yacht, their deck lights fully lit, and someone on the foredeck fooling with the anchor.  No harm, no foul.  Coulda been worse.

The seas had laid down to 1’-3’, on 4 seconds, and it was a gorgeous, moonlit night.  I took the first watch, because, as usual, I was too excited to sleep.  As the night wore on, the seas continued to moderate, and by 09h00, when Suz got up, we had about a 1’ chop, with winds down to 10 knots.  I got my beauty rest in, and we are on the Bahama Bank, cruising under fluffy cumulus clouds, temperature 73F.  I anticipate that we’ll pass by the west end of New Providence Island (where Nassau is located) at around 01h00 Sunday morning, continuing southeast to the Family Islands of the Exuma chain.

-Later

Well……..  The weather and seas were about what we expected on our fifty-one hour passage from Morehead City, NC to the St. Johns River inlet near Mayport.  It was just wavey enough to keep us from doing a lot of reading or writing, but not enough to be uncomfortable.  The wind was predicted to pick up, precluding our heading further south, so we ducked in to the ICW at the St. John’s River.     Our old pal, the Zumwalt (U.S. Navy’s first 1000 Class destroyer, and the vessel that we saw being built in the yard in Bath, Maine 2 years earlier) hailed us on the VHF, asking us to wait for her to pass before entering the inlet.  I suspect that we’re in her database, since we’ve talked to her 3 times, once in Maine, once as she was leaving her berth in Norfolk, and now, here outside Mayport.  They must think that we’re “groupies”.  Anyway, three hours later, we were at Palm Cove Marina, where we spent the rest of the day desalting the Girl.  While we were washing, we spotted “Alba”, a new Krogen 48, toodle down the waterway past us.  The next morning, we headed out around first light, hoping to get past St. Augustine, and in to one of our favorite stops at Marineland.  During the course of the day, the havoc wreaked by Matthew became more visible.  Where docks had once been, there were now only twisted pilings remaining.  We saw literally scores of boats, many of them beautiful yachts, completely on land.  In the early afternoon, we pulled in to the familiar haunts of Marineland Marina, where a large dredge was hard at work.  Finally, the dream that Eric, the harbormaster, had told us of three years previously was coming to fruition.  He told us that the dredging would be done, and the new floating docks should be installed by the Spring of 2017.  Suz and I love the feel of this place, and hope that all of the new improvements don’t change its’ character.  A four-mile bike ride to “Captain’s ,”(we were craving barbeque) revealed more Matthew devastation.  The first-floor contents of most houses were piled at the roadside, awaiting pickup.  Many in low-lying areas were still actively pumping storm water out.  D.O.T. and utility company crews were scattered along the roadside, clearing splintered and uprooted trees.  The dunes that comprised the spine of the north end of the island were now completely gone.  All that remained was the roadbed, with the sea on one side, and the ICW on the other.

We love this stop, but it was time to keep moving.  We were up early, motoring from “Cain’t see to Cain’t see”, making it to the NASA Causeway bridge, where we anchored after dark for the night.  We were up before dawn, motoring to the Vero Beach Municipal mooring field.  There, we planned to stay a couple of nights to catch our breaths, eat some fantastic tuna nachos at the Riverside Café, breakfast on the beach at JC’s Seaside Café, hit the farmers market, and visit Krogen friends, Bruce and Sue, who have a condo north of town.  We did it all.  It sure felt good to hop on the bikes and pedal around one of our very favorite little towns.  (they don’t call it Velcro Beach for nuthin’).  Bruce drove over and picked us up, taking us out to Sue and his fabulous home (there’s nothing “condo” about it), where we enjoyed good food, great company, and a little college football.  Joining us were Brian and Judy, who had arrived on “Alba” that day.  Many bottles of wine later, we called it a night.  Sunday morning, we began the leg which would bring us to Sunset Bay Marina, in Stuart.  There, we would pick up our mail, do our provisioning, and boat maintenance in our last U.S. port.

-Soon

 

 

 

Hola!

After three days in Deltaville, VA, our heads were about to burst.  The first day’s seminar was presented by ABT, the designer and manufacturer of our boats’ hydraulic system.  You probably remember that we built an “all hydraulic” boat (bow thruster, anchor windlass, and stabilizers), as we didn’t think that electrical motors and saltwater were a good mix.  But……. that’s a debate for another day.  The seminar was a slimmed-down version of one that we flew to California for several years ago, but it was a great refresher for our ever diminishing memory banks.  Days two and three covered all things trawler-from electrical troubleshooting, engine room 101, bottom paints, weather, anchoring, and an olio of tips ‘n tricks, all presented by Steve D’Antonio, a nationally renowned authority.

At first light on the 17th, we felt like we were finally on our way.  This time, we were headed in the right direction (south).  We made the 17h00 opening at Great Bridge, and wedged in to the gas dock at our old haunt, Atlantic Boat Yard, as there was “no room at the inn”.  The bridge had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and had just recently opened, leaving a clot of boats stranded above it.  Coupled with the gang headed south after the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hampton Roads, the closure created quite a traffic jam.  I think that The Girl was a little worried that we were going to leave her at AYB for another three months, so when we toodled off the dock at 05h00, I’m sure she was relieved.  Running down the ICW, which was strewn with storm trash was a trip, but the full moon helped the Admiral as she kept watch on the bow in the 58-degree morning chill.  A few thumps and bumps were the only indignities that we suffered.  By the time the sun came up, we were at the start of the twisty-turnies, and the turnpike bridge behind us was closed for the rush hour.  Bonus!  That effectively made us the only boat on the ICW for just about the whole day (we only saw three other boats and a barge).  Running past Coinjock marina in Virginia, we impulsively made a left turn, heading out to Roanoke Island, in the Pamlico Sound, rather than to our intended anchorage at Deep Point.  We had planned to visit last May, when weather stopped us at Okracoke Island.  Over the VHF, Mr. Carl Jordan, the dockmaster at Manteo, guided us to the harbor through the shoaled-in channel (the Admiral had already pulled up a video on You Tube demonstrating the proper course in).  Safely secured, we were greeted by our old pals, Steve and Julia, from “Erben Renewal” (see Bahamas & Nova Scotia).  “Lost Colony Brewery” across the street from the marina, gave us the perfect venue for reconnecting with our good friends.  Next day, we hauled our trusty, rusty bikes down from the boat deck for some exploration.  Our departure was delayed.  Even though the machines had been in their bag for the past months, their chains were frozen solid with rust.  Armed with oil and a couple pairs of vice grips, each individual link was resurrected to flexibility.  Riding the paved bike trail out to the north end of the island knocked some rust off our joints as well.  On the way home, we stopped at the National Park on the site of the “Lost Colony”, whose 117 settlers disappeared without a trace in between 1585-1590, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from England.  To this day, their fate remains a mystery.  After stops at the Verizon store, post office, and Piggly Wiggly (groceries), we tossed the bikes back up to their perch, vowing to keep their goodies oiled in the future.  Mark and Mary, aboard “The Good Life”, had just returned from visiting some local relatives, so the 6 of us convened on “Alizann” for some cocktails and conversation.  Even though Steve, Julia, Mark and Mary had been at our Rendezvous, we really hadn’t had a free minute to get with them, so it was nice to have some one-on-one.

At 0700 on the 20th, we were off the dock at Manteo, headed for Ocracoke, with “Erben Renewal” and “The Good Life” in hot pursuit.  Pamlico Sound was placid, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for the eight-hour cruise.  At Ocracoke, we tied up at the National Park Service dock (around $16/night), and headed out to “Smacnally’s” for a brew.  What? Closed.  The kid at the golf cart rental next door said that they had a power outage that morning, so probably decided not to open.  Not to worry.  Down the road to “Jolly Roger.”  Closed.  Next.  “Ocracoke Bar and Grill.”  Closed.  Okay, what was the name of the place that we ate at in the Spring (when we had bikes under us)?  “Ocracoke Oyster Company”.  By now, the 200-yard walk had become a mile-and-a-half mission.  Success!  A couple dozen raw oysters, a few baskets of steamed shrimp, and (whose countin’ anyway) Carolina Blonde lagers assuaged our disappointment, sated our appetites, and quenched our thirst.  Oh, Man!  Forgot we told S & J that we were headed out for a brew.  Fortunately, we caught them in time to suggest bikes, and a good time was had by all.

So……you’re probably wondering why we’re dinkin’ around in the Pamlico when we should be heading South (STAT).  The weather offshore had been dogmeat, and was going to be, for the next few days.  Better to spend time with our buds on these beautiful islands than sit in the marina at Morehead City waiting for a weather window.  On the 21st, it looked like the weather would be favorable for an offshore run on or about the 23rd.  Given that we were having our mail sent to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, we said goodbye to our friends, and headed to Morehead City.  There, we pre-cooked some meals, cleaned up and battened down the Girl, making preparations for a 2-day offshore south.  It wasn’t all work and no play.  We caught up with some other Krogen friends who were berthed there, and watched my Wolverines dismantle Illinois on the Big Ten Network.

I haven’t really said much about the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Up north, where we had travelled thus far, the damage was limited mainly to the effects of high water, with only moderate wind damage.  As we passed down the ICW, the water was still very high, and the channel was strewn with floating debris.  Reports were filtering in from South Carolina and Georgia, relating the news that whole marinas had been destroyed, and that the ICW (always dicey in many spots through here) had new shoals and hazards, with many buoys off-station.  These reports reinforced our preference for biting off big chunks for our travels south.

The morning of the 23rd dawned clear, with the temperature at forty-eight degrees, wind at 19 knots out of the northwest, and the barometer high (1029mb).  Since the forecast had been consistent for the previous 3 days, and the conditions were as predicted, our plan was a “go.” Planning landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River in around 50 hours’ time, we had possible bailout ports at Bald head Island, Charleston, Beaufort, SC, and Fernandina Beach on the table.  At the sea buoy off Beaufort Inlet (Morehead City), we were surprised to see “Ida Rose”, “Bulldog Sally”, and Klassy Kadey, 3 other Krogens, on our AIS, following us out.  There was a bit of a beam sea, but we expected that to subside in around 3 hours or so, so we fired up the satellite dish, and settled in for a day with the NFL.

-Later

 

Hola!

After three days in Deltaville, VA, our heads were about to burst.  The first day’s seminar was presented by ABT, the designer and manufacturer of our boats’ hydraulic system.  You probably remember that we built an “all hydraulic” boat (bow thruster, anchor windlass, and stabilizers), as we didn’t think that electrical motors and saltwater were a good mix.  But……. that’s a debate for another day.  The seminar was a slimmed-down version of one that we flew to California for several years ago, but it was a great refresher for our ever diminishing memory banks.  Days two and three covered all things trawler-from electrical troubleshooting, engine room 101, bottom paints, weather, anchoring, and an olio of tips ‘n tricks, all presented by Steve D’Antonio, a nationally renowned authority.

At first light on the 17th, we felt like we were finally on our way.  This time, we were headed in the right direction (south).  We made the 17h00 opening at Great Bridge, and wedged in to the gas dock at our old haunt, Atlantic Boat Yard, as there was “no room at the inn”.  The bridge had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and had just recently opened, leaving a clot of boats stranded above it.  Coupled with the gang headed south after the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hampton Roads, the closure created quite a traffic jam.  I think that The Girl was a little worried that we were going to leave her at AYB for another three months, so when we toodled off the dock at 05h00, I’m sure she was relieved.  Running down the ICW, which was strewn with storm trash was a trip, but the full moon helped the Admiral as she kept watch on the bow in the 58-degree morning chill.  A few thumps and bumps were the only indignities that we suffered.  By the time the sun came up, we were at the start of the twisty-turnies, and the turnpike bridge behind us was closed for the rush hour.  Bonus!  That effectively made us the only boat on the ICW for just about the whole day (we only saw three other boats and a barge).  Running past Coinjock marina in Virginia, we impulsively made a left turn, heading out to Roanoke Island, in the Pamlico Sound, rather than to our intended anchorage at Deep Point.  We had planned to visit last May, when weather stopped us at Okracoke Island.  Over the VHF, Mr. Carl Jordan, the dockmaster at Manteo, guided us to the harbor through the shoaled-in channel (the Admiral had already pulled up a video on You Tube demonstrating the proper course in).  Safely secured, we were greeted by our old pals, Steve and Julia, from “Erben Renewal” (see Bahamas & Nova Scotia).  “Lost Colony Brewery” across the street from the marina, gave us the perfect venue for reconnecting with our good friends.  Next day, we hauled our trusty, rusty bikes down from the boat deck for some exploration.  Our departure was delayed.  Even though the machines had been in their bag for the past months, their chains were frozen solid with rust.  Armed with oil and a couple pairs of vice grips, each individual link was resurrected to flexibility.  Riding the paved bike trail out to the north end of the island knocked some rust off our joints as well.  On the way home, we stopped at the National Park on the site of the “Lost Colony”, whose 117 settlers disappeared without a trace inbetween 1585-1590, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from England.  To this day, their fate remains a mystery.  After stops at the Verizon store, post office, and Piggly Wiggly (groceries), we tossed the bikes back up to their perch, vowing to keep their goodies oiled in the future.  Mark and Mary, aboard “The Good Life”, had just returned from visiting some local relatives, so the 6 of us convened on “Alizann” for some cocktails and conversation.  Even though Steve, Julia, Mark and Mary had been at our Rendezvous, we really hadn’t had a free minute to get with them, so it was nice to have some one-on-one.

At 0700 on the 20th, we were off the dock at Manteo, headed for Ocracoke, with “Erben Renewal” and “The Good Life” in hot pursuit.  Pamlico Sound was placid, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for the eight-hour cruise.  At Ocracoke, we tied up at the National Park Service dock (around $16/night), and headed out to “Smacnally’s” for a brew.  What? Closed.  The kid at the golf cart rental next door said that they had a power outage that morning, so probably decided not to open.  Not to worry.  Down the road to “Jolly Roger.”  Closed.  Next.  “Ocracoke Bar and Grill.”  Closed.  Okay, what was the name of the place that we ate at in the Spring (when we had bikes under us)?  “Ocracoke Oyster Company”.  By now, the 200-yard walk had become a mile-and-a-half mission.  Success!  A couple dozen raw oysters, a few baskets of steamed shrimp, and (whose countin’ anyway) Carolina Blonde lagers assuaged our disappointment, sated our appetites, and quenched our thirst.  Oh, Man!  Forgot we told S & J that we were headed out for a brew.  Fortunately, we caught them in time to suggest bikes, and a good time was had by all.

So……you’re probably wondering why we’re dinkin’ around in the Pamlico when we should be heading South (STAT).  The weather offshore had been dogmeat, and was going to be, for the next few days.  Better to spend time with our buds on these beautiful islands than sit in the marina at Morehead City waiting for a weather window.  On the 21st, it looked like the weather would be favorable for an offshore run on or about the 23rd.  Given that we were having our mail sent to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, we said goodbye to our friends, and headed to Morehead City.  There, we pre-cooked some meals, cleaned up and battened down the Girl, making preparations for a 2-day offshore south.  It wasn’t all work and no play.  We caught up with some other Krogen friends who were berthed there, and watched my Wolverines dismantle Illinois on the Big Ten Network.

I haven’t really said much about the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Up north, where we had travelled thus far, the damage was limited mainly to the effects of high water, with only moderate wind damage.  As we passed down the ICW, the water was still very high, and the channel was strewn with floating debris.  Reports were filtering in from South Carolina and Georgia, relating the news that whole marinas had been destroyed, and that the ICW (always dicey in many spots through here) had new shoals and hazards, with many buoys off-station.  These reports reinforced our preference for biting off big chunks for our travels south.

The morning of the 23rd dawned clear, with the temperature at forty-eight degrees, wind at 19 knots out of the northwest, and the barometer high (1029mb).  Since the forecast had been consistent for the previous 3 days, and the conditions were as predicted, our plan was a “go.” Planning landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River in around 50 hours’ time, we had possible bailout ports at Bald head Island, Charleston, Beaufort, SC, and Fernandina Beach on the table.  At the sea buoy off Beaufort Inlet (Morehead City), we were surprised to see “Ida Rose”, “Bulldog Sally”, and Klassy Kadey, 3 other Krogens, on our AIS, following us out.  There was a bit of a beam sea, but we expected that to subside in around 3 hours or so, so we fired up the satellite dish, and settled in for a day with the NFL.

-Later

HooooWeeee!!

That was a quick 4 months.  With our teeny weeny SUV packed to the roof, and the cooler loaded with dry ice, we headed on back to Michigan, with stops in Greensboro, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI.  The Admiral’s family gathered in NC to celebrate her Aunt’s 95th.  Then it was off to the home of the Maize and Blue to visit our daughter and son-in-law at their new digs.  After a quick stop at our home in northern Michigan, it was off to Europe for a cruise down the Danube (can’t get enough of boats) with Suz’s sibs ‘n spouses to celebrate her Mom’s 90th.

Back at the ranch, we started working through the list of dirtchores, of which there was no shortage.  We didn’t fret about the work, as it was interspersed by reconnections with our landfriends and family.  We took a timeout in mid-summer for a road trip and week at the beach in Charleston.  Before we knew it, it was time to haul and winterize the mini-fleet and move on down the road to rejoin The Girl in Chesapeake, VA.  Leaving Michigan was bittersweet, as we realized just how many great friends we have there.  On the way out, we got a chance to go to a game in The Big House to watch my beloved Wolverines do their thing.  Living in Ann Arbor, our daughter is the beneficiary of our 48-yard line tickets, so we all enjoyed the game together, celebrating Ben and her anniversary at the same time.

After getting Alizann cleaned up, we kicked the tires and lit the fires, heading up to Solomon’s, MD ahead of then-forming Hurricane Matthew.  Not sure if I had mentioned it before, but in a weak (and possibly ethanol-soaked) moment a few years back, we volunteered to chair our annual Kadey Krogen owners rendezvous in 2016.  After a years’ work in planning this 4-day event, which included educational seminars, catered meals, and social gatherings, culminating in a party with live music, we had to consider the possibility of cancelling everything as Matthew roared through the Bahamas, heading our way.  Besides the monetary loss, we had to weigh the safety of the crews of the 51 vessels and 139 people attending the event.  From day to day, we all were on pins and needles, monitoring the National Hurricane Centers’ website on an hourly basis, and getting haul outs scheduled for 24 boats locally, and others’ elsewhere.   At literally the eleventh hour, Matthew turned East and headed out to sea after battering the Southeast.  Party On!  The wave of relief spreading through our group was palpable.  Haul outs were cancelled, crews that had bagged out earlier called to tell us that they were coming, and the good times rolled.  When the party was over on Saturday night, the weather hemmed us in for another two days.  Finally breaking up on Monday, I’m pretty sure that many of us realized that we weren’t the partiers that we used to be (but we all did our very best).

Suz and I stayed until Tuesday to recoup and regroup, getting ready to head over to Deltaville, VA for a one-day course in hydraulics, followed by a two-day seminar in trawler maintenance.

-Soon

 

Soooooooo………..

We rolled into Atlantic Yacht Basin a little after 18h00, and were directed to the Girl’s home away from home for the next 3 months or so.  She’s under a shed, but still in the water, which is pretty much fresh, as the marina is behind a lock and far from the ocean.  While she’s living here, she’ll get hauled for a fresh coat of bottom paint, and have her boot stripe raised (as part of it is currently below the waterline, and catching barnacles).  She’s also looking forward to having the techies from Northern Lights come in and install an experimental gadget aimed at alleviating our recurrent clutch problems.  Other boats with similar setups have had clutch problems as well, and NL has been looking for the right “test boat” to try out the laboratory guys’ proposed fix.  We’re it, so they’ll fly in from Washington state sometime this summer and work their voodoo on our recalcitrant generator.  After getting the Girl secured, we strolled out to the face dock, where the wake-making Krogen scofflaws were tied, to administer an appropriate helping of static to them.  After the good-natured (and tongue-in-cheek) tongue-lashing, we headed out for dinner.  El Toro Loco is a great little Mexican restaurant just a short walk from the boatyard, and a favorite of ours.  We three Krogen couples were joined by our mutual friends, Karen and Jeff, who were piloting their DeFever motoryacht north for the summer.  They say that wherever you have 2 or more Krogens, you have a party, so it was our duty to keep that adage alive.  A good time was had by all.

The next morning was the beginning of hammer time.  Over the next week, Alizann was cleaned and polished from the top of her mast to the bottom of her bilges.  Drippy-drips were fixed, and every nut and screw was tightened.  A couple of tired parts were replaced, the serpentine belt was changed, and filters exchanged.  Radars and the satellite dish were taken off the mast, so that their brackets could be sandblasted and repainted.  By the end of the week, we were “slap wore out”, but the Girl was exuding new-found energy.  I think she was a little disappointed when we told her that she needed to rest for a few months-the first time in a couple of years.  By the time September rolls around, she’ll probably fly out of that shed.

During the “Big Clean”, we packed up all of the stuff that we thought was indispensable when we left land 2 years ago, but haven’t used since.  In addition, all of our cold-weather clothes were packed up to bring back to dirt, as we didn’t anticipate being in less than tropical weather for the next couple of years.  We’ll box this stuff up and leave it back in Michigan so our pals back there can ship it to us when we need it again.  All computers were disconnected and packed so that new charts could be installed, and software upgraded with the help of reliable internet back in Michigan.  SCUBA rigs and cameras were boxed to head back to land for their much-needed maintenance visits.  Add in the 50-70# of Mahi in the freezer, and we had quite a load.

At Oh Dark-Thirty, we were on our way.

-See Ya in the Fall

Oops.

Been really busy.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.  Sure beats getting’ old and scattered.  This episode was written a month ago, and has been sitting on my desktop- thought I’d put it up. Oh well, a day late and a dollar short.

We spent the night at Morehead Yacht Basin, a familiar locale for us, then headed up the ICW to Oriental, NC.  There, we stayed at Whittaker Marina.  The marina is a pretty small operation, but is very nice, with a modern clubhouse and a swimming pool.  The best attribute, however, is that they have a courtesy car, which would allow us to do a little exploring.  Since we arrived a bit after 12h00, we had “first dibs”, and set out to West Marine and the town of Oriental.  There, we had lunch at “M&M’s”, highly recommended, but maybe a bit overrated in my opinion.  On the way home, the Admiral had us drive to River Dunes, a residential development that also has a pretty swanky marina.  The marina was gorgeous, but was a looooong way from anywhere by land, virtually trapping you on-site if you were visiting by boat.  (note to self) Back at the Girl, we decided to abandon the ICW the next day, and head out to Ocracoke island to do some tourist stuff, as we had a few days to burn.

So, let’s talk about Ocracoke.  The first folks known to be here were Algonquin speaking Native Americans, who never had a permanent settlement here, but used the island as a base for hunting and fishing.  The first European to describe area was Verrazano, in 1524.  He was unable to navigate the tortuous channel here, but assumed that China lay on the other side.  Later, in 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh ran his ship aground here.  Attempts at colonization were made, but met with failure.  Although uninhabited until 1750, Ocracoke was a favorite hangout for Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard), until his demise here in 1718.  From the 1750’s until the turn of the century, Ocracoke (then named Pilot Town) was the home to a group of skilled captains, who piloted small schooners trading on the North Carolina mainland from the Atlantic through the ever-changing shoals into Pamlico Sound.  By the late 1800’s, the shipping industry had died, and the main economic engine for the area became tourism, and remains so today.

We pulled in to the National Park Service dock in Silver Lake, the harbor at Ocracoke Village, and tied to the wall.  With my “Seniors” National Park pass, dockage was $.60/ft.  Yeah, Baby!  We cruised the dock to meet our neighbors, and the guy on the sailboat adjacent to us had a “Dunleavy’s” T shirt on.  (one of our favorite joints for mussels and beer-located on Sullivan’s Island, SC).  I had mine on too, so I said “Hey, nice shirt.” He looks up at me and asks how long I’d had it.  “About 3 years, but this is my third one.” Yeah, he’s had a couple too, and by the way, his name was Bill Dunleavy, and he owns the place.  We have a nice chat, find out that he lives on his boat-down south in the winter, Block Island in the summer.  Suzanne walked away with a new “Dunleavy’s” visor, and we gained a new boat pal.  The next morning, we rode our bikes to the ferry landing at the north end of the island.  Most of the north end is just a narrow dune, with the ocean on one side, and the Pamlico Sound on the other.  It made for a nice, albeit windy, ride.  After 28 miles, we had plenty of sand in our ears, and a couple of sore butts (after not riding since Eleuthera).  We treated ourselves to some Ahi and baked oysters at Oyster House when we returned to the village.  Back in the harbor, we had a couple of brewskies at “SmacNally’s” while we watched the rain roll in.  The winds were predicted to be 15-20 knots with seas of 3’ as we left the harbor the next morning.  In reality, we had 30 knot winds, pouring rain, and 2-4’ seas, right on our nose as we began the 12-hour trip to Manteo, site of the “Lost Colony”.  Good thing that boating plans are written in sand.  We decided to catch Manteo in the fall, and altered course to the east to catch the ICW.  We had 2 hours of “cupboard cleaners” on the beam, which sure beat 12 hours of beating upwind.  By 18h00, we had the hook down in 25 knots of wind at one of our favorite overnighters, Deep Point.

This morning, we were up and out of the anchorage by 05h45.  As we passed the Alligator River bridge, we were joined by 2 other Krogens, Evergreen (a 44’), and Gratitude (a 48’).  We planned on getting some boat chores done while taking our usual leisurely ride, timing to hit the Centerville Turnpike at 18h00.  It’s closed for rush hour between 16h00 and 18h00, and the 2 other boats decided that they’d pedal to the metal to make it before 16h00, so we didn’t travel together very long.  Later in the day, Suz and I witnessed a first-over the VHF a Krogen (!) being scolded for going too fast, throwing a wake into Coinjock Marina.  We’ll have the opportunity to give them an earful when we see them at Atlantic Yacht Basin tonight-Just Sayin’.

Just left North Carolina, crossing the Virginia state line.  The Girl will stay here in Chesapeake, Virginia for the summer while the crew returns to dirt for house chores and some travel.  We’ll stay with her for the next week or so to do some maintenance, varnishing, cleaning, and waxing, so we’ll talk ta ya…..

-Later

 

 

Goooood Morning!

Our stay in Charleston was wonderful, as usual.  Emily picked us up, and we all had a tasty dinner at Leon’s.  The eclectic menu featured several Clam apps, grilled Oysters, shrimp wraps, some interesting salads, and really good fried chicken, among other things.  I’d definitely go there again.  The next morning after church, we met Em for breakfast at The Queen Street Grocery.  Cam and Evan came over at 17h00, and we headed to Minero’s for Mexican food.  Killer!  We could barely waddle down the stairs and out the front door.  I should know better than to try and run with the big dogs.  C & E are 6’5” and 6’7”, respectively, play on about 5 soccer teams between them, and work out like mad dogs while they’re not fighting fires for the Charleston Fire Department.  Yeah, they can eat.  The Admiral had an appointment for a cut & color on Monday morning, so after dropping her off at the salon (Lordis Aveda Salon, for you Ladies), I walked through the back streets to the Girl.  Wax on, wax off for the next 5 hours while Suz got coiffed and clothing shopped for our upcoming European vacation.

Tuesday morning, we were off the dock by around 07h00 to take advantage of the slack water.  Getting out of the marina was a breeze (I had been up since 05h00, concerned about the current).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of the ebbing tide as our first bridge (the Ben Sawyer) didn’t open until 09h00, and was only 6 miles away.  As we drifted downriver with the current, we spotted a Krogen Express at Charleston’s Megadock.  As we entered the Intracoastal Waterway behind Sullivan’s Island, unspoken excitement was mounting.  We had never traversed this section of the ICW aboard Alizann, but were well familiar with the area, as we have vacationed on the Isle of Palms for the past 30 summers (excluding last year, when we couldn’t make it back from Newfoundland).  Summer beach vacation with Suzanne’s family starts with the gang meeting at Morgan Creek Grill before taking possession of the beach house.  This year, we got pictures of the Grill from the water.

The rest of the trip to Georgetown was uneventful.  The currents were favorable most of the way, and we made good time.  Around the halfway mark, we were passed by “Viewfinder”, the Krogen Express from Chucktown.  We got a couple sips of diesel at the fuel dock in Georgetown, then moved over to our spot on the face dock.  Well……….we were around 12 feet longer than the space on the el, so we pulled out into the current, changed fenders and lines, did a 180 and backed in.  That way, our bow hung over, and our stern was secure.  Once tied up, the guy that was docked on the other leg of the el came over.  He was concerned that we were blocking him in, but felt better when I told him that we’d be leaving before daybreak.  Meanwhile, Trig and Alice from “Viewfinder” came over and introduced themselves.  Half an hour later, they were onboard with us for sips and chats.  They have a second home on Bald Head Island where we were headed, so we agreed to get together there.

It was like a new experience exiting Winyah Bay to the Atlantic the next morning, as the last and only time we were through here, the visibility was zero due to heavy fog.  As the sun burned off the morning mist, our trusty little ship turned North for a leisurely cruise to Bald Head Island, North Carolina.  Twelve hours and 85 nautical miles after our departure, we were safely tied at our “home away from home”, slip A-3 at Bald Head Marina.  Trig and Alice, having arrived 40 minutes earlier on their faster boat did the honors, handling our lines.  The Dockmaster told us that our friend, Betty, who has a home here would be arriving on “Lili” the following morning, and that 3 more Krogens would be here by early evening.  Yay!  Mini rendezvous.  Alice invited us to their home for sips the next evening, and Trig told us that he’d leave a golf cart at the marina for our use while on the island.  That’s boaters!  After sleeping in, we grabbed the cart and tooled to the other end of the island, where we walked the beach at Cape Fear.  After hitting the grocery, I’m standing on the dock talking to Betty, Jill & Diane, who have just returned from the Bahamas.  Suz walks up to me and quietly says “Marty, I need you to look at something”.  My stomach is now floppin’, ‘cause that’s how she ALWAYS leads in to bad news.  Back on the Girl, she leads me to the storage area under the settee, where we store our staples and canned goods.  OMG!  It smells like something died in there.  I thought she’d produce a dead mouse.  As it turned out, there was a thin film of liquid in the bottom of the compartment that had wicked up through all the contents.  Boxes, and bags of pasta, flour, rice, and etc. were sodden.  The labels on all the cans were wet and falling off.  Everything out, we thought that the culprit was a box of chicken broth.  We pitched all the wet boxes and bags, and marked each can with a magic marker, then started working on the (gag, gag) smell.  We thought that we’d better check the next compartment to the aft, just ‘cause.   #$%@!!  Even wetter than the first, with similar contents.  Repeat performance.  Next compartment back.  No food, but a heater/blower is housed there.  This one had standing water.  AND…. the culprit.  The PVC plastic fitting for our shore water inlet comes into this space, and had a stress fracture in it, sending out a fine mist of water.  (By the way, this is the same part that failed aboard “Idyll Time”, flooding Jeff & Susie’s pilothouse several months earlier).  The next compartment over contains the subwoofer for our stereo, and multiple keyboards, mouses, and assorted computer spare parts.  It was dry.  Working forward from the first wet compartment, the next was just slightly wet.  Judging by the quantity of mold, we’re thinkin’ that it must have been leaking for a week or so.  Suz had been in there a little over a week previously, and hadn’t noticed a problem.  The good news was that I had a spare part onboard, after already having replaced ours once before.  Okay, there seems to be a pattern here.  Let’s not repeat the behavior.  The new regulator is in, but that’s not the end of it.  I get online, and fail to find a stouter (more stout?) water inlet, but I have some thoughts about a design which will be more robust.  I’ll hit the plumbing supply stores this summer, and see what I can fabricate.  In the meantime, we’ll watch this one like a hawk.

Back to Bald Head.  We’re having sips at Alice & Trig’s beautiful home, and the sky is darkening.  The wind picks up, and there’s lightning in the distance, so Trig and I head out to the deck to stow the patio furniture.  Here comes the first of the 3 Krogens.  By now, the marina is closed, and as they beat past us through the whitecaps, we realize that there’ll be no help for them at the marina.  We pile into the golf carts and make it to the marina just as they’re getting to the docks.  Lisa and Mark, aboard “Tapestry”, Dave and Judy, on “Evergreen”, and Roberto and Maria, “Gratitude”, had just completed an overnight run from Fernandina Beach, and were rightfully proud, although pooped.  After going back to the house, we wrapped up Happy Hour, then went back to the marina to join the gang at “Mojo’s”, for dinner.  Suz and I enjoyed their “travel tales”, then returned to the Girl, where the contents of the compartments were still strewn about, drying and destinking.  We spent the next day putting things back together, and joined the Fernandina crew for dinner at Delphinas restaurant near the marina.

This morning, the 14th, we were off the dock at 05h15.  As we bucked the tide and current up the Cape Fear River, the fog moved in.  By the time that we got to Snow’s Cut, which is scary in full daylight, we had zero/zero visibility.  To make matters worse, the sun was glaring through the thick ground fog, effectively making me “snow blind”.  Suz read the chart plotter, doing the “left, “right, left, right” thing, while I drove, staring into the whiteness.  Good, clean fun.  We exited the ICW at Wrightsville Beach, and are now in the Atlantic under sunny skies, with a 3-foot swell on our beam.  We’ll reenter the ICW at Morehead City this evening to cross the Pamlico Sound the next day or so.

-Until Then

On the morning of the 5th, we were off the dock by 06h45.  The skies were clear.  Temperature 57 degrees.  Wind 20 knots out of the northwest.  We wanted to make some miles, so decided to run offshore to Wasaw Sound, about 80 miles away.  Our course would keep us within 10 miles of shore, and there were numerous inlets for us to sneak in to the ICW if it got too snotty.  By 12h00, the winds were a steady 27 knots, and we decided to enter Doboy Sound, and get back to the ICW.  Two miles from shore, we promptly ran hard aground in an area that was charted to be 14 feet deep.  We were on hard, and the tide was falling-not a great situation.  Every 5th wave or so was a big one that lifted us, then slammed us to the bottom.  It was very unnerving, but we were able to use this to our advantage.  I didn’t want to back up, for fear of damaging our rudder, but obviously there was deeper water behind us.  As we rose, we used our bow thruster to inch the bow a foot or so to the side.  By degrees, we did a 180, and were able to motor out, following our plotter, duplicating our exact course, only in reverse.  Back in deep water, we sucked it up and rode the waves.  In spite of the wind and waves, my darling girl baked some fresh bread.  The aroma filled the boat, calming my jangled nerves.  We entered Wasaw Sound at 18h00.    Anchor down in Herb Creek off the ICW at 19h15, cocktails were in order.  We had a restive night, as the wind and the reversing current were at odds.  The anchor chain rattled and banged, seemingly all night long.

Even though there had been lightning all around us when we turned in, the rain never came.  When we woke up, there were actually defined river banks, as the tide was lower than the evening before.  With the sun rising on this crisp, clear morning (53 degrees), we were on our way by 06h43.  We traversed one of the shallowest stretches of the ICW at nearly high tide, and coasted through.  As we neared the Ashley River and Charleston, the boat traffic got heavier on this beautiful Saturday morning.   Our morning arrival had been planned with the state of tide in mind.  Several years earlier, we had visited the Ashley marinas from land, and had made note of the fierce currents running through them.  Since that time, fellow cruisers had shared anecdotes about boats getting sideways, and many mishaps due to these currents.  The best laid plans………  When we arrived, the current was clipping along at about 2 knots.  No problem, Suz had talked to Ryan the day before, and he told her that they would put us on the face dock, obviating the need to maneuver inside the tightly packed docks.  When we called on the VHF, we were told that no, all of the spots on the face were occupied, and that we’d need to come on in and take a slip (also, it was Ryan’s day off).  Pucker time.  Long story short, there was no story.  With Suzanne’s expert guidance, and the dockhand’s quick hands on the lines, the Girl (17.5’ beam) was in an 18-foot-wide slip without a scratch.  I felt like I needed a drink, but didn’t stretch the five o’clock rule, as it was only 10h30.  We spent the rest of the day getting Alizann spiffed up for company.  Suzanne’s niece, Emily, will be visiting for sips before we go out for dinner tonight.  Tomorrow, 2 of my nephews, Cam and Evan, also living in Charleston, will be over before we head out to dinner with them.

-Later

Good Day!

In the morning, we moved up to the anchorage off of Tahiti Beach.  On the way over, we were hailed on the VHF by “Casablanca.” They told us that they were on a 58’ Krogen anchored off the beach, had been following our blog, and wanted to get together.  Sounded like a plan.  They were headed in to Hope Town for the day, but would we be in the anchorage tomorrow?  Yep.  “C’mon over to Alizann for sips at 5:30?”  The next morning, Fred and Carolyn came by and introduced themselves, and asked if we wanted to join them for lunch on shore.  We declined, because we were having a severe hankerin’ for the barbeque at Papa Nasty’s.  In fact, I’d been thinking about a stop here since last year (Yeah, it’s that good).  We dropped the tender in, and headed to our secret little docking spot in the corner of White Sound, and hiked up to the trailer that housed Papa’s.  It was boarded up tight as a drum-no sign of activity.  Boo!  We decided to assuage our disappointment by walking up to the Blue store and buying some homemade ice cream from the guy that sits outside the door there.  Fresh Mango-Yum.  We also found out that Papa had experienced some health problems that caused him to have to go to the States, forcing him to close up shop.  Later, turned out that he didn’t have to go, but he had already closed.  At any rate, that’s the story as it was told to us.  We got back to the dink and cruised over to Lubbers, where we had a nice lunch at “Cracker P’s”, highlighted by their famous hot fish dip.  After lunch, we motored over to Tahiti Beach, a sand spit that bares at any tide state other than high, where we joined the gang that was sunning there.  That evening, we were joined by Fred and Carolyn, and found out that they were on their third Krogen, each one larger than the previous.  We shared cruising stories, and found that they had owned one of their boats in the Pacific Northwest.  This really whetted our appetites for new adventures, and before the night was over, they had given us all of their charts for the west coast, from Mexico to Desolation Sound.  We were only able to round up a few charts and guidebooks for Maine, where F&C would be heading this summer, to return the favor.

28 April.  Great Guana Cay, and Nipper’s beach Bar was our next destination.  Let’s just say that one of us had too much fun at the bar.  Suz paid the bill, and got us a ride back to the tender by some nice folks coming by in their golf cart.  Manjack Cay, 3 hours away, was our next stop.  We had a secret spot over on the next little cay where we had found a cache of Sea Biscuits the year before.  But, when we motored over in the tender, we found that “our spot” wasn’t so secret any more.  There was a makeshift awning and a firepit on the shore, and no Sea Biscuits in the eel grass.  Undeterred, we motored on.  Suzanne scoped out the bottom with our “look bucket” (a 5-gallon pail that I had cut the bottom out of, replacing it with clear plexiglass).  We found a new secret spot, and within 45 minutes, had collected over 20 dead Sea Biscuits which Suz would scrub, bleach, and present as treasures to her friends.

On the 30th, we had a weather window which would allow us to cross back to the States.  We had hoped for a 3-day window, which would allow us to cross from the Bahamas to North Carolina, but it looked like 2 was all we’d get before the wind and seas got up again.  We decided that Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island, would be a good port of entry, so at 07h00 we hauled anchor in the Bahamas for the last time this season.  Shortly after we got underway, we heard the sailing vessel, “Kite”, on the VHF.  They were talking to another boat about their plans to cross to the U.S.  We hailed them, and let them know that we’d be crossing too, and agreed to be of mutual assistance if the need arose.  Twelve hours later, we approached the edge of the Bahamas Bank, and were back in deep water heading to the northwest, where we would get into the central axis of the Gulf Stream (really The Florida Current).  Once in the current, it’s northward flow would help to push us along.  I secretly hoped that the marine forecast was wrong, and that we’d be able to make it farther north.  By early morning on the first of May, the seas were starting to build a bit.  When we changed watches at 01h30, they had gone from 1’-3’ to 2’-4’, and the wind was up to 19 knots out of the east.  Suz told me that “Kite” had called earlier, just to check in, and that they had a nice conversation.  When the sun came up, we got lines in the water and fished all day.  We had a lot of baits stolen, but only brought in one Skipjack for our efforts.  We sent him back for a swim.  The seas remained at 2’-4’ all day, but the wind decreased, and clocked around to the south-southeast, indicating an imminent frontal passage.  We stuck with our original plan, and pointed our bow west, entering the harbor at Fernandina Beach at 08h45 on May 2nd.  There isn’t a whole lot more to report on the trip home, just a continuum of unbroken horizon for 360 degrees, engine room checks, videos, reading, napping, and the occasional whir of a fishing reel.  We needed to get the salt crust off the Girl, so instead of anchoring or taking a mooring, we called for a spot on the dock.  The Dockmaster told The Admiral that the annual Shrimp Festival had just wrapped up the day before, and the docks were pretty full.  Boats were pulling out as it was Monday morning, and by the time we arrived, there was a slot on the face dock for us.  We plugged in, turned on the air conditioning, and slept for 4 hours.  Later, while we were cleaning the boat, a friend and former multiple Krogen owner, Dennis walked down the dock from the latest in their long line of “Sea Fox’s.”  He invited us to join him and his wife, Julie, for dinner on shore.  Over Mexican food, they regaled us with stories of their cruising life.  They have owned boats on both coasts of the U.S., taken a Krogen across the Atlantic with a group of trawlers, and cruised the Med.  We were particularly interested in their experiences on the west coast for obvious reasons, and got many good tips.  Tuesday morning, “Sea Fox” was gone, I was outside cleaning, and Suz was in.  All of a sudden, I heard some VERY raised voices, then CRASH!  I looked up to see a small trawler, sideways in the current, scraping against the anchor pulpit of a moored sailboat, then the piling that the sailboat was tied to.  Free of these obstructions, it then caromed across the fairway, “T-boning” a power boat tied there.  All the while, the guy on the trawler is yelling at (his wife?) louder and louder.  They get their boat straightened out, motor out of the marina, and head south down the ICW.  I’m thinkin’, “Really?” They get about a half mile down, then turn around and come back, docking at the marina office.  I’m not sure if their conscience got the better of them, or they knew that I had witnessed the whole deal and had their boat name.  I’m going with the former.  Later, I found that they had filed an accident report.  Good for them.  After a day of boat chores, we fell off the wagon, and treated ourselves to half pound (?) burgers, and hand-cut fries at Tasty’s.  What a deal.  We stopped at Atlantic Seafood on the way home, and picked up a couple pounds of shrimp for another day.

After 2 nights in Fernandina, it was time to push North again.  The marine forecast didn’t look great, so we headed up the Intracoastal for Brunswick, GA.  Lots of our pals stop there, as it’s a friendly, inexpensive marina, and we had wanted to check it out in the past, but had never had the opportunity.  Our route would take us past the King’s Bay naval facility, where the Navy services our submarines.  As luck would have it, as we entered the ICW from Fernandina Bay, we were approached by 3 Coast Guard inflatables with BIG guns on their bows, lights flashing.  After an exchange on the VHF, we were instructed to move up Cumberland Sound, as a naval warship would be heading through, necessitating the closure of the ICW.  We could have headed south, gone around Cumberland Island, and back up the Brunswick River, but thought it’d be cool to see a sub underway from up close, so we headed into the Sound.  After idling for 20 minutes or so, we decided to drop anchor, as there didn’t seem to be much happening on the ICW.  Finally, the sub passed by, accompanied by 2 large tugs.  It was a small attack sub, but it was still pretty darn big, and quite impressive.  Our hour-and-a-half delay put us behind the tide, and when we got up to Jekyll Island, we had to anchor to wait for enough water to pass through Jekyll Creek.  Ten hours after leaving Fernandina, we arrived at Brunswick, having traversed only 39 miles.  Turns out that we were just in time for social hour(s) at the clubhouse, featuring beer and wine, provided by the marina.  We met a lot of interesting, friendly folks, including the owners of “Kite”.  They were just returning to the States after completing a 6-year circumnavigation of the globe.  We chatted until long after the party was over, and were fascinated by tales of their travels.

-Until Later   

Pages

Captain's Log

Morning, Morning.

Hurricane season is over!!  Doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be any more storms, just means that our insurance company will allow us to move back up into the “hurricane latitudes”.  Yesterday, we left Port Louis Marina in St. George, taking a short shakedown cruise around the south end of Grenada to Woburn Bay.  The short trip allowed us to try out the Girls’ systems which have all been asleep for the past months while at the marina.  Everybody but the weather station at the top of the mast behaved well.  We can live with a funky wind speed indicator.  We spent the night in Woburn, picking up our last meat order from Gilles, the butcher/owner of Whisper Cove Marina and restaurant.  Our order was short a couple of pork tenderloins.  Gilles said that if we could stay until Friday, we could get our tenderloins, as he was “killing the animal” on Thursday.  We’ll survive without-grabbed a couple of cutlets instead.  This morning, we were off the hook by 07h14.  By 08h15, we were at the dropoff on the windward (Atlantic) side of Grenada, heading North with 2 lines wet.  So far, (at 10h00) not a single nibble.  On the bright side, we’ve had no hydraulic overheats, and all systems running well over 2’-4’ beam seas.  The plan is to stop at Ronde Island, near Kick ‘Em Jenny (the underwater volcano) for lunch.  If the anchorage isn’t too rolly, we’ll stay the night.  Otherwise, we’ll continue north to Carriacou.

Here I am, a couple of days later.  The anchorage at Ronde Island was really pretty.  There was a fair bit of swell coming around the corner, but it wasn’t anything that the flopperstoppers couldn’t handle.  We ran up to Sandy Island, off Carriacou the next morning.  We’ve been on a national Park mooring ball here for the past two days, our bow pointed toward the town of Hillsborough, some 2 miles away.  The prevailing winds have us positioned beautifully.  Sunset off the back porch, with the full moon rising over the bow shortly after.  Off to our port lies Sandy Island, its’ white beach 400 yards distant.  There are only 10 mooring balls here, and anchoring is not allowed.  Besides ourselves, there have been 3 boats here every day.  The other 6 balls turn over daily.  It’s really nice to be out of the commercial harbor and into clean water.  We were able to run our watermaker for the first time in months.  We held our breaths as we awakened the slumbering beast, and to our relief, she purred along smoothly.  Chores have been held to a minimum, although I’m trying to reclaim the lines that ran off Alizann’s bow to the submerged mooring in Port Louis.  Even though we had the divers scrub them monthly, they came up covered in soft and hard growth.  We soaked them in buckets of bleach solution for two days, then trailed them off the back of the boat after scrubbing them a foot at a time, and scraping the barnacles off.  Another bleach bath, and they still smell DISGUSTING!  They’re hanging in the sun now-we’ll see.  Ed on “Slowdown” says that he just throws them away after a season-now I know why.

On Friday, we walked on the beach, relaxed, and started to get reacquainted with life on the water.  Yesterday, we had an early morning snorkel off the northeast tip of the island, finding a nice patch of healthy coral and a diversity of fish and invertebrates.  In the afternoon, we took a dinghy ride over to Hillsborough and booked a 2 tank dive with “Deefer Divers” for tomorrow morning (Monday).  We’re hoping to get a few of our new favorite dinner fish (Lionfish).

The dive with Deefer Divers was a “Red Carpet” experience.  They were expecting a dive club from Illinois the next day, booking their boats for the rest of the week.  As such, the full staff was with us (for 6 divers), I assume to get them all on the same page before the arrival of the twenty-some-odd divers from the States.  We had the divemasters from Deefer, the divemaster and new manager from Arawak Divers (Deefer’s sister shop in Tyrell Bay), two boat captains, and one of the owners of both dive shops.  Suzanne and I dove with Mike, the new manager of Arawak (soon to be Carriacou Divers), and his mate, Bob.  They both turned out to be super “spotters”.  In addition to bagging a half dozen Lionfish, we saw uncounted lobsters, 9 Manta Rays (groups of 2, 3, and 4), several Stingrays, a field of Garden Eels, a Nurse Shark, a school of Squid, a few free-swimming and hidey-hole ensconced Moray Eels, and the usual suspects of coral reef habitats

We had planned to head out after the morning dive, but it was a beautiful day, so we just hung out on the Girl and enjoyed the post-dive “glow”.   Midafternoon, “Exclusive” (everybody in the islands has a nickname) and his twin boys came by with fresh lobster.  Sure, why not?  The tail went on the grill with a couple of steaks.  No red pop on board (we’ll wait ‘till the French islands to restock), but the Champaign washed it all down satisfactorily.

Morning came soon enough.  We dropped the dinghy, headed in to town and cleared out with Customs and Immigration.  We walked the streets a bit, and checked out the grocery stores, deciding that this definitely was not a provisioning spot on any return trip.  We’ll certainly be back for an encore with the dive operation here, though.  We’ve heard that Sister’s Rock is a primo dive, so we’ll try to time our stop to coincide with a Neap tide, as the current out there is ferocious during a Spring tide (it was a full moon this weekend).

Off to Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).  JT Pro Kiteboarding Center is calling us back.

-Later

 

Good Morning,

Our last 2 weeks in Grenada passed quickly.  We woke up the propulsion engine and generator after everybody got new impellers in their raw water pumps.  The watermaker remained an unknown, as there was no way that we’d run it in this commercial harbor with its many chemical and biologic pollutants.  We were now texting and emailing Clarke every day, with very little progress being made on our awning.  One night, while we were at Grenada Brewing Company with a bunch of other cruisers, Clarke’s name came up.  Oooooh Boy!  Lotsa vitriol.  Seems that he used to do a great job, but as of this year, we heard the same story from 4 other boats-delays, excuses, and projects not delivered to agreed-upon specifications.  All the stories ended the same way, with his customers threatening to trash him on social media, and feeling anger instead of satisfaction.  Let’s just say that we got an awning a few days before our departure.  We’re in the process of modifying it so that it’ll work.  Unfortunately, our sewing machine took a hike after the first seam, so the 2 of us have been sewing by hand.  Somewhere down the line, we’ll find a professional to remake it properly.

One night, a bunch of us went to “Patrick’s” restaurant.  We enjoyed Momma’s cooking, served family-style.  Will served us 13 different Grenadian dishes, including Green Papaya salad, Green Banana salad, Mashed Pumpkin, grilled Breadfruit, curried Goat, Cucumber fritters, Lambi (Conch), sweet & sour fish, etc. and etc……….., so we all had a nice “taste of Grenada”, even tho’ Manicou (Possum) and Iguana were not on the menu that night.  Another evening, the crew of “Alizann” hosted a “Goodbye” cocktail party for Dan and Melissa (“Slow Dancing”) for a dozen of their friends before they departed for Bonaire.  Suzanne just had to cook one more dinner for Ron.  He requested Shepherd’s Pie.  In 88 degree weather?  Really?  Poor guy came down with a bad cold, so Suz delivered his comfort food to his boat.  I have to admit, the Pie was good (With the air-conditioning cranking, and an NFL game on cable TV).

We got our last delivery from “Fast Manicou”, a.k.a. John Hovan.  He came to “Alizann”, picked up our empty propane tank, SodaStream CO2 bottles, and returned them to us full, as well as bringing a couple of cases of Coke (diet and otherwise), and a case of French Champagne (for $25EC/bottle), all at considerably lower prices than we could find around town.

Soon enough, all was made ready and it was time to go.

-Later

Good Day,

Sooo…. Grenada has a very active chapter of “Hash House Harriers”.  (The H3 is an international group of non-competitive runners, commonly described as “drinkers with a running problem”.  The group originated in the Federated Malay States in 1938 by some British colonial officers to combat post weekend hangovers).  Anyway, instead of avoiding this group, as we had been sagely advised (by one who had dislocated a shoulder, and another who had broken an ankle while Hashing with this group), we decided to join them in celebrating the Grenada chapters’ 1,000th Hash.  We took a cab up to the north end of Grenada, found the location, and signed up for the course that was right in the middle of the 7 trail choices of varying difficulty.  Our trail led us up and down through the tropical rain forest.  In places, the trail was so steep that you had to pull yourself along on brush growing alongside the trail(?).  In others you had to hold on for dear life as you slid downhill on Teflon-slick mud (which covered the trail from start to finish-Hey, it’s rainy season, and we were up north).  The trail crossed several streams, and in the muddy lowlands, many a shoe was sucked off the unsuspecting participant.  After a couple of muddy, sweaty hours, we finished unscathed, except for a bit of mud (especially our backsides).  The beer was cold and cheap (3 for $12EC).  Afterwards we enjoyed the festivities, including music and fun with the nearly 400 other participants.  Unfortunately, they ran out of tee shirts in my size.  Suz was able to score one, though.  The hour-and-a-half ride home was looonnng!

We continued to check boat projects off the list, while enjoying the company of our fellow cruisers at Port Louis.  Suz and I fell into a routine of heading over to the salt water pool in the early evenings to get in some much-needed exercise swimming laps.  Of course, it helped us cool off after the hot, humid days here in Grenada.  Our awning project remained unfinished, but hey, we had a few more weeks ‘till departure.

Saturday, the 14th of October.  We were headed over to Eco Dive with our friend, Ron by 08h00.  This was the last day of the first annual Dive Pure Grenada week, a week-long celebration of scuba diving in Grenada.  We headed out to the reefs up north to hunt Lionfish.  These beautiful, but nasty little guys are the bane of reef fish from South America all the way north to Maine.  They are an invasive species, native to the South Pacific, and have no natural predators in this hemisphere.  Voracious eaters, they can wipe out whole populations of reef fish, especially the juveniles.  Our mission, along with divers from eight other dive operators here is to bag as many of these bad boys as possible.  We’ll take our catch to Coconuts, a restaurant on Grand Anse beach, where Pat’s crew will cook them up for our dinner tonight.  We dropped over the side, and as we passed through 95 feet, we realized that maybe were in the wrong spot, as the reef was supposed to be at 45’-50’.  After this inauspicious start, the boat dropped us in the right spot.  With Suzanne doing the spotting, Ron and I speared around 15 fish.  The second dive site was much more productive for us-25 fish.  As I was jamming one of my victims into our carrier, I caught one of his spines in my thumb.  Didn’t hurt much at first, but as the venom spread, the feeling of intense heat spread down to my second knuckle.  Yeeouch!!  After an hour or so, it subsided with no ill effects.  (As a protective mechanism, the Lionfish has some 18 venomous spines, located in front of their dorsal, pectoral, and anal fins.  They don’t attack with them, but if one happens to catch you, it’ll really get your attention.  If you mount an allergic reaction, it can be fatal) When we surfaced from the second dive, the wind had come up and whipped the sea surface into a froth.  It rained sideways all the way home, and for a change, we were all cold.  The weigh-in told the tale-our six shooters had netted a little over 80 pounds of fish.  All told, the 9 boats participating took 401 pounds of tasty Lionfish.  That evening, we were joined by other divers at Coconuts for the closing presentations of the first annual dive week.  The assistant minister of tourism gave a short talk, declaring the week a success.  Awards were given to the winners of the underwater photography contest as the photo entries streamed along on a large screen.  Afterwards, live music was provided by a local band, “Solid.” The chefs prepared the fish as a curry, baked with butter and garlic, as a Creole stew, and breaded with panko and deep-fried.  Our table ordered all styles and shared.  The light, white filets lent themselves well to all the preparations, and washed down well with Rhum Punch.

On Monday morning, Dan, Melissa, and Margrite joined us on the number 1 bus to St. George to visit the fort .  Besides changing hands (France and Great Britain) several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, the fort has 20th century significance.  It was there, in 1983, that the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, and seven others in his government were executed by the military and other factions of his party, precipitating the intervention by the United States.  Of course, after touring the fort, then the Grenada National Museum, we had to drop by the Chocolate Museum for chocolate shakes.  It was really hot outside!  We got a line on lunch from a local kid, who said that “Rin’s” had good, cheap Roti.  We found the place, but peering through the locked door, it didn’t look promising-basically a 7’x10’ space with a card table in the middle.  No signage, but we suspected that someone might show up at Noon, 10 minutes away.  Sure enough, at around ten after, a couple came down the sidewalk carrying a couple of insulated boxes.  After unlocking the door and plunking the boxes down, they were open for business.  The fare included Chicken, Veggie, Beef or Fish Roti.  Suzanne and I both ordered Chicken.  We wandered down to the water and found some picnic tables in a square by the cruise ship dock.  Eating the Roti was a challenge, as bones were included, but for $10EC ($3.70US), we felt like we did okay.

-Later

The flight back went smoothly, arriving in Grenada at 14h30 after changing planes in Miami.  The Girl was happy to have us back, although she had been well taken care of in our absence.  Randolph and the guys from Island Dreams had kept her clean inside and out, as well as checking on the dehumidifier/air conditioning.  Brett Fairhead’s guys kept her bottom clean, diving her once a month.

The next morning, it was “hammer time”.  Our shipping container had avoided the hurricanes, and Tropical Shipping notified us that it was in the warehouse at the port.  Suzanne contacted Ricky Telesford, our shipping agent, to get things moving through Customs.  To her surprise, he said that everything was already in order, and that he could drive his truck up to the boat and deliver the next business day.  (Just lettin’ you know that this didn’t happen without plenty of effort by the Admiral.  She had emailed receipts for each and every item in the container-a hundred or so, to Ricky weeks before.  Even so, friends had told us that it might take days/weeks to move through Customs).  None of the welding had been started, even though we had met with the welder before we left.  None of the canvas work had been started.  Hey, we’re in the islands.  Problem is, the end of Hurricane Season is the busy time for these guys (which is why we gave them jobs in the Summer).  Several calls, texts, emails to each of them, and we got responses from both, who assured us that they were “just getting around to it” (more or less).  We got in a quick provisioning trip to Foodland, and joined Paul and Sue (Suzanna Aqui, our marina neighbors) for dinner at Victory’s, the marina restaurant, for Barbeque Night.  Over the weekend, we joined Ron, and his wife, Judy for a snorkel trip to the underwater sculpture park, the reef off the Grand Anse beach, and lunch at the L’Anse aux Pines resort.  Ron is the manager at Island Water World, the local boat supply shop, and has the use of the company boat, a 20’ rigid inflatable with a 60 horse outboard.  Very nice for getting from here to there.  Nick, the welder, was true to his word.  His guys showed up on Monday to get going on the welding jobs.  They got the plates for the awning supports started, and said they’d be back the following day to remove the old solar panels.  Suz and I thought we’d keep them focused on the skill job, telling them that we’d have the panels off by the time that they arrived the next day.  All in all, the welding was done well, although it wasn’t the smoothest project that we’ve ever done.  Lots of poor communication and failed deadlines, but completed by the first week of October.  (In his defense, I think that Nick is an artist, not a businessman.)  The canvas guy, Clarke, -not so much.  Lots of no-shows, then he’d show for a few minutes right before dark, take a few measurements, and promise to see us the next day, only to no-show.  (no worries, we thought, not leaving for another month)  Well……the project dragged on.  Lots of excuses (never his fault) meeting at the kids school, car broke down, lost my phone, and on and on.  Would have fired him, but had prepaid him several $K for materials and some labor.

Suz and I got the new solar panels up, and I got the worst sunburn of my life.  I just went out one morning in my boxers to take a quick measurement or two.  Five hours later, as the last panel was going up, one of our neighbors, Torie, walked by and informed me that she could see my red back from the street.  I blistered and bled for nearly three weeks-what a dummy!  We pulled wire, and Nick fabricated a bracket for our new WIFI booster antenna which I installed at the top of our mast (Yes, I still hate heights-coulda’ used a couple Xanax).

Over the next few weeks, we spent a lot of time socializing with fellow cruisers on our dock, and seeing the sights on Grenada:

Saturday is “Market Day” in St. George, and a gang from the marina usually bussed in for fresh veggies and fish.  (to say nothing of a “breakfast beer” for Ken and Dan.)

Sundays started with Mass at the cathedral (never less than 2 hours) followed by Brunch at Whisper Cove marina with any of our neighbors that Suzanne could motivate.  We usually had a bus full.  Afternoons were occupied by the NFL (yes, El Cheapo popped for cable so he could catch some football games).  On alternate Sundays, we’d head over to Eco Dive on Grand Anse for a two-tank dive, usually with Ron (Judy had to return to Florida to work-long distance marriage works for them for now.  She’ll retire next year).  Post dive lunch at Umbrellas was always a treat.

Wednesday was “Pizza Night” at the marina restaurant.

Thursday was “Chicken Night” at Whisper Cove

Suz and I had heard from several sources that Cutty’s Tour was the way to see Grenada, so we signed up, talking Rob and Cindy, aboard “Aventura”, to come along.  Cutty picked us up in his air-conditioned van, and we were off on our day-long adventure.  By the time that the day was done, we had driven nearly the length of the island, visiting Grenada Chocolate Factory, Belmont Estate, Anandale waterfall, River Antoine rum distillery (where we had lunch in their restaurant), a nutmeg depot, and stopping numerous times to identify and/or taste local fruits and vegetables.

True to form, Suzanne cooked.  For Paul and Sue one night, she created a fantastic curry chicken stew that I had been whining about for weeks (having read about it in Ann Vanderhoof’s book “Spice Necklace”).  Another night, it was stuffed, grilled avocado for Torie and Gary. Still another, a special request from Ron put Suzanne’s famous enchiladas on the menu.

I passed on the girls shopping trip, but I understand that Suz, Melissa, and Magrite did some damage in St. George.

Besides the canvas from Clarke’s Upholstery, projects were falling off the “To Do” list daily.  Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s still the “Rainy Season” so any outside activities were punctuated regularly by torrential rainfalls, creating humidity readings in excess of 90% to go along with 89 degree temperatures.

That’s enough for now (maybe too much).

-Later

 

 

So……A quick Summer synopsis, ‘cause I’m guessin’ you don’t wanna hear about our life on dirt: Alison and Ben bought a house in Ann Arbor last fall, and we saw it for the first time this Summer. Over the course of our Stateside visit, we stayed with them several times, getting back to our roots in the old college town, and helping with a few home-improvement projects. We drove to Charleston for our week at the beach on Isle of Palms for Suzanne’s family’s annual reunion. Both of our kids made it too, so life was good. (even tho’ Ali wasn’t joining in cocktail hour…..Hmmmh!). Spent the front and back sides of that trip in Asheville, with Mike, Sheila (Suz’s sister) and Casey, (Suzanne’s Mom) Found the house to be in great shape after our nine-month absence. Put 2 coats of varnish on the entire interior (White Cedar walls and ceilings). Figure that it’s the last time that we’ll have to do that, since the last time was 20 years ago. Cut up some dead trees that had fallen during the Winter. Had a new outdrive put on the 30 year old runabout (croaked immediately after launching). Enjoyed a jam-packed social calendar, nurturing old relationships with many dear friends. Bill and Lauren (Seastar- St. Lawrence and Newfoundland cruise), Mark and Christine (pals from Michigan), and the crazies from Chicago (our kid’s pals) came for sleepovers and kayaking/canoeing trips down the river. Spending time with Jody and Andy (longtime Michigan pals, and crew on the St. Lawrence and the Bahamas) was long overdue, but again, there wasn’t enough of it. On a sad note, our good friend and neighbor, Kim, diagnosed while were back the previous Summer, lost his battle with Multiple Myeloma just before our return. We had all hoped that he would make it to the Summer, when Suz and I would act as crew so that he and his wife, Cyndy could take one last cruise on their Benetau sailboat, “Endless Dream”. We make plans-God laughs. Although Kim and Cyndy have a loving and supporting family, it’s sometimes good to have some “outsiders” for a different perspective. We like to think that we helped in our own small way. Also, in the Spring, we got the news that our other upnorth friends/neighbors, married for some 30 years had split. Lots of evenings spent with Jayne and Cyndi, trying to be good listeners. We happened to be there at the right time for both of them. (of course, as a Male, I just wanted to FIX things). Hoped that just being there helped in some small way. We needed to send boatstuff to Grenada that was difficult to buy there (including new SunPower solar panels), so made a quick drive to Florida to pack a container, which would be shipped by Tropical Shipping. We packed our rental SUV with boat things- oil, coolant, another flopperstopper bird, computer, bottom paint, WIFI booster, spare parts, some favorite foods, etc. & etc. Drove down on Monday, picked up our new panels (oh yeah, they were too big for the SUV, so we had to rent a truck), packed our container on Tuesday, (container wasn’t full, so we went shopping at Walmart for hurricane-relief supplies to fill it), and drove back to Michigan on Wednesday. (Whoa! Getting’ too old for 44 hours of driving in 72). Bam! Time to go home. Back to Ali and Ben’s. University of Michigan game against Air Force. Tailgating with old friends, Gary, Lynn, Dick and Jan. Ben drives us to the airport at 04h00 to catch our plane south. Oh….That “no Cocktail” thing? The Admiral and I will be Grandparents in late February. Nash Joseph is scheduled to make his debut in late February. Whew! Makes me tired just writin’ it. -Later

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