A Year Off the Beaten Path by Christine

The year we decided to stray off the beaten path and sail the Bahamas, as a family, will forever stand out as an incredible year in our memories.

fam done really

When we were mulling over the thought of taking a trip, we had several wise sailors tell us, cruising would teach our kids more than we could imagine and that the boys were at the perfect age to go now.  We were at a point in our lives where we were ready to change careers, so we took the first step by making the commitment, and eight months later we were gone.

There is no way to sum up what spending a year teaching your kids and sharing the experience together as a family was like.  How much we learned throughout the year, and the caliber of people we met, was far beyond what we could have possibly imagined.

We worked hard to make it happen, but we also received a river of support from so many people.  We often said that the planets were aligning for us to go now.  Whenever we needed help or encouragement, someone was there for us.

Now that our year is over, we look back at all the experiences we had and can hardly believe we accomplished so much.  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Yes, and we will all be forever changed by the journey.

The opportunity to spend a year with our kids was priceless, and homeschooling is something every parent should be able to experience.  Half the time they were getting an education and didn’t even know it.  There is an opportunity to school your kids at every moment of the day.  It is up to the parent as to how far to take it and how in-depth they want to teach.  Those of you that have been following the blog this past year know how Logan and Cole have learned about engines, weather, charting, knots, navigation, engineering, snorkeling, fishing, nature and history, all in a classroom where every day was a field trip.

“How will the kids adjust to ‘normal life’ and going back into a school again?” is a question many people ask.  They have experienced so many different situations this last year and moved fluidly through it all that returning has been easy.

Even after a night of sleeping in the cockpit on a rough crossing, the kids obviously adjust just fine.

Even after a night of sleeping in the cockpit on a rough crossing, the kids obviously adjusted just fine.

Field trip exploring a plane wreck.

Field trip exploring a sunken plane wreck.

Reef exploration field trip.

Reef exploration.

Learning and they do not even know it.

Learning and they do not even know it.

Cole PE class.

Cole in PE class.

PE class.

Team sports.

The only reason I would not do it again is that there are too many other adventures to be had!  There are places to see and things to do that I am not even aware of yet.  The wider path I travel, the more open my view of the world becomes.

Most kids do not learn about engines until shop class in high school or at a tech college.

Can kids get their schoolwork done while a lizard is crawling across their paper?  Absolutely.

Can kids get their schoolwork done while a lizard is crawling across their paper? Absolutely.

Weather kept us anchored in Black Point for a week so the boys went to the local school.

Weather kept us anchored in Black Point for a week so the boys went to the local school.

Did the kids miss their friends and family?  Sure they did but we did our best to keep in touch with everybody via email and Skype so the boys still felt connected.

Were holidays the same?  Definitely not, but we still had them, we were all together and we will never forget them.

Were holidays the same? No, nor did we expect or want them to be.   We still celebrated the holidays, we were all together and we will never forget them.

Our favorite activities were snorkeling and spending time on the islands and beaches.  As part of my closing, I want to share a few of those photos with you.

One of the many beautiful snorkeling trips.

One of the many beautiful snorkeling trips.

One of the many beautiful beaches we were on.

Beaches abound in the Bahamas.

Cole gathering coconuts for a snack.

Cole gathering coconuts for a snack.

Logan spearing lobster for supper.

Logan spearing lobster for supper.

Another question people ask or comment they make is, “How much did the year cost?  I don’t have enough money to take a year off.  My employer won’t give me the time off”.   How much it costs varies considerably with the level of comfort you want and your expectations.  We adjusted our wants and needs many times until it met our budget.  We decided to do with less and do without.  You have to get creative with money, insurance, etc.  You have to want to make it happen and diligently work towards that goal.  The more you look into finances and the more creative you get, you will find options that you never knew existed.  As for getting a year off from your job, we quit ours knowing we wanted to do something different when we returned.  Opportunities and doors may open to you on a trip like this that you would never have known existed.

The learning curve on this trip was steep but it was doable.  We all put in lots of hard work and planning and things just kept moving along and working out for us.  As you followers know, there were so many instances where things just worked out for us.  ‘Whatever happens was meant to be’ became our motto.  There were several times when what we needed just came our way.  Literally.  Some of these moments gave me goosebumps when I realized what the odds were of the situation working out.

Farewell Truansea!

Farewell Truansea!  Thank you for a year to remember.

Fair winds and farewell everyone!

Fair winds and farewell everyone!

Sailing into the sunset.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Sailing into the sunset. Who knows what the next adventure will be?

What an experience this past year has been…  I have always loved trying new things, traveling to different places and pushing the ‘normal’ envelope.  Even though I spent a good deal of time preparing for this trip, I was pushed to my physical and mental limits a number of times.  Nothing makes you feel more alive than surviving what I call a throw-up scary night in the ocean.  There were a few times when I wished I could push the easy button, but I knew when we set off on this trip that there is no easy button on a sailboat.  I experienced a wide range of emotions throughout the journey from serenity to sadness,  happy to miserable, and from elated to melancholy, sometimes all in the span of one day.  Mother Nature dishes out a lot and garners a whole new level of respect when you are living on a boat!

Thanks to all of you for following along and for your support.  Your comments, emails and messages meant a great deal to me.  The support I received from all of you meant more than you know.  I did not always get the time to reply and sometimes did not have internet access for long periods of time but when I did get the messages, I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Fair winds and farewell,

Christine

Couch Cruising by Christine

We have been incredibly fortunate in meeting a number of fantastic cruising friends during our travels and decided that since we still have a month left in our journey it would be the perfect opportunity to work our way up the coast seeing new sights and meeting old friends along the way.  None of us have been up the east coast so we were looking forward to taking in the history and sights.

Being back on land has its challenges and negotiating the rental car system was our first challenge.  We need to get from Lancaster, VA to Fort Lauderdale and could rent a car for a decent daily price, but when I clicked the reserve button, the total price was about $600 higher than it should have been.  In looking at the details, they were going to charge a $600 fee for dropping it off in a different state than we reserved it in.  After a little bit of on-line research, I found we could rent a car airport to airport without the drop off fee.  No problem except that we are 2 hours from the closest airport in Richmond.  What I ended up doing was renting a car from the nearest town (Lancaster) to Richmond, and then renting another car from Richmond to Fort Lauderdale.

After playing the rental car shuffle, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and went to the storage unit to pick up our vehicle, which was covered in pine needles.  Mark hooked up the battery and it faithfully started right up.  We transferred everything from the rental car into our car, dropped the rental off at the airport, ran a few errands and headed to our friend’s house, Lee & Tina’s, by supper time.  Ross and Astrid had been on their boat in Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend and they met us at Lee & Tina’s for a reunion supper.  What a fantastic evening.

Ross, Astrid, Lee and Tina are two couples that helped make this trip possible.  Thank you!  We couldn't have done it without you.

Ross, Astrid, Lee and Tina are two couples that helped us prepare for the trip. Thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Ross and Astrid’s house was our home base for the next few days.  We love staying with them and were looking forward to relaxing at our home away from home.  When the boys took their bags upstairs, they lay down on the carpet and were talking about how luxurious and soft it felt.  Carpet was something I have taken for granted my whole life.

The following day we ran a few more errands in Fort Lauderdale and dropped some things off at Sailorman to sell on consignment.

Sailorman is a great place to leave gear on consignment.

Sailorman is a great place to leave gear on consignment.

That evening we had arranged to get together with our friends at Riviera where we lived on our boat for a couple months while getting ready for the trip.  It was so good to see everyone again and share a potluck like we had done so many times with them while we lived there.

The dock we stayed at had caved in during a heavy rain a few weeks earlier.

The dock we stayed at had caved in during a heavy rain a few weeks earlier.

We had originally planned on returning to Riviera after the Bahamas but took the cave in as a sign that we had made the right decision in going up the ICW.  We had such a fun evening that I forgot to take a group picture, but I did get a picture of some of the girls enjoying the evening.

Good to see you again Riviera gang.  Looking forward to you all visiting us in Idaho!

Good to see you again Riviera gang. Looking forward to you all visiting us in Idaho!

While Astrid and Ross worked during the day, we went out to play.  We went to a nature preserve and learned more about the flora and fauna of Florida. walk in florida

Another day we went to a dolphin center. dolphin

Florida's trash is turned into a mountain and they also make energy out of it.  Check it out.  http://monarchhill.wm.com

Florida’s trash is turned into a mountain and they also make energy out of it. Check it out. http://monarchhill.wm.com

The trash turned into a hill in the background.  It is the only elevation in the area!

The trash turned into a hill in the background. It is the only elevation in the area!

One of the evenings at their house, we all went to another friend’s for dinner and had a surprise birthday cake for Cole.  His birthday was coming up in a few days, but we wanted to celebrate with our Florida friends too.

Cole's first birthday party-toasting cake with Logan and Ross.

Cole’s birthday party-toasting cake with Logan and Ross.

We enjoyed some down time at their house, spent time planning the next couple stops on our journey, relaxed in their pool, reveled in cooking in a house kitchen again.

Another fantastic dinner with the Hunton's.

Another fantastic dinner with the Hunton’s on their porch

It was hard to say goodbye, but it was time for us to move on to catch our next cruising friends.

Ross and Astrid, thank you for all your support.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Ross and Astrid, thank you for all your support. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Next stop, Georgia for the cruiser family reunion.  Truansea, Southern Bound and Eleon were the kid boats and we had spent a few months together in the Bahamas.  The boys were so excited to see everyone again that they counted down the miles for what seemed like a hundred miles.  When we arrived, the kids instantly took off together in a pack.  What did they enjoy doing together?  Water activities of course.  We swam in their pool, went to the river to swim and went to a local waterpark.

Logan, Cole and Nick in the O'Sheill's pool.

Nick, Logan, and Cole in the O’Sheill’s pool.

It was extremely hard to get everyone to hold still for a picture.

It was extremely hard to get everyone to stop for a picture at the local swimming hole in the river.  They were having too much fun and did not want to be bothered to hold still!

Logan, John, Nick and Cole being silly.

Logan, John, Nick and Cole being silly.

We also enjoyed time just hanging out.  The kids did not really want to go anywhere; they just wanted to spend time together.  It was Cole’s birthday while we were there so, of course, we had a party.

Cole's birthday card from Eleon.

Cole’s birthday card from Eleon.

Cole's birthday party in Georgia.

Cole’s birthday party in Georgia.

Being silly at Cole's party.

Everyone being silly at Cole’s party.

Mark, Candi and Chip relaxing on Southern Bound's porch.

Mark, Candi and Chip relaxing on Southern Bound’s porch.

It came time to say goodbye to our friends, again.  We’re looking forward to the next time we see each other.

The cruising families all together.

The cruising families all together.

We all seem to have a hard time controlling ourselves.  I wonder if we’re ever going to get along in normal society again?

We all seem to have a hard time controlling ourselves. I wonder if we’re ever going to get along in normal society again?

Next stop, Charleston, SC to see Moonshadow.

It is so good to see you again Laurie!

It is so good to see you again Laurie!

Rob belongs to a rowing team so he took us out in one of the boats and we rowed across the bay for dinner.

Rob, Logan, Christine, Cole and Laurie ready to row.

Rob, Logan, Cole, Christine and Laurie ready to row.

Aren't they the most beautiful couple?  I am so jealous of their hair.  Vanessa & Paul Brown who we met at the restaurant we rowed over to.

Aren’t they the most beautiful couple? I am so jealous of their hair. Vanessa & Paul Brown who we met at the restaurant we rowed over to.

After dinner we returned to Moonshadow for a game of Gulf with the masters who taught it to us.  The next day we decided to do something non-nautical and went bowling.

Truansea bowling with Moonshadow.

Truansea bowling with Moonshadow.  Yes, we had to wear socks and shoes.

When are you coming to Idaho Laurie?

Bowling babes!

Next evening, on to Mark’s cousin Lori and Steve’s in Charlotte, NC.  We had a fantastic southern BBQ meal at their house and enjoyed a quiet evening together catching up while the kids played Lego’s, Nerf guns and listened to Jake play guitar.  It was fun to hear stories about when Lori and Mark were kids.

Jake and Ashley (second cousins) building Legos with Logan and Cole.

Jake and Ashley (second cousins) building Lego’s with Logan and Cole.

Mark had not seen his cousin Lori for about 20 years.

Mark had not seen his cousin Lori for about 20 years.

Next on to Ruckersville, Virginia to John and Marty’s house (the new owners of Truansea).  We drove part of the way along the beautiful Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail.

View from the Appalachian Trail.

We have heard so much about their home in the country, neighborhood friends, the band and everything there is to do at ‘Camp Whitlow’ that we could not wait to get there.  We pulled up in their driveway and were greeted by Marty’s smiling face waiting for us on the front porch.

The first day we headed off to Monticello, the home of our third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Us in front of Monticello.  What a day, packed with a months worth of home schooling history for the boys.

Us in front of Monticello. What a day, packed with a months worth of home schooling history for the boys.

That evening John took the boys fishing.  Fish was caught by all, but Logan caught ‘the big one’ and has the picture to prove it.

Logan and John with 'The Big One'.

Logan and John with ‘The Big One’.

Marty fishing with the boys at the Whitlow Pond.

Marty fishing with the boys at the Whitlow’s Pond.

Cole with a bass he caught.

Cole with a bass he caught.

Marty took our boys and the neighbor girl, Maggie, down to another neighbors house swimming the next day where they were met by a few more kids.  After swimming and supper, all the kids rejoined at yet another neighbors house for an evening of flashlight tag.  All we could hear was the sounds of running feet and kids voices in the night.

That evening, John and Marty had arranged a dinner at their house and our very own private concert by Scuffletown.

Friends...

Friends with Marty and John.

John playing accordion with the band.  You're never heard the accordion like John plays it.  Incredible!

John playing accordion with the band. You’re never heard the accordion like John plays it. Incredible!

Logan, Cole and Maggie enjoying the concert.

Logan, Cole and Maggie enjoying the concert in the foreground.

John is playing his harmonica in the following video.

John is playing his accordion in this video.

This is one of the boys favorite songs which John wrote and sings in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya4C7ZKSF60&feature=youtu.be 2223 scuffletown song

The song Scuffletown.

The next evening was another group meal at their house with Marty’s sister.  After that we went to yet another neighbors house where one of the kids made balloon creations for everyone, even the adults.  Thanks for the Unicorn Zac!

All the neighbor kids with their balloon creations by Zac.

All the neighbor kids with their balloon creations by Zac.

Marty and Mark enjoying the evening at the neighbors.

Marty and Mark enjoying the evening at the neighbors.

Have you ever tried pickled eggs?  They are quite popular in the south.  Love them!

Have you ever tried pickled eggs? They are quite popular in the south. Love them!  These were pickled in a beet juice.

Mary, Christine, John, Cole and Logan on the front porch at Camp Whitlow.

Mary, Christine, John, Cole and Logan on the front porch at Camp Whitlow.

We reluctantly left Camp Whitlow to see Truansea one last time and get our boat belongings out of storage and put into our vehicle.  We stopped at James Madison’s (4th president) house, Montpelier, on our way.  There seems to be presidential history every 5 miles along the way in Virginia.

Montpellier

Montpellier, the home of James Madison.

Did you know tea used to come in bricks like this?  When you wanted a cup, you would break a piece off and let it brew in your hot water like loose tea.  This is what was dumped in the water at the Boston Tea Party.

Did you know that tea used to be shipped in bricks? When you wanted a cup, you would break a piece off and let it brew in your hot water like loose tea. This is what was dumped in the water at the Boston Tea Party.

We arrived at the marina late morning.  If you look closely inside the car and on the roof rack, we have packed a great deal of gear already.  Do you think it is all going to fit?

Packing the rest of our Truansea gear in our vehicle.

Packing the rest of Truansea gear in our vehicle.

Well, it almost fit.  We shipped 7 boxes of various sizes back to Boise, then we were on our way.  It is truly amazing that you can fit everything you need for a year (minus consumables) in a vehicle.

All our gear (minus 7 boxes) from Truansea fit in our car.

All our gear (minus 7 boxes) from Truansea fit in our car.  I love this shot with our previous ‘home’ for the year behind the car.

The new owners were having a bottom job and a couple other things done on Truansea so she was on the hard.  We said our final goodbye to her and continued on toward Washington DC.

So long Truansea.  Happy voyages for you to come...

So long Truansea. Happy voyages for you to come…

There are a variety of strange sights one sees along the way on a road trip.  This one we just had to take a picture of.

There is a story here to be sure.

There is a story here to be sure.

George Washington’s (1st president) birthplace was along our route so we stopped in.

George Washington's birthplace.  You can see the outline of the foundation of the house which burned down when he was a child.

George Washington’s birthplace. You can see the outline of the foundation of the house which burned down when he was a child.

The house burned down when he was young and the only piece salvaged from the fire that they put in the memorial house for him is this table.

The round table is the only piece of furniture salvaged from his Washington's house he was born in.

The round table is the only piece of furniture salvaged from his Washington’s house he was born in.

Negotiating the DC hotel reservation system proved to be another back-to-land challenge.  What we take for granted as included in most of America’s hotels is not included here.  I had to make sure I was comparing apples to apples in figuring out the best hotel price.  The lowest price hotels did not include parking (extra $45 per day), no continental breakfast, wi-fi was not free and there is no frig in the room.   Access to the Metro (to get to downtown DC) was a long ways away from the less expensive hotels, and no Metro passes were included with the room.  If you included one weekend night in your stay, the price was cheaper and reserving at least 3 days in advance, the price was less.  In the end, we paid more for a room than we wanted but it included free parking, free wi-fi, 2 daily Metro passes and the Metro left from the hotel.

This metro escalator was so steep, it was like a roller coast ride.

This metro escalator was so steep, it was like a roller coast ride.

I had a predetermined vision in my head of what The Smithsonian looked like and thought it was one huge museum that covered a few blocks.  The Smithsonian is actually a bunch of separate museums scattered for blocks around ‘The Mall’.  The National Mall is a threadbare grass area that runs for blocks from the Washington Monument to The White House.

Be prepared to walk – a lot.  Not only do you walk a lot in the museums, but a lot between the museums, the Metro, the hotel room, etc.  Also bring a pack with water bottles and snacks.  There is what I called ‘food truck row’ which you could find just about anything you wanted, but it is a long way from some of the museums.  It was also helpful to be able to stop and take snack breaks whenever we wanted.

Another tip for going to Washington is grocery shop before you get to DC and take a cooler to your room.  We ate breakfast, took our own lunches with us and sometimes made our own supper in the room, which saved a lot.

There was so much to do in DC, we quickly realized we needed to make a priority list.  First on the list were the Air and Space Museum and Museum of Natural History.  The rest was equal to us so our strategy became to see everything we wanted to in each area before moving to the next block.

One day we did take a bus tour to see the monuments.  We could have taken a combination of the underground Metro and Metro buses to get to them but in the interest of efficiency, we took a tour.  The tour bus was not as efficient as we had hoped and it would have been just as fast to use the Metro system to see everything.

What a stark contrast seeing a mounted policeman texting in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The mounted police in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The mounted police in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

It was amazing to see the Lincoln Memorial in person.

It was amazing to see the Lincoln Memorial in person.

The Washington Monument in the background.

The Washington Monument in the background.

There is Idaho on the top row of the Lincoln Memorial building.

There is Idaho on the top row of the Lincoln Memorial building.

The Vietnam wall was very moving.  People pay their respects and leave everything from photos to motorcycles to honor those lost in the war.

The Vietnam wall was very moving. People pay their respects and leave everything from photos to motorcycles to honor those lost in the war.

Remember this from the movie Night at the Museum?  This was in the Natural History Museum where part of the film was made.  We also saw the T-Rex that was in the movie as well as a few other artifacts.

Remember this from the movie Night at the Museum?  “You new Dum-dum.  You give me gum-gum.”  This was in the Natural History Museum where part of the film was made. We also saw the T-Rex that was in the movie as well as a few other artifacts.

I found Lucy fascinating.

I found Lucy fascinating.  She was only 3 foot 7 inches tall.

All of you cruisers have had fun watching the flying fish and some of you have had them land in your cockpits.  I thought you would all enjoy the following exhibit about them. flying fish

The capital.

The capital.

One of the beautiful statues in Washington DC.

One of the beautiful statues in Washington DC.

After a whirlwind three days in DC, we were ready to move on.  Next stop, New York City to see a classmate of mine, which I had not seen in 28 years, since high school.  Getting into NYC was an experience in itself.

New York City in the distance.

New York City in the distance.

One of the tolls going in to NYC.  Take plenty of cash with you.  It seems like it cost us about $35 to get into NYC.

One of the tolls going in to NYC. Take plenty of cash with you. It seems like it cost us about $35 to get into NYC.

Kellie, an old high school classmate, shows me the sweater she found in her chest that I knitted for her our senior year in high school.

Kellie, an old high school classmate, shows me the sweater she found in her chest that I knitted for her our senior year in high school.  I had completely forgotten I made this but it came back to me once I saw it.

Kellie, a Pardeeville HIgh School classmate, me, her youngest son Anthony, Logan and Cole.

Kellie, a Pardeeville HIgh School classmate, me, her youngest son Anthony, Logan and Cole.

Splitting lanes in NYC.

Splitting lanes in NYC.

From NYC we went on to Mystic, Connecticut to stay with cruising friends Ginnie and Ted from s/v Firecracker.  Of course, we shared fantastic meals with them, the boys sharpened their pool playing skills, went sightseeing around Mystic, including seeing Mystic Pizza where part of the 1988 film Mystic Pizza was taken, and Ginnie took us on a tour of the last school she set up before retirement, the Marine Science Magnet High School.  Here is a link to the school which you will find quite impressive. http://www.marinesciencemagnet.org

Cole, Logan and Ginnie in front of the Marine Science Magnet High School of Southeast Connecticut.

Cole, Logan and Ginnie in front of the Marine Science Magnet High School of Southeast Connecticut.  What an accomplishment you made Ginnie in building this school from the ground up!

Simulator in the school where students can earn time towards their captains license.

Simulator in the school where students could earn time towards their captains license.

Every last detail was thoroughly thought through, right down to the lighting that represents a sail.

Every last detail was thoroughly thought through, right down to the lighting that has a nautical look with a modern twist.

One of the school's fish labs.

One of the school’s fish labs with the principal (Dr. Spera) giving us a tour.

The common areas in the school were very welcoming and practical.

The common areas in the school were very welcoming.

This common area had very inviting seats.

This common area had inviting seats.

Another common area had seats on the sides that looked like waves, yet were very comfortable and the round lunch tables foster togetherness.

Another area had seats on the sides that looked like waves, yet were very comfortable and the round lunch tables foster togetherness.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Ginnie and Ted from s/v Firecracker.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Ginnie and Ted from s/v Firecracker.

We could have easily stayed longer.  There was so much to see and do in Mystic but it was time to move on.

Next to Boston, to visit Gayle and Julia from s/v Esprit.  Mark originally met them on his first boat-shopping trip in Florida.  They are the most organized people I have ever met and provided us with so much information as we prepared for our trip.  We had been trying to meet up with them in the Bahamas but kept missing each other.  This was another one of those meant-to-be moments.  We called them to find out where they were at in their travels and our paths were essentially crossing that day.

We finally caught up with Gayle and Julia.

We finally caught up with Gayle and Julia.

Boston's double decker bridge.

Boston’s double decker bridge.

Next to visit more Nordhaven friends, Don and Debbie from Valkyrie at their cabin in Maine on beautiful lake Sebec.  Our friends had a few landscaping projects we were able to help with in exchange for a great stay in Maine. Mark also took the opportunity to change the brakes and rotors on our vehicle which had rusted after so many months of sitting in Florida causing the brakes to pulse.

Don not only let the boys take the dinghy out whenever they wanted, but he also let them drive the Bobcat.

Logan running the Bobcat.

Logan running the Bobcat.

Cole running the Bobcat.

Cole running the Bobcat.

A little R&R after work and play!

A little R&R after work and play!

Logan running the big boat.

Logan running the big boat.

Cole having fun being pulled on the tube.

Cole having fun being pulled on the tube.

Logan on the tube.

Logan on the tube.

Morning on the back deck of the cabin.

Morning on the back deck of the cabin.

Loons on the lake.  I have not heard loons since I was a kid camping in northern Wisconsin.  If you have never heard one, you need to.   It is indescribable.  It ranks right up there with hearing elk bugling and howler monkeys calling.

Common Loons on Lake Sebec. I have not heard loons since I was a kid camping in northern Wisconsin. Their song ranks right up there with the sounds of elk bugling and howler monkeys calling in the jungle.

Cozy cabin.

Cozy cabin.

Logan with Don and Debbie at a falls on a hike.

Logan with Don and Debbie at a falls on a hike.

Big falls Maine.

Waterfall we hiked to in Maine.

Another sight along side a road that wanted to share with you.

I am glad we lived on a boat and not a yellow submarine for a year!

The birch bark paper canoe Mark made is soon to take it's maiden voyage.

Always the boat builder, Mark made a little birchbark canoe soon to take its maiden voyage.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Christine, Don and Debbie.

Logan, Cole, Mark, Christine, Don and Debbie.

Mark thinking about our journey ending soon.

Mark quite sad seeing fall on the way, thinking about our journey ending soon.

Don and Deb - looking forward to seeing you in Idaho!

Don and Deb – looking forward to seeing you in Idaho!

Sailing their Catalina.

Sailing their Catalina.

Deb had everything for rock painting.  The boys left a few painted rocks around camp.

Deb had everything for rock painting. The boys left a few painted rocks around camp.

Maine lobster is quite different from the Bahamas Spiny Lobster.

Maine lobster is quite different from the Bahamas Spiny Lobster.

What a sunset.

What a sunset.

As always, it is hard to say good-bye but time to move on to our next stop – Canada and The Bay of Fundy.  The Bay of Fundi is known for its extreme tides.  While we were here, the tide range was 35 feet.  I would not want to anchor our sailboat here!

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy.

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy.

Just 6 hours later makes such a difference.  High tide on the bay.

Just 6 hours later makes such a difference. High tide on the bay.

There has been a number of covered bridges in the area.  This one lead to our campground.

One of the many covered bridges we have encountered.

One of several covered bridges we have encountered.

Does the tooth fairy visit Canada?  You bet she does, and yes, she leaves loonies.

Cole's tooth he lost in Canada.

Cole’s tooth he lost in Canada.

His tooth was not taken however and the next night Cole left it under his pillow again to see if he could double his money.  He was left with a note written in French.  We still need to find someone to read it for us.  The only word we could figure out was dente.

There is absolutely beautiful hiking here.

Falls in Maine.

Falls in Canada.

We will continue west across from here.  Next stop, Graeme and Laura’s (s/v Sweet Chariot Too).

Fair Driving ~ Christine

Truansea’s New Journey Begins by Christine

In my last post, I wrote “What is in store for Truansea next?  I can’t wait to share that with you, but that is another blog post.  Stay tuned.”  Thank you for staying tuned and now, the reason we ended the boating part of our trip… we sold Truansea.  We passed her on to the new owners and stepped off her for the last time Saturday morning to continue the rest of our trip by land.

Join us in congratulating the new owners, John and Marty!  We are so excited for them to follow their dream and begin their adventure.

So how did they find us?  Marty says she is not a computer wizard but somehow stumbled across our boat on Craigslist.  She called her husband John and in her southern accent said, “Honey, I found our dream boat!”

There have been many, what I call gifts, sent to us along the way on our yearlong adventure and John and Marty are two of them.

The first time we met John and Marty was in Beaufort, North Carolina where they came down to see the boat, spending a couple of days sailing and getting to know her.  Marty was bearing gifts of Virginia t-shirts for the boys, Virginia wine for us, and a gallon of Virginia peanuts (the best peanuts I have ever had).  John brought harmonicas for the boys, and CDs and a fly swatter for the family.  We had so much fun sailing with them, sharing meals and enjoying John’s jam sessions.  Marty and John had read our blog and were full of questions for the boys about cruising, life on a boat, fishing, etc. They already knew a great deal about the boat from the blog.  We had not realized what an important tool the blog was until we were well into our trip.  It was not only great for communicating with friends, family and cruisers but served as a maintenance and trip record for the boat.

John is a talented musician, is incredibly organized with a great sense of humor and is full of nothing but positive comments.  Marty is indescribably generous, and her enthusiasm is absolutely infectious.  She is the kind of person you want to hug when you meet her.

Following are two videos of John playing on our boat.  He plays a mean harmonica, accordion like you have never heard it and flute.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them.  As a parting gift from Beaufort, Marty came bearing packs of the boys favorite candy, Skittles and some candy bars.  It was a real treat, which they savored for days.  We worked out the contract details and would sail Truansea the rest of the way up the ICW and into the Chesapeake to Yankee Point Marina in Virginia for the survey and haul out.

The next time we saw John and Marty was at Yankee Point Marina.  Marty came bearing gifts of Lego’s for the boys and yes, more skittles.

John and Marty at the haul out.

John and Marty at the haul out.

The last time we saw them was on the day of the closing to go through the boat one more time and pass over the sails, so to speak.  John brought us a copy of his first CD and, you guessed it, Marty had more Lego’s and Skittles.  They have made such an impression on the boys not only in the gifts they bring, but in the friendship we have formed with them.

We feel so fortunate to have met them and all feel good about them sailing Truansea.  We all became quite attached to our boat and having her go to some person we did not feel a connection with would have been hard.

Logan taking Marty for a dinghy ride.

Logan taking Marty for a dinghy ride.

One of the questions we had is, “Are they going to change the name of the boat?”  The name Truansea fit  for our adventure, but the name Scuffletime fits their adventure.  I mentioned that John is a talented musician and he is part of a band named Scuttletown.  The CDs he brought the first time we met them was Another Sundown by Scuffletown and Roads by Scuffletown.   Check them out at http://scuffletown.net.  If you are reading this blog, you are the type of person that will love their music. The fly swatter he brought us on the first trip is a genuine Scufflehead fly swatter which was probably the most appropriate gift of all as it whapped a few hundred deer flies going through the Dismal Swamp area.  We played John’s CD’s and whapped flies for hours on end.  We are now die-hard Scuffleheads!

Marty was a kindergarten teacher who touched many people’s lives.  She is the kind of person you would instantly feel good about leaving your kids with.  More recently she has touched many people’s lives with her cancer foundation which she started based on her battle with ovarian cancer.  http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/a-retired-teacher-battling-for-a-cause-larger-than-herself/article_1ff9e5f3-fabb-5924-a222-6f0cf507e2b0.html

https://www.facebook.com/MartyWhitlowOvarianCancerResearchFund/info

John has touched many people’s lives through his music and seminars.http://www.feiaa.org/event_bio.php?event_ID=125&ID=120&speaker=

We feel fortunate to have been brought into their circle.

Fair winds ~ Christine

Mission Accomplished by Christine and Mark

It did not occur to us, until recently, what a monumental goal we accomplished this year.fam done really

The sailors we have met working our way north in the states have given us a new appreciation and sense of pride for what we did.  Many people we met have been working toward their goal of sailing to the Bahamas and they cannot believe we got the boat ready to go and provisioned in 2 months, let alone sailed all the places we did this past year.  It took hearing this from at least 7 sailors we met before we understood what an accomplishment  it was.

Some of these people have been trying to go for years.  One we met has been trying to get to the Bahamas for 8 years.  For some, the weather window never seems to open up or they did not get their provisions and missed weather windows.  For others, boat repairs keep them at the docks.  Some solo sailors decide they need crew but cannot find the right person to go along.  Some want to gain more experience first.  Some run out of money before they cast off.  The list goes on.

The first realization we came to was that boat repairs are never done.  You have to decide what is absolutely necessary, thus stopping the outflow of money and leave.  Second, stuff as many provisions as you can in the boat before you go.  Whatever you forgot or run out of, you will either do without or another cruiser may have brought what you need.  Third, there is rarely a perfect weather window.  Be selective, but also be ready to move when the opportunity presents itself.  If it is too bad, you can turn back and wait a day or week and try again.

Looking back, being at the dock getting ready to go was the hardest part.  Once we cast off, it was much, much easier.  Not only did we make our goal, we set several new goals as we went and were able to make every one of them.  Our original plan was to take a year off with the kids and sail to the Bahamas, with a destination of Georgetown, at the end of the Exuma Islands.  We thought if we made it all the way down there, we would be lucky.

After arriving in George Town, relatively unscathed, we decided next to sail to Elethera, then the Abacos.  With summer approaching, we knew we wanted to be back in Florida where we could hole up if tropical storms or hurricanes threatened.  Many cruisers told us, “You have to do the ICW,” so we continued up the coast in the ICW all the way to its beginning in Norfolk.  After that, we continued north into the Chesapeake Bay, up the Rappehannock River where we are ending our journey on Truansea.  What is in store for Truansea next?  I can’t wait to share that with you, but that is another blog post.  Stay tuned.

The blue track is our road trip.  The red line is our sailing track.

The blue track is our road trip. The red line is our sailing track.  Our road trip was 2800 miles and we sailed over 1600 nautical miles.

If you have your own adventure waiting inside you, it has been said that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.  Take it.

Fair Winds ~ Christine and Mark

Socks & Shoes by Christine

What are these things called socks and shoes?

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to put on socks and tennis shoes after a year of going barefoot and wearing sandals?  It.  Feels.  Strange.

I had not given thought to socks and shoes for quite some time until last week when our friends, Rod and Lisa, from Idaho came to visit us on the boat.  Rod slipped off his tennis shoes at the dock before getting on the boat to reveal his feet clad in crisp, white ankle socks.  It was such a strange sight.  I looked at his feet and blurted out, “Socks.  Wow, I haven’t seen socks in a long, long time”.   I probably have not seen an article of clothing that white in a long time either.  Whites never get washed separately on our boat or anybody else’s boat that I know.

It occurred to me then that the only people we have been around for the last year are cruisers who are solely in sandals or barefoot.  I then noticed that Lisa and her friend’s feet were clad in sandals but their feet were manicured.  That was also a revelation.  I don’t think I saw any polished toenails cruising either.  No doubt, the salt water would be hard on toenail polish and it is probably just too much of a bother to try and keep your feet looking good.

We had the time this morning, and felt the need, to get off the docks and go for a walk.  There are no sandy beaches or hiking trails where we are, but there are beautiful, woodsy, country roads to walk down.  Socks and tennis shoes seemed the appropriate footwear for the expedition, so we all dug around in the boat to produce the needed footwear.  After some period of time, we all found our shoes, and socks that matched close enough.  Logan made the mistake of putting his socks on inside the boat and almost fell down on the wood salon sole.  Lesson #1, do not wear socks in a boat.  Then getting off the boat he slipped on the side deck.  Lesson #2, do not wear socks on the deck of a boat either.

After what seemed like another long period of time, we managed to get on our socks and lace up our shoes.  We stood on wobbly legs on the dock.  How very strange it felt.  Here are a few of the comments heard:

These feel so tight…  I’m being constricted…  My feet are hot…  I feel tall with these on…  They feel like blocks of wood strapped on my feet…  They are so heavy…  I feel so lethargic…  I can’t keep my balance…  They make my knees tired…  They are rubbing on my toes…  My feet are getting sore…  Why do people wear these things anyway???

Our first time wearing socks & shoes in a year.

Our first time wearing socks & shoes in a year.

 

Feeling a little wobbly with our footwear on.

Feeling a little wobbly with our footwear on.

Getting our walking legs going.

Getting our walking legs going.

The hour-long walk conversation was pretty much all about socks and shoes.  If you ever get a chance to break free from these things called socks and shoes for a year, let me know how you feel when you put them on again!

Back at the boat, we all tucked our tennis shoes into the depths where they had been hiding this last year and I suspect we will not go looking for them again until we hit cold weather and our toes are near freezing.

We freed our feet on the walk back to the boat.

Let them be free.

Fair winds ~ Christine

Beyond Beaufort NC by Christine

Aye, a lot has happened this last week!  I wish I would have had internet connection to break this post into sections.  In summary, we traveled 200 miles on the ICW in 4 days and one day we had to stop early in the day due to thunderstorms.  After reaching mile 0 on the ICW, we continued north to ‘negative miles’, as the boys put it, into the Chesapeake Bay.

The winds and storms finally let up some and we left Beaufort, heading north again on July 2nd.  Going through the Neuse River, just north of Beaufort was the biggest body of water we have crossed in a while.  The winds helped us along from behind and we managed to avoid the isolated thunderstorms still moving through the area.

Truansea sailing out of Beaufort, NC.  A classic sailboat in the foreground makes for a picture perfect start to the day.

Truansea sailing out of Beaufort, NC. A classic sailboat in the background makes for a picture perfect start to the day.

The following video is part of a typical morning for us.  We were headed up the Bay River in this video.

Going up the Pungo River, we passed a dredging rig.  Pictures do not do justice to how long these rigs are so I attached a video.  They drift in the wind so you do not want to be on the downwind side when you pass them in the channel.

In my last post, I showed some of the markers along the ICW.  The following mark is from a channel where you follow the red, right, returning rule, however the mark has a yellow triangle sticker on it, signifying you are also still in the ICW channel and this is the inland side of the channel.  After you are out of the channel, the marks revert back to green on the ocean side, red on the inland side.

Green, square dayboard marker with yellow triangle ICW.  The yellow triangles are normally on the red triangle markers.

Green, square dayboard marker with yellow ICW triangle sticker. The yellow triangles are normally on the red triangle markers.

Another example of a dayboard mark you need to understand to navigate the ICW.  Quiz, which side of this mark would you pass if you are headed northbound?

Another example of a dayboard mark you need to understand to navigate the ICW. Quiz, which side of this mark would you pass if you are headed northbound?

Mile 160.  We are getting closer to Mile 0 (zero)!

Mile 160. We are getting closer to Mile 0 (zero)!

Entering 'stump land'.  Just keep your boat in the middle of the ICW through here.  It is flat calm for this part of our day.

Entering ‘stump land’. Just keep your boat in the middle of the ICW through here. You can see that it is flat calm for this part of our day.

We have had a variety of sea life swim along with us while we sail, birds have landed on our boat and rode along with us, a variety of insects enjoy catching a ride and this butterfly enjoyed flying along Truansea, having a playful flight along with us for about 10 minutes.  I never would have thought a butterfly would do this.

There were quite a few dragonflies traveling along with us too and a bunch of them caught a ride and stayed with us for hours.

Dragonfly catching a ride on Truansea.

Dragonfly catching a ride on Truansea.

This one appears to be hanging on for dear life with his little legs.  The 'thing' he is clinging on to is what we call our mascot.  On our trip to Florida, this was on the dash of our vehicle.  On our entire sailing trip, it has been in our cockpit, above the instrument panel.  We really need to give the thing a name.

This one appears to be hanging on for dear life with his little legs. The ‘thing’ he is clinging on to is what we call our mascot. On our trip to Florida, this was on the dash of our vehicle. On our entire sailing trip, it has been in our cockpit, above the instrument panel. We really need to give the thing a name.

Another dragonfly hangs out on Logan's back while he does school work.  I had to laugh how it landed right on the fish's mouth on his t-shirt.

Another dragonfly hangs out on Logan’s back while he does school work. I had to laugh how it landed right on the fish’s mouth on his t-shirt.

Cole doing schoolworks as we sail along.  You can see where our mascot resides above the instruments.

Cole doing schoolwork as we sail along. You can see where our mascot resides above the instruments.

At mile 70 in the Albemarle Sound, boaters have to make a choice whether to take the dismal swamp route or the Virginia Cut route.  The Dismal Swamp Route we had been told is very scenic and is only 3 miles longer.   It is a shallow route and they recommend it only for boats with less than a 6’ draft.  Our draft is 4’9”, which gives us plenty of clearance under the keel.

In 1763, George Washington first proposed draining the swamp to harvest cypress for shipbuilding and cedar for shingles, then farming the land.  30 years later, he sold his part of the swamp to “Lighthorse” Harry Lee, father of Robert E. Lee.  Then in 1909, a lumber company purchased it and continued the harvest until the last tree was cut down in the 1950s.  After that the land was donated to create the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  The area has regenerated quickly from our view on the water and it now has tall trees and is abundant in wildlife.

Have you ever seen a blimp hangar?

Have you ever seen a blimp hangar?  We saw this unexpected, strange site from miles away coming up the Pasquotank River south of Elizabeth City, NC.

Blimps were used to guard again German submarines.  From the gondola of a blimp, shallow U-boats were easy to spot.  If a sub dived deep, the blimp crew used sensors that detected the vibrations of turning screws and the magnetism of a hidden boat’s steel hull to follow them.  The blimp crews then called the warships to let them know where the U-boats were.  The blimps could stay in the air for 2 days without refueling.

The ICW is full of the unexpected.  This restored boat from the Vietnam War was one of them.

This boat pulled in to Elizabeth City at the dock we were at.  No, Logan did not get to shoot real bullets out of it.  They have it equipped with propane tanks to make it sound like it is shooting real bullets.

This boat pulled in to Elizabeth City at the dock we were at. No, Logan did not get to shoot real bullets out of it. They have it equipped with propane tanks to make it sound like it is shooting real bullets.

Okay girls, I have missed the marksmanship nights this last year, but I am keeping my skills up.

Okay girls, I have missed the marksmanship nights this last year, but I am keeping my skills up.

Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of fireworks, while trying to capture the foreground too?  This picture does not do justice to the incredible firework show we watched from Truansea at Elizabeth City, NC.  They lit the fireworks off of a raft in the middle of the harbor.  We had the best seats in the house, all to ourselves on the deck of our boat.  I can’t imagine I will ever experience a better firework show than this one.  It was simply fantastic.

Mark in the cockpit 4th of July, 2013.

Mark in the cockpit 4th of July, 2013.

Heading up the Dismal Swamp in s/v Truansea, north of Elizabeth City, NC.  This section of the swamp is quite wide and very picturesque.

Cap'n Mark enjoying a peaceful morning underway.  All the bridge tenders, dock masters, etc., address you as Cap'n when they talk to you on the VHF radio.  Not only do they call me Cap'n too, but they say, "Yes Ma'am" which makes me smile every time.

Cap’n Mark enjoying a peaceful morning underway. All the bridge tenders, dock masters, etc., address you as Cap’n when they talk to you on the VHF radio. Not only do they call me Cap’n too, but they say, “Yes Ma’am” which makes me smile every time.

The water in the ICW becomes much browner as we progress into the Dismal Swamp.  This is caused by the tannins in from the trees.  On white hulled boats, it creates what people call, “The ICW Mustache”.

You can see the brownish water behind us.

You can see the brownish water behind us.

The lock at the south end of the Dismal swamp raises us up 8 feet.

The first lock.

The first lock.

The scenery is amazing.

The scenery is amazing.

Hooray, we made it to Virginia!

Crossing into Virginia on the ICW.

Crossing into Virginia on the ICW.

These are the only 2 boats we passed today.  Both trawlers had very clever names.

bed, boat & beyond

Steel Magnolia.

Steel Magnolia.

We planned on staying at the visitor’s center in the Dismal Swamp for the night but we found out we are here at the dismal time of the year.  The deer flies are horrendous here for about a month and a half.  They do not respect any of the bug repellent we have and bite us from head to toe, even on the soles of our feet and on our nail cuticle.  It is crazy!

Mark is holding a Scufflehead fly swatter.  Wonder what a Scufflehead is?  Go to http://scuffletown.net.  Mark introduced John in his last post.  John, did you have any idea how useful your flyswatter was going to be to us as we made our way north after meeting you?  It has killed unimaginable numbers of deer flies, horse flies and one really big cockroach.

We are all armed with flyswatters through a section of the Dismal Swamp.

We are all armed with fly swatters through a section of the Dismal Swamp.  The pile of dead flies in the bottom of the cockpit was impressive.

The ICW takes a great deal of concentration to go through.  Some areas we have to play the tides to make it through without running aground.  Other areas we have to run with the ebb or flow.  This section we need to keep a sharp eye out for floating logs and overhanging trees to make sure we do not catch our mast in the branches.

Watch the trees to clear your mast going through the narrow sections!

Watch the trees to clear your mast going through the narrow sections!

There are 2 locks to go through on the Dismal Swamp section of the ICW.

Cole getting the fenders ready to go through the lock.

Cole getting the fenders ready to go through the Deep Creek lock.

Robert, the lock master at the Deep Creek lock asked where we were coming from.  When we told him we were in the Bahamas this winter, he asked if the boys had any conch horns.  The boys produced their horns from the boat and Robert blew them.  Not only was he great at blowing them, he could toot out songs on them and change the pitch of the horn by moving his hand in and out of the curl inside the horn.  He gave us an entire lesson on conch horn blowing.  We had no idea such variety was possible out of these horns!

He was also an expert in the history of the Dismal Swamp and gave the boys their history lesson for the day.

After we came out of the remote Dismal Swamp and turned the corner onto the main ICW, we were blown away by the sites of civilization.  Not just a house or two but full scale industrialization.

The first lift bridge we came to approaching Norfolk.

The first lift bridge we came to approaching Norfolk.  This was the first bridge we encountered that lifts up to a custom height according to the boats need.  Our mast is 59′ high and the bridge tender raised the bridge to 70′ for us.  Most all of the fixed bridges on the ICW are 65′ high.

The sight of Norfolk, VA ahead.

The sight of Norfolk, VA ahead.

WE MADE IT MILE O (ZERO) ON THE ICW!!!  We went almost 1,000 miles up this waterway.  What a trip it has been.  Another big check off our adventure list.

There were so many big ships, pictures do not do it justice.  We felt like a dragon fly bobbing on the water through here.

There were so many big ships, pictures do not do it justice. We felt like a dragon fly bobbing on the water through here.

another

ships2

ships3

hospital ship

ships galore

The sun sets on Norfolk.

The sun sets on Norfolk.

Not only are we excited to make it to Norfolk, but one of our Bahama cruising friends, Bill on s/v Providence is here.  We thoroughly love spending time with Bill and he hopped on the ferry to cross the river to where we tied up for the night.  He toured around the city with us.  One of the museums we went to was a Lightship Museum.  The first Saturday of the month, the museums are free – lucky us!

Portsouth Lightship Museum.

Portsouth Lightship Museum.

They were also having a nautical historical day so the boys, once again, got their history in.

Do any of you know what this is?  I did not before he explained it to me.  I'll let you readers try and figure it out!

Do any of you know what this is? I did not before he explained it to me. I’ll let you readers try and figure it out!

The next day we traveled up river 8 miles to the marina where Bill was at to prepare for crossing the Chesapeake the next day, a 60 mile run for us.

Cole petting Miss Kitty, who as bill puts it, owns him.  Bill is in the background talking to Mark.  I have met a lot of cool cats but Miss Kitty is at the top of the list.

Cole petting Miss Kitty, who as Bill puts it, owns him.  I have met a lot of cool cats but Miss Kitty is at the top of the list.

After we arrived in Norfolk, we received a call from our friends in Boise, Lisa & Rod, who are partly responsible for us taking on this adventure.  They did a 2 year trip through the Caribbean a number of years back and were one of our mentors in preparing to set out on this trip.  When Lisa called, she said something to the effect that they are visiting some friends on the east coast and wondered where we were at now.  I told her we just arrived in Norfolk.  They were doing a historical loop with their car that day and would be passing through Norfolk as well!  What are the odds of them and us being in the same city on the same day?  Crazy!  They stopped by the marina we were at that afternoon and had dinner with us.  It was great to see them in person and catch up.

Rod & Lisa from Boise!

Rod & Lisa from Boise visit us in Norfolk!

July 7th was a perfect sailing day as we headed out into Chesapeake Bay.  We were able to sail on a broad reach for most of the day, making our destination of Yankee Point Marina up the Rappahannock River off the west side of the Chesapeake Bay.

A beautiful day sailing Truansea across the Chesapeake Bay.

A beautiful day sailing Truansea across the Chesapeake Bay.

Fair winds ~ Christine

Onward to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina by Christine

Our friends Deb and Don on Valkyrie encouraged us to anchor off the east side of Morgan Island after leaving Beaufort, SC so we dropped the hook on the east side of the island for the night.  Not only is it a beautiful spot but the island is inhabited by rhesus monkeys.  No joke.  I would have thought we were off an island in the tropics listening to the monkeys screeching.

Some of the monkeys we saw on Morgan's Island.

Some of the monkeys we saw on Morgan’s Island.

In 1979, over 1,400 monkeys were moved here from Puerto Rico.  There are signs on the shore that warn not to trespass, not to feed the monkeys and say Federal Project.  There is  quite a bit of conflicting information on the internet as to what the monkeys are doing there and how they are being managed.  At any rate, as evening approached, the trees on the shore near us started shaking and soon we started seeing monkeys all over in the trees with some of them in the grass near the shore.  They were fun to watch and stayed for about an hour, some of them just sitting watching us, before they moved back into the forest for the night.

The evening got more exciting when Logan caught a 3 foot shark which we brought in the cockpit, but that is a story for him to tell on his next post.

The next morning we headed for Charleston to meet our cruising friends on Moonshadow and see the city.  Unfortunately Laurie was out-of-town but we had a great time with Rob.  He toured us around the city in their car and took us to Trader Joe’s.  What a treat to have friends with a car and be able to stock up on some good food!  Cruisers hospitality and generosity is incredible.

Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.

Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.

We are at a fuel dock in Charleston.  It was a busy harbor as you can see by the container ship in the background.

We are at a fuel dock in Charleston. It was a busy harbor as you can see by the container ship in the background.

After exploring Charleston for a couple of days, we headed north and anchored in a secluded anchorage at Awendaw Creek.  There was one other boat in the anchorage; otherwise our only other neighbors were the pelicans which we watched dive again and again for fish as the sun set.  They repeated their performance again the next morning.

The ICW is different every day not only in scenery but in navigation challenges.  We spend a good deal of time every day studying the charts for the following days.  Some areas you can only go through at high tide or you will run aground, others are best during the ebb tide to catch the current to help us gain a couple of knots of speed.  Some sections are best at slack tide so the current is not pushing us through uncontrollably.  The swing and draw bridges have to be timed or you may be sitting there for hours waiting for the next opening.  Of course there is always the weather to consider as well.

I thought I would show you not only some of the scenes we see along the way but some of the navigation aids and some photos of how we spend our days.

Range markers on ICW.

Some stretches of dredged channels you need to stay in have range markers on them.  You need to line up the two markers so the white lines match up and head straight for them to keep in the channel.  If you get off to the side, the white strips are not in alignment indicating you need to get back on track.

The gators are shy and we have not been able to get too close to any of them.

The gators are shy and we have not been able to get too close to any of them.

This is the first mile marker sign we have seen on the ICW.  415 miles to go!

This is the first mile marker sign we have seen on the ICW. 415 miles to go!

Logan hanging out on the bow of Truansea.

Logan hanging out on the bow of Truansea.

Is doing math multiplication flash cards really this much fun every day?

Is doing math multiplication flash cards really this much fun every day?  For some reason, today 8X7 was really funny.

The boys just plain having a silly day.

The boys just plain having another silly day.

Logan hanging out reading a book his friend Max sent him.

Logan hanging out reading a book his friend, Max, sent him.

Cap'n Mark taking us north as the boys swat the green head flies that are abundant along this stretch of South Carolina.  It provides them with hours of entertainment and exercise.

Cap’n Mark taking us north as the boys swat the green head flies that are abundant along this stretch of South Carolina. It provides them with hours of entertainment and exercise.

The boys made pet fly houses out of M&M containers given to them by the LaVignes that they had saved since Valentine's Day.

When they are not killing the flies, they are catching them and keeping them as pets.  They made fly houses out of M&M containers given to them by our friends, the LaVignes back in George Town, Bahamas in February.  You can see where they cut a hole in the tube and inserted a clear plastic piece from a water bottle so they can see their ‘pets’.  This is one way to entertain yourself on a boat!

The dayboards for the ICW are green squares with odd numbers (with a small yellow reflective square on the top) along the ocean side of the waterway and red triangles with even numbers (with small yellow reflective triangles) along the inland side.  The saying of “Red, right, returning” that sailors use when returning from the sea does not pertain to the ICW markers.  The red and green inlet markers without the yellow reflectors have the traditional rule of red, right, returning so we have to follow the rules according to which waterways the markers are for.  There are also sometimes small floating aides with an “A” after the number.  These are placed in areas of shoaling and should be given a wide berth.

Osprey nest on one of the green ICW signs which mark the ocean side of the channel.

Osprey nest on one of the green ICW signs which mark the ocean side of the channel.

Red triangles mark the inland side of the channel.

Red triangles mark the inland side of the channel.

Here you can see the green ICW sign ahead of us indicating that we need to go left and keep the sign on our starboard side as we head north.

Here you can see the green ICW sign ahead of us indicating that we need to go left and keep the sign on our starboard side as we head north.

Dolphins continue to grace us with their presence.  When they decide to come and swim off our bow, they jump or surface and make a straight line right for us.  They truly love to play with our boat and will roll on their side as they swim to look up at us.

On to Georgetown, South Carolina (we were in George Town, Bahamas this winter).  This was a fun, small town to stop at and anchor for the night.

Coming in to port at Georgetown, SC.

Coming in to port at Georgetown, SC.

Kids sailing class in Georgetown harbor.

Kids sailing class in Georgetown harbor.

Logan was able to catch his first bait fish here with the cast net we had picked up in Brunswick.  The boys identify all the fish we catch.  They usually know what it is before it is even brought on board since they spend so much time studying the fish identification books.

Logan holding the fish while Cole has the book out so they can identify it.

Logan holding the fish while Cole has the book out so they can identify it.

We are now at Osprey Marina near Myrtle Beach, SC.  The scenery is absolutely beautiful and we have seen a lot of turtles and osprey in the area (as the name of the marina indicates).

Baby painted turtle we saw while taking our dinghy up a channel.

Baby painted turtle we saw while taking our dinghy up a channel.

The turtles around the boats at the docks beg for food just like dogs.

The turtles around the boats at the docks beg for food just like dogs.

Osprey nest.

Osprey nest.

Tomorrow morning we head out for a long day and our goal is Southport.  Our cruising friends send us tips of places to go, places to avoid and places that need to be timed right.  This along with the guide books has made for a fantastic trip up the ICW.  Thanks to all of you for sending us and calling us with these tips!

Fair winds ~ Christine