It’s because we are heading home, and moving fast every day. And it’s also a huge conflict of feelings – sad that such a wonderful adventure is behind us instead of in front; it has been everything we ever dreamed of – and glad, because we are heading home to our family and house and friends and neighbors and all things familiar and missed. Reviewing my photos for this blog made me realize just how long it has been since posting, so this one might be long. It might also be the last – but we do want to do a wrap up once we’re home.
(Reality: we are actually home now – but I had this blog all prepared and ready to go; couldn’t get a wifi signal sufficient to download the pictures, so you are getting it a bit late!)
Well, we were moving fast. We have been in Hampton VA since Wednesday waiting for this big storm to pass. Looks as though we will be able to move up the Chesapeake tomorrow. Back to where we left off –
At the beginning of March I went home for a week. Just sneaked in, didn’t contact anyone. Needed to do some paperwork things and support Kate a bit. Turns out my timing was perfect – both kids came down with the virus that had been going around Annapolis, and I was able to help look after them so that she could go to work. I was also able to see the swans before they went back north, and was home when our Ospreys arrived back from wintering in the South.
While I was away, Garth kept very busy helping Will Heyer and Heintz restore one of the few old Winer Malone Abaco dinghies that are still in existence. It was badly in need of repair. Will took on the project and Garth helped him, laminating new ribs and replacing the old. You can see where the new ones were installed slightly alongside the originals. Once this is all done, the boat will be turned over and the missing and broken planks will be replaced. A labor of love, but a great challenge and you all know that Garth loves a project!! And it’s not bad working outside under a tent right on the beach!
Will sent us a picture of what he had done after we left – gunwales and new transom installed. All ready to be turned and completed next year.
As always, the flowers around Hope Town are glorious – I can’t resist taking photos.
Garth sailed Will’s Abaco dinghy “Mac & Cheese” in a regatta on the Sunday and managed to win all three races! So his name (for the first time) and Will’s boat (for the second) will be on the Reingold Trophy – an honor! He also sailed, with Denise and John McLinn, on Thomas’ ’95 Hinckley 42 called “Hope” – lots of fun but sadly no good result.
There was a promising weather window developing so we decided not to go to the Barefoot Man concert and headed straight to Green Turtle Cay on March 18th , staging to go to Great Sale Cay when the weather was right and then on to cross the Gulf Stream over to Florida. We had a beautiful sunset at Great Sale – our last night in the Bahamas.
The crossing was a mix of everything – started out calm; the waves were big but long, so we weren’t being tossed around. We were still sailing with the McLinns, and these photos show how their boat disappeared almost completely when we went into a trough!
We had mixed conditions all the way across to Cape Canaveral, with the wind and waves picking up after dark – we ended a tough night by tying up on a fuel dock at about 2.30 am. We woke up to a view that confirmed yes, we were in Florida!!
Cleared customs and were on our way to Titusville to wait out yet more bad weather. It was a treat being able to grocery shop using our credit card and paying American prices!! We spent a night at Marineland then made our way to St. Augustine; when we went through the Bridge of Lions at 6.30 there were four Beneteaus in a row (including us). A tribute to the company that nurtured us here in the US. Then to Fernandina Beach (where the mooring field has been re-opened after the hurricane, you can land your dinghy but the marina is still closed).
Bugs! Whether they are midges, no-see-ums or mosquitos, they are everywhere. We carried bug spray with us wherever we went in the Bahamas and travelling through Florida you see that they have come up with a solution to being able to live outdoors without being bitten.
Of course, there are other ways (less restricting, but perhaps not as effective) of getting rid of them.
What I have realized is that I wasn’t taking photographs of everything as I did on the way down – partly because we were moving so quickly; tie up late and leave early in the morning – but partly because I took so many on the way down that it seemed repetitive. So a brief summary – we went from Fernandino to Jekyll Island to refuel, then we went out into the ocean at St. Simons sound and back in at Royal Sound to head to Beaufort SC. It was already late and we did four hours up the waterway in the dark, seeing day markers on the radar and the chart, and then finding them with a spotlight and moving on to the next one. Stressful but we worked so well together! Put down anchor in Beaufort at 4.30 am!! A lovely day in Beaufort SC and a most delicious dinner at Wren restaurant (write it down in case you ever find yourself there!). Then on to Charleston where we met Ben and Sallie du Buisson and caught up over another delicious dinner (it is diet, diet, diet when we get home!).
At one stage a group of paddlers approached us – as we went by they swung around and tucked in behind us – kept up with our 7 knots for a long way!
Having given up on photographing dolphins, I decided that pelicans were interesting. Amazing watching them flying just inches above the water, hardly ever having to flap their wings. And the way they dive bomb to catch fish! We saw a most interesting event – a group were fishing on a small boat; we saw that one of them had caught something and as they were reeling the fish in, a pelican (in an amazingly well timed move) swooped in and grabbed the fish as it broke the surface of the water!! The angler was equally determined to keep his catch and there was a struggle – the angler won!
At one stage we were looking for a green buoy – only as we got closer did we see that the white buoy had once been green – this is how it happens …
After Charleston we stopped at Georgetown and then anchored at Butler Island. This part of the trip is the most beautiful – the Waccamaw River winds through the Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve with fresh spring growth contrasting against the dark evergreens.
I spotted a turtle sunning itself on a log – had to run down and get my camera. By the time I had it ready, the turtle was behind us – and I couldn’t believe it when I saw an alligator right next to it!
Very soon afterwards I spotted another one …
Makes you realize not all is calm and idyllic! In this stretch of the waterway the water is almost black – a result of the tannic acid leached from leaves and other organic matter. Were we crazy to leave the one for the other?
Ospreys were everywhere – it is amazing where they will decide to make a home –
From Butler Island we went to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club at Little River. After MBYC we went past Wrightsville Beach. Just after, where the sound came in the from the Ocean, at a point where we had touched bottom on the way down, we went hard aground! There was a dredger working and a narrow gap between it and some docks; it was Saturday with tons of day-tripper boats, so it was two way traffic through this small space and lots of shoaling. We went too far to the right and there was no getting off. We sat there while the tide went out, and sat there while it came back in again – until 8.40pm (more than five hours!) when we could finally lift off. Nothing to be done – the boat lay over almost on its side and then you realized there are two kinds of people in the world – those that barreled by, creating a wake that bounced us on the bottom (curses and shaking fists for them) and then those that were concerned and wanted to help (jokes and laughs with them). On that stretch of water there is nowhere to stop, so we did the night time waterway thing – again – until we could find a place to anchor.
From there to Oriental, then to Belhaven for two nights for more weather passing by, and a meal with John and Denise at our very very favorite restaurant – Spoon River. (Another one to write down – maybe a road trip for us one day) From Belhaven to Coinjock, and from there to where we are now, at Hampton VA. Lots of bridges – we had to time some of them that opened on the hour and half hour – but as we got near to Norfolk we were caught by TWO lifting railway bridges that are usually always open. We learned that when they do come down, it’s a long wait!
Passing through Norfolk (in daylight this time) it struck me how children’s toys are modeled on real things (doesn’t that covered tower on the war ship in dry dock look like a robot you’d find on the toy shelves in Target?)
A huge container ship passed us by – imagine our surprise as we came alongside and saw this:
Jonathan and Anne came down from Deltaville – Garth helped with a job that Jonathan had to do in Hampton and we had dinner with them afterwards – and now we are waiting, again, for this gale force storm to pass by so that we can make our way up the Chesapeake and home again.