| || |
Our last night aboard night music at anchor, we stopped at Cedar Creek, about three hours from our destination of New Bern/Northwest Creek Marina. It was a pretty afternoon, we played games and enjoyed a beautiful sunset and singing birds both in the evening and the following morning. There was no wind so we motored our way up the marina and found our slip at the dock. This would be Night Music’s last stop under our ownership – she’d been a great boat and home for the past two years.
With mixed feelings of sadness and excitement, we got right toward moving all of our things off the boat into a small condo we had rented right at the marina. Having the condo would give us the space we needed to sort through all of our things and decide what would be making the trip with us back to Seattle. There was a tropical storm, Bonnie, arriving in less than 24 hours with over a week of heavy rain predicted so we managed to get everything off the boat before the rain started. Let the work of getting her ready for sale begin!!
Thanks for following!
We left Vero Beach with about 2 weeks of travel until reaching New Bern, our final stop on this adventure. We didn’t have much leeway on the timeline for stopping and exploring as we needed to make it to New Bern with time to get moved off the boat and have it ready to put up for sale. Traveling with Jeff and Kendra was an added bonus – always fun to have such good friends along for the ride.
Our first stop was just south of Titusville, FL. We anchored just off the ICW near a bridge to get a little protection from the south wind. We had a lovely dinner with Jeff and Kendra and a gorgeous sunset before we called it a night. Sleeping at anchor is such a joy with the breeze always blowing through the boat at the bow points into the wind, gently sounds of water against the hull and sometimes you can hear dolphin’s breath as they surface near the boat. And from the v-berth, where Eric and I sleep, there is a hatch just above our heads so we have our own view of the stars and moon as we fall asleep. Pure heaven!
The next day was a long one, with our anchorage target being just north of New Smyrna Beach, FL. We passed through our favorite manatee viewing area, the Haul-over Canal, and weren’t disappointed as we saw many manatees. There was a large brush fire just near the huge Cape Canaveral space station buildings that sent a strange plume of smoke through the air. We were a bit ahead of Finley and were spared the layer of ash on our decks that they encountered. We pulled into our anchorage, which was quite crowded and set the hook and prepped dinner. Jeff and Kendra joined us and we toasted yet another great sunset.
Our next stop was St. Augustine. We picked up a mooring ball and headed into town to explore a bit. We stopped at the A1A café, a favorite for Ava and Reed because of their homemade root beer. Of course, the microbrews were also good for the adults! It was a calm night on the mooring and we slept well in preparation for the next day of travel.
Our final day in Florida, we traveled past Jacksonville, FL, across the St. John’s River and into our anchorage in a small river next to the Kingsley Plantation, an historic site along the shore. It was low tide and finding a spot wide enough to drop the anchor, swing with the current and not run aground was a bit tricky! We finally found our spot and settled in for the evening. It was a beautiful anchorage with lots of birds singing near shore and fish jumping in the creek. We had cocktails aboard Finley after dinner and went to be just as the moon was rising.
It was a relatively short day the next day to leave Florida and reach Cumberland Island, GA, one of our favorite spots on the entire trip. To get to Cumberland via boat, we sail past the Kings Bay naval station. That day, there was a submarine coming into the channel being escorted by several coast guard security vessels. It was a sight to see – felt like being on set for The Hunt for Red October! Very cool!
After that excitement, we anchored at the south end of the island and went ashore with Jeff and Kendra to explore. The wild horses are one of the main attractions of the island and they were out in force. An added bonus was seeing all the new foals with their mothers, staying close and enjoying their fresh grass and freedom to explore. As we explored the buildings, tiny inchworms were hanging from the trees and Reed loved to have them crawl on his arms. From the historic buildings, we walked to the beach to explore at low tide. There were lots of miniscule clams buried in the sand with little fountains coming up from the sand as the tide washed away. It was a beautiful walk back to the dinghy dock, passing through huge, sprawling live oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Another fantastic sunset and meal shared with Jeff and Kendra capped off the day.
Jekyll Island was our next stop for two days. Arriving around noon, we anchored just off the marina and for a small fee, could leave our dinghy tied up to their docks while we explored using their complementary bikes. The first day we rode around a bit (saw a gator!) and then had a great dinner and accompanied by a fantastic live band while watching the sunset at the Rah Bar. The next day we started early and took a long bike ride around the north end of the island, past the ocean beach on the east side, through the marshes and park on the north side, and after a picnic lunch at the fishing pier, we rode along the tree-lined paths back south toward the marina. There was a “Turtle Festival” going on at the town square with booths that were set up to educated on turtles and other wildlife on Jekyll Island. Reed especially enjoyed talking about turtles and snakes with the biologists manning the booths. After four stops here, Jekyll remains one of our most memorable places from our two-year trip.
We had two lovely nights at anchor, one in the Crescent River where we’d anchored last summer during a thunderstorm but this time the weather was perfect! Reed and Eric went fishing with Jeff and Kendra and we all had a lovely dinner together as the sun set. We were soaking up every last moment of the trip and could feel the end of the trip looming. The next day, we crossed over into South Carolina and anchored in a broad, current filled creek just north of the Savannah River. It was a windy start to the evening but as the wind settled down, turned out to be a beautiful, secluded anchorage that we had all to ourselves. Finley had stopped just before the Savannah River so we missed them that night.
Lady’s Island Marina in Beaufort, SC, was our next destination. It was a long trip with some rain and wind at the last hour as we crossed over Royal Sound and sailed up the river into Beaufort. Once at the marina, we were welcomed like family by Steve, the dock master, and the rest of the staff. Reed immediately got to dropping the crab traps and Ava to finding all the resident dogs at the marina. Reed caught enough crab to cook and clean them for us to eat. Yum! Jeff and Kendra arrived the following day and we had some fun, including a dinner at the Fillin’ Station bar with other cruisers while waiting for the torrential rain to stop so we could continue on our journey.
We anchored in Church Creek just south of Charleston to set up for an early arrival the next day. We said our goodbyes via VHF to Jeff and Kendra who were stopping on the south side of Charleston Harbor while we moved to the Isle of Palms marina at the north end of the harbor. We meet up with Addy Fisher and her grandma, Janet Jones. Jo Ann and Greg Fisher, Addy’s parents, were out of town but Janet was there and picked us up at the Isle of Palms marina. They had let us stow some of our cold weather gear there during our first trip down the ICW and it was time to pick it up! We had a great time at their house, with Reed and Addy playing on the trampoline and making a sailboat out of a roller skate and sail. After a pizza dinner, we headed back to the boat to keep moving north the next day.
The next few days we anchored out in some of our favorite areas, including Butler Island along the Wacamaw River, north of Myrtle Beach in Calabash Creek, and then took a slip at the dock at Carolina Beach State Park. There, we met up with another family, the Bergstroms, who are just starting their cruising dream and had a lovely dinner at their house. Ava was thrilled to have another teenager to chat with.
Our last few days were upon us. With mixed feelings, we cast off from the dock at Carolina Beach and headed north. One of our adventures that day was to see a sailboat aground just north of Camp Lejune. It was the exact spot where we had run aground on our second day of our trip many months ago. We had so many miles and experiences under our belt and navigated the area safely – but felt bad for the other sailors and were glad to see the Sea Tow boat as it zoomed past us to their rescue. We were thankful that we hadn’t needed that assistance during our trip.
Thanks for following!
After a wonderful few days in Lucaya, our weather window for a good crossing of the Gulf Stream back to Florida opened up. We left with our buddy boat, Kendra and Jeff, on Finley for the 24 hour trip. It was a bit rougher than was forecast but once you are out there, you just keep going!
Reed and Eric decided to get a last bit of fishing in as we were in the deep water and in a short amount of time, they hooked a skipjack tuna. It was very strong and fought hard but in the end, we got him on board, filleted and ready for eating once we got to land. There weren’t a lot of other boats so it was nice to always have sight of Finley’s mast and chat on the VHF about course heading, wind, etc.
The Gulf Stream was moving northward quite quickly so as we headed due west, our course was actually more northwesterly in nature. We had great wind so we didn’t need the motor for most of the journey. At one point, we turned north with the Gulf Stream and had a blast sailing along at almost double our normal speed, surfing waves under the moonlit sky. As we approached Fort Pierce, the sun was rising behind us and some thunderstorms were developing as well. It was a good feeling to have those behind us! We entered the inlet and headed north to pick up a mooring ball in Vero Beach and get some rest!
After resting a bit, we walked with Jeff and Kendra to a little brewpub called Orchid Island Brewery. The beer was good, food so-so, but company wonderful. It was a pretty walk down green, tree-tunneled streets with orchids growing in the branches (hence the name of the general area, Orchid Island!). We all slept very well that night and were ready for the next adventure to start!
The next day, we rented a car and drove south to Boynton Beach to see our friend, Elfriede, and pick up a bunch of cold weather items we had left there on our way south back in January. On the way, we stopped in Fort Pierce at our favorite Cuban restaurant– Mervis’ Café. It’s a great stop, with authentic Cuban cuisine of sandwiches, platters, and desserts. Yum! We made it to Elfriede’s and spent a couple of days visiting with her and her brother Harry and his friends. It was strange to sleep in a “real” bed again after many months – Ava got used to it pretty quickly, though! It was hard to say goodbye to such a wonderful woman but we needed to start our journey north toward New Bern while the weather was good.
We returned to the boat and got ready for our trip north. We did have one potential hijacker, a cute little frog who must have climbed up our anchor chain to look for a place to rest for the night. Despite many requests to keep him as a pet, we set him free before we cast off.
Thanks for following and hope you enjoy the post!
After our five day adventure exploring by van, it was time to start sailing north toward along the west coast of Eleuthera. Our first stop was at Kemp’s Bay. It was a rather raucous but very fun sail up the coast about 30 miles. We traveled with Finley and anchored in calm protected Kemp's Bay. The next day, the wind switched so we moved around the point for a calmer anchorage. Eric, Reed, Jeff, and Kendra went snorkeling while Ava and Karrie, who was a bit under the weather, stayed aboard Night Music and played cards.
Our destination for Friday was Governor’s Harbor. One of the larger settlements on Eleuthera, it hosts a Friday Night Fish Fry and Barbecue fundraiser with music and dancing that is not to be missed. We sailed up toward the bay and about 3 miles out we were suddenly joined by dolphins at our bow! While we had seen hundreds if not thousands of dolphins on this trip, none had played in the bow wake long enough to really enjoy the experience. This day, they stayed with us for almost 40 minutes. Ava and Reed stood on the bow and sang, clapped, and whistled to encourage them to stay. Each had a such a smile on their faces at the experience they had imagined since we planned the trip finally coming to fruition. What a treat!
We anchored in the clear, shallow water of the bay off of Governor’s Harbor and dinghied into town to explore. The waterfront is marked by the historic library building, bright pink among the casuarina trees. A small isthmus off the harbor leads to Cupids Cay where we stopped at Ronnie’s Hi-D-Way tavern for cold drinks, some billiards, and a game or two of dominoes.
At the fish fry, we met many locals and land-based tourists but not many other cruisers. The food was delicious – Eric chatted up the grilling team and got the inside scoop on what were the best items and sides to order. After filling up on barbecue, we ate some yummy dessert provided by the two sisters from the Queen of Tarts! They remembered us from our radiator break down adventures on Ava’s birthday.
Last fun for the night was the limbo contest. Karrie, Jeff, and Reed entered while Eric, Kendra, and Ava looked on. Surprisingly, Reed was out first, then Karrie, then the 6’4” Jeff! Wow! But his knees did hurt something terrible the next day. Ava made friends with all the potcake dogs while the rest of us danced. We went back to our boats around 10pm and listened to the party go on into the wee hours of the morning.
The next day we walked to the bakery for more donuts and chicken pastries, then hoisted anchor and sailed up about 20 miles to the harbor of Hatchet Bay. A very protected harbor, we decided to stay two nights to wait out some potential weather (that never really materialized). We made the most of our time snorkeling, fishing, spearfishing, and exploring. Jeff and Kendra were anchored south of the harbor but met us in nearby Alice Town to show us one of their favorite hangouts – Da Spott. A great, shady place with cold beer and lots of adorable potcake dogs for Ava and Reed to play with. We left more than a few “dead soldiers” on the table but it was a lazy, fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the post!
Last April/May, Eric’s brother Henry and his family came to the Bahamas for a two-week visit. It was a great time and we’d hoped they’d all return again for another adventure. But work, school, and other plans came into play so that was not to be. However, Wendy wanted a return visit so she changed her annual ski trip with her long-time friend Anita into a warm weather Bahamas vacation trip instead!
The weather had been blustery so the waves in the middle of Elizabeth Harbor made any dinghy ride from our mooring across to the town where all the services were kind of like going through a salt water car wash! Fortunately, there is a water taxi service, run by Elvis (yes, Elvis) that will take you across the harbor for $12 round trip. We had planned to use this to method to pick up Wendy and Anita with their flight landing early in the morning into George Town, but a flight delay and a settling of the weather meant Eric could pick them up in the dinghy while the kids and I waited at the boat.
After arriving, they explored town a bit, provisioned up on important items like beer and rum, and made their way across the harbor to the boat. That night, we borrowed a dinghy from Finley and split up and dinghied again across the harbor to enjoy a special BBQ dinner at the iconic Peace and Plenty hotel, complete with entertainment by a Bahamian “rake and scrape” band. Fantastic first day!
We had many fun adventures in George Town with Wendy and Anita, including:
Our first stop was Lee Stocking Island, this time anchoring a little bit south of where we had anchored a couple weeks earlier. There was a reef nearby to explore so we snorkeled while Reed speared three more fish: grouper, sailors choice, and a red snapper. Once back at the boat, we swam, found sea stars, and enjoyed the beautiful sunset and calm moon-free night with incredible stars and Milky Way shining above.
The next morning, we motored a short distance to Leaf Cay to see the native iguanas living there. They were smaller than the ones we’d seen on Bitter Guana Cay but more numerous. From Leaf Cay we headed north again out on Exuma Sound, a nice but somewhat rolly sail for several hours. We crossed to the western, shallow bank side of the Exumas through Rudder Cut and traveled north from there to Big Farmers Cay.
We anchored in a small bay at Big Farmers and dinghied across the Little Farmers Cay harbor. The harbor was home to small nurse sharks, sting rays, and sea turtles who were there to eat the scraps from the fish and conch cleaning station. We walked across Little Farmers (over the airport runway!) to Ty’s Sunset restaurant. The dinner was excellent – fresh and plentiful – with rum punches and a nice set of chairs on the deck to enjoy the view. Reed played volleyball with a local boy, Aaron, and soon they had everyone joining in on their game. On the dark walk back to the dinghy, we met a man with potcake puppies for sale. Ava and Reed begged to get one and as cute as they were, we knew that it wouldn’t be the right thing for the last few months of our travels. Getting a dog will have to wait until we are back in Seattle.
We stayed an extra day at Big Farmers as weather/wind/squalls were moving through. We played games, swam, and Wendy and Anita made grand plans to turn the abandoned houses in the bay into their own resort someday. Let’s hope so!
Our last leg of the trip was a short jaunt up to Staniel Cay. We stopped along the way at Oven Rock – an anchorage most famous for its inland trail to a hidden cave with fresh water pool inside. We anchored, went ashore, found the trail and the cave. While it was cool to see, we all agreed that swimming in the dark water with bats flying above might not be the best thing. We hiked to an ocean side beach and swam there instead.
That sailing was wonderful all the way up the Staniel – felt great to have the engines off and nothing but the wind, sun, and waves all around in the teal blue, ultra clear water all around. We anchored in our favorite spot off of the Yacht club in time for sundown drinks and a quiet dinner.
On Friday, we got up early to catch the low tide at Thunderball Grotto. Just the adults went to snorkel the cave – we had it all to ourselves and were able to explore and enjoy for quite a while before the current started to run and other boaters showed up. The light was perfect for catching back-lit pictures of us diving down to enter the cave.
Back at the boat, Reed offered to take Wendy and Anita to “pig beach” off of Big Majors island. Then Wendy and Anita treated Ava and Reed to breakfast and the kids then took them on a tour of the island to meet the locals and see the sights. We a;; spent the rest of the day hanging out at the yacht club drinking yummy pina coladas, playing pool and the ring toss game, and people watching all the yachts coming and going from the docks. We had a nice swim on the beach, cleaned up at the boat and went back to the SCYC for a great dinner and music and fun. It was hard to believe that their visit was coming to an end.
Saturday morning meant an early 5 minute walk to the airport and saying goodbye as they boarded their small Flamingo Air flight to Nassau. It was hard to say goodbye but we will see Wendy again this summer when the whole Netherlands Sanderson family visits in Spokane and Seattle.
With three cameras clicking away, there were A LOT of pictures - enjoy!
Thanks for following along!
We are Karrie, Eric, Ava, and Reed Sanderson. Our house is in Seattle but our home is wherever the four of us are...and for the next two years, our home is Night Music, a Tartan 37 Sailboat.
DO YOU WANT EMAIL NOTIFICATION FOR NEW BLOG POSTS?
Sign up below!