Monthly Archives: October 2014

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.

On Our Way to St. Mary’s, on Calm Seas

It’s Sunday mid-day and we have been underway since 07:00.  The seas are running about 4′ but dropping as the wind that we enjoyed for the first 5 hours is beginning to die.  I was hoping that Chris Parker, the weather router, was wrong about the wind dying when I spoke with him on Saturday but his prediction was that we’d get a good start but that the wind would go away around noon.  Chris, you are right, yet again.   Bummer for that…

Yesterday was very windy and not from a good direction and he recommended that we wait till this morning to venture out so that the seas could lay down.    The bad news is that he also predicted that the wind would also “go away” by noon Sunday.   In this case, I wish that he wasn’t right so much of the time.

Today’s forecast calls for wind under 10kts from the north, not nearly enough wind to keep us moving toward our destination.    For Pandora to sail well, she needs about 10kts apparent and with that she does quite nicely.

So, a bit ago, we gave in and turned on the engine and pulled the sails in a bit.  Happily, there is still enough wind to keep the sails filled and steady us a bit as we move along at between 6.5 and 7kts.

After some motoring I decided, since it was so calm and such an easy day, to break out the fishing gear. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with fishing.  On the one hand, it’s fun to catch a fish but on the other hand, you have to do something with whatever you catch.  And, on top of all that, you don’t know what you’ll catch and it might be alarmingly large…

Anyway, I decided that the best strategy was to use a small lure with the idea of “small lure, small fish”.    Happily, after about an hour of trolling off of the back of the boat, we were rewarded by a nice, not too big, tuna.  I don’t know what sort it was but it sure had a lot of blood for such a modest sized fish.

Interestingly, tuna are warm blooded.  Although, not as warm as mammals, they are decidedly warmer than the water that they swim in. I understand that they have evolved into warm blooded fish so that they can sustain the sort of fast swimming and aggressive hunting that they are famous for.  This guy put up quite a fight.  I reeled him/her in and Jim did a great job with the gaff, getting the fish on board.

I cleaned him up right away (he was still warm, and pretty bloody) and froze half, one filet for tonight.  No frozen lasagna tonight.   Mmmm…

Enough fishing for today as I don’t have the energy to clean another one.   We are still moving along nicely and at this rate, we will arrive at the mouth of the St Mary’s river around midnight on Monday.

I can’t say that I am thrilled about heading into an unfamiliar entrance in the dark but the channel is very well maintained and marked with lighted buoys to accommodate the Navy and their submarine base, so getting up the river will be pretty straight forward.
Once we leave the main channel to head up to the town of St Mary’s, we’ll have to be more careful.  There are lighted markers but the river is pretty windy and we’ll likely be a bit tired after the crossing. The good news, is that once we are there it will be early enough for us to get a good night sleep.  Tuesday will be spent getting Pandora ready to haul in the local boatyard where she will spend the next three months on land prior to Brenda and I rejoining her in early January.

Speaking of the boatyard, the St Mary’s Boatyard, as it’s aptly named, is run by a guy named Rocky and while I have heard that he has a nice operation, I haven’t been able to get him on the phone for a few days to alert him that I am headed his way.  Yes, we talked a few months ago, but I sure hope that he has gotten my messages and e-mails and is ready for our arrival.

Well, at the very least, I can just show up at his dock when I get there.  I expect that will get his attention.

So, that’s about all I have to report as we are now about 30nm from shore and there’s nothing but unbroken horizon in all directions.  And, the temperature is very nice in the sunny 60s, a far cry from a brisk 45 in the cabin when I got up this morning.

Don’t forget, I’ll be posting my position in “where’s Pandora” every four hours.

Here’s to smooth “motor-sailing” the rest of the way to St Mary’s.

Leaving tomorrow for St Mary’s. Really… I hope.

It’s Saturday evening and it l0oks like the wind will FINALLY turn in our favor for a departure out of the Cape Fear River on Sunday morning, early.

We were going to leave today but there were strong winds that were stubbornly blowing from the south, the exact direction that we will be heading.  Heading into the wind offshore is definitely not cool.  Better to wait for favorable winds.  Yes, that’s for me.  Totally…

So, instead of heading out today, we stopped in Southport NC, and tied up in a very nice marina to wait for favorable winds.  I normally don’t spring for a slip in a “real”marina, but today I was tired from days of motoring down the ICW and decided to pay for a night with the “big kids”.

I went for a walk with my crew Jim to see the sights.  The town is very pretty with impressive historic homes framed by massive live oaks.  Very southern.Well, it was a good decision to stop here and get a slip in the marina as it seems that this place is clearly “where it’s at” with a big time fishing tournament going on with literally hundreds of boats competing to see who could catch the biggest king mackerel.    With so many participants on the prowl, someone actually caught one that bested the record books for North Carolina, at least, at more than 50lbs.

The tournament is a big deal and I guess that there are thousands in prize money, perhaps many thousands, so the event attracted folks from far and wide.

This photo is of one of the “little guys” that was perhaps half the size of the winning fish.  These are pretty big fish. Not like the little mackerels that I caught when I was a kid.  And, the boats that go out to catch them are plenty powerful with some in the 30+ foot range with 900hp to push them along at staggering speeds.  As this shot shows, there were lots folks that showed up to see what Who caught what.  Some of the boats had all sorts of sponsor signs on them.  I guess that fishing is a big deal here.This is a shot of the winning fish that were displayed in a case lined with crushed ice.  To give this some scale, the winning fish was something like 6′ long.  That clearly qualifies as a “king” mackerel. I was told that each fish is weighed and then cut open to be sure that the “catcher” hasn’t stuffed the fish with lead shot or something else that will make the fish heavier.  I guess when there’s competition and big money to be had, there’s folks that will cheat.  “honest, I have no idea how that ten pound lead chunk got into the fish’s stomach”. 

Anyway, the tournament was great fun to experience.

We ended up putting Pandora on the end of a dock with plenty of other boats and as it was the weekend we found ourselves this evening in the midst of a communal dock cookout.  We contributed some sausage and to that was added chicken, pork, cobia (whatever that is) as well as tuna and some corn on the cob.  All that and pasta salad and all matter of food choices.  Someone had even brought pineapple infused rum. Yumm…

To top it all off, there was even a key lime pie in celebration of a “birthday girl”.  And no, I didn’t ask how old she was.One of the boats on the dock is also headed to the FL Keys this winter so perhaps we’ll see them there.  In case you missed it, Brenda and I are headed there ourselves.

So, hopefully, we will head out of the Cape Fear River early Sunday to begin our 300nm run to St Mary’s.  That should put us there by Tuesday in preparation for our flights home from Jacksonville on Wednesday.

I should close with a shot of Pandora on the dock, dink on the cabin top and ready for her offshore run.  Wish me luck.  I had better get to bed as it’s going to be a long few days as we head south.  Unfortunately, it is looking like a motorboat ride.  Not a lot of wind in the forecast. Such is the “delivery business”, with deadlines to keep.

Don’t forget, I’ll be posting Pandora’s position every four hours while we are underway.  Just check “where’s Pandora”, on this site, for updates.

Oh yeah, Southport is a lovely town.  The live oaks are magnificent and it’s fun to visit a spot that Brenda and I enjoyed on our run south two years ago.

Snooze time…