Monday, 31 December 2012

No 43 The Bahamas

Hi from Clare,                                                   Sunday 31st December 2012

Before leaving Nassau we managed to buy a new 8hp outboard for the dinghy. Andrew is very pleased and for the moment we speed everywhere with me bouncing up and down on the seat; fortunately the trip is quick. I'm sure once we know exactly what the new outboard is capable of we will slow down to a more leisurely pace. Andrew was hoping for a trade in on our 5hp outboard but as they say in the classics 'tell him he's dreaming' certainly not in Nassau. So the 5hp is now in the locker and we are hoping for a private sale before leaving the Bahamas. The buckets we removed from the locker to fit the outboard are now in the bathroom along with additional fuel drums; having a shower is becoming a balancing act!

We departed Nassau last Saturday and we have spent the week slowly making our way along the Exuma Cays. We visited Highborne Cay, Shroud Cay, Hawkesbill Cay, Cambridge Cay and Big Majors Spot at Staniel Cay. Most of these places we have been to before but it is a lovely part of the world. The weather has been terrific with clear skies, sunny days with the temperature in the high twenties. The aqua clear sea water is spectacular; we can stand on the bow and see our anchor and thirty metres of chain.

Highborne Cay Resort beach and a couple of lost tourists waiting.

The highlights have been strolling around the private island of Highborne, taking our high speed dinghy through the mangroves at Shroud Cay, sunbaking at Hawkesbill, snorkelling at Cambridge and socializing at Staniel Cay. We are currently anchored off Big Majors Spot (Staniel Cay) with many other cruisers. Andrew said "even our friend Steve is here, you all know Steve - Steven Spielberg". His $200 million mega yacht Seven Seas is about 286 ft long, 44 ft wide and has multi levels. It has a fun water slide from the top deck into the sea and a string of water toys attached to the back of the boat (ship). Today is windy so the guests are wind surfing. They have white gazebos and sun lounges erected behind the hill on a small and private island close by; way to go! Now they are all off in a sea plane that has turned up near-by.

Shroud Cay mangroves and Steven's yacht "Seven Seas"

We had a very enjoyable Christmas. We started the day with a very pleasant 27 miles sail to Staniel Cay to be with Kiwi friends Peter and Raewyn on "Saliander". I cooked an Aussie rack of lamb and roast vegies for dinner on Eye Candy and then we went over to "Saliander" for coffee and cake. There were seven of us altogether and with good company and a few laughs it was a perfect Christmas evening.
"Saliander" left the next morning for Cuba and we backtracked to Cambridge Cay for some snorkelling and solitude on lovely deserted beaches. The tropical fish and coral gardens are very pretty and the sunsets are stunning. At night it is dead quiet and very peaceful. The park ranger came by to wish us a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday. He had a friend with a gun from the Royal Bahamian Defence Force, he wished us a Merry Christmas also then left - phew!

Peter and Raewyn and the the Christmas gang on "Saliander"

Cambridge Cay deserted ocean beach

We have now returned to Big Majors Spot at Staniel Cay. You may recall when here in June I took photos of the pigs that swim out to the boats for food scraps. Yesterday a group of young people got out of their dinghy to hand feed them. The biggest pig would weigh around 100 kg and back in June one of the pigs bit our friend Kortney on the butt. We were happy to stay some distance away and just watch.
Once again we snorkelled Thunder-ball Cave; this is a well publicized and popular spot. Fortunately we arrived in time to go through the cave before the crowd. There are many tropical fish that hang there away from the current and the light from the cave opening is aqua blue. Outside the cave there is beautiful soft coral growing on the walls. By the time we left the area was teaming with people and unfortunately due to all the flapping fins we could see the damage to the coral since our first visit in 2004.

We will stay here a few more days before continuing along the Exumas. We casually know quite a few people here and so there is no shortage of interest.
We wish all a happy, safe and prosperous 2013.

Love Candy xx

At 7:18 PM30/12/2012 (utc) our position was 24°11.07'N 076°27.61'W

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Friday, 21 December 2012

No 42 Berry Islands

Hi from Clare,                                          Wednesday 19th December, 2012

So we left Miami last Tuesday 11th December cutting it fine; one day before our USA Visa ran out. We had a fast beam reach sail across the Gulf Stream and arrived as planned the following morning into Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands. We were last here when crewing on Pacific Dream in 2004. We asked the Islander who took our lines "so what's changed since 2004?" his reply was "nothing" and he wasn't exaggerating, e.g. the Bahamian flags that surrounded the Bar are still there but now in tatters.

The tree lighting ceremony and Innamorata looming up behind

We meet up with our English friends Carol and Steve on "Innamorata" and also the people from two yachts that came through the 23 bridges with us on the way to Fort Lauderdale. We had Carol and Steve on Eye Candy for drinks before the eight of us met up at a festive gathering in town that evening for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. There was dance music and the town folk provided dinner. Everyone was very happy and after endless official speeches the local Member proudly announced that by December the Berry Islands will have its first bank and by January its first resident Doctor - I guess we are not going to get Internet Access here!

The following day we sailed 26 miles with "Innamorata" to Fowl Cay where we took shelter from the strong Northerly winds for two days. But there was plenty of entertainment with yachts dragging due to a strong current running through the anchorage. Fortunately for us we were some distance away and tucked up nicely behind a small headland. We could see during the night when the wind dropped the other boats rolling violently and we listened to their distress calls to each other "I think we are dragging" The following morning most of them relocated; two ran aground.

At Fowl Cay we meet Pete and Raewyn on the Kiwi yacht "Saliander". We have been speaking with them on the radio net for some time. Eight of us had morning tea on their boat and Raewyn cooked fabulous date scones and also very tasty cheese scones. Pete is a keen fisherman and went out in his dinghy each day catching fish in the changing tides or collecting Conch from under his boat. He would definitely do well on the TV series Survivor.

On Saturday "Innamorata" headed for Nassau on New Providence Island. We decided to sail 43 miles to the west end of the island. We spent the next two days relaxing, enjoying wonderful sunsets and of course doing some boat chores. The waterfront homes in this bay are part of a gated community and most of the beach is private. There is a public section at the end of the bay where we went for a walk. We met a chap sitting on the beach watching his children at play. As soon as he spoke we established that he was an Aussie with comments like "where are you going?, ah there's nothing here mate." We were a bit amused but the purpose of this story is to highlight the difference between the hospitality of the American people as opposed to the Australian way. You may recall that in previous newsletters we have raved about the generosity of the American people who have offered us the use of their car or driven us around for endless shopping. Well our little Aussie on the beach said "there's a pretty good shop over there if you need food, but it's a bit of a hike though." (so where is the offer of a lift?). We thanked him for the information and we were glad we didn't need any food.

Bahamian Sunset and our anchorage in Nassau

We sailed 13 miles along the island and into the Nassau on Monday. We met up with "Innamorata" again who had organized us a mooring ball as they have long standing friends who live here. We had dinner on Innamorata last night and met their friends and tonight we are having drinks with both "Innamorata" and "Saliander".
Since arriving we have managed to obtain some internet access on the boat. Believe me it wasn't easy, it took two days, three trip to BTC (Bahamian Telecom) and four hours of sitting in front of a Customer Service Rep who clearly, for whatever reason, was having great difficulty processing our request for a sim card. One Rep was wrapping her Christmas presents while she "worked". The following day the same Rep spent two hours with one customer. Andrew told me later that they were talking about the customer's marriage break down. The three Reps kept disappearing out the back for prolonged periods of time and the cashier was engrossed in a private phone call. At one stage Andrew asked the customers "Is it always this bad?" and they just nodded. Anyhow eventually we got some internet access. However it is very slow and Skype is out of the question. So whilst we are in the Bahamas we will be relying on WiFi connection which I guess will be hard to find.

Today Andrew has been researching buying a new outboard for the dinghy. He has been up to the Mercury dealer twice asking questions and has come back very despondent. He said "they are not the slightest bit interested in selling anything." At one stage he was locked in the sales office alone and just left. If it wasn't so frustrating it would be funny! He will try again tomorrow when he has the energy to do battle.

We will stay in Nassau for the next few days waiting on the right weather to travel south down the Exuma chain. There is a bit of a blow coming and so we will wait for that to pass so we can travel slowly and stop off in all the lovely spots along the way.

Love Candy xx

At 1:00 PM17/12/2012 (utc) our position was 25°01.48'N 077°32.94'W

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Monday, 10 December 2012

No 41 Fort Lauderdale

Hi from Clare,                                  Sunday 9th December 2012

So now we are ready to leave America. Like most of our cruising buddies we are looking forward to spending less money. Just about every cruiser we sailed the Atlantic with has postponed boat repairs until reaching America. The advantage is that we speak the same language and customer service and product quality is assured. So for Eye Candy, new sails, boom bag, dinghy, life lines, anchor chain, clears in the dodger, canvas repairs, toilet seats and of course our own wine label - see photo.

Our very own Label and the Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Cruising Club gang we had lunch with
Karyn, Steve and Clare are together in the back

We have spent the last week in Fort Lauderdale with American friends Karen and Steve who ran us around shopping for boat bits and supplies. By using their membership card we shopped at the discount store Costco which is the most amazing shop. They sell to hotels and restaurant and so the quality of meat, fish and fresh produce is excellent. The only trap is bulk sales, pity we don't have a freezer. However we happily bought bulk canned products. I spent $850 there and at least that much again in the supermarkets for items I didn't want in bulk. Then the fun began, I managed to find places for everything except a slab (36 cans) of Coke Zero. It is sitting under the kitchen table and for the moment it's making a nice foot rest. I updated my inventory list on the Ipad - if it crashes I will be at a total loss as I have things crammed in every available space.

The entertainment in our anchorage at Lake Sylvia, Ft Lauderdale

Why bother you might ask? Well supplies in the Bahamas are scarce. Many islands have no or very little shopping. There are good supermarkets in Nassau and George Town in the Bahamas and at Marsh Harbour in the Abacos however these destinations are far apart. What I have read about Cuba and heard from the cruising community is food shopping is limited and very expensive for the tourist; often four times the normal price. Some items like toilet paper you just can't buy. Anyhow we are now prepared and I understand the expression "shop till you drop."

Although we worked hard, life was made easy thanks to Steve and Karen's hospitality and generosity. We popped in and out of their home nearly every day for hair washing or clothes washing, trips to ship chandlers, hardware stores and speciality shops. We had dinner on Eye Candy one night so they could enjoy bobbing about on the water while their yacht 'Threshold' awaits them in Turkey. However, we spent many more enjoyable hours chatting over a coffee or a cold drink on their balcony. We were so welcome in their home it was actually sad to depart and leave the friendship behind. Thinking about it now, we have so much food on the boat we could have brought them with us :.

So we are now in Miami. Last time we were here in 2004 I was robbed so we are being doubly cautious. Yesterday we walked through the local mall and down to the beach. Miami is a happening place and the shops stretch for miles; I can't believe how many shops. The thing that struck me was the amount of shops selling the same products. If two thirds of the shops disappeared, the selection would not be reduced e.g. there are a multiples of sunglasses shops, camera shops, electronics shops etc and I saw three Starbucks Coffee shops in the same street. People are buying and the restaurants are busy. I looked at what people were eating and the food was expensive and very ordinary. The wine was flowing freely, the three Starbucks were packed and the ice cream parlours were doing a roaring trade. One woman who walked passed us was on the phone saying "the outfit cost $2,500 so I ordered it." When considering the news reports about how much debt the country has, the whole scene is frightening.

Miami beach scene

We are now enjoying gorgeous weather. Lovely sunny days in the high twenties and warm nights sleeping under one light blanket with the hatches open and plenty of air flowing through the boat. We are back in shorts and T-shirts and the water temperature is 24 degrees. The sea water is clean and Andrew has started up the Water-maker. There was a slight leak and a drop in output so Andrew spent a few hours yesterday crunched up in small inaccessible places to remove the Clark pump and replace four O-rings. I think he thought the job was a lot easier eight years ago when he first installed the Water-maker.

I think we will be leaving tomorrow afternoon for the Bahamas. We have to go 40 miles east across the Gulf Stream with the current traveling north. We will do an overnight passage and basically land in the Bahamas wherever the current takes us. Our plan is to make landfall at Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands, so we will see how we go. There are many other cruisers anchored in the Miami area all waiting for that elusive window to make the crossing so we won't be alone out there.

Love Candy xx

At 11:53 PM8/12/2012 (utc) our position was 25°47.23'N 080°08.80'W

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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

No 40 Thanksgiving

Hi from Clare,                                Monday, 3rd December 2012

We experienced our first Thanksgiving lunch with the cruising community at Vero Beach Florida. The food was plentiful and delicious and as one lady commented when viewing our combined efforts, "It's a pity we can't cook?" We ate out on the verandah in lovely sunshine enjoying good company and music provided by a two piece jazz band. Eye Candy won two door prizes, Andrew won a $20 gift voucher from the fresh fish market and I won a Harmonica. Our American friend Prue on "Exuberant" found it quite amusing that I would go to a Thanksgiving lunch and come away with a Harmonica. She is expecting a recital when next we meet. So we went to the music shop the following day and bought a beginners book. So far I can play a few basic tunes and there's a chance I will drive Andrew crazy. Oh well, I figure it's payback time for the constant racket of the ship's radio.

The Thanksgiving Feast

The prize winners and Breakfast with Prue and Burt
Vero Beach has been nicked named Velcro Beach as it is very hard to pull yourself away. The marina people are very friendly, the facilities are excellent. The anchorage is calm and a free bus runs hourly into town for shopping. It's a very comfortable existence and it would be very easy to stay.

We took our dinghy up the river with Prue and Bert and experienced an American breakfast in a quaint sea side restaurant. Blueberry pancakes, maple syrup, French raisin toast and bacon and eggs isn't something I could eat every morning, but it was a fun outing.
We tore ourselves away from Vero Beach mid afternoon Friday and traveled 20 miles along the ICW to West Palm Beach. From here we could either go outside and sail down the coast to Fort Lauderdale or we could take a shorter route and motor to Fort Lauderdale via the ICW. After two nights of waiting in vain for the strong wind to drop we decided to take the ICW route. This meant negotiating 23 low bridge openings along the forty miles to travel. The bridge openings are either on the hour and half hour, or on the quarter hour and three quarter hour. So as you can imagine we couldn't afford to miss too many openings or we would not make the distance.

 In the early hours of Sunday morning four boats including Eye Candy left the West Palm Beach anchorage for the first bridge. It didn't take long before we realized there wasn't a mathamatician amongst the other boats and so Andrew took the lead calculating the distance and speed required to catch the next opening. After a few bridges the others would call Andrew on the radio asking "Do you think we can catch the next bridge, what speed do we have to do?" We decided to let a couple of openings go as the speed required was 7.2 knots and we had some smaller boats with us. So we would sit at a bridge for 25 minutes waiting; time to relax and enjoy a bite to eat and a coffee.

We arrived into Fort Lauderdale around dark. We are anchored in Lake Sylvia which is a man made bay about the size of a football field and surrounded by up market waterfront homes. There are several canals running off from this lake where there are more beautiful homes with expensive power boats parked alongside. Our friends Steve and Karen on 'Threshold" live close by in one such canal. We first met Steve and Karen in Sardinia, and they are home at present having left "Threshold" in Turkey for the winter.
Steve and Karen have been wonderful making their home available to us, running us all over town for supplies and provisioning in preparation for our trip to the Bahamas and Cuba. Today is the first time I have had some spare time to write this newsletter. I still have provisions to store but Andrew and Steve have gone off hunting for some tools, so I have seized the moment.
We have also been very busy socializing. We had dinner at Steve and Karen's home the other night and met up with Ron and Sue on "Gemini". We have been in contact with "Gemini"via the radio in Europe but never actually met. So when they arrived for dinner Sue put her hand up to her mouth as if holding a microphone and said "Eye Candy, Eye Candy this is Gemini, Gemini" it was just like old times, she sounded exactly the same.
The following day Karen organised lunch at a local restaurant so we could meet a dozen of their cruising friends. They were all long time cruisers, some had circumnavigated the world and others had done it twice. We talked cruising non stop until we were the only ones left in the restaurant. Fortunately Steve and Karen are well known there and so the staff just left us alone and worked around us cleaning up. We all agreed cruising is terrific and there is no need to stop.

Yesterday we walked to a park along the waterfront where local families gather in great numbers for a picnic lunch and a free jazz concert. It was a lovely sunny day and the place was packed. Steve commented that after twelve years of living locally but cruising extensively he comes to local events like this and doesn't know a soul. But we had only been there for fifteen minutes and he ran into someone he used to work with when he was a pilot, so that blew that theory. But not to be out done, we even ran into someone we knew; a fellow cruiser of course but nevertheless , we knew them.

I think we will be here for another week. We are waiting for the wind to drop so we can cross the Gulfstream and head for the Bahamas. At present the forecast is suggesting that our first opportunity is around the 11th. Still if we are caught here in a holding pattern, this is a pretty good place.

Love Candy xx

At 6:54 PM3/12/2012 (utc) our position was 26°06.30'N 080°06.67'W

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Thursday, 22 November 2012

No 39 Vero Beach, Florida

Hi from Clare,                              Wednesday 21st November 2012
We spent few days in St Augustine catching up with local residents Pete and Kourtney on 'Norna'. St Augustine has an Old Town and a Colonial Spanish Quarter dating back to 1740 and a well preserved fort Castillo De San Marcos which was built in 1672. The night we arrived we met Pete and Kourtney and walked around the fort and through the old town before settling in a bar for a few drinks, a chat and enjoying some local live music.
For the duration of our stay, the weather was overcast, windy and wet. Pete drove us around and showed us the sights through steamy car windows, took us food shopping and looked after us very well. We visited 'Norna' on the hard where Pete was redecking the aft cabin and repairing the copper sheathing. 'Norna" is in the same yard as 'Tactical Directions', an Aussie cat that we have cruised with last season. Tony returned to 'TD' today to prepare for the coming season.
A bit of 3M 5200 and hey presto, new boots & resplicing the anchor rope to the new anchor chain
We bought a new anchor chain and with the benefit of local knowledge we traded in our old chain for a dollar a foot. What a pleasant surprise as we considered the chain to be of no value. But the second hand dealer assured us that the chain had another life. Andrew said "yes, but not on my boat".
We stayed on one of the marina's sixty mooring balls. It was a pretty wild experience for at times we had strong current and wind coming from different directions. All the boats were charging around on their mooring balls. Taking the dinghy ashore was not for the faint hearted either. How embarrassing would it be to be run over by a boat on a mooring ball? Anyhow once ashore the reward was the use of the marina's laundry and bathrooms; lovely facilities and plenty of hot water.
We went out for dinner the final night with Pete and Kourtney to say goodbye and thanks. It was just a bit disappointing that the rain stopped us from seeing St Augustine at its best.

We are now at Vero Beach after traveling down the ICW for three days. This week the weather has been rough at sea. Many of our cruising friends are stuck up north still waiting for an opportunity to come south; and freezing to death in the process. Fortunately for us we are far enough south that we can use the ICW. It is frighteningly shallow in places and at times very boring motoring along a narrow channel but we are grateful to be moving south and seeing sunshine. As the weather got warmer we noticed that just about every house along the ICW has a huge fly screen construction attached. One place had the entire property under cover; we guess the bugs must be bad on the water.
Insect screens abound
Vero Beach is in Florida and although the weather in windy we are enjoying glorious sunshine. We are on a City Marina mooring ball alongside good friends Prue and Bert on 'Exuberant'. We had drinks together when we arrived on Monday and last night there were nine of us on Exuberant for a very enjoyable evening.
Rafted with Exuberant and Clare and Prue on Exuberant

It's a short dinghy ride ashore, we have access to laundry and showers and a free bus to town where there is terrific every day shopping (Supermarket & West Marine). Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the cruisers have a pot luck lunch. CLOD (Cruisers living on dirt) supplies the turkeys and hams and the cruisers bring everything else. It will be interesting to share in an American Thanksgiving. It should be a good roll up as there are thirty boats on mooring balls plus others in the marina. The boats are mostly American and Canadian. We are the only ones with funny accents.

We will probably leave here on Friday or Saturday and head for Fort Pierce on our way to Fort Lauderdale. We have enough time to do some sightseeing along the way. We will head for the Bahamas before our Visas run out on 12th December.

Love Candy xx

At 1:56 AM17/11/2012 (utc) our position was 29°00.94'N 080°54.76'W

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

No 38 Cumberland Is

Hi from Clare, Monday 12th November, 2012

We left the small township of Oriental last Wednesday and motored 20 miles along the ICW to Beaufort. Thursday morning we exited the ICW (IcyW) at Beaufort and took to sea to travel south and into warmer weather as fast as possible.

All importand Dinghy dock & Live Oak forest and a tourist

Our first day was a lively sail with a 15-20 knots breeze just forward of the beam. We sailed 170 miles in 24 hours which is a new daily record for Eye Candy. Andrew keeps reminding me she is only a piece of fibreglass but to my mind Eye Candy has taken on a personality and she was happy to be out as sea and running as fast as she could to get away from the cold. On the second night the wind dropped out and we motored on a flat smooth sea in lake like conditions. The moon was only a slither but the night was well lit as millions of stars which caused star beams on the dark shiny water; what a treat to see! The following morning the wind increased and we had a perfect sail with a polled out jib and 10 knots of warm breeze on our stern. By this time we had found the sun and so off came all the heavy clothes and out came the T-shits, hurray and halleluiah baby.

Relicks of the past - wild horses and "Dungeness" Mansion

So now we are in the state of Georgia visiting Cumberland Island which is protected and preserved by the National Parks Service. In the late 1800s, the Guilded Age, the island was 90% owned by the Carnegie Family. Thomas and Lucy Carnegie built the mansion "Dungeness" and a number of other mansions on the island for their extended family. Yesterday we went ashore to explore the ruins and visit the museum. Clearly the Carnegie's had a very lavish lifestyle. Dungeness was a huge mansion with 200 servants in attendance. The museum shows photos of large functions on the veranda of "Dungeness" and boasts of extravagant parties and champagne flowing freely. There was also a photo of their 112 foot schooner tied alongside their wharf and in the early 1900s Lucy Carnegie was the first female to be admitted as a member of the NYYC - no wonder they wouldn't let us in! Oh well, back to reality we also enjoyed a welcomed walk through a beautiful live oak forest to the beach on the other side of the island. There are wild horses on the island and although one of our friends saw them galloping along the beach (which was quite a beautiful sight) we found only a small group looking rather forlorn.
The Ice House Museum

Today we are having a quiet day on the boat. Andrew is repairing our sea boots as the soft foam between the bottom of the boot and the sole has disintegrated. Just when we needed them the most they started to fall apart and left foam everywhere we walked. So we got rid of all the foam and Andrew ran masking tape around the sole and pumped sikkaflex into the gap. At the moment they are drying so I will let you know later if the idea works. I hope it does as the boots cost over $500 a pair, so we are not ready to let go of them yet.

We will probably leave tomorrow night when the wind and tides are right for exiting here and entering St Augustine some 50 miles south. We will spend a few days there and catch up with Pete and Kourtney on 'Norna'. St Augustine is their home town and they left us in the Bahamas last June and returned to land and work. They are looking forward to the seeing the mob as we all travel back down the coast past their home town.

love Candy xx

At 2:01 PM12/11/2012 (utc) our position was 30°45.77'N 081°28.36'W

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

No 37 Sandy and the ICW

Hi from Clare,                                                          Monday 5th November 2012

Hurricane Sandy wasn't a problem for us as it turned out apart from constant rain and a seven foot tide (4 foot surge). We couldn't hear the wind as we were tucked in behind high rise buildings and had all our halyards down. In fact the boat hardly moved and we slept peacefully each night. The biggest problem was condensation inside the boat. We had globules of water hanging from the ceiling and running off the windows. Our gas room heater kept us warm but it probably added to the problem as ventilation was difficult with the rain. So that was our first Hurricane experience, and we consider ourselves lucky. On Wednesday we put the boat back together again and unravelled our rope knitting which had kept Eye Candy secure throughout the "Frankenstorm".

The dock goes 4 ft. underwater and the flooded dinghy

Thursday we left Portsmouth and motored a short distance to Great Bridge where we spent the day shopping, refilling gas tanks and doing the laundry. Since Friday morning we have spent each day travelling south along the Intercostal Waterways (ICW) post haste in the hope of finding warmer weather. We have never been this cold on the boat before however it could be worse, we heard from our cruising buddies this morning in Washington DC and they have frost on their deck. The wind is bitter and we fully understand why a great number of local boats have clears enclosing the cockpit. When travelling we are rugged up with multiple layers of clothing. I even have my hot water bottle with me in the cockpit. The ICW is very shallow and the boats follow a dredged canal which is quite narrow. This means we can't use the auto pilot as the boat wanders enough to put us aground. Poor Andrew stands at the wheel in full blast of the freezing wind ensuring we stay on track. I give him a break from time to time but the margin for error is so small he really can't relax. So he returns to the helm and the cold wind causes his eyes to water and leaves salt stains on his cheeks - not on the brochure you might say, but then again who would be silly enough to print such a brochure?

Rugged up for the drive south and the ICW scenery

We are now anchored off the township of Oriental which is just north of Beaufort North Carolina. It is a small and friendly town. We needed to go to the hardware store which is situated a mile or so out of town. The owner of the marine shop in town lent us each a bicycle (one with a little cart attached) so we could peddle out and make our purchases. This is the first time in fifty odd years I have used a bicycle. The lady in the marine shop was a little concerned for our safety as she recently fell from a bike suffering 37 stitches to her leg. She suggested we use the back streets and came outside with us to ensure we knew how to operate the foot brakes. I was a bit wobbly at first but I got better as I went along. However the lady from the marine shop watched me peddle off down the side street and I don't think I did much to allay her fears for our safety as she yelled after me "you have to be on the right side of the road" - Oops!

Tuesday 6th November
Today is Election Day for the American people. We have been asking our American friends who they hope will win the Election. They haven't actually said who they hope will win and why but rather who they hope doesn't win and why. It was suggested we should attend The Bean coffee shop here this morning (where the cruisers hang out) as this morning should produce some lively political discussion. However the results won't be known until late today, so perhaps tomorrow morning will be more interesting.
We went out for dinner last night with Bob a solo sailor who we meet in Portsmouth. He came into the anchorage yesterday afternoon and as he gets fed up with eating alone we rugged up and went with him. It was a long walk to the restaurant in very chilly conditions. Tonight we are having Glenys and Neville on "Elba" over for dinner on Eye Candy; this sounds like a better plan.

We will leave here tomorrow and head 20 miles to Beaufort. From there we will check the weather and decide whether to venture out to sea or continue our journey south via the ICW.
I just checked the temperature outside. It is 11am and 9 degrees, a far cry from the 30 plus degrees we had in the Med.
Love Candy xx

At 7:13 PM7/11/2012 (utc) our position was 34°42.85'N 076°39.83'W

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

No 36 Portsmouth Virginia

Hi from Clare,                                                      Saturday 27th October 2012

After leaving Washington DC we made our way to Portsmouth Virginia where we will stay until Hurricane Sandy passes over or blows through you might say.

On our way here we stopped off at St Mary's which was the original Capital city of Maryland's founded in the early 1600's. The site is being developed by using original bricks to re establish the government buildings. Timber homes and business are being rebuilt on the original foundations and great care is being taken to replicate the layout and structure of the city. It is located in a very pretty bay surrounded by trees ablaze with autumn colours.


Old St Mary's buildings rebuilt on site

We then called in at Kilmarnock, Virginia to see an American couple John and Jeannie who we met on the beach at Conception Island in the Bahamas in May this year. At the time they gave us their card and suggested we call in to see them when coming back down the coast. Once again we were treated to wonderfully generous American hospitality with evening cocktails and dinner at their favorite Thai restaurant. As you can see in the photos their home is situated on a lovely peaceful river with a dock at the bottom of their garden. What a wonderful set up, if only this was available in Australia; it's like a dream come true. We had a wonderful evening catching up and it all ended too soon.

Kilmarnock dock views

So after out peaceful break in idyllic surroundings we are now sitting in Portsmouth Virginia in the rain. As you can by the photos, we have prepared for Hurricane Sandy we think.
We have additional lines going in all directions to hold the boat in place as the wind clocks from N/E to North and then West. Tidal surge is probably our biggest concern as the poles we are tired to will be under water when the expected seven foot surge occurs. We have brought the sails inside, removed all the canvas and this morning we took the solar panels below. We have our old blue dodger up for some protection from the rain. At present it is very grey and still. The wind will start building tomorrow Sunday with the worst of it around Tuesday. We don't really know what to expect but I guess we are about to find out. One good thing we are not out at anchor and we feel quite safe here.

Eye Candy's tieup - these poles will go underwater in the storm surge

Last time we were in July we experienced a heat wave with temperatures in excess of 40 degrees every day. We became quite friendly with Bob the owner of Mile Marker "O" Marine Supplies as we sought relief in his air conditioned shop. Bob has been most helpful again this trip as we have used his marine shop as our mailing address whilst in America. It was like Christmas when we arrived and his bench is still packed with parcels for the English boats we have been traveling with and will arrive shortly.

More insurance photos and chatting with the neighbours

One of our cruising friends John on ‘Moon Shadow’ is in a Marina just ten minutes walk away. He and Andrew have been running back and forwards between boats conferring on the weather and sharing a few rums to steady their nerves. We had dinner out the other night with a Swiss couple Gerry and Claudia and a single hander Bob who have now moved on to the shallow waters of the Dismal Swamp. I went shopping the other day to buy a new saucepan but got led astray by the sales and returned with some new clothes; a much better idea.

Well that’s anyone’s guess. At this stage we think we will be here until Friday and more importantly we hope we will be here on Friday and still floating.

Love Candy xx oo

At 10:14 PM27/10/2012 (utc) our position was 36°50.12'N 076°17.79'W

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