Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fernandina Beach FL and St-Marys GA

Believe it or not we finally made it to our first sand beach on this trip. So far, the scenery consisted of woods or marshes and even though we are on a boat, the paradox is that it is very hard to stop on a beach when we are on the ocean. The fact is that waves and currents make it almost impossible to anchor close to a beach on the East Coast of the USA. In Fernandina Beach we were able to anchor in a river behind the city and the beach was at about 10 minutes biking distance. As you can see the temperature was quite cool and we had the beach almost to ourselves.

Fernandina Beach had Wallmart, supermarket and Laundromat at biking distance. Yep, doing the laundry is not what it used to be. Pay attention to the red bags below the white laundry basket. These are coolers with hard plastic boxes inside that we found at Wallmart and figured we could attached them to the bike rack and use them as back panniers. Having these new coolers we didn’t need the other ones we had that were pretty much just using space on the boat. So we gave the old coolers to a local fisherman who gladly took them and after chatting a few minutes with us gave us two large fishes he just caught. Fish it was for dinner that night and believe me it was fresh.

The wildlife is also changing around here. These two pelicans were taking a break on the dock of the local marina not much bothered by us. The other picture shows that when you raise the anchor you really don’t know what you can find. I was preparing the navigation instruments when Danielle came running back from the bow yelling “Oh my god Roger, there this big thing on the chain yearrkkkk! Come get rid of it.” I obviously though that an earth worm or something alike got caught on the anchor but found instead this thing coming directly out of a Jules Verne’s novel caught in the chain. We have no idea what it is but it sure makes you step up. The main round shell was about 8 inches in diameter.

For the US Thanksgiving (on November 27th) we went to St-Marys about 8 miles from Fernandina Beach where every years since 2001 the local hotel offers for free, turkey and ham to sailors for the Thanksgiving. The boaters for their part bring the side dishes in this big pot-luck. We brought a banana bread we cooked the night before and shared a good meal with the crews of the other 50 or so boats who showed up for the event this year.

From Charleston SC to Beaufort SC

We left Charleston SC and reached Beaufort SC a small town not too far from the Georgian border. In our last post we gave you some pictures of Charleston but I didn’t want to miss that last one showing the bridge crossing the Cooper River. Danielle teases me all the time and says that I have a fixation on bridges; but look at that and don’t tell me it’s not a beauty!

We were not supposed to stop in Beaufort SC (not to be confused with Beaufort NC) but on our way out of Charleston the wind died on us and we ended up following the ICW and stop at first for two hours in that little town to get some milk. But we liked the place so much that we stayed two days. Also the wind was too strong offshore for our next passage on the ocean so that eased our decision to stay too. Here are three pictures showing how nice the town was. They have trees so old that the streets are built around them. If you like the place please take note that one house out of four was for sale but not necessary for cheap though.

On our way out of Beaufort SC we went for another leg on the Big’O and our friends on “Goin South” took that picture of Chocobo sailing toward Fernandina Beach FL. The overnight passage took us 26 hours and we had a steady wind all the way that made the 120 nautical miles (223 Km) go pretty fast. We did this stretch because we needed to get a bit faster on our way south and unfortunately this made us skip the entire Georgian shore and jump directly to Florida.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Charleston, South Carolina

After sneaking through the ICW we made it to Charleston in South-Carolina, the oldest city in the state. We anchored the first night in front of the City Marina where two rivers merged in their way to the ocean. Below you can see the thousands of birds that were flying over the anchorage and stopping on the rigging of the sailboats. The anchorage was a hell with the currents from the two rivers merging and creating literally a whirlpool where to boats will go in all directions and risk colliding together. After one night we went to the City Marina.

While in Charleston we took a guided tour to the Magnolia Plantation, which is about 300 years old. The place is just a paradise on earth. In addition to the main house they built over the years sumptuous gardens and ponds for their leisure.

Here you can see the main house of the plantation and the white bridge crossing the beautiful pond filled with black water. This water darken naturally around here by a certain chemical in the water that makes the water dark and reflects light in such a way to make gorgeous landscapes. The plantation that possessed many slaves in the old days is still privately own by the same family since its creation but is now a family museum open to visitors. Again we couldn’t take any pictures inside the house itself. If someone could explain me why it is like that with historic buildings I’d really like to know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leaving New-Bern NC, arrived in Georgetown SC, en-route to Charleston SC.

Danielle thought I didn’t put enough picture of New-Bern in our last post so here are three more pictures showing the beautiful houses you find in the historic district as well as one more picture of the gardens of the Tryon’s Palace. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside the Palace so we cannot show you what it was like but if I have to describe it I would say it is luxurious with many high ceiling rooms but, strangely enough, the rooms were relatively small by today’s standards.

We got all our parts delivered at the UPS Store in New-Bern. However, the interesting thing about this is one of the item was a new folding bicycle for Danielle. We bought her a folding bicycle at Canadian Tire before we left but it is just too hard on her legs for long distance rides. It was cheap but you get what you pay for. For me we bought a Dahon Mariner D7, a much better and expensive bike that would fit my height. So we decided to buy another Dahon for Danielle and got it delivered. The UPS store is about 6 Km from the boat and if we use our bicycle to get there, how do we bring the new one back? Well Danielle took my Dahon and I walked. It was a hot and sunny day but walking was too slow so I started running, which I did on and off all the way; that was quite an exercise. The day after, we were stuck at the anchorage because the bascule bridge closing the path was broken so we were running out of water. We borrowed a bunch of jugs from our neighbor boat “Kite” and carried 50 gallons (500lbs) of water in the dinghy from a close marina to our boat. Finally, when the bridge reopened we went to the only fuel station in New-Bern to get some Diesel but the pump was broken. They had a working pump for the trucks but it was about 200m from the boat so I had to carry by hand 40 gallons (~250lbs) of diesel from the pump to the boat. I don’t know why but I think I lost 5lbs while we were in New-Bern!

Resuming our travel we motored down to Beaufort NC and left the day after for an overnight on the ocean that took us to Georgetown in South-Carolina. This was a 165 nm (305 Km) ride and it took us 32 hours, which was our longest leg so far. During that ride we encountered our first dolphins, once a couple came to see us as you can see on the picture but a few hours later a bunch of about 10 came and swam in front of the boat as dolphin do. Unfortunately, it was too dark for pictures.

At the office everybody has a picture of a sand island with a palm tree in their background. Well, this is maybe not a palm tree but this is the best we got so far!

Here’s a picture of Georgetown as we get closer to the waterfront. No anchorages available here close to town as all the good spots are taken by mooring buoys. We anchored a bit off town pretty much in the channel leading to town. This is a situation we encounter more and more as the local marinas are taking all the good spaces and leave nothing for the transient boaters unless you pay them to stay. The good thing though is that we can get free internet quite easily; thanks to our 22” antenna and bridge we installed few weeks ago.
Once we are done here we plan to motored through the ICW to Charleston SC where we hope to visit some plantations but we’ll see how we manage that with our Turbo folding bicycles.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Visits, pirates and warmth.

On our way, down the ICW, to warmer countries we decided to stop for a few days in a little town called New Bern, NC. At first our stop was for practical reasons as we needed some boat parts. Yep, the monetary drain continues, but it appears that the town in question is actually quite nice with a very pretty historic downtown. New Bern is not only the last residence of Black Beard, who lived here with his 14th wife but also the birth place of the Pepsi-Cola. After ordering all our parts online, we decided to pay ourselves a visit of the area. You can see here statues of pirates and the one of a famous singer posing with a non-less famous character you know well! We also visited the Tryon Palace and its gardens, which was the residence of the Governor of North-Carolina in the end of the 18th century.

While at home snow seems to show up a bit early this year, here the temperature is around 21° Celsius during the day and we don’t need to heat during the night. This is actually a good thing since we need to install a blower on the generator, which has a tendency to overheat. Although for us Canadian this is summer temperatures here everywhere we go we feel off season and all activities are over for the year. Nevertheless, we are November 4th, and even if we don’t have a festival we still have the American Elections tonight.