July saw us wrapping up our 2019-2020 cruising season with a short few weeks of travel from the Dismal Swamp Canal, VA to Cambridge, MD. We’ll be staying in Cambridge for two months taking care of some boat projects and making a few trips to Connecticut for medical appointments.
Financially it was also a quiet month which is good given that I’m still trying to psychologically recover from the watermaker purchase!
After leaving Oriental we made steady progress north. We reluctantly decided to skip our beloved Belhaven, which is the first time we’ve missed it. Unfortunately Covid cases were increasing in North Carolina and from what we could observe on Facebook, Belhaven residents weren’t fans of masks. Sadly, if that attitude remains Belhaven will have to be a pass for us until Covid is somehow resolved.
We had a sporty ride across the Albemarle (it’s a large, shallow body of water so every time a gnat farts a nasty chop kicks up), spent several days sweating it out in the Dismal Swamp Canal, and rode out the Fourth of July weekend anchored at Hospital Point by Portsmouth, VA.
When we left to go cruising one of the things that we didn’t have was a watermaker. A watermaker is a shorthand description for a reverse osmosis system. Basically it takes sea water, brackish water, or river water and turns it into drinking water.
Pegu Club’s water tanks hold 63 gallons, plus we have two jerry jugs giving us a total of 73 gallons of water capacity. We discovered that by being extremely careful with our usage, we could make 73 gallons last for around around 4-5 weeks if we weren’t swimming regularly, 3-4 weeks if we were. Government statistics state that the average person in the U.S. uses 80-100 gallons of water per day for indoor home use, a shocking amount when you think about it. Continue reading “A luxury worth every dollar.”→
Not a bad month considering all of the time we spent at marinas and the cost for the engine work at Deaton’s. We splurged on a week at Lady’s Island Marina in Beaufort, SC which was a mini-vacation given how much we enjoy Beaufort, but then later in the month we found ourselves paying for four nights at the St. James Marina just south of Southport, NC due to weather. That’s the way it goes sometimes. No regrets though – it was money well spent.
As far as traveling is concerned, June saw us move from Beaufort, SC to crossing the Virginia state line in the Dismal Swamp Canal.
The anchorage in Calabash Creek is not a place you want to spend multiple days. Deep sea fishing charters speed by all day throwing a large wake. It’s tolerable for an evening, and that’s about it. Unfortunately, the forecast for the next five days called for heavy rain and thunderstorms. We stuck it out for one day and then called an audible.
Little did we know that from the moment we left Beaufort, SC it would be an almost continuous slog against some massive currents. It seemed like no matter what we did or when we traveled, we were lucky to be making four knots which is damned frustrating – typically we like to see five knots or more.
The first day we fought the current the whole way, anchoring south of Charleston. We planned to go outside the next day from Charleston to Carolina Beach, NC which would have taken us a bit over 24 hours, but by the time we fought the current to Charleston Harbor we weren’t comfortable with the size of our weather window and continued inland, still fighting the current. Our friends on S/V Mer du Jour did go outside that day, telling us later that we made the right call given the conditions and slower speed of our smaller Pegu Club.
The next day we hoped to catch a fair current as we approached Georgetown, SC, but it was so strong against us that by the time we hit the area where we would get a boost, the period for the flood current had almost passed. Gah!
We had a first in May – zero spending in restaurants/entertainment. “Entertainment” consists of one-off expenditures like movie tickets, museum or festival admissions, etc. Not something like Netflix which is a subscription. In April we went to get takeout at a local place in Vero that we had been wanting to try, but absolutely no one preparing the food or working the register was wearing a mask so I got spooked.
Jeff tried to convince me otherwise, but evidence of his lack of success is seen by the zero spending in May. Now that we’re on the road again, we’re really looking forward to getting take out at some of our favorite stops in Beaufort, SC and Belhaven. I hope they’re taking a few more precautions than the place in Vero was.
As far as traveling goes, in May we ripped off the very-sticky velcro and went from Vero to Beaufort, SC.
After spending a week at Cumberland Island waiting for the weather to clear up, we finally decided that since we were in the south with summer approaching it simply wasn’t going to happen. Time to continue moving north.
Every day the forecast called for at least a 40% chance of thunderstorms, and every day we were lucky and didn’t have any. I bought a book about cruising in Georgia for the Kindle and it looks like there are SO many areas off of the ICW to explore. Unfortunately with hurricane season approaching we couldn’t really take advantage of it, but we are armed with knowledge of some new spots we’d like to see when we make our way south again in the fall.
In the meantime we mixed it up a bit. Instead of backtracking out of the anchorage at Cumberland, we continued winding up the Brickhill River until it rejoined the ICW.
Crossing St. Simons Sound near Brunswick, GA, we could still see the car carrier that had capsized and caught on fire last September. It carried 4,000 Hyundais and Kias, and is in the process of being cut into eight pieces and removed. The goal was to have it removed by hurricane season, but it looks like there is still quite a ways to go.
I’ve been wanting to spend some time exploring Cumberland Island for a while now. I like National Parks and the idea of going to one that is only accessible by boat is VERY appealing. With only 40,000 annual visitors, it’s a unique experience compared to a more popular National Park. By comparison, Acadia National Park receives 3.5 MILLION visitors each year.
Cumberland Island was owned by the Carnegie Family before becoming a National Park, and it was thisclose to being developed when Carnegie descendants sold 3,000 acres to a developer of parts of Hilton Head Island. Fortunately a number of groups joined forces to convince him to sell it to the National Park Foundation. Once you visit the island, you immediately appreciate what a loss it would have been had the development occurred.
A visit to Cumberland was high on my list of places to see before we set off in 2018 (wow – we’ve been cruising for almost two years now!), but on our first trip south we were only able to spend an afternoon because the anchorage was very exposed to a weather system that was coming in the next day. We walked around a bit but it was definitely just a tease and left me wanting more. As it happened, however, on our way north last spring we bypassed it when we hopped outside from Jacksonville, FL to Georgetown, SC, and on our way south last fall we skipped it because we were freezing and wanted to find some warm temperatures. This time, however, the stars aligned and I would not be denied a second visit.
We went back and forth until nearly the day of departure. We had been in Vero for two months – our longest stay in one place since we began cruising – and inertia had most definitely set in. Vero was easy. Getting groceries was easy, laundry, showers, and trash was easy. We had some nice walking routes. A little voice inside my head said we hadn’t caught Covid-19 while we were there, so why press our luck? Maybe we should just stay.. But that pesky hurricane season was coming and there wasn’t anywhere to sail. So we ultimately decided to toss off the mooring line and head north towards the Chesapeake.
Although we had hoped to hop outside from Ft. Pierce, we quickly realized that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate so the inside it would be. Really looking at the calendar for the first time in weeks, we saw that that Memorial Day weekend would kick off at the end of the week. Uh-oh. The Florida ICW is chaotic on a normal weekend, let alone a 3 day weekend shortly after Florida lifted its Covid restrictions, We had less than zero interest in traveling on the water for any part of that. Looks like we were going to be putting the hammer down.