'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

The Long Stretch Between

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(Sorry, no pictures. I have them, but one of the realities of cruising is that the internet service you find is wat you have – and this one in Vero Beach FL won’t allow me to upload photos!)

When we began this trip, I had envisioned that the blog would become something of a travelogue. A day-by-day (or at least a week-by-week) description of what we saw, thought, felt and wondered about.  Instead, it’s become more a record of my irregular inspiration. I’ve written when the mood struck and a topic presented itself – often as a result of a semi-dream state in the wee hours of the morning.

The problem with relying on the sleep fairy for blog ideas is one of memory. I’ll wake – or nearly wake, or dream I’m waking – but I’ll be in no condition to write down the idea the sleep fairy left me, nor will I have anything to write with and on, and anyway it’ll be dark so I can’t see to scribble…. And that’s a shame, because I know there have been some wonderful blog post ideas that are forever lost to the vagaries of my middle-aged memory.

But such is life. Rest assured that there have been some incredibly scintillating posts, real corkers, and you’d have absolutely loved reading them, sharing them, quoting them at office parties and swank soirée of every description.  

Really – that good.

What I’ve been left with instead is the bare highlights. When something really significant happens, like detached retina or near-death in an inlet, you hear about it, but the three days we spent wending our way slowly through the beauty of the Georgia marshes gets barely a nod, and I haven’t even mentioned most of South Carolina. 

Now in fairness to Georgia, the beauty of the ICW in that stretch doesn’t translate well to the written word. I’ve heard many people lament that that stretch of the ditch is deadly dull. “There’s NOTHING THERE!!” (emphasis mine) they lament.
And I suppose that’s true, if your definition of “something” is humans and the mess they make. But the marshes are quiet and soft and the air is sweet. The Great Egrets and Brown (and White!) Pelicans are abundant and a joy to watch in their feeding antics, the Dolphins are frequent visitors in their hunt for food and playmates, and there’s an energy to the marsh that lowers the blood pressure more effectively than Prozac ever dreamed. 

Cumberland Island, too, is lovely, and if the weather had cooperated, we’d have spent a couple days there, but we were forced out by a Norther that made the only anchorage untenable after only a couple hours ashore, and we have not one picture of ruins, horses, armadillos and deer who hardly know or care what humans do around them. Magical, it was, and we plan to return some day.

South Carolina was – well – a strain. The waterway is clogged with McMansions right down to the water, each more pretentious than the last, yet in the next mile decay and poverty are more prominent than the pelicans.  

Charleston has gorgeous architecture, it’s true, and it’s one of those places that many find delightful. “So much to DO!”, they cry, yet we found grid-lock, urban sprawl and overdevelopment at its worst, and the subtext of racial tension and a distrust of strangers (eye contact while walking down the street? Certainly not!) had us longing for open water long before we were able to seek it. We won’t be back there if we can avoid it.

But then there was St. Augustine, FL – the perfect antidote to Charleston. An old city, steeped in history, with lovely architecture, illogical streets and wonderful pedestrian ways. Yes, the downtown is horribly touristy – carefully designed to separate the visitor from their money – but there is a color and a vibrancy to the town and a welcoming energy in the people that lets you forgive that aspect. 

And let me tell you, they know how to light up the town for Christmas!

Add to that a lovely cruiser community, with many snowbirds like us choosing to make the harbor their winter home, and three days wasn’t long enough by half. We’ll be back on one of our migrations, I’m sure.

And one other thing that Florida has? Water.

Ever since leaving Norfolk, VA, we’ve had our eyes and ears glued to the depth sounder. Sionna needs 4 ½ feet of water to operate, and for comfort we’d prefer more. Below 10’, we become nervous, as the bottom can come up quickly. It makes for a tense and tiring day, and it was that way from Norfolk (mile 0 on the ICW) all the way to St. Mary’s, Georgia around mile 885.  

But now we’re south of all that. The canal here is deep, approaching 20’ most of the time, and if it’s sometimes narrow (50’ or so), it’s often straight, and it slopes at the edges enough that watching the navigational markers with an occasional glance at the depth is enough, and we can relax a bit. Vero Beach, where the boat is tonight, is sheltered, cozy and safe, and so welcoming to cruisers that it’s nick-named “Velcro Beach” in honor of all the sailors who came for a night and stayed for a lifetime. And it’s warm.

Did I mention that it’s warm? As I write this it’s 85 degrees on Christmas Day, and Nicki went for a swim in the pool this evening to cool off. On Christmas. That still seems like a miracle to this northern boy.

Such are the thoughts of a cruiser on this lazy, 80 degree winter evening. We’ll get you some pictures next time.


Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, we’re back on the boat, with plans to visit the Bahamas later in the winter. Follow our blog here, and follow our progress in map form by joining www.Farkwar.com!

One thought on “The Long Stretch Between

  1. Leave it to you, Keith, to lament that you’ve got nothing to write, while writing this entry. A nice summation, albeit with the insensitive jab about the Christmas weather report.

    Have you heard the story of Anne’s middle-of-the-night revelation about the meaning of life? She woke up long enough to actually WRITE IT DOWN! The result was waiting for her the next morning, and when she remembered the incident, she quickly checked – and found a page full of endless swirling lines. It’s an amusing anecdote, but most people fail to notice that she in fact came up with the correct answer, so extra points to her.

    I love the description of St. Augustine’s “pedestrian ways” – I took the meaning a bit different at first…

    Happy New Year to you both, and to your readers!


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