Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in Florida!

"I just want to be in Florida by the weekend" was all Ron had been saying for the last week. As we were trudging along through some of the shallowest and sketchiest parts of the ICW, that was our goal. We weren't sure it would happen, some of our days were cut short due to tides, current and shoaling along the ICW, a real test of patience at times. But we had a couple days of good motor-sailing in a favorable current and made up some time, enough so that by early afternoon on Thanksgiving day we were pulling in to Fernandina Beach Florida!

Getting to Florida a little early came with a cost, a big one. We passed by Cumberland Island. I know, how could we? I didn't want to but we were so close to Florida that it was hard to stop. We'll just have to come back at another time and really check out the place. Plus, there are other parks and sites nearby I'd like to see that we couldn't make it to. Can't have it all, right?

Soaking in some Florida sunshine
After talking with our families, we decided a little way late to actually do some sort of Thanksgiving meal ourselves. So what did that get us? Canned yams, canned cranberry sauce and Stovetop stuffing mixed with canned turkey. If we had planned a little better I'm sure we could have really done it up but at 8 o'clock at night, this 20 minute meal was just what we needed.
Happy Thanksgiving from Florida!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's BEAU(fort) Again

We made it to Beaufort...again! And it's just as fabulous as Beaufort was the last time (in case you don't remember; this one is Byoo-fort, the last one was Bo-fort). And just like in North Carolina, this little South Carolinian town is jam packed with history - yay for me, yawn for Ron.
How awesome are these massive, moss-covered trees?!?
Creepy but spectacular

Love love love
Saw our first orange tree!
A little sad I didn't grab one quick
Lots of southern landscape!
And 1 special guy...
We stumbled into the visitor center, which happened to be located in an old Spanish style armory - how awesome is that?!? Did I get pictures of this awesomeness? Of course not, just trust me, it was cool. After looking around the visitor center, which looked more like a real estate office promoting surrounding condo, golf and yachting communities, we tried sneaking out before getting entrapped in a lengthy spiel from enthusiastic employees. Just steps from the door we were called over to the counter...oh great. And I'm so glad they caught us, they were two of the most friendly and genuine people we've met yet, asking questions about us, our trip and our plans and giving us the highlights of what to see and providing a map of how to get there. I could have stayed and listened to these ladies talk about the history of the town forever, they certainly knew their stuff to say the least. My kind of history nerds people. But we had places to see so off we went.
The oldest home in Beaufort. 1750
You don't have to trim trees around here, just put a sign up!
I think 10'9" is plenty of clearance
A house from some movie. I don't know which one.
In his dreams...
The Forest Gump house. 
We had a fantastic day checking out this place. While meandering around we managed to poke around in a couple shops, get our chocolate fill at The Chocolate Tree and finished off the afternoon with quite possibly the best homemade peach cobbler I've ever had. This was a day for the books! Beaufort, you did not disappoint. Thank you.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The ICW Gauntlet

Is this where all the missing markers are???
It seems like we've been on the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway...FYI) for-ever. Moving anywhere from 30 to 60 miles a day down the East Coast can make for a pretty long trip. Don't get me wrong, we've had a great time and seen a ton of stuff but after motoring day after day, dealing with boat traffic and bridges with timed openings, we're looking forward to some open water!
I don't even know these people, but I bet we'd be great friends
We've debated jumping out in the ocean again but until recently there were hundreds of miles between inlets and we just weren't desperate enough to do another overnight quite yet. So we keep trudging along. At 5mph. 
Train of boats heading south
To add to the excitement of just motoring/motorsailing down the ICW, we've now had to add in timing the tides to avoid what sounds like some pretty serious shoaling in the southern portions and so far we've managed to not hit bottom **knock on wood**. As the shoaling gets worse farther south though, there's also more usable inlets and we look forward to jumping back out and sailing on the ocean again as we continue on. Our mainsail is going to have some serious rust mold to shake off!
One day after traveling for almost 12 hours, we cracked and went to Osprey Marina instead of trying to anchor up a creek (we're up creeks pretty regularly these days) in the dark. And boy did we luck out! Not only was the marina $1ft with power and raging hot showers, but we also got an actual goody bag. First time for a goody bag here. Besides getting all the vital codes and services information, we also found a pen, sticky notes, honeybuns AND a jar of pepper jelly with a sleeve of crackers to go with it. What?!?! Toss in the massive area for the dog to run (sans the burrs we've been running into lately) and the 25 cents/ft charge after 3 days and we were tempted to make the greater Myrtle Beach area our home away from home for a bit. Until our senses kicked in and we left the next morning. If you're ever in the area and need a marina, I highly recommend Osprey.

Then there's the wildlife...oh, the wildlife we've seen! Ron claims he saw an alligator once when I was down in the boat but there isn't anybody else to corroborate his story so I'm not sure we can count that one. Besides the phantom gator we've seen so much - pelicans and various seabirds diving for fish, dolphins feeding and following the boat, bald eagles perched in trees and catching fish, a wild pig munching on grass...a veritable safari! And, I have to tell you, the scariest of them all are the dolphins! No joke. Several times now I've nearly lost control of my bladder and had uncontrollable swearing fits when they show up, from out of nowhere, and surface close to the boat. After I regain bodily control I can take in the beauty of the moment, but that first moment isn't pretty for me. Maybe I need some Xanax.
(Blurry) Bald Eagles
Bacon isn't cheap...unless you DIY it...tempting
*Nice* dolphins feeding in a creek
 Then there's something even scarier than the dolphins...the pent-up boat dog that's finally cut loose!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sorry Mom, I'm Moving to Southport

What is it with all these quaint, idyllic little coastal towns?!? Seriously, they're making it hard to not just leave and continue on the trip but making it more difficult to choose where we land afterward. I knew we'd find some places like this, and finding these places was what I was looking forward to the most, but what I didn't anticipate was the possibility that every place would be this ridiculously charming. Everywhere I look I'm inundated with the cutest, meticulously maintained historical homes, museums and buildings that somehow fill up the memory card on the camera before I even know what happened, my ears take in that slow southern drawl that repeatedly greets us as we walk through the town and the wheels start turning in my mind...

Oriental, Beaufort, Southport, I think I've told Ron, "I could live here" after pretty much every place we've stopped in the Carolinas...I just can't help it. I got it bad, it's like a fever I tell you and I think the only cure is spending some real time here (Don't worry Mom, you can come too!).

It pains me to put this picture up. Going down the intracoastal, we had dolphins jumping right next to the boat, following us for a good few minutes. They were jumping just a few feet away from where I was standing right close I probably could have (precariously) reached out and touched them. So what happens when I finally get the idea to get my camera? ......Oh, yeah, they up and disappear, breaking my heart and shattering my dreams.
One day. I just want to be my dog for one day.
I got a little snap happy with the camera during our little stroll through Southport...I just couldn't help it!

I'm in trouble here!

How perfectly Mayberry is this?!?
Any town with streets dead-ending at the water is A-okay with me

If you've ever watched any of Nicholas Sparks' million romantic flicks adapted from his books, then you've likely seen many of the places just like Southport that are the gems of the Carolinas. And that, as embarrassing as it is to admit, just makes these places that much more appealing to me. Ron on the other hand really couldn't care less. But who asked him anyway ;)
Anyone seen this movie?
'Cause it was filmed here.
Any anywhere Josh Duhamel has been is fine by me.
The house from the movie...just for you Britt!

Somewhat begrudgingly (for me), we push on. Afterall, we're on the search for blue water and warm weather for a while, but don't think magic little places like this are getting pushed too far back in my mind. We'll be back one day.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Oh, Beaufort!

View from the boat; a feral horse grazing
Just to be clear: we've been in Beaufort (Bo-fort), NC. Not to be confused with Beaufort (Bue-fort), SC. We've heard the locals in either place don't like the mispronunciation of the "other" place for their town, maybe they're just really nice to tourists since Ron regularly says the wrong place.

As of late we've been traveling at quite a snail's pace. First, we spent four days in Oriental, then we made the 25 mile trip to Beaufort and we've been sitting here for four days waiting on weather and some fan parts. This cute little town has lots of history and museums to keep us me entertained though, so being stuck here a little bit isn't the end of the world.
More pretty scenery
While here, we waited out a nor'easter and while the landscape is pretty, it doesn't necessarily offer the greatest protection from weather. While anchored in a fairly narrow creek we had some pretty decent wind gusts and woke up at 1am to see our dinghy almost touching the shore. We were still floating, thankfully, as the creek gets pretty deep pretty quick by shore but we were way too close for comfort. Especially with the wind pushing us right onto shore. So at 1 am- raining, windy and cold - we got on our gear and prepared to move the boat further into the middle of the channel. It was at the same time that we saw the light beam from our buddy boat scanning around and we saw them getting ready to move out a bit as well. At least we weren't alone!

Moving was a bit of a mess, we both had our glasses on and with the rain and wind we could neither see nor hear each other as Ron raised the anchor and I maneuvered the boat. At one point he yelled out that he was going to drop the anchor, to which I immediately responded by putting the boat in gear and moving forward (not how one should anchor) because I couldn't hear him. The second attempt worked out fine though and we were at a much more comfortable distance from shore. We spent the rest of the night listening to the wind howl through the rigging and getting up every hour or so to make sure we weren't kissing the shore.


Tons and TONS of these little guys running around
On one side of the creek is the town of Beaufort, on the other is a group of islands that house feral horses. Some were brought there during the 40s and 50s while others are believed to have Spanish roots from the time the area was first settled, which is pretty cool in my history-nerd mind, but all of them are now on a preserve where they seem to be living a pretty posh life. Plus, waking up to a horse grazing just yards from your boat is never a bad way to start your day.
Hiking around the preserve

More horses
I could just walk around this town for hours, and we mostly did. Over 150 homes and buildings are marked with plaques indicating the date of construction and the original owner, which really fuels my imagination. We spent a lot of time just walking around, and got Ron daydreaming about putting Lexie's leash on me, I'm sure. Every few minutes he'd have to stop and wait for me while I ogled over the plaques and the beautiful houses, I'm sure he'd much rather have had a leash to give a good yank to and get me moving...kind of like when we're walking and Lexie keeps stopping to eat grass. Except that I'm not eating grass. And I'm human.

Even after a thoroughly history-filled morning walking around and going through the Maritime Museum, Ron put on his big boy pants and came with to check out the Old Burying Ground. With moss-covered graves scattered in a pretty disorderly arrangement, some of which you had to step over as they were in the middle of the walkway, we meandered around reading headstones that were still legible, some dating back to the 1700s. There was also a pamphlet provided that tells stories of some of the more interesting residents of the cemetery. So many interesting, and even odd, stories. I was in heaven. Ron was entirely creeped out. Like to the point that he wouldn't even take any pictures. What a Nancy!
Ready to get my history on!

Eagle eye climbs the rail to claim a lost $5 bill

Backstreet Pub- a recommendation that didn't disappoint

Now that the temps have (again) dropped and the rain has set in, we're ready to get this boat further South and in the sunshine!