29 November 2012

Knot Yet doing what she was designed for.

When the guys at Ocean Yachts put in all those hours back in 2000 building our boat, I am sure they never envisioned it finding its way to the Great Lakes and being used as a pleasure craft.  These boats are built with one purpose in mind and that is to fish.  Sure, they are nicely appointed and you can spend some time on them, but they are built to fish.

Not us, we are built to cruise.  Move 30 miles or so, sit down and relax for a few days, then pick up and go when the weather is nice.  So, why buy a sportfish?  Well, I love the layout and I love the seaworthiness.

My friends in Florida love to fish and it kills them that I own such a hardcore machine and it never sees a line.  So, I wasn't in Florida a week and the boys were skipping work to go fishing.

We meet at the boat at 7am.  I have exactly no saltwater fishing gear on board (yet).  So, we grab a couple carts and ferry all of James' rods, reels, lures and coolers down to the boat.  I have said that we didn't buy her to fish, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't dying to fish her.  Fun!!!

Just like any fishing, we fished for hours, we covered miles and nothing.  Then suddenly a knockoff... nothing.  But, I guess there is hope.  It wasn't long and we have a double of... bonita.  Apparently, the non-tasty relative of the tuna.  They look just like them, but nobody eats them.  We keep a both for bait.  Next action, we have three rods go off at once.  This is fun!  The cockpit is full of action and I am all smiles.  Bonita again.  Oh well, back they go.  At least we are catching something.  But, enough with the bonitas.  They were in 150' of water, so we make our way out to 250'

We barely made it to 250' and off goes one our rods.  James gets a great fight out of a beautiful mahi mahi.  A nice bull, probably 15 to 20 lbs.   A few jumps and right up to the boat, then a quick turn and gone.  We get the lines reset and make plans to circle back through that spot again.  The whole time Macara has been saying that one of the lines in pulling too hard, but nobody is listening to her.  Including me.  We make our turn and she says it again, but this time I could see the fish back there.  Macara get down there, that is your fish!



Moment's later all three rods go off!  Unfortunately, we only landed 2 of them.


We put in a full day.  We fished from Stuart down past Jupiter to Juno Beach and back.  We boated 3 dolphin and played with at least 2 more.  Overall, a great day.  And I must say, boy are they tasty!




Yes Uncle Dee, the Brooks' family is pulling away in the 2012 Fishing Derby.


Fishing: by Macara

We got up early at 6:00am to go fishing.  The train made us late.  We are going all day.  We caught bonita and mahi mahi!  When I caught my mahi mahi it was exciting and hard!  In total we got 8.  Five bonita and 3 mahi mahi.  We returned late at 8:15pm.



28 November 2012

Phase 1 complete

One step at a time and before you know it, you are there.

2163nm from Wiarton, ON and you are in Stuart, FL.  61 times we slept in a new location.  Now, it's time to relax and enjoy some nice weather for a change.

The weather has not been great lately.  I have said it before and I will say it again, "go where the winds blow you".  There is no sense making this tough.  Well, there has been a nasty north wind blowing since we left Hilton Head, SC.  That was two weeks ago!  It is not that complicated, when the wind is from the north, head south.  Lucky for us, that was where we were headed anyway.

St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Cocoa Village, Vero Beach and finally Stuart.

The plan was to fish our way down the Florida coast.  Two problems with that plan.  We haven't got our Florida fishing licenses yet and the seas have been rolling anywhere for 7' to 11'.  The one problem just requires a taxi ride to a Walmart.  The other?  No sense making this tough.  Inside we go.

For those that aren't familiar, there have been three walled cities in North America.  St. Augustine, FL, Charleston, SC and Quebec City, QC.  St. Augustine lays claim to the title of, the oldest continuously settled, European settled, city in the continental United States.  There are a few conditions to that statement.  Just the same, it is fair to say, they have got some history.

So, how does the Brooks' family enjoy St. Augustine?  On Day 1 we clean the boat and get our hair cut, followed by a very nice diner.  And Day 2?  Well, the weather was a total downer.  We jumped in a taxi and hit the local tackle shop.  The taxi driver gave use a small guided tour on the way.  We had no luck getting our fishing licenses, but we had a good chat about tackle and fishing techniques.  A trolley ride around the city would have been nice, but we went to the Alligator Farm instead.  What can I say, the Alligator Farm was fun.



Daytona Beach, might have been a lot more fun had we got there 20 years quicker.  That and it is not even Spring Break.

Next stop, Cocoa Village.  The Space Coast.  And, more crappy weather.  Rough even in the marina.  The winds here topped 30knots.  We only saw a little more than 40knots from Hurricane Sandy.  We weighed our options and a trip to Kennedy Space Centre lost out to our urge to get further south and find some nicer weather.  We spent two nights in Cocoa Village because of the weather and then foolishly put out on Thursday, American Thanksgiving.  We weren't the only ones, there were plenty of Snow Birds out on the water.  The problem was, there wasn't any marina staff back on shore.  There aren't a whole lot of anchorages around this area.  We had planned on picking up a mooring ball in Vero Beach.  Unfortunately, we had heard on the radio that they were already full and starting to raft up.  We didn't envision too many happy faces seeing a Sportfish with outriggers begging to tie up.  So, we started to look at other options.  When we finally chased down the dockmaster (fully immersed in Thanksgiving Festivities) for the Loggerhead Marina at Vero Beach, we were right at their entrance.    He told us to grab whatever we could and we would square up in the morning.  Hard to starboard!

Loggerhead Marina at Vero Beach, now here is a place I could settle down for a while.  Beautiful amenities and full of great people.  A lot of Canadians.  At least 5 on our dock alone.  Without even thinking, one night turned into two.  And soon, they are asking us why we are leaving?  If we had stayed one more night, I am not sure we would have never left.  Thanks so much to the Prime Time V and Jennica Ann for your hospitality and we look forward to meeting up again in the Bahamas.

Finally, off to Stuart, our projected Florida base.  Mercifully, the breeze has settled.  At long last, shorts from morning until night.

Moments out of Vero Beach, Kerri makes an off the cuff comment to the effect of we are still seeing lots of dolphins, but they are not as playful as up north.  Almost on cue, we had 3 dolphins on either side.  The younger ones seem more playful and we had one on either side.  Ask anyone who has tried, dorsal fins and blowholes are easy to get, but to capture a full breach is a treat.  On rare occasions, after riding our wake for a short while, we have had them leave our wake then suddenly resurface with a full flip.  I have yet to capture that.


So, what makes Phase 1 complete?  We have just signed a one month lease at a marina in Stuart, FL.  I have a cousin in Jupiter, FL.  She treats us royally and because of that, we keep coming back.  We now have a vehicle and we will be provisioning all month long.  Bahamas in the new year.

14 November 2012

We are in Florida now

No blog posts for a while means that we have been having fun, traveling, or doing chores.  Tonight is miserable, so it is time to get caught up.

Since leaving Georgetown, SC we grabbed an anchorage in Whiteside Creek.  A pretty little spot in the marshes just north of Charleston.  We awoke to all sorts of sea birds around us.  There were Egrets, Pelicans and Great Blue Herons all around us.
Whiteside Creek gave us an easy run into Charleston, SC.  Time for some tourist fun.  We took advantage of the marina shuttle and caught a ride into the 'slave market' district.  Charleston is full of history, so we decided we needed a guided tour.  What better way to tour a city than horse drawn wagon.
A full hour tour around Charleston with stories of hurricanes, British settlement, civil war and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Charleston definitely was a key city is the shaping of this nation.  We also learned that the 'slave market' was not where the slaves were sold, even though that definitely happened in Charleston, it was an open air market were livestock was butchered on premise.  This lead to a rather powerful odour, as such the slaves were often the ones sent to do the provisioning for their owners.  Thus, the slave market.

Still wearing too much denim and fleece for our liking we decided to push still further south. The forecast was favourable for an outside (ocean) run, so after a couple days in Charleston we decided to push on.  Five in the morning we were off the dock and slowly pushing out to sea, dodging a couple of cargo vessels along the way.  Next stop the Savannah River and Hilton Head, SC.  It was such a nice day out on the ocean that I really wanted to push on, but the next inlets that I was comfortable with were all a good distance away, so we arrived in Hilton Head early mid-afternoon.  I guess I hadn't promoted Hilton Head very heavily, not 100% sure that it would be a stop for us.  Kerri was very impressed and was off shopping in no time.  Macara and I spent the afternoon in beautiful little playground.

It was a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon when we arrived in Hilton Head and the harbour-front area was packed.  When you fly a Canadian flag as proudly as we do, it often means conversation with other Canadians.  Before the boat was washed down, we had talked with people from Sauble Beach, Parry Sound and Hanover, all short driving distances from our hometown or home port back in Ontario.  It is a small world.

One good day at sea gave us the desire to try it again.  The forecast was similar, but the day did not turn out the same.  We left Hilton Head on a falling tide and the breeze was ever so slightly more on shore.  I excused the chop at the inlet as being due to these conditions.  A boat much larger than us did not and turned around.  We pushed south hoping to see better conditions, but we did not.  Soon, my crew were expressing their displeasure.  Being only about 10nm from the inlet I offered to turn around, 15 seconds of that proved not to be the answer.  South it was going to be.  But, now was the time for me to pull out my insurance plan.  While we have been treating our sportfish like a trawler, we do have the horsepower  to fix a lot of weather problems.  Today would be one of those days.  A short while after putting the boat up on plane, there was a lot less grumbling aboard my boat.  

Next stop... St. Simon's Island.  To tell you the truth, I never really saw the island at all.  Knot Yet was due for some maintenance.  Oil changes and fuel filter changes.  Sad, but true, that turned into a two day affair when you need to take a trip into town, in the middle of it all, when you find out you don't have anymore generator oil filters onboard.  I have got filters now, 8 of them.

A couple evenings on the dock in St. Simons introduced us to some interesting people and we were offered some good travel advice.  So, the next morning when we all left, we took a slightly different route off the ICW down a creek that brought us more alongside Cumberland Island.  As much as I like the ports along the east coast, I am really enjoying the wild life and scenery in between. The ever present dolphins at just about every inlet off the ocean and all the new birds, the different trees and on Cumberland Island, wild horses.  A sighting of wild horses surely would be a treat.

Here are some shots of the gulls that followed us from St. Simon Island south.



Our advice was to turn off the ICW and travel down the Brickhill River through the marshes and closer to Cumberland Island.  We would be sure to see horses that way.  Day 1... nothing.  We anchored as we were told and planned to dinghy to shore and find a path across the island to the seaside beaches.  The bugs were insane!  And within no time the weather started to worsen, maybe tomorrow.  

The view from our anchorage.  The following morning would have these trees littered with Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills and Egrets.  The light just never did any of the images justice.
Be sure to view this at full resolution
The Brickhill River is not much more than most of the creeks that we have anchored in.  The difference here is there is a 10' tide.  And I am glad I set up on low tide so that I could see all that was around me, it sure looks different a high tide.  At low tide, you are definitely down inside the banks of the river.  At high tide, the water spreads everywhere creating a big marsh making it harder to know where you should be.  Ten feet of tide creates a heck of current as it rises and falls.  Rather than force my anchor to reset every 6 hours, I set an anchor for each direction.  Add to this about 20knots of wind and you do not sleep that deeply, wondering if you're ground tackle is going to hold you for the night.

More wind and rain and our plans for exploring Cumberland Island had to be cancelled.  Regrettably, we pulled anchor and gave up on our idea of finding wild horses on the beaches.  Then a little good luck came our way.  Shortly after making way, 3 horses made their way down to the river to feed.

We are now in Fernandina Beach, FL.  Our plan was to pick up a mooring ball and move on again tomorrow.  The weather outside right now sucks!  We took a slip instead.  

The cool thing is that we are now in Florida.  We plan to spend the next month and a half in Florida.  That's worthy of a fishing license.  While picking up supplies in St. Simon I did manage to make a little side trip to a tackle shop.  Not exactly the right tools for the job, but I brought along a couple of salmon rods and they are now loaded with fresh line and I picked up a couple lures.  Soon I will be blue water fishing.  Here fishy, fishy, fishy.  Sushi anyone?


06 November 2012

It's chilly, let's keep moving south


Our last day waiting out all the weather associated with Hurricane Sandy was Kerri’s birthday.  Admittedly, with all our preoccupation with the hurricane, Kerri didn’t get her usual birthday treatment.  Having said that, Macara and I did our darndest to make it a special for her.
Birthday decorations
The following day we had another special day that needed dealing with, Halloween.  Unsure when we were going to get out of River Dunes Marina, we had already booked the courtesy vehicle for the evening.  But, we were told not to get our hopes to high for Trick or Treating in Oriental, NC.  Wednesday morning saw the winds settle to just 20 knots.  Winds low enough that plenty of boats started to depart.  Twenty knots of wind can still make for miserable conditions on the water.  Today we are gifted with a wind direction that is right on the nose.  Knot Yet cut right through the waves, it might as well been calm.  I love this boat!  A good seaworthy boat may be a pleasure all day long, but docking is still a chore with all that breeze and a tidal current.  It wasn’t pretty, but I got her in eventually.

Beaufort, NC was our Halloween destination.  Little did we know that Beaufort was so proud of their halloween festivities.  We were told over and over, go to Ann Street, you will be impressed.  And we were.  These people take Halloween seriously and they make it fun.
Macara the Pirate. 
Beaufort revellers
On the way to Beaufort, we had some visitors along the way.  Sometimes dragging a bit of wake is a good thing.  We had three dolphins sit on our our starboard stern for about 5 minutes.  You will not hear me say this very often, but they were too close for the lens that I had on.
Playing in our wake.
Wanna see my blow hole?

The weather is still a little chilly, so we keep pressing on.  Southport, NC, then anchor near Topsail Beach, NC before you know it we are south of Myrtle Beach, SC. 

On our way past Little River, NC we are treated to glimpse of their resident wild goats.
Little River wild goats
Finally, a nice day, so we take a break.  On a beautiful Sunday afternoon that almost hit 80ºF we found a spot that is popular with cruisers and locals alike.  Thoroughfare Creek, off the Waccamaw River.  We picked it for its depth and short distance off the ICW.  We had no idea how nice the beach would be be or it’s local history.  Sandy Island, which we are anchored next to, is home to a Gullah community.  In short, Gullah language and culture is a derivative of the West African slaves that were brought here to work the rice plantations.  Neat history, Google it and check it out for yourself.
Thoroughfare Creek
Once again it is raining... and cold!  Up ahead there is a 5 mile stretch that we need to traverse at high tide.  High tide is not until about noon right now.  Our best choice is to head to town, Georgetown, SC.  Groceries, beer, wifi, it is time to take care of somethings and replenish the cupboards.  It's a short trip, we are only on the water a couple hours.  

To all my sailing friends, you have been misrepresented once again.  In a nice wide section of the Waccamaw River, I was slowly overtaking a sail boat.  Before my wake reached the sail boat, I hail him and offer a slow pass.  Without so much as a thank you, he sharply points out that I am not flying my American 'courtesy flag'.  I took the easy way out and apologized and stated the lanyard had recently broke and that I had plans to repair that as soon as I got to port.  I know what flags I should be flying.  The words had no longer left my lips and I was steaming.  "What a jerk?"  "Who does he think he is?"  Yes, etiquette dictates that I fly a courtesy flag while flying my Canadian flag.  And, on of all days, it is the US election today.  Still, it is a little over the top for my liking.  I wouldn't dream of correcting somebody else over the radio, especially after courtesy had been extended my way.

And now for the great part of the story.  This is how Karma works, but rarely this fast.  The next boat to over take my new 'friend' is about a 70' Motor Yacht moving way to fast for the close confines of a bridge.  He smokes Mr. Flag Etiquette with about a 3.5ft wake.  Once again the radio is chiming with the proper etiquette for over taking sail boats, complete with a sarcastic "thanks for the wake."  It was all I could do to keep myself from cheering over the radio, but it sure made my day.  Sometimes good things happen to good people.  And sometimes, the opposite happens.

Finally, a couple of left over tourist shots from Ocracoke, NC.  You know, the ones that get forgotten in the other camera.
The second most famous pirate in Ocracoke, NC
The Ocracoke lighthouse.










28 October 2012

Sandy update

I fully expected to have some gory pictures showing the wrath of Sandy as she pummelled us with her fury.  Lucky for us, it never really happened.  We saw 40 knots of wind this morning, but that was about it.  We are so well protected here that the show was not all that impressive.  I am okay with that.  In a perverse way, I am a little disappointed.  I am a self-confessed weather junky.  I love to witness mother natures power, as long as it has a happy ending.  I will have to take comfort in the fact that we were never really in harms way.  It isn't over yet, we are still forecasted to see an increase in intensity again tomorrow as she begins her new path to the North-West.

We definitely got to play the game.  I spent most of the day Friday tying more ropes, stripping down all exterior items.  I removed all the flybridge windows.   I removed the dinghy and tied it up at another dock, upside down like everybody else.  I filled the engine room with all sorts of accessories that may get blown around.  We put together an evacuation kit, just incase we decided the boat was no longer a place that we wanted to be.  But, in the end, all our preparation was just that, the right thing to do.

Today, we just put in time as we watched the wind blow.  Stuck here.  The only difference now is the suspense is all gone.  We now know what Sandy was going to look like for us.  As the day wore on, the club house started to fill.  Some took in a Sunday football game, others playing board games.  Gone was all the anticipation.

Macara and I had even put some markings on one of our pilings.  The National Weather Service had forecast the possibility of a 4'-6' storm surge.  We had markings 6' up the piling.  We got 1 foot.  I thought we might as well make this a learning opportunity.  I guess the words will have to do.

It doesn't look like we will be moving anytime soon.  Most people have resigned themselves to the fact that it will probably be at least Wednesday or Thursday before we start moving again, but are happier with the notion that we are safe.

Go away Sandy.  You brought me no joy.

Good luck to all that still expect her to visit.


25 October 2012

Sunday is fun day.

We have made our choice and now it looks like we are stuck with it.

Hurricane Sandy has got us surrounded.  We can't head north, that is where she is predicted to make landfall.  Somewhere just north of Chesapeake Bay is where the weather guys are saying she will hit.  Heading south would be rolling the dice.  Getting into South Carolina would have put us further from the eye of the storm, but between here and there are a lot of bridges.  A lot of these bridges that don't open if wind speeds are greater than 30mph.  If we found ourselves between bridges with no place to hide, that would be game over.

So, we have made our choice, River Dunes Marina (http://www.riverdunes.com/).  Let me say, there are worse places to wait out a storm.  Check out the menu!

Us and 397 other boats.  River Dunes is a 400 slip marina and as of when we pulled in, there are only 3 slips left.  If anybody asks you if it is too soon to hide from a hurricane, the answer is, it is never too soon.  I am very glad to be in and have my spot.  I had envisioned being up some mosquito infested creek, this is much better.  For those back home, it is very much like Cobble Beach, without the golf course.

This is our hurricane hole...

Zoom out on our location widget to get the big picture of where we are.

Here is the weather map that helped us make our choice.  Heading back north isn't a good choice.  Being further south would have been nice, but it is getting too late to try that now.
With the current forecast, we are expecting winds from the North or North-East.  Our slip has our bow facing that direction.  That is a good thing in my mind.  Tomorrow we will tie up the boat the best we can and strip down all exterior items that may become loose.  This is our first tropical storm, but if all things are equal, we have seen winds this strong before.  It just a matter of being prepared.  Just in case the weather guys have it wrong.  That would never happen???

On the fun side, we spent the last couple days in Ocracoke, NC.  A known hideout of Blackbeard the pirate.  Eventually, the location of his death.  We dinghied around in Teaches Hole and saw the tree line that he used to hide the masts of his ships.  This morning we rented a golf cart and toured the village, picking up provisions and taking in the sites.  Hopefully, on the way home we will get a chance to visit Ocracoke more thoroughly.
Mom playing with a hermit crab.
Another great way to get around Ocracoke.
On the way into Ocracoke we saw our first wild dolphins.  If moments like that ever fail to put a smile on my face, book me a flight home immediately.  These were the first wild dolphins that Macara has ever seen.  Needless to say, she was pretty pumped.  The first pair of dolphins appeared to be a mother and a juvenile that popped up right on my bow.  All I could do was hope that they dove back down before my props got them.  How unpopular would I be if I 'manateed' the very first dolphins that we saw???






24 October 2012

Too good to be true. Here comes Sandy.

When we started planning this trip, I had accepted this as an eventuality.

I was pleased in May when the different weather agencies began calling for a below average hurricane season.  But, most were quick to remind us that it only takes one hurricane to ruin your day.  So far, I there has been more named storms than they said would happen.  Fortunately for us, none have them have had much impact on the Atlantic coast of the USA.   Until now.

When we left Norfolk, VA and entered the ICW there was no hurricane action in the Atlantic basin.  Then suddenly two tropical depressions formed in a 24hr period.  Both have since strengthened to Tropical Storm status.  Tony is way out in the Atlantic, no cause for concern.  But, Sandy is forecast to come much closer.

Many thanks to the information age!  Between the VHF broadcasts and internet connections we get many updated forecasts per day.  Good thing, because sitting here today, I would be totally clueless of what is ahead of us without it.

So, here is what I see this morning...
Mariners 1-2-3 Rule.  Places to avoid in the next 72hrs.

Statistical model of predicted wind strength
No matter how you slice it, it is going to be windy in the Carolinas this weekend.  Right now, the marine forecast for Pamilico Sound is calling for 30-40 knot winds come Sunday.

When we started planning this trip, my biggest fear was that when a hurricane hole was needed, all the locals would have it filled by the time we got there.  Fear not, we are booked in a very tiny little marina for the weekend.  A hurricane hole if I have ever seen one.  That and when I Googled Carolina hurricane holes, it was one of the first hits.  Great Master Mariner I am.  hahahaha

Manteo, NC by Macara


On Sunday, when we pulled into the marina in Manteo North Carolina. I saw kids playing at a playground.  Once we were tied in our slip, Mom went to pay, Dad cleaned the boat and I went to play at the park.  I met new friends.  Their names were Ainsley and Hadley.  Ainsley is 9 years old in grade three and Hadley is 6 years old and she is in grade one.  We played together all afternoon on Sunday.  I invited the girls to see my boat.  Their Dad Matt and Uncle Jimmy came over and had a beer with Mom and Dad, while we played on board.  When they left we made plans to meet again tomorrow.  The next day, the girls and their Dad came to the boat and asked if we wanted to go out for the day.  Mom and Dad were still cleaning the boat but I was allowed to go.  We went to their Uncle Jimmy’s store. We got to pick out a sand bucket that had a shell, a turtle, suckers, and a sticker.  I put the sticker on the front of my bucket.  I also got a mood ring.  Thank you to the girl’s Dad and their Uncle Jimmy!  We went to the beach for a few hours.  We made sand castles and played.  We had lots of fun.  We came back to the boat.  Mom and Dad were finished cleaning.  Ainsley and Hadley asked us to go with them for dinner.  Mom and Dad said that sounds great.  We would meet after we got cleaned up.  Mom, Dad and I were picked up and driven to the restaurant.  Mom and Dad got to meet the girl’s Mom.  Her name is Blake.  When we got to the restaurant, their Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Parker and their grandparents were already there.  Everyone chatted and it was a good dinner.  When we were done eating we were driven back to the marina.  I was sad that we were leaving.  They have our boating card that has our blog and email address.  I hope they write to me.

Macara

22 October 2012

ICW Day 1

Our fridge quite working.  Just not acceptable.  We lost a little meat, but most importantly we realized that we could not go on like this.  Lucky for us, it could not have happened in a better place.  In one day, I had diagnosed the problem, found a part and actually had it delivered to the boat... all in time to have a shower and go out for dinner.  In the eyes of the girls, I had earned it.  I wish all problems worked themselves out that easy.  While I was in fixit mode, I also connected the GPS to the VHF.  A 'project' that I have been working on since we left.  You know... Knot Yet.

A day of boat maintenance was rewarded with a kid day.  We dinghied around the USS Wisconsin (a 887ft Iowa Class Battleship) and then went inside Nauticus, a waterfront US Naval museum/exhibit.  Then ended the day at once again at Joe's Crab Shack.  They have a Snow Crab and cob of corn meal on the kids menu!  And they have a kids play area were Macara got to hang out with other kids.  All good!!!

The next morning we were up and gone bright and early.  We have another 1000 miles to go to put us in the heart of Florida, that means we have to keep moving.  But, this is a fresh start, a new beginning, Mile 0 of the ICW.

As we pull anchor and begin our day a couple other sailboats and a trawler pull out of various marinas.  The first few miles is speed controlled, so the four of us glide along together on a beautiful morning.

The first bridge that we encounter was Gilmerton Bridge.  Under construction, this bridge only opens once an hour, at the bottom of the hour.  Not by request, as was her usual habit.  And, you guessed it, we arrived at 8:40am.  So, we wait.  While we wait and the boats mill about, I get a moment to talk to the other skippers.  The lead sailboat appears to have done this trip many times.  He appears happy, relaxed and confident with the routine.  I talk to the trawler and we discuss our speeds.  We agree on a speed for in the canal, but I said that we would likely pick it up for a short while once out in the sound.

We continue to wait and the boats that had the 9:30am opening timed start to arrive.  A lot of them.  And this is when the day started to get a little weird, at least for this ICW newby/polite Canadian.  A couple 100' yachts slowly, but surely allowed themselves to drift to the front of the pack.  9:30am arrives and still the bridge does not open.  9:45am and still no opening.  I call the bridge tender on the VHF and he informs me that just on the other side of the bridge is a railway bridge and they are expecting a train.  He won't be opening until after the train comes through.  I thank him for the info.  The wait is always easier when you know what is going on.  Finally, a power catamaran, that was late for even the 9:30am opening starts to snake his way through 16+ boats.  You could hear a few snide comments floating around and he just gestures, what are you going to do about it.

Here is a link to one of the 100 footers that we ran with for the day:

http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/mega-yachts-100-149/10441-silver-seas-107-burger-1998-a.html

ICW day 1 is loosing some of it's lustre.

The next several miles are packed with more bridges and a lock.  All of the bridges are low and require opening and none of them open on request.  We seem to be stuck in a bit of a rat race.  Boats are over taking other boats and then milling around as we wait for the next bridge.

Having thought about it for a couple days, I suppose it makes sense that the faster boats leave the bridge first.  It saves them overtaking a slower vessel under power and waking them.  It just didn't seem right at the time seeing the powerboats glide to the front of the line when others had been there well before them.  Maybe it's just me.

Enough of that.  The ICW offers two choices leaving Norfolk, Dismal Swamp or Virginia Cut they are both the same distance and will meet up again in Abermarle Sound.  In our pack, I don't think anybody took the swamp route.  With the bridges now behind us, the group is starting to thin out.  The Virginia Cut is a nice mix of marshy canals and sounds and rivers.  There were duck blinds everywhere.  There was one little opening in the marsh grass that was so packed with mallards that I don't think another would fit.  But, nothing will top the duck blind we say back on Wye River.  It had a boardwalk from the house out to the blind.

Our destination for the evening... Buck Island, just south of Coinjock, VA.  I didn't see the posted fuel price, but I had heard that is a good place to top up.  Unfortunately/fortunately we didn't need fuel, but I pretty sure everybody else stopped for fuel.  I even noticed a couple stopped for fuel and then pressed on.  Buck Island is just another 6 miles south of Coinjock, VA.  The description in our cruising guide stated that you can get well off the channel and charts displayed a nice 8' cut in behind the shoal that ICW passes around.  In theory, it sounded great.  When we got there, there was already one sailboat anchored.  This will be home for the night.  What wasn't in the guide, that nice 8' cut well off the ICW was littered with crab traps.  There was no room to swing back in there.  Instead we anchored up close to the sailboat, just off the channel.  So, close I felt obligated to go join them for a quick drink before dinner.  Nice couple with plenty of stories.  They made one comment that now sticks with me about this anchorage.  They wanted a spot with a nice breeze.  I thought they wanted to leave their hatches open for the night.  As soon as night fall came, those words took on a whole new meaning.  We were soon inundated with bugs.  They looked like a mosquito, just slightly bigger and they didn't bite.  I knew they were out there, but I had to go outside and pull up the dinghy.  One quick opening of the door and our cabin was full of them.  Soft and squishy they made a mess of everything as soon as you touched them.  A vacuum soon made short work of them.

Next stop Manteo, NC.  I had been to the Outer Banks in my early 20s on a windsurfing trip.  I had always said that that was a place that I would like to take Kerri back to some day.  Ocracoke, NC looked like a natural stop.  But, while in Solomons Island we chatted with a gentleman that insisted that we would love Manteo as well.  So much so, that we came back a second time to give us the dockmaster's personal cell phone number.  Manteo was a perfect break in a bit of a long run to Ocracoke and with that kind of a recommendation... next stop Manteo.

The ICW proper leaves the North River, makes short work of Abermarle Sound and heads for the Alligator River.  That's where everybody else went.  I guess we are taking the scenic route.  The sounds have a reputation for building up an annoying chop.  As soon as we got out in the sound, that 20 knot northerly did what they said it would do.  I guess that is why everybody went the other way, for the protection.  The sound is also very shallow everywhere and too shallow in a lot of places.  And surprise, it is full of crab traps.  I did here on the VHF that another boater, that day, had got one caught in his props.

Mike, if you are reading, thanks for the Manteo tip.  We just booked a second night.  We arrived on a Sunday and all the shops were closed.  There is a kids playground right by Manteo Waterfront Marina. Macara made some friends there.  Soon, the two girls, dad and their uncle were aboard visiting.  So much for washing the boat, there is always tomorrow.  Well, today is tomorrow.  Those bugs back at Buck Island, when mixed with water their droppings turn green.  It looks sort of like bearing grease.

The next few days look pretty nice.  I think we will enjoy the Outer Banks for a little while.




18 October 2012

The Snow Birds are starting to gather

A little over a week ago we were in pools and swimming.  We walked in the evening, still in our shorts and t-shirts.  Then a cold front came through and I was forced to put on my jeans for the first time since leaving home.

Baltimore was just so much fun we had to do it one more time.  Plus, it was a convenient place to have parts shipped.  We now have our new toilet.  It's not installed yet. :-p  We stayed a fourth night in the area anchored off of Canton (Baltimore suburb) in order to hit a Westmarine and pick up some groceries.  We woke up the next morning to 36ºF!  That's not good!!!  New plan... let's head south.

Before leaving Baltimore I have one piece of Americana to share.  I may have heard this before, but it never really stuck.  It has left much more of an impression now having seen it with my own eyes.  The Star Spangled Banner was penned in Baltimore by a Francis Scott Key.  The short story is that he was being held captive aboard a British ship during the British attack on Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.  Now a Stars and Stripes buoy marks the location from which he witnessed the battle.


The green patch in the middle is Fort McHenry
The first leg is about a 70nm run to Solomons Island, MD.  We bypass the major marinas and head about another mile to Mill Creek.  Our cruising guide suggests that the bottom holding is not the best.  There are already 4 boats anchored and I am focused on finding the best spot for us to drop our hook.  Kerri is up on the bow making the anchor ready as I spin the boat around into the wind.  The boat nearest us catches my eye and I notice it is flying a Canadian flag.  "Hey Macara look, a Canadian boat", I say.  Totally unimpressed, she replies "so is that one and that one."  Snow birds.  All of us.  Four Canadians and a Michigander.  The following night we will all gather on 'Chances' for sun-downers and stories.

Four of us are from the Great Lakes and have similar stories.  The fifth boat is from the Halifax area.  When you live in Nova Scotia, everybody from Ontario is from Toronto.  Not us, so I take a second to describe where Kincardine is.  She counters with "close to Point Clark?".  I am stunned, "yes???"  It turns out she has had a pen-pal from Point Clark for years.  Stranger still. the pen-pal's husband has taught a few of my courses at work.  Six degrees of separation, wow!  It is a small world.

The next morning we part ways.  The forecast suiting sailboats better than power boats.  I hope they had a nice ride.  Nautical data buoys were recording 23knots of wind out on the bay.  Not my idea of a good time.

We decide to give it another day.  The weather the next morning is fantastic.  We are underway by about 7:30am.  And, so is everybody else!  A trawler that we shared Mill Creek with got out just before us and by the time we arrived at the mouth of Solomons Island there was so many boats that we had to yield to traffic.  A flock of over a dozen boats left the Patuxent River all at the same time that morning and by the time we made the Potomac River we made quite the flock.  Mostly sailboats and trawlers moving a nominal 20nm a day.  There is no wind today.  But, that is great for us and we have not yet shaken that chilly morning in Baltimore.  We are driven to head south.  We keep pushing on to Norfolk, VA.  It is has been a while since we have put in a 100nm day and it felt great.

Out on the bay we had our own little air show.  Military jets of all makes and models flew above us.  On the water we saw everything from a schooner loaded with 14 cannons to some sort of military hydrofoil.  An awesome sight for sure.  Unfortunately, I did not have my camera on the bridge.

I would be remiss to pass through Norfolk and not post at least one picture of a Navy ship.



So, here we are over 2 months on the water.  1255nm travelled to arrive at Mile 0!  That's right, Mile 0. The start of the ICW proper.  The Intracoastal Waterway.  A series of rivers, sounds, and canals all connected from Norfolk, VA to Miami, FL and beyond, all the way to Texas.

Here is a bit of an idea of what lies ahead for us.  Open this image up and look for the magenta line starting in the upper right.

The Carolinas ICW





07 October 2012

How low can you go?

The exhaust on Caterpillar 3196s is an 8" pipe straight out the back of the boat at water level.  To mate the boat with the engine, there is an expansion joint (a rubber sleeve held in place with hose clamps).  Mine had developed a pencil stream leak.  Messing around a 8" hole in my boat while sitting on the water is not my idea of a good time.  I need professional help... again.

While in Baltimore I mentioned to my neighbour, "Where can I get good help in the area?"  Without skipping a beat,  he and another guy that overheard my question both said the same place.  Anchor Bay East, up Bear Creek.  So, I gave them a call.  They can help me, but not until Tuesday.  No problem, we can always head back to Stoney Creek and try our hand a crabbing.  This time we will get some chicken necks!

We went back to the exact same spot that we had been before and first thing the next morning Macara and I were in the dinghy and heading for town to get some chicken necks.  And with chicken necks came a whole new learning curve.  The buggers kept stealing my bait.  Something still ain't right.  We are using the same bait in the exact same spot and we aren't catching crabs like they were.  Oh well, it's fun as heck!

We crabbed until 3pm.  The plan was to be at Anchor Bay East the night before so that we could be fixed and on our way first thing Tuesday morning.  The problem with making plans...  Our chosen anchorage is behind a draw bridge with a 16' height.  With our outriggers up, we need closer to 30', so we need a bridge opening.  No problem, on weekends the open on the top and bottom of the hour.  During the week they open on request.  There is also a rush hour restriction, but I couldn't remember what it was.  I assumed it was the same as weekends, every half hour.  It took us a while to load the dinghy and pull anchor, so we missed the 3:30pm opening.  No problem, we have time.  We arrive at the bridge and mill around with another sportfish almost identical to ours.  The other boat hails the bridge operator a few times without answer.  That's strange???  Then, all of a sudden, the other boat hesitantly proceeds towards the bridge and slides underneath it.  With only inches to spare!  And he doesn't have outriggers.  What's going on here?  Did he just loose patience?  We hail the bridge one more time.  Still no answer.  So, we make our way closer to the bridge.  The sign reads, No bridge opening between 3:30pm and 6:30pm.  Bridge opens week days on request 7:30am to 5pm.  A little confusing, but we soon realize that we are locked in for the night.  

That just won't do!  That guy just got under the bridge, maybe we can?  We have a pair of 19' VHF antennas, they will have to come down, but the outriggers?  Even when they are in their fully dropped position I had estimated their height at 18'.  We need to get under 16'.  So, I dropped them down, then I let them fall out the side as well.  Then ever so carefully, I backed the boat towards the bridge to size things up.  The one side fits, the other, not quite.  Then Kerri grabs the outriggers lines and pulls down, flexing the outrigger.  That will do it!  I pull forward, flip the boat around and we try it for real.  In gear... coast... in gear... coast... it looks so close.  I flip the hatch open to look on top of the flybridge.  We are going to make it!!!  Sixteen feet, our lowest bridge yet.  It's so much fun, when you win.

Bear Creek.  Maintenance.  This part is never fun.  You never know how much the final bill is going to be.  I am bracing myself of a "boat buck"  B.O.A.T (Break Out Another Thousand).  Not this time!!!  Free dockage if you are there for maintenance.  That is nice.  I had assumed that I was going to need a haul-out.  Not here.  After hearing my story and having a quick look, the next thing I know he is jamming at it with screw drivers!  Loosen the hose clamps, slide the bellow back into place and retighten the clamps.  "There, that out to do ya", he says.  Final bill $67!!!  Then we stayed another night, that was also free.  In return, we ate at their restaurant.  Great deal.

We had planned for my mom and dad to come visit us for a week or so, between hunting seasons of course.  Unfortunately, there was a last minute change of plans.  Lucky for us, we don't really make plans.  Where to now?  We spent a couple nights anchored in Swan Creek near Rock Hall, MD.  The second night was one of those nights that you dream about.  Dead calm.  Hardly a boat in sight.  The sky full of stars and then shortly after going to bed, a full moon beams in through one of our hatches.  This is golden!

Even without mom and dad, we decided to continue on to another port that I had planned to bring them to.  Sorry mom, but you would have liked St. Michaels.  We were warned to make reservations in advance.  We managed to get one of the last remaining slips.  Even at that, we couldn't stay in that same slip for both nights.  It is Thanksgiving Weekend back home in Canada, what I didn't plan for was Columbus Day here in Maryland.  Both Friday and Saturday we nice and hot.  Naturally, when Macara saw there was a pool here, that is where she wanted to go.  Soon after we were joined by a couple more young kids and their mother.  The older boy is almost the exact same age as Macara.  Finally!  It's been almost a month and a half since Macara has had a chance to play with some kids her age.

When I titled this post 'How low can you go?' I knew I was going to talk about escaping under the Stoney Creek bridge.  Unfortunately, I have another low feeling.  After having a couple amazing nights on the hook up in Swan Creek and starting to develop a feeling that this trip is going pretty well.  BANG!!!  WTF WAS THAT!?!?!  I double check the depth sounder, we are still in 100' of water.  We are in the middle of Chesapeake Bay.  There are no crab traps out here.  What happened?  We were cruising along at our usual 23.5 knots.  I quickly bring the boat down off plane and circle back to the point in question.  There it is... about a 20' long, 3" thick branch almost broke in half.  Enough to make you sick.  I never saw a thing.  It still sits mostly submerged.  With the small chop and tea stained water, I never stood a chance.  Not much of a consolation after the damage is already done.  Exactly how much damage has been done?  The steering feels fine.  I tried a bunch of different engine speeds, no vibrations.  We achieve our normal cruise speed.  I would like to think it is not that bad, but until I get a chance to dive on her, I won't know for sure.


30 September 2012

Macara's Birthday and Baltimore



Oops!  Has it been that long?

We have got our repairs done.  No more squeak.  No more leaky hatch.  And Canyon Club is behind us.  Maybe on the way home we will stop in again?  Maybe do some fishing this time?
Canyon Club Resort and Marina
Canon Club Resort and Marina
We got another great weather window and made the run up Delaware Bay.  Delaware Bay runs NW to SE and has a fair tidal current.  It is also relatively shallow.  Countering winds a waves can create miserable sea conditions.  Thankfully, not for us.

We like to anchor out.  We like to explore.  Marinas can be fun, but the reason for owning a boat is the freedom.  At this point we are over 800nm from home and have anchored out at only one location.  Bad timing with weather and few anchoring opportunities have kept us marina bound.  Not tonight, we are going to make it work.  We picked a place behind Reedy Island.  Good depth, conveniently located close to the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal.  All is good, save for a nagging tidal current.  Floods at 3.5 knots and then ebbs at 4.1knots!  It was like we were creating a wake while sitting still.  

We got there early because it was Macara’s birthday and we wanted a chance to make it fun for her.  We arrived on the rising tide and as the current built our anchor broke loose from the bottom.  That has never happened to me before!  Ummm, maybe there is more to this tide stuff than I gave credit.  We repositioned in a little shallower water, but with less protection and dug in again.  Then came the falling tide and even a stronger current.  We held this time, but now it is in the back of my mind.  For the rest of the day, we made snacks, we played games and we played music.  All fun stuff.  But, sleeping that night was a little tense.  When is the tide change?  When does the anchor reset?  When is peak current?  Is it going to hold?  I should have set two anchors, one for each direction.  Oh well, live and learn.  I will sleep better next time.


chocalate covered frozen bananas
The next ‘morning’, we transited the C&D canal to Chesapeake Bay, which has a smaller tidal range and thus, less tidal current.  Just around the corner was the Sassafras River and a couple of creeks with anchoring choices.  This is what we have been seeking.  
Sassafras River sunset
Too shallow here.  Blocking the channel there.  It’s not perfect, but this spot will have to do.  Well it did!  We stayed three nights.  Finally, we unloaded the dinghy.  We explored.  We travelled into town.  We met other boaters.  Even our age!!!  We exchanged email addresses and hope to meet up again.  But, they had their own boat maintenance to clear up before continuing on and we had pick up some stuff in Baltimore.  Away we go, our separate ways.

Next stop, Baltimore.  But first, let’s stop in Stoney Creek and anchor out just a little bit more before heading in to the marina.  Our original plan was one night and then head in.  Well, that turned into three more nights on the hook.  We found a neat little spot where a creek feeds into a creek.  No houses.  A little bit of privacy.  Sort of, apparently this creek is a favourite with the local crabbers.  These guys are still recreational (known locally as ‘Chicken Neckers’), but they are serious about their crabbing.  We bought a couple 2-ring traps, they put out about 30.  We wake up the next morning to see a full trap line right around the back of our boat.  Soon, they were back, bringing in crab after crab.  Hey, we like to catch crab!  Quick, check what we have in the freezer?  Chicken drumsticks will have to do.  After many unsuccessful hours, we got offered a hint.  Apparently, crab prefer skinless chicken.  Who knew?!?!  Unfortunately, by that point, we didn’t have time to catch enough for dinner and our biggest crab yet ended up getting tossed back.
The girls checking the crab trap
I was excited to come to Baltimore.  It has lived up to the hype and then some.  Restaurants, museums, aquariums and more.

Our original plan was 2 nights and then move on because we are going to be back later with my parents.  This is how plans start to go bad.  The marina that we are staying at offers, stay 2 nights and the third night is free.  Well, that is obvious.  Then there is the fourth night, it is 30% off.  Here comes our 4th straight night in Baltimore!

One of the joys of home schooling is the field trips.  We picked our marina based on its proximity to the Baltimore National Aquarium.  We needed a full day and didn’t see it all.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend it.

Be honest, who doesn’t love a good dolphin show.  We got there early and grabbed a seat.  We weren’t sitting long, when one of the aquarium employees approaches Macara and asks if she would like to participate in the presentation.  Lucky kid!  Even Mom and Dad are jealous.  It wasn’t a big part.  They were promoting the disposal bins that the state has put on many of the Maryland beaches.  Macara got to put some fishing line and fishing net in one of their garbage cans.  For her help, she got to stand right at the pools’ edge while a couple dolphins performed flips for her.
Macara's part in the dolphin presentation

Dolphin viewing
Baltimore has done a lot with their waterfront.  There are water taxis running all over the harbour.  There are walkways everywhere and pedestrian bridges from pier to pier.  You can see so much and never encounter a single car.  There are dinghy docks all around the inner harbour.  That is how we get our groceries.  We are quite a sight, the three of us with a weeks worth of groceries in a 10’ dinghy.  Of course, we had to make a separate trip just for the beer.  There wasn’t room.

Still many chores to be done on a boat.  We laugh with other boaters about when we talk with people that don’t understand what we are doing.  “What do you do all day?”, we have all been asked.  Are you kidding, where does the time go.  There is still cooking, laundry and cleaning to do.  Just today, I replaced the raw water washdown pump (chains and anchors come up very dirty around here), removed a toilet that has been leaving a bit of an odor in the boat and soldered a wire back on the fresh water tank level sender unit (life on the hook is a lot less stressful when you know how much water you have left for that next flush).  

Now that we are in better shape, it is time to back out on the hook and do some more exploring.  And catch some more crab.  Before my new toilet comes in and I am back doing chores.






18 September 2012

New Jersey Coast

We left NYC and took advantage of some particularly pleasant weather.  Our first days out on the ocean were as calm as could be.  So, we took advantage and put some miles behind us.  Next stop Atlantic City.

Atlantic City was one of my stops when I brought the boat home and I looked forward to bringing the girls.  We took Macara on a 'field trip' to the Atlantic City Aquarium were she got to feed Cow Nose rays and play in the 'touch tank'.  Then we went down to the Board Walk for a little sight seeing.  We walked on the beach.  We did a little shopping.  All good stuff.

The perfect weather continued, so we took full advantage.  We completed the Jersey Coast by travelling further down to Cape May.  Cape May is a natural stop before heading up Delaware Bay, but we plan to stay a little longer.  There is some real nasty weather in the long range forecast and our hatch is leaking. It also seems like a perfect opportunity to check that engine alignment.  Put an end to that squeak.  Ocean Yachts are built in New Jersey and a quick call to the manufacturer recommended that we stop at the Canyon Club Marina.  What a place!!!  We look like we belong here, but we don't.  This is a hard core off-shore fishing marina.  Almost exclusively filled with sport fish boats, mostly Vikings and Oceans.  The majority fitted with outriggers, it is quite a sight.  A typical fishing day for these guys is to depart at about 1am, run out some 70nm and begin fishing.  They fish all day and return sometime after dark.  A long day for sure.  The entire marina is fixed to fuel each boat in its slip.  There are fuel pumps about every fourth slip.  That's a nice touch for sure!

Service like that comes at a price.  We arrived on a Friday and wouldn't get service until Monday.  To save a few bucks, we went looking for an anchorage.  Unfortunately, we wandered out right at low tide.  There is a 5'-6' tide here.  Without that extra cushion, I did not have the courage to find a spot to anchor.  Off to Utsch's Marina for a couple nights.  I am glad we did.  We meet some more "cruisers" over there and got some advice on how and where to catch some Blue Crab.  On Sunday, that is what we did.

From what I was told, we were to go up in Jarvis Sound on the low tide and find a spot were the fresh water creeks feed in.  We bought a couple 2 ring traps and a couple Mackerel for bait.  We hoped in the dinghy and off we went.  We set the traps and waited about 10min.  The first trap empty, not really a big surprise.  The second trap had a crab in it!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Our laughter rang out over the marsh.


Now I am sure the locals would laugh at me, but I wasn't grabbing a hold of these guys without some protection.  Check out my deep frying gloves, they should do the trick.

We tossed a couple small ones back, a couple 'keepers' convinced me to let them go free.  At the end of our brief outing, we had 4 crabs to show for our efforts.  Now back to the boat and quick brush up on You Tube on how to prepare our bounty.

I ended up going with the Carolina method.  A little more preparation up front, but a more pleasing table presentation.  I steamed them in beer and Old Bay spice.  Our 'picking' skills could use a little work, but we definitely enjoyed the fruits of our labour.  What a mess!

We got our service completed on Monday.  Hatch resealed and the motor alignment is all good.  Tuesday was the start of the bad weather, so we rented a car for the day.  The cupboards are starting to get a little bare and Macara's birthday is coming.  The weatherman got today right, the Delaware Bay buoy at one time was showing 34kt (39mph), gusting to 41kt (47mph).  We didn't get the forecasted 1"-2" of rain, but I won't complain.

Hopefully in the next day or so, we will get a weather window to allow us to make our way North-West up Delaware Bay.




13 September 2012

NYC

What a rush!  I haven't felt this uncomfortable in a long time.  Not scared, just out of my comfort zone.  Let me explain.

Out in the Hudson River there are ferries running everywhere.  Lots of boat traffic, in a hurry, on a schedule.  No courtesy, just business.  I expected that.  I had the radar running and was adjusting speed and course to account for all the wake and chop.  What I wasn't ready for was when we entered the Morris Canal, where our marina was.  There was a ferry boat pulling out in front of me, so I gave him is space, when up on full plane, another ferry boat races right on by us.  I was at a standstill.  The boat rocked mercilessly.  Macara was down below and got knocked right off her feet.  Stuff got thrown everywhere.  Welcome to NYC?  I am a little put out.

Next,  our slip assignment, D22.  They want us to go where?  I nose my way in towards the guy in the 'red shirt'.  There is no place to turn around in here.  The wind is howling.  No way!  I can't do it.  I almost clip a dock as I back my way out of there.  "Can I have another slip assignment"? I call out of the VHF.  "Sure, no problem.  Let's try D21", he says.  Well, D21 is the same as D22 except from the other direction.  It's only saving grace was that there wasn't another 48' Ocean Super Sport in the slip right across from it like D22 had.  At D21, that slip is empty.  But, to get to D21 I must back off the main channel down a row of slips, with the wind blowing me sideways, then back into the wind all the way up another row of slips to the very end.  Where finally, I have to bring her broadside to the wind and tie up.  I am proud to say that I aced it, but my knees were shaking the entire way.  I need a beer!

Unwittingly, we found ourselves in NYC on September, 11th.  Between our ferry terminal and the closest subway station was Ground Zero.  Nobody would plan it this way, but that is the way it was.  I expected total chaos, surprisingly it was not that bad.

Living in Kincardine, there are not a whole lot of public transit choices.  Bus routes and subway schedules are not my forte.  But, we found our way up to Time Square just the same.  I'd still rather navigate a 100nm of open water, but that is just me.

New York City is a very large place with plenty to offer.  I am not sure how many days it would take to do it justice.  For me, one day.  That's all I needed.  Sorry mom!

Here is New York City according to the Brooks' (mostly me).  Toys R Us... the Naked Cowboy... and and a 'by chance' viewing of the President (if anybody calls him a celebrity look alike, I am coming through the screen at you.  It was the President!).  Oh ya, and the Statue of Liberty.  Which I have never seen before in my life.  I was making a sandwich the last time I went by.  Honest.  And for those that don't know, she is actually in New Jersey.  Just saying.

Toys R Us in Times Square
The Naked Cowboy
President Obama
The Statue of Liberty
A tighter crop, if you prefer.

One more.  Just a happy girl in New York.