Happy New Year!!

I think we all celebrated the dawn of this New Year with hope and anticipation of good things. We had dinner in the cockpit with two friends, they left by 8 and we were in bed by 9 – party animals!!🎉.

The weather between Christmas and New Years could not have been more beautiful. Sunny day after sunny day, temps in the mid to upper 70’s and gentle breezes. Really perfect for this time of year. Spent lots of time out in the dinghy exploring and in the water hunting and swimming.

Snorkeled around a Blue Hole down at Lynyard Cay

Just another beautiful sunset!

Dipping off the transom at Man O War Cay

We had some of the clearest snorkeling days in the past couple weeks. We also have some tails for the freezer, including one from big guy!

Still avoiding the covid cooties but it’s a bit easier when you can be outside each day! Hope your new year is off to a good start. 🇧🇸🌴😎⛵️

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Merry Christmas, Bahamian Style!!🎄 

When you’re sitting in shorts and bare feet it can be difficult to get in the Christmas spirit.  I have my gallon ziplock onboard that includes all of our holiday items – a pathetic little tree, some lights, our Santa hats and even a couple holiday dish towels.  It certainly doesn’t take long to decorate.  

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been doing in this month leading up to Christmas:

Sunset happy hour on the beach with new and old friends
Field trip on a powercat with other cruisers to Man O War Cay for some better groceries 
When there’s a full moon, we gather at sunset with drinks and snacks to share, tie the dinghies together and drift around the harbor.  I think we had about a dozen that night with boats joining in as we went by.
A real treat was to be invited to go south to Tahiti beach on a center console boat.  It was a beautiful afternoon and “The Thirsty Cuda” was anchored off the beach.  You walk or swim out, according to the tide, and order some of the best fish  and burgers in the Abacos!
Our wonderful local Bahamian friends, Monica and Richard, did a lot of fundraising and set up a skating rink in the Community Center for kids which was open the past few weekends.  The skates are all donated as was the rink (which is made of a hard plastic similar to cutting board material). There were lots of falls, like with real ice, but they also could use some sled like walkers to help to keep their balance.  A snow machine that shoots out tiny soap flakes helped to set the mood. They had so much fun!  Dan & I worked a couple nights in the kitchen making popcorn and handing out refreshments (we let the teenagers make the cotton candy so we wouldn’t come back to the boat covered in sticky sugar).  There was a visit from Santa and each child received generously donated gifts.  

And with the harbor and boat decorated we’re starting to feel the spirit!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and hope you’re able to gather safely with those you love!!🎄🎁🌴😎⛵️🇧🇸

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A Bit of Winter Paradise🌴

What can I say? It’s beautiful in the Bahamas! We typically wake up to morning clouds and many days, a brief shower. But then out comes the sun and temps are in the 70’s and low 80’s. My kinda weather! Only we, and the Canadians, swim here in the winter – Bahamians think it much too cold.

Morning rainbow
I go up to the newly rebuilt school most mornings. They’re still teaching remotely so I’m mostly unpacking and organizing.

Dan usually has boat chores to keep him busy and in the afternoons we’re out in the dinghy, poking around looking for lobsters. He’s had some good luck and I’ve already made some curried lobster sandwiches, lobster pasta salad and have one for the freezer. Certainly helps with our food supply.

Wow!! That was a big guy!
One day he brought this guy up to say hello

I’ve been enjoying my walks here. I usually walk the dirt road up to the north end and treat myself coming back via the beach. Constantly have my eyes to the sand, watching for sea glass and sea beans.

So many decisions!

When we spot the local fishermen coming into the harbor, we hop in the dinghy and meet them at the marina to see if they have anything to sell. They typically catch snapper, wahoo, mahi mahi or tuna (our favorite).

The next few weeks we will try to get in the holiday spirit – a bit tough while in shorts. There are more cruisers coming into the harbor each day which gives us more friends to come out and play with !

And the there’s the flowers❤️🇧🇸
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We have arrived!

People always ask us how long it takes us to get to the Bahamas. We left Mystic on September 15th, crossed and arrived in the Bahamas on November 13th, so basically 2 months. But in reality it’s about one month of travel days. The rest of the time we attended a wedding in NYC, stayed with good friends in Annapolis, spent an extra night in Norfolk to see family, spent a few days in Charleston and St Augustine because we enjoy those cities, hung out in Vero Beach for two weeks loading the boat to capacity and of course, spent extra days waiting for good weather. So it could be done in a month but we’re cruisers, what’s the hurry??

On November 13th we got a weather window that looked pretty decent to cross from Lake Worth inlet to Great Sale Cay, Bahamas. With health visas all set, we left that morning around 6:15 and started the slow slog across the Gulfstream and on to the Bahamas banks. With a bit of an East wind on the nose, it wasn’t a bad crossing, just slow. We were anchored around 11:30pm and went immediately to sleep.

Predawn anchor up
Goodbye West Palm Beach, Hello Bahamas!

Next morning it was up and off to Spanish Cay to clear in to Customs and Immigration. Unlike other years, the Customs woman was already there and we were able to clear in pretty quickly and get back underway. As we’re now checked in and in no hurry, we took advantage of a light breeze and sailed to Manjack Cay where we anchored for the night.

You fly your yellow quarantine flag until being checked in, after that, up goes our Bahamas courtesy flag until we check out

When we leave this area there is always concerns about getting around Whale Cay on our way to Hope Town. If it’s been blowing or stormy it can get in a rage, preventing passage around. Fortunately, things had been pretty settled and we were able to do this section the next morning.

Always there to greet us!
Dan didn’t waste any time getting in the ocean
And I couldn’t wait to get my feet on the ground for a long walk and some sea glass hunting!
The beauty of Hope Town. Signs of rebuilding but a long ways to go post Dorian.

We were very excited to arrive safely to our mooring in Hope Town after 2 months. After leaving here a year and a half ago, post Dorian and during the beginnings of COVID, spending time at home and a winter in Connecticut, we are happy to be back in turquoise waters, warmth and sunshine for the winter!

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Should we stay or should we go??🎶

So, we’ve been in Vero Beach for two weeks. We’ve caught up with friends, received deliveries for friends in the Bahamas, stocked up on food and essentials for the winter and, of course, tackled boat chores. We were having lots of wind and the seas were up so we really had to stay put. But this week we’ve been watching the numerous forecasts and have decided to cross to the Bahamas tomorrow!

My bestie, Linda, drove over from Tampa to run us around for provisions. We left her a very tiny section to sleep in the aft cabin – only good friends tolerate us😁

Took a hike in the Pelican Reserve

Dan got a swim in at this beautiful, empty pool
Our tv died and Dan did a replacement
Our buddy Will came over to give our dinghy engine some love – still being finicky 😩
Last haircut, walk and shop
Our trip down to West Palm by Jupiter light, derelict boats and endless high rises and sport fishermen.

Had to have covid tests and submit them into the Bahama Health Visa online. Fortunately, we had friends in Vero Beach who were willing to drive us to a clinic. After being swabbed and waiting 15 minutes, we received our negative results, submitted them and were on our way. Couple hours later they were approved.
Now all we have to do is get to the Bahamas within 5 days! Wish us luck!!⛵️🌴😎🇧🇸
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Grateful to make it to Vero Beach – but ready to leave!!

So, I’ve always said to Dan that if we just make it as far south as Vero Beach I would be happy to stay there for the winter. Lots of former cruisers are now CLODS (cruisers living on dirt) here in “Velcro” beach. There’s cheap moorings at the city marina, a free bus service that brings you to the grocery store, West Marine, etc…. We can motor down the harbor, tie our dinghy to some mangroves and walk across to the beach where Dan gets his ocean swims. All great, right???

But then there’s the Bahamas🇧🇸⛵️🌴

With those aqua waters calling. We’ve been in Vero over a week and are watching a weather window to cross POSSIBLY next Thursday/Fri🙏🏻 We’ll see …

Enjoyed our time in St. Augustine and were really happy to see our nephew and his family who live in the area.

At a snail’s pace😁
Dolphins at the Bridge of Lions
Watched this fisherman wrangle in what he said was about a 130 lb tarpon
Great visit with the Vlauns

Not really into organized tours but love walking around St Augustine reading all the plaques – such history!

Had some really nice weather and sailing through Daytona, Cocoa and Melbourne areas.

Such pretty bridges in Daytona!
Morning departures are rewarded
Lots of sailing this day south of New Smyrna Beach
Haulover Canal

Love the Florida birds and dolphins that greet us each day.

Anybody know what this guy is??
We’ve seen more dolphins this year than ever!

And there’s always boat projects😩

Our tv died – Dan installed a new one!!!

We offered to bring some items to friends in the Bahamas- waterline’s getting a bit lower!

Delivery boy
My friend, Linda is coming for the weekend. Think we left her enough room to sleep in the aft cabin??

Hopefully, we’ll be headed down to Lake Worth next week to set ourselves up for the crossing. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the ease of Vero and appreciate where we are!!😎

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Florida Bound!!

Before I say too much, I need to knock on something…. The sky’s been blue, the sun’s been shining, the seas not too big and the winds not too strong. The weather has certainly been cooperating!!

Rambled down the Waccamaw to Georgetown, SC where we hit Independent Seafood. This is where the shrimp boats unload and you can buy the freshest, pop in your mouth shrimp you’ve ever had!

SNOB – slightly north of broad, our favorite Charleston restaurant to have, you guessed it, more shrimp n grits!
There was not a speck left when I was done!🍤

From Charleston we do an overnight outside to St. Mary’s Inlet at the border of Georgia and Florida. The ICW is crazy shallow in Georgia and what would take us about a week inside is only one overnight (about 165 miles). We generally have to wait for good conditions but this year when we were ready to leave, the forecast was for light winds and seas less than 2 feet – not great for sailing but certainly good for traveling! It was a beautiful night with an almost full moon shining the way.

There were about two dozen cargo ships anchored off Georgia – sign of the backup of supplies
Our spotlight all night
Gift of a beautiful sunrise

We arrived in the St. Mary’s around 9am and wound our way up to anchor in Cumberland Island, GA – one of my favorite places on the planet! If you don’t have a boat, you can get a ferry from St. Mary’s, GA and come in for a day or even bring a tent and camp there. It’s a National Park. The trails are magical, the wild horses and other wildlife amazing and has an empty sandy beach that goes on for miles.

What looks like a black stick was actually an alligator swimming along in the salt marsh.
Nothing like a few vultures, must have been something dead nearby.
Miles of beach and birds

After a couple days of exploring and catching up on chores and sleep we headed outside again for a 62 mile trip to St. Augustine – again, avoiding the shallows of the ICW.

The joys of defrosting the freezer😁
Made it to Florida! It’s hot here😎🌴

We’ll stay on a mooring here in St. Augustine through the weekend, then head towards Vero Beach and arrive in about a week. Feels good to be missing the throngs of boats behind us who recently left the Annapolis Boat show. Empty anchorages are good by us!⛵️

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Intracoastal Waterway

This is our ICW bible that we use every day from Mile zero in Norfolk to mile 1018 in West Palm Beach where we go out the Inlet and cross to the Bahamas.  Our days are filled with weather watching and the timing of opening bridges.  

Hospital Point – Mile 0 of the ICW

The first day of the ICW heading south includes a bridge that has always held us up.  Not to disappoint, we waited over an hour this time….  Next stop is the Great Bridge Lock.  Kinda played the tortoise and the hare.  You can’t enter the lock till 20 minutes after the hour but you have to be in before 40 minutes after.  Even knowing this, every big wake throwing power boat had to blast by us just to sit there and wait.  Same at the next bridge – there they were, piled up waiting…. Fortunately, after that bridge, they all get far enough ahead that it’s just us slowpokes, sailboats and trawlers making our way to Coinjock marina where lo and behold were all the big power boats filling up their fuel tanks $$$

There were about a dozen boats in the lock with us

Our second day in the ICW met us almost immediately with low fog banks.  With the sun rising through, it was really quite beautiful but certainly stressful with navigating and watching for other boats.  

This was our day to try to get all the way to the south end of the Alligator Pungo Canal – about 70 miles.  (Still have never spotted an alligator in there). Racing against sunset we exited the canal just in time to go head to head with a tug and barge.  We always talk with them on the VHF and ask where they’d like us to go.  This one told us to stay as close as we’d like since it was a skinny channel.  We slipped along side him and anchored that night with the last bit of sunlight.

Alligator River Swing Bridge
Alligator Pungo Canal surrounded by stumps
Our tug and barge greeting committee!

Stayed a few nights in Oriental, NC, one at anchor and two nights at their free dock.  The town has a Harbor Cam so you can always check and see if there’s a spot available at the dock and you can send the link to your family and maybe they’ll catch you out on your deck😁

This is a very friendly town and we always enjoy going to their local restaurant for some shrimp n grits.  

Rainbow at the anchorage
Free dock in Oriental
Shrimp N Grits

There are many areas of the ICW that have constant shoaling.  You read that they’ve been dredged and 6 months later, they’ve silted in again… in some of these spots we wait till there’s a decent window to hop outside in the ocean and slip back in the ICW in places where there’s enough water. We had a big sloppy sea 70 mile trip from Beaufort, NC to Wrightsville Beach, NC on the outside. Good thing we have strong stomachs!! We then moved a couple hours south and have been on a mooring here in Carolina Beach, NC waiting out some strong winds and rain for the past four days. This is a nice safe harbor and has easy access to groceries and the beach.

Dolphins offshore
Beach walkin’
Dan taking advantage of a nice beach swim
Got himself a fish!
Early departures do have their advantages!

We’ll take off this afternoon with a higher tide to head down the Cape Fear River and spend the week making our way towards Myrtle Beach then Charleston. DEFINITELY want to eat more of those delicious Carolina shrimp along the way!!🍤

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The Chesapeake

Ahhhhh, it was so nice to stay put a few days in Annapolis! We have friends who generously allow us to stay at their dock. We always have such a great visit with them each fall and spring when passing through. It was also a good chance to catch up with other cruisers who are on the move or also live in Annapolis.

Our peaceful spot in Annapolis
Gathering with cruising buddies
And oh yeah, there’s always a project!
Early morning departures
Our military in Norfolk, very impressive!!

When we get to the Hampton/Norfolk area, we always have a visit with Dan’s sister, Beth and husband, Rich. This year we pulled into the Norfolk Yacht Club to meet them. They took us on a grocery run and then had a nice lunch and visit at the club.

Family meet ups are the best!

South of Norfolk is the official start of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). Lots of miles ahead of us but we’ve had some decent sailing and good weather so far. Next stop, North Carolina!! (think it’s best to keep our masks on there😷)

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So much to do before taking off to head south.  Cook and shop for food.  Eat all the food in the house.  Lay out clothes to bring.  Put back half the clothes.  Turn the water off and winterize the house.  Move onto the boat.  Run around doing last minute things and of course, saying our goodbyes🥲

Make and freeze Lasagnas
LOTS of packing. Seeing less and less of the waterline!
The hardest goodbye❤️
So long sista, bestie and Covid walking buddy😘
See ya Todd, dear nephew and fishing mentor!
Oh yeah, 38’ 24/7. This is gonna be fun!

Had two very snotty travel days to Port Jefferson and then to Port Washington – not a banner start!  Current and wind against!

Took some planning, but with lots of transportation details we left Cutting Class on a mooring in Port Washington, took a train and subway into Harlem to see our son & his wife, took a subway to an elegant wedding at a fantastic restaurant situated under the Brooklyn Bridge, back to Harlem, next morning up early and back to Port Washington with the kids, and then our transit of the East River – always one of the most exciting days of the trip!!

LIRR to the city. The first of many legs of public transportation
Walking around Central Park. Caught a HUGE chess tournament.
Beautiful night for a wedding under the Brooklyn Bridge
Hit 12 kts but had lots of 10!
Us going by our friend’s in Williamsburg
Cutting Class from the Brooklyn Bridge Webcam
Exciting day down the East River!

Dropped the kids off in Highlands to take the Seastreak ferry back to the city then anchored behind Sandy Hook for the night.  We left predawn for our long trek down the Jersey shore.  Had a good sail for most of the 81 mile day into Atlantic City.  The next day we finished our ocean sailing down to Cape Henelopen.  This was a new anchorage for us, beautiful and very protected.  

Lovely morning!
Atlantic City
A VERY seagully sunrise!

When you transit the Delaware River you really need the current and winds with you.  We left right before sunrise and had a good ride with lots of wind behind us ( blowing 40 as we turned into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal).  We rode that current for 11 hours till anchoring in Still Pond in the top of Chesapeake Bay.  Today we are catching our breath as it thunders, squalls and pours buckets of rain on our very salty boat – thank you Mother Nature!  

Annapolis Bound!

All rested up, we had a nice sail to Annapolis to catch up with good friends and stock up for the next legs!⛵️

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