Author Archives: yachtcamomile

USA to Bermuda – day 6

Our position at 10.00 (14.00 GMT) Wednesday 16th May
32 21N
068 00W another 2 steps

We have 170 miles to go to the anchorage in Bermuda and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 124 miles. Average 5.16kts.

Our penultimate day at sea, should be in some time tomorrow. Luckily it’s been a fairly easy sail because both Bill and I have found the passage very tiring. I think it’s a combination of our colds, which have nearly gone, jet lag and it’s been over a year since we’ve done a passage this long. It will be good to arrive. On reflection maybe we should have waited another week to allow our bodies to recover but it’s a good job we didn’t because listening to the cruising nets there has been another front crossing Florida which has brought squalls and strong winds. The weather in the Florida/Bahamas area is so volatile we are glad to leave. Hopefully we’ll have about a week to explore the island then probably be off again. There’s a good window shaping up for Thursday next week.

Our speed has been up and down slowing to 3kts this morning but it’s back up to 5.4kts now. Hopefully our winds hold for our last night. Still F3/4 south but a bit more forward of the beam now so we are heeling more.

Saw my first pod of whales on this trip this morning. About half a dozen playing about 200 meters from the boat. Looking at their fins I think they were pilot whales but they didn’t come close enough to see. This trip has been sparse on wildlife, no dolphins, a few flying fish and of course the big booby bird!

I have sent our position to marine traffic this morning but not sure if it’s working. Apparently we are in some obscure place in the US.

Thanks to my sister who is posting these twitterings on Facebook.

All’s well on board.

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USA to Bermuda – day 5

Our position at 10.00 (14.00 GMT) Tuesday 15th May
32 35N a quarter of the way back to the UK from the US
070 19W another 2 steps and an eighth of the way back to the UK.

We have 285 miles to go to the anchorage in Bermuda and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 126 miles. Average 5.25kts.

Our stats are dropping a bit but not bad as we have fairly light winds. I can’t believe the good conditions we’ve got considering we are out in the north Atlantic and I’m touching wood while I say that. I spoke to Chris Parker weather yesterday evening on the SSB and he has given us a good forecast for the rest of the journey. Hoping to be in Thursday if the wind holds up.

We have blue skies over a beautiful calm blue sea. Only running the engine once a day for an hour to charge batteries, the solar panels and D400 wind generator are doing the rest. I hope the rest of the Atlantic is like this but I fear not.

I have sent our position to marine traffic this morning.

Thanks to my sister who is posting these twitterings on Facebook.

All’s well on board.

USA to Bermuda – day 4

Our position at 10.00 (14.00 GMT) Monday 14th May
32 54N
072 29W another 3 steps nearer.

We have 411 miles to go to the anchorage in Bermuda and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 138 miles. Average 5.7kts.

It was a good sailing day yesterday in a southerly F3/4 and calm seas. We passed our half way point in the evening so extra chocolate rations for me. 😉

Looking at the RTOF gribs yesterday evening we were approaching an area of strong current traveling north to south which we could sail down to give us some speed but Bill decided we wouldn’t do that. Firstly there’s no guarantee you find it and secondly it would have meant turning into the wind and we were sailing nicely on a beam reach so decided to just cross it instead. I don’t know what was down there but during the 2 or 3 hours it took to cross the 20 mile stretch we were absolutely creaming along. I didn’t see the speed drop below 8kts for several hours. The wind rose slightly from 12, 13, 14kts to gusts of 15 and 16kts. Added to this it was pitch black because we are in the dark moon at the moment. It just so happened that Bill was in bed and didn’t see any of this. I considered waking him because I get panicky but decided not to. Not sure what it was but we are in the area of the Bermuda triangle!!

All calm today. The wind dropped right off again just after sunrise but after a couple of hours it was back up to 5kts

I have sent our position to marine traffic this morning.

Thanks to my sister who is posting these twitterings on Facebook.

All’s well on board.

USA to Bermuda – day 3

Our position at 10.00 (14.00 GMT) Sunday 13th May
33 06N as far north as we go on this stage of the journey
075 33W another 2 steps nearer.
We have 550 miles to go to the anchorage in Bermuda and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 149 miles.

The engine was turned off at 13.00 yesterday with a zephyr of a breeze and stayed off. It was a very hot day as we traveled further north east having passed Georgia the day before and South Carolina yesterday. This morning at 5am off the coast of North Carolina, after 3 days of sailing north East we reached 33N and turned East. The new waypoint for the outer buoy at Bermuda gave 560 miles to go. This is the first time on our long journey that we have sailed due east since leaving the UK. We usually sail towards the sunset so sailing towards our first sunrise was magical, the colours were amazing, beautiful pinks and mauves, it was like England was calling me towards her.

As we gradually left the gulf stream the speed started dropping, we have been used to 7 – 8kts the last 3 days but within an hour the speed was down to 4.8kts. The wind got less and less and at 2.8kts (walking pace) we considered putting the engine on but we can’t motor all the way to Bermuda so resisted. Within an hour our speed was back to 4.7kts. We won’t win any races but it’s a comfortable ride. The forecast for the rest of the week is light winds so I don’t mind. No gales forecast, fingers crossed.

We are back in shorts and t-shirts today but it’s still surprising how warm it is.

I have sent our position to marine traffic this morning. As we gradually come away from the coast it should show us up a bit better.

Thanks to my sister who is posting these twitterings on Facebook.

All’s well on board.

USA to Bermuda – day 2

Our position at 10.00 (14.00 GMT) Saturday 12th May
31 53N
077 57W
We have 710 miles to go to the anchorage in Bermuda and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 143 miles.

We had a mixed day yesterday. We sailed until 3pm before the wind dropped then motored for the afternoon. The wind came back at sunset so we sailed all night but it disappeared at 6am this morning so the sails are down and we’re motoring again. The sea is calm but the swell is causing an irritating roll so everything is put away or sitting on non slip mats. Putting the sail up would dampen the roll but would add slating sails to other irritations. Luckily the current in the gulf stream is giving us an extra 2 knots of boat speed or we would be going very slowly.

Last night we had an unwelcome visitor on board, a huge booby bird decided to roost right next to the tricolour meaning no one would have been able to see us. Bill put the lower nav lights on instead which isn’t ideal because we can’t be seen from so far away. This morning the deck was covered in bird c**p, it was a big bird twice the size of a pigeon so there’s a lot of it; he’s got to go!!! Bill and I were out there as soon as the sails were down clapping, flapping ropes and banging the rigging until eventually he flew off. Wish I still had the Supersoaker but I gave it away to an island kiddie.

At this stage of the journey any little milestone is celebrated. Port Solent in the UK, where we are eventually heading for, is 50 degrees 50N latitude (they are the rings that go up the globe and our distance from the equator) Fort Pierce was at 27 degrees N. Today we are 31 degrees N so I don’t mind the northing we are doing at the moment. The longitude (meridians lines across the globe) for Port Solent is 001 degrees West and Fort Pierce was 080W, we are now at 077W. I’m looking at these like ‘steps’ towards the UK. Bermuda is at 064W so we are taking a couple of ‘steps’ a day on this passage.

The strangest thing at the moment is the heat, it’s baking. I was expecting it to turn cold at sea especially as we are traveling north east but the waters in the Gulf Stream that we are using to take us north are 29C. So it’s like the boat is sitting in a hot bath, add that to the engine going on and off and you have the reason clothes are optional at the moment. Haha!

I have sent our position to marine traffic this morning which seems to be working.

Thanks to my sister who is posting these twitterings on Facebook.

All’s well on board.

USA to Bermuda – Day 1

Our position at 10.00 (14.00 GMT) Friday 11th May
30 19N
079 49W
We have 839 miles to go to the anchorage in Bermuda and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 168 miles.

We left Fort Pierce at 6am yesterday to use the high tide to get out of the marina, Camomile ploughed a grove to her berth on the way in. It was good to get going even though the forecast isn’t brilliant. If we waited there is some bad weather coming in and it takes a few days to settle after that so we decided it was better to go. If we traveled the rhumb line to Bermuda we would probably motor all the way so the advise from Chris Parker weather is to use the gulf stream and head north where there is a bit more wind.

This is the first part of our journey home, a distance of roughly 4000 miles. It sounds a bit daunting but last year our trip from South Africa to Florida in 4 months was 7269 miles, including some stops, so 4000 doesn’t sound so bad!!! This first part to Bermuda should take care of about a quarter of that.

So our day started with motoring yesterday but the engine went off at 13.00 and we sailed until 19.00 when the wind died as the sun went down. Turned the engine off at 4am this morning and have sailed since then. The gulf stream is giving us another couple of knots of boat speed so coming north and doing a big banana to Bermuda should work well. Our first long passage for over a year but we are gradually settling. It isn’t helped by the fact Bill and I arrived back from the UK with bad colds so we aren’t feeling our best.

I have sent our position to marine traffic this morning so hopefully that will be posted. If it shows Camomile in some outlandish place could someone let me know and I’ll adjust it.

I’m not sure if the link between the website and facebook is working but if not my sister is going to copy and paste it for me.

That’s all for now folks.

Another storm in paradise

Hi Everyone
We are sheltering from our second storm in the Bahamas. The locals say it’s unusual to have 1 let alone 2 storms at this time of the year. Story of our life!
Once again we have chosen the idyllic Warderick Wells in the Exuama Land and Sea Park to shelter. The buoys are arranged in a horse shoe around sand banks within a group of islands which gives very good protection as the front passes over and the wind veers round. It looks like we will be here until Monday. There was torrential rain last night and now the wind has started. 30 kts sustained at the moment which is forecast to rise; the wind generator is loving it.
Warderick Wells is paradise on earth, white sand beaches and sand banks, superb clear azure blue water (although it’s a bit milky at the moment with the wind disturbing it) and limestone islands BUT there isn’t any thing here except for a bunch of yachties and the park office so no phone masts or internet. James took some wonderful drone shots when we were here before which I’ll try and post when we get the internet back.
It’s good timing for me because something in my back has ‘clicked’ and I’m hobbling around the boat at the moment so it will be good to rest up for a few days.

Love to everyone from both of us. XX

This post is being sent through the SSB radio and will hopefully come through to facebook but we won’t be able to see any messages until we are back in wifi range.

Happy New Year

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.

New york state.

Our car on the country roads

 

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!

Some nice leaf colour by the river.

Driving through the countryside

 

 

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.

Interesting Halloween display

 

 

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.

 

Beautiful trees in Roxbury

Colourful Tannersville

 

 

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.

Autumn flowers with a Halloween theme

Creepy

 

 

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.

 

 

Colourful trees by the lake in Tannersville

And also a white church on the hill

Red leaves on the ground

 

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.

There was stunning leaf colour all around the gorge

The top half of the falls

 

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.

The first stage fell into a pool surrounded in moss.

Amazing colours surrounding the observation deck.

 

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 lower half of the falls

 

 

 

The two falls together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The whole of the gorge and the mountain beyond was a riot of Autumn colours

Looking down onto the falls

Once back at the top we walked to the observation deck to look down onto the falls for more amazing views.

You only need one tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the observation deck was equally stunning

A much nicer airbnb

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.

Lake George

Driving passed more beautiful trees.

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.

An old mill house

Beautiful reflections in this lake before the water disappeared over the dam

 

 

 

There were many more smaller lakes and rivers to see on our onward quest towards Lake placid.

 

 

Amazing lower tree line of fir trees but behind it acres and acres of Autumn glory

Amazing scenery

Difficult to catch the right light. Needed more sun

Lake Placid public library

 

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.

Beautiful stone church

The mirror lake but no reflections

 

 

We had a delicious lunch overlooking the mirror lake.

 

 

More Autumn leaves – sorry

The Whiteface mountain toll gate

 

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!

Spectacular colour

I love these Autumn colours

 

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.

Glorious colours

Mile upon mile upon mile upon mile of colour. It goes on as far as the eye can see.

You can just see lake Placid in the distance

Another view of the lake

Taking a rest before the walk back down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill by the lake

 

 

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.

 

7

 

Beautiful reflections

Driving along the river

 

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.

Spectacular scenery. The river bank was just a riot of colour

Pennsylvania

An Amish horse drawn buggy

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.

Sitting in the buggy

 

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.

No powerlines

An Amish farm

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!

Bill and I with our buggy

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.

Lady in buggy

The first of the glass buildings of Philadelphia

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.

The city hall, it was difficult getting it all in the photo

Half of the city hall

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.

Beautiful reflections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Looking out to the Benjamin Franklin bridge

Looking out over the CBD

Looking down John F Kennedy blvd

The stairway was impressive too.

 

 

There was a lift to the top of the tower but the staircase alongside it was pretty impressive too.

 

 

 

Looking up into the dome

The reconstruction of where George Washington’s house was.

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.

The liberty bell

 

 

 

 

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

A painting of 1776

 

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.

The courthouse

The senate with a lot of original artefacts in place

The stunning staircase

A copy of the original declaration of independence signed by the representatives of the 13 colonies

 

The beautiful tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful Congress hall

Lovely park gardens

 

 

We continued to walk around the old part of the city, it was really attractive.

 

 

Majestic buildings

Interesting street.

 

 

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.

 

The Raymondskill falls

 

 

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.

Not a bad selfie

Leaves turning colour

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!

Bill with the Mitsubishi outlander

A bridge over the river

 

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.

Beautiful river bank

Looking up the river

 

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.

 

 

Beautiful Autumn leaves

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