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June 07, 2008

North up the ICW

Wow, have I been lazy! I didn’t realize that it had been so long since I made an entry in the Ship’s Log.
So, when you last heard from me, we were in the Bahamas getting ready to make the crossing back to the good old US of A. We are now at theYankee Point Marina on the north side of the Rappahannock River so a lot of water has passed under the keel.
After spending several days at Manjack Cay, we headed west to Allens-Pensicola Cay which we had never visited before. It is a beautiful sheltered anchorage and we tucked in with several other cruisers. We took the dinghy to shore and walked across the cay to the north side where there is a nice view out over the reef and the Atlantic Ocean. Cruisers have created a monument there made of flotsam and jetsam hung in a tree and many of these have signs painted on them with the boat name and date. We have seen several of these at various places in the Bahamas.
After cleaning off as much of the green grass and barnacles that had grown on the bottom of the dinghy as we could, we hoisted her up to the top deck of Courage and lashed her down for the crossing to the states.
The next day we started the crossing and got as far as the middle of the Little Bahamas Bank where we anchored out in the middle of nowhere! It is a strange feeling to be anchored in 12 feet of water with no land is sight! The next morning (April 12th) at about 5 AM we started the real crossing headed for Fort Pierce. Just after leaving the Little Bahama Bank, the seas wind and Gulf Stream current seemed to be too much against us so we changed course and headed further south for inlet at Stuart. Shortly after this a US Coast Guard cutter came up behind us and hailed us on the radio and then came aboard for a safety inspection. It was no problem and we passed with flying colors! Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures so we have no visual record for the web site.
By now, conditions had changed again so we resumed our original course and ended up at the Fort Pierce inlet late in the afternoon and were settled down at the anchorage with the yellow “Q” (quarantine) flag flying in time for supper. It was a long day but Courage behaved beautifully and the crossing was completed without too much rock ‘n roll.
The next day, we went into a slip at the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina and met up with Sue’s relatives the Lunds who live there. They were nice enough to give us a ride to the Customs and Border Patrol (Homeland Security) office at the local airport where we cleared in and did the required paperwork. It was no problem other than the time and bureaucratic process. They of course, didn’t inspect the boat so I’m not quite sure what this all accomplishes other than to keep another army of civil servants employed and busy inconveniencing US citizens!
The Lunds hosted us for dinner at their house and gave us a tour of the area. Bob is an avid photographer and has provided us with a lot of the pictures he took for the web site. His son Matt’s hobby is collecting and breeding snakes and he keeps several dozen of them in the “snake room” he has built in his garage. We spent several hours in the snake room and it was a fascinating experience. Sue wouldn’t handle them, but I did and they are interesting to hold. Matt also has a large pet lizard and a large collection of scorpions! He raises his own mice to feed the snakes! What a hobby!
Our next stop north was Daytona Beach where we got a slip at the same marina where we spent about a month back in December and visited again with friend Chuck Ellenwood, Alex and Karen Palmisano, and GrandPa Mike. We also met Chuck new lady friend Penny at a cookout Chuck hosted at the “Aft Cabin”. As always, it was a fun visit.
We next stopped in St Augustine and visited with Rich and Joanne Laird (Sue’s relatives) at their new home outside of St Augustine. It is in a Levitt planned community and is very nice. We also had Jeff and Sharon Pruner visit us on Courage one afternoon and had dinner in town with them that evening. Jeff and I worked together at GE in the mid 60’s and have kept in touch since then. They were aboard Omega several years ago on the Chesapeake and retired to the area just east of St. Augustine a short time ago.
When we got to Amelia Island, we got a slip at the local marina and visited with cruising friends Jerry and Jinny Clapsaddle again. They are now in their new home but are still doing finishing touches. It is a striking and unique place with fantastic views across the salt marsh and the ICW to the east and is set back in dense woods so they have a lot of privacy even though they are part of a nice development and close to Fernandina Beach. They gave us the tour of the area by car and we were both pleasantly surprised by the variety of styles of communities in the Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island area. Jinny served us a wonderful gourmet dinner and we spent a pleasant evening talking about our cruising experiences and their pottery and painting. They are both very accomplished artists and their new home also contains their studios. I forgot to take pictures of their house and regret it because it is so unique and beautiful. It really belongs on the cover of Architectural Digest magazine.
On the way north through Georgia, we decided to detour off the ICW and finally visit Savannah. We were there four days and caught the beginning of an art festival being held along the waterfront. The City of Savannah has a public dock right m front of the old Cotton Exchange building in the heart of the waterfront area. They encourage and welcome boaters and charge a dollar a foot of boat length per night but the clerk at the City Hall would only let us pay for one night and I got the impression that they really don’t want to be paid at all! The first night we went out to dinner and I had “shrimp and grits” which I had never had before. I learned that it is a favorite southern dish and it was wonderful! We walked around the town a lot and enjoyed the beautiful parks that are every few blocks throughout the city. We also visited the local maritime museum. The weather was sunny and pleasant and we both were glad that we had made the effort to see Savannah by boat.
We then wound our way through the rest of Georgia and arrived at Charleston, SC on May 6th where we had reserved a slip at the Ashley Marina. We “topped up” the diesel tanks with 400 gallons at $4.18 per gallon and my Citibank credit card refused the charge until I called and told them that the $1675 for fuel was OK! Sue left for Ft Myers to baby-sit Kaya while her son Ethan took the Florida license test to be able to practice as a chiropractor in Florida. I did boat projects for 2 days and then picked up a rental car and drove to Durham, NC to visit with KAT, Jackie and Jaidan for the weekend. We had a good time and I got to see Jaidan play soccer, which is a hoot with a bunch of 4 year olds.
I then drove Liz’s house in Bensalem, PA. On the 12th and picked us Sue at the Philadelphia airport on her return from Ft Myers. We were at Liz’s house for almost a week doing routine doctors visits, a Fresh Creek board meeting and visiting with her and her cats. I also get several boat canvas projects done on my heavy-duty sewing machine, which is in her cellar. One evening we had dinner with long time friends the Neeleys in Yardley, PA and we met with our high school classmate Bob Doerschner who has agreed to head up a committee to organize a 50th reunion. Sue has been the lead on this event in the past but cannot do it from the boat. Bob has gotten a number of or classmates to join the committees and they have already had the first meeting so it looks like it will really happen this fall.
We returned to Courage on May 19th after the long but uneventful drive from Bensalem. We got our provisioning done, picked up a package at the UPS office and headed north the next day. We anchored out other than a one-day stop in Beaufort, NC at the City Docks Marina where a cruising friend Wayne who lives in Beaufort and works part time at the marina greeted us. The local cruisers meet weekly at the wine pub in town for a potluck dinner and we joined them. Wayne and his wife Norma have sold their boat “Jura” and are (for now) dirt dwellers in the condo they bought there several years ago. They are from this part of the world so they are back home – at least for now.
Since Beaufort, we have continued north up the ICW with a one-day stop at the locks at Great Bridge, VA. We visited with Bon Starr, the broker who sold us Courage to get his inputs on the improvements we have made to her since last summer. His comments were favorable but he says the market for boats is slow now with the economy down and fuel l prices way up and buyers are really driving hard bargains. I’m glad we are not selling now and am really glad that I bought the Krogen. Their reputation and fuel efficiency will be a big help when the time comes to sell Courage.
We finally reached the Chesapeake on June 1st, and are now at Yankee Point Marina off of the Rappahannock River. Courage was hauled and pressure washed on the 2nd. The bottom paint was in better shape that I thought it would be, but she now has two coats of new bottom paint, new zincs, and the yard is making several fiberglass repairs that were needed, and is straightening out a small bend in one blade of the propeller. I am doing other routine maintenance that is best done when the boat is on the hard.
It is HOT with temperatures approaching 100 degrees and the humidity is high so our workdays are slow and short. We stayed in the air-conditioned cottage at the marina the first three nights but then had to move to the Holiday Inn Express in Kilmarnock because others reserved the cottage. Hopefully we will get Courage back in the water Monday or Tuesday and we can move back aboard and shut off the lodging expenses! Our plan is to continue up the Chesapeake and leave Courage somewhere while we return to Liz’s house again later in June for more doctor appointments.
Once we get back on Courage, the “no plan” plan is to spend the first part of the summer here on the Chesapeake. With the air conditioning, it should be bearable in the hot humid conditions.

Posted by Dick at 04:53 PM