Annapolis to New Baltimore, NY

Friday May 28, 2021

It was sunny early and we left Sabbatical tethered to the mooring ball and took the dinghy in and hoofed it out to Graul’s Market for provisions.  We encountered a lot of law enforcement with their blue lights and found out that we had just missed the vice president’s motorcade on her way to the Naval Academy graduation.  The weather started to change as we loaded our groceries onto the boat, but it was still tolerable so we returned to the dock and grabbed some lunch at a baked potato shop.  Great food – simple concept.  Later, it got ugly and it blew and rained and turned colder.  We spent an unpleasant night bouncing and bobbing in the wind.  We were planning on leaving on Saturday, but it was not to be with the wind keeping pace, so we just stayed on the boat all day Saturday and rocked and rolled.  Annapolis harbor has sea walls on every side but the open north and the wind and waves were rolling in from the northeast and bouncing off the walls creating an uncomfortable situation for everyone in the mooring field.  Also, our house battery bank was losing power and the generator didn’t seem to recharge it much when we would run it for a couple of hours.

Sunday May 30, 2021

The weather was just more of the same and it seemed like it was freezing to us.  We were tired of being bounced around and called into the Annapolis Yacht Harbor to see if we could get a protected slip.  They had one available and it only took us about 10 minutes to move over there and tie up.  It was a very good move!  We got plugged into shore power and the batteries charged up fully, refilled the water tanks, pumped out the holding tank, Jane did laundry and the hot shower was glorious!   Even the weather started to abate.  We arranged with the other Loopers there to walk over to the Boatyard Grill for dinner.  It was a lot of fun getting to know them better and we slept much better that night.

Monday May 31, 2021

The weather agreed to cooperate and we backed out of the slip from Annapolis Yacht Basin before 0700.  Once out in the Chesapeake, we found glassy water and a very light breeze.  We weren’t sure how far we would go, but we had a number of options between marinas and anchorages.  We talked to Mick Anderson on Phantom and decided to follow him on into an anchorage part way down Delaware Bay at Alloway Creek.  It was further than we originally planned to go, but it would put us in good shape to catch the current on Tuesday to ride down the Delaware  Bay to Cape May.  We were getting a good push up the Chesapeake and hit 10 miles per hour as we passed the Bohemia River entrance.  There was no commercial traffic in the C&D Canal to contend with.  We reached Alloway Creek and proceeded up the creek past Phantom and set the hook in 15 feet at high tide (+5’) on 100 feet of rode.  Mick came over in his dinghy for dinner and we enjoyed getting to know our Scottish friend better.

Following Phantom into Alloway Creek

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

We were up early to catch the tide and off anchor at 0558.  It was only 56 degrees.  Is this really June?  We exited the narrow creek channel by the nuclear power plant and caught the push south to Cape May.  A number of other Looper boats were passing us and some behind us to make a nice flotilla as we dodged a few ships both inbound and outbound.  We anchored off the Coast Guard Station at Cape May by 1300.  I launched the dink so we could get to the grocery store.  It’s not a long ride into the South Jersey Marina, but still a bit of a hike with our folding grocery cart to the ACME grocery.  We stocked up and then hit the wine store before dragging it back again.  At least we got our steps in.  After stowing the groceries and delivering some we picked up for a couple of the others that were anchored, we took the dinghy back in to meet with a bunch of other Loopers for docktails and to go out to dinner. 

We broke into smaller groups for dinner and we went to the Irish Pub with Mick, Captain Crusty and Dorothy from Magic, and  Skip and Allison from Legacy.  It was a fun night but we turned in early so we could get going early.  During engine checks, I found the steering reservoir pressure down to 12 lbs., but I got pumped up to 22 on the first try.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Off anchor at 0500?  What the???  I guess we’re nuts, but we followed Phantom out of the Cape May inlet to an ocean of glass. 

Leaving Cape May at dawn

Our original plan was to make all the way up the coast to Sandy Hook, but by 1000 the seas were picking up a little and Mick called to say he thought it was going to deteriorate and that maybe we should turn in at Atlantic City and continue up the New Jersey ICW from there.  So that’s what we did.  Once we were on the inside, we took the lead so we could report depths to Mick since his draft is deeper than ours.  We made it through all the shallow areas without a problem, but we were getting tired.  Finally around 1600 we were getting some help from the tidal flow and picked up to 9 mph.  With Mick’s help, we picked out the anchorage at Glimmer Glass and hoping that we’d be able to make the Glimmer Glass Bridge opening at 1730, but we were stopped short in the Manasquan River by the Brielle Railroad Bridge.  We could only just tread water and wait it out. 

Glimmer Glass Historic Bascule Bridge

We finally got though the historic Glimmer Glass Bridge on the 1830 opening and rafted up to Phantom after Mick had set his anchor.  It is an excellent anchorage if you don’t mind the noise of the trains.  It didn’t bother us because we were exhausted after the 105 miles and a 14 hour day.  We did enjoy Mick’s company for another dinner together and know that he’ll be taking a different course tomorrow once we make the turn at Sandy Hook.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

We released from Phantom at 0550 and the Glimmer Glass Bridge operator was ready for us to exit right on time.  We followed Phantom out the Manasquan River into the Atlantic Ocean.  It was slightly rolly, but not bad at all and we were able to have our breakfast on the fly bridge.  At 0920 we were rounding Sandy Hook and bid farewell to Mick as he made for the East River on his way to Connecticut.  By 1048 we were docked at the Great Kills Yacht Club for two nights.  We were glad to be set somewhere for even just a short visit after being on the run since Annapolis.  After showering in the club’s excellent facility and a nap, we walked up for a nice dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant.

On Friday, we caught the express bus into Manhattan and then the “C” train to meet our good friend, George Go, for lunch.  After that, the three of us proceeded to walk all over the city.  My blisters will heal eventually.  Short though it was, we loved out time with George.  

Lunch in Manhattan with George

He took lots of photos of us.  Later, after we returned to GKYC and had recuperated from all the walking, Jane and I walked up to Cole’s Dockside Restaurant for dinner.  We knew that Mike was bartending and sat at the bar.  Dinner was great, but Mike’s magic at the end of the night was amazing!

Saturday, June 5, 2021 We took our sweet time leaving the dock and it was an easy ride up to the Statue of Liberty.  Herb on Phanthom (not to be confused with Phantom) was anchored behind the statue.  We were about to anchor, when we got a radio call from Wanderer who wanted to swap taking boat photos with Liberty in the background.  We of course obliged and putted out to meet them for the photo op. 

Then we went back around to the anchorage and dropped the hook.  There were lots of wakes from the boats in the harbor and we were getting rocked around so at 1600 we pulled the anchor and headed up the Hudson River with a nice tidal push from behind.  We passed the George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge and anchored at Nyack just north of the mooring field.  The calm evening was a night and day difference from getting tossed around at the statue.

Tappan Zee Bridge beautifully lit at night

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The anchor came up clean as a whistle and we continued upriver to anchor at Half Moon Bay among maybe a hundred other boats.  They were mostly day-boaters or weekenders and by the end of the day, most were gone.  We rode in on the dink and found a good Greek restaurant for lunch and then hiked a long way in 90 degree heat to the grocery store.  Once we finally got back to Sabbatical and put our stuff away, we ventured in again to meet a group of Loopers at a brew pub.  We were glad that it was air conditioned. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

I changed out the engine zinc during my daily engine checks.  We made our way across the river to Panco for diesel fuel.  They had been out the day before, but the delivery truck was there when I called to check.  We took on 204 gallons at $2.90 per gallon.  It might be a long time before we see a price that low.  It was a very hot day and we were chilling towels in the ice chest to drape over our necks to stay cool.  At 1330 we were passing West Point.  At 1850, we anchored almost the exact same spot at Port Ewen as we did in 2018.  It is a great place to drop the hook and we were happy to have made 55 miles for the day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

We knew the current wouldn’t begin to help us until 0915, so we moseyed around and pulled up the anchor at 0950.  As we passed the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge there were about half a dozen police boats and we realized it was a search and rescue operation.  More like search and recovery really.  It appeared that someone jumped from the bridge.  It was a shorter day for us to travel as we made our way to the Town of Athens free dock and arrived before 1300.  Selah Way and Agape’ were there, but no one was aboard either vessel.  We already knew David and Amy from Selah Way, but had not met the crew from Agape’.  It’s a very small town and we wondered where they might be.  None of the restaurants in town were open.  We walked across the park and up the main drag to the wine store and restocked.  We came back.  They still weren’t there.  We walked out to the convenience store to buy ice, but they were out and there was nowhere else in Athens to buy it.  We got back to the dock and still the boaters were missing.  We started to imagine what may have happened.  Did someone have a medical emergency?  Did they get arrested?  After a while, here they came back from the east side of the river in the dinghy from Agape’.    They had been over at the brewery on the other side.  So they didn’t get arrested.  But we found out that they did get to have a talk with the deputy.  Apparently, they had already been there for one night.   In the morning, some “lady” had come down to the dock to berate them for staying overnight.  I guess we weren’t paying any attention to the sign that says “No Overnight Docking”.  So this one-man-woman-welcoming committee called the Sheriff on our Looper friends to enforce the docking rules.  Well, the only deputy they could send was to pull Officer Friendly out of the elementary school.  He came by the dock and basically said he didn’t see that they were causing any problems and David explained that his boat was broken down and that they were trying to fix it.  No harm, no foul.  Officer Friendly left them alone.  So then it came to pass that David was in the convenience store to buy beer and bacon.  Two of the main food groups.  Well, at the same time so was the local judge.  And they got to talking.  The judge and his buddy came by Selah Way that evening for happy hour.  It was a fun time with lots of laughter.  Long story short, the judge is going to work on the town about changing their docking rules.  We enjoyed meeting the judge and his friend and getting to know the crew from Agape’, Paul and Michelle Cote from St. Augustine.  They both went to Flagler and were active in Young Life, so we know lots of the same people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

We were able to get off the Athens free dock without harassment today even though we didn’t leave until 0945.  In an abundance of caution, both the other boats left earlier.  Slack tide for Shady Harbor Marina in New Baltimore, NY, was noon and we arrived right on time, stopping first at the fuel dock for a pump out of the holding tank.  We would be here for a week.   During the week, we would be able to get provisions, change primary and secondary fuel filters, replace a hose from vented loop to sea cock and have a diver change out our shaft zinc.  We would also lower our mast so we can get under all the low fixed bridges along the Erie Canal and in Chicago.

The next day, we received the sad news that our good friend Cissy Walker had passed away.  She put up a hell of a fight for 11 years and it’s an understatement to say we will miss her.  The best ships are friendships.  Sail on, Cissy.

Cissy Walker in the BVI

Miami to Annapolis

March 1, 2021 – Biscayne Bay

After two nights, we left the tropical anchorage at Long Arsenicker Island making our way up Biscayne Bay to anchor outside of No Name Harbor on the lee side of Key Biscayne.  On the way up we stopped at Black Point for free water and pump out at the county facility and a good lunch at the Black Point Grill.  It was a windy but sunny day.  From there we continued north up through the Intracoastal Waterway with anchor stops at Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale, Pelican Harbor, and Lantana before an overnight stay at my cousin Henry’s dock, Mullet Run, on Sawfish Bay in Jupiter.  That’s a favorite stop for us and we enjoyed the time with Henry and Kathleen and their son, Jason, and  his fiancé, Barbara.

The next night found us anchored off the Marriott Resort at Hutchinson Island in a fierce wind as the storm came through.  Our ground tackle was secure on 100 feet of rode in eight feet of water.  It was a most uncomfortable night and the next day amid small craft warnings we continued onward into 30 mph winds to anchor at Pine Island and then onto a better anchorage in the lee of Pineda Causeway on the 8th.  On the morning of the 9th, we tucked into Cocoa Village Marina for a week, a favorite stop for us.  During our stay we got the safety inspection completed by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

We moved on north on the 16th up to an anchorage just outside of the Titusville Marina.  During the run we spotted a dead manatee and reported it to FWC.  After setting the hook we launched the dinghy to meet up with some Loopers that we had seen and messaged with through the Nebo app.  We had a great time with the crews of Panacea, Lucky Dog, Bears Den, and Ginger Gale and will look forward to meeting up with them again. 

Docktails in Titusville

On the 17th we made it up to the New Smyrna Beach City Marina where I was able to wash the boat and we met with Jim Harper (one of my old crew teammates from Howey) along with his fiancé, Maryellen, for drinks aboard and dinner out.  The next night was another bouncy anchorage at the Shady Place in Daytona as another thunder storm came through. 

We were happy to not experience hail or a tornado that was forecast.  It was an easy and short entry from there the next morning into the Halifax Yacht Club so we could meet Julie and my cousin, Roosevelt, for dinner.  We miss Uncle Bert, but it was wonderful to be with them.

March was showing its teeth on the 20th as we plied our way through cold wind and rain from Daytona to Crescent Beach and docked at Lori and Hugh Cain’s place on the ICW.  A good group of friends made the effort worthwhile.  We would have had a really hard time docking in the high winds without the help of Eddie Bell, Roger Cox, and Hugh.  Because of the weather, we stayed two nights.  It was still blowing on the 22nd, but away we went to one of our favorite anchorages north of St. Augustine, Mile 769.  The next day Sabbatical anchored by the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge in 25 feet of water.  As we got to the St John’s River, Ginger Gale and Panacea continued on north up the ICW, but we took a left and steamed up the St. John’s to the Metropolitan Marina in Jacksonville.  On Thursday, March 25th, we docked back in our old slip at the Marina at Ortega Landing.  Over the next several days, there were a couple of day trips with some family and friends and included a chance to fuel up with 256 gallons from Mandarin Holiday Marina at the sweet price of only 2.26 per gallon.

Sabbatical stayed in her slip almost the entire month of April while we attended to the needs of real estate in Gainesville.  We were back and forth, but during the month I was able to change the secondary fuel filters, waterproof the Bimini top, and change out the shift cable from the upper helm to the lower helm. Finally, on Friday, April 30th at 1545, Jane flipped the lines off the cleats and I slipped it into reverse so we could back out of slip C-104.  Much to my dismay, nothing happened.  “Jane!  Grab a cleat!  I got nothing up here!  There’s no reverse!”  Quickly, Jane had us secured as we had not moved.  Jane shut down the engine and I went to work to adjust the shift cable I had installed the week before.  I got it figured out and in less than an hour we were on our way, through the beautiful circa 1927 Ortega River bascule bridge, to continue downstream in the St. Johns back through downtown Jacksonville embarking on what seemed like the beginning of our second spin around America’s Great Loop.  In reality, our second Loop began when we crossed our wake at the end of the first in Charlotte Harbor, but still, we were clearly excited to be underway again!  We didn’t go far with such a late start and at 1915 we nudged up to the free dock at Sister’s Creek with help from some other boaters.  one of which was Mick of Phantom.  He has been around the Loop several times and is single handling alone.  

May 1, 2021 – Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 739

                  With Phantom and Lucky Maru just ahead of us, we were off the dock by 0802 greeted by a beautiful day of clear skies a cool breeze at 66 degrees.  We passed by Fernandina and Cumberland Sound and by 1125 we hit the Georgia line.  We decided that we should make a habit of taking turns driving while the other exercised in the saloon below.  Who knew you could do Power 90 on a boat?  It was rough crossing St. Andrew’s Sound, but we continued on past St. Simons and at 1928 anchored at Wally’s Leg (mile 666 – devil be damned) having made 73 miles on the day’s run.  We normally wouldn’t want to cruise so far in a day, but we had made a plan to fly out of Norfolk to use the tickets that we bought a year ago so we could visit our son, Travis his wife, Rachel, and the twins Hazel and Beatrice in Portland, Maine.  The flight we booked was for May 18th so we figured we needed to average about 45 miles a day to get there in time.  We thought it best to make some headway early in case we ran into bad weather or equipment failure.

                  From Wally’s Leg we were out early and into a gorgeous sunny morning.  We passed through Doboy Sound with a current push and got to St. Catherine’s Sound by lunchtime.  It was breezy, but we made it through Hell Gate following Discipleship on the high tide at 1442.  Approaching Savannah, we heard Aaron Bradford over the radio.  We had met Aaron and Chrissy in 2019 at the MTOA rendezvous in Brunswick.  Soon he was beside us in his runabout as we cruised along.  We passed by Thunderbolt and across the Savannah River into South Carolina at 1812.  By 1907 we were anchored at New River having gone 96 miles.

                  On Monday the 3rd the beautiful weather continued and so did we up through Calibogue Sound, past Hilton Head and Beaufort into the Ashepoo River, and through Watts Cut to an anchorage we knew at Church Creek.  From there it was a short hop the next morning to St. Johns Yacht Harbor so we could arrive with the slack tide.  We missed it by a half an hour, but docked without death or damage, cheating death again.  We were only there for one night, but it allowed us time to wash the boat, refill the water, do laundry, get provisions from Harris Teeter, and go out to dinner at Wild Olive with our friends that we had met in Ortega, Ted and Amy of Who Knew

Slack tide on the 4th was early and so were we.  (May the fourth be with us!)  We eased out of the slip at sunrise and made our way up through Elliot’s Cut and across the harbor at Charleston.  The city was serenely beautiful at this early hour.  It was another perfect day for cruising and we made it 84 miles to anchor at Thoroughfare Creek.  It’s an interesting spot up the creek by a tall sand dune with a beach.

The anchorage at Thoroughfare Creek

On the 5th we enjoyed yet another perfect day – sunny with a high of 72 and a light breeze out of the north.  We arrived at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club early in the afternoon and took a long walk around neighboring apartment complexes and golf course before LynSue  came and met us for dinner.  Howey friends are everywhere.

May the 7th blessed us with another perfect day.  It was beginning to be weird to have so many good days in a row.  Yet this was mostly sunny with a high around 75 and a supporting breeze on our stern.  At 0836 we crossed into North Carolina.  At mid-morning, after we passed by Shalotte Inlet, reality struck in the form of a rainstorm.  At 1115 the temperature had dropped to 53 degrees!  Was this North Carolina or North Dakota?  The rain quit and we made our way past Southport and up the Cape Fear River.  We passed through Snow’s Cut and picked up a mooring ball in Carolina Beach. 

After we left Carolina Beach, we anchored at Mile Hammock Bay (Camp Lejeune), and then Hardy Creek before we arrived at Dowry Creek Marina at Belhaven.  They have a courtesy car, so we took it into town for groceries.  The next morning we were planning on going to an anchorage at South Lake just below the Albemarle Sound.  After we got through the Alligator River Swing Bridge, we angled off the ICW towards South Lake and remarked what another nice day it was.  That prompted us to check the weather for the next day and then we made the decision to skip the anchorage and go on across the Albemarle Sound making our new destination the Albemarle Plantation Marina.  Always best to get while the getting’s good.  It was calm on the sound, but we were glad to have made it across on a good day even though it meant a ten hour day.  We arrived at APM at 1640.  It was a good decision as the 12th was a total slimy day – just cold and wet!  APM made for a great place to layover for a rest day and since they offer two nights free, it was even better.

On the morning of May 13th we dropped lines off the dock and meandered over to the fuel dock for 247 gallons of diesel at 2.41.  The rains had passed, but it was still cool.  Leaving Albemarle Plantation we made sure to avoid the restricted area where the CIA and SEALS train at Harvey Point.  We made our way over to the Pasquotank River and up to Elizabeth City and docked at the free dock at Mid-Atlantic Christian University.  Shortly we were visited by Dan Smith and got to know him and about Maritime Ministries.  We ended up meeting Dan and his wife, Kathy, for dinner at Toyama Japanese Restaurant.

With Dan and Kathy Smith in Elizabeth City

The next morning was another beautiful day and our arrival at the South Mills Lock was timed perfectly for entry into the Great Dismal Swamp Canal.  Near Miss brought up the rear and joined us for the eight foot lift.  We stopped off at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center to tie up for the night.  Near Miss was going all the way through so did not stop.  This is our third trip through the canal, but we’ve never stopped at the welcome center so we wanted to check it out.  We were the only boat for a while, but finally a sailboat passing south stopped.  We helped the guys on the sail boat dock.  The older gentleman, Frank, had just bought the boat and his son, Mike, was helping him get it down to Washington, NC.  They had forgotten to load their groceries so we gave them a jar of peanut butter and loaned them a pot to cook their Ramen noodles in.  We enjoyed visiting the museum and walking the boardwalk and talking to families that were stopped at the rest stop. The following day, May 15th, our plan was to continue out north through the canal and the Elizabeth River, go through Norfolk and anchor in Willoughby Bay on the north side of Norfolk.  We had arranged to leave our boat at the home of Kevin and Sandy Tucker for the time that we would be in Maine.  Kevin and Sandy are friends that we met on our first Loop in 2018.  From Willoughby Bay we could easily get to Tucker’s dock on the 16th, giving us two day’s leeway before our flight.  Just as we were crossing the Virginia State line, we noticed that the steering fluid was leaking from the shaft at the upper helm station. 

This was not looking good.  Everything seemed to be ok for a while but after an hour it felt like I was unable to control the boat from the upper helm.  I sent Jane below to take over and then I came down once she had control.  We talked about what to do and if we would need to call on Sea Tow to drag us into a repair yard.  The big problem about that was that it was Saturday and getting a mechanic and parts on the weekend would be nigh impossible.  The Captain decided that as long as he could control the vessel from the lower helm, we should keep going and try to make it all the way to Kevin and Sandy’s in Virginia Beach.  The Admiral agreed. We called and told them what was going on and he said he has a good mechanic who can attend to our issue while we’re in Portland.  It’s an old boat and things wear out and break.  We were not surprised that it was time for something new.  When the steering goes out it’s a turn for the worse.  Being the weekend, we encountered less commercial traffic going through Norfolk.  I really did not want to have to declare a Pan Pan with lots of immense vessels around.   It went fine and we crossed both the bridge/tunnels and headed for the inlet at Lynn Haven.  Once inside there were lots of recreational boats to contend with, but the steering at the lower unit was working ok or well enough it seemed.  We turned into their canal and that’s when the keel found the mud.  We had the impeccable good taste to arrive dead low tide!  Great!  I backed off the shoal in the canal intersection and did a 360 degree turn using just enough speed to slide straight through the side of the shoal and found slightly deeper water once beyond it.  We continued on down toward the Tuckers dock at the north end of the canal.  Jane expressed in no uncertain terms that she was very nervous with boats just inches away on either side, but we made it and tied up with Kevin’s help at 1655.  Just in time to change and go to a party.  It was a lot of fun with their friends Grant and Pearl providing live music.

With Kevin and Sandy Tucker at their dock

On Sunday, we got to watch Rachel’s graduation on Zoom to receive her Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of New England and found out she received the MSOT Outstanding Student Award!   We are so proud of her.

Later, we all went out in Kevin’s bowrider.

Grant and Pearl came too and afterwards Sandy had cooked dinner for all of us.  Grant and I played guitar together.  We had such a fine time; we forgot the boat was broken.  Monday morning, the mechanic, Tim came by to see about the steering.  He wiggled the wheel and determined that just a seal kit was not going to fix it.  I think his exact words were, “Oh, this isn’t good!”  The bearings were shot and it would take a new unit and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to find one anytime soon.  He said he’d get back with me, but not when.  Oh, well.  After he left, I changed the oil and filter and replaced the filter for the fresh water system.

We flew out to Portland on Tuesday and had a wonderful and long overdue visit with the Family McKinney.  We went to LL Bean, dined out at great places, played games, went to the beach (the water was 50 degrees) and stayed dry. 

We thoroughly enjoyed just hanging out with our twin granddaughters and watching their personalities develop, the roles their imaginations create, and their gymnastic moves. 

Hazel Nut and Honey Bea in concert

On Friday, I got a text that Sabbatical was fixed and ready to go.  It was joyously received.  The bill was fair and the timing was superb.  Our visit in Maine was too short, but on Sunday it was time to return.

At the Portland Headlight

The flights back were uneventful and Kevin met us at the airport and stopped by the grocery store so we could stock up.  The high tide would be at 0800 so we’d be ready to shove off.  Only problem was the weather forecast.  A northeast wind and seas of 2 to 3 feet.  It might be ok or it might be a total wipeout.  The Admiral says we will try to get across the mouth of the Chesapeake and get behind the lee of the Eastern Shore.

Monday, 5/24/21 –We cranked up at 0654 and Kevin helped us turn the boat in the narrow channel by hand.   I had no problem with steering or depth exiting the canals.  By the time we got back to the Lynn Haven Inlet, we knew we were going to be in for a ride.  No other boats were venturing out.  It was three to four feet pretty soon.  Even before we got to the shipping channel.  The navy was escorting a submarine in, but they were well ahead of us and of no concern.  We had to dodge one outgoing and one incoming ship before we could cross the shipping channel which we did between the first and second islands as we went over the tunnel.  By 0900 I had Jane get out the mustang life preservers and we put them on in 5 to 6 foot waves.  Sabbatical can handle more than we can, but safety on the water is paramount.  Shortly we turned with our stern to and slowed to an idle so we could change to the lower helm.  It would be a better ride from down there.  We executed it well and no one died.  By 1055 we returned to the upper helm as we approached the far side and anchored in the lee at Kiptopeke Beach behind the sunken concrete ships.  I put out 140 feet of rode in 10 feet of water just for good measure.

Concrete ships from WWII

On Tuesday we left Kiptopeke Beach early at 0555.  The chain and anchor came up very clean except that I could have made a batch of shrimp etouffee from all the tiny shrimp that wanted to stowaway.  I opted to let them die on deck and wash them away later.  It was a little rough early as we made our way up the Eastern Shore, but by 1100 the ride was quite comfortable on a cool day of 65 degrees.  We crossed into Maryland at 1231 and docked at the Tylerton Town Dock (Smith Island) at 1317.  There is just not much in Tylerton.  Only 56 full time residents.  But there is the Drum Point Market.  We had made it in time to get to the Drum Point Market and enjoy a good lunch.  Everyone we met which was about 10 % of the population was very nice and accommodating.

From Tylerton we headed out Wednesday for Knapps Narrows Marina.  Even though there are three channels going in and out of Tylerton, we exited the same way we came in which was the west channel through Sheep Pen Gut.  The townspeople erected new stone breakwaters there at the entrance to the channel, so I figured it had to be the best way.  We did bump the bottom in one spot, but it wasn’t bad.  Once out in the bay, with the current running against us and the south wind behind us, we had a bit of a roughish ride early, but by the time we were on the approach into Tilghman Island it was glassy.  In the “It’s a Small World” category:  Just as we came through the Knapps Narrows Bridge, we were spotted by some friends we know that happened to be eating at Characters Bridge Restaurant.  They noted this boat with the home port of Gainesville, Florida, but weren’t aware that it was us.  They watched us dock at the along-side floating dock in the channel at Knapps Narrows Marina.  It wasn’t until the next day that we made the connection.  I gave Sabbatical a much-needed bath while Jane did laundry.  Since a storm was coming in from the west, we had dinner aboard.

No need to leave early as we only had 21 miles to go to get to Annapolis.  It was a very nice day for crossing the Chesapeake with northwest winds around 6 knots and waves less than one foot.  Jane did a lot of the driving once we got out in the bay while I worked on polishing some of the stainless steel.  By 1300 we were secure on mooring ball #11.  We lowered the dinghy and it cranked on the second pull after having not been used since Titusville.  We got some wine and snacks together and climbed in so we could make it over to Herb Seaton’s boat, Phanthom for “Porchtails”.  When Herb puts on “Porchtails” it usually means a crowd and it was.  All had a grand time with the crews from Shingebiss, Island Girl, Jackpot, Happiness Is, New Hope, Near Miss, Spirit, Nauti Jenny, Irrational Exuberience and Pearl.  We felt like we have finally caught up with the other Loopers and all the long days were worth it.

Here we go Again

Saturday, February 27, 2021

I thought that when we were done with America’s Great Loop, that I was done writing this blog.  Jane has explained to me that I am not done with the blog, and we’re not done with cruising America’s Great Loop.  It has been a couple of years since I last made an entry and very interesting years they were.  2019 was interspersed with cruising and some real estate work.   After we finished America’s Great Loop we continued on down the Gulf Coast of Florida and crossed Florida Bay for a short visit in Marathon.  We then tooled along the ICW inside the Keys and up through Biscayne Bay and then on to the St. Johns River.  There we took a left turn and arrived in Jacksonville on the last day of February for a long term slip at The Marina at Ortega Landing.  We learned our way around “our new hometown” since we had our car from home.  We made many trips back and forth to Gainesville and learned which stand on US 301 has the best boiled peanuts.

In April we drove the car up to Nashville.  Our youngest, Scott was going to propose to Jessica (who we LOVE).  We got there in time to organize a celebration with her family and all their friends at the house after they got engaged.  Of course she said yes.  It was a fantastic trip.

The time in one place gave us an opportunity to address a number of small maintenance items.  There were still more to do, but that spring our son, Travis, moved his family from Brooklyn to Portland, Maine.  So just before the end of April, we dropped lines at Ortega Landing to head up to Maine to visit. The trip included maintenance and repairs in a number of ports such as a haul out in Virginia for new bottom paint and anodes.  (Also known as a Brazilian and bling.)

We had a chance to get with our good friend, George Go in NYC on the way up.

Once above Long Island Sound the ocean waves seemed to be more slow rollers than sharp and steep seas.  The cruising was nice with the exception of having to deal with the fog we got caught in off of Boston (and all those damned lobster traps).  We arrived in Portland after 54 days.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Travis and Rachel and the twins.  We were delighted to have Hazel and Beatrice on board Sabbatical for a night and a day cruise around the beautiful harbor spotting numerous seals.  Sadly after only 11 days, I saw a great weather window and off we went again, heading back down to Florida.

The trip home was hindered by breakdowns requiring me to learn how to replace the fuel lift pump in New Rochelle, NY.  At least we got to see our friends Kim and Barbara while we were there. 

Then in Virginia, my good work on the fuel lift pump was rewarded two weeks later when the new one failed and taxed my diagnostic skills to figure out why two pumps would fail in such a short time.  Much cussing of the manufacturer was involved, but I narrowed it down to back pressure caused by a failed check valve in the fuel return line.   Since we were so close to Kilmarnock, VA, we took the time to rent a car and visit American Diesel to purchase the needed check valve and other back-up parts to have on board.  When we got to Georgia I noticed the engine temps were not right and determined that the heat exchanger had failed (it happens), but at least I had one on board now and changed it in St. Simons Island.

We made it back to Ortega Landing in Jacksonville without further incident and stayed put for a while.  We enjoyed staying on the boat in Jacksonville and going back and forth to home in Gainesville to be with Meredith and the boys and visit our friends.

In October the wedding of Scott and Jessica in Nashville was a glorious time.  I thought everything was perfect except it rained the afternoon and night of the wedding.  The rehearsal dinner was fabulous, the wedding at Wightman Chapel on the Vandy campus was beautiful (granddaughters Hazel and Beatrice were the flower girls), and the reception after was absolutely incredible.   The next morning we flew home to attend our 50th High School reunion.  What a whirlwind of a weekend!

2020 was, well, shall we say a year that will live in infamy.  The death of Jane’s sister, Jill, COVID, racial injustice and unrest, and the election all contributed to ruin what could have an otherwise delightful year.  Sabbatical  provided us what we thought was the prime spot to isolate and be socially distant.  That didn’t work out.  We both contracted the COVID 19 virus.  I got it in June and somehow Jane did not get it from me even in the close confines of the vessel.  She got it in November.  My experience was only four days of fever with influenza type aches.  She experienced eyeball pain followed by loss of taste and smell and felt lousy for a few days.  Jane did come to her senses.  (Or they returned to her.)  Anyway, we did live to tell about it, unlike my old friend Jere Plumley.  It seems like we all know at least someone whose life was cut short by the disease.

During the year we had some work done on the boat and got that pesky transmission leak fixed, thanks to Alan at Lambs Marina.  Other work included another bottom job and change out of the exhaust elbow. 

Later in the spring during an isolating run upstream in the St. Johns River to Sanford we starting developing some electrical charging issue that I was unable to fully diagnose.  We did thoroughly enjoy the eight nights on anchor in the St. Johns.  There is still a great deal of this river that appears just as it did 500 years ago.

Other cruises during the year included a rough day trip out into the Atlantic to spread Jill’s ashes, a couple of trips to St. Augustine and a couple of trips up to Fernandina and Cumberland Island.  Several times, we would just leave the marina at Ortega and run out into the St. Johns to anchor for a night or two.  We had been awarded a slip at the Metropolitan Park Marina for the weekend of the Florida-Georgia game.  It just wasn’t the same with all the COVID limitations, but we had a good time anyway with Meredith and some close friends on board to watch the game.  Sabbatical  even made it into the broadcast with an aerial shot from the blimp during the game.

At the end of the year, the starter on the Ford Lehman engine failed and we ordered a new one.  Who would have thought that after32 years a starter would go bad?   We decided that we like to be on the move and keep the water moving under the hull.  A plan was set to leave The Marina at Ortega Landing and head south to get out of the cold and when the spring comes to start on a second trip around America’s Great Loop.

So, on January 4th, 2021 we slipped away from the marina and spent the next six nights on anchor at different spots until we got down to the Fort Pierce City Marina.  We found one spot that we will not return to across the ICW from Marineland Marina south of St. Augustine.  The space between the channel and the shallows to anchor in is narrow.  We dropped the hook in what we thought would be the right spot in 5 to 7 feet of water with 60 feet of rode out.  Once again we found ourselves aground at anchor around 2100 as the tide had dropped with the wind coming out of the east pushing us to the shallows.  After midnight we were finally able to move the boat over about 25 feet into deeper water.  We’ve made this mistake twice now and vow it won’t happen again.  I guess most boaters run aground when they are underway?

We stayed a couple of days in Ft. Pierce and reconnected with Tobi and Lenny Schelin for a glass of wine aboard followed by a wonderful dinner at the Thai restaurant, Wasabi.  We had met them at anchor in Brigantine by Atlantic City, NJ, in July of ’19.   It was really good to see them again.

After we left Ft. Pierce, we got down to Stuart and headed up the St. Lucie River to cross the state through the Okeechobee Waterway system.  We took dockage at St. Lucie South Park, Roland Martins in Clewiston, and the W.P. Franklin Lock Park.  We spent two nights on anchor at a spot called Lollypop Lake.  Very private place off the Caloosahatchee Canal.  We were running into more Loopers, and as Gold Loopers, we knew when we got to Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, we should spend time connecting with the other Loopers there and organizing the docktails.  We met a number of boats new to the Loop and were happy to provide some guidance as so many others had done for us in this marina three years ago.  We did hate to not connect with three friends who all live in Ft. Myers, but there are only so many hours in a day and a half.

From there, we chugged on down to anchor in Naples, and then tie up for a night at the Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City.  While at Everglades City we visited the museum and found the history fascinating including stories about C. G. McKinney who I assume must be some kin.

After leaving the Rod & Gun Club we moved on down for a beautiful night on anchor outside the mouth of the Little Shark River.  We were treated to the “green flash” at sunset.  It’s an isolated spot with no cell service.  There were just a couple of other boats anchored within a mile or so.

The next day proved to be clear and calm for crossing Florida Bay to the Harbour Cay Club in Marathon.  It was a trip of 44 miles occasionally escorted by dolphins and we arrived for a month’s stay at 1315.  Harbour Cay Club is privately owned by the 24 members who each own their slip.  If someone does not have their boat there, then the club can rent the slip out for a one month minimum.  We enjoyed the time there and getting to know the various owners.  It’s a laid back place and attitude.  Our friends Mike and Cindy aboard Winespeed  liked it so much over the past three winters that they bought a share and have settled into having a home dock for their boat.  We got to enjoy seeing some of our other old Looper friends and meeting lots of MTOA members and AGLCA members at several functions and docktails.  During the month I had time to attend to various items of boat maintenance and repairs.  We even got down to Key West twice and acted like typical tourists.  When our month was up we wanted to go out to the Dry Tortugas, but didn’t like the available weather window, so we started on east behind the barrier of the upper Keys.  We hated to leave our friends, but knew it was time to get some more water moving under the hull.

Since we left we’ve spent four nights on anchor.  The first two by Lorelei at Islamorada so we could dinghy into there and the World Wide Sportsman.  We spent one night at Thursday Cove just north of the bridge over Jewfish Creek, but we got eaten up by mosquitos there, so yesterday we came all of 15 miles to anchor just south of Long Arsenicker Island and Biscayne Bay .  With the wind coming out of the east we’ve got no problems with the bugs.  The water here is gin clear and we’re hanging out right here through the weekend so we don’t have to deal with so many yahoos swamping us with their wakes when we make our way up through Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

Stay tuned as we are attempting to circumnavigate the Eastern United States on America’s Great Loop and earn the coveted Platinum Burgee.