Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hydrophilic arrives in Wilmington, first 800 miles completed.

The last leg of taking the Hydrophilic to her home port of Wilmington was completed today.  If we think of Fort Lauderdale as the start of the loop, we have completed 800 miles or about 1/8th of the Great Loop.  If we consider Wilmington the start, we are at mile 0.

It was fun to be in home waters.  The view from the Hydrophilic's flybridge is so different from our sailboat's deck.  Oak Island has been in the news for three shark bites in the last week.  Two have made national news.  So this is a picture of Oak Island Light.

Oak Island Light
Southport is one of our favorite towns to visit by boat or by ferry and car. 
While we didn't stop, we waved fondly at the Provision Company as we had just finished lunch.
Southport with Provisions to the right
The Southport waterfront sports a water tower that you can see on TV, if you are a fan of "Under the Dome"
Finally, we pulled into Joyner Marina.  The Hydrophilic does not fit in The Tides marina, so we chose Joyner because is it an easy drive right over Snow's cut.  Snug in her slip, we hooked up to the electricity and put on the air conditioning.  There is a heat wave in the southeast and the temperatures were in the high 90's.  Arriving home by cab, our thermometer read 100.4!!! 
What now?  We have a long list of items that we would like to get ready now to do the loop.  We will probably have another shake down cruise to try some of those changes too.  More to come on Voyages of the Hydrophilic.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Reflections on the Waccamaw

Reflections on  the Waccamaw River
Shortly after Georgetown, we headed into a section of the ICW that includes the Waccamaw River.  Although it is tidal, because of the trees and the run off from upstream, this section has "black water".  The reflections in the water are like paintings.
Waccamaw Reflections
The water was so calm and peaceful, we could easily see this alligator moving across the river.  Can you find the alligator too?
Can you see the alligator?
 South Carolina, there are a few remaining swing bridges.   They are slowly being replaced with 65 foot spans that will not require bridge tenders.  We passed through two of them today.  Here is a picture of the Socastee Swing Bridge closed and opening.
Socastee Swing Bridge Closed
Socastee Swing Bridge Opening
We arrived in North Myrtle Beach for the evening.  The turtles were sunning themselves on the shore.

At the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, we met the nicest group of people from around the world (US and Australia) who shared their experiences with us.  We exchanged our first boat cards with Bud and Elaine aboard Diamond Dust.

More Boat Names
Slo M'Ocean
Finally Floating
Called Aweigh
Knot to Worry
Second Chapter
Heaven on Water

Turtles, Alligators, Boat Picture and another Coast Guard Rescue

John took this picture the other night at Hilton Head.  I must admit she looks fine on the dock.  She motors well too.  We don't seem to be tossed to much by other boats' wake.
Hydrophilic at Hilton Head

It was in the high 90's with the heat index over 105 today and should be tomorrow too.  We got an early start this morning and said, "Good morning, Charleston".  The morning haze was still in place as we approached from the south, which is not the iconic pictures of Charleston but beautiful just the same.
Charleston approached from the south

 We rounded the point and were able to see the homes known as The Painted Ladies.  They are so many different colors and this picture does not do it justice.
Painted Ladies

  As we entered the Cooper River, the Ravenel Bridge loomed up the river.
Revenel Bridge over the Cooper River
 Charleston is a busy port and we shared the shipping lane with this container vessel, the Chicago Express.  We gave them a wide berth as they are not able to stop on a dime.

Lastly, we passed Fort Sumter.  Did you know the Abner Doubleday, who invented baseball, served at Fort Sumter?  Some think that he may have worked up the beginnings there.  Inside the inner walls are the shape of a baseball field and the diamond fits right inside that shape.  Baseball field 1.0.

Let's hear it for the Coast Guard again.  Not long after we exited the Cooper River, there was a distress call from a capsized sailboat way off the coast of Charleston.  All 5 people on board were in the water!!   The response was impressive.  A helicopter was scrambled to go out to get them.  A cutter was on the way.  They didn't know their GPS so it took a while and when the Coast Guard knew the GPS, they asked all boats to be on the look out.  The fishing vessel Sea Office was in the  area and were putting all 5 in their boat when the helicopter arrived.  None of the five had any injuries.  Thank heavens.  And a Coast Guard Vessel was going to rendezvous with the Sea Office to take the sailors back to Charleston.  The Sea Office showed great seamenship and compassion.  The Coast Guard was so organized and ready to put down a basket to get anyone.  Kudos.

Wildlife we saw today included; a huge loggerhead turtle and a six foot alligator.  We saw the alligator just south of the Santee River in a tributary called, "Alligator River".  Go figure.

We arrive in Georgetown, SC for the night.  It is a quiet historic town where everyone knows their history.  It is going to be a hot one tomorrow as we head for Myrtle Beach.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

85 miles Boo Ya

Today was a long day ending in St. John's Island, SC.   Though one of the highlights was passing Parris Island.   I love it that the water tower proudly proclaims, " We make Marines"
Water tower "We Make Marines"
Parris Island
In the same area, we saw a shrimp boat.  Not surprising in the low country, I know.  But as the boat went by, we saw the name of the boat was Tammy & Tracey.  In middle school, Alicia and Catherine were good friends with another set of twins, Tammy and Tracey Maloney.  How fun to see that and remember all the laughter they shared.
Dolphins were amazing today.  They rode our wake.  Did jumps out of the water and on one particularly quiet area, we saw a couple of dolphin working to move the fish toward the shore for an easy feast.  I had only seen that behavior on TV before and it was fascinating to watch in the wild.
Mayday !!! Mayday!!!   As we neared St. John's Island, we heard a Mayday call on Channel 16.  One boar was calling it in for another that was sinking.  A twenty foot boat with  twelve people on board was sinking on the Stono River.  Someone was trying to tow the boat to the marsh to get everyone safe.  The Coast Guard went out and got all off safely.  Thank heavens!  This was the first time, I heard a full mayday call.  And was so thankful for what the Coast Guard does.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hell's Gate to Hilton Head

At dusk last night, all the egrets took to the trees near the marina.  It was a fabulous sight as their plumage decorated the trees.
Decorated Trees on the Kilkenny River
This morning we were treated to this beautiful sunrise on the Kilkenny River.  What a way to start the day.

I was sad today that to get home for an appointment, we needed to forego a trip up the Savannah River to see my friends there.  So we bypassed Savannah on the ICW and waved fondly.

We did not get to bypass Hell's Gate.  Don't you just love an area with a name like that and all sorts of warnings on the charts?  Hell's Gate is a very narrow and shallow area on the ICW.  Thankfully,  it is not long!  We arrived about 2 hours before low tide.  If we had been much later, we would have been sitting on the bottom.  But we made it safely through.

Our next challenge was Isle of Hope, tightest turn on the Intracoastal.  One of John's students grew up here and said she could not count all the vessels she had seen run aground here.  Luckily, not ours.

Crossed into South Carolina and docked in Hilton Head.  We were greeted by more egrets on the dock.  It had been in the 90's and this marina had a pool.  It felt so cool and I felt my core body temperature drop.  Also did two loads of laundry.  Some mundane tasks must be done.
Greeters at the dock

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Little Mud River, Thunder and Lightning

At the Morningstar Marina and on Active Captain, we heard all sorts of warnings regarding Little Mud River.  "Don't go through at low tide!"  Well, it was about 45 minutes before low tide when we went through.  Very Slowly.  We saw water depths of 3.3.  Lots of mud on either side!!   Holding our breath, did not make the boat ride higher in the water; but I tried it.

On the northern end of Little Mud River, we motored pleasantly along watching the dark cloud in the distance raining on other people.  We did out best try to outrun the storm, but in St. Catherine's Sound, it caught up to us.  We were not too far from our marina for the night.  But we failed to outrun it.  Lights and spot light on, it was so dark, except for the lightning!  Going very slowly, we did an instrument landing to get us to the dock, the torrent of rain made the shore and other markings just blurs.  The fellow who came out to help tie us up got his raincoat drenched too.  A good first outing for the Henri Lloyd raincoat John got me for Christmas.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Crossed into Georgia

Headed north again into Georgia.  Some highlights of the day were seeing the Coast Guard "Sea Dog" on patrol, passing by the Kings Bay Navy base, and traversing Jekyll Creek at low tide.

Sea Dog
Kings Bay Navy Base

I now have a whole new meaning for "skinny water".  In Jekyll Creek at low tide, even the markers were not in the water.  Stay in the center of the channel was the only option.
Jekyll Creek

Some things are different on a power boat than a sailboat.  One thing is that we now throw a wake.  Dolphins can play in it.  Today, there was very little other boat traffic and the water was calm so we could get a good visual of our wake.
Our Wake

We docked at Morningstar Marina in St. Simon.  They had a courtesy car that we took to the local Winn  Dixie and added some supplies.  They have a lovely pool and that really cooled us off.  Have we mentioned it is hot in the south and the days are in the 90's.  In the pool, we met Chip, another boater.  He and his wife had grown up in NC and graduated from UNCW. We talked about Wrightsville and Masonboro and a few professors both he and John knew.  Small world.

More Great Boat Names:
Mental Therapy
Knot Tide Down
Offshore Account
Change Order
Now & Zen

Having trouble uploading the pictures tonight.  Will add them tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fernandina and Amelia

Pointed the bow north again.  What a relaxing day.  Very little boat traffic as we went up the ICW.  A large portion of this area is an estuarian reserve.  Cabbage Swamp was one of the areas we traversed.  There were miles of marshes and marine hammocks on either side of the ICW.  Marine hammocks have a variety of vegetation.  Looks closely and you will see palms and hardwood trees side by side.
Marine Hammock

Fernandina Harbor was our destination for tonight.  Below is the unusual structure in the Harbor.  At first, I thought it was a dredger.  It is the Amelia Research Vessel.  They are hoping to bring up some Spanish treasure from a sinking in 1715.  Some recovery was done in this area in the 1960's.  There is newer technology that may help them recover more of the treasure.  Good luck!

Monday, June 8, 2015

St. Augustine

I have had St. Augustine on my bucket list of cities to visit for a while, so we decided to stay in port and take a sightseeing day.  What a neat city!!  Everyone is so proud of being the oldest school house, etc. and what Henry Flagler did to bring culture to the city.  The Bridge of Lions is right next to the marina and will be the next bridge we go through.  The Lions were donated to the city by the son of Flagler's physician.
Of course, growing up on Boston, we had the fort at Castle Island.  The Castillo de San Marcos was built earlier by the Spanish and was made with cochina. 
The Mission of Nombre de Dios, the site of the first Catholic Mass in this country, was so contemplative.  The grounds are very peaceful under the trees and overlooking the inlet.  Fr. Francisco dedicated the land in the Name of God (Nombre de Dios).  An altar stands at the site and a statue of Fr. Francisco.  There are many grottos honoring Mary, St. Francis, etc.  The cemetery inters some of the Sisters of  St. Joseph, who educated the freed slaves after the Revolution.

Site of Altar

Fr. Francisco Statue

Cross given to the city from the Vatican
Next we headed out to the lighthouse. 

219 steps later, I took the following pictures from the top!
Looking back on the city and our marina
Inside of the lens
Looking down on the Light Keeper's home

Looking North at the Inlet
The Lightner Museum has collections of nearly everything.  Many are expensive artifacts, carrara marble statues, some are unusual, a mummy and shrunken head, some are odd, art made from cigar bands.  But we ended the day with an artifact that was common 25 years ago but not today, a telephone booth.  We saw several around the city.  A call costs 25 cents.
Anybody have a quarter?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Longest trip and Manatees

Today was our longest trip about 65 miles.  We saw the most enormous manatee.  It was huge!  Manatees move very slowly and so did this one.  Manatee trivia: They are found in the southeastern United States, mostly in Florida and over to Galveston, TX.  They can be found up to Virginia but seek warmer waters in the winter.  There was a documented sighting in Cape Cod once.

It is hot in Florida, even on our open flybridge.  John and I have to keep reminding ourselves to drink lots of water and we feel better when we do.  Florida trivia:  Florida ranks last in highest elevation among all 50 states.  The highest elevation is 384 feet up in the panhandle.

We arrived in St. Augustine tonight.  We have signed up for sightseeing tomorrow.  Even from the water, the architecture of the city is stunning.

The St. Augustine lighthouse is visible from our boat in the Marina.  The evening has cooled off some and it is just lovely.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

NASA, Dolphins and Youth

Another sunny but hot day.  Good news, we communicated with all our daughters today as we would normally on a Saturday. So that is not interrupted when traveling by trawler. 

We went through the section of the ICW with the Merritt Wildlife Preserve and Merritt Island.  Yes, it is true, dolphins do play in your wake.  Today, we saw more dolphins than I have seen in my entire life up until now.

You can see NASA from so far away and yet never really get close.  Christine had arranged for John and I to join her and Anna for the last launch of the space shuttle and it brought back those exciting memories.  I remember seeing the ignition and then feeling it reverberate against my chest.
NASA with a marker in the foreground

Able to see NASA for about 2 hours.
Ponce de Leon Inlet is where we docked for the night.  I feel younger already!!  Here is the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse on our approach.

We stayed at Inlet Harbor Marina, a happening place with an active reataurant and live music.
Capping off the day, we watched the Sunset from the Bridge of our boat.
Good Boat Names we have seen and we are keeping an eye out for others.
Surface Tension
Special Sauce
Miss Bea Haven
Happy Ours

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ospreys and Barbecue

Traveling in our trawler gives one a unique view of the world.  When on the flybridge, we are about 14 feet above the water.  Today, we were passing a channel marker with two adult Osprey tending the nest.  As we neared the marker/nest, one of the adults flew away and circled around to distract us.  The other adult spread its wings and flattened its body over the nest.  One would never guess there was a bird in the nest at all.  Fascinating up close encounter with parenting.
Dolphins and sea birds accompanied us to Cocoa, Florida.  As we entered the Marina, the folks on the neighboring boat came to help with lines.  They are Gold Loopers, having completed the great loop. They still take journeys from here.  We have met many other Gold Loopers but these were the first "in the wild".  The name of their boat?  Wild Goose.  
Cocoa was having a Blues and Barbecue festival on their river front plaza.  Just a short walk to all the barbecue trucks and music.  It was hard to choose which truck to eat from but the dockmaster recommended one ice cream store that makes their own ice cream and we shared a chocolate peanut butter cone for dessert.
Dark clouds rolled in and we buttoned up the boat and head to take showers.  All clean we hoped to  make it back to the boat and the thunder, lightening, and rain let loose. Eventually, it slowed and we made way back to the boat.  Below is night falling facing east from the dock with the storm clouds in the foreground. 


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vero Beach

We had our first guests aboard!  Andi Backmeyer came aboard first with a gift of iced coffee (a real treat).  She then took us on a tour of Vero.  What a beautiful community.  Small wonder it is called Velcro Beach.  Kathy Nelson, our son-in-law Stephen's sister, joined us at the boat with her three boys.  Ryan was thrilled to be in the captain's chair and was somewhat disappointed that he could not sleep on our boat tonight and skip school tomorrow.  Justin and Michael seemed to enjoy it too.

Ocean Grill right on the was our dinner destination.  The view of the beach was breathtaking, the conversation was lively, and the food was excellent.  As we left, we took pictures on the boardwalk.

Andi, Justin, Ryan, Kathy and Michael

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 2

Our stay at the Palm Harbor Marina last night was very nice.  A very swank Marina, it is located across Lake Worth from The Breakers.  After checking in, being given a bag with Palm Harbor Marina hats, taking showers in the club house, we took a short walk to dinner.  John bought me an ice cream cone for dessert as we walked alone the waterfront back to the Marina.

John was up early and made the coffee.  He woke me with my coffee mug full.  What a way to start the day!  As we left the Marina, we waited just a few minutes for the last of the many bridges that have to open for us even when we had the radar dropped.

Florida is lovely.  There is so much more to the state than the tourist destinations.  Although we did see so many mansions!  Today, we saw living creatures in the heavens and in the sea.  The Jupiter Beach area is where we saw ospreys nesting, a sting ray, and a snowy egret feasting in the mangroves.  The Jupiter Lighthouse is stunning in its reddish hue.  See Below.

A gourmet feast for us tonight, as we cooked dinner on the summer kitchen grill on the flybridge.  Hot dogs and baked beans!!