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© NENTOA 2008

From Marblehead to Florida
on the Eritad


By Ed & Rita Mackey

email: eds@gsinet.net

Rita & Ed
Ch 7: Key West to Jupiter
Ch 8:Jupiter to Daytona
Ch 9: Daytona to St. Simons
Ch 10: St. Simons to Cape Hatteras
Ch 11:Hatteras to Solomons
Ch 12: Solomons to Marblehead

Chapter 1 Marblehead to Cape May, Oct 19 to Oct 28

Oct 19, Friday
We left Marblehead on Friday Oct. 19 at 8:00 AM headed for Cuttyhunk or thereabouts. The seas were OK at first but toward the canal the wind was picking up. We made it through the canal but after we passed Onset the wind was on our nose and blowing very strong. The current was with us which as most people familiar with Buzzards bay know that this is the worst combination to have. Needless to say it got so rough we decided to turn back to Onset. Easier said than done. It was so rough that it took me almost 15 minutes before I could find a break to turn around and when I did I had to do it real fast. The waves were constantly breaking over the bow. Well we made it back to Onset, picked up an unused mooring and stayed the night.

Oct 20, Saturday
We left at 7:00, the temperature was 51 degrees. We headed down Buzzards Bay, the waves got so uncomfortable and we were taking so much water over the bow that we could hardly see even with the windshield wipers on so we decided to head for Cuttyhunk. By the time we got to Cuttyhunk it seemed to be getting better so we decided to continue to Newport. Conditions along the way improved even more so we headed to Point Judith and arrived there at 12:15. Along the way our new computer stopped working so we reverted back to our old Toshiba. The screen was hard to see in the sunlight plus after a while it locked up and we could not get it working no matter what we tried. So much for computer navigation. After this, I would plan the next day’s trip and enter all the waypoints into the trusty Garmin 48 handheld GPS.

Oct 21, Sunday
We left at 7:00, the temperature was 51 degrees and decided to head for Mattituck, LI which was about 50 miles away. The seas were so calm for a change that we headed for Port Jefferson about 70 miles. They were forecasting 15 to 20 knot winds gusting to 25 later in the day but we kept going and did not get bad winds until we were almost at Port Jefferson. We made it just in time because the winds were really blowing after we got in. We picked up an empty mooring on the lee shore and spent the night listening to the wind.

Oct 22, Monday
We left at 8:00, the temp was 55 degrees, headed for Manhasset Bay about 40 miles. Seas were calm. We tied up at the Manhasset Bay Marina. While there we met a captain of a 45 foot Gulfstar who shared information giving a printout of mileages and stops from his previous trips down the inland waterway. He invited us on his boat and we had cocktails and conversation with him and his wife.

Oct 23, Tuesday
We left at 7:15, temp was 50, headed for Manasquan Inlet in NJ. We made it through Hell Gate with no problem, following a ship most of the way through. We went by Manhattan, saw the Statue of Liberty and the void where the Twin Towers used to be. We continued and again the winds picked up to the point of changing our destination. We decided to pull in behind Sandy Hook NJ and anchored off the Coast Guard station. After bouncing around for several hours we decided to go further down into the Atlantic Highlands and anchored behind the breakwater along with 4 Canadian sailboats. The trip was about 38 miles for the day.

Oct 24, Wednesday
We left at 6:25, temp 61. Winds were supposed to increase during the day so we wanted to get an early start. We decided to head for Manasquan Inlet and decide from there if we should continue to Atlantic City which would be the next stop. The seas were getting rough but we decided to continue to Atlantic City anyway. We arrived at Atlantic City at 2:45 and needless to say were a bit tired. We stayed at the Senator Frank Farley State Marina also known as the Trump Marina because they manage it. We had lunch on board rather late because it was too rough underway. After this we walked to Harrah's Casino and got 2 rolls of nickels. I went up to the cashier and handed her a $100 bill and asked for two rolls of nickels. She looked at me and said "Just two?" We went to the slots (I should say I went to the slots while Rita watched my big gambling) and after dumping in two rolls of nickels we picked up our winnings $3.50. So we basically blew 50 cents and had a good time.

Oct 25, Thursday
We left at 9:00, temp was 67, winds were forecast to be 15 to 20 turning west in the afternoon and reaching 25. We decided to go the inland route which was a little over 50 miles compared to 37 outside. Luckily I was able to get the new computer running on 110V AC but it would not run on the battery. So we had to run the generator for the day. Thank heavens because I do not think we would have made it without the computer. With the computer we were able to stay in the channels which sometimes were extremely narrow and in some places only 3 to 5 feet deep, most places were 8 ft or more but if you deviate the slightest it would be one or two feet deep. The biggest problem we had was at the Dorsey St. Bridge. We were the only boat, we called the bridge tender and he said that he would open the bridge in a little while. One hour later we were still there holding our position. I called him several times and got no response. We were only about two to three hundred feet away. Finally I dropped Rita off on a private dock and she went up to the street. A police cruiser saw her and put his flashing lights on, turned around and asked her if she was on the boat. He had seen us sitting there some time previously and told her that the bridge tender should have opened the bridge a long time ago. He just shook his head and called his dispatcher, almost immediately the bridge bells went off and the bridge opened. When we went by the tower, I looked up and he had closed the blinds. We finally made it to Cape May at 4:30.

Oct 26, Friday
Temp 49, we spent the day walking around. We walked about 12 miles and were aching by the end of the day. The wind was blowing about 40 mph most of the day.

Oct 27, Saturday
Temp 41 degrees, wind was blowing W-SW 20-25 mph so we rented bikes and did more touring as well as laundry and shop for food supplies.

Oct 28, Sunday
Temp 38 degrees. Well here we are another day in port. Winds 20-25 mph. They are expected to decrease to 15-20 this afternoon and 10-15 tomorrow morning so we expect to leave for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in the morning. At least this extra time gave me a chance to type the notes of our trip so far.

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Chapter 2 Cape May to Norfolk, Oct. 29 to Nov. 11

Oct 29, Monday
Air temp 33 degrees, water 49 degrees. Left at 7:05, arrived at 2:37, traveled 63 miles (all miles will be nautical until we reach Norfolk).
Well the wind finally calmed down after four days of 25 mph winds. We left Cape May, the wind was light and it was a bright clear sunny day, the water was calm and very enjoyable. The only thing not in our favor was the 1-2 knot current against us. We went up the Delaware Bay and into the C&D Canal (Chesapeake and Delaware). We anchored in a small basin in Chesapeake City just off the canal which is located about midway in the canal. We could see the huge ships going by all night. We went ashore and walked around the very small but cute town of Chesapeake, the old town that is. We also toured the Army Corps of Engineers Museum which had mockups and pictures of the old canal when it had four sets of locks. They also had the original large steam engine and pump that was used to fill the locks with water. Now the canal goes straight through with no locks. It was very interesting and a worthwhile visit.

Oct 30, Tuesday
Air temp 45, water 51. Left at 7:10 arrived at 1:10, traveled 48 miles.
We went to Baltimore all the way into the inner harbor. We stayed at the Inner Harbor Marina because they offer a 25% discount to Boat US members. We took on 62.5 gallons of fuel at $1.15 per gallon; dockage was $89.04 for two nights. Baltimore is a very nice city to visit by water. They have fixed up the waterfront and located ship museums, aquarium, restaurants, shopping, etc., close by. It is really nice. The weather was warm and sunny. We walked all around looking at the sights to see what we wanted to return to and see the next day.

Oct 31, Wednesday
We bought a ticket and toured the lightship Chesapeake, the submarine Torsk, the Coast Guard Cutter Taney and the Seven Foot Shoal Lighthouse. We also walked down to see Edgar Allen Poe’s gravesite. In the evening we had supper in the Hard Rock Cafe which is an old converted power generating station. Inside you can see the boilers and stacks. It was really unique. Baltimore was a worthwhile stop.

Nov 1, Thursday
Air 51, water 61. Left at 8:40 arrived 11:48, traveled 27.9 miles.
We picked up a mooring in Annapolis. We walked around the town and went to the Naval Academy and had a tour. There are over 4000 cadets living there. They are all housed in one building and they all eat at the same time. The buildings are really impressive. To get on the Academy grounds we had to show a picture ID. Rita showed her military ID and her driver’s license. I was still fumbling for mine when the Marine guard snapped to attention and gave a salute. I said I was having trouble finding mine but he said, “It is OK, sir. I saw hers and that is good enough.” After we walked through I looked at Rita’s ID. It had my name and rank of commander on it as well as her information, so that is how he knew. After the tour we came back to the boat at dusk and ate supper and made phone calls.

Nov 2, Friday
We toured the State Capital Building then toured the William Paca Mansion. He was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. We lunched on the dock at Pusser’s where we could see our boat Eritad swinging on its mooring in the background. We met a couple at the table next to us who gave us all kinds of information about what to see here as well as other places and also the different types of people we would meet in different areas of Maryland. In the afternoon we took a bus tour and saw more of the area plus the driver gave us a lot of history.

Nov 3, Saturday
Air 58, water 56. We left at 7:10 arrived at 10:10, traveled 24.6 miles.
The water was flat on the trip to St Michaels. Clouds increased and looked like we may have some rain. We got a few showers then the sky cleared and it turned out to be a warm sunny day. We walked around the town which consists of walking down Main St. We were going to eat at the Crab Claw restaurant but it was too pricey so we ate at Carpenter’s, a family restaurant. A good meal for a reasonable price. Rita had her first Maryland crab cake and I had a taste even though I am allergic. It was good. While we were there we received phone calls from David, Amy and Red to wish me a happy birthday; it was my 63rd. Rita gave me me presents consisting of two bags of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a book Blind Man’s Bluff. Then we went down to the museum which is the biggest attraction in town. We saw Skipjacks, the old sailing vessels that are used to gather oysters. Some are still in operation and are subsidized by the state in order to keep them in operation. We also saw Bugeyes which are sailboats that were made from solid logs pinned together and then hollowed out like a dugout canoe except much, much bigger. There are about 1% of the oysters in Chesapeake Bay now as compared to what there were way back. There used to be so many oysters that the entire Chesapeake Bay water was completely filtered every six days and as a result the water used to be clear. They are trying to restore the oysters to 2% by the year 2004. The Skipjacks are not allowed to have engines on board so they use push boats which is a small boat with an engine attached to the stern of the Skipjack to push the boat around. This way they meet the legal requirement of not having an engine on board.

Nov 4, Sunday
Air 44, water 61, left at 8:00 arrived 12:00, traveled 29.1 miles.
We had a nice leisurely trip to Oxford. We went down the Poplar Island Narrows Channel and through Knapp’s Channel. We walked the town in very short order. It consisted of a small main street and that is about all. It was a small town, very quaint, very quiet and not touristy. Very nice place to visit.

Nov 5 & 6, Monday & Tuesday
Air 44, water 56, left 7:10 arrived 10:18, traveled 11.7 miles.
We left Oxford and headed for Solomons but the water got so rough that we headed for Knapp’s Narrows. We tied up in the Tilghman Island Marina because it was a Boat US cooperating marina. We looked around and found no one. The sign on the shed said to ring the bell on the house. We did and no one answered. There also was a telephone number to call. We called. No one answered so we stayed for the night. The wind blew all night and was still blowing in the morning gusting to 28 mph, so we stayed and walked the town which wasn’t much. By early afternoon the wind had decreased to 10-15 mph. We could have left but didn’t. We left the next morning and never paid for the two nights’ stay because we never saw anybody. I guess it was too late in the season.

Nov 7, Wednesday
Air 51, water 49, left 8:10 arrived 12:15, traveled 31.3 miles.
We went to Solomons and stayed overnight at the Calvert Marina at 75 cents per foot, a very reasonable price. It is a Boat US cooperating marina. We also took on 44 gallons of diesel fuel at $1.29 per gallon. Solomons Harbor is shaped like a big U; we were at one end of the U and most everything was on the other side. We could have taken our dinghy over in five minutes but decided to walk for the exercise. Well we made it but it turned out to be a much longer walk than we expected. It took so long that by the time we got there we had to turn around and head back to the boat so we could get back by dusk. The marina is on a point which used to be an amphibious training base for the Navy and Marines during 1942-45. Many of the men who trained there were involved in the landings on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.

Nov 8, Thursday
Air ?, water 56, left 6:48 arrived 1:30, traveled 65.8 miles.
We went from Solomons to Urbana, which was up the Rappahannock River, to meet Bob Calves, a man we met this past summer at the Nordic Tug rendezvous in Essex, CT. He had given us his cell phone number and said that when we were in the Chesapeake to give him a call. He has been living aboard his boat since 1992. He greeted us at the dock and we tied up in a slip near his at the Urbana Yacht Sales. We took on 42 gallons of fuel at $1.37 per gallon and paid $1.00 per foot for dockage plus $3.00 for electricity. He walked around town with us giving us all kinds of information about the town that we would never have visited otherwise. He invited us out to supper that evening to a nice little restaurant. The next day some guy was on the dock looking at our boat (which seemed to happen wherever we went). The tug seems to attract people. We talked to him and invited him aboard. He said that he wanted to get a Nordic Tug but had never been on board one before. He thanked us and left. We did laundry and had a tour of the adjacent marinas with our tour guide Bob; he showed us many old boats which were in the water in covered slips. We invited Bob for supper on board and we talked until 8:45 which seems to be our bedtime on board. We seem to sleep more on the boat than at home.

Nov 10, Saturday
Air 39, water 49, left 7:10 arrived ?, traveled 44.5 miles.
Bob helped us get underway in the morning. We said our goodbyes and said that we would call him in the spring on our trip north. After we left the Rappahannock River and headed south the southwest wind was just about on our nose. After taking much green water over the boat we decided not to head for Norfolk; instead we went into the Severn River and anchored for the night. The winds in the morning are supposed to come out of the north so the wind will be with us. We heard over the radio that the aircraft carrier Enterprise along with its flotilla was coming in on Saturday. We would have liked to see it but the seas were too rough. We found a nice quiet spot to anchor for the night.

Nov 11, Sunday
Air 46, water 61, left 7:15 arrived 11:55, traveled 36.6 miles.
We had a calm night even though the wind was blowing because we were anchored close to the lee shore. Another bright sunny day and we headed for Norfolk with the wind at our stern for a change. We tried to stay at the Comfort Point Marina at Fort Monroe which is for military personnel only and since I am retired military, I qualify. Because of the high security alert they were not taking anyone. We will try and stay there on the way back because we want to tour Fort Monroe. We continued down the channel past the aircraft carrier Enterprise. There were two other aircraft carriers tied up as well as many other Navy ships. There were patrol boats patrolling to make sure that no boats got too close to the ships. We continued down to the Waterside Marina right at the edge of the city of Norfolk. It was sheltered and cost us $42 per night. We stayed two nights. We toured the Nauticus Museum which also included the battleship Wisconsin. We went on board; it was huge. It is still owned by the Navy so we could only walk topside and could not go inside. The next day was the day to fix our computers. We had two laptops on board and had trouble with both. I called Compaq because the battery was not charging. They took me through a series of steps and determined that it was the battery and not the computer. I had them send the new replacement battery to my brother’s house in Satellite Beach in Florida because we would be constantly moving and we were going to stop there. I was going to buy a spare battery until I found out that it would cost $200. Then I called Toshiba for our other computer. They had me try a few things over the phone and nothing worked. Since our warranty had expired it would cost us money to do more troubleshooting. So I opted out. We went to Comp USA. I described the problem on our Toshiba. He said that it seemed like a software problem and it is a flat charge of $149.99 for a laptop even if it is an easy fix and if it takes more than one hour it costs more. I decided to wait. We bought a small inverter for our Compaq which solved the Compaq problem. It would not work on the Radio Shack adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket. When we got back I talked to the dockmaster and told him about my problem. He gave me the name of a man that comes to take care of their computers when they have problems, so I gave him a call. He came down to the boat around 4:30. It turns out that he is a sailor and we hit it off real well. He spent about two hours then said that the CompUSA was cheap at $149.99. I kind of shuddered. When he was done, I asked him how much. He said that if he has to go up to his car to get an invoice it would be $200 but if I gave him cash it would be $20. I couldn’t believe it after all the time he spent. I offered him more but he would not take it. He said that he really did not do that much. He spent most of the time trying to save what we had on the computer but eventually had to reinstall the operating software. That was no problem for us because all we had in the computer was the navigation software and we could reload it. We thanked him profusely. Now we had two working computers.

This ends this segment of our trip as this point is mile zero for the ICW (intracoastal waterway). From here on the miles are no longer nautical miles but statute miles and we have 1242 miles to Key West.

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Chapter 3 Norfolk to Cumberland Island, Nov. 13 to Nov. 30

Well here we are starting down the Intracoastal Waterway at mile zero in Norfolk. The intracoastal miles are measured in statute miles not nautical miles. From this point on, I have calibrated the GPS to record statute miles. Anytime I mention miles they will be statute until we reach this point on our return trip. At the beginning of each day’s synopsis, I will give the date, the day of the week followed by the air temperature, the water temperature, and the ICW mile location at the start of the day’s trip. In order to see what mile we stopped at you will have to look at the next day start point. I will also give the miles traveled on that day as well as the time we start and when we stop.

Nov 13, Tuesday
Air 41, water 56, mile 0, miles traveled 59.9, left 7:15 arrived 3:17.
We left Norfolk headed down the ICW. Mile zero starts out in front of the marina. As we started down, a large Coast Guard boat along with several smaller boats were clearing the channel because a large LNG tanker was leaving. Also there were small Navy boats patrolling all along where the Navy ships were docked. The increased security was very noticeable. The LNG tanker was the Havis from Oslo. We arrived at the Steel Bridge and had to wait until 9:00 AM for it to open. There were nine boats backed up by the time we went through. These nine boats basically stayed together through two more low bridges and one set of locks. We wanted to take the Dismal Swamp Canal route but the Army Corps of Engineers had a sign posted saying that it was closed. There must not have been enough water. We hope to take it on the way back in the spring. We continued on past the town of Coinjock where many boats tie up at the marinas. We kept going and anchored at mile 59. There were five sailboats also anchored along the lee shore. We had plenty of room and we were far apart with plenty of privacy.

Nov 14, Wednesday
Air 45, water 52, mile 59, miles traveled 78.6, left 6:55 arrived 3:00.
We traveled 78 miles, a long day relative to other days. We anchored in Pungo Creek in the Pungo River as it seemed like a nice anchorage. It was behind Windmill Point near the lee shore. We both took cockpit showers. We had to keep a low profile because the boat was swinging and we at times were in plain sight of some of the other anchored boats. We prefer to use the cockpit to shower instead of using the onboard shower because the cat’s litter box is in the shower and we would have to move it. Also after we shower we would have to wipe it down. Much easier to use the cockpit. A large power boat anchored near us and turned on his generator. He was very courteous and asked if we could hear it and if it was disturbing us. We said that we could hear it but it was not loud enough to be annoying. Later it got cool and we closed the windows and did not hear it. We watched a beautiful sunset.

Nov 15, Thursday
Air 50, water 55, mile 136, miles traveled 67, left 7:00 arrived 1:30.
The wind was blowing but luckily it was behind us. If we were traveling north it would have been very wet. We saw oyster fishermen with tongs and rakes working from boats and later we saw some wading waist deep. We pulled into Beaufort, NC (pronounced bofort), at the Town Creek Marina and paid the lowest price so far for diesel fuel-- 89.9 cents per gal for 99.8 gal total. Just off the docks at the marina was a mast with all the rigging intact sticking out of the water. We took a picture. I hope it came out as it was the last one on the roll. They said it sank four years ago. We borrowed their courtesy car and went grocery shopping to stock up on supplies then went into town to look around.

Nov 16, Friday
Air 59, water 59, mile 203, miles traveled 25, left 11:20 arrived 3:30.
We went for a walk in Beaufort in the morning before we left. It took us about 45 minutes. The town is a late 17th century fishing village and safe harbor, lovely and unpretentious. Many of the houses had historic signs on them, built in the 1700-1800s. This is the only town in North Carolina that remains largely unchanged. No new developments; therefore, many of the houses remain original. It was a neat, quaint town. We got underway and headed back to the ICW only to run aground. This was only the third or fourth time! It is very easy to do as sometime the channels are not wide. It is not a disaster like it would be at home, because the bottom changes gradually and it is either mud or soft sand. Guess I/we should pay more attention to the computer. We arrived in Swansboro, NC, and stayed at Dudley's Marine for 75 cents per foot, the cheapest so far. Just across the dock from us was an Army Corps of Engineers dredge used to keep the ICW passable.

Nov 17, Saturday
Air 51, water 58, mile 228, miles traveled 67, left 6:58 arrived 2:15.
We left Swansboro and headed down the ICW. Today the ICW was very busy because it was Saturday and everyone was flying up and down. We much prefer traveling weekdays, much less traffic. Our boat measures 10.5 feet from the waterline to the top of the radar dome which is a real benefit. We have gone under many bridges that were only 12-16 feet high allowing us to catch up to many of the faster boats that fly by us only to be held up by the bridge. Some bridges open on demand, but many open on the hour or on the hour and half hour. So we pass them as they are waiting and they pass us again later. We passed Camp Lejeune Marine gunnery training area. If the troops are practicing firing, there are large flashing lights along with a patrol boat that will not allow you to pass until they are done. Apparently they were not practicing on this Saturday so we did not have a delay. They also practice amphibious landings along there. We could see the landing areas as we passed by. At the New River Inlet there were schools of porpoises, some swam right off our bow for a while. We anchored just below the Carolina Beach Inlet and will make a 12.5 mile run to Bald Head Island tomorrow. We wanted to see the meteor shower that was forecast for 3-5 AM but there was a cloud cover so we missed out. The wind blew out of the NE all night 10-15 mph.

Nov 18, Sunday
Air 52, water 60, mile 295, miles traveled 17, left 8:20 arrived 10:45.
We went to Bald Head Island Marina which is on Bald Head Island, Cape Fear, NC. The island has no cars; everyone travels on bicycles or electric golf carts. We rented a golf cart and toured the island. We climbed to the top of Old Baldy lighthouse built in the 1800s. It is abandoned and maintained by a historical museum. Cost $3 to climb 110 ft to the top for a beautiful view. We took the golf cart out to the point and had a picnic lunch near the breaking waves. It was fun to watch the sandpipers with their legs running a mile a minute chasing a retreating wave and eating something in the sand. Then as a new wave would come in they would run back up just in front of the advancing water. We went out on the pier at the entrance to the small harbor to watch the sunset only there were clouds right where the sun was setting so we missed out. Bald Head Island is the nearest point of land to the gulf stream; as a result it is the northernmost point for palm trees.

Nov 19, Monday
Air 58, water 62, mile 306, miles traveled 76, left 7:05 arrived 4:15.
We left Bald Head and continued down the ICW. One of the bridges that we went through was a pontoon bridge. The only one on the ICW. They swing it open by cables and you can’t pass through until the bridge tender waves you through; otherwise, you might hit the underwater cables before they drop to the bottom. This part of the ICW is very beautiful as it takes you through the Cypress Swamp. Cypress trees and swamp on both sides. We met two large casino gambling boats going out Little River Inlet. We anchored just a little south of Bucksport at mile 381 in a spot called Bull Creek. Bucksport, SC, and Bucksport, ME, were started by the same Mr. Bucksport who would log in Maine in the summer and SC in the winter. There were two sailboats anchored here that anchored with us at mile 295 just before Snows Cut near Carolina Beach, also one large power boat and a small sailboat. It was extremely quiet, the loudest sound was the chirping of the crickets.

Nov 20, Tuesday
Air 50, water 57, mile 381, miles traveled 26, left 7:50 arrived 11:15.
We anchored in Georgetown, SC. It was an undeveloped town except for one of the largest paper mills in the US and a steel mill that makes most of the domestic wire for radial tires, etc. In the mid-1800s, Georgetown exported more rice than any other port in the world. More than 200 plantations covered the tidal flats and swamps with rice fields. Slaves provided the labor. Competition from Louisiana and Texas and a hurricane which salted the fields ended the rice era in early 1900. We picked up our mail here because according to the Waterway Guide the Post Office was near the waterfront. It was just about at the end of the boardwalk two years ago when it was moved to new quarters about two miles away. So we had to walk there and back. We have decided to order two folding bikes for the boat so we can travel greater distances when we are touring or running errands such as buying food, etc. We stayed two days in Georgetown.

Nov 21, Wednesday
Air 42, water 55, mile 403, miles traveled 66, left 7:20, arrived 2:00.
We arrived at Charleston, SC, mile 467 and stayed at the City Marina for two nights. When we pulled into the dock, the dockmaster said that he was familiar with Nordic Tugs and liked them. He said that they had a green tug stay at the marina a few weeks before. I asked him if it was Tuglet and he said yes. Tuglet is a tug owned by Chris and Mary. We met them at the Nordic Tug rendezvous this past summer in Essex, CT. They were in the process of selling their house on Long Island and getting in the tug and heading south. Their ultimate destination was Marathon Key. We hope to meet them when we get there. We filled up with fuel--112.57 gal at a cost of $1.15 per gal for a total cost of $130.47. We had the courtesy van take us across town to Harris Teeter supermarket to restock our food supply.

Nov 21, Thursday
The Marina was closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, so we had to walk everywhere as the courtesy van was not available. We put 9.7 miles on the pedometer. We ate at an Irish Pub. I had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but it was not the same as having it at home. I should have had an Irish meal instead. We spent several days in Charleston, walked down the many streets looking at all the beautiful period houses, Battery Park, Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon and other historic sites. Charleston is a beautiful city, worthy of a second visit. We also went to the Imax theater and saw a 3D movie “Into the Deep.” We were going to take a boat tour to Fort Sumter but after seeing pictures of it we changed our minds. Most of the original Civil War fort is gone and there is now a WWII embattlement there. It didn’t look that good so we passed on it.

Nov 23, Friday
Air 55, water 61, mile 467, traveled 69 miles, left 7:05 arrived 2:30.
We left Charleston at slack tide which made it easy to pull out of the slip. I neglected to mention when we arrived the current was moving swiftly and as a result I could not get into the first slip that the dockmaster had assigned us to. The spot was very narrow and the boat next to us had a bow pulpit that was sticking out so far, I could not clear it and get into the slip before the current caught us. He gave us a different slip and apologized to us for giving us the other slip which was about impossible to get into. We went by the John F. Limehouse Bridge which has a vertical clearance of 12 feet. It normally opens on the hour and half hour but three months ago it was changed to 9:00 AM. There were many powerboats and sailboats waiting for the bridge to open. We heard their conversations with the bridge tender and some of them sounded a little upset. The bridge tender said that the new opening schedule was published in the Notice to Mariners, but obviously, not many boaters had read it. We just lowered our radio antenna and anchor light and went under while everyone looked on. All those boats had to wait another 50 minutes for the bridge to open. It was nice because we did not have any traffic ahead of us and we didn’t have any traffic passing us for hours. We arrived in Beaufort, SC (pronounced Bewfort), and stayed at the Port Royal Landing Marina. They were very friendly. They gave us a ride into town and when we were ready to come back we called them and they picked us up and took us back to the marina. We went to the bar and used the 2 for 1 drink tickets they gave us. We had two beers and two glasses of wine for $3.50. Very good deal. This was another beautiful town that has kept its old atmosphere. The entire town is on the National Historic Register and made up of houses with double verandas and raised foundations. It is NC’s second oldest town, started in 1711 and has nearly 100 antebellum and pre-Revolution houses. There were many old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from the branches. That night when we were lying down we could hear a constant crackling sound coming from the bottom of the hull. We remembered that friends of ours who had made many trips South warned us about the crackling sound of shrimp against the hull.

Nov 24, Saturday
Air 70, water 61, mile 539.5, traveled 17.6 miles, left 10:45 arrived 1:30.
We docked at the Outdoor Resorts Marina in Hilton Head, SC, and got all kinds of brochures. We tried to rent a car but there was none available. We decided to rent bikes and called the bicycle shop. He said that we were too far for him to deliver the bikes. Furthermore, he did not recommend bikes to travel from where we were because there was no room for bikes on the highway and it would be several miles before we could get to where there were sidewalks or bicycle paths. So we stayed put and decided to stay at a marina nearer to the town on our trip back north in the spring. We will stay at the Harbor Town Yacht Basin next time.

Nov 25, Sunday
Air 61, water 61.8, mile 558, traveled 29 miles, left 7:30 arrived 11:15.
We left Hilton Head and headed for Savannah, GA. There is really no good dock space in Savannah so everyone stops in Thunderbolt. We got the last space available in the Palmer Johnson Marina. Luckily, I called for a reservation early in the morning. We took a taxi into town and walked down River St. to see the Waving Girl Statue, the old Factory Market where they used to sell cotton. We took a trolley tour bus and made one full loop to see the sights that we wanted to visit the next day. The bus tickets were good for both days. You can get on and off as many times as you like. Savannah covers less than a square mile and is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the US. The 24 parks were laid out by its founder James Oglethorpe in 1733. It is one of the top touring cities in the world. On the second day we ate lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House. It was one of the best meals I have had. The food was served family style and plenty of it. When you are finished you take your dirty dishes to the kitchen, go to the cashier and pay $12 for the meal. We had our picture taken with Mrs. Wilkes who is in her 90s. At Thunderbolt we met Howard and Leslie on board Pyewacket, a 50-foot Gulfstar. They had trouble with one of their transmissions and had to come back and get it repaired. They invited us on board for a glass of wine and conversation. We had a good time. The temperature was in the 80s and, of course, the no-see-ums were biting like crazy.

Nov 27, Tuesday
Air 70, water 62, mile 583, traveled 38 miles, left 10:05 arrived 2:40.
The morning in Thunderbolt started off foggy so we waited for the fog to lift before we got underway. We were headed for Walburg Creek only 38 miles away hence there was no hurry. We had a nice leisurely trip. We anchored about 1/2 mile down the creek from a sailboat. We took a short dinghy ride but it got too bouncy for our cat, Zeke, so we came back. After dark, one by one, four shrimp boats with their huge outriggers came in and anchored in the creek then left by 5:00 in the morning. Midges or no-see-ums were so bad , I put some smelly repellant on. It worked. It kept the bugs away and it also kept Rita away. I eventually washed it off so I wouldn’t repel her.

Nov 28, Wednesday
Air 62, water 65, mile 623, traveled 52 miles, left 7:30 arrived ?
This was another very leisurely trip. We tried to do a little over 8 mph with and against the current. Sometimes the engine was loafing and sometimes it was working depending on the direction of the current. The current changes at every inlet to the ocean. The current on one side is the opposite on the other. Pyewacket passed us so I guess their repairs went OK. Howard was telling us that he got an estimate to paint the boat with Imron and was quoted 40-50,000 dollars without removing any fittings. Needless to say he was shocked and decided that he didn’t need to have the boat painted. Many seagulls kept following us as we traveled. I think they thought we were a fishing boat. We passed a sailboat that we had passed previously--Mistral from Cork, Ireland, looked around 38-40 feet. Not big enough for us to cross the ocean in. All through these rivers, creeks and inlets we see many porpoises. We anchored in Frederica River just off Ft. Frederica. This fort was established by Oglethorpe in 1736. This was the largest and most costly fort built by the British in North America and in 1742, Oglethorpe’s men repelled a Spanish contingent more than twice their size. In 1758 it caught fire and burned. We did not go ashore to visit because there was no dock and there was a No Landing sign on shore.

Nov 29, Thursday
Air 63, water 66, mile 669, traveled 14.5, left 8:08 arrived 11:15.
We took a short trip to Jekyll Wharf Marina on Jekyll Island. The dock needed repair. Twenty-five knot winds with a 120-foot boat tied to the end of the dock pulled the floats and knocked the pilings down. This was just after fixing it up from a tornado which caused extensive damage. Glad we were not there then. We walked ashore and toured the old summer cottages of the rich and famous in the historical section. These were quite the cottages, more like mansions, owned by the Rockefellers, Cranes, Morgans, Pulitzers, Goodyears, Goulds, etc., and used as a winter retreat from 1886 to 1942. It cost $800 per week for a family of five to stay in their cottage back in the early 1900s. The cottages lack kitchen facilities and all meals are eaten in the beautiful hotel. It is said that Joseph Pulitzer paid a local captain $100 a day not to toot his horn as he motored past the island. He wanted total peace and quiet. The grounds were beautiful. We took a trolley tour. You need a bike to see more. We went back on the island at night and saw all the big trees decorated with Christmas lights. We saw eight shrimp boats in St. Simon Sound. The dockmaster said that we were lucky it wasn’t last year because the weather was not as nice. In fact it was so cold that the water temperature went down to 40 degrees which was a record for the 70 years of record keeping. We walked almost 9 miles.

Nov 30, Friday
Air 65, water 68, mile 683, traveled 30.5 miles, left 7:35 arrived 11:00.
We left Jekyll and anchored off Cumberland Island. At one time it was owned by Thomas Carnegie. He had a 30-room mansion built called the Dungeness. He built it on Cumberland because he was not allowed to build on Jekyll. He died shortly after its completion leaving his wife with nine children to live there. It burned in 1959 and is now called the Ruins. We walked almost four miles through the forest trails. It’s beautiful. The island now is a national park with only a small portion privately owned. Only maintenance vehicles are allowed on the one-car width, unpaved road which is where we walked. The trees and vegetation looked like something from a movie, namely, “Jurassic Park.” A dense canopy of huge live oaks with Spanish moss hanging, palm trees and vines everywhere. There are feral horses that roam freely all over the island along with deer, etc. We saw many armadillos and turkeys foraging in the ground cover looking for food. Bobcats also inhabit the island. We went back to the boat and a man from one of the nearby anchored sailboats came over in his dinghy and talked to us. He saw that we were from NH and so he said that he had to come over and pay us a visit. They rent their NH house and have been living on the boat for the past four years. We originally planned to only stay overnight but it was so beautiful we decided to stay for a couple more days. The next day we walked the island again and saw about 20 of the 300 feral horses. We also walked along the beach and picked up some shells. Everything was great there except for the midges; they ate me alive. One thing I forgot to mention, on the way to Cumberland we passed King’s Bay Submarine Base with a huge metal structure at the degaussing range. It had something to do with degaussing the nuclear subs so that they are harder to track.

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Chapter 4 Cumberland Island to Jupiter, Dec 2 to Dec 19

Dec 2, Sunday
Air 65, water 69, mile 710, miles traveled 7.7, left 9:05 arrived 10:00.
Well here it is, Dec 2, and we still have warm weather. We left Cumberland and after a short trip arrived in Fernandina, FL, where we anchored along with many other boats. Fernandina is the northern most city in FL on the ICW. We took the dinghy in, tied up to the marina dock and paid $1.50 each to use their shower facilities, well worth it. We walked the town, nice and quaint. At the toy shop, we bought a Christmas present for our grandson Connor, and ate brunch at The Florida Inn Boarding House, family style. It was recommended by the sail boater we met at Cumberland. Early the next morning (Monday) I went ashore and picked up the mail that we had Janet forward to the post office. The wind picked up during the night and was blowing 10-15 in the morning. There were three paper mills in town and when the wind blew the right way the air had an unpleasant odor.

Dec 3, Monday
Air 66, water 67, mile 717, traveled 48.7, left 9:10 arrived 2:30.
After I picked up the mail we headed for Pine Island and on the way we passed a Grand Banks trawler named Seabirds. We had talked to them in Fernandina when they anchored next to us. We passed a cruise ship at a dock in Mayport. It was four stories high and was called the Cape Cod Light from Provincetown. We saw two Navy helicopters practicing maneuvers over the water. We anchored at Pine Island and spent a cool, quiet night at anchor.

Dec 4, Tuesday
Air 68, water 70, mile 765, traveled 13.7 miles, left 9:45 arrived 11:15.
We headed to St. Augustine and tied up at the City Marina. It was tricky getting into the slip because the current and wind were behind us but we made it ok with the help and advice of the marina staff. It was obvious they had plenty of experience guiding boats in because the current runs pretty swift here. I was not looking forward to leaving under these conditions. We took a trolley tour around the city. The old buildings are beautifully restored and maintained. Flagler College, once the Hotel Ponce de Leon, is a grandiose Spanish Renaissance castle. We toured the Lightner museum. The museum was once a hotel built in1888 by the railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler. In 1948, Otto Lightner, a Chicago publisher and editor of "Hobbies" magazine, converted the hotel to a museum. Lightner collected art, antiques, Victorian glass, 19th century music boxes. One room was filled with Tiffany stained glass. We especially enjoyed the music box demonstration. These were very elaborate machines, basically an older version of a juke box. The curator gave us the history of each music box, then played the music. We visited Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth and drank the water from the fountain. It didn't seem to do us much good. We couldn't tour the old fort Castillo de Marcos because it was being repaired. It is the oldest masonry fort in the country and was started in l672. We stayed by the fort and had a good view of the shuttle launch at 5:19. It was 140 miles away so all we could see was the bright flame then we went to the A1A Ale House and had some of their microbrews and free appetizers. We ate enough to not have supper and the bill came to $10. Cheap night out. Tom Cat, a powerboat, was in the slip next to us. They left early the next morning and later a 38' sailboat named Minerva pulled in. His name was Tom and he was from Ipswich, Mass. He had a male friend who was going to leave in 2-3 days. Then he would be sailing alone because his wife did not want to make the trip. On the other side of the powerboat Tom Cat was a sailboat with the same name, Tom Cat.

Dec 6, Thursday
Air 69, water 71, mile 778, traveled 66 miles, left 7:05 arrived 2:45.
Minerva was leaving early. We helped him with his lines. He said that he was leaving to take advantage of the slack tide. So we hurried up and left shortly after. It was much easier not having to fight the strong current. On the way we saw a snowy egret, an American bittern, white ibis, 3 ospreys and many plovers. Florida has many beautiful birds which you see all along the ICW. We also saw some fish jumping about six feet out of the water. After traveling 7+ hours we went by a small cove called Rockhouse Creek near the Ponce de Leon Inlet and saw a powerboat at anchor. It looked like a nice spot and a quiet anchorage so we turned around and went back. We anchored behind a powerboat which was from Toronto. He came over in his dinghy and introduced himself as Wallace and his wife Cathy. Then a big 53' yacht came and anchored further up. We took the dinghy to a sandbar just to walk around. On the way back the man on the 53' Sandzia hailed us to come alongside and talked for about half an hour. He was a chiropractor. He and his wife had been living on board for 9 years. He was getting ready to sell their boat because his wife was going blind. Unfortunately it was hereditary and their son was also losing his sight. Very sad.

Dec 7, Friday
Air 70, water 74, mile 842.2, traveled 80 miles, left 7:10 arrived 4:00.
We pulled up anchor and followed Sandzia till about 12:45 when he said goodbye and headed for a marina in the Cape Canaveral Barge Canal where he had a slip reserved for a month or so. We later heard over the radio that his boat was too wide to fit, 16.5 feet wide. He found a spot at a marina in Satellite Beach which was where we were headed. We never did see him again. We rounded the end of Merritt Island which comes to a sharp point called Dragon Point. Aptly named as there is a giant dragon right at the end. We met my brother Tom at the marina and he gave us detailed instructions on how to get to his place on one of the canals. This was mile 910 on the ICW. We took on 50 gallons of fuel at $1.29 per gallon. This is after the 10 cents per gallon Boat US member discount. Expensive so I only got 50 gallons. I figured I could fill up someplace where it was cheaper. We continued up to Tom's place where he has a dock with a roof. We lowered our antenna and slowly worked our way in. Perfect fit with only 3" on each side to spare. We stayed at Tom's for 11 days. We cleaned the boat, changed the oil, etc. I wanted to wax the boat but it was so hot and humid everyday I didn't feel like it. The last day was cooler and more comfortable so I did the pilothouse top. They said that the weather was unusually hot for this time of year. We were invited to Ray and Fonda Smith's house, on the other side of the canal, for a Saturday brunch along with other neighbors. We had a good time. One day, Tom let us use his restored 1963 Mercedes sports car to do some errands and it crapped out on us as we were leaving a parking lot. Rita and I had to push it back into the parking lot and call Tom who was at work. He came over; we towed the car back to his house and he went back to work. Later when he came home we tried to see what was wrong. It seemed like it was not getting any gas. We turned on the ignition key, listened and then Tom listened under the car and he didn't hear the buzz from the fuel pump. We checked the fuel pump fuse and found the trouble there. We popped the fuse out, put it back in and everything worked fine. Apparently from just sitting around the fuse got a little corrosion and made a bad contact. Too bad we didn't know that back in the parking lot. We could have popped the fuse out then in and have been on our way. Earlier on our trip when we decided we needed bikes, we ordered two Dahon collapsible bikes. West Marine wanted $329 each. We found the same bikes in the Defender catalogue for $299 and if you bought two the price dropped to $279. I called them to order two bikes and when the salesperson looked it up on the computer she said that there had been a model number change and it was no longer a seven speed but now a six speed with a price drop to $249 if you bought two. I had the bikes shipped to my brother's and they were waiting for us when we got there. I opened the boxes, snapped the bikes into position and we rode them. They were perfect right out of the box and did not need any adjustment or anything. We are very pleased with them. We also bought the carrying bags for them. They fit perfectly in the rear cockpit storage compartment under the floor. Now we have transportation. We also ordered a new seat for the inflatable which we lost in the rough weather we encountered in Buzzards Bay early in our trip. But the seat did not fit; it was too small. I called Defender and they only had a 30" which was what we had received and a 35" which would have been too big. The salesperson said that she would do more research and get back to me. She called later to say that my boat requires a 32" seat and they do not stock that size but could special order it at a cost of $126 instead of the $85 for the 30". I ordered it and it will be here for us to pick up on our way back.

Dec 18, Tuesday
Air 73, water 76, mile 910, miles traveled 57, left 8:05 arrived 2:35.
We left Tom's place and headed to Ft. Pierce. We tied up at the Harbortown Marina and filled up with fuel, 64.3 gallons, because it was only 98 cents per gallon. We called my cousin Barbara and her husband Dan. They came down to the boat to visit and drove us around town. Afterward we went to their house for supper. Nice place, nice neighborhood and very quiet. A lot of house for the money.

Dec 19, Wednesday
Air 54, water 73, mile 965, miles traveled 43.2, left 8:33 arrived 2:00.
The temperature was 54 degrees. This was the coldest morning we've had since Nov 19. We left Ft. Pierce and had an easy trip. Not much boat traffic, I guess because it was getting so close to Christmas. During one stretch we were running at 1800 rpm, about 10 mph, and porpoises were playing in our wake very close to the boat. Sometimes they would jump completely out of the water. We got some good pictures of them. It was a mother and her baby. It looked like they were having fun. We finally got to our destination in Jupiter, Red and Mary Lou Hawkes' house with a dock, so we tied up. They have a beautiful house located at mile 1007.3 on the ICW. Before we left home, they gave us their house keys so we could stay there during the Christmas holidays and they would join us a few days after Christmas. We picked them up at the airport on Dec 28. We spent our time touring plus we took a canoe ride down the Caloosahatchee River. On Jan 3, we took a boat ride to Singer Island and stopped at the Sailfish Marina with Red and Mary Lou. We ate at the restaurant there and had fish which was delicious. Courtesy slips are available when dining. After eating we went to their dockside aquarium which is along their dock. The sport fishing boaters all clean their fish there and throw the remains into the water then dozens and dozens of these large fish gobble it. You can also buy small fish and break them up and throw the pieces to the fish. You can throw a piece of fish out as far as you can and they will follow it right out and grab it as soon as it hits the water. Quite a sight. These fish are Jackfish, the larger ones are about 3-5 feet long. There are signs posted that read you may enjoy looking and feeding the fish but no fishing allowed. A funny incident happened that made me laugh. I went into the men's room and there were three urinals. A father and his little boy were at the one on the right as it was lower than the other two so his son could just about reach. I was at the one on the left. The father was helping his son and asked him if he could reach it. The little boy just about made it and said to his father, “Now don't look, Dad.” The father said ok. When he was done the father said, “You have to wash your hands.” The boy answered, “What for?” The father said, “Because your hands are dirty.” The boy said, “Did Mom tell you to say that?” The father said, “No.” Then the boy said, “How come you never wash your hands?” I had all I could do to control my laughter as I left. I think the father was a little embarrassed. We stayed in Jupiter until Jan 5 and had a great time.

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Chapter 5 Jupiter to Boca Chica, Jan 5 to Jan 28

Jan 5, Saturday
Air 68, water 66, mile 1007.3, miles traveled 20.7, left 12:20 arrived 3:40.
We packed the boat and Red came with us to the Admiral Cove Marina where we got fuel for 87 cents per gallon. I only took 32 gallons. I should have waited to fill up. Oh well, next time on the way back. This was the lowest price for diesel fuel on the trip. We said our goodbyes and headed for Lantana. We dropped our anchor in Lantana and called Harold Feffer, a friend of ours who belongs to the Marblehead Yacht Club. Before we left he gave us his phone number and said to be sure and stop by on our way. We called but no answer so we left a message. We spent the next two days with Harold. He came to the dock the next morning and we took the dinghy in and tied it up to the dock. The wind was really blowing and the waves were pretty big. He took us out to breakfast and we returned to the dock only to find our dinghy pulled up on the dock with one side completely deflated. There was a large puncture on one side. I checked the float to find out what had happened and found that a piece of wood had been ripped off at some time and a large screw was sticking down under the edge. The waves were so big that the float must have gone up and came down on the dinghy and punctured it. Of course our patching kit and pump were on the boat and we had no way to get out there. Harold took us to Boaters World where we were able to buy a patching kit but not gray like the dinghy but black. Harold bought a pump and was going to return it after we pumped the boat up. The salesperson actually suggested that we do this in a roundabout way. The pump did not fit so I inflated the dinghy enough to get back to Eritad and inflate it fully out there. Now we have a big ugly black patch on our new gray dinghy. Harold took us around to see the sights of Palm Beach and showed us how the ultra rich live. The mansions were hidden behind 10-15 foot hedges. We toured the City Marina and pretended that we had a boat there because there was a sign that read Boat Owners Only on the dock. The smallest boat was 50 feet. We ate in a small, pleasant Asian restaurant. I had a beer. We were served large portions with plenty of leftovers to take home, all for $19.

Jan 8, Tuesday
Air 42, water 55, mile 1031, miles traveled 20.7, left 9:40 arrived 12:15.
We woke up to a cold morning, 42 degrees. I started the generator and ran the air conditioners in reverse cycle to heat the cabin. We left around 9:40 and had a leisurely cruise down to Lighthouse Point. There was very little boat traffic which made the ride very pleasant and for a good part of the way there were manatee zones where you had to be at idle speed. We arrived at Greg and Monica Clark's dock at the end of Flamingo Canal. He is the dealer that sold us our boat. His business is called Traditional Yachts. They have a home/sales office here for the winter and a sales office in Bristol, RI, in the summer. We spent two days there. I helped Greg add soundproofing to an Eagle trawler and then we went for a ride down the ICW and canals. He had a diver coming to wash the bottom and check zincs for the trawler so while he was here, I had him do our boat. I went with them to pick up his Freightliner truck which he uses to tow their fifth wheel trailer. Nice truck.

Jan 10, Thursday
Air 45, water 69.8, mile 1051.2, miles traveled 14, left 9:51 arrived 11:53.
We left Lighthouse point (Hillsboro), had a leisurely trip to Ft. Lauderdale and anchored in Lake Sylvia. We took the dinghy but could not find a public dock or anyplace to tie up so we came back to the boat, called a marina and made a reservation for tomorrow. We wanted to take a water taxi tour to see the area as suggested by Greg. We made a reservation at the Bahia Mar, a rather fancy and expensive marina. They had a 40 ft minimum, total cost $84 per night. We tried to make a reservation at the City Marina but could not get them on the phone.

Jan 11, Friday
Air 58, water 65, mile 1065, miles traveled 1.5.
We tied up to slip #606 at the marina. I had to back in on the port side which is the wrong side of the boat for good maneuvering plus there was a current going the wrong way. After several tries, a woman from another boat came to help us. The marina normally sends someone to help but there was only one person on duty and he was fueling a boat. Just across the dock from us was the Gallant Lady, a monstrous yacht that reportedly cost $23 million to build. The only way I can describe it is that it looked like The Spirit of Boston, a large ship that takes people out for dinner cruises in Boston Harbor. The owner buys a new boat every two years. He owns the Toyota distributorship for the East Coast and gets a piece of the action on every Toyota and Lexus sold. He also owns two yachts that follow the Gallant Lady, a 50 and a 55 foot Hatteras yacht. The crew members sleep on these boats when Mr. Toyota/Lexus wants privacy. I do not know how big the crew is but we saw at least a dozen young men in uniforms with the boat's logo on their shirts. Gallant Lady made our boat look like a dinghy. I think we were the smallest boat in the marina.

Jan 12, Saturday
Air 73, water 69, mile 1065, miles traveled 28.6, left 10:40 arrived 2:55.
We traveled by Miami. It was slow going because there were Slow, Manatee signs most of the way, except for a few spots where it was either idle speed or 7 mph. We anchored in a nice cove called the Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key. It was obviously a large man-made cove with a huge stadium on one side where they used to have water ski shows, a perfect area for it. It has been abandoned since the 1992 hurricane Andrew that damaged the stadium. It was a nice anchorage except for the constant waves caused by water-skiers. We went swimming and watched a couple of ultra light seaplanes take off and land. When we anchored we noticed a large steel barge abandoned on the beach near the stadium. When we awoke in the morning it was on the opposite shore. High tide must have floated it off and the wind pushed it across. It must have gone right by us; we're glad it did not bump us on its way. Later in the morning, a Sea Tow boat came out, moved it from shore and set an anchor.

Jan 13, Sunday
Air 75, water 65, mile 1091, miles traveled 30.9, left 11:30 arrived 3:06.
We left the stadium and went to look at No Name Cove, a small anchorage in the southern end of Virginia Key called Cape Florida. It is a state park. Then we went to the Atlantic side of the cape. This is the first time since Cape May that we had been in the Atlantic. We came back through Biscayne Channel and through Stiltsville which consists of several houses (7 still standing) built on stilts just sitting out in the middle of the shallow water miles from land. There used to be nine houses but some were damaged in the hurricane. We read that their leases expired in 1999 and were not going to be renewed so I am not sure if they are still being used. They looked to be in good shape and some buildings had boats tied to them. The boats could be just fishing boats. Then we went to Boca Chita Key which had a lighthouse and a small concrete-walled harbor with many boats tied up. You can tie up for the day and/or overnight for a small fee to the Park Service. The place was built by Honeywell but now is a park. The Coast Guard required him to extinguish the light in the lighthouse that he built because it was confusing mariners. We might come here when David, Brenda and our grandson, Connor come down to visit. Then we went to Sand Key to anchor for the night. We took the dinghy into the “keyhole,” a small narrow channel cut into the rock that went into a small pond. It was manmade, but I don't know by whom or what they intended to build. We put ashore and walked around to the Atlantic side, came back and quickly retreated to Eritad as the midges were nasty. That evening Rita went out into the cockpit to look at the stars and saw fish jumping all around the boat. We took the flashlight and could see them jumping right out of the water.

Jan 14, Monday
Air 73, water 67, mile 1107, miles traveled 33.6, left 10:00 arrived 2:30.
We traveled down the ICW inside the Keys to Blackwater Sound then through Cross Key Canal into Largo Sound which is only about 5-6 feet deep. We docked at John Penneycamp State Park, a wonderful park offering lots of activities. We snorkeled at the beach, and took a walk on the boardwalk through the mangroves. We decided that it would be the perfect place for David, Brenda and Connor. It had everything, snorkeling, canoe/kayak/boat rental, snorkeling trips out to the reefs, nice beach, playground and a 30,000 gallon aquarium with beautiful tropical fish. The next day we went for a ride in the glass-bottom boat out to Molasses Reef. We saw coral, fish and railroad tracks from 100 years ago when Flagler was building his railroad to Key West. The barges hit the reef and sank. It would have done too much damage to retrieve them so they were left there. We snorkeled the beach and saw the remains of an old Spanish galleon. Then we went for a bike ride on our new bikes to the Adams Waterway which is a narrow cut through coral rock with shear vertical walls. We used this cut to get from Blackwater Sound to Largo Sound. The bridge is a fixed bridge and is only 14 feet high so many boats cannot get through. The only other way in is from the ocean and it is about 10 miles longer. We also bicycled to the Jules Underwater Hotel where you can rent expensive, underwater rooms. We saw the entrance but could not see anything else.

Jan 16, Wednesday
Air 78, water 71, mile 1138, miles traveled 50.8, left 8:45 arrived 2:20.
We headed back to Miami because David and family were coming tomorrow.
We got a slip at Miamarina which was recommended by Greg because it is right in the middle of everything and only seven or so miles from the airport. We spent the rest of the day walking around to see what there was. The marina was surrounded by shops, stores and restaurants of all kinds. Plenty of activity. We spent the next day, Jan 17, cleaning the boat and doing laundry. We walked a couple of blocks, took a monorail for a couple of miles, got off at a Publix Market then took the monorail back. It was easy and convenient and only cost a quarter each way. The kids arrived that evening around 7:30. We brought their bags and stroller on board and went for a walk around Bayside as it was called. Connor had a ride on the flying horses. It was great to see them.

Jan 18, Friday
Air 69, water 71, mile 1084, miles traveled 60.7, left 7:30 arrived 1:18.
We all left Miami and headed to Penneycamp Park. We took the ocean route down the Hawk Channel. We went through Stiltsville so the kids could see the houses. It was a beautiful, clear day and the water was a clear green color. We also were lucky and had several porpoises join us, jumping in our wake for about 15 minutes. It was exciting for them to see this, especially Connor. We reached the park a little later than we thought because this route is 10 miles longer than the ICW route. We all went for a walk and saw the fish in the 30,000 gallon aquarium. The kids went for a ride in the glass-bottom boat. We didn't go because we had already been. The next day, Jan 19, we went swimming, snorkeling, dinghy riding, walking and bike riding. We all had a great time.

Jan 20, Sunday
Air 76, water 77, mile 1137, miles traveled 49.8, left 9:15 arrived 2:30.
We headed back to Miami on the ICW. It was a very nice day. David, Brenda and Connor were up on the bow enjoying the ride. We tied up in the same Miamarina slip that we had before. We walked around Bayside through the shopping plaza and food court. Rita took Connor for another ride on the flying horses and David took him for a ride on the train. Then we went back to the boat and took showers. The kids treated us to supper at the Hard Rock Cafe. Just before our meal was served Connor got restless so we asked for the meal to go. The waiter said, “I know exactly what you are going through because I have a daughter that is almost two years old.” He packed our dinners for us and we returned to the boat to eat. The Hard Rock Cafe was only about a three- minute walk from the boat, so our food was still hot. They left the next morning at 5:15 to go to the airport. Later in the day when they got home David called to say Connor already missed us and was asking, “Where are you, Grandma? Where are you Papa?” We can't wait to get home and see him again. Rita did laundry and met a woman named Diane in the laundry room. They were on a sailboat named Tom Cat, the same one that we saw in St. Augustine two slips over from us. We invited them over in the evening for a glass of wine and we talked about all kinds of things. They were from Minneapolis and now live aboard on their 42' sailboat. It was a pleasant evening. We exchanged information about where to go and what to see. Tom was his name.

Jan 22, Tuesday
Air 82, water 83, mile 1090, miles traveled 46.1, left 10:00 arrived 3:45.
We spent a leisurely morning getting ready because we have plenty of time to get to Key West where our daughter will visit us. We have nine days for a three- day trip. This was a perfect cruising day, blue sky, light easterly breeze, temperature about 80, absolutely no other boat traffic, and no annoying boat wakes to put up with. Perfect day. The engine is running at a leisurely 1600 rpm and the boat is doing 9.6 mph (statute). While traveling through Barnes Sound we saw several porpoises heading for the boat so I cranked the engine up to 2000 rpm and they started playing in our wake. We counted nine of them at one time and they were having a grand time. They would jump completely out of the water sometimes 3-4 feet in the air. They stayed with us for about 20 minutes before they left, then we slowed down. Red called around 4:00 to tell us that he was cruising in his new boat, a Pursuit 28, with twin outboards. He said that they just delivered it today. We were with him and Mary Lou when they went shopping for it and also went for the demo ride. I told him that we would have to go out for a ride on our return trip. We anchored in Jewfish Creek just after the lowest bridge we encountered that we could get under. The bridge was 11 feet and we are 10-1/2 feet, not much clearance. I had to make sure that I went under exactly in the middle because that is where the 11 feet is measured. We cleared by six inches. Kind of makes you hesitate as you go under.

Jan 23, Wednesday
Air 78, water 77, mile 1135, miles traveled 27.7, left 10:30 arrived 1:55.
We left Jewfish Creek late because we only had about 25 miles to travel to get to Shell Key. It was a little choppy because of the winds. When we were going through Dusenberry Creek, a boat came out of a small canal among the mangroves. It was a law-enforcement boat and the police had guns drawn. One was holding either a rifle or a shotgun but they were ready for something. They opened up the throttle before they were by us; apparently they were after someone. Later on channel 16, which we monitor all the time, the Coast Guard announced to all boats in the area to be on the lookout for a 24' Shamrock boat, white with an orange T top with three people onboard, and if anyone spotted them to report the sighting to the CG by cell phone. All they said was that the boat was of interest to law enforcement and to not approach under any circumstances. Some time later the CG announced that they had captured the men and cancelled their request. We arrived at Shell Key and we picked up a free Florida Park mooring. We went swimming; the water was great. I decided to swim nude so that I would not get my bathing suit wet; besides, no one was nearby. Well much to my surprise, a boat that was anchored some distance away launched their dinghy and headed straight towards us, fast. Rita went up on the boat and threw my suit to me. I struggled to get it on before they pulled up. I just about made it. They introduced themselves as Nancy and Bill on Slow Dancer and we talked for a little while. They were live-aboards from Wisconsin and have lived on their 50' motor yacht for four years. Later we watched the beautiful sunset and took a picture. The next day we took our dinghy to Lignumvitae Key, the highest of the keys. This island is a state botanical site, habitat of the rare and endangered hardwood hammock. Tours are conducted by rangers.

Jan 25, Friday
Air 84, water 78, mile 1164, miles traveled 43.3, left 11:00 arrived ?
We left Shell Key and went out to the Atlantic side through Channel Five to Tennessee Reef but did not see any mooring buoys. We then continued to Coffin Patch and found mooring buoys there. The state provides moorings at most of the snorkeling sites so that people won't anchor and damage the coral heads. We snorkeled for about an hour, then headed toward Marathon, on Vaca Key through Sister Creek Channel, Boot Key Harbor, out the main harbor channel and took Knight Channel to the Bay/Gulf side where we anchored between Fanny Keys and Vaca Key. We were able to get in touch with Chris and Mary Thomas, owners of the 32 foot Nordic Tug, Tuglet. We met them at the summer rendezvous in Essex, CT, this past summer. We planned to meet them the next day.

Jan 26, Saturday
Air 72, water 72, mile 1193, miles traveled 13.4.
We left Fanny Key and went under the Seven Mile bridge out to Sombrero Key Reef about six miles out. We picked up a mooring and snorkeled for about 1-1/4 hours. We saw about five Barracuda along with many other fish. Just before we jumped in the water the cell phone rang, so Rita went back inside to answer it. It was our daughter Amy, 7:30 AM her time (San Diego, CA) and 10:30 our time to tell us that Ed, her boyfriend, gave her a diamond last night. This was great news because Amy and Ed were going to meet us in Key West next Thursday for four days. We can celebrate. We finished snorkeling and went in to the Marathon Marina. In the marina we could see something in the water but it was too far away to see what it was. The skipper in the boat across from us said that it was a manatee. Up to this point we had not seen one close up. He told us to get a hose and turn on the water and the manatee would come over and take a drink. So I got the marina hose, turned it on, let it run into the water and sure enough the manatee heard the water running, came over, rolled on his back and drank the fresh water. He even pulled the hose right into his mouth. This was fantastic. Rita got some real nice pictures. The skipper also said that what we were doing was illegal and to not get caught, so we stopped. Later Mary came by, took us to the market to get food supplies and after we went out to eat at a dockside restaurant. Chris, unfortunately, was not able to make it.

Jan 27, Sunday
Air 71, water 76, mile 1194, miles traveled 12.8, left 7:45 arrived 9:30.
We left Marathon and headed for Bahia Honda Key. We pulled into the State Park boat basin and tied up. The controlling depth to get in there is 3-1/2 feet so we made it in. There was plenty of dockage at a very reasonable $1 per foot. Many boats can't make it in there because of the shallow depth. From the park you can walk onto the old Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge. The western end is a national historic monument. This originally was a railroad bridge built in 1907 by Flagler as part of the rail line to Key West. People called him a fool but he did it. The railroad ran until the 1935 hurricane wiped out many parts of the rail line and it was never rebuilt. The bridges were all intact and the state bought the right of way and built a car bridge right on top of the railroad trusses so that the islands would no longer be isolated. The old bridges remain unused now that more modern bridges have been built to replace them. The old bridges were very narrow having been built on top of the railroad. One section of the bridge has been removed so that sailboats can pass through. We took a nice sunset picture with the old bridge in the background.

Jan 28, Monday
Air 78, water 80, mile 1205, miles traveled 31.7, left 9:00 arrived 12:15.
We decided to go to Boca Chica, our next stop, a day early. I called the marina and we were able to get a slip. We arrived and tied up. This place is too good to be true. A beautiful new marina, showers, laundry, snack bar and bar with very reasonable prices. Tiki grass-roofed huts with tables and a clean sandy beach. All this for 65 cents/foot per night. It is for military personnel only, and since I am a retired Navy Commander, I qualify. We met some very nice people, many were live-aboards. One couple had us over on their sailboat for cocktails. They might stop by Marblehead this summer on their way to Maine. Their boat is a Bristol 45, Trumpeter. Nancy and George Marvin. He is a retired Navy Captain and they are Blue Water members. F16 or F18, I can't tell which, were taking off and landing all day long. They would streak by about 400-500 mph. It was like having our own private air show. Many of the retirees stop here and after seeing the place decide to stay for a month or more. Even though the marina is new, so many people are staying that they are already expanding. Everyone said to keep the place a secret, don't tell anyone about it.

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Chapter 6 Key West, Jan 30

Jan 30, Wednesday
Air 77, water 76, mile 1235, miles traveled 11.2, left 9:50 arrived 11:15.
We left Boca Chica Naval Air Station, although we would have stayed longer if we could, and headed for Key West. We pulled into the Galleon Resort and Marina in Key West which is our farthest point, mile 1242. The marina is a really nice place, also expensive at $2.50 per foot per night. But we had met a sailboater who said that it is a real nice place located in the center of everything, near Mallory Square and all the places to see. It also was one of the only marinas that had floating docks which are easier to get into and tie up to. The docks float so they are always the same height when getting on or off the boat. Most of the marinas coming down the ICW have permanent docks and some are difficult to get into because you have to tie the bow to two posts that are far apart as you are trying to back in. The docks can be very high and it is difficult to get on and off the boat. The first thing we did was go food shopping. The food markets are 2-3 miles away. We had to take a van taxi which continually travels around the island and stops at designated places, none of which is a market. We had to walk a bit carrying bags of food to the nearest stop. Then it was a 2-3 block walk to the boat. We didn't get any real heavy items. We thought we would get the heavy things when Amy and Ed show up with their rental car. After getting the food we walked around a bit to some of the sights. Amy and Ed showed up at 5:30 AM. Their flight arrived in Miami at midnight and they drove about 120 miles, a 2 hour and twenty minute drive. We greeted each other and they unpacked. They packed very light, two carry-ons. Later in the morning they drove us to the super market to pick up more food items that were too heavy for us to carry the day before. Then we took a tour of the island in the car. They borrowed our bicycles, put them in the back of the car and returned the rental car to the airport which is at the other end of the island and rode back on the bicycles. Amy took a nap and later we walked around the town ending in Mallory Square for the sunset celebration. We watched all kinds of local performers as the sun set. The performers and the sunset are a daily attraction for the tourists; the performers depend on tips to pay for their efforts. Two huge cruise ships were docked along the square. The next morning we took the high-speed catamaran out to the remote and beautiful Dry Tortugas which are about 70 miles west. We took the cat because it would have taken us most of the day to get there in our boat. A day to get there, a day there, a day back would have used up most of the kids' time. Also, the Waterway Guide warns cruisers to be well provisioned because of severe and unpredictable weather with stalled fronts which often force cruisers to hole up for a week or more. Breakfast was served en route, a 45-minute tour of Fort Jefferson was given when we arrived followed with a wonderful lunch served on the island. Afterwards we were on our own for the next 2-1/2 hours. They also supplied all the snorkel gear. We went snorkeling for about two hours. The water was calm and clear and we saw all kinds of fish. Then they took us back to Key West. We watched the sunset activities again. On Saturday morning we took a trolley tour around Key West and stopped at several sights including the Hemmingway House with 61 cats, all descendants from his cats when he was alive. Many of the cats had seven toes or claws or whatever. On Sunday we had a relaxing day. We visited the Flagler Railroad Museum which showed the history of how he built the railroad to Key West. The railroad forever changed Key West. It was no longer only accessible by water. The train allowed tourists to come and it became a big shipping center because of its close proximity to the main shipping lanes. After the museum Amy and Ed walked to the airport to pick up a rental car. In the evening Ed watched the Patriots and whomever they were playing against on TV. The marina also had cable TV so we hooked up to it. While he watched TV, the three of us went out to eat as we are not football fans. Amy and Ed left at 4:00 AM Monday morning. We decided to stay another day because of the constant 15 mph winds coming from the north, the direction we would be heading. The extra day turned into three days before the wind shifted. Each day I would go to the marina office and ask to stay one more day. Lucky for us they were not crowded and there was no problem. But they told us we would have to leave by Friday because they were booked after that. While we were there we met a couple in a sailboat from Marblehead called YoYo owned by Sara and Steve. They have a mooring next to the Rockmore, the floating restaurant on the Marblehead side of Salem harbor. Visiting with them was Sue Harwood from NYC who knows Jim Haskins and his wife, members of the Marblehead Yacht Club. She asked us to say hi for her when we see them at the club.

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Go to Chapter 7, Key West to Jupiter