Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coconut Grove / Dinner Key / Key Biscyne

Abort! Abort! Abort! 12/30/2008

Well the best laid mice and all that stuff....

We woke at 4:00 AM to the roll of a 10 knot North wind. What don't you want to cross the Gulf Stream....? Answer, any wind out of the North. The stream flows North and with almost any wind out of the North it produces a very ugly wave pattern that is just not conformable.

We elected to sit tight. We will try again tonight. Hopefully, the next post will be from Nassau.

Again, you can follow our progress with the link to Yotreps on the blog. I will attempt to post a new location at 12 noon and 12 midnight.

Fariwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Here We Go 12/30/2008

Dear Friend & Followers,

Well we finally have a "window" for crossing to the Bahamas. G and I went out Florida Channel and left GPS "bread crumbs" to follow out tomorrow morning. Our plan is to leave here at between 4 & 5 Tuesday morning, cross the gulf stream and go directly to Nassau - a distance of about 167 nm. Leaving at 4 should put us in Nassau at approximately 12 noon on Wednesday.

I'll try and post a location on Yotrips at mid-night during the crossing and when we arrive.

Fariwinds & Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

PS - Yea, I know I have not written lately. With a little luck and initiative maybe I'll do better...but I could do worse. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Palm Coast Thanksgiving

A Palm Coast Thanksgiving: 11/26/08 to 12/2/08

We arrived in Palm Coast for Thanksgiving around noontime after an uneventful trip down the ICW from St. Augustine. Things seemed to be going OK and we were planning to get together with my cousin Tom and his wife Olga later in the afternoon, in the meantime we walked up to the European Village, a courtyard setting in the middle of a high dollar hotel, for some lunch. We had lunch outside at this delightful Italian restaurant, the weather had finally gotten warm enough to do this, and in addition to the warm weather we were serenaded with Christmas songs by Kevon Re’mon’te a local musician.

About 3PM my cousin Tom picked us up and took us to his house which was just a few blocks away where Victor met Tom’s wife Olga who is from Russia. As a matter of fact Tom & Olga are back in Russia at this time so that Olga can spend the holidays with her family and get her mother into a clinic for eye surgery. Around 5PM is when Victor felt sick and decided to lay down for a while, little did we know that this would be the beginning of a cold that would last for the better part of 2 weeks and that I would eventually get it even though I spent days and nights with Tom & Olga while Victor stayed on the boat.

Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and warm and we took Victor back to “The Island” so that he could sleep and read while the rest of us headed for Bill’s, my other cousin’s, house over in Auburndale, FL to celebrate Thanksgiving with him. Let me get away from the story a little and give you a little “family tree” so you can keep up with the story.
My cousin Tom is the son of my mother’s brother Tom and Bill is the son of my mother’s sister Clarissa. Bill is the oldest, early 70's, I am next at 63 and then comes Tom at 62 and we all grew up together in North Philadelphia.
You will be able to tell who Bill is in the pictures as he is the one in leather shorts and shoes from Germany and he is also the one kissing “the bird” Michael. Bill celebrates Thanksgiving in a big way as he gets out a lot of the Christmas items that he has bought on his many trips to Germany and other countries----this is the first year in a long time that Bill did not go to Munich for Oktoberfest. I will also point out that Bill did all the cooking and that he is a fantastic cook and there wasn’t much left–did manage to take a plate back to Victor. It was my hope that Victor would get a chance to meet Bill and also see some VHS tapes that Bill & I had copied from some very old 3-D slides and 8mm movie film that shows my family going back to the late 1940's–maybe next time. I took some pictures of Tom and Olga at Bill’s house and as you can see Olga is a very pretty lady and I am very proud of her as she is now in school to better her English and is doing quite well. The school she is in goes from 9 to 12 five days a week and runs from September to June and it is not that easy.

Friday was another beautiful day with the exception that Victor needed to go to the drug store to get a prescription filled and I needed to get a Flu shot. We took care of that and then took Victor back to the boat and I took Tom & Olga out to lunch in St. Augustine. Later Friday afternoon I went back to the boat to check on Victor, and spend some time with him. Friday night Tom and I spent some time reminiscing about our childhood and talking about our kids, Tom’s son & daughter are almost the same age as my son & daughter.

Saturday was one of those Florida winter days where you just want to walk and that is what I did from my cousins house to the boat to check in on the patient. He was doing better but was still not up to par so he decided to stay on the boat for another day and night. That afternoon Tom grilled out and after a great dinner we had a movie marathon or should I say Tom and I had a movie marathon while Olga “talked” with her friends in Russia via the internet. Tom had gotten Olga a keyboard in Russian which allowed her to communicate better with her friends as all her friends do not know our language.

Sunday was another beautiful day and Tom took Victor and I to the store to add to what was already on the boat and to get the fixings for Victor to cook Tom & Olga one of his wonderful suppers. After supper Tom took Victor and I back to the boat as we planned to leave Monday morning-notice the word “planned”.

Monday dawned windy and chilly and I now had the cold-“go figure”. Several boats came to the marina that day to get out of the cold and windy weather. Tom came by the boat Monday night to pick up a picture of my granddaughter and he also had the beginnings of “the cold”. We finally did leave Tuesday mid-morning as the tide had gone out so much due to the direction of the wind that several boats, “the Island”, included were sitting on the bottom so we had to wait for the incoming tide to get going.

Now, I do not want anyone to think that while Victor was on the boat taking care of his cold I was just “hanging out” with my cousin no that was not the case because at last count I think I did 4 or 5 loads of wash at Tom’s. For those of you who have not cruised doing wash means–you put all laundry into bags, haul it to wherever you are going to do the wash- wash the clothes-dry the clothes- fold the clothes and then haul everything back to the boat and put it away. Victor has warned me that in the islands there is a sport called “competitive laundry” and I for one am looking forward to this new competitive sport as I have not been able to work out in awhile.

I want to finish this story by saying that I had a wonderful time with Bill, Tom & Olga and I hope that when we pass this way again Victor will meet Bill and they can compare their cooking techniques, and that Tom, Bill, & Victor will have time to share a beer or two together.

Fair Winds & Rum Drinks,


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Palm Coast to Vero Beach

Palm Coast to Vero Beach, Florida:

12/2/2008: Palm Coast to Daytona Beach Anchorage - 29nm.

12/3/2008: Daytona Beach to Titusville, NASA Causeway Anchorage - 48nm.

12/4/2008: NASA Causeway to Palm Bay - 40nm.

12/5/2008: NASA Causeway to Vero Beach Mooring Field - 25nm.

Gigi’s Island reluctantly left Palm Coast Marina and headed south. Again it was COLD with wind off our stern quarter which made it even colder. We had planned to anchor off Daytona for the night but not spend any time there. The guide books advise locking your dink and everything that ain’t nailed down in the Daytona area so it we elected to give it a pass.

The next day was much warmer...and we had ourselves a convoy. There were at least 8 boats strung like elephants in a circus parade nose to tail, nose to tail. And all in front of us, which in my mind, was a very good thing since 15 miles ahead of was my least favorite spot in Florida - Ponce Inlet. Last year Oconee and I ran hard aground in Ponce. This year we had 8 other boat to show us where not to go. I like it when a plan comes together. As it turned out, it was a non-issue. The inlet had been dredged and it was clearly marked, for a much need change.

We anchored just south of Titusville and used the NASA Causeway to knock down the seas. The Island was in clear view of the entire NASA complex including the maintenance buildings and both shuttle launch pads. You could not of pick a better spot to observe a shuttle launch...if there had been one.

The next day was warm and we had ourselves the long awaited “shorts” weather. In this area of the Indian River the ICW runs beside “a sting of pearls” - small, palm studded, spoil islands strung from Titusville down to Vero Beach. Each island has it’s own designated use and each is unique. By 2:00 in the afternoon, we were sharing an anchorage with a beautiful, old, black hulled schooner behind one of these “jewels” with our traditional anchors down tody in hand.
We didn’t know it at the time, but we were anchored in the “Pelican Island Wildlife Persevere National Wildlife Center.”

We were just settling in for a pleasant evening when the “show” started. Flocks of pelicans, cormorant, turn, heron of various colors, and dolphin, dolphin, dolphin, descended upon the waters around us and the our island. Pelicans rained from the sky scooping up bills laden with fish. Turns filled the sky rolled and dove with bullet precision to skewer dinner. dolphin were everywhere churning the water into a froth. Dinner was served for all (‘cept us).

Just when the frenzy and show was winding down a dolphin mother and calf surfaced and knifed the water directly toward Gigi’s Island. Mother and calf stayed on the surface until they reached the boat and then glided smoothly under our stern quarter. G is convinced that the mother was showing her child a “boat.” I, personally, think neither she nor her little one had ever seen a boat with a “pink flamingo” on the side before and wanted a closer look just to be sure they weren’t seeing things.

The next day took us down what I call “millionaires ally” - house after house that, I’ve been told go for 20 million plus. What a waste.

By noon we were rafted to “Temptation” in the Vero Beach mooring field. Here the Islan has gone 1029 miles to raft to Karen and Earl Quick that we could have stayed home and rafted with almost any time we desired. But that is part of the joy of cruising - short intense reunions with old friends followed by the making of new ones only to move on and away from each other the following day. We hope to see you in the Bahamas Earl. G really enjoyed meeting and doing “girl” stuff with Karen. Soon old friend. Soon.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Jekyll Island to Palm Coast, FL

Jekyll Island, GA to Palm Coast, FL:

11/20/2008: Jekyll Island to Fernandina Municipal Marina, FL - 27nm.

11/23/2008: Fernandina to Pine Island Anchorage - 43nm.

11/24/2008: Pine Island to St. Augustine Anchorage - 13nm.

11/26/2008: St. Augustine to Palm Coast Marina - 21nm.

My good friend, John Skemp, has a saying, “Even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and then.” But then adds with a chuckle, “ Whatever that means?”

Gigi’s Island sprung herself off the dock at Jekyll Island and spun ass-end first out into the last of the ebbing tide. We were south bound again, and (for once) with the current was with us - 7 plus knots at 2200 rpms. We rode the last of the outgoing tide all the way to the buoy at the mouth of Jekyll Sound marking the channel between Jekyll and Cumberland Islands. And then, just as the we rounded the buoy the miracle happened, the tide switched and we had current with us again. And the Island rode the rising tide all the way to St. Marys, Georgia, only 7 miles from our destination, Fernandina, Florida. We had put another state behind us and the Island had found her very own “acorn.”

I used to say that Fernandina / Amelia Island, “thought themselves part of Georgia.” The truth is they don’t thing they are part of Florida or Georgia but “an Island apart.” It is the only place in the country that has lived under 8 different flags. The French were first. Hell, the Spanish governed them 3 times. The army of a Mexican revolutionary for a short period. The good old US of A (of course). The Confederate States of America. And some guy from Texas that established himself as an independent state when no one was in charge. It’s no wonder they are a bit different.

And it’s a good difference. The city is friendly, and full of old Victorian and Queen Ann style homes. There are two things that should not be missed (other than the Palace Saloon) if you visit here. First, the Farmer’s Market, held every Saturday. It is as eclectic as the city, with home cooked bread, wonderful local roasted coffee, local spices, BBQ, every manner of fresh vegetables and fruit, and flowers, flowers, flowers. It is an event not to be missed. Second, is the Fernandina Museum. In addition to fact it is a great museum they give a guided tour and lecture on the history of the area at 11:00 and 2:00 every day. To say G and I liked Fernandina would be an understatement.

I’ll leave the Fernandia area with a story. The Island was tied to the inside of the transient dock at Fernandina Municipal Marina (again we wanted HEAT!). I was quietly having my morning coffee when this “hallucination” jogged by. The lady off “Heron” was out for her morning exercise. That is she and her cat on a leash were out for a morning jog. First a cat on a leash, well that’s total indignity for any self-respecting cat and to go jogging at someone else’s bidding? Now I think I’ve seen everything - I’m undone. Must be time to leave cold or no cold.

We made our way down the waterway, with a stop over at Pine Island anchorage, to St. Augustine. I’m not really a St. Augustine fan. It is a beautiful old city, filled with expensive art galleries, and some of the junkiest, junk shops G and I have ever seen. The best thing here is the A1A Brewery that still makes some of the best brown ale I’ve every put in my mouth. We spent a couple of days at anchor in St. Augustine and then moved on to Palm Coast Marina just in time to spend Thanksgiving with Genevra’s cousins Bill and Tom and Tom’s wife Olge. G will be posting a separate blog entry on our Palm Coast stay in a few days.

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, complete with lots of turkey, cranberry sauce, but mostly friends, family and large servings of love.

Fairwinds & Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thunderbolt to Jekyll Island, GA

Thunderbolt (Savannah), GA to Jekyll Island, GA:

11/16/2008 Thunderbolt to Wahoo River at Anchor - 42nm.

11/17/2008 Wahoo River to Jekyll Island, Jekyll Harbor Marina - 48nm.

Charleston City Marina’s “mega-dock” may be where the rich and famous go to dock their 100' plus yachts but I know where they go to get them fixed and painted - Thuderbolt Marine in Thunderbolt, Georgia. They have facilities capable of hauling and painting yachts of over 200' in length (see photos). How much does it cost to paint one of these boats? The dockmaster said 7 figures is not uncommon.

There were 2 sailboats here with 165' masts, 6 sets of spreaders, with red lights at the top of the masts to help aircraft avoid hitting them. “Perseus,” the yacht you see in the photos, is 167' long, 40' beam, and draws 12' board up and 22' center board down. They were here for a new suit of sails (11,000 square meters of sail cloth) and to take on a new captain. For you sailing types, take a look at the photo of the guy standing on the bow next to the roller furling gear and the photo of Perseus coming back into dock for some sense of scale. The boat next to Perseus is a 42' Island Packet. By the way you too can rent this boat for a week for only $165,000 - including captain and crew of 10 of course.

G and I decided to take the bus into Savannah for a walk around the city and immediately struck up conversations with a couple of Thunderbolt natives. G spent the bus ride deep in conversation with a 60+ lady that was working part time as an assistant librarian for a local school. She is determined to make a difference in young ladies lives by regulating asking for permission to “talk” to them and help give them the guidance they don’t get a home. I made friends with a gentleman of indeterminate age that had been a photographer in a previous life. He reached in his pack and dug out some discount ticket to some local bars. That’s what I love about the South, friendly, open, people with generous souls. Sometimes I forget how much I like and miss Georgia and it’s people - today was a reminder that southern hospitality and the old south still exists. By the way, both people were Blacks or as my Mom would say Negroes.

This will be a bit technical for you non-boaters, live with it. Georgia has not maintain their waterway the way other states have and thus it is fast returning to it’s natural state - an endless progression of shallow shifting channels winding their way south to Florida. Some of the worse sections have silted in to 2 to 3 feet at mean low water. That’s the bad news. The good news is Georgia has 7 to 9 foot tides so it is do able. Gigi’s Island draws 5.5' of water. We elected to run the Georgia portion of the waterway at mid-tide (3 hours before high to 3 hours after).

So far our plan has worked. The run from Thunderbolt to anchor in the Wahoo River was uneventful with the exception of “ Hells Gate,” a short cut between the Little Ogeechee and the Ogeechee Rivers. We had timed our arrival at Hell’s Gate for about an hour before high tide so if we did run aground the water would still be on the rise and would be a little more “forgiving.” When we got there the Little Ogeeche was producing a 4' standing wave set up by swift current rushing into the river with an opposing wind trying to drive the water out, add the same thing happening on the other side in the Little Ogeechee with everything meeting in the middle of Hell’s Gate and you have one heck of a ride. We saw no less than 10' of water in the cut by the way. ...And G and I are glad to have it behind us.

The next day’s run to Jekyll Island gave us more skinny water to face but it too was a non-issue because we ran it on the high part of the tide. In many ways, the Georgia section of the ICW has been easier than some others because it forces you to run at mid-tide and takes some of the worry about running aground away.

We tied up at Jekyll Harbor Marina, primarily because it was damn cold and we wanted HEAT. We will sit here through tomorrow and then head for one of my favorite places on the ICW, Cumberland Island.

Jekyll Island was the home of the Jekyll Island Club other wise known as the Millionaires Club. The Club was founded by people like J.P. Morgan, Cyrus McCormick, Joseph Pulitzer, a Mr. Rockefeller, and many others as a “winter retreat.” The State of Georgia, in a controversial decision back in 1947, condemned the property, purchased the Island for $675,000, and turned it into a State Park. In the words of the Governor at the time, “Jekyll now is a playground for not just the rich but for every citizen of Georgia.” Never mind that right after the “taking” the good governor and his “buds” visited the now vacant homes of the “rich and famous” and absconded with everything that wasn’t nailed down.

Despite the thievery, Georgia has done a great job with the restoration of the old mansions and has created a park for us all to enjoy. Today, you too, can play crochet on the old court in front of the “Club” (provided you have proper attire of course). In addition they have established the “Georgia Sea Islands Sea Turtle Preservation Center” here on the island. If you are ever in this area it is well worth a visit.

Fairwinds & Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

PS - I think I’m getting use to this damn cold weather...and I don’t like even the though of getting use to weather that short are not common attire.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tom's Point To Thunderbolt

Tom’s Point Ck, SC, to Thunderbolt, GA:

11/6/2008: Tom’s Point Ck to Bull River At Anchor - 26nm.
11/7/2008: Bull River to Beaufort, SC At Anchor - 14 nm.
11/9/2008: Beaufort to Port Royal, SC At Anchor - 7nm.
11/11/2008 Port Royal to Wright Ck, SC At Anchor - 30nm.
11/12/2008 Wright Ck, SC to Thunderbolt, GA - 11nm.

We left Matt and Diane Zender’s dock on Tom’s Point Ck. at mid-tide and it on the rise. The creek is a bit tricky and more easily transited with a touch more water in it and a forgiving rising tide. We knew we could not make Beaufort in time for the last bridge opening so we didn’t try. It didn’t matter the day was beautiful and the trip a lazy motor thru the heart of the “Lowcountry.”

The “Lowcountry” streaches from south of Charleston down to the Marshes of Glynn in Georgia. The ICW weaves it’s way thru the salt-marshes fed by tidal creeks with names like: Wadmalaw, Toogoodoo, Ashepoo, Jehossee, Coosaw, and Daufuskie. Names that flow off the tongue like the 7 foot tides that pulse through the Lowcountry bringing life to the estuary. By mid afternoon we went to anchor in Bull River about 14 miles from Beaufort. Bull River is wide open and beautiful, surrounded by salt-marsh with islands of pine and live oak sprinkled across the viewscape.

The morning greeted us with another beautiful day - Genevra’s birthday. She had Vicki Skemp’s Flan for breakfast - she can’t eat cake (gluten intolerance) but loves flan and Vicki’s is scrumptious. We are now the same age and I can officially call her, “The Old Lady.”

Three hours after hauling our anchor and we had the anchor down in Beaufort and were headed for shore and lunch on the water front. Beaufort has done a great job with their water front. It is designed for kids to play on the green, folk to sit and enjoy the water, a great dingy dock, and enough bars to keep Old Vic happy. We decided to play tourist and do a walking tour - if you are here take one it is well worth the $13 bucks.

I have to relate one of the stories told to us by our guide - a very southern lady. A little history first... . Port Royal / Beaufort was spared the ravages of Sherman because they fell to the “yankees” early in the “War of Northern Aggression” (better know as the Civil War). All the inhabitants of Beaufort boogied just prior to the Union Army marching in and taking over. The result was all the land owners lost their homes and most of their belongings. After the War a few of the Southerners returned to Beaufort and were allowed to purchase their homes back for back taxes. The story I’m about to tell relates to one of the lucky few.

Mr. Fripp had lost his only son in one of the last battles of the war and he returned to Beaufort vowing never to shake hands with a yankee in what was left of his life. ...And all of his new neighbors were yankees occupying homes the Southerner had vacated. Yet he was one of the “lucky.” He had money and could afford the taxes to purchase his home. He returned to Beaufort confidant in the fact he would soon be “home again.”

He did not count on the corrupt, carpetbagger, government. Unknown to him, they were conspiring to take his home. He was told he had to bid on his own home at action. He did and won the bid but at 3 times the cost. He explained to the government that he did not have that much cash on him but could have it in 3 days (the time it would take to sail to Charleston and back). They agreed and Mr. Fripp left for Charleston with the tide.

After he left a young Yankee entered the tax office and heard the officials laughing about how they were going to steal Mr. Fripps home by having someone else purchase his home just prior to his return on the third day. Contrary to popular opinion there are a few honest Yankees, what he heard incensed the young man. He dug into his own pocket, then went door to door to the Yankees that were now neighbors of the Fripp home. Because of their generosity he came up with enough money to purchase the Fripp property until Mr. Fripp could return and claim his own. He beat the tax officials at their on game with just minutes to spare and left them in a rage.

When Mr. Fripp returned our good Yankee gave him the deed to his home and explained what had happened..or almost did but for his good, Yankee, neighbors. Mr. Fripp broke his vow. He now had his home back thanks to and one honest Yankee and new good friends too boot.

Sunday morning broke bright, clear and cold with a biting West wind. G cracked the hatch and coined a brand spanking new word when she announced it was “nippling” cold (no explanation needed I’m sure). We decided to leave anyway and ease down to Port Royal and were at anchor by 11:00, off the seafood house in Port Royal.

Port Royal had been a thriving deep water port until the concrete plant went out of business. Today it is a sleepy little southern town full of live oak, happy children that roam the town as if they owned the streets, and big plans to develop their waterfront. I for one am glad I got to see it before it was “developed.”

On Veterans Day we eased down the Beaufort River past Paris Island with its water towers emblazoned with 1-800-MARINES and gave my friend Chuck a call back at Matthews Point. Chuck was a Marine during WWII and I always try and remember him with a call on Veterans Day to thank him for what he (and all vets) did for us during the war. Chuck said, “You know I trained at Paris Island. The Marines have a tradition on the Island, if you have a beef any enlisted man can just go up to any officer and talk to him about it. They also have a 12 foot fence with razor wire on top between the enlisted men and the officers.” And then just laughed his infectious laugh. Chuck believes laughter is one of the worlds best medicines.

By Noon we had our anchor down in Wright Creek. We were only 10 miles from Thunderbolt, GA, our destination, but it was also low tide and Field’s Cut to the Savannah River is “skinny” water.

We were up a 7:00 the next morning and caught the top of the tide (tides are 10' in this section of the Waterway) to clear Field’s Cut to the Savannah River. For those of you that have not poked your nose out into a free flowing river like the Savannah in a small, low powered sailboat like the “Island” it will leave it’s mark on your boat handling skills. One minute you are trudging along at a brisk 6 knots and the next you are making 6 forward and 3 knots sideways. By 10:00 AM the Island was tied securely to Thuderbolt Marina’s transient dock. We are going to spend a few days exploring Savannah and the surrounding area and then (hopefully) head South outside.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

PS - The Bull Mastiff is “Truman” a new friend we met in Beaufort. He is still a puppy and weighs in at close to 250 pounds and is expected to add another 40 before he leaves puppyhood.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Myrtle Beach to Tom's Point Ck.

Barefoot Landing (North Myrtle Beach, SC) to Tom’s Point Creek, SC:

10/28/2008: Barefoot Landing to South Santee River anchorage - 58 nm.

10/29/2008: South Santee River to Dewees Creek anchorage - 29 nm.

10/30/2008: Dewees Ck to Charleston City Marina - 17nm.

11/2/2008: Charleston, SC, to Tom’s Point Ck. - 27nm.


This part of the trip South on the ICW is my favorite. First is the winding cypress water way of the Waccamaw River, bordered by old rice plantations just above Georgetown, SC. Then on to the open grass savannahs of the Cape Romain Wilderness area with endless miles of deep creeks meandering thru one of the most productive estuaries in the world. Past Charleston is the “Low Country” and a visit with my friends Matt and Diane Zender on Toms Point Creek. Matt and Diane their dog Dickens and blue jay Varmint are just the best. I purchased Oconee from them 10 years ago and we immediately became friends.

First let me say that fast moving power boats with their huge wakes and slow moving sailboats with no wake are not compatible. Sailboats get in the way of power boats “makin’ time” and discourteous power boats rock the shit out of sailboats when they pass. Respectful power boaters and sail boaters have learned to do what I call the “ICW Dance.” The “dance,” done properly, minimizes the irritation for both. As a sail boat sees a power boat approaching his stern he slow down to about 3 knots. The power boat drops off plane and slides by at 6 knots and both go back to speed in short order with only minor inconvenience to both and little or no flares in temper. Most do the dance but there are those few....

As the “Island” slowly meandered her way down the Waccamaw River (freezing our butts off - it was cold) and watching the beauties of the river unfold a 40 something foot express cruiser went by us at about 20 knots throwing a huge wake. You could see 4 men sitting on the flybridge drinking coffee and watching the effects of their wake on the boats they passed including us. This was a “dyed in the wool” asshole. People down the line asked for slow passes or “made comments” on his lack of “upbringing.” This “captain’s” (and the little “c” was on purpose) response was to key his mike and go “Waaaa” indicating we were nothing but “crybabies.” This guy was a super asshole and a jerk to boot. This continued until...

Around the bend in front of him came a barge that was being both pulled ahead and pushed from behind by tugs - the river is winding and the barge was difficult to control, it took tow to do the job. On the radio you could hear the lead tug ask for a slow pass. To which the “Jerk” gave his usual response, Waaaa. The tug captains response was immediate and emphatic, “Want a see how steel feels against fiberglass?” The “Jerk” came back, “Oh, Captain I’ll come down. I was just in the zone.” Tug Boat Captain: “I’ll show you the “zone.”“ I would have liked to bought this tug Captain a beer. He earned it.

We anchored in the South Santee River for the night and then passed thru the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge the next morning and went to anchor in Dewees Creek just north of Charleston, SC. The day was cold but pleasant, as we wandered thru the Refuge. We saw 3 bald eagles, dolphins everywhere, and a very disappointed bob cat walking a dike frustrated because his “breakfast” flew off.

We spent the weekend in Charleston, SC, tied to the Mega Dock at Charleston City Marina. They don’t call it the Mega Dock for nothing. While we were there probably close to 30, 100' plus yachts passed thru the marina including 2 over 100 foot sailboats. One was “Hooter Patrol IV and 3 were out of Bikini Atol in the Marshal Islands. And G and I didn’t even know Bikini had a marina. I’d take bets they had never even been there. We watched one take on 6000 gallons of fuel before he headed for Savannah, GA.

The marina provides a free van ride into town and Gigi and I shared the van one evening with a couple off one of the larger yachts. They said they were headed for the Exhumas this year now that they had their “little” boat with shallower draft they could enjoy the Bahamas again. The boat was 195' long, drew 15', and carried a crew of 10 and one very spoiled small dog.

G and I had planned to stay in Charleston until Monday but weather was coming and we decided it would be better to push on to Matt and Diane Zenders while the weather was good. We left on Sunday and were tied to the Zender’s dock by noon. I always enjoy my time with the Matt & Diane. They make you feel welcome and a member of the family - good food, great conversation, friendship, and a dock too. What more could “sea gypsies” want. Matt and Diane may be “Yankees” but they understand “Southern” hospitality. In truth, I think they are really Southerners at heart.

Fairwinds and Rum Drink,

Vic & Gigi

PS - Be sure to take the link to the photo page this time. I think there are some good ones this time.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Matthews Point to Bearfoot Landing, SC

Matthews Point to Barefoot Landing, SC: 10/21 thru 28/2008:

Why Does It Always Have To Be 2:00 In The Morning?

Mike Doster showed up (as promised) at Matthews Point on Monday the 20th to load the “Island” down with fresh “bambi.” I think even he was impressed with how much deer her freezer would hold - all but 4 packages worth of a whole deer. Now the adventure could start in earnest with the Island properly provisioned. Thanks Mike.

So Tuesday morning bright and early we were off like a heard of turtles headed for Swansboro, NC. We elected to tie the Island to Casper’s dock rather than anchor out. I’ve never liked the anchorage at Swansboro. It is like trying to anchor in concrete - two boats drug anchor while we watched safely tied to the dock. Mike Yount and I visited Casper’s for the first time close to 20 years ago in my old Ranger-29. They were not open when we tied up so we went up to see if they had their hours of operation posted on the door. They did, “Open when we are here. Closed when we are not.” I instantly loved the place.

Next day, we pushed on the next day to Wrightsville Beach and anchored in Banks Channel. There was a bad blow coming and we wanted to be tucked in tight when it hit.

Everyone that know me knows that I love big anchors and am a bit of a fanatic about “stayin’ put” as they say. But sometimes just “stayin’ put” isn’t everything. The blow hit about 1:30 to 2:00 AM on Saturday morning...and it hit with a “crash” and a “boom.” Why is it always 2:00 in the morning when these things hit?

The first blast was a 50 to 60 knot gust. Both Gigi and I looked out to make sure we were holding and we were so back to bed we went (first mistake, should have set an anchor watch). Then the wind piped up and the Island was sailing her “hyknee” off at anchor with the boat laying over about 15 degrees on each tack - no worries mate that big old Rocna anchor is doing her job quite well thank you.

Then what we first thought was a “special” gust came and “everything on the high side” went to the floor.” It was not until later that we discovered “that gust” was really a boat fending off down our side, busting out a piece of our canvas, breaking the roll pin in the grill mount, and taking the rescue horseshoe with them as they left - never did see the boat or find out who it was.
As we were rushing on deck, a horn sounded. A boat had yanked her anchor out of the bottom and was slamming into a dock on the causeway. No one was on deck and another boat in the anchorage was trying to warn them with his horn. I grabbed horn and decided to add to the chaos to try and get the folk on deck - the back blew out of the horn, so much for that idea.

Just about that time a Bristol 45 appeared out of the dark with a bit in her teeth and a determination to hit us mid-ships. I yelled at G to crank the engine and crank it now. She did and we motored ahead just as the Bristol slid off our stern. For the next few hours we played “dodge’m” with the 4 boats that had broken loose and were wandering around the anchorage. It was a wild night but the Island stayed where we ask her to. I could mention the good old USCG and their reaction to a call for help from the boat blown into the causeway but I will not. Those people are worthless. Why do you need to know how old the people are on board when their boat is getting slammed into a wall?

Sunday we made our way down to Southport and met Charlie. G and I had taken the marsh walk to edge of the waterway to watch the sunset and made some new friends. There was a birthday party in progress in the gazebo and, in the southern spirit of Southport, we were invited to join in. It was there we met Charlie and master Rob. Charlie is the “little tyke” pictured in the blog and yes he and his master are now new friends. Cruising is like that - nice people and new friends around every bend if you open your heart and let them in.

The trip from Southport to Barefoot Landing was uneventful..thank god. That strip of real estate is my least favorite on the waterway. There are 2 very shallow and shoaly inlets and then there is the “Rock Pile” - a 5 mile stretch quarried through solid rock. If you wander out of the channel there you will do some damage. We didn’t - no hits, no groundings, no error, Thank you.

We are currently tied to the dock at Barefoot Landing, SC, with another state behind us and 3 more in front. While here we met William Fogarty, headed south, by him self, with the boat of his dreams - a Bristol 30, christened “Booty.” He will be keeping the boat at the Sailing Club at Dinner Key, In the Grove at Miami - with luck we will see him down the way.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chesapeake Bay to Clubfoot Creek

Island Daze: 10/2-22/2008, Deltaville, VA to Wrightsville Beach, NC

On October 2nd Gigi’s Island was as ready as she would ever be. G and I hauled in our docklines at Stingray Point and headed south. The trip south to Wrightsville Beach, NC, was pretty much un-eventful and I will not bore you with the details. Except for a couple of stories.

Just out of mouth of Mobjack Bay an AIS marker appear behind us on the chartplotter. For you non-boating types AIS is sort of a poor man’s radar. All 300 ton and above vessel are required to send a signal that identifies the ship by name, description, speed, location, port of origin & destination, direction and it’s heading. If you have a receiver it will show up on your chartplotter. This mark was moving up behind us like “packman” had haunted the GPS. I got the binoculars out and this thing was throwing a “rooster tail” - remember this is a BIG boat. Turns out the boat is a Navy vessel named the Stiletto, close to 80 feet long and 40 feet wide making 34 knots (we found out later it was capable of 60 knots). Went right by us. We got pictures.

As we were approaching Thimble Shoal’s light near Norfolk we spotted a helicopter hovering above 3 Navy inflatables dragging a line out of the back of the chopper - thought it was probably search and rescue drills. We continued on toward the mouth of Norfolk harbor when we heard the chopper coming up behind us at speed. The helicopter was dragging a barge at an estimated 30 knots. Ever see an aircraft pulling a boat? Now that is an odd sight.

Turns out we were not the only ones taken unawares, as seagoing container ship was frantically trying to hail the helicopter on the VHF radio and trying to figure out how to dodge a chopper towing a barge at speed. After talking to some friends that work for the Navy about the incident choppers are now used for mine sweepers and what we probably saw was mine sweeper drills.

Fairwinds & Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Island Daze: 10/18/2008

Island Daze: October 18, 2008:
Where to start...?
First of all you will note that the "dispatches" have a new title and there is a reason. On June 4th, Genevra Leader and her boat "Gigi’s Island" came into my life. It was a conspiracy from the "get-go." A friend of mine Bill Morris and Gigi’s cousin Tom decided we needed to meet. After careful and secret negotiations they quietly coerced us into contacting each other via e-mail. When Oconee and I reached Matthews Point in early June Gigi "hitched up her big girl britches" and with much trepidation, drove down from Deltaville, Va, (where Gigi’s Island was at the time) and we met for the first time. The rest is history as they say.
To make a long story short we decided to leave Oconee under the care of my best friend Mike Yount and my son Noel for the winter and return to the Bahamas in the fall of 2008 in the "Island." We both are "older and wiser" and realistic when it comes to relationships but nothing ventured nothing gained. And we both saw something in each other that made it worth a try. Wish us luck.
The summer was a whirlwind of visiting friends and working on the "Island" to get her ready for the next stage of her life (and ours). I swore I’d never have another schedule but this summer was nothing but schedules.
I rented a car and took off on a month long trek (read marathon). First, Raleigh to visit my Son and daughter-in-law. Cary to visit Gigi’s Son, Daughter-in-law and Brennan Grace, her 15 month old granddaughter (what a cutie). Asheville to visit Gene Edwards and his new bride. John and Vicki Skemp near Madison. Bill Morris and Donna in Knoxville. Tom and Sheril Spight and his extended family near Atlanta. Charlie and Freddie Nichols in Atlanta. My brother Richard and his family in Birmingham. My aunt and uncle Al and Christine Jenkins in Athens. My cousin Chris Dunn in Columbus (GA). My middle brother Ronnie and his lady Kathy in Stone Mountain. And for the finale Gigi flew into Atlanta for a "brothers" reunion at our place on Lake Sinclair in mid-August.
The rest of the summer was just a blur including 2 trips to Annapolis, MD, to have gear added to the "Island" and constant work to get the her ready to head. The "to do" list never seemed to get shorter - for every item we struck we added 2 more. But we did take time for some fun or sometimes the fun just came to us. Like the "Blues Cab" in Annapolis.
It had been one of those frustrating days so G and I decided to go into Annapolis and treat our selves to a supper that someone else had to cook. After supper we poked our head out of the restaurant and it was raining. There were three cabs just down the block we ambled over to the first cab. He didn’t speak English and did not know where Jabin’s Boat Yard was (Jabins is largest and best know boat yard in Annapolis area). The second cab was no better, as-a-matter-of-fact we left the first and second cab drivers discussing the location of Jabins and wandered back to the third cab in line. It was a beat up old GM something-or-other with "Blues Cab" painted on the side.
George, the owner, was a nice Black man that said, "Shoo I knows where Jabins is." We hopped in and were off. George glanced over his shoulder, welcomed us to Annapolis, and asked, "Do you folks like "The Blues?" "Of course," we said in chorus. George popped in a tape and started singing. George, as it turned out, was from New Orleans and had spent most of his life singing with the likes of BB King. Old Vic was in heaven. The ride was over all too quickly and we left George chewing the fat with the night watchman at Jabins.
Sometimes good times just come to you when you need it most and expect it least. Life is like that and I’ve learned to open my mind and heart and embrace them when they come.
We are currently in Clubfoot Creek near Beaufort, NC. If you would care to follow us on a map I use a program called "Yotreps" to chart the location of the "Island." If you go to "http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/reporter_list.php" and scroll down to my radio call sign, WDD4242 - Oconee, and click on "track" it will bring up a map with "Gigi’s Island’s" last location. The system is not as accurate as I would like. It lops off all but whole minutes of Lat/Long so it will sometimes be as much as a mile off, but it’s close. If you want an exact location I always try to post an exact Lat/Long in the comments. Then you can enter them into any mapping software you like and it should have the "Island" within a few feet of our actual location.
The next post will include a few stories from our trip from Deltaville, VA, to Clubfoot Ck, NC and (with luck) there will be some photos also.
Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,