RSS Feed

The Carolinas! We made it.

Posted on

One Carolina down, another just entered….Slappey is in Southport, NC at the bottom of the Cape Fear River. I had visions of being much further along in our travels by now, but weather delays have piled up such that we have only just gotten to North Carolina. We made our last overnight voyage (if there is a God,) from St. Augustine to Port Royal Sound last month. Other than a nasty exit against tide in the St. Augustine inlet, and about a thousand AIS targets at dawn getting around the Savannah River entrance (who knew Savannah was such a busy port?) the passage was anticlimactic. We found our first anchorage in a creek surrounded by that beautiful marsh grass again. Port Royal Sound opens up just beyond Hilton Head, which is just above the Georgia line, so it’s smack in the middle of Low Country. We made it easily to Beaufort the next day (that would be “Bewfurt,” in case you were confusing it with the town in North Carolina,which would be “Bofurt.”) What a picturesque little town is that. We got stuck there for 8 days, waiting out thunderstorms, and didn’t mind at all. I think I had shrimp and grits nearly every day.

The trip further along, to Charleston, was a testy one. There are many shallow river ‘cuts,’ such as the Ashepoo-Coosaw cutoff, where you must deal with tides and currents and shallows. We hit it, as it happened, at near low tide, against strong headwinds, and saw a stretch less than 5 feet deep. Our draft (waterline to bottom of keel) is only 5 feet. We likely just plowed through the mucky bottom, which has the consistency of pudding, and somehow made it to the other end. This has happened many times since. The next day, miraculously, saw us hit every tide exactly right, and got us into Charleston in record time. Charleston was another favorite stop. Neither of us had ever been before. Actually, neither of us had ever set foot in either Carolina. I don’t know how this has happened, but there you are. We only had 5 days in Charleston, and could have stayed much longer, as you can imagine. But stifling heat is coming, and afternoon thunderstorms will arrive soon enough. Best to get North pronto, I say.

The trip out of Charleston has taken us 5 days, with 4 of the prettiest anchorages we have ever seen. The scenery along the waterway is amazing. From marsh grass and palmettos, chock with birds and dolphins, to the Waccamaw River, lined with cypress trees and wildflowers, it has really been a show. We have mostly avoided terrible bug infestations…give or take some horsefly-infested stretches. Breezes at anchor have kept us cool, while Mr. Frosty is ready for us when we get some shore power at a dock. So far…so good. The next passage up to Beaufort, NC promises lots more shallows. Hoo-boy! We do have towing insurance, and may yet get to use it. Here are some photos of the Carolinas, thus far.

A ghost-like ruin in the marsh, south of Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC

 

A third view of the swing bridge

Several films made here; not sure if this is a setting or not; somewhere near is the Big Chill house.

I always go for the old graveyards

the historical town center was small, but lively

my favorite place on the waterfront

Charleston, in the College of Charleston neighborhood

The Market area. The market buildings are all nicely restored, but it’s not a working market, like Seattle’s

John occasionally holds the camera

Downtown Waterfront Park

Over the marsh to Charleston City Marina

Memorial Day

It will be a sad day when we get too far north to see egrets

Patriot’s Point…seemed fitting for Memorial Day

Nice area across the river, with resort and another marina

Herons are nice, too, and they’re everywhere

Hot day at the Waterfront Park

Oops! Fire on the fuel dock at OUR MARINA!! No injuries, luckily.

In Charleston’s French Quarter

the very nice Gibbes Museum of Art

old church across the street, complete with old cemetery

sunrise, Awendaw Creek anchorage

very low tide, as you can see by our depth sounder

dolphins were playing in the mud here, scooting across while half out of the water

the serene Butler Island anchorage, just beyond Georgetown, SC

the Waccamaw river, lined with Cypress and full of dragonflies

through the infamous ‘rock pile’ near North Myrtle Beach, SC

one of the few places where grounding can have real consequences; we went through at low tide, and had no problem avoiding the rocks

scenes along the waterway towards NC

Southport

the waterfront of the town, across the marsh from the marina

shrimp is still king down here, amongst seafood

Southport lies at the Cape Fear river inlet

If there is an old graveyard, I will find it

 

So that’s a taste of our voyage so far. We wait out another front before heading out for Beaufort, NC (the other Beaufort.) From there, we will make our way gradually north, to Virginia, and on up to the Chesapeake Bay. It may take us some time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slappey travels to the Keys

Posted on

From Naples, we could have gone the back way to Marathon, which is halfway up the chain of  Florida’s Keys, and Mary likely preferred to have done so, but John wanted to see the Dry Tortugas from his own boat, and the weather (mostly) cooperated, so around the Keys we went. The first half of the overnight sail to the Tortugas was placid. After the first two hours, there was no wind to speak of. We were just motoring on down, relaxing on our first night sail in quite some time. On my first off-watch, I was awakened by the howl of wind and the boat heeled over such that my face was wedged into the lee cloth. “John?? Is that wind???” “Yes. Lots. All of a sudden.” He then rolled out the jib all the way, for some unknown reason, before realizing that this was precisely the wrong thing to do, and he called for my help. We were sorely out of practice, I had had about 1 hour of sleep, and it was midnight. Wrenching the Slappey into the wind to reduce the sail, and getting rid of our autopilot (good for motoring, not for sailing) took some time. Once reefed and under control with our excellent windvane, we got on course and got our wits back, only to find that along with the wind, we now had nasty swell and chop right on our beam (side,) which always rolls the Slappey like a pig. The swell was not excessive in height, only egregious in character, which we have found about sums up the waters on this Coast. We lurched, jostled, thwacked, and rolled the entire following 12-plus hours.

Luckily, I found a visit to the Dry Tortugas just almost worth it.  We spent three relaxing days, before heading into more gusty East winds toward Key West. This was done in two legs; the first to the Marquesas Keys, which competed with the Tortugas leg in an uncomfortable bash to weather….for 11 hours straight. Luckily, seeing Key West was just almost worth that one, too. Finally, we did have a really nice, comfortable sail from the Marquesas into Key West Bight. Neither of us had ever been to Key West, and I had visions of crusty pirate types and vomiting Spring Breakers. There were plenty of those, but also quiet and beautiful back streets for strolling, and some interesting history. I knew about Hemingway and Key West, of course, but did not remember knowing anything about Truman’s Little White House. I also never knew that PanAm was started right there, with a flight from Key West to Havana.

Finally, we left Key West on an easy two-day leg to Marathon, where we now sit, waiting to head North up the East Coast. The weather is not cooperating, but is scheduled to abate in the next few days. All told, we will have spent nearly two weeks here in Marathon. I know it is a big cruiser hang-out, and supposedly very popular. Many boats come here and stay the entire season. We, however, are struggling to grasp the allure. It is made up of a highway strip, dotted with some palapa-type restaurants, dive and snorkle charters, no shade, no crosswalks over the busy highway…it’s just like Mexico! Except Mexico is cheap, and this is very expensive. So…..the winds cannot slow down fast enough for us.  I am looking forward to getting up to the Carolinas and seeing all the little towns and villages on the ICW.  Many East Coast cruisers hate the ICW, and have no interest in the little towns. They are probably the ones hanging out down here in Marathon. To each his own.

 

All was quiet as the sun set over the Gulf

John reads off-watch

We get settled into the anchorage at Ft. Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

The Portaslappey on the beach

Yes, there was a moat

Two or more float planes landed, multiple times a day, and took off extra close to the sailboats!

An apparent homemade boat, certainly Cuban in origin

Old living quarters, but there are actually still people living here year round; staff stay on premises in a renovated portion of the fort

The island connected, as well as another adjacent, are bird sanctuaries; specifically Sooty, and brown Noddy Terns……thousands of them

We are the boat on the right

Waterfront, Key West Bight

Roosters, and chickens, wander anywhere and everywhere

Harry Truman loved it here in the house given over to him from the Naval base

The grounds of the former Naval base, now mostly condos, and the Museum

The house is still open to all past (or current) US Presidents to use if they wish

It looked like something out of Paris or New Orleans. It is located on the highest point in Key West….14 feet above sea level.

Key West has shade

And whimsy…lots of whimsy

They have the run of Hemingway’s House

Not all of them have extra toes, but they all have the gene

The studio where several books were written

From a visit to Pigeon Key, and more Henry Flagler history, near Marathon

A building at the outpost for the creation of the Florida Overseas Railway

The very small Pigeon Key, looking South

A section of the old railway

Where the small ferry arrives from Knight Key, next to Marathon. A very nice guided tour is given here, where one may be given some reason to admire Henry Flagler, after all.

 

So, that’s our shortish visit to the Keys for you. We will check back in from somewhere on the mainland.

 

(A little bit of) Florida’s West Coast

Posted on

 

Slappey shoved off the dock at Legacy Harbor on the last day of February. We travelled only about 12 nm to a nice, protected pocket in Cape Coral called Glover Bight. From one view, the wilds of the mangroves….from the other, a Marriot resort and the canals of Cape Coral; not exactly remote. However, you can dinghy around the canal to a restaurant called Rumrunners, so Glover Bight is popular. It also afforded us great protection from a blow that came from the Northeast and blew for nearly a week. When we could finally escape Glover Bight, I had an idea that I wanted to go out into the Gulf, to the outside of Sanibel Island, where others had spoken of a nice anchorage off a remote beach, and access to the great shell beds. Others obviously had a more comfortable swell pattern, though, because my vision of a lovely two days of going back and forth to a quiet beach was shattered by an egregious, sloppy, rolly anchorage, and about a thousand Spring Breakers spread out over the beach. So much for Sanibel Island by sailboat. Early the next morning we continued up the outside to Boca Grande inlet, which is one of the deeper and easier passages from the open Gulf to the Gulf ICW. Through the inlet and around the corner is another very popular anchorage at Cayo Costa State Park, and Pelican Bay. It has a very shallow, complicated entrance, but we managed to get in and anchored without grounding, a feat beyond many other boats in the anchorage, who put on a show for us every day both coming and going. The park has a very nice beach, some trails, a camping area, and is only accessible by boat. Plus….ice cream at the little park store, and a volunteer ranger talk about sea turtles. Weather those days had been excellent, with warm (to hot) afternoons, but cooler nights. And dare I jinx myself….no bugs. We had hoped to get up to Punta Gorda, at the top of Charlotte Harbor, but they had no room, so we opted next for Burnt Store Marina. I had often read about Burnt Store on this Coast, and it appeared to be pretty popular, if remote.  Well, the marina itself has seen better days, but the rest of the Burnt Store area was full of snowbirds and buzzing with activity. It was also quiet (after the lounge bands shut down,) and very pretty, with dolphins, and some resident manatees who put on a show for us. But it was remote; Punta Gorda was miles away, as was anywhere else, so we got a car for a few days. With transportation, we could get to Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Pine Island, and Boca Grande.

 

After our week at Burnt Store, we started south again through the Gulf ICW, which is even shallower, and more full of zippy power boats than the East Coast ICW. They also rarely slow down for you, and thus throw continuous wakes at you. This appears to make them very happy. We stopped for the first night outside Cabbage Key, which is a small island with a famous Inn and restaurant, possibly the inspiration for “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” or possibly not, but they really play it up for the tourists. The walls and ceiling of the restaurant were covered in dollar bills, signed by those who donated them, and featured very busy and haggard waitresses. It was a nice setting, though. Further down the next night was Merwin Key, and an outdated approach with our chartplotter that had us nearly aground. Once on the right track, it was a quiet night by the mangroves, again…no bugs! This must mean that we are due for a real infestation at some point. Nobody gets out of here that easily.

 

Finally, for the last of our West Coast foray, we travelled down the outside to Naples. It was crazy busy in the channel leading up to Crayton Cove, right in the middle of Old Naples. The Naples City Dock has also seen better days, and is, in fact, near decrepit. Rumor has it it is due for total replacement this year, but the part of it still standing was stuffed with boats and fishing charters and cruise charters, and a gazillion pelicans. They have cheap mooring balls for rent, but by city charter, one can only stay four consecutive days at either dock or mooring, and then may stay in another location there for an additional four days only, to total eight days in thirty. Naples does not covet boat people. Nor do they appear to need the tourist money; they have plenty of money piled around. The whole of the middle of Naples would fit into the most exclusive blocks of Manhattan. I mean every shop, and every restaurant. That is, till you get a couple miles out of town on the Tamiami Trail, where it is quite plebian. We took a bus out to the excellent Botanical Gardens, is how we found that out. After our four days on the mooring ball, we were off to the Florida Keys, with a first stop planned for the Dry Tortugas, and a post to be created at a later date.

 

IMG_0002

Glover Bight

 

IMG_0017

 

IMG_0008

The other side of Glover Bight

 

IMG_0003

Rumrunners, on the canals of Cape Coral

 

IMG_0005

 

IMG_0032

Sunset over the Gulf, Sanibel Island

 

IMG_0041

Inside Pelican Bay

 

IMG_0049

 

IMG_0050

A trail in Cayo Costa State Park

 

IMG_0053

 

IMG_0057

The Gulf is quite blue-green

 

IMG_0060

 

IMG_0064

 

IMG_0070

 

IMG_0072

There were settlers here before it was a State Park, the earliest ones were Cuban.

 

IMG_0079

The near-empty transient docks of Burnt Store Marina, near Punta Gorda

 

IMG_0081

The restaurant and Patio Bar just beyond our dock. Lotsa loud crooning going on, but not too late

 

IMG_0086

Somewhere in the Burnt Store neighborhood

 

IMG_0087

 

IMG_0111

A manatee visits the dock

 

IMG_0120

 

IMG_0125

Very shallow approach to Bokeelia, at the tip of Pine Island

 

IMG_0126

Bokeelia is much too shallow for the Slappey; glad to be in a car for our visit to Pine Island

 

IMG_0131

On the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art, and the Circus, in Sarasota

 

IMG_0133

 

IMG_0147

From the very large miniature circus in the Circus Museum

 

IMG_0148

 

IMG_0150

 

IMG_0151

 

IMG_0153

 

IMG_0156

Sarasota was the Winter home of John Ringling and his family, and their home and gardens now house

the Ringling Museum of Art and the Circus Museum.

 

IMG_0158

 

IMG_0161

 

IMG_0162

 

IMG_0167

 

IMG_0168

 

IMG_0169

 

IMG_0170

You can tell I loved the Gnome garden

 

IMG_0178

From downtown little Boca Grande

 

IMG_0181

 

IMG_0182

 

IMG_0184

 

IMG_0187

 

IMG_0189

 

IMG_0191

Beautiful color, but shallow water, surrounds Boca Grande

 

IMG_0201

Dollar bills taped to the walls of the Cabbage Key Inn Restaurant

 

IMG_0211

Slappey in  the anchorage across from Cabbage Key

 

IMG_0212

 

IMG_0231

We had a placid trip down to Naples; the Gulf was a lake

 

IMG_0232

Crab, or possibly lobster pots, are everywhere in the area

 

IMG_0236

Looking out over the decrepit docks; mooring field is in the background

 

IMG_0237

 

IMG_0240

A nice walk to the beach in Naples

 

IMG_0241

 

IMG_0242

The Old Town neighborhood near the pier and beach

 

IMG_0243

 

IMG_0244

 

IMG_0248

The Portaslappey waits at the (barely floating) dinghy dock

 

IMG_0249

 

IMG_0252

5th Avenue in Naples

IMG_0253

 

IMG_0258

The Naples Botanical Garden

 

IMG_0259

And right on cue, here he is!

 

IMG_0260

 

IMG_0264

 

IMG_0270

 

IMG_0272

 

IMG_0275

 

IMG_0279

 

IMG_0284

 

IMG_0288

And here’s another critter; John swore he was harmless

 

IMG_0289

 

So that was our trip to some of the West Coast; I write this from the anchorage in the Dry Tortugas. The story of the tortured passage to here to be relayed at a later date.

Getting ready to leave Ft. Myers

Posted on

The Slappey will move once again, after a 3-month stint in Ft. Myers. John was busy nearly every week day at the library, working on a project, and I found just about enough to do in the very pleasant weather and handsome little town center. We stayed a bit longer than planned, so our next few weeks will be a compromise from my original goal. We won’t make it all the way to St. Pete, but will see what we can see before heading South (weather permitting) to the Dry Tortugas, and onward to the Florida Keys.

Thomas Edison, famous Ft. Myers winter resident, in front of the giant Banyan tree

Thomas Edison, famous Ft. Myers winter resident, in front of the giant Banyan tree

close-up of the tree, one of several in the area. These are the aerial roots which grown down and form additional 'trunks'

close-up of the tree, one of several in the area. These are the aerial roots which grown down and form additional ‘trunks’

scene from the winter estates of Thomas Edison and another famous part-time resident, Henry Ford

scene from the winter estates of Thomas Edison and another famous part-time resident, Henry Ford

from the Edison and Ford Winter estates, now museums open to the public

from the Edison and Ford Winter estates, now museums open to the public

img_0038-1

from Edison's lab, where he attempted to find an American source of latex rubber

from Edison’s lab, where he attempted to find an American source of latex rubber

one from a series of metal sculptures around town which we loved

one from a series of metal sculptures around town which we loved

img_0004-1

img_0003-1

img_0077

img_0099

img_0023

The restroom in the popular Ford's Garage restaurant

The restroom in the popular Ford’s Garage restaurant

img_0028

img_0066

Slappey next to the bridge at the City yacht basin

Slappey next to the bridge at the City yacht basin

img_0094

one of my favorite Christmas window displays

one of my favorite Christmas window displays

img_0083

The library; brand new and within walking distance

The library; brand new and within walking distance

Ft. Myers Beach, about 10 or so miles west on the Gulf

Ft. Myers Beach, about 10 or so miles west on the Gulf

img_0014

img_0031

We are enjoying another warm winter on the Slappey…..

Posted on

……after an easy (enough) trip South from Brunswick. We pulled away from the dock on Oct. 30th and made our way down the Coast to the northern tip of Amelia Island. There, at Tiger Point boatyard, we got the Slappey hauled out and replaced our ancient propeller (that is always the ‘Royal We.’) I contributed by agreeing to stay aboard while we were on the hard, after threatening to get an expensive hotel room. Instead, I opted for an expensive rental car, as the Tiger Point boatyard is next to absolutely nothing. I attempted to walk back from the town of Fernandina once, and a lady with a minivan full of kids was so taken aback by seeing me walking on the busy road to nowhere, that she stopped and insisted that I let her drive me to the marina. I agreed to do her that favor.

After only two days propped up on jackstands, we were back in the water, and given dock space at Tiger Point while we waited for the winds to calm. We were hoping to go on the outside all the way to Ft. Pierce, but gave up and started down the Intracoastal once again. After a couple of really blustery days of travel, the weather cleared and we had a fine time heading down to some familiar places, and some new places. For example, on the way North in the Summer, I had wanted to stop in New Smyrna Beach, but couldn’t fit it into the schedule; this time we did. New Smyrna was one of the stops on the famous Clem family vacation of 1968 (the ONLY Clem family vacation, as I never tired of reminding my parents,) and all I could remember of it was that there were cars parked right on the beach. Today, in 2016, there are STILL cars parked right on the beach. I thought it was neat when I was 8. At present, I am not impressed. But the town of little New Smyrna is cute enough. It also has a surprising amount of current running through the marina, which we were slow to acknowledge on the day we left. Somewhat improbably, we hit no one on the way out.

We made it to Ft. Pierce by mid-November, hoping to stay for awhile, but there was no room at the inn, so we left after a week– and a nice Thanksgiving in their new cruiser’s lounge. Ft. Piece City marina has great new docks, a very persnickety electrical supply, and more marine life around the docks than I have ever seen. Many birds, dolphins and manatees (yes, manatees) around the boat, and so many fish one might have been able to walk across the water on the backs of them. I suppose it helped that the marina store sold fish food to all the tourists. We particularly like the A.E. Backus art museum next door. He was a Ft. Pierce native who did gorgeous Florida landscapes, and served as a mentor to the Highwaymen, a group of Florida landscape painters who sold their art from the trunks of their cars, having been frozen out of the usual galleries for painting while Black. There is a great number of their paintings at his museum as well. Should anyone wish to purchase expensive original paintings for me, they could do much worse than anything by A.E.Backus or any one of the Highwaymen.

The day after Thanksgiving, we decided to head West, through the middle of Florida, via the Okeechobee Waterway. There are three things to be mindful of when planning a trek across Lake Okeechobee–weather (it’s a very large, very shallow body of water,) water datum of the lake (constantly changing,)  and your boat’s mast height from the waterline. This is because there is a very limiting 49 foot railway lift bridge. Therefore, only smallish boats like the Slappey can make it through. It so happened we had fair weather, a lake datum of nearly 15 feet (making the depths doable for our draft of 5 feet,) and a mast height of only 44 feet. So, we went for it. One week and five locks later, we ended up in Ft. Myers.

The locks were much smaller than the grand Hiram Chittenden locks in Seattle, which we had traversed a few times, so we weren’t terribly worried, but there is always drama involved. We had to devise a system of guarding our solar panels which might be smushed up against the concrete lock wall if left unattended to. Once or twice, there was frantic shoving and boat hook activity, but no harm was done to the solar panels in the end. There was also yelling, plus my right arm still aches from holding the bow in tight to the wall. Otherwise, there was nice scenery in the canals leading to and from the lake, including a few gators, but not so much near the lake itself. The canal around the bottom is ringed by a high, bare levee. Every few miles there is another gravel pit, and some hurricane gates…all in all, pretty industrial looking. Our anchorage at the very bottom of the lake was notable for hundreds of birds, and about a goober-gabillion bugs. They didn’t bite us, they only swarmed us and got stuck in the buckets of dew that sloshed on deck every morning. The area is also known for sugar cane, which was being burned at the time, raining ash down on the Slappey.

So now we are in Ft. Myers, on the west coast of Florida. There is a nice revitalized and historical downtown, free trolleys, a big new library about 2 blocks away, and the Edison and Ford winter estates to tour. We plan to spend some time here before a lazy gunkhole north toward St. Petersburg.

 

Leaving Brunswick under the Sidney Lanier Bridge

Leaving Brunswick under the Sidney Lanier Bridge

A bit tricky getting guided into the travelift at Tiger Point boatyard, doable only at slack tide

A bit tricky getting guided into the travelift at Tiger Point boatyard, doable only at slack tide

shiny new prop installed in record time by John

shiny new prop installed in record time by John

and it runs like a dream

and it runs like a dream

view from the jackstands over Egans Creek

view from the jackstands over Egans Creek

bit of bother with the fridge once we got to turn it back on....it malfunctioned, got recharged with refrigerant, and ultimately required a lobotomy in order to work again properly (no more smart-control)

bit of bother with the fridge once we got to turn it back on….it malfunctioned, got recharged with refrigerant, and ultimately required a lobotomy in order to work again properly (no more smart-control)

we were pinned against the Sister's Creek free dock outside Jacksonville by strong winds on election day; the lights were put up as a patriotic show of support.......before we knew the outcome.

we were pinned against the Sister’s Creek free dock outside Jacksonville by strong winds on election day; the lights were put up as a patriotic show of support…….before we knew the outcome.

img_0064

some whimsy on the ICW

some whimsy on the ICW

and some destruction, courtesy of hurricane Matthew. The area from Jacksonville to Daytona had lots of this to show

and some destruction, courtesy of hurricane Matthew. The area from Jacksonville to Daytona had lots of this to show

we got out for some long walks while in Palm Coast

we got out for some long walks while in Palm Coast

another beautiful sunset from our anchorage south of Cocoa

another beautiful sunset from our anchorage south of Cocoa

fog from the anchorage near New Smyrna

fog from the anchorage near New Smyrna

Ft. Pierce City marina

Ft. Pierce City marina

img_0108

Ft. Pierce has a lot of art around town

Ft. Pierce has a lot of art around town

including on the trash dumpsters

including on the trash dumpsters

home and studio of A.E. Backus

home and studio of A.E. Backus

img_0120

our first lock, the St. Lucie; this one brought us up around 14 feet

our first lock, the St. Lucie; this one brought us up around 14 feet

img_0142

nice scenery on the St. Lucie canal

nice scenery on the St. Lucie canal

very lush

very lush

the famous (and limiting) Port Mayaca lift bridge of 49 feet

the famous (and limiting) Port Mayaca lift bridge of 49 feet

I was not convinced it was actually 49 feet, and inched under it at a glacial speed, plus there was a gigantic gator lounging around in front of it

I was not convinced it was actually 49 feet, and inched under it at a glacial speed, plus there was a gigantic gator lounging around in front of it

we tied up to the dolphins at Port Mayaca for the night before getting into the lake the next day

we tied up to the dolphins at Port Mayaca for the night before getting into the lake the next day

it was harder than it looks, plus, we discovered our 3-year-old batteries would need to be replaced here

it was harder than it looks, plus– we discovered our 3-year-old batteries would need to be replaced here

pretty, but spare scenery along Lake Okeechobee

pretty, but spare scenery along Lake Okeechobee

img_0207

a hand-operated swing bridge along the canal around the lake

a hand-operated swing bridge along the canal around the lake

anchorage with birds, and bugs

anchorage with birds, and bugs

img_0218

Moore Haven lock, only about 8 inches drop from here

Moore Haven lock, only about 8 inches drop from here

on the wall at the Moore Haven town dock

on the wall at the Moore Haven town dock

We were expecting cows, and here they were in the Caloosahatchie canal

We were expecting cows, and here they were in the Caloosahatchie canal

img_0238

img_0240

John paddles back from a visit to the town of Labelle, where he is reported to have walked the streets and entered the ice cream shop barefoot (was he raised by wolves?)

John paddles back from a visit to the town of Labelle, where he is reported to have walked the streets and entered the ice cream shop barefoot (was he raised by wolves?)

img_0262

img_0269

we stopped at the W.P. Franklin lock and campground, run by the Corps of Engineers

we stopped at the W.P. Franklin lock and campground, run by the Corps of Engineers

img_0281

img_0282

That brings us to Ft.Myers, and a post for another day.

 

 

Getting ready to leave the Golden Isles…..

Posted on

…..where we’ve been since June. We (mostly) hibernated another Summer, hiding from hurricanes and getting to see a bit of the coast of Georgia. That ‘hiding from hurricanes’ thing did not work out, by the way.  Still, we had an easier time of a hot and sticky season, owing to lots of shade in this area, more places to go, and a car we found on Craigslist. I was against buying a beater, assuming it would constantly break down and cost us money. It did not. I was thus surprised to find that I could learn to love a loose and rattly Hyundai with 165,000 miles on it! It sold this week in about 3 days for nearly what we paid for it; I remain in mourning.

John spent the majority of time here in the excellent public library about 3 blocks away, doing the geeky stuff that John loves to do. We also spent plenty of time on St. Simon’s Island- a quick drive away- walking the beach, strolling the little village, seeing the historical sights. There was also a trip to Savannah, luckily a week before hurricane Matthew roughed it up. Oh, and there was the frantic hurricane prep and evacuation that we had to do to get away from said hurricane.  That was after the frantic tropical storm prep we had to do for both TS Hermine, and TS Julia. When you talk with people from here about hurricanes, they always mention ‘that bend in the coastline’ that protects them from the storms. At least, they used to mention it. We are thankful that we sustained no damage from either storm, except a small smudge on our dodger window from a dangling piece of rope. Not bad.

Brunswick Landing Marina has been a nice place to stay for so long a time; they have nice cruiser facilities, free loaner bicycles, free laundry, nice people, and a cute little town within walking distance. But all good things must come to an end, and we are looking forward to moving once again. We will pull away from here in a couple of weeks and head South to warmer Winter weather. Funny as it seems, this place gets cool in the Winter. There are signs on the bridges about ice. We don’t do ice in the boat any longer.

img_0002

img_0006

img_0008

These photos are from an old cemetery in Brunswick, where an enthusiastic volunteer led us on an impromptu tour

These photos are from an old cemetery in Brunswick, where an enthusiastic volunteer led us on an impromptu tour.

Fort Frederica, on the tip of St. Simon's Island. Savannah and the Coast are the oldest areas of the Georgia Colony.

Fort Frederica, on the tip of St. Simon’s Island. Savannah and the Coast are the oldest areas of the Georgia Colony.

img_0008-1

img_0011-1

img_0014

Frederica was both a Fort and a town.

Frederica was both a Fort and a town.

Always a nice show towards sunset from our dock.

Always a nice show towards sunset from our dock.

img_0013

 

I walk up the staircase to St. Simon's Lighthouse.

I walk up the staircase to St. Simon’s Lighthouse.

looking down from the lighthouse

looking down from the lighthouse

St. Simon's pier from the lighthouse tower

St. Simon’s pier from the lighthouse tower. Note the Roro in the background; Brunswick’s Port receives shipments of cars for distribution to the East Coast, and they come  in on Roro ships.

Some pretty building on St. Simon's...there are lots of them

Some pretty building on St. Simon’s…there are lots of them

A guide shows us around an old rice plantation called the Hofwyl Broadfield Estate.

A guide shows us around an old rice plantation called the Hofwyl Broadfield Estate.

img_0005

img_0011

The coastal marsh grass, Spanish Moss, and Palmetto, not to mention all the Egrets and Herons, were worth the dripping humidity around here.

The coastal marsh grass, Spanish Moss, and Palmetto, not to mention all the Egrets and Herons, were a fair exchange for enduring the dripping humidity around here.

Darien is a small shrimping town, originally settled by Scotsmen.

Darien is a small shrimping town, originally settled by Scotsmen.

Ft. King George, recreated on it's original site in Darien

Ft. King George, recreated on it’s original site in Darien

From a house in St Mary's, GA

From a house in St Mary’s, GA

On a stroll through St. Mary's

On a stroll through St. Mary’s

img_0042

img_0044

Looking out over the marsh grass to St. Mary's river

Looking out over the marsh grass to St. Mary’s river

The park on the river where you can catch a ferry to Cumberland Island

The park on the river where you can catch a ferry to Cumberland Island

The range marker in our creek at the marina, torn loose by TS Hermine, floating perilously close to the Slappey

The range marker in our creek at the marina, torn loose by TS Hermine, floating perilously close to the Slappey

Storm prep included tying to our neighbor's boat-three times. He hasn't been here all Summer.

Storm prep included tying to our neighbor’s boat-three times. He hasn’t been here all Summer.

My beloved Hyundai. I loved it so.

My beloved Hyundai. I loved it so.

The big tent at Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival. Shrimp and Grits are a thing here. Georgia shrimp is superb. Who knew?

The big tent at Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival. Shrimp and Grits are a thing here. Georgia shrimp is superb. Who knew?

img_0044

img_0050

All by his lonesome is the fella from Atlanta's West Egg Cafe. Every other entry had a team.

All by his lonesome is the fella from Atlanta’s West Egg Cafe. Every other entry had a team.

And here is the winner: West Egg!

And here is the winner: West Egg!

Savannah.....

Savannah…..

img_0043

img_0044

One of several beautiful squares

One of several beautiful squares

img_0041

img_0039

img_0037

img_0036

img_0034

img_0031

img_0031

img_0029

From the railroad museum; it had a functioning 'round house' where the cars were spun around on a rotating piece of track to connect to the appropriate engine

From the railroad museum; it had a functioning ’round house’ where the cars were spun around on a rotating piece of track to connect to the appropriate engine

And here is the rotating track

And here is the rotating track

And here is Brunswick. this is the Park next door, where they have a nice farmer's market 3 times a week.

And here is Brunswick. this is the Park next door, where they have a nice farmer’s market 3 times a week.

img_0059

Brunswick has a mini-version of Savannah's Squares

Brunswick has a mini-version of Savannah’s Squares

img_0062

img_0063

img_0064

img_0066

img_0069

Brunswick's historical center is tiny compared to Savannah, and struggling economically. It has great bones, and we wish it well.

Brunswick’s historical center is tiny compared to Savannah, and struggling economically. It has great bones, and we wish it well.

And finally...Hurricane Matthew, from the window of our hotel 8 miles inland.

And finally…Hurricane Matthew, from the window of our hotel 8 miles inland.

Some of our marina residents rode it out on their boats. Lordy. In the end, though, we were all lucky. Storm prep is almost getting routine now.

Some of our marina residents rode it out on their boats. Lordy. In the end, though, we were all lucky. Storm prep is almost getting routine now.

 

So that’s the Golden Isles for you. Next up is a quick haul-out on the tip of Amelia Island to change our ancient prop, and then we head South for one more warmer Winter. Our exact itinerary is, as usual, up for grabs.

 

 

From the Space Coast, to the First Coast, to the Marshes of Glynn, plus a tropical storm

Posted on

We left Titusville after the Memorial Day weekend was over; we have learned (mostly) to avoid the ICW on any weekend, let alone a holiday weekend. From there, we traveled through what I think was the prettiest part of Florida’s waterway. It began with the haulover canal, where we finally witnessed our first official manatee sighting. There had been possible sightings in the marina at Titusville, but they were fleeting, and never became official. Actually, all our manatee sightings have been fleeting; they are shy creatures, unless you point a hose into the water. They will then come and drink from it, as they love drinking fresh water. This is, of course, illegal, and not to be encouraged, and so we haven’t done it. Nor should anyone. The haulover canal led to the Mosquito Lagoon, which was full of dolphins and birds, and apparently deep enough to sail, as we saw several boats sailing in it. Still, without local knowledge of just where those shoals lie, we chickened out of doing any of that. The next few weeks had us getting to St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Jeckyll Island, GA, and now Brunswick, GA. There were a couple of groundings along the way, but only temporarily, and in soft mud. There was also a brush with Tropical Storm Colin, who visited us in St. Augustine. We were tied to a dock at the time, and bounced around a bit, but were none the worse for wear.  The bridge count thus far, including fixed and opening bridges, is…..sixty-four!

early morning light, with Egrets, St. Augustine

early morning light, with Egrets, St. Augustine

Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine

Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

IMG_0068

IMG_0069

Once a hotel built by Henry Flagler (yet something else he built,) now Flagler College.

Once a hotel built by Henry Flagler (yet something else he built,) now Flagler College.

beautifully restored and maintained buildings in the old section of St. Augustine

beautifully restored and maintained buildings in the old section of St. Augustine

IMG_0075

IMG_0077

IMG_0078

IMG_0093

IMG_0096

IMG_0101

IMG_0103

the Lightner Museum, once a hotel built by...you guessed it, Henry Flagler

the Lightner Museum, once a hotel built by…you guessed it, Henry Flagler

IMG_0128

sunset over the nuclear power plant, from the Jim King free dock, Sister's Creek beyond Jacksonville

sunset over the nuclear power plant, from the Jim King free dock, Sister’s Creek beyond Jacksonville

we were all alone on the free dock for two days

we were all alone on the free dock for two days

IMG_0183

Slappey  behind the marsh grass, Jim King dock

Slappey behind the marsh grass, Jim King dock

we approach the anchorage at Kingsley Plantation, Ft. George Island, Fl.

we approach the anchorage at Kingsley Plantation, Ft. George Island, Fl.

The Slappey, from shore

The Slappey, from shore. Note the shoal, so very close

Indigo, sea island cotton, and a host of free labor sustained the Kingsley Plantation

Indigo, sea island cotton, and a host of free labor sustained the Kingsley Plantation

IMG_0218

cottages, built for 'the help'

cottages, built for ‘the help’

Zephaniah Kingsley lamented that somebody was ruining his reputation.....imagine.

Zephaniah Kingsley lamented that somebody was ruining his reputation…..imagine.

this was a Sunday, at a very popular local hangout for boaters. Note the wake to our left.....we endured literally hundreds of them until nightfall

this was a Sunday, at a very popular local hangout for boaters. Note the wake to our left…..we endured literally hundreds of them until nightfall

peaceful Monday morning at the Kingsley Plantation anchorage

peaceful Monday morning at the Kingsley Plantation anchorage

We didn't spend nearly enough time in Fernandina Beach

We didn’t spend nearly enough time in Fernandina Beach

IMG_0253

IMG_0256

only 4 decent pictures from Fernandina, I suppose we'll have to return

only 4 decent pictures from Fernandina, I suppose we’ll have to return

anchored in the marsh grass beyond Cumberland Island, GA

anchored in the marsh grass beyond Cumberland Island, GA

a thunderstorm approaches

a thunderstorm approaches

IMG_0266

John didn't worry about it much

John didn’t worry about it much

as it happened, it missed us

as it happened, it missed us

another one caught us, though, as we pulled into Jekyll Island harbor

another one caught us, though, as we pulled into Jekyll Island harbor

We stayed a week on Jekyll, and could have stayed all Summer it was so nice

We stayed a week on Jekyll, and could have stayed all Summer it was so nice

IMG_0294

old house, sometimes a restaurant, with a big shady porch, serves as the showers, laundry, pool and hot tub for the marina

old house, sometimes a restaurant, with a big shady porch, serves as the showers, laundry, pool and hot tub for the marina

IMG_0295

 

a view of the lovely, undeveloped beach which surrounds much of Jekyll Island

a view of the lovely, undeveloped beach which surrounds much of Jekyll Island

IMG_0285

part of the historic district of Jekyll

part of the historic district of Jekyll

there is a lot of shade, dripping with Spanish moss

there is a lot of shade, dripping with Spanish moss

the wealthy of turn-of-the-century America built a private, subscription playground for themselves here

the wealthy of turn-of-the-century America built a private playground for themselves here

their children had no interest in muggy coastal Georgia, and refused to inherit the 'cottages.'

their children had no interest in muggy coastal Georgia, and refused to inherit the ‘cottages.’

so after the stock market crash, and the Depression, many of the buildings were simply abandoned

so after the stock market crash, and the Depression, many of the buildings were simply abandoned

as it happened, they also neglected to pay their Georgia taxes

as it happened, they also neglected to pay their Georgia taxes

such that an enterprising Georgia governor took advantage of the situation to obtain the entire island, and turn it into a State Park

such that an enterprising Georgia governor took advantage of the situation to obtain the entire island, and turn it into a State Park

lucky for Georgia, and anyone else who wants to visit

lucky for Georgians, and anyone else who wants to visit

IMG_0024 (1)

after Jekyll, it was under the Sidney Lanier bridge to Brunswick

after Jekyll, it was under the Sidney Lanier bridge to Brunswick