A 241-day adventure by Suzy
  • The Long Journey Home

    June 13 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 64 °F

    We made an uneventful double overnight run from Ft. Pierce, FL to Charleston, SC. It was Easter week so the marinas were all full. We tucked in and anchored next to the USS Yorktown, which offered great protection from the winds that night. The next day we were able to get a slip in the Cooper River Marina, away from downtown but quiet and protected from the winds we needed to ride out for a few days. There was a freight container port right next to the marina, but we managed to have some good walks and see some wildlife along the nearby canals nonetheless.

    We had another brief offshore opportunity and went overnight from Charleston to Beaufort, NC. We anchored, for the first time, in Taylor Creek. The waterfront was busy, the main anchorage was crowded, and we didn't plan to go ashore, so we anchored well down the Creek and had a restful night.

    The only section of the ICW we did during the entire trip home was from Beaufort to Norfolk, which included several days in Dowry Creek Marina in Bellhaven, NC for, yet again, another wind event. We chose the Dismal Swamp
    route, anchored one night in Norfolk, then went into a marina in Virginia Beach to stage for an offshore trip up the Maryland and Delaware coasts.

    We got into Cape May, NJ just as the winds of an approaching Nor'Easter were starting to build. We sat out 8 days of high winds, rain and fog, awaiting the opportunity to go up the coast of New Jersey and into New York City. When we finally left, poor visibility expected to improve within a few hours, made navigating out of Cape May Harbor very challenging. The fog never lifted until we got into Long Island Sound. It remained so dense in the East River in NYC that we couldn't see both sides of the river until we got almost to Hell Gate.

    We had about 8 hours of beautiful conditions in Long Island Sound until the fog moved back in with a vengeance, around Bridgeport, CT. About 6 miles before "The Race," (a 3 mile wide deep channel of very strong current between Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound), we were approached from behind by a 300 ft long, 100 ft tall, cargo ship wanting to know our intentions. We were fighting the current and only doing 3.5 kts, so I asked him what he wanted us to do. He instructed us to hold our course and he would pass us on our starboard. We were relieved when we finally passed us as we could never see him. We could only hear his horn as he passed. Excitement like that helps you stay awake when you know you have to keep going for a second night! Yikes!

    We anchored in Onset for one night, then spent one night in the Sandwich Marina while conditions improved in Cape Cod Bay and north. The rest of our trip was fairly benign and we were excited to tie up on our dock early morning May 19th. It was a challenging sailing season weather wise but another good one overall.
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    Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your adventures! [Jane Gingrich]

    6/13/22Reply

    Wow - welcome home! [David Libby]

    6/13/22Reply

    So glad your journey was a success. So glad you are home! [Marlene Ouellette]

    6/14/22Reply

    You two have quite the adventuresome spirit. Welcome home! [Joanie]

    6/15/22Reply
     
  • Day200

    Exumas (cont'd) and Starting Home

    April 20 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 73 °F

    We decided not to go any further south as our time to think about starting our journey home to Maine was approaching and the winds supported us moving north instead. We made our way up to Emerald Rock at Warderick Wells with plans to hike the trails we like and hadn't been on in three years. Strong southwest winds made the trip there easy but when attempting to grab a mooring, seas were rough and a wrestling match ensued with the mooring winning. I was unable to hold the boat on the wind and the mooring hook, already hooked onto the float of the mooring pennant, was snatched from Dave's hands and managed to wrap itself around the rudder post, causing a terrible vibration and forcing me to turn the engine off. Fortunately the prop was not involved and the pennant and mooring hook were holding us. We securely attached stern lines from each stern cleat to the mooring (see photo) and when conditions settled a couple of hours later, Dave attached a bow line to the mooring as well, released the stern line on the opposite side, and we worked the boat around. The next morning we were easily able to spot the water-logged mooring hook on the bottom nearby and I dove down and retrieved it.

    Our age challenged memories failed us as we tried to retrace the hiking route we took several times 3 years ago.We got significantly off course and spent enough time bush whacking that we both incurred Poisonwood rashes that plagued us for the next few weeks.These rashes are much like rashes from Poison Sumac and Poison Oak. We're very grateful for Hydrocortisone and Benadryl cream. If we ever choose to take the hike again (Dave says NO!!) it will be after downloading the Google Maps satellite view!

    Seeing a possible crossing window approaching but still almost a week away, we moved south again to Pipe Alley. We hid between the Mice and Rat Cay for some northeast winds then moved to our favorite spot in front of Little Pipe Cay for a few days. To us the water colors there are as dramatic as they are in the Land and Sea Park.

    We staged at Allens Cay then made a long day run to the Berry Islands,
    stopping first at Bonds Cay then working our way around to CoCo Cay (aka Little Stirrup Cay, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines). We anchored there just in time for a squall with 35 kt winds. The next morning we crossed to Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island and enjoyed a week in the Grand Bahama Yacht Club Marina, awaiting palatable Gulf Stream crossing conditions.

    With friends in Vero Beach, FL holding a brand new windlass for us, our destination from Lucaya was Ft. Pierce. We chose a day that was a little sportier than we would have liked, but the forecast for the following days warned of numerous thunderstorms with squalls coming off of Florida and across the Gulf Stream. The crossing was bouncy but tolerable.

    We had a reservation in Ft. Pierce City Marina and our friend generously delivered our new windlass to us there. Dave spent the entire next day carefully installing it. It's working fine, it's much quieter than the old one and we're thrilled that we won't be faced with manually deploying and retrieving the anchor by hand in the mud conditions the ICW often provides north from here on.

    We grabbed a window to jump offshore all the way from Ft. Pierce to Charleston, SC. We initially planned to stay close to shore so we could go into a closer inlet if we needed to, but once we got up to Canaveral and refreshed our forecast models, we decided to go for it and ride the Gulf Stream. When we got well into the GS, the waves were huge, spread out swells. Concerned that they were coming from the north and that increasing north winds could really stir things up, we moved over to the edge of the west wall of the Stream where we could bail if need be.The wind actually ended up being very light so our 2 nights out there were very easy and we made great time.

    One highlight of the long stretch was the visit by Stuart the stowaway, a Palm Warbler. He joined us for a couple of hours on the first afternoon, confidently exploring the cockpit and not fazed by our presence. He left that evening but found us again in the morning. We have often had birds rest with us for a while on long crossings, but something was different about Stuart. He'd leave for a few minutes, then come back. Eventually he didn't leave, instead making himself at home inside and outside the boat and even on our heads and legs. In the photo you can see he even let Dave stroke him. He seemed appropriately vigorous and curious but we were surprised at his desire for physical closeness with us. By late that second day he just wanted to hang out down in the salon. Figuring he was resting for a long trip north, we simply stayed out of his way and talked to him now and then. Alas, we eventually found him lying motionless on the floor next to the companionway. We were sad but we hope we offered him some comfort and serenity on his last trip north....

    We arrived in Charleston Harbor mid day Easter Sunday. All marinas we called were full, some through the entire week. We anchored in front of the retired aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown and enjoyed her protection from east winds gusting into the 30s that night. The next day we were able to get into the Cooper River Marina, not close to town but quiet and comfortable. We're glad to be plugged in as the past 2 night have dipped into the 40s with stiff north winds and we've had the heat on!

    Our next plan is to leave here this weekend and go offshore to Beaufort, NC. From there we'll take the ICW to Norfolk, VA then re-evaluate!
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    sounds like a great adventure [DeBois Steve]

    4/20/22Reply

    All sounds great. I wish you were a few weeks delayed, we might have caught you. [Hayden]

    4/20/22Reply

    Hi from SV Nancy Marie. This is Wednesday the 20th. Are you still in Beaufort? We will be there the 21st and 22nd. Would love to catch up with you! [Nancy O'Malley]

    4/20/22Reply
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  • Day171

    Moving south, Exumas

    March 22 on the Bahamas ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    Arriving in the Exumas late this year, we expected most of the fronts to be over with. Since the absence of a windlass is keeping us from wanting to move around a lot, persistent frequent wind events haven't really bothered us. We went right back into our favorite hideout in Norman's Pond on Norman;'s Cay for 6 days when a northerly came through. We were able to enjoy all our favorite spots there but, much to our dismay, the resort and upscale home development which we have been watching get underway for the past couple of years has really progressed. A member from one of the old families there confirmed our fears that the roads and beaches will be off limits before long. Luckily, we don't see a way the Pond can be made inaccessible...

    From Norman's we made short jumps down to Shroud and Hawksbill, which we hadn't visited in 3 years. Both among the Land and Sea Park Cays, they offer some of the most breathtaking array of aquamarine colors. This water is what keeps drawing us back....

    We anchored next near the grotto at Staniel Cay for a few days and got fuel and a few groceries and got rid of trash. Sunday we spent several hours attempting to catch fish on the Sound between Staniel and Great Guana Cays but only succeeded in losing a brand new lure to something big that Dave saw jump out of the water behind us. We're here now at Black Point on Great Guana Cay with newly clean laundry waiting for some winds to die down before we move a little further south.
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    You are killing me with your pictures. Hawksbill is one of my favorites. [Prue]

    3/22/22Reply
    Traveler

    Me too!

    3/22/22Reply

    Some of our favorite spots! Enjoy!! [Chrisy]

    3/23/22Reply
     
  • Day171

    Chubb Cay to the Northern Exumas

    March 22 on the Bahamas ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F

    We had a slow but uneventful crossing from Lake Worth, across the Gulf Stream towards the western end of Grand Bahama, then picked up speed and had an easy night the remainder of the way to Chubb Cay in the Southern Berrys. We stayed one night in the marina for ease of Customs and Immigration check-in and for fuel.

    We then made a long day run from Chubb, arriving at Allens Cay just after dark. Between the dark and the rougher than expected sea state, we were reminded of why we don't like to anchor at night. The next day we were eventually able to anchor in our favorite cove off SW Allens Cay. Unfortunately, our windlass (electric winch for the anchor chain) met its demise upon deployment there.

    With great contortionist maneuvering, assorted tools and a few resulting cuts/bruises and aches and pains, we were eventually able to remove the old windlass. Dave's attempts at disassembling it and repairing it were, alas, unsuccessful. It served us well but it's time to replace it. We have friends in Florida who are generously holding a new one for us . Dave will install it upon our return there in the next few weeks. In the meantime we will make every effort to anchor in calm, shallow water, to minimize the amount of chain we need to manage along with the anchor. Who needs free weights when you have no windlass...

    We decided to wait out the winds in the Highbourne Cay Marina We hadn't stayed there previously and appreciated the convenience and amenities, knowing we would probably be anchoring for the rest of our time in the Exumas. Dave had a BIG birthday while we were there!
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    When we had windlass problems we used a spare halyard with a chain hook (and temporary downhaul attached to halyard) to raise the anchor. Slow but saved Burt's back. [Prue]

    3/22/22Reply
     
  • Day147

    Stuart, Florida

    February 26 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F

    We made it down to Stuart the week before Thanksgiving and were able to get on a mooring in Sunset Bay Marina, close to the marina facilities. Happy to be back to such a nice little city and great spot to leave the boat for a month, we enjoyed nice warm weather until our flight home in mid December.

    Upon our return to Cay Paraiso in mid January, conditions stayed too unsettled for us to leave either to go further south or to cross to the Bahamas. We missed one good window while awaiting the receipt and installation of a new wind instrument, then several more potential windows closed right after they appeared.

    Almost 3 weeks later than we've ever left for the Bahamas, we are finally on our way. We had a pleasant motor sail offshore to Lake Worth today and plan to leave in the morning for Chub Cay in the Berrys. We are hoping to be in the Exumas by Wednesday.
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    Hello, this is wonderful to hear that you are both well and about to go to a beautiful area. We were so close to you. We sailed past Stuart twice as we went to North Palm a month ago. We decided to forgoe the Bahamas this year so we came back to St Augustine where we will stay until end of March. Please let us know when you will be heading back north again. Enjoy the tropics and stay safen [Nancy and Tom]

    2/26/22Reply
     
  • Day42

    Oriental, NC to Fernandina Beach, FL

    November 13, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    We skipped the stop in Beaufort and went from Oriental off shore all the way to Hilton Head. The first night was significantly different than expected. Three foot seas on the nose grew and became confused as the wind, stronger than predicted, clocked around to the north. Waves were cresting and breaking and it was uncomfortable. It's a good way to diet but I wouldn't recommend it.

    The second night was delightful once the seas got themselves in sync. The wind died way down so we motored, but the peace and quiet was welcome after the previous night.

    We spent several nights in Hilton Head. The highlight was a fabulous visit with our friends, Burt and Prue, which included a visit to their beautiful home, a walk in a lush nature preserve nearby, and a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum.

    It was becoming evident that the cold was following us. Not being in any hurry at this point, and with a Nor' easter in the forecast, we went and stayed 3 nights in a marina in Savannah. I had never been there and Dave hadn't been there in years. We took a guided walking tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery, considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, then an informative and scenic guided historic trolley tour. In addition to the multiple beautiful Live Oak tree lined squares, I was particularly impressed with the architectural restorations done by the students of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The sunny, cloudless weather added to the lovely ambience of a city I hope to explore again.

    We decided this year to take our time going through Georgia. While it's longer in miles and time than going offshore, most of the Georgia ICW is composed of wild, winding, sparsely developed salt marshes loaded with Dolphins and aquatic birds.

    Our last stop in Georgia was Cumberland Island. We had only been once before and that was years ago. We enjoyed a hike combining trails densely lined with Live Oaks and expansive beach at low tide. That was our first beach walk this trip!

    We're presently at a marina in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Fla. DUH! OSU is playing today!
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  • Day28

    Cape May, NJ to Oriental, NC

    October 30, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

    We had a very pleasant trip off shore from Cape May to Portsmouth, Va., getting just ahead of a gale. We were happy to be in a marina until the winds died and enjoyed a ferry ride into Norfolk and a fun tour of the battleship Wisconsin and the Nauticus Museum. We were fortunate again to be ahead of another gale when we travelled down the beautiful Dismal Swamp route of the ICW, anchoring all by ourselves near Goat Island in the lovely Pasquatank River. We grabbed a 1 day window to get across the often unruly Albermarle Sound and were grateful to stop at a new-to-us, very protected anchorage way up the Alligator River, recommended by our buddies on Sailin' Shoes. With no signal to get a weather update, we waited to leave there until yesterday at noon, when it looked like heavy rain and wind had let up. We had a beautiful afternoon going through the Alligator-Pungo Canal, oblivious to the conditions out in the rivers. We were greeted, upon exiting the Canal, with rough conditions and winds in the 30s. We made a quick turn into the north part of the Pungo River and found good protection for the night. By this morning, winds had died down and we had an easy trip down to Oriental where we are at a dock so Dave can watch Ohio State play!
    We plan on leaving here tomorrow, anchoring tomorrow night, then taking advantage of a nice 2 day window to go off shore from Beaufort to Hilton Head. Yes, 2 more overnights, but even here it's getting into the 40s at night later this week. Just a little further...
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    Traveler

    Dave has to catch OSU! Sounds like progress is good and things are well! Keep traveling safely.

    10/30/21Reply

    Sounds like things are going very well. My daughter and son in law are at the Ohio State game as I write. Go OSU! [Marlene]

    10/30/21Reply
    Traveler

    Oh fun! Go OSU!

    10/30/21Reply
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  • Day20

    Long Island, NY to Cape May, NJ

    October 22, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    We had a beautiful, fast ride Wednesday from Port Washington, down the East River through NYC and around Sandy Hook, NJ. At first the conditions were glorious, with west winds 10-12 knots and an air temperature of 72 degrees. I was able to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine from the bow of the boat in shorts and a tee shirt. A few hours later, around Manasquan, the wind backed, seas built and we eventually had wind and 2, sometimes 3 ft, short period waves on the nose. So, we hobby horsed slowly the rest of the way into Cape May at noon yesterday. The Jersey shore never ceases to amaze us with its unpredictability.
    We plan to leave here tomorrow morning and sail off shore down to Norfolk, VA, arriving Sunday afternoon. From there we feel like we can start taking our time because it's getting warmer!
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    Congrats on another great run. You guys are pros at running offshore. [Hayden]

    10/23/21Reply
     
  • Day12

    Leaving Maine, again!

    October 14, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 52 °F

    During our first attempt at leaving, we discovered 3 problems. We figured we could address the first 2 when we stopped but when we realized the alternator wasn't charging the new batteries, we decided it just wasn't time to leave yet and turned back just before dusk. We got on a mooring in an easily accessible cove for the night then went the rest of the way home the next morning. Dave sorted out the electronics problem, we had the boat hauled and bottom cleaned which fixed the speed, and we had a new voltage regulator installed to better program the new Lithium batteries. We were fortunate, a week later, to see another window of mild, calm conditions and squeezed in a 49 hour run to this marina, getting here just before high winds and cold night time temps. Our plan is to catch a short window Weds./Thurs. to get down the NJ shore to Cape May and, if it holds, another short window Fri./Sat. to get from Cape to Virginia Beach.Read more