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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, June 30, 2010

Butt to Butt in Barnegat

Hi All…Ben here in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey.
Sitting here taking a break from Facebook. 
So many things to write about, and so little time between naps...

We’ve been revisiting many familiar places along the ICW this month as we move north, and I like going back for the familiar smells, but Jeff and Izzy like to try some new places too. 
One of the new places was Tidewater Marina, in Portsmouth, VA – just across the ICW from Norfolk where we stayed last year.   They were having a big festival so lots of people were spending time partying on their boats.  There were Tall Ships

and Lobster Boat races

Boats of all sizes were cruising the waters!
Our dock was full of people eating, drinking and laughing until all hours of the night. 

Good thing I’m pretty deaf, cause there was a BIG fireworks display right in the harbor that rattled all the dishes and lit up the whole bay!
We met up with Hank and Ann to celebrate Hank’s birthday.   I gave him a small framed picture of him blowing the sun down in the Bahamas on his conch shell.  He was playing my special request - “Who Let the Dogs Out”.   P1100630
Then they all went out to dinner without me.   Wazzup with that?  I think Hank owes me one.

Speaking of restaurants, we sailed to Chrisfield, MD this year.  It’s known as the Crab capitol of the Chesapeake.  Here is a picture of Jeff and Izzy with Hank and Ann at a big crab restaurant there.  They came home smelling like fish. 
Apparently they liked the crab well enough to stop another day at Hooperville, on Middle Hooper Island.  Another cr abbing community.   Not much going on there. We tied up to a wall…no electric hook up, no water hook up, no TOWN!

No Come Back!
On the bright side, Izzy bought fresh crab and made crab cakes for Jeff and me.  My vote is to skip this spot next year.  I think we can find crab in another place that has some dogs and grass, too.
From there we continued up the Chesapeake Bay to one of my favorite spots – Oxford, MD where we visited with cousin Brian and his friend Bill at their restaurant, “Schooners”. 
We tied up right at the dock beside the restaurant for a couple of days.
I got to go on nice long walks and even a car ride, then relax in the sun in my yard.
Jeff and Izzy, and Hank and Ann were in heaven with the steamed muscles in tomato sauce and fresh crabs.  Fortunately for Hank, Schooners also has GREAT juicy hamburgers...his favorite meal!
The crabs don’t get much fresher than this…there’s my buddy, Wayne, in his crabbing boat, “Necks & Gizzards” pulling in his lines with the catch of the day right there next to the restaurant. 
It’s true…You can’t be crabby in Oxford!
On the other hand, you  CAN be crabby in Greenwich, New Jersey, half way down the Delaware Bay.  We were tired and being beat up by rough seas in the Delaware Bay, so decided to head into a calm little river called the Cohanesy.
Looks pleasant enough, but we were soon attacked again by the Greenhead flies!
Here they are on the roof of our flybridge, sharpening their teeth, I think.
No escaping them…they’re everywhere! The guy in the marina told us they have a 21 day life span, and they move from south to north.  I think we followed them up the coast at the same rate as their life cycle.  We’re probably on the 3rd generation by now!
 Another place to add to the "Do Not Return" list!

On down the Bay the next day on our way to Cape May, New Jersey, we passed some more lighthouses.  Can't imagine living on one of them.  P1100722
Where's the yard??

 We spent a couple days in Cape May resting Izzy's sore fanny at the pool in Canyon Club Marina, and waiting for a good weather window to go out into the Atlantic Ocean up to New York City. Jeff thought he had a nice clear day when he tried to leave one morning, but a wall of fog at the harbor entrance turned us around to cool our jets for an hour or two. We finally made our way out into the ocean in the mist.  Our only entertainment on our way to Atlantic City that day was the Coast Guard practicing their water rescue techniques.

In Atlantic City, my good friend, Jeff Dobkin, met us for a quick visit. While I watched the boat, they walked to the "Back Bay Ale House" for dinner. Hank and Ann had just arrived with Crazy Cousin Marianne, so after dinner we dinghied over to visit with them on "Queen Ann's Revenge".

To avoid the shallow water of the next stop in Manasquan, NJ, we decided to anchor out on Barnegat Bay the next night.  I know, you've been waiting to see what all this "butt to butt" stuff is all about, eh?  Made you read the whole way through this blog to finally tell you!

Well, we wanted to have cocktails and dinner with "Queen Ann's Revenge"  and get to know Crazy Cousin Marianne a little better, but neither of us wanted to bother putting the dinghy down to drive over to the other boat.  So Jeff had another of his brilliant ideas to just tie up "butt to butt" in the bay. 
It was quite a scene with lines flying every which way trying to lasso the "Queen's" butt.  ( I mean the boat's butt...not Ann's).  I'm glad everyone wasn't liquored up yet.  Could have been a disaster.  I try to stay out of the way when Jeff gets these wild hairs, so I was faking a nap on the flybridge with one eye on the shenanigans below.  After a few attempts and lots of lines later, "Izzy R" and "Queen Ann's Revenge" were attached at the hip, and the merriment began. Cocktails on the "Izzy R" and dinner on the "Queen".   
Ann and Hank and Crazy Cousin Marianne performed some fine gymnastic feats to get over the rails and through the maze of lines onto our boat while carrying their drinks and not spilling a drop.  Sign of true sailors!

 The scene wasn't quite a pretty when they all moved back to the Queen for dinner, and even worse when Izzy and Jeff returned home after dinner and more drinks.  I heard a lot of laughing and carrying on as they tried to extricate themselves from the rope web between the boats, but luckily no one pulled a Natalie Wood.   

There are Ann and CCMarianne getting ready to attempt "the crossing" with Hank's help.


The sunrise was pretty this morning as we pulled up anchor for our last leg to New York City. 

When we get there, I hope Izzy will take me out for Chinese.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big Tuna Time in the Carolinas with the Boyles

Hi All…Ben here, soaking up the warm Wilmington, North Carolina sun.

We had some new guests on the boat last week.  Mike and Sharon Boyle came from Irvine and met us in Charleston, South Carolina at the Mega Dock. 

 And it IS MEGA!  I'm not sure how they ever found us.  Luckily we got a slip closer to the gate this year, so it was easier for me to make it to the end of the dock in  the morning for my first walk of the day without having an "accident" like I did last year.
They looked happy to finally find us after the long trip.
They got right into the boat lifestyle rhythm and pretty soon they were feeling right at home on our floating house. Here's Mike...Looks like he owns the joint!
   They jumped right in and took a tour of Charleston's historic old houses and the waterfront.
Here are Izzy and Jeff on the trolley ride. 
No trip to Charleston would be complete without a stop at the big marketplace downtown, where they sell everything imaginable.  They say it used to be a Slave Market.  We didn't see any slaves for sale, but we did find the most popular spots were the stalls where ladies weave and sell sweet-grass baskets. The art of basket-weaving is passed down through the families from West African slaves.  They were pretty expensive...some are real fancy and take several days to make by hand.  I'm glad they figured how to get paid.  
Here's Sharon trying on hats to find the perfect one for her southern vacation.  They sure had a bunch there to choose from.  There weren't any there that fit me.
Shopping made us hungry, so we stopped for Izzy's favorite lunch of She Crab Soup, then more walking through the old town of Charleston.
You have to be careful where you step after the horse and carriages go by.  They don't use the pick-up bags like Izzy does for me. 
More shopping opportunities across the street.

When They got home for "five o'clock somewhere", Sharon put on her new hat.  Looks like she should be holding a Mint Julip!

Yep...we're in the south now.

...pretty Magnolia trees were in bloom all around us. 

That night I was on Guard Dog Duty while they went out for pizza.  Here's Sharon with some old guy that I guess they met.  Looks like he was fascinated by her shirt... or something.
Our trip north started the next day with a lot of picture taking.  This is the Cable Ferry that takes cars and people
across the ICW.  

I kept my fingers crossed that Jeff wouldn't snag the cable and drag that thing behind us up the channel like he did with that fishing boat in the Bahamas.

A lot of the trees here are covered with Spanish moss that hangs like a big grey beard from the branches. 
Sharon had a birds-eye view from the flybridge
while Jeff talked Mike into driving so he could take a break.

Jeff wasted no time in handing Mike lots of other chores too - like hooking up the water and electricity

and swabbin' the deck

and looks like he even had to fend off our boat from the dock here!

I guess Izzy got off pretty easy while he was on board, cause that's usually what Captain Bligh..uh, I mean Jeff... makes her do.
Sharon was pretty smart.  She put on the "crew shirt" and pretended to be reading the navagation charts so she could stay out of the way! ( I taught her that!)

We soon arrived in Georgetown, South Carolina and circled around the shallow harbor looking for Jeff's favorite spot...a FREE anchorage!  He was having trouble locating one that wouldn't leave us high and dry when the tide went down.  Izzy was out on the foredeck looking rather anxious when a nice man on the shore called to us to pull up to the dock by the park right at the center of town. 

Turns out that he owned the "Big Tuna" Restaurant on the dock, and much of the rest of the waterfront property in town.  He told us that if anyone gave us a hard time about docking there, "tell em' to come talk to Bucky."
That lucky Jeff...a FREE dock right in the center of town, steps away from the restaurants, and an easy jaunt for me to the park! 
Big Tuna, here we come...Five-o'clock-somewhere starts now! 

Appetizers on the waterside deck
and drinks, of course.

Here's a shot of Mike and Jeff hangin' out with Bucky, wearing their new "Big Tuna" hats. (Izzy has an annoying habit of taking pictures of me with just my butt showing...sorry.) 

After dinner, Bucky brought us a gift of some fresh tuna - already cleaned -  that were caught that afternoon on one of his 38 fishing boats. He even included some wasabi for sushi, and a big bucket of ice to keep the fish fresh for the night. Great guy, that Bucky.
I wonder who's gonna fillet those fish?? I'm glad I'm not too good with a knife. 
Here they are heading back to the boat with Jeff's "fresh catch".  (Seems that's the only way he's been able to catch fish!)

Into the cooler until dinner tomorrow!

The morning brought a big rainstorm, but that didn't stop Mike and Sharon from going out exploring the town to get some breakfast and visit Kudzu's Bakery.
I was smart enough to stay back on the boat while they splashed through the puddles, and arrived sopping wet at Aunny's Restaurant.  Here they are after Aunny gave them towels to dry off and fed them her special pancakes and sausage.

Soon the rain stopped and we untied from the dock and said good bye to Georgetown, SC and the Big Tuna.

Sights along the way north-

Coffee colored water of the ICW
and beautiful moss covered trees shading southern mansions along the water's edge.

Pelicans sit in groups on the channel markers looking for fish, or maybe just doing some "boat watching."
A swinging bridge opened for us to pass.
We arrived in Grand Isle Marina, Myrtle Beach, SC and were greeted with a bottle of wine and a photo of our boat at the dock.    
I guess Jeff gave Mike the short straw again, cause he was in the cockpit cutting up those big tuna. 
Sharon helped Mike with the preparation without getting too close! (I told you she's smart)
Mike was the "Galley Wench" that night too - whipping up some really great seared tuna and wasabi for dinner.
Here's the finished product!  I even got a taste.
The next day we grabbed a cab and headed to the beach for a walk along the boardwalk and in the sand at Myrtle Beach. 

Jeff wanted to have his picture taken here in front of these girls for some reason.
It was Memorial Day Weekend and there was a big sand castle honoring the Veterans next to the restaurant where we had lunch.
Time to head on up the coast.  More swing bridges to call on the radio to request an opening for us. 
Here's Mike checking it out from the bow.
The day was hot and humid, and the sky began to turn grey.  The dreaded Greenhead flies began to collect on our boat.  They're about as big as a Buick and they bite, drawing blood and leaving us messy and itchy. 
By mid afternoon we were having a swat fest using every flyswatter available, including the electric zapper (as seen on TV) - trying to keep the Greenheads from taking over the boat.  If Jeff had been able to train them to do boat chores he would have been happier.
We sprayed ourselves with "Off" so the flies would dive-
 bomb to within inches of our body before swerving away.  They were so persistant and aggressive that we finally gave up and went inside to the lower helm to drive. Izzy zipped down our screens to keep them out. 
The excitement wasn't over for the day, because soon the sky filled with giant black billowing clouds all around us.  Jeff pulled  up to a dock in Holden Beach, and we quickly tied up the "Izzy R" and watched the cloud show and rain storm.   At least we got rid of the Greenheads!

After this picture, the rain started and Sharon took over the galley and made us one of her wonderful Italian dinners.  No one seemed to mind the rain as we dined on "Pasta ala Sharon"!
The next morning we continued up the ICW through South Carolina, and passed lots of marshy land. 
It has been hot and humid this week, and this marshy land in North Carolina is also home to mosquitoes and no-see-ums. So just as we get rid of the Greenhead flys in the afternoon, the mosquitos and no-see-ums come out at dusk and feast on unsuspecting tourists if they're foolish enough to be sitting out on their boat decks or porches enjoying five-o'clock-somewhere.
More "Off", followed by yips, slaps and finally surrender, with retreat to the cabin and a quick zip of the screens again. 

Our next stop was in Southport, NC
Much to Jeff's chagrin, the FREE dock was taken, so we had to go to the marina to tie up. 
We walked over to the home of our friends and Harbor Hosts, Robert and Kaye Creech and sat on their porch for a chat before  heading into town.  Southport has lots of cute touristy shops, antique stores, and the obligitory ice cream stand.
  We hit them all.   They even sniffed out a wine shop, if you can believe that...and Mike bought a couple of bottles of red.  Looks like more party time on the "Izzy R".

That night I stayed back as the OWD (Official
Watch Dog) at the boat while they all went to Fishy Fishy for dinner.   

While they were there I guess they were looking for some directions.  Not sure where we're going tomorrow.
 When they came home they smelled a little fishy, all right.  I wonder if they had some shrimp.  You know, shrimping is a big business in Southport, NC.  Look at all those little squirmers on that boat! 
Well, actually we didn't really see this boat...I got that picture from the internet. ( I saw Izzy do that once)  But I bet it would look like that if we'd been there earlier or something.  Don't ya think?
In the morning we untied from the dock and headed out at "cruising time" (the crack of ten!) in the hot, humid air. 
  We had a short day on the water, passing beautiful Carolina Beach,

arriving at the Wrightsville Beach, NC  marina in time for a late lunch at the Blue Water Grill over looking the marina and the ICW.  We could watch the bascule bridge opening for the boat traffic as we relaxed.

Later Jeff and Mike splashed the dinghy, and we all took a ride around the harbor, finding the seafood market where we got fresh shrimp for dinner. 
By the time we got back to the "Izzy R", it was
five–o’clock-somewhere in Wrightsville Beach.
Mike did his magic in the galley again that night with the Three-Shrimp Dinner
I hope Jeff doesn't work him too hard or he won't want to  come back and cook for us again.
The next day, Mike took a bike ride into town, then we all hopped in a rental car and drove to Wilmington to see the Bellamy Mansion. 

It's real big from my vantage point
and there are big trees all around it.  I think there are squirrels here!

I guess they were locked out or something.  I was inside with Mike taking pictures. 
The kitchen was in a separate building.  This is the walk way to the kitchen.
I think if I were living there I'd like to live in the kitchen.
The slaves had separate quarters.  I guess Mike would be living there if it was up to Captain Bligh...er, Jeff.

This is the slaves' "poop deck".  Different than mine on the "Izzy R".  I think I like my grass better.
Back around front on the big porch, you can see Sharon.  She has made herself right at home in the rocker, and looks like the lady of the manor there in her new southern hat.
Mint Julip, anyone?
We headed back to the boat so Mike and Sharon could pack up and catch their plane back to California before Jeff put them to work again. 
 I hope they'll come again to play with us.  I could use a good home cooked meal once in a while. 
Bye Sharon and Mike!
Hope you enjoyed the South with us on the "Izzy R"!

I'll be here in Wrightsville Beach for a few more days while Izzy gets her sore fanny checked out. I think she's just faking it so she won't have to swab the deck anymore!