1 Week to go – YIKES!!!

We are fully in “Savor Every Moment” mode! We are currently in the Great Salt Pond on Block Island, just coming from Nantucket. A week from now, we will be picking up our mooring in Keyport Harbor. We’ve all done a fantastic job staying away from “what’s next-itis;” so except for the kids starting camp, we’ll figure it out what July 2nd will look like when we get there : )

Our trip north from Annapolis was uneventful – but weather did impact our progress a bit. First, an offshore trip to Block Island would have delayed us at least a week. We needed a solid day and half window, with time for the seas to settle down – it just wasn’t going to happen… so up the Jersey Coast we went and through the Long Island Sound.

First stop, after the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal was Cape May. There were not many pictures from this run simply because there was nothing to see, except fog… and lots of it. We left the narrow canal with a close loud horn coming our way… a friendly wave from the Coast Guard (and being able to see the colors of their eyes) as we passed put us into thicker fog in the Delaware River – the major shipping channel to Philadelphia. We stayed out of the shipping lane with our radar working overtime, but between Tali and Becky looking out, and Captain’s head down on the chart and radar, it was a long, but uneventful passage.

Being at Cape May was a bit of a weird feeling… close to home, but not quite. We did the tourist thing, walked around downtown, continued our fudge sampling, went to the zoo, and the Wildwood boardwalk. It was just enough of a reminder, that we’re coming back a little different than we left – Wildwood may be just a little over the top ; )

“Watch the Tram Car Please…”

From Cape May, we did the 8 hour jump up to Atlantic City, anchored and prepared for our long trip the next day. When people travel down the ICW each year from north of the Chesapeake, there is one mandatory offshore passage, and that is from Atlantic City to Sandy Hook. It’s a good 12 hour day with minimal places to pull in if the weather goes south – so a window is important. We had ours and, while the normal stop is Atlantic Highlands, that was waaaayyyyy too close to home, so we opted to continue north and spend the night in Sheepshead Bay. Glad we did – stocked up on fresh meat at the local butcher, and found a nice spot for a weekend getaway (and some great Italian food) when we’re back home.

Atlantic City from Ocean… of course the conversation went to challenges the city is having. Reading up on it, looks like two casinos/hotels will be reopening this season. Good news!

It was a bit chilly heading up the coast, but Savy kept Chris company at the helm.

The trip up the East River never gets old!!!

We spent the night anchored in Northport, NY, then crossed the sound and anchored in Westport, CT and finally tied up to the dock at the Mystic Seaport. We affectionately call it Disney World for Sailors!!!!

Intermezzo in the background… kind of funny to look at her with vessels that were built when fiberglass didn’t exist.

As luck would have it, we arrived on the closing day of the Sea Shanty Festival. This will be on our list of future trips, whether by boat or car. The great thing about staying at the Museum, is that you have access to it before and after it closes to the public. The exhibits on Whaling (including having the last remaining Whaling Ship afloat) and the Vikings were standouts. As you’d expect, having traveled up the coast, the sea is the source of livelihood for all of these towns. Entering New England, however, transitioned from coastal fishing, clams, crabs, oysters; or even canyon fishing with Tuna and Swordfish, to Whaling… less about feeding a population, and more about driving (and lubricating) the engines of the early US economy. The stop at Mystic gave us a great preparation for what we’d learn in Nantucket about the industry. There is something about actually exploring the ship itself, that brings the history to life.

Chris… “Really, the crowd is singing 4 part harmony? We are at seaport museum surrounded by old wooden sailboats? Does it get any better???

Smiling kids, but the background has an original replica of a Viking Ship used in the 700s. We both missed the Viking story during our history class, but what a fascinating culture. They were using a predecessor to the sextant to navigate further than others had before. Their ship construction allowed them to build lighter, shallower, and faster ships. This particular ship sailed on her own keel across the Atlantic and will be traveling the coast… We didn’t get our fill of the whole story, so we have been binge watching “Vikings” on Amazon Prime (originally aired on the History Channel). Definitely nice to be in the land of unlimited data ; )

Postcard #1 from our dock…

Postcard #2 on our way out.

From Mystic, it was time to stop at our all time favorite spots (without the pressure of a ‘week’s vacation). Cuttyhunk, the southern most of the Elizabeth Islands, was our first stop. We were about 2 weeks early, so we had the harbor practically to ourselves. The first day, the weather was rainy and cool – perfect day to rest and relax on the boat… the next day we went out to walk the island.

Step 1: Call Cuttyhunk Raw Bar on channel 68

Step 2 – Enjoy freshly shucked clams, cheese and crackers, and a nice Rose from our favorite vineyard (yes Chris’ Dad made a trip down to Cape May to deliver some essentials)

Step 3 – Take dinghy into Lobster Shack for your freshly caught and steamed lobsters… And that’s a Lobster Bake, boat-style in Cuttyhunk.

It’s not just about the food… it is a truly beautiful place.

From Cuttyhunk, it was up to Nantucket. This time, we were not focused on the restaurants, or the Nantucket ‘scene.’ We have now spent almost 8 months exploring islands and island life – we wanted to understand more about this one. We started, as we usually do, at the museum (which here includes 7 sites). It did not take long to see that Nantucket was different than the other islands that dot the New England coast. Yes there was the Native American influence, there was also the Quaker influence – those ‘escaping’ the Puritans on the mainland, but Nantucket had Whaling. Nantucketers traveled the world in search of Whales crossing Cape Horn into the Pacific stopping at the Azores, and the Cape Verde Islands, diversifying the culture. Also, as you’d imagine, these whaling trips were multi-year, so when all of the whalers (who were mostly men, some spouses and children traveled), were out whaling, who was running Nantucket – the women. Add that to their Quaker foundations of equality, and you have a sub-culture that was truly diverse while much of the country was still actively involved in slavery, and women’s rights were not on the radar. (For the record, this is a blog, so these are generalizations, not a well researched sociology thesis — it just sets the stage for the next phase)

Girls are all set… Great time at the Shipwreck Museum

Fast forward, petroleum is discovered in Pennsylvania, and the Whaling industry dies almost overnight. The Whalers take their ships and move west for the gold rush – at the same time, 1/3rd of the city burns as part of a devastating fire. The island re-builds, but it enters a dark period, until folks realize that they have a beautiful island with a strong history… time to embark on tourism. Nantucket has been a tourist destination for over 100 years, and they are very good at it. That tourist destination is what ends up on magazine covers, photographs, clothing styles, etc… It is a true Island Camelot. But what goes on behind the scenes with the Nantucketers – those that live through the cold, snowy, storm-ridden winters. I would call them Pragmatists – they do what needs to be done and they do it from a place steeped in the island’s history.

Chris was reading the high school newspaper at the coffee shop one morning and stumbled on the Editor’s note. She talked about a rather popular sailing regatta that the island hosts the week before we got there – Fugawi Race Week. Her comments were not focused on the behavior of the sailors (who get very rowdy and drink too much), it was not focused on what they wore (looked like magazine cover models); it was focused on her review of the list of yachts entered and their captains… she asked the question, why there weren’t more women skippering boats. In one 300-500 word Op Ed, she supported, respected, and valued the folks that summer on Nantucket each year and at the same time challenged what the island could do to change it. Sounds like an op ed that could have been written in the 1800s when, Nantucket Native, Maria Mitchell discovered her Comet, but was challenged because she was a female astronomer… the first female astronomer. I wonder why Nantucket is the fastest growing county in Massachusetts…

Nantucket is an ever-changing island with each winter storm or hurricane, the coastline changes and the sand shoals shift. It is not about global warming, it is simply about the fact that falling water levels created Nantucket, and rising water levels will change it. This lighthouse was moved back from the eroding cliffs.

We took a great “flip-flop” hike through the backyards of the beautiful homes along the Eastern shore… while a little weird walking through people’s backyards, the trail is a deeded easement that continues to honored and maintained.

We stayed in Nantucket for a week, enjoyed the ice cream and fudge a little too much and headed to Block Island. We left in pea soup fog (we’re getting used to that now), but arrived to a beautiful sunset in the Great Salt Pond. We’ll be here for a week, and then start our way home with a July 1st targeted arrival. Camps start and Chris really does need to start looking for what he’s going to do next : )

See you all very soon…


We crossed our wake, but we’re not done yet…

More commonly applied to circumnavigation, but still a big event for us… we crossed the point where we left in the Chesapeake Bay at Galesville, MD seven months ago. We continued on to Annapolis and enjoyed a gray, but relaxing Memorial Day Weekend with friends, and continued further north, currently waiting out the remnants of Alberto and the associated wind and rain.

We last left off in Charleston. It was tough to leave, and I’m pretty sure Intermezzo did not want to leave either. We woke up at 5:30AM to start our offshore trip to Beaufort, NC and went to raise the anchor, but the windlass just didn’t want to do its job. We ended up having to pull up our 125’ of chain by hand and determine our next step. We decided that the anchor was not a critical piece of equipment offshore, Beaufort is as good a place as any to source parts, and we really did need to leave Charleston, or we might stay forever ; )

Our parting view of Charleston from the anchorage with the spires of the bridge in the background – we really did not want to leave.

Tali continued with her navigation up the coast, and safely navigated us outside of Frying Pan shoals and we arrived 3 hours early. Yeah ! ! ! Not so much… we had wind against tide (remember the rage in the Bahamas where we needed to make a u-turn?), so we turned around (into the wind and the waves) and went back and forth for an hour and a half waiting for the tide to switch to safely navigate the inlet… perhaps the captain could have slowed down just a bit throughout the 30 hour trip – but everyone knows Chris – gotta get there : )

Tali is very proud of her work… the highlighted section was from Charleston to Beaufort. (It’s great you can edit pictures on a blog… makes things much easier!)

Instead of anchoring in Beaufort, we knew we had work to do on the windlass, so we got a slip at at a condominium complex (with a pool to keep the kids occupied while Chris was crawling back into the darn anchor locker again) and tied up with enough time to catch an Uber and have a lovely Mother’s Day dinner in downtown Beaufort.

Mom and her girls… Even after 30 hours offshore, the girls behaved like princesses during dinner. So much so, that a gentleman at the next table bought them hats from the restaurant… like everything this year, not a Mother’s Day we’ll soon forget.

Chris started trouble shooting the windlass and quickly recognized a leaky gearbox as milky brown oil started leaking all over his hands – that was the likely culprit of the slow demise of the electric motor. So two of the three parts of the anchor windlass were fried. Full disclosure – Chris was not happy about more hours in the anchor locker again, so he found a local mechanic to do the install, while we had the chance to explore the outer banks.

Our time was divided between the eastern and western shore of the Pamlico Sound. We started on the western shore exploring Harkers Island and the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum. Once again, we were blown away by the quality of the museum, but more importantly, the amount we all learned about the history of the fishing and hunting communities along the Core Sound in Eastern North Carolina.

A view of the sound towards the lighthouse from the top of the museum

The next day we took a trip out to Shackleford Banks… one of the many places where wild horses roam. These horses are unique in that they are direct descendants of the Spanish horses that were thrown overboard to avoid grounding a Spanish Vessel on the shoal hundreds of years ago. Very similar to the pigs on Staniel Cay, seeing animals in environments that you don’t expect them in is fascinating.

A little sunny for the girls…

This guy couldn’t help himself rolling in the sand. Best we could tell, before we arrived, they went for a swim. They then were standing in cardinal directions to the sun methodically drying each side of themselves. Then when they were dry enough, time to roll in the sand : ). We could have watched them for hours.

One of the highlights of our trip down the ICW in the fall, was our stop in Swansboro NC, which happened to be a short ride south of Beaufort. We couldn’t miss an opportunity to walk the streets again (without Christmas decorations and freezing weather), so we headed down there for lunch. We also had the chance to meet Becky’s Aunt and cousin who drove up from Wilmington, NC. We developed a fudge habit after bringing some back to the boat from the Candy Edventure store in Swansboro. We’ve been sampling all the way up the coast and haven’t found anything better… although Chris is still holding out for Jersey Shore fudge to win the title!

Because of the shoaling in the Pamlico Sound and bridges that are a little short for Intermezzo, exploring the Outer Banks by boat would have taken a long time and added miles to the trip, so we were resigned to having to come back by car some day… but with our extended stay in Beaufort – we took the opportunity and drove the rental car on the ferry to Ocracoke Island. It was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop us… Visiting a place where phone service was introduced in the 1950s and water (beyond cistern) was added in the 1970s, was bound to have an interesting history, and interesting it is. We spent hours in the local museum learning about the dialect, learning about how isolated the island was, and how, because of its isolation, it evolved differently than much of the state. While now, it is still a long trip and off the beaten path, it is focused mainly on tourism, but speaking with the O’cockers which now number less than 800 was a great experience.

British Cemetery on Ocracoke where British sailors are buried who were killed by German U-Boats during WWII. It was eye opening the number of ships that were lost right off the coast of the US during the war.

Need to keep the trend of a beach shot in each post. It was not the nicest of days, but the girls loved playing on the beach.

With the anchor windlass installed, tested and ready to go, it was time for us to move on. We had one last stop to go to before we returned the rental car, and that was El’s Drive-in… It was a good old fashioned Drive-in, which we can both still say was before our time (although listening to the oldies stations with 80’s music on is getting disconcerting). You parked the car, flashed the lights, and out came a waitress to take your order. The girls couldn’t believe it!!!

The timing of this visit wasn’t the best… we pulled into the parking lot and the skies opened. We all felt bad for the waitresses who were coming out in the pouring rain, but it all evened out – Chris got soaked when he opened the window to pass the food and pay the bill : ). What a great time!!!

Our trip north on the ICW was going over familiar ground, although with 14 hours of daylight vs the 8-9 hours we had on the way down, some of the stops were different. The first one was Coinjock, a long dock along the ICW which is a bit of a right of passage for ICW travelers. The best comparison is stopping at South of the Border when you drive south on I-95. We enjoyed a nice dinner with their famous prime rib (which we continued to enjoy for lunch the next day), had a nice night sleep and headed off early the next day.

Departing Coinjock… of course a t-shirt has been added to Chris’ collection.

The next day is one of those Karma events… the captain may have miscalculated the departure time (yes, there were some cocktails with the prime rib the night before), but once we got going, we realized that there was a stretch of water between two drawbridges that opened on the hour that we could not go fast enough to make. Not a big deal usually, you just slow down and take your time and get the next bridge, but on this day, the last bridge entering Norfolk Harbor would not open after 3:30PM (something about rush hour traffic and not wanting to cause a traffic jam – not sure we quite understand, must be forgetting about that part of life ashore : )… If we didn’t make the scheduled bridge at the beginning of the day, we wouldn’t make the 3:30 at Norfolk, which would have had us wait until 6:30 and then limited anchorage spots – long story, I know… but along comes the Coast Guard (see picture below). We moved over, and slowed down for them to pass. Being the Coast Guard, they don’t have to wait for the scheduled opening of bridges, so the upcoming bridge was opening 15 minutes early, and (music to our ears), when they called for the opening, they asked the bridge tender to stay open for the sailboat they just passed :). That was the 15 minutes we needed to keep on schedule… It might have been making that sacred cruiser stop at Conjoick?

I know, enough with the Karma stuff already, but seriously, we have spent hundreds of hours on the ICW and never seen a Coast Guard cutter – a beautiful ship. BTW – did you notice the name? Flying Fish… that’s the second time Chris has been personally visited by Flying Fish ; )

Besides the gift from the Coast Guard, we had an uneventful trip through Norfolk Harbor to our anchorage for the night. Up early the next day, we headed to Mill Creek in VA – extremely picturesque and a great night after the thunderstorms rolled through. We were up early the next day and headed to Solomon’s Island.

Girls are old pros at tending the lines for the lock we needed to go through…

What a well tuned foredeck crew!!! That was our routine every time we anchored. Tali is even good solo with dropping mooring balls at this point.

We stopped at Solomon’s on the way down, but literally picked up a mooring, ate dinner, went to sleep and left before sunrise the next day… we wanted to see more of this quaint town in Maryland. We found another great Maritime Museum with some of the best geological history of the East Coast we had found. Walking through how the different ice ages were documented in the cliffs of the Chesapeake made it click…

One of the exhibits at the museum was an old lighthouse that was moved from is original spot, to the museum grounds. Seeing the history of all the lighthouse keepers that lived there, the layout of how the lighthouse would have been furnished, and getting an insight into the lighthouse keepers’ life were great, but the best was Tali’s comment, “We could live here, I think it’s big enough.” SUCCESS – all this time on a 43 ft sailboat has paid off, no need for private bedrooms, individual bathrooms, just a good view of the water. Music to our ears!!!!

Our next stop was Annapolis, after crossing our wake. We planned on staying here for Memorial Day Weekend to catch up with our dear friends, the Mullaney’s and do some boat projects and enjoy the city. The girls had a wonderful time reuniting, as did the parents! We ate delicious food and shared awesome wine while regaling each other with missed adventures and funny stories. We also toured The Naval Academy and explored Annapolis.

A reunion of friends 7 months in the making!!!

Imitation is the best form of flattery, right? Or should Chris be taking a different message from Mike’s wig???

In addition, our friends from Liberator III were in town! We hadn’t seen them since we left Great Exuma – what a great chance to catch up (and of course plan our next meeting).

…what a great surprise visit!

From Annapolis, we’re heading up to the top of the Chesapeake, through the Delaware-Chesapeake Canal, down the Delaware River (yes, the compass will need to read south for 60 or so miles) and then up the coast. Alberto (while not Alberto any more), did affect some of the upper atmosphere causing a couple of fronts to pass through. We’ll wait those out and then continue north, either offshore to Block Island, or weather depending, inside up the East River, and then explore the Long Island Sound, on our way to Nantucket.

The reality that this adventure is ending is really starting to take hold. While we are very much looking forward to seeing everyone at home, we are also looking forward to this last month living aboard Intermezzo and moving with the wind, tides, and weather. It is indescribable how fast this has gone.

See y’all soon!!!