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Cruising Cross Country

We recently took to the highway for a leisurely road trip to spend some treasured time with each other, friends and family.

Our road trip route!

Over the course of two weeks, eight states, and 3,375 miles, we took the opportunity to build upon a trip that initially started as a visit to Carolina Beach, NC for our family reunion. First, we noticed that the Volvo Ocean Race was scheduled to be in Miami just a week before and with Charleston being an ideal middle point between the two, we were set to make a an extended trip of it. Sprinkle in visits with some of our cruising family and other close friends along the way, Matt’s birthday and our anniversary, and we had all the makings of a memorable road trip ahead. While each day was its own adventure, here are some of the highlights.
  • Spent an evening with great friends from Dallas, The Breens, who now live in Clermont, FL. They’re a solid family we connected with at Allaso Ranch (our church’s incredible kid’s camp). We admire their take on life and sense of adventure and now make it a priority to see them anytime we’re nearby.
  • Turned into Tampa for lunch stop, as our good friend Crystal happened to be in town for the day, visiting the local office of her agency 22Squared. Seafood at Jackson’s Bistro, overlooking the canals of Hillsborough Bay, made the sunny and breezy afternoon as good as the company.
  • Kept our eyes peeled as we drove through Alligator Alley in the Everglades on our way to Ft. Lauderdale but didn’t spot any live ones.
  • Enjoyed several nights in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, including one at anchor aboard s/v Morning Glory under the glowing lights of downtown Miami with part of our cruising family, Ted and Mili, cheering on Puma in the VOR. Lots more about our VOR adventures in the post below this one.

 Relaxing aboard s/v Morning Glory

  • Did a little dream shopping, stopping to look at two potential “next cruising boats” and gave up all objectivity by pretty much falling in love with one (a tragically emotional move in scouting boats). But no offers yet as were waiting until our little skipper arrives before making any major moves toward our next cruising plan.

 Could this be the next one?

  • Caught up with our cruising friends from Honu Lele, who’ve since moved to St. Augustine, FL. They introduced us to a local favorite, the Gypsy Cab restaurant, showed us where their new home will be soon built and worked on persuading us to move to St. Aug. (it wasn’t a hard sell).
The St. Augustine lighthouse
  • Returned, at a month shy of a year, to a city that captured our hearts (and stomachs) – the always charming Charleston. We made a “babymoon” of our stay in this beloved city with dinner at Coast and strolls about the town. The next morning we were treated to an exclusive tour of Historic Charleston by Laura Wichmann Hipp, whom we met when we sailed in last summer. As before, it was hard to leave. It seems our anchor always sets the deepest here.

Overlooking the Battery Wall of Charleston Harbor

  • Joined the rest of the Butcher/Carlson clan for a family reunion in Carolina Beach, NC. With Matt’s parents and brother in from Idaho, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins from Minnesota, it made a for a fun-filled week. Boat trips, fishing tourneys, golf, swimming, family banter and laughter around every meal and Mexican Train till you drop made the time fly. The time was further punctuated by a good ole low country boil and a thoughtful and lively group baby shower (for us, Matt’s brother Jeff and his wife Mel, and Matt’s cousin Steve and his wife, Edie).

 Boatin’ with Cousin Jimmy

  • Appreciated an easy drive back with complimentary hotel stays along the way, thanks to rewards points earned from Matt’s recent business travel.
As is often the case when you’re having loads of fun, you look up and wonder where the time went. We had a blast and couldn’t believe how quickly the time flew by.
The Charm of Charleston

Charleston has been a great home for the past 10 days!

Our floating home at Charleston Maritime Center

This city has captivated our hearts with its rich history, poised charm, culinary delights, and hospitable character.

The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park

With the captain’s eye on the road to recovery, we spent a restful Wednesday getting a lay of the land by way of the dark tinted windowed and air-conditioned vintage-inspired trolley fleet (free). That evening, we made the walk from our home in the Charleston Maritime Center to enjoy a waterfront dinner at Fleet Landing (Iron Skillet Mussels, Carolina Lump Crab Cakes with all the good Lowcountry sides) while watching sailboats race in the harbor. This set our culinary tour through the city in motion. Thanks for the recco, Chip!

Watching the races off Vendue Wharf Pier

We quickly realized there was a lot of ground to cover and while downtown is walkable, we decided to rent cruiser bicycles from Affordabike (only $40/bike for the week). In addition to riding through virtually every nook and cranny of downtown Charleston, we:

Our snazzy land cruisers

  • Stepped back in time as we sauntered through the Aiken-Rhett House (c. 1818), the most intact (preserved, not restored) “townhouse” showcasing urban life in antebellum Charleston. From the original carriages in the carriage house, to the privies (outhouses) in the work yard along its avenue of magnolias, to the warming kitchen and intact slave quarters, you truly get a sense of what life was like for this family and the families that served them.

Aiken-Rhett House

Pedaling about town

  • Met our marina neighbors, Steve and Linda Daschew, world famous cruisers of Wind Horse, who now build extremely capable ocean-going cruising powerboats. The Daschews were a gracious couple who gave us a tour of their boat and shares stories of their previous adventures.

Rainbow Row along East Bay Street

  • Enjoyed a community table-style dinner at CRU Cafe (Butter lettuce salad with poached pears, walnuts, Gorgonzola and honey sherry dressing, White wine-truffled mussels and peppers, Apple-smoked bacon pork tenderloin with sweet potato gnocchi, local collard greens and smoked tomato demi)
  • Topped it off with desserts at Kaminskis, a Charleston dessert institution (glass of Cabernet with a flourless chocolate torte, Brandy Alexander milkshake made with brandy, a hint of chocolate, and three scoops vanilla bean ice cream AND a mini peanut butter/chocolate parfait)
  • Feeling a little loopy (from all the sugar) and needing to work off some of the overindulgence, we made a 6 mile midnight ride up the Cooper River Bridge to take in the city lights from the 575 foot high viewpoint
  • Meandered through the beautiful Marion Square Farmers Market on Saturday morning where we enjoyed breakfast crepes, chai tea and the abundant sights of fresh locally grown produce, handcrafted art, and the sounds of young native musicians under canopies of sweeping oaks.

Marion Square Farmers Market

  • Rode around the historic Ashley River District and met some great new friends after stopping by their neighborhood lemonade stand. Come to find out they’re a family of sailors that have just as much hospitality as Texans (if not more!). We left with a bike basket full of Confederate Mint to grow on the boat and an invite to joint them for church service and their family dinner for Father’s Day.

A fortuitous glass of lemonade

  • Took in some live music and grain-fed burgers lunch at Ted’s Butcherblock Backyard BBQ with our friends Chip and Tammy of Cara Mia and Dale and Karen of Jessie Marie
  • Wrapped up the evening with dinner and sundowners on the rooftop bar of the Vendue Inn. With spectacular views over the historic homes and out to Charleston Harbor and beyond, it was just one more reason to fall in love with this city.
  • Were treated to a lovely and memorable southern Sunday by joining Laura Wichmann Hipp (a distinguished and warmhearted Charleston native who loves and knows well the city in which she was born) and her family for church service at the remarkable St. Philip’s Episcopal Church (established in 1680) and an elegant Father’s Day lunch at their historic home overlooking the Ashley River. All while learning more about this city’s rich history and their family’s sailing legacy. What a gift they shared with us during our visit!

Note: For the discerning visitor who wants to experience true Old Charleston as a guest, not a tourist, Laura offers a comprehensive Charleston Tea Party Private Tour. She will guide up to six people through her friends’ historic homes and gardens in the morning and wraps up with an elegant home-cooked lunch of Low Country cuisine served on 19th century Cantonware at her home. See her website for her number to make your reservation for this authentic Charleston experience when you’re next in town.

  • Joined Jessie Marie in the cockpit of Cara Mia for an impromptu dinner complimented by recalling our Bahamas cruising experiences and sharing memories of our dads in honor of Father’s Day.
  • On Monday evening, at the recommendation of our fellow cruising friend Mili, we dined at Poogan’s Porch, another delicious Charleston institution (iceberg wedge salad, fried green tomatoes with pecan encrusted goat cheese and peach chutney, Sweet Tea Glazed Salmon with candied lemon & mint risotto, sautéed asparagus, fresh Pan Roasted Snapper with sauteed arugula, summer tomato & bacon risotto with a lemon avocado compound butter – ah, and their warm homemade buttermilk biscuits!)

Rocking on a traditional porch joggling board

  • Left our bikes at Poogan’s and spent the rest of the evening threading through walkways, alleys, cobblestone streets and intricate gardens

Charleston is a city filled with fountains

  • Tuesday morning, we hopped aboard a classic mule-drawn carriage courtesy of Palmetto Carriage Tours that canvassed 25 – 30 blocks of Charleston’s historic downtown district filled with gracious houses, gardens, mansions, churches and parks. The hour-long excursion was educational and entertaining and our carriage driver was both.
  • With full intentions of untying from the docks on Tuesday afternoon (wanted to wait for high tide to depart), we were pedal, pedal, pedaling our way to return our bicycle rentals when we called our favorite Austin cruising family, Honu Lele, to see where they were in the world (they had been in St. Augustine and we were hoping they were near or on their way to Charleston).
  • Turns out, they could make a quick 60 knots (er, mph) by rental car to meet us in Charleston for a couple of days soooo it was settled. We were staying!
  • We toured the town, lunched at Southend Brewery and Smokehouse, and meandered through The Battery, a landmark waterfront promenade famous for its stately antebellum homes, cannons, oak trees, palmettos, statues, a gazebo, and incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse. From this stroll, it’s easy to imagine the battles that occurred across the harbor.
  • Spent Wednesday morning swimming, building sand castles and lounging at Isles of Palm beach

Ana and Matt building sandcastles

  • Lunched at the beachside Banana Cabana and explored Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston just across the Cooper River
  • Hosted Honu Lele for dinner aboard Kaleo and then made our way to the Charleston Candy Kitchen for after-dinner treats.
  • Enjoyed our desserts du jour while people watching from the steps of the U.S. Customs House before winding our way through the lively streets to stop by the family-style swings on the pavilion of Charleston’s Waterfront Park.
  • Bid our “see you soons” to Honu Lele on our last night in town (for now)

We untied Kaleo’s docklines on Thursday afternoon and headed into Charleston Harbor absolutely smitten with this seaside city.

N 32° 47.18 / W 79° 53.30

Amelia Island, FL to Charleston, SC

We departed St. Augustine on Saturday morning where our route took us up the ICW to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, the northernmost town on Florida’s east coast.

Looking out over the Fernandina Yacht Club and Harbor

With plans to head offshore from the St. Mary’s Inlet just north of Fernandina Beach the next morning, we took the rest of the day to explore the town with our friends from “Simpatico” and some of their friends (now our new friends) aboard “Magic Beans.”

Strolling the tree-lined streets, we drifted in and out of an eclectic collection of local stores, shops, galleries and boutiques. A mid-afternoon ice cream stop helped keep us cool and upon a glowing review from Don on “Magic Beans,” we stepped into Pablo’s for a little A/C, margs and Mexican dinner.

Fernandina Beach welcome center

Lots of pirates roaming Amelia Island

Full on fajitas but not ready to call it a night, the sounds of live music brought us to the garden patio of Cafe Karibo where a local band, Hofmann’s Voodoo, was staged beneath huge oak trees, singing and strumming a guitar and mandolin to a funky mix of Americana and Acoustic Blues until about 8:30. An ideal way to wrap up an early evening as we still needed to prep “Kaleo” for our 30 hour passage to Charleston the next day.

Enjoying the music of Hofmann’s Voodoo

Monday morning we checked the weather, said our radio farewell to “Simpatico” and topped off on fuel at the marina. We made 7 knots on the ebb tide (outgoing tide) leaving St. Mary’s Inlet, hoisted sails and were making great time toward Charleston, about 140 miles away.

Late afternoon, Matt went down for some rest with plans to get up around 10 p.m. Lighting woke him up a bit sooner and with the winds gusting in the low 20’s we decided to reef the main (reduce the amount of sail so as not to get over powered by strong winds). No sooner had we got in the first reef when the winds picked up above 25 knots.

With a thunderstorm behind us and ever-growing sea state, we played it safe by going to our third reef (the smallest amount of main sail out). It was a wise move as within the hour winds were blowing at 30 knots and the ocean swell was running about five to six feet. It seems our smooth offshore sailing streak had run its course as we spent the remainder of the night reefed down with following winds and seas. Though we were getting rocked and rolled, we gained the benefit of speed where at times we were surfing down the waves at 9+ knots, a new record for us.

After what seems like an incredibly long night, dawn broke with only about 30 miles to Charleston. If we kept up the evening’s pace, we could have made it in 6 hours sooner than planned. That did not happen as the winds soon shifted to 15 knots from the NE, exactly the direction we were headed (not good). So we spent the remainder of the day painstakingly tacking toward Charleston and finally arrived in the harbor at 7 p.m, 6 hours later than planned.

With darkness approaching and already 36 hours into this passage, we decided to pull into a slip at the Charleston Maritime Center where we could tie up safely and get some much-needed, solid rest.

As we crawled into bed, Matt mentioned having a lot of pain in his right eye which was pretty bloodshot. By the time morning came, he couldn’t open it and was in intolerable pain. A quick Google search led us to Access Healthcare, a quaint, modern medical center within about a mile’s walking distance of the marina. After 15 minutes with Dr. Dave, Matt was diagnosed was a corneal abrasion, a scrape on the clear surface of the eye. He walked out with an eye patch, a need for a pair of those nifty disposable sunglasses you get after dilation (which we picked up from an optometrist down the street) and a prescription for pain management. Ouch!

Captain, er Pirate-in-pain Matty

With the captain slightly out of commission, still exhausted from our abusive passage and with tons to see and do in Charleston, we’ve decided to make the Maritime Center our home for the week. We look forward to some rest, recovery and a fun week of exploring the incredibly charming Charleston.

“Kaleo” at harbor in Charleston Maritime Center

N 32° 47.39 / W 79° 55.42

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