We've spent three years cruising to the Bahamas on Pegu Club, our Bristol 29.9. Time to switch it up a bit and head to Southern California for the winter, tent camping our way across the United States.
As Jeff and I were walking to an auto parts store in North Miami to find carburetor cleaner for the dinghy outboard (the subject of another post), I took note of the fact that it was December 29th and I was warm. It was cloudy but there was a warm breeze, and I was perfectly content. I turned to Jeff and said, “I’ve found my maximum latitude.”
I’ve written before that we are chasing the warm weather. We aren’t going to live on our boat forever, and something we frequently ask ourselves is where we might want to live when we’re finished. Annapolis is great, but it’s too cold in the winter. We love Beaufort, SC but again, it can get pretty chilly. St. Augustine? Getting better, but it still occasionally has lows in the 30’s. Vero Beach? Better still, but the average low in January is 51 degrees. But now we’re in the Miami area and I can feel it in the air. If we’re living on the east coast, this is the furthest north I want to be.
Last year we only went as far south as West Palm Beach, FL before crossing over to the Bahamas. This year the weather systems have been much stronger and more frequent, with crossing opportunities proving to be few and far between. Rather than hang out in Vero Beach or the Palm Beach area while we wait, we decided to head farther south. We’ve never been to Miami and we wanted to check it out, and given that we plan to focus on the Exumas this time it made sense to make some more southerly progress while we wait.
We were poking along the ICW as we did last fall, content in knowing that we were three weeks ahead of schedule compared to last year and hoping that would be enough to keep the cold weather at bay. We had enjoyed a beautiful, leisurely trip down the Dismal Swamp, spent a few nights in our favorite small town of Belhaven, and stopped in Beaufort, NC for the first time where we waited several days for a strong weather system to pass.
As we talked to various cruisers about our plans for heading north, everyone assured us that it would take much less time than the trip south.The weather would be better, and with the additional daylight we could make more progress each day. Well, they were absolutely right.Going north is MUCH faster.
Granted, we’ve done a few passages in order to get some miles under the keel, but there’s no question that this has been a quicker trip for us.There have been very few weather delays, and the warmer temperatures leave us less fatigued so we can put in longer days.
Readers of this blog know that typically we move along very slowly.We like to take our time and poke along.So why the big hurry?Well, we would like to spend some time this summer cruising in southern New England again.But before we can do that, we have a few projects that we want to do on Pegu Club, we have some medical appointments to take care of in Connecticut, and we want to visit family in Rochester and the west coast.We also want to leave to start heading south much earlier this time – ideally by mid-August.Between all of those things, if we want to have ANY time to cruise our home waters we need to put the pedal to the metal and get north.If we went at our usual slow pace, we’d have to turn around and leave as soon as we arrive!
Honestly though, this pace is working out just fine for us.We wouldn’t want to do it both ways, but we do think that we’ll stick with this strategy in the future – take our time going south while moving quickly north.
We had made it from Great Sale Cay in the Abacos to north of Georgetown, SC in exactly one week – and that included a two night stop in Jacksonville Beach to get rid of our dirty fuel.But now that we were back on the ICW with Oriental and Belhaven coming up, it was time to slow down a bit.
The days leading up to our arrival in Oriental were uneventful, save for one thunderstorm shortly after we left Cow House Creek.We had the anchorage in Calabash Creek to ourselves that night which was quite a change from when we stopped there in the fall!
The next day’s adventure came when we pulled up to a fuel dock at a marina in Southport, NC. The wind had been light all day until our arrival.I should have docked with the bow into the wind but I didn’t, and the wind steadily increased during the 20 minutes we were there.By the time we were ready to leave, it was honking on our stern at 20 knots.Hmm.What to do? Continue reading “Time to slow down a bit.”→
After enjoying a peaceful night with the dock to ourselves, we were able to sleep in a bit before untying the lines and continuing our journey down the Dismal Swamp Canal. All of the people we had entered the first lock with on the previous day had traveled farther than we did, allowing them to make the 8:30 a.m. exiting lock. With 14 statute miles to go there was no way we could be there in time, so we puttered down the waterway enjoying the feeling of having it all to ourselves.
I forgot to mention in the last post that on our way from Deltaville to Hampton, a yellow warbler came and joined us for a little while.The winds were in the high teens and all of a sudden this cute little bird landed on our coaming next to where I was sitting.We figured he was looking for a break from the wind.He hopped off the coaming and onto my leg, and then onto my arm.I don’t think he realized that I wasn’t a piece of furniture, and I stayed stock still.
He flew inside the cabin, much to our dismay, but then a few minutes later he flew out and tried to land on the engine shift lever.That didn’t give him enough grip, so he headed for the other coaming when – WHOOSH! – he got a bit too close to the wind and he blew away.Poor little thing.I wish I had my camera.He was really quite cute.Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
We had a good trip to Connecticut, albeit a long drive.Jeff received a six month reprieve from the cardiologist assuming nothing changes, and we had a great time visiting my aunt in Charlottesville and several friends in Connecticut.I was a little concerned that after sleeping in a queen size bed, enjoying daily unlimited hot showers, and hanging out in something larger than our Pegu Club we might be reluctant to go back.That didn’t happen though.We missed her and the lifestyle that we are rapidly adjusting to, and were quite excited to be heading back on Tuesday.After spending one additional day in the marina, we were off bright and early on Thursday to officially begin our journey down the ICW. Continue reading “Two months later, we’ve passed mile zero.”→