13 Dec – Our snug anchorage in Key Biscayne didn’t last long; we saw a sign posted the next morning saying they were doing a Christmas parade there that night so we had to leave the harbor before 5 pm. We motored over to Dinner Key and got a slip so we could enjoy dinner at Monty's in Coconut Grove. The next day we departed Dinner Key in near perfect conditions with the wind 12 knots from the east southeast. By the time we finished negotiating the reefs getting out of Cape Florida channel, the wind piped up to a steady 15 knots and we maintained a steady 6.7 knots as we sailed down Hawk Channel to Key Largo, 48 miles away. By 4pm we were anchored off Rodriguez Key. Teresa made sundowners and then quesadillas for dinner and we ate them on deck in the cockpit under a carpet of stars, just Lastdance and one other boat in the anchorage.
Dawn brought another perfect day with 12-15 knots of southeasterly wind and we were once again sailing on a broad reach with all three sails a’flying, making 7 knots through the turquoise sea. We arrived at Boot Key Harbor on Vaca Key by 2 pm and after a reward of rum & coke with the last of our ice, we took the dinghy ashore and checked in with the harbormaster. Back aboard Lastdance, we had dinner and with just one more day to Key West, we celebrated being “in the home stretch,” with a second bottle of wine while watching a movie on the DVD player. Boot Key Harbor is kinda like the old western Boot Hill in a way. There, it can be the end of the line for many folks as dreams of cruising the seven seas come to an abrupt end. Still, it’s also a place for a new beginning for others as you mingle with cruisers from all over the world. We would have liked to stay on for a few days but Key West beckoned like a naked siren….”Come home, come home.”
In the morning, the first rays of the sun in the eastern sky once again urged us to get underway and as we left Boot Key, the wind piped up to 17 knots, from the east and we were off on a near downwind run at 6.5 knots. What a way to end the voyage I said; “3 days of glorious sailing in tropical warmth and perfect winds.” But it was not to be; by 10am, the wind diminished to less than 5 knots and we reluctantly started the engine and motor-sailed the remaining 20 miles to our destination.
As we drew closer, each passing minute brought deafening sounds of US Navy jets flying overhead as they went through their training exercises at Boca Chica Naval Air Station, our new winter home. Fighters and attack places flew in formation and zoomed over our mast as we negotiated the long narrow channel into Boca Chica but it was exhilarating for us, especially when we saw the marina not far from the end of the runway. A small tropical oasis from yesteryear amidst the technology of the worlds greatest navy, all with palm trees, a sandy beach, mangroves, kayaks and of course the obligatory tiki-bar, “The Navigator.”
Lastdance is now all settled and secure in her new home and we’re spending entirely too much time at The Navigator, where Happy Hour mixed drinks are $1.50. The folks here are all retired military and as you would expect, very friendly and eager to be helpful to the “newbies” or as they would say in the grunts, the FNG’s. We haven’t even been into downtown Key West (town) yet but it’s easy to imagine that we are REALLY going to like it here. We paid for a 6-month contract but we’ll probably extend it indefinitely, even if we sail back north in the spring.
In a few days we’ll drive a rental car up to Miami and take the overnighter Amtrack train to Raleigh, NC. We’ll have Christmas Eve lunch with Teresa’s daughter Ashley, the drive to Camp LeJeune to welcome my son Christopher home from Iraq and to share a traditional “Seven Fishes” Christmas Eve dinner with him, Michelle, Furi and Ali. We’ll also pick up our car there and then we’re driving to Brooklyn to see my mom, brother Tony and Victoria for Christmas Day; then we’re driving our car back to Key West in time for New Years Eve. After that, it’s going to be sailing and exploring the Florida Bay side of lower Keys, sipping margaritas, snorkeling, swimming, listening to Jimmy Buffett tunes and generally goofing off. I did some extensive blood test when we were in Ft Lauderdale if my oncologist back in Philadelphia wants to see me, we’ll have to go back north in January but I’m feeling great and I’m sure he’ll tell me to see him next spring. I know everything sounds like its all fun and games but we’ve had a ton of important boat maintenance to do since we arrived so we’ve had almost no time to get out Christmas cards this year so we’ll wish everyone a Merry Christmas here…MERRY CHRISTMAS
11 Dec – Well, we made it to Miami! This segment of our journey began in St Augustine where after 4 days there, we were eager to get underway for a run to Daytona Beach. Impatient to wait for slack current and against my better judgment, I tried to back Lastdance out of the slip against a 2.5-knot current. Even a third-grade student would have known that the keel is MUCH bigger than the rudder so before we were even half way out, all 20,000 lbs of Lastdance surged sideways and pinned herself against the pilings and the stern of s/v Far Away. With serious damage to my ego but only some cosmetic damage to Lastdance, we waited for the current to moderate and made it to Matanzas Inlet while the tide was still high enough to carry us over the shoals.
Pushing on with a fair current and northerly breeze, we anchored off Daytona Beach for the night just as the last rays of a brilliant sunset left the western sky. We awoke to a dreary grey sky and a forecast of rain and thunderstorms but not wanting to loose another day, we weighed anchor and motored to Titusville through a series of rain squalls, some heavy enough to limit visibility to just a few boat lengths. Once securely at anchor and with the rain still pelting down on us, we dried our foul weather gear below deck, sipped a lot of wine and ate the last of Teresa’s leftover chili that we froze a few weeks earlier. We woke to more rain and 20-knot winds and the forecast was for worse south of Titusville so we opted to stay another day. A few minutes later, we got the call that my son Christopher was home from his second deployment in Iraq. We’re all very proud of him and happy that he’s safely home…WELCOME HOME CHRISTOPHER!
After hearing of Christopher’s homecoming, the day got better by the moment. First, West Marine cheerfully exchanged a pair of foul weather pants that fell apart at the seams the very first time I wore them in the previous days rain squalls. Then the rain stopped, the wind diminished and the sun made an effort to break through the clouds, so much so that I thought it a good time to pump out our dinghy of rainwater. As I pumped away, a large dark shape approached the dinghy and as the first thoughts of
s-h-a-r-k formed in my mind, a walrus like face popped out of the water, opened it’s mouth and offered an obnoxious smelling belch and then hovered under my pump, taking in an entire dinghy full of cool fresh rainwater. Every time I stopped pumping to rest my arm, Maggie-the-Manatee nudged the dinghy until I resumed pumping….cool huh? An hour later, Teresa was topping our fresh water tanks and right on time, Maggie pops her head up alongside the boat and lets out a series of loud belches. We guessed that was her way of asking for more water so Teresa obliged her and offered her a long refreshing drink.
We departed Titusville the next day and after a great downwind sail south on the Indian River, we anchored in Melbourne in the lee of a causeway on the eastern shore. After dinner of potato soup and ham, we watched a movie and with a forecast for northeast winds at 5-10 knots we then settled in for a quiet night. Not! Around 9pm, the wind piped up to 18-knots from the southeast, causing quite a chop in the notch that had earlier offered so much protection from the northeast. Horns sounded 5 danger blast as boats dragged for several hours and we had a very bouncy night but things finally quieted down around 5 am, just in time to get up. Weathermen...off with their heads!
From Melbourne, we enjoyed a sunny day of motor-sailing as we continued down the Indian River to Fort Pierce. We took a slip at the City Marina and once lines were secured, we dropped off a huge load of laundry and promptly parked ourselves on bar stools at the marina’s Tiki-Bar to wait out the wash and sample the “local rum.” We planned to run out on the ocean the next day but it was not to be. The wind was on the nose out of the southeast at 10-15 and satellite photos showed the gulf stream’s west wall was within 3 miles of Lake Worth with unfavorable eddies right up to shore. So, with the prospect of navigating 10 opening bridges and more narrow channels, we left Fort Pierce at 7 am and headed down the ICW, another day closer to Key West, now just 240 miles away.
As we entered the channel, we spotted s/v Galena who we had last seen back in St Augustine. Bill was running inside for the same reasons as us so after some greetings and small talk on the radio, we motored along together. The trip was mostly uneventful except for a few hairy moments navigating through the crossroads of St Lucie inlet and the ICW because of the crosscurrents and dredging operations but we arrived comfortably in Palm Beach and anchored in Lake Worth. Bill dingied over for a few beers and we all called it an early night.
In the morning, the wind was still blowing hard from the south so we got underway at dawn and headed down the ditch to Ft Lauderdale where we tied up Lastdance at the home of our friends David and Linda and enjoyed a GREAT stay. I went for my blood work in the morning and then we had lunch on Las Olas Blvd with David and Linda. Later we devoured giant stone crab claws & risotto at their place and sipped way too much rum & wine! We hated to leave but we're so close to Key West and eager to get on with the voyage so we left this morning in a stiff northeast breeze and sailed down the coast to Miami and anchored in No-Name harbor on Key Biscayne. We’ll stay here for a couple of days to wait for favorable weather and then get underway again, stopping at Key Largo and Boot Key Harbor before finishing this chapter of our voyage to Key West where we’ll spend most of the winter.
27 Nov - We departed Southport at dawn and made 7.5 knots in a rush to get to Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte inlets on a rising tide. Both of those crossing are notorious for strong cross currents and severe and frequently shifting shoals but we had no problems. We then arrived at Barefoot Landing in the early afternoon and enjoyed a nice dinner ashore in North Myrtle Beach.
The next day we made an uneventful but scenic sail/motor-sail/motor down the Waccamaw River, arriving in Georgetown, SC and found ourselves once again alongside John and Robin in s/v Breakaway IV. This is another beautiful and historic southern town but the highlight for me was meeting Dodge Morgan while we were out to dinner. Dodge was the first American sailor to sail alone, non-stop around the world and I've always been inspired by the story in his book, "The Voyage of American Promise."
Departing Georgetown, we caught a fast ebbing current which carried us down the bay at 8-knots and as we sailed passed various anchorage options along the way, it became evident that the fair current and favorable wind would enable us to make Charleston, 67 miles from Georgetown and purely by happenstance, we anchored right in front of Sailboat Bill in s/v Galena. We would have liked to spent a few days in Charleston to do some sightseeing and bar hopping but we preferred get to Beaufort, South Carolina for Thanksgiving Day. When we departed the Ashley River anchorage in the morning, Sailboat Bill was still asleep from a late night ashore of pillaging and plundering so we whispered our goodbyes as we weighed anchor and got underway. After a long day, we made it to within 12 miles of Beaufort, SC before anchoring at sunset off of Sam's Point on the Coosaw River.
Waking to a dreary, cloudy and cold day, we motored the 12 miles to beautiful Beaufort, SC, arriving at noon at Beaufort Downtown Marina. First things first, we strolled this beautiful town of which the whole downtown area is on the National Registry of Historic sites, then we went to Hemingway's, a pub/restaurant. The folks there made us feel right at home and invited us to their annual Thanksgiving Dinner for sailors.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends! Whew, what a great Thanksgiving dinner we had as the good folks at Hemingway's put together an incredible array of traditional southern Thanksgiving fare. Teresa and I sipped wine and chatted with fellow cruisers all afternoon. Oh, and we ate our way through tons of turkey, stuffing, collards, and a dozen other dishes, all prepared and served to us at no cost from the owner and staff of Hemingway's in Beaufort, SC.
We've now been underway since Oct 14th and have had almost non-stop crappy, wet and cold weather but we're still having fun. We've been generally sailing 30-50 miles a day but we spent 2 weeks in Beaufort, NC with my daughter-in-law and grandkids or we'd already be in sunny/warm Key West, Florida a week ago. Teresa has adapted to living aboard very well and is fast becoming a great sailor. Our plans are to make it to Savannah, Georgia tomorrow and then if the weather forecast holds, we'll go offshore at St Catherine's Sound and try to make it to St Mary's or St John's inlets or maybe even St Augustine's.
The weather forecast seemed to get better every time I checked with NOAA so along with John & Robin in s/v Breakaway IV, we departed Beaufort, SC and sailed down Port Royal sound into the Atlantic. The plan was to sail overnight to the St John's River which leads to Jacksonville, Florida, bypassing all of Georgia and thereby saving 3 days but I was concerned about the predicted temperatures of low 40's and the potential danger from migrating Right whales because it's now the season when the rarest of the ocean's biggest creatures move south from their feeding grounds to calve along the southeast coast from South Carolina to Florida. Several pairs of these 50 foot, 50-ton whales had already been spotted off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina and the airwaves carried periodic Coast Guard alerts and warnings to mariners about whale sightings.
We had a great sail and saw many dolphins but heard only one whale sighting alert by the Coast Guard but it was 50 miles behind us. Yet, as night fell and we prepared ourselves for 13 hours of chilly darkness, we wondered if we might accidentally collide with one of these magnificent creatures in the dark as they slept on the surface and if such an encounter would piss them off. Fortunately, the temperature never feel below 64 and we didn't encounter any sleeping whales but it was a long night nevertheless. We clicked off the miles and saw only a few ships but from 20 miles out at sea, we didn't begin to see lights ashore until a few hours before dawn as we closed with the coast again.
As the first dim light grew in the eastern sky, we knew the sun would soon follow and as we turned west into the channel leading to St John's River, the radio crackled with the voice of Sailboat Bill. He had heard me calling Breakaway IV and he informed us that he was at anchor in the St John's river at the mouth of the ICW. Two hours later, we rendezvoused with s/v Galena and sailed in company the remaining 36 miles to St Augustine.
As we entered the harbor, the oldest city in America unfolded before our eyes. There ahead was the famous Bridge of Lions and off to the west was Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort built in 1672. Bill anchored across the river but history was tugging on me and we anchored Lastdance in the shadow of the old fort. We had an incredible view of the city and we wanted to watch it all night but by then we had been awake more than 36 hours so after Bill departed after coming over in his dinghy for a drink, and with our anchor well set in the swift current, we went to sleep.
St Augustine is a beautiful town that reflects it's Spanish origins and heritage but it's also a vibrant place, full of restaurants, pubs and bars, most with local singers and entertainers. Bill joined Teresa and me for some sightseeing of the old section and then the Castillo de San Marcos. Afterwards, we hit the Tradewinds, a local Florida bar full of character and characters and we spent the late afternoon there listening to Mark Hart strum his guitar and sing tropical songs. Now, 2 days later we're still here waiting out a nasty storm system approaching from the Gulf of Mexico but we're planning to get underway again tomorrow and should be in Ft Lauderdale by Tuesday next week. Oh, we're finally in T-shirts for more than a few hours at a time...YES!
19 Nov - After 18 Days, 2 Nor'easters and half a dozen colds fronts, we made it to Beaufort, NC and just in time to take my grandkids Trick or Treating. Aside from the discomfort of the often cold days, this first leg of our voyage was great fun. We made many new friends along the way, especially the crew of s/v Hook, a 30' Morris double-ender manned by Steve, Kirstan, their two children, Emma and Madalin as well as Noodles, a friendly ferret.
Our plan is to stay here 10 days to hang out with my daughter-in-law Michelle and the grandkids and for Teresa to take care of some dental work and business in Raleigh. After that, we're going to mosey on down the coast at a very leisurely pace until we get to Key West where we'll spend most of the winter, then sail north in the early spring, hopefully by way of the Abacos in the Bahamas.
Thanks to all our veterans and if anyone wants to get a better understanding of what it means to say that...check out this brief video, "A Pittance of Time." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq_TmHt5Ncc
With help from Sailboat Bill who has replaced 3 of his own chainplates, Teresa and I replaced the cracked chainplate on Lastdance but we're still holed up in Beaufort, waiting for the remnants of hurricane Ida to pass before getting underway. Then while replacing the chainplate and doing other general maintenance, Teresa rearranged the book shelf into a cool wine cellar. I love this woman!
Michelle came by with my grandkids today and after "playing" dominos and "hide in the cave" we all went up to Fish Tales (where we were married) for lunch. Rain and gale force winds are in the forecast until Friday morning so we'll probably get underway on Saturday in a 10-15 knot NE wind. Until then, it's boat chores, seeing Michelle and the grandkids and hanging out in seedy waterfront bars
Before getting underway again, we enjoyed a night in Beaufort at the Back Street Pub with Sailboat Bill, my daughter-in-law Michelle and our grandkids, Furi and Ali. Furi had to write a journal about his bear so now he can say Barry-the-Bear was in a sailor bar and on a sailboat.
This morning we departed Beaufort in drizzly cold conditions and we arrived in Mile Hammock Bay on Camp Lejeune, 44 miles away, six hours later in T-shirts. After Sailboat Bill rowed over, Teresa went aloft to repair a broken flag halyard and then we all consumed the better part of a 2-liter bottle of rum along with Keith (Eh?) from s/v Shadowfax. We're going to miss Michelle and the kids but it's good to be underway again. Right now, there is a carpet of stars that is nothing short of brillant and we're going to sip some red wine and munch on some dark chocolate on deck to enjoy the sight. Tomorrow, Wrightsville Beach!
After leaving Mile Hammock Bay, we had a fast trip with a 2-knot current down the ICW to Wrightsville Beach. With the current still ripping, we transited the drawbridge, restaurants and marinas lining the waterway, then turned into Motts Channel with G"25" to starboard, Red "24" and Wrightsville Beach Marina (with a 60' motoryacht alongside) to port and we promptly ran hard aground! The Tow Boat/US captain said, "If you were from around here, ya woulda gone to the left or right of that there little hilly thing."
With my ego bruised as onlookers in restaurants gawked, he towed us off the damn little "hilly thing" and we motored to the anchorage below the bridge and joined Galena. The next day friends from s/v Breakaway IV joined us for sundowners and then Bill rowed over for a great dinner prepared by Teresa; Kielbasa, sauerkraut and potatoes.
Underway again the next day, a swift current helped us make it to Southport 26 miles away in just 4 hours. Southport is a beautiful town and here we met Roger, an interesting guy who is "sailing" his unique craft to Key West. Roger is an artist on a mission so check out his website at www.earthball.org Tomorrow we're off to the Myrtle Beach area then on to Georgetown where we'll collect our mail and wait out a forecast of more bad weather. Since leaving Maryland in mid-October, we haven't had more than 2 days in a row of nice weather....Gimmee a break, we want warmmmm!
26 Oct - We had a VERY brisk and VERY cold sail down Chesapeake Bay to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. There we took a slip at the base marina alongside Sailboat Bill's good little ship, s/v Galena.
Once settled in, we had Bill over for a dinner of venison sausage, sauerkraut and potato pancakes, lots of wine and half a bottle of rum. Tired from a long day of chilly sailing, we kicked Bill off the boat at 2300 and went to bed. Then the fun began! No...get your mind out of the gutter. The predicted high winds piped up around 0200 and the marina basin became "washing machine" choppy as waves rolled in the north facing entrance, pushed by 20-knot northeast winds that screamed like a banshee in the rigging. With a forecast of rain and 25 to 30-knot winds for the next few days, we're going to chill out here, at least until Saturday.
We're still holed up at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station marina, waiting out this nasty nor'easter that has been pounding the east coast since Thursday. As in years past, this is NOT a comfortable place in any north to northeast winds. The waves come marching into the north facing entrance and reverberate off the seawall that surrounds the marina basin. The result is VERY uncomfortable and even dangerous "confused waves" that cause even the biggest boats to pitch like a bucking bronco.WHAT A DAY! We left Patuxent NAS and immediately got to sailing in a brisk 20-knot NNW breeze. It was cold...upper 40's but THE SUN WAS OUT! After a 6-hour downwind sail, we entered Smith Creek, 6-miles up the Potomac River. By 5 pm, we were anchored in an unnamed totally secluded cove, except for a pair of bald eagles eyeballing us as we dropped the hook. Teresa poured some wine and we recounted the day, then ate an excellent dinner of leftover beef stew given to us by Ric and Anna and now we're about to watch an old Alfred Hitchcock movie...I mean does it get any better?
Still, we're having a good time. We had dinner twice with our good friend Sailboat Bill from s/v Galena and met Capt Ed from s/v Holligan. We first encountered Ed last spring at the locks at Great bridge, VA while sailing north. Ed is a retired US Marine and has a couple of global circumnavigations under his belt as well as several trips to Hawaii, all in boats under 30'. He was even run down by a bulk carrier outside of the Panama Canal so you can imagine Ed has some sea stories to share.
Right now the forecast is for things to moderate by tomorrow afternoon so we're planning to get underway by late morning and sail to an anchorage in Reedville, VA, then go on to Fishing Bay on Tuesday and hopefully Norfork on Wednesday. ahead" of the pending storm.
We left "Eagle Cove" the next morning in a gentle 8-knot breeze and sailed at a leisurely pace toward Smith Point, bound for Reedville on the Wicomico River. The wind picked up and as we increased speed, we gave thought to going a bit further but as we approached Smith Point lighthouse, the breeze abruptly died. Nada, nothing, kaput! Bummed out, we cranked up our trusty engine and at 6-knots, we went on to beautiful Jackson Creek for the night. Once anchored, we sipped rum and we were joined by Bill from s/v Worthless Wench, a Pacific Seacraft 40'. Lastdance also being a Pacific Seacraft, we invited Bill aboard for drinks and discovered that he worked for Pacific Seacraft and also cruised the Exhumas, during the course of which he came to know our good friend Sailboat Bill from s/v Galena..small world huh?
After a beautiful, warm and quiet night, we got underway at dawn and without even a zephyr of wind, we motored all the way to Norfolk and took a free slip at the Hampton Public Piers. There we met Jack and Stanka from s/v Kite, a beautiful Valient 40' we shared a berth with in Beaufort last fall. Teresa and I celebrated our 8-month anniversary (since meeting) with a really fantastic dinner at the Taphouse on Queens Way. The taphouse is a great pub, and what it lacks in romantic ambiance, it made up for in it's culinary delights.
The next day we visited the Virginia Air & Space Museum and IMAX to catch a 3D show on whales. After that, we topped up our fuel and water tanks, and then shifted across the bay to the Norfolk Naval Station marina in order to do some boat maintenance as well as food shopping at the commissary. Our friends Kevin and Laura are coming by for a dinner of potato soup and hard crusted bread, a "tradition" we started last fall on my way south.
We got underway and transited most of the Dismal Swamp Canal yesterday and are now at the North Carolina Visitors Center. This is a unique rest stop situated along Route 17 and the canal, used for both cars and boats. Today's forecast sucks...South winds 20-25 knots. That means boats at Elizabeth City won't be leaving to cross Albemarle Sound so there won't be any "room at the inn," so to speak. It looks like we'll remain here or go on to South Mills, 5 miles south, to spend the night. The good news? It's getting WARMER...and will be in 80's today.
We’ve been out 13 days now and we were eager to get underway again but northeast winds of 20-knots made Albermarle Sound a churning mess of steep confused waves. Having been there and done that nonsense with Sailboat Bill last spring coming north, my plan was to leave Elizabeth City and sail 10 miles south to the mouth of the Pasquotank River and then anchor in the lee of the north shore for the night, then sail across Albermarle tomorrow. NOT!
We've gone to Plan B. We got underway at 0900 under main and jib and we were soon sailing at a comfortable 6 knots in a 12-knot breeze toward Wharf Bay where we planned to anchor for the night. The wind suddenly piped up to 20-knots as NOAA predicted and to gain a lee in the anchorage, we would have had to anchor close in among many tree stubs and snags. So, we came about and returned to Elizabeth City, and we're now snuggly tied up at the free welcome center docks of "Rose Buddy" fame. We'll try again tomorrow...maybe.
9 Sept - After seeing Christopher off to return to Iraq and with less than two months before our planned October departure for Florida, we took a “honeycation,” cruise around mid Chesapeake Bay. We enjoyed 9 days of near perfect sailing conditions and pleasantly cool weather, with not even a hint of rain or one of the bay’s notorious afternoon thunderstorms.
We sailed first to Annapolis where took a mooring out in the harbor for two days. We strolled the historic streets of this sailing town with a drinking problem, and then hit McGarvey’s Saloon and the Fleet Reserve Club. We then dined in the best restaurant in town, my Cousin Laurie’s! With an expectation that we might imbibe too much, we left our dinghy tied to Lastdance and took the water-taxi to Acton LandingPark on Spa Creek, then walked the short block to their home. Once there, Laurie and her husband Randy made us feel at home with ample drinks, Parma-crisp and olives stuff with gorgonzola cheese, and then an excellent meal of Rigatoni, sausage and meatballs with red wine, followed by a lot of sambuca. We caught the last water-taxi back to our moored boat, well satiated and with enough leftovers to feed us twice more, including a bag of excellent cannoli shells and a baker’s bag of filling.
The following day, we sailed out of Annapolis in a 15-knot northerly breeze. We were bound for the Magothy River which is due north so we then spent the next 7 hours tacking back and forth across the bay, struggling to make progress toward our destination. Teresa took turns on the helm and after dodging a huge ship in the channel east of the Magothy, she then took us through the narrow entrance under full sail. Full of confidence, she then took us into Broad Creek and brought us smartly alongside of Charlie and Val’s trawler, m/v Belle-Amie tojoin the anchored raft-up with John & Gail aboard s/v Tranquility. It was here we enjoyed the first of 2 “cannoli nights.” After much wine over dinner, we gathered aboard Tranquility and made our own cannoli. Fun, fun, fun…especially watching Gail devour wads of the delicious filling off her fingers.
The next day we all motored further up the river to Magothy River Marina. Once docked and secure, we took our dinghies over to Magothy Seafood & Tiki-Bar on Mill Creek for a few beers. Impressed with their menu, we returned for dinner later that evening and had their bountiful seafood special which consisted of a basket of hush puppies, a pound of shrimp, 2 corn-on-the-cob, 6 king crab legs, 6 steamed clams and 6 large blue claw crabs, all for $34.
Still eager to explore, we left the marina in the morning and meandered still further up the river, first into Cattail Creek, then Cockey Creek and finally, past Indian Village to an unnamed cove at the mouth of Old Man Creek. There we anchored next to a seemingly abandon old schooner tethered to a semi-submerged mooring buoy. Teresa and I borrowed John’s kayaks and we kayaked into small tributaries and then later we took our dinghies deeper into the countryside, exploring this sparsely populated part of Maryland.
In the morning we topped our water tanks and sailed in yet another brisk northerly to Tolchester on the eastern shore. I’ve always wondered about this marina with its totally exposed, narrow entrance right on the bay, so we cautiously moved from the safety of deep water toward the rapidly shoaling jetties. The current was ripping across the channel so I had to “crab” Lastdance so much, we were almost perpendicular to the entrance at half throttle before I could gun the engine and turn sharply between the jetties. The depth went from 14 feet to 6 ½ feet in seconds but then once within the jetties, it increased to 8 feet all the way to the dock.
After settling in, we strolled over to Charlie’s friend Stan’s boat, a 36’ Albin trawler. Stan and Jean served up pitchers of margaritas and we killed the afternoon sipping Stan’s superb concoctions on the rocks. Later, back on our own dock, we agreed that no one wanted to cook so we went to the Tolchester Beach Bar for “the best crab cakes on the bay.” NOT! I’ve had much worse but I’ve also had much much better. The view was spectacular though and they had a pretty good DJ so we ate and drank as the sun set on the western shore, then drank some more as we listened to island tunes. After 3 rounds of listening to a young woman doing some very good karaoke (pronounced kara-o-key), we left half-way through a “wanna-be-singer,” who really needs to keep her day job.
We departed early the next morning for the short 4 mile jaunt to Fairlee Creek, and then negotiated the VERY narrow entrance with Jelly-Fish Joel’s to port and a narrow spit of land to starboard. As anticipated, the anchorage was crowded with every description of watercraft, some in enormous 25 boat raft-ups, others alone, but all anchored every which way, many with bow, stern and side anchors!
I found a “hole” and dropped my anchor in 8-feet of water and after setting the anchor with 50-feet of chain; I let out additional 50-feet of chain and left my engine in reverse to bury it deeply. Belle Amie came alongside to port and then John brought Tranquility to port of him. Afterwards we transferred my anchor rode to the bow of Belle Amie to balance the raft and we then settled in to watch “the show.” The show being an increasing number of boats attempting to navigate the entrance into the harbor. We were not to be disappointed as the first of many large boats was driven aground by the fierce current.
For 3 days, we lounged around, swam, went ashore in our dinghies and shared many sundowners. We had pasta night aboard Lastdance, followed by the second “cannoli night,” at which we consumed the remaining shells and filling. Thank you cousin Laurie and Randy!
Belle Amie departed Sunday morning and later in the day, John, Gail, Teresa and me went ashore and settled in at Jelly Fish Joel’s Beach Bar. We ordered beers but we were also treated to several samples of exotic drinks by the friendly bartender. As always, the current was swift and the narrow channel was crowded with boats entering and leaving the harbor and as always, boats were regularly swept aground. When that happened, the crowd would let out an appreciative hoot but then men would wade into the water and push the boat off and send him on his way, a bit shaken but generally without damage to anything but their ego. Our friends Rich and Betty aboard their new boat, s/v Trust Me came in during the worst of the current but Rich expertly navigated the entrance, disappointing many on the shore who fully expected such a large sailboat to be swept aground.
Tranquility departed early the next morning and we followed several hours later when the tide was higher and the current slack. Still, I couldn’t help being apprehensive as I motored Lastdance out the narrow channel. Once in deeper water though, we hoisted sails and enjoyed a 22-mile broad reach down the bay, in a brisk 15-18 knot northeasterly breeze. We made it home to KentNarrows by 2 o’clock, having enjoyed 9 days of near perfect weather with not a drop of rain or a single thunderstorm to mar our cruise. Someone must have been looking out for us!
Our “new” plan is to shut down the apartment in Raleigh, move our things into storage and to sail south in early October to the Florida Keys for the winter. We’ll stop in Beaufort, NC for a couple of weeks to visit Michelle and the grandkids and see Ashley, then continue sailing at a leisurely pace, getting to Key West sometime in December. We’ll try to stay at the marina at Boca Chica Naval air Station, using it as a base to explore from. In the spring, we’ll sail back to Chesapeake Bay with a stopover in the Abacos in the Bahamas. Stay tuned.
Aug 15 - The trip had been planned since the spring of 2008 and after months of anticipation, it was upon us. Teresa drove up from Raleigh a day early and pleasantly surprised me at 2 am aboard Lastdance. The next day we drove into Brooklyn so Teresa could me my mom and then after driving through the confusing maze that surrounds Newark airport, we settled into a sliver of a hotel along routes 1&9. The next morning we departed for London and there we spent 3 really enjoyable days with our friends Jim and Claudie before flying off to Greece.
In Pelairos, along with Billy and Karen, we boarded Nauti Girl, a 39’ Sunsail Oceanis and after settling in, we strolled into town to the New Mill Inn, a small taverna at the top of a hill, far from the tourist haunts that line the waterfront below. There, after many toast of “yamas,” I dropped to one knee and gave a ring to Teresa, formalizing our engagement.
After a captains meeting the next morning, we got underway, bound for Vathi on the island of Meganisi. We med-moored to the quay and did what sailors have been doing for thousands of years, we went to a taverna where we drank way too much Mythos beer and sampled a plate of excellent calamari. Later that night we joined our flotilla-mates for a punch party and then dinner. Everyone went back to their boats but Teresa and I remained behind with the flotilla crew and drank chipino and ate baklava.
We departed Vathi the next morning in a brisk 17-knot SW breeze under a reefed main and jib and tacked our way through the Straights of Meganisi. Then, after a fun hour of tacking along with a “fleet” of other boats, the “incident” occurred. Capt Dave (now aka Capt Dangerous), tacked directly in front of our boat without warning, and if not for us maintaining an alert lookout, we would have T-boned his boat. A tragedy was averted but the incident still rattles me as we missed a serious collision by mere seconds. Later that night, we recounted the incident over a lot of wine and ouzo at a taverna right on the quay.
A brief sail the next day brought us to Sivota on Lefkada, and after drinks at a small taverna a few short steps from the stern of Nauti Girl, Billy renamed our trusty boat “Nauti Girls.” Afterwards, we dressed and strolled off to a group dinner at Taverna Stavros where the host looked remarkably like my Uncle Carlo. As before, Teresa and I remained behind to sip wine long after everyone went back to their boats.
The highlight of the voyage was Kalymos town, a tiny port on the island of Kalymos. We "raced" Capt Dangerous Dave to the harbor entrance but they did a "Dennis Conner" and opted to drop their sails a mile south of the harbor and motored in, thereby robbing us of a hard fought victory Once inside the breakwater, George, the self-appointed harbormaster did a masterful job of cramming in more than 60 boats into a harbor that was clearly designed for just half that number of craft. George also owned the only taverna in town so he had a vested interest in giving “everyone” shelter for the night. Greece proved to exceed all expectations and simple words cannot describe the beauty and antiquity of this timeless area of Greece so feel free to peruse the photos posted in the Photo Album section. There you will see what all the fuss is about. Yamas!
After a week sailing the Ionian Sea, some might say that Chesapeake Bay might be boring but not so. The Bay can offer up great sailing conditions and although not as exotic as Greece, interesting destinations abound on every bay, river and creek.
We drove up from Raleigh late Friday night with plans of turning in for the night as soon as we settled aboard Lastdance. It wasn't to be...I decided to begin the holiday weekend by taking Teresa for just one beer at Red Eye's Dock Bar. "One beer" became one rum and coke and then another after our friend Dave from m/v Seduction saw us and bought a second round. We had to reciprocate so we bought him a round and another for ourselves for good measure. We turned in at 2 am and woke in surprisingly good shape at 7, for coffee and bagels at the marina.
We made the 10 am bridge and we were sailing into Eastern Bay under a full press of sail by 10:20, bound for St Michael's. With southwest winds, it was a great reach all the way into the Miles River but we encountered an #%&^@* weenie, motoringin a sailing catamaran out the narrow channel at Deep Water Point at R "14" about a mile north of St Michael's. I mean crap...we're sailing in close-hauled, he's motoring out and we're about to meet port-to-port with plenty of room to the east but at the last minute, he turns sharply to port right in #%&^@* front of me, placing himself between Lastdance and R "14". I blow 5 blast on my horn but the banana head just smiles as he goes down my starboard rail, mere feet from us and then he and the scantily clad bimbos (and I mean bimbos) begin waving with big smiles on their ugly faces. I'm thinking...they gotta be chartering, so I yells, "Hey asshole, I'm not waving at you, I'm giving you the finger." He shrugs his shoulders and says "What?" Then the bimbo next to him yells, "We have the right of way." As they faded away astern, Teresa stared at me in disbelief but I explained to her that all the salty yelling was part of the required bridge-to-bridge comunications, covered in the Navigation Rules.
An hour later we were anchored just north of the Maritime Muesuem and joined by Rich and Betty from s/v Trust Me, which was anchored in the Roads outside the harbor. I twisted their arms and we knocked off a 2 liter bottle of Margaritas. Rich and Betty left in a mellow mood and Teresa and I remained aboard for the night, sipping wine and devouring a couple of choice filets. The sail back Sunday was good until we got to Prospect Bay so we motored back, making the noon bridge opening. Once secured we had lunch and then heard from my cousin Laurie; she and her husband Randy were in Annapolis and getting ready to go "out for a little spin" in their boat. A half hour later they called from Red Eyes..."We're here!"
Following an intense whirlwind 6 month courtship that included many weekends sailing aboard Lastdance and a week sailing charter in Greece, the big day arrived. With Christopher home from Iraq for 2 weeks of R&R, our small wedding party of family and a few friends gathered in Beaufort, NC at Town Creek Marina, where Teresa and I "kinda sorta" met.
The wedding was perfect with a warm gentle breeze and the dinner was excellent but unfortunately, my mom was hospitalized and couldn't make it and my brother Tony stayed in Brooklyn with her. The ceremony took place on the balcony and dinner followed immediately afterwards in Fish Tales restaurant at the same location. At Fish Tales, noted maritime author Ted Jones, accompanied by Michelle Groom, sang "We've only just begun," and over many martinis and vodka-tonics, Christopher bonded with Teresa's brother Jeff while our very own wedding crasher made small talk with invited guest and our grandchildren, Furi and Ali entertained everyone with their charm and good behavior. Photos in Photo Album section.
Our plans were to do a one week honeymoon sail aboard Lastdance but in the end, we decided to delay it and remain in North Carolina so we can see Christopher off to Iraq and so Teresa could resolve some important work issues. So, for this week, we're enjoying our new roles in Raleigh and keeping a watchful eye on Hurricane Bill as it moves westward. Hope we get to see many of you during the two months before we sail south in October.
4 May – It occurred to me during the night that I’m paid up here at Town Creek Marina through May 10th. So why am I leaving to go just 68 miles to Belhaven where I’ll be leaving Lastdance for 6 days at what will be an additional cost of $447, while I go to Raleigh to Teresa’s daughter’s graduation…Duh, it looks like Beaufort will be blessed with Lastdance’s presence yet another week.
Sailboat Bill arrived in Lake Worth yesterday after a 3 day passage from Ragged Key and will be sailing up the coast in a few days. We may hook up here when I get back from Raleigh but more likely will connect back on Chesapeake Bay.
Grrrrrr…I was eager to get underway today but we’re delayed by a cold front! I had a whirlwind 5 days in Raleigh for Teresa’s daughter Ashley’s graduation. There was a Cinco de Mayo party Tuesday night and then we enjoyed Teresa’s Double-Nickel birthday celebration Wednesday night. Thursday night, Teresa's friend Rochelle took us to dinner to celebrate Teresa’s birthday once again and Friday night I got to meet Jeff and Sharlee, Teresa’s wild-and-crazy brother and sister-in-law.
Saturday was the big graduation event at NC State, followed by a great party at Tir Na Nog, the same great Irish Pub we celebrated St Patrick’s Day in. After a brunch Sunday morning, Teresa drove me back to Beaufort and we hooked up with Sailboat Bill at the Back Street Pub where we sipped cool beer and listened to tunes played by the last of the minstrels from the Beaufort Music Festival. Teresa left for Raleigh at 6pm and I found myself in a big funk at seeing her drive away but she’s driving to meet me in Norfolk next weekend. After some demon rum aboard Lastdance with Ted Jones and Bill, we went to dinner and listened to tales of Bill’s adventures in the Bahamas. The man does live large!
The next day I finally got underway, bound for Chesapeake Bay! Along with Sailboat Bill in Galena, I got away from Beaufort at first light. We had an uneventful 68 mile trip to Belhaven but the wind piped up to 20 knots from the southeast instead of the forecasted 10 knots from the north east and we spent the night bucking and bouncing in the exposed anchorage. From Belhaven we motored to the Alligator River and with the winds forecasted to 20 knots all night from the east, we went on almost to the Alligator River bridge and tucked in close into the lee formed by eastern shore at Milltail Creek. Bill came over and we grilled a steak, drank a lot of rum and talked about our different philosophies on sailing and life.
I’ve crossed Albemarle Sound twice. The first time in 1997 was a perfect sail in easy conditions. The second was under power in a dead calm. Now, three days after leaving Beaufort, we encountered wild and wooly conditions! After weighing anchor, we motored to Middle Ground Shoal. The wind then came up right on time as forecasted. It came up quickly and it came up strong and we were soon motor-sailing in 27 knots of washing machine like waves which became bigger by the minute; some breaking. Eventually, the wind was gusting to 31 knots with very wild conditions in the shallows as we approached the entrance to North Landing River. Several hours later, we sat well showered in the comfort of Coinjock Marina, woofing down a couple of their famous 16 oz prime ribs.
A week earlier, Bill had heard someone hailing Ky on s/v East Snail. We tried unsuccessfully to raise him and even called his wife Kim Loan to no avail. Then, as we finished off the last of our prime rib in Coinjock, I received a surprise phone call. “Hello Ron, this is Ky here.” I hadn’t seen Ky in more than two years and as it turned out, he was sailing north and was just a day ahead of us at Great Bridge. He waited for us and we rendezvoused at Great Bridge the next day. What a reunion! After shopping for dinner, we were invited into the U.S Marine Corps Veterans League clubhouse which is right there at the canal docks. There, along with Tom and Pat off s/v Swan and Dave and Jock off m/v New Freedom, a Nordic Tug, we drank way too much beer and rum and exchanged war stories with these friendly former Marines. We then cooked a pot luck dinner of Vietnamese chicken with black rice, grilled shrimp, polish sausage, baked ziti and a great salad. It doesn’t get any better!
We got to Hampton around noon the next day. Bill and Ky anchored out and I took a slip at the friendly public docks. After naps and boat chores, we walked into town and munched on nachos and drank a local beer at Marker 20, a cool boater’s saloon. We had “just one more” at the Tap House two doors down, then returned to Lastdance and knocked off a bottle of cheap wine Bill had bought the day before. Teresa was due to arrive from Raleigh so Ky and Bill returned to their boats to give me a chance to freshen up. An hour later, I waited anxiously for her call. We’d only been apart six days but it had seemed like an eternity so when she arrived, we had a joyful reunion and then walked into town where a street festival was going on. It is staged every Saturday night and offers plenty of food, adult beverages and live entertainment. We would have liked to linger for the “party” a bit but were both tired so after dinner, we returned to Lastdance.
Sunday, day six of the voyage was a washout. Another front was coming through with winds forecasted to be 25-30 knots so we opted to remain in Hampton. Ky came in from the anchorage to a slip and we ran into old friends from New Jersey, Bill and Evelyn aboard s/v Irish Mist, a Pacific Seacraft 34. Afterwards, Bill, Ky, Teresa and me went ashore for brunch at the Taphouse along with my friends Kevin, Laura and their daughter Caitlin. Bloody Marys were only 1$ and they were great.
Teresa and I then said our farewells back aboard Lastdance hours later, and she drove home to Raleigh for the work week but she will fly to Baltimore Friday for the Memorial Day weekend. More to follow as our winter voyage comes to an end and we enter beautiful Chesapeake Bay once again
With the arrival of yet another cold front, Bill, Ky and I agreed to delay our departure from Hampton a day. Ky chilled out aboard his boat while Bill and I went to the Virginia Air and Space Museum, just a short walk from the marina. There, we got to see some cool military aircraft and an Apollo space capsule and we even got to see the IMAX version of the new Star Trek movie. In the evening Ky hosted a great dinner of home made beef stew and rice and shortly afterwards, we retired to our own boats in anticipation of an early departure the next morning.
We were greeted at dawn by 20 knot northeast winds and a forecast for more of the same all day with gust to 30 knots. Hmmm, to go or not to go? From my perspective, Teresa was flying into Baltimore on the 23rd to meet me so I had to get moving so against our better judgment, we shoved off at 0600. Big mistake! After leaving the shelter of Hampton, the wind increased to 25 knots and then once we rounded New Point Comfort, we encountered the full force of very steep 6 and even some 8 foot waves, all with an unusually short period which we had to pound directly into. It was tough going as we averaged less than 3-knots, often crashing into some waves that brought even Lastdance to a complete stop.By late afternoon conditions began to moderate and our speed improved but it had been an uncomfortable day so Ky and I decided to call it quits and we ducked into the shelter of beautiful Fishing Bay while Bill sailed the extra eight miles to Indian Creek in order to shorten the next day for himself. Once anchored, I rowed Ky to Lastdance for drinks and dinner and soon afterwards, Admiral Hal arrived in s/v Destination and rafted to us. Destination is ex Tenacious Lady and I met Hal at my marina when he bought her last year. Hal is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. We had Dark N’ Stormys and some good conversation, then Hal broke away and anchored Destination a few hundred feet away. After dinner I rowed Ky back to East Snail and after talking with Teresa on the phone, I was in bed and asleep by 2200
1 April - With the end of winter and March coming to a close, Teresa and I did an 1100 mile road trip via a stopover at my marina in Maryland where Capt Jane hosted a Friday night drinkathon aboard Bliss until the wee hours. We returned to Bliss in the morning for a brunch that included everything from several different quiches to an assortment of fruits, pastries and a bountiful array of breakfast meats, all washed down with copious quantities of mimosas.
From Maryland we drove north and after doing a quick change into proper pirate garb at John and Gail's home, we shared a bottle of wine and drove off to the Morgan Creek Yacht Club annual dinner-dance. There, we hooked up with many old friends including Tom and Donna, Rich and Lori and Carol's daughter Nancy who came to support me in my first book signing of "Sailing with Carol."
Teresa and I drove home Sunday but not before stopping for lunch at Baltimore's Inner Harbor where we sampled tapas and sangria at Las Tasca. My motive was more than just lunch and as anticipated, Teresa became hooked on the magic of Inner Harbor where we'll return aboard Lastdance over Memorial Day Weekend.
My plans are to remain here through April and depart around May 3rd. I'll stop in Bellhaven, NC flor 5 days to return to Raleigh for Teresa's daughter's graduation and then sail back to Kent Island on beautiful Chesapeake Bay for the summer. Sailboat Bill is also returning to the Bay so maybe we'll cross tracks along the way. Until then, be well friends and sail on!
Technically, I’ve already been sailing this year but that was aboard s/v Audrey with Jon and Michelle. Easter Sunday I unbridled Lastdance from her doubled-up winter lines and cast off with Teresa in a warm southeast breeze. Teresa had not sailed in several decades, and then, only on a Hobie-Cat. This was her first sail aboard Lastdance and it was a perfect day for it, with 15 knots of wind on a sparkling blue ocean.
Departing Town Creek Marina, we entered Gallants Creek which took us to the bascule bridge separating Beaufort from Pivers and Radio Islands. Once clear of the bridge, I turned the helm over to Teresa. This was my first venture on this meandering waterway and I was wary of charted shoals that may have shifted during the frequent storms this past winter. Teresa carried out my maneuvering commands carefully while I scanned and counted the buoys and markers that took us into Taylor Creek channel. When satisfied that we had enough room to head up, we raised our main sail and then proceeded into the ship channel where we unfurled the jib with a flourish. Then, with the engine silenced and only the sound of wind and our wake rippling astern, we steered a dogleg easterly course to the sea, on a broad reach.
Once on the ocean, it became chilly and the wind stiffened. As Lastdance kicked up her heels, I could see that Teresa was experiencing the first thrills of harnessing the wind in a well found ship. We heeled further as we pointed higher and seeing Teresa’s broad grin as she steered an arrow-straight course, I thought, yes, she loves it! Everyone had been teasing us about the “big test.” Knowing my passion for the sea, they’d ask, “Will she like sailing,” Until today all I could say was, “She’s been on the boat for weekends.” That always drew a skeptical glance but now she was sailing, clearly doing a good job of it and enjoying herself.
This was a challenge to Teresa for several reasons. There was of course, the trial of doing something new and different, with an element of adventure and even danger. But, we were also both aware that sailing is what I do; it defines who I am and we couldn’t help consider what would it mean to our relationship if she didn’t like it? If there were any doubts, they were dispelled on a brisk sunny day off the coast of North Carolina as this adventurous woman sailed my little ship with joyful abandon.
Teresa’s trick on the helm lasted all afternoon but as the wind increased and whitecaps formed on building waves, we tacked and came about on a course that took us back to Beaufort inlet. We sometimes surfed lazily in small following waves and Teresa sometimes let Lastdance get away from her but she’d quickly recover. Then, after an hour and one accidental jibe after a sudden wind shift, we slipped into the lee of Shackleford Banks. An hour after that, we were secure in our slip and sharing a glass of wine with our friend Ted Jones of s/v Ocean Gypsy. Tedhad come over to help us with dock lines and as we talked of the day, Teresa came to understand the simple pleasure and camaraderie of post-sail yarn spinning.
Back in Raleigh, Teresa treated me to a deluxe pedicure which in addition to removing "barnacles" from my feet, it felt incredibly good. Good enough that I finally finished up my taxes; ironically on Tax Freedom Day. Theoretically, that is the last day all of an average American’s wages for the year go to paying taxes. The rest of the year’s earnings are all ours…for now!
I left Raleigh last Saturday and drove to Brooklyn to see my mom and brother, and then went to Philadelphia for my six month neck scan. The initial results are good but I have to go back in June for a 3 day battery of test, also routine. Hope all will be well with that…what a “pain in the neck huh?”
With just one week remaining before I sail back to Chesapeake Bay, Teresa and I did a weekend sail to Cape Lookout. It's a hooked shaped peninsula about nine miles up the coast with a huge but well protected anchorage within the bight of Cape Lookout National Seashore. It is technically the southern most point of the Outer Banks so weather can get funky in an instant but we had a near perfect two days of clear sky and mid 80's temperatures.
We departed Beaufort in a stiff 17 knot southwesterly breeze and quickly encountered steep waves in the opposing fast current in the ship channel. Lastdance pitched at very steep angles and on several occasions we took a foot of solid green water over the deck right back to the dodger. Teresa did great on the helm, negotiating our way through the malstrom but with nothing to do, and to Teresa's surprise, I became queezy. Things flattened out once we got seaward far enough to where the shoal water outside the channel deepend and the effect of wind against current diminished.
An hour later we sailed through a pod of huge dolphin and soon after that, we entered Cape Lookout and anchored deep in the bight which gave us good shelter from the wind and put us close to the beach. There,we could easily ashore and explore the sand dunes and search for the wild horses that live and run free on the beaches. Teresa proved to be a sailor's sailor as she sipped dark rum with me while we lazily passed the afternoon away in the cockpit. We then enjoyed dinner with a couple of excellent filets along with baked potatos and a surpurb bottle of Dry Creek (Mariners Select) Cabernet, gifted to us by Captain Mark when we were in Maryland last month.
The next morning we had breakfast in the cockpit, and then dinghied ashore and walked along the shore and dunes until Teresa became agitated by the empty beer cans and bottles that littered the otherwise pristine beaches. She then cajoled me into helping her collect as many as we could carry back to our trash bag aboard Lastdance, and I felt darn good about doing it!
We had a great sail back to Beaufort. Then, after furling our jib in the Morehead City ship channel and just outside the small secondary channel leading into Beaufort, the engine wouldn't turn over. I thought it was a starter/electrical problem but nothing I did changed the fact that we were engineless in the 2 knot current. We sailed slowly under the main and waited for Boat US, thankful for my Unlimited Towing policy
Once back at Town Creek Marina, friends Ted, Linda and Dan joined us with 5 pounds of fresh caught shrimp, half of which we boiled in Old Bay. The other half we sauteed in butter and herbs. Linda also brought along a pound of excellent cole slaw and after three, 2 liter bottles of wine, the impromptu party dwindled to an end, all agreeing that it doesn't get any better!
With Lastdance under repaired, I'm spending as much time as possible with my daughter-in-law and grandkids as well as planning for my departure. I get underway on May 4th for the first leg of my voyage back to Maryland. I’ll first sail to Belhaven where I’ll leave Lastdance in order to attend Teresa’s daughter’s graduation back in Raleigh. On the 11th I’ll get underway again, bound for Norfolk where I’ll re-enter beautiful Chesapeake Bay. I’ll most likely stop on the Rappahannock, Solomon’s Island and then Annapolis before sailing into Baltimore’s to rendezvous with friends for our annual Memorial Day weekend raft-up. Teresa will fly in on the 22nd and participate in three days of revelry in Inner Harbor before flying back to Raleigh.
Sailboat Bill in s/v Galena is sailing back from his winter adventure in the Bahamas. He’ll be about a week behind me but with my five day layover in Belhaven, he might catch up with me, in which case we’ll end our journeys the way be began them, sailing in company and enjoying the camaraderie of sheltered anchorages, and lots of the demon rum. Who knows, maybe he’ll sail along to Baltimore.
30 March– There I was reading a good book and listening to Jimmy Buffett aboard Lastdance one night last week when Jimmy begins singing about oysters and beer. The seed was planted and before I know it, I'm up at the Sandbar woffing down a dozen steamed oysters and enjoying "a cold one." Now I've had oysters raw, oysters Rockefeller, oyster stew and fried oysters but this was my first taste of perfectly salty steamed oysters and there was something really relaxing about sitting at the bar shucking my own oysters with echo’s of Jimmy Buffett singing Tin Cup Chalice on my mind.
The weather has improved dramatically since Superbowl weekend but I think I’m going to rename this town Blowfort. The wind just never stops blowing, often over 25 knots for days at a time. Fortunately, temperatures have been in the 60’s almost every day so I get to open hatches and give Lastdance a good airing out. Nights have been pretty warm also and I’ve not had to use my second heater even once at night since early February.
It’s been a quiet month but I get to Michelle’s every few days to get “beat up” by my grandkids. Furi has perfected his jab-right hook combination to a point I felt boxing gloves were in order before he breaks my nose. I made another Sunday afternoon visit to Cru’s Wine Bar and the Back Street Pub and kind of like spending my time doing that and meeting the tourist who think I’m a local until I unleash the remnants of my Brooklyn accent on them. Michelle was here for an overnighter with Ali and Furi and we had a great time watching the Land Before Time. I made biscuits with the kids in the morning while Michele succumbed to the effects of a gently rocking boat. We then went fishing off of Lastdance and took photos to send to Christopher in Iraq. He is back in Al Anbar province in Al Asad and we hear from him regularly. He says things are quiet and reasonably comfortable compared to his 2005 deployment when he and his men from Kilo Company lived in an abandon railroad station and were engaged in frequent fighting.
I met Jon and Michelle the other day. They’re a really nice English couple who just became American citizens and are off s/v Audry, a Pearson 36. They are here for a month after getting whacked by a nasty storm north of Frying Pan shoals during a winter voyage to Florida. Michelle whipped up a great Thai dish and with some fresh sourdough bread; we laughed and talked our way through 2 bottles of wine and half a bottle of port. Good cruising etiquette required that I reciprocate so we did it all over again on Lastdance last night with my shrimp risotto, 3 liters of wine and a few glasses of grappa. This is such a tough way to live huh?
My Aunt Mary used to say, “When one door closes, another opens.” With those words in mind when a brief relationship in Tennessee ended, I went in search of an open door, not really sure of what I would find. I found Teresa, a kind and gentle woman with remarkable grace and beauty. We learned a great deal about each other on the phone and internet and then I drove to Raleigh for what I thought might only be a simple date.
I stayed for two days and departed with the knowledge that I had crossed a major threshold in my life and so with Aunt Mary’s voice in my head, I realized that one door had closed and another had indeed just opened for me. Since then, Teresa has been to Beaufort where we hunkered down during a weekend of chilly and rainy weather. We shared an evening with Jon and Michelle aboard Lastdance where we enjoyed salmon risotto, several bottles of wine, two large bars of dark chocolate and a bit of grappa! They invited us aboard s/v Audrey for breakfast the next morning and we passed away several hours sipping mimosas and woofing down a great breakfast prepared by Michelle.
Teresa and I then drove to Smithfield, NC to hook up with John and Gail (s/v Tranquility) who were driving home from Florida. We had dinner with them at a Texas steakhouse where my ribeye was marginal but being there with Teresa and these great long-term friends was a special acknowledgment of their warm acceptance of her into my life. I then continued on to her home in Raleigh where I got to lounge around in “Arab pantaloons,”…Don’t ask! I’ve been back to Raleigh several times and each day has brought me closer to this wonderful woman and we are both eagerly looking forward to going sailing together and much, much more in the future.
I spent several days with my daughter-in-law and grandkids this past week and also loaded stores and did boat chores in preparation for my voyage north. The engine problem we experienced last week turned out to be a broken ground wire. The break was at the terminal connector and not easily seen but after an hour of trouble-shooting, Eric, the able electrician at Town Creek Marina had me running as good as new…I hope!
It’s now late Sunday afternoon and it’s been blowing 27 knots for two days with no end in sight. Michelle was here with my grandkids as well as her friend Lara and her baby. Along with Teresa, we had a great farewell meal at FishTales restaurant here at the marina. After a heartfelt goodbye with my family, Teresa stayed on a while longer but she just left to drive home to Raleigh. Now, I’m sitting here aboard Lastdance, sipping on some Goslings rum while surveying Town Creek and contemplating the last six months of my life here in Beaufort.
There have been many changes to be sure. I am firmly embedded in the lives and collective memory of my grandchildren, and they in mine...I’m going to miss them big time but I plan on visiting them often during my summer visits to Raleigh. Also, six months ago I didn’t think I would even date again but I met Teresa, a wonderful woman with a keen sense of adventure and I fell in love.
It’s hard to believe it’s already March but with the weather moderating, I got out for my first sail of 2009 aboard s/v Audrey, a Pearson 36 owned by my dock mates, Jon and Michelle. We’ve been doing alternating dinners and happy hours aboard our respective boats along with Ted Jones and Malla. Ted used to be the owner and publisher of Coastal Cruising magazine and he is now retired and living aboard s/v Ocean Gypsy. With these new friends, I trekked to town when the waterfront shops in Beaufort hosted a cocktail evening. We got a belly full of wine and hors d’ourves along with great conversation with the shopkeepers and locals who offered tons of information about Beaufort “then and now.”
Ted said a heartfelt farewell to Malla who returned to Seattle after a month aboard s/vOcean Gypsy. Hopefully, she’ll return soon and continue her voyage of exploration with Ted. Jon and Michelle departed today to haul out s/v Audrey until the fall when they’ll return to continue their voyage south. I’m sitting here alone again but eagerly anticipating returning to Raleigh tomorrow to see Teresa. She resigned from her weekend job beginning April so I’m looking forward to her coming to Beaufort more often so we can do some sailing together.
Before I head to Raleigh, I’ll be stopping at Camp Lejeune to join my good friends John and Denise in seeing off their son Kevin. He is a US Marine, Lance Corporal and is deploying to Iraq this Sunday and ironically, he will be based with my son Christopher in Al Asad. I guess it’s just part of the cycle of life but it pains me when I recall them as little boys together at our annual Christmas dinners. Now they are men going in harms way…Godspeed Kevin and Christopher and all our brave warriors who walk the walls and guard the gates for us.
“Sailing with Carol” has been released on Amazon. Just go to www.amazon.com then click on books, type in Sailing with Carol and order a dozen copies. Writing it has been a long but cathartic journey for me and I don’t think I could have moved forward had I not told Carol’s story. I have moved forward though and I know Carol would be happy with both the book and how my life has progressed; she was just that way.
Three days ago I drove to Atlanta to say goodbye to a lifelong friend. With his family gathered around him, I held his hand and kissed his head and said, “Goodbye old friend, I love you.” He died several days later.
I knew Phil Polimeni so long I don’t remember not ever knowing him. We grew up together in Brooklyn along with his wife, JoAnn, Danny and his wife Mary and of course, Carol. Together Phil and Jo Ann raised a beautiful and close-knit family. By any measure, Phil was a good man and he will be remembered fondly by all who knew him.
I once read somewhere that we’re at an age when life begins taking away more than it gives us and I thought that with all the loved ones I’ve lost in the past 4 years, that’s certainly true. Still, nothing is totally black and white and I’ve found that life can still give something to us. For me, that is most apparent by the growing presence of Teresa in my life.
Joined by Danny and Mary who flew down from New York, I returned to Atlanta this past weekend to celebrate Phil’s life and to bury him. It was a sad reminder of how short life can be and a lesson in why we should live it to the fullest. Sail on, Phil. Sail on!
January 4 2009 - I left Lastdance secure in Beaufort and drove to New Jersey to my granddaughter's christening and several Christmas dinners and lunches with family and friends and then went to the cemetery to spend some time with Carol. We were joined for Christmas dinner at my mom’s place by my brother Tony, Victoria, Christopher, Michelle, Furi and Alexandria which hopefully made for a great Christmas gift for my mom. I then headed south, arriving in Jacksonville late that night. I stayed at the Naval Air Station there, and then went to Fort Lauderdale where I stayed with my friends and old neighbors, David and Linda. The next day I hooked up with Bill in Marathon and we drove to Key West where we picked up my classmate Rich at the airport.
After checking into the BOQ at Trumbo Point Naval Air Station, we pillaged and plundered our way through the many old saloons on Duval Street. At Captain Tony’s I searched the ceiling to no avail for a photo of Carol that I put there back in 1998. Thousands of new business cards and photos must have been added to the zillions that had been already stapled and glued to the walls and ceilings over many decades. We strolled over to Sloppy Joes for several beers and then to the Hogs Breath Saloon for burgers and more beers. Sleeping in a single room with a single bed proved to be a challenge. Bill slept on the floor and Rich and I shared the bed, he under the sheets, me over them as we endeavored to avoid even the slights chance of coming in contact during the night.
We spent the next two nights visiting new bars like Finnagans Wake and revisiting old ones. New Years Eve found us on Duval Street in front of Sloppy Joe’s where a giant conch shell is dropped to ring in the New Year. There, we hooked up with my old friends Ric and Anna from Mears Marina. A couple of hours before midnight Bill wanted to see the giant pink slipper which is used by the gay community to welcome in the New Year and then we went to Jimmy Buffett’s, Margaritaville. After a margarita, Bill and I returned to Sloppy Joe’s in time to welcome in the New Year but Rick stayed behind with two exceptionally lovely women he had chatted up. He never did give them the Crocodile Dundee crotch test so we’re not really sure they were woman. With Rich enjoying his new friends and the New Years celebrations over on Duval Street, Bill and I went to Schooner's Wharf for a few nightcaps but I got tired and bailed out at 3 am, leaving Bill alone with the ongoing party.
The next few days we went off the beaten path and discovered the “local” side of Key West including Louie’s Backyard, a great bar by the ocean, made famous by Jimmy Buffett’s song “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.” We also discovered the Green Parrot, a great old saloon where a Blues/Southern-Rock band played as we consumed rum and cokes. We left about midnight and while walking home, we passed Meteor, a bar where Bill spotted Norm and Bill, two friends from our marina in Maryland and we joined them for four more rum and cokes before calling it a night. The next day we moved from the BOQ to a 3BR townhouse for the rest of our stay. It is so friggin good to sleep in my own bed without listening to Bill's snoring! We're here for another 5 days so who knows what damage we may reap. We made an extra effort to get up earlier, stay out later and go further a field as we sought out the perfect mojito. Bill had his fill of Key West and headed back to his boat in marathon and during our mojito quest, Rich and I met our other classmate Ed Reilly for lunch. We then hooked up with Betty and Rich off s/v Trust Me from our marina in Maryland and we had several more mojitos with them in the afternoon, then joined them for dinner that evening. The next day we saw Ed and his wife Ann-Marie for lunch and once again, we happily indulged in too many mojitos at a nice cafe on a topless beach. We then went to their cottage for a great home cooked dinner.
I departed Thursday and headed for Atlanta to visit my lifelong friends Phil and JoAnn. It's been way too long since I saw them and we had a great dinner and talked about old times until well past midnight. Phil is fighting the good fight against a tough cancer but if anyone can kick ass with this stinking disease, he can. You're in my prayers buddy.
Right now, I'm sung and secure aboard her and will spend the week here reviewing my book proof, and then go to Christopher's over the weekend. My Christmas road trip was great. I was away 19 days and covered about 4000 miles driving through twelve states, several more than once. With January half gone, Christopher's deployment day is fast approaching. This will be his second tour in Iraq and third combat tour. I was hoping that Mr Obama would do what he said he would do and pull our guys out of that shithole but like all politicians, he lies like a rug. Anyway, just one more really cold month to endure here then the temperatures climbs up into the 60's in March. Photos of the whole road trip are posted in the sites 2008 Voyage album. Regards and a Happy New Year to all y'all
It's ironic that today, as Burak Hussian Obama became president, in large measure on his promise to end the war, my son Christopher returns for a second tour of duty in that shithole. I'm sure Chris would rather be with his wife and children but he is a Marine with a strong sense of duty. I'm very proud of his service but there are times I wish he was a baker or candlestick maker but then I think..."Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
Rough MenThere's a character trait that's decided by fate
Comes (sadly) to many, far too faint, far too late.
They won't face the aggressor, stand up to his ire
They have not the will to fight his fire with fire.
So they bend over backwards to see all sides as fair,
Till they're faced with the breath of the dragons fire.
Like our brethren in France, who'd know better than we,
Yet seem never to learn, seem doomed never to see.
Yes, it seems there are some who're determined by fate,
To possess not the courage to step up to the plate,
Who shrink from all threat because nothing's worth war.
But how can they know lest they've been there before?
Thank God some have courage, the will, yes, the grace,
To stand for the shirkers, stand strong in their place.
Thank God we have stalwarts who'll stand for us all,
Who will rise to the challenge, who will rise to the call.
The faint—hearted, who fear, whose reaction is flight,
Have no comprehension of those who will fight.
To hide their own trepidation they attempt to demean
The rough men, who defend them, as barbaric, obscene.
Yet these rough men stand ready, hard weapons to hand,
To put appeasers behind them, draw a line in the sand,
To preserve for the cowards what they won't defend,
So their own unearned freedom won't perish, won't end.
To appeasers, rough men are coarse government tools.
To rough men, appeasers are delusional fools.