Goodbye North Carolina…

What a great state to visit… We’ve seen isolated anchorages, beautiful waterfront homes, and two great towns. We’ll definitely look forward to exploring a bit more on the trip back north, but the theme continues – it’s cold and we want to get south!

Our crossings of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers were uneventful, but yet the weather pattern continued. Strong wind, in the right direction, bringing with it, however very cold temps. We anchored in the South River and with the extra time we had with the wind at our back, we had time to prepare a boat feast – pan seared then oven roasted pork loin, with apples, onions and stuffing, paired with a delicious bottle of cab! That dinner plus a beautiful anchorage, and spending time with the kids is what this trip is all about.

Our anchorage in the South River.

Sunrise leaving the next morning… While getting up at 5:50 each morning is tough, the sunrises have been spectacular!

Over the radio, “RE Mayo, RE Mayo, we’re a sailboat heading southbound on the ICW and wanted to know if you have any fresh shrimp.” “Southbound Sailboat, RE Mayo, we do have fresh shrimp caught today.” “RE Mayo, Southbound Sailboat, we’ll be there in about 5 minutes to tie up and get some shrimp… standing by channel 16”. I’ve never heard that exchange over the radio… We’ll have to try it on the way North!

Now that’s the way to cross the Neuse River in mid-November!

While anyone can read this… those that do are friends, so we have to share this addendum to the perfect night and perfect anchorage. For those that don’t know, technology has helped cruising sailors in immeasurable ways, one of those ways, is the iPad and the anchor alarm. Simply explained, drop your anchor, determine how much rode you let out, and then draw a circle around your boat on the app, which is a boundary. If your boat goes beyond that boundary, an alarm goes off – meaning you are dragging the anchor! Early in the evening, the captain decided that a worse case scenario anchor review should be conducted, the second mate obliged, but begrudgingly, having full faith in the anchor set. A short 8 hours later, a little after midnight, the alarm went off… this alarm sounds like a combination of a fire alarm and fire truck – you have never heard a sound this loud come out of an iPad! Being woken this way is a shock and adrenaline was running, the captain hit his head upon awakening and we stumbled over each other, got everything set to get the engine started, lift the anchor and regroup – but something wasn’t right – the boat was still in the circle… why did the alarm go off then? A simple answer: the captain tripped over the cord going to bed and unplugged the ipad, so the alarm was letting us know that the battery was dying. The second mate was sure that it was a drill, planned by the captain! Although he assures her that was not his intent, still she’s left wondering…… the captain’s resolution: It’s on the list to send a recommendation for the developer to invent a different alarm for things not involving the boat ending up on the rocks : )

Our next leg really started testing our Navigation – not sure if everyone does it this way, but Becky has assumed the role of navigator, and Chris is at the helm. Each night, we brief our trip for the next day, go to the different websites to see if there are any updated surveys and we add notes toour navigation software with the most recent info. Because of the shoaling that happens at some inlets, the day the chart is published, it is already out of date.

So this is what the Army Corp of Engineers publishes when there is shoaling – without the details, you’ll see that the channel as marked goes from right to left along marker 72, 72A, 72B, and 74, but you’ll also see the big red spot along that channel which is a shallow area we can’t get through, so you have to ignore the channel markers and follow the yellow dots. We look at three to four of these for each day.

Schoolwork continues… but couldn’t turn down working outside on a sunny day!

We finished our day in a North Carolina Camelot – Swansboro. Already decorated for Christmas, we walked “Main Street,” had dinner at the local Pub, Ice Cream and Fudge at the local Candy shop, and then Coffee at the local coffee shop. It was just one of those places you’d never visit, except on a trip like this.

With weather continually shifting the schedule, we have two targets; and one was approaching… Tali’s 8th Birthday. We wanted to be in a Marina and make the day special – and special it was. Tali woke up to help us get off the dock in Swansboro, and was serenaded by 4 gentlemen, from 4 different boats, with “Happy Birthday.” When we arrived in Wrightsville Beach, she had her pick of the Marina Swag (went with a hooded shirt 3 sizes too big, of course). She then picked a restaurant that piqued her fancy-it was sloppy Mexican and we loved every bite of it!! Living on the Jersey Coast, we’re a bit partial to beach communities, but Wrightsville Beach had just the right combination of cheesy and substance – great people, great town! Next day we stayed put – provisioning and laundry day!!! We were also lucky enough to meet up with Becky’s aunt and cousins, who live in the area. We enjoyed a great afternoon with them, sharing a lot of laughs and stories!

Today, we continued further south and stopped in a planned community right off the ICW (St James Plantation). While the marinas are hurting the budget a bit, we’re literally planning the max distance we can cover, with associated tides, currents, and bridges, and finding the closest place – in this part of the ICW, there are very few anchorages. BUT this is our first look at palm trees, we surely are getting closer!

Headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina tomorrow!


Miles Under the Keel…

We made it out of Deltaville as we hoped – the wind was still blowing 20+, but from the right direction.  It was our first shakedown sail in some seas and wind for Intermezzo and she performed very well (I’m not sure the younger crew had their sea legs yet, and the evidence of that could be seen in the gunwale!)

Our destination was Hampton, VA.  There was another cold front coming through – the same one that was felt all over the East Coast, and brought with it gale force winds, so we got a slip at the town dock and spent the next day at the Mariner’s Museum.

For the record, if you do find yourself in Hampton, VA, the Mariner’s Museum is one of the best museums we’ve been to.  Of course the subject matter was interesting, but the layout of the space and presentation of the content was second to none.  The new exhibit featured at the museum focused on the USS Monitor (Civil War History buffs – the Union Ironclad), there was also great info on the CSS Virginia (or Merrimack) and the 4 hour battle that ended in a stalemate, but changed Navel Warfare forever.IMG_0897

A bit interesting for someone who is living on a boat, but Tali is fascinated with the Titanic.  The highlight for her was seeing the model.

We survived our first night on the boat with the external thermometer reading 32 degrees…  the heat worked fine, but the trip the next day was COLD!  We hit a major milestone that day however…. Mile 0 of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway! (and that only leaves 1200 more miles to get to Key West, totally not intimidating at all!!). We also experienced our first lock – there is a two foot difference between the Chesapeake Bay and the  Albermarle Sound, thus requiring a trip through the Great Bridge Lock. We finished our day “pulling over” on the ICW and anchoring off the channel, happy to have arrived in North Carolina with minimal fanfare. An early start on Sunday and we continued south to the Alligator River with a marina stop for electricity and heat overnight, and finally, today we transitted the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal – basically a thin patch of water that goes on for 30 miles in the middle of nowhere NC, where we are anchored in Pungo Creek…further bringing us into the middle of nowhere, with no other boats in sight.

The cold is really no joke… We should have had ski jackets on, not foul weather gear!!!


Tali and Savy were the line handlers for the 2 foot trip up in the lock.

It would be great if there were photographic evidence of this, but there is not, so you’ll have to take our word for it.  During our trip through the canal today, 3 deer (bucks actually), decided to go for a swim and crossed the canal right in front of us.  Two made it across, causing only a minor directional change for us; but the third was a little late getting started and was on a collision course for the boat. He eventually made the wise decision of turning around, before Becky had to resort to beating him off with the boat pole! You drive long enough, eventually, you have a run in with a deer, but who would think that it would be with a boat???

Heading further south tomorrow with a good weather window to cross the Pamlico Sound and head south on the Nuese River.


Settling In

We talk about settling in when it is in regards to a new house, well we’re settling in to our new home – there are more similarities than differences…

November 1st – Moving Day…  you know that pile of stuff that  you don’t put on the moving truck – it’s not that much, just some stuff to put in the trunk and bring with you…..We all know that small pile of stuff requires multiple trips or a van – for us, it meant a three and half hour ride from NJ to MD with things piled high on everyone’s lap.  You can only plan so much ; )

November 2nd – Provisioning…  well we didn’t start that until afternoon, when we had finished stowing those “few things” we brought down.  In addition, there was one remaining maintenance item, held over beyond the target date. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in our new home, with one extra uninvited guest!!  Imagine sitting around your dinner table, and out of the corner of your eye, seeing a furry animal walk by your feet – yes, the local boatyard cat liked what she smelled and hopped aboard to say, “Hi!”  You might think that this is not a big deal, but remember, we’re on a boat – furry things on boats that you don’t bring on just don’t belong!!!!

November 3rd – Last Minute Stuff… the maintenance item wasn’t done until noon and our first leg is a a good 7 or 8 hours – so we decided to stay in the marina for one more night as the cold front passes, and we’re off first thing tomorrow morning for Solomon’s Island.

In all honesty, moving aboard was as crazy as you’d expect, we’re trying to add pieces of normalcy where we can, and settling in just fine!

More to come!


Big Milestones…

We’re getting back to the nitty gritty of moving from a house onto a boat and sailing south. We’ve had three key milestones since the last update.
#1 – Intermezzo is now in the water, where a boat should be. It was a long 5 weeks of climbing ladders, installing a stainless steel frame to support a solar panel, lifting hundreds of pounds of chain and a new anchor, dropping the sails to have some repairs done, and let’s not forget about the dinghy and engine… That phase is done – with only one trip to the urgent care facility ; )

#2 – We spent our first night together as a family on the boat at anchor. We traveled a whole 5 miles from where the boat is being kept, but that 5 miles, including dropping the anchor, running the 12-volt system, and inviting friends who joined us on their boat for dinner was basically a dry run for our liveaboard life, and things went well. Of course there are small things that came up, but no show stoppers, so 11/1 as a departure date still seems doable.

Folks have asked about what is after 11/1. Our journey is divided into a few rough sections…

route1) Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) to Charleston for Thanksgiving, 2) ICW from Charleston to Sourthern FL/Keyes for Christmas/New Years, 3) Crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas in mid-January, 4) a bit of a figure 8 through the Bahamas down Eleuthera and the Exumas to Long Island and up to the Abacos, 5) Crossing the Gulf Stream back to the US the end of April/Beginning of May, and 6) Keyport Harbor (Home) the end of June/Beginning of July. That said, taking a twist on a well known quote – “Captains plan and Neptune laughes.” This is clearly about the journey and the experience – not any particular destination.

I did save the biggest milestone for last – Savy’s 5th birthday celebration. When we asked her where she wanted to spend her birthday, she said, “On Intermezzo.” Before you say how great that is, she quickly followed up with… “and I’d also like a party at home the next weekend.” Tali’s 8th birthday will be celebrated somewhere between Annapolis and Charleston. These are the milestones and memories that will last a lifetime.


Mark Twain said it best…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

While there is plenty to do prior to throwing off the bow lines, we’re leaving safe harbor to head for points south, we’re starting this blog to share and document our story of exploration, dreaming, and discovery.

You’re invited to read more about our story, our family and how we came to this decision. We also hope you’ll follow along with us on our journey, post comments and questions.  The scariest part of this trip is not the sailing, the storms, the weather or the ocean; but disconnecting from colleagues, friends, and family.  So please stay in touch…