Monday, May 25, 2015


The Bucket List is getting Shorter


...and we're off!

Resuming our cruising adventure up the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), we couldn't have been happier with the beautiful day that dawned. After the long hiatus in Brunswick, Georgia, we went under the Lanier Bridge, turned left and started our travels north .

Our first bit of excitement was just a couple of hours later when we knew we would be passing the waterfront home of our friends. They were waiting for us with their binoculars at the ready. Unfortunately, their property is heavily wooded and we couldn't spot their exact house, but we know that they were waving. They emailed us the fact. Actually, they waved, and waved until
their arms got tired. Seems that they were surprised at how SLOW we were moving along when underway. Yep, a whopping 6mph which just barely gets the wind blowing in our hair.

Because we draw 5 1/2 feet (that is our keel hangs down 5 1/2 feet below the water surface) we have to be very careful about the changes in the tides for our travels. The 6 to 7 foot tidal changes make it so that the channel is too shallow for us at certain times of the day. We watch the tide forecasts (which are never very accurate for inland travel) and eyeball the changes. When it looks right, we start the day and plan for our stopping point that afternoon.

After exactly 2 weeks out we are today tied to a dock right on the ICW at the Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, Virginia. We've anchored out in the wilds every night for two weeks by simply pulling off of the marked channel into a river or bay. But we needed to fuel up and to walk to a grocery store for produce and ice cream so we choose to tie up. The bonus is that there is unlimited wifi so I can upload photos and post a blog!

So, you may ask...what do you see along the ICW?  Mostly, when we were in Georgia we wandered a squiggly path through the beautiful tidal marshlands. The land is flat and the temperatures were quite warm down south in Georgia. It turned a little chilly the farther north we travelled.

As we moved through South Carolina and into North Carolina we saw a lot more houses directly on the waterway with docks and boats. BIG houses and small. Sometimes there were even mounds of earth with trees on them! Real hills! We also started to encounter miles and miles of houses that all looked as if they had been built in the last few years - almost exactly the same style and building materials used for every house. Cookie cutter million dollar houses - I'd like to know why?

We crossed a special item off of our Bucket List! Many years ago we vacationed with my family in Holden Beach, NC. The ICW could be seen from the upstairs balcony and Jonesy spent many hours watching the boats go by. He made up his mind that someday he would pass by Holden Beach in a boat. AND WE DID!

Most days we have been absolutely alone, chugging along the water, soaking up the scenery. Yes, we have hit the bottom mud many times with our keel. It's not fun, but we haven't actually gotten stuck yet so we haven't had to call a tow boat. The water is very shallow in some places even in the charted passageway and has shoaled over especially where there are inlets from the sea or a little river. Jonesy calls it "tapping the guard rails of the race track" so as long as the boat isn't damaged we keep on racing motoring.

We've entertained ourselves with watching the wildlife, reading books, studying the depth sounder and multiple charts, and of course knitting. When we are closer to the sea and not moseying around an inland canal, we often see small, dark colored dolphins. These dolphins are very shy and don't come over to the boat to play with us as the ones we've met at sea do.

Large osprey birds are busy with their nests everywhere. They have discovered the safety of the channel marking poles out in the water for their nests. We've seen nests atop several markers in a row. We haven't seen chicks yet, but the parents have been busy sitting on the nests.

At one point in North Carolina, our progress was stopped by a US Navy patrol boat. We were passing through Camp Lejeune and there was a Marine military maneuver taking place where they floated a pontoon bridge across the waterway. It was entertaining to see a tank cross the temporary bridge. It was also interesting how quickly the bridge was taken apart and we were allowed to pass - FAST!

One night we anchored in a horseshoe curve in the cypress swamps of South Carolina. Right there at the river's edge we saw an alligator lurking among the water hyacinth! Later in the afternoon he crawled out of the water and sunned himself on a log with 5 large turtles. After dark, I went out on deck to see what I could see as I usually do at anchor and I must have scared him as there was a bump on the hull and a big splash! I'm really glad we have a BIG boat which is 5 feet above the water!!

We stopped in the charming little city of Swansboro, NC and dropped anchor right off of the free city dinghy dock. From there we ate breakfast in a great local diner then walked (more like waddled) about a mile up to the grocery store - a real Piggly Wiggly! Of course we also stopped in at the The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop so I could pick up some wool washing soap and fondle the beautiful yarns! Oops! Another project has been added to my queue on Ravelry to knit up.

Many of our travel days have been some of the best we have ever had on the boat. We've had perfect weather and no hitting the muddy bottom some days. Other days have been, well, not so nice. We have learned a lot.

We have learned not to get too close to a swing bridge as some of them open way too slowly (for our liking) and tidal currents threaten to drag us into the bridge pilings! As our mast is 63 feet tall, we can safely slide under the "fixed" bridges, but we have to radio ahead at the draw bridges which often only open at certain times of the day. It's hard to keep a big sailboat stationary when there is wind and current - actually, it is impossible to wait at a standstill.

Negotiating a swing bridge caused the only time (so far) that we both said naughty sailor words. Nope, we didn't hit the pilings, but the bridge operator told us that many other boats have done so.

We've learned to simply slow down and enjoy the trip and let working boats and folks in a hurry go right on by us. We've also learned that it is imperative that you have at your fingertips the loud canned boat horn to blast at inexperienced or inattentive boaters and jet ski riders. Sheesh. This isn't Disneyland - it's actually dangerous to drag your kids around on a blow-up toy at great speeds around other boats. We don't want to be part of a calamity so folks, play safely!

We've learned that we are much happier if we only travel about 50 miles each day and not push ourselves too much. Long days are no fun, and anchoring in the dusk is too scary especially because we are always at someplace where we've never been before. Yes, we have all the cruising guide books, but depths of water change and we often cannot get this big girl into shallower places.

We've seen many things that have astounded us too. How about this high rise boat storage yard? There was also storage inside of the building in the rear. We watched as a big forklift hauled a boat around the yard. Scary!

Check out this campground for travel trailers. We saw several of these types of campgrounds along the way. They are all travel trailers in these parks - no manufactured or mobile homes - just all different sizes of travel trailers. What a great way to spend the summer and fish to your heart's content. This sort of lifestyle is attractive to us voyagers.

So we've crossed off several items from our Bucket List over just the last two weeks. These are:
CROWDED - Very rare but scary

Of course, we are, at the same time, adding to our Bucket List. But that's another story.

Tomorrow we're taking off again and will get to experience our first lock since the Panama Canal transit back in 2008. It's just a little lock but we are a tad apprehensive. No real worries - we'll just chalk it up to another learning experience whatever happens. 

Life is good.

OUT TOO LATE Looking for a deeper spot to anchor

Looks like fun!
Thank you for sharing your beautiful adventure with us . Safe and happy travels, Darrell
Today it has officially been two months since you last posted, and I just want to know if you guys are OK. Hopefully, you are just too busy enjoying the Northeast coast, possibly knitting your way around Maine, to write a blog post. Hoping to see you check in soon!
Hi Terry,
While at Siemens here in Sacramento California and whilst chatting with one of the managers, I mentioned that I spend most of my spare time knitting. He then promptly sent me the link to your blog. Wow! Thank you for sharing your life and adventures in sailing, ceramics, weaving and knitting. You're definitely one talented lady! Happy Sailing and I hope to hear about your latest adventures with your next posting.
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