APRIL---Great Harbor Anchorage (Berry Islands) in the Bahamas to "On The Hard" in Deltaville, VA

April 1, yup it is April Fool's Day. Nothing fooling with us other than the weather! With TILT at Great Harbor Anchorage....north end of the Berry Island Chain. Not been to this anchorage since January 16, 2006 when anchored here with CLOUDSPLITTER, HANNIAH, NO SE and CAMELOT (the Saga 43 Fleet). Little Stirrup and Great Stirrup Cay form the north part of the anchorage while Great Harbor Cay is on the east. Goat Cay is located south of Great Stirrup and provides boats with some protection from west winds .A little history/folk lore about the Stirrup Cays.....yes, Blackbeard passed by here on his way from the Carolinas to Nassau perhaps looked for shelter from west winds by Goat Cay! During the US Civil War, the cays were patrolled by Union gun boats trying to catch gun runners. During the US Prohibition years, Federal agents patrolled the area on the lookout for rum runners. Oh those Federal agents on patrol for guns and rum!! Today, the Stirrups are "private" lines( Norwegian Cruise Line on Great Stirrup while Royal Caribbean and Celebrity is on Little Stirrup) leased the land and built facilities ashore for their guests. The cruise ships anchor north of the Stirrups. Would not have even noticed their presence if iwe hadn't seen the "bee line of personal watercraft" parading through the anchorage. Every hour or so a bee line of 12 or so personal watercraft passed by our boat anchored by Goat Cay. Wonder how much the guests paid for that short ride? There is a pretty (but non functioning) lighthouse on the eastern corner of Big Stirrup. Supposedly you can go ashore when the cruise ships are gone but with three different lines visiting The Stirrups, there is usually a cruise ship anchored on the north side of the Stirrups (always at least one cruise ship whenever we have sailed by the island).

Why are we anchored at Great Harbor??? Had hoped to go straight to Fort Pierce when we left the anchorage on the west side of current cut March 31 but that plan wasn't in the "weather cards". Craig pulled up some grib files and it appeared that we would be dealing with moderate northerlies and squalls in the gulfstream so decided to stay at Great Harbor until we see a good crossing forecast. Put the small motor on the dinghy to go over to TILT for Sequence. Diane and Warren on NO JUSTICE arrived in the anchorage in the afternoon. They came over to TILT to visit so had to put our game of Sequence on hold for about an hour. In the morning, Kris and Craig listened to Chris Parker's forecast (our single side band radio, SSB, is not working). Good weather so left Great Harbor at 7:15 AM.

On the left is Goat Cay. It is a small cay but it offers some protection from west winds. Anchored as close as we could (shallows up fast close to shore). On the right is the lighthouse on Great Stirrup Cay. Apologize for the blur....used all the zoom on my little camera had.


On the left is the "Last Bahamian Sunrise for the 2011/2012 Cruising Season". On the right is the "Last Bahamian Sunset for the 2011/2012 Cruising Season." Too cloudy for a green flash.


Arrived at Fort Pierce at 7:00 AM. Motorsailed the entire way. Lots of shipping traffic around Freeport.An uneventful trip across the gulfstream. which is a good thing. Called Homeland Security on the cell phone to clear in. Headed up the ICW to Vero Beach. Fell asleep after lunch...a well deserved nap. Relaxed on the boat for the rest of the day. Went to bed early sleeping through the night.

Wednesday morning woke up early so we could get to the Cruisers' Breakfast on time. It is about a 40 minute walk to the restaurant from the marina. Just as we arrived at the Barber Bridge, the Vero Beach Police closed off the bridge because of a jumper. A 20-year-old man stopped all vehicular and pedestrian traffic from the Barber Bridge for two hours. No boats were allowed to pass under the bridge----two commercial tugs were held up by the situation. The man climbed on the bridge’s railing and threatened to jump into the Indian River Lagoon 65 feet below. The man was eventually talked off the bridge and taken to the hospital. The newspaper said the jum[er has a juvenile court record and a severe dislike of the police. He was also treated for cutting his wrist in 2010. The newspaper said the jumper was taunting police as he was helped off the railing. When the bridge was finally opened.....we poured on the steam to get to the restaurant before the breakfast was over.

Keith and Rose (CAMELOT) invited Kris, Craig, Carl and I for dinner Wednesday night. Keith and Rose moved into a big house last January (before they headed to the Bahamas). Rose has done a great job decorating the house. Love the setting and the second story balcony. After dinner we played Sequence. Have been playing with only four people....oh.the game goes so fast with six people. Had a great time. It was midnight by the time we were back on the boat which is pretty late for us!!!

Stayed in Vero Beach for 10 days for two reasons. Reason number one: Waiting for the SSB radio Carl purchased on eBay to arrive (supposed to be there 3-5 business days after payment but itt did not arrive until 4/11). Reason number two: Waiting for good weather to jump in the gulfstream for a run north. Oh well it is easy to have fun in Vero Beach. Bob and Bev (SAVAGE SON) picked us up one afternoon so we could see their new condo. The condo was a construction zone--they are updating the place. It will be so nice when all the remodeling is done. Pat and Mac Rice(WIND BORNE) invited Kris, Craig, Carl and I over for dinner one evening. Mac prepared salmon on the grill which was delicious. Have to mention Pat served her famous apple cake with ice cream for dessert. Most of us were polite (and full) having just one serving of dessert----except Carl who ate another serving. Played Sequence (again 6 players makes the game go so much faster than when 4 people play) before returning back to the boat. Kris and Craig invited Gary and Mary MacDonald (PACKET INN) and us over for pizza one evening. Gary and Mary left Lake Michigan back in 2005---we first met them at White Lake. Saw them again in Lake Huron. Gary and Mary hooked up with TILT crossing to the Bahamas with them. Currently, Gary and Mary have a place near Melbourne so we usually get to see them whenever we are in Vero Beach. Other Vero activities: weekly Happy Hour, riding the bus to Publix, Farmers' Market and shopping at the thrift stores.

April 12 was a big day for DISCOVERY---the SSB arrived (so did the new smart phone Carl ordered).. The next day, Don a guy who lives on a boat at the marina, opened up the SSB's marine frequencies so we could transmit as well as receive marine frequencies. With regard to a weather window----the window was opening starting Sunday. On our last night (Friday) in Vero......Kris, Craig, Carl and I attended the free concerts on Ocean Drive. Enjoyed the music and seeing people we have met cruising over the years. Dinner at Nemo's (fantastic pizzas).

Thursday is the day for Happy Hour at the Vero Beach Marina that is attended by Cruisers and CLODs (Cruisers Living On Dirt). Sue on NICE N EASY brought flowers for the first Happy Hour we attended. We were in Vero long enough to attend two of them. On the top right and bottom left are pictures taken at the Farmers' Market. Bottom right is one of the bands (free concert).....singing songs from the 60's (Girl Bands although they were actually Girl Groups since they didn't play instruments).



On Friday the 13th, close to midnight ....a 37-foot sailboat that lost its steering out on the Atlantic Ocean and a Fort Pierce commercial towing vessel that went to rescue the sailboat both broken up on the rocks of Fort Pierce Inlet's south jetty. The boats hit the rocks on their way in the inlet. Neither boat could be refloated. Don't know which commercial service it was.....Tow Boat US or Seatow. The towing vessel tried to bring the disabled craft in during maximum ebb current (large ocean waves opposing a strong outgoing current) so there was a rage in the inlet. I know what this is like from experience having entered the Fort Pierce inlet last November is similar conditions. I still get the shakes when I recall my own experience.

Motored down to Fort Pierce on Saturday so we could get out the inlet on Sunday as close to slack water as possible. A two possibly three day weather window opened up for us. Left Fort Pierce at 7:00 AM. with just a little current against us. Caught a glimpse of the wreckage from Friday night on the south jetty. Sailed for the first 15 hours making great time with the northward push of the gulfstream. Needed to turn the engine on if we wanted to make it to Wrightsville or Beaufort before the forecasted cold front. Great having a SSB again. Had check-ins at midniight, 4:00 AM and 8:00 PM with TILT and Scott and Kitty on TAMURE. Kept the final destination dependent. The goal---get as far north as possible. Out two nights....saw two fantastic green flashes at sunset. By Monday morning, Chris Parker was advising boats to get into Beaufort, NC by sunset on Tuesday because the winds would go north. Did an estimated time of arrival.....our arrival in Beaufort was close to sunset so changed course just slightly for Wrightsville Beach. Arrived at Wrightsville dropping the anchor at 11:00 AM Tuesday. In hindsight....could have made it to Beaufort before sunset (low balled the speed when estimated arrival time) but better to be safe at anchor in Wrightsville than sorry in the gulfstream with strong northerly winds!!!

Rested on Tuesday and enjoyed the first hot meal since Saturday night. In the morning, dropped the dinghy in the water and met Kris and Craig for a walk to Harris Teeter. Went to a restaurant for lunch. Returned to the boat for a game of Sequence. While playing Sequence, Christie and Bill on VERANDA arrived in the anchorage. Talked to them a few minutes. They made a dinghy run to shore to get rid of trash and pick up bread.

In the morning, VERANDA, TAMURE, TILT and DISCOVERY left Wrightsville on the outside for Beaufort, NC. Forecast was for rain in the morning and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. We just plain lucked rain, no thunderstorms only fog (not the pea soup variety). An easy run to Beaufort. Dropped anchor close to the US Coast Guard Station along with TILT. VERANDA decided to continue on to Adams Creek (they were in a hurry to make it to Annapolis).

In the morning headed to Broad Creek off the Neuse River where we met up with DYAD (Dave & Kathy), MON AMIE (Mary and Dave), SALTY PAWS (Bentley and Jim) at Donna and Jerry's house (BLUEJACKET). Stopped over to visit with Dave and Kathy. They plan to re-upholster their cushions this summer so getting everyone's input regarding fabric. As you can guess ......everyone has a different opinion. Donna and Jerry invited everyone to the house for dinner. Wow, all ten of us sitting comfortably around Donna's dining room table. Great food and conversation.

Next stop......Belhaven off the Pungo River. Met up once again with TILT who went to the South River from Beaufort. Belhaven probably was once a great little town. It has fallen on hard economic times. So many of the businesses on the main street are closed. Kris and Craig have stopped in Belhaven several times since 2005 so they have seen how the town is slowly dying. It is sad. Walked around Belhaven. Had ice cream shakes and returned to the boats. During the night, a squall came through......both TILT and DISCOVERY went "walkabout" around 3:00 AM. Our anchors did not hold with the wind and that slick muddy river bottom.

DISCOVERY and TILT moved from Belhaven to the Pungo River anchorage on the west end of the Alligator Pungo Canal in light rain (heavy rain and squalls in the forecast for the afternoon). DISCOVERY dragged anchor when the first squall came through. Set the anchor for the south winds staying put for the rest of the afternoon. When the wind clocked to the west and northwest ......DISCOVERY was too close to the shore so we moved out a little. The wind blew around 20 knots from the northwest all night.....we held tight. Besides TILT and DISCOVERY, there was a third boat in the anchorage.....r PELICAN (Pat and Alec). Did not realize who the third boat was until the morning when they left the anchorage. As they passed us.... I saw the name of the boat. Called them on the VHF radio. Met Pat and Alec at a SSCA Meeting in Melbourne, FL the fall of 2006. Later saw them in St. Martin when we were leaving the Eastern Caribbean and they were just arriving. Pat and Alec are putting the boat on the market in Deltaville. Pat mentioned that r PELICAN also dragged anchor the day before. I tell ya......those North Carolina creeks and rivers have such muddy slick bottoms.

The next day we went through the canal to anchor in Deep Point. The Bridge of Doom (a.k.a. Wilkerson Bridge) sits on the west end of the Alligator Pungo Canal. This bridge was not built to specifications (it is less than 65 feet). There is no lunar tide here.....but the water level does change based on wind. TILT has to be very careful at this bridge because of their tall mast. We passed underthe bridge without a problem.......not the case for TILT. TILT's tri-color fixture and windex at the top of the mast hit the bridge. Having the mast kiss the bridge is not a good way to start your day. By the time TILT and DISCOVERY anchored at Deep Point at the south end of the Alligator River, the winds picked up from the west. The anchorage is wide open to the southwest to northwest. The waves were causing the boat to hobby horse and then TILT started to drag its anchor. I suggested to Carl that we move into the Alligator River and find a spot on the western shore that is deep enough for us to anchor. Called Kris and Craig (they had already re-set the anchor)........Craig said we were thinking the same thing so both boats left Deep Point. Found a nice spot.....had 11 feet of water all the way from the ICW channel to the shore. Dropped anchor, put the dinghy in the water and went over to TILT for dinner and Sequence. Not a good day for Kris and Craig.

The sun rising over the Alligator River. First time we saw the sun for 2-3 days. What a welcome sight.


The next day the wind is still out of the west which made it possible for us to sail up the Alligator River, cross the Albemarle Sound and enter the Virginia Cut. Appreciated the side curtains that we had made last summer. A beautiful sail until the last 2-3 hours when the swells on the Albemarle Sound started to push the stern of the boat around while I was trying to dodge crab pots and maintain a course. Keeping that course was a challenge. Took down the sails just south of Buck Island. While we usually drop the anchor at Buck Island---went to Coinjock Marina for the night. Took a long, long hot shower (just stood there with the water pouring over my head). Dinner at the marina's restaurant where Carl and I had one of the best crabcake sandwiches ever. Early to bed because it was the warmest place on the boat (temperatures in the lower 40's).

From Coinjock it is a motor ride to Great Bridge. Three opening bridges---all with restricted openings so timing was important. Tied to the free dock at Great Bridge (lots of room). Walked to the grocery store for a few items. Dinner at the Mexican Restaurant that Kris is reasonable (cheap) and good. So many items on the menu it is hard to decide what to order. I ordered the seafood nachos--great taste with far too many calories.

One night at Great Bridge and then the final run to Deltaville. The only excitement was meeting a tug and barge at almost every opening bridge. In all the years we have cruised the ICW......this is the first time we had to wait at a railroad bridge because of a train (most of the railroad bridges are normally open). The forecast was for possible thunderstorms but managed to avoid them. It was great to finally arrive in Deltaville.

Finally in Deltaville. Yes, I'd rather be back in the Bahamas but as long as I am in the US might as well be in Deltaville!


Top cleaning stainless while at anchor. Photos bottom left and right---moved to the dock the following day squeezing into a slip that is 18 inches larger than the width of DISCOVERY. In other words, the distance between the two pilings in front of the boat is only 18 inches more than our width. A tight fit but with help from Craig and Kris we made it.


Appreciate the screen porch at the Deltaville Marina with the tables, chairs and a grill. Below are two photos from our first dinner in the porch with TILT, KISMET (Jim and Laurie) and RACHEL (Julie and Mark).


DISCOVERY coming out of the water on April 30 the last day of the month.


I am certain the conversation between Carl and Craig is as follows: Carl says "I can't believe how clean the bottom is. This new Pettit Paint formulation is so good."


DISCOVERY on jackstands. Can you see that ICW Mustache? Some can it an eyebrow. As soon as the scaffolding will be gone!!!

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
May 07, 2012