MOURNING THE LOSS OF THE MAGENTA LINE

This one is a little late – for two reasons – the first is because we are always battling the loss of cellular service, and the second is because we were on the lookout for our friends on Sandpiper, who were also nourthbound in the Chesapeake, but were a few hours behind us.

Day 11 – Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, NC to Deltaville, VA, 96 miles, 8 hours

Leaving the serene Dismal Swamp was bittersweet. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, but when you were actually IN it you were descended upon by a horde of biting flies that looked like miniature jet fighters. We also were getting freaked out by things that went BUMP and THUD in the dark (water) as we hit invisible semi-submerged logs (we dodged many visible ones).

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Then we came up the Deep Creek bascule bridge and lock, with Robert the very friendly and informative lock keeper. He provided us a history of the Dismal Swamp (something Amy had been asking about for several days) as the lock closed up and we dropped nine feet to the lower level. He also told us the area had the country’s highest black bear population – 1.5 bears per square mile. Definitely more that Boston. Sadly, we never saw any bears – or even half bears.

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Then as a we were about to depart he sent us on our way with a resonating tune from a pair of conch shells – that was new!

NOTE: trip planners – he suggested bringing old t-shirts for locking through to put over your fenders. Ours came out of the swamp lock experience all slimy and were basically impossible to clean.

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After the swamp came culture shock as Norfolk, VA just sort of happened. Huge industry and more military than I’d ever seen (I bet there was more than 1.5 battleships per square mile).

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We were in a no wake zone – enforced by the military – for miles as Amy snuck pictures at whatever she could. She is pretty confident she’s now on some no-fly list. There were Navy ships under repair, Navy ships preparing for departure, and Navy ships departing – with the heavy security everywhere, and stern warnings over the VHF about violating the security zones (apparently the Navy has invested in some pretty good radios, because they cut through everything).

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And to cap it all off – we saw a nuclear submarine cruising out of the Elizabeth River out to the Chesapeake, with just its conning tower and tail fin poking out of the water.

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Just as we were watching it go, and as we were leaving the shipping channel to head north, our VHF squawked, “Sequel Sequel, this is Sandpiper”. Sandpiper! I had forgotten all about them. They were a mile off our port bow making the same course as us – for Deltaville. We chatted for a bit, then I burned fuel and left them behind. There was a large front building to the northwest and we wanted to get ahead of it if we could.

And we made it – the storm moved inland and never touched us. We tied up at end of the T at B dock at Norview Marina, washed Sequel down, drank champers, went swimming in their pool, had a great dinghy tour of the harbor, and then ordered takeout to be delivered to the marina. Nice! Tasty Italian – best Italian I’ve ever had in the cockpit of Sequel. We also heard from Sandpiper around 8:00. They were coming into a channel just south of where we were staying – and they tried an overland journey to find us, but we heard back from them around 11:00 – they walked for several miles but couldn’t find us (cue the no cell coverage).

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That’s it – it’s 10:30AM Thursday morning and we’re deliberately leaving late because the seas are calming down to the north this afternoon. We’re off to Annapolis!

As usual, we have some video for you:


Till Annapolis (I hope!)…

John

<– Back to ICW 14

 

STILL LIFE ON GLASS

Today was a nice day – as in, no stress, no long runs, just a dismal swamp. I usually like to come up with a catchy title for each post, but I think I’ll just go with the name of the place we’re at…

Day 10 – Newport, NC to Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, NC, 56 miles, 5 hours

Yep – it was a nice causal day – after we left Alligator River Marina we ran across Alligator River (duh), up along Albermarle Sound before turning into the Pasquotank River, past Elizabeth City and eventually angled into the Dismal Swamp Canal. The two locks that control the water level in the canal – one each at the north and south ends – only open at 8:30, 11:00, 1:30, and 3:00, so you are either there or you wait. We got to South Mills Lock, the southern lock, at 10:50. Perfect. We waited for five minutes with a sailboat for the lock to open and then ran in. The Dismal Swamp Canal is pretty amazing – from its rust colored water to its primitive beauty to its absolute stillness, this often overlooked final section of ICW shouldn’t be missed. It’s a no wake zone the entire way (we’re a 20 knot boat, whereas no wake means 5 knots), but really, it’s only about 30 miles long, so what’s the hurry?

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We tied up at the midway point – at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center – along with the sailboat. Dockage is free here (no power, but free WiFi and water) and they give you loaner bikes to explore the Dismal Swamp Park if you wish.

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photo 4We took advantage of the bikes and rode the 6 miles back to South Mills to Williams Strawberry Farm and Bakery where we bought some goodies for dinner (more on that in a second).

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But before that I wanted to introduce Rupert and Richard, the two guys from the sailboat. A Welshman and a Brit (Richard, forgive me if I’m wrong there!), they were bringing Sandpiper, Rupert’s sailboat, up from Marathon in the Florida Keys (and that has traveled the likes of Cuba and Mexico). We shared some beers and stories with them in the air conditioned comfort of Sequel’s helm deck before we parted ways. Nice guys. I told them I’d pass along their Facebook pages. Rupert’s is “Voyages of the Ketch Sandpiper” and Richard’s is “Realms of the Day”.

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(Richard and Rupert)

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Though the bugs were a bit crazy, such can be said for the crew of Sequel, and we grilled (well, Amy grilled and I ate) some tasty local “salmon” (we suspect trout), a dozen amazing shrimp, the freshest corn ever, and topped it off with a sweet potato biscuit and some Gruner (side note – we shipped two cases of wine ahead of time. We’re almost out…).

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(Here’s where we are tonight – that little blob of blue in a mass of land…)

That’s it – tomorrow marks the last handful of miles (28 to be exact) of the ICW, then we’re on our own to find the rest of our way north. What do we do? Run outside? Run up the Chesapeake then down Delaware Bay?  Where do we stop? Do we stop, or do we simply set a course for magnetic 90?

Stay tuned…

But first, enjoy today’s video compilation


Till the Chesapeake

John

<– Back to ICW 13

 

LIVING THE SUBURBAN LIFE AQUATIC

I feel like Steve Zissou, suburban version.

Sorry for no post yesterday. It was actually going to be Amy’s day to write one, but we ended up in a part of the world that has no cell service. Who knew that even existed? (And stay tuned – Amy’s post is coming at you tomorrow, provided we get service in the great Dismal Swamp… foreshadowing). But before that, here’s the basics for the past two days travel…

Day 8 – Carolina Beach (off Cape Fear River), NC to Newport, NC, 108 miles, 7 hours
Day 9 – Newport, NC to Columbia, NC, 110 miles, 6:45 hours

We are now at Mile Marker 84 in the ICW. That translates to 918 miles Amy, Sequel, and I have traveled together. I for one find that amazing (Amy does too…)

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Yesterday was a bit of a trying day – though it started off well enough. After leaving Carolina Beach, NC we had a nice chat via VHF with Bill who, with his wife Mary, own Harbour Reach, hailing out of Wickford, RI. They have literally spent a decade traveling the great loop route, and are bringing their boat north to RI from the Keys. Perhaps we’ll see them in local waters this summer.

But then we touched bottom in Greenhead City (my name – don’t look it up) and added about a baker’s dozen grey hairs to my head. We also dealt with a slew of local day boaters who have zero sense of courtesy (and we saw a bunch more who did, but sadly it’s the jackasses who you usually remember).

Then we cruised out of Beaufort just as a storm was blowing in, and the wind began screaming across the broad Newport River as we made a dash for the canal cut to the Neuse River – the canal where we were planning on spending the night at Sea Gate Marina. We were both pretty done in when we made the canal and then turned into the marina a few miles in. What a shock for us – it was a little cut in the side of the canal where we tied up literally beside the lawn of a house. It’s a marina largely used as a boat ramp for day boaters, but has great fuel prices ($3.60 / gallon diesel) and very friendly people. So we watched our neighbors mow their lawns and had a nice meal, and revolted at some great hairy bugs.

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 We also saw that angriest and perhaps saddest house ever…

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And we got a much needed dog fix…

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Then today we ran across several broad and tumultuous rivers – which really should be called sounds. It was somewhat unpleasant for a bit, with the seas a short and sometimes steep chop that made for rough going. At the end we ran up Alligator River, under a very long car bridge, then skirted along the bridge to a truck stop. Yep – a truck stop that also doubled as a transient marina. Alligator River Marina (and alligators are part of what makes the story of this place). It was perfect – we are the only boat in the entire place (though not was true for the cars and trucks), there’s a building for us to do laundry, and Annette who works behind the counter made us fantastic fried chicken with okra, slaw, creamed potatoes and salad (and she brought out a pair of frosty mugs for our beer). Did I say perfect?

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And of course, we also had some fun times throughout the day. This morning we passed an enormous silver Pershing megayacht in the canal. When I radioed the captain for a pass, I told him he had a sweet ride, and he replied that the same was true for us! Then about two hours later, as we were slogging our way though the Neuse River, that same Pershing flew by us doing at least 30 knots. Probably more. By then we had reduced to a bashing 8.7 knots. Ah the life.

We also saw a new Nordhavn 86 foot trawler that was stunning.If you’ve read my novel Out of Hell’s Kitchen, you know that I feature a Nordhavn 62 significantly in the book. Great boats.

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I don’t know – lots more – oh, we motored through a bombing range. That was interesting. Luckily there was no bombing, strafing or otherwise exploding happening today – but the burned out and bullet ridden hulks of previous victims were all around. And we saw an “Amy Jay” (Close enough to Amy J as to be counted).

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So at the end of the day, we’re here…

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I’m tired. Amy has her head on my shoulder, and we bought an ice cream sandwich that needs eating. Enjoy this video montage…

Oh, and a shout out to Tom and Leslie. I didn’t see your comment, but looking forward to having you aboard! Leslie, I took this just for you. I never knew there existed a few of the varietals listed here!

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Till then (and ye ol’ Dismal Swamp)…

John

<– Back to ICW 12

 

IT’S GOING TO BE A SHORT ONE

As they say (well, I do anyway), salient points first…

Day 7 – McClellanville, SC to Carolina Beach (off Cape Fear River), NC, 135 miles, 10 hours

It’s going to be a short one today – since it’s been a rather long one today. Ten hours running the boat, much of it through small rivers, inlets, and canals lined with docks. Although you’d never know it by all the center consoles racing by us waking the hell out of everything. It’s a little frustrating as we could go so much faster than we chose to go out of respect, only to have so many others ignore any courtesy at all. But regardless, it was actually a really fun day.

We left McClellanville at 7:20am, of course to no water as it was low tide – again (see the picture of the sounder below), but eventually escaped the greenheads – uh,cowflies – and the scenery changed to that of vibrant green canopy composed of languid trees draped in dense moss.

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It was quite pretty. And, it being Saturday, the various rivers and waterways were absolutely crammed with pleasure craft. Sequel got more than her fare share of stares, stares, and the occasional (nudge) “look at that boat” points. We were decidedly quite different than the other boats around us – pontoon party boats and center consoles being the norm. I swear there must be some kind of law in the Carolinas that stipulates every water born vessel must at all times carry one male and at least three bikini clad women. At minimum.

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(I hope Ashley was there)

For lack of a better place to plunk today’s video clips, I’ll put them here…

There was one three mile stretch in SC filled with rocks and tales of woe and sinking boats, appropriately named the Rock Pile. For anyone looking to do this span, I highly (as in highly) recommend reading up on this notorious section of the ICW and above all – stay in the center of the channel. This can be challenging when confronted with commercial traffic trying to push you off to the side. Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with that on our transit – but it was a tense section regardless. Here’s what can happen if you aren’t prepared:

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But we finally we made it into the broad and commercial-infused Cape Fear River, without sinking, just as dark and low clouds came rolling in. We picked up speed and gunned it for the mooring field at Carolina Beach Municipal Marina and Moorings. There are nine mooring balls located here – and can be had for a paltry $20 a night. There were two other boats sharing the field with us – a sailboat hailing from Annapolis, MD with a banner hanging in the cockpit reading “OUR DREAM”, and a 40+ foot trawler named Harbour Reach hailing from Warwick, RI. Small world! Our new marina is just across the Narry from Warwick. I hope we can see them in the morning before we leave, it would be interesting to chat. I was thinking of running our RIB over to them tonight, but the rain that has started to fall has washed away that idea.

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One thing is for sure – the water definitely breeds some interesting characters. Enough to populate volumes of sequels (yes – not to be forgotten that I’m an author and I am always seeing people as characters, as others see characters as people…). Example: after we picked up the mooring – the wind blowing pretty strongly from the Atlantic with the incoming storm – we sat on the bow and drank champagne with some brie and crackers, waiting for the harbormaster or equivalent to show up on his launch to sign us in and take our $20. We speculated on various boats, guessing if it was going to be our guy, each time we were wrong. Then Amy jokingly said, “there he is, in that paddleboat”, and to our amazement, running down with the wind to his back, peddled a grey haired, ponytailed harbormaster who sidled up behind us admiring our Freedom dinghy lift. You just can’t make these things up.

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Okay – that’s it. We just had dinner (stay tuned for a post from Amy on her experiences in the galley), the genny is shutting down and so am I. Amy is already in bed…

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Till then (when we sleep at a truck stop…)

John

<– Back to ICW 11

 

MUD DON’T STOP ME NOW!

Salient points first…

Day 5 – Hilton Head Island, SC to Hilton Head Island, SC, 0 miles, zero hours (down day)
Day 6 – Hilton Head Island, SC to McClellanville, SC, 128.5 miles, 8 hours (and ten minutes, but who’s counting?)

Record distance day – it was a big push because this part of the ICW is rather thin in the fuel / marina front. Fortunately Amy found us a one-stop-shopping deal – Leland Oil Company. Just off the ICW in Jeremy Creek, Leland is the home to a shrimper fleet and is about as 180 degrees as you can get from Hilton Head. Both places are great – just really different. We’ve some video and pics below of where we are tonight, but before those, I want to talk about today’s post title – Karma’s a B*tch…

Case in point. This morning we were heading north out of Hilton Head, coming around a bend at mile marker 535, with Ladies Island swing bridge (a 30 foot clearance) about a mile ahead. Also ahead of us was a tug pushing a crane barge. I hailed her on VHF for a pass – though we were content to wait until the tug and her load was through the bridge. So I hailed on channel 16 – nothing. Hailed again, again, again and again. Tried channel 13 – nothing. Tried 16 again, nothing. By now we had eyes on the tug’s captain. He was either blatantly ignoring our call or one of our radios was clearly not working. I called out a radio check and immediately got a response from some obliging captain – loud and clear (our radio had damn well better work, it was brand new, as was our main antenna). Okay – so the bridge was coming up, we were politely stuck behind a tug and crane barge doing 4 knots. I switch to channel 9, which is the bridge channel, figuring the tug had to call the bridge at some point for an opening, as it was way too tall to pass through without. And sure enough, loud and clear, he hailed the bridge and requested an opening. He had been ignoring us. What in the hell?! Whatever. I saw the way come off the tug and took the opportunity to pass. And here’s where karma came into play. The bridge was swinging open, traffic lined up on both side of the roadway, and we watched the tug push forward, then rapidly slew sideways. I had the radio still on channel 9 and heard him call the bridge to cancel the opening – he had run over a buoy and was hung up on it. Dead in the water.

Karma. It’s a…

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Beyond that it was a good day – the usual slow zones, the less-than-one-foot-under-the-keel undredged stress patches, the incessant heat and the equally incessant biting flies (what we call ‘greenheads’ though when you call them that to the locals you get blank stares and are asked if you’re talking about fish. No dammit – I’m talking about those evil bugs from hell that take out great honking chunks of skin with each bite. Greenheads! Oh – cowflies? Sure, those things). Off on a tangent again, aren’t I…

Fine. Reset…

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As I was saying, beyond that it was a good (hot and buggy) day. At the end of which we landed in McClellanville, SC at Leland Oil – a working shrimpers dock masquerading as fuel dock and transient haven, though we are the only ones here – but it’s low season. We’re surrounded by working boats and apparently the entire town hangs out under the tree off the pier. I very much recommend this as a place to stop for other ICW travelers. We took the dink off and tooled around the port for a bit – here’s what we saw…

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(What a great example of the different world we found ourselves in – wrecked trawlers in front yards)

And dogs! Earlier we ran past a boat absolutely filled with dogs – overloaded with them – and no humans in sight. Then when we docked for the night who motored past us but the same boat – still filled with dogs, but this time with humans as well. Bella, this bit is for you!

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That’s about it – we have Ray LaMontagne radio on Pandora playing through the boat, Amy’s drawing a thin green line through North Carolina and muttering to herself. I think I had better ask what’s in store…

Oh – but before I go, I wanted to share a clip of the interaction between captains for a passing. I know something similar to this was extremely helpful to us, so we want to pass it forward. So here it is…

Till we finally enter into North Carolina

John

<– Back to ICW 10

 

WHEN RENTS ARE OKAY…

…When they are your paRents!

But wait! First off, the stats for our journey (and to tell the truth, these stats are for yesterday, as today we did not move ONE INCH!)

Travel Day 4 – St Simons Island, GA to Hilton Head Island, SC, 116.5 miles, 7.5 hours

So we are sitting here, at slip A7 in Windmill Harbor Marina, drinking margaritas on the helm deck. Amy’s sorta planning the next two days, although she just said, “They don’t accept transient lips for more that ten days”. Perhaps I made the margaritas too strong…

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Regardless, it’s been another interesting and fun few days. We got into Windmill Harbor yesterday around 4:00pm, after a long and somewhat stressful day of travel. Another cruiser tip – if you plan on going through the Mud River, just north of St Simons Island (mile marker 660 till about 653), be warned that it’s VERY shallow. Stressfully shallow. There’s about a 6′ tidal swing here and if you do it at low tide there is basically no water. Trust me – that’s what we did. The loss of government funding for the ICW means that there’s no dredging in many parts, so shoaling is becoming more and more of an issue, which is shown no better than the MUD RIVER (which lives up to its name – it’s all stirred up and you can’t see bottom, even when it’s scraping by just under your keel). We had many, uh, intense moments throughout this stretch when we were pretty positive we were going to simply grind to a halt, the sounder reading the same number of inches under our bottom as the number of fingers on your two hands. I had to run zig zag patterns simply to find the deepest part of the river, which is tough because the Mud River is so windy (wait – is that a word? Words suck sometimes), curvy, and all ’round voluptuous. We also used the numerous ranges whenever we could – except that half the time the range markers were destroyed, or in the process of becoming destroyed. Still, we never touch bottom, never grounded, and in our book that means success.

Windmill Harbor Marina, our destination. How cool in so many ways. It is protected from the tidal influences of Calibogue Sound by the ‘quaintest’ lock I’ve ever seen (we just got back from running a 43′ canal boat through southern France where we locked through 33 times, so we ate this lock for breakfast). But it works. So smart – no tides at Windmill Harbor Marina.

However, this place holds more interest to me than just a haven for two days. For starters, my parents – the infamous Jean and Zeke, for those who’ve come into their sphere of influence – live here in Hilton Head on a ‘Land Yacht’ (my term as far as I’m concerned, and if you use it then I get royalties).

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(My folks, Jean and Zeke – and Max – in front of their rig)

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The story of my parents could fill an entire blog, book, bookshelf, and more. Let’s just say they’re way more interesting than I am.]

Beyond my folks (who can get beyond me folks?), Windmill Harbor Marina is where Amy and I looked at a Sabre 38 Hardtop Express in December. It was a pretty boat, but obviously we ended up with a different girl. I had driven to northern Florida in December to do some rebreather diving training (if interested I did write a little about it), and when I was done Amy flew down to Key Largo where I was staying with friends. We drove north together (prophetic, right?), stopping at Hilton Head Island to visit my ‘rents on the way and we all went to see the Sabre at Windmill Harbor Marina. Anyway – my sense of full circle was satisfied when we motored through the opening lock gate into the very same marina on Sequel.

Which brings me to today – kind of. Last night we had pizza on the boat with my folks (pizza was a request of ours) and we were happy to have them as our first boat guests – they were our first guests when we took delivery of our last boat, the Double G.

Today was a ‘down day’. We got up late (7:45), had a leisurely coffee with no checking of fluids (leave it!), no unhooking or stowing, no uprooting in general. Nope – today was all about… Target. West Marine. Laundry. Shaving (I can only vouch for me). And of course seeing my folks again. We also got to meet their neighbors at their motorcoach resort, John and Elaine of Atlanta – wanted to give them a shout out.

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(Nautical equivalent of a high school carwash…)

Lastly, we had coordinated logistically with Jay our installer to have a replacement chartplotter, already preconfigured for us, shipped to Windmill. It arrived today and I swapped out the original unit with this one. Fingers crossed our crashing issue is behind us.

That’s about it. Oh – we watched Non-Stop, an action film with Liam Neeson last night too. It was okay.

Amy’s now checking the weather for tomorrow and just finished filling up our water tanks. And I have to head into the engine room, AKA ‘Holy Place’ and clean the AC strainer basket. Which reminds me – next down day (in about five days), I’m planning on doing a set of blogs titled ‘Meet the Helm’ and ‘Meet the Holy Space’, is that of any interest?

Till then (and our home for the next night)…

John

<– Back to ICW 9

TO QUOTE THE GREAT RAY CHARLES…

As the song goes, I’ve got Georgia on my mind…

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Before writing – actually finishing this post, as it was started two days ago – I have to apologize for my tardiness. I had a bit of an IT issue with the mobile office two nights ago. It all started out fine – Amy got her personal hot spot working (it’s not what it sounds like) while I popped the SD card from the camera into the laptop and downloaded the day’s imagery. That’s when things started going all pear shaped. I hit Delete on one of the videos and the next thing I knew, everything on the SD card disappeared. Poof. No recovery. Aaargh! So what did I do? Software developer, electrical engineer, and Former Director of IT John “Freekin” Hanzl finds a SD Recovery program off the internet and hits “Install” (I can hear my father in law – FIL – groaning right now). About ten seconds later I realize what I had done and CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL!!! Too late – my computer was just hijacked. AAARGH!!! (queue me banging my head on the keyboard while refilling my glass). So that brought the blog writing session to a screeching halt. Amy wrote an email to her dad (FIL), who’s the master of computer recovery (he’s saved our hide more than once already). But I’m finally back to square one now – minus a few videos, which is a bummer – and will post the this blog now, and then as a bonus, will do another tonight. So where were we…

First of all, based on a suggestion from our broker Peter, I’m going to present a few stats at the top of each post to help set the scene for the day’s run. Perhaps this could be of use for someone planning a similar trip down the road. Also a few baseline items: when we can we run the boat at 20 knots (2200 RPM), carry a max of 350 gallons of diesel, and at that speed we burn basically 1 gallon of fuel per nautical mile, giving us a range between fills of roughly 265 miles with a 20% reserve, including running the genset while operating. However we are constantly slowing down for manatee zones, no wake zones, bridges and boats and docks (oh my), so our range varies (at six knots our range triples). Regardless, here’s where we’re at so far…

Day 1 – Jupiter, FL to Titusville, FL, 124 miles, 8 hours
Day 2 – Titusville, FL to St Augustine, FL, 99.8 miles, 7 hours
Day 3 (today) – St Augustine, FL to St Simons Island, GA, 103.3 miles, 6 hours

I forgot to add this picture from last night – our first grilled meal onboard…

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What did today bring? Well, good stuff, for sure. Confusing channels (almost ran out of one at 20 knots. No doubt that would have been fun), HUGE ships and appreciative sailors on tiny ones (tip for anyone thinking of doing a trip through the ICW – when overtaking slower vessels it’s good etiquette to radio the overtaken to ask what side the captain would like a pass. If the other boat is with it, then the captain slows down, allowing us to come off plane and break our wake – Sequel moves a LOT of water – so we can pass at a slow speed and prevent all kinds of chaos on their end. We’ve received several VHF thank you’s doing this). We saw dolphins playing in our wake – and one pair mating, or at least swim-spooning, got the stink-eye from Navy security because we stopped to check out some of their cool ships, and motored past a nuclear power plant.

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We also had our first challenging docking at Morningstar Marina at St Simons Island, Georgia – for anyone planning on stopping there, check the tides. There’s a HUGE tidal current, over three knots, and it can be really windy to boot. Fun times at the end of a long day. But a nice marina and friendly dockhands. We put in 262 gallons of diesel, paid the $1,000 (groan), and then realized we needed a sales slip with our hull number on it in the first place we stopped out of Florida to send to our broker for sales tax purposes. So after we docked for the night, Amy went back marina office and bought this:

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It was interesting being moored next to 100′ yachts – one which must have been prepping for the owners or guests as the crew was busting hump giving her spit and polish. If you’ve ever watched the reality show Below Deck, these guys were exactly that. It was amazing to see how that silly show had some reality to it.

After my computer fiasco, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal ashore. We ate at Coastal Kitchen and Raw Bar, the restaurant at the marina and had some tasty, though not the healthiest, Georgia food. Fried green tomato and buffalo mozzarella caprese salad, a half dozen raw oysters, peal and eat wild Georgia shramps (sic), and local grouper with cream corn grits, sautéed spinach, leeks, surrounded with a citrus beurre blanc sauce, and washed it down with a bottle of Martin Codax, Albarino Rias Baixas. Not bad! And then we cam home to Sequel – even better!

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By the way – the Feature Image on this post makes me laugh, because I caught Amy using reading glasses. Little miss perfect eyes is catching up to this old geezer! Matter of fact, I think I’ll post it again…

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Finally I’ll leave you with the few video clips I was able to salvage.

Tomorrow is Down Day! Till then…

John

<– Back to ICW 8

 

WHEN TWO DAYS BECOME ONE…

So did you miss us?

We wanted to write last night, we really did, but it was a loooong day (like that word). I don’t want to get too wordy with this post, which if you know me is really tough, but I’ll try. In short, we had a good day (okay two days). The slightly longer version is we got up at 6:00AM, prepped the boat for travel and finally left Blowing Rocks!

It was a bit of a hair-raising departure as we still had the grounding scars with us, but we hugged the pilings as we left (it was of course low tide) and made it into the channel no problem. Finally – 300 yards of the 1,400 mile journey checked off. Then the chartplotter crapped out – which takes out the depth sounder and the radar as well. Okay, we were ready for that. Reboot and Amy made sure we had our route ready on the paper charts (see our Mapping Parties if you don’t know how that all came together). Right as rain! (damn, bad phrase. My fault. Future predicted).

SONY DSCSo we ran north in the ICW for about an hour – it was sweltering hot outside, our trusty generator pumping out plenty of juice to run the helm air conditioners, keeping us cool and comfortable.

Until it quit.

An hour into the “big trip”. Of course.

Whatever, we ran on without cool air and sweated our butts off for eight hours – and had a blast. We saw more dolphins and manatees than we ever hoped for, and the constantly changing landscape kept us looking (as did the ever rebooting chartplotter). Day One ended with us running through a decent thunderstorm just as we were trying to pick our way though the shallows into Titusville, and a desperately needed slip (we did make a stop earlier, just to throw a little fuel into the tank – and discovered it cost $1,000 to fill the boat. Ah yes – John and Amy, welcome back to boating! Friends, are you listening?)

Titusville

(Our slip for the night in Titusville – which we came to during a downpour. We measured – it was 14′ 8″ wide, and our boat is 13′ 8″ wide – leaving us 6″ clearance either side for backing down. But Sequel is up to the task)

We had a fun evening dinghy cruise around the docks – a favorite pastime of ours – and then it was lights out…

Day Two saw us pulling out of the slip at 8:00AM (6:30 wake up), and a steady run north. Oh – and the genny is running again. It looks like one bit of discovery about the boat is that by design the fuel pickup for the generator is way higher than the pickup for the mains (propulsion engines), meaning that when our tank ran down to 119 gallons (it’s a 350 gallon tank), the genny starved for fuel and quit. Lesson learned.

Beyond that? Well, we had commercial traffic, bridge openings, sandbars. narrow channels and wide ones. all kinds of awesome wildlife, and at the end of the day we found ourselves in a mooring field in St Augustine, FL, surrounded by pirate vessels, megayachts, and ancient buildings.

So what I want to leave you with is a few pictures and a short montage video to cover the past two days. I’m writing this from Sequel’s cockpit at our mooring – it’s almost 10:30PM and all sorts of fish are jumping, a horse and buggy is plodding down the road beside the harbor, and some damn HUGE bug just landed on my head and Amy ran inside – so I guess that’s enough for tonight!

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Till Georgia…

John

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Groundhog Day

Okay – this is getting tiring. Guess where we are? If you said Blowing Freeking (yes, I know I used that word yesterday, but it suits) Rocks, bing – you got it. We had hoped we’d be gone by now – not literally, just figuratively. But here we sit (float). We met with Jay, owner of Siebert Yacht Management, who did all the work on the boat today. He stopped by to tie up some loose ends. One of those loose ends, and by far the most troubling one, is that our super fancy, mega awesome chartplotter / depth sounder system keeps shutting down (Amy just said, “not so awesome!”). It’s not the best feeling to lose both your chartplotter and your depth sounder while underway, (see yesterday’s post if in doubt…). Trust me – the exact same thing happened when we took delivery of our last boat, as we were heading into Boston Harbor. Unfortunately, that loose end still needs to be tied. Plotter still craps out. Crap.

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(Jay Siebert with Amy discussing the finer points of the “lean in”)

Still, we had a good day – we had a chance to meet Jay in person. We also cleaned all the water intake strainers – two monsters for the engines, one the genny and one for the four AC systems after yesterday’s adventure. We also replaced the fender lines with new ones, because we could. And Peter stopped by and I got some more good knowledge about all sorts of boat stuff before he had to run – kinda like kicking the chicks out of the nest, but in reverse.

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(Peter – I just realized we were so involved with what we were doing that I never took any pictures. Sorry friend. So I pulled this image off DiMillo’s website…)

So now it’s just Amy and I. We returned the rental, so we’re down to a single mode of transportation to get us back to New England. Sequel. It’s raining (again) and a big front just moved through. Amy’s prepping dinner in the galley and I’m up on the helm deck at the settee writing this blog. I could think of worse places to be…

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Tomorrow we leave – come hell or high water Actually, high water would be kind of nice. We’re at low tide right now and if the depth sounder hadn’t crashed, the depth under the boat would be reading a whopping seven inches. And of course the next low tide is 6:47AM, right before we’re planning on leaving. So if you don’t hear from us tomorrow you’ll know why…

Till then (okay, if you want to se what happens you can click here)…

John

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Oh crap…

Where was I? Oh yeah – on Sequel! What I was too tired to tell you about last night was all about the runs to West Marine, the crazy ACE Hardware store, and Publix (where we were about $20 shy of $600), and about the torrential rains that happened while we were at West Marine and the crazy ACE Hardware for the second time – when Billy who crewed on the sport fisherman opposite us was kind enough to drag the 150lbs of boxes we had left in the cockpit (because it NEVER rains in southern Florida, right?) up into the helm deck.

Day 1 - 3

(Exhibit A – 150lbs of boxes we stupidly left in the cockpit)

Oh – and speaking of those boxes, a special shout out to Chloe of Down East Yachting, where we shipped those boxes, plus three more PLUS two cases of wine. She was both super nice and helpful, but also a foodie with great knowledge of the area’s restaurants (though we were so tired we ended up eating on the boat, we now have eaten twice at Rinaldi’s Deli)

Here’s us last night, watching more weather come through…

So why the name of this post? Well – today’s Friday the 13th. And we were thinking of leaving this afternoon, but here we are still at Blowing Rocks. It’s FRIDAY the 13TH!!! What were we thinking?

But to back up – this morning, during our third trip to West Marine (and yes, the crazy ACE Hardware as well), we met up with our broker, Peter, who had flown down from Portland, ME to go over the boat with us. And so we did, stem to stern, helm to holy space and everything in between. Then it was time to take her out for the first time! We pulled out of her slip, me at the helm, Peter and Amy tending lines, the usual dock walkers watching our departure, and…

Not 30 feet out of the slip we ran hard aground. Seriously. Stuck. Fast. NOW do you understand the title of this post? Apparently, and only known to local knowledge as there are zero markers, there is no water out of the marina. You have to edge around the pilings and slink along the bow pulpits and anchors of the docked fishing boats in order to sneak out and find the water of the ICW.

Did I say we left our slip, went THRITY FEET and then ran aground? In front of everyone? Oh well – how were we to know? And to be honest, folks were great and really helpful. And we learned how to use our new dinghy and lift. Thanks to (Chris?) with his skiff, and to whats-his-name (never got it) who runs a dive boat (yes – a dive boat, complete with customers, sidled past us while we were stuck fast) – thanks to them for hauling us off, and for Peter for his calming presence (and for breaking the boat hook we had purchased a few short hours earlier – guess where we went to tonight? Yep West Freekin Marine.)

Regardless, we got her off, there was no damage to the boat – only to our pride – and we went out for a fun cruise and we got to know Sequel that much better (and by the way – we’ve received many compliments on her, even when her ass is being hauled off the bottom…)

So we can only guess at what tomorrow holds! We’re hoping to get away, but there’s still a few issues we’re dealing with…

Till then… (Want to know what happens? It’s right here! )

John

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