Newburyport to Block Island - September, 2007

Cape May, NJ - September, 2007

Norfolk, VA - October, 2007

ICW - October, 2007

Southport, NC - October, 2007

Charleston, SC - November, 2007

Tribute to Lefty - November 14, 2007



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Autumn, 2007 route

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Newburyport, MA to Block Island, RI

September, 2007
by Mary

When we finally left Newburyport on September 19, we tried to time our departure for a slack tide. there was no wind so we got out of the marina with no problems. Going through the bridge(s) outbound was easier because we were better able to position ourselves around the railroad bridge to pass cleanly under the drawbridge. It was a relief to have that bridge behind us.

We made a series of short hops from Newburyport to Scituate to Onset Bay to Block Island. Not far outside of the Newburyport inlet Neal spotted a whale - the first one we've seen. There were not nearly as many lobster trap buoys as when we arrived in August but we did see something we'd not seen in August. Just outside of Scituate there were schools of small sharks swimming around several lobster buoys. We'd see lots of little triangular dorsal fins zipping around. I don't know what kind of sharks, but they seemed to be no more than about 3 feet in length. We saw several different groups of them at different buoys.

It was getting on to 5:00 when we got to Scituate. The friendly guy at the fuel dock stayed open after 5 to wait for us. Wind and current gave us a problem grabbing a mooring pennant and a local boater gave us a hand. Nice people.

Scituate, MA







Our timing the next day was such that we went through the Cape Cod canal against the current and that made for a pretty slow ride. We anchored for the night at Onset Bay near the marina where we'd stayed in August.

Cape Cod Canal/Onset Bay, MA- September, 2007






By 4 p.m. on the 21st we were on a mooring at Block Island. There's a very nice mooring field here. We stayed for a couple of days just relaxing and getting ready for the passage to Cape May, NJ. We watched boats come and go and just enjoyed being there. On the morning of the 24th while waiting for space to open up on the fuel dock we were hailed by a sailor aboard a boat named Shearwater. Turns out we'd last seen him in June in Florida when we were anchored at the Lake Worth inlet before beginning our trip north.

Block Island, RI








Cape May, NJ - September, 2007

September, 2007
by Mary

By 9 a.m., later than we'd planned, we were underway headed for Cape May. It was a quiet and uneventful passage until the wee hours of the morning. Then the radio came alive - with morons. I can't imagine who they were, but they were having a great time making animal noises at each other over the VHF radio. Much laughter and stupid remarks. Then one did a parody of the usual Coast Guard broadcast about channel 16 being for use only for hailing and distress calls. Much as it scares me to think they were all drunk, it also scares me to think that men that stupid while sober would be operating boats.

By 5 p.m. on the 25th we were anchored off the Coast Guard station at Cape May. We hung around here for a while because we'd ordered mail sent to us here. After a few days at anchor we went in to South Jersey Marina for a couple of days to do some sightseeing and get to the post office. It's a very nice marina with good facilities. Each morning they brought us a newspaper and fresh fruit. Cape May is a nice town. Downtown has a nice pedestrian mall for walking and people watching. We had a dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant downtown. The second evening we had dinner at a nearby restaurant, the Lobster House. The marina made reservations for us, which meant that we were seated almost immediately while dozens of people were waiting for tables. That doesn't happen very often.

On the 30th we headed for Norfolk. This was the first time we were able to take the whole morning to get ready to leave. The passage from Cape May to Norfolk is only 155 miles which means 24 hours or less if we travel at more than 6 knots. So in order to avoid entering our destination harbor before dawn, we left later in the morning. Sure beats getting up early and immediately heading out. Winds were light during the day and we made the mistake of leaving the big genoa up. As the winds rose after dark we realized that we were not comfortable having that big sail up when we cannot see the sea state. So we hauled it in and felt much more in control. It is exhilarating to sail in good wind in daylight - but stressful in the dark.

Cape May, NJ - September, 2007
click here to see more photos of Cape May






Norfolk, VA - October, 2007

October, 2007
by Mary

We were docked at Waterside Marina in Norfolk by mid morning on October 1. A mail snafu kept us in Norfolk longer than we'd expected. When our mail arrived, a dock hand rejected the package and told the mail person that we'd already left! It had been sent regular priority mail so there was no traceability. The post office told us that they immediately return undeliverable mail, so we waited around until we were certain that it had arrived back at the mail forwarding service. There was important stuff in that package so we spent a few anxious days. The lesson learned is that we should always ask for important mail to be sent via UPS or FedEX so that it's trackable. In the meantime, we had good weather and enjoyed our time in Norfolk.

We were able to meet up with Keith Reynolds while in Norfolk. Keith is a former Saga (our boat manufacturer) dealer and an expert on all things Saga. He's known for being extremely generous with his knowledge and his time whenever a Saga owner has questions or problems. We spent a very nice evening with Keith and Grace and look forward to seeing them again when we get to Florida.

Norfolk, Va - entering the harbor
click here to see more photos of our October time in Norfolk






October 7, 2007 there was a children's festival in the park by the marina, so we rented a car and drove down the Outer Banks to Cape Hatteras to avoid the crowd. The drive is like most any other drive we've done along the ocean. The road is separated from the water by either berms or homes - neither of which allow you to see the beach, surf or sea. In the towns what you see is shops aimed at tourists: beach wear, t-shirts, souvenirs, ice cream and mediocre sea food. But every area has it highlights.

We stopped at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, NC. The museum was well worth the visit. There's a full size replica of their first powered "flyer" as well as one of their gliders. A park ranger gives an excellent talk about that first flight. I didn't realize how scientifically they'd approached the problem of powered and controlled flight. They understood which variables had to come together and experimented constantly to get it right. Their efforts to interest the U.S. Army in their invention were stonewalled for years while the army continued its doomed experiments with unmanned powered flight. And some of the aviation portraits on the walls were of military men who'd, over the years, tried unsuccessfully to get the government to accept new ideas regarding the future of aviation - Gen. Billy Mitchell most notably, and Gen. "Hap" Arnold. There must be a special place in hell for bureaucrats.

We stopped and walked to the beach. There were plenty of beach goers taking advantage of a hot October day. It was great to hear the sound of the surf. Many stretches of beach permit vehicle access so the surf fishermen drive right to the water's edge. Outer banks fishermen have a unique way to transport their big surf-casting rods. They install rod holders on either the front or back bumper of their trucks. Some of them look like candelabra with graduated height holders - tall ones in the middle - going down to the shortest ones on either end. I counted 8 rods mounted on the front of one truck. There are some stretches of the road where the dunes are on both sides. A parked bulldozer sits waiting for the next blow that will wash sand over the pavement. These dunes have some interesting shapes sculpted by the wind. I wouldn't want to be there in a gale.

The Cape Hatteras light station was as far south as we went. We didn't climb to the top of the lighthouse. There's a visitor's center and a small but interesting museum. The museum attendant told us that there are more than 3,000 wrecks and parts of wrecks identified off the coast of the Cape. Scary for sailors. When we finally do sail outside around Hatteras, we'll make sure we're very far out at sea.

Outer Banks, NC
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Also on the 7th, a huge and beautiful tall ship from Argentina docked at Waterside: Fragate A.R.A Libertad from the Argentine naval academy. It was open to the public each afternoon so we went aboard. She's a square rigger with three masts; 5 sails on each. It would be great to see her under full sail. I'm trying to convince Neal that the least we can do is sail down to Argentina to pay them a reciprocal visit.

A.R.A. Frigate Libertad
click here to see more photos of this beautiful ship







October, 2007
by Mary

Finally on October 11 we left Norfolk. In order to avoid Cape Hatteras, we traveled the ICW for the 200 mile stretch to Morehead City, NC. We don't travel the ICW at night so getting from point A to point B takes much longer. This was a 4 day trip. Getting through Norfolk means going through a series of bridges and finally a lock at Great Bridge. We were one of many boats headed south that day so we all bunched up at the bridges. Some bridges open only on regular schedules and the ones that open on demand will often want to get us all collected so that as many as possible can get through a single opening event. So we all accumulate and go around in circles while waiting. It's quite a water dance. At the lock, almost everyone was waiting patiently for the line of boats to get arranged on the lock walls. But, of course, there seems to always be one who thinks he should cut into the line. At least there was only one and he eventually went back to his appropriate place in line. We stopped again at Coinjock Marina for fuel and to spend the night.

Coinjock, NC



The evening of the 13th saw us anchored at Deep Point again. Our next anchorage was new to us and about a half-hour ride off the ICW. We went to Long Creek in Bonner Bay which is off the Bay River which feeds into the Neuse River for our final anchorage of this trip. We were completely alone here - very peaceful.

Bonner Bay Anchorage





We'd thought of stopping at Beaufort, NC (pronounced bo-fort) this time, but took the simpler option of stopping again at Portside Marina in Morehead City because it has much easier access. Our ICW passage was uneventful but we were very glad to have it behind us. On the 15th we were again able to have a leisurely start to our next leg. We went out for breakfast and took our time getting ready to cast off to head for Southport, NC. This leg is only 122 miles so we sailed even when winds were very light - often our speed was less than 5 knots (that's less than 6 mph). It was just after Noon when we docked at Southport. Here we arranged to finally get the mail we'd missed in Norfolk.


October, 2007
by Mary

Southport Marina has been completely rebuilt and is now a great facility. And it is easy walking distance from downtown. It's a lovely town. Old homes whose history is documented have plaques that show the original use/owner and the year built. Dates run from the late 1700's to the early 1900's. The historic homes range from small fishermen's cottages to the large houses of the most prosperous local citizens. They all have charming front porches with inviting rocking chairs. The visitor's center is one of the best I've seen: well staffed and full of good information. The local maritime museum is interesting and there's a surprisingly interesting old jail that's a museum. We've learned that the small local maritime museums are great places to learn the specifics of the area's relationship with the sea. Some were habitats for specific species that were in demand up and down the coast and supported large fishing fleets. Others developed themselves as shipping centers. And yet others were havens for pirates. These museums are small and generally not very elegant but they sure are interesting.

There's a park along the waterfront with swings along the waterfront walk and a very popular fishing pier. When we were there, one couple was cast-netting from the pier and providing bait fish to the fishermen. We'd both like to try cast-netting, but we'd just be putting our catch right back into the water. Across the street from the fishing pier is a historic building with a huge lawn where there was a one-day craft fair that can only be described as "high end". The vendors included a local winery, very talented woodworkers, and local food vendors. On the building's veranda an excellent bluegrass band provided entertainment. We tasted the wine and would have bought a few bottles but they were just outside of our budget.

Our departure on the 22nd was another leisurely one. This was a trip of only 107 miles - too long to do in one daylight passage but short enough that we had to time ourselves to arrive late enough for marina personnel to be at our destination,

Southport, NC
click here to see more photos of Southport







November, 2007
by Mary

Our choice this time was Charleston Maritime Center on the Cooper River. It's a city run facility within walking distance of downtown Charleston. It is much more affordable than where we'd stayed before and in a much more interesting location. Not only do we have easy access to the city, but we enjoy watching the shipping traffic come and go. Next to the marina is a shipping and cruise ship terminal. This particular shipping terminal serves the local BMW plant. Vehicles are brought by train from the plant to be loaded on to Ro-Ro (Roll On - Roll Off) ships. Arriving ships bring Volvo products which includes huge construction equipment. These are interesting ships (more info here and here) and the loading/unloading process is interesting. There's a huge ramp that lowers from the stern of the ship and vehicles are driven off or on. They use big old 9 passenger station wagons to ferry the drivers back and forth from the car lot to the ship. Ships may be here for a few days while the on/off transfers take place. We rented a car one weekend to meet our friends the Bagleys for dinner in Beaufort, SC (pronounced byew-fort). They were on their boat in Savannah so Beaufort was a reasonable place to meet. Then on Sunday we took a sightseeing drive. It is a beautiful area. As I write this, I'm in Chicago spending time with my mother as she recovers from hip replacement surgery. Neal is back on Sea Fox. We'll stay in Charleston until November 24 and later there will certainly be more to say about this visit to the city and more photos to come.

Charleston, NC
click here to see more photos of Charleston in November, 2007






Tribute to Lefty

November 14, 2007
by Mary

Lefty died today. Lefty and her littermate, Patty, have been our furry companions for the past 12 years. Taking a drive through the foothills near Boulder in Summer, 1995, we passed a house with a sign saying "free kittens" and went home with these two little furballs. Lefty got her name because they were born on Left Hand Canyon Road near Ward, CO. Lefty was the "smart" one; ever curious and able to figure things out - "“miss personality". We'll both miss her but she was Neal's special buddy - spending much time helping him read newspapers. Pets certainly become regular family members over time. Patty, sweet but less adventurous, remains to keep us company.

Lefty & Patty

Patty napping




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