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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Matt and Aaron Arrive

Hi Gang – Ben here with the next chapter in our “cruzing life”.
This time I’m gonna ask Jeff to write a few notes, cause his two kids were here, and they didn’t invite me out to the bars with them. I understand they burned some neutrons.Matt and Aaron have arrived!

This period covers the visit from Aaron and Matt, through our arrival in Charleston for the “Loopers Ball”.

Izzy and I pulled into Daytona Beach, Florida, a day before the boyz, thinking that we would scope out the local “spring break” scene, including the best location for the beach babes. (this was so we could tell the boyz) Turns out that the huge parties of the past have been dampened by the city fathers. These days the bulk of the spring break action is in Cancun, and the Florida panhandle.

Daytona Beach is a town dominated by the Daytona Racetrack, and a zillion Harley shops. Unfortunately we arrived with some unstable spring weather, and we all had a few days of wind and sprinkles. However, we all had a great time joking, bar-hopping, and traveling the ICW. We stayed at Caribbean Jacks, the hoppin-est marina in Daytona.Live music every afternoon and evening the whole time we were there. The boyz arrived in a downpour, and quickly destroyed their v-berth room with wads of dirty clothes they brought with them from Huntington Beach. (???) Beers all around. Next day we charged the beach in our rented F150 cruiser - Bubba Gumps, Sunglass Hut, beers all around. Back to the boat for a nice sundeck dinner at “Izzy R’s Sports Bar & Grille”. Magically, the boyz had come during the March Madness National Basketball Tournament, and we were so lucky to be able to see a long weekend of hoop action. Ben definitely had enough of the games interrupting his snoozing. With the placement of Ben's bed, here's the view from his bed during the basketball games.

The boys investigated the Daytona night club scene – we heard only limited stories about their shenanigans – no visits from the cops.

After a couple days, we left for St Augustine, oldest town in America. We anchored out and dinghyed in to town that night and the next day. Dinghy Driving Lessons!
Lovely fort to visit, town is cutsie, and Flagler College adds architectural class to downtown. Big pool tournament with the locals, and all came home with clothes smelling like smoke. Californians forget about bar-smoke. Big game of “Balderdash” on board with the boyz – lots of fun.

Couple days later we headed on to Fernandina Beach, for a fuel-up and overnight. So did these guys. Close up of a Coast Guard boat with guns ready coming in for fuel.
Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island) is a really nice little town – friendly people, easy pace, high community involvement, and good maintenance, etc. We’re finding a lot of this on our trip along the waterway. Ben gets a lot of attention from the locals on our daily jaunts through the towns. He's always ready for a good head patting or ear scratching from admirers. When all these folks ask about his breed, we call him "an Alaskan Licks-a-Lot."
In Brunswick, Georgia, while the boyz explored the town, Izzy and I braved the rain and scurried out to find West Marine to pick up a part for our barbecue. A nice woman from the town bumped into us with her umbrella , and felt so sorry that she then offered to give us a ride in her car. She insisted on waiting for us to make our purchase and then took us back to the boat. She even offered to come back and get us for other errands or take us any other place we needed to go for groceries, etc. Nice town....and very nice people!

There are lots of character boats on the Waterway.
We said goodbye to the boyz in Brunswick and they headed back to CA and school while Izzy and I and Ben continued on up the ICW to get to our Great Circle Loop Rendezvous in Charleston.

Our plans to head into Savannah for the afternoon and evening on a Saturday were foiled by our innability to get a spot at the town dock that we read about in the cruising books. The riverfront was abuzz with people and music celebrating the first Saturday of the Spring season. Looked like everyone was having a great time, but we couldn't find a place to tie up or anchor. The marinas were charging $7/ foot for an overnight - yikes! -the highest prices we have ever encountered on this loop.

Dissapointed, we tied up to an empty newly constructed dock across the river to wait for an opening on the city dock, but before long we were asked to leave there too. Still unfinished and liabilities - yadda, yadda, yadda - Managed to get a picture, but this is as close as we came to the party! Too bad for Savannah...they need some more facilities for the boating community if they want to develope their waterfront business.

The rains returned and lots of wind for the next week as we were navigating our way north. We stopped in to Beaufort, SC and anchored in the same spot as on our trip down the ICW in December when we had the memorable oyster patch encounter with the dinghy while Ben was driving! This is a picure of that spot at low tide. It was quiet and calm at our anchorage even in the rain that we had the whole time we were there. We all tried our best to stay dry ... even Ben.
Our route to Charleston took us through some heavy winds and rain with very choppy water. At Elliots cut, the tide was rushing in and the winds were blowing in the same direction, causing big swells that we "surfed" through the narrow channel. Good thing there weren't any curves in the river at this point!We tied up at the Mega Dock in Charleston in heavy winds and remained there for 4 days. Many boats couldn't leave due to the strong wind blowing them into the dock. Our Rendezvous was very informative, and we met lots of other Loopers. We toured around the city in our free time and exchanged "boat cards" with many others, and plan to travel with some of them as we start up the Intracoastal Waterway. We met two other couples from southern California doing the loop. Bob and Theresa Kirkpatrick lived in Temecula and will be traveling at about the same speed and going most of the same places. We hit it off well, so I'm sure we'll see more of them on our trip.

We're missing the warm Florida weather! It's cold as we go north again. How quickly we get spoiled! Till the next chapter -