May 2003 Log



Greetings to family and friends – the second half of our “Great Loop” journey has begun!

After finishing the closing up of our house, we left our boat dock in Cape Coral at 10:00 a.m., (I will once again be using Michigan/Florida time throughout this log).  Our good friends/neighbors, Lee and Lynn, helped us with our lines and gave us a good send-off.  We’ll miss them!

We woke up to a partly cloudy day and a very humid one.  The river is very smooth this morning.

After being out only forty-five minutes, we heard a loud slap on the water.  We looked and saw two beautiful porpoise swimming and frolicking in the water on the starboard side of the Nauti Gal.  No matter how often we see them, it is always exciting.  Jim ran for his camera and, hopefully, got some good pictures!

The Nauti Gal sounds good and is running very smoothly since the new props were put on.

We ran into some rain two hours out, but it looks like most of it is moving south – we just went under the I-75 bridge and are approaching the power plant where the manatees like to play in the warm water.  It is slow travel because of all the “slow zones”.

We arrived at our first lock of the day – the W. P. Franklin, at 12:38, and locked through at 1:16 along with two sailboats, one small cruiser, and two personal watercraft.  We locked up only two feet – in these locks, they throw down a line to you and you cinch it down around your cleat.

We are on the Caloosahatchee River, but, according to our charts, it is also called the Okeechobee Waterway.  We haven’t figured out where it goes from one to the other.

The sun is now shining beautifully and it is ninety-five degrees outside.

Our second lock is twenty-eight miles from here – a lock-up of eight feet.  Different than the locks we went through on the rivers coming down (an example would be, an eighty-three foot drop).

We can’t help but notice the beautiful homes along the waterway, as well as the very nice marinas with large boats.  The depth of the water here is so different than down in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers area and the gulf.  We have twenty feet or more.

For those who don’t already know, after we came out of our first lock, it put us in “fresh water”.  We will stay in fresh water until after we go through two locks on the other side of Lake Okeechobee, which we haven’t even reached yet.

We arrived at the second lock of the day – the Ortano Lock – at 3:00.  We locked through, after being raised eight feet, at 3:30.  We had five boats lock through with us.

The third and last lock of the day – the Moore Haven Lock – we arrived at 4:15 and locked up four feet.  We departed the lock at 4:25 all by ourselves.  Two of the boats that went into the second lock with us are way behind us somewhere, and a couple of others stopped at a dock along the waterway just short of the third lock.  We heard them calling for slips at Clewiston, and have to assume they didn’t have anymore space.  We called Clewiston as soon as we left our dock in Cape Coral, so we had a slip waiting for us.

To our port side we see lots of dead trees – they look like sticks.  A very strange looking area, but I guess, in its own way, quite unique.

We arrived at our dock in Clewiston at 5:15 after going through a navigational lock that apparently is used only to control the depth of the water on Lake Okeechobee and as a flood gate to protect the town of Clewiston.  The marina is different – one long ditch of water – with boats tied alongside.  It is a very pretty place – they have it landscaped very nicely.  They have a little outdoor tiki bar trimmed in small lights.  There are also lights in the palm trees.  They have a very nice marine store which Jim told me about – I never did see the inside of it!  They also have a small restaurant right on the premises with a limited menu.  We were perfectly satisfied just with burgers as we were tired by then.  While there, we saw a lot of turkey buzzards, and also a very pretty long-legged and long-necked white bird that roamed all over the marina as if he owned the place.

More tomorrow……


We left the dock at Clewiston at 9:25 a.m.  It is a pretty day, partly sunny and already in the 80’s.  The next few days are supposed to be HOT!!

The entrance into Lake Okeechobee makes you feel like you are about to enter a “no-man’s land”.  Very eerie looking!  However, after a short time, it opens up into this very big lake – in fact, as we go along, we almost feel like we are on Lake Michigan. 

The water depth is good – it is averaging around 13-15 feet.  At times the lake can become so low, you cannot cross it by boat.  Other times it reaches flood stage.  Consequently, there is a dike all around this big lake to protect the various towns.

There is a shipwreck out here we are about to pass.  It looks like it has become a haven for a flock of white pelicans.

We are approaching our first lock of the day, but it’s not open for us yet.  We will have to wait.  We had a good fast run across the lake today – it took us only an hour to cross.  Okay, we are about to enter Ft. Mayaca Lock now – 10:37 a.m.  We cleared the lock at 11:10 with four others, including a small fishing boat.  This time we DROPPED, but only one foot.  There are a lot of pleasure craft on the move both directions.

We are now in what is called “the ditch”, which is like a narrow river with trees on both sides – very pretty.  It reminds us a little of the Tombigbee man-made canal.  We were on a stretch of water yesterday that also reminded us of the Tombigbee.

By the way, Bob and Barb, we never did see any “gators” – maybe mating season is over??

It seems a little strange not having our companion boat “Bout Time” with us – we miss you Pam and Frank!  So far, people have been very friendly though.  In the last lock, we were talking to some people from Siesta Key who had been out a week and were just starting the “Great Loop”.  We told them we were just starting the second half of the “Great Loop”.

We have arrived at lock Lucie at 12:40 where we will have another DROP – this time thirteen feet.  We are waiting for the gates to open.  We have two trawlers ahead of us and one cruiser behind us so far.  Sure enough, we ended up locking through with four other boats and two jet skis.  We departed the lock at 1:20.  Now we are once again in salt water and will remain in salt water for quite a long time now.

We arrived at the Northside Marina in Stuart at 2:20 – our destination for the day.  All the boats are rocking some as the wind has come up plus the fact, the marina is open to a lot of boat traffic here.

Good night……


We woke to a perfectly beautiful day, sunny, clear, eighty degrees, flat water.

We are on our way again – we pulled away from the dock in Stuart at 8:25 a.m.

The Atlantic Ocean isn’t far from Stuart, and since we have such a nice day, our plan is to run on the “outside” where we can make some time.  The intercoastal is always so busy on the weekends and makes for “slow cruising”.  When we get to Ft. Pierce, we WILL go “inside” though.  Our final destination for today is the Melbourne area where we will see our nephew, Jeff.  Unfortunately, Jeff’s wife, Cindy, is away on a trip so we will miss her.  Jeff is busy getting his sailboat ready for a trip to the Bahamas later in the month.

We are now out on the Atlantic – it is 9:05 a.m.  We have one to two foot waves.  That’s nothing for the Nauti Gal.  Lots of boats out today – many are fishermen.  The sky couldn’t be any clearer – we only have twenty miles to go out here, so that won’t take long.  This is a lot like being on Lake Michigan except there are no sand dunes – just long stretches of beach.  For a while it seems so remote and then, suddenly, you will have miles of high rises.

We arrived at Ft. Pierce at 10:20 – had we not come off the ocean here, we would have had to wait until we got to
Sebastian.  Our nephew had told us that Sebastian has a narrow inlet to go through and wasn’t the best place to come in. 

The hour we were on the water, the seas built to three or four footers. We had always been told that the ocean gets riled up much slower than Lake Michigan, and that there is more space between waves.  That isn’t what we experienced this morning – it seemed more like our big lake back home.  The Nauti Gal did just fine though – she slices through the waves, throwing water every which way!

We are back on the intercoastal where we will remain until we reach the Melbourne area.  We can see four sailboats in front of us.  This will now be slow traveling.

Later……what a busy, busy day on the water this has been!  I’m sure tomorrow (Sunday) will be just as busy, but since we will lay over in Melbourne, we really don’t care.  We arrived at our dock in Melbourne at 2:35, where our nephew greeted us.

Side note:  I thought this was interesting, and hope you do too.  Eau Gallie/Melbourne were once two distinct towns, each with its own harbor and facilities.  These communities have been merged under the name of Melbourne to form the “metropolis” of the Space Coast.  But old-timers and itinerant mariners still think of them as separate harbors.  As we turned off the intercoastal into the marina where we stayed, on our port side of the boat, you could see the remains of  a huge, very old green stucco dragon.  It is said that four people could fit into the dragon’s mouth, but all that is left of it is mostly just tail.  It is now used as a landmark.

More tomorrow……

Another beautiful, but hot day in Florida…..Our nephew, Jeff, came back to the marina this morning so he could continue working on his sailboat.  He knew we wanted to visit the “Kennedy Space Center” (Cape Canaveral), something we did many years ago, so he loaned us his truck…..that pretty much took up the afternoon and was very interesting.

Both evenings we were there, the three of us had dinner together and also got to see his and Cindy’s home which they are still working on.  Thank you, Jeff, for your hospitality and for just everything…we enjoyed our stay and spending time with you!


We cleared the dock in Melbourne at 8:30 a.m.  It looks like the Lord gave us a “perfect” day….it is sunny and clear with “flat” water and seventy-nine degrees.  We will have some boat traffic, of course, but it should be much better than the weekend traffic.

Our destination today will be Daytona.  We will be on the intercoastal for quite a while now; however, if we do most of our traveling during the week, we can still make pretty good time.  We do always slow down for sailboats, trawlers, and small boats as we put out quite a big wake.  They all seem to appreciate the fact that we DO slow down for them.

We just passed a tall water tower that had the American Flag painted on it – pretty nifty, don’t you think?
The water out here today is absolutely gorgeous!

We just passed a Catamaran from Saugatuck, Mi.  It IS a small world!  We have seen a number of Catamarans on this trip.

Later:  The second half of today’s trip was a slow one – they had miles and miles of “slow” and “no wake” zones – oh well, it has been a beautiful day to just relax.  We are getting very close to our marina now and, in this area, we can run fast.  We want to fuel as soon as we get in …. Jim figures we will take around 500 gallons of fuel – we have 100 gallons still in the tanks.

We arrived at Halifax Harbor Marina at 2:30 at Daytona….we actually took on only 460 gallons of diesel fuel.  Diesel fuel is $1.35 plus tax here, so as we go, it is getting cheaper.  We tied up at our dock at 3:45.

NOTE:  We apologize for being so late getting our “log” uploaded.  Sometimes it takes a little time to get everything the way you want it.  We had problems like this the first few days in September when we started the trip down to Florida.  Hopefully, we have the problems solved.  We have decided, if we make this trip again, we will use the program that our daughter-in-law, Jill, has.  It is much easier than the one we are using!  Hopefully, we will get pictures uploaded very soon too!

Destination tomorrow:  St. Augustine!

We left Daytona at 8:30 a.m.  Weather conditions good….seventy-nine degrees….very sticky.  The water isn’t as flat as yesterday but we’ll take it.  There is some wind today.

Last night we shared our T-dock with a trawler named “Serendipity” – very nice people from, of all places, Whitehall, Michigan, also on the “Great Loop”.  Yes, Lee and Lynn, they know Eric!

It seems we keep meeting up with the same boats all the time – many trawlers on the move….we pass them and then, later on, they are in front of us and we pass them again.  One of them that we passed again a few minutes ago, we chatted with in one of the locks.  They are also on the “Great Loop”.  It’s fun seeing all of these people over and over again.

I have to back up a little – when we arrived at Daytona yesterday, we were told they had another Nauti Gal in their marina, so after dinner, we took a stroll and found her.  She was a forty-four foot trawler and the name of the boat was spelled Nauti-Gal.  We, of course spell ours Nauti Gal.  They were very nice people who are waiting for one engine to be fixed so they can get out to the Bahamas.  He said he had been living on the boat for nineteen years!

There is quite a bit of boat traffic on the intercoastal today – mostly trawlers and sailboats.  We passed under quite a few bridges this morning – some high ones and some low ones.  We were able to pass under all of the low ones after putting down our antennas, whereas, the trawlers have a lot of their hardware mounted on top of their hardtops.  They had to wait a few minutes for the bridges to open.  Later on we also had to wait for a bridge as it was a very, very low one.

We just passed what appeared to be an absolutely beautiful marina/resort…..then just ahead it looks like the construction of a HUGE marina is underway.

It is amazing just how many people DO live on water, and it is a mixture of mobil homes, small, older homes, and mansions!

We arrived at St. Augustine at 12:45 and guess who we are docked next to, Keith and Bruce?  The Kamnikars from So. Haven.  They are also on the “Great Loop” and on their way north too.  They plan on leaving tomorrow.  They told us they only go about thirty miles a day.  “Cheers”, one of the trawlers that has followed us all day is also here.  They plan to stay a couple of days.

We went for a trolley ride around St. Augustine late this afternoon just for a quick look-see.  Tomorrow morning we plan on doing a more extensive tour…..the trolley will stop at certain places and you can get off and spend as much time as you want there – then you catch another trolley (they run every 15-20 minutes) to another place you want to see.

Jim is still trying to figure out our new digital-video camera……hopefully, one of these days you will all see some pictures on our website!

The wind is blowing pretty hard out of the south….we were told that the wind yesterday was much worse than today.  Anyone that knows me, knows how I hate wind, so I hope it stops soon.

I’ll add some more tomorrow…..

The friends we know from So. Haven, who were on the dock next to us, left this morning….they were only going as far as Jacksonville where they were going to dock behind some friends’ condo.  I’m sure we will run into them again somewhere up the line.  The trawler, “Cheers” is leaving tomorrow headed for Jacksonville also.  We will leave here tomorrow but think we will probably go further as Jacksonville is not that far away from here.

Today we did the “tourist” thing and went all over St. Augustine via one of their many trolleys.  It is a beautiful, and very old city – we were told it is the oldest city in Florida.  I don’t know why, but I always thought Key West was the oldest.  See, you learn something new everyday!

The first place we stopped today – are you listening, Keith?  We visited the “Castillo de San Marcos” Fort.  Yes, we took pictures!  We know how our son, Keith, loves history and forts!!  Okay, just a little bit of history here about the fort – I hope I don’t bore anyone.  This fort was for many years the northern-most outpost of Spain’s vast New World empire.  It is the oldest masonry fort and the best preserved example of a Spanish colonial fortification in the continental United States.  The roots of the “Castillo’s” history reach back to the years just after Christopher Columbus’s final transatlantic voyage.  Thanks to the travels of Ponce de Leon in 1513, Spanish navigators knew that the best return route from Spain’s rich Caribbean possessions was along the Gulf Stream, through the Bahama Channel, and past the shores of Florida.  Spain claimed Florida through discovery by Ponce de Leon, but France gained the first foothold there.  England became Spain’s next contender for Florida.  I’m skipping around a bit here – bare with me!  The English eventually burned the town of St. Augustine before they left, after an unsuccessful siege of the fort.  But the “Castillo” emerged unscathed, thereby making it a symbolic link between the old St. Augustine of 1565 and the new city that rose from the ashes.  Spain held Florida until 1821, when serious Spanish-American tensions led to its cession to the United States.  There is a lot more that happened inbetween, but I have taken up too much space as it is.  This is your history lesson for today!!!

We saw a lot of other things today too – as an example, what is now called “Flagler College” – a four year liberal arts college – resides in the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, a luxury resort built by Henry Flagler in 1888 – in 1967 it became “Flagler College”.  Oh yes, I would be most remiss if I didn’t tell you that we also visited the “Fountain Of Youth” Park today….we even drank of the water there.  We came back to the boat at 3:00 feeling very tired…..I don’t think it worked!!!!

We are going for some dinner very soon – that is if our legs will carry us there and back!

Talk to you-all tomorrow!

We left St. Augustine at 8:20 this morning – it is partly sunny and seventy-four degrees – a welcome change from the ninety-six degrees we had yesterday sightseeing.

We are running the ocean today and are not sure how far we will go….a lot depends on the water.  Jim wanted to get some good running time in after being on the intercoastal for a while.

Coming out of the St. Augustine Inlet this morning, we had some rocking (not bad) as the tide was going out and some left-over rollers from yesterday were rolling in.  After we got out a ways, we made a turn so that the rollers were behind us.  I always considered the ocean very deep (which it is); however, after coming out of the inlet, we could see waves “breaking” off both our port and starboard sides, in the distance.  So, guess there are indeed some shallow places in the Atlantic.

A huge, new “Viking” came into St. Augustine late yesterday afternoon – on it was a couple who had a captain and another fellow with them.  As we walked on our dock between the two boats, they were admiring and complimenting US on OUR  boat…..pretty nice, eh?  We always seem to get a lot of compliments on our Nauti Gal, which always makes us feel good!!

We just passed a sailboat out here that we have seen before….it appears a man is “doing it all alone”.

Just as it seems to do on the west coast of Florida, the wind comes “on-shore” each afternoon here on the east coast too.  It usually blows pretty good into the evening, making us wonder if we will get any sleep!  Somewhere along the line, it stops….we sleep….and in the morning, all is still.

The weather has been extremely humid everyday since we left Cape Coral…..even when it was in the seventies this morning, it was still humid.  Right now it is in the high eighties and humid.

It is now 10:50 a.m. and we have left the State of Florida and have just entered the State of Georgia, by way of the Atlantic Ocean!  We considered stopping at Jekyll Island, but decided we would go a little further.  We have decided to go on to Brunswick.  When we made our turn into St. Simons Sound, Jim told me we have gone 83.7 miles in three and a half hours, at approximately twenty-two knots….in spite of the rollers and some white caps out in the ocean.  We will be coming in at high tide…their rise here is 4.4’ tide.

We are entering Brunswick Harbor-Bar Channel….it is 12 noon.  We just tied up at the dock at 12:50 p.m., at the Brunswick Landing Marina in Brunswick,  GA.  They only charge seventy-five cents per foot here for a slip – WHAT A DEAL!!!

There is an “Olde Town Brunswick Historic District” here….established in 1771.  The marina is located in the center of downtown Brunswick.  We’ll have to go investigate!  Jim is washing down the boat AGAIN (something you must do everytime you take it out in the salt water)….that is usually the FIRST thing you do when you come into a marina – I have a big bag of dirty laundry I will probably do while here as it is convenient – another BIG surprise…..they don’t charge you for the use of the washers and the dryers!

More tomorrow….

We left Brunswick at 8:00 a.m.  What a perfectly beautiful day…sunny, clear skies, and eighty-one degrees…no wind so far.  We decided to go back out on the Atlantic again today.  There are just a few small rollers out here left over from yesterday.  If you remember, I told you that each day the wind comes up in the afternoon, so you need to do your “ocean” traveling in the mornings.  We may, later on, go into the intercoastal, but right now Jim wants to get some miles “under his belt”, and out here is where you can do it.

The sun is shining so beautifully on the water and it just sparkles!  We’ve seen a number of shrimpers out this morning and one porpoise.  This is probably as smooth as we will ever see the Atlantic.  It is just gorgeous out here!!   Just like being on Lake Michigan on a very nice day!

We have eight pelicans flying along with us on our port side.  They skim the water looking for the fish.  They have excellent eyesight, and when they spot fish, they immediately dive for it, and usually come up with their prey.  What I didn’t know was:  as they get older, many of them get cataracts from diving into the salt water with their eyes open.  Consequently, some of them end up starving because they can no longer see their prey – isn’t that sad?  These ‘facts’ come, not from me, but from Lynn Hornack..thank you, Lynn!  I always learn something from you!   :-)

I wish you could all be out on this water with us today – you would love it!  Florence, even you would love it….I know how much you love to be out on big bodies of water, and we DO see shore on one side of us!

Now I’m going to back up a little….we did get downtown at Brunswick last night.  It is supposed to be a little historic town and it is very pretty.  They have attempted to keep the store fronts looking as they did many years ago.  What impressed us the most though were the old brick streets and the very unique side-walks which had beautiful patterns on them.  Very pretty!  Unfortunately, there were many vacant stores, and we don’t know what the story is on that.  At the end of our dock at the marina was a big casino boat.  At 7:00 p.m. it left and came back at midnight.  We never heard any sounds of the people getting off the boat, but the gambling boat was sure noisy when it came back – and it seemed like it took forever for the captain to dock it.

Back to today….the ocean is still beautiful, but we are about to go in because it is the last place to “go in” before we reach our destination for today.  The area we are in right now is called “Wassaw Sound”.  Jim has slowed way down as our charts are telling us there are some shallow spots we want to avoid.  I guess these sandbars keep shifting around so, consequently, they keep having to move the buoys around too.  Okay, we are now back in deep water – always a good feeling!  We are heading for the Wassaw Inlet.

The place we are going, the Palmer Johnson Marina, is in a suburb of Savannah, Georgia.  The town is called “Thunderbolt” and is located on the intercoastal.  There is an eight foot tide there.

Jim tells me we have gone eighty miles today in a little less than four hours….at 23 knots!  It’s good to let the boat get out and really run every once in a while.

We are slowly winding our way back towards the marina where we will stay a couple days and hopefully rent a car and do the tourist thing in Savannah.

The Nauti Gal is really thirsty again, so we took on 432 gallons of diesel fuel when we got in….diesel fuel is expensive here – over $1.50 a gallon.  We got to our dock at 12:43 p.m.  The temperature here is 101 degrees!!!!  HOT!

Fred, please keep us updated on Spike, okay??  Talk to you-all tomorrow.

Another very hot, humid day……in the 90’s.  We are still in Thunderbolt, just outside of Savannah.  Jim has rented a car so we can do the ‘tourist’ thing here today.

Once we got into Savannah, a very busy place, by the way, we found a parking garage and caught one of the trolleys that takes you all over the city.  Savannah is one of the most charming of southern cities.  It continues to restore parts of the downtown area.  The city’s two-square-mile historic district is the nation’s largest urban National Historic Landmark, with more than 1,000 architecturally or historically significant structures restored and in use.  The city traces its heritage back to 1733, when British General James Oglethorpe founded Savannah on a bluff overlooking River Street and the Savannah River.

Along Savannah’s waterfront is a nine-block-long plaza containing more than 70 boutiques, restaurants, galleries, pubs and museums.  Many festivals and celebrations go on through-out the year.    There are pretty parks (they call them squares) all over the city, which we really enjoyed.  Another thing that was so impressive to us were the trees……they have beautiful, beautiful oak trees with the Spanish moss on them all over the city!  We walked down to the waterfront where they had a big art and craft show going on….also entertainment.  While down there, we saw docked a three-masted sailing vessel…very pretty.

Anyway, we just about wore ourselves out again….I really think it is more the humidity than anything.  I guess the people who live here must get used to this heat, but we find it really bothers us after a while.  It wasn’t THIS hot when we were in Florida!

The rise and fall of the tide is quite interesting….as I believe I mentioned before, they have eight foot tides here.  When we left the marina this morning, the tide was out.  You have to walk up a ramp from the dock you are on.  Because of the tide being out, it was like walking up a very, very steep hill.  When we got back from Savannah later, the tide was back in and you were almost walking flat across this ramp. 

Our friends from the Trawler “Cheers” pulled in this afternoon…..they usually, sooner or later, catch up with us.  They are very nice people.  He told us he was having problems with his one engine overheating.  So, at least part of the way today, he was running on only one engine.  So far the Nauti Gal has run real well for us!!

If you haven’t looked lately, Jim finally was able to start uploading some pictures and also updating our map.  Now that things are working better that way, we will continue adding pictures.  Hope you enjoy them.  By the way, we would love it if you care to sign in on our guest book and make some comments!
One thing Jim says we are still having trouble with is trying to send emails out….they don’t seem to be connecting from our cell phone.  We’ll have to work on that!

Before I sign off today, I have to mention to our son, Keith, we didn’t see any forts today…in fact, no one on our tour even mentioned forts being here, and we certainly didn’t see any.  After we got back to the boat, Jim looked on one of the maps….he said it looked like there might be one, but it was a distance away…sorry!  L 

We may go to Beaufort, So. Carolina tomorrow – we are not real sure yet of our destination…Beaufort is not very far from here.  We plan on taking the intercoastal as we are right on it.  To go all the way out to the ocean is quite a distance.

I would now like to wish all of the mothers out there a very, very HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY….especially to both of my beautiful daughters-in-law, Jill and Leann.  Sure wish we could spend the day together!  J

We’ll talk again tomorrow!

Good morning!

We left our dock at Thunderbolt at 9:30 a.m.  We purposely left later than usual, waiting for a lower tide.  Trying to leave at high tide can be really tricky and can be dangerous too.  Jim just read where people leave at high tide thinking that that is the safest time to go.  If you should run aground, thinking that ALL the water is deep, and then low tide comes, all the water can disappear from under your boat leaving you high and dry.  If the boat tips on its side, when the tide comes back in, it may flood your boat before the boat floats.  Consequently, we have been extremely cautious and have been running very slowly today.

We are now crossing over the Savannah River where the water is deeper, according to our charts and maptech, so we are running a little faster.  We have seen AT LEAST two sailboats hard aground since we left the dock.  By the way, we are now in the State of So. Carolina!

SIDE NOTE:  Saturday morning we found a box of “Krispy Cremes” (donuts) on our back deck – apparently compliments of the Thunderbolt marina….nice, eh?

Back to today….we just seem to go from one river to another, but it is still all intercoastal.  We have slowed down again as we would rather be ‘safe than sorry’!  Boating is really tricky down here!!  It is a nice day…a little hazy and, right now it is eighty-six degrees.

In the last few minutes, we have seen four different small boats way up on land – I don’t know if that’s a result of tides or possibly a past hurricane.

We just passed a sailboat stuck on a sandbar and tipped way to one side.  I hope he doesn’t get a boat full of water when the tide comes back in.  He obviously wasn’t watching the channel markers, as he is off to one side of the channel quite a ways – this is a totally different kind of boating down here!  Just one more thing about these channel markers down here….you know the old Power Squadron rule:  red, right, return?  Down here the markers keep changing – talk about confusion!

We can now see Hilton Head from here – in fact we are going right by it .  The water has opened right up and we are now on Calibogue Sound rather than the narrow river we were just on….a lot deeper water here so we can run fast again.

That was great while it lasted!  We just came off the sound and are entering another river.  Jim tells me the water depth is deeper in this river, thank goodness.  I don’t think I’ve taken my eyes off the depth sounder all day….today’s trip has been very tedious as we haven’t been able to relax for a second.  You can get yourself in trouble so easily.

We are back on another ‘Sound’ called Port Royal Sound with lots of deep water, so we are moving out again.

Beaufort is just ahead of us – it took us four hours to go forty-one miles because so much of it was very slow travel.

We arrived at the dock at 1:45 p.m. – wind blowing hard and the tide is coming in – current very strong.  I sure am glad the Nauti Gal has a lot of power, and even then Jim was really working at the controls.  I am sure you have concluded by now that all the docks down here are floating docks.  The tide here is normally around seven and a half feet, but we were told it can go as high as ten feet.  The name of the marina we are in is “Downtown Marina – Beaufort”.  It is ninety-two degrees right now.  Hey, we’re in So. Carolina!!!

Just a little bit about Beaufort….it was founded in 1711 and a lot of history here.  Unfortunately, coming in on a Sunday (and also Mothers’ Day) nothing is open except for restaurants….today, no mode of  transportation except our own feet, which we did do a little of.  However, after the ‘strained” day we put in, we didn’t walk very far.  The downtown area looked mostly like any other downtown.  I have the feeling to really get the feel of this city, you have to go on a tour, and we are leaving in the morning.  Just briefly, I’ll mention two of the historic homes – one was the headquarters for the Union during the Civil War – the other survived its use as a Union hospital during the Civil War.  Today it is privately owned.  Something else I thought was “interesting”…a church that was erected in 1724 has an ancient graveyard.  The tombstones in the graveyard served as operating tables for the wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War.  I read where there are about four different forts around this area, but we have to assume they are away from town, and again, we do not have any transportation this time to go visit them.

Destination for tomorrow is Charleston, So. Carolina!

Another pretty day with a lower temperature – around seventy degrees, but it feels good after all the hot and humid weather we’ve had.  I’m sure before we reach our destination, it will be hot again.

We ATTEMPTED to leave our dock at 8:30 a.m. – the wind was blowing hard, the tide was on its way out, and the current SO STRONG, we couldn’t get our bow away from the dock, even with all of our power.  It is hard to believe the current can be that strong, but it is.  The dock boys had to help push the bow away from the dock – we are now on our way!!!

Later….whoa, there ARE some narrow and shallow places along this river.  I’m not a real good swimmer, but I think even I could swim to either shore from here….that’s how narrow it is right where we are now.

We spotted a Viking Sportfish running pretty fast behind us, so we radioed them that we were in unfamiliar water, and it was quite obvious he has run these waters before, and asked if he would like to take the lead – he said he would, and we followed him all the way to Charleston.  It sure made the trip a lot easier for us, and a lot less stressful.  Except for slowing down for a lot of sailboats and other types of boats, we were able to run pretty fast the rest of the way.  We arrived in Charleston at 1:05 p.m., with a lot of wind and current (so what’s new?)  All of these dock boys are so used to dealing with wind, tides, and current, they are very, very helpful to boaters.

Jim is doing his usual first thing…..washing down the Nauti Gal who is again full of salt!  I already did my usual first thing…..I got the cabin all shipshape and of course typing my log for the day.  We are staying at The City Marina in Charleston….temperature now is eighty-seven degrees, but less humidity.  We are thankful for that!

A little bit of history on Charleston….this city was founded in 1670.  Charleston today is a city of pastel houses and tidy brick-walled gardens behind lacy iron gates.  Curiously, much of the city’s beauty stems from hard times.  In the years following the Civil War, little building or demolition was accomplished in depression-gripped Charleston.  While other cities tore down their old structures to build Victorian houses, the people in Charleston had to make do, fighting to keep the buildings they already had from decaying.  Because of this, Charlestonians are both friendly and haughty and are fiercely protective of their town and all it stands for.  But don’t confuse this with a small-town attitude.  Charleston is one of the south’s most sophisticated cities, though you’ll never hear it from the residents.  Another part of the beauty of Charleston is that the buildings are low, with no skyscrapers.  The tallest and most pronounced buildings in the city are the churches.  It is said that you can stand and gaze across the city from any direction and still be in sight of a church.

If I can think of anymore to say later (who, me?) I will get back to you!

We are still in Charleston….we woke up at 7:00 a.m., to another beautiful day with a temperature of sixty-four degrees!!  It was great for sleeping last night – we could actually have our windows open.  Since leaving Florida, we have had to live in air conditioning because of the extreme heat and humidity.

By 9:00 a.m.,(temperature was seventy degrees by then) we were waiting at the marina to be picked up by a city bus to take us to the downtown area.  We got off the bus close to “Waterfront Park” and walked all along the river and through the pretty park area with beautiful fountains.  We walked through Battery Park where there are still cannons from the Civil War and also statues.  We walked through the area that they call “Rainbow Row” – probably about thirteen “row houses” that are just beautiful, in their pastel colors – then you will find a number of brick houses after that.  We were really impressed with, not only the homes and other structures, but also some of the brick and cobblestone streets in Charleston. 

It is unbelievable how much restoration is now going on in Charleston – all kinds of structures and homes are being restored.  We then walked all over Charleston’s business district – the old section and the newer section.  We walked for at least two hours this morning, but because the humidity was down, it was very enjoyable.  We finally found our way to the Charleston Visitor Center where we boarded an air conditioned (small) bus that conducted tours.  We took a ninety minute narrated tour all over Charleston.  It was very interesting.  The bus made a stop at the “Waterfront Park” where we could get out for a few minutes.  Our bus driver was telling us about Hurricane Hugo that came through Charleston in September, 1989, with winds at 165 miles per hour!!  It did major damage!!  Funny thing was, Jim and I were in Charleston one month later for a convention and we saw all this terrible damage – we could see the water line on the second floor of these beautiful old homes.  This hurricane cost more than six billion dollars worth of damage and left thousands homeless.  Our bus driver also told us Charleston is right in the path for an earthquake….every one hundred years they figure it could happen….right now, they are seventeen years overdue!!!   J

We got off the bus and walked into the “Market Area” where many years ago this market was used as a city fish, meat, and vegetable market – it was never used as a slave market.  Today it is an Open Air Market leased out to people showing their wares.  Very interesting!

We finally found our way to the City bus stop again and boarded it back to the marina…the temperature when we got back was in the upper eighties.

Fort Sumter is way across the water from where we are….when we leave here tomorrow morning, we hope to get close enough to it to take a picture!

We have had a great day!!!!


Good morning, everyone!

We got underway early this morning – 7:17 – at slack tide without any problem.  Do you suppose we are getting used to dealing with tides, current, etc???

We thought we might run the ocean today, but the wind was already beginning to come up, so we are on the intercoastal and doing fine so far.

The temperature when we got up was sixty-two degrees, but has already climbed to seventy-two degrees in an hour.  It is pleasant and sunny.

I forgot to mention to you yesterday that on our bus tour in Charleston, we were taken out to the “Citadel” – that is quite a complex and very interesting.  Our driver reminded us of the story of the young lady who fought her way into the “Citadel”….remember, it hit the media big time??  He said the first few weeks of training are rough ones, even for the male cadets.  I guess this particular young lady was not prepared physically or mentally for it and dropped out after only five days.  Since then, four other young ladies have made it through!

By the way, Keith, we got as close to Fort Sumter this morning as we could by boat and took a couple of pictures!

Last night Jim tried and tried to upload a few pictures we took in Charleston, but to no avail.  He kept getting thrown off and the system would shut down on him.  He was so frustrated, he finally quit.  He will try again tonight and hope it works.

There are long stretches along the intercoastal today that seem so remote….where you see only trees and sea grass.  Then, lo and behold, there will be long stretches of homes with long docks out in front of them, with boats.

We just passed several boats that look like they could have been in a hurricane….they were scattered and broken up, and looked like they had been thrown up on the shore….eerie!

The current is very strong this morning as we are going against it as the tide is going out to sea.  We are going almost due east now.

We certainly have not seen near as many boats out here today as we normally do, with the exception of four sailboats soon after we left the marina.

We arrived at Georgetown Marina at 11:35 a.m.  As you can tell, we have just been taking our time.  However, Jim tells me we may have to “put the metal to the pedal” (as the saying goes) as he would like to be up in the Annapolis area by the time we leave the boat for a while to go home for our grandson’s Confirmation (June 8th).

A little history of Georgetown:  Georgetown was founded in 1730 and is the third oldest city in So. Carolina.  From the time it was established as a port of entry in 1732 until the Civil War, Georgetown and the surrounding area built vast riches by shipping rice, indigo and lumber throughout the world. The Civil War and a series of disastrous hurricanes (following the turn of the last century) all but wiped out the region’s rice and indigo trade, but the lumber industry remained strong.  Today, Georgetown’s steel plant and paper mill bustle with activity.

Georgetown is a pretty little town….Jim and I went on a walking tour – an attractive Harborwalk promenade extends along much of the waterfront.  Georgetown is more of a laid-back quiet community.

In the last three or so towns we have been in, we can’t help but notice the hundreds and hundreds of bikers in all of them.  All beautiful motorcycles parked everywhere and also driving through the cities.  They seem like really nice people (I think a lot of people think bikers are rough and tough guys and gals); however, they do a lot of good – especially raising money to help very ill children….we saw that for ourselves in So. Haven, Michigan when we were there on our boat.  Thousands of them were gathered doing a fund raiser for a young boy, not expected to live more than just a few weeks.  They had a truck there with the boy in it, and he had the thrill of going through his town along with all the bikers.  Anyway, I guess these bikers are headed to Myrtle Beach from here.

We have had another very good day, with plenty of water under us…..the Lord continues to watch over us, for which we are grateful.

Happy Birthday to Lee Hornack!

We woke up to our first rainy day since leaving Cape Coral; however, it has stopped now and it almost looks like it is trying to clear up.  The river is very smooth, which is good, as there is some debris in the water which is easier to spot with smooth water.  The temperature is sixty-four degrees but it really does not feel that cool.  The tide is still coming in and some of the trees are already standing in water.  They call this area the “low country”, and I can see why.  Hey, the sun is peeking out of the clouds!

We’ve really been doing a lot of “fast-slow” traveling this morning.  We will go a ways where we can make pretty good time, and then we will find miles of homes, boat docks and boats where we have to go “slow” speed.

Our maptech is showing that we are going right by North Myrtle Beach….it is 11:45 a.m.

There is a sailboat named the “Nauti GIRL” that we keep seeing and passing….it is sort of like the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’.  Anyway, as we passed them today, they got over too far to one side and ran aground.  He managed to get back into deeper water and was fine.

We continued on and got to an area where there were three different ways to go….and all three ways had red and green markers!  We chose the wrong one, of course, and we went aground!  Thank goodness for the power the “Nauti Gal” has….she got us back into deeper water!  We saw the “Nauti Girl” coming along, so we waited and followed her into the correct channel.  Even with our maptech and our paper charts, it was extremely confusing….Jim is hoping we didn’t “ding” our props going aground.

We passed into No. Carolina at 12:35 p.m. – we are waiting for an old swing-bridge to open for us and five other boats.  It is now 1:00 p.m.  Jim just told me that this old bridge is a pontoon bridge.

We just got word from the bridge-tender that because we are at low tide, it would be at least two hours before he could open the bridge and let us through.  So we have all dropped anchors and, I guess, have no choice but to wait it out!!   L   There are now ten boats waiting for the bridge to open…and we just got word that we could have a four hour wait!!!!!!  I just noticed a person WADING in the water under the bridge, so I have to believe that there is not an abundance of water at HIGH tide, let alone LOW.

A pretty thirty foot Bertram rafted off of us – it had been completely refurbished and repowered with diesels.  The young man running the boat was bringing it up the east coast for his boss.  His boss has a sixty foot Bertram that he keeps in Florida that this young man captains.  He (Steve) wants to have this thirty footer up in Annapolis by Sunday (he puts in long days each day) so that he can pick up a “Magnum’ and run it out to the Bahamas for another man.  When he is in Cape Coral, Florida, he works for “Sea Tow”.

The bridge opened for us at 3:30 p.m., and it was like letting a bunch of wild horses out of a stable!  You can sure tell the true boaters from the “cowboys”!!!  What we thought was rather funny was, a Coast Guard Boat led the whole troop all the way to Southport, where we are for the night.  In the beginning, though, some of the boats behind us were frothing at the bit to really take off….some of the “true” boaters, like us and others, were observing the “slow wake” zones, etc., and one guy in a big, new Hattaras got on the radio wanting to know if the ones ahead of him couldn’t go any faster!  Finally, he and a couple others peeled around the rest of us and took off….eventually, they ended up right behind the Coast Guard Boat and didn’t dare go any faster than the Coast Guard!!! 

We reached Southport at 6:10 p.m. – it has been a funny day….we had rain, then sun, then more rain off and on – the highest the temperature got today was seventy-five degrees, which is fine.  After we all got through the bridge, we had a lot of churned-up water all the way from the “cowboys” until we got to Southport.

Jim has rinsed off the boat and is now fueling it….lucky for us, they have a hose long enough to reach our slip.  It has been a very, very long day (almost eleven hours)…..we are very tired.  After we finish fueling, we will eat and then collapse!!

We are continuing up the intercoastal after leaving the dock at Southport at 8:10 a.m.  It is already seventy-four degrees and sunny.  We do have some fog out here so we are turning our radar on just to be on the safe side…right now the fog isn’t bothering us and we CAN see.

A boat right across the dock from us last night is also on the “Great Loop” cruise; however, they are on the first half of it, out of St. Petersburg, Florida.  We are amazed at the hundreds of boats doing the “Great Loop”….from sailboats to trawlers to boats like ours, and all sizes.  Some people love it so much, they do it year after year!

This salt water is SO HARD on boats though….while still in Cape Coral, Jim was constantly working on the “Nauti Gal” to keep her looking good and running well.  Each time a person takes their boat out in salt water, the first thing they do when they get back is to rinse/scrub the boat down (at least they should) because the boat is crusted with salt.

We know we would never want the “Nauti Gal” in Florida permanently because of all the work keeping them nice.  The little boat we keep in Florida is just the right size and small enough to stick in our garage when we are not there.  It is easy to rinse off when we come in off of the gulf.

The boat that was next to us last night winter-stores his boat at Pier 1000, just like we do.  It IS a small world.

It is 12:15 p.m. and we are at a boat yard called “Anchors Away Boat Yard”….a few miles back we went “hard aground” and, although Jim was able to get back into deep water again, we have never hit bottom that hard ever before.  We know we did damage this time because the boat just shakes and vibrates when you run it.  The boat yard is going to haul us and take a peek at our props….we always carry a spare pair of props with us, and are sure already that they will have to take our props off and put the spare ones on.  We just hope and pray we didn’t do any damage to our shafts.  The joys of southern boating!

Later… is the story:  the props definitely were bent like you wouldn’t way can we use those again!  The shafts are all okay, so we lucked out there, and no damage to the bottom of the boat.  The couplings are also fine….we lost one of our zincs (which they replaced) and one of our “cutters” was chewed up some (so they straightened that out).  The people at the boat yard agreed with us that we didn’t just hit bottom to bend the props so badly….they said we had to have hit something else down on the bottom….guess there is a pipeline that goes right through where we were, under the water.  They say it is a common thing around here to go aground….these guys all live here and said they have all gone aground at one time or another. Jim has already been on the phone talking to Pier 1000 ordering another set of props….hopefully, when we come home the first part of June, our new set will be there waiting for us!  I pray we don’t go aground again before we get home, because if we do, we don’t have a spare set to put on the boat.

We left there about 2:45 – too late to continue our journey today, so the fellows at the boat yard suggested a marina close by….we arrived at Harbor Village Marina at 3:00.  Very nice!  We didn’t put in a long day like yesterday, but it was indeed a very stressful day!  We are in Hampstead, No. Carolina.

We left Harbor Village Marina at 8:15 a.m.  The people at both the boat yard and Harbor Village Marina were very nice and very accommodating….I think the same people own both places.  In fact, a truck was available to us last night to go have dinner and also get a few things from the grocery store.

It is a partly cloudy day, but no rain.  The sun is trying to peek out – it is sixty-eight degrees outside.

We have two low bridges to go under today….we are going through the first one with seven other power boats and one sailboat.  When you have to wait for these low bridges to open (this one opens on the hour only) all the boats get all jumbled up together and, with all the narrow channels down here, it can be a mess – and even somewhat dangerous.

We hope to have a better day today than we did yesterday!  The Nauti Gal is running good again.  After what she went through yesterday, it just shows what a sturdy boat she really is that we didn’t have more serious damage.

It seems to us like the channels in So. Carolina and No. Carolina are so much narrower than the ones in Florida and Georgia.  Once in a while there will be an inlet coming in from the ocean….that’s where you get strong cross-currents.  Those currents can cause your boat to drift without you realizing it is happening, until you get in trouble, like we did yesterday.  I have said it before and I will say it again, this is a totally different kind of boating down here!!

Later….still cloudy and seventy-three degrees – no sun at all now.

We had planned on stopping at Morehead City, a popular place, I guess; however, we have passed it by (it’s only 1:30) and we would like to make up some of the time we lost yesterday.  Instead we will go on to a place called “Oriental Marina”, which is on the Neuse River. 

We plan on leaving here earlier than usual in the morning, hoping to cross Pamlico Sound – a big body of water 100 miles across.  We are told it can get rough if the wind comes up.  Usually mornings are the best time to go as the wind normally doesn’t come up until the afternoons…we’ll see!  If the wind is blowing in the morning, we do have the option to continue going intercoastal, but it is much slower.  Once we get across the Sound, we will be almost to the Virginia line.  Yea!!

We arrived at “Oriental Marina” at 3:05.  They had just finished a Sailboat Regatta so there were people everywhere celebrating, etc.  They had food and awards for everyone….a good time was had by all!  We thought this was going to be a very laid back place, but besides the sailors having their celebration, the people here are in the process of building nice three story condos (they already have a restaurant on the premises).  We were told that all the condos were sold except for two.  The owners of the condos can not be permanent residents though – they buy them and then they are rented out!

Jim has been having a time getting his pictures uploaded again….the computer just stops and he is shut down.  As soon as he can, you will get a few more pictures.

To our good friend, Spike, hang in there!  You and Kitty are in our thoughts and prayers daily!

More tomorrow……

We left our dock at 7:07 a.m., already knowing we wouldn’t cross the Pamlico Sound today, after listening to the forecast last night.

In order to get back into the intercoastal, you HAVE TO go straight out on the Sound for about eighteen miles to avoid shoal areas.  When we started out, we had two foot waves on our nose – it wasn’t long and we were getting four foot waves on our nose….we knew it wouldn’t get any better if we would have tried to cross the Sound.

We made a couple of turns and are now back on the intercoastal again where the water is calm.

We just had to cross the Pamlico RIVER and it is even pretty choppy!  We heard there were eight foot waves out on the ocean today.  We will be back into calm water – we hope – shortly.

It is very cloudy today…the sun is TRYING to come out, but don’t know if that will happen.  It is sixty-one degrees – this is the second day we have worn long pants and jackets.  The forecast for this coming week shows chilly, rainy weather.

We have gone both fast and slow today…..there was a long “ditch” (that’s what they call it) where we could have gone fast except Jim had read there would be a lot of debris in the water, and there was, so we went pretty slow through there.  There are some bays, and even rivers, that are extremely big where, if you follow the markers correctly, you can go through there fast.  However, these areas were quite choppy today.

Usually on the weekends you will see many fishing boats and small boats….not today!  It was a chilly and cloudy day…not one that would make people want to be on the water, unless you are traveling.

We arrived at Alligator River Marina at 12:39 p.m., and were glad to get in….the weather was getting worse as we went, water choppy, and cold.  We fueled, at 97 cents a gallon yet, when we got in and got into a nice, peaceful dock.  We weren’t here too long before it started raining, and has been raining ever since.  I HAD to get laundry done today, so I spent the afternoon doing that….along with a lot of other people.  Everyone coming into the marina agreed, it was a miserable day!!  We may or may not leave here tomorrow…it will be determined by the weather.  We are only fifty miles from the No. Carolina-Virginia state line.

We have a good, strong cell phone signal here, so Jim finally was able to upload a few more pictures and also update our map.  The last couple of days we have been in some areas that are a little remote, so Jim hasn’t taken any more pictures, but will when we get into some more interesting areas.

Talk to you-all tomorrow.

We left Alligator River Marina at 8:00 a.m.  It rained all night and still looks very wet outside, but it HAS stopped raining….temperature fifty-nine degrees and very cloudy.

When we got up, the flags were just fluttering a little….by the time we left the marina, the wind had really come up; however, we decided to try crossing the Albemarle Sound as it is only fifteen miles….not one hundred miles like the Sound we decided NOT  to cross yesterday.

We got through that all okay although it was pretty “sloppy” water. Now we will go through a cut, so we’ll be in calm water for a while.

Now we are starting across the Currituck Bay, which is a couple fewer miles than the Sound was that we crossed this morning….more “sloppy” water.  The wind just keeps blowing and blowing….but we made it and have been going through another cut, so the water is calm again.  It is now 11:00 a.m. and we have just crossed the No. Carolina-Virginia line.  Hurray!!  It seems like we were in No. Carolina for an eternity.

We had two bridges to go through this morning….I have to say, I sometimes wonder about some of these bridge tenders!  With the first bridge, there were five boats that went through together (we were the next to the last boat)….as we went through the bridge, we pointed back to let the bridge tender know that a sailboat was coming right behind us….in fact, he could see him coming….and he wouldn’t wait for him.  He closed the bridge just as the sailboat was to the bridge – that is just plain mean that he wouldn’t wait two more minutes!  This bridge and the second one open on the hour and on the half hour.  The second bridge was open as we approached it….he let the first boat, a sailboat, through and immediately closed the bridge even though he saw a bunch of boats coming.  So eight boats, including us, sat for a half hour plus ten minutes waiting for the guy to decide to let us through.  These areas where you sit and wait for bridges to open are usually very narrow areas, so you are having to constantly maneuver your boat to stay inside the channel and at the same time avoid the other waiting boats.

We only have a few more miles to go to our destination – we will stay at the “Atlantic Yacht Basin” in a town called Chesapeake-Virginia.  It is just south of Norfolk, Virginia.  The temperature went up to seventy-three degrees and the sun has come out.  Maybe we are leaving some of the bad weather behind us….we hope!

We arrived at our destination at 1:40 p.m.  This marina is right on the intercoastal and just before you go through a bridge and into a small lock – a 2.7 foot drop – so it has been fun watching the boats go by us, and congregating in front of us before they go through the bridge and lock.  We have seen some gorgeous, huge boats this afternoon…..a seventy foot boat and one at least one hundred feet plus others.  I guess the bridge and lock coordinate their timing so that no one has to wait very long to go through, and don’t start until 9:00 a.m.  We will be untied and waiting before 9:00.

More tomorrow……

We just pulled away from our dock at 8:30 a.m., and are waiting in line for the bridge to open at 9:00 a.m.  There are three cruisers and a sailboat ahead of us and three more boats coming behind us.  One is a really big one!  As soon as we get through the bridge, we immediately go into a lock – the one I told you about yesterday with only a 2.7 foot drop.

That didn’t take long… 9:10 seven power boats and three sailboats went through the lock.  The port side of this particular lock is padded and you just wrap your line around a cleat on the wall.  We went in on the starboard side (no padding) because we already had put our fenders out and the lines were ready to go.  It was an easy lock!

As narrow as some of these channels are, I really don’t know how some of these huge boats maneuver through them.  We’ve been through some channels where there is only two or three feet of water on each side….you don’t dare get out of the channel or you are in big trouble!

We have three more bridges to go through, and they open on demand….in fact, one is opening for all ten of us now.  This will be a short day for us as we are not that far from Norfolk.

Just going up the river this morning, approaching Norfolk, it is quite apparent that this is a city with much industry and much shipping.  Norfolk has traditionally been known as a major shipping port, but the cruiser’s options here have greatly increased over the past decade.  The Elizabeth River, which flows along Norfolk’s waterfront, marks the beginning of the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, if you are headed south.  We passed three or four barges, and also six passenger troop ships along the river.  We can now see Navy Carrier Ships alongside the river too.  Since 9/11, you have to stay five hundred feet away from these ships and they have them all cordoned off so you can’t get close to them.  Another incentive to stay away is the fact that they have little boats in the water with military on them and a machine gun mounted onto it!  This is most interesting to see! 

We arrived at the “Waterside Marina” at 10:50 a.m.  We plan to stay two nights and do some sightseeing as the marina is right down town.

Norfolk is a really pretty city with beautiful modern buildings all close to the waterfront.  I love the pretty brick sidewalks they have.  Everything is laid out so well here….Norfolk is reaping the benefits of urban revitalization.  Besides having lots of good shopping and lots of restaurants, they also have a  Naval Base, a Zoological Park, the Chrysler Museum, a Naval Museum and the Battleship “Wisconsin”.

We toured the battleship this afternoon….very interesting.  The battleship “Wisconsin” was launched on Dec. 7, 1943 and commissioned on April 16, 1944.  The warship reported for duty in the Pacific with the 3rd Fleet when the liberation of the Philippine Islands was underway.  In February, 1945, she was reassigned to the 5th Fleet and supported the landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  The “Wisconsin” entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in 1948, only to be recommissioned in March of 195l for the Korean War.  She was relieved of that duty in April, 1952, and embarked on a series of training missions in the ensuing years.  She once again entered the inactive fleet in 1958, where she remained until 1988, when she was reactivated.  She then steamed to the Persian Gulf in 1990 for Operation Desert Storm.  After the desert conflict was over , the battleship returned home to be decommissioned for the third time in September, 199l.  The “Wisconsin” remains in the Inactive Fleet, reserved for national emergencies.  Facts:  her length is 887 feet, 3 inches….beam 108 feet, 2 inches….draft (1988 full load) 37 feet, 9 inches….displacement (1988 full load) 57,500 tons….armament (1988) nine 16-inch/50 caliber guns, twelve 5-inch/38 caliber guns, 32 armored Tomahawk missile launchers, 16  Harpoon missile launchers, and four Phalanx CIWS.

The Naval Museum was also most interesting (we will go back there tomorrow).  We saw an impressive collection of ship models and retrieved underwater artifacts from the Civil War and the battle of the ironclads Monitor and Virginia.  Exhibits continue with the 20th century, including the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, and conclude with today’s Navy.

After all of this, we were ready to come back to the boat and unwind for a while.  This morning it was only sixty-two degrees……when we came back to the boat, our thermometer said it was eighty-five degrees.  When you are out of the wind, it is really nice and warm, but the wind is still cool.  We have had sunshine all day though!

We also saw the Cruise Ship “Seven Seas Navigator” – out of Nassau – leave this afternoon.  I wonder if they were headed back to Nassau!?

We are hoping that by the time we leave Norfolk, the wind will have switched  around to the south..which is what they are predicting.  So far all the winds we have had have been right on our “nose” out of the north.  The big Chesapeake Bay isn’t far from here and we would sure love a smooth run through there!

Talk more tomorrow….

Our plan was to stay in Norfolk today and leave tomorrow, Thursday, as that was supposed to be the best day this week to travel if you were going north.  When we got up this morning and listened to the forecast, it had been changed and TODAY was the best day for doing the Chesapeake Bay.  So we quickly got ourselves ready and left our dock at 8:45 a.m.  After we got into the river, we discovered our GPS was not working, our depth sounder was not working, and our radio was not working!  But our Maptech was working, and Jim said it was vital to leave today as the forecast for the rest of this week was bad – winds out of the north and thunderstorms predicted. 

We got out on the Chesapeake Bay and it was very nice – winds behind us…..out of the south.  It couldn’t be any better.  Since it was so nice, Jim got busy working to see if he could fix what our problem was….I drove the boat.  It didn’t take too long and Jim had the radio and the depth sounder working (thank goodness for that engineering degree) by bypassing the 32 to 12 volt power supply with a temporary connection to the l2 volt generator battery.

When we got within twenty-five miles of today’s destination, the winds switched on us (this was not in the forecast) and came out of the north again, right on our nose.  We are just thankful it didn’t get too rough on us.  The worse part was the rain….it was hard to see.  We did have our radar on so that you could tell where other boats were, etc., but in unfamiliar territory, it gives you a little bit of an eerie feeling.  The weekend forecast is for more of the same….rain and wind, and cold temperatures.

We arrived at a beautiful, privately owned marina called “Chesapeake Harbor”, at Annapolis, Maryland, at 4:45 p.m.  It is surrounded by beautiful condos, swimming pools, tennis courts (as though you could use them with this kind of weather) and a very nice restaurant which we went to tonight.  This is where we will leave the “Nauti Gal” for a while, while we go home for our grandson’s Confirmation and also to visit a sick friend.  It is a protected harbor and they have security here also.  We will be in this area for a while doing the “tourist” thing (after we rent a car), and also visiting with friends that live in the area.

Today we went 140 miles in eight hours….we arrived wet and cold….we have done three quarters of the Chesapeake Bay, so we feel good about that.  We won’t have much of it left to do when we leave here.

Since leaving Cape Coral, we have traveled approximately 1,195 miles!  If you asked us tonight, if we would turn around and do it again, we would say NO!  Maybe, in the future, MAYBE!  We have gone up the river twice by boat, and down once in September (with the Nauti Gal), and we felt that was a long and tiring trip….a work trip.  I guess we thought the east coast was going to be all fun and adventure….well, we HAVE had fun, and it HAS been an adventure; however, we had no idea what work the east coast would be!!  Of course, the weather, once we got into No. Carolina, has been all down hill!   We are hoping for better, warmer days soon!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRED!!!  We hope you had a good one!

It has been cloudy and cold all day here….Jim was busy this morning trying to fix his equipment that went out on him yesterday….he discovered it was a bad switch.  He also was talking to “Enterprise Car Agency” about renting a car….after waiting and waiting and a couple phone calls, he found out the two guys on a boat next to us had a car.  He asked if he could hitch a ride with them, and they said yes.  They took him over to “Enterprise”, he got the car, and went to “West Marine” and bought a new switch.  In the morning, he will hook things up and, hopefully, everything will be in good working order.

So, we didn’t get away from the boat until this afternoon….finally got downtown Annapolis!  It is a charming older town….it was settled in the mid-1600’s and incorporated in 1796.  Maryland’s capital city is an overgrown small town.  Annapolis offers an array of shops, restaurants, attractions and historic architecture whose diversity is unparalleled by any other port in the region. Annapolis serves as home to the U.S. Naval Academy and annually hosts some of the most prestigious sailing regattas in the world.

Among the most notable architectural wonders downtown is the Maryland State House, built in 1779, with its massive wooden dome and spire that continue to dominate the city’s skyline.  A walk along the City Dock is made more somber by the presence of a beautiful statue of Alex Haley .  It’s a jolting reminder that City Dock once was the site of slave auctions….and is purported to be the place where Kunta Kinte himself was sold (remember the movie “Roots?)

Back to the Naval Academy, I would be remiss not to mention that the 338-acre campus provides a surprising number of attractions to the public.  Although 9/11 has caused security to be tightened at this institution, founded in 1845, things have returned to a semblance of normalcy – access is reasonably open.

One thing we did not realize is….this is graduation weekend at the Naval Academy….this is when the grads receive their commissions.  So, this town is LOADED with people….it is a big weekend!

We haven’t had time yet (we just got here last night) to get in touch with our friends that live in the area, but we still will.

We hope all is well with family and friends (Spike, please know you are in our daily thoughts and prayers)…..please know we miss you-all.

Now that we have the “Nauti Gal” situated in a safe and secure marina….and since the weather is still wet and cold here in Annapolis, even too miserable to do the “tourist” thing….we have decided to go home earlier than we had originally planned.  We also want to get home to see our very sick friend, Spike.  Our grandson’s Confirmation is on June 8th, and we certainly don’t want to miss this very important occasion.  SO, I will be off the website for a while……we have to move the boat out of the marina in Annapolis by June 15th, so we will probably leave home to go back out east on either the 13th or the 14th of June.  The website will probably start up again on either the 15th or the 16th of June.

Until then…..