Saturday, December 24, 2005

Manjack Cay at Christmas

Yesterday, 12/23/05, we cleared customs at Spanish Cay and we are now LEGAL. We've anchored at Manjack Cay in a lovely bay. There are 4 other sail boats here and the owners of a home on the island, Bill and Leslie, have invited us all for Christmas Eve dinner pot-luck at their home. The sign just off the dock says, "Yes Tresspassers". We will celebrate tonight and be moving the boat tomorrow in preparation of the winds predicted for Christmas Day.

Double Breasted Cay

After a long day sail down Florida's coast, miserable gulf stream night crossing, and another all day crossing Bahamian waters, we were extremely grateful to have a calm, beautiful anchorage. Our thankfulness was further enhanced after we ran hard aground in the shallow channel at sunset and had poor preformance by the transmission while anchoring. It was time to rest and relax, and so we did.

The water was the crystal aqua green seen at only the better hotel swimming pools. Although noted as a major thourough fare on the shark highway, we missed seeing any, although another sailor did catch a lemon shark there towards the end of our stay.

The weather was "unsettled" and so we cleaned out the boat, did some laundry, walked on small islands, and puttered about in the dingy. After almost a week of this leisure it was time to hit the road and find customs.

The Crossing

Well, another learning experience. The winds did not follow predictions and we spent about 12 hours crashing into waves and wind before reaching the banks in the early morning. It was unpleasant but not dangerous. Perhaps the low point came when we found that water was leaking in from the anchor locker, flooding our beds, filling the bilges, and generally making a mess of everything.

Preparations for the crossing

We traveled south to Manatee Pocket to finish up provisioning and to see friends Pat and Mike and their kitties on "Twice in a Blue Moon". Ginger and Oliver are an inspirational example of cat adventurers and we hope Ramone and Ubu are paying attention. In less than a day we were down to Lake Worth and then late in the afternoon we were heading for the gulf stream.

Back in the boatyard

By early November, we were back to Riverside Marina, where Amante first found us, to do more boat work. Every morning and evening, an army of turkey buzzards soared over the marina. We wondered nervously why we were so popular but enjoyed seeing the huge birds dance in waves above us.

Not being slaves to labor, we took off for 8 days to surprise the family at Thanksgiving. Nicholas managed the secret keeping and logistics beautifully. IT WAS A WONDERFUL TIME. Unfortunately we left our pictures there.

Back in the yard we were able to work long days on the boat, catching sunrises and sunsets in the puddles and masts. We had a small community of other land bound sailors for kvetching, celebrations, and assistance. Thanks to Goat and Tia for kindness, dinners, and the wisdom of the boat yard.

We scheduled the boat launch for a day with gale force winds and generally miserable condtions, but were not deterred. It was more exciting than desired, but successful.

Traveling back to Florida

After weeks of slogging down the "ditch" in cold weather, we made the trip from North Carolina to Fort Pierce in less than a week of off shore jumps. Each time we sailed for several days and a night or two, then would rest for a day before heading off shore again.

We came into Fernandina Beach in a sleepy daze to wonder what that sail boat is doing on land. Not a happy moment for someone, but magical to see a boat serene in a meadow.

Most of the time ocean sailing was very peaceful, and we had only dolphins, stars, and the moon for company. Around the large harbors, however, the shipping lanes provided encounters with enormous boats moving on their ominous missions. We stayed out of their way.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Life with family

When we left house and jobs to live on the boat it seemed that we would also be leaving family and friends. One of the best discoveries about this life on the east coast is that they have joined us. Here are Maria's brother Joe, his wife Angie, and the amazing Karl and Katherine in Baltimore. We look back through our pictures and remember visits with people we love.

Dolphin olympics

We hosted 4 episodes of the dolphin Olymics just off the bow of our boat. 4 or 5 dolphins would charge towards the boat and then race just ahead, diving down and braiding back and forth, sometimes making 360 degree rolls. They could have been challenging us or competing against each other. We managed to stay on the boat and politely decline their invitations to come in a play.

Sabin took a photograph of Vinnie and I on the bow for the first dolphin event. The boat was left to steer itself and we were the fans in the bleachers.

The fleet

We left Beaufort in a fleet of three for the all night sail to Fernandina Beach. Micheal on Pagan Chant and Sabin on Kayess also wanted to miss the long and winding waterway of Georgia. It was great to have company through the night.

Back In Beaufort SC

We had a long sail off shore from Georgetown to Port Royal sound inlet and then up the river to Beaufort. It has become one of family favorite meeting places and Maria's parents and her Aunt Suzanne from Oregon came to enjoy gracious Southern living and some good meals.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Too many sunsets

It seems that there are too many pictures of sunsets and sunrises, water and clouds. But these things are the focus of our attention now, especially since TV, movies, and other entertainments are gone. They are the pictures of our life.

Our wake in the Dismal swamp

Ocean sunrise after an all night sail. "I never saw the morning till I stayed up all night."


At Beaufort NC we again attempt to sail off shore. After leaving the channel before the sun came up, we found that large waves and strong winds were against us and we turned back to plod down the ICW. Fortunately, this included a return to the Waccamaw River which is isolated, peaceful, and lovely.

The river winds past small, mysterious inlets and forested banks. It has a beauty that can't be captured in a photograph but it surrounds you in strange other world.

Sunset on the Alligator

The nasty weather on the Alligator river was redeemed by a beautiful sunset.

Alligator River

Unfortunately, despite all our travel, the winter weather hounded us. The cold and storms discouraged night sailing off shore and we plodded along on the winding shoaled ICW. Travel down the Alligator River was cursed by cold, constant rain, and strong winds. The land was desolate and undeveloped, but lovely in its own way.

The Dismal trip

We love the Dismal swamp. Its water is darker than chocolate milk and very still. It is a very peaceful place and only one or two other boats are seen in a days travel.

Small stumps and even old pilings sprout impromptu ornamental plantings of small trees, ferns, and wild flowers.

Dismal Locks

After Vinnie and Maria's Dad fixed the transmission cable, we headed off to the Dismal swamp.
At the locks early in the morning, we enjoyed coffee with the lock master.

The lockmasters office is decorated with shells and other gifts from the tropics which have been given by passing cruisers. These are attractively arranged around some banana trees in front of the office.


It is wonderful to share time with family on the boat and we met Maria's parents in Crisfield.

An afternoon sail on the Chesapeake

Crisfield is in waterman territory, where people have crabbed and oystered for generations. We were inspired by the sight of men working the trot lines in the early haze of morning and did some chicken necking on the boat, catching 6 crabs.

When family, especially parents, are visiting it is alway pleasant to have things go smoothly. Unfortunately, on their last day, the transmission cable broke at a crucial moment. A crowd of horrified watermen witnessed yet another example of the foolishness of those crazy sailboat people. Maria's parents took it very well.

Ahhh, the Chesapeake

It was a joy to return to the osprey and waters of the Chesapeake. We anchored in St Micheals as the Alberg 30 Association arrived for their annual rendezvous. Amante is an Alberg design and they kindly invited us to their soup pot luck at a local park for great food, beautiful boats, and visiting with other sailors.

Maria's sister and her family picked us up and portaged us to their home in DC so we got to enjoy another visit with Liza, Nat, Devin and Lexie. It is wonderful that in some ways we have been able to see them more since moving on to the boat.

Running from winter

The weather turned cold and ugly so we stopped our relaxed mosey down the coast. In several long day / night sails we hurried through Long Island Sound and New York City, down the New Jersey coast, up the Delaware River, and into the C&D canal.

Back with the Stacks

Ginny and Peter (and their lovely cat Tip) welcomed us back to their home and treated us to a wonderful time. We went canoeing and surf fishing. Thanks to Peter's catch we had 2 dinners of Vinnie's favorite, blue fish.


Newport Rhode Island is the land of beautiful boats and grand living. We walked for miles taking it in and thought the cliff path especially impressive. On one side the rocky coast lay far below and on the other were the grand buildings used as seasonal cottages by the rich and famous of past generations.

The breakers

Gates to a cottage.

In Newport, like many other places, there are the strang quirky things that appear without explanation or historical marker. This statue in a public park may be the national poodle memorial.

Heading South

After the excitment of Cape Cod and the islands, we returned to Rhode Island and for several weeks explored small towns and lovely anchorages. Ophelia the dreaded storm threatened but never appeared. All our work preparing for her arrival gave us practice for the stormy weather of the next several weeks, including Wilma.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Martha's Vineyard - Gay Head

On the western side of Martha's Vineyard are the clay cliffs of Gay
Head. The locals prefer the name Aquinah

The cliffs were sculputured color.

We should have known that all the signs, repeatedly admonishing, "NO NUDITY" indicated that the visitors were all nude (men). In this picture the details are blessedly imperceptable, but the nude guy does give a sense of perpective.

Just one picture more.


Nantucket was more than shops, and shops, and shops, and shops. It was the home of "kettle ponds", lovely little lakes formed by glaciers. These were not major attractions and it took us a long day of bike riding to locate several, but they were worth it.

On the way we wandered the beach and found a gang of Labrador retreivers bobing in the surf. On closer inspection, they were more accurately identified as seals, but why they were staring at us was unknown.

They heart of the island was found in the whaling museum and its whale skeleton, lectures, and wonderful exhibit.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


We traveled by water, air, and earth to Cape Cod and it was wonderful to be together again.

Talking on the phone isn't good enough.

Dinners haven't been the same.

We miss you all.

And can't wait to see you again, even in Michigan.

We love you.

Cape Cod at MiniMeg's

We came to Chatham for a family reunion with Vinnie's sister Meg, her husband George, and 8 of our 5 kids. It was Meg and George's challenge to fit 14 adults into a 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom home.

As Chiara said, we decended like locusts.

How did Meg and George do it?
Fortunately, there were inflatable beds and wide open spaces to sleep dormatory style for the younger members of the group.

Shopping, beaching, running around, eating, exploring, and painting. We all had a great time.
Thank you Meg and George.

Rhode Island

Off from Block Island and up Narragansett Bay to visit Peter and Ginny, friends from Vinnie's high school days at Albertus Magnus. They welcomed into their home two people with solo sailor tendency, near incessant chatter. It was great to be off the boat and visiting late into the night. They saw ALL the pictures and probably heard ALL the stories as well.

Their house is from the 1700's and in peaceful fields. The brook was quiet and we listened for the coyotes at night.

Long Island Sound and Block Island

We had a wonderful time cruising Long Island Sound and then made a dreadful discovery when we met Mike and Pat. They were happily sailing "Twice in a Blue Moon" with their two cats while we had left Ramone and Ubu behind in Grand Rapids. Kitty abandonment is a burden of guilt which will follow us throughout our travels. Sorry boys, but we are sure that Alessia is treating you very well.

The Long Island Sound provided beautiful beaches and great rocks for boat ballast.

We left the Sound for Block Island, a very crowded place in the summer. Hardly room to drop an anchor, but in the morning a man motors through the anchorage yelling "Andiamo, Andiamo" and selling coffee and baked goods.

We did get to enjoy another beautiful sunset in the land of boats before leaving the island.