With th the weather looking calm for a few days, we escaped from Marsh Harbour and sailed across to the nearest of the Outer Islands, Man-o-War. Although Marsh Harbour could hardly be described as a metropolis, landing in Man-o-War is like stepping back in time. Having made sure the anchor had set firmly, we lowered IKITUTU and made our way through some pretty shallow water to check out the settlement.

Man o War lagoon by dinghy.

Man o War lagoon by dinghy.

The inner ‘lagoon’ is divided in two by the inlet from the sea, allowing for deeper draft vessels to enter the west mooring field…..sadly not deep enough for us!

'Owls Nest' at the end of the MoW lagoon. My dream house!

‘Owls Nest’ at the far west end of the MoW lagoon. My dream house!

We tied up to a dock that looked free, having missed the signs on the two public docks, and strolled through the deserted streets. The roads are just wide enough for two golf carts to pass each other…..there are no cars allowed on the island…….  and the speed limit is 10mph. One bit of British legacy is that they drive on the left, but all the carts are left hand drive!!

The corner of Lovers Lane MoW.

The corner of Lovers Lane MoW.

The Bank and car park.

The Bank and car park.

We took a path that led up between the houses and only then realised just how narrow the island was as we came out onto a beach. As you can see the weather was changing!

View to the left.........

View to the left………

.......view to the right!

…….view to the right!

We managed to get back to the boat before getting the tail end of this down pour.

Back on the boat, our minds turned to the next knotty problem that IK has thrown our way. Whilst having the boards down over our bed to look at the throttle cable, we noticed that the steering cable was fraying where the water had caused some rusting. MoW is a working island and although it clearly caters for tourists, it also boasts three or four working boat yards. We decided to call in at one the following morning and see if there was a chance of replacing the cable, incase it decides to break as we approach the dreaded Jacksonville Main Street bridge!!!

We stopped by a boat that was moored at the end of Edwins Boatyard dock,to ask for advice on who to speak to. We not only got the name of the most experienced boatbuilder, but also the promise of some Mahi Mahi that the guy we asked wanted to clear from his cool box!! A fantastic result!

After our day trip round the island, (which I will get to later!), Keith, the boatbuilder offered to come out to the boat and take a look at the steering cable. Having given it a good inspection, he declared it fit enough to do the 300 miles to St Augustine, but said it did need replacing sooner rather than later!

The fraying on the steering cable. Let's hope the diagnosis is sound!!

The fraying on the steering cable. Let’s hope the diagnosis is sound!!

As I said, we decided to do a tour of the island and hired a golf cart for the day.

Our wheels for the day to explore the whole island.

Our wheels for the day to explore the whole island.

We didn’t encounter too much other traffic and as there was only one main road with side roads at right angles in the settlement, we felt sure we wouldn’t get lost. They gave us a map for the settlement, that is only about three quarters of a mile square, and then we were on our own and off piste!

Relics of the island's past.

Relics of the island’s past.

Joining the settlement end of the island and the posh second home end is a causeway that must get totally covered during storms and ultra high tides. There is a distinct  difference between the people’s buildings of the settlement and the mega rich soulless buildings at the posh end of the island.

The Low Place.......that really is its name!

The Low Place…….that really is its name!

As we took a side road off the main track, we came to the island’s new cemetery. The old one, that housed the original families that settled the island, was washed away in a hurricane and a memorial, with the names of the lost graves, has been erected. It makes interesting reading as there are only three or four surnames, but there are no two Christian names that are the same!

The new cemetery that replaced the original that was washed away in a hurricane..

The new cemetery that replaced the original that was washed away in a hurricane.

The names of the people who inhabited the original graveyard, before the hurricane.

The names of the people who inhabited the original graveyard, before the hurricane.

Continuing our tour to the posh end of the island, it was time to cool off and give the driver a rest!!

Up the posh end of the island at Manderlay.

Up the posh end of the island at Manderlay.

Island Kea at anchor.

From the private dock we found we could see Island Kea at anchor.

The golf cart in off road mode!

The golf cart in off road mode!

The following morning we returned the golf cart and decided to stay the night, before heading for the shelter of Marsh Harbour again, as strong winds and thunderstorms were forecast!

The signposting is DIY, but works just fine!

The signposting is DIY, but works just fine!

The winds arrived in Marsh Harbour and left again. We were snugly tucked up in almost the same spot we had left three days before!

Monday, being my birthday, we decided to treat ourselves to a ferry ride over to Hope Town on Elbow Cay. It was a beautiful, calm sunny day and I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I spent my 65th birthday.

The ferry dropped us on the lighthouse side of the harbour and we were soon making our way up to the top. It is the only remaining kerosene lamp, with a counterweight mechanism to turn the light, left  in the world! ( I don’t know if that is a bit like the ‘World’ series in baseball, that only has American teams!?) Anyway, there are two lighthouse keepers who have to crank the mechanism every two hours and pump the pressure chambers throughout the night!! ….worse than being on watch!

Elbow Reef lighthouse.

Elbow Reef lighthouse.

A wannabe lighthouse keeper!

A wannabe lighthouse keeper with the kerosene pressure pump.

The counterweight mechanism was built in Birmingham!

The counterweight mechanism was built in Birmingham!

Once at the top, there was a small door leading on to the balcony. A bit of a squeeze for some!

Ornate? Or a warning to hold on tight?

The door handle. Ornate? Or a warning to hold on tight?

I didn't realise I was wearing lighthouse camouflage!!

I didn’t realise I was wearing lighthouse camouflage!!

Recovering from the climb!

Recovering from the climb!

Lighthouse completed we headed off for a look a t Hope Town……..

Birthday girl appearing again!

Birthday girl appearing again!

The Main Street called The Queen's Highway!

The Main Street called The Queen’s Highway!

It's a bit like Cornwall, but no granite, only wood.

It’s a bit like Cornwall, but no granite, only wood.

Hope Town is so small you can get a glimpse of the lighthouse from most corners.

Hope Town is so small you can get a glimpse of the lighthouse from most corners.

Having walked the entire town, we returned to the harbour an Cap’n Jack’s for a birthday lunch, overlooking the water.

Lunch at Cap'n Jack's.......and yes! That is the lighthouse behind us!

Lunch at Cap’n Jack’s…….and yes! That is the lighthouse behind us!

A perfect end to a perfect birthday!

A perfect end to a perfect birthday!

Joining in with the sunset chorus of conch blowers.

Joining in with the sunset chorus of conch blowers.

We are now on our way to the US and hope to arrive in St Augustine on Thursday morning!

Having made our way to Cape Canaveral we moored up against a concrete dock for two nights, until a sheriff in a launch asked us to move. Apparently the marina had complained about us being there. Probably annoyed that a boat our size wasn’t paying into their coffers!

Looking at the weather radar we saw there was a big storm heading towards Cape Canaveral and didn’t fancy taking the brunt of it, so we decided to leave and head out to sea and south to avoid it. Once on our way we heard that the bridge to the canal in Cape Canaveral was shut until the evening because of the threat of lightening. The radar showed lighter weather to the south and we could see the main cells trooping up the coast. Unfortunately we failed to outrun the whole storm and were caught in strong winds, driving rain, lightening and hail! It was bad enough for us to donn our lifejackets and reduce sail to a minimum. After two hours huddled together in the cockpit,weathering the storm, we sailed out of the last of it and headed for West Palm Beach and the peace and quiet of Lake Worth.

Whilst there we called our Island Bum friends, Nic and Tyler and they came out to us in their friends’ boat and brought their ‘Nic’ friends who were visiting with them.

Nic, Nikki and Nick with Tyler, Marcus and me!

Nic, Nikki and Nick with Tyler, Marcus and me!

We went with them in the evening to visit Mindy and Andrew who have a fantastic house on the water. By the time we left, there was a definite chill in the air…..

On our way back home.

Huddled together under cover on our way back home.

Our stay in Lake Worth was short, as we had to take the only likely weather window within view to cross to the Bahamas. The Gulf Stream is the governing factor. It flows northwards at around 4-5knots. If there is any ‘north’ in the wind, then there is a wind over tide effect that can make for an uncomfortable and even dangerous crossing!

Needless to say, leaving didn’t go quite to plan! First we tried to mend the staysail furler that has unaccountably decided to jam. With no luck on that front we trussed the sail up, just incase it changed its mind, and will just have to manage with only the Genoa until we can consult a rigger!

While we were busy with the staysail we heard on the ‘bridge traffic’ radio that Beyzano, with our Trinnie friends, Rob and Rhian aboard, was making her way up the ICW to Lake Worth. We hadn’t seen them for two and a half years, so we delayed our trip across to the fuel dock until they arrived.
We had no sooner pulled up our anchor and said our farewells when the engine spluttered, coughed and stopped…..a quick redeployment of the anchor may have puzzled Rob and Rhian, but they were too polite to question it! We knew that we had run the starboard tank nearly dry, but didn’t realise it was down to fumes only! A quick ‘up floorboards’ to get to the fuel taps and we soon had the full port tank feeding the starving engine.

At the fuel dock it took us an hour to fill the empty starboard tank…….not due to quantity, but due to their modern ‘high speed’ pump causing air locks and back wash if we tipped more than a tea cup’s worth at a time down the old girl’s throat.
Duly filled we were off…….well almost……we decided to make a pass by Beyzona, but approaching from a different angle we somehow managed a brief, but effective grounding! They say mishaps come in threes, so we were feeling confident as we set off to cross the Gulf Stream that we had had our quota.

We arrived in Bahamian waters with no more events and spent a restful night at anchor, sheltered from strong overnight winds by an uninhabited island. We got up early to move 5 miles south to check in at Green Turtle Cay. The holding here was in patchy weed and it took us five attempts to set the anchor!

During the course of the third anchor lift, the throttle cable broke, so once again a quick redeployment of the anchor to slow down our drift and another ‘up floor boards’ so that we could assess the problem. It seems that the cable that comes down from the cockpit and turns at a right angle above our bed on its way to the engine has rusted through, so within an hour and in the best Heath Robinson tradition, we jury rigged a line that attaches to the throttle on the engine, runs to a block under the board below the companionway steps, comes up through a purpose drilled holed in said board, up to a block on the coach roof, across to a block attached to the bimini upright and then over to a jamming cleat at the helm!!

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

……..It actually works better than the cable, so we don’t have to panic and get spares sent out here…….a very costly proposition! We’re hoping it will do the job until we’re back in the US…….fingers crossed!!

Having completed our running repairs and satisfied ourselves that the anchor was well dug in, Marcus went ashore to check into the Bahamas in the customs office, which appeared to be an extension of the public toilets! We got some local advice about going out through the cut at Whale Cay passage and headed for Marsh Harbour to meet up with Mel and James on Blew Beyond and to transfer all their provisions weighing down our forepeak.

We dropped our anchor near BB and, after a couple of groundings, found a deep enough hole to suit our draft!

View of the dinghy dock from our anchorage.

View of the dinghy dock from our anchorage.

It was great to see Mel and James again. They left us in January and have been down to Cuba and back up through The Exumas and Eluthera……..places we will hopefully visit on our way south at the end of the hurricane season in November/December this year…………..we’ve been intending to get down to Cuba for the last two seasons, but things never seem to go to plan!!

The only negative experience we had in Marsh Harbour was having both our bike sadles and both front wheels stolen from our bikes! At first we thought they had stolen both ours and Mel and James’ bikes, but I suddenly spotted them lying on the ground over the wall we had been sitting on for the past half hour! They were still padlocked together, but the wire fence had been cut. The three lads caught on video must have had a real struggle lifting them over the wall!! We reported the theft to the police, but the wheels and seats have clearly gone into hiding!

We had a very sociable time in Marsh Harbour. Mel and James’ friends, Susan and Robin, arrived the same time as us and were staying in a villa right on the water a twenty minute walk from the dinghy dock. We ate together with them and their three girls most evenings……at restaurants, on BB, at the villa and on IK. During the days we did our own thing……for us it was shopping, boat maintenance and a bit of sightseeing by dinghy and socialising with other boats at anchor!

We met up with old friends; Wolfgang and Birta on TANAMERA and David and Suzanne on SUZIE TOO. Wolfgang  was a great help putting heads together with Marcus over our jammed furler. David and Suzanne came aboard for a quick visit and reawakened our interest in joining their OCC rally from Curaçao to Belize in 2018.

We made new friends with John and Georgina on SHAMAL. It turns out that they too knew SUZIE TOO and had taken part in the last Belize rally. We joined them on a wet and windy afternoon for Mexican Train dominos and they kindly gave us cruising guides for Colombia and Belize.

On the maintenance front, we wrestled the staysail off in light winds and Marcus managed to wiggle the foil up high enough to free the jammed mechanism……..it seems a screw that holds it up had come loose!

One of the dinghy docks.

One of the dinghy docks.

Worth the walk!

Worth the walk!

It would have been great to have had the bikes:(

Every other morning Mel, James and I went for a 30min run along the waterfront. We left together and came back together, but my little legs couldn’t keep up with their pace in the middle!! It was great to have that extra incentive to get out there and do it!

Last week saw the arrival of Hywell, Julian and Ken; friends of Mel and James who are crew for the Bermuda leg of their homeward journey. It was a quick turn around for them, but we managed a trip around to Mermaid Reef with them for some snorkelling.

A shoal of fish swam past me and one actually nibbled my calf!

A shoal of fish swam past me and one actually nibbled my calf!

There were some big ones!

There were some big ones!

Someone had to stand guard with the dinghies!!

Someone had to stand guard with the dinghies!!

We all went to Colors for a last supper and waved them off on Saturday morning.

Our last supper together.

Our last supper together.

The night before we left Marsh Harbour, we were awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of fog horns. At first I thought it was part of my dream of a liner leaving dock to the merry blasts from a small boat flotilla. When Marcus leapt out of bed I recognised it for what it really was………in the strong winds a 60foot catamaran, JADE,was dragging through the anchorage and boaters were sounding a warning and trying to waken the crew. We quickly leapt into the dinghy and ‘Haywards’ International Rescue’ was once again in action! By the time we got to the Cat, it became clear that there was no one onboard and there were three other dinghies nudging it away from boats in its path. A young couple in a small dinghy arrived back with the spare anchor off their 26′ sailboat, TURTLE. No one thought it could possibly hold a boat nearly three times their size……but it did!!

Once tethered the rescuers could work on breaking the lock on the anchor locker and getting her own anchor deployed. Once happy that she wasn’t going to drift any further, we shadowed the little dinghy back safely to TURTLE. On our way back to IK we called by to see Paul on BELLA LUNA, another of the early rescuers, who had actually climbed aboard and attempted to steer JADE between the unsuspecting anchorage.

Another job well done! ……….If we were Sea Tow we would be claiming a six figure salvage fee!!

Leaving Jacksonville has been a big wrench. We grew roots over the enforced four months we were there. We have made good friends through our trials with the mast and experienced only kindness and helpfulness from everyone we’ve met. The stereotype that we have of Americans in Britain is completely false and does them a disservice ……..unfortunately the face of America is now Donald Trump and he reinforces our prejudice on a daily basis!!
Our sanity throughout all the mast, salvage and refitting has been being adopted by the big family that is the Lake Shore Bar! From our first foray there to find a pool table we have been made to feel at home. Robin and Cecil, who own the bar, even came down to the boat to wave us off and are changing their holiday plans to coincide with being in Edinburgh at the same time were up there for the wedding!
Marcus has played pool in the Thursday tournament every week and taken a 1st, 2nd and 3rd! He was also asked by Katie Mac, the dynamic bar maid, to play on the bar’s ‘Hot Shots’ team in the Tuesday pool league. My role has been cheer leader/groupie/designated driver and occasional darts player!

The Hot Shot pool team with chief mascot and cheerleader!

The Hot Shot pool team with chief mascot and cheerleader!

Once the new mast arrived we spent our days working to remove all the lines, cables, winches, cleats, blocks and track from the old one and measuring up, mousing, drilling , screwing and riveting everything back onto the new. Until you actually remove all the bits you don’t realise just how many adornments a mast has! The spinnaker pole track needed a hundred rivets drilled out, a hundred holes drilled on the new mast and the a hundred new rivets popped into place. Where bits had to be screwed on, Marcus had to learn how to tap a thread into the mast…….very slowly by hand at first and then a quick whizz-whizz with the electric drill by the end!
Julian, our rigger, spent a morning with us fixing the bits we had problems with and getting it ready to be lifted……….In the meantime we had totally rearranged the storage on IK, moving out the ‘elephant in the corner’ to make beds for Keith and James, who flew out for a week in sunny Florida. Unfortunately for them their arrival coincided with the coldest cold front this spring and, fortunately for us, with the craning of the mast back on to the boat. It was great to see them both and we thoroughly enjoyed their company and their help.

Leaning on the imaginary mast, waiting for the crane.

Leaning on the imaginary mast, waiting for the crane.

 

The Crane preparing to lift our new mast lying on trestles.

The Crane preparing to lift our new mast lying on trestles.

 

Quality control by Byron and Son.

Quality control by Byron and Son.

 

A very nervous moment....Hooray and.....

A very nervous moment….Hooray and…..

 

.....up.......

…..up…….

 

.....she rises!!

…..she rises!!

 

......and down again!

……and down again!

 

Last, but not least, the boom is craned on.

Last, but not least, the boom is craned on.

…….Keith helped Marcus sort out all the electric and electronic wires that come down the mast and had to be reconnected at the base. They had an hour of bottoms up and aching knees while they sorted it all out.

James hauled aloft to fit the wind vane.

James hauled aloft to fit the wind vane.

James was elected to be hauled up to the mast head to put the wind vane back in place and then we set to and hauled the sails back onto their rollers. The following day we took IK out for her first outing with her new mast……perhaps a little to eager to be sailing, we left too early and got stuck in the mud out in the channel for while before the tide came up enough to float us off. Returning we only grazed the mud……should have turned back a little sooner?! Only one mishap and potentially dangerous rig failure happened when a block at the mast foot exploded under strain and shot past me along with the winch handle that the tensioned line had whipped off the mast! That was the second exploding block in two days…..the first happened when I was tensioning the mast backwards on the running back stay for Julian to get the aft stay bottle screw on. The out haul block broke and the line flew forwards just brushing my forehead. Two close shaves in two days!

While they were with us, we took a trip with Keith and James down to Daytonna to see the ‘bike week’. Frank and Mary Anne had told us that it was a ‘must see’ event, so off we went for the day.

As eccentric as Whitby!

As eccentric as Whitby!

 

Me an ma dawg!

Me an ma dawg!

 

Quite an eclectic mix of people! Today I shall mostly be wearing me snake!!

Quite an eclectic mix of people! Today I shall mostly be wearing me snake!!

 

Now that's a real Pony Express.

Now that’s a real Pony Express.

 

Marcus' Wallace and Grommit imression!

Marcus’ Wallace and Grommit impression!

 

Alligator boots on a day of sweltering sun!

Alligator boots on a day of sweltering sun!

 

It's not what it looks like...... colors means clubs or gangs that all wear the same colours!!

It’s not what it looks like…… colors means clubs or gangs that all wear the same colours!!

 

Taking it all on board!

Taking it all on board!

 

This season we will mostly be wearing bikinis with chaps?!

This season we will mostly be wearing bikinis with chaps?!

 

......did'nt quite know where to put his hands!

……did’nt quite know where to put his hands!

 

Marcus with his hands full!

Marcus with his hands full!

 

One happy man!

One happy man!

There were thousands upon thousands of bikes and bikers of every description. Unlike the Brighton seafront gatherings of our memory, this was a non threatening, slightly ageing demographic with eccentricity rather than aggression at the core.
A good time was had by all!

On the Sunday before we left we had an ‘open boat’ for all the friends we’ve made and spent a great day at the marina with them.

Curry and Barbecue and plenty of drink!

Curry and Barbecue and plenty of drink!

Corn hole at the marina with Eric and Xavier.......

Corn hole at the marina with Eric and Xavier…….

.....Marcus and Paul.

…..Marcus and Paul.

Cecil and Marcus with Paul photo bombing!

Cecil and Marcus with Paul photo bombing!

We were talking with Frank and Mary Anne about the problem we were having in getting rid of the old mast, as the guy who was going to take it have cried off. When the conversation turned to cutting it up for scrap, Frank said he had the right tools and would do it for us the following morning!! He’s not just a great pool player and he certainly is a good friend.

Marcus' mentor, Frank........also very skilled with a sawsall!

Marcus’ mentor, Frank……..also very skilled with a sawsall!

Before setting off we were due to do another provisioning trip, so when Mel and James, who visited us over Christmas and had the gearbox problems, contacted us from the Bahamas to ask if we could bring ‘some food’ over for them we were only too pleased to help. They had eaten their way into and through most of their stores while they were in Cuba and are now preparing for a six week trip, with five people onboard, to Bermuda and then on via the Azores to Lisbon. As provisioning panic set in, Mel and I were sending shopping lists back and forth, with additions and amendments, on what seemed an hourly basis. To provision in the Bahamas is astronomically expensive……one litre of UHT milk costs $1 in the US and $4.50 in the Bahamas!
Norman and Jan kindly took us to Costco to fill two huge carts with both Blew Beyond’s and Island Kea’s dietary needs. It took another trip with Mary Anne to the naval base to fill all of BB’s list. By the time all was stowed away, the forepeak was replete and the boat had a definite forward list!

As I mentioned before, Cecil and Robin came to wave us off………..

Captain Robin...... is that a parrot on her shoulder?

Captain Robin…… is that a parrot on her shoulder?

…………we made our way out gingerly over the shallows and headed for the fuel dock, just before the dreaded Main Street bridge. Fully fuelled, we called for the 4 o’clock opening, checking twice that they had opened it high enough for us!! There were a few expletives from me, as we went under the span, but we got through with no damage except to Marcus’s delicate ears!!

Our plan was to catch the ebbing tide and to spend the night at Sister’s Creek, just before the inlet entrance. I had been told that the old lifting bridge had been replaced by a new 82’ fixed bridge, that wasn’t on the charts. Sure enough, as we approached there was a fixed bridge, but as we got closer we thought it look less than 82’!!

Probably 70ft????? Not the 82ft we were told!!

Probably 70ft????? Not the 82ft we were told!!

On closer inspection, the tide gauge on the parapet showed 67’ on the lowest mark!!……..luckily it was a low Spring tide and we guess there was a least 70’ clearance. We held our breath and ducked and the mast and aerials passed under without a twang to be heard!!

We pulled up to the dock and two men, from the two other sailing yachts, came to take our lines.

Needless to say, having survived another bridge and it being near sunset we had sundowners out before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’! Once we got talking to Steffan and Kiki on the Swedish boat, it proved yet again what a small village the cruising world is……..they knew Magnus and Sara and Kiki worked with Sara! They also knew Anders and Eva, who we met on board ‘Mahi Mahi’, with Magnus and Sara in Teneriffe and had they sailed on the Curaçao to Belize rally with Dave and Susie on ‘Susie Too’ and Rob and Rhian on ‘Beyzano’.

Its such a warm feeling making new friends and discovering where our paths cross!

Steffan and Kiki helping Michel to cast off.

Steffan and Kiki helping Michel to cast off.

Our little flotilla leaving Sister's Creek.

Our little flotilla leaving Sister’s Creek.

We are back on the radar and finally have our lives back!!
It seems ages since I updated the blog……..I fact it was last year!
Happy New Year to one and all.

The reason for our ‘radio silence’ is that we have been keeping a low profile whilst we have been dealing with what we feel are an unscrupulous, piratical towing company.

As you will remember, after we had hit the bridge, we were offered a tow from the bridge to the river wall, which we accepted knowing that there would be some charge involved, but we figured 200m and 8 minutes work would come to a couple of hundred dollars. Imagine our consternation when Sea Tow’s lawyer called us and said they were going to be claiming salvage!!

The very day that we had the mast lifted, December 14th, we received an email to say Sea Tow were claiming $35,000 for salvage and had put a high priority lien on the boat. Not the birthday present I had in mind for Marcus!

To cut a very long story short, we have spent the past three months speaking to 4 different lawyers, writing copious emails and biting our nails to the quick trying to find a way out of the nightmare of this seemingly legalised modern day piracy.

The whole of the boating and local community have been behind us and very supportive, so we have not been totally on our own, but common sense and common decency have nothing to do with the salvage laws here in the USA.

We have been told that we may have been the victims of a ‘bait and switch’ scam…….the tow that we accepted suddenly became a salvage claim once we were tied to the dock and the ‘pirate captain’ tricked us into signing a salvage form…… I gave him the boat details which he ‘jotted down’ on a form that he told me was a piece of scrap paper. He then asked Marcus to sign the form that ‘his wife had helped him with’…….you’ve guessed it……Marcus signed thinking it was a towing form!

It was two days later, after the added trauma of his untimely dip, that Marcus remembered that he had a copy of the form and we discovered that what he had signed was not a towing form, but one for salvage!……..Clearly not something he would ever have done if there hadn’t been skulduggery afoot!

The whole episode has left us emotionally and mentally exhausted. We eventually managed to persuade the towing company’s lawyer that we didn’t have that sort of money and that Sea Tow would be better off in accepting our insurance company’s offer to pay ‘reasonable’ towing costs, which they set at $1,125……..rather more than we felt Sea Tow deserved in payment for a botched tow and ramming us into the dock, causing damage to our bow roller and pulpit!

After some more posturing from Sea Tow, claiming they deserved 3 times as much, due to the conditions at the time, we sent their lawyer a couple of the 36 photos that a fellow cruiser……(who by fate, just happens to be moored in our marina!)…..had taken at the time. These clearly showed that the conditions were not a factor and Sea Tow came back with a reduced offer of $2,000 which we agreed to, in order remove the dark cloud that has been hanging over us………….Perhaps we should consider a career change……$15,000 an hour is tempting !!
So…….as of yesterday we are $2,000 poorer, but the salvage claim and the lien on the boat have been removed and we have our lives back!!!!!

On a brighter note, after arriving at Ortega River Marina, we have been visited by old friends and made quite a few more new ones. There are about 17 live aboard boats in the marina and everyone is very friendly and helpful. More of these in a later post!

Ortega River Marina.

Ortega River Marina.

 

Moon rise from the boat.

Moon rise from the boat.

After seeing on AIS that we were in Jacksonville, Serge and Charlotte on KUAKA, decided to detour on their way south and visit us. We first met them in Jacaré, Brazil, two years ago and have crossed paths as we’ve made our separate ways up through the Caribbean and on to the east coast of the USA. It was wonderful to see them again and they decided to stay until after Christmas, so we spent a lot of time with them and thoroughly enjoyed their company. We have been so lucky to have the use of our friend, Norman’s, car to get out and about and take the odd trip to the cinema and local attractions.

Both Marcus and Serge were chefs and at one point, when we were wandering the historic streets of St Augustine, we realised they were having a verbal duel of French cooking terms, trying to catch each other out……. Serge had a slight advantage as he is French Swiss and Marcus only has kitchen french, but I think they declared it a draw! We both have a son and daughter of similar ages and they appear to have similar personalities, so Charlotte and I enjoyed comparing notes! We even managed to fit in a game of petanque with them.

Serge and Marcus..... so much in common!

Serge and Marcus….. so much in common!

 

Fun and games......petanque with Serge and Charlotte complete with wine!

Fun and games……petanque with Serge and Charlotte complete with wine!

Our second set of visitors, were James and Mel on BLEW BEYOND. Good friends who we first met in Cape Canaveral with Jim and Paula and then journeyed up to New York with and met up with again in Newport RI. They also checked the AIS and saw that we were in Jacksonville and, when they heard what had happened to us, they too decided to detour our way. Unfortunately this area seems to have it in for us Brits! After sailing down and around Hatterass the wind dropped off and they put the engine on, only to be greeted by a ghastly grinding noise from below decks and no drive, so they had to sail slowly through the night and arranged for Tow Boat US to meet them 10 miles off the Jacksonville Inlet and tow them into the entrance.

We drove up to see them and to commiserate with them. The marina they were in was so awful that we were easily able to persuade them to come up to Sadler Point Marina for repairs. They were part of the merry throng for who arrived in time for Marcus’ Birthday Barbecue and the Christmas festivities. We let them have our slip and we went out to anchor……without an engine it is not safe to anchor.

Marcus' party with good friends.

Marcus’ party with good friends.

 

 

Jan and Marcus celebrating.

Jan and Marcus celebrating.

 

Marcus birthday party evening looking over the marina.

Marcus birthday party evening looking over the marina.

 

Christmas Eve aboard Kuaka. Delicious lamb shanks and apple tart mmmmmm!

Christmas Eve aboard Kuaka. Delicious lamb shanks and apple tart mmmmmm!

 

Smoked Salmon, scrambled eggs, bucks fizz and great company.

Smoked Salmon, scrambled eggs, bucks fizz and great company aboard Island Kea.

 

Pressie Time!

Pressie Time!

 

Carols played on pipes!

Carols played on pipes!

 

The Plied Pipers!!

The Plied Pipers!!

 

Serge and Charlotte paddling home after Christmas breakfast.

Serge and Charlotte paddling home after Christmas breakfast.

After a fortnight, dealing with an unscrupulous mechanic, Mel and James were towed into Sadler marina for the expert attention of the legendary Chip, who despite his age and reduced mobility, managed to reattach the gear box on the most awkward engine he had ever worked on in 60 years! While they were there, the jerk who had started working on their engine and couldnt fix it, boarded their boat while they were out with us for the evening, locked their companionway hatch and threw away the key!! An irrational way for a mechanic to behave we all thought!!! He accused them of moving away without paying their bill……they had moved all of 30yds and were’nt going anywhere with no gear box. Luckily on a freezing night they were able to break in through the aft cabin hatch. Trumpton has some very irrational people who we can only worry that without the control of a social conscience, might take over the asylum!!

We waved a sad farewell first to Serge and Charlotte and then Mel and James.
We’re happy for them, as they escaped from Jacksonville and delighted that they have become good friends. Plying their separate ways south, they have met up in St Augustine and Key West and now they are together again in Cuba.

‘Oh for a tall ship and a star to sail her by!!’

As a lot of you will already have heard, disaster struck in the form of a stuck rudder, a fast flowing tide and a bridge that failed to raise!!

We were gilling around, waiting for the construction workers to return from lunch before the bridge could be raised. All was going well until, suddenly, the rudder got stuck to port and we had to steer in circles with the tide dragging us steadily, but surely towards the bridge.

Within minutes we were in trouble and, thanks to a tow by a small power boat, we managed to get into a position to power ourselves, grinding against the bridge span, to the bridge support and make fast to it. Just then a tow boat from Sea Tow arrived next to us and asked if we wanted a tow to the nearby derelict sea wall……..of course we said yes, but it’s a bit like the AA and the RAC………We belong to Tow Boat US, so accepting a tow from their competitors we knew would incur a fee, but with enough drama for the time being we threw him a line and cast ourselves off from the bridge. After about 200 metres he towed us close enough to the wall for Marcus to steer the bow against the wall and for me to scramble ashore and tie us up……….phew!

Trussed up like a Thanksgiving Turkey!

Trussed up like a Thanksgiving Turkey!

As you can see, it was quite a climb to get up onto the wall, but all those years of gymnastics and rock climbing came in handy!! I think we used almost every rope we have to run doubled up bow, aft, breast and spring lines. There was no way we were going anywhere!!

Against the condemned river wall.

Against the condemned river wall.

In the cool light of day, we were able to assess the damage.

Shroud no longer in the top port spreader.

Shroud no longer in the top port spreader.

Wonky mast, but hopefully it will bend straight again?!

Wonky mast, but hopefully it will bend straight again?!

Duelling scar on the rubbing strake after a riposte by the bridge.

Duelling scar on the rubbing strake after a riposte by the bridge.

As part of the cover we have with Tow Boat, we arranged for a diver to come the following morning to dive on the rudder. Marcus set off in the dinghy at 8.45 to pick him up from just beyond the bridge. It was then that the next episode of bad luck struck…….

The dinghy engine cut out and Marcus made a grab for the boat, however, the tide was running so fast that the dinghy got swept out from under him and he was left hanging for a brief moment, before he dropped into the water for an unscheduled early morning dip!!  Luckily, having had to rootle through all the lines we needed the day before, I knew exactly where I could lay my hands on a suitable rope and lept ashore to the rescue.

Marcus had managed to make his way to the sea wall and was clinging on by his finger tips to some mussels on one of the supports. I dropped him a noose that he put under his arms and then, with him on the end of a leash, we made our way down stream for about 400m to a low pontoon where we managed to haul him out, complete with shoes, hat and scarf. The only casualty was his phone, which despite several baggings in rice, sadly didn’t make it!!

Just as Marcus was slithering ‘walrus-like’ onto the pontoon, a policeman arrived. He had been parked close by and was halfway through his breakfast bagel, when a passer by told him there was someone in the water. He had scaled a chain link fence to get to us, after calling the incident in. I left Marcus in the safe hands of the policeman and set off jogging down the river side to let the diver know what was happening. I was just climbing round the construction fence, when three rescue men from a fire truck arrived and were peering over the wall into the river……..surely there couldn’t be two people who’d gone for an early Sunday morning dip!!? I stopped for a quick chat and they headed for the boat while I continued on my mission. Marcus was on board, warming up in the shower when one of the first responders surprised him by coming into the saloon to check that he was alright!

The following morning the Tow Boat diver, Chase, arrived by boat and dived on the rudder. He found that there was nothing caught on it, but there was a something amiss with the bottom of the rudder support and hinge.

Tow Boat U.S. with Chase in the water checking our ruddy rudder.

Tow Boat U.S. with Chase in the water checking our ruddy rudder.

We arranged for him to come back and tow us 5 miles to the Ortega river and to Sadler Point Marina…..a boat yard that could lift us out onto the hard, but we had to arrange the tow to fit in with the lifting of the bridge at 12noon or 4pm AND to coincide with high tide at the boat yard. So, we had two more nights on the wall before all the stars were aligned for a tow on Wednesday afternoon.

Needless to say we made the most of being in the city ………..

The Bastard Bridge

The Bastard Bridge

Benign, beautiful bridge at sunset.

Benign, beautiful bridge at sunset.

……….and made some new friends!

Bruce and Bob, on TWIGHLIGHT and EZPZ, were moored at the Landing and paid us several visits just to check that we were all right and to offer moral support. We spent one evening with Jim and Barb, from JIMMY’S JUNK, who were moored for a night on the pontoon that Marcus had clambered out on, before they headed south to St Augustine.

We made good use of the wifi at the Hyatt Hotel which was just to the left of the picture below. We had the whole river walk to ourselves, as it is fenced off and is apparently crumbling away!

Static exercise.....right up Marcus' street!

Static exercise…..right up Marcus’ street!

Wednesday arrived and we were glad to see Chase arrive with his colleague…..Marcus! They soon had us ‘on the hip’ and we moved gingerly out into the stream, just as the bridge was lifting. With some trepidation, we negotiated all three bridges in the pictures above, and then switched to a bridle tow. You can see how far off straight they had to tow us to negate the effect of our port lock!

Being towed down to the Ortega River and Sadler Point Marina.

Being towed down to the Ortega River and Sadler Point Marina.

We made it to the travel lift bay at Sadler Point just before high tide and after a little slithering over mud we tied up for the night, ready for a 6 o’clock lift on high tide in the morning. True to their word, Joe, David, David and RJ arrived at ‘crack of sparrow’s’ and got us lifted safely and chocked on the hard.

The rudder failure was quickly diagnosed and mended by early afternoon. We were so fortunate to have pulled into this friendly and extremely professional boat yard. They have the added attraction of having the Gandalf of all things nautical in residence! Chip has a lifetime’s experience of working on boats and it took him no time to remove the stubs of the four bolts, that had all failed on the bracket at the back of the rudder post fixing, and to bolt in four new ones.

One of the four recalcitrant bolts being replaced.

One of the four recalcitrant bolts being replaced.

The Boatyard Wizard in Chief.

The Boatyard Wizard in Chief.

Chip has found his own way to continue working into his seventies by traveling around the yard on a tricycle and towing his work bench and tools behind him. He also takes a siesta every afternoon, something that my 97yr old mum has done for years!! The boat yard now make sure there is an ‘apprentice’ at his elbow every time a new problem arrives, as his knowledge is priceless.

As we arrived the day before Thanksgiving everything stopped until Monday for the holidays, so we had time to get ourselves sorted out for living on land. Because we have water cooled compressors on the fidges, we can’t run them when we’re out of the water. We have to get ice and carry it up the ladder in boxes and put into the two fridges, to keep the food and beer cold!

On Thanksgiving Thursday, Jan and Norman came to collect us and take us to a restaurant for our Thanksgiving Feast before taking us off to the beach area in search of a Pool Hall bar.

Thanksgiving Turkey Feast with Jan and Norman.

Thanksgiving Turkey Feast with Jan and Norman.

We spent the weekend getting to know the area by bike and foot and arranging a berth at the Marina next door. Everything we need is within walking distance and Norman very generously lent us his car, so we can get around further afield.

On Saturday the rigger, Julian, arrived to work on another boat and came early to take a look at our mast. After just a couple of minutes, he hit us with the next blow………. the lower spreader had been pushed into the mast when we hit the bridge and staved in the mast, hence the kink! The upshot is that we have got to have a new mast……a very costly outcome of an easily remedied rudder failure :(

After swallowing the news, we decided to use our time out of the water cleaning and polishing the hull. After some early morning tuition from David, we spent a whole day using our buffing machine to get our battered boat clean and tidy.

Before.......

Before…….

......After!

……After!

After just a few passes with the buffer, it was clear that there was no way Marcus could operate the thing above his head for the whole boat, but where there’s a will there’s a way! We tied a rope and a bungee to the handle and I acted like a marionette puppeteer, shadowing Marcus’ movements taking the weight of the buffer. Again all those hockey player’s muscles came into their own and we both ended the day with surprisingly few aches and pains and having given the boat yard a new approach to polishing!

By Wednesday the tide was right for us to be lifted back into the water and motor the 50m to the T dock of The Ortega River Marina. We are now securely tied up and taking advantage of the monthly rates and enjoying having electricity, water, showers and a postal address for the next couple of months.

Things could be worse!!

We spent a week anchored in the very sheltered waters of Spring Cove, Solomon Island, just a short dinghy hop from Claudia and Michael.

Our anchorage in Spring Cove, Solomons.

Our anchorage in Spring Cove, Solomons.

Michael used to be a baker, so he and Marcus worked their magic in the Galley,………

Cooking dinner aboard Kassiopia.

Cooking dinner aboard Kassiopia.

……….and by car to get freshly steamed crabs from the local fishmongers.

Steamed blue leg crabs for lunch.

Steamed blue leg crabs for lunch.

Needless to say the bar on IK came into its own in the evenings!

Claudia and I catching up with friends on the internet.....

Claudia and I catching up with friends on the internet…..

 

Marcus and Michl catching up with a bottle of Jameson's.

Marcus and Michl catching up with the bottom of a bottle of Jameson’s.

 

Good friends, who we will meet again.

Good friends, who we will meet again.

 

While we were so close to Washington, we decided to hire a car and do the tourist visits to the Smithsonian Museums and of course, the White House.

The Mall, that runs from Capitol Hill down to the Lincoln Memorial, is bordered by free museums. Mr Smith, whoever he was, must have left an enormous fortune invested for the upkeep and expansion of these fantastic ‘people’s’ museums. We couldn’t possibly ‘do’ them all, so we opted for the Space and Flight museum and the Native American People’s Museum on the first day and the newly opened African American Museum and a long walk down the Mall on the second day.

Our first stop was the Space and Flight Museum, as we were starving and it houses the biggest McDonald’s we’ve ever seen!!

Mac Donalds in a very big way!

Mac Donalds in a very big way!

Once refuelled we set off for the Wright brothers’ exhibit and then on through time to the Space gallery. We could have spent the whole day here!

The Wilbur and Orville's Wright's first success.

The Wilbur and Orville’s Wright’s first success.

 

Progress in flight......the scary thing is we have seen all these types of planes in our life time!!!

Progress in flight……the scary thing is we have seen all these types of planes in our life time!!!

 

 

Next stop was a short walk down the Mall.

The Native American museum.

The Native American museum.

The building of the Native American museum is a work of art in itself and houses artefacts from tribes who inhabited the entire country, from Alaska down to Peru and Chile. The treaties and deals that lead to the Indians being squeezed out of their homeland and onto reservations are evident, but the focus is not on blame, but on the culture, beliefs, philosophy and way of life of the ‘old people’ and of the relevance of their understanding of the balance of nature, which we so need today.

The canoe entrance hall to the Native American Museum.

The canoe entrance hall to the Native American Museum.

On our second day in Washington, we visited the Museum of America, hoping to find something about William Henry Seward, but to no avail. So the next stop was the African American. This is not only a record of the plight of slaves, but a fantastic celebration of their strength of will and the massive influence that African Americans have had on today’s America, from sport and entertainment to philosophy and politics.

The newlt opened African American museum.

The newly opened African American museum. Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman, an Australian,who suggested they share the pair of gloves that came to symbolise so much.

 

Mr Hendrix immortalised.

Mr Hendrix immortalised.

 

Totally museumed out, we walked the Mall and arrived at the west end just before sunset.

Capitol Hill from the War Memorial hill......quite a walk.

Capitol Hill from the War Memorial hill……quite a walk.

From the war memorial hill, we looked down over the ‘pool’ and the Lincoln Memorial. We recognised it from the Forrest Gump film!

The Lincoln Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial.

Just north of the hill is the White House…..much smaller than I had imagined it to be!

The White House.

The White House.

 

Once again it was time to move on. We left just after dawn to be able to make it to Porstmouth, at the south end of the Chesapeake, in day light.

Farewell commitee.

Farewell committee.

After spending a night anchored at Hospital Point, where we know the holding is not good, we decided to move into the free town dock, as winds of 20 to 30 knots were predicted. The only worry we had with the town dock was our length, so we chalked an 0 over the faded 9 on the Taswell 49 that’s painted on the side of the hull!

Moored in the 40' max town dock in Portsmouth.we reckon no one knows what 40' looks like!

Moored in the 40′ max town dock in Portsmouth. We reckon no one knows what 40′ looks like!

We sat out the weather front here and apart from a load of leaves on the deck, it had no effect on us. Whilst here we took the ferry over to Norfolk and went to the cinema to get out of the rain. They only charge $6 for over 62s (£4.80), so it’s a great deal for us and we can relax in a comfy seat for and hour or two!!

Two more yachts pulled into the Town Dock and we met 4 new friends! Brian and Jackie on SOUL GYPSEY and Chris and Khara on DRAKKA. Both couples are just beginning their adventure of living aboard and had buddied up further up the coast. Chris and Khara have a great illustrated blog that Khara updates with beautiful paintings……if you’re interested in a good read, from a newbies boat’s point of view and a look at her other amazing artwork, go to www.kharaledonne

On Armistace day we were awoken by the sound check for the Veterans Day ceremony on the bandstand behind us and we went along later to hear the band and speeches.

Veterans day on the 11th of the 11th at 11.

Veterans day on the 11th of the 11th at 11.

With a three day weather window, we decided now was the time to venture out around Hatterass. It all went smoothly……..so smoothly in fact that we had to motor for all of the 34 hours it took us to get to Beaufort NC! With weather still set fair, we only stayed a night in Beaufort and headed off the following morning for Charleston SC.

Beautiful Beaufort for B&B.

Beautiful Beaufort for B&B.

 

Company at sea.

Company out on the briney sea.

We refuelled at the town Marina and then dropped anchor in the river. On our way into town, we dropped by our neighbour’s to say hello. SUSIE TOO was a British flagged boat and as we got chatting to Dave and Susie, Marcus realised that he had been on the same radio course with Dave back in 2013. What a small world!! Susie is organising the first Ocean Cruising Club rally to Cuba in February, so we will be meeting up again, as I think we are going to join the rally! After a quick bite to eat, we spent a very sociable evening aboard our third AT LAST, with Jackie and John, newly retired cruisers who are heading south on the ICW.

Charleston has a much more French feel about it. The houses are very grand and are set at right angles to the street. We spent our day walking her streets, finding the supermarket and socialising, before it was time to set ff again.

Charleston 'side on' houses.

Charleston ‘side on’ houses.

We were told to visit the Market if nothing else. This is a massive covered market that covers four blocks. It has a lot of artisan stalls and sea-grass basket weavers, weaving their wares at regular intervals along the way. When it was built, it was an agricultural market for animals and produce, but today, tourists are far more profitable!!

The Market that is Market Street.

The Market that is Market Street.

 

We are really getting south now and the water is much warmer. On our 36hr trip from South Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida, we were joined by a playful, plentiful pod of dolphins……..always a delight and wonder.

More company at sea!

More company out on the briney sea!

 

We arrived at the Jacksonville inlet right on the turn of the tide to take us up to Jacksonville, some 20 odd miles up river. All was going to plan until just after midday on Saturday November 19th when disaster struck!

…………to be continued!!

Once again the wifi is proving tricky and I can’t get photos uploaded at the moment, so rather than wait for the wifi fairy to deliver, I am posting this wordy wordy episode sans visual cues!

We made our first overnight trip for months, down to Cape May. One nighters are always tiring, as we don’t sleep properly,

Sleeping Beauty!

Sleeping Beauty!

……..so we were happy to pull into Cape May at seven in the morning and take a nap. By mid day we had upped anchor and moved around the headland into the mouth of the Delaware where we would be able to catch the early morning tide up towards the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. After a very rolly night we were relieved to set off at sunrise.

Dawn at our Cape May anchorage

Dawn at our Cape May anchorage

Having made such good speed up the Delaware we changed our plans and caught the current going west bound through the canal. 20 miles later we dropped anchor in the Bohemia River for a peaceful night and a lie in!

Monday 18th October, we set off for Havre De Grace; our first stop in Maryland. Jan and Norman, our friends onboard ‘Bandersnatch’, have sailed our route south from Gloucester to Jacksonville FL for the past 20 years, so they gave us some good anchorage tips. This one included tying up to a ladder in the corner of a boatyard that locks its gates after dark! Luckily, once again, the natives were very friendly and within minutes of our first foray ashore, we had the code for the gate and directions for the best bars in town!!

Havre De Grace is at the very top of the Chesapeake and the water here is only slightly brackish, so is a favourite migratory stop for geese, swans and various species of ducks. For years it was a centre for leisure and commercial hunters and boasts its own Decoy museum…….we now know far more than we knew there was to know about the use of decoy ducks, their making and deployment!! Like all over exploited resources, however, the duck hunting diminished numbers to such an extent that there was a moratorium on hunting and Havre De Grace lost its main attraction! Today the town is a low key tourist destination and a dormitory town for Philadelphia and Baltimore.

We decided to hire a car for a couple of days and drive into Philadelphia to do some sight seeing. Just by chance, we managed to park around the corner from the main heritage centre where the declaration of independence was signed, the Liberty Bell is housed and where Benjamin Franklin lived.

Selfie at the Liberty Bell.

Selfie at the Liberty Bell.

Down by the dock we strolled through a park and came upon an Irish memorial series of plaques and sculpture commemorating the suffering of the Irish at the time of the potato blight and their desperate voyages aboard the famine ships.

One of the most moving pieces of sculpture i have seen. it depicts the Irish potato famine and a famin ship arriving in Philidelphia

One of the most moving pieces of sculpture i have seen. it depicts the Irish potato famine and a famine ship arriving in Philadelphia.

 

Despair

Despair.

Suffering.

Suffering.

Hope.

Hope.

 

Returning after our second day in Philly and an educational visit to the State Penitentiary, we found that a Steely Dan tribute band were playing the other side of the fence from where we left the dinghy. The boatyard employees and ‘live aboards’ had set out picnic tables and a barbecue our side of the fence and needless to say, we were invited to join them….. and Marcus was plied with beers!

The following day we were picked up by beer provider Tim, the bosun at the yard, and his wife, Anita, and driven to the supermarket. Such random acts of kindness from people we meet are what make this life so great.
After sitting tight on the boat, sitting out a gale all Friday night and all day Saturday, we were glad to get going again on Sunday.

The next stop was Baltimore, once again an anchorage suggested by Jan and Norman, right in the middle of Baltimore’s old port. We had a great time here and did a lot of sight seeing on foot. Marcus spent a whole afternoon in Starbucks trying to update the laptop and I took a walk to a post office and managed to get them to receive a package for us to pick up. Said package was a replacement screen for Marcus’ tablet, which didn’t bounce when it was dropped on the floor in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

The weather is definitely getting colder and we have been using the heater at night. Unfortunately, whoever thought it was a good idea to install the water outlet through the gas locker, knew nothing about the consequences of a blocked outlet!! Although we were running it in short bursts, the locker was filling and overflowing into the middle bilge…….the one that we have to pump out manually! Thanks to a dose or two of muriatic acid and a good rifling with the trusted, rusted coat hanger, we now have the luxury of heat. It doesn’t take long to get the main cabin cosy.

Baltimore proved to be a great stop. We strolled around the gentrified Harbour area and took a self guided tour of the city. Closer to the anchorage is the old town of Fell’s Point. The buildings here are of red brick and the streets are cobbled. Mr Fell, who gave his name to the place, was a shipping magnate of the day and loaded his ships with tobacco and other cargo and they returned with ballast of bricks and stone from England.

A red brick street in Baltimore

A red brick street in Baltimore

No wonder the town felt friendly and familiar. A great many Brits and Irish emigrated to Baltimore and despite the prohibition years, there is still a pub or bar on most street corners! We found a treasure….the 1919….. The owners, Sally and John, made us very welcome and it turned out that John is originally from Bristol and knows St Warburghs and has admired my ‘brother in law’, Martins house!!
The 1919 has an eclectic mix of artefacts covering every available surface so, it being Halloween, it was no surprise to find two locals, Jeff, sitting at the bar carving a pumpkin and his wife, Jane, sifting through the pumpkin pulp to harvest the seeds. We had a great evening in a real local pub.

Armed with the hand held radio and the trolley, Marcus dropped me ashore with a full bag of laundry for the trek to the launderette to catch up with the washing. With me out of the way, Marcus got down to one of his least favourite jobs……..changing the impellers on both the main engine and the generator. The following day we left Baltimore for a short hop round to Annapolis.

Farewell to our anchorage in Baltimore

Farewell to our anchorage in Baltimore

The winds were from the north pushing down the Chesapeake…….had we listened to the local weather we may not have set off, as there was a ‘small craft warning’ in place. As it was we sailed on the full Genoa and the engine, on just over tick over, controlling the tail end, as we hand steered at 8 knots. We arrived at the anchorage only to find that the entire Annapolis dinghy racing fleet was out on the water! We managed to pick our way through the multiple races and ended up taking a buoy for two nights. Annapolis had a distinct feel of Lymington; the shop lined hill of the Main Street; the grandeur of the 18th century brick town houses and the columned porticos of the government buildings.

A bridge we didn't hit on the way to Annapolis

A bridge we didn’t hit on the way to Annapolis

The Capitol building in Annapolis. It was the seat of government during the transition after the civil war.

The Capitol building in Annapolis. It was the seat of government during the transition after the civil war.

Halloween paddle board parade in Annapolis.

Halloween paddle board parade in Annapolis.

Halloween costume adjustment by a professional.

Halloween costume adjustment by a professional.

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With the ever chillier weather, we didn’t tarry long and decided to make the next hop down to Solomon’s Island, where we had a warm welcome from Bandersnatch. We spent the evening we arrived at a restaurant with Norman and Jan and two Canadian cruisers, Gary and Diane.

The following morning, we upped anchor and moved up the river to near Spring Cove Marina to meet up with Michael and Claudia on ‘Kassiopia’. It was wonderful to catch up with them. The last time we saw them was when we were in Jacaré, Brazil, two and a half years ago. Cruising friend ships are made swiftly and run deep!

Having had a very convivial time in Newport we left with less enthusiasm for Fisher Island; our one night stop before heading down to Port Jefferson. Fisher Island is a 7 mile long and 1 mile wide island that is the retreat of the mega wealthy……..Celebrity is not enough to own a place here! We dinghied ashore to find a locals’ bar and discovered that there was only the American Legion open at this time of the year………a sure spot to find locals! We were welcomed by Big Lou, Mike and Rod who bought us a drink and filled us in on the island.

Fishing, which gave the island its name, is now almost dead and most islanders now work for the absentee mansion owners or at the golf and country clubs and the small airport that serve the wealthies’  needs. We later learnt that transient yachties are not usually welcomed ashore! Completely the opposite of our experience.

Aiming for an early start is always an invitation to the gremlins that lurk! We upped anchor and were on our way when the sea water that cools the stopped spurting out of the exhaust. We dropped anchor and Marcus spent half an hour clearing jelly fish out of the inlet and filter. Luckily, the same thing had happened while we were in the Scillies, so having spotted jelly fish floating by earlier we had a good idea where the problem lay! After 9 hours of motoring on a windless, hot and sunny day we pulled into Port Jefferson for the night.

The following day we set off for Port Washington, but as ever our plans changed when we picked up Bandersnatch on the AIS. Jan and Norman were heading for Oyster Bay, so we diverted there to meet up with them………and what a great decision that turned out to be!

One of the 'Cottages' on the way into Oyster Bay.

One of the ‘Cottages’ on the way into Oyster Bay.

 

Bandersnatch at anchor in Oyster Bay.

Bandersnatch at anchor in Oyster Bay.

 

Once anchored, we got talking to a couple on the boat nearest to us and by the evening we had Jan and Norman and our new friends, Hans and Basia on board IK for a very convivial dinner.

Basia and Hans

Basia and Hans

 

It was a great evening and by the end of it, Hans had offered us the use of his New Jersey marina mooring while they were away for three weeks!!

The following morning we went over to see Hans and Basia and take a look at Chimera, a 40ft double ended cutter rigged sloop, built in Taiwan a couple of years older than IK and with the same solid construction and interior teak………a boat we would have definitely snapped up!

The offer of the slip was still on, (not just the wine talking!) and it turned out to be ideally placed next to the ferry with a five minute ride across to Manhatten. It’s amazing how wonderfully generous fellow yachties can be.

Farewell to our new friends on Chiamara.

Farewell to our new friends on Chiamara.

We moved on with the tide in the morning around to Port Washington. After a great night and wonderful steak meal aboard Bandersnatch in Port Washington and a quick provisioning trip to the super market, we caught the tide again to arrive at Hell Gate on the East River,

On the way down th East River we passed this prison ship. Not the image of NYC that many tourists get to see!

On the way down th East River we passed this prison ship. Not the image of NYC that many tourists get to see!

 

Shooting down through Hell Gate at 11.6 knots!

Shooting down through Hell Gate at 11.6 knots!

with the current sweeping us down at 11 knots towards New York and towards our home for the next 3 weeks in Hudson Point Marina.

Our slip at Hudson Point, looking across at the very spot we said goodbye to Gaia on her way across the ocean, back to Denmark.

Our slip at Hudson Point, looking across at the very spot we said goodbye to Gaia on her way across the ocean, back to Denmark.

 

Since our arrival we have had parts shipped here for the outboard……(always a problem when we don’t usually know where we’ll be for any period of time)…..walked miles, been on a city tour by bus, walked miles, entertained and met up with Jenni and Cristian’s friends from Columbia, walked miles,  played boules, went to a ‘speak easy’ with Cara and Andrew, welcomed Hans and Basha back to their dock, done a lot of sight-seeing and spent a fortune!!

As pictures paint a thousand words, here are some of the photos of our time in New York.

Helicopter airport on the south shore of Manhatten.

Helicopter airport on the south shore of Manhattan.

 

Amazing sculptures in a children's park in the Financial district.

Amazing sculptures in a children’s park in the Financial district.

 

money, money, money

…………money, money, money

 

We took a two day trip of the city on an open top 'hop on hop off' bus. A Big Bus like ours, by one of the steam system vents near Times Square.

We took a two day trip of the city on an open top ‘hop on hop off’ bus. A Big Bus like ours, by one of the steam system vents near Times Square.

 

Nice job if you can get it!

Nice job if you can get it. And you get a good pension and healthcare plan!!

 

 

Duke Ellington memorial near Central Park.

Duke Ellington memorial near Central Park.

 

The High Line that we walked with Cara last visit; this time from the bus.

The High Line that we walked with Cara last visit; this time from the bus.

 

Andres and Laura enjoying Central Park and Andres new iPhone 7!!!

Andres and Laura enjoying Central Park and Andres’ new iPhone 7!!!

 

In Central Park.....Trapped as we passed, Marcus endures a brutal massage!!

In Central Park…..Trapped as we passed, Marcus endures a brutal massage!!

 

$10 for the privilege of being pulled apart.

$10 for the privilege of being pulled apart.

 

The Empire State Building. As we're only going to do this once we got tickets to go to the very top!!

The Empire State Building.
As we’re only going to do this once we got tickets to go to the very top!!

 

Sunset from the top of the Empire State Building

Sunset from the top of the Empire State Building

 

Just after sunset and the lights are coming on.

Just after sunset and the lights are coming on.

 

Not a job Marcus could have done......his hands sweat just looking at the photographs!

 

The 9/11 memorial with the Oculus Center in the back ground.

The 9/11 memorial with the Oculus Center in the back ground.

 

The 9/11 memorial south pool. A very moving memorial with the names of all those who died inscribedon the surrounding wall.

The 9/11 memorial south pool. A very moving memorial with the names of all those who died inscribed on the surrounding wall.

 

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Tour bus headphones tied to Brooklyn Bridge fencing. I WOZ 'ERE!

Tour bus headphones tied to Brooklyn Bridge fencing. I WOZ ‘ERE!

 

The new with the old near Wall Street.

The new with the old near Wall Street.

 

Boules in Bryant Park, just behind the Public Library.

Boules in Bryant Park, just behind the Public Library.This is Janke about to play!

 

Our day out taking the youngsters sight seeing by water! Up the East River and up to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Our day out taking the youngsters sight seeing by water! Up the East River and up to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Andres and his new love......his iPhone!! and Laura on our day out.

Andres and his new love……his iPhone!! and Laura on our day out.

Anres, Laura and Janka enjoying their sight seeing tour by water.

Anres, Laura and Janka enjoying their sight seeing tour by water.

Capt. Janka

Capt. Janka

Capt. Andres.

Capt. Andres.

Capt. Laura.

Capt. Laura.

The real Captain.

The real Captain.

Jenni's lovely Cara in the Speak Easy, Long Island City.

Jenni’s lovely Cara in the Speak Easy, Long Island City.

As you can see we had a wonderful time. Three weeks on a pontoon, a mere spit away from transport into the Big Apple!!

On Thursday, we moved to the empty slip next to Hans’s and welcomed Chimera home. We spent two days entertaining and being entertained by Hans and Basia before it was time for us to part. We have made two new good friends and we hope they will keep an eye on the blog and join us along the way.

How Lucky were we !!!!???

Hans and Basia leaving for the airport. Back to Arizona for them and off to Cape May for us.

Hans and Basia leaving for the airport. Back to Arizona for them and off to Cape May for us.

Good bye Liberty!

Good bye Liberty!

Parting shot of NYC

Parting shot of NYC

One more day sail from Onsett Harbor and we arrived back in Newport, this time in thick fog. It’s always a bonus to be going into known surroundings when it’s foggy! We made our way confidently into the anchorage and dropped the hook.

The following morning the fog had cleared and we went ashore for breakfast at the Seamen’s Institute and to catch up with the laundry and internet. That afternoon we wandered up to The Fastnet, in search of some live Sunday afternoon Irish music. Sitting outside, we heard distinctly English accents at the next table and by the end of the evening we had met our New Friends!
Sue and Glyn are both from Shrewsbury, whichever way they pronounce it! Sue’s brother, Alex, lives and works in the US and he and his wife, Judy, have a house here in Newport.

After a convivial evening together, we invited our New Friends to come out on the boat for a sail around the Harbour the following morning. A great time was had by all.

Judy and Alex with his feet up!

Judy and Alex with his feet up!

Unfortunately ex Navy man Alex had a broken foot and was confined to the cockpit, but Glyn took to helm like a natural.

Captain Glynn at the helm.

Captain Glynn at the helm.

Sue and Judy made wonderful Boat Babes and narrowly missed being taken out by the boom when we tacked!!

Sue and Judy boat babes!

Sue and Judy boat babes.

After lunch on board, we rounded off the day at Judy and Alex’s house, with Alex excelling himself at the barbecue. We presented Glyn with his captain’s hat and rounded off the evening with a parlour game….Catch Phrase …..Boys v Girls……. Marcus and Judy getting memorably competitive!!

Best Beef Barbecue in great company.

Best Beef Barbecue in great company.

Captain Glyn receiving his hat.

Captain Glyn receiving his hat.

On Wednesday we met up at The Parlor for an evening of pool. Another convivial evening……..Sue played her first game of pool, Glyn played his first one with glasses and Alex managed to play his first game balancing on his scooter!

Pool at The Parlor.

Pool at The Parlor.

On Friday, Judy and Alex drove us to the supermarket for a ‘bulky shop’ ………a restock on kitchen towels and beer……..never easy without a car! Once again, the kindness and thoughtfulness of the people we meet replenishes our faith in the goodness of mankind.
After stowing the shopping aboard, we spent the afternoon at the Boat Show. Having been succoured into spending too much in the exhibitors tents, we went aboard Ariel ……. the power boat belonging to our pizza partners from a few nights before. The accommodation was luxurious and that, coupled with a walk in and around engine room, we can see the attraction! It is ideal for people who no longer want to travel great distances and who spend their time in cheap fuel areas. The price of diesel here is about 67p per litre!! Who knows……one day we might retire to something similar on the French canals?
We left the boat show and walked up to meet with ‘the Captain and crew’ at the ever popular Corner Café on Broadway and then round the corner to the Firehouse Theater, for an evening of comedy improvisation.

The Firehouse Theatre Comedy Night.

The Firehouse Theatre Comedy Night.

It has been a great stop over in Newport and we leave with four new friends in our hearts and on Facebook!

Rockland, Port Clyde, Boothbay Harbour, Portland, Portsmouth and Gloucester……… Newport to follow!

Crossing the Bay of Maine was a 36 hour trip which passed without event.

Making our way through Maine.

Making our way through Maine.

Once we arrived in Maine waters, however, we were immediately on our toes…….Lobster pot buoys!! We had been warned,but we’re not really prepared for the numbers and the fact that there were even more in the charted shipping lanes!!

Pot buoys evertwhere.

Pot buoys evertwhere.

Apparently lobsters like the deeper water and so do bigger vessels! It took both of us to ‘spot and dodge’ our way through the islands and into Rockland.
Having arrived, it was time to check into the US again! Part of the plan in heading to Canada was to renew our cruising license. After a small hiccup, where it appeared that our fax, that we sent three weeks previously, had gone astray. After a little chase up they located our fax and succeeded in getting permission for the boat to stay in US waters until August 2017.
Six months is the usual allowance on our personal visas, but the kindly services of our visiting customs officer resulted in us being granted nine! We can now safely plan our time to depart, without the pressure of having to be out of the US during potentially bad weather.
Having completed formalities, we left the municipal dock, picked up a mooring and made our way ashore to explore the town. Lobster fishing and tourism are the main employers and the town caters to both economic groups. We found our way into a ‘dive’ bar that had two pool tables. After three days, Marcus had secured a reputation amongst some very good players and came 5th out of 15 in the weekly Saturday afternoon tournament!

In his element!

In his element!

Whilst in Rockland, we ran into the other ‘At Last’ boat that we met in Port Washington. We had dinner with Bear and Virginia and decided we were bound to meet again on our way south.

Our next stop was a day sail away in Port Clyde. Day sails are the only way to travel in Maine and then only in good light and no fog…….the myriad of pot markers makes it impossible to move without good visibility! After five hours of lobster pot watching, we pulled into
Port Clyde and dropped anchor.

Port Clyde's Lighthouse.

Port Clyde’s Lighthouse.

Now this really is a lobster fishing village with Tourism tagged on. Linda Bean, an astute Maine business woman has revived the lobster industry throughout Maine and has ownership of most of the enterprises on the waterfronts in Port Clyde; from the General Store, to the bars and cafes, to the lobster fisheries.

The General store, Port Clyde.

The General store, Port Clyde.

The whole effect is a cohesive well planned and interesting waterfront, with well maintained piers and boardwalks. Whilst here we took a walk out to the lighthouse. This is the lighthouse that Forest Gump ran to when he had reached the Pacific coast and decided to turn around and run across America to the Atlantic coast.

Marcus Gump at the end of the pier.

Marcus Gump at the end of the pier.

As you have probably already gathered, there are a host of lighthouses to be seen along Maine’s coast. Apparently it is possible to apply to become a ‘keeper’ for a couple of months………now there’s a thought!!

Port Clyde at sunset.

Port Clyde at sunset.

On from Port Clyde to Boothbay harbour and a little luxury! A bit of a blow was forecast, so we tucked in behind an island and took one of the BYC moorings and spent two evenings in the yacht club. The first evening, we arrived in time to be fed with the ‘left overs’ from a lunch time function and then asked if we would like to help ourselves from the evening buffet…….it would have been rude to say no! We spent the following day walking around the village. It is definitely geared to tourism, but retains a quirkiness which we liked.

A misty day in Boothbay Harbour

A misty day in Boothbay Harbour

 

Up the creek in Boothbay.

Up the creek in Boothbay.

 

An old tug conversion to restaurants. Quaint and quirky 1......

An old tug conversion to restaurants. Quaint and quirky 1……

.....2....

Q&Q…..2….

Q&Q.....3.....

Q&Q…..3…..

Portland was our next destination; again a day sail spent dodging our way through the pots, which is quite tiring.

Relaxing en route to Portland.

Relaxing en route to Portland.

Portland is a busy commercial port with very little provision for transient sailors. We anchored well out of the town and dinghied in, only to find there is nowhere provided to tie up to. We rafted up to a kindly motorboat and went into town to explore.

Portland padlocks.

Portland padlocks.

The town was burnt down twice in its early days and was rebuilt using brick and with wide ‘fire break’ streets. It has a completely different feel to the Maine we have seen so far. Whilst here, we got in touch with the Ocean Cruising Club reps., who we met down in Brunswick; Jack and Zdenka. We managed to meet up with them for a drink and picked their brains about not only Maine, but also Australia and Indonesia, as they have just returned from a seven year circumnavigation. They took us up to the ‘artsie’ part of town, where they have street entertainment every first Friday of the month and we spent the rest of the evening being entertained.

First Friday in the month street entertainment. A ukulele band.

First Friday in the month street entertainment. A ukulele band.

Street art.

Street art.

 

Street juggler.

Street juggler.

 

Our next hop was around to Portsmouth. A small community that provided us with another happy encounter. This was always going to be just an overnight stop, so on Sunday morning, we set off early in the dinghy in search of some breakfast ashore. We were passing a moored local boat and stopped to ask where might be open. They explained the one outlet in the village had suffered a fire and was closed, but would we like to go with them to their house and have blueberry pancakes with them? Of course we took them up on their offer and in very short order, found ourselves in their wood built home that overlooks a tidal creek, eating pancakes and exchanging stories.

Blueberry Pancake Surprise.

Blueberry Pancake Surprise.

 

View from Rich and Bridget's house.

View from Rich and Bridget’s house.

Rich is a video maker and photographic artist and Bridget is an acupuncturist. They were warm hearted, interesting people who have been sailing their steel Dutch built boat for years up and down the Maine coast. If we come back up this way, we will definitely get back in contact.

Gloucester was our next port of call and we both said it felt like coming home. We met up with Skip and Jane on Vagrant Gypsy. The were anchored just behind us and since our last meeting here, had been up to the Arcadia National Park……somewhere we missed out on this time round. We spent a great evening aboard their boat and met two of their friends from St Augustine…….we are now thinking of stopping there for November!
On Thursday we went to the farmers market again and saw Jan in action with her jewellery stall…..cold to resist it; I bought a pair of earrings.

Jan and her jewelry.

Jan and her jewellery.

After hugs and farewells and promises to meet up again down the coast, we left Gloucester for a long day sail down through the Cape Cod canal and into Onsett Harbor to anchor for the night. We went to Big Anthony’s Pizza place for one of their renowned pizzas. It didn’t disappoint, neither did the company! We sat at a long table next to the only other two boaters in there! Miles and Laureen had sailed their yacht for years, between Maine and the Bahamas, but this season was their first aboard ‘Ariel’ a 57’ Outer Reef power boat. They had passed us in the canal and we had both liked the look of the boat, even though it was from ‘the dark side’!

I’ll leave you with some of the lighthouses we have passed!

Lighthouse

Lighthouse

Port Clyde's Lighthouse of Forrest Gump fame.

Port Clyde’s Lighthouse of Forest Gump fame.

 

Lighthouse.

Lighthouse.

 

Lighthouse.

Lighthouse.

 

Portsmouth Lighthouse.

Portsmouth Lighthouse.

 

Gloucester Lighthouses.

Gloucester Lighthouses.