Silver Maple Blog

Retirement adventures Canadian style


Sandy has passed and all is well

The winds have now calmed down quite a bit as Sandy moves north of where we are here in Jacksonville, Florida. Our first hurricane, so it is kind of exciting. No rain to speak of — just a lot of wind. We will be thinking of everyone north of us as the hurricane comes your way. Stay safe!

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26th to SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27th — DAY 66 to 67 (Hanging out in Jacksonville, Florida while we ride out Sandy)

The last few days was chores around the boat and keeping an eye on things as the heavy winds were on us for the last two days.  All fared well, and we will be back on the water tomorrow (Sunday).

Hurricane Sandy brings heavy winds to Jacksonville Beach, Florida where Silver Maple is docked

Silver Maple well secured for the storm

Lovely sunset as the stormy skies clear

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We have made it to Florida!! (Now waiting out hurricane Sandy)

After 2 months since leaving Canada, we have crossed the border into Florida! Woohoo!  We still have a few weeks before we reach our crossing point to the Bahamas near Ft. Lauderdale, but it seems like we have somehow arrived.

With the approach of the storm, Sandy, we are holed up in Jacksonville Beach, FL for a few days to let the weather pass. Some heavy winds and rain are expected over the next few days so we will be staying put.

Here is the latest on what we’ve been up to:

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17th to FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19th — DAY 57 to 59 (Finishing South Carolina — Charleston, SC to Hilton Head, SC)

The tides and depth of the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) across South Carolina are a constant challenge, and Randy spends a lot of time planning and navigating through the shallow areas and finding places to stay until the water comes back up with the next convenient tide.

After leaving Charleston, SC we travel a half day to Bohicket, SC while the tide is good. The Marina in Bohicket is a lovely spot. People there are still talking about Tiger Woods’ yacht “Privacy” that was docked there the week before for the US Open. At 160 ft, we don’t know how he turned it around on the narrow river and in the small marina.

Leo admires the homes in South Carolina

Beautiful evening in Bohicket, SC

Holy pelicans!

Gorgeous morning on the water as we leave Bohicket

After Bohicket, we head to Beaufort, SC.  What a nice town! Definitely one of our favourite stops. Great history and old homes here. We also see places where movies like Forest Gump, The Big Chill, and Prince of Tides are filmed. Very cool.

Grassland marshes along the ICW through most of South Carolina

Another swing bridge, but we still enjoy

Carriage ride in Beaufort, SC

Field from football game scene in The Big Chill

From Beaufort, we head to Hilton Head, SC. We decide to pass on golfing, so it seems a bit empty. The visit is short. We have a lovely dinner at Bistro 17 at the resort attached to Shelter Cove Marina where we are staying, then the next morning head to Savannah, GA (Isles of Hope Marina).

Randy and Leo as we are back on the way

Hilton Head!

Silver Maple docked at Shelter Cove Marina in Hilton Head, SC

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20th to MONDAY, OCTOBER 22nd — DAY 60 to 62 (Crossing Georgia — Isle of Hope (near Savannah), GA to St. Simon’s, GA)

Dolphins are now a regular sighting, so we are counting the number we see each day. Our highest count is 17 so far. Travelling through Georgia, we find the tides and depths on the ICW just as frustrating as in South Carolina. Many parts have silted and shoaled-in making it barely navigable. The channel is in desperate need of dredging. To compound the problem, the area is experiencing unusual tides of up to 9 feet in some areas. Crazy!  Randy is anxious to get off the ICW and head back out to the ocean to travel down the outside rather than deal with the tedious channel.  Unfortunately, the weather isn’t cooperating. Each day we end up heading back inside as the forecast is for heavy seas. We chat with our friends Marcie and Jim on “Island Jim” who go out on one of the days we decide not to go. Apparently, we make the right choice. They say is it very rough.

The trip through Georgia seems short compared to some of the other states. The scenery is of beautiful marshes and wetlands mostly. We enjoy a stop in Isle of Hope near Savannah, GA. The marina lends us a car to go into the city. Savannah seems very vibrant with a healthy night life. We have dinner in a pub and head back to the boat.

We see an eagle as we approach the Isle of Hope, near Savannah, GA

Strolling through Isles of Hope, Georgia, where there is lots of Spanish moss on the trees

We anchor out for the first time on the trip in Wallberg Creek, GA. The hassle of having to take Leo to shore in the dinghy deters us until now, but it works out well. Leo loves the beach near by and runs up and down the sand. He experiences his first salt water and refuses to stop drinking it. He doesn’t seem to understand why it tastes different from the lake at the cottage. Unfortunately, we have to deal with a lot of vomiting the next 24 hours while he gets it out of his system. Ugh!

Leo enjoying his first salt water beach

Captain is disappointed we aren’t able to go out on the ocean

Our friends Anne and David from Port Elgin, Ontario on their boat “Time2Go”

We get to sail across some of the inlets and sounds. Yeah!

We pass lots of shrimp boats

Approaching St. Simons, GA

Saint Simons Island, GA which has been rated one of the best places to live and retire by Money Magazine, has a nice marina, but we don’t get around to see much more of it than that.

Silver Maple docked in St. Simons

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23rd to THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25th— DAY 63 to 65 (Into Florida and waiting out Sandy)

Our first landing-place in Florida is in Fernandina Beach. The guide books tell us not to be put off by the industrial look of the town as we approach it, so we do our best to keep open minds as we see the pulp and paper mills. The marina is nice though and a lot of the boats we have been travelling with along the way are arrive here also (Time2Go, Island Jim, Hurlevent). Everyone gets together for happy hour on Silver Maple.

Getting pointers on avoiding shallow areas from other sailboats we are travelling with via radio

Showing off our colours

Just before we cross the border into Florida, we cross the Cumberland Sound where they are working on nuclear submarines

We get a security escort past the submarine. Can’t imagine why!

Woohoo! We are in Florida!!

Lovely (?) Fernandina Beach, Florida — it is actually quite nice!

Originally, our plan was to sit tight in Fernandina Beach as hurricane Sandy approaches since the forecast is for the rain and wind to start the next day, but Wednesday is nice when we get up, so we head back out on the water after having breakfast in town. We arrive in Jacksonville Beach, FL in the sunshine without any rain all day.

Nice marina in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where we are holed up for the passing of hurricane Sandy

We definitely aren’t in Canada anymore. This flyer was in the morning paper in Jacksonville Beach. Seriously!? Automatic weapons!?

Thursday is chores (groceries and oil change) to keep busy. It is a nice day. We rent a car and head to a movie theatre to see Argo (very good). In the evening the wind picks up and they say we will feel the effects of Sandy within the next 24 hours. Jacksonville is not expected to experience much impact as it passes.

Next stop is St. Augustine, Florida, which we hear is really nice. Plan is to head there on Sunday once the weather has cleared.


Into South Carolina

Apologies for the long break between blog posts!

We are still moving along and having a lot of fun. Seeing some the sights and meeting lots of great people.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5th to THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11th, 2012 — DAY 45 to 51 (Alligator River Marina, NC to St. James, NC, just south of Southport, NC)

We stopped at some interesting little places along the way including, the Dowery Creek Marina in Belhaven, NC where the small restaurant in town called Georgie’s served some of the best seafood we’ve had on the trip.  The River Dunes Hotel and Marina near Oriental, NC was lovely with a great pool (unfortunately, freezer problems on the boat kind of dampened that visit). Beaufort, NC has a nice town by the waterfront where we met up with John and Linda (on their boat Adnil) who we have met on the trip in a few ports. Swansboro, NC was a great surprise with a cute downtown just a short walk from the marina. Then, we hit Wrightsville Beach, NC and later St. James, NC just south of Southport.

Randy securing the boat in at the Dowery Creek Marina in Belhaven, NC

Making reservation at next port

Storms threaten but don’t come as we leave River Dunes near Oriental, NC

Lovely morning sail leaving River Dunes

We see our first shrimp boat as we leave Swansboro, NC

Heading to Beaufort, NC

View of marina in Beaufort as we arrive

Randy’s new wheels! (Loaner car from marina in Beaufort, NC) Nice!

Silver Maple in Beaufort, NC

Cold morning leaving Beaufort, NC but at least the fog has cleared

Lots of birds to see

Homes along the ICW in North Carolina

Leo enjoying the ride

Everyone waiting for the bridge

Passing through the swing bridge

Going through one of many draw-bridges along the way

Sunset in Wrightsville Beach, NC

Sightings of dolphins through North Carolina are a daily occurence and what a joy! Only one day when we were back in fresh water for a bit did we have a whole day without seeing any.


Dog’s-eye view

More dolphins!

Happy Captain

Enjoying our trip of a lifetime

Weather has been great. We had a few days of cooler temperatures, but it warmed backup.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12th, 2012 — DAY 52 (St. James, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC)

We finally make it through North Carolina and cross the border into South Carolina. Making it through that state seems like a milestone with its long portion of the channel. Shortly after we cross the border, we are following a Canadian boat called “Time 2 Go”. Suddenly, the depth in the channel becomes very shallow and they run aground. Thankfully, we don’t. We follow closely behind them as they weave their way through the channel. The Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) since we have been in South Carolina has inconsistent water depths due to silting, shoaling and tides. We have to constantly watch and slowly move through shallow areas. Exhausting.

Following Time2Go as we cross the border into South Carolina

In Myrtle Beach, we stay at the marina next to the Grand Dunes Resort. Unfortunately, it is pretty tough to get anywhere in Myrtle Beach without a car, so we don’t really see much other than the hotel, marina and grocery store (the marina guys gives Lee a ride there and back).

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13th — DAY 53 (Myrtle Beach, SC to Georgetown, SC)

The trip through South Carolina from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, goes through some beautiful scenery including forests and cypress swamps. The current is with us most of the trip. Our friends, John and Linda on Adnil pass us along the way.

Leo playing as we leave Myrtle Beach

Why not to rely only on electronics for navigation. It thinks we are on land.

Silver Maple on the water

Remote South Carolina is beautiful

Our friends John and Linda pass us on their boat called Adnil (Linda backwards)

That evening we meet our friends Doug and Ellen (who live in Charlotte, NC) in Georgetown (Doug and Randy met at Queen’s University). Doug brings their boat, Trillium, to Georgetown and Ellen drives down by car. We have happy hour on Silver Maple and then walk to town for dinner.

Approaching Georgetown, SC

Doug and Ellen on Silver Maple

Doug doing work on top of Trillium

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14th to TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16th — DAY 54 to 56 (Georgetown, SC to Charleston, SC with time enjoying Charleston)

The trip from Georgetown to Charleston is about 56 miles — a long one for us. We get an early start. Its a beautiful morning. Doug passes us on Trillium mid-day and arrives in Charleston a few hours before us.

Sunrise leaving Georgetown, SC

Captain back at the helm

Being passed by Trillium

More dolphins!

Our trip is slow and tedious. The current is against us most of the way, and the depths in the ICW along the way are challenging. Thankfully, we make it through without incident. On the radio we can hear other boats who have not been so lucky.

Very shallow waters in ICW

The Harbor Resort and Marina in Charleston, SC is just outside of town near where the decommissioned USS Yorktown aircraft carrier is docked. Doug arrives with Trillium a few hours before us. We have cocktails on their boat and dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Marina in Charleston next to the USS Yorktown

On Monday, Doug and Ellen drive home to Charlotte and leave their boat in Charleston. Randy and Lee spend the day touring the Yorktown and Clamogore submarine. It is hot and humid again. Later we take the water taxi into town for dinner at a great restaurant called Husk, featuring all local South Carolina ingredients.

Randy in front of the big ship

Touring the flight deck of the USS Yorktown

Randy at the helm of the USS Yorktown

On water taxi going into Charleston, SC

Today (Tuesday), we spent in town. We do a great carriage tour of the historic city in the morning, lunch and walk around the market area in the afternoon. The last few days have been hot, and today the weather finally has cooled. We enjoyed the 75 degree F day with sunshine.

Carriage tour of the historic city

We will be getting back on the water and heading south towards Hilton Head, SC on Wednesday. Woohoo!


Atlantic Yacht Basin at Chesapeake City, NC to the Alligator River, NC (with side trip to Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina to celebrate Lee’s 50th)

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th to FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28th — DAY 36 – 38 (Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake City, VA)

We spend three days at the Atlantic Yacht Basin Marina in Chesapeake City, Virginia (just next to the Great Bridge) waiting for and having work done on the boat, including a new double anchor roller and fuel filter. The marina is a busy place with lots of huge motor boats and yacht that seem to get priority over our sailboat. By Friday, all the repairs are done. It continues to be really hot and humid. We are looking forward to getting out of AYB.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29th — TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2nd — DAY 39 – 42 (Side trip to Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina for Lee’s 50th)

When we leave for Pinehurst on Saturday morning, it is pouring rain. Not a great start for a golf weekend, but such is life. We drop Leo at the kennel on our way and then do the 5+ hour drive to Pinehurst. When we booked this weekend, the plan had been to be a bit farther south on the boat so the drive turned out to be a bit further than we had hoped, but not bad.  Our friends, Susan and Maneesh drive 13 hours from Toronto to meet us for the weekend. Makes our drive look like a cake walk.

Pouring rain as we leave for Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina

Sunday morning we golf Pinehurst #8. Beautiful course lined with huge pine trees.  The resort is kind of in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina, but hosts 8 lovely golf courses including their championship course, Pinehurst #2, that will be the location of the 2014 US Open. On Monday, we play Pinehurst #5. An older course, with homes lining most of it. Luckily, the rain holds off both days although it always seems to be threatening. Monday night we have a lovely 50th Birthday celebration for Lee in the Carolina Diningroom at the resort. Way too much food, but really good! Thanks to everyone for the Birthday wishes!

Lee and Randy before golf our first day at Pinehurst (course #8) in North Carolina

Randy making a Tiger-like shot out of the sand

Golfing with Susan and Maneesh

Pinehurst #8 is gorgeous!

The foursome!

The lovely Carolina Inn at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina

Tuesday we head back to Chesapeake City, VA to pick up Leo and get back to the boat. Susan and Maneesh have the long drive back to Toronto. Ugh! It is pouring rain when we arrive back in Virginia, but clears just as the evening sets in.

Last night at the Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake City, VA

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3rd — DAY 43 (Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake City, VA to Coinjock, NC)

When we get up in the morning to head out, Randy notices a large chip in the boat where it looks like one of the guys dropped a tool when they were doing the work the previous week. The marina folks are at the boat and make the repairs first thing and we are on the water by 9AM. This stretch of the ICW (Inter-Coastal Waterway) along the east coast of the US in Virginia is pretty remote. Mostly just trees and wetlands along the way. We have to time a few bridge openings and end up waiting for a few.

Bridge closing behind us on the ICW

Banks of ICW in remote part of Virginia

Waiting for bridge to open

Going through the open bridge

Getting passed. They were parked near us in Catskill, NY. Small world!

Heading to Coinjock, NC

By evening we are in the cute marina at Coinjock, NC.  We meet a few other couples on sailboats (“Best of Times” and “Escapade”) who will be heading south also. Other cruisers seem to be very friendly and love to chat about making the trip south to Florida and beyond.

Settled at the Coinjock Marina in North Carolina

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4th — DAY 44 (Coinjock, NC to Alligator River Marina, NC)

We wave goodbye to the other folks on their boats as we leave Coinjock in the morning. We survived the most humid and hot night yet on the boat (over 80 degrees F at bedtime). Later we see “The Best of Times” and “Escapade” not far behind us when we are sailing on the Albemarle Sound (just inland from Kitty Hawk). As we approach the Alligator River, the water in the sound is almost blood-red. When we arrive at the marina, which is just at the mouth of the river, the attendant tells us the colour is a result of the minerals mixed with the brackish water (salt and freshwater mix). He also tells us that the river actually does have alligators on it!  We will keep an eye out of that. Leo has a great run in the field near the marina, which is basically a gas station that backs on to the water.

Leaving Coinjock, NC

Morning coffee on the water

Heading to Albemarle Sound

Great close-hauled sailing on the sound

Good sailing = Happy Captain!

Blood-red water of Albemarle Sound in North Carolina

Alligator River Marina

Leo playing in the field at the Alligator River Marina

Happy pooch