We arrived in West Palm Beach Florida a few weeks ago and have been enjoying warm weather and sunshine. We recognize how fortunate we are to be traveling during this crazy, difficult time and hope you get some enjoyment from our story.
Of course our plan had been to take delivery in England, sail to Ireland then on to the Mediterranean but like everyone else, those plans changed dramatically.
For now there is no plan. We’ll just keep moving along the Florida coast and enjoy the places we stop and people we meet along the way. We’ll likely head around to the gulf side as we’ve yet to explore that coast by water.
In early November we were still in the Chesapeake and anxious to move on and begin our journey. We did enjoy our stay at Maryland Yacht Club and time spent in Annapolis but we were looking forward to finally sailing Echo. We headed out into the Atlantic at daybreak on November 6th in a dense fog bank and no resolution on the election results.
Although it was a bit unnerving heading over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with such poor visibility we had the opportunity to see how strong our new radar is. The new system is very sensitive to anything in it’s view and paints it clearly on the chart plotter. it also determines traffic which could be a conflict and paints it red. Very comforting in low visibility c0nditions!
We kept our TV on with a speaker in the cockpit following election results as long as we could but were without any update for several hours, we found this was unnerving too. It was a relief once we got back in service to find several states had been called for Biden. Who could have imagined then how long things would drag on.
After an uneventful 30 hour journey around Cape Hatteras we entered Barden Inlet and dropped anchor near Cape Lookout North Carolina.
Getting back into watch scheduling is difficult, especially on the first night of any journey. One of us has to be on watch at all times and we’ve been switching every 2 to 3 hours on our over nights for now. We’ve got great electronic tools to help watch for traffic and we use our auto pilot in which we’ve programmed way points for the course to follow. We do still rely on visual scans to make sure we have all bases covered.
On the new boat we can no longer travel on the Intra Costal Waterway (ICW). Our mast height is about 80 feet and there are many fixed bridges at 65 feet. Our travel now must all be done on the ocean which means weather plays a bigger role in planning. Also, knowledge of appropriate inlets where we can safely get back into protected waters to anchor or get on a dock.
Our first stop was Cape Lookout which is a beautiful remote area surrounded by low, islands, wild ponies and a beautiful light house. We’ve been here before and were happy to spend almost a week waiting for favorable weather to continue south. We knew there was a cold front expected and the passing off shore of hurricane Isaias so we patiently waited for the right opportunity. As it happened, both events seemed to occur at once and it was exciting!
Our Wind Speed indicator recorded a gust of 55 Knots. 10 of the 12 boats anchored in the bight dragged anchor including us. The wind direction had changed 180 degrees with the gust and the anchors didn’t have enough time to reset. The wind continued to gust in the 30s and 40s while Jeff manned the helm and Mary went forward to raise the anchor. We along with the other 9 boats hunted around to find a new spot to drop our anchor in driving rain and high winds. Luckily it went well and was over quickly. Just the way things go with this life, long periods of calm with interludes of amazement and occasionally a few moments or terror.
Next stop, Charleston. We had realized before setting out that our chart data ran out about 20 miles north of Charleston. Not a big deal as we could use the iPad and were quite familiar with the entry. Moving further south would require data so we had a new chip waiting for us with S&J Yachts in Charleston. It was a nice opportunity to meet Matt at the Charleston location. He, along with Sharon and Jack of S&J Annapolis represent Discovery in the US. They have been a helpful resource for us and it was great to show them the Bluewater 50. As always, we enjoyed our stay in Charleston but missed being able to visit some of the wonderful restaurants in town.
During our travels we’ve had the opportunity to use the engines and fly various sail combinations in various wind conditions. We have two Yanmar 57 diesel engines, a roller furling main sail, a self tacking jib, a Genoa and our Bluewater Runner. It was so rewarding to finally be out on the water putting Echo through her paces and seeing what she can do. We have been quite pleased with her performance.
While traveling along the coast we heard our friend Ed from Freedom on the radio. Ed was at Jefferson Beach Marina in Michigan with us. He left a year ahead of us and has traveled up and down the east coast. This is not the first time we happened upon Ed out of the blue, crazy coincidences! Ed came in to visit once we dropped anchor at Cumberland Island.
Further travel included a few days exploring Cumberland Island in Georgia then on to Jekyll Island for another few days. Both are barrier islands off the coast of Georgia with a somewhat similar history but very different feel today.
Cumberland was settled by the members of the Carnegie family and is now National Seashore. There are many original houses but no other development, a rustic beautiful place.
Jekyll Island is now owned by the state of Georgia and has a much more developed feel. Both islands have a long history of Native American inhabitants then to be taken over by others as time moved on. A big part of Jekyll Island’s history involves a winter retreat sports club for some very wealthy families. It was taken over by the state of Georgia after World War II with the historical buildings being very well kept and mostly available to tour. Our ebikes have been great to have for exploring.
Other stops were Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine and Ponce Inlet, all great places we have visited before on previous boats. Our friends Angie and Kelly live near Ponce and were happy to once again arrange dockage for us at their marina. Third boat, third time visiting. Thanks for the hospitality Angie and Kelly!
Finally arrived at West Palm Beach on December 6th. We spent the first two nights at Palm Harbor Marina right in West Palm Beach, perfect spot to visit with our niece Maureen who lives in West Palm!
We wanted to spend a few weeks on dock and have booked into South Lantana Marina till after the first of the year. Then we’ll continue meandering.
We wish all our friends and family a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year!
Mary and Jeff