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Cumberland Island

2017 November 27
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by Greg Long

Despite all the devastation, the good folks of St Mary’s GA managed to pull off another wonderful Thanksgiving day celebration. 38 boats anchored in the harbor and a total of 150 people gathered for the feast. While the food took center stage in the lobby, the real draw is the people. We renewed old friendships and made new ones. Cruisers are an interesting bunch. They come from all walks of life with all levels of experience and all sorts of different destinations in mind. But the shared experiences of living and traveling on a boat bind us together in a unique way.

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The town managed to get a dinghy dock opened just in time for the fleet to arrive!

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Lots of delicious food. So much so that overflow tables had to be set up to hold it all.

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Jerry, the 4th generation hotel proprietor hard at work. A great host!

After leaving St Mary’s, we usually try to stop by Cumberland Island. It’s a peaceful spot originally developed by the Carnegies and then used by Lucy Carnegie and her children as their winter home. The museum in St Mary’s has lots of exhibits about what life was like during the islands heyday. Today, it’s mostly in ruins. But it’s still a great place to hike and explore.

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The  ruins of the old Carnegie estate, Dungeness.

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Fernandina Beach was also hard hit by the storms. They have managed to re-open the mooring field and the dinghy dock so we could go ashore to enjoy our annual T-Rays’ burger!

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Christmas decorations are beginning to show up everywhere. We’re grateful when people wait and let us enjoy Thanksgiving before starting the commercial engine up. We particularly like the non-commercial reminders of what Christmas is all about, a birthday celebration!

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Another beautiful sunset, something we never tire of.

 

But if not…

 

 

St Mary’s GA

2017 November 21
by Lyn

We enjoyed another calm passage from Beaufort SC down to the St Mary’s GA inlet. We’ve learned to appreciate the patience in waiting for a calm weather window. It makes for a relaxing passage offshore!

Then we spent a day walking around Fernandina and eating our usual burger at T Rays. Definitely worth the stop and the walk!

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Calm passage

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Hurricane clean up in Fernandina

Fernandina and the rest of the east coast of Florida was pretty hard hit by the hurricanes this season. We are just beginning to see how bad it was. Talking to folks in town tells a pretty scary story. Lots of boats lost, docks destroyed and buildings flooded.

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Hurricane clean up in St Mary’s….picking up a retired Cumberland Is ferry that sunk at the dock

We moved up the river and anchored at St Mary’s in preparation for the cruisers Thanksgiving potluck where the town provides ham and turkey and the boats bring all the side dishes and desserts. It turns out the storm surge hit right at high tide, increasing the destruction quite a bit. All the docks in town were destroyed. All but one of the boats at the docks or at anchor were sunk, including a retired Cumberland Island ferry. Most of the private boats have been pulled from the bottom and trucked off for disposal. As we arrived, a barge and crane crew were just completing the removal of the sunken ferry. The docks are all still a pile of rubble and no work is proceeding yet.

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Docks were torn up as well

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But the town somehow managed to get a dinghy dock opened up for us to use making the Thanksgiving potluck possible! We suspect the numbers will be down this year, but we are still looking forward to sharing a season of Thanksgiving with other boaters and the locals who host us.

 

He quieted the sea with His power.

Beaufort SC

2017 November 3
by Lyn

We left Wrightsville beach and went down the Cape Fear River, anchored for the night then left at five AM the next morning headed for Beaufort SC. The wind was very light….ok, there was no wind…but that makes for great sea conditions!!

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We had flat seas, sunshine and 80 degrees….ok, so 10 kts of wind on the beam would have been really nice….but you take what you get….so we took the flat seas. We put George (autopilot) in charge of driving and read a book for the day.

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Several times we had dolphin swimming in our bow wake!! It’s always fun watching them play! Really hard to get a picture though!!

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Through the night we had an almost full moon with flat seas! Can’t get much better….ok, so 10 kts of wind on the beam…yea,yea,yea…

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A little after sunrise we followed Miss Lily, from Frogmore SC, into Port Royal inlet and up the Beaufort River.

 

He quieted the sea with His power

 

 

Miss Rebecca

2017 October 28
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by Lyn

This is our Miss Rebecca! Our 9 year old granddaughter. She’s sweet, bubbly and we love her big smile and tight hugs!! We miss her terribly when we’re gone!! Actually there are 6 little people we miss terribly when we’re gone!!

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This is the Miss Rebecca we started thinking we were being stalked by! She’s a huge shrimping boat. We left Broad Creek at first light to sail along the Nuese River to Beaufort NC. We had to dodge shrimp boats all along the way!  That’s where we first encountered Miss Rebecca….the shrimper!! We took a slip at Homer Smiths Marina for the night and enjoyed the afternoon with  friends Tony and Ann on Stella Maris wandering the Beaufort waterfront and eating dinner.

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When we got back to our boat after dinner guess who was tied up right next to us?? That’s right!!! Miss Rebecca!! And yes, all her lights stayed on all night! She left at 5 AM!!

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We left at high tide the next day and went out to Look Out Bight to anchor to stage for a predawn departure the next morning.

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Yep, you guessed it….that’s Miss Rebecca dragging her nets thru the anchorage at dusk!

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We left the anchorage the next morning at 4 AM with Miss Rebecca still at anchor. We sailed down the coast and are now anchored in Wrightsville beach NC….wondering if Miss Rebecca can find us now!!

 

He quieted the sea with His power

 

VA cut to Broad Creek

2017 October 23
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by Greg Long

We really like the Dismal Swamp route. Unfortunately, that’s not an option this year. The swamp is still undergoing cleanup and repair, mostly dredging, since hurricane Matthew last year. So down the Virginia cut route we go!

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Leaving Top Rack marina at 0700 gets you to the Great Bridge lock at 0730 and then the Bridge itself just in time for the 0800 opening. A little early morning fog kept the going slow, but the timing all worked out fine.

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Somehow, the marks look smaller from a distance!

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Even though the Swamp is closed, we decided to backtrack to Elizabeth City to spend some time with our friends on JoLinDy.

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The finger piers in E City are pretty short, so the bows have to be tucked in tight so you can climb over the bow pulpit to get on and off the boat.

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The local College was performing a play within walking distance (actually just under 3 miles) of the dock.  The dinner-and-a-play evening was great. We were excited that John and Linda shared their anniversary evening with us.
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Sunrises on the water are the best! If you look closely, you can see the middle of nowhere just on the horizon…

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Along the Alligator-Pungo canal, wildlife abounds. Besides this bald eagle, we’ve seen deer swimming across the canal in the past, and talked to someone who saw a black bear swimming the canal. No bear or deer this year, but the eagle was out fishing and watching over it’s realm. Of course, the price paid for the wildlife is no connectivity. We’re pretty sure there aren’t many places around with no cell service anymore, but the Alligator River and the canal are definitely on the list.

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The canal is fairly wide, but it’s only deep in the middle and sunken trees line both sides. Who has right of way when a 9 foot draft barge is heading up the canal? Hmm – seems like a good place to apply the law of gross tonnage. So we eased over to the edge of the deep water and stopped, waiting for 2 different barges to pass through.

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All that tasty shrimp has to come from somewhere! This was at the junction of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers just before the turn into Broad Creek. Broad Creek is a fairly well-protected spot where we plan to sit out a cold front coming through tonight and tomorrow. Then we’ll continue on to Beaufort to stage for our first offshore run down to Wrightsville Beach.

 

But if not…

Chesapeake VA

2017 October 16
by Lyn

You can tell from these pictures that the weather hasn’t been great. We’ve had high winds, overcast skies and rain on and off for days. We sat out a couple days of it in Onancock then caught a break in the weather and sailed down to Mill Creek by Hampton. The next day we motored past all the ships and tugs and barges. Way too much traffic! Our plan was to get through the Gilmerton Bridge and stop at Top Rack marina to wait out the impending cold front. Of course, the Gilmerton had other ideas. When we got there, 8 other boats were already waiting, some as long as 3 hours. Some type of electrical issue. All the bridge tender could say was “they are working on it.” At 2:00, the bridge went up and the crowds were released. 12 sailboats and 1 very large motor yacht all headed south at once. We lucked out and pulled straight into one of the 1st come, 1st served slips at Top Rack and settled in for the next round of rain and wind. Weird fall!

The Dismal Swamp is not open yet so we’re reluctantly set to go thru the VA cut as soon as conditions allow. Maybe in the spring we’ll be able to enjoy the Swamp again.

 

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There was some type of schooner event in Norfolk. Dozens of beautiful boats all over the docks.

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The Lady Maryland under full sail in 20 kts of wind.

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This one is for Zach – train cars waiting at the wharf for goods to be loaded onto ships for the next leg of their journey.

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A Trumpy, a timeless classic!

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Looks pretty precarious to us.

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All safely tucked away inside on the shelves.

 

But if not…

 

Onancock

2017 October 13
Comments Off on Onancock
by Greg Long

Or simply Nancock to locals. The name may mean “foggy place” but this week it meant windy, rainy, drizzly place with good wifi and good places to eat. So we stayed a few days and avoided the bumpy Bay and enjoyed some eastern shore Virginia hospitality.

 

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Several small churches in town. We went to the Onancock Baptist Church for their Sunday worship service. Very friendly people, great music and an excellent message from Romans 12.

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With a name like Liars Bench, who could resist…

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The Onancock town wharf and Mallards.

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The town is an interesting mix of artsy shops and waterman’s docks. We met folks who grew up here and some transplanted from up north. One couple told us that people come here for the peace and quiet, but that some leave after about 18 months. Apparently it’s a little too quiet for them.

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Great friends came to visit for the day. We drove around and looked at properties for sale, stopped for groceries and had a great day together.

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Right pose, wrong clothes. It’s supposed to be warmer!

 

But if not…

 

 

Tangier Island

2017 October 9
by Greg Long

We finally made it! For years we’ve been talking about visiting Tangier Island. We’ve read the reviews, heard the stories and really wanted to experience it before time and erosion took away the opportunity. Most people seem to get to Tangier by ferry from Crisfield, Onancock or Reedville. But we wanted to go in our own boat. That desire was made a little more challenging by a couple of shallow spots in the channel and the swift current at the dock. That means high slack tide at mid-day is the optimum arrival time. Which we had this week.

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Tied up at Parks Marina.

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Milton Parks has been greeting boaters for most of his 86 years.

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And he’s still going strong on his scooter!

Walking around the island, taking in the sights and talking to the people was a trip back in time.

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Lunch/dinner (the quantity certainly counts for 2 meals) at the Chesapeake House was a not-to-be-missed treat. Besides the great food using the same recipes penned by Hilda Crockett 3 generations back, we learned a lot about the history of the island and the people. Eating family style in a restaurant is always a treat since you meet new and interesting people, like the pastor and his parishioner who flew in for the day.

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One of the locals we chatted with told us that a small island just to the north was the only thing protecting Tangier from eroding away into the Bay. In his words, “as soon as that island goes, we need to start packing.”

That will be a sad day, indeed. Go before that happens!

 

But if not…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotic ports

2017 October 2
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by Greg Long

Ahh – that old saying – “the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic ports.”

We’ve come to believe that Solomons doesn’t really like us. Three of the four times we’ve been here, we’ve had to work on our boat here. This time it’s the voltage regulator. Talking with Balmar technical support makes it 50-50 as to whether we had a component failure or if we killed it. Either way, a new voltage regulator is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning. If all goes well with installation and testing, we may try to sneak out of the harbor on Wed – probably before dawn so no one will notice and no more parts will die.

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But the other old saying about the difference between ordeal and adventure tells us that it’s all up to us how we deal with the realities of cruising. While here in Solomons waiting for parts, some great friends drove through. We enjoyed a meal and conversation then found a coffee shop known for excellent key lime pie and some enjoyable live Sunday afternoon music. We sat on the patio, watching both people and boats go by. We were also able to catch back up with some friends from Galesville who moved their boats down here. Then we met some new friends working on their new-to-them boat and pondering a transition to full time cruising. More great conversation.  Quite likely we’ll meet them again on the water. After all, the cruising community really is pretty small. Throw in a few nice walks, a couple of dinghy rides through the harbor and it’s been quite an enjoyable few days!

 

But if not…

38 and counting!

2017 September 29
by Greg Long

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Underway for our 38th Anniversary. Headed to Solomons then …

 

But if not…