2015 RV trip to Canada. We’re blogging again.

The plan:  Get up to Nova Scotia, then over to Ottawa, then to visit friends Rick and Edyie in Ontario, the to Niagara On the Lake, then to Mackinac Island, MI, then home.  We plan to see friends along the way—the Blinns at VA Beach, Marc Bowerman in SW Harbor, ME, and the Hawkins at Deer Island, ME.  That with a little site seeing mixed in.  Probably about 4000 miles in all.

We pulled out of Cartersville on May 26th to start our trip north.  Started by going south around Atlanta and up to Greensboro, NC for a quick overnight pitt stop.  We didn’t even unhook the trailer.  The first pic is the trailer in the down position ready for towing. DSCF0085 Then Greensboro Campground for an overnight. DSCF0086 Next morning it was on to Virginia Beach VA to visit our friends Norm and Kathy.  They are great hosts and both are gourmet chefs.  You will see a little of this.  They picked up a lot of this while living in Naples, Italy.  Norm is a retired Navy Captain, and this we had access to most to the naval bases around the area.  That was fortunate because some of the historical areas are located around a restricted base at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. DSCF0107 Located on the base were the original and replacement Cape Henry light houses that was the second light house constructed by the U. S. DSCF0091 DSCF0090 DSCF0088 On the base are also located the historical markers and monuments commemoratng the Jamestown settlers first landing on American soil in 1607. The erected a wooden cross to mark the spot.  There is a monument there with a beautiful cross. DSCF0095 Another part of the history around the mouth of the Chesapeake has to do with the Navy battles to keep the British out of the Chesapeake Bay to resupply General Cornwallis with troops and supplies.  Cornwallis’ back was against the wall at Yorktown.  The French fleet had sealed the Bay.  As I like to say, Admiral de Grasse saved out ass.  Here are some monuments commemorating that battle. DSCF0093 DSCF0100 DSCF0101 Most all who know me know that I can’t do the east coast without a little history worked in.  We were camped for two nights at First Landing State Park.  It is hard to find a campground in a more natural setting.  The campsites are nestled into the live oaks just inside the dune line of the beach..Great privacy, but be prepared for much sand. The Blinns brought dinner to the campsite.  They provided a great breakfast of crab cakes and eggs the next morning. Then Norm and I headed to the Mariner’s Museum at Hampton to check out the new Monitor Exhibit. Exhibit.  There is a boat load (or should I say RV load) of pictures, but this is all tonight. MARINERS MUSEUM Hampton VA WOW! what a wonderful job they have done on exhibiting the relics from the Monitor site.  They also did a great job in telling the story of the recovery. Now, for the question of the evening.  Let’s see if anyone can guess what this is and does. DSCF0141 Here are some pictures from the Monitor Exhibit.  There will be a bonus question at the end. DSCF0131 The above is one of the guns from the Monitor in the preservation tank.  To stabilize and preserve some of the items may take as long as 20 years. DSCF0119 The above is a photo of a scale model of what the Monitor looked like before sinking. Now for the bonus question.  How many tons of coal could the monitor carry? Then it was back to the Blinn’s home for a scrumptious meal and good company.Norm and I took his aluminum john boat with a trolling motor for a spin around several coves on the lake behind his home. DSCF0115 NormDSCF0149 Lou DSCF0148 Norm smoked cedar planked bacon wrapped scallops on the grill. DSCF0151 Kathy at her table.  What a wonderful meal.  Superb! DSCF0152 We hate to leave after such a short visit, but there is much ground to cover in the next month.  So next morning we were off to stay near Hershey PA.  Here are a few pictures from there will be posted tomorrow.  We are now at Mystic Ct. for two nights before heading to Maine.  So stay tuned there should be lot’s more. Desert and coffee on the porch.  The end to a great day. DSCF0153 On to HERSHEY PA for our chocolate fix. Hershey where the street lights are chocolate kisses. DSCF0155 DSCF0156 DSCF0157 DSCF0158 Then the ladies at the campground office recommended a little restaurant about 5 miles down the road that served wonderful home cooked meals.  They weren’t wrong.  What I call it is comfort food, and plenty of it.  We couldn’t eat much over half. DSCF0159 We have now made our way to Mystic, CT.  We did the Mystic Seaport Museum today along with a little shopping.  Many pictures of which a few will be selected for posting. SPECIAL NOTE:  CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO ENLARGE.  CLICK YOUR BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THE PAGE. We are off to Freeport ME, home of LL Bean, tomorrow.  June 2nd and we made it to Freeport.  We will be here for a couple of days to cure our shopping habit, and rest up.  We have been going a little hard.  Time to slow down, and savor what Maine has to offer. Yesterday was a cold, wet, and dreary New England day We went into Mystic to visit Mystic Seaport Museum and then go across the bridge to eat and window shop.  That is such a beautiful area to roam around, and the history is great.  I will just post several pictures of the Seaport and surrounding area.  They will speak for themselves. DSCF0161 DSCF0162 DSCF0164 DSCF0165 DSCF0166 DSCF0167 DSCF0168 DSCF0172 DSCF0173 DSCF0176 DSCF0178 DSCF0182. FREEPORT, ME The home of LL Bean and their Flagship Store.  A pretty little town and shoppers Mecca.  The LL Bean complex is spread over a couple of city blocks.  Then there are many, many outlet stores spread out around the city streets.  Just to mention a couple Northface and Vinyard Vines.  It is active and outdoor activities and clothing paradise. We ate a late lunch at Linda Bean’s Restaurant across from the main entrance.  Linda Bean is the granddaughter of LL Bean.  Lou had crab cakes and real whipped potatoes.  I had a 16 oz. mug of seafood chowder and a garden salad.  It was all delicious. (This was posted for Norm) Here are a few pictures from the day DSCF0184 DSCF0185 DSCF0187 DSCF0188 DSCF0189 oo. We will lazy around here tomorrow morning.  Then do a little exploring of the area.  The the next day June 5th we plan on heading up to camp around Ellsworth.  We will take the slow way around the coastal areas.  We hope to meet up with David (dwhatty on TF) at Deer Isle and Mark Bowerman from TF at Southwest Harbor.  Mark will probably have made it by then.  He winters his 48′ Defever trawler in the Florida Keys,  and summers in Maine.  That’s a tough billet for sure. Here’s hoping for lobster rolls from roadside stands tomorrow. Today we did a little exploring.  We went up to Rockland to see a real working harbor.  On the way we passed through what I think is one of the most beautiful villages in Maine, Wiscasset.  While there we stopped for Lou’s first lobster roll.  The lobster shack is called Red’s Eats.  It is just before the bridge, and is small.  One windo to take your order and serve.  No parking, and people line up on the sidewalk.  They put the meat of an over one pound lobster on top of a top split hot dog roll.  It is overflowing.  Red’s comes highly recommended as one of the top 10 shacks for lobster rolls.  It is even recommended by some who will not eat lobster.  You know who you are.  Here’s Lou and her first lobster roll. .DSCF0193 Now, for a little serious talk.  We have taken an extra day here mainly to give Lou a rest.  Her rheumatoid arthritis has flaired up,  and there is no point in continuing the trip if she can’t  enjoy it.  So, in the morning we will start the long trip home.  Depending on the route it will be 1400 to 1600 miles.  “Funky Lady” the voice inside our GPS will hopefully get us there.  That is if she can understand Don’s southern drawl or Tennessee twang.  Understanding these Mainers would be far beyond her capabilities. So, the good/bad news is that this will probably be our last post on this trip. LIVING LARGE AT THE WAL*MART Just had to do one more post.  We made 420 miles today.  We asked “Funky Lady”, the voice in our GPS, to find a campground on route near us.  Not much to offer, so we asked her for a Wal*Mart Super Center.  8 miles down the road at Pittston, PA was one at the exit.  I asked at the service desk if they allowed over night RVs.  The lady said sure do at the outer edge of the parking lot.  Soooo, we are boondocking (camping with no hookups) at the Wal*Mart.  Ain’t life great!

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This is really true.  Most Wal*Marts, Cabellas, and truck stops will allow it.  Most truck stops and Cabellas even have dump stations and sell propane.  These places a good for a quick over night when you are trying to do a fast trip.

Land Cruising to Canada Page 3

 

Note: Photos can be enlarged by clicking on the photo.  Click again for farther enlargement.  The back button should take you back.  Enjoy.

 

Leaving Quebec City to spend a few days with our friends Rick and Edyie.  They live on Mazinaw Lake near Coyn, Ontario.  A beautiful lake, and 2nd deepest in North America at 555′ with the exception of the Great Lakes.  They were so gracious as to tour us around the lake in their boat, and then do two days of cruising around the area by land.  We did a lot of the Trent Severn Waterway including the Peterborough lift lock.  Ate in some great places then stopped by Dooher’s Bakery in Campbellford to pick up cream filled glazed donuts that are the best ever.

Next day it was over to Cananoque for a boat tour of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We did a fast tour of Kingston by car.  A beautiful city with many stone buildings, but had no real time for photos.  Then Rick and Edyies’ daughter, Jenny. was kind enough to look after Trois for several hours while we did the boat tour.  Jenny is a nurse at the hospital in Kingston.  She and Trois seemed to have a great time together.  Pictures follow.

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Fort Henry

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Kingston across the Rideau River from Ft. Henry.

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So, now the tour of the Thousand Islands where we went to pick up some salad dressing.  You will recognize Bolt Castle.  The “cottages” with American Flags are on the US side of the St. Lawrence.  The Canadian Flags are on the Canada side.  What a beautiful area.

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This was the power house for Bork Castle.

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This is the boat house for Bork Castle.  It is built on the land side.  When it was built they were using large steam powered boats.  The Roof would open up to let out the smoke when the boilers were fired up with coal fuel.

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Mean while back to the cabin.  The sunrise over Mazinaw Lake the next morning.  Then leaving for home with stops at Niagra on the Lake and Niagra Falls to show Trois.

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Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagra on the Lake.  What a beautiful little town.  I have never see so many flowers in one place.  Then it was on to take Trois to Niagra Falls like we promised.

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We crossed the border back to the US at Fort Erie coming out at Buffalo, NY.  There Trois learned that he was not French after all.  So now he is back to being just plain Troy.

Badea, badea, badea that’s all folks.

Land Cruising to Canada

Note: Photos can be enlarged by clicking on the photo.  Click again for farther enlargement.  The back button should take you back.  Enjoy.


Bonjour from Quebec City.  Lou, Troy, and I have driven up arriving yesterday.  Great drive but long.  Stops were Staunton, VA and Glen Falls, NY.  We saw the Frontier Culture Museum at Staunton.  Pictures follow.  Whew!  Lots to see up here.

First the Frontier Culture Museum.  It is a large area made up of farm steads depicting where settlers were from.

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The first was a 1600s English farmstead.

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A 1700s Irish blacksmith

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An 1800s Irish farmstead

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Helen with her hen Larna at the Irish farmstead.

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German farmstead

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American Indian village

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Early homesteaders cabin

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There were several more American farmsteads mostiy from the 1800s.  A facinating and well done collection.  However, we must get on out way.  Quebec is a long way from Virginia.

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Quebec City doesn’t really look this good.  It is only  my superior photography skills that saved the city from looking so humdrum.  Hopefully, I have been able to make it look as good as it can.

 

The City Wall and Gate of Old Quebec City

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The Hotel D’Vieux Quebec where we stayed.  Loved the place.

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City Hall

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Catholic School

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Life aboard Moonstruck

We have received private messages requesting more details about the boat and cruising it.  Moonstruck has been an extremely reliable vessel for our cruising and exploring.  Here you will find more about her, and why we enjoy her so much.  We will show additions and upgrades that we have made and a little of what it is like to be on the helm deck.  We hope this is of interest and informative.  All boats are a compromise.  Picking a vessel is not easy.  We picked Moonstruck with our cruising style in mind as well as a size that would accommodate us and or guests with comfort.

First is a picture of the saloon area with settee and TV.  It is the hub of “down below”.  The galley is to port or left as you descend.  The electrical controls for circuits and generator are to starboard.  The guest stateroom/den is to starboard, the head is to starboard, and the master stateroom is forward.

Notice the overhead hatches.  There are 8 total, and open with screens and shades.  At anchor these usually provide a breeze throughout the whole boat.  Six are down below and 2 are on the helm deck.  In addition the port lights open with screens, and the windows and windshield open on the helm deck.  More on that when we get up on the helm deck.

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A table was in front of the settee.  Since we had another table on the helm deck, and we wanted more comfort, we removed it and put a leather storage ottoman in its place.  This gave more space and storage area.  The TV is mounted on the wall opposite the settee.

The queen size berth of the master stateroom is visible forward.  There is hanging locker, drawer storage, and lockers along the wall.  Plenty of storage.  A TV and reading lamps as well as overhead lighting give great light.

The guest stateroom/den also doubles as an onboard office.  A fold down desk has been added with computer connections that can be put away.  The single berth/settee can be expanded to a double berth, and there is a small hanging locker and drawer storage.  This is everyones’ favorite place on the boat.

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Moonstuck Office stateroomThe galley is small with a 2 burner ceramic cook top, an under counter fridge/freezer, a microwave/convection oven, and of course sink and storage space.  When anchored we do much of our cooking on the propane grill.  The more we cruise the more we realized that we enjoy the solitude and beauty of anchoring as opposed to marina stays.  We have now set the boat up more for that type of cruising.

As stated the main controls for the electrics on the boat are on the starboard side of the companion way leading from the helm deck to the saloon.

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The large electrical panel has the 12 volt circuits above the bar, and the 120 volt circuits below the bar.  Shore power, generator power, or ships battery power can be selected.  There is a 60 amp battery charger that operates on shore or generator power.  The generator is a 12kw diesel powered model.  To the right of the main electrical panel are the controls for the generator, the true sine wave inverter, and the battery state of charge meter.  We are presently upgrading the 12 volt engine charging system.

The whole boat has been converted to LED lighting.  That has cut down tremendously on power consumed at anchor.  The inverter takes care of power for the refrigerator, ice maker, and TVs while on battery power.

The head has a separate stall shower.  The marine sanitation device (that would be a toilet on land) is connected with a hold or treat system.  This gives flexibility for overboard treated discharge or hold in zero discharge zones.

To move more toward the business end of the boat, the engine room is under the helm deck.  It has nearly 6′ of head room between the two diesel engines.

Moonstruck's Engine Room

Moonstruck engine room

Yep, I’m standing in the engine room.

Now for the helm deck.  This is the nerve center while underway.  It is comfortable with two Stidd seats for pilot and navigator.  An L shaped bench around the large table, and a comfortable jump seat next to the wetbar with ice maker.  It is very comfortable for several people for a gathering.

The first picture was made while my grandsons were younger.  You can see that they were seriously at work piloting the boat down Broad Creek at Hilton Head.

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As you can see everything needed for piloting is available right in front of the pilot–radar, depth finder, chart plotter, auto pilot, compass, and radios.  Here is a picture of what the pilot sees.  This was taken exiting Tampa Bay via under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

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Below is the view from the pilot seat showing the instruments and their relation to what is seen out the window.

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The visibility from the helm deck is 360 degrees.  Here is a shot of the rear visibility while cruising on the Sea of Abaco with dinghy in tow.  Notice the open windows and fishing rods.  The visibility is awesome, and the ventilation is great, too.

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Here is another taken crossing the Gulf Stream to the Little Bahama Bank.

Here’s LuLu in the jump seat as we cruise through the Gulf of Mexico on the way to Marathon in the Keys at 27 knots.

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Troy seems to enjoy travelling on Moonstruck.  Here he is crossing the Gulf Stream.

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There will be much more added to page as time allows.  If interested please check occasionally for new updates.

Living life on the anchor or mooring ball makes the method for getting to shore very important.  Moonstruck has a 10′ inflatable dinghy with a rigid hull.  It is powered by a 15 hp engine.  It is important to Troy for getting to shore for his daily rituals. When travelling the dinghy is carried on the stern as here in Shelter Cove at Hilton Head.

Here’s the dinghy in travel position on the stern.  It still allows access to the transom door.

Moonstruck with dinghy

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Bahamas 2012


On Tuesday May, 29th Moonstruck pulled out of Fort Pierce, FL headed south/southeast to cross the Gulf Stream to White Sand Ridge to enter the Little Bahama Bank.We left the Ft. Pierce Inlet sea buoy at 8:00 am.  We were quartering into seas from the Southeast and making 22.5 knots.  Upon reaching the Bank, we found about a 2′ steep chop, but held our speed.  We arrived at the Green Turtle Club at 3:15 pm.  That covered 165 NM at an average of about 22.5 knots. Moonstruck has every hold and locker stuffed with supplies for a month cruise.  Norm and Kathy from VA Beach are starting out with us on the crossing and flying home from Marsh Harbour June 4.  They are great boaters, and cruise their own 37′ Duffy in the Chesapeake Bay area.  So, if Lou can stand me for the duration of the cruise, we will be here for a few weeks. We are now in Marsh Harbour waiting for an electronics guy to see why we lost our depth readings.  Then we plan to get back out to the remote Cays for anchoring, snorkeling, beaching, and relaxing.  The waters are awesome. We did a direct run from Fort Pierce to Green Turtle Cay.  We rented a golf cart.  I went down to New Plymouth to clear customs for us and Troy.  Wednesday night the Gully Roosters played at the Green Turtle Club.  During the day we toured the Cay and New Plymouth.  We stopped at the Lizard Bar for some cool drinks.  The food at the GTC is excellent. We then went down to Bakers Bay and anchored at the north end of Great Guana Cay.  We took the dinghy around to a beautiful beach.  When the wind picked up we went into Guana Harbour and stayed on one of Dive Guanas mooring balls.  The pizza and wraps at Grabbers were the best.  Guana is a great little village with good beaches and reefs. Then it was on to Hope Town for one of Vernon’s key lime pies.  Dinner at Harbors Edge, and touring the village.  The harbor at Hope Town is the best in the islands.  We only stayed one night for Norm and Kathy, but will return for 2 or 3 more nights.  When the wind is from the right direction, we want to go down to Pelican and Lynard Cays for a few nights at anchoring in this remote area.  We just want everyone to know that Don and Lou are at your service taking care of business down in the out islands of the Bahamas.  No thanks necessary.  We do it as a public service.  Seriously, we are thankful every day that we can do this. The water color on entering the Bank is some of the prettiest I have seen.  Here are a couple of pictures of some of it.nl Note:  You can click on the pictures for enlargement.  Click again for full size.  Back button will return to blog. We have been “stuck” in Marsh Harbour for a few days.  It seems the battery charger has packed up on Moonstruck.  All is not lost as it is still a great place to be.  I have ordered a new and larger charger to be shipped via FEDEX by the first part of next week.  In the mean time we have been enjoying the hospitality offered by the Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room Restaurant.  Their Saturday night steak special and Wednesday night rib special are wonderful.  Tom and Linda along with Stephen, Jason, Marvin, and Desmond are most accommodating.  Marvin is a great chef.  He works his magic for lunches as well as the special nights. I won’t say who ate them, but here is a clue. We thought that we would take a run in the dinghy across the harbor to the Union Jack Dock to pick up some groceries in town.  It has been raining, so we thought we would try it between showers.  At the dinghy dock Ashton helped us tie up.  Here is a picture of Lou with Ashton. We didn’t quite make it between showers as it was raining when we came out of Maxwell’s Grocery Store.  With about 3 blocks to walk on the narrow roadway, we were loaded down like pack mules.  On getting to a main intersection, we took shelter under the covered walk of a small strip center.  A nice young couple was taking shelter also.  We struck up a conversation, and found them to be delightful people.  Here is Lou with Tony and Ashley. Just hanging out in Abaco with a few friends.  Click on the link, turn up the sound, and put it up full screen.  Somebody has to do this job, http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/ministry_of_tourism_updates/VIDEO_-_Miss_Universe_visits_Abaco_in_The_Bahamas7327.shtml “Then I visited Abaco, and there I got stuck”,  Stone McKewan With the new battery charger arrived and installed, we left Marsh Harbour Marina on Thursday, June 14 at 3pm.  We anchored behind a spit of land between Matt Lowes Cay and Point Set Rock.  12′ of clear water with the wind from the NW the breeze was delightful.  Later the wind shifted 180 degrees leaving us with no protection of the lee shore.  We pulled up anchor, and headed for a mooring ball in Hope Town Harbor.  The wind got very still, and the boat got stuffy.  We fired up the generator for about 4 hours to charge the batteries and air condition the boat. We may be here a couple of days.  As I write this, the breeze is picking up, and it is comfortable.  Here are a few pictures around the harbor showing the cruising boats.  Funny thing is that the large passagemaking type boats are tied to the marinas.  Others are on the mooring balls . LIFE IN THE OUT ISLANDS In the out islands of the Bahamas there are no bridges and few air strips.  All freight is brought in by boat.  Usually a ship will come into Marsh Harbour to be broken into smaller shipments.  In the Abacos you will see small freight boats that haul it all.  They handle everything from medical supplies to bulk items such as lumber and cement.  Palm trees and other plants can be in the mix.  Here are a few pictures of one of the interisland freight boats at work.  These guys are pros.  They can tie up, hook the crane slings on the pallets, unload, and be gone in five minutes time. Just about everything the Bahamians can buy is imported.  There is freight over, import duty, then another freight charge to get it to the island.  Most things cost 133 to 200% of US prices.  The exception is those products from other British Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand butter and lamb.  Then of course rum is fairly inexpensive.  Groceries are very expensive, but the local bread is reasonable at $3 to 4 per loaf.  The Bahamian coconut bread is delicious.  We will have some toasted for breakfast this morning.  Diesel fuel here in Hope Town today is $6.13/ US gallon.  You guessed it.  Same process to get it here.  The Bahama Banks (we are not talking financial institutions here) are so shallow that deep draft vessels can only get to a few islands.

No income tax, no sales tax, only an import duty.  It makes things simple as what you see marked is what you actually pay.  While everyone pays their fair share, the burden is especially heavy on the lower income people.  They pay at the same rate as everyone else.  Thus, a higher proportion of their income goes to taxes.  As the saying goes, “paradise ain’t cheap”.  You would really need a good income to live a good lifestyle here.  However, by living off what the sea provides, no air conditioning, and raising a few vegetables one could live fairly cheaply.

Electricity is extremely expensive here.  In the out islands it is not so reliable.  Low voltage and even power outages are considered “normal”.  Our marina bill and electric bill are usually about the same.  Is it paradise?  for some yes others no. Watch your restaurant tickets.  Sometimes gratuity is included, but it is listed as “tax” on your ticket.  That is because of the registers mostly being made for US use.  Food is mostly good.  Surprisingly, the beef is excellent Argentinian meat.  The baby back ribs I’ve had are a good as anywhere.

Fresh water is another expensive item.  All the fresh water in the islands is caught from rain and stored in cisterns or produced from the sea by reverse osmosis.  Reverse osmosis plants are run by oil.,  That makes it expensive.  It can cost $40-60 to fill Moonstruck’s water tanks.  Water is not wasted here.

The sea, the beautiful waters, the delightful people and glorious reefs are what make the Bahamas special.  They make it worth the bother to get over here, and the expense of staying., By the way, when the wind dropped with rain showers, it was time to drop the mooring ball and head over to a marina.  We found a pretty good deal at Light House Marina at the harbor entrance.  We will be here a couple of nights.  Air conditioning is good.

Much of the labor in the Abacos is done by Haitian immigrants that live near Marsh Harbor in very (by our standards) impoverished conditions.  One of their communities is out near the airport and is called The Muds.  They are ferried to the outer cays each day and back at night.  Even at their low standard of living, it is easy to see why they would risk their lives for the opportunity to be here or the US  There is little or no hope in Haiti.  Here is a picture made this morning of one of Albury’s ferries dropping three people off at our dock.  Not much to do here.  The ferry pilot swings the stern around, backs up to the dock, the people jump off the stern, and off he goes to the next stop.  The reverse in the evenings.  No tying up.  That is just a waste of time and energy  Things here are done differently than in the states.  The Haitians provide a much needed cheap labor force, and they are living better than in Haiti. Sorry about the poor quality of the picture, but it was barely daylight and shot from inside Moonstruck.  I think you can still see the load of workers to be dropped off at different places. A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE I’m talking living and view here.  On our third visit to Hope Town, we decided it was time to climb to the top of the light house.  Boy, does the world look different from there.  However, it is easy to see the attraction of the Bahamas.  Here are several pictures made from this different perspective. Some times life decisions are tough.  We are sitting in Hope Town waiting for the winds to die down for our trip home.  Such is life in the out islands.  Our big decision was do we move up to Man-O-War  Cay for some of Lola’s cinnamon rolls and coconut bread, or do we stay in the delightful village of Hope Town.  Tough choice indeed.  We elected to stay in Hope Town.  We watched a DVD last night, and Lou has downloaded a new book onto her Kindle.  We had TV at Marsh Harbor, but the signal is blocked by a hill here.  Troy seems contented with our decision as he has already selected his favorite “spots” on shore (if you know what I mean).  So, we will just enjoy where we are and take care of a few chores. HANGING AROUND HOPE TOWN Since it could take a few days for the wind and seas to die down, we are here at Hope Town.  We took the dinghy across the harbor to the village for lunch and a little fill in grocery shopping.  We at lunch at the Sugar Shack.  Not much was expected because it looked more like an ice cream place.  The deli sandwiches were delicious and for here a good value.  We would do it again.  Here is Lou at the Sugar Shack, and a shot of the harbor from their deck.

JUST SOME SCENES SHOT AROUND MAN-O-WAR

Lou has a friend from Georgia that married, and has moved to live permanently on Man-O-War.  She has lived here for the past 22 years.  Lou also taught her daughter in first grade. Her friend Charlotte and her husband Rawlin are great people.  Rawlin is a member of the Albury family of boat building fame.  Retired now, he and his brother restore some of the boats that they built in earlier times.  He and Charlotte have also built an absolutely beautiful home right on the harbor on a very private piece of land.  They have a dock and railway for hauling boats up to the shop for restoration.  Following are pictures of them, their home, and their boats.  We wish to thank them for the hospitality shown us.

HEADING HOME

We started our trip home this morning.  We left Man-O-War and ran past Great Guana.  We had a good ride around the infamous Whale Cay Passage.  What a difference a couple of days and a wind shift can make.  We have pulled in at the Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay.  We replenished the 328 gal. of diesel that we consumed.  Now, Moonstruck is ready for tomorrow morning’s departure for the 165 NM mile run back to Florida.  Seas are predicted to be 3-4′ with occasional 5′.  No terrible, but a little more that we wanted.  However, the weather looks much worse for several days after that.  We are feeling the need to get home, so we will take this.

Inspite of some problems with the battery charger and inverter it has been a good trip.  We will jot down some final thoughts later.  For now here are some pictures around Bluff House

.

HEADING HOME

It seems all good things have to come to an end.  The weather report seemed to be holding, so at 8:00 am we left Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle for the long run back to Florida.  The Sea of Abaco had about a 1′ following sea which made a nice ride.  When we Crossed the Little Bahama Bank there was a 2-3′ sea on our port quarter.  Crossing the Gulf Stream that were 3-4′ quartering seas with an occasional 5′ one.  Moonstruck loves to run in almost any sea from the rear.  We held a 25 knot cruise speed for the whole way.  We did the 165 NM in 6 hrs and 20 minutes.  I call that an express run.  Lou thought it was a good ride, and that is important.

When entering the Ft. Pierce Inlet, that seas were from the Southeast.  They were breaking on the sand bar on the south side of the inlet.  That put breaking waves diagonally across the entrance channel.  There was a ripping ebbing tidal current coming out the inlet.  The whole thing was like being in a washing machine.  Not dangerous, but no way to run straight in.  Just let one of them pass under, skew us around, then straighten up and do another.  It was Lou’s first experience running a boiling inlet.  Now she knows what one is.

Farmers Market in the morning.  Then straightening the boat up to leave Sunday morning.  All in all a really good trip.

Scenes from the Ft. Pierce Farmers Market in the park next to the Marina.

 

 

Around Hilton Head ’11—updated 6/1/11

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Monday, May 30th.  We packed up and headed home.  The Memorial Day weekend traffic was better than expected.  When we dropped Aliya and Hannah off at home, it was quieter in the Suburban.  Those kids kept something going the whole trip.  Griffin was helping Aliya and Hannah to learn to play his ukulele.  Then we dropped Troy and Lou off in Cartersville for a well deserved rest.  Lou had done a fantastic job of looking after us all.  Troy may find it a little quiet after all the stimulation.  He is a great PR dog.

Sunday, May 29th.  We drove over to Caligny Square and turned the kids loose to shop and look around.  Griffin found something he liked that I picked up for his birthday.   Then it was the Market Street Cafe for lunch.  Everyone enjoyed their meal.  Troy rates this restaurant  four stars plus as they brought him a LARGE bowl of water and TWO treats.

Then it was back to the boat for the kids to take the dinghy out to cruise the marshes in search of Dolphin.   They were successful and saw three.  For the last night they were hanging out all around the harbor listening to music and talking and laughing.  Griffin even took his ukulele up to play while sitting on the wall.  Troy was as usual our goodwill ambassador.  Many people can’t pass by without commenting or reaching down to pet him.  He loves Shelter Cove.

One note about Troy.  He doesn’t like to go into restrooms.  It seems that he thinks it is dirty to use the restroom inside a building.  He may have a point.

Saturday, May 28th.  The kids rode their bikes to the beach and pool.  Then it was back to the boat for riding the new dinghy.  Captain Griffin was at the helm as he has had the boating course.   It was Gisseppi’s Italian for dinner.   Troy rates Gisseppi’s 3 stars.  They are dog friendly, but no water bowl and no treats.  Thus he couldn’t rate the cuisine.

These are pictures of the new dinghy followed by a couple of pictures of the old dinghy.  One is when the kids were smaller.  One is last summer in the Bahamas.  It is readily apparent why the new dinghy was needed.

New Caribe dinghy

Earlier times in the old dinghy

Lou and Don's Saturday wine and sunset cruise in Moonbeam

Thursday, May 26th.  Well we did it again.  The Suburban was loaded with Griffin and Harrison and their bikes.  We went down to Cartersville and picked up Lou and Troy.  Then it was on to Marrietta and picked up Hannah and Aliya with their bikes.  All the gear and bikes loaded, we were ready for the drive to Hilton Head.  It was a good drive down, and we ate at Parrots Cove—-one of Troy’s favorites.  They bring him a bowl of water and a dog biscuit.  Troy rates this restaurant four stars.

Friday Lou and I stocked up on groceries, and the kids rode their bikes over to the beach.  Dinner was hot dogs grilled on the boat.  Saturday Griffin was checked out on the new dinghy.  The kids rode their bikes to the beach.  Later it was dinghy riding with Captain Griffin at the helm.

Griffin, Hannah, Harrison and Aliya

 
 

"08 Hilton Head trip just for comparison

Grandkids at Posieden statue at Shelter Cove

The Shannon Tanner kids show is an institution at Shelter Cove. Our kids have outgrown it.

There are usually at least three venues for live music around the harbor.  We can sit on the stern or bow of our boat and hear different ones.  It is a very pleasant place to be in the evenings.  The restaurants are excellent also.  Troy likes them because they are dog friendly. 

5/18/11

Stay tuned.  Lou and I have the four grandkids for the long Memorial Day weekend.  Heading down to the boat for a few days of fun.  Since the time will be fairly short, we will probably not be cruising.  There is plenty to do around Shelter Cove.  The beach is a short bike ride away.  It should be great fun.

In the mean time, here are some pictures to show some of the beautiful landscaping and restaurants that are all wthin site of our boat slip.  It is a very pleasant place, indeed.

Oh yes, Troy especially appreciates the fact that the restaurants have patio seating, and are very dog friendly.

You can click on the picture for a larger view then again for full size.  Return to the blog with the back button.

Boca Grande to the Chesapeake ’11 (with a twist)

 

Note: you can click on the picture once for enlargement and twice for full size.

Friday April 29, 2011 we drove down from Chattanooga to Gasparilla Marina to Moonstruck.  Eleven hours, but not a bad drive.  After dining at the Fishery Restaurant, we stayed the night on the boat.  Saturday morning was extremely busy.  We had the engines and generator gone over for their annual service.  That was an all day job.  We installed the bow locker arc on the dinghy and figured out he best way for hoisting and bracing.  We picked up some hardware and dropped the rental car.

 

Gasparilla Marina. Moonstruck's home the last 18 months Moonstruck ready to travel

 

 With Moonstruck readdy to travel we were set to leave on achedule at 0800 hrs. May 1st.

 

We went by Miss OSB on the way out.  Suffice it to say that she is one of the most unusual boats I have ever seen.

Miss OSB

 
Trivia for you Seinfeld fans—–the del Boca Vista condos in the background.
 

Miss OSB

 . . . . . . . . .and we haven’t even gotten out of the marina!
 
We arrived at Ft. Myers Municipal Yacht Harbor at 1000 hrs. fueled with 152 gal diesel at $4.08/gal.  Then at 1035 hrs off to the Franklin Lock for the 1300 hr locking.  Then a fairly uneventful crusie throuh the Ortona Lock and Moorehaven Lock to Clewiston for a stay at Roland (whoa son) and Mary Ann Martins Marina.  I understand that Mary Ann got the marina through a very expensive divorce.
 

the preachers wife operating the Fort Denaud Bridge on the Caloosahatchee River part of the waterway

 
 

Roland and Mary Ann Martins Marina at Clewiston, FL

 

Part of the shallow channel going into and out of Clewiston

 

Entering Port Mayaca Lock leaving Lake Okeechobee

 

We cruised on down to the St. Lucie Lock to make the 1300 hr locking.  Then it was down the St. Lucie River through Stuart to the junction of the OWW and the ICW.  We turned North on the ICW and headed to Ft. Pierce.  We wanted to check it out as a place to winter over next year.  I think that Lou has given her approval of the Marina and the town.  It has a great inlet for jumping off to the Bahamas.  Here are a few pictures of the town and around the marina.  Ft. Pierce and Stuart probably have the best sail fishing on the East coast.  You will probably tell from the marina photos this is a fishing town.

Moonstruck with the charter boats

  1. There is a little story to tell.  Troy our rescue dog has never been in the water.  He has grown very attached to Lou.  Lou left the boat.  AFter a while I thought that Troy could come out of his crate.  As you can see the port side of the boat has no dock next to it.  When Troy got out of his crate, he bolted in the direction Lou had left.  You guessed it.  He ran to the port side, up 2 steps, the jumped over the side.  He was one surprised puppy.  He came up coughing and paddling.  I got him to swim near the swim platform and grabbed him by thhe scruff of the neck.  He had a look of horror on his face.  He was rinsed off with fresh water and sampooed.  Not a bad dive at all especially for his first.  I rated it a 9.5

We left Fort Pierce this morning with calm winds and flat water.  However, the forecast for the afternoon was freshening winds and choppy waters.  We elected to stay inside.  In spite of speed limits and long no wake zones we still made the 190 miles to St. Augustine.  We have a couple of things to do on the boat, so took a slip instead of a mooring ball.   We are here for two nights to catch up.  We are about 65 miles from the FL/GA boarder.  Tides were extreamly low in the northern portion of the trip.  We saw two boats aground.

Surprisingly, there were several late snow birds heading North.  We had to work our way past those.

Beach near the Ft. Pierce Inlet

 

Pelican on the jetty at Fort Pierce Inlet

 

Sailboat anchored at dawn Ft. Pierce

 

Daytona Beach bridge columns decorated with mosiacs of dolphins and manatees

 

On Wednesday we covered about 195 miles to make it from Ft. Pierce to St. Augustime.  St. Augustine—–what a fine stop on the ICW.  We had a couple of probems to get sorted out, so took a slip for two nights.  If you are going to get stuck somewhere doing work on the boat, there are allot worse places to be.  Great restaurants, history, beauty, and ambience.  It really doesn’t get much better.

Eye candy everywhere (hey, I’m talking boats here).  All kinds of boats and people.  Just a great nautical stop.  Many pictures will follow as we get time to upload them.I have spent a good deal of time in St.Augustine including picking up a new boat from the factory and outfitting it there.  What is so special about being in St. Augustine on a boat?  You are immersed in the town.  The marina or moorage is right on the waterfront.  When you step off the dock, you are in the middle of things.  You don’t feel like you are visiting the town, but are a part of it.  So much to see, concerts in the park, and good restaurants abound.  There is always something going on. 

St Augustine Municipal Marina at dawn looking toward the water

 

Moostruck in St. AugustineDawn at St. AugustineDawn at St. Augustine

 

David Dalton, our good friend and crew for the first leg of the trip. He is standing by one of the lighter weapons carried on Moonstruck.

 

                                                                                Some of the “eye candy” on the dock

Thursday, May 6, 2011

A morning waiting for the Xantrex inverter to come in on over night shipment.  When that is changed out, we plan to leave out for Fernandina Beach or Jekyll Island, GA.  This will depend on the time we finish up.  In the mean time there are more photos of St. Augustine.  There will be even more later.  You could fill a book with pictures of this wonderful ICW stop.

Bridge of Lions at night St. Augustine

View of town from out slip

 

More St. Augustine photos.

Cathedral at St. Augustine

 

O. C. Whites garden restaurant

 

St. Augustine Visitors Center

 

Basilica Cathedral at St. Augustine

 

Old Mill St. Augustine

 

Old Towne St. Augustine street scene

 

 

 

Old Towne street scene

After leaving St. Augustine at 1335 hrs on Friday, we fueled with about 275 gal at FL Petroleum at Fernandina Beach.  We then proceeded on to Jekyll Harbor Marina arriving at 1830 hrs.  We lost a half day changing out the inverter that was shipped over night.

Moonstruck at Jekyll Harbor Marina, GA

 

Sea Jay's Restaurant at Jekyll Harbor Marina

At O830 hrs, Saturday May 7,2011 we left out of Jekyll Harbor to try to make it to Hilton Head Island, SC.  Our crew member, and navigator for the trip, David Dalton was scheduled to pick up a rental car for the drive home.  We arrived at 1530 hrs.  David picked up his rental car for the trip home Sunday morning.  Sunday is kind of a sad day for us for we will miss David and his good nature.  He was great on the trip, and is up for anything. 

Now here is where the story takes a new twist.  Saturday was a beautiful cruising day.  As we exited the Cooper River into Callabogie Sound the sun was shining brightly, and the water sparkled.  We called around for a slip, and found one at Shelter Cove Harbour on Broad Creek.  This was probably a mistake.  We have had four extended stays at Shelter Cove.  When we walked in the office, Pam was on duty, grinned and said, “welcome back”.  We have loved staying at Shelter Cove.  The harbor is the best.  The area is the best. The facilities are the best.  8 or 10 restaurants within walking distance.  I have recommended it to others.

Many of you know of the recent storms that have torn through the South.  In one of the early ones, a very large white pine tree split and fell across the roof of Lou’s cabin.  This whole trip she has been on the phone and e-mail with the insurance company and contractor.  It is not settled.  We have been having a problem to get the four grandkids together for a time long enough to take them to the Chesapeake.  It looks like the only time their schedules will allow all four together is Memorial Day weekend.  With getting the mountain cabin put back together and less time to spend on the Chesapeake, it seems that another time would be better to go on to the Chesapeake.  We love it up there, and want to spend allot of time when we go.  That all being said, we asked about another seasonal stay at Shelter Cove.  They didn’t have a slip that we wanted, so it seemed like that was out—-but wait, there’s more.  They said they would move a boat if we will stay again.  This is truly unexpected, and above normal service.  So, we caved and said sure.  We will be at Shelter Cove until November when we plan to go back to Ft. Pierce, FL for an extended stay.

We were checking out the Ft. Pierc e City Marina to see if we wanted to stay there for a seaon.  The Ft. Pierce inlet is a good one, and it is a good jumping off point for the Bahamas.  It will save the 400 mile round trip from Boca Grande to the east coast.  So, there you have it folks.  New plan!  Shelter Cove is a 6 hour drive from home.  Maryland is an 11 hour drive.  This will allow us more short trips.  It will give us time for taking care of some things and, hopefully get the cabin painted.  We have been wanting to do that.  What was it Jimmy Buffet said?  “I got too much stuff.”    Well “stuff” happens.  We could have been happy either way.

Not only that but my son’s boat is down here now.  It is great for offshore fishing.  The dinghy is great for fishing along the marsh grass at the edges of the creeks.  This will give us more time to see them,  There is also entertainment around the harbor at night.  Sometimes 3 live bands going at different places.  The kids love it.  There are bicycle paths everywhere.  No need to get on or cross the main road.  We can be happy here.

The following are some new pictures of Shelter Cove—–Moonstruck’s home until November.

Moonstruck back "home" at Shelter Cove Harbour

 

Shelter Cove Harbour entrance

 

The harbor at Shelter Cove

 

For those of you that would like to see the rest of the Waterway to the Chesapeake, please visit our three trip webpages for the “07 Boca Grande to the Chesapeake that takes us all the way down around the Florida Keys to Washington DC.  There is also the fall of ’07 cruise from the Chesapeake to Hilton Head Island, SC.; Then there was Hilton Head to Boca Grande ’08which has quite abit about Key West.  We had different stops on each trip, so they will give three different views of the ICW.

the Crew: David, Lou, and Don

Troy

 

Troy loves Shelter Cove

Just thinking out loud here.  We have found that there are few cruisers other than full time live aboards that do our style of cruising.  We think having the boat on different parts of the coast is really a beautiful thing.  However, coming “home” to Shelter Cove started me thinking about the two kinds of boating.

We are snugged in our slip with our very own electrical and cable TV connection. We know and have the numbers in our log book of the various service providers.  We know where restaurants, marine stores, hardware stores, and bakeries are located.  All this plus we have the luxury of our very own dock box for storing extra stuff.  Capt. Jim Warren looks after our boat when we are away.  The boat is stored in the water, so it is ready when we get here.  There are allot of good things about being semi-permanent.

On the other hand we will miss the stops along the ICW.  We will miss cruising the Chesapeake Bay and above all the magical time of fall on the Chesapeake.  That will have to wait for later when we have more time to enjoy that.  Hearing the sounds of a night flight of geese flying over the anchorage——there is nothing like it.  Did I mention the crab cakes?  Everyone knows they are the best you can get.  Galesville, Tangier, Oxford, Chester Town, Solomons, Annapolis, Baltimore, and all the great anchorages will still be there if and when we can make it back.

SW Florida Cruise ’11 update 3/6/11

Local Cruising

Arrived at the boat on 2/25/11 to do some chores and local cruising.  We got the Weaver Leaver installed on the dinghy and noted needed parts to order.   Then it was to go down to Boca Grand for a couple of nights, Cayo Costa for a couple of nights, then to an anchorage behind Useppa Island.  Beautiful weather temperature wise.  Wind picked up to 20-28 mph.  A little much for anchorages exposed to the east wind.  We went into the south end of the Boca Grande Canal, and dropped anchor.  We took the dinghy to secure a line to the mangroves on the east side of the canal.  With our stern snuggled up against the mangroves, we had the perfect anchorage for the conditions.   We anchored there for four nights—-the longest we have stayed anchored in one spot.

We read  and relaxed for four days  Pictures of Boca Grande and the anchorage follow.

Boca Grande Canal Anchorage looking south

Boca Grande Canal Anchorage Looking North

Moonstruck at Anchor across from the County Dock

Whidden's Marina at Boca Grande---a touch of "Old Florida"

Whidden's store entrance with the sleeping dog to step around and my favorite recliner on the dock.

Boca Grande Marina----New Florida

Our dinghy landed at Whidden's

Lou and Troy in the Village of Boca Grande

Bougainvillea in bloom on Boca Grande

Troy, the rescue dog.  He is the dog we rescued, but he thinks he is the dog that does rescues!

Pink Elephant Restaurant across from our anchorage

Moonstruck at anchor in Boca Grande Canal

Boca Grande Canal south anchorage

Spring thru Fall ’11 Cruise Plans Updated 2/23/11

It is time for Lou and me to start making our cruise plans for the next year.  This fall we do not want to miss the colors in the mountains, so we will be spending time splitting wood and enjoying the colors and brisk air.  Then it will be doing some Southwest Florida cruises through the winter.  We have been getting Moonstruck ready for some serious time on the hook.  We have acquired a new dinghy, and are in the process of getting the davit situation squared away.  Also, a new dog has acquired us.  This dinghy should keep Lou’s feet dry as well as be a good chariot to get Troy to shore.

Our new dinghy: MOONBEAM

 

Lou and Troy

 

The plan is about May 1 to leave our home marina in Florida   http://gasparillamarina.com/ for the Chesapeake again.We would like a stop at St. Augustine  http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/visitors/our_waterways.cfm   We are trying to work in a little stop for some good Carolina “beach music’.  Where else?  The anchorage at Carolina Beach, NC.  If the weather cooperates we will run offshore alot to save time and tedium.  This time hoping on the way to get to the Outerbanks of NC at Ocracoke Island  http://www.ocracokevillage.com/ and Manteo http://marinas.com/view/marina/4416_Manteo_Waterfront_Marina_NC  .  On the way up it would be nice to spend a couple of nights anchored in Cape Lookout Bight where I spent some very pleasant time in the 70’s.   http://www.crystalcoast.com/capelookout/  Then maybe over to Elizabeth City  http://www.elizcity.com/ and transit the Dismal Swamp Canal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dismal_Swamp_Canal   We will be making arrangements where to make our home base on the Bay.  Galesville, MD about 10 miles South of Annapolis is under consideration again.  I have talked with Hartges Yacht Harbor, and they have room for us.   http://www.hartgeyachtharbor.com/main/  We certainly enjoyed it there in ’07.  Here is an example of one of our favorite cruising destinations on the Bay.  http://www.stmichaelsmarina.com/

After cruises on the Bay in the summer and fall, we are thinking of having Moonstruck in Charleston (our hailing port) for the winter of 2012.  http://www.megadock.us/.  However, upon further thought and Lou’s wishes, we are considering wintering over on the East coastof Florida at Stuart or Ft. Pierce.  The Bahamas seem to be calling us again.  We’ll see.  Yep, it looks more and more like we will skip Charleston to winter over ’12 in South Florida again.  Got to get closer to the Bahamas.

This trip will be a little change in our cruising style.  Both Lou and I prefer anchoring.  So, we will be doing less marinas and more anchoring.  This is the main reason for the new dinghy and davit system.  Of course, we will be at marinas when we need services.