Friday, May 27, 2022

Almost Finished!

Scott at the wheel off North Carolina

When last you heard of our two heros, they were anchored in Belhaven, NC on Tuesday, May 24th. The next day they averaged 8 knots an hour, despite 20 knots of wind dead on the nose in the Albemarle Sound, and pulled up at Coinjock Marina at 6 PM. Luckily, they had made the reservations not only for the marina, but for the Prime Rib dinner that Coinjock is justifiably famous for. From Coinjock to Norfolk there are lots of opening bridges that unfortunately only open on the hour, except for the last one which closes over rush hour - very frustrating to manage the time between bridges. But when they finished that, they took off for an overnight up the Chesapeake Bay to Herrington Harbour South in the pea soup fog!

Coinjock Marina's famous prime rib dinner. Pete got the 32 oz and Scott the 16 oz - neither finished their meal and we'll have the leftovers for dinner ourselves.

We do not have radar so this was nerve wracking and neither of them got much sleep. When we sailed on the east coast we had radar and used it but down in the western Caribbean where we've been for 10 years, it's not necessary at all. So when it broke, we didn't replace it. Their method was to call a few boats, as they started out, that appeared on the AIS (Automatic Identification System that shows other boats that have it and displays your own) and ask if they had radar and if so, what they were seeing. Happily, one boat ahead of them had it and was going to the same location, so they followed it. They pulled into the Marina at 6 AM and tied up to the fuel dock. Only 5 nights from St. Augustine, FL to close to Annapolis, MD! Amazing. Later they were moved to a slip. We have reservations there for a week. The boat needs to be emptied and cleaned for showing and then moved over to Herrington Harbour North where it will be hauled up for the season. 

Tied up at Herrington Harbour South in Maryland Friday morning, May 27th.

I on the other hand drove down to my sister Paula's at Belcamp, MD for one night and then on to our son Sean and husband Will's month long rental in Washington, DC. I had dinner with my son James and family nearby. The next morning Sean and I drove down to the Marina, picked up Scott and Pete and drove Pete to National airport to catch a flight home. Scott and I will spend one night here before returning to the boat and days of hard work. We'll move the boat over to Herrington North on June 6th and haul the next day. So our 20 years of cruising is coming to an end and that's all right!

Some shots from Pete's Instagram account

The night's were fairly cold as you can see from 
Pete's clothing.

Pete was able to post on 
Instagram throughout the

Notes on the charts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Progress on Two Fronts


Marty and I in a selfie taken Wednesday morning before I took off for Maryland

Scott and I moved into two different paths on Sunday morning May 22nd. He and our friend Pete left St. Augustine at 6:45 AM on Scott Free and motored out the inlet for an offshore passage north. Pete's meeting in Boston had been postponed so he was now able to stay with us until Saturday! I drove to Beaufort, SC for a one night stay at the Hilton Garden Hotel, planning to drive north again in the morning to meet up with them. The expected rendezvous was Georgetown, SC that afternoon. 

But the weather proved better than expected and the men continued for a second night, sailing in the Beaufort, NC inlet Tuesday morning May 24th (now don't get your Beauforts mixed up - they are a long way apart!). And since it was 7 AM when they arrived back in the ICW, they continued their journey, anchoring at Bel Haven, NC, mile marker 136 this afternoon. Now to put this in perspective, St. Augustine is at mile marker 778. So they jumped 642 miles in three days! Pretty amazing! If Scott and I had continued up the ICW it would have taken us 10 days, at least. The journey was overall good with a few squalls and no local thunderstorms (lots in the distance). But they will enjoy a good night's sleep tonight for a change.

I on the other hand felt pretty comfortable at 5 PM until I took my blood pressure. It was very high again and got higher as I took 2 more readings. I drove to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital and as soon as I entered they took my readings and we all panicked (well, actually only I did). It was 253/105. I didn't know it went that high! They kept me there for 5 hours and did a number of tests, all fine, and lowered my blood pressure. The doctor gave me a temporary prescription and told me to see my primary physician as soon as possible. Long conversations with our sons James and Sean really helped me.

I made reservations to fly home to Boston Monday evening. That night was our regular "Fourth of July" Zoom and everyone was concerned (I had notified them of the situation). Marty Wolf volunteered to pick me up at the airport and host me. That morning I was able to make an appointment at Harvard Vanguard Associates with my PCP for 9 AM Tuesday morning. 

My visit went very well this morning. My numbers and test results looked good and we set up a program to monitor my blood pressure. She gave me two new prescriptions and now I'm back in Concord with Russ and Marty feeling much better. I had several conversations with Scott and they plan to continue on the ICW up to the Chesapeake this week. I will drive to Washington DC tomorrow to see my sister for one night,  and then James and Sean for two nights, before meeting Scott and Pete on Saturday, wherever they are. Our car is at Sean's house in Dorchester making that all easy. 

So all well that ends well...Thanks for all your good wishes!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Change of Plans

Scott and Pete just before taking off in St. Augustine at 6:45 AM.

Scott and Pete left St. Augustine Sunday morning in overcast weather. And I drove up to Beaufort, SC to stay one night there before meeting them on Monday. After settling into my hotel, I took my blood pressure and it was very high and it got higher when I took it several times again. The Beaufort Memorial Hospital was the only option as it was a Sunday and around 5 PM. I was there for 5 hours until they managed to get my numbers down. They got me right into a room when they measured my blood pressure as soon as I entered the emergency room. Let's just say - very bad. They have given me a temporary prescription and told me to see my physician as soon as possible. 

After talking to both James and Sean, I made reservations to fly back to Boston on Monday at 8:30 PM from Charleston. Direct flight and actually the only choice. My friend Marty Wolf is picking me up at the airport and I'll stay with her in Concord. This morning I got an appointment at my medical practice, Atrius Health, for 9 AM Tuesday. I need to get this under control.

I was so happy to hear from Scott this morning. All is well, although it sounds like they had a rough night. They are coming into Georgetown, SC (50 miles north of Charleston) mid day and will stay there the night. Then probably move up on the ICW for awhile. Pete is going to stay until at least Friday so they can make progress together. 

So, change of plans for now. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Help is arriving!

 Pete Whinn is flying down to Jacksonville, FL on Saturday morning to join us for 3 nights. Pete is an old friend of our youngest son Sean and we've known him for many years. He had hoped to join us on the trip from Mexico but the dates didn't work out. Now he'll be helping us get up to Charleston, SC offfshore from St. Augustine. Right now it looks like he and Scott are going to leave Sunday morning and get in on Monday. There is still a possibility that they might manage to get to Beaufort, NC by Tuesday morning, but that's a slim chance. Pete has to return to Boston by Tuesday night. And I have decided not to go. We rented a one way car, picking it up here tomorrow and returning it to Charleston. We will use it to ferry Pete to and from the airports and I'll drive up to Charleston to meet them.

A full moon seen from our slip at the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina 

We left Ft. Pierce as planned at 6 AM Monday (pretty much in the dark but with no difficult current to deal with), made it through the Haulover Canal Bascule bridge at Cape Canaveral at 5:30 PM and anchored just off the ICW not long after. That was a long day, almost 12 hours, mostly hand steering. The next day Scott figured out how to convert Captain Bob's ICW track into a route we can follow on our autopilot - what an improvement. The auto pilot can be used on the straight away sections and the bright red line helps in the hand steering curvy bits. In addition we have the latest Army Corps of Engineers surveys of the ICW showing the shallow areas (lots of them) and so far they have helped us avoid going aground.

A view the other direction in towards the city and Crabby's Restaurant. We haven't taken many photos on this section of the trip. I'm particularly sorry we didn't get any with Mitch and Diane Korbey!

The next day we took only 8 hours and we happily pulled into a slip at the Hallifax Harbor Marina in Daytona. But the previous months have taken a toll on me. At the supermarket we took our blood pressure (our cuff has been broken for almost all of the trip) and my reading was 210/92 and then 205/94. I have never had readings like that and was very concerned. My urgent care nurse at Atrius Health (on the phone) told me to go to a local Urgent Care. The doctor there recommended doubling my blood pressure medicine. And I had another idea. I wrote Pete and asked if he was still interested in crewing with us. He wrote back last night and said he'd fly down on Saturday for a few days. Knowing that, we decided to take a break from the non stop movement. We stayed another night in Daytona and traveled up to St. Augustine today. We got reservations at the Marina here. Wednesday morning my blood pressure (I did take the prescribed amount of medicine) was 136/76. Big difference! It was up again a bit Thursday evening but it was a long day.

St. Augustine Municipal Marina where we are staying 3 nights.

We're back to walking as well, in Daytona and now in St. Augustine. All in all, life is good and we are lucky. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Back on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW)

Dawn at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL Friday morning the 13th of May

We were up early on Friday and had one more weather discussion with Stormy - not totally happy with the possible squalls/thunderstorms, "stray" he said. But otherwise it looked good. So we stopped and got diesel and water at Burdines and were on our way at 8:45 AM. The day started out pleasant but after we left the Hawk Channel we found a miserable negative current. I rarely see 4.8 knots on our speed! So we headed out to sea to catch the Gulf Stream and with that current were doing 8 knots - nice. But the seas were lumpy and a night of that made sleep impossible. Plus we hit one or two squalls. There was thunder and lightning off in the distance but happily, not near us. 

Next day we examined our mental state and possible destinations. Fort Pierce looked good and we set a course for that. It looked like an ETA of 4 PM outside the inlet. As soon as we were near enough to land to get cell service we called possible Marinas in Ft. Pierce - no room at the Inn.  At this point we lost the positive current and best possibility for getting into am anchorage was later than 6 PM. And we weren't sure of the anchorages suitability. So sudden change in our plan for safety, we set a course for the Lake Worth Inlet  

What a exciting entrance. Breaking waves between the jetties and tons of high speed boats passing us on both sides sending waves every which way. But once inside it was calm (no change in the passing boats, it was after all, Saturday!). We've been here before and knew a really good anchorage at the north end of Lake Worth, so made for it. The anchor was down and our beers were popped at 1:30 PM. Lunch followed, a nap, drinks and dinner. We were sound asleep by 8 PM.

Than up at 6 AM as the first of 9 opening bridges awaited us just north of our anchorage. Another boat was waiting at 6:45 as we pulled up, and we followed them through all of the bridges, making excellent time. Our destination was Fort Pierce and an evening with our old friends Diane and Mitch Korbey. They had inspired us by cruising for 20 years before we bought Scott Free. And they spent two weeks with us from the Bahamas to the Dominican Republic back 15 years ago. They invited us to their Yacht Club for drinks and dinner. 

We put in calls to several marinas in Ft. Pierce and much later, got a reluctant acceptance from the City Marina. The current through this area is huge, 3+ knots, and they were really worried about our getting into the slip and even more about departing in the morning. They almost canceled, but agreed if we departed tomorrow at 6 AM. Fine with us. 

Tomorrow we'll continue on the ICW hoping to make the 70 miles to Port Canaveral where we know of a good anchorage. Then we'll see about jumping offshore again for another one night trip. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Heading North Again

This morning Stormy (one of Chris Parker's weather gurus) said we could leave tomorrow Friday so unless something changes in the morning we'll be off. We'll do at least one night and maybe two if the weather stays good. We should at least get to West Palm Beach with the one night and if two, then not sure, Cape Canaveral, further?  We really do need to go as far as possible. Our insurance wants us in the Chesapeake by June 1 and that seems really hard. 

A view of Boot Key Harbor, Marathon from our cockpit.

On Wednesday we rented a car for 24 hours from Enterprise. We chose the "we'll take a chance and you pick the car" option - the same price as a compact. And the young man gave us a Mustang Convertible! Tooling down Route 1 to Key West for the night was extra fun. We walked all around the old town and had drinks on the waterfront followed by an excellent dinner at Sarabeth's Restaurant. Nice break! Just before retuning the car the next day (after a bunch of errands) we had lunch at Castaway. Last time for eating out for awhile. 

I'll post an update when we reach our next destination. Wish us luck!

The harbor walk in Key West

We enjoyed watching all the boat - we almost
came here instead of Marathon.

But we love walking the inside streets
and admiring the lovely homes and 

Scott and I pose in an appropriate spot.

Sarabeth's James Beard award winning apricot
peach bread pudding - Yum!
And Scott's oyster plate at Castaway!

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Made It!

 We finally made it back to the U.S. and it's wonderful. But the passage wasn't easy (we always ask our weather forecaster Chris Parker for an "easy" weather window). We left on Tuesday May 3rd and once through the reef at Isla Mujeres the wave height was the promised 3 - 5 feet, but as soon as we approached the Gulf Stream it turned into a total washing machine with higher, closer together and randomly directional waves. The bow hit the downside of some waves so hard it broke one of the inch thick teak planks in the bow sprit in half. But our boat otherwise can take a lot of this, we however have a harder time, especially to be honest, me. 

We had a great evening at the Varadero restaurant in Isla a few days before our departure - live music, wonderful food and fun company. That's Eduardo, Joe, Scott, Lindsey and myself enjoying our mojitos. They are new friends we've gotten to know at El Milagro.  

But eventually we got through the Gulf Stream and it calmed down. Well at least until 10 PM when a series of unpredicted thunderstorm/squalls hit us with winds up to 30 knots. And the wind was almost dead on the nose. Now up until this time we were motor sailing. There might have been enough wind to sail alone, but we were close hauled and we don't point up well. So we were being pushed in a northwest direction when we wanted to go northeast. Keeping the engine on helped us minimize the drift. We know that fuel is clean now as there have been no problems after that shaking up we had in the Gulf Stream!! Happily, we always reef our sails before nighttime, so when the storms hit we were a little better off. When things got too much to handle we just headed off the wind (of course, more off course). We didn't get any sleep that night. Scott managed to eat but my stomach was too queasy. 

The band was terrific and reminded us of our two trips to Cuba. Scott and I had lunch here the previous day so early that we got to know 3 of the staff - Jose, Saul and Coney. Coney didn't know that in England her name means a rabbit. In the Caribbean it's a small grouper!

At times like this I yearn for dawn and when it happens, everything immediately improves. The seas calmed down and were able to take a tack to the east. But the wind direction was too fluky so we finally just took down the sails and motored. New problem - loud knocking in the area of the prop and shaft. At first it was intermittent and then by the next day, constant. So any minute I was afraid that the engine would quit. Scott assured me it was the propeller and he had figured out the it was probably the rubber pieces on our Goring folding prop had worn (and of course, we later found out he was right!) And wouldn't you know, that second night, still a hundred miles from the U.S., the wind died down and we would have been unable to sail. So if the engine had quit we'd be drifting in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. But otherwise it was great. The sky was clear with millions of stars, not a cloud in sight and the seas were reasonable comfortable. We were both able to get some sleep and I managed to start eating again (toast, crackers and granola bars). 

Looking back at our Marina as we exit our slip. Joe was very helpful with casting off and brought our dinghy out to us. We left a little later as the day before the check out from Mexico took MUCH longer than it should have. We were lucky to finish before their offices closed. Still we managed to check out of the Marina, fuel up at a nearby fuel dock and leave Isla at 10 AM. 

The next dawn was quite lovely and we had only 5 hours to Key West. I was on watch and I changed our course to our original plan for Marathon, Florida. Back a day before, our ETA (estimated time of arrival) there was after dark and we didn't want that, so we changed our course to Key West. But a favorable current during the night and then entrance into the Gulf Stream (now headed east off the Keys) bumped up our speed over the bottom to 8+ knots so now we were looking at a 4 PM arrival. And reducing our engine speed eliminated the "knocking" proving Scott's theory.

And we picked up a mooring in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL at 4:30 PM on Thursday, May 5th and popped open our traditional can of beer to celebrate. The Marina allowed us to come in the next morning so we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. I always make a lot of dishes for the trip and even more this time as I was able to freeze several things in the communal kitchen. Scott had managed to eat the chicken salad, coleslaw, potato salad, and chaya soup during the trip. But we still had a whole roasted chicken, lentil stew, and homemade spaghetti sauce.  A good night's sleep capped a good day. 

Friday was a busy one with lots done and new problems. Our dinghy motor quit working for a start. Luckily a neighbor was heading into the Marina and he gave us a tow. We had made appointments for our second booster COVID shot at a nearby Walgreens and I had a pile of laundry A big "Closed for two days" sign greeted us at the Walgreens pharmacy - staffing problems! Scott called another Walgreens and arranged to get our shots there. We're ended up with 4 taxi rides that day and formed a friendship with the two drivers, cousins from Jamaica - Junior and Brian. Shots over, we headed in two directions. I did laundry at the Marina and Scott shopped at West Marine and Home Depot. We hitched another tow ride home at the dinghy dock! Repairing that motor is a high priority for tomorrow.

Another accomplishment was scheduling a hopefully quick haulout at a boatyard here on Tuesday afternoon to look at our propeller and cutless bearing. If the problem is the rubber disks on the prop then we're in luck. Scott has ordered new ones and they'll be here in time. If it's something else, we might have to stay at the boatyard. Time will tell. And so will I - next post!

We ordered one of their specialty plates - all 
seafood and amazing! There were several kinds
of fish, cooked in different ways, shrimp,
octopus, lobster, beans & rice and salad. 
And it was beautiful!

The restaurant was a local hangout more than a 
tourist destination. These women were having a 
fun get together while their nearby children 
played in a toddler pool.

In fact the place was hard to find, on a back street.
It fronted on the canal into the lagoon with a dock
that big boats tied up to rafted together sometimes.