ICW Transit North with Sunken Boats, Swing Bridges, Deer Crossing & History Galore…#50

We arrived in Thunderbolt Marina a small town just outside of Savannah. We found this Marina by asking the awesome Facebook group “ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423”. These types of Facebook groups have helped while we have been cruising different and unfamiliar areas. We were glad to get at this nice marina rather than the public docks right in Savannah downtown. When we saw the docks, we were really happy with the decision we made and the recommendations from the group! Special call out to those that helped us! If you are traveling to areas unknown, join some of these Facebook groups and ask questions or read what others ask/answer. This is good for all types of travel, air, sea, foreign or domestic, it is such a wealth of knowledge from folks that live or have been to that location and know the area well.

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

With all the history we have been absorbing in these towns, I thought this quote was perfect for our lives and the history of our country….. The good and the bad, it’s history!

We again booked the same open air trolley tour company we did when we were in St Augustine Old Town Trolley Tours which is an On-off trolley ride through town. It is a perfect way to see the town and hear the history at the same time. img_7884As I mentioned in my last blog Cruising from Satellite Beach Florida to Savannah Georgia. Savannah was made more popular by the Author John Berendt book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. He wrote about the city and a group of folks which he met along the way. He called out all the uniqueness’s of these people & how they were living and stories they told him. This is a Non-Fiction book, I might add.  The tour guide said those citizens that were mentioned in the book were not too keen when it was published. I think the town now values the tourism that it brings to their fine city. We strolled past the house made famous in the book, the “Mercer-Williams House,” where the murder and shenanigans happened. It was a blast to see the city, with its planned out city streets and park blocks every so often on a regular squared map.savannah city map

This was done at first for safety having military posted at each park square, which allowed them to see across the whole town and protect the city. Today they are each a quaint parks with stone/brick pathways through them, seating and or monuments. You can see a few pictures of the parks in the slideshow below.

As one of the most hot and humid cities we visited, we saw first hand how the buildup of moisture and afternoon rains hit the city, which we happen to get stuck in while traveling around. But we found some cover and waited it out. 

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Because of the heat in Savannah, we were glad to be moving north again. We went straight from Savannah to Charleston SC, landing at Charleston City marina. We took another tour bus around the town; this method gives you such a good base for the city. img_7858We learned about the 4 corners of law, which consist of the Federal Courthouse, Charleston City Hall, Charleston County Courthouse & St. Michael’s Episcopal Church which are all in the same intersection together. Near this intersection is where we found Ruth and other artisans making their Sweet-grass baskets. They make them right in front of you on the street corner. I, of course, couldn’t leave without one and a picture of her with her beautiful work.

If you love old architecture like me…. you will love all the many southern houses in Charleston. They have beautiful grand porches facing a courtyard on the sides of the house. They all point windward as planned, to get the evening wind to cool the house down. (Can you imagine, no AC) They all have window and porches that they could keep open to reduce the daytime heat. The houses have an odd door leading to the side of the porch. This was for blocking the street dust and horse poop smell from their living areas. It also was for hospitality and greeting neighbors and friends with sweet tea and a visit on the porch. Today they are more for security purpose, but it is the entrance into the courtyard/porch and front door area.

We were able to see the open-air market area that goes on for blocks and blocks, with no vendors due to Covid, but it must be a hustling area when open. Close by we found a local place for lunch. We enjoyed our walk around the city. We also saw a “replicaof the H.L. Hunley submarine. The CSS Hunley was the first combat submarine to sink a warship (USS Housatonic) in 1864. After her successful attack she along with her crew were lost at sea. She was 39.5 ft in length and 3.83 feet in beam. Her propulsion was a hand-cranked duct propeller which could make 4.6 miles per hour. There were 2 officers and 6 enlisted men who performed the propulsion. In 1995 she was finally located in the depths of the sea and raised in 2000 and is on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

The next day we took a tour to Fort Sumter which is a National Historic Park. The construction of the fort started in 1829 but was not completed until 1861 when the civil war began. The fort was built with a high stone and heavy masonry walls circling the boundaries. The fort was turned over when South Carolina seceded from the Union. In 1863 there was a failed attempt by the Union to retake the fort and it was reduced to rubble. It remained in Confederate hands until 1865. The U.S. Army worked to restore it as a useful military installation. In 1898 during the American Spanish war, a new massive concrete blockhouse-style installation was built inside the original walls. It was never used during the war, but the mashup of the two different decades is very evident.

Up until Savannah we were traveling in and out of the ocean and into the ICW to anchor or visit marinas. But when we left Charleston the weather was rough in the ocean and we decided to stay in ICW, even if it is a bit more difficult to travel this way. I am sure glad we did because the sights and views that we were able to see have just been amazing. The ICW was a bit more open and navigable in North & South Carolina and Virginia than in Florida and Georgia.

We saw so many sights along the way; Sunken boats, swing bridges, party islands, beautiful homes/docks, lighthouses, birds nesting, swamp lands, fisherman, swimming deer, dredge boats, hunting towers… You name it was saw it.

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img_8099One of the funniest things we saw along the way, was this Flagpole with a US flag, a fake palm tree and a parking meter on a very small strip of sand. Legend has it, that it arrived in early 2000 and no one knows exactly who is responsible, but that it was meant to be a humorous stab at the climbing parking rates for visitors to the coastal town. Townspeople claim it is maintained by a “secret society of locals” who surreptitiously show up when the treetop needs replacing. Boaters often anchor there on either side of the low tide to temporarily inhabit the island, which slowly disappears as the water begins rising toward high tide.

As we headed to New Bern, we had few more stops. We did one-night anchor out at South Santee River & another at Enterprise Oxbow. Only one notable event, in South Santee River happened. During our anchoring that night, we quickly noticed that it was really soft mud and our anchor didn’t hold. Dan had the great idea to drop our second anchor to hold us. It worked great until we decided to pull the anchor up the next morning. They were all twisted around each other, which we didn’t know until we pulled one of them up. The first anchor rode got caught on the second anchor fluke. It was a nightmare situation. Dan and I worked for 30-40 mins with boat hooks and such to get it untangled. We finally got a separate line through the anchor chain that was hanging off the fluke of the other anchor and tied it off. Then dropped the anchor a bit in the water which changed the direction and it came loose. We won’t do that again!!!

img_8054We did a quick stop at Southport Harbor Village Marina where Dan got to meet up with his Navy buddy, Pete from the Flying Fish Submarine time. They hung out and told tons of stories and got caught up from over 40+ years of not seeing each other.

We did one more night at anchor at Swanboro NC before making our way to New Bern to meet up with Debi on Mad Hatteras. We met Debi on the Hatteras Owners  Facebook page. We stayed in the Bridgeton Harbor Marina which was just across the Neuse River from New Bern. We had the BEST welcome we have ever had, as we arrived in Bridgeton. img_8143Debi had gone all out for us with a Hawaiian welcome, (as she lived on Oahu for a while) and still has a business she operates there. We were welcomed with many helping hands to catch our lines for easy docking, champagne, snacks and Hawaiian Leis. Everyone was so nice and helpful. We spent 5 nights and enjoyed dinner on each other’s boat and an awesome dinner out in town. Got to meet people in the marina and had a great time. If you head this way, it is a really nice marina at which to stay.

We did a couple more nights at anchor along the way to Norfolk, our final destination for the summer. This puts us out of the hurricane risk area. We anchored at Sanders Point in Bay river for 1 night. Then we headed into an interesting little marina for 2 nights in Belhaven NC at River Forest Marina. We enjoyed our stay in Belhaven. It is a very quaint little town with a beautiful manor they do events in. Of course, with Covid, it isn’t active at the moment. I wish I could have gone inside!

We did one more night at anchor on the North River off Abermarle Sound (AKA Crab pot city). Then off to Norfolk. But not before we had two amazing events. We had these birds follow us for hours behind our boat. I think they thought we were fishing and would toss out our fish remains as we cleaned the fish, so they were tailing us pretty close. It was amazing watching them.

And the big finale was a deer crossing right in front of our boat. Dan saw him first and yelled back to me that he saw a deer in the river. I came quickly, but Dan was going so fast that he would have hit him. The deer was swimming faster than he had thought. So, he backed down which gave me a good view of the deer and ability to film her.

We are in Norfolk until November when we plan to go south again. Dan has a reunion with his Flying Fish Submarine buddies in August and we have a wedding of our daughter Kylie. So, we will stay really busy getting everything ready.

I do have a couple special blogs planned for this time away from our adventures… so stay tuned to see what is coming next!

 

Cruising from Satellite Beach Florida to Savannah Georgia & We Missed the Rocket Launch…#49

We had arrived in Satellite Beach, Florida in mid-April after our week or so in the Keys and our trip north in the ICW.  We were planning on staying at Satellite Beach area for a while and just settle in a bit before we thought about going north again. We were able to just enjoy our time and not do too much. Our friends, Chris and Gina loaned us a vehicle to be able to go to store & Patrick Air force base to hit the Exchange and Commissary. We were also able to take a couple drives around the area but really kept ourselves isolated as much as we could. We did a few dinners with our friends at their home and Dan was excited to help Chris work on his Corvette project, where he is putting an Electronic Twin Turbo LS motor into a Stingray from the frame up. We also worked on tuning his LS powered boat.  We really enjoyed our time with Chris and Gina and were so glad to spend the extra time in this city. 

I started a daily walk along the neighborhood close by and enjoyed it tremendously. I got so many cool pictures along the way. I loved these “snake Cactus” and got a close up of this beautiful Heron along our dock. indian-banana waterwaysI also took my Kayak out a couple time on Indian River, I was hoping I would see dolphins which frequent the area every day. I did see them, but I couldn’t get close enough for good pictures.

“This area has two rivers that collide into the ICW (Intracoastal Waterways). The Indian river starts up in the Ponce de Leon area and flows down towards Satellite Beach where the Banana river runs into the Indian river and continues down the ICW. The Banana River isn’t considered part of the ICW only part of the lagoon system and has an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean by Port Canaveral”

The Marina we were at was a bit south of this map image.

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We stayed busy with projects of course, we did many puzzles, books, netflix’s & went fishing and caught nothing worth keeping, but it was fun. Dan got to power wash the dinghy of all the sea barnacles and such, being that we left the dinghy in the water so we could use it. I had to do the same thing on my Kayak that I left in the water. This is the joy of sea water vs fresh. We had planned to stay for 1 month but extended our stay when we heard that the Spacex rocket launch was planned for 5/27. Dan had reviewed the bays near Cape Canaveral, and we knew how close we could get to the launch.

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On Tuesday 5/26 we left the marina and headed out to our rocket watching anchorage spot. It was extremely close, and we were excited. But on Wednesday the weather was not looking good and a thunderstorm was heading in. As you know the launch was scrubbed due to weather issues. We then had to make a decision as to stay at anchor until Saturday or Sunday and hope it doesn’t get scrubbed again. I was concerned because the weather did not look any better for the weekend, I really didn’t want to wait 3-4 more days and it gets postponed again. So, the decision was made to move on to St. Augustine. We had waited and postponed our travels north by 2+ weeks and I was ready to leave. 

We headed out along the Intracoastal waterways to Ponce de Leon Inlet and anchored out for 1 night. (map of our locations at end of blog) This was just a stop and rest point so we didn’t have to cruise all night long. img_7227We got hit with a pretty good storm that evening and just watched with amazement as the winds, rain and dark clouds hit us. We took off again the next morning for St Augustine City Marina. We traveled via the Intracoastal Waterways and it is an interesting navigation endeavor. Some areas are really shallow 6-8 feet or less and narrow. Some are wide open with a few extra feet but required to stay inside the navigable channel to be safe. The depth is very shallow outside the narrow channel which requires us to stay alert the whole time. It is also can be very windy and lots of marsh lands, bridges & little alcoves along the way.  You do stay safe from the sea conditions while traveling the ICW and that is one bonus, plus the view is much better too! 

img_7253We arrived in St. Augustine docks and were pleased that the city was within steps of the marina. We arrived late afternoon and planned to stay two nights. We walked around the town that night and found a nice place for a snack & drink, Prohibition Kitchen. It was a two-level cute pub grub type place. Service and food were excellent. We had Brussel sprouts grilled with some awesome sauce and a beautiful shrimp cocktail with huge shrimp. It was incredibly good. Found the local visitor center and bought tickets for the next day on a historic “On-Off Trolley”. If you haven’t done one if these it is AWESOME. We used the “Old Town Trolley Tours” company and were very happy with the knowledge, locations they stopped and the quickness between rides (approx. 15 mins). We did one in Washington DC years ago and enjoyed it then and this was very similar. I just love old history and we both enjoyed our time listening to the drivers explain the city.

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We rested a bit before dinner. We had so many recommendations from friends for good places to eat but ended up at a local restaurant 2 block from the marina at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill. It had good ratings on-line and it was close by and it did not disappoint. It was fabulous! 

Up early the next day to head off to Jacksonville Fl. We had made friends with some locals through a Facebook group for those that have Hatteras Yachts. We went in a bit further, 25 nm, than we would have on our own and stayed at Lamb’s Yacht Center & Marina. We had tons of fun with Bill and Patty. We each showed off our boats. 

Dan helped Bill a bit with some projects, we did a couple dinners out, went to the Navy Base nearby and we got to visit their boxers… what a joy! That is one thing Dan and I miss a lot is animals in our lives! We had a 5 day stay and have new friends too! 

We got up extra early when we left Lambs Marina in Jacksonville, we had aways to go, 75 nautical miles to Brunswick GA. We picked this location for a couple reasons. We needed a halfway point between Jacksonville and Savannah and Dan found a place to buy his 5-gallon buckets of Chevron Delo 100 40w oil, to keep the big Detroit Diesel happy, and they were going to bring it to the boat. So, that saved us a problem with how to get it picked up and hauled. So we went in to Brunswick Landing Marina. We stayed 1 night, oil was waiting for us when we arrived, and we walked to a local restaurant for dinner. On our way “in and out” towards Brunswick at St. Simons Island Sound we got to see the 656 foot “Golden Ray” cargo ship that flipped over in September of 2019. It was holding 4,200 cars and the effort to get her out of the water has been an undertaken ever sense. The ship was eventually declared a total loss and is now being cut up in place and scrapped. Here is more detail on the whole event and salvage work. Golden Ray Wiki

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Below is a map of our trip along the coastline and ICW. 

Our trip continues North as we head towards Norfolk/DC area. We will be stopping in Savannah Georgia next. I’m excited because my friend Ashley gave me a book that I read a year or so ago called “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt” If you haven’t read it, you should. It will make you want to go to Savannah and see all the interesting places. 

Looking forward to our adventures in Savannah and South & North Carolina… 

Take Care! 

2 Years Living Aboard our Boat, What a Dream Come True….#48

This month, June is the 2 year mark for us being underway from our home at Columbia River Yacht Club in Portland Oregon. cropped-img_2364-2.jpgWhen we started this adventure, we thought that this 2 year mark we would be close to being done….but that isn’t the case. Our plans have adjusted multiple times, as they should when things happen. But we are so happy they did because we would not have experienced some places that we were not planning on going.

This first disruption of our plans was the overhaul in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  Shipyard at Opequimar. It took many more weeks than we anticipated. They did a great job but the length of time made us change our plans. We decided to head north up to the Sea of Cortez  for the summer. And what a great time we had! We would go back for sure and maybe someday we will do that. It was one of the best times we had.

img_6046One of the other best times/places, that was unexpected, was when we hit the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean Sea side of Panama. This was definitely in our plans but we were totally surprised by the level of friendliness from the native Guna Indians. We were blessed to have them share parts of their lives with us and we will never forget this memory. Also the beauty of the land and the hardship these people live every day to just survive is amazing. We were blessed to be able to experience it.

Now we had many small change in plans and we really only plan out the next stop just before leaving the current one. But the Sea of Cortez was a major change to our plans. One of the other major changes to the plan was just recently when the Covid 19 hit the world. We were in Jamaica  and we planned on going to Turks and Caicos and had family coming to join us. Well, of course that didn’t happen and we decided to undertake the longest run we had ever done, 4 days, alone with no crew. We made it safely to Florida and were glad to be in the US during these trying times.

We are frequently asked by people we meet about the roughest weather or worst storms. Of course you will all remember our cruise from Costa Rica to Panama, Our most TERRORIZING Cruise ever. We tell this story often to people we meet along the way, with wide eyes watching us as we point to the top of the fly bridge where the sea water attacked me in the middle of the night. This was a life changing event for me as a sailor and I truly respect the sea as it has its own agenda.

Of course, we are always doing repairs on the boat, well, I guess I should say Dan is always doing repairs. At least the repairs are being done in exotic locations, right?  Because repairs are so much of our energy, to keep moving and be safe I asked Dan what his most concerning repair was and why. This repair issue was the overheating of our main generator. It actually had two issues, but we did not know that at the time.

Being that the overheating was in our main generator and it was old, we had a bit of concern and needed it fixed quickly. We were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at the time, which adds to the complexity if parts are needed. The first issue was a clogged and leaking heat exchanger. It was very troublesome because it was difficult to disassemble, being old & rusty and was hard to get it unfastened in a very tight location. Eventually he was successful, but the part had to be ordered from Cook Engines in the US and then have it shipped. Because it was heavy and expensive part, we paid bucks! Customs in foreign countries can hit you hard. The second issue was found a couple days later after the heat exchanger was replaced. We had a worn out and clogged exhaust mixing elbow. The sea water passage had become clogged, limiting the flow which causes more overheating. We had lost our main generator again. But this time we had friends coming down and they brought the part with them in their luggage and helped Dan fix the elbow. All of this was a major concern because this was our main generator wired to our inverter. We had to use our alternate generator which limited us to 50 amps max.

The winner of best pictures is a slam dunk on “Sunsets & Sunrises”. So many I may need to create a picture book with all these pictures to put on my coffee table, someday!

 

 

 

I was not sure how to put these two years into a overall blog when there was just so much to talk about, So I thought I would put the last 2 years into a list of data points.

  • 730 days/2 years living aboard Angelique
  • 8,386 nautical miles
  • 7 countries visited
  • Cruised past 6 countries without stopping
  • 12 Scuba/snorkels dives – not enough times, for sure!
  • 1 new dinghy
  • 1 haul out/overhaul
  • 5 times we used 2 anchors – bad holding & bad wind/wave direction
  • 3 times major direction change in plans
  • 2 marina power failures while gone off of the boat – not fun!
  • 18 airline tickets purchased, traveled away from boat
  • 1 pandemic
  • 2 intruders
  • 1 awesome supermoon
  • 100’s of amazing sunset/sunrise pictures
  • 40+ dolphin sightings
  • 1000+ hours fixing & maintaining stuff
  • 24 engine oil changes
  • 1 stolen phone
  • 3 Airbnb’s – during shipyard work
  • 50 different visits from our friends/family
  • 4 different visits from Ken and Cheryl – Our good friends
  • 6 different visits from our kids, Kylie, Chase & Mitch
  • 2 Hired hands – who were brothers
  • 2 Navy football games attended – different cities
  • 40+ motorcycle rides
  • 48 blog posts about our adventures
  • 75+ books read (hard, on-line & audio)
  • 100+ bicycle rides
  • 60+ Uber and taxi rides
  • 27 nights Angela spent on boat without Dan
  • So many new boating friends/acquaintances
  • 2 very grateful and blessed owners of Angelique

As we reflect back on the past 2 years living aboard our Motor Yacht, Angelique, we are amazed at how far we have traveled, IN OUR OWN BOAT! So many awesome memories we have and we are EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that I have been writing them all down in this blog. Also, incredibly grateful to our friends and family that have joined us and helped with moving the boat in those times we needed it. And of course, all the people we met along the way, which are now new friends with which we will hopefully keep in touch.

I hope that if this is something you are interested in doing, that you do it! Yes there are rough times, lots of maintenance and repairs. But what an adventure you will live and relive as you remember what you accomplished.

We hope you and your family are healthy and happy. Blessings to you from Dan and Angela on MV Angelique