Cruising the Carolinas!

Alligator River Marina – Columbia, NC – Tuesday 10/29

Poquoson to Alligator R

Poquoson to Alligator River

We left Poquoson very early and just as the sun was coming up. Our plan today was to get as far south as possible, but that would depend on how long we would have to wait for (restricted) bridge openings and a lock. There was also the expected slowdown for the numerous slower boats (sailboats & trawlers) we would have to pass as all are migrating south for the warmer weather.

Sunrise over Poquoson

Sunrise over Poquoson

We left the Whitehouse Cove marina, cruised around Cow Island and the Poquoson Flats, and entered the Chesapeake Bay. It was a little bumpy at first, but as we continued turning more south things settled down and we had a calm ride.  We passed by the Old Port Comfort Lighthouse and the Fort Monroe, eventually entering into Norfolk Harbor and heading east along the Elizabeth River.  We saw many Navy boats in port for maintenance, upgrades and/or repair on both sides of the river, and we even saw a pink container ship.  In not time we were making our way past Hospital Point and the downtown area of Norfolk.

 

We took a right and entered the ICW, where we will cruise for the next two weeks and 895 statute miles until we reach our home port of Harbortown Marina, in Merritt Island.  Our hope was to get past Coinjock and hopefully to an anchorage on the North River, just before crossing the Albemarle Sound.  Because of the bridges and lock with their restricted opening schedules, it makes it difficult to predict where we would be able to get to.

Our timing was good as we easily passed under the first two raised railway bridges that were in the UP position with no trains coming.  We had our fingers crossed about the next set of bridges, however as we have gotten stuck here in 2017.  Sure enough, as we approached the Gilmerton Highway Bridge we saw the queue of boats that were already waiting on its opening.  For us, this bridge has a clearance we can get under when closed, but the Norfolk-Southern Railroad #7 Bridge immediately afterwards does not.  This means we had to wait with all the others including sailboats, trawlers and sportfish boats.

 

After motoring in place for 40 minutes, the bridges opened and boats were allowed to pass through. Fortunately, the boats with low clearance were given the ok to go ahead first as the railroad bridge takes longer to open.  This was a bonus for us as it meant all the slower sailboats would be behind us and we would not have to pass them, at least for now.

Once through the bridges we were able to cruise at top speed for a few miles. However, we had to stop and get fuel, and Top Rack Marina was only 5 miles away. The good news is that because we were ahead of most all the other boats we arrived ahead of others who also wanted to get some fuel. This allowed us to fill our tanks and be on our way in no time.  Unfortunately, we had to pass several of the sailboats that had now passed us from the Gilmerton Bridge queue and this slowed us down so that we missed the 11:00 opening schedule for the Great Bridge Lock and Great Bridge Bridge openings.  After another 40 minute wait we were able to get in the lock for the noon bridge opening and were on our way in 15 minutes.

Once through the Great Bridge Lock and the Great Bridge Bridge, we kept our fingers crossed hoping to arrive at the North Landing Bridge (one notoriously known for breaking) for the next opening.  But first we had to pass all the boats that were in the first lock through that passed us when we stopped for fuel.  Our timing worked out such that we hit the North Landing Bridge and did not have to wait long for an opening.  Now we could cruise comfortably on the North Landing River leaving VA behind and entered into North Carolina.  We also were done with locks for the rest of our trip.

Waiting on the North Landing Bridge

Waiting on the North Landing Bridge

We entered and cruised through most of the Currituck Sound without issue, until we came to its southern end. Here there were a handful of boats already stacking up as they made their approach into Coinjock Marina.  We had to slow down a bit to allow these boats to get positioned along the 1200 foot dock, and to slowly cruise past the marina.  It was 2:30 pm and we were happy to be NOT stopping here for a change.

Although we had been going for 7 hours, we wanted to press on and at least get across the Albemarle Sound because the winds were forecasted to increase tomorrow and that would make for a bumpy passing.  We had considered trying to go to an anchorage on the south side of the Alligator River Bridge south of the Sound, but once we calculated the distance we realized that we would be arriving too close to dark.  So we called the Alligator River Marina to see if they had a spot for us for the night, which they did. The marina is north of the bridge but on the south side of the Sound, and we stayed there on our way north in April.

We crossed the Albemarle and headed to the marina, arriving just after 4:00 pm.  We settled the boat and then went to check in at the marina office.  This marina has nothing around it and it is just off the highway that goes over the Alligator River to the NC Outer Banks. The Marina Office is really the gas station, convenience store, souvenir shop, and grill rolled into one.  They have a reputation for their southern fried chicken which we had never tried. However, tonight we decided to give it a try as we were too tired to cook onboard. We put in our order and Denise went back to pick it up just before 6:00 pm while Mark rinsed the salt off the boat.

By the time we were back on the boat to eat our dinner, the mosquitos had come out and the marina got really quiet. It was quite different then when we were here in the spring with all the Loopers heading north.  Aside from the early sunset, the majority of the boats were heading south to flee the cold weather of north, so there was no “docktails” organized or much socializing.  We watched a little tv before crashing early; tomorrow was planned to be another long day and we needed our rest.

Beaufort, NC – Wednesday 10/30

Alligator River to Beaufort

Alligator River to Beaufort

As soon as it was light enough we left the Alligator River marina and made our way out of the marina and through the Alligator River Bridge, and headed south in the river.  We got treated to a beautiful sunrise, and eventually a rainbow, even though it wasn’t raining.

The Alligator River is wide-open, but it has a narrow channel for boat travel and you must be careful so you don’t get out of the channel and run aground. Captain Mark took us safely through this area and around a few boats, and then we entered the Alligator-Pungo Canal. This is a 10 mile stretch of nothing but trees on both sides and the only part of the ICW where there is no cell coverage.  It can be beautifully peaceful, but all Captain Mark kept thinking about was how the tannins from the trees that color the water dark would create a coffee-like stain on the bow of our hull.

Alligator Pango Canal

Alligator Pungo Canal

Soon we exited the canal, and entered the Pungo River, eventually passing the town of BelHaven (a place we stayed in 2017).  Here the river opens up wide and we were able to pass several boats without having to slow down as there was plenty of distance for our wake to settle down before reaching them.  We also passed a barge going the other way. By 10:15 we entered the Pamlico Sound, another large body of water which can be rough to cross if it is too windy. Today the wind was light and it was an uneventful crossing which took only 15 minutes to transit.

Leaving the Pamlico Sound

Leaving the Pamlico Sound

We entered Goose Creek which led to the Pamlico River and entered this canal-like river. Here there were more homes along the water and we passed some now familiar sights along the way: USCG Hoboken and the Hoboken Bridge and the RE Mayo Docks.

After this area, we were once again in wide-open waters of the Bay River.  On the west side of the river are a handful of large homes, and one in particular is a standout right at the point where the Bay River leads into the Neuse River.

This is really the largest open body of water we would encounter today.  Here we found that the wind had picked up and it was very bumpy at first, but only for a short while. Once we turned more west (yes) the waves were behind us and it was a more comfortable ride.

The Neuse River is a wide river and there was lots of room to pass other boats without having to slow down. We made our way west to Adams Creek and then turned south and entered another fairly narrow area of the ICW.  Here we found a very populated area, with homes lining the shoreline and a few marinas along the way. This no-wake area slowed our progress, but it is not long and opens up again allowing us to go back to cruising speed.

Homes on Adams Creek

Homes on Adams Creek

We cruised down the ICW towards Beaufort, and as we approached the channel we watched an Osprey Helicopter fly in front of us and then land nearby. They look so much like drones.

We made our way towards the Home Smith Marina in Beaufort, were we had stayed in the spring on our way north.  We settled the boat and checked in at the marina, asking about extending our stay should we need to. The weather forecast for Friday was going to be very windy and it was going to begin to get stormy in the afternoon on Thursday (tomorrow).  We inquired about staying for an extra 2 nights (until Sat), but they could not guarantee it as previous reservations had them full up.  This is the downside to heading south along with the “fleet” making their migrations south.  We decided to go to dinner and make the call about staying in the morning.

The walk from Homer Smith Marina to downtown is about a half mile, and it provided a good chance to get some exercise.  We went to dinner at Aqua, a restaurant that had been recommended by Back Cove friends the Argosy’s (“Seabird”) whom we cruised with from Southport in the spring.  The food it was great and we would highly recommended it.  We walked back to the boat and called it an evening, knowing our plans were up in the air for the coming days.

Aqua Restaurant

Aqua Restaurant

Wrightsville Beach, NC – Thursday 10/31

Beaufort to Wrightsville Beach

Beaufort to Wrightsville Beach

Denise was up early and decided to throw in a load of laundry since it was free, knowing it could be washed and dried before we would leave (if we chose to).  It was dead calm in the marina and the threat of high winds from the south were not forecasted until later in the afternoon.  Our biggest concern was the Cape Fear River; it is wide open for the last 15 miles before Southport and very exposed to the South. We would be trying to cruise down it at the time the wind would be the strongest.

We battered around the idea of leaving and going only part of the way, knowing it meant staying somewhere for 2 days (until Saturday).  We also had to stay in a location where we could get to a Catholic Church as tomorrow (Friday) was All Saints Day; a holy day of obligation in our faith.  We had identified that Wrightsville Beach had a church we could attend, and it was a place that we had never stayed before.

As we were finishing up the laundry we could see the marina was trying to figure out which confirmed reservations were still coming in, while everyone at the marina was trying to extend for the weekend.  They were trying to accommodate everyone’s request and we could see it was getting to be a challenge.  We made the decision to leave and head to Wrightsville Beach and when we told them they were very appreciative for releasing our slip.

It was just before 9:00 when we got off the dock and headed out to the ICW.  We easily cruised around the docks at Morehead City and into Bogue Sound. This area is wide open and we were concerned with the wind here, but it was still calm and we had an uneventful passage through this area.  We did however, have to pass a number of slower boats, requiring us to slow down each time.

We easily made progress through Swansboro and miraculously we arrived shortly before noon for the restricted opening of the Onslow Beach Bridge.  After a short wait, we made our way through the bridge and Camp Lejeune, happy that there were no live-fire exercises this time, unlike in 2017.   Side Note: we had verified this before the start of today’s passage and were grateful there were none; last week and next week they were scheduled and would have made this a very long wait if in fact they were taking place).

Mark had found a cheap place for fuel just south of this area, so we stopped at the New River Marina to fill up.  The current was running very fast through this area, but the Captain did a great job docking the boat.  We were here for 40 minutes and as we were leaving the USCG had a queue of boats coming in for their fill-ups as well. It is good to see they are trying to maximize the value of the US Taxpayer dollars for fuel.

At New River Marina Fuel Stop

At New River Marina Fuel Stop

We continued down the ICW south, passing the towns of Surf City and Topsail Beach, as well as the barge the “RL Enterkin” whom we had passed in the Alligator River.

We went under several bridges and passed by houses on shore that have now-familiar statues and sculptures in their backyards.  Eventually we came to the Wrightsville Beach Bridge, which was opening for a sailboat in front of us, but we could scoot under even if they didn’t open.

Immediately thereafter on our right side was the Bridge Tender Marina, and our stop for the night. By this time the wind had picked up and the current was running fast, but once again Captain Mark parked our boat on a side-tie dock, negotiating around several boats. We were met by two dockhands from the marina who helped secure the boat and gave us a warm and friendly welcome. Our friends on “Argento” had recommended this stop and we were glad when they said they had room for us for two night’s stay.  All the other marinas around us were full for the night as tomorrow’s weather was keeping everyone in port.

IO at Bridge Tender Marina

IO at Bridge Tender Marina

We had arrived just after 3:00 pm and had some time to catch up on emails and do a little bit of blog writing in the afternoon. We decided to eat on the boat and settled in to watch some tv.  It was Halloween and we had no costumes, party or trick-or-treaters to even consider for the night.

Wrightsville Beach, NC – Friday 11/1
We spent the morning on the boat doing office work, cataloging pictures, and talking to clients.  We had already done research for where to attend church, and at 11:30 we took an Uber the 1+ mile for noon mass at “St. Terese of Liseure”. Normally we would have enjoyed the walk and time to explore this new-to-us area, but as forecasted, the weather became very windy and a bit cool.

The church of St. Terese of Liseure is located right on the beach, sandwiched between homes and condominiums. It is a small church but has terrific facilities, including a small parish hall the backside of which has a large deck with grills for barbeques.  The entire property is located directly on the beach, and they have a viewing tower that affords a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean.  After mass we walked around the property and climbed up the tower to take a few pictures.

After mass, we were able to bum a ride off of one of the parishioners who was at mass and going back over the bridge to the mainland.  Once again, we are always appreciative of the kindness of others that we experience when we go on these cruising adventures.

In the afternoon we hunkered down on the boat, and continued with work and blog writing.  We did some research and made a decision that tomorrow (Saturday) we would blow past Southport and go all the way to Georgetown, SC. We like town and the marina there, and we knew there was a Catholic Church we could attend on Sunday.  This meant staying two nights there, but as it would be a long day on the water, we were ok with staying two nights.

We had made reservations for dinner at “Jerry’s” a local restaurant recommended to us by the dockmaster.  We stopped by the marina office just before we were going to walk down to the restaurant, and had the chance to meet the son of the marina owners.  Jay Baker was very friendly and he gave us a run down on his parents various businesses in the area; 2 restaurants and a gift shop in addition to the marina. He was very personable, and ended up giving us a ride to the restaurant.  Along the way he pointed out his house, as well as his mother’s house (his father is now deceased).  It was pure southern hospitality and we enjoyed talking with him and getting to know more about the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach area.

The restaurant was not very big, but they had delicious food and very fresh seafood. We enjoyed our meal and then walked back to the boat along a road that was lined with cute homes.

In addition to the Bridge Tender Marina, there are several other marinas in this area.  There are also several nice restaurants and several cute shops within a mile.  But all of these will have to wait for another visit for us to explore as we are leaving tomorrow and won’t have any more time to explore them.  Here are some pictures from the area around the marina:

Georgetown, SC – Saturday 11/2

Wrightsville Bch to Georgetown

Wrightsville Beach to Georgetown

Knowing we had a big day ahead of us, we left the Bridge Tender Marina at 7:30, and just after several other boats had left surrounding marinas. Eventually, we would pass some of them along the way.  It was partly cloudy and cool, with a warming trend expected.

We headed south and immediately encountered several sailboats and trawlers that we had to slow down to pass. It was slow going and took us an hour to go 10 miles to the Carolina Beach area.  Finally, however we were able to get passed most of the boats and through Snow’s Cut, where we entered the Cape Fear River.  We were so thankful that we had not been on this body of water yesterday; it would have been miserably uncomfortable.  But today it was mostly flat and we were able to travel past the Army Terminal at Sunny Point and around any slower boats with ease.

Army Terminal at Sunny Point

Army Terminal at Sunny Point

We approached the Southport area and cruised past the restaurants and boats in the marinas without any issues.  It was just after 9:00 am and although we usually stop here, we were pressing on to take advantage of a good weather day, and make up for those bad weather days that have held us up on our trek home.

The next few hours were slow-going as much of ICW in North Carolina is lined with houses that have docks and boats that may or may not be in the water; requiring us to “watch our wake”. Add to this the sailboats and trawlers that we once again had to pass, many of whom had leap-frogged us while we stayed a second day in Wrightsville Beach. We continued south and through the town of Holden Beach where we are amazed that an old boat and dock area still has not been cleaned up, even though it is an apparent eye sore and hazard to navigation.

Wreck in Holden Beach - still there

Wreck in Holden Beach – still there

Finally, just before 11:30 am we traversed the Little River Inlet and entered the state of South Carolina. Here too this inlet has an abandoned wreck, areas with shoaling, and small fishing boats. Today we also got to see a casino gambling boat heading offshore through the inlet.

Once through this area, we approached the North Myrtle Beach area which was crowded with many pleasure boats. It was tedious and challenging, and is a primary reason we try not to travel on a weekend day.  It had also started to get hot and Denise changed to shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt.  We approached the New River Swing Bridge and was able to get through it without issue as it opens on demand.

Little River Swing Bridge

Little River Swing Bridge

Finally, the congestion died down for a little while and we were able to cruise through an area known as the “Rock pile” easily. Here we passed by the Grand Strand Airport with the only identifier is the large antennae for the airport that sits right on the edge of the ICW.

We continued south through Myrtle Beach, passing the Barefoot Marina one side and Lulu’s at Barefoot Landing on the other. This area continues with the redevelopment and has really changed since our first time through here in 2015.

South of this area the shoreline on both sides becomes residential with many new houses and developments now established that wasn’t here 4 years ago.  Needless to say it was slow-going again and this is why Captain Mark would prefer to take the “outside” route in the Atlantic Ocean. However, the seas were not conducive to this today.

Once again we had been shopping fuel and decided to stop at Osprey Marina on the south end of town, and just off the ICW.  But first we had to get through the Socastee Swing Bridge, which fortunately opens on demand.  Once past this bridge we headed to Osprey for a fill-up and a free pump-out.

It took no time at all before we were back on the ICW, and entering the Waccamaw River. Here the ICW is mostly rural and is one of Denise’s favorite parts of the ICW.  There are only a handful of structures between here and Georgetown, including the Bucksport and Wacca Wache Marinas.

Soon we approached Georgetown and hailed the Harborwalk Marina on the radio.  There were several boats arriving at the same time so we were asked to hold off until they were able to get them docked.  Eventually, we got the approval to dock and Mark backed us into a tight slip right next to a Fleming yacht. It was 4:30 pm and it had taken us 8+ hours to go 106 miles. We were tired and hot and couldn’t wait to get showers.

Approaching Georgetown Harbor

Approaching Georgetown Harbor

We checked into the marina and returned to the boat for showers and a much deserved cocktail. On the way we noticed there was another Back Cove (’26) in the marina near our boat. We stopped and talked with them for a bit to talk about our travel adventures this summer, and Back Cove/Sabre boats.

We originally were thinking a pizza dinner, but did not find anything that looked attracting to us. We had also learned that today was the annual “Taste of Georgetown” festival, which ended at 3:00 pm.  It was too bad that it didn’t last until later in the day or we would have participated.  So, we decided to return to “Alfresco Bistro”; a place we ate the very first time we were in Georgetown. At that time we found it to be superb, but on this visit we were quite disappointed. While the service was good, we found the food to be mediocre at best.  The waiter had told us they had been slammed all day in the restaurant, even though they had a special tent for the festival. Perhaps we will have to give them another chance the next time we visit this great little town.  One positive note was there was sufficient food for us to take some back to the boat for another meal.

Alfresco Bistro

Alfresco Bistro

We walked back to our boat and watched a little tv before calling it a day and retiring for the evening.

 Georgetown, SC – Sunday 11/3
Our morning started with attending the 8:00 am mass at “St Mary Our Lady of Ransom”, a church we had been to before. It is a small church just a half mile from the marina, so it is very convenient for us when cruising. The pastor is terrific and we enjoyed interacting with the entire community who we found warm and welcoming.

Mark had wanted to go to a diner for breakfast, and we were having trouble finding one that was open on Sunday. As were walking back towards the marina, and while searching for such a place, we discovered another couple from church in the same situation.  We ended up meeting David & Pat (“Blue Moon”), who were sailors from Ft. Walton Beach and who were headed home for winter. Together we discovered “Aunny’s Country Kitchen” was open and we went there for a delicious and inexpensive breakfast. We got a chance to get to know each other and chat about boat-life and then we went our separate ways afterwards.

Aunny's

Aunny’s

Once back on the boat we decided to do a single load of laundry, which will probably be our last one we will need to do until we get home.  We also downloaded and cataloged pictures in order to try and stay on top of this time consuming task. This helps facilitate the blog updates as it is easier to remember pictures when they are fresh in our minds.

Very nice laundry facility at marina

Very nice laundry facility at marina

We had been in touch with our Looping friends Anne & Jeff Timmons (formerly on “Harvest Moon”) who spend a few months every fall in Murrells Inlet, SC.  They agreed to come visit us in Georgetown, and stopped by on their way back from Hilton Head. We went to a late lunch at the Old Fish House restaurant and spent time talking and getting caught up on our lives.  They spend winters in Cape Coral, FL and are headed there again this winter. As they have a son with their only grandchild, they are now looking for a permanent home there, and we hope to see them again there soon.

We really like Georgetown as it is one of the small towns that seems to be doing so many things right. It helps that they do have some industry here (Liberty Steel), but more importantly they don’t expect their town to survive on just restaurants and shops.  They always have some type of community events  going on to draw people in whenever we have been here. This weekend it was a ½ marathon and 5k race on Saturday morning, the Taste of Georgetown all day, and an Oyster Roast in the evening.  We have also been here during their music festival weekend (see May 2017 post), and they have other cultural events here as well.

Also, this particular marina (Harborwalk) continues to improve itself. Since we were here 2 years ago they have put in more dockage space, moved the marina office to the fuel dock, and converted the old marina office to a nice cruisers lounge.  They continue to maintain a first class facility and it is located right in the heart of downtown.

Hilton Head, SC – Monday, 11/4

Georgetown to Hilton Head

Georgetown to Hilton Head

We set out from Georgetown early as we were wide awake earlier than planned; still adjusting to the time change on Sunday morning.  We knew it wasn’t going to take long for us to get to Charleston, and we really were not in a hurry, but since we were up, we figured we would head out.  Most of the boats around us had already left, so it made leaving our spot easy to exit the slip.

It was a nice day on the water and although we had a few boats to pass, they did not delay us as in previous days.  Initially the ICW is part of the Winyah Bay and affords a sufficiently wide enough channel to make passage easy.  Soon thereafter the ICW turns right and for 5 miles runs along a narrow channel that is very rural.  The most exciting thing here is passing the “Miss Ellie” Bridge Barge which acts as a swing bridge (officially called the “Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Bridge”) used when cars are needed between Cat Island and the mainland.

Here the ICW then continues for miles through the lowcountry of South Carolina. It is rural and not well populated, but still beautiful in its own way.  There are spots along the way that are known for shoaling and it is not uncommon to encounter dredges just as we did in McClellanville.

Close quarters passing McClellanville dredge

Close quarters passing McClellanville dredge

Not long afterwards we approached Isle of Palms and saw our friend Brian Donovan’s boat (“Corporate Approved”) docked at the marina.  It looked all closed up and after a few emails back and forth confirmed he was back in New York closing up his Shady Harbor Marina for the winter.

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms

"Corporate Approved" at Isle of Palms

“Corporate Approved” at Isle of Palms

About this time we were reconsidering stopping in Charleston. While we love this town and are fortunate to have free dockage when we wish to stay, it was still early in the day we would be at the dock by lunch time.  We really didn’t want to spend half the day at a dock when we could be moving south with great weather.  We decided to continue on, cancelling our Charleston accommodations and calculating how far we could go.  We had figured we could easily make it to Beaufort, SC and compared our options for staying the night, including anchoring out.  After some discussion and weighing pros & cons, we made a reservation at the Lady Island Marina, just across from Beaufort, SC (not to be confused with Beaufort, NC).

Having decided not to stop in Charleston and after we secured dockage for the night in Beaufort, we pressed on.  We cruised through Charleston Harbor, passing downtown Charleston and the city marina, and turned left heading south on the ICW.

How nice it was to have large bodies of water and no weekend boaters to contend with for most of this section. For the next few hours we cruised uneventfully on the ICW with nothing but more low country and beautiful scenery to look at.

Meanwhile we kept debating if we should even stop in Beaufort as we still would have a few more hours of cruising available.  When planning our itinerary and where to stop we try to consider the weather over a 3-day window. In some cases this means changing our itinerary to get somewhere safe before bad weather, or in other cases to bypass an area to take advantage of a great weather day. Today was one of the latter days.  We were now sure we could make it to Hilton Head and get across the Port Royal Sound before upcoming windy weather would make it an uncomfortable passage.

As we approached the Beaufort area we had to make a decision.  We had reservations in Hilton Head at Windmill Harbor Marina for Tuesday night, so we called to see if we could move it up a day instead.  They were more than happy to change our reservation, which was great news. Unfortunately, it meant we would miss the opportunity to dine at the South Carolina Yacht Club (SCYC) as they are closed on Monday nights. We cancelled the Lady Island Marina in Beaufort and made the slow no-wake passage through downtown Beaufort.

Downtown Beaufort, SC

Downtown Beaufort, SC

Captain Mark steering us along

Captain Mark steering us along

Within 30 minutes we continued south under the McTeer Bridge and headed around Parris Island (USMC Recruit Depot).

Once past the marine base we entered Port Royal Sound and made our way across it in no time.  We picked up the ICW on the south side of the sound and cruised past the Skull Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island.  From here it was a short cruise under the Hilton Head Bridge, around the corner of the island and lined up for entrance through the lock at Windmill Harbor Marina.

Port Royal Sound

Port Royal Sound

Approaching Windmill Harbor Marina Locks

Approaching Windmill Harbor Marina Locks

We contacted the marina on the VHF and awaited for their approval to enter the lock.  We exited the lock and took our first left up the fairway that led to the assigned slip. It was almost the exact same location as when we were here in the fall of 2017.  It was just before 4:00 pm and we had traveled 133 miles in 8.5 hours.

IO at WHM

IO at WHM

Once the boat was all situated, we went to the office to check in and review our options for getting a dinner delivered. As this marina is in a security controlled development, there are no restaurants nearby except the SCYC, which was closed.  We could have taken an Uber to a local restaurant, but we were tired and didn’t feel like going out.  However, the marina has a listing of restaurants that deliver, and with some local knowledge input we ordered a pizza for delivery from Bella Italia Pizza.  It was good, but the driver accidently picked up the wrong order and had to turn around go back to the restaurant, then return with our order. It took way longer than expected and by the time we finally got our dinner it was late.

We really like Windmill Harbor and it is our 4th or 5th time staying here. Because of that we rarely stay at another marina on Hilton Head.  Because of the nice surroundings, first class service and many amenities we would very much like to come back here for a stay of at least a week.  Many of our cruising friends all stay here, especially those who live aboard and can take advantage of the pool, tennis courts, great running/walking areas, and nearby golf courses.  Unfortunately, because it was dark, we did not take any pictures.

Our plans are for another long day tomorrow, in hopes of getting all the way to Jekyll Island, GA. However, we will not be able to leave until late as Denise has a conference call with a client in the morning. With a little luck we will be under way by 10:30, but …..once again we will have to stop for fuel along the way.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Sole Sisters Sabbatical!

Poquoson, VA/Washington DC – Saturday 10/26
It was just after 8:30 am when Denise left the Whitehouse Cove marina to drive up and meet her running buddies (aka “Sole Sisters”) in Washington DC. Mark would be staying put and enjoying time in his (temporary) “floating man cave”.

Although there are more direct routes from Poquoson to Washington DC, Denise’s travels would take her on a circuitous route through the backroads of Virginia, as she had an errand to complete while on her way; the large orange fender balls had to be returned to Jon & Lynn (“Zendo”).  Their boat was located at Olverson’s Lodge Creek marina in a rural community off the Potomac River, and we did not want to lose an entire day to go there and back by boat. Driving from Poquoson was the fastest path and it made more sense for Denise to do this on her way to DC.  Plus, she wanted these off the boat as they hog up space especially since one of them cannot be deflated.

Once the fenders were stowed in their dinghy as instructed, Denise was back on the road for another 2 hours.  A trip that should have taken just under 3 hours, ended up taking 4.5 hours. In addition to the stop at Olverson’s, there was a short stop for lunch in Maryland before entering into DC.

Before the hotel, Denise had to go pick up her race bib at the expo, located in the Gaylord Convention Center at Grand Harbor. The place was a madhouse and after pick up of the bib, shirt and a short walk around, she left.  It took another 30 minutes to get to the Hyatt Hotel on Capitol Hill, where most of the other girls were staying. Once at the hotel, Denise checked into her room and then caught up with her “Sole Sisters” in the shared suite that several had booked for the weekend.

That evening, a casual pre-race dinner was hosted by Teresea, sister of running buddy Susan S, who lives in Arlington. She cooked up a race-friendly meal that was delicious. Although she lives away from us, she usually joins us on our runs when visiting her twin, and we have had her onboard Island Office when we were in DC in 2017. It was a fun affair and everyone enjoyed talking and sharing what was going on in their lives, comparing notes, and discussing potential future races together.  We headed back to our hotel in DC and wished each other good luck for tomorrow’s race.

Sole Sisters

Sole Sisters

Meanwhile, Mark spent the day doing boat chores (new engine zincs, sump pump clean-out).  He found an Italian restaurant (Mama Mia’s) and ordered his usual chicken parmesan. Naturally, he had to try their garlic knots, and naturally, none have compared to those back home at Antonella’s!

Poquoson, VA/Washington DC – Sunday 10/27
As forecasted, it rained during the night and it was threatening to rain as the Sole Sister’s made their way to the starting line(s).  As the marathon started in a different location than the 10k, we were not all together but we were with Victoria and Melissa in spirit. Running the 10K with Denise were Aileen, Lisa, Susan M, and Doreen.  Susan S and her sister Teresea had completed a half-ironman race the previous weekend and were the transportation & support crew for the day.

Pre-race Sole Sisters

Prerace Sole Sisters

It started to rain as we were waiting for the race, then it stopped for a while.  But after the start, it rained off and on, (mostly off) but poured just after Denise finished.

At the United States Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial)

At the United States Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial)

The walk after the finish is a long path, especially when it is raining and the other 10k-ers were ahead of Denise.  Eventually, she was able to meet up with them and all decided to go back and get cleaned up.  We knew it would be hours before Victoria and Melissa would be finishing and we needed to get into dry clothes.

Once cleaned up and after eating some food, we then were able to be there for Victoria and Melissa after the Marathon finishers shoot. It had stopped raining, the clouds cleared up, and in fact it got hot!  We spent some time celebrating with them, then crammed into a cab to go back to the hotel.

Since it was Sunday, the three Catholics in the group (Lisa, Aileen and Denise) still had to get to mass.  Through previous research, St. Peter’s (Capitol Hill area) had been selected as they have a 5 pm Sunday mass, which fit perfectly with our weekend plans.

Our final group event for the weekend was a dinner at the Capitol Grill.  Aileen had made reservations and we had a great meal celebrating each other and our many years of friendship. We celebrated our most recent accomplishments and the many miles we have all run (or run, biked & swam) together.   All of us are marathoners, half marathoners and runners, and some of accomplished more than others. But we are all “Sole Sisters”, and this trip was good for Denise’s soul.  In the morning, we would be all going our separate ways, but will be back together to enjoy future events together.

Meanwhile back in Poquoson, Mark attended St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church (no pictures); a place we went to in 2015.  In the afternoon Mark went to the movies and saw “Angel Has Fallen” and started a new book “Lethal Agent”; the latest in the Mitch Rapp series (started by Vince Flynn).

Poquoson, VA – Monday 10/28
Denise was wide awake very early so she decided to get on the road sooner than planned. She figured since she was awake she might get ahead of the DC traffic.  She checked out of the hotel, and while waiting on the car to be brought up from the valet, ran into Aileen who had an early flight out. After a short chat and hugs, both said goodbye and were on their way.

Taking the direct route back to Poquoson was almost all interstate, and fortunately it was in the opposite direction of the usual rush-hour traffic.  Northbound was a nightmare, but southbound on I-95 was not bad and in 2.5 hours Denise made her way back to the boat.  Earlier than expected, but we were grateful as we had a lot to do before the 2:00 pm deadline to return the rental cars.  We also had to allow time to prep the boat for an early departure tomorrow morning.

First we returned one of the rental cars, then went to Stein Mart to return a jacket purchased last Friday, but not needed (nor wanted).  Then we stopped at Kroger in order to get groceries for the boat, and had to take them back to the boat and get them stowed.

Meanwhile, we had been in touch with John & Cathy, who were also on a tight schedule for the day, coordinating grandkids activities with their own.  But they managed to carve out time for a late lunch.  We met at Longhorn Steakhouse and enjoyed one last meal and a beer together before our final goodbye.  We have so loved being able to see them twice this year and hope we can visit again soon.

We dropped the rental off at Enterprise and got a ride back to the marina.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting the boat ready to leave. Mark took care of a pump-out; made easy by the fact that the hose could reach and we didn’t have to move the boat to do this. We had a quiet dinner of leftovers from the freezer and watched the last episode of season 3 of “Victoria”.  We will now be ready to watch season 4 when Masterpiece Theater airs it in spring of 2020.

Tomorrow we will leave Poquoson with hopes of getting past Coinjock and hopefully to an anchorage on the North River, just before crossing the Albemarle Sound.  It all depends on the bridges and timing for the bridges and the Great Bridge Lock.  We also have to stop for diesel along the way at Top Rack Marina, where it is always considerably less than others and where we almost always fuel up.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Partying in Poquoson!

Poquoson, VA – Saturday 10/19

Solomons to Poquoson

Solomons, MD to Poquoson, VA

Before leaving the dock at Solomons Island Yacht Club (SIYC) we were going to stop at Solomons Yachting Center for a small amount of fuel; just to get us to Norfolk (Top Rack) where it will be much cheaper to fill up. However, they would not answer our calls even though they claimed they would be open at 8:00 am.  Not wanting to waste any time, we instead moved over to Calvert Marina fuel dock as their price was comparable. We were not there long before completing our fuel purchase and then left their dock to be on our way.

Meanwhile Chuck and Victoria (“Argento”) had gone for a pump-out and finished up about the same time.  We met up at the channel and exited into the Patuxent River, passing the UofM – Center for Environmental Science as we left.  There were a parade of boats as the nice weather provided the best day to move south, and many boats had been held up from moving for several days.

Many boats on the Bay

Many boats on the Bay

We entered into the Chesapeake Bay and found very favorable conditions for the 80 mile cruise to Poquoson.  Along the way we passed several lighthouses, including the Smith Point Lighthouse at the southern end of the entrance to the Potomac River. Many of these we have already photographed before so no additional pictures were taken.  Also because we were too far away from them for a good shot.   We also passed several tug-pulling barges and lots of sailboats and trawlers.

Smith Point Lighthouse

Smith Point Lighthouse

Following most of the way was “Argento”, and we talked periodically throughout the morning. They were headed south to Norfolk and we were headed a little more towards the west to Poquoson so our course headings had us slowly separating.  As we approached the Rappahannock River the separation became well over a mile so we bid each other farewell and hope to see each other in FL this winter.

"Argento"

“Argento” following

We continued south for a little while longer, crossing the York River and entering into the channel around Poquoson Flats; part of the Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge. This is a really pretty area and reminds us of parts of LowCountry – South Carolina and Florida.  We entered the Poquoson Inlet and slowly cruised to Whitehouse Cove and the preassigned slip at Whitehouse Cove Marina.

As we approached the marina we noticed the boat “Overdraft” was docked on the end of the first set of docks, where our friends on “YOLO” had been last spring when we were here.  We wondered if Russell (“Overdraft”) was home, but didn’t have to wait long to get our answer as he had already made his way around the docks and was there to assist us with the tie up.  Once the boat was secured we got handshakes and hugs and we were happy to see him. Russell had assisted us with our dinghy in 2017 when we were here and then we got to see him again on our way north this spring.  He left us to get our things settled and we agreed to connect up later.

In the meantime we had been in communication with Denise’s brother John.  We made plans for him to pick us up later in the afternoon and we would be spending a few days at their home in Seaford (near Poquoson).  But before he would come we needed to prepare our boat for the bad weather coming over the weekend. We put out extra lines and tied up our burgees, as well as secured things below in case the boat got a little tossed while we were away.

We also went over to see Russell and thank him for his help earlier, and to find out where he went this summer. We met his girlfriend “Linda” and his son (“Rob”) who was visiting.  We talked for a little while and discussed the fire last spring at the Surf Rider Restaurant here at the marina (see post here). We could see they are making fast progress at getting the restaurant rebuilt, and Russell told us they intend to open by Christmas, but it will most likely be after the first of the year.

Surf Rider Restaurant rebuild

Surf Rider Restaurant rebuild

We then returned to our boat, packed our duffle bag for a few days’ stay.  John came to pick us up and we went to their lovely home.  They have made much progress on the new yard and decorating since we were here in the spring, and we had a chance to take showers in a BIG (e.g. real) shower.

After some time hanging out and just talking, we went to dinner at an Asian restaurant called “Wonderful”, and it was.  It offered a complete Asian menu where Denise was able to get sushi and Mark got a delicious teriyaki salmon entrée.

We returned to our wonderful accommodations for the evening and ended the evening watching the movie “the Laundromat”; it starred Meryl Streep and ended up being a political propaganda piece.  We were glad we had not paid for it in a movie theater.

Poquoson, VA – Sunday 10/20
During the night the forecasted rain and wind started and when we woke up it was still raining.  We borrowed John’s truck and went to Church at St. Joan of Arc, where we had attended in the spring.  It is a wonderful parish with a priest that is blind, and on this day they had 2 baptisms during the mass.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out with John & Cathy, getting caught up on each of our lives.  In the evening, their two (twin) daughters (Shannon & Christen) came over with their families (husbands Shawn & Chris; 4 kids combined) for dinner.  Of course we would have liked to think it was to see us, but in reality it was to also celebrate Colton’s 9th birthday (son of Shannon & Shawn).  Cathy’s mom Joan, was also there. Everyone enjoyed the pizza party and family fun time, and it was great for us to be able to see these kids again. Even though we just saw them in May, they grow up and change so fast that it was wonderful to spend time with them again.

After all the kids left, and it was just the four of us again, we settled into watching the movie “The One I Love”, before retiring for the night.

Poquoson, VA – Monday 10/21
It was still overcast and not great weather, and it looked like it was going to be like this the rest of the day. Denise & Cathy went for a little “girl time” and got a manicure & pedicure, while Mark stayed at the house and did some work, before enjoying some relaxation time.

Originally we were going to go back to the boat in the early afternoon as one of the grandkids had a baseball game in Poquoson, and John and Cathy would take us back there when they went to their game. However, due to all the rain, the fields were flooded and their game was cancelled. So we ended up staying all afternoon, having dinner with John & Cathy, and then then they took us back to the boat. Once back at the marina we were happy to see that the storm had no impact on the boat while we were gone.  We unpacked our overnight bag and settled in for the rest of the night

Poquoson, VA – Tuesday 10/22
This was our first morning in the marina, so it wasn’t until today that we woke up to the banging of hammers and the sound nail guns as the construction crews were busy working on the rebuilding of the Surf Rider Restaurant. It was good to see the progress, but the noise kept Mark from sleeping in as long as he would have liked.  Denise was up early and went for a walk around the houses near the marina. Since this is an area she has run through before, she felt comfortable going out when the sun was just coming up.  It was interesting to see the landscape in the fall as the trees are losing their leaves and more of the houses and water views are more visible.

We had a busy day planned and a long list of things to do on the boat. First, however we had work to do for our clients and several conference calls that took up most of the day.  We also did some maintenance on our floating home, including completely cleaning and polishing the galley (appliances, sink, etc.).

In the afternoon Denise began working on this blog update and cataloging the handful of pictures we had taken.  She also mapped out our planned itinerary that would take us through Charleston, Hilton Head, Jekyll Island, and St. Augustine, and arriving in our home marina by 11/15.  Of course all this is weather dependent and based on several days of long (100+ miles) on the water.

Plan to get home

Plan to get home

When we got to John & Cathy’s on Friday, we were able to pick up several packages we had shipped in advance of our arrival. One of them was the screw for our flagpole, which we lost while on our way to Cape May.  Today, we were able to once again fly “Old Glory” and secure it with the new screw.

We also spent some time working on the ice maker. Over the last few weeks we noticed that it was making less and less ice per cycle and the cubes it did make were not big and full like they used to be.  Mark completely cleaned the unit and was on the phone with the ice maker’s tech support several times, trying everything they have suggested. But, it was not having much of an impact, and now it looks like we will need to have the Freon charged.  This was determined when Mark was talking to Russell (“Overdraft”) who had a refrigeration guy working with him on his boat.  So, Mark called and scheduled an appointment for the guy to come on Thursday morning.

Once again the weather was forecasted to turn to rain and high winds in the evening; the storm that brought a killing tornado to Dallas.  John & Cathy had offered for us to go back to their house, but all afternoon we watched the radar and eventually it looked like we would only have to endure the bad weather for a short period of time, so we decided to stay put on the boat.  We still had some shrimp in our freezer and after defrosting, Denise whipped up a garlic scampi dinner with angel hair pasta that we both thought was delicious.  As we watched another two episodes of “Victoria” we kept waiting for the big storm, and by the time we retired for the night we had only had a few sprinkles.

Evening at Whitehouse Cove

Evening at Whitehouse Cove

Poquoson, VA – Wednesday 10/23
Sometime during the night we did get some rain as there were puddles on the docks when we woke up.  Again the construction crews were working, but not quite as early as yesterday.

We spent a good part of the day doing work for our business and working on boat chores.  It was a lovely day outside and although a little cool, we had the hatches and door open on the boat.  We also went through the task of taking the ice maker out of its cabinet for easier access by the repair guy in the morning.

In the late afternoon John came by to pick us up for dinner at their house. Justin, their son had flown in from Minnesota with his son (Jase) and we wanted a chance to see them before weekend plans had us all going in different directions.  We enjoyed a wonderful time getting to see our nephew and his son, as well as niece Christen and her boys (Colton & Cooper) again.  Then John took us back to the boat where we retired for the evening.

Poquoson, VA – Thursday 10/24
Today was another gorgeous day and it was so peaceful in the marina.  We so enjoy being on the water on days like this, and our only regret is that we are not making progress south.  That won’t happen until next Tuesday after Denise’s weekend in Washington DC with her running “Sole Sisters”.

As expected, the repair man came for the ice maker which took up all of the morning, and part of our afternoon.  Long story short, after draining the old Freon and charging it with new, there was no improvement on the ice.  Mark was again on the phone with the tech support people and it looks like we have done all we can do for this unit.  It will take a trip to the repair facility in Ft. Lauderdale and probably will have to be replaced. These are not cheap units, but this one is 6 years old and is most likely at the end of its life.

When the repairman left, we went for a walk around the marina to check out some of the boats in the covered slips section.  Here we saw a Sabre yacht and the Grand Banks “Red Eagle”, whom we had seen when we were here before, but still had not a chance to talk with the owner. This boat was flying the AGLCA, DECL, and MTOA burgees (like us) and we know we have met them before.  We also ran into “John”, a man who has been working on the repair of the “Linda Carol“ buy-boat that was burned in the Surf Rider fire.  He showed us his own boat (also in the covered slips) that he has been rebuilding a piece at a time.

During our stay here, we have been frustrated with the marina’s wi-fi which has been mostly not working.  Mark has been working with Craig (marina manager) and was able to identify the problem and present a resolution. However, this helped everyone else in the marina except us: since we were behind the under-construction restaurant the antennae could not reach us.  The construction manager (who is using the marina management office for their construction site) said he would elevate the box, but had not done this as of this blog writing. We continue to use our hotspot in the interim, but are rapidly burning through the data plan.

We ate dinner on the boat and wished the Surf Rider was still open, as we would have loved their crab cakes tonight.  Maybe the next time we visit here, we can enjoy them again.

Sunset over the marina

Sunset over the marina

Poquoson, VA – Friday 10/25
Our morning was busy with work and getting some business tasks completed.  We also took note that the roofers were making great progress on the roof on the Surf Rider restaurant.

Putting on the roof

Putting on the roof

After lunch we went to pick up our rental cars in Newport News, with Enterprise picking us up at the marina. Yes, we got two cars: one for Mark to use during the weekend, and one for Denise to use to take to Washington DC for the weekend.  We took advantage of the deep weekend discounts at Enterprise, and cashed in points for the second one from Hertz.

Once in our respective rental cars, we split up and went our separate ways.  Denise found a Stein Mart and went to find an outfit for dinner in DC.  Meanwhile Mark went to pick up a few items at Costco and Home Depot, where he ran into John & Cathy.  After some discussion and few phone calls back and forth, we made plans for a dinner meet-up in Poquoson. But first we had to return to the boat and drop off our purchases.  We then joined John, Cathy, Shannon (back from her conference) and her two girls, as well as Jase (Justin’s son) at El Rancho. This Mexican restaurant had good food and the freshest guacamole ever, but their service was so slow that it had us getting back to the boat much later than planned.  Tomorrow, Denise will leave for DC and we will report on the weekend in a separate post.

And throughout this very busy crazy day, we forgot to take pictures!

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Making Tracks!

We have made big progress and covered many miles since our last update, including passing through 5 states.  Here is what we have been up to.

Wickford, RI – Friday 10/11
We spent the morning publishing our last blog update and doing some work for our business. Then we looked at the weather and made some inquiries for possible stops hopeful to be able to make it to NYC or NJ this weekend.

Since the weather was going to remain bad for Friday and Saturday, we picked up a rental car for the weekend so we could go “adventuring” on land.  In the afternoon we went to the movies to see “Judy” (the Judy Garland story). While the acting was good, the storyline seemed to drag and could have been a little faster moving.

Movie theater for "Judy"

Movie theater for “Judy”

Not wanting to go back to the boat right away, we drove to a shopping area.  Here they had an LL Bean store and across the highway a huge plaza with many stores.  We went into a few, but ended up not buying anything and decided it was time to head back to the boat.  On the way we once again stopped back at Dave’s Market and picked up a few things for dinner.

Dinner from Daves Market

Dinner from Dave’s Market

The weather was improving, but it was still rainy and the wind blowing so we hunkered down for the night watching tv and grateful our boat was in a very protected marina.

 Wickford, RI – Saturday 10/12
After our breakfast this morning we took a look at the weather forecast and saw that it had improved for the weekend.  With this in mind, we revised our future plans to leave on Monday and shifted to leave tomorrow (Sunday) instead.  We mapped out several stops and bailout locations (if necessary), and determined where we could get fuel along the way.  Additionally, Mark added some oil to the boat and now it was ready to go.

We then set out on our adventure for the day.  We took the rental car over the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge to Conanicut Island.  This is the island that is in the middle of Narragansett Bay between mainland Rhode Island and Newport (on its eastern shore). Here lies the town of Jamestown and Fort Wetherill State Park, where Beavertail lighthouse & museum is located on the southernmost point.  This is the lighthouse we passed on the way up to Wickford last week.

We had hoped to go into the museum and the small aquarium there, but because of Columbus Day Weekend, the museum closed at 3:00 pm and we arrived around 3:10.  However, the site is really interesting and we walked around the grounds and took pictures of the Narragansett River and Newport Harbor.

It was a bit cool so we did not hang out at the park long.  We got back into our car and drove through the village of Jamestown.  Here there is a marina that we have considered staying at as it directly across from Newport and is a bit cheaper.  There is a small downtown in walking distance to the marina and some pretty nice houses that overlook the harbor as well.

From there we went back out onto the highway and took the Pell Bridge to Newport for an evening of fun.

Clairborne Pell Bridge - To Newport

Clairborne Pell Bridge – To Newport

But first we had to find the UPS Store as we wanted to mail a package home; it was full of clothes (mostly) that we won’t use on the boat and wanted to free up the space.  It took us longer to get to the place with all the traffic in town, then it did to conduct the transaction, which went quickly.  From there we drove to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for their mass at 5:15.  This was the church that JFK and Jackie Beauvoir were married in and they are celebrating the event with an upcoming fundraiser called “Return to Camelot”.  You can read more about on their website here. Denise had been here with her sisters in 2015 and got to sit in the Kennedy pew at that time.

This evening however, we met up with our friends from home Wendy & Tom Willhoite. They attend our church back home, and Wendy runs in Marathonfest with Denise.  In fact, she was running in the Newport Marathon tomorrow (Sunday) and we were hoping to be able to cheer her on. However, since we were leaving Wickford in the morning that would no longer be possible.  Instead, we shared mass and then went to dinner at Busker’s Irish Pub. This was not our first choice, but with a 1 – 1.5 hour wait for all the other restaurants and it was getting late, it was our choice.  It actually turned out pretty good and we enjoyed a good meal at the bar and some fun times with friends.

We left Newport and made the drive back to the Wickford area to return the rental car.  Shortly thereafter we got an Uber cab back to the marina and readied our boat for the departure in the morning.

Staten Island, NY – Sunday 10/13

Wickford to Staten Island

Wickford to Staten Island

We both were up early and did one last check of the weather.  It was beautiful in Wickford Harbor and ideal conditions as we left the dock at 7:00 am and headed out through the Inlet.

Denise was a little nervous with the predicted seas, especially on the Long Island Sound some 2.5 hours away. For this reason we had identified a few bailout locations as well as a few places to stop for fuel. One of these was the Shennecossett Yacht Club (SYC) at the southern end of the Fishers Island Sound and just before entering LI Sound.  So our plan was to at least try to get to this spot today, and continue further if conditions allowed.

With this in mind, we cruised down the Narragansett hugging the western shore and passing along homes, the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, and the town of Narragansett. It was a calm morning and there was little wind and waves making our trip enjoyable.

We were making good time as we rounded Point Judith and Point Judith Light. We had been expecting the wind and waves to pick up here, but found a nice day on the water. It was sunny and clear enough that we could see Block Island off our port side.

We cruised uneventful until we came up to Watch Hill and the entrance into Fishers Island Sound. Here there were numerous fishing boats and the waters were churned up quite a bit.

We were starting to wonder if we had made the wrong decision to go between Fishers Island and the Connecticut coast instead of taking the outside route that would take us through Block Island Sound.  We persevered for the next 20 minutes passing the river entrances for Stonington and Mystic, CT and then made our way to the Poquonnock River Inlet and the SYC.  This is right near Groton, CT and here we found a nice protective harbor near the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus.

Approaching Shennecosette Yacht Club

Approaching Shennecossett Yacht Club

We pulled into the fuel dock and found a very welcoming dockmaster (Charlie) who helped us fuel up. In no time we were on our way and pulled out of the inlet and back into the sound.

Here we passed by New London Harbor Lighthouse and then the New London Ledge Lighthouse and entered into Long Island Sound.

Once on LI Sound we found things a little bumpy. We were getting some of the winds from the north meeting with the waves from the east and the swirls of currents; there was a bit of chop. We were conflicted about which side of the sound we should run down to get to NYC, but eventually stuck with the CT-side and found the land did block the wind. Eventually even what little wind there was died down and we had a pretty smooth cruise. It turned out to be one of the nicest trips we have had on LI Sound.

Just after lunch we were already seeing the outlines of the NYC skyline. Now we knew we would make it all the way to New York and started identifying our options for places to stay.  We would love to stay at Liberty Landing in Jersey City, overlooking the NYC Skyline. Here are friends on “Argento” had been waiting out the weather. This a great marina with a great view of NYC, but expensive.  However, staying on Staten Island would give us a better position for running down the New Jersey shore tomorrow (Monday).  After calculating our arrival time and making contact with the respective locations, we chose to push on to Staten Island.

By early afternoon we were approaching the Port Washington area, and soon thereafter we passed the Stepping Stones Light with the backdrop of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck. From there it seemed liked no time we were passing the SUNY Maritime College, the Long Neck Bridge, and then Rikers Island.

We then entered the East River and passed through the navigational area known as Hell’s Gate, where we had a favorable current and picked up 4 knots of speed.  It didn’t last, but we enjoyed the ride and the help on fuel consumption. We moved through the west side of Roosevelt Island and by then our speed had diminished back to 20 knots, until we began encountering the wakes of passing ferries, barges and tour boats.  We went under the Queensboro Bridge (one of several Denise ran over in last year’s NYC Marathon) and encountered 3’ – 4’ waves due to the turbulence and the confluence of the tides, current and boat wakes. It was the roughest water we encountered all day.

We cruised past the Manhattan skyline to our right and then entered NYC Harbor.  We headed toward the Statue of Liberty and slowed the boat for picture taking. Denise went on the bow to take pictures with our burgee and the gray lady in the backdrop as we celebrated the crossing of our wake (once again); this time for the completion of Down East Circle Loop (DECL).

With no time to waste, we headed east out of NYC Harbor and went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge; another one that Denise ran over last November at the marathon.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

We turned right and headed into Raritan Bay.  Before long we were entering into the Great Kills Harbor, and to the Great Kills Yacht Club where we were greeted by our friend (and dockmaster) John Calascibetta. He and some other cruisers on the dock helped us tie up the boat, and then we got a big hug from our friend John. He (like all the others at GKYC) always make us feel so welcome.

Once the boat was settled, Mark washed it down to get off all the salt while Denise prepared a dinner on Board.  We were not going out anywhere tonight as we were tired. It had been a very long day completing 158 miles and we had made a lot of progress heading south.  We did a quick check of the weather and with mostly favorable conditions, we decided that tomorrow we would continue heading south and try to make it to Cape May, NJ.  We sent a text to “Argento” and they too confirmed they would leave in the morning.  Finally we would have someone to buddy-boat with on this journey.


Cape May, NJ – Monday 10/14 – Columbus Day!

SI to Cape MayAs much as we would have liked to stay at GKYC for a few days, we knew we had to take advantage of the good weather and make headway on these days when we have to cover big waters.  Today it would take us out into the Atlantic Ocean and down the New Jersey shore.

We left GKYC and exited the harbor to a nice sunny day on Raritan Bay.

Leaving GK Harbor

Leaving GK Harbor

In 20 minutes we arrived at Sandy Hook Point and to the numerous boats all trying to go offshore for a nice day of fishing. We rounded Sandy Hook and stayed close to land, hoping what little wind there was would be blocked by the land and make the ride smooth.  We were mostly correct on this, but the waves from the east and were crashing on the bow, and there was a bit of a chop. Things were a bit bumpy.  We had been in communication with “Argento” who had left 30 minutes before us from Liberty Landing, but we could not see them anywhere.  Eventually, we were able to make contact with them and learned they were a little ways behind us, but closing the distance. There were so many boats on the water today, and most all were heading south. There were sailboats, fishing boats, cruising yachts and commercial fisherman. We saw more today than in any other single day since April.

We passed Asbury Park and continued south for a short time, but the waves started making things a bit uncomfortable.  As we approached Manasquan Inlet, we knew we had a decision to make.  Denise was not feeling great (a bit of seasickness from the chop) and did not feel comfortable continuing like this for the next 2 hours before we would get to Atlantic City.  Although Barnegat Inlet (another hour south) was a possible bailout, it is not recommended when seas are from the east.  With this in mind, Captain Mark suggested we go in at Manasquan and take the NJ ICW south to Atlantic City.  This would definitely take us longer (by about an hour – best case) as there are several “no wake” zones and always lots of fisherman in the middle of the channel.  This is the exact opposite course we took when heading north on Memorial weekend.

So we turned into the inlet and made our way through the harbor, past the open railway bridge, and went under the RT 35 Bridge on the Manasquan River.  We turned into the Point Pleasant Canal and experienced a bit of turbulence from the conflicting tides and currents. It is a short distance and in no time were out of the canal and passing the beautiful homes of Bay Head Harbor.

As we cruised south through the rest of the ICW towards Atlantic City, we encountered almost no fishing boats. Even in Barnegat Bay we found it was peaceful and there were few boats on the water; a big surprise on a holiday Monday.  This made Captain Mark happy and made our trip even faster than expected.

But it was also here that we saw the screw holding our US Flag had backed out and was nowhere to be found.  The flag was wobbling and when Denise went to check it out, we discovered it missing.  She took the flagpole & flag down and now we would have to order a new one.

We had been in communication with “Argento” who remained offshore and were now ahead of us. They reported that the wins had smoothed the seas and things were improved after Atlantic City.  So when we came up to AC we headed through the inlet (an e-ticket ride) and once again cruised south in the Atlantic Ocean.  We only had 35 more miles to go and it was just after 1:00 pm.  We knew we would make it to Cape May today and put one more body of water behind us.

We ran down the Jersey shore passing familiar Atlantic City sites. As we approached the inlet around Ocean City the water got really choppy and rough, but it didn’t last.  Soon we could see the roller coasters from the amusement parks along the shores of Wildwood, and eventually we could see the Cape May inlet.  Here are some pictures from this part of our trip:

We entered the Cape May Harbor, radioed the South Jersey Marina (where we had reservations) for our slip assignment and pulled into the side-tie on the fuel dock. As usual at this marina we had expert help with the tie up and were able to settle the boat in no time. The place was packed as so many boaters have been hung up waiting out bad weather, and finally got to move today.  We felt pretty good as we had accomplished another big day at 120+ miles.

We checked in at the marina and then made contact with Chuck & Victoria (“Argento”) who were on another dock in the marina.  We made plans for dinner and went back to the boat to get cleaned up.

Along the way we noticed a handful of other Sabre and Back Cove’s in the marina, including “FLYKT”, a Sabre 48 we last saw in NE Harbor, in August, but no one was aboard.  Mark preceded to wash down the boat while Denise took care of things below deck. After a while she could not hear any water on the boat and poked her head out to see Mark talking to Sven, (owner of “FLYKT”).  Mark mentioned seeing the boat in NE Harbor, but reminded him we originally met in Naples, FL in 2015.  He did recall our previous meeting and we had a chance to talk and get caught up. We also discussed plans to head south; us through the Delaware River and him taking the offshore Route down the Delaware coast.  He had to leave so we cut our conversation short and bid him safe travels.

"Flykt"

“Flykt”

In the meantime, a Trumpy Yacht (“America”) pulled alongside the dock across from us.  We had seen it leave NYC Harbor the day we went to GKYC and now here it was pulling in right near us.  Denise is a fan of these old yachts and has done a little research on them. You may recall we have encountered the Trumpy Yacht “Lady Catherine” in the past, and have made friends with owners Richard and Catherine (see post from 4-12-2019). “America” is also a charter like “Lady Catherine”, but the owner is not the captain.  You can learn more about these beautiful boats here.

That evening we met Chuck & Victoria at the Lobster House Restaurant, located near the marina.  They had also invited another couple they know from their homeport marina in Boston, who are also headed south for the winter.  Linda & David (“Happy Our”) were new to the cruising life and this is their first big trip. Their 45’ Azimuth was on a mooring ball in Cape May and they expect to stay another day before heading south. We all enjoyed a good meal and a chance to get to know each other better, and now have new cruising friends.

After dinner we walked back to the marina with Chuck & Victoria and discussed plans to leave tomorrow. It looked like we would have a good window to get up the Delaware River and then on to the Chesapeake Bay.  How far we were going to go would depend on the weather; they were hoping for Annapolis and we were hoping for something a little further south. The weather towards the end of the week was forecasted to be bad and we did not want to get stuck in a Cape May, Delaware City or Chesapeake City. So, tomorrow was the day to go.

Solomons Island, MD – Tuesday 10/15

Cape May to Solomons Island

Cape May to Solomons Island

It was a beautiful morning in Cape May and we were anxious to get under way. However, on our way out of town we had to get fuel and we had to wait for them to open. So, Denise went for a run, but her leg and hip kept her to 2 miles and she was back on the boat earlier than expected. She had a chance to talk briefly with the Captain on “America” and learn a little bit about this particular Trumpy before he cast off lines and left the marina. After getting breakfast we decided to leave and wait at the fuel stop for them to open if they were not when we arrived.

We left the South Jersey Marina and headed through the Cape May Harbor. We went under the highway bridge and into the Cape May Canal, taking our first left and up the short canal to Miss Chris Marina. There are several charter fishing boats who leave from here, and one was loading up to head out, with all the fisherman watching us dock.   There is a saying “you are either watching the show, or you ARE the show”.  In this case, we were the show.  Fortunately, Captain Mark does a great job docking our beautiful Island Office and made it look easy.  The dockmaster had already arrived and helped us tie up.  Twenty minutes later we were full of fuel and headed back into the Cape May Canal.

In the meantime “Argento” had left and they were slightly ahead of us; we were buddy-boating again today.  When they left the Cape May Canal the hailed us on the VHF radio and told us things were a little rough on the Delaware River and they were going slow.  We knew a northwest wind with the opposing incoming tide would be an issue, but the wind was supposed to be light and therefore small waves. Mark’s strategy was to run as close to the north shore line with the anticipation that it will eventually settle down as the land will block the wind.

We passed by the Cape May ferry dock and entered the Delaware ourselves and found it a bit choppy, but not too bad.

We continued along for about 20 minutes and we debated if we should turn around and go tomorrow. But we also know from past experience that this is usually the roughest part of the bay.  We then talked with “Argento” who confirmed it was not getting any rougher where they were at, but they had slowed down to allow us to catch up to them.

Rough seas on Delaware Bay

Rough seas on Delaware Bay

Normally we can get up the river into the C&D Canal in 2.5 hours, so we knew we only had to endure the rough part for about an hour longer.  We pressed on and eventually caught up to “Argento”, who then followed in our wake so they would have a smoother ride. We were getting pummeled with seas over the bow, and Mark would have to rinse off the boat again when we arrived at our destination.

But as expected, as the river narrowed and we got closer to land, the curving shoreline blocked more of the wind and the seas settled down so it became more tolerable. Eventually, we were able to speed back up to 20 knots and make progress.  By the time we started to see the Hope Creek & Salem Nuclear Power plants up ahead, we could actually relax. We passed the Ship John Lighthouse and a tug-pushing barge and finally, made a left turn into the protected waters of the C&D Canal.

We continued cruising the 12 miles of the C&D Canal at 20 knots, until we had to slow down for passing other boats. Here we encountered “America”, the Trumpy who left Cape May 2 hours before us. We also had to slow down when we came to Chesapeake City and the docks of the marinas, as well as the docks for Dann Marine Towing, a familiar landmark near the western end of the canal.

We exited the Cape May canal just after noon, and now were calculating how far we could get by the end of the day. We needed to see if the Chesapeake would be as calm as was forecasted and we were happy that in fact it was.  Originally we had thought we could get to just south of Annapolis, but now we were pretty sure we could go all the way to Solomons, MD; eighty more miles south of where we were.

Calm day on Chesapeake Bay

Calm day on Chesapeake Bay

We also had been calculating our fuel consumption and trying to determine if we had enough fuel to get to Top Rack marina in Norfolk (known for having very inexpensive prices). There was also another place we would pass south of Annapolis (Herrington Harbor), and which we were considering stopping for the night. However, it was only competitive if we would be taking on more than 150 gallons and we didn’t need that much yet.  Since schedule was our overriding concern for the day, we opted to bypass this option and head for Solomons. We could pick up an incremental amount if needed.

In the meantime we had been looking at options for dockage and where we could stay for a few days to wait out the impending bad weather. There are several locations to choose from in Solomons, but we knew there was a harbor host with AGLCA at the Solomon Island Yacht Club (SIYC) and they had transient slips available.  A few phone calls later and we secured dockage at the Yacht Club, as did “Argento” who had been following us all afternoon.  Now all we had to do was get down the Chesapeake Bay.

The day continued to delight us with spectacular sunny skies, clear visibility and mostly flat seas. It doesn’t get any better than this on the Chesapeake Bay in the fall.  We cruised under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, passed Annapolis, and then passed the famous Thomas Point Shoal Light. Along the way we had to dodge many pieces of debris, including some big logs and trees. The rain and high water has contributed to flooding and the run-off from the creeks into the Bays has created all these hazards; some of which could sink our vessel.  Captain Mark does a great job at avoiding the big ones, but a few smaller ones have clunked the bottom of our boat. Here are some pictures from this:

Finally, we approached Dominion’s Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) depot at Cove Point.  This is always a landmark for us and as we head into Solomons Island we know we are almost half-way through the Chesapeake Bay.

Cove Point LNG Facility

Cove Point LNG Facility

We rounded Drum Point and entered the Patuxent (PAX) River with the Naval Air Station to our left and Solomons directly in front of us.

We entered the harbor behind the research vessel associated with the University of Maryland – Center for Environmental Science, who then docked at their facility on our port side.

Mark had been on the phone with the SIYC dockmaster (also named Mark) and he gave us step by step directions into our slip.  He was there to grab our dock lines and help secure our vessel. Meanwhile, “Argento” went to get fuel at a nearby marina, and then came in right behind us to the dock.  After we got them tied up, we went up to the Yacht Club, registered and took the free drink tokens to the bar for a much-deserved cocktail.  Once again we had a big day, completing 150 miles total and a 3-day total of more than 420 miles.  But now we will sit until at least Sunday, waiting out weather and hoping to connect with our friends Betsy & Dave (“Fryedaze”) who live here.

Once “Argento” got tied up and registered, they too joined us in the bar. Together we agreed to a shared pizza dinner courtesy of Papa John’s and hosted on our Island Office.  Although they were originally going to leave in the morning, they are now reconsidering due to the expected rain and winds.

While we were finishing dinner, Doug, the AGLCA Harbor Host came by our boat to introduce himself.  He was very gracious and gave us lots of information about the club and the area.

Doug Smith - AGLCA Harbor Host

Doug Smith – AGLCA Harbor Host

After Doug left we finished our dinner, said good night to “Argento” and then turned in for the night, totally exhausted.

 Solomons Island, MD – Wednesday 10/16
The morning started off with a beautiful sunrise, but the sky was foretelling of the terrible weather to come. “Red sky in morning…..sailors take warning”.

Morning before the bad weather

Morning before the bad weather

We spent a good part of the morning trying to put together a plan for the coming days, with many things to consider.  We are planning to go to Washington DC the weekend of 10/26, but not by boat. We will need to the leave the boat where we intent to be as Denise is meeting her running “Sole Sisters” in Washington DC that weekend for the Marine Corp Marathon.  While she is not running the marathon, two of the women are, and others are doing the 10k (as is Denise) or they are cheering on the rest of the “Sisters”.

We also were planning for our time in Poquoson, VA to visit Denise’s brother and family as we did on our way north this spring.  We are awaiting confirmation on the availability of a slip at Whitehouse Cove Marina, where we have stayed in the past. Not long after our stay there this spring, they had a fire at the Surf Rider restaurant located at the marina and we are not sure if there is room for us.  If not then our location will change and we need to secure Plan B.

Also during the morning we met several of the members at SIYC. One member was John (“Longshadow”) who came down to the dock to talk to us and “Argento”. He told us he has been looking at Back Coves and is seriously considering buying one, although he likes the 41 foot model the best.  He also advised that he lived in the house next to the marina and told us his car was available if we needed one.  We thanked him for his offer and when he left we went back inside our boat, grateful for such southern hospitality. This once again proved to us that life is better south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

We weren’t back in the boat 15 minutes when the sky opened up and the rain started. We had watched several boats come into the anchorage and get their boats situated just in the nick of time.  It rained for the rest of the morning and into the late afternoon, sometimes with harsh winds.  We hunkered down in the boat, doing work, catching up on emails, and finally getting to download all the pictures from the last three days of travel. Mark was able to get Back Cove to send us a replacement screw for the flagpole and it will be sent ahead for pickup in Poquoson.

Rainy day at SIYC

Rainy day at SIYC

In the evening, the SIYC was having “taco night”, and we were invited to join them. So at 5:30 we went with “Argento” and arrived in time to secure the last few seats at the bar. The place was packed and all the tables inside were taken. Due to the weather, the tables on the patio were not a viable option and we felt lucky to be able to sit while eating.  The members in the club were very warm and welcoming, and Mark (dockmaster), his wife Lucy, and Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host) made it a point to come over make sure we were well taken care of.  Denise was able to sign the AGLCA Guest Book and put our boat card in their “album” where we saw cards for many of our Looper friends that have also been here.  It was great to feel so welcome and we had a fun time.

Taco night at SIYC with Victoria & Chuck ("Argento")

Taco night at SIYC with Victoria & Chuck (“Argento”)

We retired back to our boat and watched another episode of “Victoria & Albert” before calling it a day.

Solomons Island, MD – Thursday 10/17
While the rains of yesterday stopped, the winds picked up as predicted and were already blowing pretty good when Denise went out for a morning run.  She ran along the Patuxent Riverwalk and through the neighborhood that overlooks the harbor entrance.  The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science the Solomons House & Visitors Center is also located here, and she was able to see the sunrise over the already choppy water. Here are some pictures from her run:

She cut the run short after 2 miles due to the pain in her right leg/hip, frustrated that she can’t run any further distance.

During the day we took advantage of the windy day and hunkered down once again on the boat to get some work done.  Mark had a series of conference calls, and helped Chuck (“Argento”) on his boat with a few technical items. Denise began cataloging the downloaded pictures and working on this blog post. Meanwhile we also finalized our plans for the weekend in DC, including Mark staying behind on the boat and Denise going to visit with her Sole Sisters. We also received confirmation that we can go into the Whitehouse Cove Marina in Poquoson and could stay there through Tuesday 10/29.

In the afternoon John (“Longshadow”) came by to tell us he put in his order for the Back Cove 41, and that his daughter is buying his current boat (Hinkley) from him.  He also offered his car for us if necessary tomorrow, and we might take him up on this.

In the evening Denise made a fish dinner that was a new recipe and was from some fresh fish we picked up in Rhode Island. We had put it in the freezer and defrosted it just before prepping for dinner. It turned out really good, but we figure it will be even better at home when we can use a “real” oven.

We finished the evening watching another episode of “Victoria & Albert” and are close to being ready to start watching the last season that was just released.

Solomons Island, MD – Friday 10/18
It was a cold 48 degrees when we woke up this morning and almost had us thinking we were still in Maine.  The wind was still blowing a good bit, but it had settled down since yesterday.  Mark spent almost all morning on telephone with clients and Denise continued to work on this blog update. We also took advantage of the free laundry at SIYC to get that chore behind us.

In the afternoon we looked at the weather for Sunday (our planned departure date) and decided to leave for Poquoson tomorrow (Saturday) instead.  Rain and some wind is expected for Sunday and we have a beautiful day planned for Saturday, so why wouldn’t we?  Also, tropical storm Nestor is forecasted to hit the FL and Gulf Coast states and then move through GA, SC and NC over the weekend.  We weren’t planning to go further south for a week, so this will be work out fine for us.

Later in the day Chuck came over to the boat to discuss their southbound travel plans.  He and Victoria are highly frustrated with the weather delays (welcome to our world) this year as last year they were further south in their journey to Delray Beach. Since we know this route quite well, we discussed possibilities for routes (offshore or ICW) and where to wait out weather.  Mark and Chuck then made plans for the four of us to go out to dinner as this would be one of our last times together.  Although we intend to buddy boat tomorrow down the Chesapeake Bay, they are going on to Norfolk and we will stop in Poquoson.

After wrapping up our day of work, we went to the Yacht Club and had a before dinner drink with Victoria & Chuck.  The club’s drinks are very inexpensive, and we always enjoy patronizing establishments that have been gracious to us.  Afterwards we walked down the street to a restaurant called the “Island Hideaway” for dinner. As they do not take reservations on a Friday night, we thought we might have to wait a while for a table. However, right after we walked in four seats at the bar became available and we chose to eat there instead of wait on a table.  The food and service was terrific and we all had delicious meals.  The place was all decorated for Halloween and it had quite the festive feel.

As we were walking back through the SIYC parking lot to our boats, we ran into Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host) who was taking out the trash. He invited us to come into the club and meet his wife, Susan.  We stayed and chatted for a bit and then said goodnight. They were closing up the club and we didn’t want to hold them back.  We left Chuck & Victoria talking to them and we turned in for the night.

Susan & Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host)

Susan & Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host)

A few notes about Solomons Island Yacht Club:  This is our 4th stay in Solomons and we like coming here as it is about halfway up/down the Chesapeake.  However, this was our first time staying at this club, but it our favorite location.  The people are the nicest, the location in town is great, and the club is not snobby or pretentious. In some ways it reminds us of Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island.  If we get to come back to Solomons again, this would be on the top of our list for places to stay.  Here are some pictures of the SIYC and some other boats.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Waiting out weather in Wickford!

New Bedford, MA – Saturday 10/5
When we woke up in the morning we took a look at the weather and saw that the wind was forecasted to die down in the afternoon.  We then looked at the tides and currents running through the Cape Cod Canal and decided that we should leave Boston today and not wait for tomorrow.  We knew we had 80+ miles to go to get to New Bedford, and we had to stop along the way to get fuel, and we would prefer to arrive before sunset.  We also knew that we could then possibly make it to New London on Sunday, but we would have to leave very early in order to get there before the wind and waves on Block Island Sound would be too rough.

Boston to New Bedford

Boston to New Bedford

Having now formulated a plan for moving south, we did some last minute domestic chores, including doing a quick load of laundry.  Finally around 11:30 am we left the dock and said goodbye to Constitution Marina.  We cruised out into the Boston Harbor and it was a beautiful sunny day.

Leaving Boston

Leaving Boston

In no time at all we were passing the dredge that we encountered on our way in over a week ago. We then made a right turn through the channel called “the Narrows” that runs between Gallops, Lovell and Georges Islands and made our way into Massachusetts Bay (Atlantic Ocean).  Just off our port was Boston Light and to our starboard was the Massachusetts coastline.

We headed out of the protection of the islands on a southeastern course and now encountered the 2 foot swells, first on our bow, then on our port quarter.  It was a bit bumpy, so Denise was not able to take any pictures of the coastline or lighthouses we passed. Fortunately we were not trying to cut diamonds, and we were able to make good progress. We passed the town of Scituate, one of our bail out points and the seas seemed to settle down a little bit.

Two hours into our trip and we pulled into Green Harbor near the town of Marshfield, between Scituate and Duxbury. Captain Mark had located this source for reasonably priced fuel, and it was not too far off our direct course to the Cape Cod Canal.  We arrived into this small fishing harbor and tied to the dock at Taylor Marina, where we had to first wait for a fishing boat to finish fueling his vessel.  Finally, he finished and were able to fill up our tank and be on our way.

We continued heading southeast past Plymouth, and then soon we were able to turn more towards the south. Now the waves were behind us and we were much more comfortable, so we were able to take a few pictures including of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (now decommissioned) and homes along the bluffs at White Horse Beach.

Finally we could see the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal and the large power plant that is on its eastern shore that is visible for miles.  We had to navigate the entrance jetties around a sailboat and another powerboat also entering at the same time. All this water and then 3 of us are trying to negotiate the narrowest part all at once; it was a bit nerve wracking for the Admiral, but the Captain had it all under control.

There is a max speed of 10 mph in the Canal and this slowed our time considerably.  We enjoyed going under the Sagamore Bridge and seeing the cyclists and runners on the paths that line both side of the canal.

At the western end of the canal we passed by the “Kennedy” at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. When we arrived at this point we were grateful we had waited to leave Boston as the outgoing tide was in sync with the current and wind so we had a smooth ride.  We have come through here before when it was not so, and it was an e-ticket ride.

"Kennedy" at Mass Maritime Academy

“Kennedy” at Mass Maritime Academy

We entered Buzzards Bay and had very calm water with lots of other boaters enjoying a nice day on the water.

Calm Buzzards Bay

Calm Buzzards Bay

While in the Canal we called the Pope Island Marina in New Bedford as we were calculating our arrival time and knew it would be after 5:00 pm.  We spoke with a young guy who initially could not find our reservation, but finally did and gave us our slip assignment. We confirmed they would be open until 6 pm and we were instructed to contact them on the VHF when we got to the channel buoy outside their marina.

We turned off Buzzards Bay and entered the channel to take us into New Bedford Harbor, passing the narrow hurricane wall at its entrance to this protected area.

Approaching New Bedford Hurricane wall

Approaching New Bedford Hurricane wall

We approached the green buoy near the marina and radioed the marina as instructed, and received no response.  We noticed at that time that there was a sailboat being towed into the marina and there were several men on the dock assisting with the tie-up. We assumed these to be the marina dockhands and waited for them to secure that boat before attempting to contact them again.  After several unanswered attempts we located our assigned slip and docked on our own.  We secured our boat and noticed the dockhands had left the sailboat, so we walked up to the marina office to check in as it was 5:30 and we didn’t want to miss them.  When we got up to the office it was locked up, the lights were off and no one was around. Apparently after helping to tie up the sailboat, they left the marina, totally forgetting we too were scheduled to arrive.

We were not very happy.  We had specifically called to make sure someone would there when we arrived as we had a package shipped there and it arrived a few days ago. Yes, Mark had ordered the shop vac from Amazon and it was delivered earlier in the week when we expected to be there.  Mark had even called to confirm they had received the package and were holding it for our arrival. Now we had a dilemma because our intention was to leave in the morning before dawn, and before the marina office would be open again.  Had we known the dockhands were not going to wait for us today, we would have made plans to safely store the package for retrieval after hours.

While attempting to find someone to get ahold of after hours, we were assisted by two local boaters in the marina. They were very gracious in their offers, but even they could not get access to the office where we could see the package sitting on the floor.  They also informed that the marina is a city-run marina and the women who normally handles things had recently quit.  Denise had left her a voicemail before knowing this, and that made her even angrier at the lack of customer service.  Meanwhile, Mark had called the “after hours” number posted in the laundry room (to no avail), the posted security number (whom locals told us is on the property after hours all the time), and finally the New Bedford Police Department. Finally, he was able to get them to call the manager, who then called someone else who was close to the marina, and he came down to deliver us the package. He also gave us a gate access key. The marina is gated and if we would have left (to go out for dinner in town) we would not have been able to get back in without the key. But by the time he arrived, it was too late for us to go out. It had been a long day and we were tired. We ate a quick dinner on board and went to bed.  And with all this commotion, we never took any pictures of the marina or the surrounding areas.

Wickford, RI – Sunday 10/6

New Bedford to Wickford

New Bedford to Wickford

We got up early this morning and left the dock at 6:15 am before the sun had even come up. We followed a fishing boat and a sailboat out past the hurricane wall and into Buzzards Bay.  We noticed the wind had already started to blow a bit as we entered Buzzards Bay, but felt like we could make it to New London in 3 hours and then would be there for a few days based on the forecasted bad weather.

However, things didn’t work out that way.  After about an hour, the small but very choppy waves against the hull made things uncomfortable. It was difficult to stand or move around safely and everything had to be secured or it was tossed around the boat, including us.

On Rhode Island Sound

On Rhode Island Sound

About the time that Buzzards Bay becomes the Rhode Island Sound the waves started to build a little bit, and we had to slow the boat down. It was even difficult to take pictures at this point. It was about then that Mark suggested we think about bailing and potentially going into Wickford, RI. Denise was ok to bail on the planned destination, but didn’t want to go 13 miles up the Narragansett River to Wickford, a place we spent 9 days in 2017 to wait out hurricane Jose. We considered going into Newport, but after researching and finding dockage rates ridiculously expensive (even in off season) we decided on the more affordable Wickford.

So, we changed our course to the north (noooooo! – wrong direction), to head up the Narragansett passing the lighthouse on Beavertail Point. As soon as we did, the cruise became much easier with the wind and waves on our stern. If only this would have been our heading for New London, we would not have had to abandon the trip today.  We were able to pick our speed back up to 20 knots and in 15 minutes we went under the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge and turned west towards Wickford Harbor Inlet.

Meanwhile we had called the Wickford Marina and we were able to secure transient dockage for the night and at least until Friday when (hopefully) the weather will break and we can continue making progress south.  As we entered the inlet we called the marina on the VHF as instructed, and Paul (owner) gave us very detailed step-by-step instructions all the way into the assigned slip. There Nathan (dockhand) was waiting for us and assisted with the tie-up at a nicely-protected inside slip right near the marina office.  It was not even 9:00 am.

And now is the time in this story where we tell you about our divine intervention and how God definitely had a hand in the day.  Since deciding to leave Boston, we have been trying to figure out where we could attend Sunday mass as our plans changed.  When we were leaving Boston on Sunday we planned to go back to St. Mary’s on Saturday evening before leaving.  When we left to go to New Bedford on Saturday and then on to New London on Sunday we were challenged, but learned we could attend a Sunday evening mass at a church in nearby Groton (via Uber). Now on the way to Wickford we discovered we could be in time to make the 10:30 mass at St. Bernard’s. So as soon as we secured the boat we quickly took showers and headed out to walk the 1.0+ mile to church. But Mark suggested we ask at the marina office if there was anyone who could give us a lift to church.  When we did we discovered Paul and his wife Jean were headed to that very same mass. They gave us a ride to and from church and we had a nice chance to get reacquainted with them.  Perhaps this is the reason we were supposed to end up here, but who knows.  For whatever reason, we were supposed to come to Wickford and now we don’t question the why.

Paul & Jean live it Wickford most of the year in their home on the second story above the marina office. However, from December until March they live in a condo in Jupiter Florida and have a woman manage the year-round marina during this time.  The place used to be used be a fish and lobster processing plant and was run down when they acquired it. Over the last 22 years they have torn down the old building and dock, and developed it into a well-liked marina with many repeat customers (including us).  The facilities include bathroom and showers, laundry, Jacuzzi, patio with tables & chairs, and a great gas barbecue grill. It is a good place to stay and is walking distance to a very cute small village with a few restaurants and shops.

After lunch we settled into spending the rest of the day on the boat.  Mark continued to work on the ice maker; now working better but still not like it used to be.  Denise spent the rest of the day working on the last blog update.  We did not want to venture out as it had become quite windy, so we had a pizza delivered to the marina for dinner.

Wickford, RI – Monday 10/7
One of the nice things about this area is that it offers lots of opportunities for running. So Denise went for a run through the downtown and towards US1.  Just before coming to the intersection by this highway, is Wilson Park. This is a nice city park with baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and a handful of soccer/football fields.  There is a pathway around all of the ball fields and courts that provides a traffic-free and safe area for walking and running. Here Denise made several laps before leaving the park and heading back through downtown and then to the marina.  Here are a few pictures from her run:

While Denise was away, Mark did some significant boat maintenance. He changed the transmission oil and the secondary fuel filter in engine and packaged up the used oil for delivery to a location that will accept used oil when we can discard it appropriately.

Later that day we looked at the weather and it was clear we would be here all week. It was supposed to rain every day and the wind was going to blow significantly between now and the weekend. Once again we needed to make lemonade from the lemons.  We rented a car for 2 days, beginning on Tuesday afternoon so we could have it through Thursday morning.

We then spent the rest of the day doing work for clients, talking with some of the local boaters, and getting the last blog updated, but not yet published.

For dinner we took advantage of the grill at the marina, and cooked out a couple of cheeseburgers. It was breezy and cold standing out while they cooked, but a couple of evening drinks kept us warm. Once back on the boat we dined in warmth and watched more of the Great British Baking Show until it was time for bed.

Cooking out on the grill

Cooking out on the grill

Wickford, RI – Tuesday 10/8
We started the day getting some work done for clients and publishing the latest blog post.  While Denise completed a client call Mark went to pick up the rental car from Hertz, cashing in some reward points.

After lunch aboard we did a quick Walmart run for boat supplies, returned to the boat to drop off our purchases and then headed out on the day’s adventure.  We first drove to Judith Point, the part of Rhode Island south of Wickford that overlooks the Rhode Island Sound (Atlantic Ocean).  Here we drove out to the Coast Guard Station & Lighthouse (closed to the public).  We wanted to see how the waves looked crashing onto the rocks that line this part of the shore.  Today was calmest of days and it was still pretty rough on the water.  We did see a small boat making its way south, but we were thankful it was not us.

After this we drove over to Camp Cronin Fishing Area, a park located about a half mile down the beach. Here there is a jetty that goes way out into the water and forms the breakwater for the Point Judith Harbor; a harbor of refuge.  We were tempted to walk out onto the jetty as the setting sun was trying to poke out from behind the clouds, but it was way too windy and cold. There were a few locals making the trek and even a fisherman who was setting out to make his catch.  But amazingly as we looked back towards the Point Judith Lighthouse we could spot 2 surfers in the water enjoying the big waves that formed off the point.

At the end of the parking lot to this park is the Fisherman’s Monument and overlook.  Unfortunately, the overlook was taped off for no admittance and no one was around to ask if it was safe, so we took a few pictures of the monument and headed back down the road.

We continued on the coastal road (US1a) back towards Wickford, but stopped in the town of Narragansett. We have never been here and wanted to explore the area, but more importantly eat dinner.  Denise had done some research and read about the Coast Guard House Restaurant, located right on the water.  We showed up without reservations but because we were early we got seated right away.  This restaurant is housed in an old Coast Guard Station made of solid granite and is perched on the rocks overlooking Narragansett Bay. It has been a restaurant since the 1940’s and was severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012.  As a result they have renovated, but kept the original granite structure in place.  They even repurposed a beam from the original structure and it (located right near our table) was used in the renovation.  Our food and was fresh and delicious and it was not expensive, especially given the stellar view and location.  Our server was also great and we really liked learning about the history of this remarkable place.  You can learn more about it here. If you are ever in this area, we highly recommend this place.

After dinner we drove a little bit around the Narragansett Pier area, but it was now dark and hard to see.  Plus, it got cold while we were in the restaurant and it was now time to go back to the warmth of our Island Office.

Wickford, RI – Wednesday 10/9
During the night, the rains finally showed up. They had been forecasted all day yesterday, but stayed mostly north of us.  Throughout the night it would rain hard, then let up and then rain hard again. And it continued this way throughout the whole day.

We headed out for our adventurous day, first going to a nearby diner recommended to us by a local boater in the marina.  The Rome Point Café was south of Wickford and is definitely a locals place.  When we walked in, it was clear that we were “not from around here”.  We got seated right away and had a terrific breakfast, but more importantly got to watch a lot of the locals come and go.

After this we headed out on the highway, connecting to I-95 south and into New London, CT.

Rainy fall day on highway to I95

Rainy fall day on highway to I95

Denise was hoping we were taking this all the way to I-4 and then into Winter Park, but today we were only going to the US Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). Unfortunately, the USCGA does not offer tours like they do at Annapolis (Navy) and West Point (Army), but the museum and library are open to the public. By the time we arrived the rain had pretty much stopped long enough for us to get inside and spend about 1.5 hours there.

USCGA

USCGA

The history of the Coast Guard is quite amazing. Alexander Hamilton created it in 1790 when he was the Secretary of the Treasury as a way to collect tax revenue from ships entering ports that were not paying their import tariffs; they were then called the “Revenue Cutters”.  During subsequent years they were merged with government agencies that had been set up guard the inland waterways and coasts from pirates, save lives of merchant mariners and fisherman, and maintain aids to navigation (lighthouses originally).  Throughout their history they have been a branch of the Treasury Department, Commerce Department and more recently, Homeland Security. They can also be assigned to the Defense Department during wartimes, and have served in every major war conflict since the post-revolutionary period.  It is a versatile service, and as cruisers we are very partial to this branch of our government.  Here are some pictures from our visit:

It was raining harder when we came out of the museum, but our car was a short walk away.  We were able to drive around the campus including the football field, ropes course, and down the road near the water to see the training boats at dock. But, we did not get out of the car. The only other things we could have visited were the souvenir gift shop and because of the rain we decided not to stop.  You can learn a little bit more about the current museum here, but this museum is targeted to be replaced by a whole new museum complex currently being developed.  You can learn more about the future Coast Guard Museum here.

Waterfront at USCGA

Waterfront at USCGA

We left the USCGA and drove around the downtown New London waterfront on our way to our next stop: the warehouse for marine supplier “Defender”.  Their headquarters and sole warehouse are located in New London and Mark had his shopping and wish lists.  We spent about an hour looking at things and trying on a few items (Denise), but walked out with only a few boat cleaning items.

Despite the big breakfast we were now hungry for lunch.  As luck would have it we were close to a Panera, so we stopped there to get a bite to eat.  Their soup tasted so good on this very rainy and cold fall day.

After lunch we drove over the river to Groton and the US Navy Submarine Base; home of the Submarine Force Museum. We arrive around 2:30 pm and since they close at 4:00 pm we had limited time to hit the highlights.  Our greeter was “Jim” who gave us a bunch of information about the museum and what we should try to see.  He also shared much of his life story with us, including the fact that he was 90 years old, and that he has been a member of the “Holland Club” for over 50 years; a club of former and still certified submariner veterans. He was on one of the first nuclear powered submarines (USS Nautilus) and served on every class of these underwater marvels.  He was a most interesting man and we really enjoyed our time talking with him. We thanked him for his service and time he spent with us and went on to see the museum.

Our first stop was to go see the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine that is on display and has a self-guided walking tour. It is located outside the museum building and down a ramp to the greeting station where you are given a hand-held device that narrates as you go through the sub.  Due to the rain there were few people in the sub which was a good thing as it has very narrow passages and tight quarters.  We were able to stay as long as we wanted and enjoyed seeing this.  We spent a little time talking with the two submariners who were at the entrance and exit, then went back into the museum to see what else we could before the time ran out.  Unfortunately, we had to make a quick go of the different displays, but learned a lot about this very important tool used by the Navy to defend our freedom.

Once back in the car, we headed back towards Wickford.  Initially we thought we would catch a movie at a theater on the way back (Mystic), but with the rain and pending rush hour traffic, we decided to head back to the warm comfort of the boat.

On the way back into town we stopped at Dave’s Market, a small regional grocery chain that has fresh produce, terrific deli, meat, seafood and bakery counters, and a pizza oven. They also have a large selection of ready to go fresh prepared meals. We discovered how good their food was in 2017, so we chose this place for tonight’s dining adventure.  Plus, here we could each get whatever we wanted (fried chicken for Mark, sushi for Denise) and take it back to the boat to eat.  We were happy to finally get out of the rain and spend the rest of the evening being warm and dry.

Wickford, RI – Thursday 10/10
We are one third through the month of October and at this point in our journey we were supposed to be halfway down the Chesapeake.  Unfortunately, we are at least 2 weeks behind and at least 5 consecutive days of good weather before we can even conceive of being there.  This is discouraging, and along with the awful wind and rain had Denise in a funk.

We had to return the rental car by noon, so we took advantage and went to a real supermarket (Stop & Shop) to pick up some items. It was really just an excuse to get on terra firma and walk around in a dry and non-moving environment. Mark couldn’t understand why Denise wanted to walk up and down every single aisle, just to get some exercise.  As we were leaving the parking lot, Mark announced he wanted to go across the street to Home Depot, and Denise was more than happy to oblige.  But the trip was short (they didn’t have what he was looking for) so we headed back to the boat.

Mark returned the rental to Hertz and had them take him back to the marina, then we had lunch.  All afternoon we stayed on the boat out of the high wind and frequent rain.  Denise did some food prep for the coming days and Mark did some client work. He also has been shopping fuel prices and trying to determine where we should stop between here and Cape May, NJ for our next fill up. We also downloaded & cataloged pictures and worked to get this blog (finally) caught up.

We also took a look at the weather and started thinking about leaving Wickford on Monday.  Regardless of weather, we must leave by noon on Monday as the marina is full up next week with a slew of boats coming in for the winter.  We have some options, but hope the favorable forecast will hold so we can leave and head south.  We even have made contact with our friend John C. at Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island, hoping to see him next week.

Since we will be here until Monday, we decided to rent a car for the weekend and made plans to go to Newport on Saturday evening. Denise’s friend Wendy is running the Newport Marathon on Sunday, and we have been coordinating a meet-up for church and dinner in Newport on Saturday evening.  We also made plans to go to the movies on Friday and maybe some other sightseeing on Saturday.

The afternoon and evening was rain, rain, wind and more rain.  It was awful weather and we were so glad we had chosen this very protective marina after all.  We settled into a light dinner on board and watching some tv (repeating season 1 & 2 of “Victoria”) before calling it a day.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Boston – still!

Boston, MA – Friday 9/27
After a busy week of family fun and moving the boat quite a bit, we settled into a quiet workday.  We had work to do and many pictures to download, catalog and begin thinking about updating the blog.  The high winds over the next few days meant we were not going to go anywhere and that was ok by us. Boston is a fun city and we look forward to spending some time here.

We stayed close to the boat all day.  The rain was gone and our boat needed a bath, so Mark took care of cleaning the outside. In the meantime Denise took care of some inside cleaning.

With nice weather we decided to walk to the North End for dinner and get that pizza that we wanted last night.  We took the path from the marina that goes under the North Washington Street Bridge and over the locks entering the Charles River. Along the way are the Charlestown Bells that Denise always has to play when she walks by. These are tubular bells that hang on the railing along the pedestrian path that use levers to invoke a chime. You can learn more about them here.

Charlestown Bells

Charlestown Bells

The route leads past the Converse store and the Lovejoy Wharf condos on one side, and the TD Garden on the other side.

From there we headed north, crossing Washington Street and into the Italian section of the North End.

North End signage

North End signage

It is only a few blocks to Regina Pizzeria where you queue up in line and wait for a host to tell you when you can come in and sit down. There was already a line when we arrived, but we only had to wait about 15 minutes. As was the case last time we were here, we agreed to sit at the small bar and that got us seated faster. Once inside we ordered our individual pizzas and a couple of beers.  Denise’s first pizza arrived almost totally burned and the bartender suggested she have it remade, which she did.  It didn’t take long and another one was presented that was much better.

After dinner we walked to Bova’s, the Italian bakery that is open 24 hours and is always crowded, especially on a Friday night.  Here we purchased a few goodies to take back to the boat.

It was a great way to end a fun-filled week, and a quiet day.

Boston, MA – Saturday 9/28
It was a nice sunny morning and it seemed like it could actually be a good day to leave Boston. However, the winds were forecasted to pick up substantially during the morning, and really blow hard in Buzzards Bay near where we are headed next. Denise had been in touch with Claire who was enticing us to leave Boston and take the boat to Falmouth on Cape Cod where they were.  We could leave in the morning, but only if we had a long enough weather window to get there and across the very exposed Vineyard Sound. The concern was not just today, but what was the forecast for the coming days as we didn’t want to get stuck in Falmouth for a long time. It is expensive to stay there and without a car we would be limited in what we could do.

We agreed to discuss it when Denise came back from her morning run, in the meantime Mark would look at the options and future weather forecast.  Denise left for a run along the Charles River; a familiar and fun route. However, once she made her way down the path near MIT, the wind was whipping across the river and she knew the answer was a no-go for Falmouth. She didn’t even wait for the end of the run before texting Mark back and telling him there was no way we were going out in the ocean (Massachusetts Bay) if the wind was blowing in such protected waters already.  Here are a few pictures from her run:

Once back at the boat we agreed and let Claire know we would be staying put in town. Besides, we had laundry to do and Constitution Marina offered the most affordable place (and convenient) so we made that our Saturday morning task.  In the afternoon we walked the half mile up to Whole Foods and bought some steaks to grill out for dinner this evening.  We also went to the ACE Hardware (located in the same shopping center) so Mark could do reconnaissance on a shop vac for the boat. He still has not yet found one and will probably order one off of Amazon.

The afternoon was spent hanging around the boat and talking to other boaters including Chuck and Victoria.  We continue to share ideas about what we have each have added to our boats, as well as software tools to assist us in our cruising lifestyles.

Later in the day Denise talked with Claire and found out that the wind had picked up early and was really blowing in Falmouth.  We knew we had made the right decision as exiting the Cape Cod Canal would have been horrible and we are not about getting beat up just to get somewhere. This is supposed to be enjoyable and rough seas would not make the Admiral happy.

That night there was some type of a surprise party on the porch of the marina. They rent out the facility to the general public and since our boat is right by the marina facilities we were entertained by the music and loud conversations. It was just getting under way when Mark went upstairs to use the grill, but by the time we settled in to watching Game of Thrones we found it to be a bit of a distraction. Fortunately, it didn’t last very long and by the time we were ready for sleep they had wrapped up for the night.

Boston, MA – Sunday 9/29
One of the best parts about staying in the Constitution Marina is that we can leave for church 5 minutes before mass starts and still make it with 2 minutes to spare.  St. Mary’s is literally .25 mile from our marina and this makes it very convenient.

We attended the 8:00 am mass and sadly found it to be sparsely attended.  The church is magnificently beautiful and the Cantor had the most wonderful voice.  But the best part was right after communion when the organist/pianist gave us a wonderful rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Peace in the Valley”.  He had a great voice and sounded exactly like Elvis. If you have not heard this song you can find it here on YouTube.

After church we walked up to Whole Foods; a daily thing since it is so close. Here Denise purchased some produce for the week while Mark went to CVS (next door in the same shopping center) to buy some Diet Coke. We then carried our packages back to the boat.

In the afternoon Denise worked on the last blog posting and then did some food prep for the week ahead.  Meanwhile, Mark did some client work that required a large chunk of uninterrupted time.

We also had been in communication with Claire and John who were headed back to Boston, but staying in a hotel near the airport; they have a very early flight out in the morning and wanted to stay as close as possible.  They wanted a pizza dinner, so we made arrangements to meet at Regina’s Pizzeria in the North End. Once again we walked under the bridge and over the locks to the North End where we met them already in line. The timing couldn’t have been better; as soon as we arrived the host came and got us and we were seated in a booth.  Again it was delicious and again we had a fun time with them.  Unfortunately, we did have to say goodbye as this really was the last time we will see them until we return back home in November.

At Reginas Pizzeria

John & Claire at Regina’s Pizzeria

We walked back to the marina, across the locks and under the bridge, and settled in for the rest of the night.

Boston, MA – Monday 9/30
Today was a working day and a prep day for leaving, including getting a load of laundry done.  We had been looking at the possibility of leaving Boston tomorrow with a small weather window to get to New Bedford (80+ miles away).  We had been in touch with Victoria & Chuck (“Argento”) who were planning to leave as well, but they wanted an earlier start than us as they planned to go all the way to Newport, RI in one day.

In the evening Victoria & Chuck came over to our boat for drinks, and then we went to Dinner at the Monument Restaurant & Tavern. It is located just past the Whole Foods in the Charlestown neighborhood.  We had a good time talking and discussing our cruising plans for the next few weeks, if we can ever get out of Boston.  We walked back to our respective boats and agreed to keep in touch tomorrow.

Boston, MA – Tuesday 10/1
We were up early and at 6:30 am received a text from Chuck that they (“Argento”) had left at 6:00 am.  We were not quite ready to leave, so we asked them to keep us posted on their progress.  We then prepared the boat and left Constitution Marina an hour behind them.  Denise had some trepidation as we saw the wind was already picking up and it was more obvious once we got away from the marina.  We got half way out into Boston Harbor and received the text from “Argento” that they were near Plymouth and experiencing 4’ seas.  Based on this, we decided to turn around and go back to the marina because we knew it was only going to be worse by the time we got there.

We pulled back into our slip, only turned the boat to face the opposite way so we would be buffered by the oncoming wind.   And then 30 minutes later “Argento” reported that the seas had settled a bit and they were continuing on; we were now rethinking our decision to turn around.  But it was too late to leave as the wind would just build more and we would not have the same conditions as they had by the time we got down to the Cape Cod Canal.  This was a wise move as they later reported that Buzzards Bay ended up being a nightmare with 4 -6 foot seas as they pressed on to Newport, RI.

Once we checked back into the marina and resigned ourselves to being here at least 3 more days (due to weather forecasts) we contemplated what to do to take advantage of the time in Boston.  We discovered Hugh Jackman’s show was going to be at the TD Garden this evening and contemplated getting tickets. We also looked at other options, including going to the movies.

But we both had work to do first. Denise was able to make a conference call with a client and was also able to get a blog updated published as we were quite behind.  Once this was done, we felt accomplished and decided to go get a quick early dinner at the Blackmoor Tavern (restaurant/bar near the marina) and then go to see if we can still get tickets to the show.  (We had checked on StubHub but the service fees were half the cost of the tickets and we wanted to avoid that if we could).

We walked over the locks and to the TD Garden ticket office to see what they had to offer.  As luck would have it, we were able to get decent seats for a fair price, but a bit far from stage.  We ended up sitting next to a handful of actors from the road show “The Lion King” that had just arrived in town and whose show opens at the Opera House on Thursday. It was fine for us, and we were treated to a terrific show.  He performed songs from and from “The Greatest Show on Earth”, “Les Miserable”, and a terrific medley of songs about NYC, where he got his big break in theater.  He also did an amazing tribute to his wife of 23 years, as well as to other Australian performers who have impacted his life.  There was a surprise guest appearance by Keala Settle (from “The Greatest Show on Earth”) who sang “This is Me” from the show and was phenomenal. It was an awesome show and we were glad we went.  By the time we walked back the boat it was way past our bedtime.


Boston, MA – Wednesday 10/2
We knew today rain and wind was forecasted, but when we got up there was no hint of it. It was much warmer than it has been recently, but rain was forecasted from mid-morning until late in the day.  Seeing this, Mark suggested we go see the movie “Downton Abbey”.  The Regal movie theater was too far for us to walk, and it would have taken us an hour to get there by train due to all the stops. So we took an uber and made it to the opening show at 11:30 am. There were only 3 other people in the theater, and by the time we got there the rain was threatening.  We liked the movie a lot and we came out of it wishing the tv show was still being broadcast.

We also came out of the theater to a drizzly cold rain and very windy conditions.  Of course we had left the umbrella back at the boat. Across the street from the theater was a “Supercuts” and we saw that there was no one in line, so Mark decided to get his hair cut while Denise waited patiently in the warmth of the store.  Afterwards we saw a big Target store around the corner, walked to it and browsed around to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without; it had been months since either of us had been in a Target. Finally, it was time to make our way back to the boat.  Not wanting to get wet walking to a train station, and from the station back to the boat, and knowing we needed to find something to eat for dinner, we decided to take an Uber back to the Whole Foods near the marina and picked up something for dinner.  We then walked back to the boat in the rain, but by this time it was a light drizzle but we were already a bit wet anyway so it didn’t matter.

Boston, MA – Thursday 10/3
This morning was a pretty cold morning on the water with temperatures in the low 50’s. Denise was going to go for a run, but wanted to wait until the weather warmed up.  But she got busy and it never happened. She spent the entire day downloading and cataloging pictures and preparing the next blog update. Meanwhile, Mark worked on our ice maker, which has been producing smaller ice cubes and less amounts.  He has been on the phone with the manufacturer’s customer support center and has tried several things they suggested. However, each takes a few hours of running to test in order to see if it works.  So far we are seeing some improvements, but it is still not making the kind of ice it was 3 weeks ago. He will continue to pursue this in the coming days.

That evening Mark wanted to try a new restaurant located in the North End, called the “The Daily Catch”.   It is a seafood restaurant with an Italian flare. So we left for an early dinner and walked to what we discovered was a very small restaurant on Hanover Street (the heart of the Italian District). When we arrived, there was already a line of about 10 people ahead of us. The benefits of being a party of 2 is that you get seated easier, and we didn’t have to wait long at all before we got a table.  This restaurant is by far the smallest one we have eaten at during the entire trip. It only seats about 20 people and they have a very limited menu; most of which is fresh seafood. Our waiter was the son of the founders, who have 2 other restaurants and have turned them over to their children for management. In addition to our waiter/owner, there are only 2 others working there; the dishwasher and the chef. The chef has been there 2.5 years and we had a ringside seat to watch his cooking. It was fun to see how each dish is prepared, and at any restaurant in Winter Park we would have had to pay more just to sit at the “chef’s table”; here it was part of the experience.  The food was delicious and filling and we hope to come back someday and try their Lobster Fra Diavlo (most famous dish for 2 or more people) or their black pasta.

On the way back to the boat we bypassed our favorite 24-hour bakery as we were too full to put anything else in our stomach.  We settled into the boat and watched the final episode of Game of Thrones, as well as the special on the Making of Game of Thrones.

Boston, MA – Friday 10/4
The day started off cloudy and overcast once again, with high winds.  In the morning we worked on finishing and publishing the last blog update and doing work for clients.  We also did updates to software on our devices, and applications as we had a good strong wifi connection and wanted to do this before moving to other locations where the wifi strength was unknown.

In the afternoon the skies cleared and cooler weather started to come in. We reviewed the weather forecast and made plans to leave Boston early on Sunday morning, and updated our reservations for New Bedford; our intended next stop where we had a package waiting for us. We have a small window but have bailout options if we don’t make it all the way in Scituate, Plymouth, Sandwich or Onset. Of course we would like to get as far south as possible as we know the weather forecast in coming days does not look great. We may have us sit for a while

In late afternoon we noticed a helicopter hovering over the North End area of downtown, and it seemed to stay there for an inordinate amount of time; at least 1.5 hours.  Mark discovered that it was the start of Oktoberfest activities and not some police activity or traffic issue.  If we would have known about these activities, we probably would have made plans to attend, but it was too late in the day and we still had things we wanted to get done on the boat.

Helicopter stationary for hours

Helicopter stationary for hours

In the evening we had a light dinner on the boat, watched the Clint Eastwood movie “The Mule”, and then an episode of The Great British Bake Show before turning in for the night.  It was a low key day, but that was quite alright with us as we are sure there will be more days ahead full of adventure on our Island Office.

Here are some other pictures of the area around the marina:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Family Fun Time!

Belfast, ME – Friday 9/20 – Bar Harbor Side Trip
Today was the start of a weekend long adventure with Denise’s sister (Claire), her husband (John) and their son (Johnny) and his wife (Scarlett).  Our plans included an overnight in Bar Harbor, and then moving the boat south to Rockland. Because of our change to stay in Belfast and not go to Bucksport, we now would meet up with everyone in Bangor.  We knew the route well by now, and it was on the way (sort of) to Bar Harbor.

But first we had our own little mini-adventure. Since returning from his business trip on Saturday, Mark has been trying to locate a dry cleaners that would be able to get his “work clothes” cleaned in case he had to go on another client visit.  The service in Belfast would not be fast enough to get it done before we were leaving and we didn’t want to wait until we got to Boston as that might be too late. We were successful in finding one in Rockland (where we intend to be on Monday & Tuesday) and they could have it all ready for us by Monday afternoon if we could get it to them by noon on Friday.

So, after picking up the rental car from Enterprise, we first drove the 40 minutes to Rockland to drop off clothes for the cleaners.  We then turned around and drove right back through Belfast and on to Bangor to meet with Claire and John (driving) and Johnny & Scarlett (who had flown into Bangor that morning).  Here we met at the Bangor Police Department (BPD) to (once again for us) visit the Duck of Justice.  For those of you who don’t know, the BPD has a famous Facebook page with nearly 300,000 followers.  Office Tim Cotton is the man behind the postings that offer a glimpse into life of the BPD, and the communities around Maine, often with a humorous twist. His posts are legendary and with the Duck of Justice (DOJ) – retrieved from a garbage can a few years ago, he has become a mascot of goodwill and all things positive.  The DOJ is now a featured celebrity in the police museum and many stop here daily to have their picture taken with him.

Bangor PD - Duck of Justice

Bangor PD – Duck of Justice

We were lucky in that Officer Cotton was in the office and we had the opportunity to meet him in person.  He told us about his upcoming book, his podcasts, and spent some time talking with us about Maine in general. Claire was able to present him with a photo album of her wearing the famous DOJ T-shirt (with the now-famous saying “Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another”) in all of the half marathons she has walked/run over the last 4 years. It was a terrific time and we had a lot of fun. Thanks TC and BPD!

at Bangor PD with TC

at Bangor PD with TC

After this excitement, we took the gang to McLaughlin’s Seafood for their first lobster meal in Maine.  But this time we went to the McLaughlin’s at the Marina – their nicer restaurant in Hamden overlooking the water.  It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the view and of course the food.

From there we drove to Bar Harbor where we checked into our hotel (Quality Inn) and then Denise & Claire went to pick up their race packets for tomorrow’s Bar Harbor Half Marathon. It was sponsored by the YMCA which is also where the race packet pickup was, as well as where the start and end of the race will be.  It was a short walk and after a little window shopping around the Village Green area, they returned to pick up the rest of the clan.  Once we were all together, we went to the main shopping area in town and walked down to the harbor where we watched the sun slowly set. It was a beautiful and warm day and there were a lot of people enjoying the view.

From there we went to the Bar Harbor Lobster Company for a delicious dinner on outdoor picnic tables, enjoying the low humidity and delightful weather.  It was a great way to end the first day of our adventure.

Belfast, ME – Saturday 9/21 – Bar Harbor Side Trip
For Denise and Claire, the day started with the Bar Harbor Half Marathon. It was a beautiful course through downtown Bar Harbor and then around Eagle Lake and along the carriage trails of Acadia National Park. There were a few small hills and a long climb between miles 6 & 7, but overall it was a terrific race. The best part was ice cream during the after party, especially since it was unseasonably warm. During this time the rest of the clan went to breakfast and then joined the girls for the after party.

Denise & Claire went back to the hotel while Johnny, Scarlett and John went to walk across the shoal to Bar Island, only doable during low tide. They were so impressed they made us all go back there for Claire to see it before leaving Mount Desert Island. Since we had already seen it in 2017 we agreed to stay with the illegally parked cars as there was no parking available near the bar.

We left Mount Desert Island and headed back towards Belfast, stopping in Bucksport for lunch.  We discovered the Friars Brewhouse Taproom; a local microbrewery that was run by Franciscan Friars and also known for their bread.  Although seating was available, the small kitchen and single cook (Friar) was unable to handle the lunch rush so we were asked to wait in “purgatory” for about 10 minutes.  We had no issues with the wait and took in all the sights of the restaurant.  It was worth the wait as the food was delicious and filling, and the beer was awesome.  Not to mention we all had a wonderful time laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

After lunch we drove our cars back to Belfast by way of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, and then got Claire, Scarlett & Johnny settled into our boat. The girls and Johnny went to do a little shopping in the stores of downtown Belfast, while John went to look for a hotel room for the night. This was pre planned as we knew there was no way we all would sleep comfortably on our Island Office. (Note: John and Johnny are both over 6’ so they need more than the average space for sleeping).  Eventually John found one at a local hotel across the river and came back to retrieve us all just in time for dinner.

We really wanted our guests to experience the quintessential Maine Lobster Pound experience and there is none better than Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast.  It is about 1.5 miles from the marina on the other side of the river.  We were able to bring in our own alcoholic beverages and knew enough to bring a (disposable) table cloth as well.  Everyone agreed that the food was the best and most affordable meal, and we were treated to an awesome sunset over Belfast Harbor. It was lots of fun and a great way to end a perfect day.


Rockland, ME – Sunday 9/22

Belfast to Rockland

Belfast to Rockland

For the first time in 3 weeks, today we would be moving the boat; this time to Rockland.  But first we all went (once again) to mass at St Francis of Assisi church.  Afterwards, John and Mark returned our rental car to Enterprise while the rest of us got the boat ready for departure.  Then before leaving Belfast we needed to get a pump-out, which seemed to take forever.  Finally, we (Mark, Denise, Claire, Scarlett & Johnny) were on our way on Island Office, while John drove their rental car to meet us.

It was a nice day to be on the water and our 1+ hour trip was fun.  We were able to sit back and relax while Mark drove the boat south to Rockland. On our left was Islesboro Island and on the right we passed the coastal towns of Lincolnville, Camden, and Rockport. Before long we were passing the Samoset Resort on the point at Rockland, and the Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse.

As we approached the Journey’s End Marina where we had a preassigned slip, we noticed there was a boat in the spot where we were supposed to dock. The marina office is closed on Sundays (after Labor Day) and there was no one around to ask where to go.  Since there were several open slips nearby, we took one that was vacant and was a side-tie on the side we had already set up the boat for docking.

Shortly after we settled the boat John arrived with news he found a possible hotel for him to stay in for the night. So he and Claire left to go finalize their stay at the nearby Rockland Harbor Hotel, leaving us some time to chat with Scarlett and Johnny. It was fun to just hang out with these young people and learn of their plans for the future, starting a new job (Johnny) and their desire to buy a sailboat.

When Claire and John returned, we all went to Breakwater Park to walk out to the lighthouse. The entrance is located near the Samoset Resort, but the walk on the breakwater was more treacherous than we anticipated.  With the wind and now setting sun, we only made it about a third of the way to the lighthouse before turning back, stopping to take a few pictures along the way.

From there we went to “Claws” for dinner. Of course lobster and lobster rolls are their specialty and we believe they have some of the best in Maine.  We sat in their screened porch area and enjoyed a view overlooking Rockland Harbor.

After taking us back to the boat, Claire and John headed to their hotel. This allowed Johnny and Scarlett ample space to spread out their sleeping arrangements, resulting in a good night’s rest by all.

Rockland, ME – Monday 9/23
For Claire and Denise, the morning started with a sunrise run around Rockland Harbor and the houses near downtown.

It also took us past the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, and the Rockland Yacht Club.

Afterwards the sisters went to the Atlantic Bakery Co for a healthy breakfast and coffee.

They then walked to the hotel to pick up the rental car.  John had noticed a nail in the tire and rather than deal with the rental car company to repair it, they took it to a local tire company and had it fixed in 30 minutes. Then Claire took Denise back to the boat so both could get showers and get the gang moving on the day’s adventure.

Once back at the marina, Denise noticed the boat had been moved to another slip. Apparently when we came in yesterday, the slip we tied to was a seasonal renter who just happened to be gone.  When the marina office opened they wanted us moved, so Mark, Johnny & Scarlett made it happen. It was good experience for these future cruisers.

IO at Journeys End Marina

IO at Journey’s End Marina

Eventually everyone was ready to go and we headed out on the days adventure. First was to go to Owls Head Lighthouse. This is the easternmost point on the mainland that overlooks the western Penobscot Bay. It offers a terrific view, even on a slightly hazy day.  We walked up the steps to the top, took some pictures and then went back to the museum and museum shop.  On our way back to the car we encountered a group of artists who were getting an instruction by another artist.  Johnny provided some humor to the artists when he offered to be their model for the day.  It was hilarious!

We had wanted to get a hamburger at the Owls Head Market, where two years ago we enjoyed their super delicious hamburgers. Sadly, we had learned they had closed and the market itself was up for sale.  It all worked out ok as none of us were hungry anyway. After we did a quick tour around Owl’s Head Bay we decided to drive up to Camden and show this very touristy, but cute waterfront town to our guests.  It was about a 30-minute drive and we arrived to find a parking lot right on the street; something you can never do in the summer months. We walked the short distance to the harbor and walked along the water taking in the scenes including watching the boats queue up at Lyman Morris to be put up for winter storage.  Eventually, everyone was hungry and so we went to grab some lunch at Sea Dog Brewing Company.

After some good food, a few beers and lots of laughter, we had to get back on the road.  Johnny & Scarlett were flying out of Bangor later in the day and Claire & John would be taking them to the airport.  However we first had to return to the boat in Rockland to drop off Denise & Mark, and so the young Rooks could pick up their luggage and goodies they acquired while visiting Maine.

When Claire & John left, Denise & Mark got busy with a few boat chores and business items.  When they returned we went to the grocery store and picked up some chicken and other items for a relaxing and delicious dinner on the boat.

We didn’t stay up late as we were all tired and we wanted to get a fairly early start in the morning. We got John and Claire settled into their sleeping arrangements for the night and called it a (very fun) day.

Portland, ME – Tuesday 9/24

Rockland to Portland

Rockland to Portland

Today would be our last day in Maine and we wanted to enjoy the water and coastline as much as possible with Claire. However, it was going to be a bit windy and we wanted to get underway sooner in case things got worse than forecasted.  While most of the way we would be in protected waters behind islands, there were several areas where we would be exposed to the wind and waves, and it could make for an uncomfortable ride. With this in mind we left the dock at 8:00 am.

Our plan was to cruise to the Dolphin Marina at Potts Harbor near Harpswell and John would drive the rental car and meet us there.  We have stayed here twice before and love the place, especially the restaurant that sits out on the point.  This family owned enterprise also houses a lobster pound and a walk up lobster “refresher” that has terrific lobster rolls. But the best thing about the place is the very large blueberry muffins and fresh coffee that is hand delivered to all the boats in the marina every morning.

Once outside the Rockland Harbor we cruised around Owls Head and took the inside route through Owls Head Bay. Here we passed the lobster pounds and houses that we had driven by during our adventure the day before.