In more ways than one —
— Good satire
Marina Cam at Herrington Harbour South Marina. One of the many cams the good folks at HHS had onSpot install.The babies are getting big – soon to fly away.Thanks Herrington Harbour – Very Cool Link to other onSpot wifi Marina Cams&nbs…
I finally got around to updating the “About Istaboa” section of this blog. Istaboa’s new interior inspired me to take a few photos and pictures often trigger an itch that only writing about them can scratch. I guess every picture does tell a story.
This is the final installment of a multi-part section that covers finding N57-26 back in 2006 and the years aboard Istaboa that have led up to now.
For those into 57s, there’s a lot about N57s in general and Istaboa in particular — See the column to your left.
10 Years After
It’s now 2019: The economy is booming so everything’s great, —however— the boats are getting bigger, the marinas are packed, many of our old favorites have been bought out by large corporations; then there’s the boat fixers and insurance companies.
Things have changed. Flashback to 2014
I guess we miss the easygoing days of the better than average “good” economy, however… we tentatively adjust.
It’s been more than a decade since moving aboard and putting Tennessee behind us – and almost 20 years since we started traveling around on boats. Mel and I have covered a lot of water since those early days. In that time, one of the things we’ve come to realize is, (this may be discouraging to some), our boating lifestyle is never glamorous and rarely exciting, but it is the life we chose and for the most part it’s exactly what we dreamed about —maybe it’s in our DNA, but for sure it’s not just a line item on a list of things to do before we can’t.
Our boating habits have evolved over time, as has our boat. No longer full time liveaboards, we have a home in Jupiter, FL. (Mel and I finally asked the question, “wanna live here?”, one time too many.) We love our little beach house and the simple life there we share with our dogs, nevertheless 90% of our time is devoted to boats/marinas, and still, 3 to 6 months a year is spent aboard.
For us, a good boat trip is to comfortably motor around till we stumble on an out of the way place that’s interesting, not too crowded, then slowly blend in and make it home for a while.
That’s the beauty of this boating thing: home is where the boat is.
Last year we spent 6 weeks in little Georgetown, SC and had a nice time, however, I don’t think we would’ve felt that way 10 years ago. Georgetown’s a very calm and tranquil little harbor town and at this point in our life, tranquility’s a blast.
Years back, The Abacos, Elbow Cay specifically, was home for a while. We once tied up at Sea Spray Marina thinking we’d stay a week and 2 months later we left.
That year the late spring winds, as they often do, blew hard and incessantly into the summer months. The weather kept us tethered to the dock, however that didn’t stop us from making the best of things.
Mel and I made lasting friendships during that long blow that have stood the test of time and in retrospect, if it weren’t for those unfavorable conditions, none of us would’ve ever have taken the time to get to know each other.
During that, “Whisky Wind” (as Junior Maynard, the Dock Master, called it), no matter what kind of boat you owned or what your socioeconomic status was, we all had a part in each other’s good time: everyone dressed similarly, ate the same food, drank the same booze; we were all trapped in paradise together, and life was good..
We once spent 4 months at Compass Cay in the Exumas. Life around the Pipe Creek area was simply special, and after some time we were welcomed to be honorary members of the Rolle family: an honor we’re very proud of.
Eventually, our stores of food and drink were depleted and we learned to get by as the out-island folk do. Departing friends and boaters would kindly leave us their unused provisions, weather permitting, we’d make runs to Staniel Cay where the Blue Store or the Pink Store might have some vegetables, and on a regular basis the local boys would bring us fresh fish.
Tucker taught me how to waste not, “Clean da head, dat’s the best part”, he’d say. Tuck was right, fresh fish head, eyeballs and all, made an excellent stew. (I’d eat the eyeballs, but just for effect… they really have no taste)
Following a nice Bahamian lady’s instructions, a few onions, potatoes, lady peppers, Bahamian thyme, a big clean Grouper head, thrown together and slow cooked in a big pot fed us all for 3 days. Spider crab, lobster, conch – as soon it was known we would cook, things just showed up on the boat and became dinner for those who wanted it.
Maybe it was the astounding blueness, possibly the island vibe, whatever — that long stay was mind altering and forever changed my life perspective. This is when we first experienced the zen of, “being” or — how to exist in the islands and maintain a grip on reality. It took a while, but eventually we settled into island think. Need food? Go fish, or conch. Don’t worry about the small things, never get excited, find some shade with a good breeze, and in between naps, watch the tide roll in and out, and the tourist come and go.
It was quite interesting sitting in the shade of Compass’ dock overhang, watching the many big charter yachts running pell-mell up and down the Exuma chain, picking up or dropping off guests at Staniel Cay, anchoring at Big Majors, selfies with the pigs, then in a panic calling Compass on the VHF to ask Tucker for a slip and shelter from the impending storms.
There was good work done. We brought communications to places where there was none. It took much longer than it would have in the states, but no one cared. Soon it becomes apparent, the aim of Exuma life is to make the best of the moment. You “be”.
We’d take our little Albury to visit the other islands and do what shopping we could, and soon, Mel and I became acquainted with some remarkable and eccentric private island dwellers. They too were happy to have fresh company to get to know.
Running up and down Pipe Creek everyday was like living in a dream. Sometimes I’d just stop the Albury, look in all directions, and take in the view, absorbing every shade of blue imaginable. I remember thinking how lucky we were to be experiencing all of this, and being part of it.
Like backstage passes to paradise.
Late summer, with all the tourist gone, the place is really amazing.
All of this became the norm and soon I grew comfortable running the little-known routes through the rocks and shallows; understanding which run to take at different tide levels, almost as good as the natives. Every rocky point, every shoal, the water color, it all meant something. Like abstruse road signs, and you’d better pay attention to the details or you’d quickly end up high and dry, or worse.
This was a magical time for us, however the spell was broken by September and the peak of hurricane season. It became apparent that it was time for us to move on and we left just days before Hurricane Sandy blew hard across the Exuma chain.
Yes, that four months was extraordinary and we still like to return “home” and fall back into the island life on occasion, but we understand, that’s not our world, it’s there’s, and we’re thankful the Rolles share it with us.
We’ll not wear out our welcome.
The Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake still holds a certain charm and we’ll often bump around up there during hurricane season. Annapolis is our favorite city, Solomons and the Herringtons are our favorite hangs, but many of the historic, boaty little towns are cool.
A bit like the panhandle of Florida, the food is outstanding. Think local crabs and oysters prepared so many ways.
We really like being around the folks on the Chesapeake. For the most part, they’re a live and let live, good natured bunch; they love the Bay and everything about it. We’ve made many memorable acquaintances and some great friends there over the years; we always enjoy going back.
Wherever we go – there we are
We feel fortunate to be able to take our time, keep our plans open, and become acquainted with the many marinas in the many ports along our way. From Tennessee to Nassau, too many places to list, we’ve stuck many pins; some small little out of the way places, others in big cities, but in all our travels the one thing we’ve always found to be true: *No matter where you go, there you are. (*credit either Confucius or Buckaroo Banzai)
If one has a curious eye and takes the time to observe their surroundings, there’s almost always something unique and compelling to be found. (almost)
Maybe a funky little restaurant that serves up the best shrimp and grits, like the Beaufort Cafe, the feeling of home away from home like Pensacola or Brunswick, sometimes it’s just a good vibe and the transcendental “being” thing blossoms, think Compass Cay or Solomons, the helter-skelter of an urban harbor like Nassau or Ft Lauderdale, or the stillness of a sunset on the Sassafras River, it really doesn’t matter where you are, if you’re experiencing life from a boat, it’s probably pretty good.
“And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
We also love this verse from “The Boxer” — we too look for those places.
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know
Lie, la lie
So now we’ve become seasoned boaters, which is a kind way of saying we’re getting older, (which is a kind way of saying we’re approaching old AF) and the days of ambitious boat trips may be winding down for us. Never say never, though we’re quite content bumping around familiar places.
So with all that said, I’ll sum it up with this mental image…
At the end of a long day, there are few things more comfortable than following an old track line into a peaceful harbor and tying up in the sunset.
That’s pleasure boating
April: For a dose of reality, it’s kinda nice to leave the beach, the manicured seaside estates with swaying palm trees, Jupiter’s near perfect winter weather, and make the 1000 mile drive up to funky old Memphis for some needed contrast, and, to see what our old home town is up to.
We were pleased to find our neighborhood booming with cool new developments of renovated old buildings. The old brewery next door has been transformed into luxury apartments and the old train station will soon be an upscale boutique hotel. An eclectic mix of restaurants are popping up everywhere and they appear to be busy. The area is thriving with young folks zipping around on those annoying little electric scooters and the trolley cars are running again. Yep, it seems like Downtown Memphis is finally enjoying a long awaited resurgence.
Springtime brings out the best of Memphis
Springtime means Azaleas and Dogwoods are blooming everywhere you look and the locals are happily leaving their grumpy ways inside as they come out with smiling faces and neighborly attitudes. Everyone has been held hostage by winter’s grip and finally, spring awards them with a deserved respite from the cold, damp, river winds downtown Memphis has endured for months.
April is the month for local festivals before the massive Memphis in May International Festival cranks up and downtown is inundated with hundreds of thousands of tourists. Our local fav is the Crawfish Fest – we can’t seem to find Crawfish in Jupiter or anywhere along the east coast, but in Memphis, in April, they’re everywhere, every weekend.
As we always do we’ve enjoyed our stay, old friends, the authentic funkiness that Memphis has an abundance of, and the excellent food; however, it’s about time to pack up and bid adieu.
It’s time head back to Florida.
There’s a boat trip in our future.
Adios, River City — See y’all in the Fall
Nope — haven’t written anything in a while, haven’t taken any pics to speak of either, however, we’ve made the best of our time and it was cool hangin’ on the boat up in Georgia. Mel’s been hankering for some fall weather and Brunswick/St Simons did serve that up from time to time.
We rode out the thankfully benign hurricane season at Brunswick Landing then moved over to St Simons Island and Morningstar Marina for their view and breeze. We like spending time in Glynn County, the local culture is comfortable and the local restaurants are good— especially after Labor Day post tourists.
Maggie Mae’s downtown Brunswick serves a blue-ribbon country style breakfast and the service is sincerely old school southern. Fox’s Pizza is good too, but never pass up Willy’s Wee-Nee Wagon and their Pork Chop Sandwich. It’s in the hood which gives it authenticity and street cred. (Some cruisers we spoke with scoffed at Willy’s but if you’re into geniune cultural experiences, you’ve got to go to Willy’s Wee-Nee Wagon.) Out on the isand is Southern Soul BBQ and it’s truly fine. At the marina is Coastal Kitchen serving their version of Shrimp and Grits. The Half Shell, Halyards, Barbara Jeans, and Benny’s Red Barn – All Good!
Though it’s 350 miles up the boring and sometimes treacherous I-95, we made the trip several times a month to check on the boat and boater buddies. It was a nice break from S Florida’s summer heat.
We took advantage of our time in Brunswick/St Simons and made a few interior changes. Nothing too major but the slight update made a surprising difference. The ladies at Overall Upholstery on the island did a good job of recovering our Salon bar stools.
We considered home-porting Istaboa at Morningstar Marina, and she will probably soon return, but we needed several maintenance jobs done and a place to stay if we decide to take on the house project in Jupiter, so we picked a good day and started the milk run back south.
Last year, on our trip north, we ran outside in the ocean. This year, on the way back down, we took the slower more complicated route and stopped at several marinas to take care of a little business. A stop in St Augustine, then a short run and a few days stay at Palm Coast Marina. (We really like little Palm Coast Marina, Rosey, the Harbormaster, is a kind person and a pleasure to be around. We watched the NFL playoffs there.) Then, with the purpose of finding warmer weather, we pushed rather quickly to Daytona, and Cocoa Village.
Leaving Cocoa was exciting. As was predicted, a nasty weather front pushed through and in the blink of an eye a nice day turned into a raging storm.
Off to the west we watched the blow heading our way with a vengeance, soon dark skies covered us and blacked out all sunlight, the wind started blowing crazy, and it was raining sideways; on board, our instruments were indicating gusts of 50+. Luckily we were in a wide area of the ICW and our electronics were working as they should — for an hour or so we couldn’t see much more than the bow of the boat and so we kept an eye on the radar and slowly followed our old track lines on the chart plotter. Then as quickly as it started, the storm passed and the sun came back out, though the harsh northwest wind remained all day.
Next up was Harbour Isle Marina – Ft Pierce, a quick bite at Chucks Seafood, and the following morning we cast off for home, Old Port Cove.
All in all, a nice, comfortable little run. Istaboa seemed to enjoy it, she hummed along, never missing a beat. It was a pleasure to be aboard, cocooned in her warm dry wheelhouse, during the bad weather we encountered leaving Cocoa Village. She heeled a bit during the big gusts but nothing more.
So now we’re home, Istaboa’s tied up at OPC, we’re diggin’ the Jupiter weather, happy, and as far as we know, healthy.
Boat Projects. A new venturi windshield, new lifelines, new dock lines, and a new spare anchor rode hatch. I feel carpet will be replaced soon and there’s a bottom job in our future.
Over the years, we’ve found that Istaboa treats us like we treat her – She’s been kind to us so we reciprocate.
On long beach walks, a favorite diversion, this guy has been in my ears lately. Michael Franti. Very positive, very kind, good reggae mixed with a taste of jazz/funk/folk and hip-hop.
Feel good music with a cause.
Cut from Wikipedia…
Michael Franti & Spearhead, a band that blends hip hop with a variety of other styles including funk, reggae, jazz, folk, and rock. He is also an outspoken supporter for a wide spectrum of peace and social justice issues.
Worth a listen
So what’s next for Crew Istaboa? We’re not sure yet… surprised? After finishing a couple more boat projects, we sense a good stiff boat trip is in our future. In the meantime though… we’re content.
Good beach, good music, good food, life’s good.
Link:https://kottke.org/18/12/greenland-land-of-unending-ice Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa
This year we’ve not felt the urge to push ourselves or the boat. There’s no specific plan other than to be north of Florida and we’ve accomplished that already. Hoping to resist complication and just be, we’re patiently allowing opportunity to be our inspiration. It’s said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”: We’re prepared and opportunity will appear sooner or later … so maybe we’ll get lucky — maybe we already are.
No, we’ll not put a lot of distance behind us this way, but we’re not sure where we’re going anyway so it really doesn’t matter.
On this day we’re tied up at Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown, SC.
We’ve spent time here before and found the town to be a genuinely friendly little place. Just off the beaten path and very quiet, there’s a beautiful little harbor. On the other side of Front St the neighborhood is covered up in history, many of the homes were built in the 1700s and they’re kept historically correct. Down the street we’ve found a number of bonafide low country restaurants, clothing stores, a barber, and almost anything one might need. Reckoning the whole might be better than the sum of it’s parts, chances are, Georgetown may offer us an opportunity to get acquainted.
The getting here has been good. We’re enjoying the trip and the boat seems to be happy as well. The long run up the Florida coast was a good idea, but for now we’ll do a few short legs and take it easy. We’ve jokingly tagged this portion of our cruise, The Shrimp and Grits Run — and for good reason.
⌘ catching up
Done with Florida and arrived Georgia, we stay in the Brunswick area for a few days. Having been Mel’s hometown and much time spent here in the past, it’s familiar to us.
Over the years there were many rich memories formed in Brunswick. Mostly simple pleasures like shelling peas or heading shrimp and cleaning crabs; our best memories are from the many Christmases we spent here. These big holiday get-togethers always ended with the traditional Oyster Roast. On a cold night family and friends would gather around a hot oak fire and drink a lot of beer as we shucked and devoured bushels of fire roasted oysters. Mel’s Dad loved putting all of this together and he worked hard at it: Sourcing the oysters, building the fire, even cleaning up the aftermath was a task he thoroughly enjoyed.
We all miss Mr. Ralph. Yes, Brunswick is familiar to us.
Like many times before, we shopped the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning to buy fresh peas and boiled peanuts. Local Georgia Cracker gourmet delights.
Next, we motored over to St Simons Island and Golden Isles Marina. Borrowing the marina courtesy car, we had lunch at Barbara Jeans – Shrimp and Grits and Crab Cakes.
A St Simons tradition, a fine little southern style family restaurant.
A little work was done for the marina then a quick weather check showed the seas were gonna be favorable. It was decided to move on to Hilton Head.
Leaving St Simons at sunrise on a falling tide we caught a nice ride with the current all the way out the long ship channel.
So here we are, Georgetown – livin’ easy. It’s a cool little town and we’re thinking we should to get to know it better.
So far every restaurant has been better than the last. (wonder if they have a gym)
The best to date— Shrimp and Grits with Pork Sauce — The River Room.
In the meantime, life’s pretty good.
Something worth reading: What’s the hurry?
It’s been a while since we’ve done an all-nighter. Several reasons why, but 2 in particular stand out.
Number one: Radar, our senior pup, has apparently developed sea-sickness in his old age. He’s a smart dog so this all could be a show of protest, however he becomes distressed and his old heart does race; that’s not good.
2. My old ass. I once pulled all-nighters for a living and was quite good at it, but that was long-long ago and I was a different person then.
Mel and I enjoy running our boat alone; no crew, no friends aboard, just two dogs and two folks on a boat. This way our unplanned/wishy-washy cruising lifestyle inconveniences no one. While this tack does indulge our desire for independence, it also means we must do it all and that can sometimes be tiresome.
So, yes, running all night will wear us out, but after adding up the pros and cons; bypassing the Florida ICW and running outside in the ocean with a well timed full moon under clear skies and fairly flat/following seas seemed the best option.
Leaving Ft Pierce was easy. Out the inlet, the forecast flat seas were as predicted so we turned north and stayed close to shore. We caught a happy current and enjoyed 10+ knots all the way up to Brunswick.
As we round Cape Canaveral there’s Chester Shoal. One can either stay offshore or run in toward the beach and Kennedy Space Center to get around it. This time we chose the latter. It was cool to see the Space Center from this perspective.
Obviously no rockets were teed up for launch, but the historic significance of the place whetted my imagination.
Once past the Space Center, other than a another stunning sunset, there wasn’t much remarkable.
We stayed within a few miles of shore in order to use cell phones and internet; both worked well almost all the way. Almost zero traffic once darkness fell, though there was a tug out a couple of mile making about the same speed, he was heading north as well so we paralleled almost all the way to Jacksonville.
Somewhere out from St Augustine at around 4AM we did encounter a fleet of Shrimpers. I tried to get a photograph but the darkness won and the below pic was the best I got.
With their bright lights against the dark night the visual was surreal, otherworldly; it would have been an interesting photo.
Then that fat moon we’d been enjoying dropped below the horizon and everything went dark. It took a bit to acclimate to the black night – which brought about a renewed interest in the radar screen – , but after a couple of hours the sun made an appearance and all was well once again.
The comfort that sunrise brings is always soothing after a long night
After a while, we made the long approach to St Simons, turned, and motored under The Lanier Bridge to Brunswick Landing Marina. Ralph was waiting at our slip and after tying up, we shut down, Mel made one of her famous celebratory Bloodies, and my tired old ass caught some Zzzzsss while Mel took the boys for their well deserved walk.
Just before falling asleep I was contemplating my weariness after the long night and calculating where we’d be if we had run the ICW.
Our Florida ICW Milk Run – Ft Pierce, then Daytona… then St Augustine… then a long day just to be where we are now. 3 days – Long, winding, skinny water — not to mention the fuel and marina costs.
So in hindsight; yes, we’re fortunate to have long range capabilities and there is no rest better than this.
Radar? He did alright, though he’ll never let on.
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