Sunday, November 20, 2011

Greetings from Stuart, Florida

We pulled into our slip Loggerhead Marina, Stuart, Florida about 10:40AM yesterday (Saturday, 11/19/11). With 1,194 miles under her, Freedom will be taking a well deserved rest before a Christmas jaunt to the Keys.

We all relaxed yesterday afternoon, and the Captain caught up with an old friend late in the day while Kate and I took a walk. It felt good to stretch our legs after 4 days away from the dock. Shore about 1/4 mile from our slip, and the marina amenities are another quarter mile - no lack of exercise here!

Many of the boats we have passed along the Waterway are tied up here too, it has been fun to say hello and hear about everyone's future travel plans.

Typically, the day before a guest leaves we ask them to help us swab the decks. It's become a tradition, something we look forward to, and something we don't mention until we hand them a hose and a mop .... Kate was a good sport about helping the Captain this morning while I stayed inside to watch the Food Network, oops, I mean to clean the galley and vacuum.

Once I am back on land and using reliable Internet, I hope to upload many of the pictures from our southbound journey. Keep checking back......

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Counting the Miles

Previous posts have included our mile posts along the ICW. But we have actually traveled further than those numbers indicate. Mile 0 of the Atlantic IntraCoastal Water is located at Norfolk, VA. Before arriving at Mile 0 we traveled approximately 180 miles from the Sassafras River.

Right now we are anchored at Mile 904.5 just south of Cocoa Beach (no sightings of Jeannie or Major Nelson yet). So, all in all we have 1,084.5 miles of water under Freedom, and about 90 more to go before we pull into our slip in Stuart on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hilton Head to Daytona, Miles 563 to 830

I had to end my Saturday update sooner than planned because of a sudden onset of ocean malaise. After a good rest on the settee, and a few gingersnaps ordered by crew member Dr. Bill I was up and about and able to enjoy our day off shore. (I love a Dr. who prescribes cookies, don't you?)

It really was a spectacularly beautiful day, and at the end we were treated to a remarkable sunset just as we anchored in Fernandina Harbor. It was a long but good day - we knew we weren't sailboating anymore when the football fans aboard were able to watch the PSU game while we motored 5 miles out!

Sunday was a day of rest, after the guys scrubbed the ocean salt off of Freedom and I got things back in ship shape order on the inside. Fernandina is a great stop -- a beautiful town to walk about, nice shops, friendy people on the docks. An International Bocce Ball Tournament going on while we were there. We never got to the tourney grounds, but we enjoyed the live music that went on all day and into the evening.

On Monday morning we said good-bye to Al and Bill and headed south to St. Augustine where we picked up this week's crew, my sister Kate. It took a while to get her onboard - the current required some extra work securing the mooring and the dinghy battery proved to be in need of a charge. Fortunately, the marina was able to give her a ride on their harbor boat.
Tuesday was another day off the Waterway, as we toured St. Augustine (I wouldn't recommend the Trolley Tour -- although it gave us a good overview of America's Oldest City, we also spent a lot of time turning around in parking lots.)

S.A. was founded in 1565 as a Spanish Military outpost. According to Dozier's Waterway Guide, it is "the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the U.S." 19th Century Spanish Renaissance architecture is prevalent.
Henry Flagler, tycoon, real estate and railroad developer and a founder of Standard Oil (along with JD Rockefeller) contributed a great deal to the development of St. Augustine. His Ponce deLeon Hotel, built in 1888 is now home to Flagler College. The lush grounds and exquisite architecture create a college setting unlike any I have seen.
Our timing was a bit off and we missed the tours of Flagler College, and the chance to see one of the best collections of Tiffany Stained Glass in the country. A good reason to stop back in St.Augustine in the spring!

I had read that Columbia was considered to be one of the best Cuban restaurants in Florida, so that is where we headed for dinner. Delicioso!

Another highlight of our day in S.A. was meeting fellow CCAers and Selene owners Jack and Diane who are aboard Airlia. We look forward to seeing them again along the Waterway or at a Florida Station CCA event.

We headed out just before 6:30 AM today following a long line of boats in the early morning fog. Tonights anchorage is just south of Daytona Beach, near R 44 where we are enjoying the 80 degree temperatures and a good breeze. Might be a good night for Margarita's on the Calypso Deck!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Martha's Galley

Astute readers may have noticed that I have a new companion food blog: Martha's Galley. It will combine my at sea and on shore cooking adventures. Once I get back to my PC, and reliable Internet, I will move my past posts from Freedom Fare to Martha's Galley. Until then, check out Martha's Galley to see what I'm cookin' now.

Saturday Update

It's a good thing we keep a daily Boat Log, including everything from engine hours to notable sitings throughout the day. After a busy week it is helpful be able to look back and see all the places we have been.

After leaving our anchorage at mile 141 on Sunday morning we headed for Beaufort, NC. The Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River proved to be more bark than bite making for an easy trip to Beaufort, NC. Dolphins played off our bow as we neared Beaufort.
We delayed our departure Monday morning for a chance to visit the NC Maritime Museum. In addition to its ever changing exhibit of artifacts from Blackbeard's ship Queen Anne's Revenge - which was sank in 1718 in the Beaufort shoals inlet - the museum houses an interesting display of techniques used to rescue crew and passengers from shipwrecks along the NC coast, replicas of NC workboats, and an impressive maritime library.
Beaufort itself is a charming waterfront town. The main street is lined with homes featuring plaques with the year of construction - some dating back to the 1700's and the name of the original owner - we suspect most of them were ship captains.

After leaving Beaufort we headed for Swansboro, NC where our "crew" for the week, Al and Bill were waiting for us on the dock at Casper's Marina. The lines were barely tied and I jumped off, map and reusable shopping bag in hand, to head to the local Piggly Wiggly. (I Dig the Pig). It was a race against time, as I needed to complete the 1.5 mile round trip and get my shopping done in a strange store before the sun set one hour later. I made it with time to spare thanks to a ride for last few block from the Casper's daughter who saw me lugging my heavy bag down the street.
Our long awaited trip to Cap'n Charlie's Seafood Paradise was once again denied when we discovered they are closed on Mondays.

Tuesday morning were off the dock at 6:20 (actually a bit later than usual). We had an uneventful cruise along the Bogue Sound to Southport, doing our best to arrive at the low bridges in sync with their scheduled openings. Taking advantage of the low tide we tied down our antennas to allow us to sneak under the Wrightsville Beach Bridge with inches to spare, and saving us a 30 minute wait for the next opening.
A sunset walk through Southport's neighborhoods rnevealed front porches with swings, cushioned rocking chairs, and lighted table lamps all beckoning you to come and sit a spell. It was all the Captain could do to keep me on the sidewalk.

From Southport we continued along the Bogue Sound through the feared areas known as the Rock Pile, where the slightest move off course could result in an unintended encounter with jagged pieces of granite lying just below the surface. We survived that area better than we did some new shoaling near Lockwoods Folly Inlet!

After 12 hours on the water we anchored in Winyah Bay, just off ICW Mile 410. It was a beautiful moonlit night.

In celebration of the warming weather, the Captain wore shorts on Thursday morning as we headed south past Charleston. From there two tug boats led us along the Stono River and the North Edisto River until we turned off into a quiet, isolated anchorage in Toogoodoo Creek. We were clearly in the South Carolina Low Country.

Friday brought us a colder morning with temperatures in the 40's. We passed Beaufort, SC (the Captain's ancestral home) on our way to Hilton Head Island. I'll write about that in my next entry.

Right now we have "gone outside" - meaning we are in the ocean bypassing the shallow waters of the Georgia ICW and taking the faster route to Fernandina Beach, FL. The seas are calm, and we can see a few other boats on the horizon, either fishing for the day or sharing our journey south.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We Survived the Rock Pile!

And the 4 kt current in Elliott Cut just after Charleston (where the current can be so strong it will turn boats sideways). Just in case you were wondering......

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Heading for the Rockpile - Mile 350ish

Tomorrow ( Wednesday) we will cross the Rock Pile -- an area near Myrtle Beach fraught with potential danger as we dodge submerged pieces of granite. With four sets of eyes and some good sense on board we should be fine. Wish us luck and stay tuned....

Another Kind of Freedom

 Just after we tied up in Beaufort, NC the other day, this beauty arrived.

Isn't she lovely?  Although her name is now Freedom (great choice!) the Captain suspects that she was once known as Sequoia, aka the Presidential Yacht!  You never know who you might meet on the ICW....

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cue Willie Nelson (Mile 141 - 205)

On the Waterway Again. After a two day, three night weather-induced break we were up and on our way before 7 this morning. As we left our creek we encountered a line of southbound boats resuming their travels now that the winds have calmed.
The end of Day Light Savings Time will adjust our travel schedule a bit -- (even)earlier mornings and earlier anchorings each evening. We have amended our plans and will bypass Oriental, NC and instead stay at Beaufort (pronounced Bo-fort), NC tonight. I'm looking forward to a chance to get on shore and take a walk, and possibly visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum featuring artifacts from Blackbeard's flagship Queen Anne's Revenge found in the shoals of Beaufort Inlet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hunkered Down at ICW Mile 141

We were up and away from the dock before 7AM yesterday (Thursday 11/3) amid a long line of boats heading south. The day dawned clear and cool, but as soon as we left the Coinjock canal we were enrobed in a thick fog with zero visibility past the bow. Knowing we were in the midst of such a long line of boats brought comfort and concern. Radio calls let us know who was where, but from time to time a boat would appear at our stern and just as quickly disappear into the fog ahead. Some boats were forging ahead at a questionable speed and others, like us, were cautiously moving forward just above idle. Once or twice a panicked call came across the radio warning a fellow mariner to make a hard turn to port or starboard, lest they run aground or hit another boat. It was a tense time. After a white knuckle hour a call came over the radio announcing: "All you boaters heading south in fog: once you reach mark 151 you will find a beautiful sunny day." In fact, the fog lifted for us a bit before #151 and we enjoyed a crystal clear skies, calm waters, and a gorgeous fall day. The line of boats heading out of Coinjock sorted out by speed with the faster boats disappearing in the distance, and Freedom overtaking most of the sailboats. We followed Duet across the Albemarle Sound, down the Alligator River, across the Alligator-Canal, and along the Pungo River until we decided to call it a day after over 10 hours on the water, and duck into our favorite creek just before the Pamlico Sound.

We were up and dressed before sunrise today, but with a check of the weather forecast for rain and gale winds over the next two days, and only 90 miles to travel until we pick up crew on Monday, we decided to stay put. As we wait for the skies to clear we'll be doing chores, reading, watching movies, checking the anchor, and enjoying the beauty of this isolated creek. A sailboat and another trawler are within sight, but in light of the weather forecast, I don't think there will be any visiting among the fleet.

Small World on the Waterway - Coinjock, ICW Mile 50

After a late departure from Great Bridge/Chesapeake, VA on Wednesday (we spent the morning waiting for a repairman who never arrived) we safely arrived in Coinjock, NC, the second last boat to tie-up at the dock.

Several of us were arriving at about the same time, but the dockhands got us in quickly and closely - the anchor of the boat behind us hung over our cockpit! Once tied up, most boat owners and crew jump on the dock, some with beer in hand, for a chance to stretch, put face to names we heard on the radio all day, and talk over What had happened on the Waterway that day (for us, why Freedom had suddenly drifted off course into shallow waters -- all we can guess that the AutoPilot chose an inopportune time to take it's union break!)

As we strolled the dock we stopped to admire a rugged looking trawler with lines similar to Freedom. As we were comparing boats, the owner stepped into the cockpit and revealed that his boat was hull #1 of the boat line that eventually became Selene. When introductions were made, all of a sudden we realized why Duet and her owner seemed so familiar: 10 years, and 2 boats ago, we were docked at the the same marina in Rock Hall, and when we sold our Jarvis Newman lobster hull, Duet took our slip!

Friendships are made easily on the Waterway, and we enjoyed dinner at the Coinjock restaurant with Duet's owners Carsten and Peg. Veterans of the Waterway and wintering and cruising in Florida and the Bahamas, Carsten and Peg were able to give us lots of ideas for where to go and what to do in those waters -

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the Waterway

After 2 1/2 nauseating days bouncing down the Chesapeake Bay, we entered the IntraCoastal Waterway in Norfolk early afternoon today. The commercial traffic was heavy at times, but I was happy to be in calmer waters. The Captain and I handled the Great Bridge Lock with relative ease, and tonight we are tied up at Atlantic Yacht Basin awaiting a quick repair tomorrow morning before heading towards Coinjock and dinner ashore.