Thursday, October 31, 2013

What a difference a year makes...

This was the view from our cockpit a year ago, thanks to Sandy.

We were lucky and made out fine. Many friends and family didn't, and a year later are still affected by the devastation and trying to rebuild. Like I said, we were lucky and still are. This is the view from our cockpit these days.

We had a long 54 mile cruise into Charleston, and planned on staying 2 nights. After fueling up, we anchored out across from the Charleston Megadock.  Wow, just when you thought you've seen some big yachts, you see this guy...Rising Sun.

The next day we spent biking around the beautiful city. We found a great farmers market where we picked up some fresh bread and veggies. That night we enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner at the Fleet Landing Restaurant. Our kids had given us a gift certificate, and we thoroughly enjoyed our date night.
Two days after leaving Charleston we pulled into Lady's Island Marina. Lady's Island is just across from Beaufort, and it's where we planned on meeting up with The Murphy's, who live there. It was so great to see familiar faces! Mary took me food shopping, and for the first time in a long time I used a full sized cart...and I filled it up! Mike ran some boat errands for Bud, and even called his mechanic to help us finally fix our gauge problems! On top of helping us out all day they had us over for a delicious home cooked meal! I'm always sad to say goodbye to the Murphy's, but we will be back before you know it.
So now we are on our way through Georgia. Since Charleston, we have been back together with our buddy boat and it's been great. We keep telling them to let us know when they've had their fill of us, but they must be glutton for punishment. Bud and Tim can talk technical boat stuff for hours, while Jill and I talk about the important things like dolphins and beads and things.
Well, by my calculations, at the end of today we will have travelled 1026 miles, and I must say we have enjoyed every single one of them! I can only imagine what the next few months will bring, but we're ready. I might even get Bud to relax a little bit!
With views like this, how could he not...
~ Jen & Bud

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Since we last checked in...

We left our anchorage at Spooner's Creek, and headed for Topsail Sound, NC. We had to pass through Camp LeJeune for about 6 miles. That's where we saw 2 of the coolest things we've seen so far. The first was a line of amtracks waiting to cross the channel. I called them tanks, but was swiftly corrected by my Marine Corps brother. Whatever they were called, they were cool. I guess its like a military duck boat.
Then, not ten minutes later, we were entertained by a huge group of dolphins, playing and jumping in the water. One swam along our boat for a minute, and if I had had my legs hanging over the side he would have bumped them when he surfaced. It was so neat! Of course I didn't get any pictures of the dolphins, I don't know what my problem is, I just cant get one.

Carolina Beach, NC
The next few days were uneventful. We did meet back up with our friends on Links at Wrightsville Beach, and then continued on together to Carolina Beach the following day. That's where we put our feet in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since leaving Jersey. The next day found us in Calabash Creek, SC. The town of Calabash is actually NC, so the state line must have been somewhere along our dinghy ride to shore.

Leaving Links again
Our friends were staying in Calabash for another day, so we were up and out early in the morning. It was chilly and drizzly, but the plan was to keep heading south. "They" always say, have a plan B, C and D because things rarely go as planned. We are certainly fine with that and always have plenty of options. But then there's some things that just come up. Or go down, in this case. After going only about 7 miles, we noticed one of our gauges went down...again. We just happened to be passing a condo complex with an entirely empty dock. We pulled right in and tied up. Within a few hours, and a few bike rides into town, the problem was solved (we think)! I guess I'm learning to appreciate the uneventful days. The weather was pretty yucky anyway, so we decided to stay the night. We walked into town and enjoyed some wings and a game of pool at a local saloon. And thanks to Carolina Yacht Landing for the free dock for the night! (I don't think anyone even knew we were there!)

Waccamaw River

The next morning we joined the parade of boats heading down the Waccamaw River. It was a great day. We are finding that so far every day has been a great day. As one of our good friends put it, It's not a vacation we are on, we chose to live a different lifestyle. It certainly beats going to work every day, but it is work, and it is exhausting! But we are appreciating every aspect of this trip.

Our only friends in the creek, the turtles.
Last night we were anchored in Cow House Creek all by ourselves. We loved it, and I'm pretty sure I won the owl hooting contest. Tonight we are in Minum Creek with one other boat, so I guess that means Bud has to shower inside!

Hopefully we will get an early start tomorrow and make it to Charleston, but you never know!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Has it really been that long...

Salt Ponds, VA
So, have you ever had one of those weeks...or two, when you feel like not much has been going on, but then when you really think about it you realize that's not the case, you were just too lazy to make a blog post? Well, that's how its been around here. When we last checked in we were almost getting ready to enter the Dismal Swamp. We spent our last night on the Chesapeake in Salt Ponds, VA. it was a nice little anchorage, and I mean little. There were two marinas there, but only room for 1 or 2 boats to anchor. We spent the afternoon exploring and fishing and headed to the marina restaurant for dinner. Now, we don't make a habit of going ashore for dinner, but this was the first restaurant we came to since my birthday, so we splurged! The next day we were out early and heading for Norfolk, VA, past the Naval Base and down the Elizabeth River. Finally to the Dismal Swamp.

Deep Creek Lock
Don't let the name fool ya, it was a pretty cool place. Not too far in we entered our first lock. Robert the lockmaster was extremely knowledgeable and not only did he give us a quick history of the canal and tips on surviving our first cruise, he also played us an entire song on his conch shell. Then he proceeded to drive 1/2 mile down the road and open the bridge for us. Right after the bridge is where we spent our first 2 nights in the swamp. Now, when we had exited the lock we noticed another Gemini tied up to a dock. We don't see many of these boats in Jersey, so when we do see one it stands out. Not long after we tied up to the wall beyond the bridge we saw a couple (obviously cruisers because of their backpacks and smiles) walking towards us. We knew they must be on the other Gem.  It turns out their boat is not only the same year, but we are only 8 hull #'s apart! Tim and Jill, on Links, are officially our first cruiser friends, and immediately proved themselves invaluable. They have had their boat for 12 years, so Bud didn't waste any time picking Tim's brain about every little thing he ever wondered about SeaQuest.

The Beautiful Dismal Swamp
Even though it was beautiful where we were, there was some weather coming in, so we took our time down the swamp. We spent 2 nights at the North Carolina Welcome Center, which was a great place. There was fresh water, restrooms, hiking and biking trails and, oh yeah, "rafting" which was one of the strangest things we've seen so far. There is only room for about 4 boats along the dock, so after it is filled up boats just pull up alongside, throw bumpers out and tie onto your boat. Not just one boat, 3 or 4! Everybody proceeds to hop from boat to boat until they make it to shore. Strange, but a great way to meet people.
From there we moved down the swamp about 4 miles (closer to provisions) and sat out the weather for another 3 days. When we finally decided to leave, Mother Nature decided to rain on But, we made it to Elizabeth City and met up with our friends. Elizabeth City was great for one reason...LAUNDRY! Of course it was still raining, but that's what Hefty bags are for.

Paula & Noble of Abigail, us, Jill & Tim of Links
The next day we departed with our buddy boat Links and had a great sailing day (despite the yucky weather) to the Alligator River. After that we headed through the Alligator River - Pungo River Canal. Not a beautiful day, but at least it wasn't raining. Things were going along just fine until our gauges started jumping around and going off. Bud went below to check the batteries, so I was at the helm. Of course that's when the engine decided to crap out! Dead in the water. Luckily we were in a wide enough canal that boats could easily get around us. We threw out 2 anchors, and Links came back to help. Within a few minutes we were up and running again and to make a long story short, when we arrived in Belhaven a few hours later things were worked on, checked out, ordered, bought and changed. We ended up sitting out some more weather in Belhaven, and stayed 4 days. Links left after 3 (and we are still trying to catch up!).

 Bye Bye Belhaven! Although it was nice having a free dock and being close to any store we would need, it was time to move on. We traveled 50 miles along the Intracoastal and ended up in Cedar Creek. We came an extra 10 miles because I read in the guide book that you could sometimes get shrimp or crabs at the commercial dock there. By the time we anchored and made the dinghy ride to the dock, they were closed. Go figure. It was almost dinner time so I started boiling water for pasta. Bud took the ding out to try a little fishing. I guess he was craving some fresh seafood as much as I was. I was in the galley trying to figure out how I was gonna make frozen meatballs go with linguine and white clam sauce, when I heard Bud come back to the boat. Low and behold he had a fish! He was only gone 10 minutes, I think that was some sort of record! We're still not quite sure what it was, but it was delicious. Much better than meatballs with clam sauce.

Sea trout??
 We had looked at our Skipper Bob's cruising guide and knew that the following day would be a short 23 mile trip. Before we left in the morning we took another ride over to the shrimp dock. We literally bought the shrimp right off the boat, and headed on our way. The sun actually came out and we had a beautiful day out on the water. We anchored around 1:30, and by 2:30 we were enjoying lunch/dinner - spicy shrimp taco salad! Let me tell you, I'm not a fan of beheading the little critters, but I got over it. Tomorrow, moving on down the line.  I'll try to post more frequently!
~ Jen & Bud

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Checking things out before leaving Middle River
Although we hated to leave friends and family in Middle River, we had to keep moving. We did manage to take on a stowaway for a day though. Our daughter Elizabeth joined us for a spectacular sail to Kent Island. Not only was it a great sail, we finally caught some fish - 2 nice stripers! Since we left our net on the dock in Middle River, we were pondering how to bring the second and bigger fish on board...then it hit me! Our friend Kyle had given us a couple of spears for fishing in the Bahamas (if we make it there), so I went below and grabbed one. There was no line attached to the spear, so of course I had visions of throwing it, losing it, losing the fish and having to face the Capt'n, but luckily we kicked into survivor mode. Bud reeled it in close and I speared that sucker and brought it in. Of course all of the proof of this is on my camera with a dead battery and I can't unload the pics! But when we settled into Goodhands Creek, the 3 of us enjoyed a delicious fish dinner! Tim and Stephanie came to pick up Liz shortly after and we had our final round of goodbyes. Now we were on our own with many miles to go before seeing some familiar faces.

The next day we headed for Brooks Creek, Little Choptank River, on the eastern shore. A quiet little creek with nothing but a few houses and Danny Windsor's Crab Shack. Danny was another nice, regular guy. We picked up some ice, and he (Mom, you might want to skip this next sentence) even drove us down the road to fill our jugs with fresh water. That night we realized how amazing the stars are down here!

The following day we headed back to the western shore and checked our notes from our conversation with Roy. We met Roy in Middle River and he gave us some suggestions for places we might want to stop on the Chesapeake. We picked a spot...Point No Point, St Jerome's Creek. Perhaps we should have paid more attention to our notes from Roy, WATCH THE CHANNEL! Well, I know I heard somewhere that if you travel the Intercoastal and don't run aground, you're lying. In our defense, the markers were really confusing and the chart wasn't marked correctly either. Luckily there was a local guy fishing about 20 yards away. Ray Cyrus quickly became our new friend! Before I knew it, Bud was in waist deep water pulling SeaQuest off of the shoal (that's why we love this boat!) and Ray was leading us through the correct channel. We found a nice protected spot to anchor and knew we would be there for a few days because of the weather blowing in.

The town on St. Jerome's Creek was Ridge, MD. Not so much going on here. We brought our bikes on shore at Buzz's Marina, run by Mike and Chrissy. What a great spot! We explored by bike for the next few days. We rode about 5 miles just to get to a place for lunch. Our other travels consisted of the gas station/market, hardware store and interestingly enough our new friend Ray's house! He was kind enough to share with us his secret for catching rock fish (stripers to us). The DC minnow. Unfortunately we haven't had any luck with it so far, but we're still trying! I can still hear him "Fish on!" 

Buzz's Marina

Kaya, not thrilled about her life vest. We tried to take her for a dinghy ride, but she wasn't up for it.
Sept. 30th. Happy Birthday to me! My first birthday at sea! It was another beautiful day and our original plan was to head to Tangier Island. Well, our plans changed, not once but twice. Onto plan C.  The weather was so nice we decided to keep going and ended up in Wicomico Church. Which was fine with me, because there was a winery there! What a nice birthday dinner that would be! Unfortunately I didn't call ahead. Their Fall hours were in effect. Oh well, our pina coladas and nachos were just as good as any old winery could have served, right? In such a beautiful setting, how could I really complain. And again, the stars were breathtaking.
This may have been where we ran aground...the channel is to the left of that marker, who would have thought?
On the move again, early. Still very strange to be up with the sun and in bed by 9:00, but I like it. Our plan today was Horn Harbor, about 30 miles south. The weather was beautiful and the winds were light, but we were anchored again by 2:30. After exploring by dinghy and filling up our gas/diesel tanks at the one and only marina here in Horn Harbor, we set out to go clamming! Wet suits on, we were ready! The only problem was, there weren't any clams! The water was so clear it was like dinghy-ing through an aquarium. We were lucky enough to get some fresh oysters though. It turned out to be more work than it was worth, but we enjoyed them just the same!

Just one more stop on the Chesapeake before Norfolk and heading into the Dismal Swamp!YAY!

~ Jen & Bud