MM180.

Day 8 – 3 bridges. 22 miles. We finished up last minute chores this morning, and left the slip at slack tide, around 2pm. Goodbye Beaufort!

Since we left in the afternoon, today was a short mileage day. We passed lots of small boats and shrimpers.

But we took a looong time to get there. We pulled out the jib and gained two or more knots. Tonight we are at anchor off the Neuse River, in the mouth of the South River. We anchored exactly at sunset here. A few minutes later, the full moon rose over the trees. Just beautiful!

Tomorrow’s a new day on the ICW.

Beaufort.

Day 7 – Lay day. Provisioning, geocaching, laundry, sightseeing, and a nice dinner out.

Beaufort (pronounced “bow-furt” not to be confused with “bue-furt” which is in SC) is a quaint seaside town. North of here the ICW changes from a narrow ditch, to more challenging, open waters of the Neuse River, Pamlico Sound and Albermarle Sound. We’re hoping to put the sails up at some point this week. But today we’re just hanging around the town.

Sunrise at the waterfront boardwalk…

One of two geocaches logged. Sneaky, eh?

We used the marina’a courtesy car and drove to the grocery store for supplies. Then we toured the North Carolina Maritime History Museum.

Pirates were a real thing here 300 years ago. Blackbeard started pirating in 1716. In 1717, he captured a French ship and turned it into his flagship, renaming her Queen Anne’s Revenge. A year later it ran aground in Beaufort Inlet. He died in late 1718. Pirating is hard. The wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge wasn’t found again until 1996, about a mile and a half from where we are right now.

After the museum, we enjoyed some fine libations, and dropped a few Benjamins at the local shops.

We made friends with Freddy and Alvin, our dock-neighbors on the 100+’ sloop Miniskirt. They are experienced crew and it was nice to meet them. She’s a beautiful boat.

MM202.

Day 6 – 2 bridges. 27 miles. When we left this morning there was a parade of shrimp boats and tugs; more than we’d seen so far.

Today was supposed to be a short day but we were fighting mysterious tidal currents so we ended up going between three and four knots for most of the day. Coming into Beaufort Inlet we passed this beautiful catboat. This one’s for Monte…

Tonight we are at a marina in Beaufort, NC. We are 3 slips down from this badboy, the S/V Miniskirt.

When Lori checked us in we got two wooden nickels for free beers at the marina bar. Let me tell you, my Yuengling went down fast. It was HOT!

I enjoyed visiting with friends of Lori’s from way back. They gave us a quick driving tour of the area. We walked out to the Atlantic.

MM229.

Day 5 – 5 bridges. 56 miles. The new thing today was having to time our arrival at bridges that only open on the hour, or on the hour and half hour.

We had to dodge some hellacious thunder and lightning storms by doing circles for a bit. The currents seemed to be fickle today. There are so many inlets to/from the Atlantic that one minute we’ll have the tide with us and then we cross an Inlet and then the current turns against us. Where inlets and rivers cross the ICW, sand builds into shallow shoals. We passed this one where the locals had erected a flag, a palm tree and a parking meter with a cleat on the side for boats to tie up. 🙂

The ICW in these parts flows right past the Marine Corps’ Camp LeJeune. The ICW is sometimes closed here for hours due to live ammunition fire exercises.

Target practice…

There were no live fire exercises today. But we had originally planned to anchor right off the ICW here. We had to abandon that plan due to the anchorage being closed for military exercises. We saw a space age amphibious vehicle enter right in front of us.

I wonder what they would have done if we pulled in there to anchor.

So we continued 15 miles farther north than we’d planned to be today, and are at a lovely anchorage at the town of Swansboro. We grilled kebabs, watched a wedding reception on the waterfront, watched the boat swing until the currents changed 3 hours after high tide, and took in another lovely sunset.

MM285.

Day 4 – 2 bridges. 30 miles. We got off the dock easily this morning and headed on our way by 9AM. Every stretch of the ICW has been a little different each day. Today took us through the Cape Fear River. We had the tide against us for a couple hours and it was slow going through mostly sea-like conditions in the wide and deep shipping lanes.

We then turned back up into the ICW. Lori found a website where the Corps of Engineers posts images of current depth soundings all along the ICW, which provide the latest status on shoals and problem areas. We referred to that along the way. So we knew we were in for a couple of very low stretches today. We actually bumped bottom once today!

We pulled into Wrightsville just in time to get hit by our first thunderstorm/deluge as we were anchoring. Not bad. I’ll take it.

We grilled on the boat and rocked out until sunset. It was another lovely night.

MM315.

Day 3 – 17 bridges (yes, 17). 58 miles. Today brought us across the South Carolina border into North Carolina.

Captain Lori picked the departure time perfectly, which isn’t easy with tides and currents being different all up the ICW, and worrying about clearance under bridges and up the channel given changing depths.

Again, we lucked out and were not hit by the storms around us. Today’s challenges were long stretches where the current was against us, which slows us down, and navigating the areas of the ICW that cross river inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. The coast guard temporarily moves the channel markers to safely navigate changing shoals in these areas. Oh, and there was that one jackhole in a fishing boat who nearly ran into us from behind at high speed as he wasn’t paying attention. Luckily he looked up at the last minute and we only got water from his boat spray in the cockpit.

We started the day running up the ICW behind Myrtle Beach. Lots of homes and boat traffic.

Civilization, bridges and traffic from air and from sea. ICW kitsch… Swing bridges that opened when asked nicely… More kitsch…First channel marker in North Carolina…

It turned beachy at Shallote’s Inlet. If you look closely you can see the surf breaking on the Atlantic side… And we got to see the back side of many beach homes…Home for the night…

MM373.

Day 2 – Two bridges. 47 miles. We had storms all around us but were only hit by a few sprinkles. Still, we move along at about 6 mph, looking at tide tables, currents and the waterway guide to time arrivals along the way. We just keep following the magenta line on the charts.

We hit some of our shallowest water today, only about 6 feet deep, which is a little close for our 5 foot deep keel.

The ICW scenery changed for us today from a narrow ditch surrounded by low, grassy marshes, to a very wide and winding river surrounded by tall moss-covered cypresses and pines.

Morning scenery…

Afternoon scenery…

We are staying the night at Osprey Marina, which is fitting, because we saw about a hundred ospreys today!

MM420.

Day 1 – Four bridges. 52 miles. We decided to go 10 miles farther than we’d planned today. We are anchored in the South Santee River for the night. There is one other sloop a couple hundred feet away, which is odd since we only passed one other sailboat all day.

But this is a really beautiful spot; surrounded by nature preserve on all sides. AND we, surprisingly, have two bars of cell signal!

We saw much of South Carolina’s marshy Low Country today. I logged many birds through binoculars. A Great Day!!!

A far-away view of Charleston waterfront from the harbor…

We celebrated Day 1 after we anchored with a glass of bubbles.

This is what a 63′ mast looks like when it passes under a 65′ bridge. Whoa Nellie!

It’s beautiful here at our anchorage…

Sunset!

MM472.

I have arrived in Charleston to help Lori bring Trident up to Norfolk. We plan to take the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which winds its way through coastal marshes and towns, through countless bridges and locks, crazy strong currents and tidal flows, and some very shallow and narrow water passages. We hope to make 40-50 miles a day. Norfolk is at MM 0.

We had time for a short visit to the historic downtown last night, then drove to Sullivan’s Island for a delicious send-ourselves-off dinner.

The boat…

The marina @ St. Johns Yacht Harbor…

Shadowy oaks in the Battery…

Crossing the Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River (by car this time, the easy way 🙂 ).

EP.

A week ago, Monte, Susanne and I headed out from Austin, on a road trip to Estes Park, Colorado, to join in Dan and Erin’s wedding celebration.  We left at 4AM CDT, and pulled in to our destination at about 7PM MDT.   It was a long day of driving, but getting there made it all worth it.  I’ve never been to Estes Park before, but it is BEAUTIFUL!   It lies at an entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, surrounded by mountain peaks and streams, and is teeming with wildlife.  The town offers nice restaurants, breweries, music, festivals and all sorts of activities to tire you out.

We wore out our hugging muscles, but a good time was had by all.  After several days of visiting and sight seeing, we said our goodbyes and dropped Susanne off at Denver International Airport and then continued to made our way home.  We stopped overnight in Amarillo and then popped into Lubbock the next day to look for burrowing owls and to tour a winery, in the heart of Texas wine country’s vineyards.

A view of Lake Estes with the town of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains in the background…

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We drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park, but the Trail Ridge Road was closed at Rainbow Curve, so we had to turn around at about 10,800′. We couldn’t do the complete drive across the Continental Divide.  But, the views were spectacular.  We got snowed on, and took way too many pictures.  I saw several lifer birds, a heard of elk, a bunny, and a varmit or two.

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Leaving Amarillo in the morning, we drove along historic Route 66 and made a stop at Cadillac Ranch. I wish I could have seen this back in its hey-day.  Now the cars are covered with ever-changing spray paint grafitti.   Sadly, you can see all the trash left on the ground by the “artists.”   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped in Lubbock for lunch, and a tasting at McPherson Cellars Winery.  We also successfully tracked down some burrowing owls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I enjoy road trips.  I enjoy seeing family.  When they can be combined, it’s all the more special.

Family time.

I enjoyed my extended weekend in Seattle. The wedding was the reason for the visit, but we used it as an excuse for multiple family gatherings. Noreen and David hosted rehearsal dinner on Friday, a post-wedding-reception evening party on Saturday, and a backyard BBQ with yard games on Sunday. They allowed for good visits with all my siblings, nieces and nephews, and a grand-nephew in one place – a first in a very long time.

The weather gods didn’t smile on the outdoor wedding, as it rained all afternoon. But, it was a truly lovely service and reception. God bless Neil and Miranda’s marriage. ❤️

When Memorial Day finally came along, we drove up to Paradise on Mount Rainier. It has been over 40 years since I last visited the park. We hiked a bit up the mountain, in the snow, and took in the views. It wasn’t a crystal clear, blue sky day, but it was majestic, nonetheless.

Mount Rainier National Park lodge at Longmire…

Just a pretty little waterfall…

And a prettier, bigger waterfall…

The view from the hike above Paradise, at about 6000’…

Now, I’m on my way back home. My flight flew past the north face of Mount Saint Helens. You can see the blast damage to the cone on this side of the volcano from its 1980 eruption. 

Mountain peek.

I flew to Seattle for my nephew’s wedding this weekend. I was looking forward to the stunning fly-by of Mount Rainier, but the clouds were high and thick and did not afford the usual view. I snapped a picture as we flew over the 14410′ high peak at about 17000′. Can you spot the top of the peak?

Sometimes the stars align, sometimes they don’t.

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A week ago, I flew to the Bahamas to crew on Trident with Lori and Mike to bring her back to the United States.  Our destination was Charleston, and it would take about a week to make our way from Marsh Harbour, allowing a bit of time to wait on a weather window.

We pulled away from the slip less than an hour after I arrived, right on schedule.  But as soon as we did, there was a problem.  We couldn’t make more than two knots in forward, regardless of RPM.  I guess the problem had been intermittent, but deteriorating, and it was not a good situation to make a gulf stream crossing.

So, we dropped anchor in Marsh Harbour and started to do problem determination, and then line up a mechanic.   Things work on island time in the islands – go figure.  And so responses by phone and email/texting could take a day or two.  After consults with several mechanics, a couple of whom visited the boat at anchor, and a few calls to boatyards and part suppliers, a week had flown by.  But, finally, on Monday everything came together to make a plan.  A Yanmar-certified boatyard would haul the boat out, order and install the needed parts, and do some other minor maintenance.  The crossing will have to wait.

Things didn’t turn out as originally planned, but we made the most of it.  In between Lori & Mike coordinating with mechanics, we made visits via water taxi to Hopetown on Elbow Cay, Man-o-War Cay, and a visit with old friends, Tony & Michelle, on Green Turtle Cay.

The meals are always excellent on Trident, and on our last night, we had surf, turf, and yet more turf, as we tried to eat the best of what food was left in the freezer, which had to be emptied and disposed of in preparation of hauling the boat out.

So, I flew back to Austin last night from Marsh Harbour, instead of Charleston, and am happy to be home.

I enjoyed spying some of the local bird species, logging a bunch of lifers!  I enjoyed a full moon, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, some snorkeling, and a dose of sea air.

During our week at anchor in Marsh Harbour, the boats near us were constantly changing, as they would come for a day or so and then depart.   One day we came up to the cockpit, looked around, and saw that we were anchored between S/V Northern Star and S/V Southern Cross  🙂  so I guess S/V Trident was right where she was supposed to be at that moment in time.

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Pretty birds.

Memories of most birds that I identify through binoculars reside only in my mind’s eye.  Though, occasionally, I am able to capture a clear photo.  These are a few of the 100+ species logged on my trip to High Island and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge over the weekend.

Chestnut-sided warbler:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Golden-winged warbler:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mom and Dad Great Egret at the nest with their babies:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-billed cuckoo:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eastern kingbird:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Neotropic cormorant:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA