Thursday, December 31, 2009

"It's Better in the Bahamas"

Journal Entry December 26, 2009-12-30

We left No Name Harbour at 1200 midnight and sailed into the darkness. The wind was blowing form the north/west at 10 to 12 knots as we slowly weaved our way through the shoals just outside the anchorage. Our navigating was good and once out in the open we set our sails, set our auto helm, and sat back.

“We’re going to the Bahamas!”, we yelled out at the top of our lungs.

The wind picked up through the night to 20+ from the north, which isn’t recommended (and not what was forecasted I might add) but we had a fairly comfortable ride. Let’s just say, we have been out in a lot worse conditions. It was bumpy but we expected that.

When the sun came up it was interesting to see just how big those waves were...still…not too bad. But, even more interesting was that fact that we could now see Bimini right in front of us. We made it! It only took us four months and 10 days.

I wrote that in my Journal four days ago. We actually sailed right past Bimini and anchored on the Great Bahama Bank that night, which was an experience in itself. It felt very eerie anchoring with no land in sight. In fact the closest land was a good forty miles away. The next day we sailed to Chub Cay (in the Barry Islands) where we spent a couple of days before we headed down to Nassau where we are right now.

Our two days in the Barry Islands were superb and we spent our time there swimming and snorkelling. We even harvested some conch and made cracked conch appetizers for happy hour.

Yup, it’s true what they say, “everything is better in the Bahamas.”


1. A secluded beach in the Berry Islands
2. Marg showing us treasures found while snorkeling

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!!!

Last night, Christmas Eve, we had a visit from Santa. It was a long trip from the north pole and I think by the time he made it down here he had sampled a little too much egg nog.

All going well we will be sticking to the original plan of crossing the golf stream to the Bahamas late tonight/early tomorrow morning. Pray for good weather and fair winds.


1. Santa and his helper
2. Harley and I enjoying Christmas Breakfast.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiting to cross

We left Fort Lauderdale yesterday and had a nice sail down the coast to Miami. It was fascinating to see the hotels lined up, one after the other, all along the shoreline. To me it looked like an architectural competition with each new hotel being bigger and more interesting than the last. From there we sailed into Miami Harbour and we were flabbergasted. Miami is a HUGE city!

Here we sit today, surrounded by beautiful turquoise water, (and lots of other boats) anchored in Key Biscayne Florida waiting for a weather window to cross over to the Bahamas. We were listening to Chris Parker (our weather guru) on the SSB radio this morning and it is looking like we might have a narrow window if we leave Christmas night.

Ideally we would like a three day window since we need one day to travel to Bimini, one day on the Bahama Banks, and the following day to get to Nassau. Now with this narrow window we will probably bypass Bimini, stop on the banks for a few hours then continue as far as Chub Cay to clear customs.

Whatever the case we plan to stay safe and have fun. So….to anyone who reads this, and even those who don’t, Harley and I would like to send a heart felt Merry Christmas greeting to you all. May your holiday bring everything you hope for and more.


Key Biscayne with Miami in the background

Friday, December 18, 2009

Held up in Fort Lauderdale

Nasty weather has prevented us from leaving Fort Lauderdale but we're o.k. with that. We have found a nice protected anchorage (surrounded by multimillion dollar homes and mega yachts) to hold up in and we feel safe and sound.

It poured in rain today but it is still nice and warm so, like true cruisers, we grabbed a bar of soap and shampoo and took our showers on deck. It seemed like a good idea at the time but after I wondered what our millionaire neighbors thought of that.......There goes the neighborhood!


1. I couldn't download the video of the "Dolphin Encounter" but was able to capture this frame.
2. One of many beautiful homes here in Fort Lauderdale

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dolphin Encounter

We sailed from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale today but before we did Harley and I took a little trip down memory lane. West Palm Beach is where we spent our honeymoon almost 30 years ago and it was very cool to be back.

"This is where we turtled the Hobie Cat", I said.

"There's the marina we stayed at."' commented Harley.

"Remember going under this bridge in the Tartan when we went out for a night sail?", I recalled.

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining bright, the sea was gentle, and the breeze was lovely and warm, but the highlight for sure was an awsome dolphin encounter. When I get a better internet connection I will download the video.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Velcro Beach

After seven days, a lot of shopping, and many no-see-um bites we ripped ourselves away from Velcro, I mean Vero Beach. The rental car was returned by 10:00 after a quick trip to the beach just to say we saw it. We plan to only travel fifteen miles to Fort Pierce today. Perhaps we will head offshore from there. We’ll see.

Oh, and by the way, it’s hot, hot, hot, here.

1. Vero Beach mooring field at dawn today
2. Vero Beach

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Hoping to learn from the experience of others when we started planning this trip 4 years ago, we talked to many people who have already done this……however, nothing prepared us for the daunting task of provisioning for the Bahamas.

Yes, we were warned that we would need to bring as much food as we possibly could for the four to five months we will be away. The towns are spread far apart in the southern Bahamas and we could go weeks between provisioning stops. Also, we were told what stores we do come across will have little to choose from and be very expensive. But planning, preparing lockers, and organizing what little space we have on board was totally exhausting. Then trying to decide what we need, making lists, shopping, and stowing drained us of what little energy we had left. If we don’t have everything we need now that’s just too flipp’n bad.

Believe it or not, we bought enough food and paper products to fill four large grocery carts. Even more surprising is the fact that we were able to fit it all on the boat. The biggest challenge was making sure everything was sealed tightly as moisture is a big problem on any boat. It’s a good thing that they make zip lock bags in all sizes. With how many I have bought, I now feel I should own stocks in the company.

Well, it's all done now and are now ready to start heading south and eventually (hopefully before Christmas) head over to the Bahamas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vero |Beach

They call Vero Beach, "Velcro Beach" because they say once you arrive you don’t want to leave.

It appears that there is an imaginary line that crosses Florida and once you are south of it the weather improves dramatically. Seemingly, Vero Beach is south of this line, which could be why nobody wants to leave. It feels so good to have the weather we’ve travelled so far to get to.

Our jaunt down from Daytona was pretty much uneventful. We anchored in Titusville (near Cape Canaveral) for a night, which was nothing special but it didn’t matter as we were not planning on staying anyway. We arrived in Vero today at 4:30 and I think we might just stay for a day or two. Why should we be different?


Seems like some people have found paradise on the I.C.W.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

St. Augustine to Daytona

St. Augustine is a place, in my opinion, that everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. Being a town rich in history, it has it's own special charm, and there is so much to do and see. For me, I wish I had gone on a guided tour but, never mind, it was cool just to walk through and imagine what it must have been like in days gone by.

Today we left St. Augustine and made the 53 mile trip to Daytona along the I.C.W. We knew when we left that we would be arriving in the dark (since we didn't leave until 11:00am) but we decided to go for it anyway. I have to say, arriving in an unfamiliar anchorage in the dark is not something I would recommend, however, here we are and all is well.

Pictured above:
1. Scenery along I.C.W.
2. Flipper giving us the hairy eyeball.
3. Arriving at dusk...two more bridges to go.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Picture perfect.

With the sun setting and dolphins jumping in our bow we arrived in St. Augustine, Florida. It was picture perfect.

Woke up yesterday to a bright day and the sun seemed to warm us from the inside out. Now that's more like it. We plan on spending a few days here as there is so much to see and do.

Pictured above:
1. Arriving in St. Augustine at sunset.
2. St. Augustine City Hall

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cumberland Island

What a spectacular day we had today.

Situated on the outer banks of Georgia is Cumberland Island. Being a national park and wild life refuge Cumberland Island offers so many wonderful points of interest.

To begin with, the vegetation is varied depending on where you are on the island. We walked through a dense forest of live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss…the forest floor lush with palmetto shrubs. Then we walked out of that into sand dunes, which led us to an amazing undeveloped beach laden with shells, crabs, and starfish. From there we walked back inland through some marsh land, across a meadow, and onto the grounds of the abandoned Carnegie Dungeness.

Among the wildlife on the island are deer, racoons, and armadillos, but the most amazing wildlife of all are the wild horses that roam freely everywhere. How wonderful it was to see these magnificent animals living their lives totally free the way nature intended it.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Lucky us! We scored big time coming here!

If I can be serious though....the hospitality the town folk of St Marys has shown the 90 boats that came here for Thanksgiving is totally overwhelming. It began on Tuesday, when we arrived, with a welcome "Pain Killer"* party. Wednesday they organized a tag team of vans to take everyone who wanted to go to the mall to shop, or do laundry, or do just whatever they needed. Then, that evening there was a huge party at the local pub with an oyster bake.

The best, however, was saved for yesterday....Thanksgiving day. Everyone brought a pot luck dish and the locals volunteered their time and donated turkeys and we all gathered at the local pub to sit down to a fabulous dinner. Then, just when we felt that there couldn't possibly be more, they had a band playing in the beautiful waterfront park that evening. We even limbered up our stiff cruiser joints with dancing.

Today we are leaving and heading over to Cumberland Island, another recommended spot.

1.Waterfront Park - St. Marys, Georgia
2.The private yacht moored in front of us. Check out the mooring ball!

* Painkiller: Two parts orange juice, one part pineapple juice, one part rum, and a teaspoon of coconut cream. Blend, serve over ice, sprinkle with nutmeg.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Florida...almost.

After spending nine days in the Isle of Palms we are now on our way again. Even though our stop there was unexpected and due to a mechanical breakdown, we left with mixed feelings. Certainly we were happy that our transmission was fixed, and glad to be on our way again, but it felt a little sad like the end of a vacation. Our wallets were emptied but the days were filled with fun, laughter, and adventure…just like a vacation. I will always have fond memories of the Isle of Palms.

There has been no internet on Blue Blazes for a few of days, which is why there hasn’t been any postings lately. The first two days were spent strictly travelling down the I.C.W. Since we were trying to make up for lost time, we only stopped at dusk to eat and sleep and left again at dawn.

Finally, we anchored in Bull Creek near Hilton Head, South Carolina where we met up once again with Lion’s Paw and stayed put for a couple of nights. When we arrived, Marg and Steve surprised us by preparing a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. Given that the four of us missed our Canadian Thanksgiving, and the American Thanksgiving is just around the corner, they thought it would be a good idea. They had turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, corn, and gravy. Our boating friends will appreciate that preparing a meal like this in our small galleys is no easy feat. Everything was delicious and we all ate till we were stuffed. Marg and Steve, if you are reading this, thank you so much!

We stayed in that area for a couple of days as we were waiting for good weather to head off shore. Well, we found our window of opportunity and last night we sailed down to St. Marys, Georgia, which is on the Georgia/Florida border. It was a long trip, with very little wind, but we at least made some good headway. And, I have to admit, it sure beats too much wind.

St. Marys is another town that loves boaters and they even put on a wonderful thanksgiving dinner just for them so, needless to say, we will be staying until then. After that…..well…..Bahamas isn’t too far away now. We will probably go to the Florida Keys first but it won’t be long after that.

Pictured above:
Boats lined up on the Savanah River getting ready to head off shore.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We're Book'n Out.

It's been a long tiring day but we are happy to report that the transmission is fixed and we should be on our way tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed that our test run doesn't uncover any problems.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


While our transmission sits on a bench in some shop somewhere, we are trying to keep ourselves entertained here in the Isle of Palms. Regretfully, yesterday, in my quest to stay entertained, I cut my hair. I now look like a mutant Farah Fawcett. Not exactly the look I was going for.

Today, we got together with two other couples and had the marina staff drive us into the main touristy area of town. We walked the beach, had lunch at a cool surfer bar, and then rented golf carts to tour the rest of this island. We even checked out Solomons Island. It was tons of fun!

Pictured above are some more treasures we found on the beach. (The money was play money......too bad)

The mechanic tells us that he should be back to install our repaired transmission this Thursday but we know that probably means Friday at the earliest. We'll see.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Isle of Palms, South Carolina

They don't call it Isle of Palms for nothing.

This truly is a beautiful spot and if we have to be stuck somewhere it's nice that it's here. Palm trees are everywhere making it feel very tropical and the beach is very special as well. There are no resort hotels...only private beach homes.

Shown above are some of the treasures we found.

Tonight there is an oyster bake here at the marina complete with live music. The band is playing funk/jazz and I must say they are GREAT.

Trying to keep entertained while we wait.

I was bored today so I thought I would try and figure out how to download a picture from Lion's Paw's blog. This is what I came up This is obviously Halloween. Steve and I don't always look like this.

It looks like we are going to be here in the Isle of Palms, South Carolina for a bit longer while we wait for our transmission to be repaired. In the meantime we are trying to keep ourselves entertained. The weather is bright and sunny (and warmer) so today we think we will take a trip to the beach. It's just a short walk away. All going well, we should be on our way again in a couple of days.

Marg and Steve have left for points south so I guess that means we will be going it alone from here. I miss them already but I'm trying not to let it get me down. I'm sure we will meet up again sooner or later.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembrance Day…..A Day to Remember

November 11th

This was a day we will never forget.

The day started off bad. We could hear thunder rumbling in the distance and see the lightning. Normally we wouldn’t head out with the threat of a thunderstorm but we sure didn’t want to be where we were….in the marsh with no protection. So we pulled up the anchor and left in the first light of day.

It rained off and on all day, heavy at times with high winds, but luckily, no storm. After about 4 hours into the day we drove into what felt like thick glue and then the glue set. We were stuck fast on a shoal in the I.C.W.

We slammed it in reverse….nothing. We goosed it in forward ….nothing. We put up the sails to help lean the boat over; making it draw less…nothing. In the meantime, the wind picked up and it started pelting in rain adding to the drama. Anyway, the tide was coming up and about an hour later we drifted off.

Unfortunately, while we were slamming and goosing we must have done something to the transmission. Now we are floating down the I.C.W. with little to no forward. It was time to call Tow Boat U.S.

We were told before we left Ontario that we were not to enter the I.C.W. without an unlimited towing package from Tow Boat U.S. because if we ever hear of anyone going down the I.C.W. without running aground we will know they are liars. So we call Tow Boat and don’t they tell us that the package we have only covers the first $50.00. The bill was going to be 400.00 plus. Needless to say, we limped our way to the first marina we came to.

There was an apposing current coming into the marina and by this time we had next to no forward. We were dead in the water. It was a struggle but we managed to get into a slip with many hands on deck to help.

The staff at the marina were fantastic with us and said if we need anything….a ride into West Marine…..anything…just ask. Well the nicest young man, Chase, drove us into West Marine. (While we were there we inquired why our tow package didn’t cover what we thought it should and it turned out that the plan had been coded incorrectly. We had coverage all along.)

Once we were done at West Marine, Chase, being the nice guy that he is, asked us if we needed any groceries. We weren’t planning on doing any shopping but he insisted saying that we might as well take advantage of the car and he didn’t mind in the least so we did. Then, on the way home, he took us on a guided tour of the town showing us all the sights. It’s just another example of southern hospitality.

This is a very upscale marina we are in and it even has bar and restaurant. It was happy hour by the time we returned from our shopping trip so we went in for “a” drink. A very friendly (millionaire) boater befriended us and kept our glasses topped up and later invited us back to his million dollar yacht to give us the grand tour.

Tomorrow we will deal with our transmission problem.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bucksport to Five Fathom Creek

November 10th.

The sky has clouded over and shortly after we set off today the rain came but, rain or not, the Waccama River is very pretty. We travelled the Waccama River for half the day until the I.C.W took a 90 degree right turn into the marsh. If I didn’t know any better I would swear we were in the Florida everglades. I have a keen eye out for alligators but so far haven’t seen any.

We are anchored in the reeds right now with nothing to protect us from the weather but they’re not calling for any hazardous weather overnight so here’s hoping “they” are right. We’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed just in case. It’s an eerie feeling, and to make it even more eerie, right now as I write this, I can hear fish nibbling at the hull of our boat.

1. Waccama River
2. In the marshes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

We got up at the usual time (6:00) to leave at 6:30, (I’m so glad I took a year off work so I could relax and get up whenever I feel like it) but there wasn’t anything routine about what happen next. It seems there is a 4ft.+ tide here and, where there was plenty of water when we arrived yesterday, there was barely 5 feet this morning. Blue Blazes draws five feet and we ended up bumping and grinding our way out of the anchorage. Unfortunately Lion’s Paw with it’s 5 ½ foot draft was not so lucky. They were stuck hard and had to wait for the tide to rise before they could get out. By 8 o’clock the tide had come up enough for them to plough themselves out of there.

It was a long trip today but it was beautiful as we passed many Plantation style homes landscaped with flowing palm trees. We also crossed the border into South Carolina …..another milestone. Tonight we are in Bucksport tied to a dock for a change

You Know You're in the South When......

November 8th

You know you’re in the South when:

1. You start seeing Palm trees.
2. The locals say things like “Where are all you all head’n.”
3. You see grits on every menu.
4. Spanish moss drips off the trees.
5. You have a close encounter with dolphins while tooting around in your dinghy.

This was a perfect day!

As much as we loved Wrightsville Beach, it was time to move on so today Lion’s Paw and Blue Blazes motored down to Southport near Cape Fear.

Since we arrived early, we decided to put down the dinghies and head over to Bald Head Island and do some exploring. Cars aren't allowed on the island, and golf carts are used instead. We thought this would be a neat place to check out and it turned out to be a great stop. The four of us had fun touring the island and taking lots of pictures.

But nothing could top the experience we had on the way over. Three dolphins, (maybe more) started surfacing all around our dinghies. I was soooo excited that Harley thought I was going to pee my pants! Finally I got some decent pictures.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wrightsville Beach

To say that Wrightsville Beach is an affluent town would be an understatement.

As we entered this area it was like we were sailing into a Florida port. Palm trees are everywhere and the homes are magnificent many of them with a beautiful yacht docked out front. We have anchored in a very nice protected harbour surrounded by all this wealth and we’re finding it fascinating to see how the other half live.

We are experiencing some very nice weather and the water is beautiful and clean. Harley even went swimming! Actually, he just wanted to check the underside of the boat but it counts as a swim in my books.

Once we were settled in we went exploring and, of course, we had to check out the beach. This is the life.

(The guy surf-fishing gave us the fish he caught and we had it for dinner)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Inside North Carolina Coast

Right now we are sitting in front of the Figure Eight Island Bridge waiting for it to open so, to pass the time, I thought I'd check to see if we had an Internet connection and here I am.

We had another early start today and at the ungodly hour of 6:15 we set off. It was the first light of day and there was still a heavy fog in the air but we have some distance to cover and we don't want to arrive too late in the day. Not even ten minutes out we saw them again. Jumping out of the water, through the mist and fog, were three beautiful to starboard and two to port. What a welcome sight first thing in the morning. I tried again to get a picture but it seems I'm just not fast enough.

Believe it or not, by 9:00 we had two more sightings. This is what I signed up for!...this is awesome!

This part of the I.C.W. is very nice as we are running parallel to the Ocean. The North Carolina Beaches are on the outside and beautiful estate homes on the other (and a mixture of everything else in-between).

The pictures above:
1. The picture I missed of dolphins.
2. An example of everything else in-between.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Internet Lately

No Internet = no blog postings. There has been, virtually, no Internet connection for us for 3 days, but not to worry...everything is still great here.

We had overcast and wet weather for two days, but still very windy making them good sailing days. And yes, we are getting to sail quite often here in the inter-coastal. The weather yesterday and today has been wonderful and today's sail was fantastic down the Neuse River. Thankfully the wind was coming from the right direction.

But, the best news of all.........I SAW TWO DOLPHINS TODAY! I am so excited because I was the only one who hadn't seen any yet. I didn't get any pictures though....bummer. Oh well, maybe next time.

(The picture shown above is us leaving at the crack of dawn this morning.)

November 2nd

We left Elizabeth City in a gale and, needless to say, we didn’t get very far before we headed for cover. Besides, it was cold and wet and overall not too pleasant so we anchored in front of Raymond Creek on the Pasquotank River for the night.

Today we left in the fog but definitely a lot nicer than yesterday with a following wind, which made for quite a nice sail across the Albemarle Sound to the Alligator River. We’ll stay the night here and head out tomorrow as we are definitely itching to get further south a.s.a.p.

November 1st

Halloween in Elizabeth City was so fun and we found that the American’s are much more into it than we are back home.

The cruising families, wanting to keep life as “normal” as possible, got into it pretty good as well. In the afternoon, all the kids carved their pumpkins on the dock and proudly displayed them in front of their boats and of course they all dressed up for trick or treating……even some of the adults joined in.

A very cool neighbourhood in town with very stately homes was blocked off specifically for the event. The city must sponsor the residents as the homes were all done up to look very spooky and the little ghosties and goblins showed up by the thousands. (Of course, we had to check it out too.) It was very well done. Too bad I forgot my camera.