24 Dec - It's a balmy 68 today and had the sun poked through the clouds it would have made 70 degrees. I'm enjoying the grandpa role a few days a week and then getting in some adult time here in Beaufort at a few of the local pubs like Finz, the Back Street Pub and the Sandbar Restaurant right here at Town Creek Marina www.towncreekmarina.com
Lastweek I went to the Christmas Boat Parade in Beaufort and met a bunch of nice folks who "dragged" me kicking and screaming on a pub crawl. See, it's not all Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and pee pee on the potty with the kiddies. I know more each day that it was the right decision to stay here. I still miss Carol almost more than I can bear sometimes but being here gives me a sense that I've crossed a rubicon that has put me on a path toward moving on, whereas a month ago, I was simply marching in place. I've actually been chatting with a wonderful woman on the computer who also lost a spouse and those talks have added to the feeling that maybe the light at the end of the tunnel isn't really a speeding freight train coming at me.
My plans are to head north on the 20th and stay with my friends Rich & Lori. Sunday is Alexandra's christening in Princeton, NJ and then Sunday night is my annual Navy Christmas dinner with Rich, Lori, John, Denise and their families, again this year at Rich and Lori's home. Monday I'm going to dinner at John & Gail's along with Charlie & Val, then Tuesday thru Christmas, I'll be in Brooklyn at my mom's with a side trip to the cemetery to tell Carol about my sailing voyage to Beaufort. After that, I'm driving to Key West for New Years with Sailboat Bill and 2 of my college classmates, Rich Menkes and Ed Reilly. I'll be staying at the BOQ at the Naval Air Station. After that, I'm driving to Atlanta to visit my good friend Phil who has been battling cancer. He and his wife JoAnn grew up with Carol and I in Brooklyn. From there, I'm going to do what just a month ago would have been unimaginable to me, I'm going to stop in Kingsport, Tennessee and have lunch with a woman I've been chatting with online.
I'm in the final process of proofing my book, "Sailing with Carol." This is a tedious three phase process and is almost more difficult than writing the book in the first place. This is the big difference between going with a traditional publisher and self-publishing.
I've been very busy working on the book, helping Christopher & Michelle move in, being a grandfather and taking care of Lastdance so I'm sorry to say I just won't be able to get out Christmas cards so Merry Christmas everyone and a Healthy and Happy New Year
Nov 12 - Christopher and I returned today from our drive to Maryland to get my car. We stopped for the night in Fredericksburg and then before getting on the road again this morning, Chris took me for a tour of the Civil War battlefield at Chancellorsville. I'm back aboard Lastdance tonight and may go to the hospital at Camp LeJeune tomorrow to get these ribs looked at and to do a blood test for my oncologist back in Pennsylvania. After that, I'll be spending the weekend with Chris, Michelle and the kids at a cottage on Onslow Beach. I'm really looking forward to this coming month with them!
I returned to Camp LeJeune the next day and spent 3 days with Christopher, Michelle, Ali and Furi in a cozy, if not well used cottage right on the beach at Onslow. Again, I really had a great time being part of my family for more than just a hurried 2-3 day visit. The kids and I are really connecting and while babysitting one afternoon, I walked along the oceans edge with them for several hours and could almost sense Carol smiling her approval. I'm back aboard Lastdance today after Bill took me sightseeing last night. We sampled local fare and beers in the Handle Bar, Back Street Pub, Clawson's, the Dockhouse Bar and the Royal James Cafe...whew. There is yet another gale warning with winds predicted to be 40-knots today and if the front passes tonight, Bill will leave tomorrow. I've got some mixed feelings about parting ways with him at this point but the tug of the "wee ones" is strong and I'll gladly stay on another 3 weeks as planned. Also, for the first time in more than two years, I've gone through a day with only a few of my usually frequent and deeply saddening "Carol moments." I'll be returning to Camp LeJeune on Thursday for 4 days with the kids and to plan Thanksgiving which we'll either have aboard Lastdance or in Chris and Michelle's new home, depending on when the moving company delivers their furniture.
It is blowing 32- knots, gusting to 40 and the temperature is going down to 24 degrees tonight which will be a record for Beaufort, NC. I was in a warm and comfortable cottage at Camp LeJeune, right on Onslow Beach with my son and his family but with these winds and freezing temperatures, I decided to come back to Lastdance to double lines and get the heaters on to keep things from freezing. Bill left yesterday and after a night in Mile Hammock Bay, he should be in Wrightsville Beach tonight, hopefully at a marina and not freezing his kista off at anchor. Tomorrow, I'm going treasure hunting with my grandson using Carol's old metel detector to look for Blackbeards gold coins which my grandson is sure are buried on the beach right in front of the cottage. Also, they will be closing on Monday so we'll be having Thanksgiving Dinner at their new home, not aboard Lastdance.We moved out of the cottages on Onslow Beach on Camp LeJeune today. Chris and Michelle moved into their new home and I'm back aboard Lastdance tonight nursing my ribs from all the activity. Yesterday, I took my grand kids treasure hunting but first got up before dawn to "seed" the beach with silver dollars. You can't imagine the look of joy on their faces when using the metal detector, they uncovered the gleaming coins. I may have created a couple of monsters though because tomorrow, they expect to find the treasure chest the coins came from. OK, I know this is getting a bit lame for all you old salts so I promise to go drinking this week-end in Beaufort and write about some pillage and plundering.
I've had some fun while on this voyage to be sure, especially when sailing along with Bill in s/v Galena. On the whole however, it’s been emotionally painful for me to retrace the voyage I made to Florida with Carol in 1997. That is, until I got to Beaufort and connected with my grandchildren. Few know how devastating Carol's death has been for me and even after two years of sailing alone, I'm still as distraught as ever over not being able to share the adventure with her, especially on this trip.
Being a part of my grandchildren’s lives has given me some peace for the first time since Carol died, so much so that I began entertaining thoughts of wintering here in Beaufort. Once I acknowledged that, my son added that it would take a huge burden off him to know I was here with his family while he is in Iraq again. I’ve given a lot of thought to what is really important to me and as much as I want to cruise, party and drink my way through the Bahamas, I’ve come to feel that it’s even more important to me to be part of my grandchildren’s lives; for them, for my son, but mostly for me.
So although I may not be a “real cruiser” this year, I know Florida will still be there next year and maybe this soul-searching experience in Beaufort will help make next year’s voyage a lot more enjoyable for me. Right now, the “Papa” role suits me fine and in coming to this decision, I’m reminded of a verse from a poem about boats.
"There is nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, and that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all…."
For me, Beaufort is my "somewhere else." It's a really nice town with great pubs and restaurants so if you find yourself down this way, come visit me aboard Lastdance at Town Creek Marina. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, see you all in the spring.
30 Nov -Well, I'm finally underway! After a brief bon voyage gathering with my dock friends who woke before dawn to see me off, I departed this morning at 0710 and made the 0730 bridge opening. It was chilly until about mid morning and but the wind was light from the SW so I motored most of the way until it increased to 13 knots in the late afternoon and I got a few hours of sailing in. My depth sounder was erratic all day but it was only cause for concern as I approached my destination and it will be problematic the next few days when I anchor in creeks and small rivers. Right now I'm sitting at a dock at Patuxent Naval Air Station Marina (one of the many perks of being retired military!). Another cold front is coming through so I may stay here a day so I can plug in my electric heater rather than freeze my buns off at anchor.http://sv-galena.livejournal.com he made Solomon's Island today so we may hook up before too long. Right now I need some Dinty Moore or SPAM. Tomorrow I'll make Norfolk, where I'll install my new depth transducer before going any further.
I woke this morning to 22 knots of wind and gust to 28. A gale warning is forecasted for tomorrow with temps in the 30's and wind gust to 35 knots so I'm going to sit it out here with my electric heater for another day or two. Remembering a harrowing night Carol and I spent here in similar conditions, (read about it in Chapter 28 of Sailing with Carol ), I moved Lastdance from the T-head to a regular slip so I could tie her off on both sides in case the wind shifts during the night.
Still blowing like snot the next day; winds are 25 knots, gusting to 40+ so I'm here again today, possibly until Thursday. I had happy hour/dinner with Pete and Stephanie aboard s/v Brilliant, a Moody 42. They sailed over from the Mediterranean via Maine and the east coast and are on their way to Floridita. It was good to share their company!
Finally got underway again! The forecast was for 10 - 15 with gust to 20 but I had an exhilarating downwind sail in 20 -25 knots of wind with gust to 30 at times. Lastdance rarely went below 7 knots as she ran along in 6 ft waves, oftentimes surfing almost 8 knots. I tried to enter Jackson Creek but this north wind that has been blowing the last 4 days blew the water out of the bay and with tides 2 feet below normal, two boats ran aground in the channel, so I opted to anchor around Stove Pt in Fishing Bay. I didn't get anchored until 6:30 but it's a nice snug anchorage with 23 boats anchored for the night. Talked to Capt Bill
I got underway during a beautiful sunrise among 36 boats, departing from the various anchorages on the Piankatank and Rapahhannock Rivers. Wind was a pleasant 11 knots from the NW and soon, everyone was sailing south in yet another day of the great winter migration of snowbirds. By early afternoon, the wind backed to the SW and I motored from York Spit on, arriving at the Naval Station marina on Willoughby Bay, not far from carrier row where a huge aircraft carrier blocked out the afternoon sun. My old business associate and friend Kevin Gilbert, came by an hour later with my new depth transducer, then took me home for pizza and wine with his wife Laura. Now I'm back aboard Lastdance reminiscing about the last time I was here in 1997 with Carol, when we sailed to Florida. Sail on, Carol. Sail on!Being on a naval base, morning colors went at 0800, and it was normal to see sailors and marines stop to salute the rising colors. It was special though, to see my fellow retiree cruisers here at the marina also stop what we were doing, and come to attention, with not so much as a word needed to do so. Kevin (aka Mr Fixit) installed the new depth transducer and it appears to be working fine all morning. The old problem was intermittent though, so I'm keeping a close eye on it. Spoke to Capt Bill this morning in s/v Galena. He should be in Norfolk tomorrow evening so I may wait for him so we can continue on together. Company would be great and nothing is ever dull with Bill around. Oh, the temperature is in the low 70's here and I walked back from the Navy Exchange in a T-shirt!
Kevin and Laura came by and we shared two, two liter bottles of wine and ate assorted stuff as we reminisced about our glory days in Miami and how much fun Carol was. About 1530, s/v Galena entered the Naval Station marina basin and we helped him with lines. Afterwards, I made a large pot of potato soup and with what was left of the wine, we enjoyed a boisterous dinner aboard Lastdance. Tomorrow, Bill and I will get underway at dawn and enter the ICW but we're not sure if we'll take the Virginia Cut or the Dismal Swamp route. Underway with s/v Galena at 0630 in cold and nasty NE winds and overcast sky, a truly sucky day to put to sea. OK, we were only in Norfolk harbor, Hampton Roads to be exact, but it still sucked. We made the Dismal Swamp Canal locks at 1050 and 4 hours later we tied up at the North Carolina Visitors Dock, rafted to Oo La La and 11 other boats for the night. The forecast is for yet another strong front to move through so we may hang out here before moving on to Elizabeth City and Albemarle Sound which can be nasty in high winds. With not a drop of rum in me, I fell while crossing rafted boats to throw out my trash ashore and now my friggin ribs hurt like hell...hope I didn't break or crack one. I hate when that happens! The weather forecast for crossing Albemarle Sound is very bad so there is no room in Elizabeth City so we'll probably stay here tomorrow.
Holed up with s/v Galena on Dismal Swamp Canal north of Elizabeth City along with many dozens of other boats waiting out the weather which has deteriorated to gale warning conditions on Albemarle Sound. I guess this is part of cruising but I'm impatient to get to Camp LeJeune. I've been plagued by bad weather from the get-go and have only made progress during lulls between the constant onslaught of low pressure systems. Ah, but then the sailing was great in between fronts so who am I to complain?
After 2 days of waiting out the weather, Bill and I got underway in a light drizzle and motored to the locks at South Mills where we were lowered 8-feet to the Pasquotank River. From there, we had an uneventful trip in intermittent rain to Elizabeth City, where dozens of boats were still waiting out the weather in what were supposed to be 25-knot NW winds, which makes a tempest of Albemarle Sound. Galena anchored out but I wanted to take a tour of the town and get a shower so I took a slip at Pelican Marina, an incredibly friendly and clean place at only $35 dollars a day, including electricity. After a hot shower, I went to the marina's restaurant and had a bowl of piping hot Cape Hatteras clam chowder, the special of steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, a salad and 2 beers...all for $15 dollars! The forecast for tomorrow is for west winds at 10 knots, a perfect day to cross Albemarle Sound so we'll be anchoring in the Alligator River tomorrow night. Today something happened...the sun came out! Galena and Lastdance left Elizabeth City on a dreary overcast morning and motored to the mouth of the Pasquotank River. We then steered south and crossed Albemarle Sound in a flat calm which was unlike the previous 4 days when it was a tempest. By 2 o'clock, we anchored off the channel, surrounded by swamp and forest and after Bill rowed over for a few drinks, we were peeling off our shirts in the warmth of the afternoon sun. This anchorage is miles from anywhere with no wireless reception so I’ll upload today’s long and photos from Belhaven or maybe Beaufort. We weighed anchor at the crack of dawn and motored into the Alligator-Pungo canal which is totally remote and unforgiving. After observing several groundings by dummies who don’t understand what "STAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHANNEL” means, we got to sail the Pamlico river to Belhaven. On the way, I passed the very anchorage where Carol and I spent a magical night eleven years ago during our sail to Florida. I could almost see her smile at the end of that long hard day. Belhaven is a nice old town and Bill and I went looking for a tavern. We found Rack Time, a pool parlor with a bar, a bunch of really nice locals and a charming bartender named Teresa who after serving us copious bottle of beer, invited us back for that night’s karaoke. We did, and drank more beer but I got sleepy and wandered back to my boat, leaving Bill to do what Bill does best.
Upon weighing anchor, Bill found his anchor trip line fouled around his rudder and after messing with it from his dinghy to no avail, he stripped to his skivvies and dove in the 58°F water and cleared the snag. We put in a long day of light winds and then a 14 knot strong breeze, right on the nose of course, and as we passed Oriental, I couldn’t help but remember the really fun time Carol and I had there back in 1997. If she had been with me today, she would have been bursting with excitement and she would have MADE me stop there for the night. Now, at the end of the day, Galena and Lastdance are anchored in Adams Creek, just 15 miles from Beaufort, NC. I’ll be staying on for a month with my son Christopher and his family which I’m really looking forward to. After some R&R and repairs, Bill will be moving on to Florida where I plan on hooking up with him again in December or January. Sail on, Carol. Sail on! With a 2 knot favorable, we made Beaufort in less than 3 hours. I took a slip at Town Creek Marina and Bill anchored Galena just off the marina. I decided to stay here rather than the marina on Camp LeJeune, because for a few dollars more, I get many more amenities here and it is the same distance to Christopher's house as the base. Christopher came by in the afternoon with Alexandra and Fiore and after dinner ashore, we watched "Captain Ron" aboard Lastdance. Chris and the kids spent the night aboard and I have to say, this was the highlight of my trip so far. It was great to be "Papa" again and I'm actually really excited about spending a month here with my family.
26 May - My condo is rented out and I'm moved aboard Lastdance full time now. Sailing plans for the summer are to sail around Chesapeake Bay and explore new places as well as visit old anchorages. After that, I plan head to North Carolina in September to spend a month or two at Camp LeJuene where Christopher and his family are being transfered to before he leaves for another deployment to Iraq in January. After that, I'm going to make another attempt to sail to Florida Keys and Bahamas.
Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore was nice but my anchor windlass broke and I got more than my daily share of exercise hauling up 120' of anchor chain by hand. Went to a ball game at Camden Yards to watch Baltimore beat the Yankees. It was good to see everyone including the Tremels who sailed down from Sassafras River.
I Sailed to Annapolis and crossed tracks with my high school, SS John W. Brown which was out on one of her cruises down the bay. Treated myself to a Father's Day dinner but Carol and I used to go there often so like so many things, it was more bitter than sweet.
I departed Kent Island and sailed my way down the bay, stopping at Solomons Island where I ran into our old friend Dave from Mears and he and his two lovely ladies came aboard Lastdance for a while. I also hooked up with Russ and Maggie aboard Integrity and we shared an anchorage until Seawoof and Bliss arrived the next day. From there I sailed south to Reedville on Great Wicomico River where I weathered a storm at anchor downwind from a smelly fish processing factory.
From Reedville I stopped at Gwynn Island then Jackson Creek, then went on to a very rough ride to Yorktown in 25 knots of wind right on the nose. I anchored in Sarah Creek the frist night to ride out some big thunderstorms then motored across the river to the town dock the next morning. Yorktown was a great place to visit, full of history and a few good restaurants and pubs. I squeezed in a day at Williamsburg but had to put off seeing Jamestown for another voyage. From Yorktown I sailed north to Fleets Bay and tucked into Antipoison Creek where Captain John Smith was treated by indians for sting ray poisoning, hence the name!
Still sailing north, I rafted with Bliss and Seawoof in Trippe Creek on the Choptank River after spending Independence Day back at Solomon's Island.
Now sit at anchor in Fogg Cove in St. Michael's where I'm taking a rest day before going on to Annapolis. The 2 weeks have been a mixed bag of weather with more motoring than I wanted to do but all in all, it was good to be out on the bay. As with everything I do, I wish with every fibre that Carol could have been with me. Sailing is not now nor will it ever be as special without her to share it with.
Since returning from Annapolis, I've been sailing around the middle bay, making several trips to St. Michael's and a lonely bittersweet cruise to the Corsica River, where Carol and I used to go often.
Sailed up to Fairlee Creek and hooked up with Tranquility and Belle Amie for a week of cruising including stops in Rock Hall and Magothy River. A week later I saided to St. Michael's with my nephew Nicky and his kids Timmy (aka swabby) and Caitlin. We had a great time! Afterwards I've been out alone most of the rest of August, mostly in quiet anchorages in the Choptank river. I did a land trip with my daughter-in-law Michelle to North Carolina to help her with house hunting. They will be back in Camp Lejuene on Nov first and then Christopher is deploying to Iraq again in January.
I spent most of yesterday getting Lastdance ready for tropical storm Hanna but the highest winds I encountered today were only gust to 47 knots. It got a bit loud and we rolled around in my slip a bit but but 9pm, the wind was down to 15 knots and I can see stars in the sky. Tomorrow, I'll go sailing!
Sailed to Annapolis in perfect conditions and took a slip right in downtown at City Dock. people watched and had a few rum and cokes too many. I had dinner at my cousin Lauries the next day with her and her husband Randy. FANTASTICO! On Friday, I met two women who were soliciting donations for Special Olympics. I invited them aboard Lastdance to dicuss a sailing trip donation but 2 bottles of wine later, I had to call my friend Sailboat Bill to help me entertain them! Bill and the ladies came back Sunday and I sailed back to Kent Island with them. On Saturday, Mike, Jennifer, Michael and Megan came down for the Navy-Rutgers game. We had a nice lunch aboard Lastdance before they went off to the game. Afterwards we went to a great dinner at Buddy's. I'm now back from my 40th reunion at Maine Maritime Academy and scrambling to get Lastdance ready to sail south on or about the 15th of October.
Sailed to St. Michael's over the weekend in company with s/v Galena, s/v Beleza, s/v Cloud Nine and s/v Trust Me. Galena and Beleza rafted to Lastdance and crews from Cloud Nine and Trust Me dinghied over for drinks and snacks until the wind shifted and we almost dragged down on a nice Cabo Rico anchored behind me. After breaking up the raft-up and reanchoring, we went ashore to Carpenter Street Saloon for many more drinks and dinner of many orders mini tacos. I think of Carol all the time but more then usual this weekend.
I had my test at U of P Hospital and the good docs say the nodes remain unchanged and stable so I'm good to go for my voyage south. My plan is to depart on or about 15 Oct and sail to Camp Lejuene, NC and spend a month with Christopher and his family before he deployes to Iraq again. After that I'll sail to florida and the Keys and then on to the Bahamas, returning north in the spring. Once i leave, I'll start a voyage log for anyone who is interested in following my progress or lack of it. My goal is to finish the voyage that Carol and I always dreamed of making but to do it safely and slowly. My book Sailing with Carol is now scheduled to be out in late December or January so look for news of it's release on the "Book News" page of this site.
I'm ready! The wind generator is installed but the depth transducer has still not arrived but I'm going to depart tomorrow and have the transducer forwarded to Norfolk, VA where I'll install it. All future logs will be recorded in the "Voyage Log" page of the website. Sail on, Carol. Sail on!