NOVEMBER--Travel with Hananiah and Cloudsplitter, Venture out to the Atlantic, Arrive in Florida and Stuck in Velcro Beach!

At the end of October, we were in Beaufort, North Carolina. A great town for cruisers. The Maritime Museum has courtesy vehicles available for cruisers to use for provisioning. All you need to do is go to the museum and sign one out--they ask you to return the car in one hour and limit the driving to the city limits. Beaufort is also "nuts" over Blackbeard--the pirate. Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's flagship was discovered in waters off Beaufort. The ship sank in 1718 and was found in 20 feet of water. You can not dive on the wreck.....some search firm has claimed salvage rights (donating many recovered items to the museum).

On November 1, we met up with two other Saga 43s----Cloudsplitter (Marianne and Doug Taylor) and Hananiah (Pat and Dick Peebles). The three boats anchored together by the Beaufort Inlet making plans to venture out to the Atlantic and sail to the Masonboro Inlet. Over cocktails, we started discussing our boat insurance requirements regarding hurricanes. Most insurance companies require vessels to stay either north of Norfolk, VA or somewhere in the Chesapeake from around May 1 to November 1st (hurricane season). Dick was reviewing his insurance policy in Beaufort (around October 29) and discovered that his policy required him to stay north of Norfolk until November 1st. Here he was----almost 200 miles south in Beaufort! Dick called his insurance company to see if he could purchase a waiver to cover him for a couple days. They told him no way---his choices were to: 1) take the boat back to Norfolk or 2) realize he had no insurance coverage for a hurricane until November 2! Carl started telling everyone that our policy was a little different in that it did not have any restrictions preventing us from moving south but rather seem to require us to move south by a certain date. This brought about all kinds of discussion (really no one believed him) so Carl brought out our policy. Were we surprised when we read it again. Our policy required us to be south of Beaufort, North Carolina by November 1. Yes, we were in total compliance---not by plan, only by pure and simple luck!

Pictured below is from one of the cocktail hours. We are onboard CLOUDSPLITTER. From left to right: Me, Marianne, Carl, Dick and Pat. Missing is the photographer Doug!

When we woke up November 2, the weather was very different from the previous day's forecast. Winds were to build quickly that day up to "gale" so we decided to stick to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). About 1 mile down the ICW from our anchorage we arrived at the Atlantic Beach Highway Bridge. Just so you know, all fixed bridges on the ICW are supposed to be at least 65 feet from the water at low tide. Well--my cruising guide says "CAUTION: Check the height gauge carefully before proceeding under this bridge, depth changes can reduce clearance below 65 feet. All three boats, DISCOVERY, HANANIAH and CLOUDSPLITTER are Saga 43s with the same height of mast BUT we have different instrumentation attached to the mast such as tricolor navigational lights, VHF radio antenna and wind instruments. While the Captains spend too much time talking about the exact height of the mast---basically, all three are close to 63.5 feet. HANANAIAH pulled up to the bridge first and read the height gauge---less than 63 feet so HANANIAH turned around. Carl decided to approach the bridge asking me to read the height gauge---I confirmed it was less than 63 feet. Next came the discussion between Carl and I regarding the accuracy of the height gauges. As background, I should tell you that in 2001, Carl helped Mike Enzinger move his Shannon 43 down the ICW and they misjudged a bridge which resulted in a big banging noise as some of the stuff attached to the mast hit the bridge and at least one of the things attached to the mast dropped on the deck. Carl told me back in 2001 about this incident and said it was quite scary. Do we try duplicate these results---I think not! CLOUDSPLITTER did not even bother approach the bridge. The three captains talked over the VHF radio with a majority decision to drop anchor to wait for the tide to go out since we were at high tide. We all sat at anchor for 90 minutes---all the time Carl believed we could clear the bridge. I did not want to try it. However, the wind started howling making it hard for the anchor to hold. Here I was--caught between the "Devil" and the "Deep Blue Sea". I finally choose to try the bridge. Man, it was scary. Carl was at the wheel asking me to watch the top of the mast.....technically we cleared it (the radio antenna clicked across the underside of the bridge as we passed). With our success, HANANIAH tried it and then CLOUDSPLITTER. Neither Marianne or Pat would look at the top of the mast as they passed through and neither boat heard the clicking noise of a radio antennae scrapping across the boat of the bridge.

Once we cleared the bridge, the day's journey was much more relaxing until we reached Camp Lejeune where it was became quite interesting. Occasionally, the ICW through Camp Lejeune is closed for artillery and small arms firing and beach-landing exercises. There are huge lighted stop signs at both ends of the firing range....if its flashing red, drop your anchor and wait. When we passed it was green. The Marines were practicing some type of warfare when we passed through. We saw lots of helicopters, heard firing in the distance and saw red smoke bombs. Anchored in Mile Hammock Bay which is owned by the US Marines. Cruisers can stay in the harbor but can not go ashore. On shore are all kinds of structures for practice....fake ship at a dock, fake tanks, fake anti-aircraft guns, etc. In the evening I felt like I was in the middle of Viet Nam--so many helicopters with lights passing over us.

The next day on the ICW was a tiring many encroaching shoals. Just a couple miles from the anchorage, we came upon a big sailboat that was hard aground. There was no way any of us could help him because the current was racing in from the New River Inlet. We heard the boat call for a tow so we knew they would eventually get help. The current was too fast, the channel too narrow and the boat was too high on the ground for any of us to help. It was at this point that Carl wanted to get off the ICW and go on the outside as soon as we could. Stayed that night in Carolina Beach, North Carolina and made plans for going on the outside (Atlantic).

HANANIAH and CLOUDSPLITTER had not sailed overnight on the ocean before (ok, I had only completed one other 24 hour run on the ocean). We left the ICW at the Cape Fear River Inlet and motored on the ocean down to Charleston, South Carolina (about 22 hours). It was fun doing an overnight with two other boats because you could talk to them over the radio during your watch and it was two other people to evaluate the lights you see at night from other vessels or navigational markers.

Pictured below is DISCOVERY on the Atlantic close to the Cape Fear River Inlet. It was a calm day so we motored all the way to Charleston.

Pictured below is DISCOVERY leading HANANIAH into Charleston Harbor. CLOUDSPLITTER is behind HANANIAH.

Charleston is a great city. Historically, it was founded in 1670 by the British and then a group of French Huguenots arrived to give the city a slight Cerole flavor. The houses are pastel with brick-walled gardens behind lacy iron gates. At the mouth of the harbor is Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

I needed a walk so I walked from the City Marina to the downtown area through the city market and the historic district. Walked the Battery where some of the largest and most beautiful houses are. I overheard one of the tour guides telling her group that the plantation owners came to Charleston for the summer to get away from the heat and mosquitoes on the plantation. In Charleston they could enjoy the ocean breezes. In Charleston, we enjoyed one of the best dinners on our trip at HANK'S (came close to the dinner at Rockfish with Ron and Jackie Baden back in October but did not top it).

Pictured below is the crews from HANANIAH (Pat and Dick Peebles), DISCOVERY (Marilyn and Carl) and CLOUDSPLITTER (Marianne and Doug Taylor).

Carl and I decided that we would go on the outside again----this time for at least 48 hours. CLOUDSPLITTER and HANANIAH decided to travel the ICS. It was fun traveling with them but we decided to strike out on our own. Left Charleston at 6:45 AM (Monday) and arrived at Cape Canaveral harbor entrance at 7:00 AM (Wednesday). On this ocean adventure, we did a lot of sailing. At night the water would fluoresce just like those night glow stick whenever something would move in the water. During the night, dolphins would swim next to the hull and their movement stirred up the water to shimmering green glow. The first night, we were out so far from land that we did not see any other vessels. Tuesday around noon, a little bird flew on board. He looked exhausted and was certainly a long way from shore (at least 20 miles). The bird hopped around the deck and would join us in the cockpit. We fed it sunflower seeds and tried to prevent it from going down below. Our second night out we saw another sailboat (CORSAIR who sailed passed us just before we entered Cape May last September--this time they were on their way to Miami) and a cruise ship. We sailed past Cape Canaveral and could see the launch pad and buildings for hours thinking it would be so neat to see an actual launch. Wednesday morning when we came into Cape Canaveral harbor, our guest (the bird) took off and flew back toward the ocean. Strange! In the harbor we saw a manatee (haven't seen one since).

From Cape Canaveral we continued to Melbourne to attend the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) Meeting. We joined this organization and attended one of their meetings while we were in Annapolis. In Melbourne we met up with CAMELOT (Keith Reynolds and Rose Miles) who also have a Saga 43. The SSCA meeting consists of seminars, social events and includes vendors. You meet such interesting people at these meetings---some with more experience than we have and some with less. The presenters are very knowledgeable and usually have a lively presentation.

From Melbourne DISCOVERY and CAMELOT followed the ICW to Vero Beach---many people affectionately refer to Vero Beach as Velcro Beach because it sticks to you and you stay a long time. Our sailing adventure had three milestones--you may recall that milestone number 3 was to be in Vero Beach by Thanksgiving---mission accomplished. We will probably stay here until the first of the year.

So what are we doing in Vero Beach? Carl did some routine maintenance on the boat engine and generator engine (change oil, filters and antifreeze). He also installed additional refrigeration and the biggest job was to install a wind generator. Keith and Rose have a second home here in Vero Beach and an extra vehicle so we have had access to a car. Attended the Annual Cruisers Thanksgiving Dinner which was a potluck affair---everyone signed up in advance. One cruiser deep fat fried three huge birds, there were two traditional oven roasted birds and two hams. The Thanksgiving Dinner was so much fun. We also attend the weekly Wednesday morning cruisers' breakfast. Our sailing buddies on CLOUDSPLITTER and HANANIAH arrived in Vero November 27. Right now, CLOUDSPLITTER, CAMELOT and DISCOVERY are tied to the same mooring in Vero Beach so we get together once in awhile for Happy Hour, dinner or fun on shore.

Pictured below is Carl installing the wind generator. He would climb up on the stern rail to make all the adjustments. Yes, we had to lift that heavy thing up into the air to get it secured to the pole....not once but three times.

It is such a small world. Today (11/30), I was wearing a t-shirt that Ron and Jackie Baden gave me before leaving Michigan. The t-shirt says "Gull Lake Michigan". A lady in the grocery store looked at my shirt, stopped and said she used to live near Gull Lake. Of course...... I asked where---Grand Rapids. I went on to explain that we lived in Kalamazoo but now have our land home near Pentwater. She told me she used to live in Pentwater. Her name is Ann Katchick (not sure of the spelling). When she said her name, I instantly recognized it because she and her husband caused quite a stir with the local Pentwater people when they moved in. I had neverr met her before and found her to be pleasant and friendly. She of course did not know me. As a side note, I saw her at the Cruisers' Breakfast so I know that I will see her again and I look forward to the next breakfast so we can talk again.

This brings the month to a close. December we will spend our time getting ready for the Bahamas.

Marilyn Thoreson
November 30, 2005