On the Move on the ICW, but as always, there is Time for Friends (October 22nd to November 7th, 2017)

On the Move on the ICW, but as always, there is Time for Friends (October 22nd to November 7th, 2017)

The ICW is like an old friend now. We know the stops we love, we remember landmarks, we wait for favorite sights, and, especially, we look forward to our stop in Southport, NC, where we know we will find our dear friends, Vera, Rolf, and Jan. This trip along the ICW is also affording us time to stop and leisurely visit new places, a luxury we have never had before. The familiar places never fail to please us, and the new ones are found treasures. Still, nothing is better than having time to be with those people we have known for many, many years; those with whom we have shared so much of our life and who mean so much to us.

IMG_0845Sunrise at Bear Creek

We left Washington, NC on Sunday, October 22nd and traveled to a nice anchorage on Bear Creek. From there we moved on to Deaton Yacht Service in Oriental, NC where we had an electrical issue taken care of. The marina had a courtesy car so I could do a quick trip to the grocery store. It wasn’t our usual trip to Oriental, a town we really usually enjoy, but it all worked out well and AfterMath was ready to take on the next leg of the journey.

IMG_0852Every town seems to have its mascot these days.  New Bern’s mascot is a bear.  You can find bears all over town.IMG_0854IMG_0936IMG_0870IMG_0896The archway over the entrance to New Bern’s Confederate CemeteryIMG_0904IMG_0902These tables were placed in the cemetery near graves so that families could go and have a picnic near their loved ones.IMG_0901Check out the age this person was when he died.  His gravestone says he was 156 years old.IMG_0861The original counter at the drug store where Pepsi was invented.  You can still buy a cold drink there.IMG_0877Mitchell’s Hardware is an amazing place.  They claim that if they don’t have it, you don’t need it!IMG_0871It’s hard to know where to look first in the hardware store.IMG_0873IMG_0875That’s John at the end of the aisle full of screws, nuts, bolts, and who knows what else.IMG_0909Tryon Palace, New Bern, NCIMG_0938City hall in New BernIMG_0934IMG_0925The Episcopal church in New Bern has the most amazing hand painted windows.  Apparently they could not afford stained glass when the church was built so they had these windows painted.  IMG_0926IMG_0933

Our next stop was New Bern, NC. New Bern is a city of about 26,000 and was settled by Swiss and German immigrants in 1710. Named after Bern, Switzerland, it was the first capital of North Carolina. During the Civil War, Union forces captured and occupied the town and more than 10,000 slaves escaped and joined the Union Army. Today there are separate cemeteries for Union and Confederate soldiers in New Bern. Because New Bern was occupied by the Union, most of the historic buildings were saved, and the old churches and historic sites remain as they did many years ago. In 1898 a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham brought fame to New Bern when he created “Brad’s Drink”, a concoction now known as Pepsi Cola. The original site of the pharmacy is now a museum and gift shop for all things Pepsi. We were told, on a tour of the city, that Pepsi still holds corporate meetings there every year. More recently, New Bern has shown up in many novels written by Nicolas Sparks. I have been enjoying reading or re-reading some of his novels, now knowing exactly the place he was describing.

IMG_0939A collection of old outboard engines at the Ruddy Duck Grille, Morehead City, NC

On October 27th, we moved on to Morehead City. We stayed a few days there as the ICW was closed in the military base of Camp Lejeune due to training activities. This worked out well for us, as we also needed to wait out the unsettled seas that Tropical Storm Philippe was causing. Morehead City’s marina was comfortable and the people who worked there were very nice. There was a great captain’s lounge where I was able to watch the Gators loose in a terrible game against Georgia. Oh well.

IMG_9996Target practice has done quite the job on these military vehicles.  I have taken pictures of these every trip on the ICW, but I’m always just fascinated by them and can’t stop!IMG_9993IMG_0005IMG_0010This one looks a little less destroyed.  Maybe it’s newer?IMG_0014The sparkling waters as the sun begins to set at Camp LejeuneIMG_0018

Finally on Halloween, the ICW was open again, the storm had passed, and we were able to travel to one of our favorite anchorages in Camp Lejeune. It’s fun to pass the tanks and vehicles that are now used for target practice; they look more like grey lace than metal. Usually there are lots of aircraft flying around the anchorage day and, sometimes, night, but this time it was very quiet, except for one friendly boater who put her dinghy in the water and came around making deliveries of candy and yelling, “Trick or Treat”, although she gave the treats!

IMG_0945Sometimes it’s hard to get up early and get traveling, but the lighting shortly after sunrise is so worth it.IMG_0946IMG_0950IMG_0954IMG_0967IMG_0969Another picture I take every time we pass it.  This plastic palm tree, parking meter, and flag on this sandbar are just too funny to pass up.IMG_0041Welcome aboard, Coasties!

November 1st brought us to a lovely anchorage in Carolina Beach, and finally on Thursday, the 2nd, we arrived in Southport, NC. Before arriving, though, we were boarded by the Coast Guard for a safety check. The young men who came aboard were professional and courteous and were really a joy to have aboard. We always enjoy meeting the Coasties, and they are always interested in hearing about our sons, Jason, who was in the Coast Guard, and Jeff, who is currently serving in their headquarters in Washington, DC.

IMG_0974Rolf and VeraIMG_0976Jan

Once in Southport, we were so happy to see our friends, Vera, Rolf, and Jan, who came to pick us up and transport us to a local Italian restaurant for dinner. It is always like old times when we see these wonderful people. Part of our “Gourmet Group”, we have known each other since our oldest children were just babies, and we, and our kids, have really shared every experience imaginable. We laugh at some of our antics from our younger days, and we treasure all of our times together throughout the years. We miss Don, Jan’s husband, who passed away a little over a year ago, but we laugh when we think of his puns, jokes, and stories. Good friends are always there for each other, and once again, Vera and Rolf left us a car to use the following day. I provisioned AfterMath for at least a month using that car, and I also bought ingredients to have a Mini-Gourmet (there have always been six couples in our group, so we were half) on the boat on Friday night. As typical for Gourmet, everyone brought something. Jan brought shrimp and wine, Vera and Rolf brought apple crisp, ice cream and Amaretto. It was a wonderful night and we are all in agreement that it is important to stay in touch with and focused on those friends who mean so much.

IMG_0044Whoever owns this home sure seems to have the right idea.  Notice all the hammocks.IMG_0990Leaving Myrtle Beach Yacht Club and traveling down the ICW you see this assortment of buoys.IMG_0991Fall along the ICWIMG_0995IMG_1007Symmetry in natureIMG_1015IMG_0051IMG_0052IMG_0057

IMG_1028That is a floating swing bridge.

Saturday morning we left Southport and enjoyed our trip to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, our first stop in South Carolina. Although it would have been nice to tour the resort area, we really just stayed at the marina. Transportation to the beach was not easily found and we only planned on a one-night stay. Our next two stops were anchorages near Georgetown and McClellanville, SC. The scenery along this stretch is absolutely beautiful, and only made better by the fall colors, the calm, mirror-like waters, the clear blue skies, and the angle of the golden sun.   I will never understand why some people find the ICW boring.

IMG_1035I have no idea how this person gets to his house, and it probably gets lonely out there, but it sure is pretty.IMG_1040A Coast Guard buoy tender on the ICWIMG_1041AfterMath docked at Isle of Palms MarinaIMG_1049The beach today at Isle of PalmsIMG_1057Kirby really loves the water!IMG_1061IMG_1064

Today, November 7th, we arrived in Isle of Palms. The marina here has a good restaurant, a market/deli that carries everything you can imagine, and it is only about a quarter mile walk to the beach. After a nice lunch, we walked to the beach and enjoyed being on the Atlantic Coast again. Tomorrow we will leave for Charleston, where we will spend about four days.

Now we are happy to be moving toward Florida where we will spend the winter this year. We love the warm weather and we are so happy to now be back in the land of palm trees. At our snail’s pace, we see what so many miss. Currents, tides, and weather dictate where we go and when. We know when it will be a full moon or a new moon as this affects our travels. Our lives depend on nature and we are aware of what is around us. Every day continues to be a new adventure, but the best part is that our adventures include seeing family and old friends and meeting new people along the way. It is the life we always dreamed of living.

We Just Couldn’t Leave Washingon, NC (October 16 – October 22, 2017)

We Just Couldn’t Leave Washingon, NC (October 16 – October 22, 2017)

Sometimes, when cruising, you find a place that is just tough to leave. Everything is just right. The docks are great, the people friendly, there are places to walk and places to sit, you can find restaurants nearby or close enough to dinghy to, there is a lot of local color, there might even be a dog park for a little guy to run and romp within walking distance. We found that kind of spot in Washington, NC.

We arrived in Washington on Monday, October 16th and planned to spend two nights at the free docks there. However, the weather was pretty cool and we thought we might need heat. As there is no electricity provided at the free docks, we instead called the marina and settled in. It didn’t take long until we discovered how wonderful Washington is.

Washington, NC is the first city named after George Washington in the United States. It lies 26 miles up the Pamlico River and is often called Little Washington to distinguish it from Washington, DC. In this city, many buildings date back to the Civil War. The river is an estuary, providing breeding grounds for countless fish and birds. The town has built a beautiful park along the waterfront that always seems to have people walking or jogging, and I have noticed that everyone that passes by says hello. Sit on a bench or a swing in the park and you will be joined by someone who just wants to chat a while. This is a friendly place for sure.

IMG_0653The waterfront here is bordered by a wonderful walkway.IMG_0663One of the many historic old buildings in town.IMG_0669I spent plenty of time swinging on this swing.IMG_0671Downtown in Washington, NCIMG_0679There were many of these lanes between buildings in the downtown area.IMG_0682The Turnage was once a vaudeville theater.  It has now been restored and is used for shows, jam sessions, and art displays.IMG_0683The old grist mill in townIMG_0688Here, crabs are king.IMG_0689IMG_0691IMG_0657IMG_0696IMG_0697The front of the grist mill.  The building is now used for a rowing club.IMG_0710The railroad bridge is usually open, but once a day or so a train goes through and the bridge tender walks out to this shack to close it.IMG_0711Washington’s waterfront.IMG_0713IMG_0735The light green boat in the foreground is Jimmy Buffett’s new boat.  It was built here in Washington and will be sent elsewhere to get its mast.  I love that AfterMath is in the same image as Jimmy Buffett’s boat.IMG_0705Sunset from the docks

After arriving we were given a schedule of events for the area and we found that the weekend of October 20th and 21st was “Smoke On the Water”, a barbecue and chili competition as well as a fun festival for all. As it seems we often just miss events, and as we were already falling in love with Washington, we decided to extend our visit until Sunday the 22nd. This gave us time to walk around town and to visit the shops, to take the free boat ride offered by the “Estuarium”, a museum that explains the importance of an estuary, to see Jimmy Buffett’s new boat that is being built here, to attend a Blue Grass jam session in the historic theater, and to take Kirby to a dog park, all before the big weekend began.

IMG_0753That’s Scott, David, and Clint of the Lazy Dayz team.  They were so much fun to talk to and so wonderful about explaining everything there was to know about barbecues.IMG_0754IMG_0756These guys were just having the best time ever.  You had to smile the whole time you talked to them.IMG_0762IMG_0763

Friday the 19th arrived, and with it so did about 30 different barbecue trucks and trailers. They lined up and down the blocked off street right near the town docks and just a few steps from AfterMath. The day started out with everyone getting set up and readying their grills. At 9:00 PM the pigs were delivered to the participants and John and I decided to go take a look. While at first the sight of the carcasses was surprising, watching the men and women at work was fascinating. Everyone was willing to talk to us and to explain exactly what they were doing, whether or not they thought their pig was of good quality (only one woman was not impressed), and what the judges would be looking for. For example, if the pig had any hole in the carcass, one team explained that they would suture it up, the skin would “heal” during cooking and then the sutures would be removed before the judges saw the finished product. We learned there are propane grills and wood and/or charcoal cookers, and they would be judged separately. This was serious business to all of the teams, but they were all so nice taking the time to explain everything to us and to answer every one of our questions. The cooking began at about 11:00 PM and soon we could smell the aroma of barbecue on AfterMath. It was to continue all night. We were told that the propane grillers might be able to catch a couple hours of sleep, but the charcoal/wood grillers would have to stay up all night watching the smoker.

IMG_0766The Lazy Dayz team’s completed product.IMG_0767The first team to be judged.IMG_0768IMG_0777Some of the setups.IMG_0810IMG_0813

At 8:00 AM the judging was to begin. John and I both wanted to see the pigs on the grill before the judges got to them, so we headed up a couple of minutes early. We had spent quite a bit of time talking to one team, the Lazy Dayz, made up of David, Scott, and Clint, so we of course rushed over to see our new friends’ pig before the judges started. The grills were now spotless, four meat thermometers were placed in the pig so the judges could immediately see the cooked temperature, vinegar based sauce, traditional for Eastern North Carolina, was set out for dipping, and the participants were cleaned up and ready. Each tent was required to have four place settings of plates, napkins, and water available, and some took those requirements to the next step using cute dishes or mugs, and sometimes a fancy dessert on the plate for the judges to eat if they liked, or they placed a few candies or flowers around to make the area appealing and attractive.

IMG_0771The judges at the first tent.IMG_0772IMG_0773That is some delicious meat!IMG_0775IMG_0787190 degrees was considered the perfect temperatureIMG_0804IMG_0805IMG_0807These guys asked if I wanted to take their picture.  Of course!! Willing subjects!IMG_0815

Soon a crowd of judges, all in bib aprons approached the first tent, complete with clipboards in their hands. In about three minutes, they checked both sides of each pig, tore it apart with their gloved hands, tasted the meat and the skin, dunked pieces in barbecue sauce and tried the meat again, had a quick discussion with each other, filled out their score sheets, and moved on to the next team. The great part was, the people watching the judges could sneak in and take a little sample of the meat and the skin too! Until then, neither John nor I had ever tasted pork so tender and delicious, and the skin was crispy, salty, and absolutely amazing.

The judges quickly started on the next pig and first made their way through all of the propane cooked ones. I usually hurried to the next tent before the judges got there so I could get a picture the pig before it was torn to pieces, but I did stay by the Lazy Dayz pig long enough to see that soon after the judges left each tent, a golf cart came by to pick up the meat and place it in a thermal cooler to keep it warm. Then, because this whole event is a fund raiser, all of the meat was taken to a central tent where it was shredded and combined together to be used to make pulled pork sandwiches and to be sold by the pound a little later in the day.

IMG_0820The judges at a charcoal cooked pig.  Notice how much darker the color is.

After completing the propane grills, the judges made their way to the charcoal/wood grills. Here the pigs were a darker color and, even though I was pretty sure there could be no better tasting meat than I had already tried, I proved myself wrong. These pigs were so delicious it was almost unbelievable. After trying two or three tastes there, I was full and had to stop, but it was such a fun experience and I was so happy we decided to stay for the event.

IMG_0842David, Scott, and Clint with their trophy.IMG_0844

Later in the day we made our way to the main tent and for $5 we were served a huge pulled pork sandwich and a soft drink. We were directed to the next table to put sauce and slaw on our meat, which, of course, we did. This was a real Eastern North Carolina barbecue, and it was great.  On our way back from lunch we found David, Scott, and Clint.  We were thrilled to hear they earned second place in the competition, but Clint told us that second place was, “First loser”!  They apparently lost first place by just 4 points out of about 1300 points total.  Still pretty good in our book!

IMG_0827More fun during the day.IMG_0829IMG_0830IMG_0834IMG_0837IMG_9947Skydiving into water.IMG_9956IMG_9965IMG_9980IMG_9988

The day was not complete, though, at 3:00 there was a sky diving into the water demonstration, and during the day there were events for children, a car show, musicians playing, vendors selling fair type food and goods, and a fire engine pull where teams pulled a fire engine with a rope down the street. Later, around 5:00 we attended a cookout on our dock where one boater smoked salmon and pork and everyone brought a dish to share.

So, tomorrow, on Sunday the 22nd we will leave Washington, NC, the little town we expected to stay in for only two nights, but just couldn’t leave. We were told that this town was ranked as one of the “coolest towns in America” and we can see why. We met boaters who expected to stay here a few weeks or a few months and haven’t left yet. This is small town America at its best. No one seems to be in a rush, everyone has a kind word, well, maybe a lot of kind words! People stroll with their dogs, they swing in the big, welcoming white swings overlooking the water, they are always out putting out painted rocks in the park, they fish from the dock, they sit down to chat awhile even if they have never met you before, and they make everyone feel welcome. People seem happy and content and love living in this small town. We thank them for sharing their home with us and wish them good lives, peaceful days, and much happiness in this very cool town on North Carolina’s Inner Banks.   The lesson we take from a small place like this is to enjoy each day, find the simple pleasures, talk to someone new daily, and know that there is much to discover out there if you just look for it. And never let life pass you by.

Moving Along!  From Hampton, VA to Bath, NC (October 7 – October 15, 2017)

Moving Along! From Hampton, VA to Bath, NC (October 7 – October 15, 2017)

Finally the weather has seemed to turn the corner; the hurricane season has lost its steam and this means that AfterMath and crew are no longer bound to finding hurricane holes. Since leaving York River Yacht Haven we have been busy exploring ports that we have missed in the past. It’s nice to feel free of storms again, and to be on the move.

IMG_0520Hampton Town Docks with the Air and Space Museum in the backgroundIMG_0524Just a part of Tom’s vegetable garden for the boaters.IMG_0529The Apollo 12 space capsule inside the Air and Space Museum.IMG_0532More of the displays in the museum.IMG_0548IMG_0554IMG_0562John got to sit in the cockpit of an airliner.IMG_0570It’s almost Halloween and the carousel seems to be a bit haunted!IMG_0571

IMG_9921The view from our bow at night.

On October 7th, we left our dock and headed for Hampton, VA. Hampton is a favorite for a lot of boaters. The docks are right downtown and are surrounded by interesting sights: it is the home of Hampton College, and there is a pretty waterfront, an air and space museum, an IMAX theater, an antique carousel, and a new brewery. All are within a short walk of the marina. One of the fun facts about the marina is that the dock master, Tom, grows a vegetable garden in pots right outside the office. Boaters are encouraged to pick some vegetables for their own use. It’s a nice touch, especially when fresh veggies are a little hard to come by at docks. Of course, John could not pass up the air and space museum, and, although I always expect to be bored in this type of venue, I was fascinated too. We also saw a wonderful IMAX movie entitled Dream Big while we were there. It took us two nights in Hampton to be able to enjoy all there was to see and do.

IMG_0579Mermaids abound in Norfolk, VA.  Here is one with AfterMath in the background.IMG_0580IMG_0583IMG_0585The battleship, Wisconsin, docked and on display in NorfolkIMG_0590All these long walks make a guy thirsty!IMG_0591Sights at the marinaIMG_0599IMG_0601IMG_0603IMG_0624The ferry between Norfolk and PortsmouthIMG_0609Walking around Portsmouth, VAIMG_0610IMG_0617IMG_0618IMG_0623There are a lot of LOVE signs around Virginia.  Remember their slogan, “Virginia is for lovers”.

After leaving Hampton we traveled the short trip to Norfolk, VA. Norfolk is always fun to travel, as the river is busy with all sorts of boat traffic: barges, tugs, sport craft, sailing schooners, trawlers, Navy ships, and luxury yachts. Our original plan was to just stay for one night, but Jeff’s friend, Ken Flowers, a VP for Moran, a tug boat company, was able to come and visit with us the following morning and we decided to take an extra day to enjoy his company and to explore Norfolk. Another adventure while docked in Norfolk was to board the paddlewheel ferry that transports visitors to nearby Portsmouth, VA.

IMG_0628There is something fascinating about the cranes around Norfolk.  They are so colorful and so huge.IMG_0630Following Allegro under the bridge.IMG_0633Entering the lock.  This lock dropped us only about 8 inches.  We were so surprised when it opened again to let us out.IMG_0636IMG_0639Boats waiting for a bridge to open while heading south along the ICW IMG_0642As small as the river is in Coinjock, sometimes huge barges pass through.  

Bright and early on October 11th, we left Norfolk, accompanied by a very nice couple we met there, Basil and Martina on Allegro, and made our way, finally, back to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Although the weather was a bit dreary, it felt so good to be back on that familiar waterway with its calm waters and scenic views. As we traveled to our last stop in Virginia, the Atlantic Yacht Basin, it became pretty apparent that the snowbirds are now flocking south. The next morning we left for Coinjock, NC; the marina there was jam packed with transient boats and we were only inches away from those in front of and behind us. Everyone was in good spirits, though; we met three other couples heading south and we all had dinner together in the marina’s restaurant. Because the weather was windy and rainy, and the next day we needed to cross the sometimes-uncomfortable Albemarle Sound, we stayed an extra night in Coinjock and enjoyed a relaxing day aboard.

IMG_0643Historic homes in Bath, NCIMG_0646IMG_0647The lovely park with the free dock in BathIMG_0649

October 15th we departed from the ICW to head up the Pamlico River to Bath, the oldest town in North Carolina. A main port in the mid 1700’s, and once the residence of the famous pirate, Blackbeard, it now is home to a few hundred residents. There is a free dock there as is often the case in North Carolina towns, but, sadly, it was a little small for AfterMath. We anchored, though, and took the dinghy to walk around the very small historic district there.

Our next stop was another 12 miles farther up the Pamlico River, in Washington, NC, but, as we haven’t left there yet, I will leave that story to the next post in a couple of days. Meanwhile, we have been enjoying picture perfect weather for the past week, warm sunny days, cool and comfortable nights. We love being back on the ICW and we love the fact that we are heading south toward the warmth and our goal of endless summer. Everywhere we go now we meet new people, we enjoy the difference in each states’ uniqueness, and we treasure our life on AfterMath.

A Different Type of Life on AfterMath (September 23 – October 6, 2017)

A Different Type of Life on AfterMath (September 23 – October 6, 2017)

Waiting, watching storms, traveling north to an important anniversary party, visiting Jeff and Sarah and the boys, getting projects done, and finally getting ready to go. This is how the last couple of weeks have been spent. It hasn’t been our normal type of life aboard.  We haven’t left York River Yacht Haven Marina yet, but now, it is time to move on out of Virginia. We have loved our months on the Chesapeake, but so much of it was spent watching those horrible storms in the south, and we are glad to be able to be on the move again.  Finally.

IMG_0361Jack and Jean celebrating 50 years of marriage.IMG_0336A very rare picture of me with my brothers and everyone’s spouses!  Left to right, Jean, Jack, Gary, Diane, John, and me.  Between us we represent almost 140 years of marriage!

It was so great to see all of these people!

We stayed put while we carefully watched Jose’s antics as he spun in circles and turned in and out of hurricane status, but then it was time for us to head to Catskill, NY for my brother, Jack’s, and sister-in-law, Jean’s, 50th anniversary party. We rented a car for the road trip, and while there, truly enjoyed seeing relatives and friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for a very long time. It was a wonderful celebration given by their daughters, Cheryl and Karen and their families. It was also fun to return to Catskill by car, as we had enjoyed our time there on AfterMath before and after our journey into Canada over two years ago.

IMG_0421Ford has just learned to sit up and he is proud to show off his skills.IMG_0442IMG_0414Rush, at 3, is so silly and so adorable.  He was NOT going to give me a serious pose!IMG_0484Walter will be 6 next month and he is so grown up!

IMG_4467Walter bravely holds the bag to transport the crabs back to the house.  Rush keeps watch.IMG_4470IMG_4471

On the way home from New York, we made an overnight stop at Jeff and Sarah’s house to spend some time with them and with Walter, Rush, and Ford. As always, the children entertained us, and we loved seeing them. The kids and I took a walk down to the dock with Jeff; there he pulled out the two crab pots that we dropped in back in July.   They contained four crabs that Jeff cooked up and served as a great appetizer before dinner. Apparently, there are usually crabs in the pots now, but this was the first time any were caught while we were around!

IMG_0489Some scenes around the York River Yacht Haven MarinaIMG_0490IMG_0493IMG_0496IMG_0497-EditIMG_0503This little guy fell asleep on a neighboring boat one day. 

IMG_0511Out for a dinghy ride near the marinaIMG_0513IMG_0516

We returned to AfterMath on Monday and planned to take a day or two to catch up on a few chores. After a day we found that, according to weather sources, yet another storm was brewing, this time in the Gulf of Mexico. Because our dock was paid up for a whole month, it seemed like a good idea to take a couple more days to find out what was going on with the newest storm, Nate. While John spent most of his time in the engine room, I re-provisioned the boat, worked on editing photos, replaced a screen in one of the doors, and took care of odd items that tend to mount up. We also spent some time off the boat visiting with others from the marina, and enjoying the beautiful weather. The only disappointment is that the pool is now closed for the season.

So, tomorrow we will be underway. We will start our journey south again, seeing towns and islands that we have missed on our trips up and down the ICW and, of course, trying to stay in warm weather. The leaves were already changing in New York, and, as pretty as they are, it made me anxious to get to those warm climates where it is an endless summer. We especially look forward to our time with Kelly and family and Jason and family. It’s been too long since we’ve seen them! Nevertheless, our adventure is a good one; each day is different, each location unique. We find it hard to believe that this journey we have chosen for ourselves is most likely more than half over already. But the truth is, no matter where we are, the life we are leading now will be part of us forever, and we will be always be thankful for it.

Hiding Out from Hurricanes (September 2, 2017 – September 22, 2017)

Hiding Out from Hurricanes (September 2, 2017 – September 22, 2017)

Our hearts are heavy now. Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria have all created havoc with places we know and with people we love. Sympathy and hopes for quick recovery are sent to those in Texas for all of the flooding and damage caused by Harvey. Galveston, which suffered greatly due to the hurricane, is a special place for us as Jeff, our youngest son, attended and graduated from college there at Texas A&M Maritime Academy, Sarah, his wife, studied medicine at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and they were married there 10 years ago. We can only hope things quickly improve for Galveston Island and for all of the other areas so hurt by that horrible storm. As for Irma and Maria, words just can’t express how we feel seeing our beloved islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos so broken and battered.   And then Irma turned on our home state of Florida, making us worry for everyone we know there, for our old neighborhood, and especially for Jason and his family who live in New Port Richey on the west coast and for Kelly and her family that live in Jacksonville. Both kids did fine, but for the state and those that did not, we are speechless, truly speechless.

So, what do you do when you live on a boat and there are unpredictable monster storms in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Gulf of Mexico? Basically you hide out. The Chesapeake Bay is filled with rivers and creeks that make for wonderful hurricane holes, so, as we just haven’t been confident in the turns that weather forecasters have predicted, we wait and see what happens. We are anxious to continue our journey south, but once we leave this bay and head back into the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), we will be back in the low country; that is not a good place to be if another storm decides to roar its vicious voice.

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Our first stop in this segment of our journey was in Onancock, VA. We enjoyed our visit there last spring, and this time we had an even better reason to cross to the Eastern Shore once again. Our good friends, Becky and Judd Everhart and Donna and Gary Rosenthal own homes in Chincoteague, VA and they were going to be there for Labor Day Weekend. We have seen Becky and Judd occasionally over the duration of our trip, both in Connecticut and when they came to spend time with us in Grenada last year, but we hadn’t see Donna and Gary for about six years. We all have such a wonderful time when we are together and making the trip across the bay where they could drive down and see us was high on our priority list! On September 2nd, the four friends found us at our dock in the afternoon and we spent a glorious time catching up, laughing, and talking about old times, and finally having dinner at Mallards, the restaurant at the marina. The time passed far too quickly; we look forward to seeing them all again sometime in the future.

On September 4th, we crossed back to the Western Shore and started our travels up rivers and creeks to avoid any chance of meeting up with Irma. We found a safe anchorage in Jackson Creek near Deltaville, VA, then we moved up the Rappahannock River to the Corrotoman River and then to Meyer Creek for a couple of nights. All of these anchorages kept us about 20 miles up the Rappahannock River on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay, far from the Atlantic Ocean, in case Irma decided to skip the south and skirt on up to the Mid-Atlantic.

IMG_0215At the Bridge Marina in Urbanna, VAIMG_0217Scenes about town in UrbannaIMG_0220IMG_0222IMG_0227IMG_0233IMG_0237IMG_0241IMG_0245IMG_0249Here, oyster shells abound!IMG_0260The yacht club on the hill.IMG_0263Scenes from a dinghy ride around UrbannaIMG_0266Look who is waiting ashore!

Continuing to stay out of Irma’s reach, we found ourselves at a lovely marina in Urbanna, VA. Urbanna is a quaint little town that is in easy walking distance from the marina. There are restaurants, shops, and a nice grocery store nearby. The grocery store was close, but not close enough to walk from carrying groceries, so I asked Don, the dock master how he would suggest I could get back with some provisions. His answer was kind and generous. He handed me the keys to his personal car and sent me on my way. We stayed in Urbanna two nights before moving to Yopps Cove nearby. Here we began our Jose watch.

IMG_9854A beautiful sunset on the Posquoson River in Fish Neck, VA

While we weren’t too worried about actually being hit hard by Jose, we knew that the water would probably be high and rough on the bay. We also knew that Maria was following close behind, and we wanted to be well prepared for anything that might happen. From our Yopps Cove anchorage we moved to Fishing Bay, again near Deltaville, and then on September 14th, transitted the Mobjack Bay, to the York River.

IMG_9857Duck blinds on the way to Yorktown. They seem other-worldly to me.IMG_0280At the dock on the Riverwalk in Yorktown, VAIMG_0282There is a lovely beach in Yorktown, and I made sure to spend time there.IMG_0286Along the RiverwalkIMG_0290This bookstore was like something out of the 1800’sIMG_0291A little library outside of Ben and Jerry’sIMG_0293At the farmers’ marketIMG_0294IMG_0295Another scene at the Riverwalk.IMG_0299IMG_0300IMG_0302Along the Historic Main Street in Yorktown.  These homes are now privately owned.IMG_0306IMG_0307Yorktown’s Victory Monument which celebrated the surrender of Cornwall’s army at Yorktown.IMG_0313There are 13 women on the monument.  They symbolize the 13 original colonies.  They are all holding hands except two, who are shoulder to shoulder, signifying that there was room for more colonies in the future.IMG_0319IMG_9868The Alliance and The Serenity on an evening sail.

The nights of the 15th and 16th were spent in Yorktown, VA at the Yorktown River Landing on the Riverwalk. This is a lovely place to visit. There was a wonderful farmers’ market, a trolley that takes visitors around Yorktown to the battlefields and other sights, a free concert in the park on Friday evening, which even Kirby got to attend, and a nice walk through Main Street, Yorktown’s Historic District. We were docked next to two lovely green sailboats, the Alliance and Serenity, which conduct cruises for passengers. Kirby’s greatest joy was hanging over the edge of AfterMath and greeting all the people going by, and mostly they all stopped to give him a pat. If we had more time we would have taken the free transportation to Jamestown and to Williamsburg, but, as we had been those places in the past, we decided to forego the trips and to move to a protected marina across the river to wait out Jose and to figure out what Maria had in store for the east coast of the U.S.

York River Yacht Haven Marina, here in Gloucester Point, VA, is 33 miles away from the Atlantic. The docks are lovely, there is a great restaurant here, and they have a courtesy car that has finally allowed us to get to a groomer for Kirby, who was sadly in need of a haircut. In fact, so sadly in need that he had to be shaved down. So, while we wait for Maria to figure out what she has in store for us, we also are waiting for Kirby’s hair to grow! We have enjoyed our time here, though. The Alliance and Serenity moved here on our dock for a couple of nights while they were also watching Jose’s progress, and the Coast Guard comes to join us almost daily in their training boats and for lunch or dinner.  We love talking to the Coasties and they too stop to give Kirby a pat or two. There is a pool here and, while the water is cooler than I normally like, I’ve been in each day for a soak and a relaxing time on land.

We expect to leave York River Yacht Haven soon, but each day seems to still bring some uncertainty with the storms that have been so damaging this year. In the meantime, we send our love to everyone who has been without electricity, who has spent time boarding up their homes, who has had to prepare for storms that may or may not have come their way, and, especially, for those who have lost property and possessions or worse, whether in the states or in any of the beautiful islands so bruised this year. Once again we are reminded that life is for living. Look for the beauty and take it in whenever you can. Hug those next to you. Do what you can to be safe, but don’t be afraid to take a chance. Help others when you are able. Life only passes us by once; please, make the most of it.

 

The Potomac River Trip with Chris and Sam (August 15th – September 1st, 2017)

The Potomac River Trip with Chris and Sam (August 15th – September 1st, 2017)

It seems to me that it’s all about perspective. Seeing the world from different angles, with different people. Understanding where you are by approaching it differently. Finding new places that you just never knew existed. Viewing familiar sights in a new light. Never losing the love of learning and discovering. Never wanting to stop laughing and sharing and having fun. Never losing respect for those who have suffered. This describes our time over the past couple of weeks, the time we spent on the Potomac and in Washington D.C. with Chris and Sam.

IMG_4262eKirby and I took a walk while AfterMath’s was being attended to.  This is the lawn at Hartge Marina in Galesville, MD

John and I left Annapolis on August 15th and traveled a short distance to Galesville, MD again. Once there, John found a leak in a fuel valve that needed to be looked at, so we pulled into Hartge Marina to have a mechanic check it out. It turned out to only be a gasket than needed tightening and soon we were on our way to meet our good friends, Chris and Sam.

The plan was to traverse the Potomac River with Chris and Sam and make our way to Washington, D.C. Many cruisers spend time in the Chesapeake Bay, but most do not travel the distance of the Potomac River. It is long, 192 miles round trip. The only way back is the way you go, but the voyage was a dream of mine, and John agreed a long time ago to navigate it for me.

IMG_9771Of course we are always happy to see our Coastie friends along the way.IMG_9768IMG_9790And we can never get enough of watching the Navy jets flying overhead.

We started out by traveling to Zahniser’s Marina in Solomons, MD. The marina there had a shuttle, so I was able to provision for us and for our friends at a local supermarket. I probably should have known better, as Chris and Sam showed up on the 18th with two huge carts full of supplies for the trip and countless goodies for Kirby. Groceries stowed, and happy hour ready, we caught up on all of the family news and made ready for the journey to follow.

IMG_9923The clouds were gorgeous that morningIMG_9924The church in the historical park at St. Mary’s College.IMG_9928At St. Mary’s College.  Chris and Sam and AfterMath in the background.IMG_9930The old State HouseIMG_9931IMG_9933IMG_9939No, she’s not mixing drinks, she’s chopping garlic.IMG_9942We enjoy good meals on AfterMath!

The following day, we all traveled to St. Mary’s in MD. We were the only boat in the lovely anchorage, and there we hopped aboard Tangent and took a ride to the shore. St. Mary’s College, in St. Mary’s, is a liberal arts college on the Potomac. It’s beautiful, but really quiet. I’m not sure who chooses this college, but they do have an accomplished sailing team and a park that documents the history of the area.

IMG_9950Waiting for the trolley to pick us up at the marina in Colonial Beach.IMG_9957Aboard the trolleyIMG_9958An antique car show in town.IMG_9970Colonial Beach, VAIMG_9973IMG_9974IMG_9976

On Sunday, AfterMath and crew moved on to Colonial Beach, VA. There we took a trolley ride that we will remember for a long time. It was a new perspective and there weren’t many of us on this 50 cent a person tour. The gentleman who conducted it took it very seriously, showing us the senior citizen center, the 100 year old trees, the local grocery store, the NAPA auto parts store, the swans in the water, and much more. We had all we could do not to laugh out loud as he guided us through town, and it was even harder when Chris and I continued on part of the tour a second time. We stayed on to disembark at the beach, but, although no new guest boarded the trolley, we heard the exact same description the second time. It was all in good fun, though, and we certainly got our money’s worth!

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IMG_0002Our cereal and cracker boxes ready to view the eclipse.IMG_9990Our first view of the eclipse.IMG_9997IMG_9996Sam, getting it all set up!IMG_9998Success!

Monday, August 21st brought a new excitement. It was the day of the eclipse and we were not about to miss it! The night before we prepared cereal and cracker boxes according to directions we found on the Internet. We also had paper plates ready with pinholes in them to watch the big event. When the time came, though, we found the best way to watch the eclipse was through binoculars aimed at the sun and projected onto paper with one lens covered up, thanks to my Facebook friend, Orrin Winton, who used a telescope the same way. Sam, Chris, and I had a great time watching what we could and calling John from the helm to witness the event. Unfortunately, clouds came in right at the peak of the day, but we at least got to see some of the eclipse on AfterMath. Soon after, though, a tremendous storm approached and our docking at Occoquan Harbor Marina in Woodbridge, VA became quite a challenge. John handled the wind and the rain amazingly well, as always, and we soon docked despite the horrible conditions.

IMG_9818You have to wonder who lives in these houses along the Potomac.IMG_9820IMG_9822Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, from the Potomac.

The next day we passed beautiful homes and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, which we visited just a few weeks ago with Kelly, Jeff, and their families. It was so unusual, and such a different perspective, to see Mount Vernon from the Potomac River.

IMG_9834Entering the National Harbor.  IMG_0007IMG_0010The giant in the sand.IMG_0014Watch out if you are on the Ferris wheel!IMG_0016Inside the Gaylord HotelIMG_0017IMG_0018IMG_0022IMG_0058The Ferris wheel the first night, all red, white, and blue.IMG_4292At the Gaylord Hotel, a laser and dancing fountain show.IMG_4294IMG_4302Meeting up with a few celebrities at the National HarborIMG_4300IMG_4304IMG_4301IMG_4298Always helpful, Chris found this lady weighed down with bags.  Funny thing, the lady never moved!IMG_4305What trip to a tourist area is complete without visiting the candy shop?IMG_0069I met this gentleman in the old torpedo factory, now a home for art shops, in Alexandria and asked if I could take his picture.  He was from Iran and 100 years old.IMG_0071King St, Alexandria, VAIMG_0080That’s Chris and me inside the new MGM hotel and casino at the National Harbor.IMG_0087IMG_0098New colors on our second night at the National HarborIMG_0127IMG_0155It is so pretty when you are on the Ferris Wheel.

We traveled on to the National Harbor in Washington D.C. I had only seen or heard of the National Harbor when our daughter, Kelly, and her family visited it a year or so before. It is a busy place, full of fun and excitement. There is a beach where a giant struggles to escape the sand, a huge Ferris wheel that is beautiful beyond belief at night, a carousel, a long walkway along the shore, countless restaurants and hotels, and statues, some of which that look so real you wonder if they are just people waiting for tips like those you find in Key West. We spent two days at National Harbor, walking the town, catching a laser show at the Gaylord Hotel, and taking a trip on Wednesday to Alexandria, VA where we had a wonderful lunch after taking the tour along King St. The history in this area of the United States is remarkable, and we all felt like we were living it for the first time. The last night at the National Harbor was capped off by a ride on the Ferris wheel. The top of the wheel is 180 feet off of the ground, and the whole ride is a beautiful and amazing sight. If ever you find yourself in D. C., be sure to make the trip to the harbor to ride this wheel. It is a ride you will long remember.

IMG_9836Ft. McNair in D.C.IMG_0177Inside Trump HotelIMG_0178IMG_0179IMG_0180IMG_0183D. C.’s fish market right near the marina.IMG_0184IMG_0187IMG_0191IMG_0194

Thursday, AfterMath and crew moved to the Capital Yacht Club in Washington, D. C. It is an area under construction, and one that will be beautiful when complete, but it was a bit of an inconvenience right now. The marina is about a one half hour walk to many of the attractions, but the construction added a couple of blocks to the distance to town. Cutting through the construction site each time we left or returned, we were spoken to by workers about our indiscretions; somehow it never stopped us. We had all been to D.C many times and we skipped most of the standard monuments this time but we managed to tour the Holocaust Museum for the first time, the Federal Bureau of Engraving, the Trump Hotel, the Museum of American History, and the Fish Market. The Holocaust Museum was an experience long to be remembered. I don’t think I will ever understand just how it all came to be. How did so many people die for no reason at all? How did people feel right about what they were doing? It is just inexplicable to me. The Fish Market was an eye opener as well. How many of you knew there was such a great fish market right in D. C.? We had dinner at a local beach bar, and heard bands playing in the park one night and ate fresh fish from the market the next. I really never realized how close Washington, D. C. was to the water, once again, a new perspective.

IMG_8425Courtney’s Seafood Restaurant – it looks like a dive, but the food is amazing.IMG_8421IMG_8381Mrs. Courtney and her daughterIMG_8378Mr. and Mrs. CourtneyIMG_8363 copyIt was a rainy night and the tidal surge was up.  Here is the road outside Courtney’s when we went to dinner.

Finally it was time to start our way back down the river. On Saturday, August 26th, we anchored in a beautiful anchorage on Mattawoman Creek in Maryland, and on Sunday we stayed anchored in Canoe Creek, also in Maryland. Finally we moved to Point Lookout Marina for our last night with Chris and Sam. There we had dinner in Courtney’s Restaurant, a real family operation where the dad fishes, the mom cooks, and the kids serve dinner. The food was wonderful and Chris, Sam, John, and I reminisced about the amazing time we spent together traveling the Potomac River and visiting Washington, D. C. in a most unusual way. Chris and Sam left Tuesday to return to Connecticut, but not without leaving us with memories we will always treasure.

Wednesday night found John and me back near Reedsville, VA and now we are back in Onancock, VA where we will meet up with more good friends, Becky, Judd, Donna, and Gary this weekend.

So, we continue to have adventures that are not the norm. It is good to see things in a different light. It keeps us thinking, makes us appreciate who we are, what we have, and whom we love. Our friends make us laugh, keep us remembering the past, looking forward to the future. We find much to appreciate every day. Our perspective is always changing, and that’s a good thing. It’s important to look at the world every day in a fresh new way. And it’s important to live your life to its fullest.

Almost a Month of Busy Days (July 19 – August 14, 2017)

Almost a Month of Busy Days (July 19 – August 14, 2017)

Some days are just better than others. We have had almost a month of visiting with family, traveling around the Chesapeake Bay, and taking care of some very necessary repairs. The visiting and traveling days are far better than the repair days, but life on a boat means that sometimes things need fixing, just as they do in a home on land.

We left Swan Creek on July 18th and headed back to Steve’s dock, two houses away from Jeff’s house in Annapolis, because we were having trouble with our water tanks pumping properly. It was just too hard to deal with the sporadic availability of running water and we wanted it fixed quickly. At Jeff’s house we had access to a car to buy necessary parts and, especially, to Jeff who is a whiz at all things that have to do with boats. We can’t thank him enough for all of his help in getting the water issue straightened out.

IMG_9702The two babies had not yet left the nest when we got back to AnnapolisIMG_9734Soon, one baby left leaving this little guy practicing his wing flappingIMG_9752And here is this poor baby traveling with us on our wind vane!

While back at Jeff’s, I was able to continue my watch of those baby ospreys. During the first day or two we saw that one was able to fly and would leave the nest, returning over and over.   The other baby seemed a little less brave and would walk around the nest, flapping its wings, sometimes getting a little lift, and then crying loudly for someone to bring it food. Finally on our last day there we saw the second baby take to flight. I was so happy that we were around for the event! We started out on our way later that morning, July 24th, and headed toward the northern end of the bay, about four hours of motoring away.   When we had traveled about two hours, we got a call to AfterMath from a boat passing by. The captain of the boat laughed and told us we had an osprey hitchhiker on our wind vane. John’s first reaction was, “I hope it’s not one of the babies”. I went out to look, and sure enough, a young osprey was perched up high, seemingly in distress. It flapped its wings, but did not fly away. It was obviously one of those babies, and we were pretty sure it was the one that had just braved leaving the nest that morning.

We weren’t sure what to do, so we called our daughter, Kelly, who is a veterinarian and pretty much a wild life expert. She told us we had two choices. As ospreys are raptors, they are protected, and we either needed to call the Fish and Wildlife Department or turn around and bring the baby back. She was pretty sure that returning the baby would take less time, even though we were two hours away.   So, we turned 180 degrees and headed back to Annapolis again. When we were getting close to Mill Creek where the nest was, the bird finally got brave and took a flight, but it circled around and headed right back to the wind vane. Now, however, it didn’t have a great position and the vane was spinning and hitting the bird, lightly, but annoyingly, in the chest. It stayed with us trying to get a better perch, but finally, took off as we neared a bridge. We were just sick that this all happened and that we weren’t able to deliver the bird back to its home, but we know we did the best we could. We continued another 40 minutes on the way to the creek in case the baby was following us, but we never saw him again.  Eventually we turned north again and went back to Swan Creek for the night, as we were way too late to make it to our intended destination!

IMG_9813Scenes from along the Sassafras River near GeorgetownIMG_9812IMG_9810IMG_9839IMG_9808Every kid’s dream!IMG_9828Sunset in GeorgetownIMG_9827

The next day we traveled to Georgetown, MD, which is 10 miles up the lovely Sassafras River. It was a beautiful ride and we arrived at Georgetown Yacht Basin in the afternoon. The marina had a pool and a little beach, and offered a courtesy car. Once again we needed some work done as our air-conditioning was not working properly, but there was an AC mechanic at the marina and that repair was taken care of quickly. I took advantage of the car and did a good grocery shopping and, of course, made good use of the pool. Georgetown is known for its beautiful sunsets and, although the first day or two was cloudy, we were rewarded on our last night with a glorious show of color that was equally as beautiful in the water as in the sky.

IMG_9843Havre de Grace at the marinaIMG_9845IMG_9846

IMG_9760Pathway to the sun on the Bohemia RiverIMG_9759

We left Georgetown on July 30th and traveled to Havre de Grace, a town on the lower Susquehanna River. It’s a pretty little town with museums, parks, and shops. The marina there also had a courtesy car, which we borrowed to drive around town to see the sights. We stayed just one night before motoring to the Bohemia River where we anchored on the 31st.IMG_9847Chesapeake CityIMG_9848IMG_9850IMG_9853IMG_9854IMG_9855IMG_9857IMG_9858IMG_9861That’s AfterMath at the Schaffer’s Canal House

Our next stop was at Schaffer’s Canal House in Chesapeake City, a town that is on, and is divided by, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C&D Canal). There, huge barges pass by the scenic town on their way to ports all over the world. We took Tangent, our dinghy, across the river to see the town, which is historic and quaint, and then headed back for a wonderful seafood dinner at Schaffer’s. One point that should be made, though, is that Chesapeake City is pretty much closed up every day except Thursday through Sunday in the summer, and, unfortunately we just weren’t there on those days. We wished we had realized this fact before we got there so we could have rearranged our schedule to take advantage of some of the fun events that happen when there is more activity.

IMG_9765A beautiful scene in the Chesapeake Bay on our way back to AnnapolisIMG_9883Ford is growing so quickly!IMG_9908Rainy day crafts with Walt and RushIMG_9914

Having completed our north bound travels, we started on our way back south on the bay. Our plan was to stop at Jeff’s again for a couple of days before continuing down to the Potomac where we will meet our friends Chris and Sam and then go up the river to Washington, D. C. Things changed a little bit though! First of all, Jeff and Sarah were between au pairs, and they needed me to take a few days of babysitting. That was fine, but while we were docked two houses away again at Steve’s, John noticed our batteries were not charging as they should.

When we were in Georgetown, the electrician who worked on our air conditioning had checked the batteries and thought that one needed replacing, so John found a battery and he and Jeff did the job. Things still weren’t as they should have been, so John decided to replace all eight batteries, a huge job as each battery weighs about 70 pounds and needed to be transported from Jeff’s truck in his driveway down 45 steps, placed in Tangent, dropped off on AfterMath, and then brought down to the engine room. Of course, that meant the old eight batteries had to be transported back up to the truck in reverse order of the drop off. Again, we were thankful to Jeff, who helped John with the transport and with the installation of all of those batteries. That seemed to solve the problem, however, two days later the generator was not able to charge the batteries and the solar panels stopped working as well. Finally yesterday we were able to get a marine electrician to come to the boat. He spent all day tracing the problem, which was too complex for me to ever try to explain, but he found the issues and we are back in business!

So, today we will start our journey again. As I write, John is figuring out our schedule so we can tell Chris and Sam where to meet us and which day. We are excited to be going on our way as, there is much to see and do along our way back to Florida for the winter!