Friday, November 19, 2010

Eating on the Inter Coastal Waterway Part II

We love Savannah! We've now been here four times. The first time we stayed at a Marina in Thunderbolt and took a cab in and out. Next we sailed up the Savannah River and tied up at the city docks for three days over Halloween. That was the best! This month we spent one night in Hogan's Marina in nearby Turner creek and rented a car with Sea Angel for a visit into the city. The other two times we drove a rented car from Brunswick Landing Marina. The second of those visits was last weekend when we treated ourselves to a night at the Park Avenue Manor B and B. Hosts Maurice and Glen made us truly welcome. Our room, the Savannah Room, was beautiful and comfortable and the parlor, a nice place to sit and read while enjoying the free sherry and brownies. It's fun sitting with the other guests in the morning for the good breakfast.
We've enjoyed some memorable meals in this city! In previous visits we had two wonderful evenings at the Bistro 45, once at it's old location and then it's very elegant (and more expensive) reincarnation at the hotel. Of course we went to Lady and Sons, Paula Dean's Savannah institution and had a good time. But it is a bit touristy. Mrs. Wilkes has better food but you can't have a drink with your meal and it's only open for lunch, Monday thru Friday. It's a must do!
This time we had a fantastic meal at the lovely Alligator Soul. It's great food and expensive but we felt it was really worth it. We had no reservations but they were very friendly and sat the four of us in the living room like lounge in front of a fireplace and served us drinks and appetisers or salads. We had one of each and they were wonderful. Then the owner came over to say they had found us a table, but we were too full to eat more. She noticed we hadn't had any biscuits and brought some over. Oh my goodness, I could have eaten a lot more of them. We will come back to eat here again.
We made reservations at the Pink House only a day before. I think it would be worth while to make them further in advance and ask for a downstairs room, preferably the one with the working fireplace. The food was very good, especially the fried green tomatoes, but not quite as good as Alligator Soul.
We went to Clary's for breakfast a second time. It's a fun busy place, a diner really, but atmospheric since it was featured in the book and movie, A Garden of Good and Evil. We were sorry not to have time to try the casual cute cafe at the Polks' Market - the daily specials looked very good.
Park Avenue Manor, 107 West Park Ave.  Savannah
Great Bed & Breakfast!

If you crave sweets, these candied apples are amazing.
All the candy shops give out free samples of the various
flavors of pralines

Alligator Soul is a beautiful restaurant with great food and service. Expensive though we thought
it was really worth it!

After you've eaten at all the fabulous restaurants in
Savannah you'll need to use these stairs often!

We had dinner here and loved it. Historic lovely home with
excellent food. Try and get a reservation near the glowing

Interior of Polk's Market - home cooking in the cafe in the
rear of the store.

The fresh produce here looked great and so did the casual
lunch menu.

The line at Mrs. Wilkes is long but moves right
along. Everyone chats with each other and
patrons coming out of the restaurant grown
with full happy stomachs. 

Every dish is good, but my favorites were
the fried chicken, green beans, greens, squash
and the creamed corn (Scott loved the pulled pork)
Mrs. Wilkes serves the food family style at
big tables which you share with the people
you've just met in line.

This was our second time at Clary's and rather than stand
in line we sat at the counter, remembering the scene from
The Garden of Good and Evil which took place and was filmed

There is always a line here in the morning we've heard. We've
had the crab cake, corn beef hash, and shrimp omelettes, all
very good.

Eating on the Inter Coastal Waterway!

Cafeteria at St. Mary's College, MD
We love to eat! And I love to cook. So mostly we eat aboard but once in a while it's a marvelous thing to dine out. Looking back on our trip up and down the ICW and up to Herrington Harbor North, some of our best times were at a variety of restaurants. So I'm giving you a sample here, starting at our northern most port and ending in Florida.
Coinjock Marina at mile 50 on the ICW 
In Deale, MD we'd recommend the Petey's Roadhouse - good food, plentiful and reasonably priced for the quality. Further south enjoyed a visit to St. Mary's City, MD and had lunch at St. Mary's Cafeteria - all you can eat buffet at lunch - a large variety of choices and all delicious!
O'Neal's Snack Bar in Bel Haven, VT
Out front of the Beaufort Grocery Restaurant in Beaufort, NC
Once in the ICW itself we often stop at the Coinjock Marina. It's  $.25 a foot more expensive than the Midway Marina across the channel but their prime rib is a treat. I order the 16 oz version (imagine ordering the 32 oz?), eat my fill at dinner and then serve the leftovers to the two of us the next evening!
We have always anchored in Bel Haven and love walking around this sleepy little town. There used to be a wonderful buffet at the River Forest Marina Inn but those days are gone and frankly the Marina looks like it's been neglected.
So the choices are few but for a casual inexpensive meal you can go to O'Neal's Snack Bar and feel like you're back in the 50's. By the way, the supermarket is a long ways from the center of town, but if you dinghy down to the right side of the bridge you'll see a channel built for work boats. Tie up at the dock there and it's only about 5 blocks to the supermarket. On the way back last time two cars stopped to offer us a ride! Friendly town.
And now for the first of the gourmet recommendations and it is great! The Beaufort Grocery Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and brunch on the weekends - and take out desserts. You can sit outside in the mice weather , at the bar on in the main restaurant. We have been there three times and always thought everything was amazing. Once we had lunch and were too full for dessert, so we came back that night and pigged out at the bar. Dessert for dinner is sometimes just the thing, especially when the portions are this big.
Our next stop is Southport, NC and we were delighted at our friends on Sea Angel's advice, taken from Skipper Bob's. The Provisioning Co Restaurant has four slips in front that are FREE. Only one other boat was there and we had no problem docking in the sturdy slip.  As soon as we tied up a waitress came up to let us know the kitchen was closing soon and if we wanted to eat we should order soon. Oh yes, we do!
The seafood chowder was to die for - and I make really good chowder. The steamed shrimp were good but not in the same category. Still there were a lot of them for a reasonable price along with crab cakes, good fries and cole slaw. We had enough left over to take back to the boat. And the bar was so friendly we sat around and talked with the staff and a fellow who had come down to meet us after seeing us dock - Ray Slaughter.
The next day I made shrimp scampi pizza with lots of garlic, the shrimp, feta cheese and fresh basil and rosemary. Yummy.
More on some fabulous restaurants in Charleston and further south in my next entry.
The Provisioning Co. Restaurant in Southport, NC
Kicking back with friends at the Provisioning Company in Southport NC

We're sorry we missed the big Halloween Party the night before!

Leftover Shrimp made a great pizza!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cruising the Inter Coastal Waterway III Coinjock to Beaufort NC

After a torrential rain and gusts in the high twenties crossing Abelmarle Sound, it cleared off and Voila!
Typical view in N. Carolina on the ICW, subtle but lovely
View through the dodger window - new chartplotter!
We left Coinjock at dawn. The day promised to be stormy and we had the dreaded Abelmarle Sound and the Alligator River to cross. Some boats stayed for another day but there was no assurance that the weather would be better. Our boat is heavy and has a large engine (135 hp) so we don't frighten easily. Actually the waves weren't bad at all although the visability at times was tough. It poured and the wind stayed in the 19 - 26 knot range. It was a huge relief when the it cleared off later. The Middle Passage so discussed on the internet chat groups was not problem as we'd been forewarned about the changes.
We share the ICW with a variety of boats!
The trawler ahead of us evidently didn't know but we called him on the VHF and received his thanks as he turned around. At the end of the day we turned into the well known anchorage at Tuckahoe Point. We've stayed here every trip up and down the ICW - this is our fifth time! It's a quiet spot a short ways from the channel in the middle of no where. Military jets in formation have always passed overhead at cocktail time in the past, but not today. As soon as we stopped moving the boat it became quite warm and comfortable in the cockpit. It was a spectacular sunset! The next morning we didn't have to rush off for a change. We had only 30 miles to go to Bel Haven. We usually stop here as well and anchor off the town. This is a good spot to do some provisioning. We found a small channel on the right side of the bridge for some work boats. It's possible to tie up the dinghy at the old dock and walk only a few blocks to the supermarket. This was the first time we used our dinghy this fall and the outboard conked out several times. Luckily we made it back to the boat with our groceries. People are so nice here by the way. Two cars stopped offering rides. If you come from the Marina in town, you'd be very grateful for the lift.
It's hard not to take a million photos of the sunsets! This is at anchor at Tuckahoe Point, NC
Next evening in Bel Haven
We hit a snag or submerged log at one point but bumped over. Often people will warn each other of these obstacles and so did we. The talk on the VHF is constant during the day and often very funny. I should have written down a lot more but here's three examples. One boat was throwing big wakes at all the other boats and causing a big commotion on the radio as he passed. One fellow said: "Wake makers knoweth not their fathers!" And another; "I already had my shower this morning thank you!"
Another one other; "Thank you for giving me a little of the channel." to a boat passing too close.
Some times these logs float in the channel!

A touch of fall color occasionally livens the greens
Sunset the next morning
Mostly it's very polite motor boats asking if you "Want a slow pass?" The response is either to throttle down and he will too, or say "Bring her on" and take the larger wake. We usually fall in the Bring Her On category but in a narrow spot will power down.
The next was a really long day - 68 miles - so we were off by7 AM. Scott was able to reach a mechanic to look at the outboard at Beaufort, NC the next morning so we resigned ourselves to an expensive stay at Beaufort Town Dock Marina for 2 nights.
Those are two bald headed eagles in upper right but too small

Dolphins love to play beside our boat!
The currents were one minute 2 knots is your favor and the other, all too often, the opposite. It was a rather gloomy day, cloudy with showers but still fairly warm. We saw pods of dolphins four times today! What fun to watch them play next to the boat. One stayed right beside me, peering up at me every time he surfaced.
We were tied up by 5 PM and hooked up to not only electricity but cable. Unfortunately the TV that we haven't used for ages only was able to receive broadcast stations. I can't believe that the same programs we watched in Trinidad and Panama are on here; House, Two and a Half Men, Grey's Anatomy and How I Met Your Mother (?) Of course the game shows too, and LOTS of commercials. They seem to go on for ever. We soon lost patience with that. Did manage to enjoy the Shrek and Charlie Brown Halloween specials though!
Our day off was a real treat! We've been moving every day since leaving Herrington Harbor. Scott got the outboard engine fixed and installed the new battery monitor. I did loads of laundry at the laundromat and we both used the courtesy car from the Marina to do three errands, all in the one alloted hour.
We had a long walk and ate at the Beaufort Grocery Restaurant twice - once for lunch and again late that evening for dessert. Love that place. This is such a pretty town. We have walked both directions up and down the river and also the streets of the historic district. There are so many lovely homes.
You get 2 free beers with your $2.00 a foot price and we still had our them from our last visit so we stopped in the bar and used them up. That's the only reason to visit that place. We had a chance to talk to Ed and Benia several times and they are only one day ahead of us now. We should catch up to them in Charleston. We're off tomorrow morning early towards Southport. To make two somewhat even days it's necessary to stop at another marina mid way. We'd hoped to go to the Beach House Marina, a favorite spot of ours and cheap, but it was full, so we made a reservation at the Harbor Village Marina.

Cruising the Inter Coastal Waterway Part Two

Solomon's MD -  moon rise in the early evening
Jackson Creek anchorage, Deltaville, MD 5:00 PM
 We went home for four days to attend the wedding of our good friend Matt Bagnell and his new wife Lauren in Milton, MA. After we returned we worked hard on finishing up work. We found problems with the newly restitched stay sail when we tried to put it up and had to have the sailmaker from North Sails come over to fix it. At the last minute we got someone to rebed the salon hatches that had been leaking so we had to delay our planned departure for two days. Ed and Benia went on ahead of us. We'll catch up to them at some point.

 Finally we untied the mooring lines and cast off, on our own power for the first time since last June! It was a beautiful day for the easy trip down to Solomon's Harbor. This time we went down the right hand creek and found a lovely spot by ourselves to anchor. Soon though a progression of boats entered looking for good spots. Unfortunately one chose a poor location. We didn't notice in time to warn him, but he saw the sign soon enough and was on the VHF to the Coast Guard. The sign warned of high voltage cable right under him!

Same anchorage at 5:15 looking west
Next morning at dawn the first boat heads out the channel
The Coast Guard evidently told him to very CAREFULLY lift his anchor because that's what he did and thank goodness nothing happened. He went a long way down the creek before he re anchored. It was a lovely evening as you can see from the first photo above.
As was the next day when we motor sailed to Jackson Creek at Deltaville. We've been here before so we don't panic at the narrow scary channel that comes only feet away from the sandy beach. A trawler ahead of us wasn't so lucky. He had to be towed off the bottom.
Norfork, VA - Boats of all kinds share the channel
It was a very quiet evening here and as you can see I took a number of pictures. Although it had been quite cold on our trip, once we put the anchor down it was very comfortable. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the sunset with our drinks. We're enjoying the full moon!
We were up very early and had a slightly warmer trip with the seas calming down to nothing by afternoon. The entrance into Norfork is thrilling with all the huge aircraft carriers and ships of all sizes and types everywhere. We've been here a number of times and anchored easily for a change at Hospital Point at mile 0 on the ICW. It wasn't crowded.
Norfork is a huge Naval base

The next morning we had to make another early start to get to the first opening of the Glimmerton bridge at 8:30 AM at mile 5.8 before it shut for commuting traffic for two hours. Still in the dark we were amazed by the arrival right next to us of a Cruise Ship lit up like a Christmas tree. It docked across the channel from us and as the sun's rays started to streak the sky, we were underway. A lot of boats joined us waiting at the bridge for the opening. I'm going to do a separate blog entry on the bridges of the ICW (and the restaurants), so no more here.

This was the scene that greeted us as we prepared to lift the anchor to head down the Inter Coastal 

Our destination today was the Coinjock Marina. We arrived at the Great Bridge Lock around noon. The wind had really picked up and the last four hours we saw gusts up to 26 knots. It was tiring out in the wind and we took turns at the wheel often. I picked up a cold from who knows where several days ago and was suffering the works. After nine hours of this we were really happy to tie up at the Marina.  As often before we ate the restaurant and I ordered the 16 oz prime rib which I enjoy that night and both of us the next night!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cruising the Inter Coastal Waterway Part One

Under tow and heading to Brunswick, GA

The Boat US tow boat captain and Scott assess the situation
On the catwalk in Savannah, GA
Yes we're still alive and on "Scott Free", now in Brunswick, Georgia. We arrived Thursday, November 11 towed by Boat U.S. We had just finished a nervous transit of the shallow Buttermilk Sound around red marker "222" when Scott put his head up from below and said:
"There's a fire in the engine room!"
I put the throttle in neutral. He shut off the engine. We threw down the anchor. No one screamed. While I called our buddy boat "Sea Angel" just ahead of us. Scott went below to try and find out what was happening. Ed suggested I call the Coast Guard but I wanted to wait until we knew more. They anchored just ahead of us and stood by.
Scott came up coughing. "It's only smoke - no flames."
Good news! We opened all the windows and hatches to clear out the smoke and Scott was able to see enough to diagnose the problem. The transmission seal had broken and transmission oil was all over the bilge. It had sprayed on the hot engine and caused the smoke.
Our boat buddies Ed and Benia on "Sean Angel"
We called Boat U.S. and requested a tow. It took over two hours to get to us and another four hours to tow us into Brunswick Landing Marina. Only one man was on the tow boat making the process much more difficult.
Our wonderful friends on "Sea Angel" couldn't really do anything at this point to help so we urged them to go ahead and keep on their schedule. We'll see them again in January in Florida when we return.
At first we were on a line behind the tow boat and needed to steer carefully at all times, especially under the bridges. Then, nearer the Marina, we put down an anchor. He carefully came up alongside and we tied our boats together tightly and we steered for both boats. His boat became our engine. We went very slow! It was almost 7 PM and dark by the time we inched our way into the slip. It was an unbelievable relief to tie up!
So we never made it to Florida. We'll be leaving the boat here and flying back to Boston and Vermont from Jacksonville, FL (only 62 mile away) for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The transmission is being pulled tomorrow morning and will be sent away to be rebuilt. While we're away it will hopefully be reinstalled and ready when we return January 1, 2011.
The Brunswick Landing Marina is a favorite spot of ours, so we're not suffering.
So that's our situation right now! How did we get here and what have we been doing since our last blog so long ago. My plans are to bring you up to date in the next few blog entries, starting at the beginning. Thanks for being patient!