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!