Monday, September 23, 2013

Where In The World Is Layla

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To help everyone keep track of where Layla takes us, we have embedded a Google Earth map into our blog site.  If you don't have the Google Earth Plugin on your computer, you will need to download and install it in order to view our map.  Let us know if you have any problems viewing our map.  We will keep this map on the upper right hand side of our blog page to make it easy to find with future posts.

Our trip south down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is highlighted in blue, and our trip north up the ICW is highlighted in green.  Layla's past positions are marked by the blue sailboat, and her current position is marked by the yellow sun.  We will update Layla's position as she takes us to far-away places.   

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Marathon from Marathon: Part 9

The Home Stretch

As with any long road trip, there are sections of the trip that fly by, and other sections where time stands still or even goes backward.  Probably the hardest stretch was the last hundred miles or so.  We were so ready to be home and catch up on some very needed sleep.  We celebrated as we passed through our last swing bridge in Jacksonville, NC, and picked up anchor at our last anchorage in Swansboro, NC.

Our last draw/swing bridge in Jacksonville, NC area.  We don't know why, but we were blessed by the 'bridge' gods on our last two bridges, one with very restricted openings on the top of the hour only.  Despite the guidebook note that "boats should be waiting at the bridge before opening", the bridge operator for the Surf City Swing Bridge held up traffic for four extra minutes to let us through, and this bridge operator at the Onslow Beach Bridge held up traffic for over fifteen minutes let us through.

We knew we were getting close to home when we saw the armored vehicles used for gun target practice at the Marine Corp Base at Camp Lejeune, NC.  Less than forty miles to go….

Finally home.  Our last Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) mile marker about one mile south of the Beaufort Marine Center, where Layla was taken out of the water for the hurricane season.  Marathon, FL is located at mile marker 1163.

Home Again

We are now back in our house in Morehead City with Layla in the Beaufort Marine Center boatyard ("on the hard").  Despite being on land, we still are linked to Layla.  After about one week on land, Bud woke me up in the middle of the night to find out how much water was under us.  I cleverly replied 8 feet (as our house is about eight feet above sea level).  Little did I know that he was still half asleep, and that this information would haunt him all night long. 

We are happy to report that we didn’t break down on the trip north.  However, after six months of cruising, we have had an opportunity to find out what works and what doesn’t work well.  This has given us a nice long list of 'To Do's", which is keeping us out of trouble on land.  We will share those projects with you as they unfold.

Layla moving to her new temporary home "on the hard" at the Beaufort Marine Center.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Marathon from Marathon: Part 8

The Stops Along the Way

This is installment part 8 of our trip from Marathon, FL north to Beaufort, NC.

To keep our sanity, we stopped a couple of times to recuperate.  After motoring 10-12 hours for 5 days, we needed breaks.  The nice part about heading north compared to our travel south was that WE chose the places to stop rather than having Layla choose.  We revisited some of the places we stayed previously, and looked at them differently.  We were no longer trapped in these places waiting on a part or a repair, and it made all the difference.  We still had our chores to do including restocking the pantry, refueling, refilling water and, getting Bud’s hair cut in Beaufort, SC.  When we weren't satisfying Layla's needs, we caught up with old acquaintances, met other cruisers, and locals. 

One of our favorite stops was Beaufort, SC (pronounced Bu-fort, not to be confused with Beaufort, NC, pronounced Bo-fort, Layla's hailing port).  These towns share, in addition to their similarly spelled names, quaint charm and authentic southern hospitality of these small coastal communities.  Below are selected pictures to give you a feel for the week we spent in Beaufort, SC.

Walking back from the grocery store in Beaufort, SC.

Bud got a much needed haircut, military style (not his favorite, and much shorter than his normal cut), at the barber shop in Beaufort, SC.

We were in watermelon country over the Fourth of July.  This is one of the many 'watermelon' buses (converted school buses with the windows removed) used to transport watermelons from the farms.

There are many cemeteries as peaceful as this along the walk to the grocery store.

The Locals

We were re-acquainted with the iconic southern hospitality when we were offered a lift back to the marina after shopping at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Beaufort, SC.  A woman in a beat-up pickup truck told us to hop in the back while she ran into the store for a minute.  As we climbed in, we noticed grocery bags filled with canned goods from other stores in the bed of the truck.  She explained the grocery stores had damaged goods for sale on Monday, and that she only eats whatever is on sale.  After she dropped us off at the marina, we thanked her for going out of her way.  She explained she had been a cruiser for ten years, and she knew how challenging it can be.  As we walked down the dock to our dinghy, she called us.  We though we had left some groceries, but she just wanted to tell us to look her up in the phone book if we needed anything.  She slapped her knee and said, “Pat me on the pink knee…..That is how you will remember my name, Pat Pinckney”.  We thanked her again, and I cried.  Pat was clearly getting by on more modest means than we were, and yet she insisted on more giving.  I recalled that we were offered a lift when we passed through Beaufort previously on the trip south.  Laden with far too many grocery bags (again) walking back from the store, a woman pulled off the road and insisted on giving us a ride.  “That’s what we do in Beaufort.”, she said proudly.  The pace of cruising on Layla rewards us with deeper interactions not typically available otherwise.

In the back of Pat Pinckney's old pick-up truck.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Marathon from Marathon: Part 7

The Rivers on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)

The ICW crosses and follows many natural waterways, including rivers and sounds.  One of the more unusual sections was the stretch along the Waccamaw River, SC.  Lined with towering Cypress trees with their knees projecting above the water, this section was full of nesting osprey.  Although wide and deep, the river had a fairly strong current, slowing our progress down to 1.8 knots at one point, and creating swirling eddies.  In addition to dealing with the current, we had to dodge lots of floating debris, sometimes as big as a tree.

Swirling eddies in the Waccamaw River.

The strong current in the Waccamaw River swirling around the channel markers.

One of the many logs we missed hitting along the Waccamaw River.

Rivers also symbolize life and change.  Crossing the Savannah River, we reflected on another sailing buddy who also had a dream to cruise the oceans.  He became very sick about two years ago, and lost his battle with a kidney transplant on my last day at work.  We visited his wife before leaving Atlanta, asking if we could dedicate this trip to him.  His wife gave us his favorite baseball cap so we could take Jeff with us on our adventures.  Rest in peace, Jeff.

Paying tribute to Jeff with his favorite cap as we crossed the Savannah River, GA - Jeff's old sailing grounds.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Marathon from Marathon: Part 6

The Anchorages

We stayed in some beautiful anchorages along the way.  We were fortunate (most of the time) in arriving at the anchorage just before the skies opened sending down torrential rain.  Once secure at anchor, we would sit in the cockpit to watch the storms pass over, turning the skies from dark blue grey to beautiful shades of pink and orange. 

A storm passing over our anchorage just inside the Lake Worth inlet, FL.

Bud checking the anchor near Wahoo Creek, GA after the squall passed.


 The many changing skies as a storm passing just to the north of our anchorage off of Savannah, GA.

A storm passing our anchorage just north of Watt's Cut, SC.

Looking over south Miami from our anchorage off of Key Biscayne after navigating through the Biscayne Channel in an afternoon squall.

A double rainbow on the waters of Beaufort, SC after a series of squalls passed through.

One of our favorite anchorages just off of Watts Cut after navigating through several afternoon squalls.

When it wasn't raining at anchor, Bud would sleep in the cockpit to enjoy the cool evenings.  Despite the delightful sleeping conditions, I only joined him once because I didn't want to get eaten up by the mosquitoes and no-see-ums.  The one night that I did sleep in the cockpit, I covered myself from neck to foot with a sheet to keep the bugs off.  Unfortunately, I didn't cover my face, and it took almost a week before the bites disappeared.

Eaten alive by no-see-ums at our anchorage on Thoroughfare Creek, SC.

Keeping Close Quarters

When we couldn't find a suitable anchorage, we stopped in mooring fields and docks.  This was nice on two fronts:  Bud got much better night sleep because he didn't need to check the anchor, and we got nice hot showers.  When we were moving from anchorage to anchorage and trying to conserve water, we took sponge baths to ward off the foul odors.  To help stretch our water supply, mother-nature and geography provided a nice cool relief.  Just off of Wahoo Creek, SC, we anchored early to wait out an approaching storm and realized we could take advantage of the rain.  We grabbed the soap and shampoo, and took our first ‘rain-shower’ on Layla, using the water pooled on top of the bimini as our final rinse.  It was wonderful, especially after several sweltering days on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).  On one of my favorite anchorages just south of Watts Cut, SC or just off the Waccamaw River, SC in Thoroughfare Creek, I realized that the water surrounding us was fresh.  Bud got the great idea to scoop up a bucket of water on deck and clean up.  This 'bucket' shower was a refreshing end to our day along the ICW.  In some of my other favorite salt water anchorages, like just west of Bulls Bay, SC with dolphins swimming in groups of ten to fifteen, we would take a salt water bucket shower on deck and rinse with fresh water in the shower below.

We didn't take any pictures of our bucket showers, but they looked a lot like this.....