Moving on North…

19 – 22 April, 2016 – We left Charleston, SC and continued our way North.

Next stop Isle of Palms – a very short day in terms of miles, but a convenient stop for timing bridges and tides.

P1020791We left early the next day, greeted by a gorgeous sunrise, and made our way up the 55 miles to Georgetown, South Carolina.



From Georgetown we got to relive one of the most beautiful and peaceful days on this trip on the Waccamaw River, arriving at the serene Osprey Marina outside Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, surrounded by woods and enjoying our turtle neighbors.

P1020796 P1020797







Charleston bound…

10 – 18 April, 2016 – After spending a relaxing 2 nights in Beaufort, South Carolina and watching the weather the decision was made to stay on the “inside” of the ICW, rather than making another ocean passage to Charleston, South Carolina for a couple of reasons:

  1.  To go back out to the ocean from Beaufort, would mean spending close to 4 hours backtracking southerly to and through the Port Royal Inlet, thus adding 3 or 4 hours to the expected 24 hour passage.  This wasn’t really the main reason the decision was made, but rather because….
  2. The winds and weather were not forecast to be favorable and therefore most likely we would not be able to actually sail and would be pounding into it with the motor going.

P1020783 P1020785
So…. what could have been a 24 hour jump resulted into a hopefully more comfortable and enjoyable 3 day/night trip stopping each night in a different marina, first to Dataw Island Marina where we were a bit disappointed to learn that the awesome on-site restaurant was not open on Sundays.  Then on to St. John’s Yacht Center which has the most awesome bathrooms of any marina we have visited so far….really worth the visit for that alone.  Finally arriving in Charleston on 12 April.  P1020787

We selected a marina within easy walking distance to downtown.  The wind was forecast to blow very strong from the NE so rather than beating into the wind either inside or outside, we decided to stay put and enjoyed a full week experiencing this lovely city.  We decided it was very livable, at least in Spring, but know summer’s heat and humidity would be a totally different experience.

P1020790The city and harbor was busy with the Sperry Charleston Race Week where hundreds of boats came to race.  Racers had to contend with the big winds and a few events had to even be cancelled.  Guess we made the right call to stay put for the week.

P1020789Even though we were safely tied up in the marina it offered minimal protection from the strong winds and the boat rocked hard while still tied to the dock.  We would get off the boat for a bit of relief and also to do some sightseeing, including touring the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown along with the destroyer USS Laffey and submarine USS Clamagore.  After living on the sailboat for almost a year, what used to be perceived as inhumanely small living spaces on military vessels seemed a bit more spacious to us.  It is all a matter of perspective.

At the end of the week another decision had to be made – do we go out to the ocean for what would be an over 24 hour passage to Beaufort, North Carolina (pronounced Bo-fort) (not to be confused with Beaufort, South Carolina pronounced Bew-fort).

Again, because of the forecast and because we figured the ocean would still be churning from the 7 days of NE winds we opted to stay inside and continue our way up the ICW.




Let’s Skip Georgia

7 April 2016 – We accomplished the goal of not doing even one mile of the ICW in Georgia on our transit north.

After spending a few days enjoying St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, we backtracked through the channel and headed back out to the ocean for our first overnight passage on this boat.

Timing was important for us as we planned for the passage to take about 19 hours (104 miles) and we wanted to arrive at the sea buoy of Port Royal Inlet (Beaufort, South Carolina) after sunrise so we could more easily navigate the channel.  Calculating the time backwards, estimating our speed would be about 5 knots, we left St. Simon’s Marina around 1530 planning to arrive Port Royal Inlet around 0700 the next day.

St. Simon’s inlet is a long channel and we patiently motored along for 2 hours waiting to clear the shallow water on either  side of us before turning north and putting up the sails.

The wind was favorably coming from the SW and we were looking forward to a lovely evening under sail under the stars.

We began hoisting the main sail and for some reason it was harder than usual for Christina to raise it even with the assistance of the winch.  As she tugged and tugged, we finally recognized that something was wrong, and noticed that the halyard somehow got wrapped around forward of the mast.  Oops!  We didn’t know how that happened.  So, we decided to lower the sail and untangle the mess and then start again.

We released the clutch to let the sail drop (usually the weight of the sail will just bring it down), but the sail didn’t budge.  Uh oh!  So the sail wouldn’t go up or down – this may be a problem.

Bob moved forward to assess the situation and realized that the halyard was securely wrapped around the steaming light on the front of the mast.  Triple problem.

The sail was about 30% up, but with no shape and just laying against the shrouds.  We couldn’t raise it.  We couldn’t lower it.  We couldn’t loosen the halyard to swing it around to untangle it from the offending light.  What to do?

Bob tried to loosen the sail by pushing the sail cars that run along the mast up with the boat hook.  Nope no joy.

Thinking that we may not be able to bring the sail down, the reality could be that someone would have to go up the mast to sort the mess out once we reached Beaufort.

Neither of us looked forward to “sailing” with the rag of a sail flopping around – it could be a bit embarrassing to pass other boats in this condition AND more importantly, would make docking at the other end a bit of challenge.

Bob made a phone call to a friend to pick his brain and see if he had any creative ideas.  Eventually, after brainstorming a bit, Bob came up with the idea of attaching a spare halyard around the cars and then raising the halyard which would effectively raise the sail from below which eventually loosened the main halyard as there was less stress on it now.

Once the halyard was loosened, Bob was able to pull the sail down manually and then flick the halyard from around the steaming light and voila we were back in business.

P1020780Take 2 – we raised the sail and prepared for the evening passage by setting the 2nd reef as we expected the wind to pickup overnight.  (Reefs are used to decrease the size of the sail for big winds by only bringing it partially up the mast.)

We cut the engine, rolled out the genoa and for the first time we really got to experience sailing this boat in the ocean the way it was intended – and we loved it.

P1020779One of the most common questions we get from people when they hear that we live on a sailboat is whether we ever get seasick.  While Bob has a strong stomach, Christina unfortunately does sometimes get a bit queasy and today after all that bobbing around in the water as we struggled with the sail, looking up the mast, down around, yanking and cranking on lines, and the bit of stress, the body  eventually gave in and she suffered that uncomfortable queasiness.  At first signs she donned the funny looking glasses with liquid in the frames to help the brain maintain equilibrium, which we had heard helped alot of other people.  They seemed to work at first but not entirely and for the next couple of hours she nibbled on crackers, sipped on ginger ale and napped while Bob took the first watch.  Seasickness is unfortunately a part of the experience which she hopes occurs less frequently.

Sunset at sea.

It was a clear moonless night under the stars and quite lovely if not a bit chilly.  The wind died down after a couple of hours and we ended up starting the engine and motor sailing the rest of the night.

We kept the boat on auto pilot most of the time and took turns alternating between taking naps and being on watch throughout the night.

Being on watch entails looking out into the dark to see any lights that could be boats heading toward us.  We also have fabulous electronics including AIS and radar.  With AIS we are able to identify any vessels in the vicinity that transmit AIS (most large ships, commercial vessels and many cruising boats transmit).  The AIS tells us the vessel’s name, the course they are on, their speed, how close we will cross paths if both vessels stay on course, and how long before we get to that point.

We watched a light to our stern get closer and closer, and identified it as the American Star, a cruise ship, that according to AIS would pass within half a mile of us.  That is a bit closer than we would like.  Christina hailed them on the radio to be sure they knew we were there.  Without electronics all they would be seeing would be a small white light on our mast to know we were there, assuming they were actually looking out.

IMG_0205The captain was very gracious and professional.  He acknowledged he did see us on his AIS and asked if we had a preference as to which side he passed us on, starboard or port.  We told him we had no preference, just as long as he didn’t run us over.  He agreed, and decided to pass us on our starboard side.  It was still another half hour before he actually did pass us within a mile or less without incident.  It was indeed comforting to know that he had us on AIS and the verbal conversation may not have been necessary but reassuring that he knew to be on the lookout for us, otherwise watching him get so close would have been pretty stressful.  (We would see her again in daylight as she stopped in Beaufort the next day, when this photo was taken.)

In addition to AIS we also have radar.  With radar we are able to “see” large objects in the area.  Some of these may be vessels, some of these may be buoys and some of these may be debris.  But at least we know there may be something out there, and if we see something on radar we can consult the charts to identify the object, or AIS to identify the vessel, and if not able to identify then we know to stay alert.

Although we know not to be totally dependent on electronics because they do fail at times, and not all vessels have AIS, and other hazards are not always evident on radar – we have come to the conclusion that good electronics was money well spent for our peace of mind.

So standing watch entails not only peering out into the dark abyss, but also checking the compass to be sure we are still on course, reviewing AIS and radar regularly to see if something is approaching or nearby and most importantly staying awake!

We were making better time than expected and realized we would be approaching the inlet long before sunrise, so we cut back the engine to slow our pace.  But even with that, when we arrived before the sun began peeking over the horizon, we motored further out in the ocean to lower the sails and kill some more time.

P1020782With the sails down, and the sun edging up, we entered Port Royal Inlet, enjoying our first sunrise on the water, and began making our way toward Beaufort, South Carolina.  Over three hours later we were tied up at the marina, a bit tired but happy our first overnight passage went as well as it did.

We planned to stay in Downtown Marina in Beaufort for 2 nights at least, and then make a decision as to whether we go back out to the ocean or begin making our way back up the ICW toward Charleston, South Carolina.



The Ocean is a Lake…

4 April 2016 – Our first ocean outing.

After a very blustery 2 days of big wind coming from the North, today was forecast to be light wind from the East.

P1020771We woke up early and prepared for a 0730 departure from Fernandina Harbor Marina.

We enjoyed a short ocean run of 40 nautical miles 8 of which were in channels getting out of St. Mary’s inlet in Florida and into St. Simon’s inlet in Georgia.

The forecast was correct with the light wind but wrong on the direction with what turned out to be a Northerly wind.  We of course are headed north and that meant we were headed directly into the wind which doesn’t work well in a sailboat.

P1020775Regardless, it was an absolutely beautiful day, the ocean was calm, actually it was more like a lake.

P1020773We were able to at least motor sail for a bit.

Using auto pilot most of the time meant for an extremely relaxing journey for both of us.


Another nor’easter is being forecast in the region for the next few days, so we may be sitting in St. Simon’s for a while.

If the weather cooperates, our next planned passage is again to be in the ocean heading north to either Beaufort, South Carolina or another 50 nautical miles further to  Charleston.  Either way, we plan to  have our first overnight passage.







Moving on North…

28 March 2016 – St. Augustine to Palm Cove
29 March 2016 – Palm Cove to Fernandina Beach
6 days at Fernandina Harbor Marina

We enjoyed two relatively easy days on the water making our way to Fernandina Beach, FL for our last stop in Florida.

P1020764We decided this wasn’t a good place to park the boat on our way past the St. Augustine airport.

We decided to get a slip at Fernandina Harbor Marina so we could more easily get a technician to look at the dinghy outboard than if we were tied to a mooring ball.  But first, Bob decided to try to start the motor one more time.  And of course, the motor started on the first pull of the cord.  Again, it starts effortlessly whilst in a marina where we don’t really need it.  So…. we’ll wait and see what happens the next time we are not attached to land.

We got comfortable in the marina and high winds and thunderstorms were in the forecast so we decided to stay tied to the dock rather than move on to a mooring ball for the rest of our stay.

Checking the weather every day, we are currently planning to do our first off shore passage for a day sail from Fernandina Beach to St. Simons Island, GA on Monday, 4 April.

Until then, we will explore and enjoy the historic town of Fernandina Beach and its many fine eating establishments.


The battle of the outboard…. continued?

27 March 2016 – Palm Coast to St. Augustine

P1020758 Because we spent the extra day in Palm Coast we decided to only stay in St. Augustine for one night.

P1020757Daily dolphin sightings are the norm and today we were able to capture photos of a few dorsal fins to prove it.

The day again was pretty uneventful – we never complain about that.

We recognized the area we had run aground a few months ago whilst heading south, and had no problems, knowing that we needed to stay close to the green side of the channel.

P1020761We had made a reservation for a mooring ball on the north side of the Bridge of Lions bridge and were lucky to arrive at the bridge just as it was scheduled to open without having long to wait.

We tied up to our assigned mooring ball, using a new rigging technique our Gozzard owner friends had shown us a few days prior whilst in New Smyrna Beach.  And we were happy.


We were looking forward to lowering the dinghy into the water and going into town to explore and enjoy dinner.  But….we were about to learn that the dinghy outboard battle was not yet over.

You may remember that after having issues with the old outboard we invested in a brand new Yamaha motor to replace it.  Whilst in Cocoa Village Marina Bob had no trouble starting the engine several times to break the new motor in.  {read more here} But today, after we lowered the dinghy, attached the outboard and Bob tried to start the engine, there was no joy.

An hour later, a flooded engine, and a lot of frustration (and more than a few choice words uttered), we hoisted the motor back on board, lifted the dinghy securing it to the davits, frustrated that the outboard works fabulously in a marina, but not the one time we actually needed it to get somewhere.  If we can’t get it working reliably we won’t be able to moor or anchor out for the rest of the trip – urgh!

We decided to forget the setback and enjoy a low-key dinner of cheese, crackers, and olives on board as we pondered the situation.

P1020760St. Augustine – we will see you again and explore your treasures another time – just not on this trip.

We left St. Augustine the next day and headed to Palm Cove, to yet another one of our favorite restaurants along the ICW.


An uneventful but pleasant day…

25 March 2016 – Daytona to Palm Coast


A bit overcast today but a pleasant and uneventful day as we made our way from Daytona to Palm Coast.

P1020754 One of the more interesting sights along the way.

As we were planning our trip North in Florida, we also had planned for our favorite restaurant stops.  P1020753Once we were tied up in Palm Coast Marina we quickly made our way to Burrito 101 in the European Village less than a 10 minute walk.  They did not disappoint and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing the shrimp burrito.

We had planned to only stay in Palm Coast for one night and then move on to explore St. Augustine for 2, but due to the weather forecast of heavy rain we decided to stay put for another day.  The rain never did eventuate, but the extra day meant we were able to enjoy yet another burrito the next day — yummy!

Another calm day…

24 March 2016 – New Smyrna Beach to Daytona Beach

P1020746We left New Smyrna Beach behind and headed to Daytona Beach – a pretty short day.

P1020747Christina took advantage of the calm water and headed to the end of the bowsprit to get another photo of the boat from this angle.


Following that with a selfie as she hugged the furled genoa.  Someday we will get to use that sail again, won’t we?




We arrived in Daytona Beach early in the day and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon (we are getting used to leisurely afternoons) enjoying the town and revisiting The Chart House which is conveniently next to the marina for an awesome happy hour dinner experience.


An absolutely beautiful day…

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 – Titusville to New Smyrna Beach

P1020727We assumed our “usual” positions  with Bob behind the wheel and Christina enjoying the sights as we continued our Northerly transit.  P1020724


Today we saw lots of wildlife as we left Titusville and motored on to New Smyrna Beach.

P1020730Manatees were abundant, especially as we traversed the Haulover Canal, which is a breeding ground for these gentle, slow moving creatures.  There were several that swam close to the boat.  We kept the speed down and a sharp eye to be sure we didn’t get close to hitting any.

In addition to the manatee we saw many dolphins, a few sea turtles and one bald eagle.  Unfortunately we did not get any photos of any of the wildlife to share.

P1020723 - crop


P1020734Unlike our transit south a few months ago where we would usually only see a few boats per day , today there was a steady stream of boats going north and we felt like we were in a parade of boats throughout the day.

In Florida there are many legal battles brewing to restrict or eliminate anchoring in waterways and bays.  One of the main reasons is abandoned derelict boats that become eyesores.  This particular one had been used in a reality TV show according to a sign we saw on the way down.  I don’t blame the homeowners for not wanting to be forced to have to this in their “backyard” everyday.  But, it is unfortunate that cruisers will have fewer and fewer options for anchorages in Florida in the the future.

P1020740Dolphins and pelicans are our neighbors while we enjoy New Smyrna Beach one more time.