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Thursday, November 24, 2016

FLORIDA!!! : )



First of all, we’d like to wish everyone a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  Hope yours was blessed with family, friends, and good times.  We have finally found our way to Florida, and so far, the Sunshine State has really lived up to its name.  Weather has been gorgeous and not too hot or cold (yet).

We did make a stop in St. Marys, GA last Sunday and were pleasantly surprised by the changes to this small town.  As I mentioned before, Mark was stationed there from 1995 to 2000 while on the USS Rhode Island and then on shore tour as Squadron Engineer.  Though Mark was quite busy during these years, the kids and I became very creative in finding ways to entertain ourselves in this “quaint” little town.  To St. Marys’ credit, the downtown area has come a long way since we left - it was wonderful to see the city’s plans for a waterfront park come to fruition!





After a few more uneventful anchorages, we have stayed in St. Augustine for the past two nights  in the municipal marina’s mooring field (tied up to a big mooring ball instead of using our anchor).  Lots of dolphins around, and even a few manatees have come close by (no luck taking pictures of them yet despite my best efforts).  We have found the city to be very charming and boater friendly - so many things to do and so little time!  Favorite attractions include the historical St. George St. shopping/restaurant district, tour of a local chocolate factory, the Castillo de San Marcos, and biking across the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia State Park (more sea-shelling of course).  






Today, we were very grateful to be included in the huge Thanksgiving pot luck extravaganza hosted by the St. Augustine Cruisers Net (this was their 4th annual).  Sponsors provided 7 turkeys (4 roasted and 3 smoked - yum) and 3 hams; plus all of the home/boat-made side dishes, it was an amazing and delicious spread.  We met lots of other couples and families, all with various destinations along the East Coast and all extremely friendly.  I couldn’t help but miss my kiddos, family, and friends a lot today; though a reason to be even more thankful for their roles in our lives is always welcome.




Our next notable stop will be a visit to Mark’s Uncle Jack and Aunt Patty in Cocoa, FL - with the promise of a warm visit with family and a bonus of being offered a comfortable bed  (WOW!).  We will definitely post more before long, and we remain grateful for all of our friends reading this - be well, friends!!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Beaufort, SC and beyond!



Hi folks and greetings from Georgia!  We've been making good time (about 60 miles per day) for the past few days.  The ICW is hardly a straight line, though, so our actual southern progression per day is significantly less than that.  (example of ICW chart below)



We spent two nights anchored in the harbor off Beaufort, SC (the one pronounced Be-YOU-fort).  Had some great dinners and enjoyed some live music - a real treat!  The highlight of this quaint city was the Spanish Moss Trail - a 12-mile section of an old rail line that they converted into a walking/biking trail.  It was mercifully flat, and our mutual endurance was limited only by the lack of bike-seat comfort.  After about 15 miles, one snake encounter, and being chased by two angry dogs, we were glad to get back to the relative comforts of the city.  The pictures below are from a waterfront city park in Beaufort, which had lots of Southern charm.









Since leaving Beaufort on Thursday, November 17, our trip has taken us into some pretty remote waters as we crossed into and through Northern Georgia.  Apparently, we have fallen behind almost all of the other south-bound trawlers and sailors - some days we have only seen a handful of other boats (including local fishing boats).  Our anchorages have been very quiet, peaceful, and uneventful.  Thanks to our satellite radio, we've been able to listen to all the college and NFL football games.  Here is our high-tech set up as we were listening to the Buckeyes squeak out a win yesterday - note the OSU flag flying proudly on our bow!









Our current plan is to anchor tonight in St. Mary's, GA - where we were stationed for a memorable 5 years when the kiddos were little.  We'll hopefully be able to bike around a bit if this colder weather has stifled the formidable bug population there.  After that, we plan to continue southward, with our next notable stop planned for St. Augustine mid next-week.

Stay warm and well, friends!!!!  : )

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Onward from Myrtle Beach!!!!



Hello everyone!  I wasn’t expecting to take this long of a break from blogging - glad you could join us again as our journey continues.  

SIDE NOTE/TECHNICAL CHALLENGES:  I have tried to adjust the settings on my blog so that y’all get email notifications when I post an update; however, I don’t think this is working.  I’ve heard from people who have tried to post comments, but I can’t see those comments at all.  Also, I have not been able to figure out a way to put a map (tracking our progress) into my blog but would like to.  If anyone has any advice on any of these issues, I would love to hear from you!  (email is sherylmerrick@gmail.com).  Thanks so much for bearing with me!!!

Now on to our update:  we spent 9 wonderful days at Osprey Marina in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, which is on the southern end of Myrtle Beach.  My parents live about 20 minutes away, so we were able to spend some very relaxing time with them.  Gotta give a shout-out to my Mom for doing our laundry (is there an age limit when that should stop?) - very much appreciated!!!  It was also a lot of fun getting my mom going on her first “smart phone” - she even managed to take her very first selfie LOL (if you know my mom, this is big news for her!).


My awesome friends also made the trek to Murrells Inlet (by car), and we had a great time visiting, catching up, and doing some dorky touristy things.


After all that fun, Mark and I left the comforts of the marina and camaraderie of family/friends and set sail once again on Monday, November 14.  Back to the reality of water-soluble marine grade toilet paper (I won’t elaborate, but I’m sure you can imagine) and conserving power and water.  We passed offshore of Charleston (see picture) but the view was very hazy due to smoke from the wild fires in western North Carolina.  


We have anchored for the past two nights in random places along the way - both spots were pretty isolated and therefore extremely quiet and peaceful.  The types of trees/plants we are passing by have changed - notice the palm trees?  The nights have been on the cool side (mid 40’s), and this only strengthens our resolve to continue rapidly southward.



And I had to throw in a picture Mark took of me relaxing in “my spot” on a day when it was too cold to drive from topside.  Not looking too stressed, am I?  


The only maintenance/repair issue has been a small oil leak around the engine valve cover - Mark has (of course) tried tweaking the tightness of the bolts, but the oil continues to outsmart him and escape.  I believe a new gasket is being delivered to our next destination, though - hopefully that will solve it once and for all.  All other systems functioning nominally, knock on wood!  Next stop will be Beaufort, SC for a day or two - will update next from there.  Take care, y’all!





Friday, November 4, 2016

Goodbye North Carolina!





This is a video taken today at anchor just on the border between North and South Carolina - close to the city of Calabash.  I am not sure I have loaded the video correctly onto the blog - hope it works for you!  (it seems to work on my Macbook but not my iphone for some reason).

Mark took the dinghy into Calabash last night and scored some ultra-fresh shrimp for dinner.  The fact that we have now ventured into alligator territory makes dinghy-rides significantly less appealing to me.





Since leaving Wilmington, Mark and I have anchored each night while continuing to make our way southward.  The weather has remained generally pleasant; unfortunately the bugs (gnats and mosquitoes) like the weather too - and apparently the fresh nourishment we provide.

A lowlight for me this week was my not-so-graceful fall on board, and I am still feeling sore in spots from it.  But if I had to choose a place to fall, that would be the best spot (see picture below).  We had just finished setting the anchor, and the deck was wet - my foot slipped on the top step and gravity took over from there, sending me feet-first into the narrow walkway.   The hardest part was trying to get myself back up (felt wedged) - I'm sure that maneuver looked quite walrussy as well.  Just grateful there were no serious injuries!



Starting tomorrow (Saturday), we will be staying at Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach for about 10 days.  We will be able to see my sweet parents and visit with my AWESOME group of friends who are traveling down to Myrtle Beach over Veterans' Day weekend.  Really looking forward to seeing everyone again!

Our trip so far has been incredibly relaxing and stress-free (with the exception of the World Series), but it will be good to be back in civilization for a while.  It's hard to believe, but I'm actually looking forward to going to Walmart and getting all those things we've figured out would be good to have.  Hoping to find some cheap DVDs just in case we get desperate and plan to pick up a replacement coffee maker as our current one is not working consistently (big problem for me - I drink a lot of coffee!).  We may not post again until after we head south again - until then, take care!!!!