Long time no post. As you know, we’re currently in sunny California. But, that doesn’t mean Velocir is completely out of the picture. She needs some love and care back on the East Coast, so we have hauled her out of the water for the winter. It will give us an opportunity to check-up on her and give her the attention that she needs.
The haul-out was very exciting. As you can see, she slipped out of the cradle, yikes! This happened for a few reasons. Mostly, it’s pretty clear in the photo that the strap almost looks amidships, so we all thought we were good to go, but the rudder is just so far forward on her full keel. After a moment of terror, we eased back into the process. She is a strong little boat!
Grant did a thorough survey and assessed the projects. He cleaned her from top to bottom. Even though we have taken great measures including painting and solar vents installation (which is super combative to mold) Velocir still tries very hard to become musty. Without these preventative measures she could have built a nice mold colony, but after many months she is just a bit musty and so we wiped down surfaces, no big deal!
On the bottom, Grant started sanding (yes, he used a mask just not in this photo). The bottom paint did an amazing job protecting her hull. This is the same paint from before the trip! Velocir will get a new bottom job in the spring. For right now, Grant went to work prepping her. It took extra time because instead of just quickly roughing it up, the paint was sanding off in clumps and peeling instead of just being easy to rough up. Eventually it came out after some finesse.
To finish up projects, Grant also repaired our ignition switch. Since we left the Bahamas it has been freezing up. All of the salt and dirt made it grimy, so Grant took it apart and cleaned it thoroughly. Luckily a quick fix! For such a specialized part that is specific to the Vega we didn’t want to need a replacement. The wiring back together probably took the longer than fixing– the wires we used are green, light green and bright green, makes for a fun combination!
Let’s see, what else? The battery was dead so we fixed a loose connection on the solar panel charge controller. We took off the running rigging and ran cheap line through everything to reduce sun and moisture damage to the good stuff. She will rest well this winter!
We are still adapting to our transition from cruising. Many stresses and responsibilities, just the fixation with time and schedules can be a hard adjustment. I mean, we’ve lived in the modern age, but for some reason after the freedoms and confidences cruising affords, being thrust back into the mix is mildly traumatic. I know, I know, what problems to have.
Thanks so much for following our journey, we will continue to update as we can.
Before Motu Iti, Amelia’s parents had cruised and sailed two other bigger 40 foot sailboats. One cruise was to the Bahamas for a year with a young family, the others summer cruises as a couple and with a young family.
They chose Motu Iti because her smaller size makes her easier to handle and take care of. Here is a video discussing the best aspects of downsizing to a smaller sailboat!! And, see Motu Iti’s blog on the topic here.
It can take a lot of creativity and hard work to make the interior space of a boat warm and inviting. Aboard Motu Iti, Nancy shows what she did to make the boat feel like home:
Our trip last year to the Bahamas was a little underwhelming to our social life. We met some really terrific people, but learned that when surrounded by an older crowd the key is to have a baby around. Otherwise, as a young couple on a small boat you may as well be invisible.
Well, we’re not ready for a baby so hopefully the cutest puppy imaginable is the next best thing!?!?! Everyone is planning to invite us over to see their boat, go on a fishing adventure and explore a new beach now, right??!? Let’s have a long and fascinating conversation about our sailing adventures and the cruising lifestyle that doesn’t end with condescending comments like: “Do you know what radar is?” or “Do you have charts?”
So, we’ve had our hands full the last couple of weeks with our newest addition! This has been in the works for many months now, and it was finally decided that the Captains needed their “Crew.”
Crew is a Miniature Australian Shepherd. Today was his first puppy training day and he is at the top of his class with “sit” and “down.” He’s gone for his first swim, sailed in the new dinghy and likes to hang out on Velocir!
(All joking aside about babies and puppies, Crew brings joy to our lives that far exceeds any wistful social life….the part about being an invisible young couple on a small boat is not far from the truth.)
The winds at Pipe Cay subsiding, we sailed for Staniel Cay and anchored at Big Major Cay which is home to Pig Beach. “Wild” pigs actively live on the island, and their favorite hang out spot is this beach. (This is likely because tourists go over and feed them multiple times a day.) Amelia was excited there were five piglets— super cute! We motored over in the dinghy to see them up-close.
We didn’t have any food for them, so when one started swimming toward the boat Amelia wanted to keep our distance. Thoughts of the pigs jumping into/capsizing the dinghy and getting bitten flashed through her mind. Grant thought it was funny how nervous Amelia was about the pigs near our dinghy. When we got back to Velocir other cruisers went over to feed the pigs. Amelia’s fear of them jumping into the dinghy was not unfounded!
The next day we walked around Staniel Cay, a quiet town. Instead of paying $5 at the marina, we walked 10 minutes to the dump to get rid of our trash. Then we treated ourselves to lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It was the most popular place in town, festively decorated with flags and swarming with cruisers (as well as people from private planes who fly down for the day from Florida). The food was really yummy (we had a Club sandwich and fish burger with onion rings) The waitress even gave us free Pina Colodas because she was practicing for the bar!
Walking around town later in the afternoon, we went in search of fresh produce. None of the islands we have visited have had a produce boat in weeks, which we are told is strange. We walked up to the first store we came by and workers were moving in boxes of fresh produce, just arrived by plane! We thought we’d lucked out, as we were among the first to arrive. The prices even seemed reasonable. We picked some things out and went over to the counter. Waiting, we heard the cashier tell the couple in front of us that the prices would be more than marked, because it was flown in. The couple said, oh yes, we had thought as much, it doesn’t matter to us (we have heard this “rich” attitude ruins it for other cruisers). When it was our turn Amelia said, how much is this bag of celery? We don’t even like celery that much, but it is usually cheap and keeps well. It was $5! If celery was $5 ($1.50 on the tag) we could not afford any of the other food we had gathered up. Grant put it all back while Amelia purchased some eggs and a small bag of carrots. Looking back, our lunch was pretty cheap in comparison!
The next day was very busy. We got up early at low tide to snorkel Thunderball Cave, made famous in an older James Bond film. It was very beautiful and fish followed us around everywhere we went. To enter the cave, we swam under a shallow ledge. At high tide, this ledge is submerged and you actually have to dive down and then up into the cave. It was early in the day, so the sunlight wasn’t shining directly in through the holes above the cave, but we could still see some beautiful coral and fish!
Some of the best coral was outside the cave!
We waited until high tide and then took the shallow route south to Bitter Guana Cay, home to endangered Iguanas. They are said to live up to 80 years old and are one of the most endangered Iguana species in the world.
Their home was on a strip of beach with white cliffs towering overhead. We anchored right off the beach and went to visit the Iguanas.
There were a lot of them! They had interesting reddish coloring, and some were as large as a cat. The way their skin hung off their bodies, their limbs looked like stuffed beanie toys.
Their tail-streaks lined the beach.
Our anchorage by the Iguanas was a bit rolly, so we went farther south to Black Point a small “local” town, crowded with cruisers. It had a small grocery store (no fresh produce), a cute cafe and a very nice laundrymat (a little pricy but popular). It was the weekend, and a lot of local men were coming to the town pier by boat with their fresh lobster tails. They started a fire and grilled them on the rocks.
We went back to Velocir and ate some more canned food for dinner, enjoying a beautiful sunset!
The past two days really made us appreciate why we are cruising. History, nature and sweeping landscapes (among other things).
Day One: Long day of motoring the ICW through Georgia. It was a shallow draft day, seeing depth of predominately 6 ft, lowest about 5.5 ft. The tide was way low. We were glad to be able to travel today. Other boats may not have.
In the above photo you can see an arc in the mud where a boat ran into the shallows and then skirted away. Now the tide is even lower, and we must traverse the edge in the shallow channel.
We were very isolated among the marshland and sand dunes. A motorboat ride, but very beautiful.
We made it to Fort Frederica at about two in the afternoon. A sunny warm day (at last!). The Fort is part of a town built in the 18th century to claim Georgia for Britain, with the Spanish at St. Augustine to the south. There were houses and roads, orchards and cemeteries. Each person was handpicked for the colony based on their skills as farmers, builders, etc. There was a “decisive” battle near the fort and on the island in which the Spanish retreated. In the end, it seemed no one wanted to live there. Most people left after five years, there was a fire and then everyone left. It wasn’t until the 1940s that it became a historical place of interest and it is now part of the NPS. They had a movie and great audio tour.
The Spanish moss on the trees was beautiful. We learned that it is an air plant, relative to the pineapple. Hard to believe!
When I visited here as a kid, I thought the coolest part was the cannons and fort barracks. This time, the orange trees beside the foundations of what was once a house stood out to me. People lived there and planted those trees brought from Europe. They dreamed the land would be prosperous (instead marshy and buggy). Finally, also have to mention they had an interesting mix of Scottish, German and English settle the colony. All in search of land and religious freedom.
Day Two: Woke up to another calm day with no breeze. Swarmed by bugs, we got moving as quickly as possible. Many inlets to cross today, the most beautiful was at northern Cumberland Island, a park we plan to go back to after Thanksgiving.
Huge sandy cliffs swept across the sky. A lighthouse in the distance.
As we neared St. Mary’s, GA we passed through Kings Bay, which is a military submarine area. Along the docks, we could see a British submarine. Then, after passing through, the Coast Guard came up to us and other boats, asking us to leave the channel and keep our distance. We went as close to shore as possible and continued along the river. A cruising sailboat behind us had not crossed into the Bay and was seen having to turn around, darn!
Soon a large tugboat, followed by a large Coast Guard ship came out. Then, flanked by two large vessels, the submarine made its was through the channel. It was massive, and much larger than the other one we had seen docked earlier.
What a treat to travel with a submarine!
Now we are anchored in St. Mary’s and looking forward to Thanksgiving!
We found a good weather window and decided to go offshore from Calibogue Sound (just north of Savannah, GA) to Brunswick, GA. They were predicting winds 10-15 kts decreasing to 5 kts overnight and 2-3 ft waves.
We got about 3 miles offshore and found a steady 15 kts with seas 3-4 ft. It was a bumpy ride but we got the Navik set on the Albin Vega and split into watches.
Amelia was on the first watch, feeling very seasick and stressed. She is not used to being on such a tiny boat in the ocean, but toughened it out and on the watch change went below to feel better. Very quickly going down below did not result in her feeling better, and the decision was made to head in rather than risk safety having one person at less than 100% before dark. Also, the swells were bigger then expected and being out there in 5 kts wouldn’t have given us much distance.
Grant used his watch to head into Wassaw Sound and anchor outside the channel just before dark. We were disappointed (we probably lost time going outside and back in than doing a normal day on the ICW) but knew it was the right decision.
The next morning, the wind was less than 5 kts and reports of waves still at 3-4 ft. We made our way back to the ICW for a long day of motoring.
As we rounded into the ICW on Skidaway River we entered fourth in a line of five sailboats, the last being a little farther behind. Minutes later a Sea Tow boat came zooming by all of us in the other direction (northbound) throwing a big wake. One of the boats in front of us said “Thanks for the wake Sea Tow.” Then one or two muffled exchanges we didn’t hear clearly. Then Sea Tow said in a threatening voice “Which boat was that? I’m coming over and we’ll’ ‘talk’ about it.” He turned around and then buzzed up to all three sailboats in front of us to confront them (apparently). Seems like no one came forward because he left again, throwing another wake. We were a little bit shocked Sea Tow would A) throw the wake and B) threaten a cruising boat. Well, it was entertaining for us and bad for Sea Tow. Headline: Sea Tow throws wake on line of cruising sailboats and then turns around to threaten them.
As we got further into Georgia we saw this boat anchored and thought “Welcome to Georgia.”
Here is another boat to add to Grant’s growing collection of “Sunken Boat Pictures.”
More and more beautiful marshland surrounds us. The air smells sweet. We can hear the birds and see dolphins. We even passed a sign indicating Manatees are close-by! We hope to visit Fort Frederica and Cumberland Island in the coming week to explore more of this unique natural habitat. Also, there is a big Cruiser’s Thanksgiving in St. Mary’s, GA we plan to feast at!
We had a wonderful sail to Charleston with a great breeze. Our friends, Way Happy, did the trip with us and shared a couple great shots and video of Velocir. Thanks Capt. K & Lala!
Wing on Wing in Charleston Harbor- (Wing on Wing is what it’s called when the main and genoa sails are on separate sides of the boat)
Spinnaker sailing in the canal with the current helping us! We are going about 7 kts here which is super fast for us.
We didn’t know if we would make it Charleston so quickly. But with the wind and current helping us it was easy. We’ve anchored close to shore and are excited to go exploring in a place with such a rich history, beautiful buildings and warm weather.
First we looked online for a self-guided walking tour, not wanting to spend a lot seeing the city. It seems as if they don’t exist. Perhaps purposeful, as Charleston is big on its over 20 varieties of walking tours. Still, we found just walking around was enough to keep us interested and learning.
Every street was so interesting we kept walking around every corner. This shrubbery on the staircase was popular. I think we saw everything in the end, and there were plenty of plaques to read on buildings.
They call Charleston the Holy City, maybe because it is filled with churches and steeples on every block? Very beautiful, and we explored some of the cemeteries. There were a lot of people here named Susan in the 19th century.
On Thursday we went out to eat! Our rule, “One Date Per State” had to fall in Charleston. A college and tourist town, they have a little bit of everything. We chose a restaurant called “Virginia’s on King” (King being the main street) for their great reviews on southern cajun inspired food. There is a lot of reference to the “Lowcountry” here, and their star dishes were Fried Green Tomatoes (above), She-Crab Soup, Shrimp and Grits and Chicken and Dumplings (below).
All were amazing! It’s fun to go out for a meal when it’s something we couldn’t really make on the boat. And I’m not attempting the delicious Fried Green Tomatoes anytime soon.
Walking all over the place we saw so many cool buildings. The lots and houses here are huge for a city. In this historic area, there is no clutter of office buildings and high-rises, making it so charming. (Also, we would like to mention that there are a million female 20 something joggers here. Constantly!! All women here wear jogging outfits and/or jog. The men not so much.)
As we travel we also keep a working list of places we might like to live. So far we are adding places including Charleston, SC and Beaufort, NC since the voyage began. This is in addition to a dozen other places. We look forward to the Farmer’s Market in Marion Square on Saturday and then off southward!
Barefoot Marina was a such a treat! We got showers, laundry, secure dock and most importantly a hot tub! After this last cold spell we were so thrilled to be soaking in hot water. From camping to a resort! We even went out to dinner and grocery shopping. We were both pretty blown away at just how much of a hugely developed beach/tourism town Myrtle Beach was, and we were in North Myrtle Beach. We did enjoy walking by Alligator Adventures.
The next day we hit the waterway and put down some miles. Slowly the scenery changed from marsh to swampland. Swampland and multi-million dollar homes on the waterway/golf courses.
We had a nice day despite having to motor the whole way. The engine is now working as it should and we made good time. Only one bridge to go through today.
NOAA was calling for a gale that night, winds on the coast could break 50 knots. So, we planned to anchor deep in the swamps we were heading for. We ended up anchoring not quite where we planned, but it turned out to be a great spot.
The weather was not as bad as predicted and we had a good night. The next day was sunny, still a bit windy, but got to dry everything out after the rain. We decided to rest for a day here and relax a bit.
We got out for a bit of exploring, too.
Old wrecked boat on the island near us.
It was so beautiful and we loved the Spanish Moss.
It blew eerily in the wind.
That night we heard someone come into the anchorage and blow an air horn. I immediately knew who it was. A year or so ago when we were still working on our boat and dreaming about our trip we found the blog of a young couple sailing an Albin Vega 27 (our same boat) from New England to the Bahamas. We followed their story which was both fun and inspiring to follow.
They now have a bigger boat and are sailing it down South (and a new blog at www.way-happy.com). We had been in touch and hoping to meet up. Here they were! They spotted us as they were passing by and made a sharp turn to come visit. We had a great time finally meeting them and getting to hang out.
The next morning both boats headed out for Georgetown. We motored part way until the windy river opened up and then we got a great spinnaker sail right down to town.
We made it to Georgetown today, it is a beautiful old southern town dominated by a huge ugly steel mill and paper mill. Tonight we are having our favorite Cream of Crab Soup with the crew of Way Happy. Tomorrow we go with the tide and work our way to Charleston.
Video of the big squall today. After watching them do a bad job anchoring last night, we were ready for the sailboat in front of us!