"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas

December 14, 2011

Dec. 7-11 – Charleston, SC

Kyle had a wonderful idea that we meet them in Charleston while they had interviews at MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina) for residency programs. It was a great idea…we had a chance to catch up with our friends Don and Pam, even got to spend the night on their boat Gallivant. We arrived in Charleston right before a cold front blew in…luckily we had time to get our stuff aboard before the winds picked up and the rain came down. We spent the whole evening visiting, cooking and enjoying margaritas…not a bad way to spend a stormy night. We actually spent most of Thursday sitting around talking and catching up too…time flies when you’re having fun.

We picked Kyle up at the airport around 3:00 and checked into the Cannonboro Inn, located in a historic house that was built in 1853. The beautiful B&B is right across the street from the University, and they are both within walking distance of all the wonderful shops and restaurants in Charleston. We arrived just in time for wine and snacks, which we enjoyed as we visited with Kyle. We enjoyed another evening with our friends while Kyle spent the evening with current ER residents from MUSC at an informal get together. Friday was a beautiful, clear day and we spent most of it riding bikes and exploring little places we had seen while we were here in July. We met Don and Pam at Pearlz for happy hour and dinner and picked up Brytanie at the airport around 10:00. Finally…everyone was together. The kids have been very busy flying all over the country interviewing for residency programs, it was nice for them to have a few days in Charleston to relax.

We woke up to cold dreary weather Saturday morning, but we still had fun wandering around the farmers market and riding our bikes through historic Charleston. After lunch we decided to warm up and spend the afternoon relaxing at the inn. We wrapped up our visit to Charleston enjoying margaritas on our friend’s boat and a wonderful dinner at Hanks. We enjoyed being back in Charleston, but spending time with the kids and our favorite boat friends made the trip a great time.  

Don and Pam on their boat
The Cannonboro Inn
The Entry Hall
The Living Room
Happy hour
Kyle and Brytanie's room at the Inn
Our room at the Inn
Kyle and Brytanie at dinner

November 20, 2011

Nov. 18 – Port Lavaca, TX

History Lesson

We spent seven months and almost 4000 miles seeing the sites and learning the history of each area we visited, so we decided we should spend a little time reviewing the history of our county. Friday we played Calhoun County tourist. Our first stop was at the Calhoun County Museum. It is located in an add-on to the old county jail building which was built in1896; this building was also used as the county library at one time. We saw the plans for the new building that will be built close to Lighthouse Beach and the Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse. The decks of the building will be built to look like La Salle's ship, Belle, which sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686. Very impressive looking building...all they need now are the funds to build it. We enjoyed the exhibits and visiting with Mrs. Cox, who helps run the museum. She even had genealogical information on the Marshall family…some we didn't even know about. During our travels on The Pearl, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t seem to see a lot of birds…or at least what I thought were a lot of birds. I learned today why I felt that way. Our county has for several years held the record for the most birds spotted in the nation. I guess I am a little spoiled and maybe expected too much. Calhoun County is a premier bird watching spot and attracts lots of bird watchers each year.

After the museum we had lunch at Tropics, overlooking the harbor. Our next stop was Karankawa Bay, east of town. We wanted to check out a possible place to launch our kayaks, to do a little exploring. We found a good spot…all we need now is a pretty day. We also stopped at several little beach areas and did a little beach combing…found a little beach glass, but nothing too exciting. It was a nice day; we learned a little more about the Karankawa Indians, Indianola, and Port Lavaca and even got a little family history.

Calhoun Count Jail built in 1896 (photo courtesy of the internet)
Calhoun County Museum
Exhibit of arrowheads and stone tools collected and donated by Charles Husak
Lens and replica of the Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse
Picture of the Halfmoon Lighthouse when it sat in Matagorda Bay (photo courtesy of the internet)
The lighthouse now welcomes visitors to Port Lavaca, close to Lighthouse Beach
Port Lavaca harbor around 1900 (same area where our home marina is today)
Nautical Landings Marina (picture taken in 2010)

November 6, 2011

Nov. 6 – Port Lavaca, TX

Life on Land

We've been home for a month and we are getting back into the routine of our land base life. October and November is a wonderful time of year to be in Texas, our weather has been fantastic. We've been busy cleaning up and getting things like our yard and pool back to some sense of normal…neither look like they used to, but they are better. The long hot very dry summer has made our little piece of paradise a sad place, but I’m glad we weren't here to put up with the heat. We have also been catching up with family and friends, having a lot of great meals with wonderful conversation. It has been great to catch up with everyone we missed so much while we were gone.

Stan loves fishing in the fall and has been spending a lot of mornings in his kayak catching redfish and trout. We are definitely enjoying the fresh fish. He has also been working on our sailboat…maybe to use a little and then sell…not sure yet. I have been playing with my photos from the trip…printing and framing a few and getting back into quilting. I spent a few days this week at the International Quilt Show in Houston with my sister in-law, Paula. We had a great time. The show is so large, crowded and has so much to see…it can be a little overwhelming. Anyone who enjoys sewing, creating things from material or appreciates beautiful fabric art should go to this event at least once. I have also started doing a little research on New York, the Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and Canada…trying to figure out exactly where we want to spend next spring and summer. So many beautiful places to go and things to see….I’m getting excited already.

This is the way our pool looked a few years ago, before several dry summers and cold winters.
This is the way our pool looked when we came home in October...it does look a little better now, but the yard is still very dry.
A couple of visitors we had last week...they probably liked the pool better when it looked like a pond.
Fresh red fish

October 17, 2011

Oct. 16 - Indianola, TX

Powderhorn Lake

We've missed being on the water, so we took the kayaks to Powderhorn Lake to enjoy the beautiful fall day. Powderhorn is one of our favorite places to go, it's a wonderful place to see fish, dolphins and birds. Most people go there to fish, but it's also a great place to watch birds...that's what I do while Stan fishes. We saw more birds today than anywhere on our trip. I can name at least 15, but know it would be more if I knew all the names of the different sandpipers we saw. A few of the birds we saw were Little Blue Heron, Tricolor Heron, Rosette Spoonbill, White Ibis, Pelicans, Royal Terns and Oyster Catchers  The water was very clear...we could see fish scurrying around, dolphins chasing there dinner and stingrays laying on the bottom. It felt wonderful to be outside on the water.
Lunch time company
Black Simmer 
Marble Godwit 
Snowy Egret

October 7, 2011

Oct. 6 - Home Sweet Home

We left Port Lavaca on March 7...we had seven months of amazing adventures, filled with lots of new sites and experiences. We traveled 3990 miles, over 4000 miles if you add in the miles we traveled in the dinghy and on our bikes. We visited 12 states and the District of Columbia and countless numbers of wonderful cities and little towns. Some of our favorite places include Ocean Springs MS, Tarpon Springs FL, St. Petersburg FL, St. Augustine FL, Fernandina Beach FL, Cumberland Island GA, Charleston SC, Beaufort SC, Washington DC, Annapolis MD, and all the wonderful little places on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Our favorite day was spent snorkeling and fishing off Sombrero Reef in Marathon, Florida. The list could be so much longer…there were so many places that had their shining moments. We enjoyed learning more about the history of the country and seeing the places we’d heard about all our lives. We especially enjoyed the times we had with family…it was a lot of fun to explore Key West with Kenneth and Earline, and we enjoyed getting to know Kendra, Doug and their girls a little more in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Thank you for sharing a piece of our adventure. The other high point of our trip was meeting people…not just boaters, but the local people of all the great places we stopped. They shared local knowledge and their enthusiasm for the places they live…so many good memories.

It took us a little time to get comfortable with weather and sea conditions, buying groceries without a car, doing normal life activities in such a small space, limited laundry and countless other things we take for granted at home. We definitely have become more appreciative of those things. Stan's confidence in the boat and his ability to handle new situations grew each day. Things that seemed like big deals in the beginning…were nothing by the time we returned. As we have more time this winter to reflect on the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen and the things we’ve done, I’m sure it will soak in a little more how lucky we’ve been to have this amazing experience.

I am going to miss the sounds and sites on the water….the birds, the fish, the sunset and the unknown around the bend. This is just a break…not an end to our adventure. We look forward to cruising again next spring and summer, and exploring other wonderful spots in this country and Canada.

Stan making the last inspections on the boat
Atlantic Yacht Basin...one of the sheds they keep boats in
One last look at our precious Pearl

October 4, 2011

Oct. 4 - On Our Way Home

Day 200 - Saying Goodbye to the Boat and Friends
Atlantic Yacht Basin

We spent yesterday finishing up little projects, packing, renting a car and saying goodbye to friends. Avis car rental gave us a pretty good deal on our car...still unbelievably high, but we can use our credit card points to get most of the cost back. Not too bad...our final cost will only be $75.

After renting the car we picked up twenty gallons of potable antifreeze that we will use to winterize the boat. After dropping it off at the boat we went to Insight and had a nice visit with Jim and Julie. They fly home to Arizona tomorrow morning. I hope our paths cross again next summer. We spent the rest of the evening with Pam and Don. As usual we had a great time; they feel like old friends...hard to believe we've only known them for two weeks. We will definitely cruise with them again. They are spending the winter in Charleston and will be back in the Chesapeake next spring. See you then if not before somewhere.

We got right to work this morning. First thing we had to do was move the boat and get a pump out, then back to our spot on the wall. We drained all the water from the water tanks and started pumping antifreeze through all the lines...water, toilet, engine, air conditioner, and generator. We loaded all the stuff we are bringing home, stored our bikes inside the boat and put other things away for the winter. We left the boat on the wall for now, they will tow it to a shed after the fuel tank is welded. It really felt strange just leaving her there...knowing we won't be back for six months. We had an amazing time and look forward to new adventures next year.

We left around one o'clock, and as I'm writing this in the car we have no idea where we will stop for the night. I am going to try and post this from my phone...hope it doesn't look too different from the other posts. I will post a follow up when we get home. Please forgive any grammatical errors my editor is driving.

Dinner at Carraba's
Running antifreeze through the lines
This was to be the longest barge we've seen since we left Texas....a tug, seven barges, and a 1/4 mile of pipe
The Pearl...all alone...😢

October 3, 2011

Oct. 2 – Great Bridge, VA

Day 198 – Waiting
Atlantic Yacht Basin

Stan did a little more work in the engine room, removed the hot water heater so he could get to the area of the diesel tank that needs repair. He has cleaned the spot that needs to be welded or patched and we are now waiting until tomorrow for a decision on which way we will go. At the moment we are with out hot water and are using the showers at the marina and warming water in the microwave to wash dishes. If we stay much longer I will have to make a run to the grocery store for more supplies. So waiting is the name of the game at the moment…hopefully we will be able to leave by Tuesday afternoon. 

Seven o'clock opening of the bridge
We woke up to 45° weather...it made the water look beautiful
The afternoon parade of boats

October 2, 2011

Oct. 1 - Great Bridge, VA

Day 197 - Transition Day
Atlantic Yacht Basin

We still have things to do before we leave, but most of them will have to wait until Monday. We spent the day getting things organized, washing the boat and watching the large boats go by in the ICW. The bridge just north of the marina only opens once an hour and there has been quite a show of large yachts going by today. You know when they're coming, because the bridge blows a horn to warn motorists that the bridge is going to open. A few minutes later a parade of boats comes by. The largest was 130'...the big boys are moving south for the winter. I guess I should have taken a few pictures of the larger ones...they're just unbelievable. I'm going to miss seeing all the yachts, waterman boats, barges and tugs when we get home.

Our friends Jim & Julie Bertch are also here getting their boat ready for winter storage. Since we both have food to use up before we leave, we got together this evening for a communal dinner. We grilled steaks, shrimp and potatoes. We planned on sitting outside in the little gazebo next to their boat, but a cold front moved in last night and it was too chilly. We had to visit on their boat. The prediction is for temperatures in the forties tonight...brrr.

Great Bridge - opened
The weather was a little cool so we had a fire on Insight to keep us warm. Well maybe not, it was a video but still nice

September 30, 2011

Sept. 30 – Great Bridge, VA

Day 196 – Work Day

Stan spent the day in the engine room trying to figure out where the leak was in our port fuel tank. We’ve had a small leak for the last month or two and he wanted to fix it before we left the boat for the winter. He pulled the wood away from the tank and moved what he could so he could inspect the tank…he found a small crack in the lower corner. He spoke with the marina and they pumped the diesel from the port tank into the starboard tank and they will fix the crack on Monday. At the moment we are listing to starboard, since all the fuel is on one side of the boat. I feel like I’m on a sailboat. While Stan was working on the boat, I was trying to find a way to get home. I knew we would have to pay an extra fee for renting a car and not returning it to the same city…but I didn’t know it would be so much! I should have done a little research earlier in the summer…flying would have been a lot more economical, especially if I had booked the flights early. We will plan better next year. On the positive side, we should have enough points on our credit card to pay for the rental. Our plan right now is to pick up the car on Monday afternoon, winterize the boat on Tuesday morning and start home Tuesday afternoon…but as we have learned, plans can change. One way or another we should be home by next weekend.

There isn't a lot of room to work in the engine room...can you find Stan? Hint: You can just see his hat
Looking south at Atlantic Yacht Basin
Looking north from the far end of the marina.

Sept. 29 - Great Bridge, VA

Day 195 - Last Day on the Water
Atlantic Yacht Basin

Today was our last day on the water. It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine. Hampton Roads was a little rough with white caps and lots of boat traffic, but for two experienced boaters it was just another wonderful day on the water. We came past the large Naval Station, the busy port of Norfolk and Portsmouth and entered the ICW. We had seven bridges and a lock to get through before we arrived in Great Bridge. Three were railroad bridges that stay open unless a train is coming...no trains, that was good, one is 65'...no problem there. That left us with three we needed to worry about...our timing was fantastic and only waited a few moments at each to open. It couldn’t have been better.

We are docked on the outside wall at Atlantic Yacht Basin for now. When we have the boat ready for storage we will move it to one of the covered sheds. Stan spent the afternoon changing the oil and checking a few other problem areas he is concerned about. We aren't certain when we will leave at this point, but we should have a better idea by tomorrow. Most of the things I need to do will have to wait till the last day. It's hard to believe it is almost October and we have traveled so far. Our final mileage count for this part of the adventure is 3991 miles. I’m excited to get home and spend time with family and friends, but I will truly miss the water and the boat.

Part of the video Pam took as we were leaving Hampton this morning.
Pam enjoying her coffee on Gallivant
Leaving Hampton
I love this sign
Waterman's dock in Hampton
A military tug (pusher)
Portsmouth, VA
Waterside Marina were we stayed in July
We found our next yacht...notice the helicopter?
Back to barges and bridges