Happy New Year to all our friends and family. Sorry we haven’t been in touch but we are stuck in paradise without a phone or wifi signal. Warderick wells in the Exumas, Bahamas is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Camomile is on a buoy alongside a number of other yachts because we are waiting for a front to go over on Wednesday that may have 35 to 45kt gusts in it. The bay is very protected so we are staying here until the weather clears but there aren’t any phone masts near, hence no internet. At the moment we have blue skies, gin clear water, white sand beaches and sand cays at low tide, it’s stunning.
We celebrated the New Year last night at midnight GMT which was 7pm here. The anchorage the previous night had become very bouncy in the middle of the night because of a wind change and poor James and Kristina ended up sleeping in the cockpit. It was decided to leave at first light and the anchor came up at 6.30am so we were all very tired. After our ‘midnight’ at 7pm with our ‘bubbles’ Kristina and I were dancing on the deck while Bill and James smoked a big cigar each until they joined us. We went ashore at 9pm for a cruisers evening with chatting and pot luck nibbles but returned to Camomile at 11pm finally seeing in the new year on Camomile before falling into bed. It was a long day.
This morning the 4 of us took the dinghy, along with 3 other dinghies with cruisers, for a New Years day snorkel. The sun was out and the water so clear and warm. Kristina is doing really well with her snorkeling even though she hasn’t snorkeled before. When I get the internet back I’ll post some photos.
So again Happy New Year to everyone.
Thursday 12th October we left the motel and continued to drive north on I87 leaving it to drive a circuit of the Catskills area. The interstates are useful for getting somewhere quickly but, like all motorways, they aren’t very scenic plus there was no where to stop when I saw something I wanted to photograph. I was looking for a white church, with red trees, green grass and no power lines!
The Catskills is a mountainous region west of the Hudson Valley and hosts a mixture of cultures, both manmade and natural. In 1894 the state constitution was amended so that thousands of acres will be kept as wild forest lands. It’s the closest place to New York city to see the Autumn leaves.
We left the I87 and drove onto route 28 to join the country roads passing through Arkville. This house in Arkville had one of many Halloween displays we saw. Halloween is big business here and the shops were full of costumes and decorations for your house. This garden had so much going on.
In Arkville turn north to Roxbury then head back east on Rte 23 which passes through colourful Tannersville. All the houses and shops were painted in lots of interesting colours.
The Halloween display outside this shop was a bit scary. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this had been someone dressed up but I don’t think it was.
After coffee we continued for a few miles east to the Kaaterskill falls. There are so many wonderful hikes in this area and the Kaaterskill falls was recommended to us. With a change of shoes we were ready to go. There were a lot of leaves on the ground already from the recent rain but still a lot on the trees.
The Kaaterskill falls are at the end of an enormouse gorge. It was very autumnal to start with but we soon warmed up when we started walking. The views were stunning. The walk was downhill into the gorge until we came out into a clearing at the middle level. The falls were in the shade but you can still see the strata in the rocks. The falls were greatly reduced at that time of the year but it would be spectacular with the snow melt.
Looking up you could see the observation deck which is only a short walk from the car park.
The surrounding colours were beautiful. The water fall continued and so did we.
The last part of the path was steps which made it easy to get to the bottom pool. I’m sure in the summer it would be lovely to have a dip but a bit cool that day. I counted the steps back up- 198! My poor knees but it was good to get out of the car for some exercise. The views across the gorge were glorious.
Once back at the top we walked to the observation deck to look down onto the falls for more amazing views.
Our walk had taken several hours but we really enjoyed it. Afterwards we headed back to the I87 because we had about 120 miles to travel north in New York state to the Saratoga springs area for another airbnb. After dinner we arrived at a beautiful New England style house hosted by Joanna with a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room just for us. Really nice and completely different from our Philadelphia experience.
The Adirondack mountains cover 9375 sq miles from the centre of New York state to the Canadian border. With many peaks over 4000ft high. Like the Catskills to the south, much of the Adirondacks’ dense forest is protected by the state constitution. It’s also a great place to see the colour show of the Autumn leaves. Lake George is the gateway to the Adirondacks. A 32 mile lake with paddle-wheel boats rides on the crystalline water’s. Friday 13th we stopped there for breakfast before our hunt for more Autumn leaves continued.
There were many more smaller lakes and rivers to see on our onward quest towards Lake placid.
Lake Placid is a tiny resort town made famous by the winter Olympics of 1932 & 1980. It is sited by the mirror lake. Unfortunately with the wind that day there weren’t any mirror reflections. We parked up and walked around the town. Every where was fairly small including the local library and this beautiful stone church on a small rise.
We had a delicious lunch overlooking the mirror lake.
After lunch we drove further north and up towards the Whiteface mountain toll road where the Olympic ski races were held. Whiteface is the only peak in the Adirondacks accessible by car. Unfortunately it had clouded over and the colours of the leaves weren’t great. Furthermore when we got to the toll gate we found it was closed until May!
Not to be put off we decided to walk up. It was nice to have the road to ourselves apart from a couple of bikes who also got round the barrier. At first the view was obscured by trees in the fore ground but after about an hour of walking up we came to a clearing designed for picnics where the scenery was magnificent. The sun came out in bursts to improve the colours.
When we got back down to the car the light had brightened and there were some lovely reflections in a small lake by the toll gate.
We continued to drive through the forest towards Platsburgh where we stayed in a wonderful airbnb with KC in her querky house. Again we had a bedroom, sitting room and toilet to ourselves on the lower floor. We sat in the garden with her in the twilight drinking her homemade wine. Airbnb is certainly the way to meet local people.
Monday 9th October we were all packed and ready to leave but it was raining. Gemma’s garden was a fairly steep bank to climb up some uneven steps so we waited until it eased off a bit. At 11.00 we called an uber and went to the car hire place. After the initial checks we were on our way driving north out of Maryland into Pennsylvania. We headed into the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch community. These religious orders and cultures have been established here since the 18th century. Amish are the best known for their devotion to various degrees of low-tech, plain living but it was really slightly surreal seeing them in the flesh riding up and down the country roads in their very characteristic horse drawn buggies.
They were offering rides around the local homesteads in one of these so we decided it might be a nice way to dip our toes into their culture. We shared our buggy with several other families. Levi, our host in his straw hat, Dutch beard and plain garb chatted away about their culture. The first thing we noticed was that there were no power lines going to the houses.
As we trotted the few miles around his circuit Levi gave an introduction to the plain way of life they lead. We were fascinated that they did not not allow electricity into the house but discovered that this community, each having it’s own slightly different rules, allows a diesel generator to be run twice a day for just two hours to allow them to milk their cows. The power is also used for a variety of tasks including charging compressed air tanks up. This compressed air is then used to drive air powered washing machines inside the houses which along with gas lamps prevent the wickedness of electricity from entering the home. So they have washing machines, I could live there!
They have a very plain and simple life with a structured day that starts at 5am with milking the dairy herd and ends with lights out at 8pm. Youngsters are schooled in Amish schools and rarely go outside of the community other than for something called a run around where young adults are allowed out into the world to find out what it is like and then given a choice. ‘Come back and follow our way of life or go and never come back’. Unsurprisingly the vast majority return to live in the community for the rest of their lives. For such sheltered folk the world must be a scary place.
It rained on and off all day as we continued our drive to Philadelphia. We stayed in an airbnb for the next 2 nights. We purposely choose the cheapest accommodation just to see what you got for your money. Could have gone badly but worked out ok in the end. It was in the ethnic area of town and we were the only whites in the area but Deidre was very friendly. She had 4 rooms available that shared a bathroom and kitchen. It was clean and fairly quiet but i think we’ll go a bit higher next time.
Tuesday 10th we left the car outside the airbnb and took an uber into town, much less stress.
We enjoyed Philadelphia established by Quaker William Penn in 1682. Some if its streets are lined with glass buildings but it’s also the birthplace of American government where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. For a time in its early years, Philadelphia was the second largest city in the British empire, after London, then, along with Boston, the empire’s undoing. From the start of the Revolutionary War until 1790 (when Washington dc was founded), it was the new nation’s capital.
We started our day at the city hall completed in 1901. It’s 548ft high not counting the 27 ton bronze statue of William Penn which makes it the world’s tallest structure without a steel frame. It holds mostly offices.
The fountain in the square outside is allowed to freeze in the winter for ice skating but that day it was giving some wonderful reflections of the surrounding buildings.
The view from the observation deck at the top of the tower was stunning.
There was a lift to the top of the tower but the staircase alongside it was pretty impressive too.
Bill and I continued walking along Market street towards the old city which has been dubbed ‘America’s most historic square mile due to the role it played in the American revolution and the earliest years of American democracy. There is a large L-shaped area designated Independence National Historic Park. It starts where the foundations of George Washington’s house are marked.
Behind the house is the Liberty bell centre which houses the icon of Philadelphia history. Weighing 2080lbs it was made in 1751 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s constitution. It tolled on the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. The crack developed in the 19th century and it was retired in 1846.
Independence Hall is renowned as the birthplace of American government. It’s a modest Quaker building and is where delegates from the 13 colonies met to approve the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776. There’s a painting of the meeting in the entrance. It was a beautiful building inside.
We continued to walk around the old part of the city, it was really attractive.
It was wonderful day and the rain kept away. We got an uber back to the airbnb and luckily not only was the car still there it still had it’s wheels! Haha only joking wasn’t that bad. More Philadelphia photos on facebook.
Wednesday 11th we headed out to the Delaware Water gap, a beautiful spot where the Delaware river passes through the Kittatinny mountains. In the pre air conditioning days it was a popular resort destination. It also acts as a border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The 30 mile road on the Pennsylvania side gave some stunning views and the beginning of the Autumn leaves. We stopped at the Raymondskill falls car park and walked down to the falls for a picnic. The falls were small but very picturesque.
After our picnic walked back to the car.
Btw this is the rental car. The bottom 2 categories, small or compact were the same price so we booked compact. When we picked it up we were offered the next size up for a few dollars a day extra. Having already spent a lot more than we intended we turned down the offer. Then they said they didn’t have any compact and this the smallest car they had!
The drive through the trees was beautiful although it clouded over in the afternoon. Frustratingly there weren’t many places to stop. We kept seeing the most beautiful scenes but no where to stop. Eventually we found a car park and I was able to take some reflection photos.
Having driven the Delaware Water gap we made our way back onto interstate 84 then onto the 87. We crossed the border into New York state and stopped at a motel in Poughkeepsie for the night. There were about half a dozen to choose from. The next day was the Catskills.
Monday 2nd October there was no wind as usual so we motored south. We had a day in hand so decided to stop in Magothy bay overnight and dropped our anchor just after 5pm. The waypoint was
There were the usual ‘cottages’ around the water’s edge. One of them was set on an island and built around a lighthouse. I can’t imagine it ever being used for navigation that far inside the bay but it looked pretty.
Tuesday 3rd, after taking my turn on the OCC net on the SSB radio, we got underway again.
This bridge is one of the few possible ways of crossing the Chesapeake from Maryland to Delaware. It was enormous and disappeared off towards the horizon.
It was a shame we didn’t have more time to explore the bay but October was heavily planned with events and our holiday. I had contacted an OCC member and asked if we could leave Camomile on the jetty at the end of her garden, as advertised on the OCC website. It’s an amazing feature the OCC offer and well worth the membership fee. The marinas in the U.S. are way beyond our budget at over $100 a day. Gemma’s place is just south of Annapolis in Crab creek.
There were several other OCC boats anchored in the creek as Gemma allows them to use her jetty to tie up their dinghies.
The jetty is at
Gemma is the port officer for Annapolis and her contact details are on the OCC website if you are members.
Gemma moved to the U.S. from the Netherlands many years ago. It was very generous of her to allow us to use her jetty, we were very grateful. It was so nice to be able to step ashore. Gemma’s house is set up a steep bank which we walked up to look for the supermarket to buy a few supplies.
Wednesday 4th was the day of the OCC US east coast end of season dinner. Gemma and other OCC members did a wonderful job of arranging lifts for everyone. It was nice to dress up for a change. Some of the cruisers we had met on the Maine rally in August were there along with Dick and Moira from the Westerly called Equinox. It was nice to see them again.
Dinner was chicken Cesar salad and a very nice tortellini in a creamy sauce with prawns followed by some chocolate dipped thingys. It was all delicious.
The speaker was a lady from the Chesapeake bay program who spoke about their restoration of the bay and the control of the environment protection they are undertaking.
Thursday 5th I spent a very frustrating day trying to book a car for our holiday and kept hitting brick walls! The problem in the U.S. is that everyone carries their own insurance but as we don’t we would have to take out the car hire’s CDW (they insist). This would only cover the hire car if any one hit us or if we damaged it so we needed a second insurance that was a third party insurance that would cover us if we damaged anyone else’s car or, more importantly, them. I spent all day trying to find cheaper options but gave up in frustration.
Friday 6th again the OCC members arranged for the cruisers to be picked up and taken to the boat show. The Annapolis boat show is almost as big as the Southampton boat show but is divided into two shows, sailboats the first weekend then there’s a 2 day change around with the motor boat show the following weekend. It was great to see some old friends. We were just standing by the Gin tent when who should wander by but Jason of YOLO and Karen. Haven’t seen them since Malaysia. There were also a number of new friends recently made.
It was nice to speak to some old friends on the supplier stands. We finally met the guy who organised our new Staylok fittings when we had our rig failure on the way to the Galapagos. Also Will Curry was on the Hydrovane stand. We almost helped him with a sale by telling his client how good our Hydrovane was and how we wouldn’t be without it. Will had a guest on his stand later in the afternoon and that was Jimmy Cornell. We last met Jimmy at the Cruising Association in London many years ago when he had inspired us to go sailing. It was great to meet him again.
After the boat show we made our way to Solstice in the marina for the reunion we had been looking forward to. Bill on Solstice had invited our lovely friends Jake and Jackie of Hokule’a, now based in California, to stay with him, also Jack and Zdenka of Kite drove down from Portland where we met in the summer. Neil and Ruth had Rutea across the way and were invited and Behan of Totem joined us later in the evening. It was wonderful to all be together again and catch up on everyone’s news.
On Saturday 7th I looked at the hire car situation again including working out if it would be cheaper to fly to Boston and hire a car from there but it was more expensive. I looked at trains but they were also expensive plus public transport isn’t so regular in the States. Buses aren’t so good either so eventually I booked a car at a cost of $25 a day plus over $40 a day for the 2 insurances. Crazy!
Sunday 8th I spent the day cleaning the boat and packing and getting excited.
The blog has got very behind so I’ll try to bring it up to date and maybe fill in the gaps later.
I’m going to divide our Land trip into states.
After dodging several hurricanes in September we finally started heading south at the end of the month. It was fun travelling through the East river into Manhattan and sailing passed the statue of Liberty again.
It’s possible to anchor behind the Liberty but it was a bit rolly so we carried on south to Sandy hook and anchored behind the breakwater next to our friends Ruth and Neil on Rutea. We all went for a nice meal at a Thai restaurant that Neal had found in the town. We anchored at
The next morning the 1st October we set sail for the overnight trip to the Delaware river taking one last glimpse of New York.
We had fairly strong winds on the passage south overnight but as it was a northerly it wasn’t uncomfortable. We arrived at the entrance to Delaware bay at 8am, just as the tide was turning against us. At the same time we had to turn up into the wind. Not nice. We decided to go into cape Henlopen to wait for the tide to turn anchoring at
Just after midday we started off again with Toodle oo and the Australian Amel Perigee. It had been worth waiting for the tide because it carried us all the way to the C&D (Chesapeake and Delaware) canal plus, just as we arrived at the canal entrance, the tide turned in our favour again. We continued until midnight when the tide was going to turn against us and went into a tiny anchorage about three quarters of the way along the canal with Perigee. The waypoint is
The entrance was shallow but once inside it was good. We arrived just in time because the fog was coming down and was still there in the morning.
Monday 2nd October we continued along the C&D canal emerging into the Chesapeake at 11am. We were starting to see the autumn leaves and we were now in Maryland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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
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 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.
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.
There were lots of smaller exhibits to see before getting back on the bus to go back to the main site.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
081°17.06W a nice peaceful overnight stop.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The furniture and interior is unaltered since the mid 19th century.
The role of slaves is also preserved and it’s possible to wander through the dormitory quarters behind the house.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Our waypoint was
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.
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.
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.
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…..
Our position at 12.00 Sunday 30th April
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)
Our position at 10.00 Saturday 29th April
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)
Our position at 10.00 Friday 28th April
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)