We had a great time cruising home to Jupiter. Since arriving on November 7th we’ve spent a lot of time with Becca, Matt, Sarah and some of our friends here in SoFL just catching up. In addition I’ve make a few trips to Miami for business. I’ve also been performing maintenance and upgrading some of our systems in preparation for our second Bahamian Adventure (more on that later).
Some highlights of journey to SoFL
October 5 – Washington, D.C. to the Glebe
We left DC on October 5 and anchored up that night at Fairview Beach, VA. A very nice anchorage and we would definitely return there again. Not particularly protected but far off the river channel, with little traffic and wakes from other boats. I think in the summer on weekends it might be a different story.
October 6 – 9 The Glebe
We knew the forecast was for extremely windy conditions so we found a lovely cove called “the Glebe” and anchored up surrounded by lovely homes most with private docks, including a large farm. Beautiful scenery and super quiet. We only saw a few local boats during our three days at anchor while we waited for favorable conditions to return.
Some pics from the Glebe
October 10 – Deltaville, VA
We anchored up outside the North channel to Deltaville, VA. Very nice anchorage for overnight and would stay again. Looks like an easy dinghy ride to town. Deltaville also has a reputation of being a mecca for having major boat repairs completed due to its many competitive and reputable boat yards.
October 11 – Chesapeake, VA
We woke up just before dawn to a raging storm. I looked outside and decided to return to bed. No sense going back out to the river channel just to get beaten up. No one else was moving either.
A couple hours later, right around 0900 I heard boat traffic starting to move. I reassessed the situation and decided it was ok to travel so we rushed our morning routine and weighed anchor quickly so we could make it to our next stop which was the Top Rack Marina in Chesapeake where we stayed on the trip northbound. We arrived in the marina basin and assessed the wind and the current and determined that the current and wind was running in a disjointed fashion such that a straight approach to the dock would be problematic. As I got close to the dock the current took me and in attempting to maneuver away from the dock and other vessels I lost my port transmission. It just stopped working. I was barely able to avoid a collision with a docked sailboat but managed to sneak by without a blush. Back out into the basin I reassessed and determined I needed a different angle and more speed to keep the stern from swinging around and would have to quickly slow the boat once in the slip as I was headed bow in on one engine (with a functioning bowthruster). I managed to get her in just scraping the floating dock’s corner causing only a cosmetic mar which I cleanup off some days later. Thanks to other boaters (including the sailboat captain and his wife) we got in safely. Without their help it would be been dicey. We tied up, cleaned up and enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Top Rack Marina’s great restaurant with Ron and Dee Claus aboard Ursa Minor, the sailboat neighbors who were such a great help at the dock.
October 12 – Great Bridge Lock and Atlantic Yacht Basin
With the help of TowBoat US we took the trip a couple miles down river to the Great Bridge Lock where we had to wait in the rain for three hours because the water was so high that the lock couldn’t open. Finally, in the dark, the lock opened for us. We went in and out without incident and TwoBoat US who had already tied up at our hip (Kokomo’s port side in the stern) acted as a tug to help nose us into a side-to slip at Atlantic Yacht Basin – a great stopover point but more importantly a great boat yard who had agreed to expedite repairs for us.
On the “hip”
October 13 – 20 – Chesapeake, VA
We stayed at the Atlantic Yacht Basin while repairs were underway. As it turns out we blew our Flex Plate a.k.a. Shock Plate which is a steel plate with multiple springs attached and is mounted between the transmission and engine as a protection system for the transmission. The repair entailed detaching the transmission from the engine, removing the plate, acquiring a new one and putting it all back together. While at AYB we had them haul Kokomo out of the water to inspect our starboard prop because on the way north we hit a submerged stump and I felt the prop was fouled which was causing a minor vibration and probably a reduction in fuel efficiency. As it turned out, the prop was severely dented so they removed it, put us back in the water and sent the prop to the prop shop for overhaul. A few days later it returned good as new, Kokomo was hauled out again and the prop was installed during which time I cleaned up the mar on the her port side using lacquer thinner.
One referral source to AYB came from Mark Merrick who is the Port Captain for Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA) of which I am a member. I didn’t know Mark before I reached out to him via the MTOA website but he immediately responded to my call and email. He referred us to AYB and told us that one of his good friends is a mechanic there and that I could be assured that this was a top notch boat yard. Mark came down the very next morning to introduce himself and offered us the use of his “extra” car for as long as we needed it. He actually left it with us and found his way home on his own. Towards the end of our stay Mark brought his wife over to tour Kokomo and we all went out to a delicious Italian dinner. What stranger do you think would loan you a car on an open ended basis just because you’re a member of the same association? I wonder what other group of adventurers have such trust in one another to put themselves out in such a way. Many of you ask me what I love about this lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s the people we meet along the way.
Poor little Prop
October 21 – Alligator River Bridge, NC
Never again will we anchor here. The waters were certainly calm enough but the bugs were ugly. That evening at anchor we made the mistake of leaving our door open just long enough for a swarm to get inside the salon. They didn’t bite but were just a nuisance. Instead of swatting them which would have left a mess, we used our vacuum hose and pole to suck them up into the bag, a trick Paul Schwartz taught me on Thanksgiving a few years ago at our condo in Boca Raton.
After closing up the boat tight and vacuuming up all the bugs we saw, we went to bed. When we woke up, the entire cockpit was covered in bugs (see pics below). I donned long sleeves, a hat and face covering and went outside with a hose to get them to scatter. We got underway with thousands of bugs still with us and while underway I finally got them under control by hosing and using buckets of river water to rid ourselves of them. We also used an entire bottle of Raid Flying Insect Spray which helped a lot. As it turns out the bugs left us a present – green poop all over the place. Truly gross! It took weeks to get it all off the boat.
The above shot was taken from inside the cabin. Note the green poop under Ole Glory.
Apparently they are miniature Dragon Flies. They don’t bite, but they sure make a mess!
October 22 – Pungo Creek
Kind of like the Glebe but not as scenic, we had been to Pungo Creek before and continue to find it an easy in and out while traveling the ICW north or south. Nothing remarkable about it but very convenient and protected from all but easterly winds and great for us to wait out another weather front that would have made crossing the Neuse River very uncomfortable.
October 25 – Morehead City
We made it back to the Morehead City Yacht Basin for a lovely night including a great dinner at Floyd’s, a short walk from the marina. I was able to use the marina’s van ($10) to run up to Harris Teeeter to re-provision which was a big help. Our friends the Glasses weren’t at their boat but we ended up catching up with them a few weeks later in St. Augustine.
October 26 – Cruise to Wrightsville Beach and the US Marines Landing force!
We went out the Beauford inlet into the ocean and found ourselves in an unfavorable sea state, much more uncomfortable than forecast. All of the fellow cruisers – both sail and power – were all commiserating on the radio how all the weather guys blew this forecast. So we just hunkered down and made the best of it, knowing it would subside as the day went on heading to Wrightsville Beach.
As we entered Onslow Bay, which is a section of water off the NC coast adjacent to Camp Lejeune we encountered a joint naval, marine multi national military exercise ongoing. We had been warned in advance of the event and in fact were told that the ICW would be closed for hours on end during the drill which was another reason why we opted for the ocean route. It was a little overwhelming dodging huge transport ships and gigantic hydrofoils making what appeared to be 60 knots + but it was fun and we made it through without incident thanks in part to the cooperation of the US Navy! We had a lovely night in Bank’s channel in Wrightsville Beach.
Mother Ships for the Landing Craft (Hydorfoils)
HYDROFOIL VIDEO LINK BELOW
October 27 – Carolina Beach
We took a short cruised South to Carolina Beach to meet a friend who had stored some personal belongings for us which he brought down to the dock at Waterfronte Villas. In the meantime we were having trouble with our cockpit receptacle which powers our freezer so longtime friend and dock master Jesse Stemper came to our rescue. Inside of a couple of hours he had moved the freezer, removed the receptacle, had us out and over to the Ace Hardware store for parts and back to the boat and installed a new one (sans the GFI) quickly and efficiently. Thanks to Jesse, our freezer works great, we no longer have a problem and we were able to clean up more bug crap from behind the freezer!
October 28 – North Myrtle Beach
We returned to North Myrtle Beach and had a great visit with Rod and Sue Busbee. We got to tour their new (new to them) 65′ Flemming. Super nice vessel and great folk. Hope to catch up with them again soon – perhaps in the Bahamas.
October 29 – Georgetown
We came to Georgetown because (1) we had never been here and was told how cute and quaint it was (which it is!) and because we needed to duck into somewhere safe to wait out a 30 knot blow which was coming on quickly. Only because we were under the gun to get back to FL did we not spend a few days in what appears to be a lovely seaside community. We spent the night in a howling blow, protected by the city’s abandoned steel mill and left the next morning for Charleston after spending a half hour cleaning the mud off our anchor chain!
October 30 – Charleston
We found a lovely little channel just north of the Ben Sawyer Bridge, which is just north of Charleston Harbor. We were hoping to make it to to the harbor itself to spend the night but now we have that to look forward to on our next trip north.
October 31 – Our first overnight ocean voyage
After much discussion and debate, Meryl and I decided it was time for our first overnight ocean voyage. With our friends the Glass’ and Younger’s about 25 miles ahead of us and favorable sea conditions forecast by all sources, we left our anchorage at first light and headed for Charleston Harbor and out the inlet at about 0730 using a short cut south to save some time. We had decided that it would be worth making the 28 hour trip from Charleston the St. Augustine, FL to save having to cruise through the bottom half of South Carolina and all of Georgia which is notorious for several shallow spots which cause delay if not groundings. In addition we had decided we wanted to be back in Jupiter by the 7th of November and we concluded that the only way to make it (including other planned stops) was to make the overnight voyage.
Kokomo in Auto Pilot while the Captain and the Admiral are enjoying a few moments together on the her foredeck
Dusk over somewhere in Georgia from about 10 miles offshore heading south to St. Augustine
For me it was one of the highlights of our trip home and all the trips we’ve made. For Meryl, it was harrowing at times (as it was for me) but I am sure having done this once, we will do it again. It is so peaceful at night and so easy to see other vessels on our radar and AIS that it makes it easy. And, if by chance our electronics failed us for some reason, vessels that travel at night are illuminated which makes them easier to see than in the daylight hours. That said, we had two cool experiences during the voyage.
Based on advice from other experienced cruisers we decided to take 3 hour shifts starting at 9 pm. I had noticed on my 9 pm shift that our AIS was showing a potential collision with a sailboat at around midnight. I hailed the vessel by name (because the AIS identifies everyone on it, their course, speed, etc.) and let their captain know that I see them and asked if they saw us which he confirmed. We discussed that we would touch base as we get closer. I went for my nap and awoke and came into the pilot house, called their captain and made plans for me to alter course and let them slip ahead of us to stay on their course. It was like playing a video game but in real life. As we got to within 1000′ I saw their lights and made my course correction to allow them pass us. It was totally cool!
Nightime in the Pilot House in Autopilot mode
On Meryl’s last watch of the night she had to be mindful of all the tankers and container ships on the screens as they moved from sea into the harbor channel at Jacksonville, FL with the help of the pilots whose vessels Meryl saw coming out of the harbor to assist the industrial vessels. In case you are unaware, all industrial ships must wait outside harbors for pilot vessels to deliver the “pilot” who comes aboard the ship and takes control of the vessel to bring it into port. The Captain of the ship relinquishes navigational and helm control over to the Pilot until safely docked in port. When Meryl recounts the story she says there were a few times she thought about waking me up but decided to work it out which she did.
We arrived at St. Augustine inlet at 1000 and were moored in the St. Augustine mooring field by 1100 and immediately took a nap! We have now checked the box of the overnight voyage!!
OVERNIGHT VOYAGE VIDEO LINKS BELOW
We spent a couple of lovely days in St. Augustine. We spent time with Shay and Elizabeth Glass, Richard and Connie Younger. St. Augustine must be the ice cream capital of the world. There’s a street down which you walk which is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and ice cream parlors. I counted at least 10 stores featuring ice cream. In fact – there were TWO Kilwins on the same street, within easy walking distance from one another. Think they sell some ice cream?!? FYI, there was an ice cream sandwich shop to die for. Can’t remember the name but will definitely return to St. Augustine just for another “flying saucer”.
November 3 – New Smyrna Beach
We definitely had NSB on our list for a stopover because (1) our new great friend Bob Breum lives there, and (2) it’s a really cool town – replete with new hip cuisine et al. We dined with Bob two nights – one of which was in a new restaurant – The French Quarter – which served so much food that Meryl and I took oodles back to Kokomo and ate on it for days! Will definitely return!!!
November 5 – Cocoa Beach
This time in CB we anchored adjacent to the town as opposed to the ICW. Escape (Shay and Elizabeth) were anchored close to us and another 49 Defever showed up next to us. Shay invited them to a sundowner with us and the six of us enjoyed a lovely sunset with cocktails, hors d’ouvers etc. To put this in perspective, try to imagine just taking a ride in your dinghy over to a strange boat and inviting the occupants over to dinner without having ever meeting them. Do you think you would invite strangers in a parking lot because they were driving a car similar to yours? Yeah right!
November 6 – Ft. Pierce
We anchored in a great new spot – the south side of the inlet behind some condos. Very well protected and calm. A lovely night’s sleep.
November 7 – Jupiter
We arrived on time!!!!
It’s now December 3rd and we’re preparing to shove off for Eleuthera on the December 12. Lots of preparation plus hanging with the kids – actually heading to Disney for a few days of happy faces – before we find ourselves once again at peace at sea…talk soon.
p.s. It’s now Dec 11th. Disney was freezing cold but we had fun nevertheless.
We are heading for Eleuthera on Dec 14th as the weather should be suitable. Plan to make a 20 hr run to the Berry Islands for a couple of days then onto Eleuthera when we get the next weather window.