Friday, December 21, 2007

Florida Keys

Dana came to visit for the holidays. She arrived in Florida on December 12th. We had hoped to leave for the Bahamas on the 14th but Mother Nature threw in a wild card. The "weather window" we had been waiting for closed and we decided to head south to the Florida Keys while we waited for the weather to improve. The Florida Keys is a "kick back" place where everyone hangs out in the sun.

We sailed the boat to Key Largo and moored in the John Pennekamp state park. It is a great place for campers and boaters can pick up a mooring in a large, well protected sound.
We rented a cool little convertible and headed to Key West.

There are lots of good looking guys in Key West. Dana found one that likes girls.

Lots of boaters come to Key West. There is much to do and see here and the nightlife is alot of fun.

Honoring the sunset is big in Key West. There are lots of ways to enjoy the beauty of the passing day.

Key West is the southernmost city in the USA. It is also very close to Cuba. Boat landings of Cubans are commonplace. We witnessed a group of people from Cuba being rescued in Key Largo at the state campground.

Key West is not just about bars and shopping. There are some beautiful historic buildings and homes.

We left the US for the Bahamas on Thursday 12/20. It took us 10 hours to sail from Key Largo to Cat Cay, Bahamas. We encountered bigger and rougher seas than we had anticipated and the wind direction was not optimal for our sail. But we made it fine and continued south east the next day. We had a great sail on the second day and day three finds us south of New Providence (Island where Nassau is located). We will continue south for a few more days, stopping each night and anchoring off another beautiful Cay (island).

Happy Holidays from the Fine Line Crew

Sorry about the really small pictures. Steve's laptop had a serious accident. Anne washed it with saltwater and killed it. Fortunately we were still in the US and we bought a new laptop. Problem is, we do not have the photo software we usually use to compress our photos so they will upload to the blog. We are working on it, however, and should have a solution soon....we hope.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Our Florida destination was Vero Beach. To get there, we decided to do one overnight passage out in the Atlantic as opposed to many days of travel via the Intracoastal Waterway. We headed out the St. John inlet in Jacksonville, Florida just as this Navy boat issued a warning that they were also heading out the channel. We did our best to get as far away from them as possible but we were still pretty close. They move alot faster than we do so it was not long before we were negotiating their large wake. We were treated to a beautiful sunset that night but the tranquility ended later when the seas decided to toss us around. We headed for Cape Canaveral the next morning having logged 130 miles. The Cape Canaveral inlet is a busy cruise port. Lucky for us, this morning was quiet and we quickly passed through two bridges and one canal lock. Heading towards the Intracoastal Waterway took us through a narrow mangrove lined canal full of wildlife. We saw lots of beautiful birds. And a few alligators. We did not go swimming here.

After a long day on the water we made it to Vero Beach Florida. We tied our boat to our friends Clinton, Diane, Noah and Cody's boat. Their boat, Sand Dollar, is also a St. Francis Catamaran.
In Vero Beach we work on our boat: We installed a new WiFi system, worked on our generator, change the oil in the engines, and we cleaned. We also find some time to play. Anne and Cody rowing the kayak.

We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving potluck with the 80 other boats moored in Vero Beach. There were no leftovers.
Cody, Steve, Kathy and Fred from "Makai". It was a great day to eat outside.

Noah with a "I am so full" smile.

Vero Beach is hard to leave but leave we will on Tuesday 12/5. Dana is flying to West Palm Beach, Florida to join us on December 12th. We plan to leave for the Bahamas soon after her arrival .

Happy Holidays from the Captain and Crew

Anne and Steve

Monday, November 12, 2007

Southern Hospitality

The trip south has been full of wonderful surprises. In Beaufort, North Carolina there are wild horses on the barrier islands. The locals will tell you they swam ashore from Spanish Galleons that ran aground 100 of years ago....ha ha. The real story is not as romantic so we'll stick with the Spanish Galleon story. The horses don't mind having their picture taken but they do bite and kick so it is wise to not try and ride them.

Some very friendly people we met along the way live in Beaufort. They invited us and another couple from Oregon for dinner at their home and later showed us their favorite watering hole. Steve is telling Chennie, from Hood Canal OR, his favorite boat story.

John telling Anne a tale. Don't believe it!

We can usually find a place to anchor our boat. Marinas are nice but pricey. The going rate in this part of the world is $1.75-$2.00/ft. of boat length. In addition you get charged a flat daily rate for power, usually $5-10 dollars. Anchoring is free. Here we are anchored in Taylor Creek in Beaufort. The tide changes every 6 hours and the boat swings back and forth with the tide. There is not much room for swinging so you have to make sure the boat is just in the middle of the creek or you will have a close encounter with the homeowners dock.

Next big city stop was Charleston, South Carolina. This is a fabulous city to walk in. There is American history everywhere and the locals are in true character of "southern ladies and gents".

There are many churches

There are beautiful old estates that depict a world of beauty and elegance. Mint Julep anyone?

There are approximately 14 barrier islands along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Many of these islands are un-inhabited. Some islands are not much more than large sand dunes but some are exotic gems. One such place is Daufuskie Island. Located just south of Hilton Head, Daufuskie basks undiscovered by the masses and commercial ventures. We are fortunate to know Jim and Maria who make this island their home and invited us to visit with them for a few days.

The locals have golf carts not cars.

The beaches are magnificent.

Among the beautiful estates you can still find some relics from years gone by. The winery was closed for the day.

An old house in the woods.

Dolphins are everywhere and seem to enjoy swimming alongside and under the boat.

Jekyll Island was our next stop. This barrier island used to be the private retreat for some of America's wealthiest families. Grand cottages and this Victorian clubhouse was the winter getaway for such notable families as the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Morgans and Vanderbilts. Regular people like us can now enjoy a great breakfast buffet at the "Millionaires Club".

Jekyll Island is all about the beach

And bike riding on nearly deserted island trails.

Next stop was Cumberland Island, Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. The Carnegie family owned and lived on this island from the late 1800 until recently when the land and buildings were donated to the National Park Foundation. A small portion of the island is still privately owned but people are free to visit. There are no bridges, you can only access the island by boat. There is lots of wildlife here including this very noisy Woodpecker.

Anchoring is not a problem and there is lots of company.

It is easy to fall in love with this beautiful place.

Next stop is Florida. A different world.

Anne and Steve

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Day On The Dismal Swamp

The Dismal Swamp connects Virginia with North Carolina. It was built through a large swamp and the surveyors made the statement that it was a very "dismal swamp" and so the name stuck. It is a great way for boaters to travel south without going out into the big Atlantic Ocean. It is also beautiful. It can also be a bit unnerving as it is very narrow and carries only about 6 feet of water.There are very few homes along the way but occasionally you come upon a scene straight out of Huck Finn. This year the canal was especially full of green floating stuff. It is pollen and seeds from the trees and looks like split pea soup. After this passage, Steve spent 5 hours cleaning our engines of the green stuff. Not fun.

This was our second trip through the Dismal Swamp and probably our last. Every year there is talk of closing it down because maintenance is very expensive.

We are continuing south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) or Ditch as some people call it. It will take us through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and finally into Florida. It is a great adventure.

Anne and Steve

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cruising The Chesapeake Bay

Leaving the dock can be hard. Especially when you have been attached for 2 months. We were calling Deltaville home, not so bad, but it was time to leave. We headed north on the Chesapeake Bay and made a left hand turn on the Potomac River. You can sail right up to Washington DC but we took a detour up the St. Mary River to St. Mary's College. There used to be a small town here and some colorful history remains.

The attraction for boaters is the beautiful anchorage and the cafeteria of St. Mary's College.

We munched our way through the dining hall leaving nothing untouched. Afterwards we figured some exercise might be in order so we did some touring with friends David and Deborah (S/V Water Music). There were plenty of historic buildings and sites to explore.

"I will behave"!!
The great anchorage and good weather gave Anne a chance to hoist Steve up the mast. Steve replaced the anchor light and added two radar reflectors. He also cleaned the main track since our main sail was getting stuck when we tried to drop it...not good.

The college racing team practiced in the bay and we watched them raise and lower their spinnaker.
We left St. Mary and headed back out into the bay. Heading north again to Solomons Island.

We stayed put here for a few days, rented a car and drove north to Annapolis. The annual boat show was under way. We do not need anything else on our boat but it is fun to look. We ran into lots of friends and bunked on friends Kenny and Tana's boat for the night. The highlight of the boat show is watching the end of the show when simultaneously the temporary docks are dismantled and 200 boats either sail or motor away.

Tangier Island was our next port of call. It lies in The Chesapeake Bay towards the eastern shore. It is a working island with not much for tourists to do but we found the place very interesting. Milton Parks owns the small marina. He is 74 years old and once he ties up your boat you are off on an island tour in Milton's small golf cart. There are no cars here. Milton was born and raised on the island and knows everything. The tour takes about 20 kidding.

Later we chatted with our boat neighbors. They are Brits and we shared a couple of bottles of wine and good stories. What's for dinner? Cashews and wine.

We were really hungry the next morning so Milton took us to the boarding house for breakfast. The breakfast hall was empty except for the Methodist Ministers, Peggy and Leroy Jones. We had a great family style breakfast and were spiritually revived.

Crab cakes were not on the breakfast menu but we'll pray for a second chance to enjoy some.

The island makes it living from crabbing. Crab pots, like these, dot the entire Chesapeake.

The human population on this island is in decline, according to Milton. But the cat population is booming. Milton alone has somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 cats.

The Chesapeake Bay is enormous and would take years to explore. We have seen some beautiful historic places in our short stay here and would love to see more but it is time to head south again. The evenings are getting cool, the leaves are changing, the hurricane season is winding down and we are longing for the warm tropics. Our rum drink awaits us somewhere down south.

Adios for now from the crew of Fine Line