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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 Volvo Ocean Race – Miami

While a lot of life has recently been about preparing to welcome our first little sailor, we did get a unique opportunity at the end of May to visit the only U.S. port of the Volvo Ocean Race in Miami.  

Considered the Everest of sailing, the VOR is an intense 39,000 nautical mile, 9-month around the world sailing race with 10 port stopovers. And, the timing worked out ideally as we had already planned to be at a family reunion on the East Coast a week after the race events so we decided to make a “visit-as-many-friends-along-the-way-to-the-race/reunion” road trip of it.

With a goal of being in Miami for the in-port race and start of the next offshore leg to Lisbon, Portugal, we packed up the car and drove the 1300 miles to Ft. Lauderdale. We had two overnight stops on our route there and overall it was a relatively easy ride for the then 7-month pregnant admiral.

Once there, we connected with part of our cruising family, Ted and Mili of s/v Morning Glory, and made weekend plans that revolved around catching up and being at the center the race. First stop was the Race Village in Bicentennial Park, Downtown Miami. As we drove near, even with the multi-story America Airlines Arena clouding our view, we could see the tops of the 103 foot masts piercing the sky (for context, Kaleo’s mast was a mere 43 feet in comparison).

Masts piercing the sky

Walking up to see the six 70-foot long thoroughbreds of ocean racing was electrifying, at least for us sailors. These boats are made of advanced carbon and Kevlar skins, with canting keels (the fin on the bottom of the boat pivots laterally) and can often sail faster than the wind speed. And they are all equipped with exquisite paint jobs to match their prestige.

Naturally, we’re cheering for Puma, the American team in the race. And after having spent months watching Mar Mostro (the name of Puma’s boat) claw her way around the world via the Internet, we were elated to see her in person. There she was, tugging at her lines waiting to pounce back on the water, sporting signature black sails with the Puma logo jumping up as if from the ocean itself.

The bow of Mar Mostro bridled to the dock

Then, as if the day couldn’t get any better, none other than Ken Read, a legendary sailing champion and the skipper of Mar Mostro, came strolling up the gangplank. It was all hands on deck as we grabbed the camera and scurried over to meet him. The picture hardly shows it but Matt was practically speechless.

Up close and personal with Ken Read

Ted chatted up a security guard and soon enough we found ourselves down on the dock right within arms distance of the race boats. Matt and Ted talked with Rome Kirby, the youngest guy on the Puma team (and in the VOR) at 22. When asked how he got on board with the Volvo Race he replied, “gotta start small and win all the dinghy races.” Hmm, something for Matt to work toward.

Chatting with Rome

After admiring the perfectly crafted lines of Mar Mostro’s hull and drooling over sailing equipment that alone is worth more than most boats, we sauntered around the rest of the village. Highlights included the 3D theater, the grinding competition (Matt completed it in 11.3 seconds, Volvo sailors do it in 9 flat), and seeing Iker Martinez, the skipper of a rival team, Telefonica.

Grind faster!!

With our fill of the village it was off to Morning Glory where we spent a gorgeous night anchored out under the glow of the Miami skyline. Swimming, dinghy rides, grilling and the gentle roll of being at anchor brought a flood of wonderful cruising memories back. To really make it more like cruising, we wrapped the night up with great friends and our traditional game of Mexican Train. After a leisurely breakfast the next morning, we raised the anchor and headed past South Beach and off-shore to the race course. We knew it was the right direction as we followed the VOR boats out, all in a stately line as if they were horses parading before the queen’s court.

Headed out to the course aboard Morning Glory

What started as a beautifully calm day, quickly turned tempestuous as a rollicking wind brought in storms. With waves crashing over the bows of Morning Glory, we spent the next few hours tracking around the race course as the VOR boats came ripping by, sometimes as fast as 20 knots. Again, for context, Kaleo sailed at an average of 5 to 6 knots. And after quite a few lead changes and a hard fought race, Puma came steaming by Camper in the last seconds of the race to take 3rd. Not the first place we were hoping for, but with a 39,000 mile race, it’s how you do in the long haul that truly matters.

Rounding the mark just behind Telefonica

The weather cleared as we returned to port with anticipation of the next day’s race, the start of the next offshore leg. After church on Sunday, the guys took Ted’s powerboat out to chase the racers into the Gulf Stream and given the limited amount of shade on board, the gals elected to relax by the pool.

In conditions opposite the previous day, virtually zero wind and a flat ocean, the guys zipped and zoomed around the course, at times within throwing distance of the race boats. The highlight of the day was following Puma out to sea as Read pointed the bow towards Lisbon, Portugal. They followed Mar Mostro out for about an hour waving them off with a holler as they crossed into the Gulf Stream to eventually take another 3rd place coming into Lisbon.

Headed toward Lisbon

Not only was it great to see Ted and Mili but we can’t thank them enough for making it possible to get so close to the action in Miami.

One last note, Matt’s taking donations to purchase Mar Mostro, which is now for sale for a few million. If he receives enough to buy it, all those who donate are promised the ride of a lifetime!


A Weekend On The Water

There’s nothing like the feeling of getting back on the water after life on land for awhile. Whether it’s been a week away, or for us – weeks away, being welcomed aboard a gently rocking boat by dear friends is one of the best ways to start a weekend.

 Peaceful Sunday sail aboard Our Way Too

We hit the road for the coast as the sun rose Friday morning for a long weekend with good friends aboard their boats and to check out the Southwest International Boat Show. Once we pulled into Kemah, which grows on us with every visit, it was all things boats all weekend.

  • We settled in aboard Our Way Too, where we’d be staying with Katie and Dean for the weekend. In our cabin was the cutest and most thoughtful gift, a Lil’ Legends life jacket to help keep our little sailor-to-be safe when out on the water.
  • The afternoon was spent checking out the recently expanded West Marine (which is now about five times bigger than when we were outfitting Kaleo) and visiting with Carolyn, our broker at HSH Yachts. It was great catching up with her and after all the sailing and cruising talk, we couldn’t help but let her know that  if the right boat comes through the area, call us – we’ll be ready. She knows what we’re looking for.
  • Next stop, Alternate Latitude, our cruising friend Steve’s Voyage 440 catamaran, which seems like a cruise ship compared to our former Kaleo and his former monohull, Anchor Management. Along with his sister, visiting from Milwaukee, we headed out for an easy sail, tacking back and forth across the bay while smiling about everything. In fact, Alternate Latitude is available for charter in Galveston Bay and the Caribbean if you’re looking for some time on the water. You’ll be in good hands under Captain Steve and on a very comfortable and sound vessel.

 Cruising around the bay aboard Alternate Latitude

  • And, it wouldn’t be a day on the water without a little seafood, so as soon as Katie wrapped up her work at the boat show, we all headed off the beaten path to a local favorite, Gilhooley’s for their famous oysters and shrimp. After a fun and filling meal with great company, we made our way back to our berths feeling stuffed like flounders.
  • The Saturday morning sun beamed as we hopped into the dinghy for some exploring. Two highlights included playing bridge limbo with the high tide and dinghying over to Wanderer, the actual boat from the cruisers’ cult classic, Captain Ron.

Scooching under a bridge with just inches to spare

 Up close and personal with the boat featured in Captain Ron

  • After lunch, it was off to the boat show, where we checked out a host of beautiful new sailboats, only furthering our fever. We chatted with Carolyn again, visited Katie’s booth for Redfish Island Marine and even ran into an old friend and sailing instructor, John Brown.

Scoping out a new Lagoon

Catching up with John at the boat show

  • We had a quiet evening on board and were up early Sunday for a dinghy ride for breakfast at Classic Cafe. The 20 hp outboard on Dean and Katie’s dinghy made it a much quicker trip than last time. Two new sailing friends, Chris and Tammy of Living and Loving Life, joined us for breakfast and we all talked about … you guessed it, boats and cruising. Soon we were all back aboard Our Way Too for a long Sunday sail on the bay
Sailing alongside Alternate Latitude

We stayed as long as we possibly could and eventually made our way back to the dock where we reluctantly wrapped up the weekend. Thank you again to our generous friends for opening their floating homes to us. We loved every sun soaked, sea breeze filled moment.


Adding To The Fleet

The “Texas Navy” is gaining strength and we’ve made some great new friends.

Peaceful evening sail aboard s/v Lonestar

We’ve finally met up with fellow DFW sailors and soon-to-be-cruisers, Katie and Dean, of s/v Our Way Too!. Their boat is berthed in Kemah and they’re all too familiar with the same 4.5 hour drive (each way) that we made while preparing Kaleo for cruising. As we discovered over dinner recently, that isn’t the only thing we have in common as the guys talked boat projects and cruising plans while the gals chatted about staying connected and provisioning. And, as great cruising conversations go, the night (and restaurant) closed on us before we were ready to say goodbye so we made plans to meet up again soon.

The crews of Our Way Too and Kaleo at dinner

Fortunately, soon came quickly (just a couple of days later) and included the addition of new friends, Chris and Staci of s/v Lonestar. Chris and Staci are also fellow sailors who keep Lonestar on Eagle Mountain Lake near Fort Worth. All of us had been trying to meet up individually, but we have Katie to thank for bringing the whole group together.

Chris and Staci graciously hosted us for an evening sail on the beautiful Lonestar and then for a delish dinner at the Fort Worth Boat Club. As one of the oldest yacht clubs in Texas, the FWBC was established in 1929 by a group of businessmen who simply wanted to sail. Now that’s something we can relate to!

 The crew heading out for a sail

After a beautiful beam reach down a few lengths of the lake, we glided back to the yacht club for dinner. And to make the evening even sweeter, Katie and Dean brought a birthday cake to celebrate Christie. Chocolate, of course! We look forward to sailing more together soon!

 The happy birthday girl


Racer’s Reunion

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to catch up with our dear sailing friends and racing mentors, Diann and Tim!

 The Gold Rush Regatta on Lake Grapevine a few years ago, 1st Place Finish!

Though we met at their house, the talk was all sailing! It was great to hear about their latest adventures chartering in the Caribbean and they quizzed us on the cruising life.

We also learned that the original Coquette (pictured) is now for sale. It’s the boat we first learned to sail on and she’s berthed on a nearby lake. Needless to say we’re considering a little Beneteau as we scout our next cruising boat.

Lakeside and Lovin’ It

The end of the Harvest Moon Regatta marked the beginning of a fun-filled weekend with part of our cruising family, Rusty and Linda, of Sea Yawl Later. We joined them at Sitton on the Lake, their retreat on the pristine shores of Toledo Bend Reservoir.

“Sitton on the Lake’s” patio view of peaceful shores

We rolled in to the secluded point just in time for a first-class fish fry, with over 80 fresh fillets, courtesy of Pappy (Rusty’s dad) and his fishing crew.  And it only got better from there as we:

  • Treasured the time visiting with our dear friends
  • Caught up on our lost sleep (from the long drive back after the HMR) on the most comfortable bed ever!
  • Enjoyed the lake view as the warm sun radiated through the overhead trees
  • Took a golf cart tour of the serene Piney Woods’ neighborhood
  • Got the golf cart stuck in a Texas sized mud-hole just off the beach

Unintentional Muddin’

  • Played with all kinds of R/C boats courtesy of neighbor, Larry. He may single-handedly have the best collection of “toys” among anyone we’ve ever met. Thanks for letting us play, Larry!
  • Indulged in Rusty’s famous “to die for” ribs, delish stand-up chicken, Linda’s juicy jambalaya, Granny’s creamed potatoes, and then some
  • Started planning for a “Texas Navy” cruiser’s reunion in 2012
  • Wound down the visit by winding up our adrenaline as we raced Larry’s mini-class dragster up and down the quiet country lane. But really, it can hardly be considered “mini-class” because that thing GOES. FAST. HEAD-SLAMMED-BACK-YELL-OUT-OF-SHEER-TERROR-AND-DELIGHT-FAST! Needless to say we ALL had a TON of fun!!

 Fast ride down a short road

Most of all, we kicked back, relaxed and enjoyed life with good friends. And, all agreed that life seems a lot more peaceful at the lake. Driving home on Sunday, we said a prayer of thanks for meeting, and ultimately, being so welcomed into the lives of Rusty, Linda and their family. We love you guys!

Transitioning to Terra Firma

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of transition and travel.

Our home for a week at Herrington Harbor in MD

Last we left you, we were in Solmons Island, MD. We’re now some 1200 miles away in Texas! And a lot has happened along the way.

After sailing out of Solomons Island, we headed up to Annapolis to prep and store Kaleo while she awaits new owners.

Kaleo resting in her berth

Maryland’s unseasonable heat wave of 95°+ days helped quell our heavy hearts as we spent a week in the marina and yacht yard:

  • Unpacking our belongings from Kaleo, continually surprised by the sheer amount of storage we had aboard. Then packing it into boxes, duffel bags, and all of our Sailor Bags. In fact, halfway through the process we called Enterprise to upgrade our rental to a CARGO VAN. Fortunately they had one and we filled it up.

This is just a portion of our gear ready to be moved to the van

  • Loading the cargo van which took 13 trips from boat to van by way of dock carts. (Of course our slip was one of the farthest from the parking lot.)
  • Polishing every inch of stainless steel on the exterior and treating what felt like acres of teak on the interior

Matt polishing the stainless till it was gleaming

  • Cooking the last of our fridge food and enjoying a few meals out. Lunch at Umai Sushi was our favorite.


  • Emptying and winterizing the holding and water tanks
  • Filling the diesel tank, adding stabilizer, and changing all the fluids in Mr. Beeker (the Westerbeke engine)
  • Winterizing the watermaker, generator, A/C, fresh water system and toilet
  • Removing, cleaning and packing the head sail and all associated lines
  • Washing the deck and polishing the topsides with one of Matt’s favorite boat tools, the Shurhold Dual Action Polisher.
  • Making a few final trips to West Marine for polish, antifreeze, replacement hardware, and well, just for the fun of it
  • Meeting with our broker from Annapolis Yacht Sales to go over the details of Kaleo and to have it formally listed as a brokerage yacht

Sunday, the day before our scheduled haul out, we watched a final church service ( aboard, loaded a few last things into the van and drove into D.C. to stay with our close friends, the Johnstons. They moved to Virginia from Texas while we were away and it was a special treat to be nearby. They graciously let us stay in their home and even stayed up late to catch up despite it being a school night.

Heading back to the Harbor

On Monday morning, we drove back to Herrington Harbor to watch Kaleo be lifted from the water, power washed and placed in the rows of other land-bound vessels. We chose to keep her “on the hard” because it offers better storm protection, easier survey for prospective buyers and less maintenance than if sitting in the water.

Backing in and lining up for the lift

Washing off the East Coast muck

After Kaleo was secured on her stands, Matt went to work on polishing the hull, getting rid of the “ICW smile” (a brown stain from the muddy water) and giving every winterized system a final check. He polished the last part of the hull just as the skies opened up.

Matt polishing the day away

With the packing, prepping and polishing wrapped up, we paused to reflect on the amazing journey just completed and gave thanks to our little ship that carried, protected and taught us so much.

And with the rumble of thunderstorms above us, we drove away with the rain accompanying our tears.

It was a blessing to sail aboard our floating home, build lifelong relationships and see part of the world in such a unique way. We now have cruising in our blood. And while we have just wrapped up one adventure, we both wholeheartedly agreed that, Lord willing, it won’t be our last.

 Kaleo awaiting her next adventure

There isn’t much to report from our drive back to Texas, other than a cargo van corners like an semi-truck and guzzles gas like an airplane. By far the delight of the drive was pulling into the driveway for a warm welcome from family.

Going forward, this blog will be less about our cruising adventures and more on our cruising reflections and future dreams. THANK YOU for joining us as virtual crew along this journey. And we’d be honored if you’d stay on as we transition into land-based sailors for awhile.


Portsmouth & Norfolk, VA

From the Outer Banks we ventured across the Albemarle Sound and while it shares a similarly precarious reputation with the Pamlico, we had a safe and smooth crossing to Coinjock, NC.

Crossing the Currituck Sound, NC

On Tuesday we pulled into (or rather through) the small North Carolina town of Coinjock along the ICW for a night’s stay at Midway Marina and then spent the next full day motorsailing to the town dock at Great Bridge in Chesapeake, VA.

Fun wall of friends in Chesapeake, VA

Nestled between a bascule bridge and lock, this wall dock is a perfect overnight stay before locking through the next morning. Bonus: With Simpatico and Jesse Marie on the same route, we formed a great neighborhood and enjoyed a fun dinner out at Toro Loco, just a short walk away. I love how cruisers’ paths weave in and out, mixing in new friends with the familiar, along our travels.

Serene 78° day along the ICW in Chesapeake, VA

Friday morning it was on to Portsmouth, VA, a small seaport that’s managed to hold onto its 18th-and 19th-century charm for over 250 years. With Downtown Norfolk just across the river, we planned to slow down and take in the towns. We tucked Kaleo into the scenic waterfront town dock at High Street Landing and were off to enjoy the temperate day (mid 70’s by day, high 60’s by night).

Our backyard at High Street Landing in Portsmouth, VA

Taking the paddle-wheel ferryboat to Norfolk, VA with Jesse Marie

Over the next couple of days we:

  • Visited the expansive Chrysler Museum of Art. 62 galleries with over 30,000 works of art from around the world (made up mostly from the private collection of Walter Chrysler, Jr.) gave us a full afternoon of meandering and is not to be missed if you’re in the Norfolk area. Did we mention it’s FREE?! One of our favorite sights was a temporary exhibit where video technology captures the movements of the viewer, so that you interact with and become a part of the artwork itself.

We’re part art!

  • Feasted on a sushi dinner at Domo Sushi before wandering around town and eventually to the Town Point BrewFest to enjoy some live music

Trifeca of greatness. Battleship Wisconsin, Nauticus, and the schooner Virginia

  • Watched an outdoor movie on the fantail (back deck) of the Battleship Wisconsin. The feature film, The Poseidon Adventure, was an action-adventure disaster film about a cruise ship that capsizes and a rebellious preacher attempts to lead a small group of survivors to safety. Though dated (1972) the story wasn’t lost on us sailors, especially since we were watching it aboard such a mighty battleship.

Battleship Wisconsin set up for its “Fantail Film Festival”

The Poseidon Adventure on the deck of the Battleship Wisconsin

“Fantail Film Festival”

  • Returned home to find the dock to Kaleo underwater! The full moon made for a HIGH tide and us wading to our front door.

Wading across the dock to our floating home

  • Spent Saturday morning at the Portsmouth Farmer’s Market and the famous Skipjacks Nautical Wares before heading back to Norfolk to explore Nauticus, a maritime and naval history museum on steroids. Along with hundreds of exhibits on naval warfare, NOAA weather prediction and even a shark petting tank, a visit to Nauticus also includes a self-guided tour of the Battleship Wisconsin. Though we were on it the night before, the 887 foot long, 45,000 pound ship is impressive to say the least.

Captain Atlas at Nauticus

The mighty and stealth Battleship Wisconsin

  • Met up with friends and fellow cruisers Rick and Linda of s/v Sojourner (finally!) who also hail from Texas. We’ve only virtually known them since the beginning of our trip when they gave us much appreciated guidance on traveling the Gulf Coast. It was a joy to finally meet them in person where we got to know each other better over dinner at AJ Gators. Thanks for the ride home too guys!

Exhausted from the full day, we tumbled into bed with plans to continue north the next morning.

Adventures Along the OBX

After our fill of fun in Oriental, we elected to take the less traveled route up the East Coast by way of the Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands about 30 miles off the east coast of North Carolina.

Pitstop into “River Dunes” en route to the OBX

Affectionately called the “OBX”, these islands offer isolated escape from the hectic pace of the mainland and are home to some famous firsts of American history, from the first English born baby in the New World to the Wright brothers’ first powered flight near Kitty Hawk.

Our first stop, Ocracoke Island.

Entering Silver Lake, Ocracoke

Part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (a marine national park) and only accessible by boat or small plane, Ocracoke is considered the Pearl of the Outer Banks for its renowned beaches, authentic village charm and natural beauty. With a clear forecast for Saturday, we made our way across the Pamlico Sound, which has a reputation for being a contemptuous and fickle body of water. Other than slow progress due to currents and little wind, we were blessed with a safe and easy sail to this enchanting island.

View of the Ocracoke Lighthouse from Kaleo

Evening fell as we dropped the hook in the protected Silver Lake Harbor, the very place where the infamous Blackbeard once kept his pirate fleet and met his fate during a naval battle in 1718. Surrounded on all sides by the village and a lighthouse shining brightly, Silver Lake is about as perfect an anchorage as they come. And it only got better from there. We joined Gregg and Jo on board Simpatico for a delish Indian curry chicken dinner and made plans to explore the next day.

Silver Lake Harbor, Ocracoke*

After watching church service on Sunday, we joined Simpatico in renting bikes and pedaled off to the fun-loving Howards Pub Restaurant for lunch before making our way to the beach. And what a beach it is! With over 16 miles of unspoiled Atlantic shoreline, Ocracoke offers the most beautiful and secluded beach we’ve seen along the East Coast. No wonder it was named America’s Best Beach for 2007.

Cape Hatteras Seashore

From the sun and sand, our pedal-powered machines took us back to the village for an ice cream break then on to see the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Built in 1823, it’s the oldest operating lighthouse on the East Coast. Though the interior was closed to tours, it was neat to see a tower that served as the warning guardian to so many ships.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

We all continued our leisurely cruise and, from one end to the other, we covered just about every inch of the village. Along the way we stopped at the British Cemetery, where four navy men from the British Ship HMT Bedfordshire are buried and celebrated each year after their ship was sunk by a German U-Boat while on loan to the U.S. during WWII.

A must-visit if you’re in Ocracoke, Zillie’s Island Pantry is a unique wine, beer and gourmet foods and cheese shop where we stopped for pre-sundowners. Then it was back to the boats for dinner before returning to shore to enjoy some live music.

Zillie’s Island Pantry for snacktime with vino & microwbrews. NEAT place!

Monday morning we were up early for a sail north to Manteo on Roanoke Island, another hot spot in the Outer Banks and the home port of our friends Chip and Tammy of Cara Mia.

They, along with Dale and Karen of Jesse Marie were already there with plans for us to join them that evening for “The Lost Colony”, the nation’s first and longest-running outdoor drama reenacting the lives and fate of the first English colony to settle in the area.

After a long but (thankfully) easy trip up, we dropped the hook and dinghied in for a heartfelt reunion over pre-theater cocktails. Then it was off for an evening of entertainment at the historic outdoor Waterside Theatre.

Pre-theater cocktails with “Jesse Marie” & “Cara Mia”

The performance is an intense account of what was believed to have happened to The Lost Colony. It’s a story of hope and fear, of comedy and tragedy, of mystery and suspense. And it’s retold each summer on the very site where it took place.

Taking our seats for “The Lost Colony”, the nation’s longest-running outdoor drama

More than 400 years ago (1587), 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England to settle on a New World of Roanoke Island. Just three years after settling, they vanished, leaving behind no trace of their fate. From the hardships of crossing the Atlantic, to attacks from Indians and lack of supply ships from their homeland, these settlers endured and kept faith that they would survive. Though the full story will never be known, it’s believed they couldn’t sustain the colony and with less than 60 remaining, eventually moved south in search of more fertile grounds.

The following morning we moved into a slip at the Manteo Waterfront Marina and borrowed Chip and Tammy’s bikes (thanks guys!) to explore the town. In between cool off sessions in the A/C aboard Kaleo, we explored the historic waterfront, visited the maritime museum and even washed the boat.

Swallowed by the giant Adirondack chair in downtown Manteo

We wrapped up the evening with a “neighborhood” BBQ on the docks with Jesse Marie and Cara Mia. Dale grilled steaks and chicken over charcoal briquettes and we all enjoyed a feast of dishes from all three boats. Once again, thoroughly enjoying the friendships formed along these adventures.

Thanks for letting us continue to share these adventures with you. Can you think of a time when you took the road less traveled? We’d love to hear about it!

(*Photo credit:

Exploring Beaufort and Oriental, NC

On Tuesday, we untied from the dock in Carolina Beach, waved goodbye to Auntie Linda, and continued north toward Beaufort, the third oldest town in North Carolina and pronounced “BO-fert” as opposed to the “Bu-fert” of SC.

Oh the company you’ll keep sailing along the ICW

It was a two day hop that had us anchoring within the boundaries of a military base, Camp Lejune. Though the cruising guide says any boats in the area can be ordered to leave due to military maneuvers at anytime, day or night, we had an undisturbed and peaceful night’s sleep. And a bonus, we synced back up with our friends, Gregg and Jo, of Simpatico who also happened to be anchored there.

As we were pulling up anchor on Wednesday morning we met a fellow cruiser in the anchorage, David, on Cloud Messenger. His depth sounder had stopped working so he asked to follow us through some potentially tricky parts of the ICW where the channel gets shallow. Our boats draw the same amount of water (depth of the keel), so if we started getting into questionable areas we could warn him via radio and proceed slowly together. So, with Simpatico, the three of us set out for Beaufort.

Beautiful Beaufort, NC anchorage and waterfront

Captains Matt and Gregg (s/v Simpatico) catching up in the anchorage

It turned out to be an easy 45 mile (7 hour) motorsail with only one shallow enough area where we skimmed bottom. We set the hook (actually two in opposing directions because of the crowded anchorage and switching currents) then did some research on what to see in town and relaxed on board the rest of the evening.

We spent Thursday morning window shopping, exploring the waterfront and visiting the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Along with artifacts and displays on boating, fishing and lighthouses on the East Coast, the museum is the official repository for articles from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort in 1718.

Getting a taste of coastal culture and maritime history

Pirate lore galore

The ship was discovered by a commercial salvage company in 1996 near where it was reportedly run aground by Blackbeard and his crew. Many of the near 300 year old artifacts, from the ships enormous anchor to its many cannons, dinnerware and muskets have been recovered. Since it sank slowly after hitting the a shoal, Blackbeard and his men had time to ferry off all of the treasure. Along with the intriguing exhibit, we were surprised to learn the Blackbeard’s rein as a fierce pirate was only over a span of about two years. That’s a lot of heck to raise in such a short amount of time!

Boatbuilding in the Museum’s Watercraft Center

After taking in our fill of pirate lore, it was back to Kaleo to head for Oriental. We were again joined by Cloud Messenger, and other than a quick stop on anchor to keep us from sailing into a storm passing ahead, had another uneventful trip. We pulled into the free Town Dock (check out their HarborCam), secured the boat and sauntered around the unofficial sailing capital of North Carolina. Dubbed so because with only 875 residents, there are over 2500 boats.

Kaleo at the Town Dock with God’s Grace between her & the approaching storm

That evening we met up with our new sailing friend, David, and swapped Bahamas cruising stories over dinner at M&M’s Cafe.

On Friday morning, we could see a wall of rain charging our way, so we closed up Kaleo and headed across the street to “The Bean.” The local coffee shop where all the town’s news, sailing stories and such are traded over their signature drinks. We indulged in the Chai Tea Smoothie and Chai Tea Float while mingling with others seeking dry shelter while waiting out the torrential downpour.

After the sun came out, we hopped on complimentary bikes borrowed from the cruiser-friendly “Provision Company” and explored more of the town. After mining through the treasures at the boater favorite “Marine Consignment of Oriental” and a ride over the town bridge, it was back to Kaleo for a few boat chores. Afterward, Simpatico came by for a visit, David came for taco dinner and we met a neat family of four that had been out on a week-long trip aboard their trailerable sailboat.

Picking up some wheels at the Provision Company

The group wrapped up the night over margaritas and some “Bimini Ring on a String” at Oriental Marina’s Tiki Bar. From there, we headed home to get some rest and prepare for a long day of crossing the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke, an island accessible only by boat, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Matt taking his turn at “Bimini Ring on a String”


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

Sights From St. Augustine

After a few day hops up the ICW we landed at Hidden Harbor Marina to explore the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, FL.

Historic downtown St. Augustine from the water

While we had plans to take a mooring ball ($20) at the municipal marina (anchoring is a little sketchy with the currents), a blog friend, “Captain Peppers”, turned us onto Hidden Harbor Marina. Just two miles up the San Sebastian River, the marina truly is one of St. Augustine’s best kept secrets! Secure, impeccably clean, cruiser-managed and ideally located across from the winery and a short walk to beautiful, historic downtown St. Augustine. Ah, and their rates – just $25/nt., utilities included! Bonus: There’s even a community garden where we were given fresh tomatoes and potatoes upon checking in. We can’t say enough about this place and its outstanding dockmasters, David and Hayla.

“Kaleo” resting at Hidden Harbor Marina

With Kaleo tied up we spent the past two days:

  • Hiking to West Marine for a few project parts and the grocery store to stock up on fresh foods
  • Making Chicken Tiki Masala dinner which before joining “Captain Peppers” (who lives at Hidden Harbor) for a sundowner aboard his cruising boat. We had a nice time hearing about his cruising plans and sharing some of our experiences.
  • Exploring Old Town St. Augustine, with its narrow cobblestone streets, quaint cafes (snack break at the Spanish Bakery for empanadas), unique shops, the grand Flagler College (the former Ponce de Leon Hotel of the 1890’s) and the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in America

St. Augustine City Hall

The east cannon wall of the fort

Just checkin’ things out

  • Lunching at Carmelo’s Marketplace, home to the best pizza in town and only a short walk from the marina
  • Touring San Sebastian Winery, where the vintners make several varieties of sweet wine out of the native Florida muscadine grape. The gratis tour included an extensive tasting session and all sorts of wine-related recipes and entertaining tips from our enthusiastic guide.

The winery on the San Sebastian River, across from the marina

Casks full of Port

  • Listening to Hawaiian Jazz music at a complimentary concert in the plaza with a wine smoothie – yes, a frosty wine smoothie (!) to top off the night

Concert in the Plaza

  • Checking off a few boat projects like changing the oil, topping off fuel, replacing a deck fill and housecleaning
  • Baking a stuffed artichoke to share with sundowners

Stuffing the artichoke to steam/bake

  • Driving, yes driving, to run a few errands as David let us borrow the marina truck (another perk of a cruiser-managed marina)
  • Hanging out with new friends, Gregg and Jo on “Simpatico”, who were in the Bahamas this season but we had just met while anchored in Daytona Beach. They’re a lively couple from Nebraska and we enjoyed talking all things cruising and which boats are mutual friends.

Overall, St. Augustine is a city filled with rich Spanish history and was a great way to wrap up our sail through Florida.

Visiting Friends in Florida

After a cool and restful night in Ft. Pierce, we took Kaleo 15 miles up the ICW to keep her on a mooring in Vero Beach while we visited friends in Ft. Lauderdale.

Kaleo resting in Vero Beach

After getting Kaleo secured and packed up for our week ashore we:

  • Visited with cruising friends from the Bahamas, Jan and Karl of “White Pepper”, who happened to also be our mooring neighbor in Vero Beach. They were kind enough to ferry us from ship to shore so we could leave our dinghy onboard and watch Kaleo while we were gone for the week.
  • Returned the favors by driving them in our rental to a nearby boat yard to snap insurance photos of their friends’ boat. Cruisers truly take care of one another.
  • Made our way down to Cooper City, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, to stay with Ted and Mili (of “Morning Glory”), in their beautiful land home where they welcomed us like family
  • Celebrated Memorial Day weekend pool party style at Aunt Bev’s (Ted’s sister) and had a blast meeting their family, swimming and dining on BBQ ribs and chicken

Memorial Day BBQ Party

  • Toured Ft. Lauderdale with Ted, Mili, and Bonnie (their youngest daughter) and hit up stateside favorites like Target, TJ Maxx, and West Marine. Thanks for showing us around town!
  • Stopped into a salon for the captain’s first haircut since leaving the country over six months ago

Ready for a little trim

  • Tuned into their wise counsel as we contemplate our next steps and life back in the states

“Morning Glory” and “Kaleo”

  • Feasted on an epic Surf ‘n’ Turf dinner at Chateau Cook, played Mexican Train (our signature entertainment), and watched game 1 of the Mavs/Heat finals as a sendoff before Ted and Mili head north on “Morning Glory”

Mexican Train!

  • Drove to Pompano Beach on Wednesday evening to stay with Sean and Erica, longtime friends from Dallas who now live in Florida

Visiting Erica and Sean! Wish we had a group pic from dinner.

  • Dined at the hip Rocco’s Tacos with the Bakers (unbelievable margs, fresh tableside guac, seafood entrees!) and toured A1A Beachfront Avenue in the evening lights
  • Raided the local Target, Fresh Market, and Walmart to fully reprovision
  • Checked out the beach and A1A in the daylight on a trip to Bluewater Charts and Books to pick up Skipper Bob’s East Coast Guide
  • More dining, this time at Greek Island Taverna with the Bakers and stayed up late visiting (on a school night for Sean and Erica)
  • Raced back to Vero Beach to return the rental car on time while managing to pick up a whole new house battery bank for “Kaleo”. Whew.
  • Stopped by “White Pepper” to say hello, thank you and farewell-for-now as they were heading north early the next morning.
  • Joined Ted and Mili for dinner and Mexican Train as they had pulled in to Vero for the night on their transit north. (It felt like months since we’d seen them but writing this we realize that it was only a couple of days).
  • Spent Saturday touring Vero Beach by way of their free well-kept, air-conditioned bus system. Enjoyed sushi lunch at Siam Orchid and a movie on the big screen (our first since December).

Venturing along Vero Beach

Vero Beach

  • Organized and packed all the groceries and supplies into the cavernous storage compartments on “Kaleo” and prepped to head north in the morning
  • Started Sunday with a service, “I Quit Comparing“, before getting underway for our next anchorage on the Banana River.

Though we already miss the crystal waters and laid-back lifestyle of the islands, it was nice to have such a warm welcome back stateside from great friends.

N 27° 39.3 / W 80° 22.2

Celebrating in Green Turtle

After a brisk and beautiful sail from Treasure Cay, we weaved into White Sound, a protected lagoon on Green Turtle Cay, to make it our home for a few days.

 Birthday wheels to tour the island

Shortly after dropping the hook, we spotted “Three Penny Opera,” whom we met in the Jumentos. They had just sailed in from Cuba (they’re Canadian) and we dinghied over to hear about their experience. Soon thereafter “Honu Lele” joined us in the anchorage and met up on “Three Penny Opera”, making for great conversation as the sun set.

After dinner, we and “Honu Lele” headed into the Yacht Club Pub at Green Turtle Cay Resort and Marina to check out the local Rake ‘n’ Scrape band. This was an old world yacht club in the truest sense of the word – rich paneled walls, overstuffed ornate furniture, burgess and flags from every corner of the world. And every inch of the walls (and most of the ceiling) were covered with dollar bills (both Bahamian and American), each signed by yachtsmen leaving their mark along their travels. We, of course, decorated our own Bahamian bills and pinned them next to “Honu Lele’s.” The evening ended dancing to Green Turtle Cay’s own, Gully Roosters Band under the buttonwood tree on the deck at The Club.

 Decorating our dollar bills to hang in the Yacht Club Pub

 Neighboring bills in the Green Turtle Yacht Club Pub

Thursday was the captain’s birthday and we had a full day of celebrating ahead.

The morning started off with unwrapping a few gifts and cards that had been hidden throughout the boat from the admiral and her family. The celebrating continued with a visit from Owen and Ana bearing a shell necklace, bracelet, bookmarks and pirate treasure maps they had made for Matt.

 Birthday morning treasures for the captain

 Birthday treasures from our little friends, Owen & Ana aboard “Honu Lele”

Ashore we all jumped on our golf cart rental and set out to see the island. The first stop was scouting a pristine Atlantic beach then it was off to explore the historic New Plymouth Settlement. As the only town on Green Turtle Cay, New Plymouth was one of the first islands settled in the Bahamas by Loyalists from the United States who wanted to remain loyal to the British crown during the American Revolution.

New Plymouth Settlement on Green Turtle Cay

In this quiet, 18th century village by the sea, we browsed quaint shops, passed by Ye Olde Jail and enjoyed an air-conditioned lunch at a Harvey’s Island Grill.

Checking out Ye Olde Jail

Green Turtle Cay, Abacos

Before carting out of New Plymouth the captain requested that we stop into Vert’s Model Ship Shoppe to see the handcrafted models made by a Green Turtle Cay legend. Vert Lowe, a master ship modeler who has family roots that run deep on the island, hand builds ships modeled after sailing craft of old. His masterpieces reside on the mantles of kings, executives, and world leaders. Though Matt mentioned it would be a great birthday gift, the prices that reflect the time needed to create these works of art helped us decide to hold off, at least until the next time we pass through.

 Master ship modeler Vert Lowe’s model ship shoppe behind his home

 Listening to the grand stories from Master ship modeler Vert Lowe

 Admiring the craftsmanship

Rumbling down the skinny winding road, we turned off toward a beach that looked far too inviting to pass by. For the next few hours, we hunted for beach treasures, swam, snorkeled and enjoyed the cool ocean in the heat of the afternoon.

Trail to Gillam Bay Beach

Gillam Bay Beach

Water-soaked and sun-kissed, we migrated from the ocean to Lizard Bar and Grill at the Leeward Yacht Club & Marina. With great snacks, drinks and a freshwater pool it wasn’t hard to spend the rest of the day there. This is a hidden gem for anyone voyaging through Green Turtle! Matt played Marco Polo and “Treasure Hunt” (tossing Bahamian coins throughout the pool for them to find) with the kids, we all talked boats, Texas, and life while lounging our way through the captain’s big day. After we could swim no more, everyone piled back on the golf cart for a leisurely ride back to the Green Turtle Club where we had left our dinghies.

 Birthday celebrating at the Leeward Yacht Club & Marina

After showers, we stopped by “Honu Lele” to visit and say “see you soon” as we were heading out early the next morning to stage for our crossing back to the states. As we dinghied back to the boat Matt reflected that he was so blessed to have celebrated his birthday island-style, and that it would be pretty hard to top it next year.

N 26° 46.70 / W 77° 20.21

Treasure Cay

We sailed into the protected yacht basin of Treasure Cay, Abaco on Sunday afternoon and dropped the hook in calm emerald waters as turtles peeked above the water to check out their new neighbors.

Sailing from Great Guana to Treasure Cay

Monday morning we sauntering around the small resort-style village, stopping into a very well-stocked grocery store and small bakery before heading for the beach.

Treasure Cay Marina

From the deck of Coco’s Beach Bar we stepped down onto a seemingly endless crescent beach that is unrivaled in the Abacos and easily one of the top five beaches we’ve seen on this trip. Powdery white sand beckoned us down to azure waters that stretched into the horizon. There we drifted along the shoreline in conversation and discovery of tiny sand dollars dotting the tide line.

Playing on the beach

After playing at the beach, we returned to Coco’s for lunch and met back up with some fellow Kemah cruisers aboard “Stray Cat” who recommended frosty mango daiquiris to compliment our cracked conch and grouper sandwich.

Just after a mid-day siesta, our favorite cruising family from Austin joined us at the beach and the boys spent the rest of the afternoon digging a sand fort while the gals floated in the ocean.

Lounging under a Tiki Hut overlooking The Sea of Abaco

A dip in the marina’s freshwater pool, long land showers and a glass of wine over sunset wrapped up our evening.

Tuesday we woke up with a healthy to-do list and a full day of plans. Before we could head to Coco’s traditional Tuesday night beach bonfire and BBQ, we needed to knock out some boat chores to start preparing for our crossing back to the states. We topped off fuel and water, though making water should hardly count as a chore since installing the Cruise RO watermaker. While the CruiseRO made a quick 75 gallons of water, Matt refueled the boat and jerry jugs, then cleaned the bottom.

For our non-boating friends, “cleaning the bottom” means donning snorkel gear and grabbing a 4″ wide plastic paint scraper to remove all the fuzzy marine life that grows on the underwater part of the hull. After two and half hours of methodically scraping every inch, Matt had cleansed “Kaleo” of her slimy beard. With the fresh “shave”, she should glide through the water a little faster and look better while at it.

After chores were wrapped up it was off to “Honu Lele” for appetizers before heading into the beach BBQ. Though the landscape was a bit different, the BBQ style was straight out of Texas. Oil drum barrels cut in half hosted bellies full of charcoal briquets that roasted ribs, jerk chicken and pork, steaks, burgers and hot dogs. After overindulging on the medley of meats and sides and sipping a few mango daiquiris, it was time for the live music.

“Kaleo” and “Honu Lele” at Coco’s Beach Bar & Grill

Matt dancin’ it up in a game of adult musical chairs

To bring the dance floor to life the DJ and singer launched a game of adult musical chairs. Games set to some local live music? Matt was immediately front and center. With the crowd rolling at the antics, Matt was the third to last person standing before he was outpaced by a local for the chair he was eyeing. Other than a break to watch the bonfire be lit, we all danced to a varied playlist of favorites from Rake ‘n’ Scrape to “YMCA” to “New York, New York.” We lived the night up, finally laughing and dancing our full bellies back to our boats to get some rest.

Ms. Florance making breakfast in her cafe

Wednesday morning we were out and about early to enjoy Ms. Florance’s must-have warm cinnamon rolls before setting sail for Green Turtle Cay. We’re slowly savoring our last week in the Abacos as each new destination brings us closer to our crossing back to the states. What a ride!

Great Guana Cay

Since Thursday we’ve been enjoying the beaches of Great Guana Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.

Poolside at Nipper’s

With Kaleo secured in Fisher’s Bay, it was a short walk into the settlement. Located at the center of the Abacos Islands, Great Guana Cay features miles of pristine white beaches and is home to the legendary Nipper’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, perched on a forty-foot sand dune, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Nipper’s overlooking the Atlantic

Nipper’s is a cruising crossroad with visitors from around the world stopping in for the view, pools, lively conversation and frosty signature drinks. Another draw to Nipper’s is its close proximity, just a few stair steps away to the world’s 3rd largest Barrier reef that can be reached by swimming right off the shore.

 Matt doin’ a little island farming on the way to Nipper’s

 Enjoying a signature Nipper

Friday, we headed to Nipper’s to make a day of the beach, pool, and restaurant. Surprisingly uncrowded, we had our pick of a “dune front” table overlooking the Atlantic where we spent lunchtime enjoying grilled Mahi ceasar salad, a chicken Waldorf Salad wrap, signature Nippers and visiting with fellow cruisers. We spent the heat of the afternoon swimming in the ocean before heading back up to lounge poolside.

Swimming in the Atlantic at Great Guana Cay

Enjoying the Abacos

While at the pool, we met a family vacationing on the island that we would soon learn we have a lot in common with. Their daughter and son-in-law (our age) live in Dallas, not far from where our townhouse was in Lakewood. Christie also went to the University of Texas at the same time as their son-in-law AND their son is a copywriter at an ad agency in North Carolina with a guy Matt used to work closely with at The Richards Group. Small world.

And to add to the camaraderie, our friends from “Honu Lele” walked up the path to the pools at about the same time. With so many great people hanging around, we tabled our plans to sail to Treasure Cay that day and stayed another night in Great Guana to continue the fun well into the evening.

Honu Lele” dancing the night away

We returned to the beach on Saturday afternoon to meet up with Honu Lele and to snorkel the Great Abaco Barrier Reef. An easy swim out brings you atop a well-developed reef system that starts less than fifty feet from shore, and rises from a depth of about forty feet to within inches of the surface.

Diving the world’s 3rd largest Barrier reef

Tossing the football with “Honu Lele”

Amidst swimming, snorkeling and sunning we made plans for a taco dinner aboard “Honu Lele”. On the way back to our boats in Fisher’s Bay, we all stopped into Grabbers, the other beach bar and grill on the island, for snack time appetizers and a dip into their pool before returning to “Kaleo” to cook up our contributions for the Mexican Fiesta dinner.

Aboard “Honu Lele”, we dined on ground turkey and pulled chicken tacos and sipped Mojitos in the cool breeze. After a radiant sunset, the kids brought out glowsticks to light up the night and Sheri baked delicious chocolate chip cookies. We laughed over the light show performance in the cockpit and indulged in the warm cookie treats.

 Our neighborhood from the porch of the dinghy dock

Sunday we watched an excellent message titled, “I Quit Living in Fear” and lazily prepped the boat to head for Treasure Cay. After sailing off the anchor, we drifted by and briefly visited with our friends aboard “Fishhead” who had just arrived to explore Great Guana. We waved good-bye to them with plans of our courses crossing again in Green Turtle in a few days and to “Honu Lele” with plans to meet back up in “Treasure Cay” the next day.

N 26° 39.99 / W 77° 07.10

Eleuthera to the Abacos

Over the past week we’ve made the jump from Eleuthera to the Abacos enjoying the company of fellow cruisers on the same route.

Dinner aboard “Fishhead”

Tuesday evening we staged in Royal Island Harbour to make the 55 mile jump north to the Abacos. While there we enjoyed a feast hosted by Cindy and Michael of “Fishhead” and were joined by Sherry and Wayne from “Wine Down”. A full roasted chicken dinner with a multitude of sides filled the cockpit with hunger-inducing aromas.

“Guiding Light” also happened to be staging in Royal Island for a trip to Nassau. Delighted and surprised to see Shane and his guest Micheal, we stopped by after dinner to catch up on all their adventures since we last saw “GL” at Rum Cay.

Wednesday we had a long and somewhat uneventful motor sail toward the Abacos. That is until we were about a half mile from the Little Harbour cut entrance into the Abacos. We saw a rainstorm on the way and prepared the boat but were welcomed with a 40 knot squall. Within 15 minutes the wind escalated from a mere 10 knots SW to a raging 40 knots N. Since the wind was simply too powerful on our nose to make headway in, we turned the boat around and ran downwind until it passed over us. About 15 minutes later, we turned back around, raised the sails and continued on our way. As Captain Ron says, “It’s just a little squall. They come on you fast and leave you fast.”

 Entering Little Harbour in a 40 knot squall

The following day we anchored off of Tilloo Cay and had “Fishhead” aboard for a spaghetti dinner. As it was Michael’s birthday, Cindy baked a celebratory banana cream pie for us all to enjoy. Thanks for having your birthday dinner aboard Kaleo, Michael!

From Tilloo, we sailed into the “big city” of Marsh Harbour, the hub of the Abacos. We were able to get laundry done and more importantly, met up with “White Pepper” whom we met at boat church back in George Town. We also bumped into “Mango Groove”, a really lovely and fun cruising family we met in GT.

The giant Maxwell’s grocery store

On Saturday morning we did chores with “White Pepper” by walking to the bakery for fresh coconut bread, to the bank for the ATM, and to the grocery store. A grocery store is an understatement after months of cruising the lightly-stocked markets of the Exumas. With a parking lot the size of Costco and the actual need for a shopping cart, Maxwell’s is the equivalent to a full-sized Publix or Kroger. We bought fresh fruit and veggies, organic pasta, chips, salsa, cereal and even a watermelon. The only very minor downside was that Matt had to tote the watermelon in our backpack back to the boat.

Hanging with some mermaids

Later Saturday afternoon, we set out to check out the 1st Annual “T’ings Bahamian Craft Show”. With cold Kaliks and crispy conch fritters in hand we browsed tents filled with a variety of artisan crafts such as sea glass jewelry, local paintings, Androsia fabric purses, and mirrors framed in shells. I found a really fun bright orange Androsia catch-all bag that was perfect for helping relieve Matt’s pockets of our camera and water bottle.

1st Annual “T’ings Bahamian Craft Show” in Abaco Town

Amidst the live Bahamian music, ten contestants from “Miss Teen Abaco” paraded through the show introducing themselves along with the islands they represent and then modeled some of the local wares for sale.

 “Miss Teen Abaco” contestants

Later, “White Pepper” joined us for watermelon aboard and then we all headed into Snappa’s for happy hour. As the evening settled in, “Fishhead” joined us at Snappa’s for dinner and we relished mouthwatering grilled Mahi-Mahi with caesar salad and baked potato.

Entering Hope Town, Abaco

Kicking back during our first Hope Town sunset

On Sunday we wrapped up our time in Marsh Harbour by watching a service and then motor sailed over to the beautiful Hope Town to kick off our anniversary week!

N 26° 32.84 / W 77° 03.37

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