Sunday, October 28, 2012


We did not venture far from Freedom yesterday as Sandy stirred up some high winds and heavy rains, so I was happy we spent the preceding days getting out  and immersing ourselves in the history of  Charleston. Tuesday morning we took our new folding bikes for their inaugural spin along the waterfront and through the Battery to White Point Gardens. It was a great way to get used to our bikes, enjoy some exercise and explore a charming neighborhood.

On Wednesday morning we took the ferry to Ft. Sumter -- a short 30 minute ride across the harbor. Before boarding the ferry we spent some time exploring the garden at Liberty Square and the terrific indoor display about Charleston's political, business and social environments before the war, and the role of Ft.Sumter and Ft. Moultrie in the war.

The garden was dotted with reflections on freedom such as these:

If you recall, the Capn's family has deep roots here in the low country, and we found at lease one ancestor at Liberty Place:

Then it was on to the Fort -- where the first shot of the War of Northern Aggression exploded on April 12, 1861
This cannon had a direct line of site to Charleston.

At the time of the war these walls were 50 ft. high. Now they are only 25 ft. The fort was built on a sandbar, but has withstood war, shifting currents, and the test of time

On Thursday evening we participated in the Preservation Society of Charleston's tour of  Church Street homes, one of the original streets in the Grand Modell, the earliest plan of the city made in 1672. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful streets in America.  And once again,we found some family ties:

This Georgian style home was the most beautiful stop on the tour , filled with antique furnishings, wallpaper hand painted in Taiwan, and a 13th century tapestry. Ninety percent of its original woodwork remains -- allowing us to climb the same mahogany staircase that the Capn's family (this time the Elliott's) climbed over two centuries ago. 

The tour also featured the home of Frank Abignale, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can. It has been beautifully restored into a comfortable family home mixing old finishes with modern conveniences -- but we loved seeing the movie screen play casually displayed on the coffee table, he celebrity photos and the large framed Pan Am poster.

Friday evening found us at the Historic Charleston Foundation's Tour de Graves, in Magnolia Cemetery, resting place of many notable Charlestonians and you guessed it, more ancestors. We saw a few of their graves, but that was not the focus of our visit. Instead, the docents stationed throughout the former park directed our attention to: 

The Soldier's Ground:

Little Annie's Memorial:

The graves to her left were those of her siblings. We saw another family plot where 5 of 7 children were buried, with one memorial featuring the death mask of the deceased infant.

A Monument Designed by Louis C. Tiffany:

Several Mausoleums - some ornate, some simple - but all, like this one, containing only dust..... (I know because I borrowed the Capn's flashlight, entered the first gate and took a look through the second)

And an 1100 year old Live Oak:

As the sun set over Magnolia Cemetery, we headed out to dinner. All in all it was a busy and interesting week. In light of the impending storm we canceled our weekend plans to visit a few nearby plantations, but there is always next week.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012


If you are worried about how we are faring in the face of Sandy, don't. We are safe, dry, and snug here at the Charleston City Marina dock. So far (2:30 pm Saturday 10/27/12) Sandy is mostly a non-event. Yes it is raining, and a bit windy -- but we have seen far worse on a previous visits to the Holy City and at anchor along the ICW. Things may pipe up as the day goes by, but the heart of the storm is well to the east and we will ride it out easily. It looks like all y'all up north might be in for a much bumpier ride. Hang on!!!

PS -- weekly update later today or tomorrow

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Southern Ground Music and Food Festival

In our box on Sunday waiting for dinner and the show!!!

We left the Chesapeake Bay nearly three weeks earlier this year than last. We had a deadline to meet and we were not going to miss it: the second annual Southern Ground Music and Food Festival. The brain child of Zac Brown, leader of the Zac Brown Band, the festival is designed to bring together his two loves: music and food. And he brought it for us, that's for sure.

Set at Blackbaud Stadium, just outside of Charleston, and with the (Carolina) "blue sky breeze blowing wind through our hair" we feasted on two days of endless music and an array of local food offerings.  With friends Diana and Tom,who flew up from Florida, we had a blast.

Who did we hear?

Charlie Daniels Band -- as good as ever -- man can he play the fiddle.......
The Avett Brothers -- a little bit of blue grass, a little bit of rock, a lot of energy and musical talent -- the first time we had seen them and the first time we had ever seen anyone dance around a stage with their bass fiddle.
Levi Lowery -- Big beard, great voice, a southern soul
Michael Franti and Spearhead-- daughter Monica told me I would love him -- she was right. Tall, dreadlocked and barefoot, he got the crowd jumping (literally jumping and fist pumping)for his entire 40 minute set. And his guitar player only added to the frenzy. Franti reminded us to vote, told us about his good fortune to be adopted, brought fans young and old on stage to dance with him, and added at least 4 more members to his fan club. Check him out!!
John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range -- Hopkins is the free form handle-bar mustache member of ZBB
The Jerry Douglas Band -- Multi-Grammy winner. Bluegrass at its best.
The Wailers -- Looking at the crowd I saw a lot of conservatively dressed middle-aged white women gettin' their groove on and singing along to the Wailers.

Darius Rucker -- Former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish, this Charlestonian only stopped by for one song -- it felt like he just came by after dinner for a visit - but one song is better than none. What a unique voice he has.
Gregg Allman -- the legend
John Mayer --

 Not singing these days, but who cares, he is a guitar god. His solos with ZBB were among the best musical performances I have ever experienced. Second only to each of the four times in the past 10 months that I have seen......

Zac Brown Band -- a full concert set two nights in a row. On Sunday night we were lucky enough to be in Stage Box Seats -- yep  right on one of the piers radiating from the main stage affording us an up close and personal view of the performers. How close? Here's a photo of Jimmy DiMartini, of ZBB, right in front of us on the stage:

See Zac all the way down on the left? (No not the Jack Daniels statue, the guy playing guitar) On his way back he high-fived me!!

When we were not listening to the music we......

Hung out in the VIP tent -- comfy couches, football in the 3 tv's,  conversation with other fans, snacks and complimentary* beverages (*complimentary = included in the price of an upgraded ticket)

The in and out of the VIP tent

Watched the Southern Ground artists pose for their Christmas photo.

Just after snapping this photo the security guard said I had to stop. Eventually about three rows were filled with all the artists, including Zac, wearing a variety of holiday themed hats

Walked through the vendor tents

Ate some fabulous Pickled Shrimp Tacos from the Cork food truck

Shared Sunday Breakfast with the Zamily (ZBB fan club), making new friends from all over the country,  landing some swag and learning more about Camp Southern Ground, set to open in 2014, where "children with both typical and special needs will come together to learn life skills and teamwork in a positive, healthy and organic environment."

Had Sunday dinner in our Box on the Stage, cooked by a quintet of chefs including ZBB's own Rusty Hamlin.

Me, Diana and Rusty

Random thoughts --

SGMFF was one of my best weekends ever. 

Southern women have impeccable hygiene, and dress up for an outdoor concert on a soccer field much more than mid-atlantic women do -- dresses, bedazzled jeans, beautiful accessories, cute shoes.

Southerners can rock the denim -- nary a pair of khaki pants were seen either day.

Southerners know and love their Jack Daniels.

The sound at Blackbaud Stadium is Awesome -- much better than at most "music" venues

Check out the YouTube videos of Neon/Isn't She Lovely

You are never too old to be a groupie.

ZBB and Southern Ground Artists are good people and a class act -- they put on a great two days - terrific music,; helpful, friendly staffing; great food;  good prices (eg no food options were over $10, most were $8 or less for a full meal, offering everything from bbq to souvlaki to falafel; beers were $5 not the typical $8-10 venue pricing) and a real focus on thanking their fans and their Zamily, and giving back (eg Camp Southern Ground)

I can't wait for next year!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Scene on the Waterway

Although we are settled in at the Charleston City Marina, and enjoying life with a city view, we have many good memories of our trip along the ICW so far.  

A Grand Welcome to Mile 0 of the ICW

Traffic Jam at the Great Bridge Bridge, VA

Calm Waters

The only Giraffe we have seen so far.

Southern Bell's of Beaufort, NC

A Boat for my Father (and brother)

A Good Day on the Waterway
A Bad Day on the Waterway

Family Ties in Beaufort, NC

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Low Country Landing

We made it!  At 1:15 yesterday (Tuesday) we tied up at the Charleston City Marina, home of the MegaDock! and our home for the next 3-4 weeks.  It is good to be here.

Even we were a bit surprised to arrive right on schedule. Once we made it down the Chesapeake Bay, where the Admiral experienced a bit of sea sickness, we were golden. Beautiful days, starry nights, calm waters.

The past 24 hours have been CWL: Clean, Walk, Laundry. The Cap'n has been washing off the ICW salt and soot, and I have been readying Freedom for our weekend guests.

A brisk morning walk through the quiet ( and a few flooded) streets of Charleston reminded me why I wanted to move here after college (never did, tho). A slow walk down the dock this afternoon enthused the Cap'n: 420's from the College of Charleston sailing on the Ashley river, mega yachts lining the dock. And guess what? We are once again reunited with Indiscretion.  Alas, no sign of Howard.

Other "celebrity" yachts on the dock: Themis, the 99th largest American yacht (156') owned by a local tort attorney (tobacco and asbestos lawsuits pay) and Seaquest, the 80th largest American yacht (164") owned by the son of the founder of Amway. (Yes, I  googled them).

Tomorrow brings more mundane tasks: the grocery store & more cleaning. But, we are full of anticipation for the weekend, the arrival of friends Diana and Tom, and the Southern Ground Music Food Festival.

Happy Fall Y'All

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pointing the Bow South

Just another Tequila Sunrise

(Note:  We have been without reliable internet connection and/or energy to update the blog all week, so here is a long-winded update.................)

It was cold and clear just after 7am Monday morning when I threw the bow line to our friend Ted aboard Nellie Crockett and we were off!

Last week was a blur of activity as we hunted, gathered, planned and provisioned for Freedom's 2011-2012 trip south.  On Thursday afternoon Monica delivered us to the Sassafras with a carload of supplies and anticipation. Jeff arrived just after we did to complete our navigation system upgrades, and Andy and Christine were not far behind with a CheeseSteak send-off dinner in tow. It was going to be hard to leave such good friends (and children).

 In demonstration of my frenzy known as "leaving for the winter":
After getting up at 6AM, running about all day to: Nordstrom, Wegman's, Costco, CVS, TDBank, and who knows where else, once at the boat I kicked off my flip flops and realized I had been wearing one lilac and one khaki sandal all day. (Yes, I love this style so much I have two pairs. I have worn one or the other every day for the past year. Made by SOLE, get some)

We shared the weekend with the Cruising Club of America's Chesapeake Station Fall Cruise, rafting alongside Nellie Crockett and Blue Moon in Shaw Bay, and on Saturday going ashore on Trippe Creek for a pig roast (yum!). By chatting up the pig-pullers we were rewarded with samples straight off the bone. Sunday found us at the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford for the Station's annual meeting. This was a highlight for us as the Cap'n was presented with the Commodore's Trophy in recognition of his service as Membership Committee Chair.

Crab Bushels, Knapps Narrows, MD

And then it was time to go... Monday we bounced down the Chesapeake Bay in the rain, anchoring overnight at Deltaville, VA. It was a cold, raw night and although there were plenty of boats in the creek, not a creature was stirring.  Tuesday brought similar weather as we battled our way to Norfolk/Portsmouth. Our intent had been to press on past Hampton Roads, but the 4' Gilmerton Lift Bridge was closed to openings (if that makes sense) that day, just one of only two days this month that it is to be closed for this phase of a bridge replacement project.  Although disappointed, it actually worked to our advantage. I was a bit under the weather from the rough seas, the Cap'n had done more than his share of steering over the past few days, and we both needed the break a short day provided.

On Wednesday it was on to Coinjock, but not before we had a long line of bridge openings and one lock to traverse. In light of the previous day's bridge closing, there was quite a back up of boats along that stretch of the ICW. Compounding this,  the first bridge beyond Norfolk is closed every day from 7:30 AM until 9AM. We were among the 20 or so vessels, including one very long barge, milling about for over 45 minutes awaiting the first post rush hour opening. Then the race was on to the Great Bridge Lock near Chesapeake, VA.

The first time we negotiated this lock 18 months we were one of two boats  in the lock--  this time, we were one of 17 boats!  It was cozy, but we made it. We saw the majority of these boats at the dock in Coinjock, NC later that afternoon.

-------------CELEBRITY BOAT SIGHTING-------------

One of the boats in the lock, and then at the Coinjock dock was named "Indiscretion". In fact there were two boats by that name, a 120' motoryacht and a sleek 45' speedboat. At first we thought it was a coincidence, but then I noticed the speedboat driver directing the crew on the motoryacht. "Nice set-up" we thought, "that owner has all the toys."  And just who is that owner?  According to the Google: Howard Stern.  
Please note this was a celebrity boat sight, not a celebrity sighting.

Okay, back to our week.  Fortunately the weather cleared as the days went by and we had calm passages across the Albemarle Sound, Pamlico and Neuse Rivers -- a rarity. We saw our first dolphins today as we glided along Goose Creek off the Pamlico River, a sure sign that we are south.

Right now we are docked in one of our favorite stops along the ICW: Beaufort, NC. In the next slip? A boat named Freedom. Down the dock? Honey Girl,  a red hulled Nordic Tug who has been anchored or docked near us every night this week. And further down the dock? Indiscretion. The snow bird parade continues.....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Summer ReCap, Part 2

After our stay in Cape May it was time to go north. The Admiral headed home, while the Cap'n and his crew waited out a few days of stormy weather before pulling anchor. Shore leave followed while Freedom's freezer had a new compressor installed  in New Bedford, but late July found us back on board and ready for some New England cruising.  Along with friends Kurt and Donna we visited Martha's Vineyard and Natucket -- where we just happened to be at the start of Race Week. Needless to say, the harbor was hopping. We spent a good amount of time in the dinghy winding our way through the mooring field oogling the beautiful old boats being readied for the regatta.

The Cap'n spent a second week aboard with Jeff and Kristin returning to Martha's Vineyard, and then it was time for more shore leave, and the chance for Freedom to have her stabilizers serviced. Now she is back on the Bay being readied for our trip south -- set to begin later this week.

This year we have employed these primary provisioning rules:

1) Stock as much of the heavy and bulky stuff as you can. Canned goods, boxes of soup, juices, bottles of wine, batteries, and paper towels are all a challenge to carry from the grocery when you are traveling by foot, bike or even marina mini-van. As the Cap'n says, "There is no such thing as Light Beer when you are walking."

2) There are no Trader Joe's near the ICW. So, our pantry is filled with all the TJ's Italian Roast coffee it can hold.

We will spend this week doing last minute hunting and gathering of food, supplies, clothing, and books. It's October and time to head to head south.

Summer ReCap, Part 1

It seems like I just posted about our trip to Camden, with so much of the summer ahead. Now it is officially Fall and about time to point the bow south. But first, a recap of Freedom's summer:

After our trip to Camden we headed to Cape May where we enjoyed a few fun but hot days anchored off the Coast Guard Station. We did go on shore a few times -- to visit with the Cap'ns sister and enjoy dinner at a few local restaurants. But, like so many ports, the view from the cockpit kept us busy and engaged.  Anchored just off the Coast Guard stations we watched the recruits march, heard them chant and cheer in the mess hall, and enjoyed their "Fun with Flares" demonstration.

Our anchorage was on the ocean side of the Cape May Canal providing us with a good view of fishing boats coming and going each day, along with gathering storm clouds moving across the land towards sea. One night we took the dinghy ashore for dinner at an outdoor restaurants. The sky darkened considerably and the wind picked up a bit once we reached shore, but we felt confident that the storm would hold off long enough for a bite to eat. But, just as our food was served we looked over and saw this:

Not a good look!  have you EVER seen anything like this? Please note - I took this photo in color -- all of a sudden the world was black and white.  The waitress boxed up our dinners and we ran for the dink.

This is what we saw after casting off the lines:

Have I mentioned we were low on gas? Very, very low?

But then, a window opened up. A different sort of weather window, and maybe not the best kind:

We did not like the looks of these clouds either....

Finally, Freedom is in sight

Almost there ( and the engine is still running). That's the Cast Guard Station to the right. Cool ships.


Safely back on board, we heated up our dinners and waited for the storm....which never came. But we did get some great photos!