Beaufort, SC, and an outstanding overnight passage to St. Mary’s, GA.

We had a great stay in Beaufort – but when have we not? Over the past four years we’ve spent 33 days there, and to date nowhere has been able to knock it off of its perch as our number one U.S. choice to live when we swallow the anchor.

Beaufort has an abundance of Spanish Moss hanging off the trees.
Great classic car parked on Bay Street in Beaufort!

Tucked into our regular spot on Factory Creek, we enjoyed another week-long stay, walking around and hitting our favorite spots: Low Country Produce for tomato pie, The Chocolate Tree, Bill’s Liquor for great cider choices, Olde Timey Meats for excellent steaks to grill, and of course multiple runs to Publix. In fact, Publix was responsible for us having our first traditional Thanksgiving dinner on the boat since we started cruising.

There is NO way we would stop in Beaufort and not have our tomato pie. We start talking about it a few days before we arrive!

Our first year we spent Thanksgiving freezing in Carolina Beach, NC waiting out horrible weather. Thanksgiving dinner was some sad squash with sautéed onions. Not good.

Our second year was better. We were in Vero Beach where a local church hosted an annual cruiser’s Thanksgiving. The church members supplied turkeys, ham, and other meats (and some people brought sides), and the cruisers brought more sides and desserts. There were easily over 100 people and the food and camaraderie was wonderful. Of course, little did we know that Covid would upend everything a few months later, and to my knowledge the Vero Beach Cruiser’s Thanksgiving hasn’t yet resumed. Maybe next year.

For the third year we were in Vero again, but it was post-Covid so there wasn’t a gathering. We were scurrying to leave the next day to head to West Palm so we could cross to the Bahamas, so I have no idea what we did. My guess is nothing, since I can’t remember it!

But this year, since we had easy access to a Publix, we had a Thanksgiving with all of the trimmings. A thick cut of Boar’s Head turkey breast from the deli, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, gravy, green beans, pie. It was great, and definitely felt like Thanksgiving on Pegu Club.

Even better than Thanksgiving though, was getting together with Anthony and Annette. Now land-based, they were long time cruisers on M/V Magnolia and we met them a few years ago when they stopped at Shenny to see their good friends Al and Michele from M/V Kindred Spirit. Magnolia, Kindred Spirit, our friends on S/V Minx, and Pegu Club had a very enjoyable evening back then, sharing cruising stories over snacks and sundowners.

Anthony saw we were in Beaufort, and he suggested a get together a few days after Thanksgiving. He and Annette kindly drove us to West Marine, and then we went to a local brewery before heading over to the Beaufort Yacht & Sailing Club and eventually wrapping it up at a great pizza place. They’ve settled down in Beaufort, and they patiently answered all of our questions about what it’s really like to live there.

Lots of laughs were had while we all shared cruising stories and just yakked away. We had a WONDERFUL time, and really enjoyed seeing a slice of Beaufort when you live there vs. when you just pass through on a boat. It was great to get together with them, and it will definitely be a recurring event whenever we stop there.

Thanks, guys! We had a great time!

Eventually though, we had our weather window to hop outside from Beaufort to St. Mary’s. It wasn’t a great window – some sailing at the beginning and then mostly a motorfest – but it was the best we were going to get for a while so we decided to grab it.

We timed our trip so we could ride the current out of Beaufort and the Port Royal inlet, and then ride the current back in at the St. Mary’s inlet. As predicted, we had some very nice sailing for four hours or so, and then the wind died leaving us with VERY flat seas as we motored along. It made for easy sleeping for the person who wasn’t on watch, and it felt wonderful to set the autopilot and kick back.

Sunset off the Georgia coast.

The only thing that could have made it more perfect was more sailing, but as the sun rose I was literally dancing behind the wheel, listening to music and feeling SO happy and content. I LOVE being off the ICW. It absolutely has its benefits, but nothing beats being outside.

Good morning Mr. Sun!

We hit 8 1/2 knots of speed over ground going into the inlet at St. Mary’s (sure glad we didn’t have the current against us), and instead of making a right to go to Cumberland Island like we usually do, we kept going straight and then hung a left to St. Mary’s. Yep, we were mixing it up again, keeping it fresh and going someplace new.

A second visit to Georgetown, SC.

One advantage of our delay at St. John’s was that we were now looking at a full week of favorable currents in the morning for motoring down the ICW. Our first year south we weren’t experienced enough to use the currents to our best advantage. We felt like we needed to just get started first thing in the day, no matter what. We’re much smarter about it now, and will sleep in and have breakfast (or cut the day short) if it means riding along with the current vs. fighting it. Big Red is only a 16 horsepower engine, so fair and foul currents make a big difference.

There are always things to see on the ICW, and we have a few favorites we look out for each time.
These homeowners relax in the back half of a boat instead of the traditional table and chairs at the end of a dock.

We rode the current to our regular anchorage on Calabash Creek, then started off a bit later the next morning to ride the current to the Enterprise Landing oxbow, which was a new spot. Typically we would go farther to Cow House Creek, but it’s impossible for us to ride a fair current all the way from Calabash to Cow House, so Enterprise is now our new anchorage for this stretch.

We think this is the radar for the Myrtle Beach airport, but we aren’t sure. Whatever it is, it’s weirdly fascinating.

Consistent with our goal to keep things fresh, we decided to stop in Georgetown, SC for a few nights. We hadn’t been there since our first trip south, but we had enjoyed our first visit and decided it was time for a second. We rode the current down from Enterprise to Georgetown and tied up at Harborwalk Marina where we had stayed before.

Our timing was excellent, because a cold snap was approaching with record-breaking low temperatures. Instead of freezing overnight at anchor in 30 degree temperatures, we plugged the heater into the electric at the marina and stayed nice and cozy!

Once again, Georgetown proved to be a nice stop. It’s the third oldest city in South Carolina and has a beautiful downtown district with more than 250 historic homes in and around the oak tree-lined downtown. More than 60 of them are on the National Register of Historic Places, and they’re gorgeous.

This is just one example of the many beautiful houses in the historic district.

Georgetown was a huge producer of rice back in the 1800’s, with its port exporting more rice than anywhere in the world. Of course there’s a Rice Museum, and I had wanted to visit it last time we were here, but we didn’t have time. I was hoping the second visit would be the charm, but between gazing at the houses and taking care of a few items (like stocking up on groceries and buying a new hotspot), the Rice Museum was a no-go again. So now we have another reason to come back!

As an aside, people in these southern coastal communities are so friendly. Buying the hotspot involved a walk of over 2 miles one-way, but we didn’t have to walk that far on the way back because a woman pulled over and offered us a ride. They can spot a cruiser at 500 yards! That’s happened to us several times – always in southern states – while we’ve been cruising.

The oak trees are everywhere in Georgetown.

In addition to beautiful houses and a cute downtown, Georgetown has plenty of restaurants. We were able to meet up with our friends Tom and Anita from S/V Lone Star for lunch at Aunnie’s, a solid restaurant serving basic Southern comfort food – think fried chicken, Mac and Cheese, and sweet tea that practically curled my teeth. I really like sweet tea, but I debating asking if I could have some tea with that sugar!

It was so much fun catching up with Tom and Anita. They met us at the dock to help with our lines before we went out to lunch, and seeing good friends again left me glowing. We hadn’t seen them since we left Shenny in September, although we did wave to each other as we left Port Washington, NY and they were coming in.

Over lunch we discussed the idea of buddy-boating together on a hop outside from Georgetown to Cumberland Island. It was VERY tempting, and the weather window was great, but it was still going to be VERY cold, and we simply didn’t want to freeze for over 24 hours straight. We also were reluctant to skip our #1 favorite town of Beaufort, SC, so we decided against it and waved goodbye a few days later, opting to continue riding the current down the ICW and be warmish down below each night.

After stocking up on fresh-off-the-boat shrimp for a song from the building next door to the marina, we left Georgetown wondering why we had taken so long to return. We definitely will not wait four years until the next visit.

We rode the current for three days of quick travel to Beaufort, and on our third day we were passed by this stunning 1926 Trumpy, MV Freedom. At 104 feet long, this beautiful wooden boat was completely restored in 2009, and I am totally jealous of the delivery captain.

We could hear him making passing arrangements on the radio as he approached boats for several miles before he passed us, and almost everyone on the radio was complementing him on the boat. I could see him getting closer on the AIS, and I was very curious as to what the boat would look like as he got closer to us. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed.

I still can’t get over how beautiful this boat is. My picture doesn’t do it justice.

Only a few hours after picking our jaws up off the floor, we were anchored in our regular spot on Factory Creek. It was time to enjoy Beaufort – a place we definitely don’t mind waiting as long as necessary for a weather window to hop outside.

It’s taken four years, but we’ve finally learned to slow down and relax.

So far this has been our best trip along the ICW – even though it’s been more chilly than we would prefer!  One of the things we talked about last winter was slowing down on the boat and taking our time.  Don’t rush unless weather is forcing our hand.  There will always be another window.  While this comes naturally to Jeff, it was much more of a challenge for me.  But I think I’ve finally got it down.  We’ve been poking along, riding the currents whenever we can – even if it means a shorter day – and all in all it’s been working out great.

We knew leaving Norfolk that it would be four or five days before we had a good window to cross the Albemarle, so we poked along the Dismal Swamp.

Another state down – goodbye, Virginia, hello North Carolina!


We had a short, ten mile day to Elizabeth’s Landing where we spent the night after stocking up with groceries at Food Lion.  Then it was another quick eight mile day to Taylor’s Landing (another free dock on the Dismal).

Cruisers leave their boat name on the wall as you wait to enter the lock. It fades pretty quickly. We couldn’t find our name from 2018.


Waiting for the lock to close to exit the Dismal Swamp. The green is from duckweed.


The stretch between the Dismal Swamp and Elizabeth City is quite scenic.

After exiting the Dismal we had a slightly longer day to Goat Island, and then a quick six mile trip to Elizabeth City where we did laundry and had the best barbecue we’ve EVER had at Currituck BBQ.

Our patience was rewarded with a smooth as glass crossing of the Albemarle Sound and down the Alligator River.  

THIS is how we like to see the Albemarle Sound!

Normally I find the Alligator-Pungo canal to be pretty boring, but this time Mother Nature entertained us.  In the first few miles we approached a fog bank:


After the fog we had some rain showers, followed by this beautiful rainbow:


To top it off, we saw a deer swimming across the canal almost directly in front of us, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it.  I really need to get a real camera.

We had originally planned to skip Belhaven (gasp!) for reasons that I can’t remember any more.  Fortunately common sense prevailed, and we remembered we were taking it slow this time, so we made a spontaneous decision to anchor for two nights in one of our favorite small towns.  From there we had a short day, stopping at RE Mayo for the first time.  

RE Mayo has the cheapest diesel in the area, the freshest and cheapest shrimp straight off of the boat, and VERY rough docks where you can tie up for 40 cents/foot.  We go by every year saying we’ll stop next time, and finally next time arrived.  I don’t know if we’d stop overnight again (the barges going by overnight kick up quite a wake, even though they are moving slowly), but we’ll definitely pull up in the future to top off our diesel tank and buy more shrimp!

That’s a dockage fee you won’t see often, but honestly it wasn’t worth more than that.

Waking up the next morning, we were keeping our eye on a strong weather system coming in a few days that, combined with a very late hurricane/Tropical Storm, was going to make things pretty snotty for awhile.  Keeping that in mind, we made a reservation for a week at St. James Marina near Southport, NC and put the hammer down.

We skipped Oriental and as we were crossing the Neuse, I saw “Aphrodite” pop up on our AIS.  It was going over 25 knots, and I said to Jeff, “Could that be THE Aphrodite?”  I’ve blogged about Aphrodite before.  Basically, anyone who boats in Fishers Island Sound knows Aphrodite.  She’s stunning.  We decided it couldn’t be – we were a LONG way from Southern New England – and a few minutes later we discovered we were wrong:


Apparently she heads south to Florida every year.  Lucky delivery captain!

We were hurrying, but we still enjoyed the scenery along the North Carolina ICW.  It’s a stretch I really enjoy because the inlets are so short, leaving you with a great view of the ocean every time you pass one.  Of course the flip side is that you fight the currents part of the way, no matter when you leave.

You can tell the current is against us from the direction the can is leaning.


Given the amount of liquid gas this cargo ship was carrying, we thought the size of the “No Smoking” warning was appropriate!

A few short days later, we arrived at St. James Marina.  We’ve stopped here a few times before, always for weather-related reasons.  It’s the most protected marina in the area – a true hurricane hole – and we’re glad we planned so far ahead because they were sold out by the time we arrived.  


We spent a week barely feeling a breeze as the wind honked at 25-30+ knots.  Our fingers were crossed that once the weather passed we could get a window to hop outside to Georgetown or farther, but the window was much too sporty for our taste.  Time to continue down the ICW!  

Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main!

Note: We are not currently in the Chesapeake – thankfully, given the time of year.  I’m just WAY behind on blog posts.

We have a love/hate relationship with the Chesapeake.  I’ve posted about how the sailing in New England is far superior to the Chesapeake.  But still, there’s something magical about the Chesapeake Bay.  Every time we initially arrive, we think about settling here some day when we swallow the anchor.  Usually by the time it’s in our rear view mirror, we’re cursing its existence after having either wind on the nose, no wind, or 4-5 foot square waves with a 4-5 second period.  But not this time.  This time we had our best trip – hands down – along the length of the Chesapeake Bay.  

We took advantage of several days of VERY favorable westerly wind of about 20 knots or so.  Skirting along the shore to keep the fetch down, we had a splendid (albeit chilly) sail from Annapolis to Solomons.  

Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, built in 1875. It’s the last screw-pile lighthouse on the Bay in its original location.

From there it was another fantastic sail to Mill Creek in Reedville where we hung out for a few days.  The forecast was for light wind, but on the nose, so we figured we’d wait until it was light wind behind us – just in case the light wind ended up being stronger than forecast.

Point Lookout Lighthouse at the mouth of the Potomac, built in 1830.


Mill Creek is one of our favorite anchorages on the Chesapeake.  It’s so scenic, and there’s protection from any direction depending on where you drop the hook.

We mixed it up by going from Reedville to Bryant Bay in Mobjack Bay instead of our usual stop in Deltaville.  I’ve never been crazy about the anchorage in Jackson Creek in Deltaville.  The holding has always been suspect to me, and it’s usually pretty tight with a lot of boats.  So we had a longer day to Mobjack which gave us a shorter following day to Norfolk, a new stop for us.  

A beautiful sunset on Mobjack Bay.
An aircraft carrier being worked on in Norfolk.
This tugboat is the “Robert T.” It reminded me of my dad, Robert Thomas.

Our friends Vanessa and Kurt spent a weekend last summer in Norfolk and spoke highly of it, so we decided to get a slip and check it out.  We ended up liking it quite a bit.  We were able to see my Aunt Rebecca who was kind enough to drive down from Charlottesville, and we also did some touring around and eating out.  

Norfolk had an active downtown area, and we walked the Cannonball trail through the Freemason District which is Norfolk’s oldest neighborhood, a national historic district with beautiful 18th century to early 20th century homes.  

The downtown library was VERY nice!


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is the only colonial-era building still standing in Norfolk. It’s believed the Liverpool, a ship in the Royal Navy, fired this cannonball that became lodged in the church.

Honestly, we barely scratched the surface of Norfolk and will definitely be stopping there again.  The Battleship Wisconsin, the Chrysler Museum, more neighborhoods – there’s still a ton left to see.  But, we can’t see it all in one visit.  For now, it was time to continue heading south.  

It’s always a relief when the Jersey Coast and the Delaware Bay are in our rear view mirror.

We ended up waiting a week in Port Washington. The remnants of Ian combined with another system leaving us hiding in the boat for several days.  The wind blew over 25 knots and the rain poured, but we were on an excellent mooring with good protection so we spent the days reading, surfing the Internet, baking brownies, etc.  Before and after the weather we were able to restock our groceries and the booze cabinet, grab some pizza from Carlo’s Pizza (our favorite), do laundry, and Jeff even was able to go metal detecting for an afternoon.

A beautiful sunset before the weather came in.

It was clear from the various Facebook groups that the weather had caused a log jam of cruisers in western Long Island, all waiting to continue south. Normally our next stop would be Atlantic Highlands, but it sounded like EVERYONE was going there. It’s a good spot, but the anchorage isn’t huge and if we couldn’t get in behind the break wall we were going to be exposed with a wind shift the following night. So we decided to switch things up a bit and reserve a mooring ball at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club in Brooklyn.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip down the East River:

Our two-night stay at Sheepshead Bay was excellent. It was a true working man’s yacht club with very friendly members, and it was a no-brainer to decide that from now on it will be our stop to stage for the New Jersey coast. It always takes a good 45 minutes to get from Atlantic Highlands into the ocean, and rounding the point at Sandy Hook is always a sloppy pain in the tail when there’s any wind. From Sheepshead Bay we were out in the ocean within minutes – a much nicer experience.

Going by Coney Island on our way to Sheepshead Bay.

Before we left Sheepshead Bay we wandered down to Brighton Beach/Little Odessa, and picked up some tasty treats at the large Eastern European grocery store there. We wanted to explore some more, but Jeff’s foot wasn’t 100% yet, so we decided to save it for next time. Despite countless visits to New York City, it was an area we had never been to, and we enjoyed it a lot.

This is the kind of local joint my dad would have loved. Open since 1970, the decor appears untouched, and the beef sandwiches were tasty!


Artistic sailboats in Sheepshead Bay. I thought it looked cool.

After two nights at Sheepshead Bay it was time to make the trip to Cape May. We had a great forecast with 10-16 knots predicted from the west and northwest, and a full moon rising before the sunset and falling after the sunrise. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.

We actually sailed for 2/3 of the trip, which was the most we’ve ever been able to do. The west wind gave us virtually no fetch until it picked up and clocked a bit shortly past Atlantic City. At that point the Jersey Coast demanded her pound of flesh and things were VERY sloppy with a steady 20 knots of wind. The fact that it was only 41 degrees out didn’t help, but we powered through – not like there was any choice!

We’ve noticed that every time we go along the Jersey Coast, the sea state gets lousy in the same area. It’s around where the coastline bends farther away from the rhumb line, just past Atlantic City. So we decided that for future trips we’re going to continue to hug the coast south of Atlantic City, even though it will add some mileage. The motion comfort will more than make up for the added distance.

The flotilla that began on the East River continued, and we sailed with at least 25 other boats that day and night – most heading to Cape May. Cape May isn’t the largest anchorage but we squeezed in, and after a four hour nap we felt very refreshed.

The anchorage is right by the boot camp facilities for the Coast Guard. We could hear them chanting.

An additional ten hours of sleep that night had us bouncing up with the sunrise to move up the Delaware Bay. With two days of virtually no wind, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions to move up that unholy body of water. While we certainly prefer sailing over motoring, if we’re motoring because there’s no wind on the Delaware Bay, that’s definitely a win in our book!

Now THIS is what we like to see on the Delaware Bay!


Cohansey Creek is one of the few anchorages on the Delaware Bay. It’s a nice spot, well-protected from fetch with great holding.


Obligatory nuclear plant photo.
This is our third time on the C&D Canal, but the first time we’ve had a barge pass us.
IMG_7260 2
Beautiful scenery on the upper Chesapeake.

After anchoring at Cohansey Creek the first night (we still stay FAR away from that damn Reedy Island), we landed at Bohemia Bay and put Pegu Club in a slip so we could enjoy a few nights of living on land while we visited with our good friends Kurt and Vanessa, and Jay and Tanya from S/V Minx.

After saying our goodbyes, it was another wind-free motor down to Annapolis where we anchored in Weems Creek and enjoyed the last day of the boat show.


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Originally we thought we’d be well south by the time the boat show came around, but the weather delays worked to our benefit. We picked up a few goodies, unexpectedly and delightfully ran into our cruising friend Larry who we last saw in Eleuthera (and will see in the Exumas this winter), and then it was time to continue down the Chesapeake Bay.

“This don’t look like the Coachella Valley to me.”

We ended up staying a week in Mattituck. For awhile we joked that we were going to be spending Thanksgiving there. We were extremely well-protected as several fronts rolled through, and we waited patiently. We read posts from cruising friends who were motoring steadily down Long Island Sound, bashing their way down the New Jersey coast, then bashing some more up the Delaware Bay. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. We weren’t going to do that if we could help it. If that meant sitting around for awhile, then so be it.

While we were in Mattituck we poked around in the Italian market that we had enjoyed last time, we went grocery shopping at the bigger market, and had some of the best damn BBQ we have ever tasted, including in the south, at Meat’s Meat which was new to us. The only downside of staying there was when we woke up one morning to discover that the boat had been thoroughly strafed by the damn cormorants. That sucked, and took quite awhile to clean up.

A beautiful Mattituck sunset.
I loved the name of this local bar.
SO GOOD! Ten out of ten.
Pegu Club hanging out in the anchorage.

Finally our patience was rewarded and it was time to leave.  It was going to be a tack-fest with wind on the nose for the first two days to Port Jefferson and Northport, but the third day would be an excellent beam reach to Port Washington where we would be well protected for the next lengthy weather system.

The predicted wind the first two days ended up being on the higher end of the forecast, so much so that we decided from now on we would take the highest forecasted gusts and assume that’s what we would see for the steady strength.  But it was three wonderful, boisterous days of sailing.  

Pegu Club was a very salty girl after our sail from Mattituck to Port Jefferson.

We were actually surprised at how comfortable we were with the conditions.  I thought that taking the winter off would make us a bit more tentative, but it seems to have had the opposite effect.  We tacked back and forth through winds in the upper teens and low twenties the first two days, and we learned quite a bit about the best sail trim for Pegu in those conditions.  

On the third day we had the forecasted beam reach to Port Washington, but first we had to blast our way out of Huntington Harbor with a steady 24 knots on the nose.  Once again, we were shocked at how we handled it.  In the past, we absolutely would have turned around.  Instead we knew that if we could just suck it up for 15 minutes or so, we’d be banging a left and flying down the sound on a beam reach.  And we were.    

A blustery beam reach to Port Washington.

In fact, we were so thrilled with how great the sailing was that we made our way into the wrong harbor!  As we were sailing along, we started saying “Hmmm.  Wait a minute.  This doesn’t look like Port Washington.”  Or as Bugs Bunny said, “This don’t look like the Coachella Valley to me.”  That’s because it wasn’t.  We were one harbor too soon.  Our punishment was fifteen minutes hard on the wind, blowing 20 knots, before turning off onto a beam reach again.  Ah well.  Lesson learned.  Always put a route in the chart plotter, even if we think we know where we’re going!

Oops – wrong harbor!

Once we were actually in Port Washington, we took one of the transient yellow moorings and settled down for what we knew would be an extended stay while we waited for decent weather.  It was fine with us, though.  Out of all of the places we’ve been to on Long Island Sound, Port Washington is our number one choice for a lengthy stay.

One goal for this cruising season: more sailing, less motoring.

Each year when we head south, we are always balancing how quickly we should go. Making tracks usually equals motoring, which we aren’t crazy about. Big Red is great, but we both prefer the quiet of being under sail. Not to mention with diesel currently at $5.00/gallon, it makes sense to use the floppy white things as much as we can.

So before we left for this season, we decided we would try a new strategy. Whenever possible we will pick a close anchorage, an intermediate one, and a long one, and let the wind dictate where we drop the anchor. We are also going to try to take full advantage of favorable currents vs. motoring against them, even if that means leaving a bit later in the day than we normally would (so that would be a good close anchorage day). There are many places along the ICW where the only real option is to motor, and the current changes with each inlet. But for everywhere else, we’ll try to sail and ride the currents.

As our departure date drew closer, we both REALLY wanted to get going. Jeff had broken his foot at the end of July so we already knew our goal of leaving Labor Day weekend wasn’t going to happen.

Poor Jeff spent a lot of time lying on the settee in an attempt to heal as quickly as possible.

Then our first and second target dates came and went because I wasn’t finished sewing the connector. When the connector was finished we still had a few projects to cross off the list, but we finally got to the point where we started saying, “That can wait, that can wait, that can wait.”

Looking ahead at the next week’s forecast, we knew we would make very little progress due to some fronts coming through, but we didn’t care. It was time to go. So around 2:30 on Saturday, we did. We had previously decided on Old Saybrook which was only around 15 nautical miles away, and the current was in our favor, so we shut the engine off and sailed 2/3 of the way before the wind died. Not a bad start!

We hadn’t been to Old Saybrook since our first trip south in 2018, and it was nice to return. North Cove is extremely protected with free moorings for transients. We had already planned to meet up with some land-based friends on their boats which they keep there, and as we motored down the fairway we heard, “Hey, Pegu Club!” It was our cruising friends on S/V Evergreen! We had met them in 2019 on the Dismal Swamp when they were making their first trip on their old boat, S/V Catalpa. They are based in Massachusetts and we knew they were planning on heading south again this year, but we didn’t expect to run into them so quickly! What a great surprise!

The next day was filled with going from boat to boat, catching up with friends. The wind was howling outside of the cove so we were all staying put, and we made the most of it, having an excellent time. It was a fantastic beginning to our trip.

The next day Evergreen left to head to Mattituck, but we had some errands we wanted to run in Old Saybrook so we stayed for one more day. Jeff pitched the idea of just staying in Old Saybrook given that a strong front was coming in a few days, but ultimately we decided to make some progress.

Riding the current down the Connecticut River, the forecast called for light winds so we had resigned ourselves to motoring to Port Jefferson. After an hour or two, however, we had an unexpected steady 10 knots. Remembering our new strategy, we shut off the engine and tacked our way over to Mattituck. It was a splendid sail, with winds of about 10-16 knots the whole way.

Lighthouses at the mouth of the Connecticut River.

As we came to the Mattituck inlet, one of the ways we’ve gained confidence over the past four years became immediately apparent. The wind had increased to 18 knots and the water was sloppy. Typically Jeff would have gone up to the mast and had a rolly, wet ride to drop the sail. But instead we decided to leave the mainsheet loose and head into the creek where the water would be much flatter. Once we did that, we decided to wait a bit longer until we approached a heavily treed area which dropped the wind, and the mainsail came down easy-peasy. In the past we wouldn’t have had the confidence to wait patiently like that as we entered a narrow, winding inlet. So between the sailing and the sail handling, we were two very pleased sailors as we dropped the anchor in Mattituck’s small anchorage.

With a very strong, lengthy front approaching, we initially planned to leave Mattituck for Port Jefferson the next day to ride out the front. The Port Jefferson anchorage area has substantially more space than Mattituck, and although the wind protection wouldn’t be as good, the fetch protection would be excellent. But as we were pulling off the mainsail cover, lifejackets on, on the verge of heading out, Jeff suggested we stay put instead. We would have a touch more fetch here, but the wind protection would be better, and we’d have the option to leave the boat. I agreed to stay as long as the anchor was truly set. After one minute in reverse at 3,000 rpm’s, I was convinced. We were staying in Mattituck.

And we’re off!


Yay!  We’ve cast off the dock lines to begin our fourth trip south to the Bahamas!  After taking last winter off, we are both VERY excited.  It’s like being a newbie again, but much less nerve-wracking since we have a better idea of what we’re doing.

What’s the plan for this cruising season?  A combination of ICW and outside hops (when the weather permits), revisiting some favorite spots for longer stays, and exploring uncharted territory.  We’re hoping to visit some places in the Bahamas we haven’t yet been to – Long Island, Cat Island, maybe the Raggeds.  And last but certainly not least, we’ve finally decided we’re ready to tackle what will be our longest non-stop journey to date: we’ll be returning to Connecticut from the Bahamas via Bermuda!  Yikes!

If you want to know exactly where we are on any given day, you can click on the “Where is Pegu Club” link on the right side of the page.  So come along for frequent posts of what will undoubtedly be many adventures this season on the mighty Pegu Club!

Canvas (part three) – some final projects before we cast off the dock lines.

We still had some canvas work to do before we could head south, but after completing the dodger we knew it would all be easy-peasy by comparison.

The top priority was a new bimini.  The bimini goes over the helm in the cockpit to protect the helmsman from the sun and rain.  I completed one right before we left in 2018 and immediately knew I wanted another crack at it.  I just wasn’t happy with how it looked.  Fortunately, switching our canvas color from navy to toast gave me the perfect excuse to try it again.

It’s amazing how much more experienced I’ve become with sewing canvas.  When I did the first bimini, it took well over forty hours and I struggled the whole time.  But this one?  I whipped it out in less than half of the time, sewing with confidence the whole way.  It was SO much easier than the dodger, and we’re very happy with how it looks.

Once the bimini was finished, it was time to sew the connector.  Jeff has been advocating for a connector between the dodger and the bimini for quite some time, and although I really didn’t think it was necessary, I finally agreed just so he’d stop pestering me about it.  I thought it would be easy, but I hit a major roadblock partway through.  I couldn’t get the measurements to work according to the Sailrite video.  We made five or six trips from the clubhouse to the boat to test fit, and as the number of trips increased, so did the volume of my muttering given that I didn’t want to make the damn thing to begin with.  Finally we came up with a theory that resulted in the connector being WAY too large, so I trudged back to the clubhouse one last time to shorten it, hoping I wouldn’t make it TOO short.  Phew!  Success!


Finally, after at least triple the anticipated hours, the connector was finished.  I’m not crazy with how it looks, so I’ll probably try again next summer.  However, I’ve admitted to Jeff that having a connector is AWESOME!  It provides SO much more protection in the cockpit from the sun and rain, and we can leave the boards out of the companionway on rainy days.  He was right.  Mark the date!

To round out the cockpit canvas, I sewed some weather cloths to give us more privacy and some protection from sea spray.  We’ve seen many of them with the boat’s name along the side and I really wanted to do that, but we ran out of time.  That will be a project for next summer.

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Last but not least, I sewed some seat covers for the Porta-bote.  Whoever was the genius that decided to design the dinghy with black seats should be summarily fired.  The seat covers were extremely straight forward, consisting of hemmed material and velcro, and they’ve worked out very well so far.

Phew!  When we were finished, Jeff mentioned that our friends on Lone Star and told him that we had done a TON of canvas work this summer.  Looking back at it, I realized they were absolutely right.  A mainsail cover, interior cushions, two throw pillows, a dodger, bimini, connector, weather cloths, and dinghy seats.  All of this plus a part-time job at Shenny, driving the launch and working at the t-head.

By the time I was finished, I was more than happy to put everything away one last time so that our friend Jeff from S/V Infinity could take it home and use it over the winter.  There will be a few canvas projects next summer, but for now I’m glad to be closing the sweatshop’s doors for the season.

Canvas (part two) – a new dodger and mainsail cover.

With the interior cushions complete, it was time to turn our attention to a new mainsail cover and dodger.  I had made a mainsail cover several years ago before we started cruising, but it was navy blue.  While that color works great in southern New England, we discovered it’s hot as hell down south.  In fact, when we were in the Chesapeake during Covid summer it was almost too hot to touch.

Jeff and I had MANY discussions about what color we should switch to.  He wanted tan, but I was decidedly not a fan until I found a shade I liked on a Shenny friend’s boat.  Unfortunately, he sold the boat last fall and couldn’t remember exactly what the color was called.  So we ordered about ten shades of tan samples from Sailrite to see if we could narrow it down.  I didn’t want anything too tan, but Jeff didn’t want anything too light.  We settled on Toast, and while at first I still wasn’t convinced, I’ve since decided that he was right. We’re both VERY happy with it.

Making the mainsail cover was relatively easy, particularly since I had done it before.  The challenging part was the lazy jack slits.  Despite my best efforts at measuring, they were off enough that Jeff needed to move the lazy jack hardware.  Once that was complete though, the cover looked great.  Now it was time to tack our hardest canvas project to date: the dodger.

One mainsail cover – check.

A dodger is installed at the front of the cockpit to help keep wind and rain out of it.  Our old dodger frame was crooked and we had decided we preferred the added height, width, and depth of the Sailrite dodger frame, so we were truly starting from scratch.  One of the keys to a good looking dodger is a rock-solid pattern, so we spent several days making the frame and pattern.  It was VERY challenging with height changes and curves, but we finally decided it would be ok (we hoped).

Next, our good friends Jeff and Denise from S/V Infinity came to our rescue once again, allowing us to use their house as a canvas workshop while they went on vacation.  Yes, this was the same vacation that we were supposed to go on, but we knew we simply did not have the time given the projects we hoped to accomplish this summer, so we had VERY reluctantly decided to pass.  Instead I switched shifts with one of my co-workers, and we had four solid days to put our noses to the grindstone and knock most of the dodger out.

Getting ready to sew the main window.

We worked as a team, following the Sailrite video step-by-step, and by the end of day four we were back at Shenny putting the dodger on the frame with bated breath.  Hmm.  It looked good, but we had a pretty substantial wrinkle along the side from excess material.  I posted for advice on the Sewing on Boats Facebook page, then we took it off the frame and sewed a dart.  Back on the frame it went.  Much better!

Marks where we want to make our fix to remove the large wrinkle.

So were we finished?  Heck, no!  We wanted to be able to roll-up the main window for better ventilation.  Off came the dodger from the frame.  Back on the frame it went.  

Now were we finished?  No way!  The main window was much smaller than we had anticipated, leaving us with two large blind spots on the port and starboard side.  We needed to insert two fixed windows.  Jeff didn’t think it was necessary, but I insisted.  Off came the dodger from the frame so we could make the two fixed windows.  Back on the frame it went.  Jeff agreed that the visibility was now much better.

How about now?  Noooooo.  One of the things we liked about the Sailrite frame was that it had horizontal hand holds along the sides.  We still needed to make the cut outs for the handholds.  Off came the dodger from the frame.  Back on the frame it went.  

Why couldn’t we do all of this at once?  We felt once we made the cut for the roll-up window it might change the dodger shape a bit, so we wanted to wait to pattern the fixed windows until the roll-up was finished.  Then we thought the fixed windows could change the shape a bit for the cut-outs for the handholds, so we waited to pattern the cut-outs.  Was it necessary?  Maybe not.  But after putting in about sixty hours and spending a lot of money on the kit, we weren’t going to screw it up with a roll of the dice.  

Taking the dodger on and off wasn’t as simple as it sounds.  We needed to be very careful not to scratch the Strataglass, which is what the windows are made out of.  At $153.95 for a 54″ x 55″ piece, we preferred not to mess it up immediately.  We ended up with one small scratch which wasn’t too bad given how often the dodger was manhandled during the sewing process.

After the handhold cut outs were complete, were we finished?  YES!  Time for celebratory cocktails!

We’re going to move the fasteners on the center bottom to stretch the material out a bit more, but otherwise it looks great!

We added the two fixed windows on either side of the center window. As you can see, before we put them in the blind spots were huge.

So after all of that, are we happy with it?  Definitely.  The dodger turned out SO much better than we thought it would.  Frankly, we were shocked.  I was afraid it would be a wrinkled mess and it definitely isn’t.  Would we do it again?  We’d rather not.  However, given that we have more time than money, it was a no-brainer for us to give it a try.  The frame and materials alone were $1,700, and we were able to make changes and customize it as we went along.  The labor for a professional canvas maker would have easily been another $4,000.  So despite the sweat, angst, and occasional gnashing of teeth, we have no regrets.  Future canvas projects will seem easy-peasy compared to this one!