Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Monday, November 25, 2013

St. Augustine to Titusville (11 November - 19 November)

 5-4-3-2-1 Lift Off!

Sounds like a space shot, doesn’t it. Well, it was!!! Ann and I saw the launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN probe (MAVEN). And I’ll tell you, it was exciting. You should have seen those little green men … oops, they told us not to talk about them. Besides, I am supposed to write in chronological order, so you are just going to have to wait until we tell you about the launch.

Fort Matanzas

After St. Augustine we headed down the river a few miles to Fort Matanzas. “Matanzas,” of course, is the Spanish name for “massacres” or “slaughters”. It seems that, in September 1565, the Frenchman Jean Ribault, with a group of fellow Huguenots, sailed from the French base at Fort Caroline to destroy the newly-established Spanish colony at St. Augustine. But what happens in September in Florida? Hurricanes. Just such a storm carried the French south of St. Augustine to a point between present-day Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral where they were shipwrecked. As they marched north to get back to Fort Caroline, they were intercepted by a force of seventy or so Spanish. Although the details vary from storyteller to storyteller, of the 127 men captured, 111 were killed for allegedly for refusing to renounce their faith and accept Catholicism. If that wasn’t enough, two weeks later another 134 were killed near the same place. The location of this massacre? You guessed it. It was a place that became known as Matanzas Inlet. One-hundred eighty-five years later a fort was built by the Spanish near the site of the massacre at Matanzas Inlet to guard the backdoor to Augustine – and that is how Fort Matanzas got its name.

Fort Matanzas
Just as was the case in 1565, there is, today, an inlet that leads from the ocean to the Matanzas River and subsequently to Saint Augustine. Just in front of the fort, the river is 10-15 feet deep – plenty of water to anchor. So, we waited until just before high tide to sneak into the inlet, then dropped the hook. Although there is quite a bit of current through the Inlet, our anchor grabbed the bottom and held us for the two nights we stayed. We also went ashore to see the National Monument itself. (Do you remember that I told you that Ann likes to get stamps in her new National Park and Monument Passport? Well, she sure wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.) Although the fort is kind of small, the rangers were very knowledgeable – and that is what made the tour interesting.


Our next stop was only four miles south of the Fort; it was Marineland Marina. On the day we arrived at Marineland, they were having a Farmer’s Market at the marina. It was a lot of fun and allowed us to get some fresh fruit and vegetables (so we don’t get scurvy, you know … ARGH!), some bread, some of this and some of that.

We had stopped at Marineland during our trip north and had really enjoyed it, even though we didn’t have time to see the aquarium itself. Actually, when it was built in the 1930s, it wasn’t supposed to be a simple aquarium; it was, as you might recall from last spring’s Blog entry, the world’s first “oceanarium,” in that it was intended to be the ocean in microcosm. That was important because, in addition to being a kind of an ocean-theme park, it was intended to be THE location for movies with an underwater setting. And it was – at least for two memorable films – Creature from the Black Lagoon and Return of the Creature. It was also the setting for Sea Hunt, which starred Lloyd Bridges. For those of you who have not reached “that certain age” where you know what Sea Hunt was, Lloyd is the father of Beau and Jeff Bridges.

This time we not only went to the beach (though we stayed only a few minutes because the wind was blowing so hard we were getting sandblasted) and the gift shop, we actually took the tour of the ocreanarium and got to see the dolphins up close. They have 12 dolphins, at various stages of maturity, but Nellie, at 60 years old, is their oldest – and the oldest in captivity.

Octopus in the Ocaenarium at Marineland
Although we had planned on staying a couple of days at Marineland, the fact that there was supposed to be a blow coming from the north/northeast made us glad we had picked this particular time. When we arrived on the 12th, the weather was nice and pleasant. Shortly after midnight, however, the wind picked up – and boy did it pick up. All night long and for part of the next day the wind was steady at 30-35 MPH and gusting to 40+. We had secured the boat to the dock very well, and had placed several fenders out, so, for us, the wind was almost a non-event, but it sure was blowing.

My sister has long been after me to “develop” some of the characters we meet on the Waterway. (I should point out my sister was an actress, so she does use phrases like “develop characters”). I have always been a bit hesitant because many of these “characters” are you – friends we meet during our travels – and I don‘t want to say anything that might be taken the wrong way. That said, at Marineland I met a character. I had taken a short walk to check out the shores of the waterway and to stretch my legs. On the way back, I saw a guy debark from his boat to take his trash to the dumpster. I slowed so I could at least introduce myself. I told him my name was which boat was ours. For their next 20 minutes, I couldn’t say anything else; Lance Long was in the transmit mode. I believe he took a couple of breaths during his monologue, but I would not swear to it.

I learned that Lance had a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 19th Century Literature, that the title of his dissertation was something like Sea Captains in Nineteenth Century Literature (Even my best friends who know I have a Ph.D. don’t know anything about my dissertation). But apparently Lance – his name is Lance Long – thought his newest best friend (me) would certainly be interested. I also learned that Lance taught Literature at the Merchant Marine Academy, where, he said, he was a navy lieutenant commander and at Maine Maritime Academy. (This is the first place I realized Lance might have a tendency to exaggerate. He might have been the equivalent of a navy Lt Cmdr, but I doubt that he was one. Moreover, I am not sure why the navy, vice the merchant marine, would have given him any rank). Oh, but I learned more.

Lance left academia and came to Florida where he started a handyman business which evolved into a construction/real estate development business. I learned that he bought 65 acres on the ocean near Marineland which he later sold to a developer who built 360 condos on the land. One might have thought Lance would have made a bunch of money from this transaction, but apparently not. I learned that after the ’89 real estate crash (I didn’t even know there was a crash in ’89). Lance wrote a book on success, that turned into an infomercial, and that turned into a presentation series, of which he gave 3000. (Hmmm. If he would have netted just $1000 for each of his presentations he would have a nice bundle of $3 million. Do you suppose Lance was exaggerating here, too?) Oh, but I learned even more. He is currently in the process of getting rid of the several properties that he owns so he can become a full-time cruiser. He had just sold two of his properties in St. Augustine that very day (for which he received a cash settlement) and that he had three or four more.  He recounted where these properties were and the likelihood that they would be sold in the near future, but by this time I was suffering from “listener’s remorse” and I was kicking myself for getting roped into listening to this guy. I could tell you more. I could tell you his son’s height and weight (6’4” 230 pounds), that his son was a football star in high school, that 50 schools wanted him, that he chose Florida – then decided not to play football. I could tell you that Lance has written and e-published two books that he sells hundreds of them per month. Oh! He is 69 years old and he has been married for 43 years. He is now a “prepper” meaning that he is preparing for doomsday or something, that he is going to survive doomsday on his boat (a very nice 49’ North Pacific – but it ain’t the boat of a multimillionaire), etc. etc.

AND those are the things that I remember!!! AND I learned all that in 20 minutes, tops. I tried, on two different occasions to get Lance to ask me a question so I could enter into the conversation. One time, when we were talking about his son’s football career, I pointed out that neither my alma mater, nor my graduate school alma mater was doing well in football. I thought he might ask me where I had gone to school. Nope. He wasn’t interested.

Need I develop this character anymore? Lance Long. What a talker.


After Marineland and Lance, we went to Titusville, which for those of you who aren’t aware, is very close to Cape Canaveral. We stayed on a mooring ball for two days and then went into the marina for two days. I am going to tell you about the Mars shot in a minute, but first I need to tell you about  Bill and Regina. We first met Bill and Regina aboard their boat Meant2B in Nassau last year. Bill was the former Navy submarine guy who helped me put in my new inverter, and Ann and Regina just hit it off. Bill and Regina now live on their boat in the Titusville Marina.

Well, I gotta tell ya that they went well beyond the call of duty helping us. Titusville seems to be a nice place, but doesn’t have many stores in the neighborhood. So, when Bill and Regina offered to take us somewhere, Ann needed to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and I needed to go to West Marine. That was not a problem for Bill and Regina, they first took us 40 miles in one direction to Bed, Bath and Beyond and then 40 miles in the other direction to West Marine. The next day they had us over for steak and shrimp on their boat and the following day they took us to the beach so we could see the MAVEN launch. Regina is having a few medical issues right now, so I am sure you will join us in wishing her a speedy recovery so we can repay their kindness in the Exumas!!!!

As I said, Bill and Regina took us to the National Seashore where we could get a good look at the Mars bound spacecraft as it took off. The mission is to determine how the Martian atmosphere transformed the world into the desolate wasteland it is today. The robotic spacecraft, called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe (MAVEN), launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:28 p.m. EST, and began a 10-month journey to Mars. And we were there.

It is that little bright spot. If you look closely you can also see the plume
A few impressions:

·         It was a magnificent sight. But at the end of the day, it was a small spacecraft, taking off from a small planet to travel through interplanetary space to a planet nearly 440 million miles away. Amazing.

·         Although we could see the entire missile for a few seconds, soon all we could see was the plume. But, my god, the sound that followed the launch was indescribable. While the launch took place 5 miles away, when the sound waves got there, you couldn’t hear the voice of the person next to you.

·         It was good to see that, even on a Monday afternoon where you had to travel several miles by car and then, maybe a mile on foot, there were still quite a few people who wanted to see the launch. Apparently the people care and understand the importance of the space program more than the politicos do.

Ann`s Notes: We have had a very nice time cruising down the ICW. The weather has been good and when it does turn yucky we seem to be in the right marina at the right time. We have met some really nice cruisers and exchanged places to visit in the Bahamas and Exumas and good places to anchor on the way. I did miss the Lance Long conversation even if it did take place outside my galley window. I was preparing dinner so I had better things to do than witness the conversation. I did get to read the brochure he gave everyone on the dock so we all could order his yet-to-be-famous E-book. The brochure went out with the morning trash.

The “behind the scenes” tour of Marineland was interesting. I learned a lot about the dolphin’s habits and social groups. It seems like the moms and babies make up the larger pods I see. The ones that swim in groups of two or three are generally an older male and one or two teenagers. The dolphins in the wild live about twenty-five years. They only breed twice a year and the females are pregnant for a year before giving birth. Also each male dolphin takes the whistle of his mother and then adds his own unique sound at the end. That is the dolphin’s way of protecting the gene pool. They are such beautiful animals and I just love watching them. They make my heart happy whenever they come and play with our wake.

Fort Mantanzas was really just a well built redoubt, very small but in a good location. The park rangers knew their history and made the fort come alive. I am just glad I did not live back then, just a lot of work to stay alive. I did get my Park Stamp so I am a happy boater.

Titusville is an interesting place, very close to Orlando but one would never know it. Everything is spread out like Michael said, the sort of place that you have to have a car, or good friends to get anything done. Regina and Bill went way above and beyond to make us feel welcome. We enjoyed their company very much and look forward to spending more time with them in the future.

The space launch was exciting. I remember as a little girl watching all the Apollo launches with my dad. He was a space nut, I think the splash downs were my favorite, just knowing those brave men made it back to earth safe and sound. I did feel very proud seeing that rocket in the air, I also know what 671 million dollars looks like when it goes up in a cloud of vapors.

Wildlife Count

Sunday 10 Nov 2013

·         3 Dolphins in the mooring field

Monday 11 Nov 2013

·         3 sets of 2 dolphins….probably male

·         2 Single Dolphins

Tuesday 12 Nov 2013

·         1 set of 2 Dolphins

·         2 Single dolphins

·         1 Jumping Dolphin

·         LOTS of Cannon Ball Jellyfish…look them up…they look like floating mushroom caps…big mushrooms

Friday 15 Nov 2013

·         5 white tail deer under some trees

·         2 very playful dolphins, jumping ,swimming upside down in the side wake of the boat

·         6 sets of 2 dolphins

·         10 Single dolphins

·         A pod of 5 dolphins rounding up fish toward the shore into shallow water for lunch is my guess

·         Pod of 7 jumping and just having fun

·         Pod of 3

Sunday 17 and Monday 18

·         Manatees, lots of them in the marina, hanging out to get a drink of fresh water from people washing their boats. These animals are huge, some 6 feet long and I could not even guess their weight. Pretty cute in an ugly sort of way. Don`t know what the universe was thinking when it came up for the design of this animal but I am certain it does have a place in the grand scheme of things.

Thanks for reading…

Traveling Soul…OUT

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beaufort to Saint Augustine

Ok, you are going to find the section on Beaufort a little different than our usual entry. We were asked to send in some material for the Waterway Guide so, rather than writing two sections that say the same thing, I am using the Waterway Guide writing style for the Blog. Don’t worry, we are back my regular old fashioned style in the section that follows.


Along the Intracoastal there are a number of places where every cruiser will want to stop at least once, and more than likely a dozen or more times. Beaufort, SC is one of those places. Why does Beaufort command such dedication among cruisers? There are several reasons, the first of which has to be its location. Sited on a wide sweeping curve in the beautiful Beaufort River, Beaufort is 67 ICW miles from Charleston and has a number of excellent anchorages – and a public dinghy dock – in the area.

A second reason for Beaufort’s popularity has to be its city plan. The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is right on the water. There, locals, tourists and cruisers alike enjoy the outdoors. Kids of all ages enjoy throwing a Frisbee, playing ball, fishing from the dock or just relaxing while watching the sunset in one of the porch swings on the water’s edge. Pets, too, find the opportunity to stretch their legs refreshing.

Bordering the park, on Bay Street, is one of the other reasons so many cruisers visit the city – the restaurants. Several have a veranda or porch that overlooks the park and the waterfront for alfresco dining. Moreover, several of these restaurants have some of the best food along the waterway. Whether you are interested in an afternoon snack of fries and beer or more substantial (and healthful) fare for lunch or dinner it is available. Seafood, of course, is always on the menu. But neither can you miss with good old fashioned down home low country cooking. Or combine both with shrimp and grits. Mmmm you can get hungry just thinking about it. And in case the food isn’t enough to attract you, on most weekends there is live music available.

Also bordering the park is a number of different kinds of shops and stores. There are several gift shops for tourists (or cruisers) to buy a memento of their visit to Beaufort, of course, but there are also a number of art galleries. In fact, Beaufort is well known for its art scene, having been named a "Top 25 Small City Arts Destination" by American Style Magazine. There are also antique stores, book stores and clothing boutiques along the way. Okay, so maybe most cruisers aren’t in the market for antique furniture. Still, it is fun, educational and – depending on your age – somewhat nostalgic to see possessions that have survived until today.

After eating at the restaurants and shopping to your heart’s content at the stores and shops, what else would you want to do but explore the history of Beaufort, and, as you might imagine, the second oldest city in South Carolina has quite a bit of history. The area has hosted French, Spanish and English explorers as far back as 1514 in what some believe was the second landing on the North American continent by Europeans (after Ponce de Leon a year earlier). You can explore the city and its environs by water on a tour boat, a kayak or even by a beautiful vintage yacht. If you want to stay on land, there are guided tours you can take on foot, by van and even by horse and buggy.  And if you get there at the right time, many of the town’s historic houses also offer tours.

Beaufort can get a little bit foggy. Not good when you are preparing to leave.
For the more practical-minded, Beaufort is the home of Beaufort Memorial, which is the largest hospital between Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC and capable of handling any of your medical needs. In addition, there are five grocery stores in town, though you will need a car to get to any of them. Not to worry, though, many of the local marinas offer a courtesy car for short shopping runs.  The Downtown Marina of Beaufort, for example, is located right next to the park and offers convenient access to the park itself and to a number of restaurants, shops and the historic district. And if you are just passing through and don’t have the time to spend exploring the town, there are marinas on both ends of town that offer dockage at $1 per foot.

In short, every cruiser has his or her own set of reasons for making Beaufort a must-stop on the way along the Waterway. Whether it is for the location, the food, or the shopping, you will find Beaufort a wonderful stop.

Herb River

The next night we stayed at an anchorage on the Herb River. There are a few homes along the Herb and not much more. We didn’t consider it a destination anchorage, just an overnight. Anyway, we stayed primarily because some friends of ours, Vic and GiGi aboard Salty Turtle were going there. We didn’t intend to spend time with them, but I always like it when someone we know has tried out a particular anchorage – especially when it is expected to be very windy. When we arrived, Salty Turtle was already there, so we decided to go around the bend to a more protected site. That site was already occupied by two catamarans so we headed back and anchored about 200 yards behind the Turtle (I know it was 200 yards because I have a laser range finder for just such a purpose). Anyway, the current in the Herb River was substantial and the wind was blowing at 25 gusting to 30 MPH. Nevertheless, the anchor held and all was good with the world.

Fort Frederica

Our next stop was the Frederica River. About 2-3 miles off the ICW, the Frederica River has an anchorage and a dinghy dock for those of us who want to visit Fort Frederica by water. The nights we were there, the current was ripping through the anchorage, moving at 3 knots at least. The current, of course, changed directions every few hours (it is a tidal current). The wind was also blowing. These two factors had the rather unusual effect of pulling very hard on the anchor when the wind and current were both in the same direction and putting almost no pressure on the anchor when they were in opposite directions. As you might expect, I checked on the ground tackle several times during the night.

Fort Federica itself is one of those national monuments of which very few people have ever heard. According to the National Park Service, Georgia's fate was decided in 1742 when Spanish and British forces clashed on St. Simons Island. Fort Frederica's troops defeated the Spanish, ensuring Georgia's future as a British colony. Today, the archeological remnants of Frederica are protected as a National Monument. As I am sure everyone knows, the Battle of Bloody Marsh, near Ft. Frederica, took place during the “War of Jenkins’ Ear,” which, as far as I know, is the only war named after a body part. In case you were wondering, according to Wikipedia, “Its unusual name … refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship. The severed ear was subsequently exhibited before Parliament.  The tale of the ear's separation from Jenkins, following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, provided the impetus to war against the Spanish Empire …”

Apparently at Fort Frederica, they were planning
on catching some SERIOUS fish!
The site itself consists of the remnants of the fort and the remains foundations of several houses that were laid out in a town near the fort. The foundations were very interesting as they showed the size and number of rooms most of the houses had. On the first floor, few of the houses we saw had more than two rooms, presumably a bedroom and a parlor. And they were small. I think most of the houses were about the size of one good sized room in modern homes.

I need to point out one other thing. It was cold. It was so cold that to go ashore and see the monument, I actually broke down and wore jeans. Yes, jeans! And Socks. And a sweat shirt. I am telling you, it was cold.

Fernandina Beach

We stayed two nights in Frederica, then we were off to Fernandina Beach, our first stop in Florida. We stayed at anchor in the Bell River about ½ of a mile away from the city proper. When we arrived, it was still chilly. But by the next afternoon, it was downright warm! Hurray!!

Outside of Fernandina, on the Georgia side of the border,
there is a  sub base. And look what you can see from the ICW.
We had been to Fernandina before and, in fact, had seen the city’s famous (?) Shrimp Festival – where it seems everyone in town dresses like a shrimp. We wanted to see a little more of what the town had to offer so we decided to stroll around that morning. To be fair, Amelia Island (the island on which Fernandina is located) has a lot more to see that we saw in one morning. For example, there is an “Old Town Fernandina” about a mile north of the current city of Fernandina Beach that we did not see at all. It seems that in 1853 the whole town of Fernandina moved about a mile further south when Senator David Levy Yulee chartered his Florida Railroad line, the first cross-state railroad in Florida. Fernandina was to be the eastern terminus, but Yulee declared the rails could not cross the salt-marsh to Old Town; in fact, the land area of Old Town was insufficient to support Yulee's vision of 'Manhattan of the South,’ so he convinced the town fathers literally to move the town a mile to the south – to land that he had already bought.

We also went to the local museum where we received a guided tour from a docent. I gotta tell you that I am beginning to think that many of the docents for small town museums are more interested in spreading their particular view of history (and sometimes politics) than they are the view that might be acceptable to serious historians. At any rate, it was interesting to learn more about the interaction among the French, Spanish, English, Seminole Indiana and Americans in southern Georgia and northern Florida.

After the museum, our friends Lee Ann and Jerry came down from Brunswick Georgia, where they keep their boat Bella. You may remember that Jerry as a former orthopedic surgeon was my unpaid consultant when during my recent unpleasantness. Lee Ann used to be a hospice nurse so she and Ann also hit it off. Anyway, we had a great lunch at a kind of seafood shack after which they took us (by car!) to the grocery store. Thanks guys, we really appreciate it!

St. Augustine

After Fernandina we headed to St. Augustine, which is a day’s cruise to the south. It is also one of my favorite cities in Florida – and maybe along the entire Waterway. There is always a lot to do. Yes, Ann got her National Park passport stamped at the Castillo de San Marcos – an almost intact Spanish fort from the seventeenth century. (I reported on it last time we were through and am not going to do it here.) We also went through the Old Town. In Saint Augustine, Old Town is a touristy shopping district where almost all of the shops are housed in centuries-old buildings that had been individual homes in days long past. They have all sorts of oddities available – including alligator jerky – and we like going there.

This weekend, it turns out, they were having a “Pirate Gathering” in Saint Augustine. We had to go because … well … we just had to. There were a bunch of people dressed as pirates, several tents set up to sell pirate-like things (some less pirate-like than others) and a band that played Irish (and a few old English) folk songs while dressed as pirates. Oh well. It seemed like everyone was having a good time.

While in Saint Augustine, we again saw our friends Gigi and Vic aboard Salty Turtle. It seems we are a-l-m-o-s-t on the same schedule, but we haven’t been able to hook up and spend some quality time with them. We are both going to the Bahamas so even if we don’t link up before that, we’ll definitely see them in the Bahamas!

We also linked up with Sharon and Andy from Finally Fun. They are ground-dwellers now and live on the west coast of Florida around Tampa, but they were visiting Sharon’s mom, Fran, in Jacksonville. So, the three of them traveled down to Saint Augustine for dinner. This is the first time in a long time that Ann and I have eaten dinner out. We usually have a “lupper” (explained in a previous blog entry), or have lunch and are not hungry enough for dinner. This time though we did it right. We met Sharon, Andy and Fran at Gini’s Martini Bar, then went to Harry’s Restaurant for dinner. The food was great, the drinks were excellent, but the company was what made the evening.

And that brings us to today. Later this morning we are on our way to Fort Matanzas, another National Monument so Ann can get her passport stamped – and, oh yeah, so we can learn something about the Spanish massacre of 200 French Huguenots in the sixteenth century. The, for the first time in nine days we will be at a marina. I will write more about that after we get there.


Ann’s Notes: Michael sure knows how to sum up our travels. I am very proud of Traveling Soul and her ability to stay away from a marina for nine days. We did have to stop at the dock in St. Augustine to fill up our water tanks. We only hold 200 gallons. That may seem like a lot of water, but it is  not for a boat this big with all the normal uses of water. I have become a water-Nazi. Yes … we still take showers and I do the dishes, but with a very close eye on the water tanks. Once we get to some cleaner water, we will turn on the water maker. It only makes 7 gallons per hour and only when the generator is on, but hey, 7 gallons is better than no gallons…right?

Michael has been a really good sport, dealing with my National Parks Passport stamp/sticker mission.

Our National Parks are a real treasure, I never realized how much land has been put aside and preserved for us to go exploring.

I have had a chance to practice and hone my anchoring skills and my dinghy lowering and raising skills. We have actually found a much better and safer way to get the dinghy up and down, just by moving the wench over a few more feet over the swim platform. Took us a while … but we got together.

All the above mentioned places we visited were fun. There is so much to see and do that you can`t do it all in just a few hours of visiting … guess we will just have to go back a few more times.

I want to thank our friends Lee Ann and Jerry for coming down from Brunswick to spend the afternoon with us and take us to the grocery store. They are true cruising friends.

Also Sharon and Andy and Sharon`s delightful mom Fran for joining us for drinks and dinner in St. Augustine. We always have such a fun time with Sharon and Andy.

I truly love this adventure and all the people that we have met … Life Is Good …

Wildlife  Count…

Sunday 3 Nov 2013

·         Dolphins 7 single

Monday 4 Nov 2013

·         Noisy shrimp eating stuff that grows on the bottom of our boat..at night very noisy

·         Playing dolphin 1 at our bow

·         1 set of 2 dolphins

·         1 single dolphin

·         Many, many sea gulls following our wake from the stern, flying very close to the boat all day

Tuesday 5 Nov 2013

·         One white egret sitting on a stump for two plus hours just waiting for the tide to change so he/she could catch some dinner

Wednesday 6 Nov 2013

·         2 single Dolphins

·         1 set of 2 Dolphins

Friday 8 Nov 2013

·         Dolphins 5 sets of 2

·         Dolphins 4 single

Quotes From The Waterway

·         Let me set this up for you…almost all boats…sailing or motor boats have their names on the stern of the boat so people know where your home port is. Most of the time the printing is large enough to read with a pair of binoculars. We always try to hail a boat when we want to pass them on the ICW so they and we can slow down and not have a lot a wake to bounce around in. So up ahead of us we hear on the radio, one boat wanting to announce and ask permission to pass … “Sailing vessel without a name on your stern”… not sure “no-name” even had his radio on.

Thank you for reading…

Traveling Soul…OUT

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mile Hammock, St. James, Butler I. and Georgetown

Me! Me! Me! I should win. I should win! I am already planning my acceptance speech … “Ladies and Gentlemen, my parents, my wife and my children had nothing to do with this award. I worked so hard to win this 'Dummy of the Week' Award that I do not think anyone else should get any credit or blame as the case may me.” Oh, I forgot. Most of you don’t know what I am talking about. Well, if you really want to know, read on. But believe me that if you think I am kidding – that I could not be that stupid – then please, just skip this week’s Blog. You are my true friends : - ) Otherwise, read on.

As you will recall, after we left Ocracoke we went to River Dunes Marina in North Carolina. However, it got cold there and we decided to continue our journey south – to warmer climes, sunnier weather and more inviting waters. Our next stop after River Dunes was Mile Hammock Bay. Some of you may remember that we have stopped here before – in fact, every time we come past Camp Lejeune we stop here. There is nothing particularly scenic or anything else. It is, however, a great anchorage, contained inside a ¼ mile x ¼ mile box. The night we stayed about 15 other boaters thought it was a good anchorage as well, among them were two Selenes, Duet and Passage, about which, more later.

Still, it was a fairly pleasant night as there were not Marines exercising in the field to all hours of the morning and there were no V-22 Ospreys flying overhead. The only problem was that it was cold at Mile Hammock. In fact, as we were weighing anchor, Ann decided that before she did that again, she was   going to get a pair of gloves. I was still wearing sweat pants and SOCKS. Anyway, it was definitely time to head on south.

I know that I have complained enough about bridges and how they slow us down, so I am not going to beat that subject to death – but I am going to beat it. There are three bridges around Wrightsville Beach, NC. The first and the third open only on the hour and they Are 26+ miles apart. If we want to avoid sitting at the bridges and waiting for up to an hour for the bridge to open, we have three choices:

Why It is Not Good
Average 26 MPH between the bridges
Not gonna happen. Traveling Soul cannot move that fast
Average 13 MPH between the bridges
We could do it – if we used Saudi Arabia’s weekly production of petroleum AND we were willing to wake everyone in our path
Average 6.5 MPH between the bridges
Our “idle speed”

We travel, of course, at 6.5 MPH. To go that slowly, we sometimes have to take the boat out of gear so we can coast for a while. Why can’t they open one of those on the hour and the half hour? (I am going to stop here only because I swore I wouldn’t beat this subject to death.) This is also part of the ICW that has very shallow spots. Most of the inlets to the ocean let water and sand in to shoal the inlet. So, while the controlling depth of the ICW is supposed to be 12’ in these parts of the water way it can easily shoal to 5’ or less. We have to make sure we are going through at or near high tide or risk running aground.

Anyway, after winding our way through the maze of bridges and shoaling inlets we continued our journey south to St. James Plantation Marina. We have been here, before, too. Originally recommended by our friends Andy and Sharon (from Finally Fun), this is the third time we have stopped at St. James. The first time the experience there was a very good one. They put us at a facing dock, and they helped us hook up water and electric – and the prices were pretty good. The second time was when Ann and I had pressed our son, Tim, into service to help us move the boat south when I had a bum foot. Again, service was excellent. And, while I couldn’t get to the restaurant, Ann and Tim offered “boat service” and I had some of their ribs. Excellent.

This time … eh … not so much. First, they did not put us into the slip we wanted. We wanted the facing dock we had always had. Instead they put us into a facing dock that, while long enough, was not quite as nice as the original. That would have been ok – since they told me that had another, bigger boat coming for the nicer dock – except that the new dock did not have 50 amp service. (For those of you who don’t know, boats with an electrical connection usually have one 30 amp connection, two thirty amp connection, one fifty amp connection or, for some boats, two fifty amps plugs. We rely on one fifty amp connection.) So they gave us two choices: go without electricity or move to an interior slip. The one criticism that has been made of St. James has been that their fairways are narrow and it is difficult for a large boat to maneuver into an interior slip. If they had not had a slip on the end of the dock behind us – so I could just kind of back into it – I am not sure what we would have done.

It is not a bad marina, but I have two big complaints. First remember that “big boat” that was going to take the slip that we wanted? I was told it was on its way into the marina “right now.” Well, it never showed up. I think they fibbed to me – and Mother Natu … I mean Captain Mike doesn’t like being fibbed to. Second, the dockhands were sooo disorganized that they were assigning boats to slips, then changing their minds … finding that some slips did not have 50 amp power … etc. I am not sure we will be going back. Next time we will certainly look more closely at the alternatives.

We were not alone at St. James, however. Duet, whose crew (Karsten and Peg) we had met at River Dunes and spent the night before at the same anchorage at Mile Hammock were also there. Karsten and Peg have been cruising for SEVENTEEN YEARS. Wow! That, I am sure is some kind of a record. Also there was Passage the 53’ Selene that we had seen at Mile Hammock and her crew Win and Judy. They are a really nice couple who spend a lot of time cruising, but he still has to return periodically to California where they still own a business. Since the three of us were the only transient power boaters at the Marina, we all had dinner together. The dinner was good, the conversation enjoyable and the company unbeatable.

If you have never seen the Waccamaw and/or the Great Peedee Rivers you have missed something. They are wide, slow, rivers that meander thorough cypress forests, salt marshes and abandon rice fields. At times there are islands in the river separating one branch from the ICW itself. There are also a number of slow, deep tributaries along the length of these magnificent waterways. Some of these detours off the main river –whether formed by islands or tributaries – have idyllic anchorages. The last time we came through, I really wanted to pull over top the side, pull out a fishing rod – probably with a corn cob pipe – and enjoy a lazy afternoon.

 On our way south we stopped at Butler Island, which has one of these anchorages, but we got there late in the afternoon and all we had time to do was light up the grill and eat a couple of steaks. Also, it was not fishing season and I didn’t have a fishing license. (Ain’t it terrible how reality and governmental regulations impinge on an idyllic vision?) Oh well.

Rubble from the fire in Georgetown.
The picture doesn't do it justice. It was really bad.
Early the next morning we were on the way to Georgetown, SC. Although we have been there before, since our last visit there has been a fire – a pretty big fire. It burned down maybe ten historic buildings along the waterfront and around a dozen businesses. Although they were built of brick, the buildings had a system of interconnected wooden attics which appears to have been the conduit for the fire. I am guessing that one-third to one-quarter of the waterfront businesses were affected – and none on the other side of the street – so there are still plenty of things to do and see, but it is sad.

One of the places we went was to the Rice Museum. For those of you who don’t know, the area around Georgetown in antebellum South Carolina was not built on cotton, it was built on rice. The museum has several dioramas that explain the rice growing process. All of those dioramas refer to “farms” and “laborers” rather than plantations and slaves. In fact, I did not find one diorama that mentioned the word slaves. Moreover, when the docent was giving the presentation she remarked several times on how “well off” and how happy these laborers were. In fact, she pointed out that they were so happy with their lot that very few tried to leave the area after emancipation. The fact that they had no money and no place to go seems to have eluded her. I will admit to being a bit sensitive to these things, but good lord, this attempt to rewrite and reinterpret history does not belong in a museum for heavens sake.

After Georgetown we were on the way to Beaufoirt, SC. On the way there we saw Salty Turtle a DeFever we met last year in Nassau along with her crew GiGi and Victor. We later had lunch with them at Beaufort (but you’ll have to wait for next week for that story). As we were proceeding down the waterway we also heard familiar Tony and Bente on the radio. We met them in Marsh Harbor on their previous boat, a power catamaran called Side by Side. They, however, have traded in their catamaran for a power cruiser and are moving ashore! They are headed for Kent Island in Maryland, the same place where our friend Rick and Lynn Nissan live. We hope to see Tony and Bente on their new boat T and B (I think that’s what they said) next spring.

Remember the linguini in clam sauce I wanted in Ocracoke?
Well, in Georgetown seafood markets stay open 7 days a week!
Okay, for those of you who have been waiting here is the first reason I deserve dummy of the week. This particular award is in the “it could have happened to anybody, but it happened to me” category. We were proceeding down a particularly shallow part of the ICW. In fact, I was in the lead and was reporting back to Salty Turtle on water depth. I saw a crab pot in the channel and glanced upwards so I could see which daymark was next. It looked like green. I am supposed to keep green daymark on my port side so I turned hard to starboard to avoid the pot. Once the turn was underway I looked up and saw that the marker was red not green. Red markers I am supposed to keep to starboard. So, I am on the very edge of the channel headed out of it. As soon as we passed the crap both I could feel the bottom scraping across the soft mud on the bottom. I was going aground. What to do, what to do. I had two choices, I could stop and try to back off the same way I came – which is probably the safest – or I could try to power through. I knew I wasn’t too far out of the channel and decided to power through.  Now some of you may recall that at times I have complained about my huge engines and all the fuel they consume. Well, being on the verge of going aground, I learned why God created Detroit Diesels. We powered through easily. I’m sure I lost some of that bottom paint that we had the boatyard put on this summer, but we did NOT go aground.

Seriously that was just the honorable mention award. For the real dummy award, here we go. We had gone a short day and by 1430 or so we anchored on the South Santee River in about 10-15 feet of water. Now the Santee – like all the other rivers in this part of the country – have a very strong tidal current going through them. The tides are around 5 – 7 feet and to move that amount of water around in 6 hours there has to be a very strong current. Basically, if you set your anchor when the tide is coming in,    you will face into the current, drop and set your anchor. As the tide changes, you turn around 180 degrees. That puts some stress on the anchor which CAN, but does not usually drag.  I was a bit concerned since, in addition to the tidal currents we had quite a bit of wind so I woke up often at night to check the anchor. It worked as it was supposed to. That discussion has very little to do with my nomination for the dummy award.

The day we were going to leave Georgetown,
 there was just an itty bitty bit of fog.
It delayed our departure by about an hour.
At about 1700 every day we start up the generator to recharge our batteries – especially the inverter batteries that run the refrigerator – and so that we can cook dinner and watch a few DVDs on TV. At 1700 I got up, cranked the generator and … nothing. I mean nothing. We have had problems with the generator before, but usually we hear it try t crank. This time nothing. I went down into the generator room and tried to start it from there. This time it cranked and almost started, but would not stay on. “Houston”, I thought, we have a problem.

I looked around the generator. I saw a small leak in the fresh water system that shouldn’t cause the problem, but I was grasping at straws. The only way to tighten the screw was to reach around behind the machine and blindly use a socket to tighten it. The first time I tried, I lost the socket which fell behind the generator. I couldn’t get to it, but my lovely assistant managed to catch it on a magnetic kind of wand that we have and save it. We tightened the screw but, of course, that didn’t do anything. We checked the oil. It was way low and I didn’t have the 10W 30 that I should have had, so we took down our kayak and I paddled over to the only other boat in the anchorage – he didn’t have any either. So I used the only oil I had on board, 40 wt. Still, nothing. We tried to call some friends who might be able to help, but late on Friday no one was home.

We finally decided on Plan B. We would turn the refrigerator way down for now and turn off all the other draws on the inverter batteries. We would then turn off the inverter later that night because I did not want my brand new batteries to drain below 50%. (This is a different discussion, but below 50% is very bad for batteries.) We woke up early the next morning and as soon as it was light enough, we turned on our running lights headed towards Beaufort. We called the Beaufort Marina and they had a slip for us and gave us the names of several mechanics who they thought could help. It turned out that one of the mechanics was already at the marina working on a boat and he would be glad to help. Almost immediately after we turned into the slip he was there.

His name was Wayne Mallen and he was a really nice guy. He came on board, went down into the generator room and asked why a harness was unfastened. My response was the very knowledgeable and sophisticated, “Duhhh … I dunno.” He thought maybe some else might have bypassed the harness in one of the other repairs but he plugged it in anyway. Ok, ok, you got it. The generator started right up.  What bothers me most is that I saw the female end of that plug the night before, I just didn’t see the male end. It was right there, on the floor. ARRGH!! You see? I really do deserve that award!!!

Next time I will discuss the rest of our trip to Beaufort, SC and our subsequent stays in Georgia anchorages. Until then … here is Ann.

Ann’s Notes:  As you have just read, we have had several exciting things happen. What Michael has told you actually has a whole other part…that would be MY part. When `things` go South..( pun intended) I am the one that is the `gofer`. I like that job because I feel like I am helping. I bring all the tools that are needed to fix the problem and add a few suggestions. Sometimes they work…sometimes not.

I also help lower 60 pound kayaks off the bow of the boats. That may sound easy but not really. We have to let it drop from the railing into the water, then I walk the kayak, attached to a line, on the outside of the boat to the stern and tie it off. Traveling Soul is not a full walk around boat, we have a section of the boat where one needs to walk on the outside on a narrow walkway. Then, of course, one has to reverse this when we have to get the kayak back on board. That is actually harder than getting it down. Imagine that…

Then I have what is something like the Chinese Fire Drill … remember jumping out of the car at a stop light and running around the car and getting back in before the light turns green? Well, when we are going to dock I preset our lines on the side of the boat on which we will be tied off. Normally an easy thing to do ... until … you set the lines , then, on the way into the marina, things change. Then I have only have a minute or two to get it all correct. I run around like a mad women in and out of doors at lightning speed. Geez…what fun? And will it ever end?

On the bright side, we have met some wonderful new people and have seen some old friends also. That is the fun part for me, catching up and exchanging adventures.

OK…Wildlife count and Quotes from the Water…

Friday 25 Oct 2013

·         Dolphin 4 single

·         5 playing in our bow wake…3 playing….1 playing

·         Pod of 5
Yes, that's right. This is a deer crossing the ICW. And he made it!

Saturday 26 Oct 2013

·         1 playing dolphin

·         2 sets of 2

Sunday 27 Oct 2013

·         2 Turtles sunning them selves at the Rock Pile SC

·         1 Deer swimming across the canal…yes he/she made it to the other side

·         A few crazy people water skiing in the middle of the ICW…can`t fix stupid

Wednesday 30 Oct 2013

·         2 Dolphins in the North Santee River

·         2 Single dolphins

1 Mom dolphins with a baby playing on the side of the boat. For every one breath that Mom took, the baby took four or five...fun to watch them

Thursday 31 Oct 2013

·         Dolphins single 4

·         Dolphins 3 sets of 2

·         2 playing in our wake


 Two sail boaters talking to each other... traveling during a very low tide with their draft 5 to 6 feet…”If you run aground…would you please call and let me know”

Quote…Bridge tender talking to a slow sailboat about making the opening of the Figure Eight Bridge  (in a very heavy NC accent) “Jest bump ‘er up Cap`n, we’ll hold this here bridge for y`all.”

Ann asking Michael with a puzzled look on her face, since we are in the middle of now where…"Where is the ferry going?" Michael answer “To the other side” … ok… thanks for that …duh … the answer, by the way, was to a state park.

Traveling Soul…OUT