When we pulled away from Miami we were happy to be out of the hustle and bustle of the large city. Once again we were sucked into the gulf stream and made great time up to St. Augustine covering 294nm in just 41 hours, averaging 7.1 knots with a max of 11.5knts. We were warned by friends that the inlet to St. Augustine can be tricky with aggressive tide rips, so timing was very important. We lined up with the entrance buoys around 8 am, our arrival time was perfect with the high slack tide. The entrance was smooth and un eventful.
We motored in and found a spot to anchor is shallow water, literally right in front of the St. Augustine fort. In 2010 when Jon and I took a break from building our first boat “Tara” we did a cross-country road trip from California to Key West. Our favorite stop was St. Augustine and when we visited the fort from land and saw all the sailboats anchored out, we knew that some day we would be out there on our own boat! THIS WAS THAT DAY! BAH
We were all so excited to explore this little historic town that we ate breakfast and headed into shore. Sadly the dinghy dock at the St. Augustine marina cost about $12 a day..but you get to use the laundry and showers and its located smack down in the middle of town. After paying for the day we put the sticker on Falkor then went in search of cool historic things, and drinks and lunch of corse.
Of all the cool things to see, I think we were most impressed with Flagger College. The history of the old building and the Flagger family was so interesting. Here is a little about it from Wiki: “Founded in 1968, the school is located on 19 acres (77,000 m2), the centerpiece of which is the Ponce de León Hotel, built in 1888 as a luxury hotel. The architects were John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, working for Henry Morrison Flagler, the industrialist, oil magnate and railroad pioneer. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
We then later found The White Lion, which on Tuesdays has $1 drinks and half off wings. These are not just good wings… they are EXCELLENT WINGS!!! bah so good in fact that Jon and I went back later that night ( like 11pm) for another round!
We had posted on social media that we were in St. Augustine and were contacted by a few followers to meet up! This was so cool, and we truly enjoyed meeting fellow cruisers and our followers/ supporters. Lucky for us, the local St. Augustine cruisers already meet up on Wednesdays, so we decided to head there!
Jon has been looking into getting a new dinghy for Prism… Shhhh don’t tell Falkor…… AND one of the dinghies we are looking into happen to be made right here in St. Augustine, Bauer Marine. Jon contacted the owners and asked if they would be willing to show us their warehouse, which they did. Not only did they show us the shop, but Christoph also picked us up and dropped us back off.
While in St. Augustine we also took the time to take the tour of the St. Augustine Distillery . WHICH WAS SO COOL! Plus free tastings!
After a week of exploring, laundry, drinking, manatees, flamingos and meeting new people and waiting out more server thunder storms it was time to keep heading north. We left St. Augustine in the early morning with the out going tided and pointed our bow towards Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. We had about 3 days before the weather turned real nasty off the dangerous cape…..We however did not make it to the cape in time.
The bad weather started to turn a day early, so we decided to duck in at Cape Fear. After making it through the class A inlet of south port. We then took the ICW aka “eyes on the depth sounder only”ride up to Wrightsville Beach. This was our first trip using the ICW. The views were beautiful when we could actually look away from the sounder. We were very thankful when another sailboat who clearly knew the tricky channel passed us and lead the way, allowing us to enjoy the people, house and bird watching.
The anchorage at Wrightsville was great! We met a lot of young cruisers who were also just stopping here to wait out the rough weather before continuing north. So we spent the week walking around the little town, becoming card holding members to have a drink at the bars, many late night gatherings on boats and also being the grownups we are playing at the park. This little stop over was easy to get to, had good holding, easy access to shore with a great dinghy dock and very friendly people.
On one of our last nights, we were picked up by some locals in a classic old North Carolina working sailboat. I cannot remember the name of this vessel, but we did enjoy our full moon sail amongst new friends.
Once the weather passed we moved on. After hearing everyone’s option about the Masonboro inlet, we decided to give it a try. EASY! Why in the world would anyone not use it! Anyways, we left Wrightsville in the late afternoon, with hopes of making the 60NM journey over night and arriving at the Beaufort Inlet located just under Cape Lookout by sunrise.
We however did not expect to get into the gulf stream again and haul ass. Seriously we had to slow down so much that even with bare poles, and no engine we were still moving at 4 knots! Making our arrival around 2am! That would have been 63miles in 7 hours! CRAZY!!! But as we got closer to Cape Lookout and the gulf stream headed up and out we then came to a very rolly standstill about 15 miles out. My job at 3 am was to slowly make our way towards the first set of markers and to time it just right with the sun rise, so that’s what I did. At first light I turned on our engine and started to turn into the main channel, passing by all the shrimpers then all the pleasure boats going out for a days worth of fishing.
Jon woke after I directed Prism to go through some large wakes left in our path by huge sporty sport fishing boats. Seriously, they had zero reason to be going that fast, plus they come closer to me as they passed, SO RUDE. Out of all the speedy sport fishing boats only one, ONE slowed down way before he got to us and passed with no wake. I guess he saw the drastic maneuvers I was doing throughout the channel to take most of the wakes on our bow rather than our broad side. That man restored my faith in the people of Moorehead City.
Once we passed Moorehead we made our way to Adams Creek, which is part of the main ICW. This channel was well-marked for the most part, and we only had to spend 70% of our time looking at the depth sounder. We found that the charts on Open CPN were the only ones worth a damn, but even then there were times it showed us on the ground when we were in fact in the middle of the channel.
We can see why people buy motor boats to explore the ICW or have shallow draft boats. I mean we are only 5.5 feet, well more like 6ft because we are so loaded.. but I could not imagine doing that on a boat that drafts any more! Bah! Good thing it is all soft mud.Why were we taking the shallow ICW up Adams Creek? Well we were heading for Oriental! We had heard it was a small sailing town which we could not pass, plus we have family friends who live only 15 minutes away and we were looking forward to seeing them.
As we pulled into the protected harbor in downtown Oriental our family friend Dan was waiting for us at the free public dock. Yes you read that right…. A FREE DOCK! IN THE CRUISING WORLD! WITH BATHROOMS AND WIFI!!!! THAT IS UNHEARD OF RIGHT!!!! Once again I repeat, FREE DOCK!!! yes there is 48 hour limit, but still!!!!!
WHAT A COOL LITTLE TOWN! We immediately took the chance to use the free bikes that the Provisioning Company lends out to cruisers right next to the public dock. This small market/ chandlery is family owned and has pretty much anything a cruiser could need. While we were there we met Pat who is an ex-crusier himself, who went above and beyond to make sure all our wants and needs were taken care of.
So back to the bikes, we loaded up and rode to every marina in the area. Yes it took us all day, but we did find another HC33!! Jon and I have a serious dock walking problem. Mostly it is a chance for us to bet each other what kind of boats we see. Most likely if he doesn’t know what kind of boat it is, then I will and vise versa. While Jon and I were enjoying the dock walks, Jet was loving life as we all partook in one of her favorite pass times, bike riding! Once again something free! FREE BIKES TO USE!!!!!! I know, I know! Now you want to go to Oriental right!!!
All three of us fell in love with the laid back lifestyle and the incredible hospitality from the people of Oriental. Everyone we met was beyond nice and willing to help us in any way we needed. One of the greatest parts about cruising are the people you get to meet along the way. While spending time at The Bean ( local coffee shop and ice cream shop which is to DIE FOR) we noticed a cool aluminum river paddle boat pull up onto the public dock. We thought whoa that’s a cool boat, so we had to meet the owner. Sure enough the owner Gaylen is not only an awesome guy to hang with, but he is also an amazing musician and composer!! So to make the cruising world even smaller, Gaylen makes music for youtube, and he happens to be one of the artist we use!! HA! CRAZY. Needless to say we ended up spending a lot of time with this young man, not only letting him kick our butts at Catan (the board game) but also escaping boat work with mid day beers and great dinners.
To add to the awesome people we met in Oriental there was also the Pickard family, who only slightly hunted us down via Facebook to meet us. They were so kind and invited us to join them for Fathers Day dinner, showed us around town, let us use their house to store our sails and once again help in any way that they could. The Pickard family is still helping us even though we are across the country… this wonderful family who is proving that southern hospitably is a real thing let us store our 4 6V batteries in their garage on a charger and are watching the water levels AND, AND!!!! Scott (Mr, Pickard) is taking the time out of his life to go to Prism almost every week to rinse her off with fresh water to help the blisters dry out. THANK YOU!
Then… there is Bill. We met this man on the dock next to our boat, he invited us to visit River Dunes Marina. Normally we can not afford marinas, but he told us we HAD to come. Once we agreed to check out the marina Bill also invited us to stay in one of his houses at the marina. SAY WHAT! We could not pass up the change to stay in a house for a few days, Real kitchen, SHOWERS!! couches, TV, internet.
I mean anyone who lives on a boat full-time, and then in offered to stay in a house for free, they are going to take up the offer. Anyways the marina was beautiful, the amenities were very high-end, and the staff was beyond helpful. From what we heard from local sailors the high-end marina is a great mini vacation/getaway that most visit once a month or so. Plus it is one of the safest marinas during a hurricane.
We stayed at River Dunes for about 4 days, then remembered we had actual work to get done on PRISM. So we headed out and made our way up the Bay River to where Prism is going to spend the summer. Hurricane Boatyard is the perfect yard for anyone who does not draft more than 6feet ( at least for now). We had about a weeks worth of work before we needed to be hauled out.
Remember our family friend Dan, well to go along with southern hospitality he let us use his work truck while we were staying in the yard. This truck made everything so easy, plus it meant that we could drive back into Oriential to join our friends for Thursday night Buy one get one free Pizza! Oh yea freaking good pizza to boot… It’s not Z’s pizza from Key West ( yes I am still bitter about passing that) but it was still very good and the company was even better! THANK YOU DAN!
Back to boat work…..Anyone who has decommissioned their boat for a summer season knows how much work it is. So to add to the work we needed to get done… Jon and I decided to tear off our teak decks. We never had any leaks or problems with our decks till we bashed into nasty weather for 6 days on our trip from Panama to the Caymans. That trip literally, because the port side was under water more than above it, destroyed the wonderful seal we had and allowed water to annoyingly seep into our boat. Lame
With Jet’s help we had the teak decks off in about 3 days, with all the screw tips ground off and all the holes filled with epoxy and painted. In the week before we hauled we completed this:
- remove teak decks
- grind, fill and paint screw holes
- remove varnish
- lower mast using tabernacle
- remove chain, wash with fresh water, wash anchor locker and replace.
Once we were ready to be hauled the yard told us to make our way into the hauling ways. After 3 tries of getting stuck in the mud, we decided to wait till the morning at high water. Bright and early (before coffee even) Jon and I pushed through about 1/2 a food of mud to get into the hauling ways. Good thing we put in that new engine with all the horse power! Cause I don’t think we would have made it through with out the extra new ponies. The excitement didn’t stop there, once we were hauled, the yard literally had to shovel dirt out of the way so Prism’s keel would clear the ground to move into her spot.
Wasting no time, the 3 of us dove right into getting Prism put away for the summer. Oh yea and remember Bill….well he once again offered for us to stay in one of his houses while we were on the hard. Cause as anyone who has ever lived on your boat while on the hard while working on her.. it’s not fun or easy. So we worked hard and then made our way back to the wonders and easiness of home living. Here is the list of what we did to get Prism ready for summer all by herself:
- donate all food that will go bad
- disconnect house batteries
- winterized engine
- hot wire a dehumidifier to stay on while we are gone
- deep clean and wipe down all everything with tea tree oil (to stop mold and mildew growth)
- cover prism with same covers we made back in mexico
- grind out all blisters on hull to let dry out over summer
- secure mast and boom
- sanded runner and drilled holes to let dry out over summer ( the rudder was once again FILLED with water)
- remove prop
- move our personal belongings and pack to travel across the country
I’m sure there was more, but that’s all I can remember. I blame the North Carolina summer heat for the lack of memory. As it was in the 100’s with super high humidity and no wind to help cool it down. ew. It took us about 3 days to get all the work done, and the house to sleep in every night was a life saver!!! Once againTHANK YOU BILL!!!
Now the next step was how in the world do we get ourselves and all our crap back to California?
- Fly? Least amount of travel time, but we have a lot of bags with all the camera gear.. total cost around $1500…nope
- Train? About 3 days travel…That would be fun… total cost $ 1000…nope
- Drive? 4 days maybe….? plus gas, hotels and food….$1000…um no
- bus? 62 hours,bring food…..$360. SOLD
The morning we were leaving we drove the work truck to Dan’s house, then jumped into his car for a ride up to New Burn to catch the GreyHound Bus.
Yep we took the hound across the country. This was something that Jon and I like to call an experience that we will in fact never do again. The Greyhound buses were nice, and when you get to sit next to someone you know, the seats are not that bad as we can lean and invade each others space a bit. It was all going very well, we traveled with Jet for the fist few states, but then said our good byes in Tennessee as we headed west and she went north. We missed her immediately! 🙁 We truly hope our paths will meet again, we had so much fun with her, making memories we will never forget! So all was going well, that was till we got to Oklahoma City, where we experienced extreme boredom while waiting for a delay to get caught up. So for an extra 8 hours we waited in the middle of nowhere, with no food and nothing to do but be uncomfortable and try to spread out and catch some z’s. Well this delay really screwed up every other connection we had, leading all the way to California. We did however meet some cool people, who made the trip. But by the time we made it to Fresno 72 hours, 6 transfers and an 8 hour delay, our friend Clarke came to our rescue at 6am.
You would think that as soon as we got to his house we would want to crash, which we thought we would too, but after a shower all we wanted to do was get some good breakfast. Once our bellies were full, that is when we went back to his house, and vegged out on the couch as we waited for Jon’s mom to come pick us up to take us home to Shaver Lake, back home for the summer!
So now it is back to work to build up the cruising kitty so we can get back out there aboard Prism ASAP!