Side Trip: The Potomac and a Week in DC

May 9-19

May 9 – Norfolk to Deltaville/Doziers Marina (58 miles)

May 11 – Deltaville to Lower Machodoc Creek/Ragged Point Anchorage (61 miles)

May 12 – Rugged Point Anchorage to Belmont Bay Harbor (66 miles)

May 13 – Belmont Bay Harbor to Washington, DC (30 miles)

May 14-19 Gangplank Marina in downtown Washington DC

Miles Traveled this Blog Entry: 215

Total Miles Traveled:  4,866

Add Maryland as the 14th State.  The VA/MD State line runs along the Virginia Shore of the Potomac

Happily pulling out of Norfolk – it is time to go – we passed one huge naval ship after another – aircraft carriers to Red Cross Hospital ships being thankful that they were tied up and wouldn’t get in our way.  However, as we entered the Hampton Crossing (where the ICW, the inlet from the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay meet) we noted a huge carrier on the horizon.  Over time we realized that we were headed for one another in the channel but it seemed we would pass without incident.  Just then a calm but stern voice came over the VHF radio on channel 16, “calling the white trawler near G19.”  Quickly looking up our location, we realized that she was talking to us and discovered that we were almost within the ship’s 500 yard (it is 100 yards when docked) safety zone as indicated by two patrol boats moving at top speed up and down the ships length. As requested we made an immediate left turn out of the channel for a quick get-away changing course up the Chesapeake closer to shore than the Captain’s charted route but enjoying a smooth and uneventful voyage up to Dozier’s Marina in Deltaville, VA where we spent two beautiful days.

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See the aircraft on the deck?!

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Was this is the ship we sent to Puerto Rico following the last hurricane?

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Immediate left turn to let this big guy pass keeping his 500 yard safety zone.

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Dozier Marina.  The pool is just out back. 

Some words about Deltaville:  First, this is where we moved the car, the area where Curt taught sailing at Chase, a Boy Scout Camp, back in 2003 & 4 and where we once visited him – could have fooled me!  Second, you know you are in a boating town when the hardware store is bigger and better stocked than the grocery and a complete set of Waterway Guides is available in the local cafe.

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Sweet Cafe in Deltaville!

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Sending our Love!

I enjoyed a relaxed birthday celebration here exploring the town in the morning and sitting by the pool in the afternoon.  Diane, onboard the Boatel, gave me a lovely, handmade sea glass necklace.  It is amazing how new friends make your birthday special when you are away from home.  A severe storm kept us from visiting the surrounding area that evening but it eventually abated and we got away to savor a tasty dinner and unique ambiance at the White Dog Bistro in Matthews.  Thanks everyone for the birthday and mothers day well wishes.  We will return to Deltaville in two weeks to put the Namaste to bed for the summer but more on that later, first on to DC.

Memorably quiet birthday with the love of my life!  We never run out of things to talk about.

The mouth of the Potomac (off the Chesapeake) is wide and one of those places where an opposing wind and current can make for a rough ride through the entrance.  We had no such thing.  Our two and a half-day run up the Potomac was absolutely spectacular for weather and scenery.  We anchored out the first night in the Little Machodoc River off Ragged Pointe.  The weather was perfect, even though I couldn’t get the various weather resources to agree on a remotely similar forecast.  The second night we stopped at the Belmont Bay Harbor Marina on the Occoquan River.  Not much here and it was 90 degrees so we just turned on the a/c and collapsed.

 

Sunset at anchor on the Potomac

On our final leg into DC we hoped to stop at Mt. Vernon where a free dock allows boaters to tie up while you enjoy the historic venue.  Unfortunately for us a barge was already there, two tour boats were unloading passengers and the weather was turning cloudy/rainy so we opted to save the stop for our way back down the Potomac.  From here the sights of the National Harbor, Alexandria and finally Washington were welcoming.

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Mt. Vernon from the water

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Old Town Alexandria from the water

As we entered the Washington Channel, a mile-long dredged cut along the newly renovated DC waterfront, we called the Gangplank Marina for directions and assistance.  As the most expensive marina of the season thus far ($3/ft/night), we were expecting amenities which were not to be.  The dockhand attempted to help both us and another boat arriving at the same time.  Although Eric is a really nice kid, he gave us incorrect and then incomplete directions followed by no clue as to how to manage lines in a cross wind.  Both the Namaste and Ole Girl were eventually secured to what are new floating docks but there is no WiFi, no laundry, two showers located in a movable trailer, and a very long walk to anything resembling dirt/grass for Sammy.  The offset is that we are a short walk to the monuments, the Mall, and the Metro.

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Revitalized DC waterfront.  Gangplank marina is just to the left of the picture.  Yellow boats are the water taxis that buzz the harbor day and night!

We have been here seven days and have walked a total of 85,000 steps or about 35 miles, and minus the foot blisters, have loved every minute.  The DC Warf waterfront is far from complete but workers are everywhere trying to get things ready for summer.  Currently there are many nice restaurants, shops, a theater, and even a CVS where you catch the free SW neighborhood shuttle to the Mall.  From there the metro is available to go anywhere in the city.  However, we found that the 1 mile walk to the Mall was often easier at least until the rain began.

Day one: We decided to take Sammy and walked the length of the Mall.  Highlights included coming upon a national Police Drum and Bugle Core competition and, along with thousands of our fellow citizens, soaking in the ambiance of our nation’s capital on a business day. While Sammy really needed the walk, we were unable to take her inside any buildings and the afternoon turned blistering hot so we all hiked back to the Namaste and the a/c just before one heck of a storm!  One thing I wish to comment upon is the more than pleasant nature of all security and guide people around the city.  Everyone was more than happy to chat.

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The castle:  Smithsonian Welcome and Information Center

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Look – whose skate???  Exhibits in the Castle are selected from popular exhibits throughout the entire Smithsonian. 

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Several evenings in a row we experienced these sever storms.  We are the blue dot, just waiting for things to begin!

Day two:  The weather continued to be beautiful so we decided on another day of walking, this time to the monuments but sans Sammy.  The Jefferson Monument surrounded by famous cherry trees was less than a mile from the boat. I truly cannot imagine the beauty when in bloom the end of April.  Moving on we saw the Lincoln, MLK, and FDR (my personal fav) memorials –  which I have seen before but remain awe inspiring!

Ultimately, we landed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which is a living memorial to JFK.  This was surely a highlight of our visit to DC.  Nancy, a volunteer friend of the center, took just the two of us on a free 1.5 hour tour including all but one of the theaters, the presidential boxes, the lounges and an explanation of the gifts of 60 different countries who honored his memory.  There are State and a National Halls with flags flying!  Jim’s sister Erin performed here for two years before moving to California.

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Main lobby of the JFK Center for the Performing Arts.  Entrances to the Opera and Orchestra Halls are off this lobby along with the two millennial stages at either end where a wide variety of free performances are held each evening at 6 pm, seven days a week!  There are three additional theater venues within the building

 

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Orchestra Hall

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One of the many lounges (sponsored by Russia I believe) used for a variety of purposes including available for rental to the public.  I can just imagine hosting a field instructor training here!

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Presidential box of the Opera Theater, rally quite simple.  (Not frequented by our current president I was told in response to my question.)  

 

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Me standing under the skirt of a fashion designer as part of the Cuban Exhibit.  The black strips are actually long plastic ties.

Day Three:  We woke to cloudy skies and drizzle.  What to do?  Well, we hiked back to the Mall to take in some of the venues we had not seen in past visits.  This included the Capital Building where we ended up spending our entire day.  After a rather perfunctory but still impressive and efficient mass tour we passed a desk labeled Senate Tours.  Since we hadn’t contacted ahead for tickets we were directed across the street to the Hart Building and Debbie Stabenow’s, (LMSW and grad of MSU) office.  Debbie was there but “in a meeting”.  Otherwise I am certain she would have greeted us.  The impressive suite of offices and friendly receptionist sufficed and we got our tickets to the Senate gallery and passed through three security stations just in time to view the net neutrality debate and vote.  No kidding, we saw all 100 senators (except of course John McCain) including Bernie who was first to vote and Elizabeth Warren who stood just a few feet away.  The resolution passed which is supported by 86% of the population.  Now on to the House where it is apparently less popular.  Keep your fingers crossed!

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One of the many pictures hanging in Debbie’s Office – yes, 16 out of 100 and no women of color!  Other photos included Holland Tulips and the Mackinaw Bridge.

Day Four:  Raining again and our toes were squealing so we decided to take the day off.  Sammy was happy for our company and we enjoyed a quiet day on the boat – reading, writing, and napping! There are a few other Looper boats here but today we met Low Profile, shared happy hour and found we had much in common.  Great, fun people!

Day Five:  RAINING again!  Had a long lunch with our new friends Debbie and Tim and then went back to their boat for more conversation.  We had tickets for “Capitol Steps” at a theater in the Ronald Reagan Bldg. that evening. This group has been performing political satire for more than 30 years and was mostly funny, if at moments I found it hard to laugh.

Day Six:  RAINING AGAIN!  We had hoped to take the water taxi to Georgetown today but because of the quantity of rain (someone said 15”) the river level was high and the taxi/boat couldn’t get under the bridges.  Thus, we headed back to the Mall and toured the Hirshorn Museum of Modern Art.

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Sculpture garden behind the Hirshorn Museum – see the rain?

and the Museum of the American Indian, neither of which we had seen before and neither disappointed.  We rounded out the day saying good-by to folks and planning our exit from DC, heading back down the Potomac to Deltaville.

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Museum of the American Indian.  A beautifully done educational tribute!  Patty, thanks for your professional devotion.

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DC Fish Market next door to our marina and something unchanged for decades on the waterfront.

Sammy Sayz:  Hi everyone, having a great time here.  I specially like the calm days when I can wander the boat and help Captain Jim on the helm.

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Hey, what’s to eat down here.  Got treats???

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Hey, I need a good book?  Any recommendations?  Jo Ann is reading Mitchner’s Chesapeake and won’t share!

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I’m good at watching for crab pots!!

Even though we have each been to DC more than a dozen times and it is a side-trip on the Loop, we are so glad that we made the effort and took the time!  Imagine, two kids from Livonia sailing their own boat into Washington DC!

Good Boat Name of the Day:  Living Water

Bad Boat Name of the Day:  Wasted Sea-Men (really?)

Quote of the Day:  “Everything will be OK in the end.  If it is not OK, then it is not the end.” – unknown

Happy Belated birthday to: Donna and Theresa

Happy Birthday to: Kathy (on Carisma with whom we are celebrating with dinner tonight in Colonial Beach)

 

Norfolk (Naw-fuk) – Mile “0” on the ICW

April 24-May 9

April 24 – Stay-over in Oriental, River Dunes Marina (storms)

April 25 – Oriental, River Dunes Marina to Pungo River Anchorage (49 miles)

April 26 – Pungo River Anchorage to Alligator River Marina (44 miles)

April 27 – Alligator River Marina to Virginia Beach, Centerville Marina (69 miles)

April 28 – Centerville Marina to Norfolk (13 miles)

April 29-May7 – Waterside Marina, Norfolk

Miles traveled this blog entry: 175 miles

Total miles traveled:  4651

Review of states explored so far (13):  Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and now Virginia.

When we finally cast off the lines in Oriental, NC the Namaste and Melody in Sea headed for an anchorage in the Pungo River where, after Dan got his anchor to hold, we shared dinner and a quiet evening.

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Where can we go ashore?

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One of many lovely dinners together.

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Namaste enjoying the sunset

Since Melody is faster, we left early the following morning heading up a narrow cut directly into the blinding but beautiful sun.  They eventually passed us in a wide spot but we both ended up waiting for the Alligator River Bridge whose schedule was in disarray due to construction.

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Early am: Melody resting on the Pungo River

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Heading up the cut toward Albemarle Sound.

Somewhere along the river we saw a small, flat bottom fishing boat with four young men frantically working.  We finally surmised that they were cat-fish fishing.  They had stuck long sticks/branches into the mud along the banks and attached string with some form of bait – a most crude fishing pole punched into the bottom of the river.  What we witnessed was these guys racing up and down a long stretch of river checking their lines, unhooking the fish, throwing them into the bottom of the boat and rebating the hook.  A cat-fish version of crabbing?   Another day we saw a turtle straddling a floating log in the middle of the channel.  No pictures of either the fisherman or the turtle but vivid visual memories remain.

Since it was early, our plan had been to cross the Abemarle Sound that afternoon.  However, as we waited for the Alligator River bridge to open, the wind picked up and clouds rolled in giving us pause about the crossing which can be nasty with the easterly winds we were experiencing.  In fact, Ron and Vicki reported that they had the worst seas of their entire Loop in the Abemarle Sound.  Instead we decided to make a sharp left and enter the Alligator River Marina, basically a Shell gas station and convenience store under new management and delighted to have us.  Eventually about 7 mostly “new to us” Looping boats arrived and the party began.

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Alligator River Marina.  Contentment in the background, home-port Frankfort MI – Sammy Sayz, do I really have to stay?

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Sammy and Mac – Let us run, let us run, let us run!

The following morning the weather looked iffy but the wind was light and from the south so perfect for a smooth crossing.  We buddied with Ann, onboard the Nautical Gypsy who is single handing her Albin 36 on the Loop as a traveling nurse & social worker stopping to practice along the way.  Her next job is in Albany, NY.  She is one amazing woman!!!

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Sunrise over the Alligator River marina

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Look, land onthe other side!  A perfect crossing for the Namaste and group.

During the Abemarle Sound crossing each boat must decide whether to take the Dismal Swamp route (neither dismal nor a swamp) or the Virginia Cut.  Both are different experiences but end up just south of Norfolk.  Due to timing of a lock and bridge we decided to take the Cut resulting in even worse timing.  We waited for almost an hour for the North Landing bridge only to find out that we now had to wait two hours for the Centerville Turnpike Bridge (I sure didn’t see any Turnpike).  Anyway, most bridges open on the hour to keep it simple but some don’t open at all between 6:30-8:30 am or 4-6 pm due to rush hour traffic in their locations. Because we waited for almost an hour for bridge #1 we arrived at bridge #2 around 4:05 and no they won’t wait, no there were no anchorages, no we had no marina reservation and yes, everything around was full!  This may represent one of our worst planning days ever!  Captain Jim eventually convinced the Centerville Marina just the other side of the bridge to let us tie up at their face-dock after they had closed up and gone home.  The lady got a pound of Biggby Coffee the next morning for her hospitality and we got tied up for the night.  It turned out to be a 69 mile day that took us almost 12 hours!  We also didn’t nourish or hydrate properly so irritability was a nasty factor.  You can perhaps imagine but all’s well that ends well!

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The Centerville Bridge leading to Virginia Beach.  Jim and I almost moved here for Jim’s job with Volvo in 1974.  So glad in so many ways. . .

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A happy sight, the Centerville face-dock

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Reflections of the Centerville Turnpike Bridge

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A passing barge at dusk.

The following morning with only 13 miles to Norfolk we had yet another bridge and lock to conquer – the Great Bridge bridge and the Great Bridge lock.   Approaching the bridge early we were 6th of 7 in line jockeying for position with docks on either side of the river at the base of the bridge. Just then two go-fast Sabres (read expensive boats) came roaring up as boats #8 and 9.   Within 30 seconds a guy came on the VHF radio to ask that since he and his friend were the fastest boats, could they just go on ahead and be first under the bridge and into the lock.  After a long silence a southern, slow, male drawl came over the airwaves, “Well, we just may not all fit in that lock this lift so ya’ll had best just stay in position.”  The radio went silent and they stayed put until one tried to pass us before exiting the lock. Captain Jim deliberately edged slowly over to the middle of the channel until all 7 of us were safely on our way.  You have to wonder if some people ever went to kindergarten?

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Marking time, waiting for the Great Bridge bridge to open.

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Scary picture but actually a fire rescue training site.

The final 13 miles into Norfolk was full of tall bridges that didn’t need to lift, tugs pushing barges as well as all manner of navy vessels which are huge and intimidating.  The rule is that you cannot come within 100 yards of a docked government ship but then my question is, who would want to?

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Aircraft carrier, up close and personal but see the lines, she is stationary!

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Tugs moving a troop carrier into dry dock just off our marina

We were one of the first of fifty or so boats to arrive at the Waterside Marina on Norfolk’s brand new waterfront near the Sheraton where our Looper Rendezvous would be held.  We excitedly and with great relief celebrated meeting our goal of an April 28th arrival, for which we had made reservations last December.  By Sunday all the boats were shoe-horned into their slips and along the walls with not an inch to spare.  In the end we were all pretty amazed that nobody hit anyone else on their way in or out but with heavy winds and very tight spaces folks came way too close more than once.  We added four more fenders after this picture was taken!

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The Namaste front and Center at Waterside.  Note the sound stage right behind our aft deck!

The bow of the Namaste tucked right up to Phanthom

The AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association, lest anyone forget) Spring Rendezvous is the semi-annual event held for Loopers who have completed, are in progress, or who are planning their Loop.  There were more than 300 people attending from all over the world, Australia being the furthest away.  Workshops, seminars, and informational meetings on everything from routes to engine maintenance to staying in shape; good food and drink; boat crawls and pub crawls; treasure hunts and a Loop trade show were all part of what felt somewhat like a professional conference but in casual clothes with fascinating stories and easy laughter.  My favorite was a presentation on reading the NOAA weather.  In my next life I am going to be a meteorologist!

A word about the Looper crawls.  One particular highlight was that each afternoon some captains opened their boats for the rest of us to “crawl” upon.  Getting to see other boats is always interesting but add snacks and wine = perfection.  We decided to open the Namaste to inspection and had perhaps 100 people onboard, 4-6 at a time.  The Albin 36 is a popular Looper boat and there are very few available so we enjoyed lots of interest and compliments.  No, she is not for sale!

The Namaste all prettied up and ready for the Looper Crawl

Jim and I came in second for the longest married couple in attendance which I translated into we were the youngest married couple in attendance.  A shout out to Kim Russo, director of the AGLCA who did a fabulous job of planning, executing and keeping everyone happy – one can only imagine!  We missed the Joe Wheeler Fall Rendezvous 2015 in Tennessee so are happy that we took-in this full Rendezvous experience.

After the last party ended, we created a complex yet workable plan with Dan and Jenny Lynn to retrieve our cars from Savannah and Brunswick Georgia, about 550 miles south.  We obtained an Enterprise rental car and all four of us drove to Savannah, dropped them off at their car, drove to Brunswick and picked up the Tiguan.   Jim drove the rental car and I my car back to Norfolk the following day.  The day after that we traveled to Deltaville to drop off the cars where we will haul out our boats for the summer and then all came back to Norfolk in the rental car.  A total of about 1250 miles!  Thinking we won’t have a car with us next year.

We also took the public transit ferryboat to Portsmouth one evening to see “Avengers” at the Commodore Theater – a mixed experience.  The theater was built in 1945 and is refurbished in art deco /cabaret style – the highlight of the evening.  We sat at tables with old fashioned office phones to place our food and beverage orders.  The food was OK, the service good and the ambiance spectacular!  I shall not comment on the “Avengers” as a movie!  Today we went to the Chrysler Art Museum and then to the Freemason Abbey for a pre-birthday, birthday dinner with Clark and Ev of Sunset Delight.

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Reminds me of the Penn Theater in Plymouth, MI

 

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What a wonderful way to see a movie!

 

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Rainy Day at the Chrysler Museum of Art

Rain

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Pre-birthday birthday dinner with Ev and Clark

Sammy says:  it was fun to be with Mac but sitting in the car for three days was b-o-r-i-n-g!  I like boat travel better as I can smell the smells, run around on the fly bridge and bark at anything I wish.  They give me lots of treats too!

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We’re so done with this!

Now it is time to move on.  We are provisioned, the laundry is done (a story for another time but due to a comedy of errors I got $10 worth of machine use for free), and the boat maintenance is finished. We plan to leave tomorrow.

Good Boat Name of the Day: Nellie May, named after the Captain Tim’s grandmother (love it)

Bad Boat Name of the Day:  Chaos

Quote of the Day:  “You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in.  Choose wisely what you feed your mind.”  -unknown

Happy Belated birthday to: Georgie, Beverly, Melissa,

Happy Birthday to: Bastian, Missy, Donna and Theresa

Congrats to: Bastian, Christine, and Lisa!!!!

 

Following Spring up the Carolina Coasts

April 15-22

April 15 – Stay in Osprey Marina

April 16 – Osprey Marina to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club (29 miles)

April 17 – Myrtle Beach Yacht Club to Southport – Cape Fear (36 miles)

April 18-19 Stay in Southport

April 20 – Southport to Harbor Village Marina (Wilmington, NC) (42 miles)

April 21 – Harbor Village Marina to Beaufort, NC (63 miles)

April 22 – Beaufort, NC to Oriental NC and River Dunes Marina (36 miles)

April 23 – Stay in Oriental, River Dunes Marina (rain and wind)

Miles traveled this blog entry:  206

Total Miles Traveled:  4476

After a hair-raising docking at the crowded fuel dock and even tighter slip, we stayed two lovely days in the Osprey Marina, the entrance marked by an real Osprey nest high in a huge tree.  It was the first rural stop in a while and we welcomed the peace and quiet.  Our slip was literally across the fairway (20 yards) from a forest, much like any in Michigan.  The trees are now pines and hardwoods, the forest floor has a variety of spring wildflowers and the cacophony of peepers, and birds look and sound much like Michigan but most fun were the turtles that came right up to the boat whenever we were on deck.  I fought the urge to feed them with Sammy giving me the meanie look.  We took some long walks, did laundry, enjoyed the people (Horizons and Best Day Ever) and great wifi.  The dock hands here were smart and strong as we needed their expertise and muscle on the lines to get us out and on our way again even with little wind or current.

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An osprey and her nest announcing the channel into Osprey Marina

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More like Michigan every day!

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Hello Mr. Turtle

It was a short stay at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club where we simply docked, took Uber to provision at Publix and were off again the following morning.  It was a nice and friendly place where we would have stayed longer but our itinerary dictates that we keep moving to make the Looper Rendezvous in Norfolk by the end of the month.

Myrtle Beach Yacht Club

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Very low tide.  We brought a boat cart full of groceries down this ramp.

The days have been chilly to downright cold when the wind is blowing out on the water.  I keep  layering clothes until we reach our destination and usually have a blanket or two on the bridge for the gusty, open stretches of water.  It is always 15-20 degrees warmer once in the protection of a marina.   I think we will wait in Norfolk for summer to catch up!!

Thirty-six miles later, Southport was our next stop.  Not only was it a top marina just prior to Cape Fear (more about that in a minute) but a great little town.  As special treats, the first evening we were greeted by Kathy and Jack, a great couple who are friends of Pat and Heather and for whom Kathy was Lexi and Ashleigh’s Mrs. Heffelbower many years ago.  Ash still visits her every summer.  We had drinks on the boat and then dinner at Oliver’s, on the water, ending with the promise to meet again next year on our way through.  The next two evenings we attended an ICW briefing by Hank Pomeranz and received perhaps some of the most important navigation and weather information of the Loop thus far.  Hank is a meteorologist and sailor who through support of the marina presents every single evening for 60-90 minutes during Spring and Fall when Loopers are passing through.  His handouts and websites would get us safely through the next 250 miles.  Next best in Southport were the long walks, flowers, and sunsets!

Wildflowers on the forest floor

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Spring Azaleas blooming for the past 1000 miles.

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Roses in high season alongside the Azaleas!

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Next to a real summer garden

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Thank you Hank –  what a guy!

We set out early to cross Cape Fear, an inlet to the Atlantic, just outside of the marina and where the wind almost always blows.  Now the name truly exaggerates the actuality, but historically, ships have wrecked here and thus it is a point of caution and concern, very near Cape Hatteras.  Specifically, when the current (flood or ebb) is at its maximum, you can be carried up to 6 miles per hour without the engine (not recommended) and if the wind happens to be blowing hard in the opposite direction of the current, the waves increase such that the experience resembles white water rafting.  Our experience was slightly uncomfortable but far short of any real concern.  The good news is that it only lasted for about an hour and we were safely in a more controlled river.

On to Harbor Village Marina.  Now, there isn’t much to say here except it is a nice (read expensive) marina where the dockmaster and I were not on the same page as to the directions for entering his marina.  Apparently, I was to call at red bouy such and such to report our arrival and to receive directions.  Well, I never received that instruction, we were tired and challenged by a difficult day and annoyed by his denials,  and we sat outside his entrance while several other boats were docked.  We had a continuing little “conversation” about this throughout the docking process and I am embarrassed to report that neither of us could let it go until Captain Jim gave me one of his gentle eye rolls.  Additionally, there was nothing nearby and the facilities (restrooms/showers/laundry) were 3/8 of a mile each way around the basin.  The good news was that an Albin 36, Liquid Therapy, and looking just like us, was in the next slip.  We had great conversations comparing our boats, their issues, interior decor, and future plans.

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At least 8 boats waiting for the bridge to go up.

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Santa happily riding the Loop on Kara Mia

 

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Liquid Therapy

Camp Lejeune is a military training center that is bisected by the ICW.  No kidding, they shoot at one another across the water.  Above are examples of the cement tank targets that do give it a “real” feel.  The procedure is to call ahead to make certain that there is no live-fire scheduled that day.  As an extra precaution, they have lift bridges on either end of their territory to prevent stray Loopers from wandering into big trouble.  Patrol boats and helicopters are everywhere.

All of these quaint towns remind us somewhat of those along the shores of Lake Michigan.  Beaufort, in particular, reminded me of pulling into the harbor on Mackinaw Island.  We shared dinner with friends and their delightful adult children and, as a small world story, a couple from Frankfort, MI whose sister we met in the Frankfort marina three years ago as we departed on our Loop!  Long story about how we put all that together!

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Picture of a picture but you get the idea of this harbor.

It has been a travel slog up the coast of North Carolina and again, we must keep moving to reach Norfolk by the end of the month.  Our final day of this blog entry was traveling the 36 miles from Beaufort to Oriental, NC.  It was a beautiful Sunday morning and easy going most of the way until we reached the Bogue Sound.  Again, this is an opening/inlet to the Atlantic and can get very rough with easterly winds which is what was happening.  Fortunately the winds weren’t high and Jim figured how to keep the bow into the wind most of the time for a reasonably comfortable crossing.  Delightfully, we arrived into one of our most favorite marinas yet. River Dunes in Oriental, NC.  This place has history for us in that Jim took his captains course here some 10 years ago and has wanted to return.  Here we are!  The facility is five-star and the tiny town has the best women’s store yet, Marsha’s Cottage.  Perhaps I was in the mood for some new clothes or perhaps the buyer has boaters in mind, let’s just say I went on a spree while Jim bought paper charts for the Chesapeake!  I spent two hours in the hot tub, we have celebrated Elizabeth and Louise’s birthdays two evenings in a row over dock-tales and dinner along with Melody in Sea, Contentment, Total Eclipse, Ned Pepper, Nine Lives, Island Girl, Reflection, and Xtasea, .  Today, raining and blowing all day long, we are enjoying two days to catch-up with ourselves in this lovely place.

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River Dunes Marina – A place to return

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Spent one morning here all by myself! 

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Loopers celebrating a birthday.  One of these couples we hadn’t seen since Banana Bay, Marathon in 2016

 

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All birthdays are made special when you are away from home. 

Sammy Sayz:  All good here but I just don’t get how occasionally the floor, or sofa, or bed move under me in unanticipated directions. It makes me jump.  When I look around, nobody is there so I need to figure this out. Got any ideas?   Also, my friend Mac is docked right next door and there is plenty of room nearby to run and be crazy.  The other day somebody pooped on the dock, can you believe it?

Boat Name of the Day:  Ned Pepper – An interesting name to be sure but when asked the naming story, Tammy related the saga of being Canadian where you cannot register more than one boat under a name.  They tried in vain four or five times to send in their registration paperwork waiting up to two months for the response that their selected name had already been taken.  Mike, watching the John Wayne movie True Grit, decided that the character, Ned Pepper struck him as being their perfect boat name.  Guess what, it quickly went through the Canadian registration system just before their departure on the Loop!

Boat Name of the Day:  Troubled Pirates (don’t know the story here but one has to wonder.  . .)

Quote of the Day:  “Thank you everybody for a successful shake-down cruise.  We validated the structure (bolt joint), the buoyancy calcs (free board), and the stability (tumble-home hull).  The boat glides true.  I am relieved and everyone was wearing a smile.”   Thank you Shawn McFall

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Shawn’s masterpiece Voyager Canoe created for Camp Lookout 2018

Happy Belated birthday to:  Jackie, Mark, Norma

Happy Birthday to:  Beverly

Rest in Peace:  Barbara Bush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashleigh Spring Breaking in Charleston and Traveling the Low Country

April 5-14, 2018

April 5-9 – Charleston Harbor Marina – Ashleigh visits

April 10 – Charleston Harbor Marina – No Travel

April 11 – Charleston to Georgetown, SC (65 miles)

April 12-13 – Harborwalk Marina, Georgetown – No travel

April 14 – Harborwalk Marina, Georgetown to Osprey Marina near Myrtle Beach (33 miles)

Miles traveled this blog entry:  (98)

Total Miles Traveled: 4271

 

Ashleigh (16) arrived on Thursday evening to spend the last of her spring break with us in Charleston – we couldn’t have been more honored.  We Ubered to the airport in more than plenty of time to gather our wonderful granddaughter who had driven her Grandma Ollie and herself to the Detroit airport, parked the car, checked in, changed planes in Charlotte and arrived to us full of smiles.  Back to the boat, Ash got settled in the v-berth and forward head. We were tired so all went to sleep early but not before what was to be a quick dinner in the Reel Bar.  Well, this turned out to be a ghastly restaurant/meal experience.  All orders were wrong, it took two hours to get our food and it was so noisy that we gave up talking.  Turns out an already “happy” wedding party entered the bar just as we placed our order and the two bartenders could not keep up with the party drink needs much less deliver our food.   Without even a verbal complaint and well received by us, the manic waiter waived our bill.

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The v-berth all ready for Ashleigh

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A memorable arrival dinner

We decided to spend our first day at the resort pool as this was to be our best weather of the weekend – 75 and sunny.  We relaxed as we talked about school, hockey, skiing, shared past vacations, and Wednesday evenings gone by; read; and walked the nearby beach looking for crabs and finding washed-up jellyfish.

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Ahhhhh, this is what I needed!

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Finding crabs

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Jelly Fish

As promised we woke up to a cloudy Saturday and since the rain forecast was delayed until mid-afternoon, we took a nearby water-taxi the half mile across the Harbor to the Charleston Aquarium – a splendid display of the saltwater wildlife of South Carolina.  Between beach exploration the day before and this aquarium, we truly came to understand Ashleigh’s young adult expertise and childhood passion for all animals – today it happened to be fish, fowl, and reptiles.  Her dream is to be a vet for unusual/exotic animals and she is well on her way to making that happen.  We then lunched at the East Bay Deli, the best deli in Charleston before taking a wet water-taxi ride back to the marina and an even wetter walk down the long docks to the Namaste.  I cannot remember the last time I was drenched to the bone!  Thanks to Jenny Lynn and Dan for the invitation to late afternoon snacks which turned out to be our dinner.

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Water Taxi Ride to downtown Charleston

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Ash in heaven

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An idea of the size of the marina and the length of the docks with the military ships in view

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Ebb but not yet low tide on a floating dock – it gets steeper 

Sunday was sunny but cold and windy so we took the hotel shuttle into downtown Charleston where we shopped the market and watched the Gullah ladies making seagrass baskets (see below).  We lingered over the masks, metal figurines and jewelry before setting out on a long walk through the old homes, churches and shops of the South of Broad Neighborhood (the Pat Conroy book of the same name is highly recommended) and then along the South and East Batteries of this charming city.  Ultimately, we lunched at a lovely little café in the French Quarter, hopped back on the shuttle and luxuriated in the hotel hot tub the rest of the afternoon.

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But you said you would bring Sammy. . .

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Grandpa and Granddaughter in deep conversation

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Yay for hot tubs!

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Sunset over Charleston

Monday arrived too quickly and it was time for Ash to head back to the airport and home.  We enjoyed a breakfast buffet at the resort Fish House, grabbed an Uber, watched her navigate the airport and that fast, she was gone.  It has been quiet and a bit lonely for us all including Sammy who relished in Ash’s loving attention.

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Cannot travel when you’re hungry!

 

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. . .and that fast she is gone!

Jim and I spent the rainy afternoon touring the World War II aircraft carrier, destroyer and submarine on display at the end of our dock and in which Ash had politely and respectfully declined any interest (good choice).  We enjoyed seeing a real Corsair airplane upon which Jim’s dad had been a mechanic when he served on one of these enormous carriers but the experience was overwhelming and the ambience added to our overall sadness of Ashleigh’s departure. For the first time on this leg of our Loop we admitted to one another that it would be nice to be at home today but also knowing that tomorrow will be another day!

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Aircraft Carrier Yorktown from our fly bridge.

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Carrier and Destroyer.  3,500 men on one, 350 on the other! 

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Corsair that Jim’s Dad worked on during WWII

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We had hoped to tour Charleston again but the weather was still yucky.  Instead we were happy to provision at a local Trader Joe’s and less than excited to suffer through laundry at the outdoor machines before our departure early the following morning.  Charleston is on our “return to” list!

On our way again, we buddy boated with Melody in Sea to Georgetown.  It turned into a day of skinny water and hyper-vigilance but no groundings, even though we saw under 5’ of depth a couple of times.  The sailboat Namaste would surely have struggled here.  Georgetown had come highly recommended and it more than lived up to its reputation.  With a 2 mile walk each way, Sammy got a groom.  A terrible haircut she thinks but neat, clean and smells good.  I also decided to do something with my now straight, too long and oily hair.  I will let the pictures tell the story but it does feel good to wash and go for now.  The people, museums, shops and restaurants were first class in this lovely community.

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Most unusual bridge yet.  Built on pontoons it is moved into place by boats whenever transport is needed across the AICW here.

 

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Cha Cha crosses her wake and we all celebrate!

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Visiting one of the lovely homes of Georgetown, SC.  Great story and tour!  The local high school was celebrating prom so the students and families gathered here for pictures.  Amazing kids and clothes!

 

Outside of Charleston our auto-helm decided not to hold course.  This isn’t a major issue but being on the helm can be tiring without it’s help.  After Jim and Dan tried everything they knew including moving the electronics bag away from the auto-helm’s compass, Jim called Raymarine and spoke with a guy in China (his new best friend, Lee) for over an hour until they successfully reprogrammed the settings. Today it worked like a charm – a one degree variance!  YAY!

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Gotta love the Auto-Helm!!

Right now we am sitting in the Osprey Marina, just outside of Myrtle Beach.  It was a tight squeeze to get in here and will be even tighter getting out but the spot is protected all around from what may be heavy storms.  For the first time we are in an area with pines and hardwoods, no natural palms in the woods here but an orchestra of bird and peeper sounds with the biggest bee and wasps I have ever seen.  Spring flowers are popping in South Carolina.  We will stay for a couple of days because the slip fees are the best we have found – $1.00 per foot per night and the fuel is only $2.56 per gallon.  We haven’t seen these slip charges since 2008 in the Great Lakes!

Let me digress for a moment to tell you a little about the Gullah Culture created in the low-country of Georgia and South Carolina where we have spent the past two weeks.  People were shipped from Africa, mainly Sierra Leone, West Africa, to be traded along this coast as slaves.  During the hay day of the South the slaves developed a creole language and a culture rich in African influences that makes it and them distinctive among African Americans of today.  Most importantly, although they did not receive any credit, they brought with them knowledge of how to make a valuable Indigo dye and how to cultivate rice in saltwater, both of which were the mainstays of the affluent southern economy until after the civil war.  Because they experienced relative segregation and isolation living and working on rural plantations out on the coastal islands, they created and preserved their culture known as Gullah and their language known as Creole.  The culture and these slaves have been of particular interest to me since Mike spent a year in Sierra Leone in 1989 and one of his mentors/friends, Joe Opala, has written extensively on the Gullah culture which he connects back to Sierra Leone.  As with any slave culture, their history contains a sad and oppressive but proud element.  Even Wikipedia today does not mention the important economic contributions they brought to the area.  There is so much not written into our history books!  It is reported that both Michelle Obama and Clarence Thomas are of Gullah descent.

Sammy Sayz:  I got an ugly haircut from a nice lady but it is getting hot and there are no mirrors so I am good.  Mac and I had a good time together for the last week or so and I will miss him until we are together again in Norfolk.  However I have the Pelicans, Ospreys, Sea Gulls, and Terns and now there are turtles everywhere with whom to make friends.  Always so much to do when not napping!

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Jenny Lynn promising treats for good doggies

Boat Name of the Day:  Follow Me (A boat we have seen several times but have never met the people.  Seems we are following them!)

Bad Boat Name of the Day:  Runnin Amok

Quote of the Day:  “Many people don’t know this, but it’s possible to read something you don’t agree with on the internet and simply move on with your life.” -@TheMichaelRock

Happy Belated birthday to:  Lisa and Andrea

Happy Birthday to:  Emily and Jenny

Rest in Peace:  Esther and  Dad (I cannot believe it has been 17 years today – I so wish you were here doing the Loop with us.  I wouldn’t be doing it without your love of me and of boating.)

 

 

 

 

 

A Travel Day in the life of the Namaste and Crew

April 1-5, 2018

April 1 – Easter on Hilton Head Island, no travel

April 2 – Hilton Head Island to Beaufort, SC (29 miles)

April 3 – Beaufort to St. Johns Yacht Harbor (63 miles)

April 4 – St. Johns Yacht Harbor to Charleston Harbor Marina (13 miles)

Miles traveled this blog entry:  105

Total Miles traveled:  4173 miles

We spent a beautiful Easter Sunday walking the beach on Hilton Head, both of us agreeing that being away from family today was sad and particularly because everywhere we looked there were extended families enjoying the day together.  We had a lazy morning remembering Easters-gone-by and then rode the Trolley to the Atlantic Beach for a long, luxurious walk.  The trolley driver, Blue, with a personality bigger than the Trolley itself, watched and proudly shared a face-time call with her grandson all dressed up for church.  (See quote below.)   The remainder of the day we read and ate a traditional Easter ham dinner complete with deviled eggs.

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Namaste Too in the middle of the picture on Easter Sunday morning, Hilton Head, SC

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Decorative lighthouse on Hilton Head marking the 18th green of the golf course where the RBC is played this weekend. Note the tartan plaid.

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Easter Sunday beach walk

The next morning we rose early and left Hilton Head for Beaufort, SC.  This had been one of my highly anticipated stops that didn’t live up to expectations.  First of all, they (or perhaps I) messed up the reservation so that we didn’t have a slip so had to tie onto a mooring ball.  In itself that is never a bad thing at about ¼ the cost.  However, the fuel line (from the outboard motor to the gas tank) on the dinghy gave up the ghost and the engine, of course, couldn’t run without gas.  Jim had to row us and Sammy into town and back several times a day.  One direction was always against the current making a strong captain a plus in so many ways.  We did enjoy a carriage ride explaining the civil war history and beautiful homes of Beaufort, and had a great lunch at Plum’s.  Along with Savannah, we will return to Beaufort for a more relaxed visit next time.

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The final leg of the journey to meet Ashleigh in Charleston began on Tuesday.  Since the most frequent question I am asked is, what is an average travel day like on the Namaste Too, I decided to record and write about April 3rd regardless of what happened, no matter what.  So here we go, Beaufort, SC to Charleston, SC. . .

6:00 a.m.         We arose in the pitch of night as we planned to go 63 miles today and anticipated bucking a current; made the coffee; got dressed and tidied up the cabins.

6:30                 Jim rowed Sammy into shore not only in the dark but against the current coming back to the boat.  Meanwhile I made a small breakfast.

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Easy going that way, coming back was the issue!  Looks calm, doesn’t it?

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Swing bridge opening before dawn

6:45                 Got the navigation tools ready, turned on the electronic instruments and started the engine.  I email Curt our float plan for the day.  This has two purposes, one is that someone always knows where we are and when we are expected to arrive.   Two, at the end of our Loop, we will have a running log of exactly where we went and when.

7:00                 Before sunrise but in enough light, Jim released the mooring ball as I navigated the Namaste through the mooring field toward the swing bridge just ahead on the AICW.   Captain Jim took over the helm as I usually manage the deck by bringing bumpers onboard and coiling all the lines, making certain everything is ready for the next port.  Sammy loves to help but any time we are working on the deck she is leashed up on the fly bridge, safe and out of trouble.  She is immediately freed to roam when we are underway.

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An unexpected treat.  We couldn’t have timed it better for this photo op.

8:00                 Jo at the helm.  We usually change “watch” every hour or so on long travel days.  This morning we were heading East into a blinding sun.  The dilemma is that it is miserable to look out at the water without sunglasses but it is next to impossible to read the electronic screens with polarized lenses.  I wore my glasses on my head and my sunglasses on a chord around my neck, switching them back and forth as needed.  Jim checked the engine room for any visible problem spots – there were none.    In bright sunshine, we will likely have a warm and calm day.

9:00                 Jim on watch.  All is well in boat-world until the auto-helm lost its tracking ability.  This is a GPS device that steers the boat on a set course under the watchful eye of the helmsman who makes adjustments as needed.  This means one of us will have hands on the wheel all day which is not a huge issue but a nice convenience lost.  Another thing to add to the Captain’s fix-it-list, says he’s on it.

10:00               Jo on watch.  A couple of things to know here.  We have three navigation aids going at all times – two electronic and one paper chart.  My favorite helper is Navionics on the iPad.  This is the electronic version of the most recent charts available and has a magenta dotted line as the suggested route through narrow channels and wide rivers.  While following this line is absolutely not foolproof as the deepest water route, it is a good bet.  I must also watch the depth gauge, rpm’s, oil pressure, and engine temperature constantly.

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Which magenta line?????

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Sammy reading Chesapeake getting ready for our visit there.

11:00               Jim on watch.  For entertainment we are listening to NPR on a radio installed to the dash just like in a car. We are passed by three faster boats (Scandia, Final Approach and Rho Jo).  This can be more complicated than one might think.  The passing boat is required to hail the boat being passed on the VHF radio and request permission to pass on either port or starboard.  Generally, the boat being passed requests a slow pass and then slows down so that the passing boat can get by more quickly.  The problem is that the wake of the passing boat can tumble the boat being passed if he is going too fast (huge wake) or is so close that the boat being passed cannot turn into the wake quickly enough and takes the large waves on his beam (side).  Usually all goes just fine, as it did with these three boats traveling together.  However, there is lots to say about those who do not honor the slow pass, usually sport fishing boats but also big, expensive, go-fast boats.  Recently we were passed quite close, without notice, by an expensive and beautiful Sabre whose name was No Rules – go figure.  This is not necessarily dangerous but is mighty uncomfortable and can cause injuries to those on the boat being passed and can make a mess of the cabin if things aren’t meticulously stowed away.  You can imagine what this is like for a small fishing boat anchored at the side of the channel or river!!!  Anyway, we get over it and I make lunch of turkey and cheese sandwiches, cold veggies and lots of water.  Maybe a cookie or too as well.  We are about halfway through today’s route to Charleston.

12:00               Jo on watch.  We hear on the VHF radio that a boat ahead, Final Approach, is experiencing a dripping leak.  He goes back and forth with his boat buddy in Scandia finally deciding that it is a hairline crack on the intake manifold.  What he needs is “magic tape” which holds anything and everything together until a permanent fix can be made.  No one nearby has any such tape but since his bilge is keeping up with the slow leak, he pushes on to his next port – kind of like continuing to drive when an idiot light comes on.  BTW, magic tape is on our list to purchase.  When this all settles down, Captain Jim takes a nap in the comfy chairs behind the helm.

1:00                 Jim on watch.  While we have great conversations about everything under the sun during these trips, we also read; take notes for the blog; catch up on email and FB; clean the boat; cook; or mostly just watch the scenery go by.  We have a system that if one of us needs the other up on the helm we give one quik honk the horn.

2:00-2:30         Jo on watch.  We are nearing our destination of St. John’s Yacht Harbor where we have a reservation.  This is a beautiful new marina near the mouth of Elliott’s Cut, a place to stage for going through tomorrow morning.

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A shout out to St. John’s Yacht Harbor as a beautiful, friendly, and convenient marina

Have I been mentioning about the really swift current?   Well, Elliott’s Cut is only about 25 yards wide in one place and when the current is running in either direction it can reach 6 mph.  This makes going slow, steering or meeting another boat a challenge so selecting passage at slack tide (least water movement) is advisable.

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Elliott’s Cut just prior to the most narrow section. 

2:30-3:00         Jim on watch.  He calls on the VHF radio channel 16 to the marina to get a slip assignment and some assistance with docking.  There is a lovely woman on the other end of the radio with perfect directions of which boats to pass on what sides to reach our assigned slip which she reports is a port-side tie.  This is important as by now I am on the deck attaching lines and bumpers at the appropriate spots for a perfect docking which we manage in a 3+ mph current and winds gusting to 23 knots on our beam and then stern as we approach the dock.  Again, our confidence is building but getting complacent would be beyond foolish.  We get the Namaste all nestled in her slip (adjusting and readjusting the lines and bumpers), take some deep breaths and head to shore to check in and find some grass for Sammy.  Thanks for coming along on the ride with us!

We managed Elliott’s Cut the following morning and crossed Charleston Harbor in some pretty stiff winds to reach the Charleston Harbor Marina where we will ready ourselves and the Namaste for Ashleigh’s visit tomorrow!  Stay tuned.

Good Boat Name: Who Knew (on a lovely old Albin just like ours)

Bad Boat Name:  No Rules (traveling at top speed up the AICW making everyone’s life miserable)

Quote of the day:  Blue, our Hilton Head trolley driver, “they make it look so hard,” while shaking her head and smiling as she stopped for the out-of-practice bicycle riders on island rental bikes.

 

Wait? What? Summer Turns to Spring & The Land In Between

March 20-31, 2018

March 20 & 21 – Halifax Marina, Daytona, no travel (weather)

March 22 – Daytona to River’s Edge Marina, St. Augustine (55 miles)

March 23-24 – St. Augustine, no travel (sightseeing and friends)

March 25 – St. Augustine to Fernandina Harbor Marina, Fernandina, FL (63 miles)

March 26 – Fernandina, no travel (weather)

March 27 – Fernandina to Brunswick GA (42 miles)

March 29 – Brunswick Landing Marina to KilKenny Creek Marina (71 miles)

March 30 – Kilkenny to Isle of Hope Marina, Savannah (23 miles)

March 31 – Isle of Hope Marina to Harbour Town Yacht Basin on Hilton Head Is (25 miles)

April 1 (Easter Sunday)  – Harbour Town Yacht Basin, no travel

Miles Traveled during this blog entry: 280

Total Miles Traveled: 4068

Add a 9th State – Georgia and a 10th State – South Carolina

We remained weathered in at Daytona for three days including two tornado warnings with rotating cells passing just north and south of the Namaste.  We didn’t know anyone at the marina so it was a quiet time of walking the many docks, visiting a downtown trying to reinvent itself and observing a small, windy and cool wedding onboard a neighboring sailboat.   The weather had turned from balmy Florida temperatures into what feels like Michigan in April – winds, rain, and cool temps – hence Summer turns to Spring.  It occurs to us that perhaps we are moving north too quickly but granddaughter, Ashleigh, will meet us in Charleston during her spring break.  These proud and excited grandparents will be there to meet her!

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Daytona – So many docks to walk, so much time!

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Wednesday afternoon wedding with Bride, Groom, her Son, his Daughter, Minister and boat Captain

March 22nd we moved on to the River’s Edge Marina in St Augustine.  This was a sentimental stop as Jim’s parents lived here and we visited during the mid-80s.  Coming up the AICW (Atlantic Inter-Costal Waterway) we kept a “lookout” for something familiar that would remind us of where they might have lived.  At some point I looked at a chart and the street Sandpiper jumped off the page at me as our answer.  Because it was several miles out of town we postponed seeing the house until another time.  We stayed in a funky marina off the beaten path (read as rustic and a twenty-minute walk into St. Augustine) where the local restaurant, Hurricane Patty’s was hosting their annual Rum Festival.  Apparently, you pay something, get a green wristband and then are privileged to sample all the free rum you wish.  Whatever the entry fee, we were sure not to get our money’s worth but Sammy managed a free biscuit and we all listened to loud music and raucous laughter well into the evening.

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The three of us walked over the bridge into St. Augustine two consecutive days.  St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest U.S. city, settled by the Spanish in 1565 but she also has a meticulously cared for and vibrant feel with spring flowers bursting everywhere.  The Fort, located just north of town, gave Spain it’s stronghold in the new world but St. Augustine was frequently contested and flew seven different flags.  There are literally dozens of wonderful galleries, delightful outdoor cafés, museums, cobblestone streets and carriage ride tours.  My favorite spots were the Presbyterian Church with an old Spanish/ Catholic aura and the Flaggler Liberal Arts College, in the middle of town.  Both are steeped in beauty and tradition!  If I were 18 again. . .

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Spanish Bakery

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Two favorite cafes.  Top a Spanish Bakery and bottom a coffee shop at the Flaggler Museum

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A Presbyterian Church – Really???

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Flaggler College

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This iris grows everywhere

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My personal favorite, Azalias

The St. Augustine City Marina suffered damage from Hurricane Irma so had no power at most of the docks and was exposed to the Mantanzas Inlet making the mooring balls and marina uncomfortable in the high winds we were experiencing which made our choice of Hurricane Patty’s even more attractive.  However, next time we pass through, that is where we will stay.  Lila and Alan on Blue Haven came for an insta-pot meal as a payback we have owed since dinner on their boat in Faro Blanco two years ago.  Because they are from Wisconsin we began planning our circumnavigation of Lake Superior for the summer of 2020!  Friends and previous owners of Namaste Too, Jenny Lynn and Dan caught up to us here in St. Augustine and we had so much catching up to do that we shared docktails right through dinner and into the evening.

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This is the restaurant and marina in St. Augustine, badly damaged by Irma but slowly rebuilding

Fernandina, the last city in Florida before entering Georgia waters.  We were sad to leave Florida after many months boating here but then I have already mentioned our need to keep moving.  Storms were predicted for late in the day (first 10 p.m., then 8 p.m. and then 4 p.m.) and we were making our longest travel day ever of 63 miles!  Well, you guessed it, the winds caught up with us as we passed through Nassau Sound (Sound is another word for expansive inlets from the Atlantic Ocean) giving us what we call lumpy water followed by a downpour. Because high winds were predicted through the night and the next day we fortunately gave up our plans to catch a mooring ball and called the Fernandina Harbor Marina getting the last slip available in yet another marina damaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.  Captain Jim brought us to the dock through a narrow channel filled with boats in high winds and fast current but it was a great call!  It blew and blew for the next 24 hours and those on the mooring balls were uncomfortable but safe.  We were comfortable and safe.

 

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Exit from St. Augustine

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St. Augustine from the sea

Fernandina is a lovely example of thriving, costal, small town living.  The city provides a shuttle to all the important places including a Publix. We perused the wonderful shops and had breakfast at Bright Mornings Café and Bistro – not to be missed if ever you find yourself in Fernandina!    We met a British couple who had come across the Atlantic in their sailboat (wow) and a Looper couple of some fame, Eddy and Linda of Eddy’s Weather Wag!  Wonderful folks all!

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Worst weather day so far.  Looking from the Namaste Too out to the Mooring Field.  The small and damaged dock in the foreground protected us a little from the rocking waves.

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Mrs. Egret going in to buy supplies for supper. 

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One of many unusual boats.  This is an all aluminum boat flying a German flag!

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Screen shot of St. Andrews Sound.  We are the red arrow in the middle navigating some pretty rough waters getting into Fernandina.

Before I go further I must give you a few generalities about cruising and other things of Georgia.  About 1 0 years ago we were vacationing with the Namaste sailboat on Beaver Island where I met a woman in the laundry who was doing the Loop, an adventure that was only a vague notion to me at the time.  I remember asking her favorite place on the Loop (cannot remember her answer) but then her least favorite part of the Loop.  I vividly recall her response as “boring Georgia”.  I have been curious ever since and now we are here!   Well, what I can tell you is that most of the Georgia inter-coastal is marsh grasslands with up to 12’ fluctuating tides and brisk currents.  We did not find it the least bit boring but rather an opportunity to once again elevate our already soaring learning curve.

  • All trips must be carefully calculated to go through the many skinny water spots (Jekell Creek, Hell Gate, etc.) at high or rising tide.
  • This can lead to some pretty early morning departures or evening arrival times with occasional anchoring to wait out the tides.
  • The goal being not to go aground but if you do, plan it for the rising tide meaning a shorter wait to get back on your way.
  • In any 24 hour period there are two high and two low tides meaning that there are approximately 6 hours between the highs and the lows.
  • All of this moving water causes currents that can literally push you around in small spaces and greatly varies the speed of your vessel. Our cruising speed is 7 knots but often found ourselves running at 5 knots or as high as 11!  Makes timing things difficult.
  • Slack tide or the lowest currents happen for the twenty minutes before and after each high or low tide, maybe. This is the easiest time to try to land your boat at a dock but often is not the case.
  • There are charts and online resources informing you of the daily tide time changes, thank you to our Aye-Tide app!
  • Many folks “go outside” into the Atlantic to miss all of this fun but we found the scenery and people to be perfect and welcoming.  The Georgian Golden Isles as they are called, are one of the most pristine coastal areas of the Atlantic.
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A picture of the Salt Marsh Grasslands of Georgia.  Dock gives you some perspective.

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Lest you think all of Georgia is Grasslands

OK, so now back to Georgia.  We made it almost through on four long travel days.  The entire trip consists of grass salt marshes which at high tide look like huge expanses of water but at low tide the winding path of the AICW is absolutely clear.  In other words the experience is different depending upon the tide cycle.  There aren’t any big cities along the coast of Georgia except Savannah and hence is sometimes called the Land In Between – the land in-between South Carolina and Florida.

Our first stop was Brunswick Landing where we left our Tiguan a couple of weeks ago.  This is a mile-long marina hosting some of the prettiest and most unusual boats.  They have free beer on tap 24/7 and beer/wine happy hours on MWF for everyone.  The laundry is free (a first) and town is a quick walk away.  We got a great reception and then caught lines for 6 other Looper boats.   Because we had a car we provisioned and did several errands over our two day stay.

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The Namaste getting a bath upon arrival at Brunswick.  Salt covering everything.

Leaving early on March 30 for Kilkenny Creek accompanied by Horizons, Lady D, and Houlegan, we set out on our longest travel day yet at 71 miles.  The day was warm but the navigation tedious. Once again the winds were predicted to kick up to 25mph and we were tired so we opted for the Kilkenny Marina instead of nearby anchoring fields.  Kilkenny is a fish-camp style marina that at the moment can accommodate 2-3 boats for power and the third (us) had to split a power line with Lady D.

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Lady D ahead of us exiting Brunswick being greeted by a ro-ro ferry.  The cars roll on and roll off!

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Kilkenny Marina with grasslands on the background and the beginning of southern low country.

I digress, there are three different marina styles so far on the Loop.  First and by far most usual, are the city or privately owned marinas that make their money selling fuel.  The facilities are usually adequate and friendliness/services are usually outstanding.  Second, are the resort marinas which offer all the luxuries inherent in staying at places like Captiva or Hilton Head.  Third, are the fish-camp marinas that serve fishermen but also have dock space and an amenity or two: sometimes power, sometimes showers, sometimes a restaurant.  Hoppies and Bobby’s Fish camp are other examples along the way.  Kilkenny falls into this final category.  We had dinner in the local restaurant eating shrimp looking out at the shrimp boat that delivered today’s catch bringing back images of the Forest Gump and Bubba adventures.

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The shrimp boats are a comin

Next day we were on to the Isle of Hope Marina.  Delightfully this day would be only 23 miles and a respite from the long previous days.  Isle of Hope is just south of Savannah and the most convenient place to stop when visiting Savannah.  The other option is to navigate several miles up the Savannah River in heavy commercial traffic and stay in a marina unprotected from the freighter wakes.  It is a brief Uber ride into Savannah but we decided to forgo this stop and pick it up on our return down the coast next Fall.  We needed a rest and some slop days to make it to Charleston.

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A suburb of Savannah.  The moss literally hangs on almost every large tree.

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One of many gorgeous sunrises with grasslands at the horizon

So instead of Savannah we set out the next morning for a short day into Hilton Head Island.  Again, this was a bit of a trip down memory lane for us.  In June 1986 we vacationed here as a family in celebration of Pat’s graduation from high school.  As it turned out it was 100 degrees every single day and Pat was diagnosed with mono on our departure day.  While I am not sure of the boy’s memories of this trip, my stance is that we made the best of it by spending much of our time inside with air conditioning watching Pat sleep.  Good food, a play and a little golf were also involved.

We arrived in the Hilton Head Harbour Town Yacht Basin, truly a resort marina where we will stay for two days.  Jim is reading or asleep up on the fly bridge.  Last night we went to dinner at the Crazy Crab and caught the U of M Loyola final four basketball game.

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Go Blue!

Today is Easter so we have  rested and enjoyed this beautiful spot but are also missing home and family.

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Hilton Head Beach on Easter Sunday morning

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Harbour Town Yacht Basin  Namaste in the middle of the picture with navy blue canvass

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This has been a fabulous leg of travel.  We have increased our skills and confidence by ten-fold with this boat.  Our only regret is that we didn’t anchor more due to the cold, winds, tide, and currents.  Beautiful anchorages will be our goal for next time through here.

Sammy Sayz:  My preference would be to live permanently in one of those lovely Resort Marinas but short days without wind are OK too.  Cold, windy days are the worst and every now and then the captain and other crew seem to think it is necessary to travel. I hate being down below in the noisy cabin close to the engine where it is warm so mostly sit by the captain on the fly bridge in my sweater and wrapped in a matching blanket.  The best times are when I get to go run, run, run which I heard a lady call the Bishon Romp!

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Hey Rocky, cool it!

Good Boat Name:  Grande Finale on a Grand Banks Trawler

Bad Boat Name:  Flatline – I am pretty sure there must be a meaning other than the medical one, does anyone know?

Quote: “God willing and the creek do rise, ” with regard to navigating Georgia!

Happy Birthday to:  Sharron

Rest in peace:  Linda

On the Road Again

March 14-20, 2018

March 14 – Fort Pierce to Melbourne Bridge Anchorage (50 miles)

March 15 – Melbourne to Titusville Municipal Marina (40 miles)

March 16 & 17 – Titusville, no travel

March 18 – Titusville to South Daytona (Bethune Pointe) anchorage (46 miles)

March 19 & 20 – South Daytona anchorage to Heritage Harbor Marina (3 miles)

Miles Traveled during this blog entry: 139

Total Miles Traveled: 3790

On the beautiful, if cool and windy, Wednesday morning of March 14 we departed Fort Pierce after a great six-week winter stay.  Captain Jim easily maneuvering us out of a tight slip, onto a narrow fairway, to the current prone gas dock for a pump-out and then through the channel onto the ICW (Inter-Coastal Waterway).  After several miles and a couple of bridges we looked up to see a gaggle of bright pink flamingos swoop down to lead our way.  In awe, I reached for the camera too late to capture the moment but we recognized it as a good omen on our first run in 6 weeks.

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Our home-dock in Fort Pierce for six weeks.  We are just below the tiled roof.

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Leaving Fort Pierce on a beautiful March 14th

We traveled from Fort Pierce to the Melbourne Memorial Bridge where we anchored alongside Sunset Delight.  After taking Sammy ashore, we rowed the dinghy over for a nice visit with Ev and Clark, including  supper of Chicken Alfredo created by Ev.  It was a pretty evening and quiet but cold night.  The temperature dipped to a 37 degree low and perhaps our coldest onboard since the river system in 2015.  Where is this weather coming from?

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Sunset Delight by day. . .

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Sunset Delight at Sunset

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Picture of the Namaste compliments of Gwen Klenk.

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Sammy Sayz, hey guys turn down the air conditioning!

The next morning after Sammy had been ashore and I had exchanged a few texts with my childhood friend Gwen, she arrived to a parking place on the nearby bridge to take our picture.  She waved us off to the Titusville Municipal Marina where they would later “show up” and drive us to a lovely dinner at Dixie Crossroads, a local specialty seafood restaurant.

Our arrival at the Titusville City Marina was an intended stop in order to visit the NASA Kennedy Space Center the following day.  We met Ev and Clark (Sunset Delight) early to Uber to the Space Center, a 30 minute and  $27 ride each way.  Now, I could go on and on about our experience but will let the pictures do the talking.  Suffice it to say that all four of us, including two engineers, were impressed with the tour, exhibits, unbelievable videos but mostly the memories this adventure brought back of the 60’s space race.  I remember watching on TV during my 10th grade geometry class as Alan Sheppard was launched down the sub-orbital Atlantic Range in 1961.  To be within 50 yards of the two launch pads from which almost all U.S. rockets have lifted was chilling.  I was happy to learn that all 144,000 acres that make up Cape Canaveral are also a wildlife refuge where nature coexists perfectly with the latest in technology.

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A very special tourist attraction

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The NASA rocket assembly building.  The dark gray vertical columns are the biggest doors in the world allowing the rockets to be assembled inside.  They are then ever so slowly moved to the launch pads by a variety of very big vehicles with special roads. 

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Launch Pad 39A.  The fence in the foreground is to keep the gators and other ritters off the launch pad.

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Elon Musk’s Space X building right near launch pads 39  from which we watched two recent launches from Fort Pierce.  A focus seems to be on blending the public and private sector efforts here at the Space Center.  Makes sense to me!

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This is the massive rocket from which the Apollo program satelites were launched.  These were returned to earth for reuse.

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A picture of a picture of the actual Apollo/Atlantis launch.  Look familiar?

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This is the real Atlantis rocket that traveled 126 million miles in earth’s orbit.  The entire ship was suspended inside a building and absolutely awesome to comprehend.

Unbeknownst to us, it was Clark’s birthday so upon return to the marina, I cooked an impromptu chili dinner with Lorna Dunes subsstituting for cake and celebratory singing, sans candles.  Sammy was so happy to see us after a long day alone on the boat that she took turns honoring everyone’s lap.  Somehow she knows it is her job to make us all happy!

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Happy Birthday to Clark! 

A little weary, we stayed another day in Titusville resting, doing laundry, enjoying down-time on the Namaste and learning that Granddaughter Ashleigh is coming to meet us in Charleston for her spring break.  This excitement resulted in some forward planning and our decision to move on to an anchorage in Daytona Beach.  The beautiful weather, holiday weekend and lots of local boats created a busy waterway.  Consequently we listened to Coast Guard distress calls on the VHF radio much of the day:  44’ sailboat taking on water, 7 year old missing in kayak, and rudder-stuck boat with no name or location.  The sailboat was assisted and pumped out, the 7 year old found, and the rudderless boat call was eventually cancelled.  High five to the Coast Guard!   It is interesting to add that we saw considerable dock damage from hurricane Irma all along the way.

At anchor just off the ICW channel, we bounced around until dusk when most boats began heading back into their slips and their owners home to prepare for another work week.  Delightfully the ICW will be calm again reminding us not to travel on weekends unless  necessary.  As a side-note, there is always something to see when traveling on the water and here are a few of the memorable examples or at least the ones I captured over the last few days.

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River Boat

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Shrimp Boat

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Sail Boats

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Baby Dolphins playing.  At one point there were five but I could never get more than one in a picture.

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One of many fishermen onshore at a narrow point in the waterway.  Note his wheeled cart to the left in the picture.  These are the norm for land-based fishing and clearly describe the personalities of their owners.  Everything imaginable is onboard – all part of the gear!

Our plan had been to get up early and head for St. Augustine the next day.  Upon arising however, a check of the weather indicated otherwise.  Storms were predicted to begin in 90 minutes and last all day.  I quickly called the nearby Daytona marina and secured a slip.  However, the 90 minutes shortened to about 15 minutes and we got hit hard with rain and wind causing us to stay out in the ICW and not attempt a docking until the weather passed.  After about an hour, things settled down and although wet, Captain Jim safely pulled into slip E18 of the Halifax Marina, the second largest in Florida.

When the rain finally stopped I spent much of the day getting things dried out between storms and Jim cleaned the mud off the deck, anchor locker and chain.  It was a real mess but is sparkling clean now.  We have been working on our boat lighting situation by adding a motion sensor solar light outside the cabin door to light our way onto the boat after dark.  He also installed the new LED bulbs ($5/each!) in most of the overhead and engine room fixtures so that it is not only brighter in here but the LED bulbs use considerably less amperage when we are on battery power at anchor.  I also ordered a cute nautical lamp that missed us by a day at Fort Pierce so friends stowed  and will deliver it when we meet again.

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Clothes and towels drying in the head.

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A clean anchor chain in an even cleaner chain locker.

On our second day in Daytona Halifax Marina we woke up to very cloudy skies and threats of storms and high winds all day long!  As we were getting ready to Uber to Publix about 9 a.m. my cell went off with warnings that tornados were in the area.  The marina restroom building is pretty but structurally made of 2X4s and a metal roof.  Thus, we high-tailed it over to a new and large brick office complex building where we took cover at the Freedom Boat Club for an hour.    One tornadic cell went just north of us and another just south but we got only rain.  More storms are still predicted for later today.  A shout out to Scarlett and Allison of Freedom Boats for their hospitality during the storm.  Established in 1989 with approximately 156 franchises around the country Freedom offers their  members the utilization of beautifully maintained boats (pontoon, center council and run-abouts) in any of their locations.  We have now seen them in several marinas and they are a great option for anyone who wants to boat on vacation but not have the year round care and expense of their own boat.  We learned that there is a brand new franchise in Charlevoix!  Thanks again Scarlett for the shelter and letting me sit in your lovely lounge using your internet to shop amazon and post this blog!  I have almost forgotten what fast internet is like!

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The storm is acomin. . .

Even with busy waterways and storms it feels good to have a plan and be Back on the Road Again!

Boat Name of the Day:  Summer Rules

Happy Belated Birthday to Erica

Congratulations to Lee (with the beard) on his lead performance of Marius in the Steiner school play, Roma Amore last week!  These events are so hard to miss.

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