Hilton Head, SC

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Oct 29 Leaving Swansboro we made it to North Myrtle Beach and found a nice peaceful marina after a day of fighting shallow spots along the ICW. The next day we had an enjoyable motor-sail to Georgetown, having decided beforehand we would anchor in the town anchorage and go ashore. Only problem with the plan, all the anchoring spots were full, we almost pulled an overnighter (Ocean run) but then decided to crowd next to the anchored boats and anchor for the night. There were several older nasty looking boats (derelict) next to us and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boat unattended for the evening so we didn’t make it into town.

Oct 30 From Georgetown to Charleston, we looked at the charts and decided it was too shallow in many places along the SC ICW, the ocean looked fairly calm so we left the ICW and went in the Ocean. We had a strong current pushing us along plus a breeze so we could sail most of the way. Upon arriving in Charleston around 4:30 we once again looked for a place to anchor, it seems all the good spots were taken around the Coast Guard station so we pushed a little further. The next obstacle was the swing bridge on Wappo Creek, which would not open again until 6:30, so we waited and waited, the bridge tender was 5 minutes late opening and the current was push us into the bridge. Yikes! Finally we made it through and stopped at St John’s Marina for the night, then decided to stay 2 nights and used their courtesy car (free) to go grocery shopping and of course West Marine. Next we figured it would be an easy run to Beaufort, SC but the tides were against us just a little past half way it was dead low tide and there was a shoal then prevented us from going any further. So we anchored there on the South Edisto River along with a dozen other cruisers. Bright and early next day, I mean early the sun was barely up yet, but the tide was high and off we went. Even with 8 foot of tide the depth gauge was showing 10 feet in spots on that shoal, which means at low tide it was 2 feet, we need 4 and a half! Our friends tell us we have to stop at Hilton Head Island which is not far past Beaufort. I spoke with the dockmaster and he guided us into the gas dock because we need fuel first. The north winds was blowing so hard on the side that the boat was pinned to the dock, we were stuck there for the night. We got off the boat and walked around Hilton Head Plantation, we had plans to enjoy a nice dinner out at a restaurant. The only one close by was Ole Fort Pub; it was a bit too pricey for our wallet. So back to the boat we walked for a very rocky night. Next morning it took some thoughtful planning to get off that dock.

On Nov 2 our friends Dan and Melissa on Slow Dancing were starting a sailboat rally from Portsmouth, VA to Tortola, BVI called the Caribbean 1500. They have a Spot and also a Rally provided satellite tracking device so we can see exactly where they are in relationship to the other boats. About a day into the race/rally I see they are coming back, I looked on the website there was no information as to why they turned around. Once close to shore I spoke with Dan and he said a crew member got a 12 hour bug/flu, after turning around they were committed to returning, they will retry on Wednesday.

Nov 4 For us after getting off the dock at Skull Creek Marina, we headed south hoping to make somewhere half way through Georgia. The wind was gusting to close to 30 knots; listening to the NOAA weather reports it was going to get worse. We are in no hurry and since we didn’t get to really see Hilton Head we decided to have another stop only not a Skull Creek, a little further south at Palmetto Bay Marina. Tomorrow we plan on getting transportation and see more of the island. Tonight Happy Hour starts at 4 and Virginia has discovered Blue Moon beer and of course any beer is good for me. So stay tuned.


Wrightsville Beach, NC

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It warmed up nicely, close to 70 today but still in we are in long pants and sweatshirts. That beats wearing long johns and and extra shirts. So after Oriental we motored and sailed past Moorehead City and spent the night in Swansboro, NC. After a nice hot shower we toured this great little town then had a yummy scrimp dinner that Virginia got fresh off the scrimp boat. This morning we continued south along the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) carefully watching that temperature gauge making sure no more overheating. The ICW is suppose to have a minimum of 10 foot depths and the bridges are suppose to be at least 65 foot high, so our boat with 4.2 foot draft (depth required) and 54 foot high mast should be ICW friendly. Well the bridges are not always 65 feet, but never have I seen any less than 63 feet. The depth is a problem and today we ran aground in Browns inlet at G61-A (a green buoy), we were in the middle of the channel but it was less than 4 feet deep. We were stuck there for half hour or so, then finally I was able to drive off. I thought I was going to have to use Towboat US again. They did respond and were about to sent a boat, but I called them back and told them not to come.

Tonight we are at anchor behind Wrightsville Beach, we saw a gorgeous sunset and the lights from all the buildings reflecting off the water is truly amazing.


Oriental NC

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Our trip from Annapolis to Norfolk was all anchoring every night, but from there it has been spending cold nights at a marina. But we arrived here at Oriental at sunset, so we just dropped an anchor in the crowded little harbor because we did not want to try to tie up to slip in the dark. One advantage of staying in marinas is we can plug in an electric heater, it has been pretty cold and tonight is no exception.

Yesterday we had engine problems on a narrow canal called the Alligator and Pungo Canal. The engine was overheating and an alarm went off that made a shrill whistle sound, at first I didn’t have a clue what that noise was but I figured it out and shut down the engine. Now we have no propulsion because the wind is blowing straight down the canal and not enough room to sail and no engine. A brand new boat called Nauti Grands stopped to help, they got us over to the side and we set an anchor. Then we called Towboat US and an hour later they hooked us up and towed us 10-15 miles to a small marina in called River Forrest in Belhaven, where our good Samaritan friends (Nauti Grands) were also staying. So we went into town and had fine dinner together. The overheating problem was fixed this morning so we headed out around 11 and got to Oriental and at the dock we see Nauti Grands! Our plans are to spend tomorrow to replenish.

After waiting for almost a year now, John asked Laura to marry him! She accepted! It started out as a scavenger hunt which lead her to an island , John and a proposal. Last week our daughter Laura accepted a new job and the engagement yesterday she is a very happy girl and so are we. Way to go Laura and John.

We got underway a little after 8 this morning several friends from the marina saw us off. We are sailing  down the bay making 7 knots average on a beam reach . Goodbye to our Holiday Hill and Tartan Sailing Club friends we hope to be back on the bay next year.

Friday Oct 18 We have stopped for the night on Mill Creek in Solomon’s Island, very peaceful and quiet little cove.

Saturday Oct 19 After reviewing the weather we left Solomon’s knowing the wind was against us but it should be light from the southeast. WRONG it was  SE but hard 18 knots most of the way, if you look at our track you’ll see we tacked the whole way to Reedville, We anchored in a quiet cove called Sandy Point, nice newer houses along the shoreline we have the place to ourselves.

Sunday Oct 20 We commented about how much warmer it was in Reedville, thank goodness we were tired of those cold Maryland nights. And then the front came through around 3am and the north wind was whipping up white caps in our quiet cove and the temperature dropped 20 degrees.. Brrr we need Florida. After a late start we sailed to Deltaville looking forward to a nice meal in town but most restaurant’s were closed we called Cocomos left messages but no-one called back. Oh well another amazing meal Virginia whipped up.


Brunswick Boat Delivery

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The trip up from Brunswick, Georgia to Annapolis was great fun but it took several days longer than planned. The car ride from Annapolis was… well let’s says not the highlight. There were 4 of us (Peter, Ned, Rob and myself) in a mini-van plus all our stuff, plus a white Cockatoo! No problem, she was Rob’s pet for 21 years but he needed to get her to Fort Lauderdale and Brunswick was ¾ of the way. At the beginning she would talk, “Pretty Bird” or other cute outbursts but after a short while she would screech an eardrum bursting yell that prevented any sleeping during our night trip down. But we made it in one piece; Rob took the bird to Ft. Lauderdale and returned the next day as we check out Peter’s new boat White Bird and went shopping for food as well as visiting the town.

On Friday morning we left Brunswick, stopped and topped off fuel tanks and soon were in the ocean heading north, guess where the wind was coming from, yes the north, if we had to make a course change the wind as if watching our track would shift so it was on the nose pretty much all of the Atlantic Ocean part of the trip. The real problem, it turns out, was the prop. Because we could not sail (sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind) without tacking we relied on the motor, but the prop was adjusted wrong and instead of motoring at 7 knots we were hitting 5 knots at best and sometimes as slow as 3.5. Peter decided he would try to dive down and see if anything was physically wrong. Nothing was found but as Peter was getting out of the water a big jellyfish stung him on both legs, the sting was painful but quickly the stinging stopped bothering him. We decided we need to fix this prop problem so on Saturday we diverted from 5 miles or so at sea into Edisto Island to fix the prop and get more fuel. We got the fuel but the current was too strong for diving the prop so we left. It became obvious that the trip would take much longer than we planned; Rob and Ned had to get back before Thursday. So Monday morning we changed course to Morehead City, NC and dropped off crew, we also had a diver go down to adjust the prop but he was unable to turn the adjusting plate underwater. The diver suggested we have the boat hauled out, but we had a weather window to get around Cape Hatteras so we left, just Peter and me. We were finally sailing, ah no stinking engine sound, but that was short lived around Cape Lookout the wind shifted, not so bad we couldn’t sail but not strong enough that we didn’t need the motor. The night motor sail around Cape Hatteras was uneventful, we had almost no traffic the seas were fairly calm with gentle swells. We stood 4 hour watches during the night starting at 10, I had the 10 to 2 AM and Peter took the 2 to 6. During the day one of us would go down for rest and the other would run the boat. The wind shifted to the south when we hit Cape Henry at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, which allowed us to sail for most of the trip up to bay. On Wednesday at midnight we anchored on the Rhode River and got some sleep. The 640 mile trip had taken us less than 6 days but during that time great friendships had been established and stories generated to tell our grand children.


Back at Holiday Hill Marina

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Greetings, followers of our sailing adventures

The “Follow our track” starting on Friday Sept. 6 will not be tracks of our boat “Shadowfax” but a friend’s new Saga 43 sailboat. Peter asked/invited me (Bob), as well as 2 other experienced sailors, to assist in the delivery of his boat back to the Annapolis area from Brunswick, Ga. The plan is to drive down (one-way rental) to Brunswick, it will take a day or so to provision, etc., then leave. We will stay offshore (getting a push from the Gulf Stream) not stopping till we get back, of course carefully watching the weather.

Here is a summary of the trip back up the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) and our Chesapeake Bay Gunkholing:

June 20

Ashlyn Sunset Bay

Ashlyn Sunset Bay

Dinghy Ride Sunset Bay

Dinghy Ride Sunset Bay

The cruise back up the ICW to the Chesapeake Bay was quite a bit more relaxed then going down in the fall. After spending over 2 months in Stuart, FL our trip through Florida was fairly uneventful, some days it was pretty warm but never got to the unbearably hot point.

June 24 Waccawaw River Jerico Creek

At Jacksonville we departed the ICW and did an overnight sail to Beaufort, SC. On the way down, if you remember, it got so cold we went outside at Charleston and bypassed Beaufort and all of Georgia. This time we bypassed Georgia again but decided we wanted to see if Beaufort or the surrounding area (Hilton Head, Port Royal) might be where we someday might want to live. While motor sailing about 20 miles offshore, a thunderstorm on land was threatening us, then a water pump on the engine decided to start leaking filling the bilge with water. No real problem because the bilge pump could pump that water out, but the real concern was if the water pump, which cools the engine, stopped working we would have to rely on sailing only (novel idea for a sailboat, but we almost no wind) plus the storm onshore. So we slowly limped into Port Royal without any problems, got a slip, ordered parts and repaired the engine. We had 5 great days exploring the Lowcountry, loved the Spanish moss covering the trees there, the folks at the marina were extremely helpful even lending us a car (pickup truck) to sightsee. The whole downtown of Beaufort is on the historic register, we didn’t get to Hilton Head or Suncity; we’ll try for that next trip. Is this the place for us? Maybe…

July1 Charleston Carriage Ride

It was a 1 day trip to Charleston, SC from Beaufort. Once again the marina lent us a courtesy car so we could explore the area. We took a horse drawn carriage ride on a rainy day and really loved their historic downtown.

July 4 Baldhead Beach Baldhead Golf Carts

Being we didn’t have any kind of schedule, we decided to get off the ICW a bit and go to Baldhead Island for a few days. This island is located at the mouth of Cape Fear; the river that runs through Wilmington, NC, on the other side of Baldhead Island is the Atlantic Ocean. You can only get here by boat or plane and the only transportation on the island is golf carts, thousands of golf carts. They had lots of activities planned for the 4th but we got there later in the day and missed a lot of that. But we did love this island, wonderful beaches, friendly people, and good food; we will do it again.

July 10

We took the Dismal Swamp route going down through southern Virginia but took the Virginia Cut going up. It might have been a little quicker that way but the Swamp was more colorful. We ran aground pretty hard on the Alligator River, me bad. I read the warnings the night before of shoaling where the river meets Albemarle Sound, but… I called for a tow boat (Towboat US) to get us off but they were 2 hours away! The towboat operator said to try to get ourselves off! So it took over an hour with the dinghy and an anchor to winch ourselves off.

July 11Tangier Tangier Workboats

On the Bay, our first stop was Hampton, VA. We walked the town, did some sightseeing and from there started our journey north. Next stop was Cape Charles, VA a small town at the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, its claim to fame; the railroads. In the early 1900’s there was not much south of Salisbury, MD on the Eastern Shore (Delmarva) no need for a railroad. But they designed a steamer ship that could transport train cars; Cape Charles to Norfolk was the “shortcut” for folks traveling down the eastern seaboard. The town is like a time-warp but had a nice restaurant called the Shanty and several other shops, the ice cream parlor having a waiting line every time we looked. The next town on the eastern shore was Onancock, VA. We had been here before by car some years ago in our buying-a-Bed-and-Breakfast kick. It probably is the most progressive town south of Salisbury, with 5 or more B&B’s, several really fine restaurants, art studios and a playhouse. From Onancock we stopped at Tangier Island. There are only 2 inhabited islands in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, Smith and Tangier. We wanted to go to Smith now famous for the multi-layer Smith Island Cakes and crab, but it is too shallow getting in the harbor. Tangier is a waterman’s town of less than 300 people, golf carts are the normal mode of transportation. It took all of 15 minutes to cruise around the island in a golf cart, then we had dinner at Lorraine’s and we should have ordered their specialty, soft shell crab sandwich but we got crab cakes which were disappointing.

July 16

shadowfax Spinnaker Wednesday AYC Thursday J Race

Crossing over the bay and into Maryland we spent 2 nights in Solomon’s Island to replenish our food (and beer) supply. Then back to the Maryland Eastern Shore to the Choptank River, the weather was pretty hot by now and we were looking to cool off. I did say we have no air conditioning! So we spend a lovely hot night at Baby Owl Cove then headed to Oxford to a marina with a pool. We made it to the ice cream shop but other than that our time was spent in the pool with adult beverage in hand. We crossed the bay again and spent 2 days at a marina/resort called Herrington Harbor South. This is a party place, the pool was a place to socialize, everybody knew everybody, and I have a feeling that most of these folks never take their boat out of the slip. Now we are real close to where we started this adventure last year Holiday Hill Marina, but we are not ready yet to stop exploring the bay. Next we went to Annapolis and had a great time with our daughter Laura and John, then on Wednesday evenings the big sailboat races are a must see. We had front row seats from where Shadowfax was on a mooring to watch the boats scrambling for position to finish in front of the Annapolis Yacht Club. I got to see a few of my racing buddies and we had dinner with some of them on Thursday.

July 26Relaxing Greys Inn

As much as we like this boat, at times it can be rather small. A slightly larger and newer boat (40 ft.) caught my eye, so along with our friends Dan and Melissa (on Slow Dancing) we went pretty far north to Worton Creek to check out this boat. The boat turned out to not be to our liking but the restaurant was fabulous. On the return down the bay we stopped at Swan Creek and Grey’s Inn on the Chester River.

July 30

We decided not to sail up to Maine or Connecticut, but Virginia’s sister’s birthday was coming up and we decided to drive there so we needed a place to keep to boat. So we got a short term deal on a slip at Holiday Hills for 2-3 months. This would give us a place to do some work on the boat and not have to worry if we go somewhere.

August 9

We rented a car and drove to Guilford, Ct for the birthday party. It was really a family reunion our 3 daughters, their families plus Virginia’s brother and other sister came with their families. It was really a fun time for us.

August 15Hudson_Creek Hudson_Creek_Sunset Shields Ducks Greg & Debby Sunset

We are still living on the boat at the marina; this summer has been so cool we are really lucky because without AC on the boat it can be miserable. We went to the annual Tartan Sailing Club Crab Feast held at Greg and Debby’s fabulous waterfront home across the Patuxent River from Solomon’s Island. After spending 3 days with our Tartan friends we did a slow return back to Holiday Hills.

August 31Shadowfax_FreeSpirit Blue_Moon_Skipton_Creek

The Holiday Hills Hookers (mind out of gutter now, anchors are sometimes called hooks) organized a 3 day Labor Day get together on the Wye River, at one of our favorite spots on the bay called Skipton Creek where we usually see bald eagles and lots of other birds, this time we even had a humming bird visit with us. We had 4 boats rafted together; we shared great meals together and solved all the problems of the world then came back to HHM on Monday.


Going North too Hot

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I can’t believe we spent so much time in Stuart, but we had things to get done. We spent 2 weeks or so in Fort Pierce doing boat maintenance, then we went to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart. This is the same place we stopped briefly on the way down. We ended up staying almost 2 months here and we really loved it. I know it’s probably hard for non cruisers to understand because living in a house you have all the comforts of home!! At SSB we had those creature comforts if we want them, a beautiful lounge where we can watch TV or watch movies, or read books (hundreds of shared books) all in air conditioned comfort on those hot days with little wind. But there was only few really hot days, being on a mooring we had good wind to cool us off. They have a small store that has most everything (except groceries), but mostly it was the place to get the morning coffee, sit with some buddies on the porch and talk about whatever. The town of Stuart is short walking distance with many wonderful restaurants, Publix grocery store, and most any other store including Target and Walmart close by.

Anyhow, the major reason for being here was fix my tingling hand and jury duty. The jury duty was a piece of cake, I went and was called but it was a mistrial  before it got started. The carpal tunnel syndrome took the whole time. But after seeing several doctors (ain’t medicare great) I finally get an appointment with a hand and shoulder doctor, I had the Endoscopic Surgery which is less invasive and the healing time is much quicker. It worked! Immediately after and up to today, 2 weeks later no tingling, and 75-90 use of my hand. So Thursday they  took the stitch out and we’re underway Friday.

On our way up the ICW to Annapolis and hopefully Connecticut by August, then back here after the hurricane season.


Back in Florida

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We had such a great time in the Bahamas that we did not want to leave, but we have to take care of a few things such as bottom paint (and other maintenance issues) for Shadowfax, jury duty, and a doctors appointment for  Bob.

We left Nassau with our buddy boat “Slow Dancing” (Dan and Melissa) and motor sailed about as far as we could go in daylight, but it actually was dark when we set the anchor in the middle of the bank (Grand Bahama Bank) called Mackie Shoal. As expected the boat pitched and rolled with the wind and the waves all night, we held firmly but I got zero sleep. The next day we pulled into Bimini and got a slip at Browns Marina. Although we wanted to spend a few days here, we had a weather window the following day and took it to cross back over the Straights of Florida (Atlantic Ocean) in the Gulf Stream and into Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale). From there we cleared customs, what a hassle that was. It seems I did not have every i dotted on our customs paperwork so instead of clearing in with a phone call it required a physical visit. Dan and Melissa also had to see them so we got a cab and in 5 minutes we were out of there. The ride back was interesting, we decided we needed exercise so we would walk, only problem they had all the roads torn up and no sidewalks, off we go Dan and I lead the way, the girls are cursing us with comments like “This is stupid, No sidewalks, Middle of nowhere” Sure no problem honey we’ll be there soon. A construction worker saw us wandering around and took pity on us and offered a ride, never take a ride with strangers! He turned out to not be Charles Manson. We had a great last few days with our friends as they headed south to Key West and we headed north to Delray Beach to see our girls. From Delray with headed to Ft Pierce, where we will spend several weeks getting maintenance completed, boat cleaned up and prepare for our next adventure back up the ICW to the Chesapeake for the summer.



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We live day to day with watching the weather and getting good weather forecasts, even though our boat most likely would handle most anything we have seen (hunkered down somewhere) we would rather not get caught in a bad storm. Every morning at 6:30 a professional Weather God named Chris Parker gives the weather forecast tailored for his paying customers via a Ham radio. The non-paying customers (us and 90% of the cruising community) can also listen in, our friends forward the summary to us via email we do not have a SSB (Ham radio). We had plans to go to a remote island called Cat Island, but Chris advised against that for several days, so we continued needing north to Staniel Cay. Finally we snorkeled in Thunderball Grotto, really cool. We got there on low tide otherwise the current that rips through here is too strong to swim against. Inside this cave you swim through has a high rock ceiling with several openings that let some light in, the tropical fish would swim right up to you (looking for food), we spend about an hour there and thought it was magical.

We left Staniel and headed for Cambridge Cay also called Little Bell Cay. Beautiful island with white sandy beaches, we hiked down a trail that lead to the Sound (windward) side of the island. The view from the top of Bell Rock was really incredible. The next day we took a long dinghy ride to the Sea Aquarium and once again great snorkeling with lots of tropical fish and lush underwater plants. I know where are the pictures, long story but our lovely new camera didn’t like salt water and it’s now dead.

From Cambridge we continued north to Warderick Wells, we meet a lot of new friends here. The Park Ranger invited everyone for Easter Dinner, we brought something to share. Also we had sunrise service on Boo Boo Hill, the gentleman who did the “service” was not a clergyman but a cruiser like the rest of us. He pulled it off as if he was, there were several folks that did a reading. We all introduced ourselves, it was an amazing time. Several weeks before a lady fell close to where we had this service and died, tragic, we included Pat in our prayers.

Dinner Warderick Wells

Dinner Warderick Wells

Our last stop in the Exumas was Shroud Cay, just a short sail from Wardrick Wells, but totally different scenery. Much like Conception the interior of the island is a mangrove, very lush and green. We dinghied through the mangroves to the sound side, which is so different from the calm leeward side of the island where we anchored. Later we had cocktails on the a bigger boat moored close by us.

Yesterday, April 3 we left early for Nassau, it took about 7 hours to get here. We didn’t really want to stop in this huge port city with it’s noise, cruise ships, and thousands of people, but with bad weather coming we needed some place safe. Three different friends gave us 3 different marinas so Dan and Melissa (our sailing buddies) called on their sat phone and got slips at Nassau Harbor Club, it’s a good thing they did because it was full after we tied up. Right away we needed to get some things done before we get back to Florida. One thing that needed immediate attention was our Bahamian Cruising permits were for 90 days and they were 2 days from expiring. I’m not sure it

would matter, no one other than Emerald Bay Marina ever asked to see them, but you never know. So off we go, took a cab ride to Immigration, the driver was not sure that was where we needed to go! So we are in a pretty crappy part of Nassau at this government building, went to the 3rd floor (Extensions) the official said that we needed customs at another building. So I pleaded with him and showed the form we needed extending and he said he could do it. No problem mon, so that pretty much shot the day, we got back just in time for cocktails and dinner at the Poop Deck Restaurant. Today has been boat clean up, laundry and catching up with the blog. We’ll stay for a couple more days then head over the Bimini, wait for a good time to cross the Gulf Stream and back to Florida.