St. Augustine, Fl

Our buddy boat, IP460 Cutter Loose and the Bridge of Lions

We departed Pine Island, raising anchor just after sunrise at 7am, motoring south towards St. Augustine. We enjoyed toast from our homemade bread that we baked last night on anchor. This cruising life is a dream. I know I have said that before, but life returns to a very simple daily routine. We live each day, exploring the towns where we are anchored or moving the boat 30-50 miles to the next town along the waterway. When you move the boat, you are busy driving and navigating as you cannot use the autopilot as you would offshore. On these moving days, it is sometimes stressful due to shallow water or unclear charting, but we stand 1 hour watches and that tends to help.

When in really great towns, like St. Augustine, Fl, we tend to stay for a few days and enjoy the sites, pubs, museums, shopping and yacht services. This is our third visit by boat to St. Augustine and now they have 140 mooring balls for rent at $20.00/night. That is not bad as it cost $10.00/day to dock your dinghy if you are anchored out. The marina includes a very nice bathhouse, laundry, ship’s store and a pumpout boat. Daily adventures are walking the town which is well lit with white Christmas tree lights in all the trees, touring the winery, exploring the fort, Castillo de San Marcos and the Tiffany glass at Flagler College, the former Ponce de Leon Hotel. This luxury hotel built as a stop on Henry Flagler’s railroad, led St. Augustine to become the “Newport of the South.” What great history – we really enjoy this town.

Snowy egret greets us on the dinghy docks, St. Augustine, Fl
The Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler, now Flagler College
Historic streets in the oldest city in America, beautiful
Radeen reads about the oldest original house in St. Augustine
Typical vista down a street with fort Castillo de San Marco in the background

More exploration and discovery today around St. Augustine, Fl. We find it hard to move on after staying in great towns like this. Our plan is 3 days here, then press on towards Vero Beach Fl. with stops in Daytona, Titusville, Melbourne, then Vero!

Pine Island, FL

Departing Fernandina, FL, with sunrise over the paper plant

We departed Fernandina raising anchor at 0730 and ran 4 miles down the ICW to Amelia Island Marina where we completed the “big three” service items. #1 Diesel, #2 Water, and #3 Holding Tank. This marina was well protected from the 20-25 knot winds blowing this AM, which were projected to blow all day. The nice aspect to the ICW is that even when the wind is blowing like this, it is still a calm day on the water. The waterway is never rough and the trees protect you as well. On the other hand, the canals are tight and any engine trouble or fuel filter problems would be a real challenge, as there is not much room to anchor. The photos for today show the contrast of industrial Fernandina with the paper plant at sunrise, then the waterway homes with their docks and powerboats, and finally the isolation of Pine Island. There there are no homes, lights, cars or people in view, other than 3 boats anchored with us. Next stop….St. Augustine, the oldest city in America….

Tug boat working the dredge pipes near the channel
St. John,s River homes and their boat docks on the ICW
The Florida waterway is narrow with a nearly constant show of homes to enjoy
End of the day, the anchor is down off Pine Island, Fl…no one is sight
See this location on our Google Map here

Bread is baking…dinner on Cutter Loose at 1830…Life is good.

Our homemade bread, ….. thank you Sandy and Jeff on IP380 Xperience
Bread Recipe HERE

Fernandina Fla Photos

While in Fernandina, Florida, I always get these fantastic pelican photos at the Atlantic Seafood dock. The fisherman toss out the remains from cleaning fish and the birds have been trained to stand near by and wait for the door to open to be fed.

So you can wait on the dock for the feeding frenzy and the pelicans come right up past you to the easy food. Eventually these birds allow you to stay within a few feet of them and “Photo Boy” has a blast taking tons of photos.

Here is my photo essay….

Returning to the boat on anchor in the harbor
Enjoying the sunset from the boat with a glass of wine
Another sunset from the anchor, Fernandina Beach Florida…..beautiful
Tonight….another night in town with boating friends and buddies

Living on a sailboat and exploring coastal towns along the waterway is a lifetime dream. Now that the dream is here, we have to keep reflecting on how great an accomplishment this has been. We love this life, it is easier than expected, it is exciting, and adventurous all at the same time, as well as really peaceful. Life is a dream aboard a cruising sailboat!

The adventure has just begun….we have all of Florida….all of the Keys…..the West coast of Florida,,,,and then the Bahamas to explore….Thank you for following our blog. Please leave comments…

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Beautiful…spectacular…remote…undeveloped…breathtaking…scenic…a must visit….
bucket list… CHECK!

Photos are the best way to show Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia.
I shot about 100 photos but here are a few!

Typical path across the island
Sunset on Cumberland Island with Radeen
Wild Horse eating Spanish Moss, Cumberland Island
Isolation on the wind swept beaches
Eric and Patricia stroll the Cumberland Island Beach
You have to love Georgia
Birds along the beach working the shoreline
Space LAUNCH to MARS….We could see the trail. Thank you Bob W. for the call.
It will take eight and a half months for Curiosity to make the 345-million-mile journey to Mars!
One of my favorite sea birds….check that hair 🙂
Crowded day at the beach, other than Eric and Patricia, this was it for many miles!
The Carnegie Estate called DUNGENESS in the 1880s
Today, the estate is in ruins and is part of the National Parks Property

St. Marys Thanksgiving, Georgia

We arrived at St. Marys on Tuesday with plenty of time to take in the town and relax before the famous cruisers’ Thanksgiving event. This is one of the largest gatherings of boating cruisers that I know of for a holiday. This year, our first year, it was attended by 65 yachts from all over the world with several from Australia and New Zealand. Each day leading up to the event, there is a VHF cruisers net at 0900 with information and helpful tips about making the event a success. The town is very accommodating to the visiting boaters providing trash cans, recycle cans, bathrooms, shuttle cars, and more. Much of this work is organized by the owners of the yacht Sea Tramp, our gracious hosts Ann and Len. They worked so hard to make everything flow and keep on track. Imagine organizing 140+ people, who don’t know each other, to assemble a Thanksgiving feast for all. UNREAL work, fantastic job. Along with Ann and Len, the town has the gracious owners of Seagle’s Restaurant and Saloon. This establishment opens their doors to the cruisers and provides the bar, cocktail lounge and full restaurant tables for all to enjoy. Thank you SEAGLE’s. Last but not least, would be Cindy Dean, wild bartender at this establishment. Cindy keeps the drinks flowing and also keeps the room in check as she hurls adjectives, expletives and barbs you would normally only hear in a locker room. In all, it is a blast, and Seagle’s is a real treasure for the cruising community. No other place on the waterway from Maine to Florida has been so accommodating.

Thanksgiving 2011 Cruisers, Gathering in St. Marys Georgia was outstanding. Thank you to all who made this event one of our key destinations for this year!

Photos to follow….

Beaufort, SC to GA

We anchor Island Spirit off the town with Spanish moss

We arrived Beaufort, SC….that is BEWwwwww-fert as the locals pronounce it, and we love this town. It is classy and upscale with a spectacular public waterfront park and a well managed main street with active shops, coffee bars, restaraunts and upscale waterfront condos. Yes, Beaufort has done an outstanding job of building and managing their waterfront. Thank You! Our goal was to spend the day here and then wait for the ebb tide (tide that runs towards the ocean) so we could ride this tide the 26 miles out to sea. Once offshore, we ran all night about 10-12 miles off the Georgia coast toward the St. Marys inlet 100 miles south. This planned route bypasses all the twists and turns of the well known Georgia ICW, where you go 3 miles west for every one mile south. The weather was perfect, large high pressure and the winds were calm, 8-10 mph, so we had a beautiful night at sea.

Daybreak, with a crescent moon 12 miles off Georgia coast

One of the spectacular aspects to being at sea at night is the morning daybreak. When you live in a house, you very rarely take time, like an hour, to go out side and watch the sunrise. This process takes well over an hour, and who has an hour for that? We do….and watch we did. We have seen many sunrises at sea over the past 10 years, but this has to be the best one. I love when the sun illuminates the bottoms of the clouds and bends the light into so many refracted colors.

Shortly after daybreak, we arrived at the St. Marys inlet where we continued 7 miles up river to the town center. We will spend Thanksgiving here as the town is well known for the feast they host for the visiting boaters. We are looking forward to a break, as we have been moving the boat 30-40 miles almost everyday for 4 weeks. Time to relax….then, Florida here we come!

Our home, at anchor Beaufort SC with the sun setting in the clouds

Beautiful, historic waterfront homes overlook the river
Large trees with Spanish moss, notice Radeen at base of tree!
Waterfront park with swings and beautiful landscaping overlooks the Beaufort River
Sundown as we exit the river for an overnight run at sea to St. Marys inlet
Daybreak at sea, spectacular morning
30 minutes before sunrise, the sky lights up and illuminates the clouds
10 minutes before sunrise, the show peaks with the clouds lit a fiery red
Sunrise, the day begins. Look at the colors and the water reflections.
Beautiful at sea!
Local Shrimper works the morning light off Georgia coast        

Charleston, SC

Island Spirit and the Ravenal Bridge over the Cooper River
Charleston, SC Maritime Center Docks

We arrived Charleston, SC Tuesday and secured a dock on the favored side of town at the Maritime Center where BoatUS members get a discount at $1.50/foot. We booked in for two days but due to weather and the temptations of a fabulous city, we stayed an extra day. Not bad….a “room” right in the city for $52.50 per night (35’*1.50) – we had a difficult time moving out. We usually do not take docks because of the cost and also we have a 44 lb Bruce anchor and 250 feet of chain anchor rode, so we always prefer to use that and save the fee. Charleston does have an anchorage field on the Ashley River, but that is on the opposite side of town from where the action is location. Lucky for us, one of our Island Packet members alerted us to the Maritime Center and we docked there. Thank you, Lamar and Sherri, IP-420 Winterset.

While at Charleston, we enjoyed Harris Teeter Shopping, one of the finest grocery stores on the planet. We also enjoyed Caviar and Bananas, a New York style deli that is better than any NY deli. Of course this was created by a family who moved here from….you guessed it…NYC. We also enjoyed a do-it-yourself historical walking tour that we bought at the visitors center. We walked the city, taking in the beautiful Georgian Architecture and historic cobblestone lined streets. East Bay Street is wonderful to explore. After the walk, we enjoyed a class of wine at one of the many pubs along East Bay.

Charleston, SC is a city I could live in…it was a joy to visit. We departed there and motored 45 miles south to a beautiful anchorage on Bass Creek, just off Parrot Creek near the Coosaw River. Our next stop will be Beaufort, SC.

4 Island Packets: Island Spirit, Habibi, Winterset, Cutter Loose
Third of eight the USCG will be building, just launched in Oct 2011
Loaded weapons and guns, this ship is ready to protect.
Typical Charleston Home, narrow on the street, portico to the SW
homes were taxed on their street frontage, so this beat the system
Homes along the southern tip at the Battery
The Three Sisters, the finest example of Charleston Single homes
The Battery, when viewed from sea
After departing Charleston, we anchor in a most remote area
Bass Creek off Parrot Creek

Nothing but marsh grasses….beautiful
Sunset over the stern of Island Spirit, Bass Creek

Next stop….Beaufort, SC….that is pronounced….BEWwwww-fert!

Citadel, SC a visit to William

William and Mr. C. at Watts Barracks, The Citadel, SC

With great pride and respect, we visited one of my top high quality students who is now attending The Citadel in Charleston, SC. William, or Will as he is know to most, graduated from the High School where I spent my 31 year teaching career. Over those 31 years, several students rise to the top of the list as outstanding students who are obviously in a league of their own. William is one of those few students and I am proud to have been his computer applications teacher in 2010. As we neared Georgetown, SC, we sent a text off to William to alert him of our impending arrival in Charleston in a few days. Will replied and informed me that it was Homecoming this weekend and that it also was Open Barracks and that it would be a shame we would miss all the fun.

William in Watts Barracks, Citadel, SC

Don’t give “Team Island Spirit” a challenge like that, because….WE WILL MAKE IT….and make it we did. We dropped anchor 66 miles short of Charleston, in charming Georgetown, booked a rental car, departed the boat at 7 am on a frosty 40 degree morning, drove down Rt. 17 to The Citadel and breached the fortress of WATTS BARRACKS where we sent a text to William and said….”WE ARE IN THE COURTYARD….where are you?” William alerted us to climb the NOVEMBER tower staircase up to the 5th floor and there he was, looking better than ever. We visited for an hour, toured his barracks and met Frank, his local host family, who is a civil engineer and a 2006 Citadel graduate.

Watts Barracks, Citadel, SC

After the barracks closed at 1000 hrs, the corps formed up and the entire brigade was presented on the parade field where hundreds of family members and Citadel graduates lined the field. William told us where to stand in order to locate his NOVEMBER Company. We enjoyed watching the precision marching, the presentation and firing of the cannons and recognition of dignitaries and awards to honored graduates. I am so proud of William and his dedication to this Military College of South Carolina. The academics are difficult and the disciplined program even more challenging, but I am positive William will excel, just like he did in all his previous years. Congratulations and thank you again for alerting us to the Open Barracks and Homecoming festivities. You make me proud….very proud!

Brigade Parade marching into the parade field
Smoke covers the main hall as the cannons are fired
November Company, with William in the center
William in formation, November Company, Citadel, SC
William in the center, 4th row back in this photo
You make me proud, William!

Georgetown, SC

Norah, our newest crewmember, she sails from the Potomac!
We arrived Georgetown, SC from Myrtle Beach and planned to stay a few days as this town is very welcoming to boaters, plus you can anchor 100 yards off the town dock! The approach by water is not scenic due to a steel mill and a paper pulp factory, but the town itself is charming and very walkable. We learned that there are more pre-Revolution houses here than in Williamsburg, VA.
While here, we connected with our Washington, DC cousins and enjoyed a nice lunch at the BIG TUNA on the long boardwalk overlooking Island Spirit. It was great to see family and our NEWEST crewmember, NORAH, who has the most beautiful blue eyes. We were concerned about taking her to the boat as we did not have a proper child life vest, so we enjoyed walking the town and catching up with our fun cousins. Dinner ashore with Cutter Loose at Limpin’ Jane’s was delicious!
Island Spirit anchored off Georgetown, SC
Norah, dreaming of sailing and the blue sea, check those BLUE EYES!
The girls at lunch in the Big Tuna

Required ICE CREAM stop with the team
Veterans Day Parade, thank you Veterans for our FREEDOMS
Veteran’s Day Parade, 4 pm on 11/11/11/ in Georgetown, SC
40 degree AM sea smoke engulfs the fishing & shrimping fleet
Sailboats departing the harbor in the sea smoke
Sunrise begins to burn off the sea smoke and fog
City street at night, Georgetown, SC