Palm Springs – among a select few spots at the top of our list – and back to Connecticut.

Our next stay after San Diego was four weeks in Palm Springs.  We’ve been to Palm Springs twice before and have always loved it, but this would be our longest stay by far.  Before we arrived we were thinking it could be a top contender for the “Can we live here someday?” sweepstakes.  By the time we reluctantly left, it was running neck and neck with Beaufort, SC.  We even briefly debated staying for an additional month, but logistically we couldn’t make it work.

With a great vibe and even greater weather, we made the most out of our stay.  Since we had a late check-in, we took the long way around the barn to get there from San Diego.  We went via Brawley so we could buy carne asada at Ramey’s and Jeff could see the Imperial Sand Dunes near Glamis for the first time.  The dunes are massive – often reaching over 300 feet high – and several movies have been filmed there, including Return of the Jedi.  

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Since Palm Springs was only an hour away from Joshua Tree National park, we took a day trip there and were both very pleasantly surprised with how much we enjoyed it.  The landscape was much more interesting than we anticipated, and we’d definitely go back again.

Joshua Trees:

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The Cholla Cactus garden was amazing.  I loved the way the light shining through them made them look as if they were glowing (it was better than the picture).  If we move to Palm Springs, I would absolutely plant some.  The cactus is also called “teddy bear cactus” and there are large signs warning people not to touch them.  I could definitely understand the temptation because they looked soft and fuzzy.  Note: they’re not.

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An oasis in Joshua Tree National Park:

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We also just enjoyed daily life, taking full advantage of the walking paths, parks for metal detecting (for Jeff), and local events.  I even spent one memorable Saturday learning how to flag at a Flagging in the Desert event.  Of course it’s obvious that I was a newbie compared to the second video with the people who know what they’re doing!

So what puts Palm Springs in the very top tier for places we’d be happy to live some day when we aren’t cruising?  It has great weather (obviously).  The city has a laid-back vibe with an all-inclusive population and fantastic mid-century modern architecture (which we love).  

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It’s large enough to have many things to do but not so big that it’s impersonal, and there’s no need to take the freeway to get everywhere.  There are tons of hiking and walking paths, plenty of parks, and it’s close enough to L.A. and San Diego for getaways without being too close.  Basically it checked almost every box we have, so we’ll see.  Who knows what the future will hold?

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But meanwhile, it was time to pack up the car and point the bow east (assuming a car had a bow, of course).  After one last visit with Lyn and Ken in San Diego and family in L.A., we were off to Phoenix where we had a great visit with my high-school friend, Wes and his wife.  

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Wes and I have been friends for 39 years!

The next day was the start of two 700 mile days so we could spend more time doing a “greatest hits” tour up the east coast.  60 hours after leaving Phoenix we were pulling into my uncle and aunt’s driveway in metro Atlanta for two nights. We hadn’t been to their new house yet, and it was great to see them!

After that it was off for a two night stay in Beaufort, SC (we can’t miss having our tomato pie):

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We took advantage of having a car this time to drive to Hunting Island State Park, less than 1/2 hour from Beaufort. It has a gorgeous beach – yet another reason why Beaufort remains neck and neck with Palm Springs

We also visited Wilmington, NC for the first time. It’s a detour up the Cape Fear River that we weren’t sure would be worth taking. After visiting, we decided that it most definitely is. What a fantastic downtown. It reminded us of a northeast city with the weather of the southeast (photos courtesy of Google):

A stop in Belhaven was mandatory (of course) and, once again, we took advantage of having a car by driving to Washington, NC to see if we might want to go there on Pegu Club (it would be a 30 nautical mile detour off of the ICW, up the Pamlico River). We loved the downtown area and will absolutely stop there again.

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Last but not least, we enjoyed a great stay in Delaware with our good friends Vanessa and Kurt. We also had the added bonus while we were there of getting together with more good friends – and fellow cruisers – Jay and Tanya from S/V Minx.

And now we have landed back in Groton, CT where we are busily preparing Pegu Club to go back in the water. Shore leave is days away from being over. What’s next? Stay tuned!

Scooting down the East Coast.

We needed to make another trip up north so we decided to leave the boat in New Bern, NC.   The marina was reasonably priced and it was a town we hadn’t seen before (but we had heard good things about).  Win-win.

So after our two days at the Oriental free docks we cast off the lines and headed up the Neuse River to New Bern.  We had great conditions for sailing and thoroughly enjoyed traveling without the engine as we made our way 22 nautical miles up river.  I can see why so many sailors settle in the area. Continue reading “Scooting down the East Coast.”

Yes, we’re still alive.

I haven’t been posting weekly like I try to do, but all is well.  I’ve just been a bit unmotivated.  Cruising during Covid is not nearly as fun.  We keep to ourselves and we limit our outings.  We don’t eat out in restaurants, we don’t poke around in shops, and we don’t go to museums.  Basically we aren’t any different than people living on land who take this virus seriously, with the exception of the fact that we are sitting on a 30 foot boat instead of in a larger dwelling.

Frankly, during our trip to Connecticut in mid-September for medical appointments we came thisclose to bringing the boat north, putting it on the hard, and just living in a rental for the winter.  The Bahamas weren’t looking like a viable option and we couldn’t get excited about spending the winter in Florida. Continue reading “Yes, we’re still alive.”

A no-brainer.

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.

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Looks like there’s no point in swimming for respite on the Pamlico Sound in late June – the water temperature was 100 degrees!

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.

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The Saharan dust cloud turned the sky steel gray crossing the Albemarle.

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Wandering on a path at the Dismal Swamp park.

Continue reading “A no-brainer.”

Jim the Wizard Mechanic.

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.

Perhaps more important than waiting out the heavy rain was the fact that we also wanted a better wind direction for our trip up the Cape Fear River.  Our first trip south we learned that high wind against the current on the Cape Fear equals 3.5 knots of speed at wide open throttle in a washing machine. Well, we can learn.

Continue reading “Jim the Wizard Mechanic.”

Putting the hammer down.

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.

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Blazing a trail through thick duckweed on the Dismal Swamp.

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Continue reading “Putting the hammer down.”

It’s true what they said.

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.

Continue reading “It’s true what they said.”

Is it a cruise or is it a delivery?

At least once a week we ask ourselves, “Is it a cruise or is it a delivery?”  We want to take our time going down the ICW, but if we stop and see everything we’re interested in, winter will overtake us before we get to Florida.  As it is, weather delays have resulted in our being much farther north at this point than we had originally planned.  Heck, we thought that we would be in St. Augustine, FL by the time we needed to return to Connecticut for Jeff’s doctor appointments.  Where were we in reality?  Hampton, VA.  That’s a long way from St. Augustine!

As we left Oriental we decided we needed to start making some tracks south and switch from cruising mode to delivery mode. 

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It was a tight squeeze at times!

We started off well, sharing an anchorage for the night by Morehead City with our friends from S/V Lone Star and S/V Duchess.  The next morning we sadly waved goodbye to Lone Star as we headed off in different directions.  They were going to wait for a weather window to make the seven day passage straight to the Bahamas, while we were continuing to take the slow route down the ICW.  We are very much looking forward to seeing our good friends somewhere in the Bahamas!

After waving goodbye to Lone Star, we saw our first dolphins!

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They were really close to Pegu Club!  You can see our halyard in the bottom left corner.

Continue reading “Is it a cruise or is it a delivery?”

A stop in Oriental, NC.

A weather window finally opened up so it was time to say goodbye to Belhaven until the next time. And there WILL be a next time.  After doing one final load of laundry and taking our last unlimited hot showers for awhile, we set off on a nice, sunny morning to get as far as we could towards our next destination – Oriental.  We were side tied and had to back out of the fairway which was entertaining, but Jeff ably fended us off from the power boat behind us that had a raised outboard partially blocking our way. 

We had been looking forward to visiting Oriental for literally years.  Several years ago I read about the town on one of the internet sailing forums and we had done a bit of research into it to see if we might want to retire there someday.  Calling itself the “Sailing Capitol of North Carolina”, Oriental has a population of approximately 900 people and over 2,000 sailboats.  An entertaining and informative website, www.towndock.net, gives a glimpse of the local flavor, so after all of this time we were primed to finally check it out.

Continue reading “A stop in Oriental, NC.”

Belhaven, NC – a love letter.

In order to continue down the ICW from Elizabeth City, you must first cross the Albemarle Sound.  With a depth of about 15 feet, this can be a nasty bit of water if the wind is over 15 knots because of the chop that builds up, and people have been known to wait for quite some time to get the right weather window.

It had been pretty windy in Elizabeth City on Saturday but the winds were supposed to die down and be 10-15 knots on Sunday.  Monday was supposed to be even lighter, but a weather system was going to move in later on Monday with strong winds for several days.  Given that, we decided to head out on Sunday and hope for the best.  The wind direction was going to be mainly behind us, so we hoped that would help.

Continue reading “Belhaven, NC – a love letter.”