Boca Grande to Chesapeake ’07

MOONSTRUCK is scheduled to leave the Boca Grande, FL area for the Chesapeake Bay on May 18, 2007.  Because of the low lake level it will not be possible to cross the state of FL on the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW).  We will be going from Boca Grande Pass to Marathon in the Keys on the first day.  Miami should be the second day, and then we really start our trip north.  We would like to be in Hampton, VA by May 30th.   The crew is to be, of course, Lou and Don with  Capt. Bill and Jan Evans starting out and getting off somewhere between St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach.  David Dalton is scheduled to join us in Charleston and travel to Hampton, VA. 
The starting crew---Don & Lou with Jan & Bill Evans at the breakfast barge near the Bradenton Yacht Club
Don, Lou, Jan, and Bill

Cruise along with us.  We will update the website as time and internet connections allow.

By putting your cursor on the pictures below a title or comment will pop up.
                                                  
MOONSTRUCK  "Ready to Go!"                                                      
This is MOONSTRUCK being set into the water from her dry storage berth in the huge building at Gasparilla Marina near Boca Grande.  From there it is about a 30 minute run to Boca Grande Pass.
 
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=108151895334268033081.000001127ce456a433b99&z=5&om=1 

Click on the above link for a float plan of the trip  By clicking on the line or the line numbers to the left of the map page, you can read the notations for that leg of the cruise.  You can also zoom in and out for larger or smaller scale.  We will try to put up a map link of our location whenever we get an internet connection along the way.

5/18/07  Day one of our Chesapeake Cruise

LOU AND DON  HAVE STARTED ON THEIR EXCELLENT ADVENTURE!  We departed Gasparilla Marina near Boca Grande, FL at 7:20am, and reached Boca Grande Pass at about 7:50.  We avoided the large number of boats fishing the Tarpon Tournament.  Then, to avoid crab pots, we ran far offshore of Captiva, Sannibel, and Cape Sable to arrive at Marathon Yacht Club in the Florida Keys about 1:00pm.  There was 150 miles of open water with good weather and no problems.  Thanks to the sea state and auto pilot it was an easy run.  Lou will describe the happenings.

This is Lou reporting. The cruise down from Gasprilla was quite an adventure….We had a slight following sea which made for a smooth ride.  No one got seasick. The auto pilot took us right to the mark!   We enjoyed dinner and dancing  with our friends, Bill and Jan, at the Marathon Yacht club.  The evening concluded with a beautiful sunset!!  Pictures of this day will be uploaded at a later date.

We will begin tomorrow by going under the 7 mile bridge, one of the longest bridges in the United States.  We will take Hawk Channel up to Miami, then will go into the ICW to Fort Lauderdale.

Goodbye, Gasparilla Marina.  MOONSTRUCK'S home for the last 6 months.

Tarpon Tournament, Boca Grande Pass.  Wall to wall boats?

Nice Weather for the 160 mile open water trip to Marathon in the Keys

Sunset from Marathon Yacht Club

Lou & Don at Marathon YC
 
May 19,2007  Second Day

Left Marathon YC at 7:20am.  Crossed over to Hawk Channel and ran to Miami, Dinner Key Marina, arriving at 11:00am.  Fueled and ate lunch at Scotty’s.  Then it was starting the ICW for the trip North.  Arrived at Lauderdale YC, Ft. Lauderdale, at 4:00pm.

Now for Lou’s exciting report.

My first trip to the Keys  and Miami was everything I expected and more!!  After the low lying, laid back Keys, the Miami skyline was an awesome sight.

Miami Skyline

More Miami

Lunch at Scotty's, Coconut Grove, Miami

In the busy port of Miami, we saw one of the largest cruise ships……Liberty of the Seas.

Liberty of the Seas

The three hour run from Coconut Grove to Ft. Lauderdale was slow, but interesting.  Sometimes it seemed as if we were in a canyon…between highrises and condos.  We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, the yachting capital of the world!!  From the looks of things, mega yachts are a dime a dozen….NOT!!!!!

After a delicious meal at the Yacht Club, Don and I took a walk around the canals lined with palm trees.  Tomorrow, it will be further North, hopefully, to Vero Beach.

Lou at Lauderdale YC

"Two Weeks Before the Mast".  Do I have this crew shaped up, or what?

May 20, 2007   Sunday

We left Lauderdale YC at 7:40am with a strong NE wind.  After many miles of slow, no wake zones and delays for draw bridge openings, we arrived at Vero Beach YC at 5:15pm.  Lou will update you on the events of the day.

Ft Lauderdale is, without a doubt, the yachting capital of the world!!!  The mega-yachts, palatial homes, and beautiful aquamarine colored water were sights to hehold.  Captain Don was slightly aggravated with the delays, but  it did make for a day of delightful cruising.

Fillups are a little tough

Mega-Yachts  everywhere

May 21, 2007  Monday

Left Vero Beach YC at 8:00am.  We had an uneventful 5 hour run to Smyrna YC at New Smyrna Beach.  There Frank and Anette Decker drove over to the club to meet us.  They drove us to a delicious dinner at the Riverside Grill.  It will be on to St. Augustine tomorrow for Bill and Jan’s departure to drive home.  Lou and Don will continue on to Fernandina or Jekyll Island, Ga.

Lou:
 
We began the trip with Bill and Jan as “Don’s friends”…they are now “our friends”.  I am saddened by their leaving tomorrow.  We have had a super time with the 2 of them.  Today has been a very special day.  We met new friends, Doug and Beth Kennedy on their 60′ trawler WINEDOWN…they joined us, along with the Deckers and Evans, for coctails on the Moonstruck.  After exchanging boat cards, we plan to stay in touch and visit.

Don,Frank,Anette,Lou,&Jan

Frank & Anette Decker

Bill & Jans' last night

May 22,2007   Tuesday

Well, it was quite a run today.  We left Smyrna Yacht Club early and ran to Jekyll Island, GA arriving at Jekyll Harbor Marina at 4:00pm.  We stopped in St. Augustine at noontime to get fuel and for Jan and Bill to pick up a rental car for the drive home.  It was a sad parting as they are great friends and cruising partners.  Bill is a licensed 100 ton ocean operator, and they have both cruised for years.  Hopefully, there will be many more trips together.

After fueling for the first time since Miami, we continued on.  The weather has been great, however, the wind is predicted to pick up tomorrow.  With five days of hard running and the wind increasing, it seems tomorrow is a good day to take off to rest up.

There were not too many photos today, but there is one that may be of interest.  It is of some wild ponies on the beach at Cumberland Island.

Cumberland Island Ponies

May 23, 2007   Wednesday

We had a much needed rest day today.  Just hosing down the boat and checking the mechanicals.  We had a “short walk” to dinner that I am sure Lou can’t wait to fill you in on.  We are ready to face the mighty Georgia ICW tomorrow with its wide open sounds and twisting channels through miles of marsh land.  Here’s hoping that the strong NE wind will abate overnight.

Here’s Lou

Don’s navigational skills at sea are much better than on land.  The dock master estimated the distance to the shops to be 1/2 mile.  After 2 full hours of fast paced hiking, we arrived.  Don and I disagree on the milage…I estimate it to be closer to 8 miles, he thinks 6.  Either way…TOO LONG! 

We received word, today, from Captain David Dalton that he is on his way to straighten out this crew.  We will see, when we pick him up in Charleston, if he is able to do that.

The sunsets over the marshlands are very beautiful.

Jekyll Sunset

May 24, 2007  Thursday

Left Jekyll Harbor Marina at 7:50am for an express run through the Georgia marshes and sounds.  Arrived at Beaufort, SC Downtown Marina and tied up at 2:30pm.  We had nice weather but some wind.  We were smacked a little in the sounds, but still held our 27 knot cruise speed.  I believe that Lou will definitely have something to add to this.

Lou:

Today’s cruise was definitely different from the previous ones…no city skylines, no condos and very little boat traffic.  Though desolate, the scenery was awesome, a true depiction of God’s handiwork.  Just Captain Don and me on Moonstruck between the marshes.

Being the novice I am, it has taken me awhile to realize that this is the trip of a lifetime.  I am actually running the ICW from the Keys to the Chesapeake.

We are tied up tonight in beautiful, old Beaufort, SC.  We will  take a short stroll (less than 2 hour duration) to downtown for dinner tonight.  I will add, I was very impressed with Capt. Don’s navigational skills  today.  He maneuvered through the marshes, between the red and green markers without a single mistake!!!

Of course, we had to put up at least one picture of Moon River.

Moon River (inspiration for Johnny Mercer's song of that title)

Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetary from the Wilmington River

100 miles of Georgia saltwater marshes

May 25,2007  Friday–We left Boca Grande one week ago today!

Well, we made it to Charleston, the hailing port of MOONSTRUCK, right on schedule.  Three hours after leaving Beaufort we arrived in Charleston at 12:30pm.  In doing this we said good bye to most of the beautiful Carolina marshes.  It would be great if we could capture on camera the natural beauty that we have seen.  We are docked for the next two nights on the Mega Dock of the Charleston City Marina.

Lou has some things to add to this:

This day, too, was  a great ride!!  We were amazed at the beautiful scenery along the way….miles of marsh land and closer  into Charleston, beautiful homes.

When docking today, there was a strong incoming tidal current running and we had to go down a narrow fairway to our space with just enough length for our boat.  When reaching the space, Capt. Don had to spin the boat around in a space with barely enough room to turn it and then slide it  sideways  into place.  When he did that maneuver, the 2 dock hands said in amazement, “Would you look at that!” I am most impressed with Capt. Don’s boat handling and he says I am doing very well with my handling of the lines. 

Today ended with us having dinner with the Daltons…David, Kryste and David James. Tomorrow is a day for exploring Charleston.

Kryste, David, and David James Dalton

Beaufort, SC Waterfront

Beaufort Historical Waterfront Homes

Charleston City Marina from the water

May 26, 2007  Saturday

This was lay over day in Charleston.  We took care of some chores on the boat and had the helm deck air conditioning topped off with freon.  We went in to Charleston and had a great dinner at McGrady’s with David, Kryste, David James.

We are posting a picture to try and relate what the Mega Dock is.  There is a multitude of 150′ + yachts tied up here.  We are on that dock.  It makes us look like we are partially sunk.

Tomorrow, with David Dalton on board, we are headed north again.  We will try to make Myrtle Beach, SC or Southport, NC.  The Wacammaw River, which is on route, is one of the prettiest sections of the ICW.

Here’s Lou:

Great day in Charleston!!!  Meeting Don’s friends, the Dalton’s, has made this stop special.  David James is probably the most precocious  3 year old  I’ve met in a while.  

Looking forward to tomorrow’s trip north.

Mega Dock, Chartleston City Marina.  That is a 58' yacht on the left side of the dock. 

Lou & Don at Charleston Waterfront Park

May 27, 2007  Sunday

David Dalton joined us today for the cruise on to Hampton, VA.  There he will fly back to Chattanooga.  We left Charleston at 7:30am for the 9 hour run to Wrightsville Beach, NC. 

As we entered the Waccamaw River the scenery change was dramatic.  The dark, fresh water lined with cypress trees contrasted sharply to the SC marshes.  Then we went through the long cut behind Myrtle Beach to the Cape Fear River.  We will now enter the NC sounds country which is totally different from anything we have seen earlier.   It is hard to believe that we should be in Hampton, VA in two days time.

Here’s Lou:

Having David on board relieved the pressure of being the “solo” in charge  of lines (not ropes, lines) and tieing up.  I am better with the terminology, but sometimes still make mistakes.

We tied up at Wrightsville Beach, NC today.  With it being Memorial Day, the place is a complete zoo!!  We usually exit the ICW into a quiet cove or inlet to the marina, however, here we are in the middle of the waterway with partying going on everywhere!!!  After wine and snacks on the boat, we enjoyed a nice, quiet dinner here at the marina.  I am looking forward to a quiet evening then onward north tomorrow.

Charleston Waterfront Homes

Waccamaw River

Wrightsville Beach Waterway

May 28, 2007  Monday–Memorial Day

We have reached some of my old home waters at the southwestern end of the North Carolina Ourterbanks!  Tonight we are at the Beaufort, NC Town Docks.  I had a boat kept at the Morehead City Yacht Basin for about 5 years, and the fishing was superb.  We passed many areas that brought back memories of younger days.

The Chesapeake Bay is just two days away.  The journey is long, but somehow seems short.  Good company and doing what you enjoy is just the best.  My crew has been outstanding, and they could even make me look good. 

Gordon and Rose Robinson, two of my old friends, picked us up from a midday stop at Swansboro for lunch.  It was great catching up with them and some other folks that I knew.

Here is a small tidbit of information.  Yes, there are two Beauforts—one in SC and one in NC.  Here is the catch:  in SC it is pronounced BUfort in NC it is pronounced BOfort!  It could take you awhile to unravel that confusion.  

Lou: 

Meeting and having lunch with two of Don’s friends, Gordon and Rose, was a special treat today.  Listening to Don and Gordon reminising about old times and old friends gave an interesting insight into earlier days. 

Beaufort is an interesting town….very historical with old homes and many shops for browsing as well as buying. 

As Don says, we have been on the water for several days, but with  the ever changing scenery and great company, time is passing swiftly.

Gordon & Rose Robinson

Queens Creek holds some special memories

Beaufort, NC Front Street

MOONSTRUCK at Beaufort, NC Town Dock

May  29, 2007  Tuesday

A day ahead of schedule we have arrived at the end or beginning of the Intracoastal Waterway.  We are in Portsmouth, VA near mile 0.  Tied up securely at Ocean Marine Yacht Center among large Navy ships in the yards for work.  This is truly the Mega Dock.

Because of the good weather and the fact that the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds were more like lambs than the bears they usually are, we opted to leave the ICW at the Neuse River.  We ran up Pamlico, Croaton, and Albemarle Sounds.  After the boat traffic for Memorial Day it was good to have a day with alot of autopilot time.

Thanks to Capt. Norm Blinn for the heads up on the shallow spots above Coinjock.  They were definitely there.  So far so good.  The Sabre just keeps on ticking.  We will fuel tomorrow and move a short distance to the Hampton Public Piers to meet the Blinns on their newly fitted out Duffy, EBBTIDE II. 

Lou:
 
With the boat on autopilot and Capt. Don at the helm, things went very smoothly today.  David and I had fewer tieups, thus less handling of the lines.  David did have to climb on top of the boat to check the clearance at a couple of close bridges.   However, the bridges and lock at Great Bridge, cost us a couple of hours.  We still made 205 miles today….our longest so far. This will give us Wednesday and Thursday as rest days!!

Great Bridge, VA lock and bridge

Norfolk Navy Yards across from our slip

Portsmouth, VA Harbor

May 30, 2007 Wednesday

Easy day today.  The crew certainly deserves that.  We pushed hard yesterday.  Now, we have a couple of days to rest up before running up the Chesapeake Bay.  We tied up for a couple of hours at Waterside in downtown Norfolk, and we walked over to do some shopping at McArthur Center.

We are tied up tonight at the Hampton, VA Public Piers.  It is right downtown Hampton within walking distance of restaurants.  We ate tonight at the Marker 20 Restaurant with David Dalton and Norm & Kathy Blinn.  It was great.

Lou:

After today, handling lines will be my total responsibility. With David Dalton leaving, it will be up to me to make Capt. Don look good.  We wish David a safe trip home and hope to see him, Kryste and David James again soon.
Chores on the boat tomorrow then dinner at the Blinn’s home.  We are looking forward to that.

MOONSTRUCK at Norfolk's Waterside

Navy ship in dry dock

Navy Aircraft Carriers

Norm & Kathy Blinn

May 31, 2007  Thursday

The day off was needed, but there is still much going on.  Hampton is preparing for the Black Beard Festival this coming weekend.  Sailing ships have already started arriving and tieing up in this small harbor.  We will be clearing out early in the morning, but things will certainly be lively around here.  Tomorrow we are headed up the Bay to Tangier Island, VA.  Tangier is a unique place in that they have kept there old ways and culture.  Working on the water is their way of life.  There are few facilities for visitors, but no trip up the Bay is complete without a stop there.

A special treat today was getting to tour Norm and Kathy Blinns EBB TIDE II–Their 37′ Duffy.  It is a beautiful, true downeaster.  It is built like a tank, and the Blinns have fitted it out in a top notch way.  As Norm says if it is worth doing it is worth doing right.  We wish them many great cruises on this fine craft.

Lou:

Today has been special for many reasons…I learned to tie the bowline knot, clove hitch and the cleat hitch!!!!  Whewwww..finally mastered those.  Today will be a special memory of the trip because  of the dinner so warmly hosted by the Blinns at their home.  Seldom have we enjoyed such a well prepared meal!!  Kathy and Norm are both gourmet cooks.  Thanks very much, guys!!  We hope to meet again for some cruising this summer.

A sad chapter in the trip today was David Dalton’s departure for home.  Thanks very much for the compliment, David.  Capt. Don says that flattery may get you back on the boat.

The title of the webpage is The Chesapeake Trip.  I am looking forward to tomorrow when we enter the Chesapeake Bay area.  I have listened to Don talk about the Chesapeake Bay area and all the interesting aspects of it.  Tomorrow I will start to discover the Bay for myself.

Ebbtide II   

Norm on EBBTIDE II

Hampton Pirate Ships

June 1, 2007   Friday

We got out of Hampton just before being raided by pirates!!!  The place was about to become a zoo with the Black Beard Festival this weekend.  We had a nice two hour run up the Bay to Tangier Island, VA.  There was a two to three foot following sea that MOONSTRUCK handled beautifully.

How does one describe Tangier Island?  One can’t adequately do that.  Pictures will have to suffice, but you really have to visit there.  I thought Lou was going to jump ship.  She has a new boy friend, Milton Parks of Parks Marina there.  Milton is quite the ladies man.

Lou:

Tangier Island is truly indescribable.  One has to visit to appreciate the culture and lifestyle of the local people.  From eating at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House, to seeing cemeteries in front yards, buying recipes from front yard fences, visiting with Mr. Parks, these were unique experiences for me…We were totally out of touch with the “real world” during the time were there, but rather than being a bother, we enjoyed spending time visiting the local people.

Tangier Water Front

Tangier Crab Boat

Lou Lou at the recipe fence

Tangier Lunch Partners "pass the fritters please"

Tangier Front Yard "nobody ever leaves home"

Tangier Main Drag

Milton Parks---Lou Lou's new "boy friend"

Tangier Sunset

June 2, 2007    Saturday

We reluctantly departed Tangier Island at 7:20am for the five hour run across the Bay and up the Potomac River to Washington, DC.  We tied up at the Capital Yacht Club at 12:20pm–right on schedule.  Thus ended our 1550 mile journey, and what a journey it was!

The trip was memorable, but it was made all the more memorable by my crew and the people we saw and met along the way.  I can’t say enough good about my crew members.  Capt. Bill and Jan Evans along with David (Mr. Capt. David Daddy Sir) Dalton were great to have onboard.  What can I say about Lou?  She was spectacular–always the willing hand, she is no longer a novice seaman.  With this much cruising under her belt, she has faced most every kind of docking situation, and handled it well!  Along with these duties she was also our official ace photographer for this website.  Wonderful!!

For those we saw along the way, we appreciate your hospitality but most of all your company.  The trip would not have been the same without you.

A big thanks also to our faithful viewers.  Your comments have meant much to us.  There will be more!  We will add a page for the different cruises on the Chesapeake during this summer and fall.  We also plan to do an epilogue with some of our favorite photos that didn’t get in so far.

Lou:

Fifteen hundred miles and fifteen days ago, Capt. Don and I began our Chesapeake trip.  Today, as Moonstruck cruised into Washington, DC, I realized our journey had reached its destination. Wonderful friends met along the way, memories made and first time experiences that cannot be recaptured, have truly made this the trip of a lifetime.  

I began this trip as novice, but thanks to Capt. Don’s many “teaching lessons” and great patience,, I am now more confident at sea.  I have mastered (well almost) knot tieing, handling lines and docking at almost any kind of dock.

Words are inadequate in expressing my feelings about this trip.  Experiences can be repeated, however,  “first time emotional moments”, cannot be recaptured.  There have been many of those on this trip.  My thanks to Don for the planning and execution of the Chesapeake trip….truly the trip of a lifetime.  Also, thanks for inviting me to be a part of it.

Mount Vernon from the beautiful Potomac River

Washington Channel with the Washington Monument in the background--our final destination

Our slip at Capital YC with the Washington Monument in the back ground

Epilogue

First of all, for those of you who may have missed this, by putting your cursor on the pictures a title or comment will pop up.  This will explain the picture some and help to tell the story.

This will take a while to complete.  As we gather our thoughts about the trip, we will post them here.  There were about 300 photos that Lou made.  The ones here are only a sampling, but they are the ones that seem to tell the story the best.

The people and the scenery were what made the trip special.  There was an ever changing landscape or seascape.  This is a wonderful country.  The diversity found along the Intracoastal Waterway is amazing!

What hasn’t been talked about much is the boat.  MOONSTRUCK answered the call every time.  The big Yanmars just purred.  As Capt. Bill Evans said, “the big Sabre runs like a fine Swiss watch”.  We cruised in air conditioned comfort.  In Georgia and South Carolina at times the windows were covered with biting yellow flies trying to get in.  These flies are necessary as they are the South’s secret Yankee deterent.  When the seas kicked up where the sounds met the ocean, she handled it without even slowing down.  Thanks Sabre for building such a craft.

The Intracoastal Waterway holds many sights and surprises.  What a great and diverse country we live in.  Some of the sites are beautiful, some interesting, and some down right crazy.  For instance in the canal behind Myrtle Beach, SC we saw a four wheel ATV in about twelve inches of water pulling a kid on a boogie board.  It must have been some kind of red neck water skiing contraption.  Of course he stalled out when our wake hit him.  In Bogue Sound we saw a Hobie Cat under sail pulling a disabled power boat.  Is Tow Boat/US using this method to combat high fuel prices?  Near Carolina Beach a runabout cut across our bow while towing a kid on a tube.  We had to stop almost dead in the water.  I hate to think what a 34,000 pound boat swinging two four blade props would have done to that kid.  Lou remembers that the Capt. had a few choice words about that one.  However, all in all the sights were awesome.

After we got into the Bay on Tangier Island there was an older, heavy set woman speeding along in a golf cart with her hair in tight curlers and her house coat flowing in the breeze.  Boy, would I like to have gotten a picture of that.  With all the varying sites there,Tangier was truly one of the highlights of the trip.  There were just a few work trucks.  Most of the people get around on golf carts, motor scooters, and bikes.  Tangier is anything but pretentious.  Most of the men are watermen who make their living by catching the blue crabs for which the Bay is so famous.  They are very proud people, and they are friendly to visitors.  There accent is from the Cornish English that the original settlers spoke.  They roll their i’s like the Toide is hoigh (the tide is high), but with the advent of satallite TV and other communications this will probably be changing.  Lou and I loved it.

A small item, but one that has come up–is it Intercoastal Waterway or Intracoastal Waterway?  Well, it has been called both, but the correct title is Intracoastal Waterway.  Technically, intercoastal means between two coasts.  Intracoastal means within the coast or a channel that runs inside the coast line.  Thus Intracoastal Waterway is the correct term.  By the way, we are in danger of losing parts of the Intracoastal Waterway.  Especially in the Georgia section.  There has been little money allocated for dredging in some critical sections.  One that comes to mind is Hell Gate that connects the Little Ogeechee River to the Ogeechee River.  We had to hunt for enough water to run our 3′ 9″ draft.  A sailboat followed us asking the depths that we had found.  

Our "Ace" photographer at work 

Well, it can't be all work, you know!

End of a Good Day on the Water

Lou liked this one better.  Co-Captain?

Riviera Beach Bridge?

Weekenders behind Palm Beach Inlet.  Check the water color.

Tow Boat/US????

Most people don't think of a marsh as being beautiful, but sometimes they can be awesome!

If your ski tow vehicle is an ATV you may be a redneck

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