Flat Stanley comes to visit! My nephew, Harrison Ayer, is a 1st grade student at Fruit Street Elementary School in Bangor, Maine. He called and asked if his Flat Stanley could come for a visit. Stanley visited the Turtle Hospital in Marathon and even sailed to the Miami Boat Show. He had lots of adventures aboard L'ATTITUDE IX to tell Harrison and his class about!
This blog is for our family and friends, especially for Nathan, Maddison and Izabella,
who are always fascinated with our sailing adventures. And for our children, Tony & Amy, Billy & Erin, Emily & Ryan, Will, Phil and Matt. Hopefully you'll be able to join us along the way. Love to all!
August 28, 2014
David and I take one last look at our empty Montreal apartment. We're one step closer to "being on the boat". With everything in a U-Haul, we head to Maine and soon to be our new storage locker. Take a look at the painting on the U-Haul we rented… A Viking sailboat! As David said, "It's a sign from the Gods". It must be… I left my corporate job in aviation to "live the dream".
October 4, 2014
We head back to the boat at Tracy's Landing. This will be my first visit to this beautiful Marina. It was a nine-hour drive from southern Maine. We arrived just before dusk. I took a photo just as we pulled in. (left) It's a spectacular welcoming site. Here we returned to L'Attitude. The marina was solid, with lots of amenities that made staying there a pleasure. This is where we called home base until October 25th, our official departure date.
October 9 - 13, 2014
Annapolis Boat Show - A must see for anyone who enjoys boating. Sailboat show one week followed by the Powerboat show the next.
At the sailboat show we attended a number of seminars pertaining to sailing the ICW (Intracoastal Waterways). The ICW is a 3,000-mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. It provides a navigable route for boaters without many of the hazards of traveling on the open sea. Since I was very comfortable sailing in Lake Champlain, this adventure down the ICW was a much better option for sailing south than heading out into the Atlantic in November.
There we met up with likeminded sailors from around the world. While at one of the all day seminars sponsored by Sailing Magazine, we decided to sign up for a sailor's rally from mile one of the ICW in Norfolk, VA to Miami, Florida. Nothing like being spontaneous! Actually, we will be traveling the ICW for the first time along with 19 other sailboats. Since David and I are both working from the boat, it made sense for us to be part of a group being led by some of the most knowledgable and respected sailors in the industry: Wally Moran, Mark Doyle and Tom Hale.
October 25, 2014 - And we're off!
We left Tracy's Landing at 9 o'clock in the morning. That was a little later than we had hoped however, we wanted to leave with full tank of fuel and regrettably, the fuel docks were not open until 9am. The weather was beautiful. The forecast for winds was 10 knots. We were so grateful for the warm sunshine and the wind at our back. The temperature was forecast to be in the low 70's; that was fine for us. The water temperature was 62 degrees. All is great.
We were warned by other sailors at the marina to be careful of the crab traps in the bay. We did not realize how many traps there were! At first I was a bit nervous and worried about getting caught in the traps. (See the photos on the left) The traps were indicated with a bouy that was sometimes difficult to spot in the waves. ( A buoy is an anchored float serving as a navigation mark to show hazards, for moorings or in this case, crab fish traps.) Luckily, we made it without an encounter with the lines attached to those traps.
We were running out of sunshine so decided to call it a day of sailing and go into Solomon Islands in Maryland. We traveled 43 nautical miles today. The marina we were at was good and the docks very solid.
October 26, 2014
We left the dock at sunrise in hopes to get as close to our destination as possible; Hampton, Virginia. There, we will be a part of a rally of 20 boats that will travel from Hampton, Virginia to Miami, Florida on what will be a six-week adventure sail down the ICW. (Intracoastal Waterway)
On our sail today, we traveled 42 nautical miles. During our trip today, we sailed past two lighthouses in the Chesapeake Bay, lots of cargo ships, a battleship, and a huge barge of sand. ( A barge is a flat bottom boat for carrying freight, under its own power or by another such a tug boat.) We also sailed right by three fishing weirs that were pretty interesting. In the photos to the left, you'll see all of the small wooden posts or sticks coming out of the water with birds flying above. The boat in that photo got a little too close and had to maneuver in between two of the weirs. (A fishing weir is an obstruction placed in tidal waters to direct the passage of fish. A weir can be used to trap salmon or other fish when they attempt to swim upstream.)
The winds picked up substantially and we quickly took the sails down. The weather conditions didn't seem as if it was going to improve. We decided to come into port in a small fishing area called Reedville, Maryland. Interesting note about where we docked: The town was named after Elijah Reed, a fisherman from Maine who moved his menhaden fishing operation in 1874 to the Chesapeake Bay. The product they produce from this fish is something many of use in our lives everyday; one being fish oil. They had a fleet of eight boats we could see from where we were docked. The photos on the left show the boats they use and the factory at sunrise.
We spent the rest of the afternoon hosing down and cleaning the boat. This was our first experience with salt water spray. Internet access was somewhat limited so we retired early and planned to depart just before sunrise. This was an interesting and a good educational experience for us in more ways than one. Weather forecast for the 27th is good… awesome!
October 27, 2014
We were up early again and headed out just before sunrise. The weather was simply beautiful with virtually no wind. It was a good day for me to refresh my sailing skills.
Saw another lighthouse along the way. Wolf Trap Light. See the link attached to the photo.
The charts we use on the boat are very helpful and we found there were many new signs, symbols and restricted areas we did not see while sailing in Lake Champlain. There were areas designated as fishing areas. There were secured areas we were not to sail in. We were careful about paying close attention to reading the charts. So many new experiences for us… what an adventure this is going to be!
As we were sailing to Hampton, very close by the naval bases in Virginia, we heard the sheer thunder of jet fighters fly over. It was amazing. I tried to get some photos but they were too fast for me. We also saw navy helicopters and more battleships. Seeing all this made us appreciate and realize the magnitude of our nations armed forces. (Reminded me of Uncle Herman who served in the army as a Military Police. RIP my dear brother!)
Arriving to Hampton was great. We sailed right by Norfolk Navy Base and saw some pretty big ships. The place we are staying at is actually right downtown. We can walk to restaurants, stores and lots more. We will be here until Saturday morning. I plan to visit the town and learn about the history of Hampton, VA. Captain John Smith was one of the early settlers here in the 1600's. Looking forward to exploring this beautiful city.
November 8, 2014 - New Burn, North Carolina
The trip down this past seven days has been amazing. We left Virginia on November1st at 7:15 am. The storm that brought so much snow to Maine, brought us in Virginia, heavy winds and coastal flooding in the area. We left the docks with the following boats: Tadhana, Adagio, Love and Luck, Wind Dancer and Ryajen. We sailed past the naval shipyard which was amazing. We sailed past some very large cargo ships. We were traveling at approximately 6.7 knots and we needed to keep up this pace in order to get to our first destination somewhere in the Dismal Swamp. Wind Dancer fell back and joined the other boats who left a little later than us. They traveled at a slower speed and the rally team quickly separated into groups determined by boat speed.
We came to the first lift bridge on our ICW Rally trip, communicated with the bridge master on channel 13 and requested an opening. Just after the bridge passing, Love and Luck, directly behind us, lost his prop and had to drop anchor. They called for TOW BOAT US to tow them into a nearby marina where they were safe. The rest of the boats continued down into the Dismal Swam, a very narrow canal, where we had been warned about staying in the middle of the channel. We went past the Welcome Center in the Dismal Swamp where 3 boats (not part of our rally) were tied up to the free docks. Our group of boats continued on to South Mills Lock Bulkhead at ICW mm 32.6. We, along with Adagio, Tadhana and Semi-Local tied up for the next 2 nights here. Rumour of the chocolate chip cookies I made for David spread fast amongst our group… it was a yummy treat for all. All the other boats, rafted to the 3 boats at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center. (See photo on left) When I saw the boats rafted together, I must admit, I was extremely grateful for having one of the fast boats in the group. From where we were tied up on the South Mills bulkhead, we were able to walk over to a small convenience store and had some awesome local fried chicken. Yummy.
The history of this area and the Great Dismal was very educational and dates back to George Washington. Read all about it: www.dismal.swamp.ncparks.gov.
On November 3, 3014, (Happy Birthday to my David) we all safely made it through the Dismal Swamp and spent the night in Elizabeth City, NC - ICW mile marker 51.3. I had arranged to have a birthday cake for David with the organizers of an upcoming event at this location. The city tourist group organized a welcome event for our group on the 3rd. What a perfect opportunity to surprise David with cake and ice-cream. Both the mayor and former mayor of Elizabeth City, along with other city leaders, came out to welcome us to Elizabeth City. David was surprised with a cake and ice-cream and when the mayors of Elizabeth City, along with everyone in our group sang him Happy Birthday. Although we arranged to stay at Pelican Marina, I would recommend docking at the free docks in Elizabeth City. The accommodations at the free docks seemed to be very nice while the marina was a bit outdated. Following the welcome from the fine folks in Elizabeth City, we went out to dinner with Warren and Ernie (Adagio). I'll have to write about the "sweet potato pie" story later… but we laughed so hard and had the entire restaurant laughing with us. This evening was turning out to be a night we'll never forget and will laugh about for years to come.
November 13, 2014 - Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
We have completed about one third of the trip to Miami, Florida. Its been very busy for us since we left Virginia. We have met some amazing people who are part of this rally. People who we now will call friends for life. Most of our free time has been spent with Warren and Ernie who are sailing their Catalina 42, ADAGIO.
Every night, we plan our trip for the following day. We go over rising tides, low tides, trouble areas, destination, weather, sunrise and sunset. When we're able to spend two or more days, we try to do laundry, shopping, cleaning the boat and fix anything that comes up.
Our inverter fuse blew so we had to overnight two fuses to Spooners Creek Marina and replaced that. Our head (toilet) needed a new joker - David had that part aboard. Our engine had a brief water intake issue that was resolved in a few minutes. We're making out very well compared to some of our fellow rally group. One boat in the rally lost their prop, one boat had serious engine issues, and yesterday, one of our rally team aboard AKULA lost their brand new anchor at ICW mm 244.4 - Mile Hammock Bay Anchorage. David went out to help find it but they were unsuccessful in locating it. Note to self: If this every happens to us, hit the MOB (man over board) locator. We'd have a better shot at recovering a lost anchor if we can remember to do that.
We've seen a few boats run aground in the past few days. The channels are narrow and there are many trouble spots to watch out for. Our friends on "Luck and Love" ran aground yesterday afternoon. They only arrived to our destination around 11pm last night. Most everyone else on the rally arrived by 2pm.
In the photos on the left, there are some of the highlights of our journey these past few days. I must say, there's so much more to share with you about this adventure but I've posted just of a few of the highlights for now. About the photo of the bird on board; While waiting for a swing bridge to open, much to our surprise, this white dove flew into our cockpit. We weren't really sure what to think… this was a first for us. He stayed onboard for several minutes in spite of trying to shoo him away. After about 5 minutes onboard, he flew off to the boat behind us. David hailed out on the VHF radio about the bird who came to visit. The bird, named "Sam", actually belonged to a boat, about 5 boats back from us. Apparently, Sam had flown away 3 days ago while they were at anchor somewhere on the ICW. It turns out that Sam had flown onto their boat last December when they were in Miami and stayed aboard with them. They have been sailing with Sam since. After Sam left our boat, he flew from boat to boat who were awaiting the bridge opening until finally, he found his home. The owner of Sam came on the VHF radio to tell everyone about Sam's story and how happy he was to have him onboard again.
Time for dinner. Love to all!
November 14, 2014
Southport, North Carolina - We departed at 6:30 this morning from our anchorage. It was cold this morning… no snow but it was cold. It was warm on our boat however… thanks to our Epson diesel heater. It was overcast and cold. In spite of the weather, we are able to stay dry and warm with the full enclosure on L'Attitude.
Mark advised us of a special is class on weather this evening then we're planning to go out to dinner in Southport at the Fishy Fishy restaurant. The weather class was presented by Hank Pomeranz. It was very informative and the class was much appreciated. Lots to learn about sailing the ICW, bridges, tides, currents, shoaling and possible obstructions we may encounter along the way.
The thing I worry about most is going aground hard. With a 5'6'' draft, there will be areas along the way, that we will only be able to go thru at high tide. Planning is key.
Sunday morning, we plan to depart early and travel 60 nautical miles to our next destination, Osprey Marina in South Carolina. There are 10 bridges on this section of our trip. Most bridges have a 65 foot clearance (L'Attitude needs 58 feet to safely pass under a fixed bridge). Of those 10 bridges, 3 are swing bridges that open on demand and 1 bascule bridge (seaboard coast line RR bridge). Our guidebook (On The Water ChartGuides by Mark and Diana Doyle) says it is usually open. We'll see when we get to ICW mile marker 365.4.
Running to town for groceries. One of the local residents offered to lend us his golf cart. Feeling like I may have to apply for AARP soon. Bahahaha…
November 18, 2014
It has been a very busy week. The weather since we left on November 1st has gotten COLDER the further south we go! My grandson Nathan sent me a weather report from Maine on November 17th saying "In Maine it was snowing snowballs". On the 19th when we left at the crack of dawn, there was ice on our lines, on our boat deck and our enclose was completely frozen over. We had to scrape ice from the plastic to see where we were going. It was COLD!
Our plan for the day was to travel 64 miles from Southport to reach our next destination… in South Carolina. Finally! We made out okay with the bridges and only had to wait 20 minutes for one opening. The North and South Carolina boarder is at ICW mile marker 340. What a welcome sign that was. There was lots to see on this section of the ICW. The photos to the left, tell a bit of our adventure on this part of our journey.
Mile marker 349.9 was the dreaded "Rock Pile" area we were warned about. Certainly, we had to pay very close attention and stay in the center of the channel in the area. Running aground on sand is one thing… but rocks are unforgiving. We traveled through this area at a dropping tide or ebb tide in nautical terms. (An ebb tide is the period between a high tide and a low tide which water flows away from the shore. The receding or outgoing tide.) Some of the photos I've posted indicate how close we were to some of the exposed rocks.
There were lots of marinas along this section of the ICW. We also saw a marina with vertical storage, (cool), went by a golf course, saw a large casino boat, a riverboat, a convenient gas dock on the ICW, an abandonded shrimp boat, lots of birds and countless beautiful homes on the ICW.
We spent the few next days docked at the Osprey Marina, in South Carolina, where we had ICW sessions on the upcoming trouble spots (mainly low water and shoaling) and shared an awesome potluck dinner with our Snow Bird Rally friends. For my dish, I made a family favorite , chinese macaroni salad and peanut butter fudge for dessert… yummy! Everyone had a great time.
At the conclusion of our fabulous dinner together, a very generous donation was made byMantus Anchor. www.mantusanchors.com They donated a brand new anchor to the Sail Magazine Snow Bird Rally group for a random draw. The winner of the MANTUS Anchor was Wendall who sails VIRGINIA. Wendell, a true class act… donated the newly acquired Mantus Anchor, to Ron and Cindy on AKULA who lost their anchor at Mile Hammock Bay Anchorage! Way to pay it forward Wendell. This is an amazing group of people on Sail Magazine's first ever Snow Bird Rally!
November 19, 2014
It was COLD this morning but we had a long trip to make. We travelled from mile marker 373.3 and stop at mile marker 456.8 to our next destination - Isle of Palms Marina in South Carolina. Since L'ATTITUDE is one of the faster sailboats in the fleet, this was possible for us accomplish this feat in today's daylight.
You can see from the pictures on the left, it was COLD. Did I say it was COLD? Nathan, we may not have had snowballs but we had ICE! We had 83.5 miles to travel so we were very happy when the sun to come out and warmed us up a bit. Even with our full enclosure, it took a couple hours for our boat and us to warm up.
Today was the most challenging day for us on this trip thus far. We touched bottom or ran aground 3 times. We were able to get free each time within a minute so perhaps that doesn't truly account for "running aground". On a positive note, while I was at the helm, I navigated under my very first solo bridge, the Lafayette Bridge, at ICW mile marker 401.1! Hooray!
At mile marker 440.5, we ran into a sandbar, hard. I was cooking at the time. No damage, no one hurt and we were out within a minute. The two boats following us decided to pull off to anchor at Price Creek Anchorage (ICW mile marker 448.2) but we decided to push on. We arrived at the Isle of Palms Marina (ICW mile marker 456.8) just before sunset where I took one of the best photos of our trip.
Dinner, another episode of Scandal and sleep. I do believe we officially go to bed before our grandchildren! We have an early morning departure and must make the 9am Ben Sawyer Bridge opening. This was one of the "trouble spots" we had to contend with. With a dropping tide, making this opening was crucial. The next morning, as we approached the Ben Sawyer Bridge, we were the last in the line of about 8 boats awaiting the opening. We definitely were touching bottom, or as David and I said, dredging the ICW as pushed to make the opening.
November 23, 2014
Change of plans due to weather. We left Charleston, South Carolina earlier than scheduled for Beaufort, South Carolina to avoid the heavy rain, wind and possible thunder storms forecast for the weekend. Regrettably, we were not able to visit this beautiful city. We will try to visit on our way back north.
We settled in safely and looked forward to the layover at ICW mile marker 536.3-Downtown Marina of Beaufort, South Carolina.
What an amazing town. The Chamber of Commerce, city officials and sailing association hosted our group at a local waterfront restaurant on Monday evening. We were treated to local foods, great wines, local musicians and the wonderful folks from Beaufort, SC who came to meet us. They arranged to have the local members of the yachting association, be a sponsor for each boat and offered us rides to the grocery stores or help us find the services we needed while in their town. It was an incredible evening.
It was apparent the city mayor and council were committed to developing the Beaufort waterfront. The waterfront is simply phenomenal. It is clean and adorned with swinging benches overlooking the water. Ivy covered the posts surrounding the swings. It truly is a well designed economic benefit to Beaufort. No surprise to me, the city is a Main Street Program participant. Well done!
The weather never improved during our stay in Beaufort. It rained a lot and it was cold. We figured it couldn't get worse but we had Thanksgiving dinner was coming up and had that to look forward to. YUMMY. A fried turkey dinner was planned for us in Beaufort. In spite of the weather, we all had lots to be grateful for.
I was asked to organize the Thanksgiving menu for our fellow Snow Bird team. David and I contributed mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls and butter. Food at this event was plentiful and it was special to share Thanksgiving with approximately 80 sailors from around the world. We met a couple that were rafted with our rally team in the Dismal Swamp who sailed from England! They have been sailing the world for the past 3 years. We exchanged business cards with hopes to catch up again somewhere in water world.
November 28, 2014
After 6 days, we were ready to continue on our way south. (Please let there be warmth was part of our daily prayers!) Four boats of our Snow Bird team chose to head out to the Atlantic for an overnight trip directly to Fernandina Beach, Florida. They left in the afternoon of the 28th, sailed all night and arrived by 8:30 am in Florida on the 29th. We decided we'd pass on the overnight sail and head down the intracoastal to our next destination, Savannah's Bend Marina. It was a short day but we had gone through several "caution areas" and arrived at the marina at 12:30. We all helped one another get into their slips safely and decided to take advantage of the BBQ grill available to us and held a pot luck dinner at 5:00. The Savannah Bend Marina is located directly across from the Hinckley Yacht Services. There were some pretty impressive boats docked at that marina. The Rally team boats at the marina included: Semi-Local, Tadhana, Adagio, Adventure, Sea Horse, Wind Dancer, Gypsy Wind and L'Attitude.
I made scalloped potatoes, baked bread and green beans with almonds for the potluck dinner. David put a couple steaks on the grill. Although the weather was rather chilly, we enjoyed an amazing meal together with our sailing friends on the deck before retiring to our boats for the evening. If I haven't mentioned it yet… the dinners on our trip have been phenomenal! It's cold, again. Heater on and early to bed.
November 29, 2014
We woke up to icy docks and cold weather again but we're headed south. The boat that pulled in during the evening and docked next to us, was a couple from Scarborough, Maine. It was their first time down the ICW as well. Their boat was named Egg's Nest.
David learned he had to fly to Sophia, Bulgaria for a company partner's meeting. We looked at our options for where was the best place for me stay while David was away. Given our location, we decided we'd try to get to St. Augustine where we could dock at the downtown marina for a week while he was traveling. Since I had lived there before, I felt very comfortable about spending some time alone on the boat in a familiar area, to await the arrival of the rest of the team who were scheduled to arrive on the 5th. We were at ICW mile marker 582 and St. Augustine is at ICW mile marker 777. Our goal was to arrive in St. Augustine on the 1st of December, have the 2nd to do laundry and settle in before David flies out on the morning of the 3rd.
The fleet, minus Sea Horse and Gypsy Wind, depart early. We all depart at that magical time - slack tide. Love and Luck, who docked at another marina, joined our caravan as we headed to Wahoo Island Anchorage at ICW mile marker 630. This part of the trip had several caution areas including one particular place everyone warned us about; mile marker 601.4 - 602.2 - "Hell's Gate"! Click here. Just the name had me a bit concerned. Not David however. He approached these caution areas informed and with a "let's do it" attitude. He was right. He'd always tell me, "Babe, there are at least 50 boats that go through here everyday." And my favorite "Babe, no one has ever died going down the ICW". He was right… again.
We arrived at Hell's Gate with about 4-1/2 feet of tide in our favor. Several boats along with our fleet, circled around for about 20 minutes. Wind Dancer took the lead with a 4'6" draft followed by Adagio with a 5' draft and then L'Attitude - 5'6" draft. The currents were strong and as predicted, the boats were going sideways. Everyone gave a bit more gas and we all made it through without any problems. Thankfully. We had a wonderful sunset and a peaceful night at anchor. Rag Top joined us at our anchorage. Funny story: Stan on Adventure phones Steve on Wind Dancer "Hey man, where are you," asks Stan.
"On my boat," replies Steve.
"Dude," Stan said. "You're boat's gone!!!"
Turns out Steve dragged 3 times that night earning the title of "Drag Queen"! What an adventure! Tomorrow morning, L'Attitude and Adagio are planning yet another adventure. The Atlantic Ocean!!!
November 30, 2014
When the sun just barely shed enough light on the morning, 2 boats, L'Attitiude and Adagio were going out into the Atlantic Ocean. Doing so was the way to ensure we arrived in St. Augustine in time for David's departure.
There was a little fog when we left in the morning but not enough to obstruct our vision. There were numerous crab traps along the way but thankfully, they were pretty well out of the channel. The sunrise was beautiful and it was exciting to be be going out into the ocean for the first time. We went back and fourth as to whether or not we should go out, after all this is the ICW rally. In the end, it made the most sense for us to take this opportunity to arrive to our St. Augustine destination on time.
We traveled from ICW mile marker 630 to mile marker 730.5 today. This would not have been possible if we had done that on the ICW. There was barely any wind for sailing but that wasn't such a bad thing since the seas were smooth. We went out approximately 4 miles off shore. We saw so many jelly fish along the way on our trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida. Since there was still a few hours of daylight, we decided to keep going while our friends on Adagio met up with the rest of the rally group at the Fernandina Harbour Marina. We finally arrived to Florida and it felt as though our world just got a lot warmer.
December 1, 2014 - St. Augustine, FL
If ever anyone has to stay put for awhile, St. Augustine is an enjoyable destination for young and old. The weather forecast was supposed to be 72 and sunny the entire week, however, that is not at all what it ended up being. Nonetheless, it was lots of fun. Regrettably David didn't get to see very much of this historic city… guess we'll have to plan a stop in on the way back.
The city is rich with history. The city fathers have done an outstanding job preserving its history, buildings, cobble stone streets and reenacting their old traditions. St. Augustine (Spanish: San Agustín) is a city in Northeast Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. San Agustín was founded in September of 1565 by Spanish admiral and Florida's first governor, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. It served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years. St. Augustine remained the capital of East Florida when the territory briefly changed hands between the Spain and Britain, and it remained the capital of the Florida Territory until it was moved to Tallahassee in 1824.
We arrived in the late afternoon to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. They had upgraded the facility and made major renovations to the facility since I lived there years ago. It had solid docks and great facilities for boaters. Solid docks, clean showers and ample laundry facilities are always a treat. We had all three at this facility. And, we could basically walk to anywhere we needed to be. It was nice to be back in the city.
Upon arrival to the marina, we were quite surprised by the loud crackling sound coming from the hull of our boat. It was rather loud. It was the first experience we had with the snapping shrimp. Click on the link to hear what they sound like. They say they are actually eating any marine vegetation from the bottom of the boat. These tiny 1 inch crustacean exist in the shallow waters of sub tropical seas. They have two claws, one larger than the other.
Tuesday was busy for us. David was leaving on Wednesday at 8:30 am headed to the Jacksonville airport. (JAX) If anyone ever was thinking of visiting Florida, fly into JAX, rent a car and go! Although, I must say, seeing the state via the ICW is pretty amazing and this adventure should be had by every water world enthusiast.
The weather was not what it was predicted to be. Severe fog rolled in on Wednesday, Thursday was sunny, the fog returned on Friday and we had an unexpected nor'easter blow in on Saturday and Sunday. Some of our team members were not able to get out to their boats at mooring. That delayed the group's departure from St. Augustine by a day. Since David only returned at midnight on Monday, and we weren't planning on leaving until mid afternoon on Tuesday, we weren't going to be too far behind the rally team.
We left the dock in St. Augustine around 2pm on Tuesday, December 9th. . It was good to be underway again. Our destination was Marineland just outside St. Augustine. Just before arriving, we were pulled over by a US Customs boat. They pulled their boat next to ours and asked us for our cruising permit and our passports. As they were verifying our information, one of the officers asked me where in the US I was from. When I told him Maine, he asked me if I knew where Munjoy Hill was? That's where he was born and raised. What a small world!
Across the street from our marina was Marineland where they promote a swim with the dolphins adventure. Regrettably they were closed when we arrived at Marineland Marina but we walked out to the ocean before the sun went down. Ragtop, one of our rally team boats, had also pulled into that marina for the night.
December 10, 2014
Happy Birthday EMILY!!! My daughter turned 26 years old today. We called early this morning and sang Happy Birthday for her.
David chartered out the day and hoped to make it to Titusville, FL. There were lots of bridges to contend with and a few trouble spots along this stretch of the ICW. At G21, there was very shallow water so we stayed close to the greens. Throughout that portion of the ICW, we were extremely close to some of the homes. Some of the homes we passed were built right up on the water. Now that was special.
We saw two sunken boats today. And in a pretty narrow channel, we had to share our space with a rather large tug and barge. The old barn on the water was an interesting boat garage! The other caution area was at G65 where for the next 5.4 miles, the speed limit was 5mph (4.7 knots) and the speed limit in this area was strictly enforced. It was a welcome sign when we saw ICW marker G9A and were able to pick up our speed again.
We were running out of anchor spots in this area and the sun was going down. With no sunlight left, we arrived at the NASA RR Bridge, a 7 foot vertical bridge that usually is open however, it lowers automatically 8 minutes after the red lights start flashing. The anchorage is on the other side of the opening. We were able to tuck into a great anchorage spot for the night at just past 6pm. We left St. Augustine at 2pm on Monday mile marker 777 and we anchored tonight in Titusville at mile marker 877! Well done L'Attitude.
December 11, 2014
We had several bridges to contend with again today. A first for us… one bridge, the NASA Causeway Bridge, was a double bascule bridge. The south side was being repaired therefore, they were only opened one side of the bridge.
On this portion of the trip, we went past many scattered little islands along the ICW. Some of the little islands had homes on them. There was lots of boat traffic in this area in a pretty narrow channel. In some of the photos, you could see sandbars very close to the channel. Since I was at the helm for a good part of the day, I was sure to hug the reds and hoped to avoid the sandbars.
We were finally able to put the sail up today for a good part of our trip. As we approached Vero Beach, we went past some very nice homes… some of which had very nice boats in their "driveway".
We arrive at Vero Beach City Marina at 4:30. We were told there was no more room for us and asked to raft up with another boat. By the time we got to the gas docks and filled up our 30 gallons of fuel, they had found an open slip for us. That was great! We were assigned slip 23… this was the the third time in a row we had slip #23. Hmmmm... bought a lottery ticket when I got to the store!
David was coming down with flue like symptoms and turned in early. Turns out, he did not get out of bed on Friday… and even refused dinner. Not good. I kept busy and got the laundry done and went to PUBLIX to stock up on everything. We're planning on some long days on the water for the last leg of our journey so it was a good time to stock up.
Saturday morning was our last official ICW briefing. The final rally event was changed to the 20th at Coconut Grove. We arranged to fly to Maine for the holidays on the 21st.
It's weird to imagine having completed this journey without our rally team. Somehow, I think we'll all be connected for years to come and will plan more sailing adventures together in the future. Some of our team members have departed from the rally: Turning Point, AdventEure and Wind Dancer. All were greatly missed at our last meeting and around the docks along the way. David felt good enough to go to the briefing but rather than leave in the early afternoon as previously planned, we decided it was best to stay put another day. We now planned to leave early in the morning.
December 14, 2014
Back out to the Atlantic ocean again today. The seas were forecast to be calm today. We exited the ICW at the Ft. Pierce inlet. Exiting a cut can be a bit challenging with lots of boat traffic. And there was one, big fishing boat who left a wake behind him that had us rocking and rolling so, I secretly wished they didn't catch a thing. Bahahaha.
Surprisingly, we were only about 1 nautical mile to land the entire time we were on the Atlantic. That was pretty nice. The water color was amazingly beautiful. The weather was perfect. On this part of our trip to West Palm, we noticed lots of grass on the water. Also, I am not sure what they were, but there were tiny birds that skimmed the water… or maybe they were big bugs… who knows? The water color varied greatly from time to time. Some of the photos captured the distinct differences.
We didn't see any dolphin at all today but we did have a big fish jump behind us. It was nice to see West Palm from the water. Coming into the inlet, there was lots of boat traffic, as expected. We found a marina close by to fill up on diesel fuel. The water was so clear… it was the first time I could see fish in the water. This marina was full of large fishing boats, mostly charter boats. In the 20 minutes or so we were there, I was able to see several little birds (and not so little) on the dock, and got to see lots of beautiful fish right off the dock!
We headed off to an anchorage not too far from the marina. There were lots of boats anchored there already when we arrived. We were told the currents and the tides made it challenging to anchor at this location. It was around 5 o'clock when we find a spot to drop anchor. After I make spritzers and take out cheese and crackers, David notices the anchor chain is way too tight. After accessing the situation, he decides to turn on the motor and move the boat forward to release the pressure on the chain. He goes up front and I attempt to move the boat. Hmmmm, not moving. David hurries over and he tries. L'Attitude is not moving. This is bad, simply bad. Luckily, we still had prop motion. I went to the front to look at the chain. David tries to move the boat again. We don't even budge.
We stopped the motor and look at the tides. We should have been in 11 feet of water but we assume we've touching the bottom. It was almost low tide. David decides to call Tow Boat USA. It was better for us to get out of the situation as soon as possible. Tow Boat arrives within 20 minutes. Lord and behold… he flashed his spotlight under the boat and discovered we had drifted upon a shipwreck! It was not marked on our charts nor did he "know about this one"… scary! Tow Boat guided us off the boat and we were able to safely get our anchor up without getting caught up in the wreck. Still attached to Tow Boat, we went to a safer location for the night. With the spotlight on, we this time ensured there were no wrecks anywhere near to our new location. What a night in water world!!! Beware of the chart indicators! You may even discover your own shipwreck not registered on the charts… just like us!
Our plan was to get L'Attitude to Marathon, FL atBoot Key City Marinabefore the 15th of December if possible. With a trip to Maine planned for the holidays, being able to secure a mooring ball meant we wouldn't have to worry about rushing back to the the boat before David's 3 sons came to visit. We scheduled to return on the evening of the 3rd of January and David's sons were arriving on the 4th.
We left the rally team and headed out by ourselves ahead of the other boats. We planned to meet up again with our rally friends for the Sail Rally celebration gathering at Coconut Grove in Miami on the 20th of December. After our "sunken ship" adventure, we were a little more careful about where we were going to drop anchor. Now that's a story for the grandchildren…
The trip out into the Atlantic was again mostly calm. We had long sailing days planned in order to get to Marathon. The weather was amazing! The water color varied greatly from one area to another. Our favorite was a stunning blue which we named "Bocca Blue". This will be an amazing color for our home on land someday.
We arrived to the Miami channel at around 4pm. It was exciting to see so much activity in the waterway however, it was a challenge getting through the busy channel. Miami is such a busy port and the cargo ships, cruise ships and very large pleasure boats filled the channel. Our 41 foot Beneteau was rather tiny compared to the boats around us.
The wakes of larger boats passing us in this channel was most challenging. Because of the cargo ships at port, we had to deal with every wake over and over again. L'Attitude was "rocking and a rolling" through this section of our trip. I did manage to get some pretty neat photos in spite of the rocky conditions. David handled it like a pro! Although it was really awesome to sail past these massive cargo ships, I was anxious to get out of the busy port area.
Once out of the port area, we sailed right into what felt like the middle of the city. It's rather difficult to describe the feeling of being on a boat going through Miami. We were finally in Miami. We did miss the rest of our rally team however. It wasn't quite the same without our friends around. L'Attitude was the first boat to arrive to Miami. Must admit, it was amazing to drop anchor at mile marker 1091.6-Marine Stadium, with the Miami skyline in our backyard. Life is good.
We snapped a selfie and posted it on FACEBOOK for all our family and friends to see then celebrated with some bubbly. We enjoyed watching the future Olympic sailing and rowing athletes practicing in the anchorage area. Tomorrow morning we planned to head off to yet another adventure - water world without our group leaders and rally team.
Our goal today is to anchor in or around Key Largo. Sailing out of Miami through Biscayne Bay was most interesting. There were several houses on stilts throughout the marked channel. I thought it may be a great place for Stephen King or any writer to come write in total seclusion. And yes, we did see another shipwreck. YIKES. There were some pretty shallow areas around this area. We were now on the last page of our On The Water ChartGuides book. We had completed the mile-by-mile cruising guide from Norfolk, VA to Miami, FL. Must say the guide was most helpful to us and a part of our daily reading and plotting. Thank you Mark and Dianna Doyle!!!
December 16, 2014 - KEY LARGO, FL
It was a calm day to be sailing the Atlantic Ocean again today. We've been lucky with the weather window we've had thus far. We arrived to an anchorage area in Key Largo around 4pm. David called earlier in the day and there were very few spots remaining at Boot Key City Marina. If there were no space available at the marina when we arrived, we'd have to anchor outside the area until a space would become available. That wasn't going to to work for us with our schedule so we had to be certain to leave early in the morning to hopefully arrive early enough to secure our space. Marathon was now causing me a great deal of stress.
David communicates over the VHF radio to a boat we passed along the trip. He too was headed to Marathon and to the same anchorage area as we were planning to go to in Key Largo. When I went to drop the anchor, it was the first time I ever got to see tee the anchor actually touch the bottom and dig in! The water was so clear.
December 17, 2014 - The Race to Marathon
We were up around 6:30 am, only to discover both boats anchored next to us in the bay had already left for Marathon. YIKES! At last count, there were only 4 spots left in Boot Key City Marina. We quickly pulled up our anchor and headed out. 2600 RPM's = 7+ knots. Luckily for us, the winds helped us out a bit so we were able to push at about 8 knots for a good part of this journey. We soon passed the two boats who anchored with us the night before and also were headed to Boot Key. So happy to have a fast boat.
We arrived ahead of the boats from the bay and did manage to get a mooring ball assignment: S-6. There are a lot of boats here! We were somewhat relieved about having secured a mooring ball... one thing we checked off our list. We sit down to enjoy a cocktail and reflect on our journey. What an adventure we had. What was decided spur of the momentum October 9th in Annapolis, the decision to join the Sail Magazine rally was the best thing we could have done. I was the one who was reluctant to join the group and in the end, realized the trip down the ICW would have been a completely different adventure for us.
I looked around at the hundreds on masts around us, and told David I felt as though we were alone. I missed our friends from the rally.
The next day, David was busy meeting new people in Marathon while I hurried to clean out the back births that always ended up looking like a drop everything in there space. With so much to do before leaving, I gave up and left that task for when I returned. We were hoping to meet someone who could watch over the boat for us when we were gone. Just a few boats over from us, was a fellow Canadian, Grant, who had sailed here on his concrete boat. David and he chatted and Grant said he'd be happy to watch over L'Attitude while we were away.
David invited Grant over for dinner on Friday night so he could go over some of the important "must knows" of L'Attitude. To bed early, as usual. Shuttle pick up was scheduled for 9am.
DECEMBER 20, 2014 - ICW Rally Final Party - Coconut Grove, MIAMI, FL
We left with a shuttle service on Saturday morning the 20th of December and were only going to return on January 3rd, 2015! It was a long time to be away from the boat in an area we weren't familiar with. I was anxious to see my family again. Although we talk on the phone nearly every day, it was time to get a hug and kiss from those precious grandchildren who call me Memere.
The shuttle ride up to Miami from Marathon took about 4 hours. They dropped us off at the Miami airport and we jumped into a cab that took us to Coconut Grove. (Actually to the hotel across the street.) We dropped our luggage off in our room and headed over to meet our fellow rally team members. We were looking forward to seeing everyone again. As usual, I headed off with my trusty little SONY camera in hand and off we went to meet the gang.
What an accomplishment for the team. Our team was made up of brokers, business owners, retirees, teachers, nurses, engineers and business professionals; all with one thing in common - we were sailing down the ICW for the very first time and doing it together.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
We returned to the boat on January 3rd after a nice visit with our Maine family. Our time with them was busy, but the holidays always are a bit hectic. We really haven't had much down time... relaxing do nothing time we were accustomed to on Lake Champlain, since we joined the rally. We were busy everyday. The trip from the Ft. Lauderdale airport was long. We landed at FLL around 12:30 pm and only arrived to the boat around 7:00 pm. Needless to say, we were exhausted and starving! We went up top to enjoy the warm night and admire the stars. We snacked on crackers and had a well deserved spritzer after such a long day. I had left my phone below and of course, we heard it ringing. Thought I should get it so went below. To my surprise, the florescent light over the sink, was sparking and smoking... yes, it caught fire. I was able to turn off the power and called for David. Timing is everything, at least it was in this case. David removed the light and besides the smell of burning plastics, all was good. Nothing another West Marine trip can't fix.
On the 4th David's sons, William, Philippe and Mathieu, joined us on the boat in Marathon. I was up early and spent the day "reorganizing" the back births that regrettably had turned into the collection rooms for anything and everything. YIKES! The refrigerator smelled, the heads smelled, the boat was a mess! Somehow, super human strength kicked in and , just as we got out of the cab with a ton of groceries, Will and Phil arrived on the shuttle. Matt was scheduled to arrive about 4 hours later.
We enjoyed a nice dinner aboard after Matt arrived. A sail to Key West was in the plans for early morning. David arranged to spend a week at a slip at Key West Bight Marina in the center of the action in Key West. There, we had access to a lovely swimming pool, lots of great restaurants and shopping.
The weather was beautiful for a sail to Key West. The boys talked their dad into stopping along the way for a quick dip in the Atlantic. The water was beautiful! Hmmmm... I didn't get in the water myself... bahahaha. The color of the water was beautiful!
We arrived in Key West around 4pm. Anxious to explore the town, we went out for dinner at one of the many restaurants within a few minute walk from our boat. We arrived just in time for Happy Hour! Two drinks each please. We were off to a great week!
Spending the week at the marina was great! Every afternoon, we spent at the pool, enjoying Happy Hour. The boys wanted to to out snorkeling but the weather wasn't great to take the boat out. David found a local snorkeling boat to take Will and Matt out.
A couple days later, the guys convinced me to join them on a short sail out to the reefs so they could go snorkeling again. The waves were at least 4 feet and were coming from all directions. We managed to get a mooring ball at the reef but we were rocking and rolling! I headed below, climbed into bed, turned the fan on and managed to curl up into a fetal position and prayed not to get sick. There I remained, in the exact same position for the next 90 minutes.
The next day the boys wanted to go out for another snorkeling adventure, I stayed ashore. If we hit bad weather when sailing, well that's one thing but to purposely go out in rough conditions, not my cup of tea. I walked down to Dorval Street to find the church I had visited 10 years ago. It was great to get back there for a visit. Spent the rest of the day at the pool until the guys returned from their day sail.
Matt flew back to Montreal after spending a week with us aboard L’Attitude Will and Phil remained aboard and we sailed back to Marathon where, to our surprise, we would spend the next few months.
We shared many great meals, laughs and adventures over the next month with Will and Phil. They enjoyed spending time in the Florida sunshine and greatly enjoyed exploring the Keys. They left in February with great lifetime memories.
In early March, still “on the ball” in Marathon awaiting the illusive perfect crossing to the Bahamas, I left the boat and traveled to Maine to help my daughter who was awaiting the birth of my new grandson.
BACK TO THE BOAT... In Freeport, BAHAMAS!
David single handed the boat from Marathon to the Bahamas. He along with another boat awaiting a good weather window, decided there was time to safely make the cross over to the Bahamas. The boat was prepared to go on the journey. I worried that I was not going to be joining David and that he was going solo across to The Bimini Island in the Bahamas. From there, he took the boat over to Freeport where he left the boat at a small private marina and headed back to Canada for a week.
I met David at the airport in Charleston, SC where we flew back to L'Attitude and spent the next week enjoying the Bahama sunshine. The internet was not reliable in the Bahamas so we decided it was best for us to return to the States. We decided to leave Freeport and sail over to the West End where we could have an easy passage back to Ft. Pierce, FL. The day we were preparing to leave Freeport, there were seven tornados within site of where we were staying. Luckily, none turned and headed to where our boat was... that would not have been good.
The color of the water in the Bahamas are unlike anything we'd seen. The only other boats we saw on our trip to the West End were large cargo ships. The only time we saw other pleasure crafts was as we approached the marina on the West End of the Bahamas.
The mosquitoes were fierce there on the West End. I'm not certain how many bites we got when the sun went down but, regrettably, we were out on the docks away from our boat when they came out. It was bad. I politely tried to excuse myself from the conversation with the Captain of the boat FREEDOM and retreated back to the boat as fast as I could walk. That being said, this was nothing like what David experienced when he arrived in Bimini. He stationed the boat at a marina on the south end of Bimini. Little did he know, there is a very large swamp right next to the marina. So when he went to sleep that first night there, he awoke with hundreds of bites. Yup... hundreds.
David verified the weather again with Chris Parker and seeing he predicted 4 - 6 foot waves, we planned to go ahead with our departure for early the following morning. I looked forward to returning to Florida with a greater appreciation for USDA choice meats. Just then, my daughter phones me with news that she was engaged to be married!
The weather was perfect. The waves were not 4 feet, nor were they 6 feet. All I can say is that at one point, I was laying down and looked up at David sitting at the helm, and there was a wave behind him higher than the boat. So, I just laid down and fell asleep. The waves were high but rolling so we basically went up a wave and down a wave.
It was really nice to see land again and have our cell phones were working again. I was certain to call my family as soon as I could. I was anxious to chat more with my daughter about my her engagement.
As we pulled into the port at Ft. Pierce, we were boarded by Homeland Securities. I figured we would be boarded since we hadn't changed the country flag yet therefore, they saw we were returning from the Bahamas. It delayed us about 20 minutes but it didn't matter much as we weren't far from the marina we were going to stay at. When we arrived to the marina, David called to report in. It was a long day so after a quick, refreshing swim in the pool, we went out to dinner at the marina restaurant then were back at the boat to watch a bit of TV before we drifted off. We went in person the next morning to customs where we were able to get a new cruising permit.
Ahhh, back in the US. And now we were going to plot out our journey back to the north and spend the summer in Maine. With good weather on our side, we decide to head out to the ocean and cover as much ground, so to speak, as possible and take advantage of the extra sunlight hours each day. Before we knew it, we were back in St. Augustine and spent a week at Camanchi Cove Marina. The weather was great so we enjoyed the pool everyday and the Kingfish Grille restaurant there at the Marina. It was great to relax a bit before our next long haul.
We left St. Augustine and 8 days later, we were in Norfolk, VA.
We met some friends, Stan & Jan who were on the rally with us. What a lovely couple! They introduced us to all of their friends. What a great time we had with them that evening on the docks. We decided to stay a couple days after pushing hard for the past eight days. Provisioning and cleaning L’Attitude were a must. After a good nights sleep, Cleaning the boat was a task but we had to do it. Regrettably, the wood on the docks were old and we didn’t realize until the next day, that every part of our legs or arms that were on the dock as we cleaned, were covered with tiny splinters. For the next week, we were pulling splinters out of our body!!! OMG. Lesson learned... Old docks, not recommended when cleaning the boat to lay on the dock in order to reach the waterline.
Annapolis here we come.
This is certainly one of my favorite places to visit. I could see myself living in Annapolis but its still too far from the little people in my life... Nathan, Izabella, Maddison and Hunter. I’m looking forward to spending the summer in Maine. Whooo!