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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.
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”


Visiting Family in Carolina Beach

We had a wonderful week+ stay at the “Ritz Carlson!” On Saturday, Kaleo glided into a guest slip at Auntie Linda’s condo on Carolina Beach where we would spend the next nine days lounging, learning lots of new ways to slay sea creatures (thanks Jim!), and soaking up treasured time with the family.

It was an action-packed visit culminating in a festive 4th of July celebration. We were well taken care of by auntie and cousins as we:

  • Learned the art of scratch’n for clams! Despite the pouring rain, it was well worth hearing the distinct “clink” of clam shells against the rake tine and filling a bucket with a healthy haul of over 100. We picked out the best, tossed some back to mature, shared with neighbors and cooked up the rest for a delish dinner. (Jim and Sarah sautéed them in a white wine, fresh basil, diced tomato, and minced garlic sauce!)

Our first clamming excursion. (channeling American Gothic)

Scratch’n for clams in the rain


  • Toured the Carolina Beach area with Auntie Linda as our guide. From Carolina Beach’s basin, pier and boardwalk, down through Kure Beach, and into Fort Fisher State Park, we loved spending time on this beautiful island that is uniquely situated between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Matty and Auntie Linda strolling around Fort Fisher

  • Spent a few hours dockside each day fishing for flounder. By mid-week it became a full-on family derby vying for the top spot on the leaderboard. While Matt reeled in two, they weren’t large enough to legally keep and by the time we left there were no other contenders.

Flounder derby catch

  • Lounged in and by the pool chatting with all the neighbors and keeping cool in the warm Carolina sun

Auntie Linda’s pool overlooking the ICW

  • Took a roadtrip to explore Raleigh/Durham. It’s a fun set of cities where we met up with a friend for lunch, stocked up on treasures from Trader Joe’s, and enjoyed a sushi dinner downtown before returning to the slower pace of beach life.
  • Walked to the Carolina Beach boardwalk on Wednesday morning and indulged in a renowned Britt’s Donut. Okay, two. Each. Voted the second best hometown donut in the nation, this local shop lived up to the hype.

Beach breakfast at Britt’s

  • Stopped into Taste of Olive, a unique experiential shop offering fresh cold pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars where we tasted dozens of flavors ranging from Cinnamon Pear and Luscious Lavender to Outrageous Oregano and Boldly Butter.

Inside The Taste of Olive

  • Spent an evening with cousins Steve and Edie where we BBQed dinner, toured their neighborhood by golf cart, and caught up on everyone’s adventures.
  • Headed out on a spearfishing expedition but the ocean was too rough to make the journey. En route we took a wave over the bow of Jim’s boat which inadvertently inflating our offshore life jackets. Turns out they function properly and were up and ready to save us in no time.

They work!

  • Wrapped up our stay with a 4th of July neighborhood pig roast (Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, and Carolina BBQ styles) with every side imaginable, fishing, swimming and watching the fireworks from the water.

Happy Independence Day!

Thanks Auntie Linda for opening your home to us and Jim and Sarah for all the fishing and cooking lessons. We loved getting to spend time with you guys and the visit is one of the highlights of our trip.

N 34° 20.70  / W  77° 53. 37

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