Sintra, beautiful now, brutish then…

It’s Tuesday morning and we are in Sintra, about an hour’s drive from Lisbon.   The weather is very nice with warm days and cool nights.  We are staying at a lovely old B&B that was once owned by the government and is now private.  It’s located just outside of town and like everywhere else in this area, is on a hill, no make that the side of a mountain.

In “days of yore” this must have been a pretty rough place to live where “might was right” and the baddest guys got their way, well at least until a “badder” guy came along.   And, there is an amazing castle that overlooks the town and overlooks our inn too.  Believe it or not, this is the view from our room.  Amazing.Our room is the corner one in the tower.  No kidding.  Nice job Brenda, for finding this place.It seems that towns were generally built within a reasonable distance of the “tough guy’s” castle, where there was some level of protection from the invading guys who wanted to kill the resident tough guy and take his place.

Anyway, towns were built under the watchful eye of the castle.   This is Sintra, viewed from the castle.  In the distance you can see the Atlantic.  The view is really amazing.   I would think that you’d have several days warning if invaders were on their way. The town of Sintra has many lovely buildings.  I enjoyed watching this artist painting in a particularly picturesque spot. Actually, everything here is picturesqueEven the local spring where folks fill up water bottles is pretty. The water at our inn is from a private spring on the property and there is so much water that spigots are left running at times to bleed off the excess.  There is an old cistern that is no longer used out back and now is the home for many goldfish.   The Castelo dos Mouros was built during the 8th and 9th centuries and is quite an impressive place.  I can’t imagine how hard is must have been to lug all that stone around in a time when all you had to work with was brute strength.  It must have taken hundreds of years and many laborers to build it.  I would think that if the local “tough guy” asked for your help, well, you helped and said “how high do you want that wall”.   Yes, that’s a real castle.  Yertle the turtle would have loved it here and he would have been able to see a lot. To walk along the top of these walls would induce vertigo in all but the most bold “knights of old”.  There was a young woman who was sitting on the very top of the wall in this tower and to look at her made me weak in the knees, and not in a good way. It is truly an amazing place.

So, fast forward hundreds of years and the then king decided to build a country home on the site of a monastery that was destroyed in an earthquake.   This palace is situated on a mountain top that is EVEN HIGHER than the castle.  No self respecting king would settle for less.   And, it’s a lot more ornate than that nasty old castle.  And for almost 100 years, until it was opened to the public in 1911, it was a home away from home for various kings.  It’s currently undergoing a major restoration.   There is nothing subtle about the Palácio Nacional da Pena.The level of detail is something that only a monarch with access to the national treasury would be capable of.  To arrive through this entrance a king would know that he had indeed arrived and that yes, he also had a LOT of tile. No shortage of bright colors.  I would expect that the castle, in subtle granite tones, would have been painted like this if there had been a Home Depot nearby. I wonder if the king ever polled his subjects asking “What do you think?  Should I go for more earth tones?”Yes, tile everywhere and a really nice courtyard. Charming spot for an intimate dinner.  Perhaps we could take some cues from this for our dinners at home.  Great centerpiece.  Subtle like the rest of the place. Anyway, not a bad spot to visit.  However, it’s a really LONG WAY UP to get there and I would imagine that this was a place that the monarch would only visit for a really LONG weekend.  ”Oh Jasper, could you go into town and get me some more port?”  ”Yes, right away your Majesty.  I’ll be back in just two days time.”

Today, visitors take a bus and it’s still a long way up, both ways, to visit.  We were pretty pooped at the end of the day.

Yes, Sintra is indeed a lovely spot.  And, it makes me appreciate even more that I live in a softer, gentler time, when life is not so “brutish and short”, well at least not for me.  However, if I couldn’t be the “king of all that I could see”.  To be king, well that wouldn’t be very nice.  Yes, I’d like that a lot.

“Bob, Bob, snap out of it. You’re just a little guy and back then you’d have been fetching firewood for the king and if you were really lucky, port!”  

Yea, I guess…

Perhaps a drive in the car is more my speed.   Yes, I could do that… 

An amazing maritime museum. Leaving Lisbon and off to Sintra

Well, it’s Monday morning and yesterday we left Lisbon to head to Sintra.  We went back to the airport pick up a car and drove from there.  We plan on keeping the car for much of the rest of our trip as the rental is amazingly inexpensive at less than ten Euros per day and having a car gives us a lot more flexibility.   It will also be good for us as we plan on exploring some of the smaller towns along the way as we head north to Porto near the boarder with Spain.

Saturday we did a lot of walking, a great deal more than planned, in large part, because I got us really lost as it was getting dark.  Brenda loved that little bonus, let me tell you.  We were both plenty sweaty after that debacle.

“This way, I’m sure it is, you know, down the hill.  No wait, it’s back that way.  Hello, can you speak English?  WHERE ARE WE?”  Where’s Google Maps when you need them?

Funny how the streets look different when it’s dark.  During the day we explored the waterfront area of Lisbon, where a lot of museums are located.  So as to not completely exhaust ourselves, we decided to focus on just a single one, that and another 18,000 steps, the Museu de Marinha, recognized as one of the finest maritime museums in all of Europe.  I have to say that I agree with this statement, even if I haven’t been to many of them.  The displays told the story of the maritime history of Portugal.  What a terrific collection.

The museum is housed in an old monastery.  And let me tell you, this place must have been the home to a LOT of monks.  It is a HUGE building and the museum didn’t take up nearly half of it. The story of Portugal’s nautical history is told through a seemingly endless collection of scale models, many of which I understand were built by the staff of the museum.  I guess that tile work isn’t the only thing that Portuguese do well. They were constructed in exquisite detail and many were quite large, up to 8′ in length.  I took a lot of photos but most of them didn’t turn out that well as the rooms were not brightly lit.   However, here are a few examples.  There were dozens of glass cases packed with ship models. The detail on this one, like most, was amazing. The detail, down to the smallest gun was amazing. I really liked this little model of a boat for laying mines.There was also a room just packed with full size and beautifully preserved classic craft and royal barges.  The “queen” of the fleet had it’s last official visitor when Queen Elizabeth II visited, I think in the 50s.  And, the staff was nice enough to put most of the explanations in both Potuguese and English.  How thoughtful.With 80 rowers heaven help the one that got out of sync.  What a mess.  Off with his head!!!  How about this ornate stern?  Too bad that the queen wouldn’t have been able to see this while she toured about. While not good enough for QE II, this is quite a gig as well.   Perhaps for a minor prince.  Hmm…There are also a number of early amphibious aircraft on display. This is a particularly lovely Grumman.This wooden amphibian was built in 1917.  It’s hard to believe that it was less than 100 years ago.  Imagine what things will look like in another 100.  If Al Gore is right, we’ll have lots more amphibious craft to get around. Late afternoon we stopped at a lovely cafe for an “adult beverage”.  What a spot. There are great cafes all over.  Looks very “European” doesn’t it?  Wait, we are in Europe.The locals are not subject to pastry shortages, or are we.   Us visitors do have to keep up our strength.  Seeing the trolleys rumble past just completed the moment.
There are an amazing number of sights to see in Lisbon.  Bummer that we couldn’t spend our entire month there.  So many monuments so the golden age of exploration.  How about this jutting out into the harbor.  Really big…And impressive.  It must be frustrating to have gone from the “age of exploration” to the “age of austerity”.  Well, it’s taken two days to get this post down as the internet access isn’t so great here in the 19th century chateau where we are staying in Sintra.  I’ll just have to promise you a treat when I post about this magnificent spot.  Where else can you look out of your window and see a huge castle looming on the mountain top just outside?

Besides, breakfast awaits.

Alfama Lisbon after dark and nautical coming to a blog near you.

It’s Saturday morning and the sky is trying to decide if it’s going to rain or be sunny.  Me, I am hoping for sunny.  However, there’s been a forecast of rain for every day since we have been here and it’s only rained briefly once, yesterday afternoon.   So far, so good.

Yesterday with blog posts to be written and just plain not moving as quickly as we wanted, we underachieved, for the morning at least, visiting only a single museum all day.  Actually, with a month to spend in Portugal and only a few days under our belts, it’s probably a good thing to be a bit lazy.  Us newbie travelers will have to pace ourselves.

Brenda had read about a museum that houses the personal collection of a wealthy man that died in the 50s.  That would be the 1950s.   It seems he made his money in the oil business.  Anyway, within a 30 year span, he amassed an amazing collection of fine art including everything from Greek pottery, paintings of the likes of Mary Cassat, Rembrant and some of the finest Monets. That in addition to some lovely art deco pieces and an amazing furniture collection.

It’s sufficient to say that you should put the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian on your list if you visit Lisbon.  However, you will have to just use your imagination as I am only going to show a few pieces here.

I was particularly taken by some of the art deco jewelry, mostly hair pieces and broaches.  This piece, was amazing.  At about 10″ across, a women wearing this would certainly be making a statement.  I guess she’d have to have really big hair to pull this one off. Don’t even think of ignoring the wishes of a women wearing this piece over her breast.I mentioned in past posts that the streets, more like narrow alleys actually, that make up this area are a tangle of intersecting paths winding around in no particular pattern.  It’s obvious that cars were not in the picture when this area of Lisbon was “planned” hundreds of years ago by a bunch of guys riding donkeys.   

Fast forward hundreds of years to today, and thanks to the wonder of the iPhone, here’s a few shots from our walk and dinner last night.  The winding streets were packed with people making their way to the many restaurants lining the streets.   And, the proprietors were happily hawking their menus to entice you to dine with them.

We chose a lovely spot down a narrow staircase below street level.  They had live music and some impressive singers took turns belting out Portuguese ballads. This guy one of three that performed, including the owner, had an amazing voice.   No, he wasn’t posing to catch a peanut in his upturned mouth.  My crappy photo just makes it look that way. And these two young women did beautiful duets between cigarette breaks. Actually, it seemed that nobody actually was able to sing more than three songs without stepping outside to have a nicotine fix.  Sorry about the “devil eyes”.  I guess you had to be there.  As the evening wore on the crowds grew and the views grew even more ethereal. It was a beautiful evening to be out for a stroll.Today, we’ll be visiting the National Maritime Museum.  Yes, these pages will actually have something that makes sense on a site dedicated to sailing.  Well, let’s hope so.

I guess you’ll have to check back tomorrow to see how it works out.

I’d better finish up and get some coffee.

Wow, hard to get up today? Can you say “time change”?

It’s 4:30AM.  No, make that 9:30am.  What time is it?  I know that the clock says it’s time to get up but, ugg…

Anyway, it’s time to get up and be on the move.

Yesterday was an amazing day for me and Brenda as we took in the sights here in Lisbon.  I won’t bore you with the details except to say that we took in the National Tile Museum and a local castle.  Both pretty neat.

Oh yeah, and we walked over 7 miles.  I have no idea how that translates into km as Brenda’s fitbit keeps track of such things and it’s set to miles.  It’ was plenty of walking and I could tell that we had walked a lot when I finally sat down at the end of the day.

The tile museum was a remarkable place that chronicled the history of, remarkably enough, tile.  You’d be amazed at the diversity of Portuguese tile.  I wasn’t clear about exactly what the huge building that the museum is in but somehow there is a chapel inside it that looked pretty original and that it had been there for a long time.  Some of the information on the signs was in English. Anyway, there was a chapel.  Pretty amazing.There was also a special exhibit that featured contemporary pottery which was wonderful.  The work was on the theme of the sea.  Yes, I promised a “nautical theme” now and then.  This will have to suffice as a nautical “token” for today.   The pieces were large scale.  This ceramic crab is about 4′ across.The room was packed with pieces and they were very well presented.  The centerpiece, sardines, a major commercial catch in these waters.  We had a nice lunch in the museum courtyard.  There was even a family of turtles in the courtyard fountain.Where every you walk, it’s up and down, but mostly up.  This street was particularly charming.  And, after dark, we walked by again.  Magical. We also walked a long way, up hill in both directions, to a castle.  That makes sense, I guess as by design, castles are ALWAYS up hill.  I understand that this is because up hill makes it tough for the infidels to bother you.

Yes, looks like a castle.There was even a resident falconer at the castle, with a beautiful owl who flew up into the trees in the castle’s central courtyard.Pretty amazing view the folks that lived in the castle must have had.  I guess there were fewer buildings back then.  Good thing, as now there’s plenty of places to hide if you’re planning a siege.There was even a “wine cart” called “wine with a view”.  You get to keep the glasses, which are plastic and very nice.  They will be a nice addition to Pandora’s fine crystal collection.All that for four Euros each.  Not bad. The view from the seats carved in the wall… Yes, quite a view.  Does drinking wine help if you have vertigo?  Not enough research on that yet.  Perhaps I didn’t drink enough to be sure.  There’s always today…Looks nice, yes?  I won’t talk about the gale blowing up the side of the castle. Brenda sat on the side looking into the wind.  Wouldn’t want her hair to blow into her wine, would we?

And a view of a lovely cathedral.   Several actually.Loads of up and down.  Mostly up, both ways, it would seem.  It was a great day. 

On our way back to the apartment Brenda was seduced, against here will, into a pottery store. Does she look like a woman with a “pottery problem”?  Yikes, looks like an itch that will need scratching.  At least there’s a 50lb limit on checked baggage.  Please, let that be true. Today, have to find a bank.  It seems that VISA isn’t taken EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, here in Lisbon.  First a bank, then another museum.  Actually, first the metro.  That should be a learning experience.

Enough of the day spent on this post.  We’re off…  More to come.


And now, a break from nautical. How about Portugal?

It’s Thursday morning and Brenda and I are here in Lisbon where we will be exploring Portugal for the next month.  For now you will have indulge me with a smattering of nautical posts but mostly writing about this trip.  I hope it’s fun for you as I am pretty confident that it will be fun for us.  Who knows, perhaps Pandora will be here in a few years.

Anyway, enough dreaming for now.  Back to here and now.  

When we flew over here yesterday I have to say that I discovered that I am not quite the world traveler that some of my friends are.  Actually, perhaps I am a really good traveler as it seems that I didn’t want to miss a single minute on the 300 hour flight so I stayed awake the ENTIRE TIME…

As you can imagine, I was POOPED when we got to our apartment in the old quarter, perhaps one of many old quarters in Lisbon, here yesterday. We had big ideas of taking a nap and then going out to eat a fashionably late dinner.  HA!

Yes, Brenda took a nap but I wasn’t quite ready to sleep so I did a bit of exploring of the neighborhood.  Actually, I went out looking for wine and cheese.  Success! And, imagine this, each of the shopkeepers spoke English.  That’s good.  Can you say “local wine” in Portuguese?  I can’t.

Next step, wake Brenda up from her nap and have some wine and cheese as an appetizer.  Now wait, after NO SLEEP for the last 24 hours…   Here’s an idea…  Let’s call wine and cheese dinner and then SLEEEEP…

Well, now it’s 08:00 and the sun is up with broken clouds and it’s a beautiful day!

Today?  Well, I don’t know as Brenda’s in charge and she’s still in the shower.  I don’t know what her plans are except that we will be here in Lisbon in this apartment for about 4 days and then we will take a train to well, somewhere else.

For now, perhaps I’ll put a few photos of our “neighborhood” here.  What a beautiful place.  The airport is very modern but oddly, the signs are all in Portuguese.  I thought that everyone put signs up in English and Spanish, just like in the US.  Well, you learn something new every day.  Here, the signs are first in Portuguese and THEN in English.

Our apartment is a very cute little, with the emphasis on LITTLE, efficiency apartment.  Well, it’s so efficient that you have to walk out into the kitchen to make it from one side of the bed to the other.  I will say that in spite of the fact that the buildings in the neighborhood are hundreds of years old, the inside of the apartment is very modern and quite European chic.  Little, but chic.

Here’s a view of the front of our apartment from out on the patio, yes the patio…  Very nice.The patio also has a view of a beautiful cathedral nearby.  It’s absolutely enormous.  Notice the wine and cheese in the foreground.  No, make that our dinner!  Remember, tired…?The streets are impossibly narrow.  This is a view of the end of the street leading to the two stories of steps up to our apartment.  I wonder how you reserve a parking spot?  Answer…You don’t!The buildings and the nearby streets are very beautiful and really steep.  Ever heard of Portuguese masons?  I hadn’t thought about it but I guess that they are pretty good at what they do.  Some of the buildings are completely faced with glazed tiles.  Amazing. As I write this I am sitting at a little table here on the patio and about the only sound I hear is the conversation of others in their apartments surrounding the courtyard and the fluttering of flocks of pigeons flying from terracotta rooftop to rooftop.  Don’t worry about me eavesdropping as my hearing is terrible and I DON’T SPEAK PORTUGUESE.  Very peaceful.  

However, enough of peaceful, I WANT BREAKFAST.  What do the Portuguese eat for breakfast? I believe that coffee is part of that.  Yes, a cup of coffee will set the day straight.

More to come…

Maritime museums of Portugal

It’s Tuesday evening and we are sitting in the airport in Providence waiting for our connection to Newark for a flight to Portugal where we will be traveling until mid November.

We had decided to take an extended trip to Europe and after much discussion, we settled on Portugal.   A key consideration was that the country had to be far enough south so that we wouldn’t freeze at this time of year and we also thought it would be fun to see a country with such a strong nautical heritage.  Of course, being away for a month meant that we also had to pick a country that wasn’t going to be too pricey.  Let’s hope that we won’t be reduced to sleeping in a rental car for the last week.

Actually, that’s not too likely given the fact that I’d be putting my relationship with Brenda at risk by pulling such a stunt.   And, as luck would have it, Portugal has a “textile rich” history as well. I hope that my luggage is large enough for her “haul”  If you weren’t aware, Brenda has a “linen problem”.  Could be worse as most linens aren’t too big.  ”Here Brenda, look at these lovely hankies!”

All kidding aside, we are very excited about going and I expect going to a “nautical country” will offer up some great blog ideas.  However, you will have to forgive me if I stray from “all things nautical” a bit for the next month as I am sure that some landlocked spots will be worth writing about.

I am told that one terrific museum is Museu de Marinha, which I think is the national maritime museum of Portugal.  However, I can’t be sure about that as WE DON’T SPEAK PORTUGUESE.   However, we have heard that anyone under the age of 18 speaks English.  Let’s hope so.

Anyway, even if we can’t read the plaques in the museum, we can still say “wow, nice boat” and mean it, in Portuguese or not.

Brenda, admittedly not as excited about the marine museums as yours truly, is excited about the fact that there is a strong, and ancient fiber culture there as well.

Not sure where we will be going but this shot, from the web, suggests that there are some nice small craft.    Yes, it’s a shrimpy picture but I should be able to get some good ones when we get there in person.  So, that’s what’s up and we’ll be coming home in about a month.

On the home front, Pandora’s in St Mary’s GA now and even though I spent plenty of time and money on her this summer, there continues to be a to-do list of pending items.  A bit of work on the new autoprop as one of the blades seems to be a bit tight on it’s swivel.

I was also distressed to learn that my autopilot computer, the spare one that I sent for repair a while back, can’t be fixed so I will have to purchase a new one. Now, that’s going to be painful.  Oh yeah, the wind direction instrument is also acting funny in a not-funny-at-all sort of way.

I should have ordered them before I left with the hope that I’d get a “boat show discount” but I didn’t get to it.  Perhaps as I struggle to adjust to the time change in Portugal, I can order them.

Well, that’s about all I have to report for now. Perhaps I’ll close with a seasonal shot of Pandora taken a few years ago in Annapolis at the height of the fall color.  Quite lovely.  Seeing this shot reminds me that my yard will be knee deep in leaves when we return.  Did I mention that we have a LARGE yard.  Ugg…

I hope that a month of traveling will give me time to build my strength.


Home to CT and a dolphin play date with Pandora

It’s Saturday morning and I am mostly, no make that somewhat,  dug out from under the bills and correspondence that piled up at home while I was away delivering Pandora to GA.  It’s amazing how quickly things get out of control.  If you missed it, Pandora’s in GA so that Brenda and I can join her somewhere sort of warm in January when we head down to spend the winter aboard.

The 800 mile trip from Essex to St Mary’s was uneventful but it was a bit of a bummer that 600 miles of the run was under power.  Oh well, after two north-bound runs under sail and one southbound sailing run, I guess I was about due for a motorboat trip.   Well, at least I know that I like my new Autoprop (propeller).

It’s safe to say that the highlight of the run was when we were visited by a pod of dolphins that swam with us for quite a while. Yes, we see dolphins regularly when making the long ocean runs in the spring and fall.  However, this was a particularly great experience as the water was just so still; more like a run on Long Island Sound in August, than time in the ocean.  I understand that dolphins are quite intelligent and to watch them play under our bow that they were having a fun time, if not a full blown “play date” with Pandora.  I sure was enjoying watching them, that’s for sure.

This video is perhaps a bit longer than you’d like but I have shown it to a number of folks that suggested I post it in it’s uncut length of about 15 minutes.   Actually, well to me at least, it gets more interesting the further you get into it.
Let me know what you think.

Anyway, I had better get going as I am going to see my mother today for a visit and had better get going.  I hope she enjoys it as well.


Pandora on the hard. I’m heading home to CT. Yahoo!

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I am cooling my heels at the Jacksonville airport, waiting for my 6:00 flight tonight.   I have hours to wait as my crew Jim had a flight at 2:00 and I had to get there in time for his flight.  Actually, it was plenty hot in St Mary’s today, up in the 90s, and it always seems to be hotter in boat yards than just about anywhere else, in my experience.  Here in the airport, nice and cool.  Such are life’s simple pleasures.

While I am not happy to be away from Pandora for the next three months, I am anxious to be home and to see Brenda again.  Besides, in less than a week, we are heading to Portugal for an extended visit.  I don’t want to miss that flight.  Portugal should be great as it has a strong nautical heritage.  It will be fun to write about what we see there.   Stay tuned for more on all of that.

Today’s sunrise was “worth writing home about” as are so many sunrises afloat. I have to say that I never get tired of enjoying a cup of coffee with such spectacular displays.  You, however, might have a difference of opinion about the number of posts about sunrises.  I hope that you don’t think that “sunrise problem or worse, a “sunset problem”.  Oh well, something to think about.

Here’s an idea!  How about a picture of today’s sunrise? “Bob, Bob, this looks JUST LIKE THE OTHER DOZEN THAT YOU HAVE POSTED IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS!!!   ENOUGH ALREADY!!!” 

Perhaps, but just this one more, for consistency.

Alas, I digress…

The yard that Pandora’s now in is one that clearly caters to “snowbirds” who take their boats from the north in the summer to south in the winter.  The boats stored there display all sorts of home ports from up north including Pandora’s Newport RI and a few from Canada.  Actually, I saw a boat “Bear” that is home ported in RI and I am pretty sure that I have seen that boat in the past.

I asked one of the guys in the yard when most of the owners would be returning to leave St Mary’s with their boats. His answer:  November 1st, as that’s when most insurance companies allow boats into Florida waters.  November 1st is the official end of the hurricane season.    Interestingly, St Mary’s River marks the border between Georgia and Florida.   From an insurance perspective, the GA side of the ST Mary’s River is OK, while two hundred yards away, across the river, it’s a big NO-NO, as it’s Florida.  Well, I guess that you have to draw a line somewhere and the FL-GA border is where everyone draws that line.

When Brenda and I head to GA and Pandora in early January, we’ll likely be one of the last to leave the yard.  I’ll bet that it will be chilly.  However, to be completely truthful, cold is a relative term.  Compared to New England in January, temps in the 50s are the “new hot”.

The St Mary’s Boat Yard is much like any other do-it-yourself yard in that there is, what might be charitably described as an “eclectic” selection of boats.  Some are very nice but many have, shall we say, “seen better days”, and that’s putting it gently.   Some of these boats look like their best days were when fiberglass was a new building technique and some are surely older than their owners.  I’ll bet that Rocky, the owner of the yard, has become the owner of more than a few boats over the years that were abandoned by folks that decided not to pay their storage bills.  That would be quite annoying.  Anyway, Rocky runs a nice operation. 

Here’s the view from the lift dock.  Pretty spot if you can ignore the millions of “no-see-ums” that invade at dusk. His crane can pick up a boat that weighs in at a hefty 50 tons. Pandora seems pretty heavy to me but she only weighs in at a paltry 30,000 lbs or so.  That’s a feather weight 15 tons.  Not too hard for Rocky’s lift that can lift something that’s three times as heavy as Pandora. So, after a bottom wash, off she moves over to her new “home” for a few months.  Now I am siting in the comfort of air conditioning and just like all activities related to boating, it’s going to take me a LONG time to get home.   Actually, as my flight is so late today combined with the fact that I have to fly into JFK means that I won’t get home until Thursday.   My friend Craig is picking me up at the airport tonight and I’ll spend the night at his new place.  However, you already knew that from my last post, if you saw it, and that’s a BIG “if”.  

Tomorrow, my friend Rodney will pick me up at the train in Old Saybrook as Brenda’s out at a weaving conference for a few days.

Anyone who has spent time aboard boats knows that everything about boating is complicated and as is so often the case in life, “it takes a village”.  In  the case of Pandora, it seems to takes several villages or perhaps a small city of friends to keep her moving.

Good thing that I am so likable.  Well, my mother says I am, so don’t break my bubble.

All this writing has made me hungry for an ice cream.   I do have to keep my strength up.  That’s all for now.


Pandora’s in St Mary’s GA, finally.

It’s Tuesday afternoon and we are tied up at the city dock in St Mary’s GA.  The remainder of our run yesterday was uneventful if you leave out the run up the St Mary’s River late last night against an ebbing tide that sometimes ran at 4.5kts.  Given the fact that Pandora’s cruising speed tops out at a normally speedy 7+ knots, that meant that it took us two hours to cover the 6 or so miles from the beginning of the channel into the river.   It felt like FOREVER.

As we arrived on the full ebb tide, we had no choice but to power against the current all the way in.  It was fine except that it was pitch dark and midnight by the time we dropped the anchor just inside the entrance.  I am happy that there was a spot to anchor close in as to spend another hour plus making our way up the rest of the way up the curvy St Mary’s River in the dark would have been a bit too much after a long day.

Yesterday, I was treated to a fabulous sunrise.  It was very soothing to watch the sky go from grey to purple and to red as the sun rose over the ocean.

The boatyard that I am leaving Pandora in until early January is up a creek near town and we have to arrive at high tide tomorrow morning or there won’t be enough water to get near the dock.  The tide here is nearly 8’ so that means that with 8’ of water at high tide, there’s mud at low.  You have to watch the tide carefully. 

Brenda and I had visited St Mary’s when we did the ICW two years ago and enjoyed Thanksgiving with other cruisers at the St Mary’s hotel.  The owner of the hotel opens up his dining room to cruisers for a free dinner for Thanksgiving.  Local residents supply turkeys and hams and anyone attending is expected to bring a side dish to share.  While we missed being with family for the holiday, it was a fun time, never the less.

You can really tell that you are in the south here as it’s classic “low country” with marshes everywhere.   As Jim and I went out for breakfast this morning, we didn’t have to worry about crossing the street as there wasn’t a car in sight until lunchtime.   Sleepy place.

The marina where we tied up is pretty simple and given the condition of many boats that are tied up here, I expect that they aren’t too focused on getting top dollar for slips.  This shot is of one boat that’s securely tied up to the dock, I suspect for a long time.  I’ll bet that you could purchase it pretty cheap.Perhaps your money would be better spent joining the ST Mary’s Yacht Club.  Perhaps not.  This is the clubhouse.  The streets are lined with stately live oaks, covered in Spanish moss.This is the second oldest church in GA.  And, as a special bonus, It’s located on Osborne street. Bummer about the “e” in Osborn”e”.  It seems that most everyone spells it “wrong”.  Oh well. Notice how it’s raised up one story above the ground.  Like I said, it’s low country, really low.  I am sure that some folks have come to church by canoe at various times.Tonight we’ll go out for dinner and Wednesday we’ll move Pandora over to the yard to be hauled.  Getting home will take some time as my flight doesn’t get to JFK in NY until 8:30 which is too late to get a train back to Essex so I’ll head there on Thursday morning.  Happily, that will give me an opportunity to spend the night visiting my good friend Craig in his new home in Rye.  I have been looking forward to seeing Craig’s palace for a while so that works out well.

I am excited about being home again as it seems like FOREVER since I have seen Brenda.  Hope she hasn’t changed the locks.  Now wait, what women would turn away a “handyman”?  Of course!  She needs someone to do the chores and I am a pretty handy guy, if a bit annoying, much of the time.  Yes, I think she’ll let me in, dirty laundry and all.  That will be nice.






Cape Fear to St Mary’s GA, day two

It’s Monday morning and we are about 80 miles from the entrance to the St Mary’s River in GA.  We are powering along on seas so calm you’d think that we were in LI Sound on a windless August afternoon.   At our current speed, we should arrive in the mouth of the river around 10pm tonight to begin our run up the river and the town of St Mary’s.

Our plan is to head up and drop the anchor and spend the day in the river prior to heading over to have Pandora hauled in a nearby yard.

Yesterday we saw a few dolphins but none stayed near  the boat long enough to get pictures.  However, this morning, we were treated to a visit that lasted nearly a half hour during which several dolphins swam in front of our bow for quite a while.  At the peak, we had a dozen jockeying for position in front of us , darting in all directions and sometimes jumping clear of the water.

The water here is so clear that we could see their every movement as they darted around our bow.  I was able to get some terrific videos of their antics and will put an edited version on YouTube when I get home.  What a treat.

Speaking of treats, last night I cooked half of the tuna we caught yesterday.  I have to say that you haven’t tasted tuna unless you’ve had it cooked within an hour or so of being caught.  The flesh was a deep red and was nearly as firm as a good filet minion but when you take a bite, it melts in your mouth.  Amazing.  They say that everything tastes better aboard so Imagine the best tuna ever, on a boat.  Ambrosia.

I sautéed a mess of onion, set that aside and then seared the tuna only enough to cook it about ¼ through and get it warm in the center.  Then, I set that aside and reduced some teriyaki sauce that I had in the pantry as a glaze.   Jim and I had our fill, along with a nice salad.  I will spare you a photo of the dish as my son Rob is so sick of “photos of friend’s meals on FaceBook” that he only looks at it once a week.  Now that I have him looking at my blog, sometimes at least, I don’t want to do anything that will drive him away.

“Rob, it was great but you’ll just have to imagine what it looked like”.  Yum…

As is so often the case when I am making an offshore run, we were visited by a little bird for a while yesterday afternoon.  He/she landed in the cockpit and flitted (I guess that’s an apt description of what he did) from place to place aboard, including a brief visit down below.  Fearing that he’d poop everywhere, which he sort of did, I scooped him up gently in my hand and put him back out in the cockpit, where he stayed for a while before heading who knows where.

At one point he landed on Jim’s leg and looked around.  Interestingly, it seems that every bird that lands aboard is of the same species.  Last spring we had a visitor overnight that expired and had to be given a burial at sea.   Fortunately, yesterday’s visitor left prior to meeting an untimely end, if he did.  I hope that he made it “home” wherever that is.

Well, Pandora’s engine continues to drone along as it has now for over 24 hours as there isn’t any wind at all.  Did I say that the water is very calm?   Thought so.

Today’s sunrise was a spectacular show on the glass calm ocean.

We decided to fish again.   I hope that we catch another tuna but hopefully, nothing too big.  Small or large, they bleed a LOT and a small bleeder is certainly better than a BIG BLEEDER.  Wish us luck.