Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting to St. Augustine, Florida

Day 23 was Christmas Day. We decided to leave Savannah, GA and continue on down the ICW until we could find an outlet to the ocean. The ICW traveling was becoming more and more difficult. On Christmas Day we were aground for a couple hours at Hell's Gate. The name of this narrow passage convinced us that we weren't the only cruisers to get stuck in the shoals at low tide. Again we just waited for the tide to rise and we motored carefully through the shallow waters--akk--that's no fun! Christmas night we anchored in Kilkenny Creek, GA. It was a nice enough place to spend the night, but in the morning as we were trying to fuel up at the Kilkenny Marina and prepare to sail out in the ocean the no-see'ms descended upon us in force. My gosh--we've never seen such!

Our plan was to get out of the ICW ditch and into the open ocean. Caribbean Soul was ready and eager to go (and so were we!). Before we could get to the ocean, a bit of fog began to roll in. It wasn't easy, but we managed to pick our way along the ICW markers to St. Catherine's Sound. The fog was not getting any better, but we had great hopes that it would clear up out on the ocean. The forecast predicted a clearing in the afternoon.

So out we sailed using our GPS waypoints to guide us from buoy to buoy in the fog which did not abate. We left Kilkenny Creek around 9 AM and were out in the ocean around 10:30 AM. We were motoring at 7 knots which meant that we'd get to St. Augustine, FL at about 2AM. Yikes! That would never do--we wouldn't be able to see to get in the inlet. So we cut the motor off and put up the sail slowing us down to 3 knots. This worked great and also allowed us to listen out for other boats in the dense fog. The sailing worked until about midnight when the wind died. So we were back to motoring, watching the GPS and straining to see any signs of other boats out there in the fog.

For all we knew, the dense fog would linger into the next day and would keep us from entering St. Augustine. But---yay hooray--as a hint of sunrise appeared in the east, the fog eased off. Then this beautiful pinkish, orange ball of light appeared on the horizon clear and fog-free! Oh-my-gosh, what a wonderful sight. Here are the pictures of this sunrise near St. Augustine. You can see the gentle, windless seas and we could see all the buoys we needed to get into the St. Augustine harbor at around 10 AM--safe and sound! We're not sure what miracles are like, but this seemed like one to us--no fog and lots of warm clear skies. It was like arriving in paradise!

We didn't do much celebrating of our 8th wedding anniversary on Dec. 26th as we sailed through the fog, but the sun rose on a new day and we celebrated everything--our anniversary. our safe arrival & life in general!

St. Augustine is such a festive place with all the nightlife and lights. It has long been one of our favorite towns. Here are some of our favorite spots so far. We, by-the-way, are still here and exploring and enjoying.

These two pictures are us in front of the central park on Kings Street in St. Aug. Lovely, yes?

These two pictures are the his & her pix of St. Augustine's A1-A brewery from which you can see the anchorage where Caribbean Soul rests after its foggy ocean adventure.

On Sunday, December 28, I revisited St. Augustine's historical Episcopal Church--Trinity Church. John and I attended services here a few years ago when we flew down to St. Augustine. The service was the Christmas traditional service of Lessons and Carols! What fun to be in this lovely place singing lots of Christmas carols! John decided to read the Sunday newspapers this time and was waiting out front at the end of the service. He snapped this picture of me--note that I have on my fanciest church clothes. Well-they were clean and no one seemed to mind.

Here's what Christmas looked like in Trinity Episcopal, St. Augustine. Lovely! Made me miss St. Paul's in Beaufort.

This is a British Pub complete with bangers & mash and mushy peas! St. Augustine has such a wonderful mix of cultures. This Pub is located in the Spanish quarter--go figure.
And then we heard that UNC Tar Heels men's basketball team was playing Rutgers Sunday night. We searched around and found a great sports bar right across the street from where we are anchored. Here it is--J.P. Henley's. Go Heels! They beat Rutgers by about 20 points.

Today (Monday, Dec. 29th) we hiked down to the Post Office and got all the mail that Mom forwarded from home. Oh Boy! It was like Christmas all over again as we opened lots of cards and read lots of Christmas newsletters. And our Tucson relatives--Nancy and Tom--sent Christmas gifts. Thanks to you all! Merry Christmas again and again.

Looks like we'll stay here for New Year's Eve and then head down the Florida coast before transiting to the Bahamas. Let us know if there are things you are wondering about and would like to see in our blog. We'll do our best to keep you updated.

Christmas 2008 and Family

Merry Christmas everybody! John and I checked in with family Christmas Eve from Caribbean Soul docked in Savannah and Christmas Day as we cruised down the Savannah River.

These folks are the extended crew of the Caribbean Soul and they are wearing their official hats/visors. Those gathering in Beaufort, NC are Karen Lloyd, Drew Steen, Jean Ferguson, and Finley Lloyd. (Penny's daughter, son-in-law, mother, and son.)

And, gathering in Tennessee are Wilma Schwades, Brandon, Lynn Thompson, and Kelly Thompson. (John's mother, his sister's almost son, his sister, and his nephew.)

We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Love and joy to you all!

Getting to Savannah for Christmas Eve

Days 19 - 22 (December 21 - 24)
Traveling south out of Charleston became difficult as a cold front with major wind gusts rolled in from the north and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) was full of muddy shoals that made some narrow cuts impossible to navigate at low tide. We left Charleston Harbor in the morning of Dec 21 knowing that temperatures were dropping and winds were piping up. Waving to our friends aboard the s/y Antic still anchored in Charleston Harbor, we headed down the ICW. That night we tried to out-smart the severe north winds by anchoring off the Ashpoo River in Mosquito Creek. Well--we were right about the protection from the wind, but we discovered that Mosquito Creek has a huge tide that can drop and rise 6 or 7 feet! We went to bed at dark but woke up around 9PM as the tide dropped and Caribbean Soul settled down in the soft mud. There was nothing to do but wait for the tide to finish going out and cycle back to a higher tide that would float us off the mud. I slept as Caribbean Soul listed more and more to starboard as the tide continued to go out. Capt. John was awake and watchful. Finally at midnight or so, we were floating again, so we got up, pulled on multiple layers of clothes, and crawled out into the freezing cold weather to reset the anchor. My job is to stand at the wheel and move the boat as John directs from the bow. Capt. John's job is to pull up the anchor and reset it in deeper water. We were safe but mighty tired. Whew!! We know this is all part of the adventure, but we were tired and cold!

So on December 22nd we tied up on the dock at Port Royal Landing Marina just south of Beaufort, South Carolina. With dock power, we gave our little propane heater a rest and ran two electric heaters wide open. Yay! It was toasty warm in our little boat. We spent two days at Port Royal spending the first day resting and warming up and the second day downloading ocean charts (John) and doing the laundry (Penny). There was a nice little dockside bar and grill which wasn't exactly Backstreet Pub, but we did get to play some dominoes and chat with folks. Our waitress was from Beaufort, NC and had graduated from East Carteret High School--amazing. Her mom is Ginger Simpson who taught at Beaufort Middle and Beaufort Elementary--small world! The bar tender also laid claim to Beaufort, NC saying that she was born in Morehead and lived in Beaufort as a child.
Here's what a layover day looks like. Nice thick down quilt, a good book and our new stereo system!

On December 24--Christmas Eve--we headed down the ICW toward Savannah. We were aground for a couple of hours in the narrow shoals of Field's Cut. We were on a rising tide so we just waited and ate a good lunch. Capt. John rolled out the jib which helped us tip enough to get unstuck. We were mighty glad to see the Savannah River which is nice and deep. Pictured here is Savannah off in the distance as Caribbean Soul cruises closer.

Savannah waterfront was lovely. We docked here for Christmas Eve and watched the city light up for Christmas.

Then on Christmas Day we decided to spend the day heading south down the ICW again.

Connecting with Friends in Charleston, SC

Days 17 & 18 (December 19 & 20)--anchored in Ashley River, Charleston, SC.

Oh happy day! We found and spent some good times with two couples we know in Charleston. Pictured here are Chris and Vickie Blackwell. Chris is a recruiter for Bulldog Trucking Company for whom John drove a flatbed truck for 2 -1/2 years. The Blackwells helped us shop for some electrical equipment to repair our onboard inverter, then came out to our anchorage in the Ashley River. Vickie and Chris brought the Caribbean Soul a couple of bottles of wine, which the CS was willing to share with all of us. Good time--good friends! Thanks Vickie and Chris.

Then our fellow Tartan 37 sailors--Preston and Chennie Wright--picked us up at the Marina and treated us to an evening of fabulous food, wine and Bahama cruising stories. Unfortunately we don't have pictures of Preston and Chennie, but we'll try to describe well enough that you can "see" this fun time. The Bahama picture of P&C is from their blog--check it out at We first met Preston and Chennie in October 2007 at the dock in Norfolk, VA as we both were traveling south with our newly purchased Tartan 37s. Preston and Chennie lived in Oregon, purchased their beautiful Tartan in New York , and were planning on cruising the Bahamas for 6 months or so.

As it turned out, they had some wonderful adventures in the Bahamas and went home to Oregon only to get a job offer in Charleston, SC.
It was great to see these two after keeping up with them on their blog.
So while dining on wild salmon in their town house on John's Island near Charleston, we got to meet their happy little hotdog dog--Newman--and got a world of cruising advise about Bahama charts, ocean crossings, partying in the Exhumas, etc. We have since purchased the Bahama charts they recommended and are getting eager to get down to Florida so we can cross over to the Bahamas. Thanks Chennie and Preston!

And as Christmas approaches, we did a bit of Christmas card decorating on the boat. We also gave some serious thought about were we'd like to spend Christmas Eve and decided Savannah, Georgia would be good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waiting Out the Fog in Waccamaw River

Here are the pictures for the previous post. The fog was so thick along the Waccamaw River, we had to stop every now and then to wait for a little more visibility.

This is what happens on the ICW when you get unseasonably warm weather rolling in on top of the chilly water. And we were wishing for that warm weather! Yikes! Blame the fog on us!

This is our FREE dock in Southport, NC. No electricity, showers, etc--but a great deal for free!

And here is a local pelican paying us a visit. They have really sharp beaks and toes, so we snapped this quickly and gently ushered the pelican off our dinghy with the boat hook.

Southport was all decorated up for Christmas.

Boats were decorated too.

Dinner aboard Caribbean Soul in Southport, N.C.

This was our only picture of the day of ocean sailing--we were pretty busy reefing sails and leaping up and down in the ocean to take more. It was chilly, but a lovely day to sail. By going outside from Cape Fear Inlet to Little River, we bypassed the infamous shoals of Lockwood's Folly where boats regularly go aground.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Caribbean Soul Has Achieved "southness" (South Carolina).

Today is day 14 of our journey. We have some pictures for you all, but our internet connection is too slow here just off the Waccamaw River. The pictures will be added as soon as we get to a place in the Waterway that is less remote--we are wayyyy out in the boonies!

Since the last posting, the adventure has had some interesting twists and turns--none of which required going back North. Day 11 started by waking early in the freezing Swansboro anchorage and venturing down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) through Camp Lejuene, NC. It was Saturday and the Marines were not practicing their bomb dropping skills along the ICW .(Sometimes they close this section of the ICW for hours at a time!) We ended up anchoring near Surf City at Sloop Point.

Day 12 (Sunday) --We were still in our long underwear and lots of layers of wool, fleece, and polypro----Brrrr. We got to the town of Southport, NC in the afternoon. Locals helped us find a boat slip. The deal was that transients (that's us) could dock over night for free if you purchased a meal. The restaurant, however, was closed for the season, so it was just free. We took the dinghy over to the brand new Southport Marina for showers. And that ended up being free too! We love Southport. When the pictures are added here, you can see some of the sights in Southport, NC--boats decorated for Christmas, a Christmas/candy store, and a great big ol' pelican checking out our dinghy.

Day13 (Monday)--We decided to let the Caribbean Soul go sailing in the ocean. We left from the mouth of the Cape Fear River and sailed for 5 hours to the Little River Inlet in South Carolina. The weather on the ocean was windy in spots, so Capt. John crawled out on deck to put a reef in the mainsail. Caribbean Soul is always a happy boat, but it seems almost giddy out there in the ocean waves--happy, happy boat!

Day 14 ---We slept in and didn't get up until 8 AM. It was an easy and interesting trip down the ICW. John says it's his favorite part of the ICW. It goes through Myrtle Beach where you can ogle all the mansions and golf courses. Then the ICW turns into the Waccamaw River which is lined with cypus trees and lots of Spanish moss. Every twist and turn brings a new sight. One area had trees full of vultures--2o or more! Nearby the ospreys had taken over a day marker with a nest built so huge it hung over the sides and made reading the marker impossible.

Tonight we are anchored just off the Waccamaw River on Thoroughfare Creek. This area is so remote we didn't expect to see anyone here, but as we rounded the last curve in the creek we spied another boat anchored. Its occupants came by and invited us over. Great folks from London, England. The boat--Corbin 39--was lovely--lots of living space. They've lived aboard for the last 4 years and are heading to Cuba and other spots south. We hope to see them again.

And finally, this is the first night we have not had to run our little propane heater. Ahhh--the promise of warmer weather as we continue to achieve "southness."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Going North to Get South

What in the world is going on with Penny & John? Where are the blog posts? Did they fall off the earth or get swallowed by a sea monster? Feel free to enhance this tale anyway you wish, but here are the basics: On Day One, we sailed out of Beaufort in freezing weather and anchored 25 miles away in Swansboro--we really seemed to be on our way south! Day Two we woke before dawn (brrrrr), weighed anchor, and headed out into the channel where we promptly ran aground because our depth gauge quit. After trying to motor out of the sand, we called TowBoat US and a jolly fellow zipped right over and pulled us off. He said it happens all the time, but we felt that not having a dependable depth gauge would just bring more jolly TowBoat fellows. Trying to be smart sailors. we anchored to think this over. John called a local marine electrician and dinghyed him out to the boat. When he determined that the transducer was fouled below the water we decided the best option was to call Jarrett Bay Boatyard (back home in Carteret County) and make arrangements to have Caribbean Soul hauled out. Yikes! We hated the idea of going back north, but hey, sometimes ya have to go north to get south!

Now we are on Day Three or Four--who's counting? When Caribbean Soul came out of the water--oh-my-gosh! It looked like a giant chia pet with woolly shag growth all over our hull. The bottom paint had failed completely. What a shock. We had just painted that bottom in August. Pressure washing cleaned off all the growth except for under the lifting straps. The strip of growth we hand scrapped is pictured here.

For you fellow boaters, the bottom paint was Pettit's Hydrocoat. The Pettit dealer said is was just a bad batch of paint. He paid our expenses and sent us two gallons of a better batch. We did the painting out at the boatyard and slept in our own bed in Beaufort during this time. Our neighbors Patti and Alan Frank thought they were seeing things when we arrived back at our house. They bolstered our spirits with hot tea and blackberry brandy--thanks. And we had the very best land support a sailor could ever have--Mom (Jean Ferguson). She dropped everything and drove out to the boat yard, lent us her car until we got ours out of storage, and hauled us back out to the boat when it was time to go again. Thanks Mom/Jean!

On Day Eight of our adventure, we got Caribbean Soul back in the water. The plan was to motor/sail swiftly (shiny new bottom paint, ya know) down to Swansboro again, but the weirdness continued. It was rainy and overcast, but we had on our foul weather gear and were having fun. Then, at the port in Morehead City, the fog settled in around us. It was so thick we could see nothing in front and were losing visibility behind us by the minute. The only option was to turn around quickly and head for any dock along the Morehead Waterfront. Well, we could have continued and gotten acquainted with some more jolly rescue guys, but stopping seemed like a better idea. When the fog didn't lift, we knew we would not make it to Swansboro and with a big windstorm approaching (40 knot winds) a boat slip seemed to be a good place to be. Denard Harris at Portside Marina in Morehead City was most helpful. He found a nice big dock slip for us, helped secure the boat and we settled in to shelter from the storm. Joe and Sue Kreuser who live nearby fed us pizza (thanks guys!) and we weathered a night of serious rocking and rolling at the dock. We were up most of the night--John adding lines and monitoring things outside --me pacing around inside being helpful by not throwing up. In the morning the sports fisherman in the slip next to us said he was watching a video of Perfect Storm all night--funny guy.

Today is Day Ten (December 12th). We said goodbye to Denard and the nice folks at Portside Marina in Morehead City and headed toward Swansboro again. It was cold and overcast, but the skies clears and we rolled out the jib for a nice stretch of motor sailing along Bogue Sound. That shiny new bottom paint definitely increased our speed. We made it to Swansboro in about four hours passing another sailboat along the way. Tonight is getting chilly--we've got to keep going in the right direction--rumor has it that there is warmer weather south of here. We really do want to go south to get south. It's been a little like one-step-forward-two-steps back, but we signed on for an adventure and we're having a great time! Stay tuned.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, Dec. 3rd Leaving Beaufort

Well, we're off. It is 8 AM and a frosty 34 degrees! Decks were icy but that ol' engine cranked right up.

Mom and Sallie Lee see us off as we release the Caribbean Soul from her Taylor's Creek mooring.

The camera crew (Mom) snaps us as we motor West past the Beaufort Docks. It's a strange thing that you must go west to go south--but you do. Thanks Mom for emailing us the pictures.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in Beaufort

This is our Thanksgiving family picture aboard the Caribbean Soul. In the picture are Gladys Weaver (my kids other grandmother), Jean Ferguson (my mom), Finley (my son), John and me.
The grandmothers' combined age is 180! Wow! These ladies can really get around! We had a nice sail down Taylors Creek and back. Now the boat is really ready to head south to warmer weather.

Part of our final preparations was to hoist John up the mast to untangle a flag halyard. We needed to wait until Finley got here because I'm not strong enough to crank the winch. My job was to "tail" the line while Finley cranked. John's trip up the mast was so successful, we hoisted him again with the camera. Here Fin and I are hanging out on the deck while John's aloft.

And, take a look at this thirty year old boat! Yea! Caribbean Soul! She's a good ol' boat! Look sharp and you can see John's tennis shoes on the left.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Still Getting Ready to Go!

So John is changing the oil--yuck! When I took this picture I instantly rolled up the oriental rug. It's just a cheapo thing, but oil is oil. Most of the preparation is messy business.

So, while John changes the oil, I try to pack up all the supplies. Wow-what a job. But if you don't stow all this stuff, you have no place to sit or sleep.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. We will celebrate with family and then probably head out on Monday or Tuesday. Hope the boat still floats after all this provisioning!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11, 2008

So here's how it's going. John is hooking up the satellite stuff and I'm making things pretty--painting the boat name on the ring buoy and sanding/varnishing lots of teak. We've ordered a new 2008 cruising guide for the Bahamas and a third GPS just in case something happens to the first two. Guess it's important to know where you are and where you are going!
--Installing in small places.

My art work on buoy.


Satellite in nav. table.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Caribbean Soul before she gets loaded up for the trip to the Bahamas.

Me and the propane grill--hope to catch some good grillin' fish.

Caribbean Soul waiting patiently in Taylors Creek.

Here are some pics of the interior before we load it up with stuff.

Navigation station--from which we hope to post blogs for you. We're still planning on leaving Beaufort in the first good weather window after Thanksgiving. Our route to Florida isn't set yet--it will depend on the weather. It will probably be a combination of "outside" ocean sailing and "inside" intercoastal waterway motoring. Then from Florida, we'll wait for good weather in January to sail over to the Bahamas.