Friday, November 28, 2008

Fernandina Beach, FL

It's exciting to be 5 and go up the mast on a buzun's chair! Here is Alistair enjoying the glory of the day a half mast! We stopped in Fernandina Beach to re-provision and take showers. Its a cute little town, very walking friendly, with lots of shops, restaurants and even a playground in walking distance of the waterfront. There is also an amazing little seafood market called Atlantic Seafood right on the docks. The shrimp were great!!! At the bottom of this blog I will include my shrimp and grits recipe. We decided to spend Thanksgiving day here as well and hang out with the kids, project around the boat and eat more shrimp and some trigger fish for dinner. This is a little court yard in town

Math lessons on board. Even when we are stopped we have school.
Charles loves to do little projects on board. Here he is fixing the whisker stay that was broken back in Charleston with parts shipped to us by Maloney Marine Rigging - Thanks J.!! He also sewed up the sail cover and we together got out our bimini to see if we could use it or modify it.

So this morning at 6:30, we hauled up the anchor and motored back onto the ICW. It was good to take a break, but it is also good to be back 'on the road'. Soon we will be stopping in Cocoa Beach where we hope to meet up with my Uncle. (Jake, will this work for you say around Tuesday?), then on further south......
Shrimp and Grits
for the grits:
1 cup quick grits
2 cups milk
3 cups water
2 T butter
salt to taste
for the shrimp:
1-2 lbs. shrimp, peeled
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
3/4 c beer or white wine
Bring milk and water to boil, stir in grits gradually and cook until soft stirring frequently.
When done season with salt and stir in butter.
Put butter and Olive oil in frying pan, add garlic and saute. Add beer or wine and cook down slightly. Add Shrimp cook until shrimp is just done. Season to taste and serve over grits. Be sure to put some of the pan juices on. Yummy!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Frederica River and Cumberland Island National Seashore

We spent a beautiful and peaceful night at Frederica River, on which there is a fort built to defend this area against the Spanish and French and English. Once this part of the country became part of the USA it was no longer needed and is now a park.

The next day we made our way to Cumberland Island National Seashore, a lovely and large island once owned by the Greene family (a notable general fight in the revolutionary war under Washington) then the Carnegie family and finally the USA.

This island has beaches, swamp, the ruins of the Greene/Carnegie mansion, wild horses, armadillos, wild hogs, turkeys, deer. We got to the northern end of the island and anchored in Brickhill River at the Plum Orchard mansion around 1. We went ashore to go to the beach around 2:30. Not having a map we allowed our instincts to lead the way. We walked on the dirt roads, over Bones bridge (we named it this because of the deer and fish bones in the mud next to the bridge), on a little path through the woods (here we saw an armadillo and felt so thankful for the sighting.....until we saw maybe 20 more!), on an even smaller path through the swamp, and yet a smaller one, involving bushwhacking, through more forest! After 1 1/2 hours of walking and no more beach than the sound of it in the distance we were forced to turn back. All in all we think we walked close to 6 miles and never found the beach!! We all said at dinner that night that it was okay because the walk was so fun and so beautiful and so interesting in itself!

The kids found lots of cool stuff, skulls and dragonflies!

The wild horses are not afraid of you but can get nasty if you get too close.

We've seen so many sunsets and sunrises this trip each one amazes us with its beauty.

The River at Bones Bridge.

Charles' starfish

The next day we moved to the other end of the island closer to the ruins and the beach. We spent the whole day exploring the beaches, walking amongst the dunes (on designated paths), we saw the ruins and learned a lot about the island in a little museum. We also found some weird stuff on the beach and brought it back to the ranger station and we all determined that it might be ambergris ( a substance that is produced by sperm whales they think to protect the stomach from squid beaks and was once a coveted material for cosmetics), the kids completed their ranger books and got sworn in as junior rangers and we left without any shark teeth but with lots of great memories!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The night

So here's the story: After leaving Beaufort, SC around 3 PM and heading to a little creek with protection from the NE (wind predicted NE around 10), we anchored, turned on the anchor light, had dinner and tucked in. At one point I heard Charles get up and go out and start messing with the anchor chain. I got up thinking that it was morning and time to go. I checked my cell phone for the time and found that it was only 11:26. I happily went back to bed, not worried because Charles often gets up and messes with the chain. Sometimes, as was the case this time, he re figured how much we need out and thought that we hadn't put enough and made adjustments. All's well. At around 1:30 we woke up again, this time we found ourselves amidst howling, no roaring wind and bucking chop. The boat was tossing an turning, banging and clanging, the halyards were slapping and the chain was grinding. And to top it off the dinghy would every once in a while slam up against the side of the boat CRASH! What happened? Where did this wind come from? And what's up with the chop? Well, the weatherman didn't say anything about 30 knot northerlies tonight!! Just as we were adjusting to all the bru-ha-ha down below and falling slowly back asleep and especially special gust hit (did I mention that every time a gust hit the boat we would yawl around( lean over and swing around)?) and wait a minute, what's that smell?....exhaust!!! Charles sat bolt upright and said I smell exhaust and quickly turned off the diesel heater (so much for heat). So finally around 5ish everything settles down when the tide turns and the wind and tide are un-opposed (opposing tide and wind cause the chop - short steep waves) and we got to sleep a little. Whew, what a night.
The next morning we got up and left in still brisk wind and very cold temps and made our way into Georgia. We anchored in Vernon Creek along with other cruisers and some shrimp boats. The shrimp boats anchor with their outriggers extended. They look like old widows, worn and resigned, waiting for a new day. Enlarge the pic and check out the name of this old girl.

This night we spent peacefully and caught up on our sleep! Although the other night was not restful, we were safe and the boat was well anchored and we were not really worried (Charles was glad he had put out more chain though!), maybe slightly annoyed as Charles hung on on his bunk so he wouldn't fall out and I jumped a foot each time the dinghy slammed against the boat! The kids? Slept right through it, thank goodness!! Makes for a good story and the tag line got ya, right?

Breakfast in bed one cold morning! So, today we rose from our beds in Vernon Creek and set out at 6:30. We had the current with us most of the day and made 69 miles! This is a lot for our little boat, we were in at 5:20 and have only 45 more miles until the Florida border! We're anchored in Frederica River in which is the old Frederica Fort, built to defend this area from the Cuban and French invasions, back before this area belonged to anyone! Its hard and interesting to imagine what it was like here before all this land was developed and populated. The marshes are still empty for the most part, but there is a human presence never the less. Whether its all the navigational markers, a distant bridge or stack or an airplane flying overhead. It is a rare moment when one is truly surrounded by nothing but nature.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beaufort, SC

After leaving Charleston, around noon, we only had to go 35 miles or so to get within a reasonable distance of Beaufort, SC. We anchored in a pretty creek, surrounded by marsh. The kids played in the rigging while we got the cabin heated up and after dinner we had our "Go Fish" championship. Last night it was Duck, Duck, Bruce. The kids really get into it and its fun for us too.

Dakota free climbs to the spreaders, I'm amazed every time he does it. I sort of think to myself, he's only7, it's nice to see what they can do given the room to do it. He is so proud of himself and really enjoys the view up there, too. The boat offers many gymnastic opportunities between the shrouds (wires that hold up the mast), halyards (ropes that pull up sails), and the companionway (the doorway to the downstairs). This is great because, as most of you know, my kids have got lots of energy.

We arrived in Beaufort, S.C. (not to be confused with Beaufort, N.C.) on Thursday afternoon. Went into this lovely southern town, went for a walk around town and then straight to the playground, where the kids unleashed and played in the playground for hours. The play ground is new and part of a new waterfront that was just completed last year. it lines the whole harbor, has swinging benches, a boardwalk, even a performance area. Kudos to Beaufort, we now look forward to our stop there! Here's Laurel as we get ready to dinghy into town.

This is a shrimp boat tied up to the downtown waterfront seawall at a gorgeous sunset, awaiting for the swing bridge to open. The night was relatively mild and we enjoyed staying out, playing and walking.

The next day we browsed book stores and went to the library and post office to get a final delivery ( thanks, J!!!) Laurel went to the Piggly Wiggly (this is what the local grocery stores are named!). These are interesting stores and they have all the packages of chicken feet and pig fat and Souse (some sort of fatty sausage made with all the left over parts of the piggly). I managed to get enough stuff to augment what we had to get us through Georgia (there are not so many stops for groceries there). We cast off at 3 PM and headed down the Beaufort River to anchor in a little river protected from the NW, quiet and peaceful. We ate grits for dinner (when in Rome....) and tucked in, little did we know.......

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marsh & other photos

The Alice mast in the marsh, hard to see small you may have to click on it to see it larger.

It's getting cool in the Carolina's

Kiddos exploring the marsh, hoping for a bite.

This is a Channel Whelk enjoying a dinner of oysters and clams.

The Alice anchored in the marsh.

Sunset in the marsh.
The following day just after clearing a bridge, you can see just how many boats there are heading south. It'd be interesting to have a count, I would guess in the hundreds.


We arrived in Charleston, SC around noon in the 18th. We splurged on dock space so that we could do laundry, take showers and use the complimentary shuttle into town. We spent the afternoon in the S Carolina aquarium. The kids were really looking forward to it and it was a great time. The aquarium does a really nice job with all the native species. This was interesting to us because the night before we spent in a marsh and had done 'gunkholing' in the dinghy and saw many birds and animals, including a live whelk, oyster catchers, ibises, red drum (fish) and a baby otter. These are all inhabitants of the marshes and they take great advantage of the huge oyster bars.
We also saw dolphins feeding in these deep holes in the bends of the river we were anchored in. The kids were thrilled and as we tooled around were silent, listening and watching and appreciating the beauty and rawness of life in the marsh.

The aquarium also had a touch tank at which the kids spent a long time picking up sea urchins, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs. They even helped feed the sea urchins and were so enthusiastic that they emerged soaked!

The boys decided that they should bring note books to record some of the different species that they saw and they also drew pictures of them. I think the consensus was that the otters were our favorite along with the green moray eel and blennies (little fish that use their pelvic fins to 'walk' along the sea bed. Oh, and we can't forget the chain dogfish and their babies!

After leaving the aquarium, we took a CARTA bus into the market area and went to a restaurant called Hyman's and had po boys, grits, catfish, mahi mahi and oysters! A great way to end the day. We got back to the boat around 8, fired up the stove and tucked in. Before Charles and I went to bed though, Charles had noticed that one of our whisker stays (one on each side of the bow sprit) was ripped of and laying across the anchor. It turns out that the boat ahead of us on the dock had a had time docking and had come up against us while doing it. Between the current and the wind, we were not all that surprised. The owner of the boat was in touch with us this morning and all has been amicably dealt with.
Just a little back ground on Charleston: founded in 1670 by the Brits , Charleston got its name from King Charles II, who was apparently quite a hedonist! Colonist came to Charleston to create a pleasure filled, luxurious, gentrified, cosmopolitan town. Bordered on one side by the Ashley River and the other side by the Cooper River, Charleston sits facing the ocean and as a result is surrounded by strong currents and lots of commercial traffic. Always a major port Charlestons culture is influenced by the French, African, Spanish and Caribbean. This is easily seen in the architecture and, of course, the food. A great town to visit, lots to do, see and enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waccamaw River, Georgetown

Dakota and I
Sunday our destination was Georgetown, S. Carolina . We left early as usual, we like to do this for a number of reasons, one Laurel and I get to have some time together while the kids are still asleep. It's quiet and we can catch up on what our day is going to look like before the kiddos get up.
Two it's beautiful at that time of the morning, we usually get to see the sunrise, and it's very quiet out.
Three it either helps to get us to our destination early or make a longer destination.

On our way through South Carolina we passed the barefoot landing swing bridge, the swing bridges usually won't open in winds over 35 knots. So in bad weather you may be stuck on one side of a swing bridge for days until the weather improves.

You really see a lot of interesting stuff on the Intercoastal, here are cable cars that ferry golfers over the intercoastal from a parking lot to a golf course. They are complete with golf racks for your bag.

This is on the Waccamaw river, very pretty, with cypress trees and a lot of turtles. This is Alistair having a closer look at turtles sunning themselves on logs near shore.

Early this morning on our way out of Georgetown, cold out hence the sea smoke over the water.

Alistair with his own fishing system which he deploys off the side of the boat. He even has drawings of how it works and a number of improvements for me to work on with him.
We'll finish today just shy of Charleston, S.C. we'll roll in there tommorow morning and spend a couple of days checking out the sights and stopping by Hyman's for Po' boys. Please email us or post a comment. I've made it easier to do that without the sign in feature. You can also get a rss feed straight to you. I've posted a button for it, you'll find it on the top right of the blog. I like the google one and every time we post something you get it immediately.
Best to all, C.