I kid you not, this is our first view of
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I kid you not, this is our first view of
Saturday, June 27, 2009
After coming through
Boy, what a change from the pastoral scenery we had been passing through! The southern section of the ICW in Norfolk is highly industrialized, loud, and smelly, with many, many large ships about, as seen here. Farther up the industry paled and it became more urban. The cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth look like interesting places to stop, perhaps on our way south.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We had originally planned to go north from Beaufort on the outside, around the Outer Banks, and head straight up to
Anyway, the weather gods ultimately decided that we really needed to see the ICW through North Carolina and Virginia, and they never produced a weather forecast conducive to traveling north on the outside. Our friends on Freedom and Blue Blaze were headed up the ICW, so we tagged along. The water depths along this section were pretty good, and there weren’t too many bridges to deal with. We had a good time, and got to sleep every night. The scenery was great, and included:
bucolic middle of nowhere,
and highly industrialized.
The most highly decorated grave at the Old Burying Ground was the one pictured here. All it says on the grave stone is “Little Girl Buried in a Rum Keg.” Little toys and dolls and shells decorate the grave, so even though she doesn’t have a name here, she is not forgotten. Chris decided that being buried in a rum keg would be a pretty cool way to go out until I reminded him that he wouldn’t get to drink any of the rum himself.
While waiting for a good weather forecast to continue, we spent nearly a week in Beaufort. What a great place to wait! Since the
Before we moved Mr Mac from the
We also dinghyed in to visit Fort Macon. It’s relatively small—several Fort Macons would fit inside the parade grounds of Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas—but wonderfully restored. It overlooks and was built to defend Beaufort Inlet. A nice sandy beach surrounds the fort on three sides, extending from inside the island to the outside, and many people were fishing in the surf.
So we enter the Beaufort Inlet at 7:30 PM after four days and three nights offshore, and anchor just inside beyond the Coast Guard station. It’s deep and quiet, and we’re the only ones there. Ahhh, a chance to relax…
6:00 AM: the boat starts rocking all over the place, as bad as it ever got offshore in a thunderstorm. Is it another force of nature? No, it’s the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament! We only found this out later, but what we saw that morning was a veritable parade of big sport fishing boats flying full speed down the channel and out of the inlet, pushing HUGE wakes into shore were we lay gently sleeping (but not for long). Talk about a rude aWAKEning (I know, that was really bad, but I couldn’t resist). The purse for the largest blue marlin was more than $1 million, so I can see why they were so enthusiastic.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Back to our blog subject: Currently (no pun intended; all right, maybe a little) the Gulf Stream flows about four nautical miles east of the Lake Worth Inlet, Florida, where we started our run to North Carolina (NOAA weather radio gives information on Gulf Stream location). So our first 24 hours out we made a terrific 185 nautical miles out of about 500 total miles for the trip. The water of the Gulf Stream is beautifully clear and blue, and very deep. Our depth sounder worked well until about 400 feet depth, then went wonky until we came back in to a couple of hundred feet. A pretty nice feeling after all the shallows in Florida. There was a low-pressure system in Florida during our run, and it produced lots of thunderstorms. We were successful in avoiding many, but not all of them. One of them, however, gave us a fantastic rainbow, as seen here over Chris’ shoulder. We could see the entire arc, and it even doubled for a short time.
Our last day out was beautifully clear, and Chris tossed a line over the side. We’re low-tech when it comes to fishing; a line with a lure and hook, attached to a cleat off of the stern of the boat. But it paid off, and he caught a beautiful mahi mahi! The fillets lasted us for three full days. Delicious!
For those of you not familiar with oceanography, the
What does this mean in practical terms? It meant that we actually saw 10 knots speed while we travelled north in the
From Key Biscayne we sailed up to
A beautiful sail up the last segment of Hawk Channel to Key Biscayne. According to the cruising guides, there are two well-protected anchorages at Key Biscayne that cruisers use when waiting for a good weather window to head for the
Monday, June 1, 2009
But the populations of some less-loved invertebrates also increase with rainfall, and we’ve been plagued by mosquitoes for several days. Unlike our first couple of weeks out, winds have been relatively low this past week as we travelled up the Keys. Combine these two factors and you get lots of bugs coming in the hatches at night. We overnighted about ½ mile off of the beach just north of Ceasar Creek at Elliot Key, with little to no breeze. There were storm clouds all around, which provided for a beautiful sunset, as you can see in the panoramic picture above. When we came up from below after dark to look at the sky, we heard an odd buzzing, kind of like electronics, in the cockpit, but not outside of it. Ahhhh! Mosquitoes!! We don’t know how many it takes to make that loud a sound, but they were everywhere. We closed up the boat and only left open hatches and ports with screens. The next morning, an early squall was coming through, so we had to go up on deck and leave the hatch open, which allowed them free access to the cabin. Consequently, all day we were being attacked by mosquitoes—in the cockpit, in the salon, in the aft cabin, everywhere! So we went on a killing rampage, arming ourselves with small towels for swatting the suckers. Every time you went below, you killed four or five. The boat was littered with their vile little corpses, and I’m sure we were each down a pint or two of blood.
We spent two nights at Rodriguez Key, near
Rather quickly, you become attuned to your boat’s noises and movement, and when it changes, you wake up. This is good when you can deal with a problem as it arises, if necessary. This is bad when the weather conditions are variable but benevolent, and you still wake whenever the boat shifts a different way. But you get used to it, and the benefit of full-time cruising is that you can nap off the deficit the next day (Note: This is an old picture of Chris and Spooky napping. Spooky is no longer with us, and we have new upholstery, but Chris still looks pretty much the same.)
The ultimate example in adapting sleep patterns is making an overnight or multiple-day passage. Someone has to be on watch all the time. This doesn’t necessarily mean on the wheel steering; we use our autopilot (nicknamed Sinbad, because it’s made by Simrad, and one of Anne’s favorite movies is The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad [not the Golden Voyage of Sinbad, that one was pretty bad]). During the day it’s relatively easy to keep watch, since visibility is usually many miles, and both of us are up and about. But after dinner, Chris heads to grab some shut-eye while Anne keeps watch. By 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM, Anne wakes Chris and she goes to bed. When Chris tires, usually between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM, he racks Anne out of the sack to take the dawn watch (which she loves to have, being a morning person). Both of us catch naps during the day. This is our personal schedule, and other cruisers have their own schedules. We have no idea how single-handing sailors keep a sleep schedule, and we have no desire to try it.
Only about four miles from Boot Key Harbor is Sombrero Key Light. This is a sanctuary preservation area and, as a designated snorkel/dive site, it has a small mooring field. What a terrific stopover! We easily picked up a mooring ball (we’re experienced now, since this was our second mooring, ha ha) and jumped in the water with our snorkeling gear. The water was warm and clear, and the moorings are situated near or over coral reefs, so you don’t have to swim far to see great coral, sea fans, and lots and lots of fish. Right under and beside the boat were hundreds of sergeant majors and yellow-tail snappers that just swam there with you, not even moving away in fear. About twenty feet down were four huge snook, very tasty looking. We had a terrific time, and the weather was perfect for the location, with little breeze and calm waters. We highly recommend visiting one or more of these sanctuary sites, which can be found all along the reef.
Several friends recommended