Up the coast to New York

Our Looper flotilla headed out from Delaware and New Jersey and traveled to New York to visit the city that never sleeps. On the way, we picked up one more traveler at Cape May, so now The Lower Place has rejoined our group.   We last saw Charlie and Robin McVey in Washington DC.   Once we conquered the Jersey coast, with only a little drama on the Atlantic Ocean from contrary wind and waves, we set our sights on New York.

We stayed at the Staten Island Yacht Club then traveled by car, train, ferry, and subway to get around the city.   We were able to visit many sights and locations.  One of the most moving and difficult was the 9/11 memorial.  Everyone usually can tell you where they were the day 9/11 happened.  Steve was just across the river watching events unfold, so seeing the memorial was extra significant.  We also saw the bull on Wall Street, the NY stock Exchange building, Battery Park, and this was just the first day.

One of Teresa’s goals was to visit the “Today Show” so we worked out a plan to make that happen.   The owner of the local restaurant at Great Kills knew a guy and put us in touch with Carl who willingly drove us right to Rockefeller Center at 4:15am to get in line for the show. We were right up near the front of line and secured a spot on the rail in the center of filming.   Moon Shadow made signs for us to hold along the railing.  One sign highlighted our 6000 miles on a boat and the other promoted Teresa’s book. What a treat to have our friends see us on TV!   After a mid-morning breakfast at a local diner, we rode up to the top of the Empire State building with Enterprise.   The New York library was a stop Teresa could not skip.   The huge building is very ornate and noteworthy to tour.   She loved seeing the vast reading areas, books, and architecture.

Once back on Staten Island, we visited Nonna’s—a local pizza place which came highly recommended.  The recommendation was absolutely right. The New York style pizza was fantastic and our Looper Group of 10 enjoyed the food and company very much.

Leaving Great Kills Yacht Club meant we were going to travel by the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor.   We planned for our Looper group to travel togather and take pictures of each other in front of the Statue of Liberty.  What a treat to see the statue from our own vessel!

Once past the lady and the city, we kept traveling north up the Hudson River.   The planned destination for the night was Half Moon Bay Marina at Croton on the Hudson.  We saw the new Tappan Zee bridge construction passing under the new spans along the way.   The river scenery quickly turned from dense high-rise city scape to hills and trees.  The hills cliffs and trees are scenic north of the city.

On the way into the marina, we passed by the anchorage and park we were at when we purchased Sanctuary in May 2014.  Sanctuary has passed by her own wake, but is continuing home to finish the Great Loop and receive her Gold Flag.

From Croton on the Hudson, we rode the train back into the city to Grand Central Station.  Exploring that huge facility was overwhelming.  You could look around and see the locations from many movies in the building.  We walked from Grand Central to Times Square.   Street entertainers, yellow cabs galore, lights, horns—it is all there.  We found a great lunch spot just off Times Square and then made our way to the Majestic Theater.  Teresa had planned to see Phantom of the Opera when it was in Grand Rapids, but had to go out of town.   While in New York, if possible, she wanted to see her first Broadway play. Phantom of the Opera was available as a Saturday matinee, so we were able to attend.  The theater, the sounds from the orchestra, the organ, the costumes, and the whole show were fantastic!  A couple we met on the way into the theater saw Phantom in Toronto.  They said this version was 100 times better than the Toronto one which was very good.

After the play, we walked and took a cab to the High Line, an old elevated railroad line converted to a park.  We returned to Grand Central Station, explored that area a little more, and then took our train back to Croton on the Hudson.   From the train station, it was a short cab ride back to the marina, where this group of very tired loopers crashed for the night.  One more night in this marina, then we plan to continue traveling north on the Hudson River.

Teresa and the Bull on Wall Street

 

 

New York Public Library

 

 

Today Show

 

 

Times Square

 

 

St Patricks Cathedral

 

 

NY Stock Exchange 

 

 

Empire State Building

 

 

Hudson River passing NY

 

 

Statue of Liberty

 

 

Freedom Tower

 

 

 

9-11 Memorial

 

Grand Central Station 

 

 

Majestic Theater – Phantom of the Opera

 

 

Lady Liberty with Sanctuary

 

 

On to Annapolis and Swan Creek

From the Potomac River, we re-entered Chesapeake Bay and traveled toward Annapolis.  Not too far into the bay, we caught up with our looper friends on Southern Cross and Moon Shadow. We followed them the rest of the way into Annapolis.   Earlier, we communicated with them and set up to meet in Annapolis Landing Marina.  We had a great stay as we toured Annapolis, celebrated Steve’s birthday, and visited the Naval Academy.

The Naval Academy was extra special because we attended Sunday services in their chapel.   The chapel is a beautiful building with many stained-glass windows, each of which depict a biblical story.  Below the chapel is the crypt of John Paul Jones who is considered to be the father of the US Navy.  The staff were friendly as the chaplains and pastor greeted us as we were seated. Afterwards, we shook Pastor Bart Physioc and gifted him a copy of Teresa’s book. We were pleased to receive an email from Pastor Bart the next day saying it was good to meet us and thanking us for the book. He had already began to read it and found out that he and Teresa have something in common. They both have had brain surgery—what a small world!  This stop on the Great Loop and attending service at the Naval Academy was definitely a divine appointment.

Water Taxis are available right from the Annapolis Landing Marina where we stayed. Our marina office staff gave us $1 off water taxi rides, so we used them to take us to Ego Alley dockage in downtown Annapolis (our first water taxi ride). A special parade to celebrate Steve’s birthday (most people thought it was for Memorial Day) also took place that day.  The parade opened with an amazing Navy band, continuing with brightly colored dancers, more bands and music, yellow fire trucks, classic old cars, and much more. On the Water Taxi returning to our marina, we met Peter VI. Just a young tyke still being held by his mother. On the boat also was Peter V (young Peter’s dad) and Peter IV (dad Peter’s dad). What a nice family and quite the legacy! The dad Peter V graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and the family decided to meet here.  Two other loopers caught up with us later while we were in Annapolis, Last Call and Aqua-Fennatic.  We ended the day celebrating with a special dinner for Steve with about 12 Looper friends.

While in Annapolis, we visited a Target.  The Looper crew was impressed with the special escalators for your shopping cart after you load it up with supplies.   The Target was on the second floor of the building with its own attached parking ramp.  To enter the store from the parking ramp, you ride an escalator up. Then when you leave, you push your cart onto the special cart escalator and ride next to it on the people escalator.  Amazing: modern technology!

From Annapolis, we traveled across the bay to Swan Creek where the town of Rock Hall Maryland is located.   There is a very nice marina we found while exploring with our dinghy flotilla of four. We anchored out in Swan Creek and traveled to Harbor Haven marina by dinghy, docked the dinghys, and borrowed bikes to go into town.  The town has a nice grocery, ice cream shop, and a West Marine store. What more could you ask for?

After our dinghy trip, it started to rain. The rain shower finished with a beautiful full rainbow from left to right.  One of the boats traveling with us, Enterprise, looked like they were at the end of the rainbow … but they did not find the pot of gold.

We now have 4 boats in our Looper Flotilla: Enterprise, Moon Shadow, Sanctuary, and Southern Cross.   The Looper Flotilla plan to head for Cape May, New Jersey next as we make our way toward New York City. That will mean that we traveled from Maryland, next night spent in Delaware, and the next day in New Jersey—which will make our total add up to 14 states.

 

Naval Academy at Annapolis

Scenes from Annapolis

 

Happy Birthday Steve

 

Happy Birthday Steve

 

 

Memorial Day Parade in Annapolis

 

Shopping at Target in Annapolis

 

Scenes from Chesapeake Bay

 

 

Rainbow at Swan Creek with Enterprise

 

 

Moon Shadow at Swan Creek

 

 

Washington DC (part 2) and back down the Potomac River

On our last full day in Washington DC, we visited the WWII memorial and the Lincoln Monument.  We enjoyed our days in DC while touring together with Charlie & Robin from The Lower Place. We either walked a lot or shared an Uber ride with our Looper friends.

While in DC, we stayed at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC. Most of the boaters at Gangplank are live-aboards. Viewing the many unique “house” boats in the marina proved most enlightening. Costs to live aboard your boat are considerably less than to rent or purchase a land dwelling in DC.  We were shocked to discover that the national sights were free to visit. You just need to stand in line to receive your ticket for your tour. In the case of the Capitol tour, the ticket will be time stamped for the group you are assigned to follow. Other items such as restaurant and grocery foods are priced more than we are accustomed to in the north.

To get to Washington DC, we traveled up the Potomac River which covered over 100 miles up and then 100 miles back—a slight detour off our main route, but well worth the trip.    On the way back down the river, we stayed at Cobb Island where we enjoyed Maryland Blue Crab for the first time.  Our waitress was gracious enough to give us a live tutorial on the art of undressing the crab to best uncover the detectable morsels within the crab itself. Crab tastes similar to Maine lobster, but with much more effort to get to the meat. The crab was served with melted butter. The Maryland Blue Crab is also called the Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab. It is the Maryland state crustacean and is also the state’s largest commercial fishery.  The crabs are blue when caught, but magically turn red when steamed.  They were very good especially since they are fresh off the boats which dock in the marina.

We passed the St. Clements Lighthouse and noticed the extremely tall cross on the island next to the lighthouse. The first English settlers arrived on the island in 1634 on the sailing ships named the Ark and the Dove. The island consists of a 62-acre park with a memorial 40-foot stone cross dedicated to the memory of the first Marylanders.

As we were approached Smith Creek where we planned to anchor for the night, the clouds immediately began to darken. Warnings about possible severe storms broadcast on the marine radio.   We anchored in the bay and battened down the hatches for the storm.   Over 40-mile winds blew in the bay as the storm passed by in two different sections. We were thankful our big (used to be shiny) Mantus anchor held.  During the storm and 24 hours later we took pictures. Comparing the two groups of photos, it was hard to believe what a difference just a day can bring! The very next night, we witnessed a beautiful reddish-orange sunset painted over Smith Creek.

 

Lincoln Memorial and WWII Memorial

Houses on Capitol Hill

 

Umbrella Crowd – Steve Teresa Charlie and Robin

 

 

House Boats at Gangplank Marina in Washington DC

 

 

We see lots of Osprey nests along the waterways.   Most of the markers for the waterways seem to have a nest built on them, which are a large collection of sticks.   It is nesting time now so we see them sitting on the nests waiting for their eggs to hatch.

Osprey Nests

 

Cobb Island

 

Crabs for lunch

 

Storm in Smith Creek

 

In every state Teresa takes a picture of a license plate. Some how this just seems perfect that in this area with more government employees than anywhere else the motto complains about taxes and the plate is held on with zip ties.

 

 

On to Washington DC (Part One)

Approaching Washington DC, you can see the Washington Monument from a long way away since it is the highest structure in the area.  Numerous planes and helicopters flew over as we approached the city.  Busy Reagan International Airport is next to the river. Many helicopters fly along the river and we continue to sight an abundance of aircraft all around us. Neither Teresa or Steve have ever traveled to the Washington DC area, so we saw everything with fresh and amazed eyes.

Once we arrived at Gangplank Marina in Washington. we met our looper friends Charlie and Robin McVey from the motor vessel The Lower Place.  They arrived a few days before us and scouted out the lay of the land. It was wonderful to re-connect with them again in a different setting. We toured many of the Washington DC sites with them.  We saw the Capitol at sunset, the White house, Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery (such a moving, humbling place), Trump Hotel (refurbished home of the Oldest Post Office), and the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress. Books lined shelves and alcoves–many old volumes protected within a temperature-controlled environment. Of particular interest to Teresa was the quote: “I cannot live without books!”  We had the privilege of indulging in appetizers and drinks at BLT Prime inside the Trump Hotel.  Warm popovers graced our table at the start, followed by an appetizer, Clothesline Candied Maple Bacon featuring four slices of thick bacon suspended from a mini copper wire held on by wooden clothespins, and a dill pickle. How bad can it be–it’s BACON?! The presentation was worth it all as our server torched the bacon and a spring of herbs prior to serving. The food was absolutely remarkable!

We were thankful our wait for the US Capitol tour tickets was minimal. Normally, huge busloads of school children and adults filled the lines to the max. We just made it through before that happened. Experienced a good tour through the Capitol lingering in The Rotunda—heart and center of the Capitol. Paintings depict various events associated with the exploration and settlement of the United states such as “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” and “Baptism of Pocahontas.” Many of the larger buildings have gift shops with postcards and most any memorabilia you might desire.

The changing of the guard at Arlington is an amazing sight in precision and reverence.   The steps, uniform, and each detail are exact in every aspect.   We watched a changing of a ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and heard a soldier play taps as part of that process.

On Sunday, we worshiped with Christ Church Episcopal Washington Parrish where we understand Thomas Jefferson attended back in the day. A plaque on the outside church wall states the Christ Church was founded in 1795 and was the first church in the city of Washington. Friendly church people. We met Rev. Cara Spaccarelli who now owns a copy of Teresa’s book. Afterwards, we toured the neighborhood with a recommendation from Charles (gentleman we met in the front foyer of the church), walked past the barracks and commandant’s home.  Walking on the sidewalks in front of such varied colors and architectural design proved a treat all by itself. Homes created from various materials stacked next to each other, house next to house, without space in between; only rod iron fences separate families. Their mini yards often bore bricks or small vegetable plantings and flowers. I’m told families exercise and play together in numerous community parks sprinkled throughout the town. This particular section of town reminded me of back home, a place called Eastown in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The first restaurant we stopped at said they had a 2-hour, 15 minute wait—we declined and moved on. Walking a few more blocks we came upon various diners and chose to satisfy our hungry tummies at Ophelia’s Fish House. Urban living to the fullest degree.

We walked between 5-8 miles daily while in DC. We also took advantage of Uber, and rode the Metro train for the first time. Hop on and hop off buses are popular. Also, our friends Charlie & Robin from The Lower Place highly recommend the Segway narrated tours which can be seen rolling here and there among the streets and popular buildings.

Thoughts while sitting on the Amphitheater steps of the Unknown Soldier:

Oh, the tears, the blood shed
Represented here in this place.
Row after Row after Row
White tombstones
Representing sons, fathers, uncles.
Real live people.
Real live losses.

Days gone by.
Ancestors, family, friends.
What sacrifices!
All to secure my freedom and yours.
Words cannot describe
The debt we owe
To the many who’ve gone on before.

I am humbled, speechless
Driven to my knees.
My only response
Is Thank You.
And then the tears flow.

I doubt that many other Loopers can claim they saw the sixth annual Running of The Chihuahuas. Dog lovers actually race chihuahuas in Washington DC. There were 16 rounds leading up to the race to determine the overall winner. The top three winners receive cash prizes.  There is so much to see and do here it is overwhelming, and we only sampled a small portion. We are thankful to be here and experience a taste of big city life and urban living.

 

Arlington National Cemetery 

 

Library of Congress

 

White House

 

Capitol Building

 

Washington Monument

 

Trump Hotel

 

Washington Train Ride

 

Running of the Chihuahuas

 

 

More about Washington DC to follow…………

Through Norfolk Naval Shipyard area and up the Potomac River

Once we returned to the boat, we visited Norfolk and toured the new Waterside area and the Nauticus Museum with Scott and Mary from the motor vessel Jaycie Lynn.  The battleship Wisconsin is on display at the Nauticus Museum. The Battleship Wisconsin served in World War II, Korea, and Desert Storm.  It was launched in 1944 and decommissioned in 1991.  It is 887’ long and had a crew of up to 2800 men.

We continued our trek north from Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) where the first encounter along the water way is a lift bridge and a lock.   The lock is a small 2’ drop, but it was the first lock we traveled through since last year on the rivers. We will not see another lock until the Erie Canal at Waterford north of New York City.

The trip through Norfolk Naval Shipyard area seemed overwhelming with all the war ships undergoing refurbishment and construction.   One of the aircraft carriers was heading out to sea as we passed through the area.  It was nice of them to put on a show for us. We also saw ocean going container ships in the harbor.

Once past Norfolk, we traveled up the Chesapeake Bay which is very wide and reminded us of Lake Michigan.  The bay was calm and flat on our way to the Potomac River.  We left the Bay to travel up the Potomac to visit Washington DC.  It took two days to make the trip up the river to Washington DC.

Our trip up the Potomac took us past the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge at Newburg Virginia.  The bridge has 135’ clearance above the water in the center.  There were workers suspended in bucket booms below the bridge.  They would be a candidate for the worst jobs television program.

We stayed at the Colonial Beach Yacht Center marina where we ate at Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar right off the Potomac River. The restaurant had a small beach with old skis fashioned into benches, old power boats as art, and sand boxes for the children. Very rustic, but we received good service with tasty food.

The trip continued past Quantico, Mount Vernon, Fort Washington, and many additional sights.  Our next blog post will be about visiting Washington DC.

 

Battleship Wisconsin

 

 

Norfolk Waterside Area

 

 

 

The lift bridge at Great Bridge just past Atlantic Yacht Basin

 

The Lock at Great Bridge

 

Norfolk Ship yards

 

Calm Seas on the Chesapeake Bay

 

Working on Bridge over Potomac River

 

 

Fort Washington on the Potomac River

 

Next post our visit to Washington DC…………

Atlantic Yacht Basin, a quick trip home, and on to Minnesota

From Belhaven, we traveled to Alligator River and then on to Chesapeake near Norfolk VA.   The trip was smooth and uneventful along the water ways.  A nice contrast to the last few days.  While we were at Belhaven, there was a severe storm in the night.  The wind blew from the east at over 40 and then switched around and blew over 40 from the west.   A sail on the boat behind us started to tear loose, so we worked to tie it up to keep it from doing more damage. After all that, we were thankful for a few calm days.

The plan was to leave the boat at Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) and rent a car to travel back to Michigan.   We planned to drive so we could off load several things picked up along the trip.  It was great to visit with friends and family back at home.   After a few days at home, we traveled to Minnesota to visit the grand kids.  The grand kids were having a dance performance and Nanna told Liberty that this year we were coming to see the recital in person.  Two of the grand kids and their parents were all in the dance performance.  We had a delightful time seeing the performance, going hiking, eating ice cream and s’mores, and experiencing a couple cookouts while visiting the grandkids.

After the visit in Minnesota, we drove home, and then flew back to Norfolk.  We had scheduled a quick haul and bottom wash at AYB to have the running gear and underwater zincs checked.  So out of the water onto the travel lift came Sanctuary.   Everything looked good except one of the zincs needed to be replaced.  When you have dissimilar metals in water and especially in salt water, they will corrode by a process called electrolysis.  If you put a sacrificial metal (zinc) on your under-water metal, the sacrificial metal (zinc) will dissolve, protecting your bronze propellers and stainless steel shafts.   With a clean bottom and new zinc, Sanctuary went back in the water ready to continue the journey.

While here at AYB, a fellow Looper, Susan from Suzy Q was hit in the night by a barge crushing her against the T-dock. Fortunately, she was not in her boat at the time so she was not injured. She’s understandably shook up. Susan just began the Great Loop 21 days ago single-handed. The barge company admits full responsibility and is paying for a room, food, and clothing for her in the interim. She’s in need of prayer as she navigates through the many tough decisions she needs to make.

At AYB, there are many unique and interesting boats to look at.   This boat yard specializes in taking care of many older one-of-a-kind boats.   They have a track type lift that can pull very large boats out of the water.  While we were at AYB, there was one on that lift that measured at least 100’ long.  The storage buildings are over water and the boats are pulled into the sheds.  After the haul-out, we were directed to dock Sanctuary inside one of the buildings, which worked out well because it has been raining for a couple days and more rain was predicted.

 

Dock at AYB where Sanctuary stayed while we went home

 

Spring has sprung up north

Visits with Amanda

Grand Kids Dance Performance in Minnesota

 

S’mores by the fire pit

Fire pit to cook S’mores

 

Grandkids

Some of the unique boats at AYB

Sanctuary gets a lift

 

 

Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Southport, Wrightsville Beach, Mile Hammock Bay, Beaufort NC, Oriental, and then Belhaven.

Leaving Charleston, it was a perfectly flat travel day as we moved toward Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown. We planned to leave the boat for a week and take a quick trip home, but Teresa got sick so we visited a med center instead.  Minor sinus infection and fluid in her ear.   Picked up some antibiotics and that kicked the infection.  While there, we visited the Rice Museum.   We found out that the area including Georgetown had been home to many rice plantations back in the 1700-1800’s.   It was one of the richest areas in the country due to rice production.   The fresh water rivers and tides were used to flood the low fields in the area.   The tides would back up the fresh water rivers to allow the fields to flood.  They used gates on canals into the fields to keep the saltwater out.  Soon other areas of the country could produce rice cheaper and the area turned to other products.    Leaving Georgetown takes you through the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge. We are finally seeing lots of tall trees with leaves! How refreshing from the normal non-descript rice patties turned marsh fields.

 

Birds looking for a hand out from the fishermen

 

Birds looking for a hand out from the fishermen

Rice Museum

 

We stayed two nights in Georgetown and then moved on to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club.  We stayed just one night there and had dinner at the Yacht Club with John & Sandra from Compass Rose.  It was trivia night, but our table was not very good at their trivia categories, so the “loopers” did not win any of the prizes.

Anyone want a cheap shrimp boat

 

I did not know my mom had a boat……..

North Carolina – Day #225 & 2909 nautical miles. Just crossed the line over into North Carolina! Still seeing many mega homes with greatly extended docks out to their covered areas where the boat is kept. Due to the amount of marshy areas, owners must extend their docks to get beyond that and account for the great fluctuation in tidal changes.

 

So many long docks along the way

The next stop was Southport, North Carolina, home of harbor hosts Robert and Kay Creech.  We really enjoyed the seaport town of Southport which appears to be more affordable for regular people than the last three larger, more popular towns/cities. We met the Robert & Kay on their front porch which overlooks the water. Harbor Hosts are hospitable people who live in the harbor town and volunteer their time, and provide transportation for other loopers who venture into their town. We visited with them on their porch overlooking the bay and later on Short Vacation (another looper boat) for docktails.  Southport is a quaint little town with many opportunities to walk the historic neighborhood, shop, and eat. Provisions Company Seafood is a MUST casual restaurant to dine at and is within a short walking distance from Southport Marina where we stayed.

We were blessed to be just in time for the Southport Spring Festival featuring local artists, good, and music by the Brunswick Big Band. Steve was itching to get up on stage and play his trumpet too. On Easter Sunday, we were but a short distance walk to Southport First Baptist Church founded in 1871. Very friendly people who greeted us and afterwards we presented Pastor Thomlinson with a copy of Teresa’s book.

 

Some scenes from Southport

 

Sanctuary in Southport

 

We stopped in Wrightsville Beach for a night in the anchorage.   Once safely anchored, we took the dinghy to shore and explored the area taking a walk on the Atlantic beach Ocean.  It is a small beach community, but we did find ice cream on shore so it gets a good rating.

 

Scenes along the ICW

 

Day #229 – Into every life, a little rain must fall, and during the night, fall it did! But we were warm and cozy in our enclosed cabin area. Sanctuary anchored in Mile Hammock Bay near New River Inlet with several other boats. Watched dolphins swim around us, Osprey planes fly overhead from the nearby military base, and water birds dive for food.

Day #230, we completed 3000 nautical miles under our keel as we passed Camp Lejeune. Part of the waterway passes through the live Firing Range. There are large signs with flashing lights. A boat will be on station to block the way if they are conducting live firing exercises.   Lucky for us they were not active, so we passed through without delay.

We arrived at Homer Smith docks and Marina after the anchorage in Mile Hammock Bay.  From the marina, it is a short walk to downtown Beaufort NC.  There is a free museum with appealing displays of Black Beard the Pirate. We stayed two nights at Homer Smith. As we were getting ready to leave, we got a package of fresh tuna from the marina seafood supply connected with the marina.   They process a lot of seafood which comes off the shrimping and fishing boats, so it is a good place to purchase fresh sea food.

Fishing Boats

 

Beaufort Museum

Sunset at Homer Smiths Marina

 

The next stop was Oriental—the sailing capital of North Carolina. There is a free dock in town available, so we tied up there.   Dave and Liz, friends who used to live in Grand Rapids and kept their sailboat named Double Vision in Muskegon, moved to New Bern (near Oriental).   Dave came and picked us up at the marina and took us on a tour back to New Bern and their house.  Once Liz was done with work for the day, we relaxed for a while on their deck and went down town for dinner.  After dinner, we went back to the boat.   When we arrived at our dock, we received a big surprise that was not good.   We were docked to a very tall shrimp boat. A flock of cormorants (really, really crappy birds) landed on the upper booms and cables of the tall shrimp boat next to us.   The wind was blowing in the direction of our boat.  It was literally raining bird poop all over our back deck covering every inch.  After moving, hosing, and scrubbing for a couple hours most of the deposits were removed.  The second night was at a different free town dock and was much better.   The next day we attended the Oriental Boat show.   We did not buy a new boat there, but did find a few treasures.

Visiting with Dave and Liz

 

Oriental Town Dock

Oriental Yacht Club Flags

 

Leaving Oriental was one of the roughest days of our trip.   The wind was strong to begin the trip, but the waves were only about a foot so continuing seemed like a good plan.  After a while, the wind and waves continued to build on the Neuse River.  The river is about 5 miles wide and feeds into Pamlico Sound which is about 20 miles wide.   We needed to make about 12 miles to get to our planned inlet and get relief from the wind and waves.   The 1 foot waves soon turned into 5 to 6 foot waves. We considered turning into a bay along the way, but that would have taken almost as much travel as the one that was our original goal.   The boat was very wet outside and inside many things moved around, but thankfully we safely made it to the bay.   Froggy was looking very green, but also made it without incident.   We were very glad to make it to the dock in Belhaven NC.   We met looper friends Pat and Kathy from Southern Cross at River Forest Marina and went to dinner with them at The Tavern at Jacks Neck.   Jim, Jimmie, and Jim, have taken an old store front and remolded it into an amazing place.   The food and service was excellent, and the atmosphere is a beautiful nautical theme with lots of wood.   Come for the food, but also have Jimmie give you a tour and explain the facilities and history of the store fronts.  They also are working on opening a steak restaurant next door.  Fun town with a few shops, less than 2000 residents, nestled in a quaint setting.

 

The mess after the rough ride

 

River Haven Marina Loaner Golf Cart on the way to dinner

 

 

Fantastic Dinner at -The Tavern at Jacks Neck

 

The Manor at River Forest

 

 

Spring Flowers

 

Charleston and Patriots Point

If you are in the Charleston area, be sure and visit Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.   You will find the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, USS Laffey Destroyer battle ship, and USS Clamagore submarine. As part of your very reasonably priced ticket, you can also tour a Vietnam Experience along the shoreline.   It took most of the day to go through the exhibits, and we still did not see it all.   Our dock was right next to the aircraft carrier, so we could see Sanctuary from the deck of the ship. A big THANK YOU to all our military personnel—those who’ve gone before us and those who serve us now! We owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

There is a lot to see and visit in the downtown Charleston area.   The area is rich with restored old houses and buildings for very interesting architecture tours.   We met with some other loopers (Captain’s Choice and Panacea) and took an educational, fun carriage ride through the city.  Our driver’s name was Joshua and his horse was named Samson, the largest horse in the fleet. After our carriage tour, we gathered at very popular Henry’s Seafood & Jazz on the Market for a tasty lunch and time to chit-chat.  We saw some scary loopers on the stairway, but did not see the ghost that is reported to hang out there. Later, we were invited to St. John’s Marina for docktails with Kim Russo, Director of AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association). It was good to greet loopers we met from the past and some we’ve recently connected.

The Charleston College Sailing School is next to Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, the marina we stayed at.  Every day we saw small racers head out for training and then sail back in right past Sanctuary. A convenient marina to both the naval museum, the sailing school, and gift shop.

From our deck we watched cruise ships, container ships, local sailing yachts, and much more as they traveled through Charleston Harbor. Dolphins also loved to frolic inside and outside of the long exterior dock where we were tied.

 

Submarine USS Clamagore

 

Aircraft Carrier USS Yorktown

 

Destroyer USS Laffey

 

Patriots Point Vietnam Experience

 

Carriage Ride Through City

 

Charleston Harbor

 

Sanctuary in Charleston

 

Loopers meet at St Johns Marina near Charleston

 

 

Bridge at Charleston

 

Dramatic Coast Guard greeting and another lighthouse with a lot of steps

Fernandina Harbor Marina was hit hard by Hurricane Mathew last year.  They are still working to recover from that and have only recently partially opened. The docks and facilities still need a lot of work.   They had an open t-dock available for us to stay on allowing us to visit the town and area.   The town is full of shops and eateries housed in the old buildings that have been updated inside.  The historic look of the streets and store fronts remained preserved.  We rented a car there because it was time to take Karen (Teresa’s sister) to the airport in Jacksonville.  We took a ride over to the beach on the Atlantic and watched surfers trying to catch the best big wave.

After dropping Karen off in Jacksonville, we continued to travel north along the ICW.  Soon after leaving Fernandina, we crossed the line from Florida into Georgia.  It took a long time to get around Florida since we first entered Florida in November of last year.  As soon as we entered Georgia, we were greeted by a large Coast Guard Flotilla.  They were well equipped with guns on many of the boats. One came up next to us and told us to keep over to the starboard side of the channel hugging the red markers.  They told us they were doing a training exercise.

We stopped at Jekyll Island Marina, the smallest of the Golden Isles of Georgia.  Jekyll Island was a winter retreat for Millionaires’ Club 1888-1942.  The most powerful American financiers chose the Island where they could relax and play in undisturbed isolation. You’ll recognize famous people who stayed on the island including the Rockefellers, Macy, J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, Sears, and Vanderbilt—just to name a few. If you’d like to read more about this winter refuge, I’d highly recommend reading “Splendid Isolation, The Jekyll Island Millionaires’ Club 1888-1942,” by Pamela Bauer Mueller.

Today, the Jekyll Island Club Resort has a large hotel with beautiful grounds.  Reminds us a bit of a mini Grand Hotel area on Mackinac Island, Michigan. There is a community of restored cottages on the grounds of the resort open to tour.   On the other side of the island is Driftwood Beach.   This is a very unique and photo rich location.  Driftwood beach is on the north east side of the island so storms and waves batter the trees along that coast.   When the tide goes out, there is a large area with huge trees on the beach.  The weathered and worn limbs/roots of the trees creates an unusual scene. People set up their beach blankets, umbrellas, and coolers among the random scattering of weathered trees and roots. It’s rather comical to see hats and wet towels hanging on extended branches. We walked the beach a couple of times marveling at the scene and taking pictures.

Our next stop was an anchorage on Walburg Creek. We spent a quiet night anchored there traveling the next morning to Isle of Hope.  We will spend a couple days at Isle of Hope Marina and visit Savannah from there.   The first day we took an Uber ride to the downtown Savannah water front.   We toured the water front area and some of the shopping districts up away from the waterfront.   As we were walking along the shopping district, we were surprised to see Phil and Mary (boaters from our LYH home marina in Michigan).  There is a lot to see and do in Savannah, and we sampled a small portion.

We used the marina courtesy car the next day to tour Tybee Island Light House climbing 178 steps to the top for a wide open view of the area.  The light is still functional utilizing a first order Fresnel lens which projects out 18 miles into the ocean. The tour also includes the museum housed in Fort Screven’s Battery Garland across the street.

We planned to leave Isle of Hope this morning, since storms were predicted, we stayed for another day.  The storms were uneventful here yielding a lot of wind and heavy rain (at least so far.)

The next planned stop is Beaufort South Carolina.

 

 

Scenes from Fernandina

 

Sisters on Sanctuary

 

 

Saying good bye in Jacksonville

 

Coast Guard Flotila

 

 

Driftwood Beach

 

Greeting at Jekyll Island for Sanctuary

 

Sanctuary at Jekyll Island Marina

 

 

 

Shrimp Boat anchored in Walburg Creek

 

Sunset in Walburg Creek Anchorage

 

 

 

 

Scenes from Savannah

 

Tybee Island Light Station and Museum

 

 

Isle of Hope

 

 

Sanctuary Sunrise at Isle of Hope

 

Rockets and Really Old Stuff

From Vero Beach, we travelled to the Cocoa, FL area and anchored near town.   Cocoa has a lot of small touristy shops and restaurants.   We watched the NASA websites about a possible rocket launch and were excited to learn that one was scheduled for the evening we were in Cocoa. The area is called the space coast and Cocoa is about 10 miles from Cape Canaveral and the Space Center.  The time came near for the launch, however they experienced a problem so there was a delay of about an hour.  Once the problem was fixed, the countdown resumed.  Suddenly it looked like another sunset toward the NW from our anchorage as the rocket started to lift off.   Right before our eyes, we could clearly see it take off and fly over our heads. Oddly, a short time later, the sound arrived resembling a rumble of jets taking off.  If you are ever in the area when a launch is scheduled, you should try to watch the rocket take off, it is amazing.

From Cocoa, we stopped for one night at Port Orange at Adventure Yacht Harbor marina located in a residential area. There was not much to see in the immediate area, but they did have a good restaurant on site called “The Boondocks.” Mikey Likes It joined us for dinner. They’ve travelled with us a few days now.   Along the way, we saw a few more dolphins who chose to be our escorts along the ICW. We always enjoy their visits and never tire of their presence.

Our next stops were in the St. Augustine area.  We stayed two nights on a mooring in St. Augustine harbor and then moved to a dock at Rivers Edge Marina exploring the city from both locations.   There is a LOT to see and do in St Augustine.    This is also a location of a lot of Really OLD stuff:

  • Oldest City in the United States founded in 1565
  • Oldest wooden school house in USA
  • Oldest street in USA– Aviles Street
  • Oldest house
  • Oldest masonry fort in the continental USA, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
  • Two beautiful old churches which we toured and gathered more historical information
  • Flagler College—originally the fancy Ponce De Leon Hotel built between 1885 and 1887 by Henry M. Flagler (railroad magnate) who instantly became charmed by St. Augustine. The hotel, now turned active college, boasts Tiffany stained glass windows, interior decorated with imported marble, carved oak, and murals painted by famous artists. Back in its heyday, the hotel had its share of famous visitors including three presidents lodged there. “Presidents stayed and the wealthy played” here. This tour is highly recommended. If Teresa lived in St. Augustine, she claims she’d sign up for a class or two in one of the college buildings.
  • Many old neighborhoods beg to be explored with numerous shopping opportunities
  • Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum constructed over 130 years ago. We climbed the 219 stairs to the very top and stepped out on to the open air catwalk. The climb proved well worth the effort as we looked out over the harbor and saw Sanctuary peacefully moored in Matanzas Bay, south of the Bridge of Lions.

St. Augustine Lighthouse is one of the prettiest on the trip with its bold black and white stripes crowned with a red top.  Inside the lighthouse keeper’s home, they have interactive displays for the young and young at heart.  There were a number of school kids on site experiencing the lighthouse for their field trip.  Their bright yellow shirts on the winding stairways made for an interesting contrast.

One of the best shopping stops was the Sailors Exchange—finally a guy store!   They have new and used boat parts of every vintage you might imagine.

We were delighted to welcome Teresa’s sister Karen in St. Augustine. She’ll be travelling and exploring with us for a few days. From St. Augustine, we plan to move up the coast. Karen plans to head home from Fernandina Beach.

Rocket Launch

 

Dolphin Escort

 

Scenes from Flagler College

 

Chocolate Factory Tour

 

St Augustine Churches

St Augustine Lighthouse

Spanish Fort at St Augustine

 

Around St Augustine

 

 

S and T and Karen at Rivers Edge Marina St Augustine

Steve, Teresa and Karen at Rivers Edge Marina in St Augustine

 

 

St Augustine Teresa

 

 

 

St Augustine Sunset

St Augustine Sunset