Apologises for lack of blogs

Apologies for the lack of blogs. I have been technologically challenged on Camomile. My laptop died in the Seychelles last year and was sent home with James at Christmas.  Sadly when we were back in the UK in May it was pronounced uneconomic to repair. Despite the company fitting a new motherboard it still wouldn’t work. Don’t buy a Hewlett-Packard it was less than 2 years old. The repair company recovered the hard disk and sent it to me in an enclosure. It has a USB port and I’m supposed to be able to see the contents…..I can’t. When I get a new laptop I’ll address that problem.  My old laptop runs on WindowsXP and with the current spate of hacking it’s unsafe to connect it to the internet. My Samsung tablet wasn’t WordPress friendly and then last month that too died. I can’t replace the laptop and the tablet so I decided to replace the tablet and discovered the new Samsung now talks to WordPress and allows me to post photos. Result. So I’ll try and bring the blog up to date.

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June Update

This is also very late but here is the June update. I hope it isn’t too boring but I put the waypoints in for my yachtie friends.

Lovely fountains near the apartment

We arrived safely back in Florida and Kate had very kindly booked an apartment for us all to stay in for 3 nights. Bill and I had wanted to get back to the boat to start getting it prepared to head north but I was quite ill when we got back and the rest in the apartment was very welcome. I had had a nasty cold for several weeks in the UK and added to the jetlag combined with the heat I wasn’t improving. I retained my cold right through June, just couldn’t shake it off. The apartment was in a nice area with the Disney parks a short bus ride away but at $105 ++ per person we didn’t visit them.

 

One of the pools

 

There was a nice pool and gym which Kate and Mark enjoyed while I rested in the air conditioning for the first day but joined them the next day. Again the most convenient way to get back to the boat with all our luggage was hire a one-way car, a shiny red Dodge. Sorry forgot to take a photo.  After travelling three sides of a square because I’m rubbish with GPS (give me a map any day) we were eventually on our way. We stopped at a mall on the way back but it was fairly uninspiring.

 

 

The car didn’t have to go back until the next day so we made use of it to stock up the boat with food and wine to take back to the boat.  This is a boring photo of the local supermarket car park but look at the size of the cars! More about them later.

Harbourtown marina has a nice little pool which Kate and Mark enjoyed while I sorted the boat out. It easier on my own. When we had left on the 9th May it was a nice temperature but now after 3 weeks away the temperature had soared and the pool was the only place to cool down.

Happy birthday Kate

 

Sunday 4th was Kate’s birthday and I had a nice salad lunch with a cake to celebrate.

There was a double celebration that day because our Blue Water rally friends Peter and Margie drove up from Miami to join us for lunch. They had brought bubbles for the double celebration.  We had a great time chatting to them not having seen them since 2011 in NZ at Kate’s house so lots to catch up on.

Bill, Sue, Margie and Peter

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ICW is lined with these huge houses

 

Finally on Tuesday 6th we got going.  Unfortunately there was a thunderstorm brewing and I didn’t want to go on the outside. We were already late and didn’t want to wait another day so travelled up the ICW instead. Once we passed through the opening Fort Pierce north bridge we were committed and couldn’t go back.  As the wind was coming from the south Bill pulled the headsail out and we sailed slowly up the waterway. Most of the Florida section is lined with these huge homesteads that are obscene in their size.  At first we thought they were hotels or apartments but then we realised they were 1 house.

Day boats

 

 

Most of them have their own jetties with various types of boats on them.  These are very popular and potter up and down the waterways. I would think they have a fairly shallow draft so don’t have to keep within the channel.

 

 

Irritating stink pots

 

Unfortunately there are also a lot of these. Just look at the wash this was kicking up. The owners have a total disregard for anyone else on the waterways. There are ‘no wash’ signs everywhere but they ignore them.

 

 

 

 

It’s shallow outside of the channel

 

It’s really important to keep with in the channel, a few feet out of it is very shallow as you can see from these boys just able to step out of their vessel.

We found a nice little anchorage for the night just north of the Eau Gallie fixed bridge. For my yachties friends the waypoint is

28°08.11N

080°37.343W

The next day we were off again and sailed with just the genny again. Mark enjoyed taking a turn on the helm. By lunchtime the wind had gone and it started to rain. The decision was made to go into a marina. Oddly enough it was also called Harbourtown marina.  It was in the Canaveral Barge canal at

28°24.51N

080°40.757W

At $104 for 2 nights, which, for a transient berth, was a bargain for America.  We stayed 2 nights enabling us to visit the Kennedy Space centre at Cape Canaveral, which was just a taxi ride away. If you come to Florida forget the Disney parks, do the Kennedy Space center we had a great time there.

The rocket garden

Bill had a sit in a rocket.

 

The day started off sunny and we explored the Rocket garden but the clouds built up and brought the rain later in the day. Your ticket includes a guided bus tour of the launch sites and we were able to get quite close to them although you have to stay on the bus.

This is the huge crawler that carries the space rocket from the hanger where it’s assembled to the launch pad at a really fast 1 mile an hour.

 

The crawler base

This is one of the launch pads.  You can see the crawler tracks.

This is one of the launch pads.  You can see the crawler tracks.

 

The bus stops on the Cape Canaveral island at further exhibition halls. This was a simulator for a rocket launch and these screens were showing an actual launch. I have a video of the whole thing. The floor was shaking and it was very loud, it was really exciting. It would be fantastic to witness an actual launch.

 

Rocket launch simulator

Part of the simulator

The Saturn V

 

The main hall had a really Saturn V on display.  Bill was very excited to see it.

There were lots of smaller exhibits to see before getting back on the bus to go back to the main site.

The space shuttle

 

 

One of the main exhibits on that side contained an actual space shuttle. We all queued for the Shuttle Launch Simulator, which was fun. We all laughed while trying to speak as our voices were all shaking with the simulated speed.

This is an actual space shuttle not a model.

The space shuttle

 

 

Everything was very well presented and I would recommend it.  Back to the marina to cool off in their pool and put some washing on.

 

 

Our selfie. haha

Following English boat through the open bridge.

The next day Friday 9th we discussed going outside again, there’s an inlet at the end of the Canaveral canal, but there was no wind and it was quite a long way out so we continued up the ICW.

More bridges.

More beautiful houses but the ICW was as boring as it looks. The water was filthy and Camomile was starting to get a dirty mark around her waterline.

More big houses

Titusville bridge

We traveled just 4 hours that day and stopped at Titusville to give our guests a chance to go ashore. We anchored just south of the bridge at

28°37.170N

080°47.928W

During the evening a band set up by a bar under the bridge and they played some really nice music. Kate and I were dancing around the deck all evening. Unfortunately the next day we discovered another blight of the ICW.  As the screens hadn’t been in, the boat was full of mosquitoes and we were all covered in bites, except Mark, they didn’t seem to like him!

Kate and Mark had decided to spend the last few days of their holiday back in a hotel in Orlando; I think the air conditioning was calling because it was very hot on board and the ICW is fairly uninspiring.

Daytona beach south

Saturday 10th no wind. Bill and I got up at 6.00, lifted the anchor and got going.  It was 38 miles to Daytona beach where Kate and Mark were leaving us so we decided to get there as soon as possible so they could enjoy the beach. I found another small marina that just had a little space for Camomile at

29°09.272N

080°58.541W

It was called 7 Seas marina and was very friendly. No pool but washing machines and showers for $93.09 for 2 nights. It was just outside Daytona and the beach was a short walk away.

Daytona beach north

Daytona beach bills itself as ‘The World’s Most Famous Beach’. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR, which started in 1947. Its origins go back as far as 1902 to drag races held on the beach’s hard packed sand. We were a bit further south than the actual Daytona beach but it all looks the same. It was a beautiful beach. Kate and Mark went off to explore. When Bill and I got down to the beach it reminded us a bit of the Gold coast in Australia.

This was our first and only time on the beach on the East coast south of Virginia. There aren’t any suitable anchorages along the coast. The inlets were quite bouncy until you were well inside the ICW. Most of the anchorages in the ICW are fronted by beautiful houses but nowhere to land among the private docks. We noted some public jetties but they were often full with local ‘day’ boats and a fair walk to the beach. So Daytona was our one and only walk on the beach.

Mark with 2 breakfasts

Sunday 11th was their last day and Kate kindly treated us all to breakfast in Pat’s café.  Mark over ordered and managed to get two breakfasts but he still eat it all! The marina manager very kindly offered to give them a lift into town to catch their bus back to Orlando so we said our goodbyes and they left.

The next day the marina manager offered to take us to the supermarket, as we needed to restock the boat before we headed north, everyone was very friendly there. We left in the afternoon and motored south to anchor by the Ponce de Leon inlet ready for an early start in the morning. The anchorage was at

29°03.671N

080°55.890W

I’m not sure I would recommend it because the anchorage was full of midges of some sort and in the morning we were both covered in bites, particularly Bill.  His chest was covered in little tiny red bites.

Time was pressing on. It was 13th June and we were still in Florida. Our insurance company had asked us to be north of 35° north before 1st June and we were still at 29°N.  On reflection we should have got Camomile much further north before going to the UK. Hurricane season had started and we weren’t covered for a named storm although hurricanes are very rare in June.  In fact it was the opposite there wasn’t any wind forecast; another reason I would recommend trying to get north early. We had been advised by friends who had sailed these shores on previous years ‘Go north quickly, come south slowly’ although it’s a bit late in the season that was our plan, to try to get north as quickly as possible.

St Augustine waterfront

That morning there was no wind but we left early and motored on the outside covering 62 miles to St Augustine. We arrived in the rain and tried 3 times to anchor but were told by a local there’s no holding and to pick up a buoy.  It was at

29°53.66N

081°18.55W

The next morning we decided to have a look at the town before we moved on but went to pay for the buoy first. It was $25 for the night plus we were informed we had to ‘check out’ by 11am, it was 10am. After complaining bitterly the harbour master relented and gave us until 1pm!

Juan Ponce de Leon

St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and is the oldest permanent settlement in the US. Juan Ponce de Leon discovered it in 1513 and has his statue erected near where he stepped ashore.

The entrance of the big government building that dominates the town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful Basilica

 

 

 

 

We wandered into the Cathedral Basilica and found a striking building inside. Some of the walls and woodwork had beautiful murals painted on them.

The interior was stunning

The altar was beautiful

 

 

The altar was sitting on a marble floor and had a centrepiece behind the altar covered in gold and surrounded by the organ pipes. Really stunning. It was also cool in there.

 

 

The main street

Quaint houses

 

We walked down the pedestrianised St Georges street. I felt it was on the edge of being Disneyfied but stopped just short of being a historic theme park because many of the buildings are original, if heavily restored.  After stopping for coffee we continued. Some of the buildings were very quaint.

The original school

Castello de Marcos

 

On the edge of town is the Castello de San Marcos, the country’s oldest masonry fort completed by the Spanish in 1695.  For many years it was the northernmost outpost of Spain’s vast New World empire.  It protected St Augustine from pirate raids and Spain’s major rival at the time, Great Britain.  The fortress is a hollow square with diamond shaped bastions at each corner with only one way in or out.

The bastions

 

 

Cannons in one bastion were positioned to create a deadly crossfire with those in two other bastions.  The fort’s commanding location on the west bank of the town allowed its guns to protect not only the harbour entrance but the ground to the north against a land attack.

Cannons lined the upper walls

 

 

In 1763, as an outcome of the Seven Years (French and Indian) War, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in return for Cuba. After the American Revolution Florida was returned to Spain until 1821 when Spain ceded Florida to the United States. Over the years it fell into disrepair until it came under the National Park service in 1935.

 

The sleeping quarters

 

 

St Augustine was a garrison town and no one lived inside the Castillo. The soldiers lived in town with their families and came to the fort to stand a rotating guard duty. They slept on these platforms and prepared their meals in this room.

 

The inner walls

Camomile on her buoy

Fascinating tour. These days it just looks out over a bunch of yachts including Camomile.

We returned to the dinghy at exactly 1pm and left the buoy motoring to the outer harbour to anchor by the lighthouse at

29°53.19N

081°17.06W a nice peaceful overnight stop.

 

The St Augustine waterfront

Back out through the inlet

Thursday 15th we left early and headed back out to sea. I noticed a ‘buddy’ on the AIS and discovered it was Solstice with Don and Phyllis on board. We haven’t seen them since St Helena.  After a quick chat on the vhf I discovered they were heading into Jacksonville.  It would have been nice to catch up with them but we had made the decision to push on.  We motored half the day and sailed half so a bit of an improvement.

Big factory in the entrance

 

 

At 7pm we dropped anchor at Fernandina beach (no where near the beach) right on the Florida/Georgia border. There was a fairly ugly factory of some description just inside the entrance to the harbour. It had huge piles of sawdust on the side and Bill said he thought they were making some sort of fibreboard.

 

Sad sight

 

We also passed a boat yard with a number of dead boats on the side, which were probably remnants of hurricane Matthew that went through here last year.  We had seen lots of broken boats in the shallows on our way up the ICW.  The anchor was dropped at

30°40.229N

081°28.110W    just behind the British boat with the French name Ile Jeudi (Thursday Island).  We had seen them on the water a couple of times.

We were ashore the next morning when we bumped into them, they were Bob and Lyn and we had a great chat over a coffee. Having left all our sailing friends in the Caribbean it was nice to make some new ones.

Beautiful church

 

The residents of Amelia Island, home to Fernandina Beach, are quick to tell you their town is just as old as St Augustine but unfortunately they can’t prove it. It certainly has the familiar historic theme park look. Everywhere we’ve been so far is so manicured, almost unreal it’s so clean and tidy without a blade of grass out of place. I guess we’re used to the scruffy island states of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Beautifully kept properties

 

 

We followed the walking tour recommended by the tourist office but unfortunately it started to rain so we found a nice Pizza restaurant and stopped for lunch.

 

 

Traditional shop fronts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting veranda

Shop selling Christmas trees in June

Later that afternoon I noticed this amusing shop. Were these the first Christmas decorations on sale in June?

Saturday 17th first thing in the morning we were off again. After motoring all morning the wind picked up in the afternoon and the engine was turned off. We decided to continue overnight as we had some decent wind for a change. It meant we would miss Savannah and the state of Georgia but we needed to keep going.  Ile Jeudi were sailing in front of us and decided to do the same.

Are these the biggest fenders you’ve seen?

Big houses on the Charleston waterfront

We dropped anchor in Charleston, South Carolina at lunchtime the next day. We were both tired and stayed on board. I think sailing for 1 night is worse than doing a week. You don’t get a chance to get into a routine.  Our waypoint was

32°46.555N

079°57.222

We had a couple of days in Charleston with a strong north wind blowing, which we couldn’t go out in. Typical, decent bit of wind and it’s on the nose.

Edmonston-Alston house

Monday 19th we went ashore with Bob and Lyn and had a nice lunch together. Charleston or Charles Towne, named for Charles II, was settled by English colonists on the Ashley river in 1670.  By 1740 it had become one of the busiest ports on the eastern seaboard, the centre of prosperous rice-growing and a trading colony built on the back of slavery. Charleston was a key trading centre for the slave industry and bustling slave auction houses clustered along the river.  In 1861 the first shots of the Civil war rang out at Fort Sumter that we had passed in the harbour entrance. After the war the labour intensive rice plantations became uneconomical without slave labour and the importance of the city went into decline.  The southern most tip of the peninsular has the bulk of the antebellum mansions and about a half a dozen of these majestic homes are open to the public. In the afternoon we looked around the town and visited the Edmonston-Alston house, which was beautifully restored but no photos allowed.

Everything’s big in America

 

 

Tuesday the wind was still blowing in the wrong direction so Bill and I went ashore again. Bill wanted his photo taken next to this monster, the bonnet was right up to his shoulders.

 

 

One of the grand paintings left

 

Continuing out tour of the town we visited the Aiken-Rhett house.  The only surviving example from the urban plantation times, it gives a fascination glimpse into antebellum life.  Constructed in 1820 for Gov and Mrs William Aiken it remained in the family for 142 years.  Many of the rooms were closed off for decades and it is being kept in a ‘preserved-as-found’ condition.

 

 

Love the windows

Would have been some lovely parties here once

 

 

 

The furniture and interior is unaltered since the mid 19th century.

 

 

The original slave quarters

Inside the slave quarters

 

 

The role of slaves is also preserved and it’s possible to wander through the dormitory quarters behind the house.

 

 

The old cooking range

 

 

 

This kitchen would have been used to cook meals for the entire family. They were very nervous of fire in those days and didn’t like it in the main house.

 

Joseph-Manigault house

The beautiful dining room

 

 

The Joseph Manigault house a few blocks away is a complete contrast. The three-story Federal style house was once the showpiece of a French Huguenot rice planter. The rooms open to the public were beautifully furnished.  The third floor is still a private residence.

 

For ladies that write letters

Beautiful fireplace

 

Beautiful hallway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing chandelier

 

 

 

Formal garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a small neoclassical temple in the garden.

We were told there are some beautiful plantations outside of the town open to the public but you would need a car to get out to them. Maybe another day.

On the Wednesday Don and Phyllis arrived on Solstice so it was nice to catch up with them.

Thursday 22nd the wind dropped so we decided to leave along with Ile Jeudi and Solstice.  We motored in the morning but the wind picked up in the afternoon so we were able to sail. The intention was to go to Georgetown but it seemed a shame to stop as we had some wind so we continued. Ile Jeudi went into Georgetown but Solstice continued with us into the night. The engine went on at 10.30 the next morning and we motored into Southport, North Carolina. There was a storm coming and we needed to be in secure in a marina for a few days.

Bill – Solstice, Bill Neal and Ruth – Rutea

 

 

Then the confusion started. We were calling Solstice on the VHF when another Solstice answered – it was our old friend Bill who we hadn’t seen since 2014 in Malaysia, how cool was that. Added to that when we arrived at South Harbour Village marina Neal and Ruth on Rutea were there and we hadn’t seen them probably since 2013! It was great to catch up with them all on Rutea for drinks later.

The marina was at

33°55.11N (getting nearer to 35N)

078°02.90W

it cost $125.20 for 2 nights and had nice showers and a washing machine.  It was quite a way out of town but Bill had a car and drove the 5 of us to a nearby group of bars and restaurants where there was a good band playing.

Quaint church

Don and Phyllis on Solstice

The other Solstice had gone into a different marina (South Harbour only had 1 space free) but on Sunday 25th we left South Harbour and joined Don and Phyllis to continue our journey. The storm had gone through but the seas were still a bit rough so we decided to continue up the ICW again for the day and dropped anchor in Wrightsville at 3pm.  Our waypoint was

34°12.352N

077°48.003W

Motoring up the ICW

Solstice travelling behind us passing under the bridge

 

There had been no wind and we’d motored all the way. In the ICW all the fixed bridges 64ft, give or take a foot depending on the tide, if they are less than that they open.  Some will open on demand, some have timetables but ask the bridge operator.  The depth in the ICW in the channel is supposed to be about 10ft but Camomile draws 2 metres or 6 feet and has touched the bottom a couple of times but it’s only soft mud.

 

Wrightsville waterfront

West Marine store

Monday 26th we went ashore with Don and Phyllis in search of a supermarket and found a West Marine opposite. While we were out Rutea and Ile Jeudi arrived so we invited the 4 of them to join us and Don and Phyllis on board Camomile for a drink that evening. The interesting thing was the six of them didn’t know each other only us.  It was interesting introducing everyone and all had a great evening.

Beautiful evening

Ile Jeudi ahead of us

Tuesday 27th we joined Solstice and Ile Jeudi for the journey to Beaufort. We exited at the Masonboro inlet but again motored all of the way 70 miles; crazy.

It was late when we arrived at Beaufort but just got our anchor down as the sun dipped below the horizon at 8.30. That’s one of the advantages of heading north the evenings are drawing out. Solstice came in behind us.

Solstice and Camomile at anchor

 

 

 

Our waypoint was

34°42.886N

076°39.887W

 

 

An original routemaster

 

 

Wednesday 28th we went ashore and enjoyed walking around the town. I was very excited to see this London bus which is exactly the sort of bus my Dad used to drive many years ago. In the US it isn’t mandatory to have a front number plate so this bus was still displaying it’s original English number plate at the front. Also on the side it still had it’s bus number and destinations in London on display. The tourist company were using it for tours around the area.

Original sign

One of the oldest

 

 

This little house from 1778 is the oldest existing one in the village.  It looked very small compared to most of the other homes although Beaufort had some cute little places.

This one was my favourite, such a sweet little house.

Beautiful church

The whole town was very attractive and many houses already had their 4th July decorations on display. This was the beautiful village church.  One thing that struck us as we walked around Beaufort that, along with many of the coastal towns we’d visited, we didn’t see a single black face.  In Beaufort the only one we saw was a guy cutting someone’s lawn.  We had seen various groups of kids on summer school on our journey along the coast but not one non-white face. I’m not sure what that means but we found it slightly disturbing.

The next day Solstice and Ile Jeudi left for Oriental further up the ICW and that was the last we saw of them this year. We wanted to wait another day and make the final push over the 35° latitude before the end of the month around the outside.

Our dolphin escort

Friday 30th the winds were forecast to blow from the south. We motored back out through the Beaufort Inlet and had to motor 20 miles south around the cape lookout shoals before we were able to turn north and sailed the rest of the day with a dolphin escort. During the afternoon it was in a north east direction towards Cape Hatteras before turning north towards the Chesapeake bay.  Rutea and Bill on the other Solstice were also making the journey that day although they were about half a day behind us.  At 10pm we finally crossed the 35° line.  Cape Hatteras has a dreadful reputation in these parts and we weren’t disappointed. As we rounded the cape at 1am we were hit by a huge squall that completely overpowered the boat for about 10 minutes until Bill was able to regain control but that was in July…..

Finally sailing

May update

I can now continue with my blogs. This is long overdue but this is the May update.

Monday 1st May we checked into America. It took all morning. The biggest problem was not having an American phone and the satellite phone wouldn’t call the number the coastguard gave me. It’s necessary to have a check in number, which you get calling the phone number, before the customs will even speak to you. For yachties following us, the custom’s have an internal phone you can use when you get there. We spent several hours establishing that! We also assumed they would want to inspect Camomile and tried to obtain a marina berth for a few hours but that was unnecessary because they decided they didn’t want to inspect so we stayed at anchor.

Very clean American mall

The next day was my birthday and I decided I wanted to go a real American mall, Bill’s idea of purgatory but off we went. While there we got a new phone for me on an American contract so I can facebook and message as much as I want. The number is 561 301 6266. I had a wonderful time browsing around the shops.

Yum yum yum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch out, which was delicious, but the best was the strawberry shortcake for dessert. The first of the ‘Everything is big in America’ pictures.

The next day on the 3rd we headed north leaving at 6.30am going back out through the Lake Worth inlet at

26˚46.348N

80˚01.719W

The wind was from the east and gave us a good push with the sails hoisted. We entered back into the ICW (inter coastal waterway) at

27˚28.537N

80˚16.137W

and then into Harbourtown marina at Fort Pierce.

Camomile in Harbourtown marina

The entrance waypoint is

27˚28.030N

80˚19.569W

The space is the marina was very tight. As you can see Camomile is way over the edge of the berth but the marina weren’t concerned. It will be fun getting out but we’ll work that out later.  This would be Camomile’s home for the next month. The cost was $623 for the month working out to a little over 55c per foot per day. We were later to realise what a bargain this was. In the US you pay by the foot for a day or a month. The monthly rates are a lot cheaper than the daily rates.

As many of you know the purpose of the beginning of our stay was to fly back to the UK but the first job was to clean Camomile inside and out, which took most of the next day.  I had spent several hours cleaning Camomile’s decks then it started to rain!! Should I have bothered. The couple on the motorboat next to us were very friendly along with most of the other boat owners.  Word got round there were a couple of Brits in town and everyone was ‘Just stopping by to say Hello and welcome’.

The smallest car available to hire.

Spent the rest of the week sorting out the boat, washing and packing.

Monday 8th we picked up our hire car. A one way car hire worked out the cheapest way to get to Orlando airport which was only a 4 hour drive away but America doesn’t really do public transport. When we arrived at the office in town and had completed the paperwork we were shown to our car. I pointed out that I thought they had given us the wrong car. I had booked a small compact car. ‘No’ he said ‘this is a small compact car’!

Selfie by the fountain

 

 

Tuesday 9th we drove to Orlando airport. I was really excited. We were flying to Miami and then to Heathrow. Orlando airport is huge and full of shops selling Micky Mouse hats. There was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the building.

 

Getting our flight ready

 

 

Our flight was delayed twice and was transferred to Philadelphia where we had to take a later flight to Heathrow. All good in the end.

It was wonderful to see Thomas at the airport. All the planning for this event and finally we were in the UK.

 

Logan is such a cutie

 

Had a busy first week. On the Friday Bill went off on the stag weekend to Barcelona to the F1, with James, Will the best man and some others. Thomas had a great time. I spent 3 days with my younger sister shopping for my wedding outfit then 3 days with my middle sister enjoying chatting with her and my niece Kirsty and my great nephew Logan, who is adorable now. It’s a year since I’ve seen him and he isn’t a baby any more.  Bill and James were back from the stag and working on James’s van.

Thank you to my sisters for having us.

We then returned to Kent to stay with Sonal’s mum Meena. Thank you for having us Meena.

Working in the cookie kitchen, do you like my hair net?

 

 

 

 

 

During our second week James was back at work so Bill helped Thomas put some finishing touches to their house, which ended up taking quite a time. I had a day in the cookie kitchen making cookies. I didn’t eat many……

Kate and Bill catching up.

 

 

 

A week before the wedding on the 20th we were invited to a family party of Bill’s relatives at cousin Sally and Rob’s. It was wonderful to see everyone. Bill’s sister Kate was there who had flown in for the wedding and Bill and she had a lovely catch up. It was also the first time we’d seen our nephew Will in almost 5 year, he had grown very tall.

 

3 delicious cakes

Bronwyn blowing out her candles

 

 

There were 3 cakes for 3 celebrations Mike and Angie’s 25th wedding anniversary, Bronwyn’s 80th birthday and cousin Wendie’s 60th birthday. We had a wonderful day.

 

 

The Chilston park hotel

Amanda and I with the Ferrari

 

Our third and last week was spent shopping for boat bits, of course, clothes to take back, more visiting, hair dressers, nail painting, more last minute bits for the wedding that it just flew by.  Finally on 27th the big day arrived. A group of us had stayed at the Chilston Park hotel which served the most amazing breakfast. James and Thomas were there and we had had one last family evening together – when everything was finally completed.

On the morning of the wedding Thomas’s friend arrived in his Ferrari to take Thomas to the venue. My sister and I had a pose in front of it.

My two sisters-in-law Claire and Kate, the very tall nephew Will, Uncle John and Auntie Hilary

 

 

 

 

Guests were arriving at the venue when Thomas’s party arrived.  Everyone looked beautiful in their wedding outfits. It was a glorious day, they were so lucky with the weather.

My favorite photo. My sisters Angela and Amanda

 

 

 

Sonal’s mum Meena. Our babies were getting married.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill and I outside Bradbourne house, the wedding venue.

Thomas and his best man Will

Thomas leads his bride up the steps.

 

 

 

Finally the bride arrived and looked absolutely stunning. The wedding was outside on the steps that made a stunning setting. Sonals’s dress was exquisite.  She had done a wonderful job of blending Indian style accessories with the traditional English wedding theme.

 

Slinky the ring bearer

 

 

 

 

Their little dog Slinky was a ring bearer. They were attached to his collar. Will led him up the steps to Thomas so he could receive the rings.

Thomas had asked Bill to do a reading but instead Bill wrote a poem and read it to them at the end of the service. Here it is

Welcome

And so I am called – to give sage advice
It’s a special occasion – so I’ll try hard to be nice
All things considered – I really feel I oughter
Because today – I gain a beautiful daughter

It is a brave step – to be husband and wife
One that’s at least – for the rest of your life
So be a friend and an ally – as well as a lover
Be tough be gentle – care for each other

Be quick to unsay – the wrong things you said
You can’t always know – what’s going on in their head
Compassion and compromise – tolerance too
Strive always to see – another point of view

Share fair the burden – of everyday chores
You both work so hard – but make time that is yours
Show respect and interest – for each other’s dreams
Be fast to forgive – however tricky it seems

Put up with the in laws – when they get you upset
They love you and care – so sometimes will fret
Are they smarter than you? very probably not
do they know useful stuff – well they’ve been round the block

All these good things – in plentiful measure
Will build you a life – you’ll both love and treasure

Did I hear you say – is that right are you sure?
It can’t be that simple – there must be some more
After near 40 years – of matrimonial bliss
I’m pleased to say – we’re still working on this
So
A talented woman – a beautiful bride
How lucky is Tom – to have you at his side
And how lucky am I – that it now falls to me
To welcome you Sonal – to my family

Bill reading his poem

Signing the register

We all moved into the grounds for the photos. Everyone has hundreds but this one is one of my favourites.

Claire, chief bridesmaid, Sonal, my beautiful daughter-in-law, Jasmine, my beautiful niece, Jen, Sonal’s sister-in-law

The beautiful bouquets

Lovely photo

Thomas giving his speech

Cutting the cake

and of course there were cookies

Amazing photo. I’m going to have this framed.

This was the first Indian style dance then it was followed by a first English dance

The girls looked beautiful dancing together.

My wonderful flowers

It was a fabulous day and one of the nicest things was the wonderful mix of cultures.

So now I’m no longer Mrs Redgrove – I’m Mrs Redgrove senior.

The following day Thomas and Sonal had invited any one who had stayed in the area over night to join them for a drink at a lovely village pub near where they live.  It also gave us a chance to say our goodbyes to everyone as our time in the UK was coming to an end again.

Bill with his award for writing the best technical article for the Westerly magazine

 

We spent our last two days in the country with our old neighbours in Teston. Relaxing and going for walks in our old neighbourhood. James was able to join us for a day. Thank you Gill and Nigel for having us.

Also Bill had won an award at the Westerly AGM earlier in the year and we were able to unpack it and photograph it before leaving it with my sister.

 

 

Our plane awaits

 

Tuesday 30th May it was back to the airport where our plane was waiting for us. Sorry to all the many people we didn’t get a chance to see this visit but we plan to return April next year for 6 months so we’ll see everyone then. Thank you to everyone we were able to see for making our visit very special and to Thomas and Sonal for allowing us to share your special day.

Despite being on 3 different flights we managed to meet up with Kate and her partner Mark in Orlando airport. Their journey will be in the June update.

xxxx

 

Final leg to Florida – day 4, WE MADE IT

Our position at 12.00 Sunday 30th April
26 45.4N
080 02.59W

We are anchored in Lake Worth, Florida. WE MADE IT TO AMERICA.

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 158 miles giving an average of 6.5kts,

Once Bill got up yesterday we put a poled out genny with a reefed main up and were sailing well. The wind picked up, as forecast, and we were making a really good speed. By 6pm the wind had increased to F5 and Bill decided we needed another reef in the main. The procedure went well until as we were turning back on course Bill’s hat flew off the binnacle and landed in the water. As he didn’t want to lose it we used the occasion for man over board practise. We were coming back round for it when a shark appeared to have a sniff of it? It’s fin could be clearly seen but fortunately he decided not to eat it – lucky it wasn’t one of us!! After the third attempt I got it with the boat hook and lifted it back on board, the shark had disappeared. Maybe we need more practise.

During the night we passed Freeport in the Bahamas where there were about half a dozen ships just loitering. According to their AIS signal they were traveling between 1 and 2 kts but they didn’t appear to be moving. I came to the conclusion they were just drifting because it was too deep to anchor and maybe there wasn’t room in the harbour for them. It was unnerving sailing passed them knowing they were adrift. One of them was only a mile or so away. With a preventer on the main and a poled out genny we couldn’t change course, luckily none of them got in our way.

I went to bed late last night because I wanted to watch our trip log click over another 10,000 miles, which it did at 2am. We have now traveled 60,000 miles since leaving the UK.

This morning when I got up the seas were very lumpy. We were in the gulf stream with a 2 to 3kt current. To get into Palm beach we were ferry gliding. Our COG was 280 and our heading was 230 degrees that’s a whopping 50 degrees of set.

When Bill went back to bed after I got up I took the opportunity of finishing my book. Missing by Susan Lewis. Not sure if anyone has read it but I sobbed through the last dozen pages, what emotion, what an amazing and talented woman she is. I think it’s been made into a film but the book is incredibly well written. If you get the chance do read it but be careful you won’t be able to put it down and have the tissues ready.

The engine went on at 11.30 as we attempted to get into the channel. The current eased off as we got into shallow waters. We wound the genny in as we were approaching and once inside were able to turn back into the wind to drop the main. We had arrived with 25kts of wind from the south along with the current side swiping us. It was a tricky entrance. Luckily once inside everything calmed down and we continued to Lake Worth to anchor.

Meanwhile I was still trying to establish who I needed to contact to check in. I had called the US coastguard at 12 miles off shore but they weren’t interested and suggested calling the CBP and gave me a phone number. As it was a toll free number it wouldn’t work with the Sat phone. So Bill called them back and was given the same information ‘just go and anchor, you don’t have to worry about checking in until you dock’. The new number they gave us went onto answer phone. Once anchored we dropped the dinghy and motored a couple of miles to the nearest marina to ask them. Apparently CBP are closed on sundays and if we go alongside tomorrow we can use their phone to call customs and they will come down to the dock to check us in. Very kind of them although the marina was $2 a foot a night or we might have gone in this afternoon but not at that price. I tell you we’ve visited a lot of western counties as well as third world countries but haven’t experienced such difficulty getting someone to check us in before. If you’re a terrorist buy a yacht and arrive in the US on a Sunday, no one will be interested in you.

The 606 mile journey from South Caicos took us 4 days and 2 hours or 98 hours giving us an average of 6.1kts

We left from Simonstown at the beginning of the year and have traveled 7200 nautical miles in 15 weeks with a few stops on the way. All the doubting Thomas’s, (no one in particular) me included, who thought we wouldn’t do it, well we’re here. Although we have probably missed some places on the way we’ve got the next few years to spend exploring the area.

Once we’ve checked in tomorrow we’ll get sorted with phones and internet. Meanwhile we still have 45 miles to travel up the ICW to Harbortown marina, which can be done over the next day or two and I have a birthday on Tuesday. The first one I’ve spent on our own for years. No friends around this year. 😦 It will be different next year in the UK. 🙂

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The Final leg to Florida – day 3

Our position at 10.00 Saturday 29th April
25 48.1N
077 14.4W

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 170 miles giving an average of 7kts, that includes at least 1kt of current with us

We have 160 miles to go to West Palm beach, Florida

As you can see from our 24 hour run we are traveling much faster now. The wind has increased and the current outside the islands is good. We have a full main and genny out with the wind a nice steady F4 just aft of the beam. Couldn’t ask for better. The sea is up a bit from yesterday but quite manageable.

Having had a bad night the night before with the rolly sea my afternoon nap turned into a 4 hour sleep. I must have needed it although it’s unusual for me to sleep like that on passage. I’m still quite tense something is going to go wrong but as we get closer to America I’m feeling a bit better. When I woke up Bill informed me I had missed a thunder storm and he had all the computers, etc. in the Faraday’s cage he’s made. Fortunately it passed us by without incident.

The new moon put in an appearance last night but only briefly, it was gone by 10pm.

During the night we sailed up the coast of Eleuthera island but at 3.00 this morning I had to get up to help Bill jibe the sails as we turned west to travel along the south side of Great Abaco Island which will take us towards West Palm Beach, Florida.

Our plan is to make landfall at West Palm beach which, according to the CBP (customs and border protection) website is a check in port. Not sure what to expect but we’ll call port control as we enter American waters and take it from there. Should be lunchtime tomorrow hopefully so one more night at sea.

Even though we are 25 degrees north now the days are still pleasantly warm and I only have to add a fleece to my shorts and tee shirt for my night watch. We are still on the same latitude as North Africa.

For dinner I used our last portion of chicken and added an onion, the last half of a green pepper, some frozen vegetables, an egg, some cooked rice and some sweet chili sauce. In our family it’s called a ‘heap’ although there are various variations of it.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The final leg to Florida – day 2

Our position at 10.00 Friday 28th April
24 16.2N
074 55.6W

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 127 miles giving an average of 5.2kts

We have 331 miles to go to West Palm beach, Florida

The forecast had been for light winds so we were pleased to be able to sail quite a bit of yesterday although the sails were up and down and the engine on and off with our average speed reflecting that.
During the night we passed 23 north which is the Tropic of Cancer so that means we are out of the tropics for the rest of the year now.
We are sailing along the outside of the Bahamas and have started picking up some current which is helping our speed.
During the night we sailed in between San Salvador and Rum cay, which meant going over a sea mount and the depth of the water went from 4600 to 1107 over the space of a few miles. Obviously not a problem with the depth but it gave us a lumpy old sea making sleep difficult. We could have gone around the outside of San Salvador but didn’t want to put in the extra miles. A bit of info for those coming along behind us.

For dinner I used our last portion of stir fry beef from SA and made a stir fry with onion, peppers and carrots with sweet chilli and soy sauce over it on a bed of noodles.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The final leg to Florida

Our position at 10.00 Thursday 27th April
22 52.2N
073 04.6W

Our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 today was 138 miles giving an average of 5.75kts

We have 452 miles to go to West Palm beach, Florida

On a course of 303 degrees with 8-12kts of apparent wind straight up our behind; perfect twizzle weather. Bill nearly put the second foresail up before we left but changed his mind, it’s too difficult to do at sea. We have a full main out on a preventer on the port side and a poled out genny on the starboard side. Every now and again the wind gets behind the sail and flicks it causing it to slam.

We had a good day yesterday sailing all day which was unexpected. The forecast was for light winds and we were expecting to motor sail but we’ve kept up a good speed since leaving the anchorage. During the night the wind strengthened a bit and the sails didn’t slam but this morning the wind has dropped a bit and we’re back to the occasional flicking.

A bit of excitement during the night, it’s always in the middle of the night. I went off watch at 01.00 and had just got into bed when I heard an unusual bang followed by Bill calling me. I came back on deck to see the pole down with the sail flapping. I put the deck lights on so Bill could go and investigate. The pole is attached to a slider on the mast. The sail had flipped up with the roll and a gust of wind at the same time that had allowed the pole to drop down the slider, knocking off the retaining block and shattered the pulley at the bottom, there were plastic bits all over the deck. We rolled the genny away and fortunately Bill was able to lift the pole back into place and re-secure it, job done. While the genny was away Bill decided we needed a reef in the main so we put that in then brought out the genny again. Finally I got to bed. Bill kindly let me have an extra half hour this morning.

The food situation is limited again on Camomile. I did some shopping in the Caribbean but didn’t buy too much because I won’t be allowed to take meat, dairy, fruit or veg into the States. According to the CBP website they inspect the boat and take away any fresh food you have on board like they did in Australia and New Zealand so I’ve run the freezer right down. I just have enough for this passage. As we are going home in 2 weeks time there’s no point in having a load of stuff on board that will go off any way. I’ll restock when we come back. So last night I fried a bit of bacon, cooked some ribbon pasta, drained it and added some cream, an egg yolk, parmesan and black pepper and it became a pasta carbonara.

There’s a small crisis on Camomile at the moment because I’ve run out of my Cappucino sachets. I do like my coffee at 11.00 and always manage to have supplies on board but I’ve only got one left which I’m saving for my birthday in case something happens and we’re still out here. It’s kind of an insurance, if I don’t drink it we’ll get there and I didn’t need to save it, if I drink it…..

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

The final leg to Florida

Our position at 10.00 Wednesday 26th April
21 29.47N
071 32310W
Anchored in C ockburn harbour, South Caicos

573 miles to West Palm beach, Florida.

Just lifting the anchor to leave South Caicos. We’ve been here less than 24 hours but decided to come here yesterday from Grand Turk.

Grand Turk was interesting for a stop off and check in but the island revolves around the Carnival Cruise liner jetty that Carnival built for their cruise liners to stop at on their way to and from America and the Caribbean islands. A lot of the beautiful colonial homes on the sea front have been allowed to full into disrepair. One row back and the ‘new’ part of the island just looks like the States with brand new homes built with cruise liner money but of no interest to the tourist. Along the waterfront there are some nice hotels that have a few guests but many of them appeared empty. The anchorage was beautiful with the most stunning clear aquamarine water but not much snorkeling. Every day the local boats brought cruise liner passengers to snorkel the same spot behind us but all that was there were a few rocks that were deep and some fish. There is a ‘wall’ which would make for an interesting dive but that was all. We had 3 days there mainly to sit out a front that looked pretty nasty on the grib files but didn’t turn out so bad, although wouldn’t have wanted to be at sea in it. By Monday afternoon it had gone – taking all the good wind with it but leaving a beautiful blue sky.

Yesterday we decided to come across to South Caicos to check out and have a look at it. Amazingly we had a really good sail when there wasn’t supposed to be any wind. Cockburn harbour was very calm. We didn’t arrive until 4pm and decided it was too late to check out so went for a swim instead. The harbour is very shallow and we were anchored with a metre below the keel in superb clear water. Amusingly Bill stood on the sea bed holding onto the rudder but I didn’t have my camera with me. Lots of Conch shells here and one or two of them moving. Unfortunately as it’s a local delicacy most of them were empty.

We took the dinghy exploring and motored over to Long Cay that only inhabitants are Iguana. On the beach there were more Conch shells, 100s of them actually, some of them were forming part of the beach, all of them have a slit just below the third twirl which is how they must kill them. Sad but there seemed plenty around. I managed to find one nice looking one that I sneaked into the dinghy. There were so many they wouldn’t miss one.

This morning we went ashore to the wonderful old colonial customs building that used to be the commissioners office many years ago. The customs lady said the building had been there all of hers and her mothers life. The Check out took about 5 minutes, very easy, and we didn’t need to go back to Immigration but just hand her our departure cards. There wasn’t a lot of time but we took a little walk. The streets were deserted and completely different without the cruise liner trade. It was a very friendly place and worth a return trip next year.

So this is the final push to Florida. All being well it should take about 4 or 5 days. We are due to arrive on the 1st but if we get some wind it might be the 30th. I don’t mind as long as we get there safely. This time in 2 weeks time we’ll be landing at Heathrow but I have a birthday in between, hopefully not spent at sea.

Please pray for us or keep your fingers crossed whichever you believe in.

All well on board.

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I look forward to catching up with them all when we get to the US. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps)

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everyone. No church or Easter eggs here 😦

Last day in the BVI’s today. It’s beautiful here but very expensive. Most of the bays have got buoys in them at $30 a night with no facilities so it takes a while to find a spot to anchor. Eating out is way beyond our budget, even a burger and chips is about $15 and I don’t even like burger and chips!

Moving onto Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos tomorrow, if the wind plays the game, so no internet or facebook for a few days. Only a 3 day passage and it puts us nearer to Florida. Still on schedule.

Have a great day everyone.

Bill and Sue x

The blog goes through to facebook but we can’t see facebook or your comments. I’ll catch up with them all in America. If you wish to email us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (take out the gaps) Stay safe everyone.

Antigua to St Martin

Our position at 10.00 Wednesday 5th April
17 35.8N
062 34.7W
40 miles to St Martin

Had a great few days in Antigua. Met up with 3 lots of friends. Gabby and Jonathan on Aqualuna, thanks for a fantastic evening and delicious meal you two, hope to see you further north. Tom and Susie, thought you had got rid of us… we found you again. Good to see you for the last time or is it….. Then we took Camomile around to Jolly harbour to check out and there sitting in the restaurant were Bob and Elaine of Pipistrelle what were the odds of that?!!

English harbour was very pretty as always but we were amazed at how the prices of everything have changed in 7/8 years. We were getting 4EC$ to the pound when we were here before now it’s down to 3EC$ to the pound. The restaurants were way over our budget but the hot spot cafe on the dockside in English harbour was good value and had good coffee and light meals with free internet AND a book swap! I had a good shuffle around of my read books with theirs and now have some good ones to read.

We spent a day in Falmouth harbour. Probably a better anchorage with more room although not so pretty. Met up with our friends then round to Jolly harbour yesterday to check out. They have a great supermarket there selling Waitrose foods. The customs/immigration were very helpful.

Jolly harbour was quite significant for us because we arrived there to check into Antigua exactly 7 years and 4 months ago with the Blue Water rally. We’ve only been south from there, so from now on it’s all new territory that we haven’t visited before.

We left Jolly harbour at 03.30 this morning for the sail to St Martin to meet up with more friends, Ian and Glenda on Lucy Alice. So far it’s been a great day, we have a nice gentle F4 on the beam with full sails on a calm sea. We are sailing passed St Barts but we’ll visit these islands again in the next year or two. We need to start heading north now.

I’ll post more photos when I get back on line, just relying on free wifi at the moment until we get to America.

Take care everyone. x

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