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Last update June 04 2015
The weather is not cooperating so we decide to travel northwards on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) . Our sailing days are long and we motor large parts.
Along the way there is much to see. Many birds, manatees, dolphins, a raccoon and even a bald-headed eagle, THE symbol of America. On this stretch we get less drawbridges, that saves time.
On May 3rd, we stop in St Augustine for a night at a mooring. We are just at the mooring when we see an old friend, Rod from SY It's Perfect coming to us in his dinghy. The last time we saw each other was in Greneda in 2013. So now we must stay a little longer to catch up here. We agree to meet tomorrow for a happy hour aboard It's Perfect.
We spend the rest of the day in the city. Walk around a bit when suddenly we hear Dutch and we meet a young Dutch couple, Bram and Wendy who are on vacation. We talk a little and say goodbye to go our own ways again. After lunch we decide to walk towards the lighthouse. But we have not gone beyond the other side of the bridge, for whom we meet there; Bram and Wendy, what a coincidence. Bram asked if we want a beer and John never says no to that. By eight o'clock we go with the four of us' into the city to see some bars. It ends up a very strange but fun evening. We had so must fun that John played the guitar on the street... Need I say more.
Well, the next morning starting up was slow indeed... Late morning we took the marina-bus to the supermarket. Officially free, but they expect you to tip the driver... very American and it ends up being the same fare. We meet Rod and Linda also on the bus and we all confirm the happy hour. After errands (John even has a beauty sleep) it's time for a drink aboard It's Perfect. Nice to catch up with friends and man we all have some stories to tell!
Early in the morning on May 5th we stop at the dock of the St Augustine marina to refuel. JoHo will take the ICW again as there's a storm coming and it's not yet known whether this is going to hit Florida or not. But we sure do not want to be at sea if that should happen.
We stop in Sisters Creek at a free dock. This is just slightly past the St John's River and is the ideal place to wait out the weather. There is water, JoHo is well protected and our T-Mobile Internet device also works here. JoHo is not the only boat, SY Country Dancer with Gary and Jody (USA) and SY Pasage with Brad (USA) are waiting here too. The following days are filled with cleaning, planning and drinking with the neighbors.
When the danger has passed (the storm came ashore in Myrtle Beach) JoHo continues. On May 8th, we go. There is almost no wind and we are barely underway or JoHo gets stuck in the channel, that's promising for the day. The dinghy with outboard is launched and together with the inboard we get JoHo afloat. The rest of the day goes without further incidents.
End of the day we cross the state line, we are now officially in Georgia and we anchor at Cumberland Island.
On this anchorage we have no Internet or mobile network, only our satellite phone works. Strange, in the USA and near a naval base at that. Still, with the satphone I can send out a tweet, then the tweet will appear on my facebook without going online. Neat feature, connecting all media.
After the tweet we go walking in the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Very early in the morning we land at the Camp Ranger Station where we walk the River trail towards the Ice House Museum and the Dungeness Ruins. The trail runs through woods and fields, all kinds of insects crawling and flying around us. We also spot wild horses. One white, the rest all browns.
At the ruins of the famous Carnegie family we stop. This must have been a grand building. The Carnegie descendants have donated the land in 1971 to the National Park Foundation, and in 1972 the congress has decided that this land would be the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Passing the cemetery we walk along the ramps through the marshes up on and over the dunes.
Somewhere between the bushes rummages a wild turkey. The beast is quite photogenic, I think, but the beast thinks otherwise so I chase it through the dunes. What you must do to get a nice picture ...
Once through the dunes we arrive at a beautiful deserted beach. Birds fly everywhere and we find all kinds of little seacreatures at the shoreline. After a three-hour beach walk we take the path through the woods back, another three hours. Exhausted we return to the boat.
After a few days we leave Georgia via the St Marys inlet. JoHo exchanges the ICW for the Atlantic Ocean at last. Our goal is Charleston. The weather window contains only two days short but it should be long enough for us to get there. There is only 10 knots of wind, from the south and the sea is calm. The night is quiet and our speed is declining rapidly.
Now the question is whether we will make it today. Super frustrating. But at the end of the afternoon we sail into the inlet of Charleston, it's almost dark when we throw out our anchor at Fort Sumter. Tomorrow we'll do the last mile to town.
It is morning and after a good sleep we sail to Charleston. We anchor between the two bridges and take the dinghy to the Marina, but that is a far ride with the dinghy. So we ask and receive permission to put our dinghy at the Charleston Yacht Club for the next days; free of charge!! Thank you very much! We take out our bikes and explore the city. Charleston sports beautiful old houses and the whole city smells of Jasmine and Magnolia. Everything is well maintained and the locals are very proud of their city. They work with a system and a committee gives awards for the best maintained buildings. We are impressed.
Next morning we go the to Patriot Point on our bikes. It's quite a drive on a beautiful modern high bridge (120 feet). Here is a floating museum with an aircraft carrier (USS Yorktown), a frigate (USS Laffrey) and a submarine (USS Clamagore). The museum shows how life and the missions were on board. Lots of planes and other gadgets to see too, very impressive. After this we visite the Vietnam Experience on the land, this leaves a big impression. What a special day, and a long one, we're back at the boat just before dusk.
Day 3, today we go on our bikes to Charles Towne Landing State Park, again quite a far ride. Here we will find the remnants of the first settlement in South Carolina. Charles Towne came here in 1670 from England with his boat and gave the place its name. The park gives a picture of how people lived then and what the scene looked like at the time. There is a slave cemetery, a reconstructed village and a replica of the boat they came ashore with, but also a zoo with the then common local wildlife. In the afternoon there are guns fired, instructions and explanations given by people in the original historical clothing. Very nice set up and again impressive.
Charleston made a very possitieve impression on us. Hopefully we'll be back here once again with the boat, there is still much to see.
It is Sunday, May 17th, and again there is a good two-day weather window. Time to go out on the Atlantic again. It is calm and on our exit, we see many fishing boats trawling, always a good sign.
We sail, although there is almost no wind and the end of the evening the wind is completely gone. Our 'iron sail' (the engine) is on now untill dawn. During my night watch, I see a meteor rain entering the atmosphere, beautiful and rare sight. There is no moon so the effect is masterful.
The quiet night goes over in the windier day and the sails can be raised once again. At the Beaufort Inlet we go in and anchor at the town of Beaufort in North Carolina.
Beaufort was founded in 1709 and on May 20th, we go into town to see it. Here too the houses are beautifully maintained. Our first stop is at the Maritime Museum, free admission and lots to see. After a few hours we go back to JoHo. What information we have about life on and in the water in this area, appears to be very beautiful. Tomorrow is a new day to explore.
The next afternoon we walk through town again. After lunch we take the dinghy to the Rachel Carson Preserve. This island is across Beaufort, we take the dinghy to the beach and walk the marsh trail. Quite a challenge if you have the wrong shoes (slippers). I stay regularly stuck in the mud and I can tell you, on your bare feet through this black gunk is no fun. What is nice is that we see small crabs racing away for us everywhere and wild horses are grazing in the distance. Through the dunes we walk back to our starting point. A nice walk, again a beautiful day.
On May 23th we leave Beaufort. The next few days we go through the ICW up north, this time because of Cape Hateras. A nasty cape that would add many miles to our trip anyways.
The first stop on the ICW is Oriental. Many people walk away with it, but we don't think that much of it. Nice, but that's all. We walk through this village and after having sundowners on board SY Rovinkind with Patricia and Fred, a couple of very nice and special Canadians we leave the next morning, May 24th. We are up early, we want to make miles today. It is not a special day other than that it seems that we sneaked into an insect paradise.
On May 25th we will move early on motor into the Pungo channel. The vapor rises from the shore side up, you see and hear birds and butterflies. All kinds, all sizes. The water color is brown, it looks like tea. This is how you imagine yourself a swamp. Occasionally a boat passes, furthermore it is serene and quiet, a great experience. After this wonderful channel we get wind and we sail towards Elizabeth City. Unfortunately, the wind decreases rapidly, and our speed with it. Everywhere we look we see lobster cages, it is not wise to proceed in the dark. 7 miles before Elizabeth City we throw out our anchor. Our view is a huge Blimps-factory.
We had a pretty good night despite the very open anchorage and the next morning we get up early to sail the last miles to Elizabeth City. Gus, a 70 year young guy is waiting for us to take our lines to the free municipal dock. Incredibly sweet.
We have just arrived and our neighbor calls us a welcome. He used our first names! Do we know that man? And yes, after a good look, it turns out to be Kevin on SY Vagabundo. We know him from our time in the Caribbean in 2012. He leaves immediately after we embraced each other, he and his girlfriend have an agenda, his girlfriend has to go to New York to catch a flight.
Our JoHo is well in the free slip and we are once again on our way to snuff some culture. First the Albemarble Museum, then explore the old town. In the evening we have happy hour on the side with other boats. But many local passersby take their time to chat with us. Especially when they know you're coming from Europe.
We leave after one day, alhough it's nice, but we want to continue. We sail through the Pasquotank River to the Dismal Swamp Channel. What a peace and quiet, the channel becomes narrower and narrower. Our mast just not touches the branches of the overhanging trees as we continue to sail right in the middle of the channel... The depth varies between 1.6 and 2.4 meters in the last mile, which also does not give us much of leeway. Again, lots of birds and other small fry.
After some quiet hours we arrive at the South Mill sluice. We are raised 2.4 meters to the fresh water channel. Just one more drawbridge and then again there is the free (yes!) dock of the welcome center. We meet up with Ralph and Janet who we also saw in Elizabeth City and together we visit the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center. After that sundowner drinks on board JoHo.
Around eight o'clock next day we get up, have breakfast and then go cycling through the State Park. At our first stop we see a snake, yellow with black and I almost step on it. A little further mother deer with young crosses our path. Bicycling and taking pictures is not a good combination. So many pictures have failed.
The area is forest, swamp and anything in between, so in short drab. Despite this, most black bears should be in this area, but we see none. We had a rough 15 miles on the bike which we are not used to, so we are ready to have a shower. At return we find that we carry ticks with us. Despite the long pants and sleeves, socks with shoes, because they are so just in! After extensive inspection and lovely shower on board we take the boats vanddag from Elizabeth City arrived and BBQ, what a wonderful day.
On May 29th, we go for the board walk through the swamp. Like yesterday a lot to see but again no bears. Around eleven we decide to make a sail for the northern lock, it's so hot that we hope for some refreshment while sailing. Just beyond our dock, a deer startles and jumps through the water along the side. On the landside we hear and eventually see a woodpecker.
The sailing wind indeed provides some cooling. We're just too late for the 13:30 bridge opening, but that's no problem, then we can go for some shopping at the supermarket around the corner of the -again- free dock.
Along with the other boats who in the meantime also arrived we take the last bridge opening 15.30. Then we stop just before the Deep Creek lock for the night. These Dismal Swamp-days were really great.
It is now the end of the month and we change nature for the city.
Our next stop is Portsmouth, just opposite of Norfolk. Also here, a free dock, it's certainly better here than in Florida in that respect. Since it is not yet late we walk, a nice break in the afternoon through the town.
On May 30th we take the bikes on the ferry to Norfolk. The city looks very European. We thought that this naval town with many docks and industries would be a dirty industrial city, but nothing is less true.
Because it is still early in the morning, there is hardly anyone else on the streets. On Sunday, everything opens just around eleven. The first address to visit on our list is the MacArthur Museum with its tomb, a sort of mausoleum-plus. MacArthur was a five star general and an American hero. Not only has he served during both World Wars but he was very actively working for peace. He had a refreshing look at the world that was not always shared nor appreciated by the politicians of his time. A special person that is rightfully honored after his death.
Around the corner stands the large MacArther mall, right in the center of town which deviates from the norm here in the States. Here we have lunch, and then we cycle to the Chrysler Museum. The art collection is pretty impressive and very broad. There's everything from classical to impressionist, antiquities, famous and less known artist alike.
More than half is sponsored or donated by Walter P. Chrysler Jr., heir to the famous Chrysler family. His wife was of Norfolk, which is why the museum is located here. Incidentally, both the museums were free of charge again, isn't that amazing?
Tired but satisfied, we take the ferry back to our Joho. It is time to go into the Chesapeake Bay towards Washington DC, on our way to see even more beautiful and impressive things.
I finished a special photobook, about our travels 10 years JoHo's travel from 2001 to 2011.
Curious ? Then click the link.
And if you're interested in sailing the BAHAMAS, BERMUDA, MALDIVES, BONAIRE, SURINAME or ARUBA have a look at our books at SAILADVENTURES where the books are available online.
You can always mail us for more info on these cruising grounds or cruising in general, we'll gladly help you out.
JoHo is at anchor in Smith Creek, Maryland, USA at 38°06,9' N - 76°24,2' W.
Our floating home and office is always ready for us to work for ourselves as writers and editors compiling cruising guides on our way.
Remember to live life to the max, it can be over before you know it. That's our motto.
John and Jolanda