Google tells me that the 18th century Scots phrase “auld lang syne” translates literally to “old long since,” or roughly to “old times” or “old times past” in English. As I was looking back through photos from 2020, I found one from New Year’s Day 2020 that perfectly depicts the old times, in stark contrast to the times we live in now, post-COVID.
This was taken a year ago at Ann’s New Year’s Day party; a very casual, annual, bring-whatever-leftovers-you-have, game-day get together with friends. I look forward to it every year. But not this year, sadly. This picture really reminds me how long it’s been since I hung out with a bunch of people, in close quarters, heads together, laughing and hugging, with no masks, or worries (other than, perhaps, a lingering hangover). I do hope we get back to this, eventually. Soon. We simply must.
‘Tis the season of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count! I met up with Doray and a team of birders at Reimer Ranch yesterday. We hiked all day and saw so many birds. The first half of the day was cold, but by 4:30pm I had shed 3 layers. The former ranch, now a park, overlooks the Pedernales River. It’s a beautiful place to spend the day.
After Carolina Beach, Lori and I stopped in Southport, North Carolina at a marina on the Cape Fear River for one night. We used Lori & Mike’s folding bikes to go into downtown. It was t-shirt and shorts weather again!
We grabbed nibblies at the bar, watched a little football to keep up on our fantasy football team scores, and then headed back to the boat.
The next day, Tony joined us, and we left North Carolina, heading south in the Atlantic Ocean bound for Charleston, South Carolina. That is an overnight sail, so we took turns at the helm overnight; in the cockpit for 4 hours, sleeping 2 hours, repeat.
The sail to Charleston was great! We were able to sail with main and jib up all the way, pretty much on the same tack, in a straight line to Charleston ship channel entrance. It was, however, brutally cold. You take what you can get.
We stayed at anchor overnight in the Ashley River, across from the Battery in Charleston. Then, in order to keep moving, we opted to go south on the ICW. We enjoyed a beautiful night at anchor in the Ashepoo River.
The next day, we continued on the ICW, exiting out to the ocean in the afternoon at Port Royal Sound, bound for Brunswick, Georgia. It was not as cold as the other night, but this sail was an uncomfortable one. NNE winds, 15-20knots, gusting in the 30’s, almost directly behind us, with seas around 6′ which got bigger towards the morning. A bonus was a squall that hit about 3 AM, with rain and gusts up to 40knots. It was warmer, but it was 15 hours of pounding up and down waves. We couldn’t use the autopilot, with the stern being thrown with each wave, so we hand steered – or as I like to call it, wrestling the bear. Not to fear, though, we made it safely into port yesterday morning. As we entered St. Simon’s Sound at dawn, we went by the wreck of the MV Golden Ray, a massive car carrying cargo ship that heeled over and was run aground a year ago. Lori, Monte and I saw it last December when there to move Trident to Brunswick.
With a not-improving weather forecast, Trident will be heading down the ICW into Florida today. We hope to be in St. Augustine, Florida, by sunset tomorrow night.
Last night’s anchorage was in the Elizabeth River at Portsmouth. This is a view of the Norfolk waterfront across the river.
Today’s schedule was challenging. Ten hours of daylight to cover 60 statute miles, or around 52 nautical miles, while trying to navigate through 15 bridges and locks, 5 of which only open on the hour or half-hour, and maintaining an average speed around 5 knots.
We woke up before sunrise to be greeted by fog. We hoped it would lift quickly. We picked up anchor 15 minutes behind schedule, but only when we were able to see about a half mile.
Once underway we made up time and ended up a half hour ahead of schedule after the last bridge. The ICW was very crowded today, lots of boats passing one another only to have to wait together for the next bridge opening.
We were able to put up the jib to add a knot to our speed as we crossed Currituck Sound in the narrow channel. We needed all the time that we gained because when we made it to our anchorage it was 30 minutes after sunset.
Long day, but I loved it! Lori cooked a delicious dinner and we turned in early. More tomorrow…
We baked in the sun while seeking refuge at the lake from the 100 degree temps this weekend. Julie joined us on Saturday afternoon. We stayed the night. We floated, kayaked, SUP-ed, and played on the lake with Marty, Sue, and some of the other sailors with boats nearby. I was tuckered out by the time we got home Sunday night. That’s hard work.
I celebrated my friend, Ann, and her well-earned retirement today. She spent a rewarding career as a school-teacher; and a damn good one. I am happy for her to explore the next decades doing whatever her heart desires.
Last night I ventured downtown to celebrate Lori’s birthday. It was nice to catch up with everyone that could make it. In the midst of the state of emergency declarations and the cancellation of SXSW, it felt odd to be walking along not-busy streets of South Congress where it would have otherwise been packed shoulder-to-shoulder with crowds. We are living through some weird times.
Doray was in North Austin for a few days this week to watch grandkids play in a basketball tournament, so Tom came up as well to stay over Saturday night for dinner and cards. Monte whipped up his dough, and we enjoyed savory pizza goodness. Our version of Brick Oven’s Tuscan Truffle pizza:
Remnants of a Margherita pizza and a Meatasaurus pizza:
Michael & Amber gifted us several tickets to see an Austin band with them and a bunch of their friends tonight, Extreme Heat. They are a self-described funk and soul band that’s been playing in Austin since 1977. And they are one of the Austin Music Award nominees for Hall of Fame artist this year. I really enjoyed the show. They were great! We asked Mike and Joel to join the party as well. Nice venue, great tunes, a little dancing. Very nice.
Last week, Monte and I flew to Charleston to meet up with Lori, to crew for her as she moved S/V Trident south to Brunswick, Georgia for the rest of the winter.
Trident in her slip in Charleston is in the foreground, to the right, of the picture below, with 2 tankers getting ready to pass nearby in the narrow Cooper River ship channel just outside the marina, and the Ravenel Bridge in the background. The two-masted schooner at the dock to the left is the 140′ Spirit of South Carolina. We finagled our way on board her to watch the Charleston Christmas Boat Parade up close the night before we departed.
After we landed in Charleston, I had the Uber driver make a side trip to my old house. I moved many times when I was a kid. When I lived in Charleston, I was around 7 to 9 years old, and I think it is the first place I lived where I have lots of my own, real memories – as opposed to memories from snapshots, stories, or individual moments in time. The old chez:
After provisioning and finishing the short pre-departure list of boat chores, we had a chance to walk around Charleston a bit, and sample its great seafood, which was nice. I would like to come back with more time to see the sights. The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park:
Colorful housefronts along Rainbow Row:
We took the Intercoastal Waterway from Charleston to Savannah, anchoring one night in a creek just off the ICW, and staying at marinas in Beaufort and Savannah. We strolled around Beaufort’s oak-lined and moss-draped historic streets, making a stop by the house where The Big Chill was filmed. We had a lovely visit with our niece and her family in Savannah. Amy Lee gave us the best car-tour of its historic downtown, as a slow rain fell. Then we took the outside ocean route overnight from Savannah to Brunswick.
It was very COLD overnight on the ocean, but we made it! Another adventure in the books.
Last night Monte and I met Joel downtown. He’s been a friend of ours for about as long as we have lived in Austin, and he has enjoyed (?) some of our most exciting moments sailing on Lake Travis. And, he STILL wants to hang out with us!
We bumped into a couple of our friends, and Joel bumped into a couple of his friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy yourselves, and enjoy the friends and family that you are blessed to share it with.
I think I’m on a roll with this boat canvas thing. I made a companionway cover for Marty & Sue’s boat. I love the color. It’s insulated, with a layer of Reflectix between two layers of marine Sunbrella. Stitching it was a bit like wrestling a bear at times, but my new machine handled it well. 🙂