Monday, December 12, 2011

Season's Greetings from Florida

Ft. Lauderdale, FL
26 6.850 N 80 9.218 W

Carina at anchor in Pelican Harbor, Delray Beach, FL. We spent Thanksgiving here with our friends, Peg and Sky Zawadski. The photo was taken through their screened-in lanai. We also visited with friends and fellow Manta owners, Mattie and Ed Sears while in Delray. Prior to our arrival in Del Ray we spent some time with our good friends and also Manta owners, Rich and Carol Wellman in Satellite Beach, FL It's great to have so many good friends to visit and spend time with. It's one of the reasons we love the cruising lifestyle.

With temps in the low 80's and sunny skies Mark took advantage of the clear water in Boca Lake to inspect the props and hulls. Boca Lake is just off the Intercoastal Waterway in Boca Raton, FL just south of Delray Beach. The water here is clear due to it's proximity to Boca Inlet which provides access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Motoring down the Intercoastal towards Fort Lauderdale we captured Carina's image in the glass windows of a home along the shore.

Snow in Florida? This is the kind that doesn't melt and you don't need to shovel... just put it away after the holidays.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Dec 2nd. Sarah Evan, our friend and former owner of Manta Catamarans owns this beautiful property on the South Fork of the New River. The peninsula that juts out on her property is dubbed "Little Florida" by locals.

Everyone gets into the holiday spirit. The Jungle Queen makes runs up and down the New River past our docks several times daily with tourists onboard for a scenic cruise along the River.
Another view of Carina at Sarah's would never know that downtown Fort Lauderdale is just a short way down the river.  It's like we are at a deserted tropical paradise....
... until one of the many mega-yachts comes by. Notice the 150' + yacht is being towed - fore and aft to negotiate the sharp river bends. There are several mega-yacht marinas upriver from us which cater to these floating palaces. Dozens of boats of this size come & go past our dock every day.  

It's takes some getting used to for us northerners to see Christmas decorations amongst the palm trees and warm temps.

Santa "Jaws".

This scene of carolers was just one of several holiday scenes at one house on the New River. It must have taken months to get everything set up.

The New River flows through downtown Fort Lauderdale. We explored the area by dinghy and on foot.

Looks like this boat is ready for the Winterfest Boat Parade.
The Winterfest boat parade in Fort Lauderdale is a huge event in the area. We watched it from a park with our friend Ted Bowen and his girlfriend Diane. Ted is a former Manta Power Cat owner and retired airline pilot who now makes his home in Hollywood, FL. We always enjoy spending time with him.

About a 100 sailboats, powerboats, mega-yachts and even barges participated in the parade that traveled down the New River and then north-bound on the ICW for almost 8 miles. I guess you could call these parade floats.

We want to wish all of our friends and family who follow us on this blog a very wonderful holiday season. We'll be leaving Carina at the dock while we rent a car to drive from FL to CT along with Barnacle & Sinbad to celebrate the holidays with our family.  Fair winds from Kathy & Mark.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chesapeake to South Carolina

Dataw Island Marina, South Carolina
32 27.104 N 80 34.741 W

Since our last blog we have traveled about 600 miles down the Chesapeake Bay and the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) through North & South Carolina.

Cold Mornings means it is time to start putting miles on to head south. To maximize our daily travel time we typically are underway shortly after sun up. This photo was taken after we had just pulled anchor from Antipoison Creek ( just north of the Rappahannock River) on our last day on the Chesapeake Bay enroute to Hampton, VA.

Cats on a Cat - The dockmaster at the Hampton Public Docks in Hampton, VA. was so taken with Sinbad & Barnacle that he took this picture for his wife on his phone camera ( and sent us a copy as well).
After departing Hampton, VA we traveled down the Norfolk Reach towards Norfolk, VA. Here a downwind leg of a sailboat race is crossing the busy shipping channel.

Nine southbound boats of "snowbirds" waiting inside the South Mills locks of the Dismal Swamp Canal to be lowered about 8 feet into the headwaters of the Pasquotank River.

We made it through the Dismal Swamp Canal and spent a calm evening anchored in a creek off the Pasquotank River,  just north of Elizabeth City, NC.

We decided to take a 25 mile detour from the ICW route and enjoyed two days in Edenton, NC. Edenton is a town of about 5000 people at the far western end of Albemarle Sound.  We took a walking tour of the historic town that dates back to the 1700's.

A view of Edenton Town Docks from the harborside. The town offers two free nights of dockage for transient boaters in an effort to attract more tourism. As you can see Carina was one of only three sailboats that visited. The cannons in foreground were used in the Civil War and were cast using the town's various steeple bells. 

Edenton has been described as the South's prettiest town. Most of the homes are antebellum (pre-date the Civil War). Here lovely old homes of various architectural style line the waterfront. 

Looking west over Albermare Sound towards the Barker house from the town green.  

 We took an evening walk to a nearby plantation in Edenton and came across this beautiful spot of Cypress trees along the shoreline of Albermarle Sound.

We had a brisk sail from Edenton back across Albermarle Sound to rejoin the ICW, then down the Alligator and Pungo Rivers the following day. The winds increased as a low intensified just off Cape Hatteras. Here, we're spending a 2nd day anchored in Broad Creek (located off the Nuese River just above the town of Oriental, NC) sitting out 20-25 knot winds in the same storm that delivered to the northeast US their now infamous Halloween snow storm.  

Sunrise departure from Mile Hammock Bay.  After departing from Broad Creek, we traveled south past Moorehead City, NC and anchored in the protective basin within the Marine Corps Camp LeJeuene property called Mile Hammock Bay.

Leaving Mile Hammock  we traveled about 55 miles to Carolina Beach. There are 3 swing or bascule type bridges along this distance that open on fixed  hourly schedules. This results in having to travel at slower speeds to time your arrivals. In this photo nine south bound boats are waiting for the Figure Eight Island swing bridge to open.

We entered South Carolina on Tue. Nov. 1st. and spent a night in Myrtle Beach. The next day we traveled through the Wacamaw River arriving in Georgetown, SC. This was our 1st time visiting this bucolic town. The "downtown" area is charming early 1900's vintage..... 

..... As is the lovely revitalized harbor front. This was our view from Carina docked in the anchorage....

.... Unfortunately, this is the view from Carina's anchorage in the opposite direction. The steel mill (foreground) and the paper mill (left background) operate 24/7 (lights & noise). Thankfully the winds were blowing the odors away from us.

From Georgetown, SC  the ICW meanders through coastal marshes past Cape Romano. We again anchored on Dewees Creek, about 15 miles before Charleston enjoying a calm & remote anchorage. You're essentially anchored out in the middle of marshes with views for miles, however, you're also completely exposed. We're also back in areas that have anywhere from 6-1/2' - 8'tidal ranges so the current is swift. This is not the place to sit out a blow - as was forecasted. The next morning we awoke to clouds, showers and strong westerly winds. All the marinas in Charleston were booked so we traveled 70 miles towards Beaufort, SC.
That afternoon we decided to go to the Dataw Island Marina, arriving and tieing up to the docks in 25 knot winds. We really appreciated a safe marina dock as it blew gale force winds all night. We treated ourselves to a memorable dinner at the marina retaurant that night. The next day we borrowed the marina bikes for a tour of Dataw Island which is a private gated community with beautiful homes and of course golf courses. It's nice to see the Spanish Moss again.


We did not see any "do not feed the geese or ducks" signs -guess the 'gators keep any flocks of migrating geese or ducks from getting too comfy!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Around Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD
38 58.21 N 76 29.83 W

Rehoboth Beach boardwalk
after Irene
We know we said we would update our blog in September and it’s already October but we live on “boat time”. Carina was splashed on Monday 8/29/11 after successfully making it through Hurricane Irene on the hard at Oxford Boatyard. We, Barnacle and Sinbad included, weathered Irene quite comfortably at the condo in Rehoboth Beach without even so much as a dimming of the lights.
Carina spent 5 weeks on the
hard at the Oxford Boat Yard. 
Mark occupied his time with sewing projects on the condo floor: replacing the Stratoglass windshield panels, making a new cover for the new dinghy and starting the main sail Stak-Pak. We made a dozen trips, (80 miles or 1-1/2 hrs each way) back & forth to Carina for waxing hulls, changing seals on both sail drives, bottom paint, etc. We had to strip all the cockpit canvas, kayaks and any other loose stuff off of Carina in preparation for Irene as well.

A traditional Chesapeake Bay
waterman's crabbing boat heads
up Town Creek in Oxford, MD
After almost 5 weeks off of Carina, we officially moved out of Jay and Veronica’s condo on Tuesday 8/30/11 and back onboard. With Carina back in the water we dropped the dock lines and anchored in Town Creek off Oxford, MD while waiting for Mark’s son Alex and his girlfriend Genesa to join us for a few days. 
Alex & Genesa enjoyed 4 days
of clouds & rain
 They arrived on Labor Day Monday and we enjoyed a nice, although cloudy and showery four days with them.

Carina anchored in Sawmill Cove
off LaTrappe Creek
On Saturday 9/10/11 we decided it was time to move on from the Oxford area and explore more of the Eastern Shore of the ChesapeakeOur first stop was a short 8 miles up the Choptank River to La Trappe Creek.

Enjoying the scenery by kayak
 We found a pretty cove a few miles upstream just big enough for Carina surrounded by huge old Oak trees, stately homes and lots of wildlife. We spent a second night in a little cove behind the sand spit of Martin Point at the mouth of La Trappe Creek . We took advantage of sunny skies and warm temperatures to explore both areas by dinghy and kayak.

Stately homes along
LaTrappe Creek

Anchored in behind Martin Pt.


The anchorage basin in
Cambridge,  MD
 The need to top off our water tanks on Monday 9/12/11 prompted us to head over to Cambridge, MD for a night. It was a short trip up the Choptank River to Cambridge Creek were we anchored in the small basin in the center of town.

Chesapeake Blue Crabs at the
J.M. Clayton Seafood Co.
The waterfront is a mixture of new condos, restaurants and old marinas and a seafood processing plant, with waterman coming and going through the drawbridge which was upriver just beyond the anchorage.

Our harbor view in Cambridge

View of the Miles River from the
Chesapeake Maritime Museum
Our next stop was Santa Domingo Creek off Broad Creek. Santa Domingo is considered the “back door” entrance to St. Michael’s, MD and much less crowded than the “front door” off the Miles River. We tied the dinghy at the local waterman’s dock and walked into town which was very lovely with lots of historic homes, shops and restaurants.
St Micheal's harbor view
at happy hour
We spent the majority of an afternoon exploring the Chesapeake Maritime Museum which we both enjoyed and ended the day with Happy Hour at the Town Dock Restaurant over drinks and raw oysters. We left St. Michael's on Wednesday, 9/14/11 and explored a few more places on the Eastern Shore....Baby Owl Cove off Leadenham Creek and Dunn Cove on Tilghman Island.

On a cloudy Saturday, 9/17/11 we motored through Knapps Narrows, between Tilghman Island and the mainland neck of St. Michael's, and out across the Chesapeake Bay for Annapolis.

We navigated through the city mooring field off the US Naval Academy and caught the 11:30AM Spa Creek bascule bridge opening. We were heading for our friends and fellow Manta Cat owners Scot & Tina Ligon who had arranged for us to spend a few nights at their condo's guest dock. 
Our friends Mo and Polly were anchored nearby in the Creek on their “new to them” Defever 44+5 trawler, Motivator (having gone to the "Dark Side" when they sold their Nauticat sailboat upon their return from the Bahamas in May). We enjoyed cocktails aboard their beautiful boat that evening and sushi at Sakura Sushi in downtown Annapolis with them on Sunday before they departed for Baltimore on Monday.

Spa Creek as seen from the mast
top of Scot & Tina's Sangaris.
 We pulled off the guest dock on Monday and dropped anchor in the Creek for a couple more days before heading down the Bay about 11 miles to the Rhode River for the SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Assoc.) Gam. A gam is basically a nautical term for a get together. Although the weather was cloudy and rainy most of the weekend we enjoyed the two days of seminars, food and mingling with other cruisers most of who are headed south soon like us. It was fun to see old friends and make new ones such as Bill and Mara who are cruising aboard their home built catamaran, Puddle Jumper.

After the gam and before the Annapolis Sailboat Show we decided we needed a break from the hustle and bustle and checked out the quiet West River just south of the Rhode River and the even quieter town of Galesville. Mark took advantage of the quiet anchorage to perform some routine servicing on the generator.

Aric standing in the gen.
locker with the old generator
head just removed.
 Unfortunately while doing that he discovered that a plastic fan housing that's supposed to keep the generator head cool was no longer attached to the gen shaft end. Although we were still able to run the generator, it was just a matter of time how long it would last before over-heating. The only fix is to replace the entire generator head. We were able to find a local Next-Gen authorized mechanic who came very highly recommended and just happened to be a good friend of Bill and Mara’s which is how we got moved to the top of his busy work schedule.

We returned back up Spa Creek to Annapolis again as we waited for the heavy part to be shipped up from FL. Once the replacement generator head finally arrived Aric and Mark made the swap in 4 hours while tied up at Scot's dock. We're now back in business!

M&K with Scott & Tina Ligon
at one of the boat show parties we were
invited to.
 The past two weeks have been a blur of activities. Scott & Tina have been extremely generous during our stay in Annapolis offering us the use of their car which we took full advantage of to take care of errands and of the never ending job of provisioning. They moved their boat Sangaris up the Creek to a friends boat lift (yes.. wide enough for a catamaran) to clean the bottom sides so we moved into their own dock slip. Days have been spent completing a multitude of projects on Carina. Evenings have been spent visiting and dining with old boat friends and new found boaters also in the anchorage for the boat show.

A small corner of the boat show
 Columbus Day Weekend is also the annual Annapolis Sailboat Show, when a large portion of the Annapolis harbour is converted into one of the largest in-water sailboat shows in the US. Cruisers flock into town by boat or car. Spa Creek became extremely crowded with other southbound boats also attending the show. 

The new sail cover
  Mark took advantage of the "dock time" to finish re-fashioning our mainsail cover into a "stak-pak" style cover which should make the job of accessing the sail much easier. Then there was engine servicing and a bunch of other small projects to complete our pre-departure check list. Mark reciprocated Scott's generosity by helping him out with a few projects on their Manta cat Sangaris.

Baby Quinten & Grandma
 Last Sunday Scot & Tina offered us their car once again and we traveled back across the Delmarva to visit Jason & Veronica and baby Quinten in Rehoboth Beach one last time.

The US Naval Academy

Today we dinghied down Spa Creek  with our friends Rich & Carol Wellman on the The Great Catsby to the US Naval Academy were we attended mass in the Chapel. Afterwards we went on a tour of the academy grounds & buildings including the Naval Museum. It's truly a beautiful and impressive place full of history that makes you proud to be an American. 

 Having spent a month in the Annapolis area and with the temperatures getting chilly we are ready to depart on our southward migration with favorable westerly winds forecasted for tomorrow.

The cats are fine and Barnacle is looking forward to once again roaming the decks freely, once we get off this dock and can swing on an anchor again.