Monday, November 28, 2011



 noun \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\ - an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change.  

Kala has traveled across more than half of the U.S and she is currently preparing for her adventures in a new country.  She never knows where she is going to wake up each day, where that day will take her and who she will meet along the way - she just knows that she'll be with us.  It takes very little to make her happy - a ride in the dinghy is best but a quick game of tug-of-war or chase will do and 2 square meals a day is pretty much all she asks for.  She protects us and her boat better than any security system ever could and its a bonus that she is so darn huggable.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

St. Augustine

What a great place!  We left Jax Beach headed south on the ICW towards St. Augustine Municipal Marina.  When we called them on the VHF radio to get our assigned mooring, we were pleasantly surprised to be on the north side (no need to call and go under the Bridge of Lions) and we were on the west wall - right along the city.  We pulled up our pendant and were greeted by yells and hand waves from our New Bern friends who were on shore watching us pull in.  We tidied up the boat and then set off for a great time eating, drinking and being merry.  That night we watched the Nights of Lights from our boat and then settled in for some much needed rest.
Arrggghhh Matey!  Kala made me do it.
Sunrise in the mooring field.
Fort San Marcos de Castillo.
Kala loves to relax after walking around the city all day.
North mooring field from the Bridge of Lions.  Stella Blue is second boat on left towards the back.
A walk on the beach.
Exploring around the beach brought us here - to the site of the Vilano Beach Casino.
Our family car.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Truth About The Ditch

According to Wikipedia the Intracoastal Waterway is "a 3,000-mile (4,800-km) waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea."  That is slightly overstated.  

It is true the ICW is an alternative for moving north or south along the east coast and when the weather is nasty offshore, it is typically better on the ICW (sometimes referred to as "the ditch" since it is a dredged canal in quite a few places).  However, there are quite a few drawbacks, such as depths, tides, currents, bridges, inland storms, other boats, and the amount of fuel required.  

Specifically, the tidal change in NC is based on wind.  North wind increases water levels, south wind reduces them.  Pretty easy to manage.  SC tidal change is lunar and averages about 7 feet.  That means if you anchor somewhere at high tide in 8 feet of water, when the tide goes out, you'll be leaning over on nothing but mud and 1 foot of water below your keel.  In GA, the tidal change increases to 9 feet.  With big tides, currents get stronger.  The currents are so strong that when you anchor, the boat swings based on current unless the wind is stronger (usually in excess of 25 knots).  If wind and current oppose each other, well you can imagine how things will play out.

When we first went up the ICW and through our first draw bridge, can I tell you how cool I thought it was to call the bridge tender on our cockpit VHF radio and ask him to open it - and he did...yeah, super cool!  Now, if I never have to go through another, I'll be happy.  The problem is the aforementioned currents.  If you are moving towards a 13 ft bridge in neutral and the boat is still going 4+ knots and you have a 55 ft mast that doesn't bend, you know the bridge tender is likely going to tell you that he'll open in about 20 min.  Ugh!!

As I mentioned, the ICW is a dredged channel, along marshes and grasslands that were never meant to have a canal smack in the middle.  So, the bottoms shift and sand moves and shoaling occurs - right in the middle of the channel.  So what you expect to be 8 ft, because that is what is shown on the nautical chart, has shoaled and is now 3 ft deep.  Yep, we could walk across them faster than move the boat.  The penalty for going aground can be devastating and since a sailboat can't stand on its keel, it will fall over, fill with water when high tide moves in and then it sinks.  Yes, there are channel markers but no, they are not always accurate.  And it is pretty much guaranteed that the skinnier the channel is, it is highly likely a power boat going 10+ knots will come up behind you, call you on the radio and ask to pass you on the port side.  So you squeeze over squinting your eyes and holding on the helm tightly all while waving with a smile as they go by.

Lastly, since the channel is so skinny, there is no sailing going on (sometimes on a sound if you're lucky enough to have a good wind direction).  No sailing=burning diesel...there are probably 100 reasons why that irritates me.

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No matter all of those considerations - we have made our way north and south on the ICW and the little towns and anchorages along the way have been wonderful. We met an older couple who have been living aboard their 30 ft boat, "Flying Cloud" for 9 years, going back and forth from Florida and all of this was old hat and never deterred them a bit, taking everything in stride.  They had years of experience that gave them a peace and relaxation to transcend all the concerns with clear thoughts.  We passed them at one point when they were aground.  When we caught up with them the next day on shore, I said "Oh, I'm so glad you guys got through that!" They didn't even know what I was talking about.   They inspire us.  We have added "WWFCD" to our vocabulary which is a source of encouragement when the depth alarm goes off, we see a bridge in the distance or a power boat wakes us so hard we move sideways.  Thank you Flying Cloud for being ICW experts.
Can we make it?  This is a view of our 54' mast under a 65' bridge.
Yay!  All clear.
This is his wake after he slowed down.  Still enough to bounce us around.
Example of a channel marker.  If you go to the right of that marker instead of the left, there will be about 1/2 foot of water.
Flying Cloud aground.  They were floating back on water when high tide moved in.
A bascule bridge (drawbridge) in SC.

Friday, November 18, 2011


We have meandered our way offshore and along the ICW to finally arrive in Florida - Kala's 29th state!

We anchored in the Bell's River near Fernandina Beach and dinghied into town to take a look.  It was a cute downtown with lots of history.  We picked up some essentials - chocolate and beer -  and made it back to the boat before sunset.  As we looked at the forecast, we could see the nasty yellow and red bands on the radar covering the southeast and they were headed our way. We hunkered down until about midnight when we got dressed and stood watch until the skies cleared (about 6 am).  We figured that in order to be able to enjoy the good times, you have to get through the tough times.

Baxter dinghy-ing into Fernandina Harbor
Kala in downtown Fernandina.
Wonder if anyone would notice if we used this anchor tonight in the storms.
Fernandina City Harbor

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Southern Progress

We left Beaufort, SC (pronounced Bu-fort versus Bo-fort, NC) and anchored in Skull Creek just on the north side of Hilton Head.  From there, we made our way out the inlet to the Atlantic the next morning during slack tide and plotted a course to St. Simons Island to visit relatives.  The seas were relatively calm at an average of 2 ft, but sleep was limited since there were so many boats around us and we were keeping a vigilant watch (by “we”, I mean Baxter, Molly AND Kala). 

Coincidentally, as we were coming into the St. Simons Inlet at sunrise, we passed within ¼ mile of “Margareta” – our friends Bill and Margaret from Northwest Creek in New Bern.  We had last seen them about a week before in Wrightsville, NC.  As they passed we talked on the radio about our individual plans for the next couple weeks and traded “Fair Winds” greetings hoping to see them further south, as they will be in the Bahamas as well.  In St. Simons, we were lucky enough to spend time with Baxter’s Uncle Jimmy and his aunt Sarah.  They picked us up for lunch, met us for dinner and showed us around the island.  We also managed to squeeze in an oil change, two loads of laundry and some boat cleaning.  Whew! Considering we had two hours of sleep during the passage, we were pretty tired.

Though marinas have their advantages – I prefer to anchor or moor.  I hate spending the money to be plugged in and I feel so much better when we are just left to our own devices on the hook.  Kala pretty much hates most dock hands too, which makes the decision easy for us.

The next day of sailing was the best yet since we’ve been back to the boat.  We left St. Simons for a 40 mile trip offshore down to Cumberland Island.  Expecting the winds to be on the nose, we actually got a close reach with winds at 12 knots and a boat speed up to 7 knots.  We anchored off the north side of the island and as we were putting on the snubber, saw Ted, Maggie and Chessie from "Sunday’s Child" pull up in the dinghy.  We had met them in Beaufort, SC and their dog Chessie is Kala’s twin, only 6 years older.  After they pulled up, Ted offered to give us a dinghy ride to shore and Kala decided that Cumberland Island was the best place in the whole world.  She loved running with Chessie and she loved the dinghy ride and there were no dock hands near our boat – life doesn’t get much better!

Once ashore, we met Mike and Sara on “Tanqueray” from Portland, Or.  It was great to exchange stories about each other’s boats, the trip so far, and talk about places to possibly meet up again further south.
Though it has been said many times– it is more apparent every day that our journey, not the destination is truly the adventure.  Some people plot a course for a location and are determined to be there in x days.  If we did that, we would have missed all the wonderful places and people (and hard lessons learned) so far.  This blog helps me remember those special moments that could never be planned and gets me excited to even consider what’s ahead.

A soggy arrival in Beaufort, SC.
On the BOUNDARY of ADVENTURE is a cemetery - ugh!
Rip Tide - Skull Creek, SC

Trollin' for dinner
Sunrise off the Atlantic Coast.
Arriving in St. Simons Island, GA
Sarah, Jimmy and Baxter
Cumberland Island anchorage
Keeping a watchful eye from the island
Hiking to Dungeness ruins on Cumberland Island
Chasing the birds
Kala and Chessie

New friends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Along The Way

It has been almost two weeks since we left New Bern and every day has brought beautiful anchorages, new people, and wonderful experiences along the way.  As we sailed down through North and South Carolina, we have anchored in time for some of the most beautiful sunsets, only to pull up the hook the next morning to an amazing sunrise. Baxter couldn’t ask for a better “office window” than the one he has set up on the boat.

Empty slip E-11 at Northwest Creek.

Kala keeps watch on the bow as we move through the first morning after leaving the slip.  You can almost see the outline of "Margareta" just to the right of the headsail.

Sunrise in Adams Creek.

Of course...

Wrightsville Beach Park...Kala is loving the big field!

Sunset in Calabash Creek, NC.

Beautiful morning.

Boat Banana Bread is so tasty! (Yes, all made while under weigh)

This was in the marina - really!?!  

Sunrise in Georgetown, SC.

Boat Dog.