Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Ft. Lauderdale

Dear Ft. Lauderdale,

I am on sensory overload. Your resorts are numerous. Your vessels are beyond impressive...they make me think of extravagance and excess. Finding parking isn't so hard but paying for parking is near impossible. Tickets should be the new form of parking because using your broken "Pay Here" machines is useless. Dead ends are at every turn...our GPS high tech phones don't understand your ways. Your fire ants have made rinsing the boat a chore and not just play. Thirty something degrees seems to me inconceivable, it's Florida! Why are you soo cold.

Oh Ft. Lauderdale I will tell you what I like about you.

Your waters are brilliant sapphire and turquoise. I can see clear to the bottom and your seas are not too salt for me! Your beaches are full of sand and I love them. It was in the 70's briefly. I do thank you for that. Your palm trees and whispy sea breeze bring a sense of ease. I thank you for that too. I love your canals lined with private docks and luxurious homes. Stucco is everywhere and people know how to make their nests colorful. And though it is slightly tacky, you have quite the Christmas cheer.

Ft. Lauderdale you are a trip.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

America's Oldest City: St. Augustine

Perhaps, I love St. Augustine because I like the works of St. Augustine...

Or perhaps it is because they have excellent Greek Coffee. Or because it is an artsy town. Maybe it is the Spanish architecture of old? Or the nautical community... Whatever it is, I must add St. Augustine to my list of top 7 places around the world.

I wasn't sure whether or not we would make it to St. Augustine, but the weather conditions were so favorable for going offshore that we made awesome headway on our trip to Ft. Lauderdale. So we ducked back inside and docked at St. Augustine Municipal Marina. After fueling up and washing the boat down, I took a much needed stroll around St. Augustine. Old town is just behind the harbour entrance.

Everything is beautiful in this archaic town. It was bitter cold, but the people were warm. I stopped into Gaufres & Goods, this amazing Polish/Greek cafe in Old Town. Why? Because I'm Greek...and really curious about my Greek heritage. So I tried Greek Coffee! It was great! However, not half as impressive as the family who owns the cafe. I talked with them for a good while. They told me I have to try smoked halibut next time I go fishing in Alaska. Apparently it beats smoked salmon!

Here are some photos from St. Augustine!

Old Town:

Ponce de Leon Hotel now Flagler College:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day-Five: Wacca Wache to Charleston

Another wonderful sunrise and brisk day in the ditch! When I think of a ditch, I generally think of muddy water or a gravel trough alongside an old country road. So naturally I thought that the ICW was going to have somewhat unpleasant scenery. I mean who really wants to travel via a ditch? However, I have found it incredibly wonderful. The landscape changes frequently. For instance, this morning we left the Waccamaw River which had an eery barren and backwoods feeling...then this afternoon we passed several towns and homes along the channel that were distinctly South Carolina...later the water became a warm blue and on either side of the ditch were canals, bays, and sounds tucked away behind long sea grass blowing in the winter breeze. Besides the cold spell we seem caught in, we spotted many palms standing tall along the channel banks. Dolphin sightings are getting more frequent. I think laughing dolphin-like squeaks of joy sound from me with each sighting...Today they were feeding right in front of our bow. It was so exciting that I did my happy dance!

The last ten to fifteen miles to Charleston were a little nerving. Our whole run down seemed to perfectly coincide with the leaving tide making for some really shallow spots along the ditch. At one point our depth sounder read 2.6 ft! Wow! I'm not sure I would ever want to run the ICW at night. Glad we are doing it during the day...and that I have a solid captain. I watched others scream on by...maybe that is why so many end up grounded.

Charleston is a neat historic city. Lots of young people and lots of beautiful boats! I bet it is wonderful in the summer months.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day Three: Morehead City-Wacca Wache Marina


Sunrise and dolphins outside my window. What a gift. I can't believe it...I really believe Mark Twain to be right when he said to throw of your bow lines because the adventure I am on is grand.

We pushed 180 miles down the ICW today. Just missing two major fronts and gailing winds, we decided to head on the outside. Along the ICW there are many inlets you can run in and out of depending if you want to travel inland or offshore in the Atlantic. Sometimes you can make a lot of time if you go on the outside and skip all the bridges along the ICW. So we decided to go out at Morehead City and it couldn't have been a better day for us. We passed Frying Pan Shoals and Cape Fear with no sweat. So many vessels are now at rest all around the shoals. The area is now known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic according to one of the dock masters in Morehead City.

Watching the weather we continued on until Little River Inlet at the North and South Carolina border. Another boat we met on our first day continued on and got hammered on the outside as they pushed it to Charleston.

We saw a lot more dolphins and some pretty stellar homes along the ICW in S.C. I love the bright colors and shutters on most houses down here. It is by far the most attractive scenery yet. Wacca Wache is a quaint marina...I will look forward to a day off...

Today's firsts: (1) The eery feeling of barren and backwoods bayou. (2) We thought we saw a log in the river...but it was a RACCOON swimming across the water. I'm sure glad we slowed down other wise that little fellow wouldn't have had much of a chance in our wake.

Day Two: ICW Coinjock to Morehead City

After getting some well needed sleep we headed out of Coinjock.

150 miles down the ICW we ended up docking at Portside, Marina in Morehead City, NC. It was a lovely and yet chilly ride down. I really enjoyed the scenery.

Morehead City, is known for its sport fishing. After many hours on the boat, we headed up the boardwalk right near the marina. There was a myriad of fishing boats, pubs and art shops. I really enjoyed this stop over.

To add to my list of firsts: Dolphins! I saw dolphins! These off the Richter Scale intelligent creatures have been a favorite of mine since I could walk. I can't believe it only took me twenty some years to see one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ahoy from the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW)

Today marks the start of our second day down the ICW on a 56' Sea Ray. The more endearing term for the ICW is "the ditch." Some of you may be wondering why on earth am I on a powerboat and what the heck am I doing...I am a capt-in-training!

Many people own boats but don't know how to operate them...thus they need a captain...and a captain generally has a crew. So for the next week I am crewing on a boat down to Florida. There are two was to get to Florida from Annapolis: head down the Atlantic Coast(going on the outside) or taking "the ditch" which is a small channel that weaves inland through several states. I will be knocking 4 states off my list of states to see this next week.

Feel free to follow our trip blog at:

Yesterday were were up early to leave the docks by 05:15. At a whomping 30 degrees we untied and left harbour, following the moonlight until sunrise. We traveled at 20kts on average over the water and went 180 miles. That was 12 hours of powering till we reached our first destination of Coinjock. I think that would have taken a week and a half on a sailboat!

I love first experiences so here are some firsts. (1) Traveling through "the ditch." (2) Spotting Pelicans! (3) Seeing warships...and we saw 3 of them! (4) watching a submarine past along my port side (5) Experiencing the backwoods of North Carolina. (6) watching a ridiculously huge ship pass through an open bridge.

Photos from the day: