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.  

IMG_6452

IMG_6474

IMG_6467

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:

IMG_6687

IMG_6693

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.

IMG_6707

An oasis in Joshua Tree National Park:

IMG_6717

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).  

IMG_6529

IMG_6483

IMG_6531

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?

IMG_6520

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.  

IMG_6737 2
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):

IMG_6747
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.

IMG_6756

IMG_6758

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.”

Holy currents, Batman!

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!

What the heck was going on? Continue reading “Holy currents, Batman!”

I wouldn’t be surprised if we live in Beaufort, SC some day.

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.

Continue reading “I wouldn’t be surprised if we live in Beaufort, SC some day.”

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.

IMG_1487
Blazing a trail through thick duckweed on the Dismal Swamp.

IMG_1991

Continue reading “Putting the hammer down.”

A new addition to our “Could we live here?” list: Beaufort, SC

Our next planned multi-day stop after leaving Georgetown, SC was Beaufort (pronounced “Byoo-fert”, unlike the one in North Carolina which is pronounced “Bo-fert”).  We hopped down the South Carolina coast, stopping in anchorages each night and sometimes for more than one night for – what else? – weather delays.

IMG_0196
The anchorages don’t offer much in the way of wind protection in South Carolina, but they sure are pretty.

By now we were seeing dolphins every day which is so much fun!  I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of it.  We also saw our first alligator!  I saw what appeared to be a log in the water and pointed it out to Jeff, and then we realized that it was swimming.  Wow!  Unfortunately it happened too quickly to get a picture but maybe I’ll get another chance in Florida. Continue reading “A new addition to our “Could we live here?” list: Beaufort, SC”

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. 

IMG_0131
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!

IMG_0170
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?”