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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.

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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.

Nice.

It was a good day on the lake. No wind. But lots of sun, it almost reached 100 degrees. Lake water temps are perfect right now, 83 degrees. We floated all day to beat the heat. Air conditioning at the slip sure helps, too.

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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Nature’s stained glass.

I’ve been home for two weeks, catching up on the homefront.   Noreen and David visited for a week, and we got out for a sail on Lake Travis with them.  I’m enjoying watching the last few weeks of Winter happen in the Hill Country.  This is the tail end of last night’s sunset, through the trees in my back yard.

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Next chapter.

I’m headed home today. This closes the “Help Lori get to the Islands” chapter for Monte and me. One year ago today we were in Bradenton, Florida readying the new-to-her boat to cross the Gulf of Mexico to bring Trident née Ariadne to Kemah for fixes and updates in preparation for cruising by the end of 2018.

It’s been a lot of work – a labor of love; but also a real treat to have been aboard for shakedown cruises and the trip through the Florida Keys and across to the Bahamas. I’m thankful to Lori and Mike for sharing their adventure. Bon voyage Trident!

I’m looking forward to the next adventure/project/travels/chapter – whatever 2019 brings.

Here are a few highlights from the last few days in the Abacos…

Dolphins swam along in the bow wave on our sail from Great Sale Cay to Allans-Pensacola Cay!

The Bahamian sunsets never get old…

I landed this Spanish Mackerel!

New Plymouth waterfront, on Green Turtle Cay…

The Atlantic Ocean…

I even found a few bits of sea glass on the beach!

We go to come back…

Super Bowl Sunday.

We’ll, the Seahawks didn’t make it this year. Instead of cheering them on in the big game, I continued to crew for Lori as she takes Trident across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.

After spending over two weeks in Biscayne Bay waiting to go, Sunday was the first ideal weather opportunity, and it was a short window.

We moved anchorage Saturday night to just inside the ocean between Fisher Key and Virginia Key. It provided a great view of the Miami skyline.

We left Miami Sunday morning at 3AM, on a course Lori set for West End on Grand Bahama Island, where we clear customs and spend one night before making our way farther east to the Ábacos.

I never crossed the Gulf Stream before, and I’ve learned how it should be navigated as a part of this whole adventure. Our destination, West End, lay about 82nm NE of Miami (a bearing of 53 degrees on the compass). But we can’t simply head directly for West End on a course of 53 degrees, because the Gulf Stream will push us north 2 to 2.5 nm every hour we stay in it, which is 10-12 hours. Not good. So, instead, we aim south of our desired destination by about 25 nm (a course heading of 71 degrees instead of 53) and if our math is right, we should pop out at West End at about 3PM.

It was a very calm day so we motored the whole way. Sunrise…

We arrived on time, at the right place, and pulled into our slip at the Old Bahama Bay Marina. We hoisted the yellow quarantine flag until Capt. Lori went ashore to clear in the crew. We skipped the big game but enjoyed our fill of conch and island drinks, which was my real superbowl. Sunset at the marina…

Two weeks before the mast.

With less than 18 hours preparation, Monte and I packed a bag and grabbed a flight to Naples, Florida, to meet up with Lori and Mike to crew for Trident’s crossing to Key West, and their trek up the Hawk Channel to the southeast coast of Florida.

Sunrise at Naples City Dock as I left for an early morning provisioning run with Uber…

Our spreaders were full of rose-ringed parakeets…

The overnight crossing was uneventful, except for an endless procession of crab pot floats to be avoided on a moonless light. The Southern Cross is visible from down here, and I’ve seen it low on the horizon nearly every night. What a treat.

We spent 4 nights on a mooring ball in Garrison Bight on the northwest side of Key West. It was a 15-20 minute dinghy ride to shore. So we got pretty wet most rides, but the showers and laundry ashore were well kept. There is a free shuttle about a mile from the dinghy dock that loops through the historic and tourist attractions, which we took every day we were there. Lori and I got tattoos! Well, temporary tatts – they’ll last two weeks or so.

Chickens everywhere in Key West…

Trident on her mooring ball at Key West…

We took a day trip to nearby Sand Key to snorkel which was surprisingly nice. Florida’s marine sanctuary system is great – all well marked reefs with free mooring balls…

After leaving Key West, we enjoyed a lovey long day sail with all sails up and engine off. We were treated to a personal air show from four U.S. Navy pilots off Boca Chica – circling the boat and one even buzzed over us upside down about 200 feet above the boat. Pretty cool. We anchored off Bahia Honda overnight.

The next day we headed to Marathon for our first marina stay in a week. We stopped at Sombrero Reef Light for another nice afternoon snorkel. The Marathon Marina is nice. We stayed for two days and nights, full of boat work and provisioning. We did treat ourselves to a pub crawl the last night by dinghy to a couple places and were treated to yet another beautiful sunset.

After Marathon, we anchored off Long Key. And the next day headed to the south end of Key Largo. We stopped along the way at another snorkel spot, Hen and Chickens Reef. We saw a nurse shark, turtle, many barracuda, and reef fish. We anchored at Rodriguez Key for the night.

My shark buddy… can’t believe I’m saying that…

We had to decide whether to stay a couple more nights anchored off Key Largo, or make a longer-than-usual run up to Biscayne Bay to anchor and find shelter for the big cold front headed our way. We decided to head for Miami. We wanted to anchor in the tiny but well-protected No Name Harbor at Cape Florida, but it was pretty packed. So we anchored outside and weathered the big blow overnight and the following day or two.

Sunrise glow in the horizon leaving Key Largo…

Cape Florida Light on Biscayne Bay…

The view from the Boater’s Grill at No Name Harbor – good eats but no vacancy…

Wrapping it up.

We took the scenic way home from Rachel’s, dropped Rebecca and Aaron off, and then came home and whipped up a delicious risotto for dinner.

The next day we stopped by my nephew Jared’s new house, and then had a fun family get together at Noreen and David’s.

Then, FINALLY, we had one glorious, clear summer day on Hood Canal. Jake went for a hike with us and then we met up with James for dinner.

These are two pictures from the same place, taken at about the same time of day. The first is from one of the smoke-filled days, the second one was taken 5 days later.

I MUCH prefer this one….

A dose of salt.

I’ve just returned from a week of sailing down the Texas Gulf coast from Galveston to Port Aransas and back.   Monte and I joined Mike to crew for Lori on a shakedown cruise on Trident as she prepares for her cruising life later this year.  The week flew by, with the drive to the coast, 2 days of boat projects in Kemah, then anchoring overnight off Galveston Island’s Moody Gardens before sailing in the Gulf of Mexico for 450-ish nautical miles roundtrip, including an overnight watch while sailing each way, and a two night stay at Port Aransas Municipal Marina, and back again.  It was a fun trip – lots of laughs, sun and wind.  The weather was very different from February when we sailed across the Gulf – much calmer seas and weather this time, and MUCH hotter.

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S/V Trident – our ride
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Our route from Kemah to Galveston to Port Aransas and back
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Miles and miles of oil rigs
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Shrimpers & fishermen everwhere
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The Colonel paddleboat off Galveston Island
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Sunrise from the marina in Port Aransas
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Sunset out in the Gulf, tankers and fishing boats in the distance

July 4th Eve!

We took a boatload out to watch fireworks on Lake Travis tonight. A good time was had by all.

A pretty sunset:

And one shot of the fireworks:

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What a fun night to enjoy with friends.

Back on the water.

There were good winds today, pretty steady at 20 knots, so we headed to the lake. We washed a thick layer of pollen off the boat and then we were good to go. We sailed for a couple hours and then picked up Michael and Amber for more sailing and then enjoyed sunset back in the slip.

A good day…

Back to black.  

We returned last night after our extended Eclipse 2017 trip; we took the opportunity to visit family in the area while we were up there.  We drove 19 hours straight across five states, and got home a little after midnight.  We wanted to get home to check on things, given Hurricane Harvey’s arrival the night before.   I’m thankful that the only bad thing so far is that our power is out.  I’ve no idea how long it will take to restore.  But it’s not a big deal for us; it’s nice to be home. 

This is a view of the sunset from the highway outside Dallas last night.  I’m praying for the folks on the Texas gulf coast and southeast part of the state.