July 2-5, 2014... Hurricane Arthur!

So, here we are, the end of June, now land people in Delray Beach, FL.  We hear of a possible tropical low forming off the Florida coast that is likely to track up the SE US and pass close to or, make landfall in eastern North Carolina!  Anhinga is in a marina, not even a mile from the Beaufort inlet, where the winds and tides really plow into the boats at the docks during normal weather.  With a tropical storm or perhaps a hurricane headed there, we knew we needed to move the boat.  So, Tuesday, back into the car, up I-95 again for another 13 hour trip, and to the slip.  

Checking the charts for a likely hurricane hole, Wednesday we moved Anhinga about 20 miles north to Southwest Creek off the South River, off the Neuse River, off the Pamlico Sound.  Anchor down in the early evening, we sat smack dab in the middle of the creek, with about 1-2 feet of water below us and 100 feet of chain sunk in the mud.  We were alone in the creek -- we saw only 3 other boats in the entire stretch of the South River as we came through.  Thursday we prepared the boat, took down the canvas, tied everything down that we could think of that would fly, and waited.  In the afternoon, the rain began to fall, and winds started to pick up a bit.  

Our cell coverage was spotty; our internet access was very limited.  We had radio and heard that the bands were starting to come ashore at Atlantic Beach and Morehead City.  The waiting was difficult.  Finally, around 8:30pm there was more wind.  By 10pm we were seeing winds in the 20-35 knot range.  Checking the winds every half hour, we saw our highest winds about an hour later, just under 50 knots.  By this time the storm had come ashore at Shackleford Banks as a Category 2 hurricane, clocking 101mph there (or about 80 knots).  Our spot in Southwest Creek was protecting us from the fiercest winds.  The eye of the storm passed right over us.  The winds dropped to nothing, and we took some deep breaths.  Were we done with the worst?  No!!!  In about an hour, we got the backside of the eye, which was worse than the front.  The winds were not any higher, but the direction had changed and the water in the creek got steeper, giving us a little more of a bumpy ride.  John figured we would be fine and went to sleep.  Patti stayed up till about 3am, just to be sure that we were ok.

The rain fell all night.  The deck got a great washdown.  Next morning, all was clear and beautiful.  And, we had not moved an inch!!  It took a while to get moving, putting the boat back together.  We stayed over on Friday night, July 4th (our independence day from the hurricane) and left on Saturday the 5th to return to Beaufort.

Southwest Creek:  34d55.082’N  76d33.013’W

10 May - 2 July, 2014... Cape Lookout and Beaufort, NC

The trip north from Charleston was uneventful, though we did practice our wing-on-wing sailing downwind.  Rather than heading directly to Cape Lookout, we went to Winyah Bay, as we had always liked anchoring there in the past.  But, we didn’t count on the crazy sea breeze that hit in the afternoon making it untenable to anchor on the east side of the inlet -- so we did our best on the west side and prayed the Rocna would stay put through the night.  Next couple of days we finished the trip around Frying Pan Shoal and up to Cape Lookout.

With all the times we had stopped at Beaufort, we had not been to Cape Lookout.  We were really missing out!  This has to be the most beautiful place we had ever visited on the US east coast.  The water was clean and clear and that startling color of turquoise.  The anchorage is so well protected that most of the time, the water was completely flat, even when the waves outside the bight were raging.  We never used the dinghy -- the kayak was our preferred transport, to the beaches and Shackleford Banks to see the wild horses.  The beaches are beautiful, and there are so many of them to choose from, that you can feel really alone out there.  Long-billed curlews were our company for one stretch of beach...  The lighthouse provides an iconic view; every time you look up, there it is!  But, by far, the best thing about Cape Lookout were the TURTLES!  Loggerheads, everywhere.  Swimming around the boat.  Huge -- had to be 3 feet across.  There were researchers from Duke Marine Lab in the bight and they told us that the size of the population this spring surprised them as well.  So, we were lucky to be there just as the turtles came in.

We mulled over the idea of spending the whole summer in Cape Lookout, with weekly trips to Beaufort to provision or whatever.  We just felt so happy and relaxed to be there.  After a bit more than a week, we went into Beaufort -- needed fuel, food, and a little civilization.  Ate at Aqua, one of our favorite restaurants in town, shopped at the Piggly Wiggly, and fueled at Olde Towne Yacht Club on Radio Island.  We thought that maybe we should head north to New York and Maine, and started looking for a weather window.  We were getting frustrated with that, as the weather was invariably bad, or just not appropriate for a long haul to the northeast.  With no window in sight, we put Anhinga in a slip at Olde Towne, rented a car, and drove to Florida for a week to celebrate RenĂ©e’s birthday.  Once back in North Carolina, we again went out to Cape Lookout (now there were NO turtles..) and waited.  The night before we were going to head north, family issues called us back to Florida, so Anhinga went back to Olde Towne, and we drove south.

Winyah Bay, SC:  33d13.173’N  79d11.705’W
Lookout Bight, NC:  34d37.081’N  76d32.922’W
Beaufort, NC:  34d42.794’N  76d40.783’W
Olde Towne Yacht Club, Radio Island
Lookout Bight, NC:  34d37.670’N  76d32.941’W
Olde Towne Yacht Club, Radio Island

Apr 29 - May 8, 2014... Charleston, SC

Up to Charleston...pleasant overnight trip till the end...winds came up and the chop in Charleston Harbor was horrendous. Rather than head up the Ashley River to anchor opposite the city marina, we ducked into the marshes near Isle of Palms for a couple of days till things settled down. It is so peaceful in the marsh even when the winds are crazy, and we rarely have any boats anchoring with us there. (Just wish the pistol shrimp would pipe down at night -- their chattering keeps us awake!)

Once the weather was calmer we anchored off the city. Everything we remembered about Charleston was the same -- the smell of honeysuckle everywhere, beautiful historic homes, terrific restaurants, friendly people. We finally learned why the 'false front' homes were built sideways to the street -- this avoids a wide street presence as that was how property taxes were computed. Aha!

Big hike -- we walked over the Ravenel Bridge to Mt. Pleasant, spent some quality time at one of the waterside restaurants on Shem Creek, and wandered around looking at the shrimpers, the birds, the water. Another beautiful place. No walking back for us -- 8 miles one way was enough! So bus back to town and Anhinga.

Inlet Creek:  32d46.993'N  79d49.507'W
Charleston:  32d46.500'N  79d57.174'W

Apr 24-28, 2014... Cumberland Island, GA

A daysail from St Augustine, we always love to come back to Cumberland Island. Because it is almost entirely National Seashore, it is very peaceful -- especially after the last ferry goes back to St Mary's with its load of daytrippers. Not too many cruisers get off the beaten path to stop here either, and if they do, it is often only for a day or two. It is one of the most beautiful places we've been. The beach is long and white, the dunes and driftwood gorgeous, and walking into the forest after being on the beach, the sun shining through live oaks draped in Spanish moss with an understory of palms will just take your breath away.

Of course we kayaked. And we had a couple of dolphins come close to swim with us as we paddled.

We got a weather window to sail north to Charleston. So, up anchor, headed down Cumberland Sound to the inlet, and we hear a securite call on the radio. The call was to let all mariners know that a Navy asset was headed in and to stay clear. We were just at the marker and saw an Ohio class nuclear-powered submarine with the crew riding topside coming up to Kings Bay. We let them pass....!

Cumberland Island:  30d46.159'N  81d28.285'W

Mar 22 - Apr 24, 2014... St Augustine, FL

After sailing up from Ft Pierce, we navigated in the St Augustine inlet, under the Bridge of Lions and settled into life on mooring #19. We planned a month there as were leaving the boat for a trip to New York for Sophie's Bat Mitzvah. And, we liked St Augustine last time, so we thought we'd stay longer this time.

This is a tourist town, but some events attract lots of locals as well as visitors -- the annual Blessing of the Fleet before Easter is one. The bishop is.accompanied by people who can trace their heritage to the original Spanish settlers, and they dress in period clothing. The fishing boats come in for the event as do pleasure boats of all types and sizes. With recorded music playing, it is quite spectacular.

We also had a chance to catch up with the 'old grads' from West Point. Chuck was in Florida, so we had him out to the boat and for a walk through town, then met Reg, Cindy, Bill and Betty for dinner in St Augustine Beach. Always good to be with those who knew you when!

Last time here we paddled in Salt Run and thought we'd do it again. Off we went around the corner, up to the marshes at the end. We thought we saw a pinkish bird fly away as we approached, but weren't sure. Hmmmm, what was that? Paddling back, now at very low tide, we came upon another pink bird on the mud flats. Getting very close we saw it feeding, swinging its head side to side, long bill in the water. Watching, watching...raised its bill -- yup! A roseate spoonbill, confirming our suspicions of what we had seen earlier. Seeing this bird had very special meaning for Patti, who has wanted to see one since learning about them as a child from her illustrated Bozo and the Birds record album. We had gone all the way to Mexico looking for them with no joy. And here they are, in St Augustine. Of course we didn't have a camera with us that day when we were about 10 feet from the bird. But, during a subsequent kayak outing, we did see one flying overhead. Wow.

Our stay anywhere wouldn't be complete without multiple long walks to provision, weighted down by shopping bags. This was no exception, but we did reward ourselves with a couple of lunches at the Yard Bird Cafe. Try the fried green tomato tacos -- best new food experience for us in a long time!

St. Augustine:  29d53.217'N  81d18.275'W

March 11-21, 2014... Ft. Pierce, FL

Ft Pierce is always a good place to stop on travels along Florida -- easy inlet to navigate, fabulous green market on Saturdays to stock up on provisions. Anchored for a few days south of Causeway Island making travels to town shorter. Since last in Ft Pierce a couple of years ago, the island breakwaters to protect the town marina were built, but the new docks weren't there. Weather was a little strange this time with repeated strong winds. One storm had really strong southerlies, so we re-anchored north of Causeway just off the Coast Guard station, a good location for leaving on our next leg north.

Only noteworthy event of our stay was the Coast Guard boarding. We had already gone to bed when we heard voices and saw lights next to us. Being anchored just off their sea wall, we presented an easy opportunity. The Coasties were very polite, checked out our gear, we passed muster, and have our "get out of jail free card" good for the next year. Next morning, up anchor, on to St. Augustine.

Ft. Pierce (south of Causeway Island):  27d27.394'N  80d18.258'W
Ft. Pierce (north of Causeway Island):  27d27.876'N  80d18.523'W

March 8-11, 2014... Hobe Sound, FL

Waited and waited for a weather window to sail to Ft Pierce. Gave up waiting and puttered up the ICW instead, stopping in Hobe Sound. We'd been there before and remembered it being beautiful, but wow, it really is. Anchored off Jonathan Dickinson State Park, we had a manatee visitor, several dolphins, saw loads of pelicans, ospreys, herons, and at night when the boats stopped moving the water was incredibly still, and there was hardly any sound. What a change from West Palm Beach.

Adventure #1: Climbing the Mountain. From our anchorage we could see the viewing tower in the state park. We decided we needed to climb that tower, for no other reason than we hadn't done it before. And it is the highest spot in south Florida -- an astounding 86 feet! Only question, how do we get there. Using Google imagery we figured out there was a path up the hill from Hobe Sound to US1, almost near the back entrance to the park. We kayaked over, tied to a tree, found the path, crossed the road, entered the park, got lost twice, but found the tower eventually. Quite a view over the park and over Hobe Sound, Jupiter Island, and the ocean. Enjoy the photos.

Adventure #2: Kayak Marathon. We used to kayak several times a week, but had lost the practice while in WPB. Here, the natural surroundings beckoned. We were going bird watching in the mangroves, in and out of the ox-bows off Jupiter Narrows. We lost track of all the herons we saw -- great blues, little blues, yellow-crowned night herons, egrets and then, all the osprey nests! They were everywhere, several with two adults standing by. Pelicans crashed into the water, anhingas diving and fishing, and kingfishers -- incredibly fast and skittish. Dolphins swam by. We could do this all day.

We were a couple hours north and realized we needed to turn back. We hadn't noticed the sea breeze had come up; turning south we were into it big time -- wind (literally) on the nose. South of the Hobe Sound bridge, we put some muscle into it and were still 3 miles from Anhinga. With only minor whining from one crew member, we were just about back when a power boat screamed by at 30mph, creating a HUGE wake at the narrowest spot. We took one wave over the side, turned into the wake and went vertical for a moment, but came down ok. Now we were tired AND drenched. Back at Anhinga, checked the charts, saw we had covered 10 miles. Chocolate reward for the crew!

The next day we pulled up the anchor and headed for Ft. Pierce. The drive through the mangroves along Jupiter Narrows was fabulous. Notably, north of the bridge we saw 3 limpkins on a log, and an osprey on a marker, staring us down. Dolphins welcomed us to the Indian River and played alongside once we got north of the St. Lucie inlet.

Hobe Sound: 27d01.461'N 80d06.242'W

October 31, 2013 - March 8, 2014... West Palm Beach, FL

Time flies. Plans change. This is part of cruising too. By now we expected Anhinga to be aboard a ship to the Med, but that plan will have to wait. This year we will be staying in the US.

We anchored in West Palm Beach for several months, enjoying being in a place that is so welcoming to boaters, yet not overrun by them. There was always a place for us at the dinghy dock and we never had to worry about people anchoring too close. We made full use of the city library, went for walks on both sides of Lake Worth, spent cold days wrapped in foulies sitting on a bench in the sun at the beach (how old are we anyway...), dancing at the free concerts at Clematis By Night and Sunday afternoons, enjoying all the Palm Beaches had to offer. We were anchored in that place so long we started to appear in real estate ads advertising the waterfront life! Thanks to Donavon at Sotheby's for sending us the photos. We found out how much of a fixture we had become when we left. The Royal Park bridge tender said goodbye, saying he enjoyed watching us all these months, and wished us luck.

MV and Shane on Gem came for a couple of weeks (and stayed a bit longer) so we ran around town together, introducing them to Irv & Renee and American Thanksgiving. We had many wonderful evenings aboard Gem (dinner and a movie!) including the record-breaking night when 22" of rain fell in Palm Beach County. Boy were we surprised when we went out and found the dinghy absolutely full of water. Shane sprung into action and bailed us out with a bucket. Luckily the engine started and we were on our way. MV and Shane helped us out in multiple ways, not the least of which was to design a set of dinghy straps to use when hoisting the dinghy, and instilling in us the dedicated practice of lifting it every night. Of course we were sorry to see them go, but luckily their final departure was not in handcuffs (inside joke...)

Jay and Lauren visited for a week and we got to show them around and show them off! They were game to try it all, dinghying, kayaking, hiking, circus night, alligator sighting, and visiting Delray and the grandparents (Lauren wanted to see Jay's baby pictures...aww...) We had the wettest dinghy ride ever getting back from the dock to Anhinga; I don't think we ever laughed so hard. The week went by too quickly, looking forward to another one.

Galen came to Florida, spending time with us on the boat, and then resettled in the sunny south. We became experts on rental real estate and he got an apartment, not too far from the beach. We wrapped up our time in WPB with a haul out -- bottom paint, minor repairs, insurance survey. It's always something. That's life on a boat!