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(in reverse chronological order)


September 2011

Jacques Cousteau said that Cozumel was one of the five best dive sites in the world.  That, along with the fact that USAir had a nonstop flight from Charlotte, was enough for us to start looking for a dive deal.  The Blue Angel dive resort fit the bill with a dive package we couldn’t pass up, so off we went.  October weather in the Caribbean can be a bit iffy and we had a little rain and wind but the great dives and flavorful margaritas more than made up for it.  Blue Angel is a small 22 unit hotel right on the water with a great restaurant and dive shop right on the premises.  We got up every morning at 6:30, had a big breakfast and then went out on a two tank dive to the Palomar reef or some equally impressive site.  The visibility in Cozumel is unbelievable and the coral and sea life on the reef is not to be found anywhere else we’ve been in the Caribbean.  Sitting on the beach, sipping happy hour mango margaritas, looking across the water with the lights of Playa del Carmen twinkling on the horizon with a beautiful sunset crowning the sky, was a perfect way to finish an already great day.  We made it our daily ritual and suffered margarita withdrawal when we returned to home and reality.  We did manage to make it into town a couple of days for a little shopping and took an around the island joyride with friends but the Blue Angel was the real highlight of the trip.  Cozumel is a great place and we can’t wait to go back. 



January 2010

I’m sorry but I’ve gotten a little remiss about updating this journal.  As soon as we knew that USAir was going to fly nonstop Charlotte to Honolulu, the planning for the Hawaii trip started.  Kauai won out as the first Hawaiian destination.  It’s the most laid back, least commercialized island and that fits right into what we’re looking for.  The weather was a little cool but we did a couple of scuba dives out of Port Allen and some snorkeling at Poipu beach.  We drove up to the beginning of the Na pali coast, did the mandatory luau at Smith’s Tropical Paradise and spent the rest of the week exploring the island and trying the local eating and watering holes.  We thought Hamura’s Saimin Stand had great saimin and knew it was a local place when the security guards from the bank stopped in for a meal.  The noodles are made by hand and the special saimin was delicious with pork, wontons, egg, and vegetables.  The liliko’i pie was great too.  We loved the Koloa Fish Market.  It’s a great place to experience real Hawaiian seafood prepared fresh.  Their plate lunch special was delicious.  Ahi tuna, Poke, and Ono are just a few of the local fish they prepared.  There’s a Hawaiian shaved ice stand we made a habit of visiting daily.  It’s been in business for 28 years with the same friendly guy running it.  He opened it when he was 18 years old and it’s still going strong today.  We got hooked immediately and made it part of our daily routine.  You can check it out at  We rented a couple of bikes in Kapa and rode for miles on the bike path that starts on the south side of town and follows the coast all the way up to Kealia beach.  The views along this trail were spectacular with sweeping ocean vistas and lots of breaching whales.  We visited the Kilauea Point lighthouse and saw more whales as well as red footed boobies and Layson albatrosses which have six foot wingspans. It was a great week in paradise!


November 2009

The first leg of our journey took us to West Palm Beach for a fun visit with my sister Linda and a couple of exciting dives in Boynton Beach. From there we went to Miami for a mini Air Florida reunion with Frank Murphy, Bob Hogan, and Don Jacocks. Everyone had a great time telling stories about each other; fun to see old flying buddies after twenty-five years.

Then we were off to Marathon, half way down the Conch Republic. It’s easy to get to, but hard to leave. When we got there, we hooked up with Mike and Cherri, our sailing friends who now live on their boat in Boot Key Harbor. In 2006, they stopped in Marathon on their sail north and liked it so much they never left. They are really active in the local community theater and invited us to see “Incorruptible”. We love the theater and had a great time!

During our stay we took a couple of trips down to Key West which gave us a chance to go to Kelly McGinnis’ bar for some great Key West Margaritas as well as have dinner at El Siboney, our favorite Cuban restaurant.

We dove the reefs off of Marathon and took a Nitrox course at Hall’s Diving Institute. Nitrox makes diving much less tiring and allows you to stay down longer. We both really liked diving with it. We also discovered a great rustic fish house and watering hole: Key Fisheries. They have dollar stone crab claws up in the sky bar and we ended up spending several evenings up there drinking beer at stuffing ourselves while we watched the sunset. They made us feel like locals almost immediately and we could have stayed all winter but sadly for us the real world called and we had to return to Charlotte for Rhonda’s week at work. We call it “the USAir supplemental retirement plan” but that’s a different story.

On the way home, we stopped in Coral Gables to stay with Don and Denise Jacocks. We really enjoyed their hospitality, had a great meal, and got hooked on roasted garlic appetizers. This was the first time we’d seen their house since they did a major remodel and it was spectacular. It was a great trip, seeing old friends and enjoying the wonderful Florida sunshine and water.


Saint Martin and Saba

September 2009

Took the USAir nonstop flight to St Martin, got a cheap rental car, and headed out to find the dive shop. Met Chris and Sally, owners of Octopus Diving, and got set up for the next days dive. Spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the French and Dutch sides of St Martin and then checked into the Belair Beach hotel: Great room, right on the water with a great view. Bright and early the next morning, we headed out to Tintamare island to dive the reef and a wreck called the tugboat. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach at the hotel. The next day we dove Creole rock and Turtle reef. We decided to fly to Saba, explore the island, and try the diving over there. Saba is a 5 square mile dormant volcano inhabited by 1800 people that reminds you what the Caribbean was like 50 years ago. It’s a really enjoyable, picturesque place, incredibly clean, and full of friendly people. We did three dives: The Pinnacles, Babalon, and Tent city. Visibility was outstanding and the dives were spectacular. First dive was to 120 feet, where a volcanic eruption caused the pinnacle to rise up out of the depths, really something to see. The other two dives were just as good as the first one. We were really glad we came. Spent the rest of our week enjoying the beaches of Orient Bay and the rest of St Martin.



Alaska and British Columbia

July 2009

Flew into Anchorage and spent a few days exploring the area before we got on our cruise. Lake Hood seaplane base was really interesting, it's one of the busiest in the world. Seaplanes of all types were taking off and landing constantly. We rode the Alaska railroad coastal classic to Seward then got on Holland American's Veendam and headed for Glacier Bay. We spent most of the day cruising Glacier Bay National Park, traveling sixty miles north past Russell Island to the far northwestern point in the park; where the Ferris and Margerie glaciers meet the water. The size of the Margerie glacier is difficult to comprehend: 250 feet above and 100 feet below the water, 1 mile wide, and 21 miles long. Moving 8 feet a day, the ice that calves off as we watch, was falling snow 100 years ago. We sat motionless in front of Margerie for close to an hour watching it. Lots of small chunks fell into the water, but as the boat turned to leave a huge chunk fell with a deafening clap and shook the entire ship. Slowly we motored south, passing the Johns Hopkins and Lamplugh glaciers, and came to a stop in front of the Reid glacier. There, in the center of the glacier, a large waterfall cascaded tons of water into the bay. Next on the itinerary was Haines; home to Fort Seward and more bald headed eagles than any other place on the planet. Juneau followed and we went whale watching on a small boat with 13 other passengers. The whales came up while bubble netting right in front of the boat and everyone was dumbstruck at their size. It was an unbelievable experience. Ketchikan was our next stop. We walked the town and did all the touristy stuff. Our cruise ended in Vancouver, BC, where we hopped a ferry to Victoria and rented a car. We spent a day at Butchard Gardens, a really spectacular botanical display of flowers and fauna. Got so fired up that we went out and bought a ton of plants when we came home. The cruise and British Columbia were a great travel destination. We can't wait to go back and explore more of the area.


Montana and Yellowstone

April 2009

Four of them stood outside the lodge grouped together in a heated discussion. Their spurs jingled when they shifted their feet and the brims of their hats bobbed up and down as they spoke. Others walked down the streets with vests on. Watches on gold chains hung from their vest pockets. Downtown Billings looked for all intensive purposes like the set to an old time oater movie. We walked around town and went into used clothing stores where lizard skin boots in various states of wear were offered up at low prices. Elk horns, bears skins, and animal trophies lined the walls for sale. The Yellowstone rivers borders the south side of the city and we followed it to Bozeman and then turned south and followed the Gallatin river up into the mountains reaching Big Sky in about five hours.

The next day we traveled south to West Yellowstone and entered the park. Bison walked the highways and Big horn sheep butted heads on the side of the road. Coyotes stood watching us from hills covered in snow and a mother Buffalo licked her newborn at the side of the river twenty feet away from us. Old Faithful put on its spectacular show and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone showed us why this park has its name. Mammoth Hot Springs looked like a wedding cake with tiers of white calcium deposits and colored pools of algae changing color as the water temperature cooled. We drove thru Fort Yellowstone looking at Elk grazing in front of Army buildings built over a hundred years ago wondering what the first people who encountered this land of geysers and geothermal activity thought. Were they in awe of nature as we were or in fear of it? Exiting the park thru Roosevelt arch we drove into Gardiner and found more western relics for sale.

The next three days a late Spring snowstorm covered the area with many inches of powdery snow and we made snowmen and pummeled Carolyn and John with big wet snowballs. The museum of the West, in Bozeman, was loaded with dinosaurs fossils. T-rex and Triceratops displays were really impressive. The local barbeque and beer stops were fun too.

Weather cleared up the last couple of days and we made another foray into the park and caught a glimpse of a couple of bears and lots of other wildlife; never saw a moose though. Montana - Big Sky country.


February 2009

We jumped on the Usair 11:35AM flight to Aruba and four and a half hours later we were driving down a seaside road gazing out at the beautiful, azure blue waters which surround the island. We spent the first few days exploring Oranjestad and the rest of the island. Aruba's only 17 miles north of the Venezuela, south of the hurricane belt, which makes the weather warm, dry, and windy all year round. Much of the island is National park, covered with cactus, desert like and full of wild goats. It’s small (21 miles long and 6 miles wide) with a population of 100,000. The Dutch heritage is evident in the clean, colorful building style as well as the names of roads and cities. It has a very comfortable feel with none of the hassles you encounter in the poorer islands. The locals like to say that crime is not a serious problem and other than Natalie Holloway they don’t have murders on their island. The license plates say “One happy island”.

The highlight of our trip was the scuba diving. Rhonda finished her open water certification and we did a total of eight dives. The most exciting was the dive on the Jane C wreck. The bow lies in 60 feet of water and the stern is 92 feet deep. The current was so strong the day we dove we had to pull ourselves along the port side of the wreck using a rope. Half way up the port side we entered the hull thru a doorway and escaped the strong current. As soon as we went up to deck level we were back in the current and the dive master called off the rest of the wreck dive and told us to do a drift dive along the reef. In just a few minutes we had drifted about a mile down the reef and used up our air so we surfaced and waited to be picked up. While we were on the wreck Rhonda and I managed to get separated for a minute but we handled the situation and found each other without any undo excitement.

We loved the diving and beaches of Aruba.  Eating out was expensive; fortunately we had a full kitchen in the condo we rented and we cooked a lot more than we ate out (better food, better quality, less fat). Ling and Sons is a great grocery store close to the hotels. We cooked up some great meals, enjoyed the beach and the scenery, but most of all we enjoyed the scuba diving.


Akumal, Mexico

December, 2008

Rhonda wanted December to be a stay at home month but the Charlotte weather got really cold and the all inclusive resorts on the Mayan Riviera were offering deals just to good to pass up. Ted was really itching to go; So…

We jumped on one of USAir’s three daily flights to Cancun, rented a car (for $120 a week including the mandatory insurance they make you carry in Mexico), drove about an hour south of the airport to the Gran Bahia Principe resort in Akumal, and checked into an ocean view room. The resort was beautiful and the food and booze unbelievable. They had a great buffet as well as 11 separate restaurants that you could chow down at. There was a frozen drink bar at the pool and flaming coffee drinks in the bar at night. There was nightly entertainment (the Michael Jackson show was great) and the pools and beach were spectacular. We’ve been coming down to this area of the Yucatan for eight years and Akumal is still a laid back place where it’s easy to relax and enjoy yourself. Our week there flew by!

Ted did an awesome cave dive with a local instructor and two other divers. The submerged caverns were full of huge stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. Some room were totally dark except for our lights while others had openings to the sky which let in rays of light that reflected eerily thru the water. Rhonda surprised Ted by taking a resort scuba course and joined him on a reef dive to 50 feet. She enjoyed it so much that she’s going to get certified in Charlotte.

We went to the Hidden Worlds outdoor adventure park and did some snorkeling in a cenote (Mexican for fresh water spring) as well as zip line rides thru the jungle. One zip line took us thru a giant hole in the ground and into the water of another cenote. It kind of fealt like "Alice in Wonderland".  There were rappelling lines into this cenote as well and we tried them out too. It was a fun day.

Later during the week we drove up to Playa del Carmen and found that it had gotten way to busy for us. They even have a Sam’s club there now. We took a ride down to Tulum and its beaches and found it to be pretty much unchanged. The week flew by and before we knew it we were driving north to the Cancun airport. On the way we stopped at Puerto Morales for a look around. They have a great harbor and reef for scuba diving and the town is quaint enough that you feel you're out of the rat race. As we drove towards to the airport highway the local police pulled us over and shook us down for a $35 bribe. It was either pay or go to the police station and miss our flight. In all of our travels this was a first and although our trip ended on that sour note we really enjoyed ourselves and it was great that Rhonda got into scuba diving. We’re looking forward to diving together on future trips.

Key West Fantasyfest

October 24th to the 28th

Key West has to be the only town in the USofA that you can walk down the middle of main street drinking a margarita, wearing nothing but a coat of paint, and not get arrested.  As they said in a well read book: Please Mr. Paperman don't stop the carnival!  If you havn't been there - go.  If raucuous, inebriated, naked people turn you off, go to Grand Cayman instead.  If you go to KW, make sure to stop at Kelly's.  Housed in the original PanAm office, she serves up the best KW margarita on the island and it's only $4 during an extended daily happy hour;  get some wings while your there.  If you like Cuban food, El Siboney is the place.  We eat there at least once a week, cause they have the best roast pork, flank steak, and sangria we've ever had.  If we could figure out how to afford this island year around, we'd be here.

Spain and the Costa del Sol

September and October, 2008 

We flew to Philly and snagged the last seats in first class for the overnight flight to Madrid. Early the next morning we picked up our Citroen C5 rental car and started our six hour drive to Marabella, on the Costa del Sol. It’s amazing how quickly the countryside became sparsely populated, very dry, and mountainous. After a great Paella lunch in Malaga, we pulled into the Marriot resort where Jonathan and Susie had booked our room. We overlooked the Mediterranean and the huge pool just above the beach.

A drive up into the mountains took us to the pueblo blanco town of Ronda where the ancient whitewashed village is split by a 400 gorge. A 15th century bridge spans the chasm and makes for spectacular sightseeing. We walked the town visiting homes perched on the cliffs and enjoyed a lunch in the local park. We took one of Spain’s scenic drives home and branched off of it after a few miles to cut the corner back towards Marabella. Our shortcut led us to narrow unpaved roads with hairpin turns leading down the mountain. bordered by acres of olive groves.

We spent a day in Gibraltar, where we explored the siege tunnels and caves and played with the monkeys and had a typical British pub lunch.

We took a high speed ferry trip to Morocco, where we took a day tour of Tangiers and the casbah.

On the way back to Madrid we spent a couple of days in Granada, where we visited the Alhambra palace; the best example of moorish architecture in Spain.

Time flew by and before we knew it we were back in Madrid and on board the flight to Philly and Charlotte. Once again we snagged the last seats in first class, capping off a great European getaway.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Redux

August, 2008Kelly and Douglas joined us this time and we chartered a 38’ Lagoon Catamaran. What a great boat! Loads of room for two couples with a head and two staterooms in one hull and another head and stateroom in the other hull. The bridge deck was huge with a large galley and dining table and loads of headroom. The cockpit was large too; with an outside dining area and lots of deck space for sunbathing.

We had such a great time in Bequia last time, we sailed straight there the first day and had sundowners at the Green Doley. The next day we returned to the beauty of Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau and after a great evening enjoying the sunset we got hit with an intense thunderstorm. The 62’ Moorings catamaran next to us drug it’s anchor, almost hitting the rocks, but fortunately they regained control and re-anchored safely. The storm passed and after a quiet night we breakfasted, had a morning swim, and then sailed to Petite Saint Vincent. While anchoring, our windlass decided to part company with the boat by completely separating from it’s mounting almost taking the anchor and 150’ of chain with it. We were able to retrieve the anchor and chain and used moorings or docked the remainder of the trip. Rhonda likes moorings better than anchoring anyway, so not having an anchor actually improved the quality of sleep she got the rest of the trip. We docked behind Lambi’s restaurant, hotel, and grocery store in Union, which made exploring the town a lot easier for everyone. The highlight of the trip was the Tobago Cays. Ted went scuba diving at Horseshoe reef and Doug and Ted spent many hours snorkeling miles of pristine reefs surrounding the Cays. Kelly and Rhonda cooked up some great gourmet meals and we spent three days enjoying the unbelievable beauty of the place. We returned to Bequia for our last night and revisited the Green Doley for some great rum punch and Conch and Chicken Rotis. Liston was mixing some mean drinks and fortunately for us the dinghy ride back to the boat was only about 100 feet. Later that night Ted, Doug, and Rhonda tried a little night snorkeling and saw a Moray eel for some late night excitement. The last day we had a great sail back to Saint Vincent’s Blue Lagoon making 11 knots top speed with winds approaching 30 knots. After one last night on the boat, we caught our flight back to reality and enjoyed the comfort of our own bed and a long hot shower at home. There really is no place like home!

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

July, 2008

Sailing the Grenadines is like stepping into Adventures in Paradise. We visited Mustique, Mayreau and the Tobago Cays, Union, Petite Saint Vincent, and Petite Martinique, which is actually part of Grenada but no one pays much attention to clearing customs on this island. The sail from Saint Vincent to Mustique is a nice 3 hours reach passing a couple of picturesque uninhabited volcanic islands on the way. We spent a couple of days exploring the island and chilling out. Next, we sailed to Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau and anchored in a picture postcard harbor with a great beach and beachside bar. We took a tour of the island with the local cabbie and found that only 450 people live here and they have only had electricity for 5 years. That evening we saw some really unusual glowing fish swimming around our boat. They looked a little like baby squid but they had they ability to glow! The next morning we were off for Union island and the city of Clinton. We walked the town, reprovisioned at the local vegetable stands and grocery stores, and had a latte at the French gourmet grocery. Late that afternoon, we sailed to Petite Saint Vincent and anchored off of the exclusive resort located there. Suprisingly we found lots of conch right under the boat so Rhonda cleaned them and dinner was a conch salad and fresh fish we bought from the boat boys. Petite Martinique was next on our itinerary and we bought ice and groceries there. Then we were off the Tobago Cays, one of the highlight of the trip. The Cays are a maritime park and the turtles are protected. Well the turtle telegram has spread the word and they are there in large numbers. It was great fun to snorkel with them, trying to catch a ride, and watch them enjoying the giant salad bar the local seaweed provides them. World’s end reef surrounds the Cays (one of the largest reefs in the world) and snorkeling it was amazing. After a couple of days we made sail for Bequia and spent our last two days there. The town walk goes down the waterfront and is lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. The rum drinks are inexpensive and potent and happy hour starts early. I went scuba diving with Dive Bequia and had a really spectacular dive ending up at Moonhole; a community of ecologically independent homes built into the cliffs. After 10 days, that went by in a flash, we returned to Saint Vincent, caught our flight back to reality and started dreaming about our next trip here (next month!).


Across the Atlantic with stops in seven countries on the Crown Princess

May, 2008

We hopped on a early morning USAir flight to Fort Lauderdale, caught a cab to the ship, and proceeded with a very easy check-in. Our first impression of the Crown Princess was daunting and impressive. She’s almost 1,000 feet long, 140 feet wide and 19 decks high. The public decks were beautiful with art works everywhere as well as sweeping staircases and an enormous atrium. Once we familiarized ourselves with things on board and got a bite to eat, we went ashore and picked up some wine and toiletries (thanks to homeland security you can bring enough toothpaste and mouthwash to last a day maybe). At 6:00 PM, with cocktails in hand, we watched the Florida coastline disappear over the horizon and, after a visit to the ship’s library, had a nice buffet dinner, watched the sunset and called it a night.

We vowed not to gain any weight on this trip so breakfast was our normal yogurt and cereal. The pool looked mighty inviting so we took a dip and worked on our tans. Rhonda sits in the sun and I’m in the shade: Within three days I’m black and she’s pink and pissed! She can’t understand why I’m tan and she’s not (Think Puerto Rican).  We went to the fitness center for a workout and walked a mile on the promenade deck followed by a steam bath and lunch. Tonight’s a formal night so we got all suited up and proceeded to the martini bar for some yummy pomegranate martinis on the Captain; it's his party. Dining arrangements on Princess enable you to eat at any time without assigned seating (like going to a restaurant) so we proceeded to the Michealangelo dining room and had a great seafood dinner. Went up to the hot tub afterwards to watch the stars and then caught a Jane Austen movie before bedtime.

This was our routine for the first six days of the trip as we crossed the Atlantic at twenty-five knots with smooth seas and light winds all the way. Evening entertainment was a comic, a singer, the ship’s dance company and everything was excellent (except for the passenger talent show!). After six days, we were relaxed, proud of ourselves for avoiding dessert, and buffed from all the walking, visits to the fitness center, swimming, and steam baths.

We docked at Porte Delgado, Azores at noon and hired a cab with another couple for a island tour. The island is lush, green, with lovely scenic lakes. The city has forts, churches, and monuments similar to those in Portugal, du - they discovered and colonized the Azores. There was a tall ship docked next to us and when I told them about my adventures crewing on the Gazella in Philly they invited us aboard and gave us a tour of the ship (their crossing took twenty-one days). We had a lively group at dinner this evening and got into politics for the first time. Surprisingly nobody really got riled up but the conversation was intense. We met Richard, a retired San Francisco fire chief and enjoyed spending time with him the remainder of the trip. He’s a 78 year old widower who was great fun to dine, drink, and sight see with.

After another sea day we arrived in Lisbon, Portugal in the early morning and took the bus downtown. Enjoyed walking around the old city and just couldn’t pass up some really delicious custard tarts. Walked back to the ship, had a great fish dinner, and then went to see the Coasters show.

The next morning we were in Vigo, Spain and the ship docked literally in the center of town. Bought some Port wine and sampled the tasty, local Oysters after walking around the city. Really had a great evening at Crooner’s, dinner, the show, and so on.

Another day at sea and then we were in Southampton, England. The Titanic and the Mayflower departed from here so there’s a lot of history in this town. It also has the most intact city gate and wall (dating from the 1400’s) of any English city. We did a lot of walking today, over five miles, and enjoyed some great food and then watched "The Bucket List" at the ship’s theater. Princess has an outdoor movie theater where you can watch a film under the stars.

The next day found us in Le Havre, France. There’s just something about French cities that gives them a special air. We really enjoyed walking the town and the oceanfront boardwalk where we watched the locals play bolle. The parks were lovely and Rhonda got all inspired to make a fountain and flagstone terrace in our backyard.

Another sea day to relax and then we were in Oslo, Norway. Again, the dock was in the downtown area and right next to the King’s palace and royal yacht. Parts of the palace are open for the public, so we visited it and then walked the historic downtown area. They must vacuum the town every night because it is incredibly clean. Not on speck of litter anywhere. Lots of interesting old sailing ships in the harbor, but the cruise out the fjord was the highlight of the day. It’s beautiful and we sailed by a narrow passage where the Norwegian’s sunk a large German battleship during WWII. An onboard commentator told us the whole story, pointing out spots of interest, as we sailed by. Lobster dinner for our final meal topped off the day.

We had planned to spent a couple of days in Copenhagen, but Rhonda’s father was ill so we caught a flight home a few hours after we docked and by 3:00 PM EDT we were in Charlotte. Princess has figured out the cruise business better than any other company we’ve been on. The meals were excellent with a great selection of seafood and vegetables (a rarity). The entertainment was great and the ship’s public areas are really amazing. There were 3200 passengers and 1200 crew on board and we seldom encountered a wait for anything. Our inside cabin was roomy and comfortable too. Can’t wait to cruise on Princess again.

Sailing Florida and the Keys on Serendipity

March and April, 2008

There are tourists and then there are real travelers. We met Dwight and Joanne Wells in Key West during our six month stay there in the winter of 2007. They were living on their 42 foot Hunter sailboat "Serendipity" while Dwight worked as a public defender and Joanne as an accountant. After they both retired, they took off in their Airstream motorhome and visited us at Grand Dunes marina in Myrtle Beach. Then they drove cross country to California and flew to Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. After all that they drove back to Fort Pierce, Florida where Rhonda and I hooked up with them for three weeks of sailing on Serendipity. She had been on the hard for ten months, so this would be a shakedown trip of sorts. The Hunter 42 foot Passagemaker is designed to take you anywhere in the world and Serendipity is tricked out with all the goodies to do just that. She has an auxiliary generator, watermaker, SSB radio, and two GPS chartplotters. Accommodations were spacious and comfortable with a walk around queen berth in the rear cabin, ample V berth and two heads.

After a night on the town in Fort Pierce and provisioning trips to the grocery store and a great farmer’s market, we headed south, down the ICW. As is normal in most cruising itineraries, the wind was right on our nose and the seas outside were too rough for an offshore passage, so we stayed on the waterway and early in the evening we came across two Canadian sailboats anchored in a wide area just west of the ICW. We pulled over, dropped our hook, and enjoyed good food and drink as we watched the spectacular Florida sunset.

Early the next morning we headed out the Lake Worth inlet to try an offshore route, hoping to avoid south Florida’s many bridges. Unfortunately wind and waves were not cooperative and we tucked back inside and spent the night in Palm Beach anchored with many other boats.

The next day we spent the morning motoring south through many bridges and then went outside through Boca Raton's tricky and narrow inlet. This time the weather gods were smiling and we had a great sail down the coast to Key Biscayne entering No Name harbor late that evening. Our depth sounder failed on the trip south, so negotiating the reefs and shallow Biscayne Bay waters made the evening a little more adventurous, but we dropped anchor with no adverse experiences. Later that night the winds picked up significantly and we started to drag, so we tied up to the harbor wall to wait out the rough weather.

Rhonda and I had to make a quick trip to Charlotte, so we rejoined Dwight and Joanne back at No Name harbor after a few days. They took the opportunity to have the depth meter replaced and did some other minor maintenance and when we returned, we departed southbound the next morning and anchored southwest of Pumpkin Key, just west of Ocean Reef on Key Largo. The next day we stayed inside on the ICW because the winds and waves were still rough outside the reef. We went through Jewfish creek and anchored near Shell Island preserve after running aground in the shoals for an hour or so. We were in Marathon’s Boot Key harbor by early afternoon the next day and surprised our friends Mike and Sherry by picking up a mooring ball right behind them. That night we went to see the Marathon community theater production of My Girl starring our friends Mike and Sherry!

The next leg of our journey took us to Bahia Honda State park, where we anchored off of one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. We spent a day kayaking and swimming and then sailed to Key West with an overnight stop in Newfound harbor. Rhonda had to go to work, so Dwight, Joanne, and I wished her farewell and set off for the Marquesas Keys and then on to the Dry Tortugas. The next couple of days were spent snorkeling, touring the civil war era fort built on Garden Key and socializing with the other sailors anchored there. Fort Jefferson is truly an amazing sight, 16 million bricks hauled in sailing ship to build an imposing structure called the Gibraltar of the Caribbean.

We took the next weather window with favorable winds and headed east back to Key West. An 0530 departure allowed us to make the 70nm trip in one day and arrive in Key West’s mooring field in daylight. Early the next morning I was on a USAir flight back to reality and Serendipity, Dwight, and Joanne stayed in Florida’s Caribbean paradise.

They say cruising is doing boat maintenance in exotic places and we did our share of that, but the beautiful sailing days more than make up for all the days of adverse weather and maintenance work. The Dry Tortugas are a magical place in my book. Beautiful to behold and inconceivable to comprehend: a monumental endeavor to build a military stronghold that was outdated before the final brick was laid. Add the fact that Dr. Samuel Mudd was incarcerated there after Lincoln’s assassination and truth truly does become stranger than fiction.

Thanks to Dwight and Joanne for a memorable trip and Mike and Sherry for a great evening in Marathon and a special thanks to Serendipity for keeping us snug, warm, safe, and extremely comfortable.


January, 2008

Of all the countries in Central America, Guatemala has the most diversity in both geography and inhabitants. The countryside I've seen includes ancient cities founded by the Spanish conquistadors, volcanoes with the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen, surrounded by small diverse villages, and cliff lined rivers with thermal hot springs along the shoreline. The people range from African Garifunos, to Latinos, Mestizos and Mayan Indians. Scholars today ask what happened to the Mayan civilization, why did it disappear? Well, the Mayans are still there; millions of them inhabit small villages all over the Guatemalan highlands. The real question is why did they stop building large cities with elaborate temples? Of all the countries I’ve been to in Central America (and I’ve been to them all), Guatemala has the most cultural diversity and draws me back like a mysterious, intriguing, beauty that is at the same time sad, dirty and maybe dangerous. It’s a contradiction and there has been something around every curve in the road that keeps me coming back. I’ve met travelers from all over the world in little villages throughout Guatemala and enjoyed getting to know them as well as the country itself. They share the same adventurous spirit that drives me. This ain’t Disneyworld of the Caribbean!

January 23rd we took the non-stop USAir flight to Guatemala City and after a 45 minute minibus ride to Antigua, we were at the home of the family we would stay with for the next week.  We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Antigua looking at a few of the many ruins and having coffee and snacks at Condesa, just off the plaza mayor of the town; afterwards we took a Tuk Tuk back to the house for dinner. Tuk Tuks run all over Antigua and you can take one anywhere in town for $2.50. The next morning we visited the Saint Jeronimo ruins, went to the main mercado, and went to school for our first afternoon of Spanish lessons. Friday morning we visited the mercado de artisanos and went to class. We took Julio and Carlos, our instructors, to Fernandos for coffee break and after class went to Kafka’s for some drinks. Back to our family home for dinner and some studying. Saturday Julio and Carlos took us to the mercado for part of our class. We bought avocados, onions and tomatoes, papaya, rose of Jamaica herbal tea, and some flowers for Hilda (our homestay mistress). The total price for everything was less than $5. Back at school Julio made some guacamole which we ate on fresh, hot tortillas; really delicious! After class we walked down to the Casa de Santo Domingo. An unbelievable ruins from the early 1500’s that has been incorporated into a upscale hotel and museum. The Dominicans built this church from 1542 to 1666. It was excavated in 1996 when they cleared 16 feet of rubble away and found a burial vault containing the rarest archealogical relic found to date: a pristine mural of the crucified Christ. We walked so much we had to take a Tuk Tuk home! After dinner we walked back down to the plaza mayor for a few drinks and took a Tuk Tuk home for the evening. Sunday morning we went to the Cafe No Se for the breakfast buffet and then spent a few hours exploring the San Fransico church and museum. Saint Hermano Pedro is buried here and they have some of his clothing from the 1600’s which has miraculously refused to deteriorate in a climate that is not conducive to preservation of anything. Monday we did a lot of studying and attending class and then discovered chocobananas. Great health food dessert. Wednesday after class we went to Latina Sol for a sunset drink with Joan (another student and house guest). The Egrets have taken over one tree behind the bar and made it their condo. Every night at sunset over 100 egrets return to the tree for the night. Great entertainment for the evening sunset from the bar’s outdoor deck. Thursday morning we left early for Lake Atitlan. After arriving in Pana we took a boat to San Pedro and got a hotel room at Sacari Hosajade. A German hostel right on the lake with great views and very clean basic rooms and private bath too. Lake Atitlan is stunningly beautiful. Pristine waters surrounded by three towering volcanoes. Much of the shoreline is undeveloped and the lake is bordered by small villages. Went for lunch to Tin Tin and had a curry dish with peanut sauce that was great. Had dinner at D Noz - pepper steak and stuffed Chicken; also excellent. On the way home we stopped at Trippies for a night cap. Got lost on the way home after that, which is hard to do because there is only one road! Guess we enjoyed Trippiers way too much! Thursday we went to Santiago intending to spend the night but we couldn’t find a room so went on the Pana and got a great room facing the lake with a fireplace and a king sized bed. Thursday was spent shopping all the little booths and alleys where to Mayan’s display their handiworks. We met a local who had a studio in a mountainous village nearby and took a wild taxi ride (pickup truck with wood slat seats in back) to see the lamps shades he made from stained glass and paper mache. Came home with a couple of those and all kinds of other goodies. Had a great curry dinner at a Malaysian restaurant along with some really good margaritas. Spent Saturday exploring pana and reading about the Mayan culture. Returned to Guatemala city Sunday and caught a flight back to the real world - more like a time machine back to the future actually. The Mayans still wear their traditional outfits. The men wear brightly colored pants covered by a skirt and the women wear hand woven hupiles with a unique design for the village which they a from. The Mayan people are very short and you see the women carrying large heavy load balanced on the top of their heads. The men carry huge loads on their backs using a strap around their foreheads. These hard working people have been persecuted and discriminated against for hundreds of years yet they still carry a sense of dignity that makes you wonder where they get their perseverance. Although the Catholic church is the religion of the country the Mayans still worship in their own way. We left the country awed by it’s beauty and amazed at the resilience of its people who live under hardship and work very hard.

Fort Lauderdale to Santiago, Chile on Celebrity's Infinity

November, 2007

Nov. 11th - We caught the crack of dawn departure from Clt to Fll just to make sure we got there without any mishaps. Arrived at the ship around noon and had a nice light lunch, did just a little exploring, and then took a nap. We were scheduled for the early dinner sitting and met our table mates; all Canadians: 3 from Toronto and 2 from Vancouver. The food on Celebrity is definitely first class and so is the service. We departed Fll 3 hours late which made the cruise down the southeast fla coast an evening of watching the shore lights from our balcony. Reminded us of cruising the same waters in Wingin’ It the year before. Went down to the library to find a book and a Scotsman recommended Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong; a great romance set in France just before and during WWI. Sounds like an unlikely combination, but it was really a good read.

Nov 12th - at sea

We headed straight to the fitness spa after breakfast figuring the only way we had to stop a catastrophic weight gain was to get into a good workout program. Attended a detox seminar and used the equipment for the morning and then went to the Aqua Spa for lunch. In addition to the normal swimming pool, the Infinity has an indoor pool with a restaurant that serves really healthy entrees, mainly fish. We ate most of our lunches here and spent a lot of time at the pool and sauna as well. The fitness center guru ran a body composition and metabolism test on us after lunch and told us what our daily calorie requirements were to maintain optimum weight. Took a sauna. Had a sushi and miso soup dinner and then watched Rhonda win $90 on the roulette wheel.

Nov 13th - at sea

We passed between Cuba and Hispanola today in the windward passage. Had room service breakfast on the verandah of our room and watched the shore of Cuba go by. The waves were 6 feet, winds 15 to 20 knots with scattered clouds. Nice! Rhonda’s loving this room service. Went to a travel talk on Cartagena, Columbia and spent the rest of the afternoon at the aqua spa. Had another great dinner and then we took a tango lesson.

Nov 14th - Cartagena, Columbia

After breakfast we hired a cab for $10 an hour to take us on a tour of the old walled town. First we visited the Convent of La Popa and then the fort which protected the city and harbor. Walked through the old city admiring the balconied buildings with their beautiful flowers and then visited the gold museo and cathedral. We finished our tour with a drive through the modern beach area of the town. The fort in Cartagena is the main reason most of South America speaks Spanish. It was never taken even though the English general Vernon laid siege with 186 ships. By the way, George Washington was so impressed by General Vernon that he named his house after him: Mount Vernon. The ship departed the harbor at sunset and we enjoyed another great dinner as we headed out. The entertainment this evening was a classical pianist who played Chopin’s Polynaise and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Nightcap of the evening was a sherbet buffet on the pool deck.

Nov 15th - at sea

Spent a great day at the fitness center, pool, and sauna. Really getting into this exercise program. Enjoyed lots of different entertainment this evening: a ventriloquist, aerial artists, a cappella singers, and a great string quartet. Nice dinner with a good bottle of Chilean wine and then an after dinner brandy.

Nov 16th - Panama Canal

What an interesting day this was. Canal facts: 50 miles long; locks are 1000’ long, 110’ wide, and 40’ deep. The ship is 965’ long, 105’ wide, and draws 26’ making it a very tight fit. The French started the canal in 1880 and 24 years later they had cut less than 10 miles. US bought it from them in 1904 for 40 million after the French had invested 300 million. US finished the canal in 10 years at a total cost of 387 million. 25,000 workers died building the canal! Transit cost for the Infinity was $250,000. Lowest transit ever charged was 36 cents to a guy who swam through the canal in the 50’s.

We entered the first series of locks at 7:30 AM and were in the Pacific by 5:00PM. Very enjoyable day!

Nov 17th - at sea

Back to our exercise routine today; walked 3 miles on the treadmill, spent about 45 minutes on the machines, then to the pool and sauna. Took a couples massage workshop today. Great fun but the girls thought that the guys got a better massage than they did. Seemed fair to me.

At 4:30 PM the Captain stopped the ship because a small open fisherman type boat hailed him down with the international signal for assistance. When he asked him if he needed help, he said no but that he had a big Dorado that he had caught and wondered if the Captain would like to buy it for $10. Captain said it cost Celebrity $2000 to alter course, stop the ship, and get back up to cruise speed of 22 knots but that safety at sea mandated offering assistance when necessary. We were 140 miles offshore when we encountered the small boat and sunset was 3 hours away so I guess the fisherman planned on spending the night offshore. Captain said in 35 years at sea he had never encountered anything like this before.

Nov 18th - Manta, Equador

Harbor is full of US Navy destroyers and US Air Force AWAC’s aircraft are taking off from the local airport. Guess the US has an interest in Equador. We hired a cab with another couple for some sightseeing and spent the afternoon exploring Manta and Montichristi. There was a street festival going on and the locals were walking miles to go to it. Streets were packed with food vendors and local artisans. We walked the Malecon, a shoreline area lined with shops and restaurants. Rhonda helped the Infinity crew paint the boat today. She is missing boat maintenance since we sold Wingin’ It!

They had the chocolate buffet tonight and for the first time we blew the diet. Gonna have to walk an extra 5 miles tomorrow!

Nov 19th - at sea

Crossed the Equator today and earned our Pollywog rating at the King Neptune party since this was our first time. We spent the afternoon working off last nights buffet at the fitness center, pool, and spa and then suited up for a formal dinner in the USS United States, Infinity’s specialty restaurant. Since my mid twenties, when I first developed an interest in wine, I’ve been looking for the premier dessert wine in the world, Chateau de Y’quiem. This wine is not produced every year; only those years when the grapes a perfect. Each grape is individually chosen and the entire process is by hand. In 35 years I have never found a store or restaurant that had a bottle. This includes many trips to Paris when I was flying international. While chatting with one of the sommeliers on the ship, I learned that Infinity had one bottle in their wine vault. Much to my surprise, my wonderful wife bought it for me as an early Christmas present and we had it with our meal tonight. Gani, the wine sommelier, suggested that we have some of it with our fois gras starter and I must say the first taste of this extraordinary wine exceeded my wildest imaginings. The marriage of the taste of the Y’Quiem with the fois gras was beyond description. Our entree arrived and we complimented the filet and mushroom sorrel sauce with a glass of Chateaneul du Pape. Then came the presentation of the cheese cart. We had ten different types of cheeses which were representative of the entire range of tastes, flavors, tartness, and pungency. Once again the Y’Quiem provided a perfect counterbalance with it’s initial sweetness followed by a lingering subtle wonderful flavor. Dessert and coffee followed, and although it was excellent, it could not compete with the star of the meal; the Y’Quiem. Many dreams, when fulfilled, leave disappointment. The anticipation is greater, even more exciting, than the attainment. Chateau de Y’Quiem is like my wonderful, beautiful wife; a dream come true, more that I ever expected, and always surprising. Did I mention the swazorski crystal she found under her pillow? It’s a blowfish.

Nov 20th - Lima

We took the bus to Miraflores with friends we met on the ship; Barbara and Jaime.  Jaime is from Chile and his mother lives in Vina del Mar.  Miraflores is a lovely, oceanside, upscale neighborhood in Lima. The condos and hotels overlook the Pacific from huge cliffs and the tropical flowers make a beautiful backdrop for the many parks and walkways. We visited many outdoor mercados and bought lots of Christmas presents. Stopped at a local outdoor restaurant for lunch and had some great seafood and potent pisco sours. We had so much fun in Miraflores that we never made it downtown to the tourist attractions.

Nov 21st - at sea

Spent a lot of time a the fitness center, pool, and sauna again. Karen Saunders, a New York vocalist, was the entertainment tonight. She sang Tony Bennet, Judy Garland, and Bette Midler’s "The wing beneath my wings". Great voice and nice show.

Nov 22nd - Arica, Chile

Arica has a huge rock outcropping called El Morro that juts into the Pacific like a prow of a ship. It dominates the entire town and has a Christ on top of it (like many other South American cities). We hired a cab to show us the local sights and go to the top of El Morro. Stopped at a beautiful beach named Playa Lisera for snacks and then back to the ship. The singer tonight played the Phantom of the Opera in Australia for seven years. He put on a great show!

Nov 23rd - at sea

Another big day at the fitness center, pool, and sauna. The Infinity entertainers put on a round the world show tonight with unbelievable costumes!

Nov 24th - La Serena, Chile

Renter a cab with Barbara and Jaime for local sightseeing again. Saw the plaza mayor, Japanese gardens, and a Moai sculpture from Easter Island in the local museo. There are only six of these Moais that have been removed from Easter Island and one of them is here in this small Chilean town. The others are in England, USA, France, Brussels, and Vina del Mar, Chile. They know where these sculptures were made and how but they don’t know why. Easter Island has many of them and the tallest one in 71 feet. Jaime took us to a local restaurant and we tried Loco’s; a seafood dish made from abalone. It was good and so were the pisco sours!

Nov 25th - Valparaiso, Chile

Jaime’s brother Marco and his mother Nora picked us up and took us to our Hotel; the Brighton House. We dropped off our luggage and went to Nora’s condo in Vina del Mar where many relatives were waiting to see Jaime and Barbara. It was a great party; the appetizers were delicious and unusual for us and the pisco sours were awesome. We returned to our hotel, which is perched on the top of a hill overlooking the city and harbor. We walked around the twisting winding cobblestone streets of Valparaiso before calling it a day.

Nov 26th - Valpo

Walked all the paseo’s this morning which overlook the city. The view is magnificent. Went to the Palacio Baburizza, Plaza Sotomayor, Muelle Pratt, and Naval Museo. Rode acensor Conception, Artilleria, and Peral. These hill climbing funicular railroads are all more than a hundred years old. Had lunch at the Cafe Color and wine and cheese at the Brighton House. Jaime and Barbara took us on a drive north of Vina to Renaca beach and we had coffee on the Vina oceanfront by the casino. That evening Jamie and Barbara took us to dinner at Portofino; a great seafood restaurant in Valpo

Nov 27th - Valpo

Visited La Sebastiani today. Pablo Neruda’s house in Valpo. The house has four levels and the studio where he wrote his Nobel prize winning poetry had a huge view of the city and harbor. I felt like I was in a cockpit, there was glass on three sides of the room. He was enchanted with the sea and much of his house had a nautical theme. There were porthole windows and many mosaics of the walls and floors. We walked to the Plaza Victoria from his house, stopping for lunch in a local cafe. Had a great outdoor dinner at the Cafe Turri overlooking the city. Rhonda had Conger Eel and I had black ink squid lasagna.

Nov 28th - Valpo to Santiago

Took the bus to Santiago and checked into the Casa Italia today. Walked to the Plaza de Armas stopping for shopping at the mercados. Bought lots of beads and a lapis lazuli penguin. Had coffee at the Plaza and enjoyed people watching and listening to band of street musicians playing flutes. Had a bottle of wine with a couple from Spain and France and walked to the Bella Vista area for dinner at Bandarani’s. Had a great seafood dinner with some pisco sours and then walked back to the hotel and passed out. Chilean piscos are really strong drinks.

Nov 29th - Maipo valley

Took a cab up the Maipo valley high into the Andes today. Rode past the village of San Jose de Maipo and saw snow-capped mountains, many cabins and the fast running river winding its way down to Santiago.

Nov 30th - Puento Alto

Went to the Concha y Toro winery for a tour today. Chile’s best and largest winery gave us a look at the 1820 family home and gardens, a tour of the vines, and a peek into the Casillero del Diablo wine cellar. We sampled three different wines and had a great time. Went back to Bella Vista for happy hour in the evening and more pisco sours. Had a good dinner at Aqua de Chocolat.

Dec 1st - Santiago to Miami

Had lunch a Azul Profundo. Very unique seafood restaurant and the swordfish was fabulous. Rode the acensor to the top of San Cristobal and took the cable car across the Santiago skyline. After a little shopping we took a cab to the airport and flew overnight to Miami.

Dec 2nd - Miami to Charlotte

Caught the early morning flight to Charlotte. Nicole and Mo came over for dinner and Rhonda and Nicole decorated the inside of the house for Christmas.

California RV trip

October, 2007

Orange County , Long Beach,  El Capitan State Beach Park, Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, Carmel, Monterey, Santa Barbara (my favorite city) , San Francisco (Candlestick RV Park), Pismo Beach, Phoenix, Az.

Day one-

We set out in our new adventure as RVer's in the region of California. WE flew into Los Angeles, visited Ted's sister Sharon and her family for a couple days then picked up our 25' RV in Long Beach and headed north. Our first night took us to El Capitan State Park Beach at $25 a night. No amenities  or hook ups but WOW what a view overlooking the ocean! We first had located a Trader Joe's Food Store in Santa Barbara and did a quick run through for supplies then settled into our spot by 5:30pm. Opened up our fine box wine and realized we had forgoten  to buy cups so we toasted our first sunset as landlubbers since the past 3 years and drank from cereal bowls!

Day Two-

Eyes Open at 8 am, maniac neighbor doing kalastenics and exercising...what is he NUTS.

What a spectacular drive up the Pacific Coast Hywy on Rt 1. The ocean on one side with seals basking in the sun on the shores while just on the other side of the road are huge mountains and redwoods. Breathtaking! We got to Pfieffer Big Sur State Park at 4:15. We were thinking of doing the 17 mile drive but the guard suggested it might be a bad idea so we waited and did it in the morning on our way north. Good thing we didn’t go as the forest seemed to show signs of darkness much earlier due to the huge trees in the forest.  By 6pm it was getting dark in the forest. Our spot (#5) was beautiful right on the crest of a cobbled creek with flowing mountain water. Cost was $25 per night. Again, no hook ups but had hot showers. We had a nice meal and watched a DVD (Open Water.....) on our laptop with the generator running and in bed by 9:30. Almost the boaters midnight..9pm!

Day Three-

Up at 7:15 headed towards Carmel (Clint Eastwoods stomping grounds) and Monterey then spent the night in San Francisco at Candlestick RV Park. As we travel down the road, the sound effects from the cabin  of this RV was unbelievable. It’s like a three piece band....cha-ching,ba-boom,squeak-squeak, rattle-rattle, chirp-chirp, clankity-clank, etc...  annoying!

Carmel is a quaint town and Monterey is a working town and not near as quaint as Carmel. Couldn’t believe it when we saw a Performance Cruising Catamaran  (thats our old boat builder) moored in the Harbor of Monterey!!

Candlestick RV Park was $65 per night (little steep...considering you pay your gas and RV rental on top of that) . At 3pm we took a shuttle downtown and walked up 4 extremely steep blocks to Powel and Hyde where we grabbed a cable car and rode it to the Wharf area. We patronized The Buena Vista where the Irish Coffee was invented and downed three each!! MMMMmmmm good. Then we strolled along the wharf and decided to take a $10 hour long harbor cruise that took us under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz State Prison. Took some really great pictures of San Francisco from the waters point of view. We then took the cable car to Hyde Street Seafood and had a really nice dinner. We hopped back on the cable car after dinner and rode it around until our 9pm pick up time with the shuttle back to RV Park. What a FUN day!

Day Four-

Up at 10:00. Heard the pitter patter of rain during the night. We had previously arranged to spend two days here but day two it rained all day, so we went no where and stayed inside watching DVD movies on the laptop and ate! Ugly day! We were glad we saw so much of San Fran the day before.

Day Five-

Up at 7:15am and gone by 8am traveling 101 south to Pismo Beach. It is unbelievable how many miles and miles of open agricultural land with crops there are between the mountains in the valley. The soil is black. We think we saw Kale and other lettuces and strawberries and artichokes. But we can now see how bacteria gets on our produce and is delivered to us in the stores. With all this crop harvesting there are many port-o-potties everywhere but there is no where for the workers to wash their hands!! After seeing this first hand I am going to triple wash everything with Clorox water religiously prior to consumption!

Around 1:30 we rolled into Pismo Beach. What a cool beach. You can drive your vehicle (RV, camper, motorcycle, ATV etc) on the beach and camp overnight for $10 a night. We did not take the risk of taking our rented RV but we did rent two ATV’s and for 2 hours had a huge blast riding the REALLY HUGE sand dunes that stretched for miles and miles!! See our photo page for some really cool pics of this whole trip! Approximately 1000 people with campers and RV’s and ATV’s are on the beach today and it is not even summer!

Day six-

Can’t believe how fast a week goes. Today is a long drive (approx. 570 miles and 7-8 hours) till Phoenix, Az where we turn in the RV at Cruise America headquarters in Mesa. We will drive the majority of the way, spend the night just outside Phoenix and the morning will only take 1.5 hours to get to Mesa. We spent the night tonight at a private RV Park at $22 per night. We kept driving and got in at 7:15 pm because the other parks were a little scary and desolate for us! Nothing but desert and rock and mountains and then there would be a cleared, out of nowhere RV Park! Yea....I don’t think so! Wake up and your generator will be gone. So......we kept driving.

Day Seven-

Turned in the RV and caught a cab to the airport. Tired from adventure, sore from bad beds and rocking RV rides that closely resembles a log wagon, we can’t wait to get home. We feel like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz"......there’s no place like home!!

And NO, we did not leave this experience with the desire to run out and buy an RV!!! Instead, RESERVATIONS sounds good to us!! Next month we will take a 2 week cruise through the Panama Canal to Cartegena, Columbia, Equidor, Peru and Santiago, Chili where Ted has conveniently and happily arranged for us to have an outside cabin with a sitting area, a veranda and our very own private butler to wait on us at our becon call!! Now that sounds like a YUMMY of a good time! We will tell you all about that in December. Until then.....happy trails!



July 2007 - Germany, France, Luxembourg, and Switzerland

We’re off to Frankfort.  We spent the day walking around the Romer and the next morning a bus took us to the MS Charlemagne, a river barge that will take us down the Moselle river from Metz, France to Koblenz, Germany with stops in Remich, Luxembourg, and Trier, Bernkastel-Kues, and Cochem (all in Germany). The Moselle is famous for it’s beautiful scenery and the wine produced along it’s banks. The small towns along it’s bank are replete with roman ruins, cathedrals, castles, and half-timbered houses. Each day of the trip we took a bus excursion to see the local attractions. We visited Luxembourg city and toured the Petrusse Casements, military tunnels dug into the rock on which the city is built. The tunnels were built in the 1600’s a run for 15 miles under the city. In Trier, Germany we saw the Porta Nigra, the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It was built in 200AD. The greek monk Simeon lived there as a hermit and today it is a church.

Each day on the barge our chef Mario prepares the finest gourmet meals complete with two wines and three cheeses to sample at lunch and dinner. Rhonda and Ted each spent an afternoon with Mario in the galley learning cooking techniques. Rhonda got to sample quite a bit of Cognac as well.

After the cruise we rented a little Opel convertible and drove Switzerland to visit Rhonda’s good friend Helene and her husband Philippe. They have a beautiful house in the small village of Mallory, about an hour southeast of Basel. During the few days we spent with them we ate at a charming fondue restaurant atop one of the nearby mountains. Philippe’s father founded a glider club and Ted was lucky enough to get a chance to go soaring in a high performance glider over the Swiss Alps for and hour and a half. The scenery was spectacular and the pilot gave Ted a couple of extra thrills when he found out he was a retired pilot. Flying upside down over the mountains and cutting through a large crevass in a ninty degree bank are memories that will last a lifetime.

May 21, 2007 to June 8, 2007

Key West to Myrtle Beach

Departed Oceanside marina and motored dead into the wind to Boot Harbor in Marathon. The wind blew out of the north 25 to 35 knots for six days so we waited for things to calm down and hung out with Mike and Sherry on "Believe". Had some great meals at the Overseas Grill and the Thai restaurant right next store. Finally, the winds calmed and we motored to the Card Sound Bridge for the first night of the trip north.  The next day we motored to Key Biscayne and went outside to sail up the coast but the waves were so high we went back inside at Goverment Cut and motored to Lake Boca Raton for night two. Got up early and motored to Delray for night three and spent the night at a really rolly anchorage (wont stay there again).  Spent the next night at Cocoa and then up the ICW to Palm Coast where we stayed two nights at the marina while tropical storm Barry went by to the north of us. Then it was up to Fernandino Beach where we used their new mooring balls for our overnight. Anchored in the middle of nowhere, Ga. and then went to Thunderbolt marina in Savannah to see Phil and Sherry. Got stuck in Beaufort, SC for 3 hours because the Lady’s island bridge was only opening 4 times a day, but still made great time each day. Our best day was 95 miles. Spent the night at Tom Point Creek, just south of Charleston with four other boats. Got to just south of Georgetown, SC for the next night and then made it Myrtle Beach from there just in time for Rhonda to go back to work for five days. Reluctantly we decided to put Wingin’ It up for sail and move on to new adventures. We really want to sail the Med, Thailand, and Polynesia but we don’t want to sail across oceans to do it. We’re looking at RV’s also contemplating some land cruises to places like Yellowstone National Park, Canada, and California. We’ve had a lot of fun and some great adventures on Wingin’ It and I know we’ll miss cruising on her but life is short and you’ve got to go for it while you can.

Key West

March, April, and May, 2007

Our winter in Key West flew by and was great fun. We sailed to Boca Grand and the Marquesas twice and went sailing and snorkelling in the Key West area lots of times. We hooked up with friends that we met in the Bahamas last year and enjoyed seeing them as well as visitors from home. We can’t believe how fast the time has flown and are now getting ready for the trip to Myrtle Beach; Wingin It’s summer home.

January 27, 2007 to February 27, 2007

Key West

We drove the jeep down to Key West so now we have wheels! We’ve been to many of the local watering holes and tourist attraction like Hemingway’s house, Mallory square, Fort Zachary Taylor, Nancy Forester’s secret garden, Key West botanical gardens, Big Pine flea market, Aqua lounge drag queen show, etc. Dock life at the Oceanside marina is active and fun with lots of dock parties and sharing good times with old friends and new.

December 25, 2006 to January 7, 2007

Fort Myers, Fl to Key West, Fl

We flew back to Fort Myers after spending an enjoyable Christmas with our kids. We departed the marina in Fort Myers northbound for Boca Grande, Gasparilla island with a overnight stop at Pumpkin Key. It was the New Years weekend so the big motorboats were out in force and their wakes were rocking our world. After exploring Boca Grande we celebrated New years eve using Zulu time (the boater’s midnight is 9:00 PM) The next day instead of sailing Charlotte sound, we went out in the gulf and sailed down the coastline of Sanibel and Captiva islands. We spent the afternoon at Fort Myers beach and took a mooring for the night. Headed south the next morning and overnighted at New Turkey Key and the Shark River in the everglades. Both anchorages were remote and beautiful. We motored across Florida Bay with the wind right on our nose and dodged crab traps all the way (42 miles). Went under the seven mile bridge and overnighted at Bahia Honda state park. Really pretty place with a nice beach. The next morning we sailed down the Hawk Channel to Key West with fair winds and sunny skies. We are docked at Oceanside marina in Key West with a great view of the Atlantic ocean from the stern of our boat. We like it here so much that we have decided to forget going to the Bahamas and spend the winter here. Key West is a fun place and the reefs surrounding offer great diving. The weather is beautiful and it doesn’t get much better than this so why leave!

November 24 to December 12, 2006

Myrtle Beach, SC to Fort Myers, Fl

We provisioned up and departed the cold nights of Myrtle Beach for points south and the promise of warmer weather. We met our friends Mike and Cheri on "Believe" (their Gemini) as we left the Grand Dunes marina. We first met Mike and Sherry at the 2005 Gemini rendezvous in Annapolis and now we were traveling south together.

The first four days we motored southward on the ICW with the following stops:

11/24. Thoroughfare Creek (37 miles south)

11/25. South Santee River, south of Georgetown, SC (30 miles)

11/26. Stono River, south of Charleston, SC (55 miles)

11/27. Beaufort, SC (62 miles)

The days were beautiful and sunny but each night the temperature would drop into the 30’s and we would fire up the Honda portable generator providing AC power to run our electric heater. Believe was without a generator so each night we rafted up and ran extension cords over to their boat so they had heat as well. We ate dinner on each others boat on alternate nights and watched movies together.

The South Santee river borders a wildlife preserve and the duck hunters were out in force. We saw them traveling the river in camouflaged boats covered with palm fronds.

A cold front was chasing us southbound and we were trying to make as much mileage as we could before the weather deteriorated and temperatures got more frigid. We decided the only way to outpace the weather was to make a beeline from Beaufort to St. Augustine, Fl, thereby avoiding the winding Georgia ICW.  We departed at 7:30 AM on 11/28 for the trip and 34 hours later we arrived in St. Augustine. The ocean forecast was for east winds and seas 3 to 5 feet. Initially the winds were light but as the day progressed the winds picked up to 20 knots and the seas grew to 5 to 7 feet. We sailed under moonless skies with Believe and four other boats who had come out the Savannah river inlet and had the same southing plans we did. The sailing was spectacular and we made 9 knots on a tight beat as the wind quartered to the south. We chose to use Jacksonville’s class A inlet as our entry point rather than the challenging inlet at St. Augustine and rejoined the ICW south of Jacksonville to motor the rest of the way.

The anchorage at St. Augustine was crowded but we dropped anchor and took a nap. Our chartplotter had died on us at 3 AM (everything bad seems to happen at 3 AM) so we walked to the nearby West Marine and they replaced it with a newer model. Gotta love that no hassle return policy!

We had planned on spending 2 days in St. Augustine but the winds picked up on the second day and boats in the anchorage started dragging so we up anchored and went south about 12 miles to Matanzas inlet on 11/30.

December 1st we motored 43 miles south to one of our favorite marinas; Seven Seas in South Daytona Beach. Took the city bus to West Marine and picked up a DC power cord for our new chartplotter.

12/2. Got up early so we could have a great breakfast at the marina restaurant and then motored south 43 miles to Titusville. The waterway opens up between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville and you finally get the feel that you are in tropical waters. We anchored just outside the Titusville municipal marina and Mike and Cheri’s friends Chuck and Kate (on Eridanus) we’re anchored there. We all had a great bbq dinner on Believe and found out the space shuttle was scheduled for launch 5 days later. Believe decided to stay to see the launch but we were on a timetable and couldn’t linger or we would not make our planned destination of Fort Myers by December 10th.

12/3. Motored 40 miles down to Melbourne and went into the Melbourne marina so we could hook up with Carolyn and John to celebrate Carolyn’s big "50". Had a great dinner at Carrabas and birthday cake for dessert.

12/4. Motored 40 miles south to Stuart and stayed at Harbor Inn marina. Walked into town for dinner at Duffy’s tavern.

12/5. Started westbound on the Ocachobee waterway for the trip across Florida. We went thru several locks and crossed the lake arriving at Roland Maritn’s marina late in the day. Saw lots of big alligators swimming in the canal and sunning themselves on the banks. Rhonda put Bailey in the cabin so he wouldn’t become "bait".

12/6. Motored down the Caloosahatchie river to La Belle and stayed at the River’s Edge motel and marina.

12/7. Down the river to Fort Myers and into the Legacy Marina. The weather we were searching for is here. The daytime temperatures are in the high 70’s and the evenings are in the 60’s. The marina has a beautiful view of the river and is only 3 blocks from the downtown area. We hooked up with Rhonda’s friend Carla and her husband Allen for dinner and spent the next few days relaxing, enjoying the weather, and exploring the Fort Myers area.

12/12. Flew back to Charlotte for the holidays and Rhonda’s work week.

June 22, 2006 - November 23, 2006

 We were off the boat for the summer from June through November. We remodeled the kitchen, took a few road trips to Florida, Indiana and Annapolis for the Boat Show.  In October we took a 17 day transatlantic cruise on the Norwegian Jewel sailing from Barcelona, Spain with stops in Nice, France, the Tuscany area of Italy, Rome, Corsica, Majorca, Gibraltar, Madeira and across the Atlantic to Miami. We plan on leaving Myrtle Beach, SC in Wingin' It on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2006 and  will only go 20 miles where we will hook up with Mike and Cheri on 'Believe' and anchor out around Bucksport,SC. We will pool our food and have a nice relaxing Thanksgiving together, remembering our friends and families in our prayers. Then we head south, to get warmer!


May 27th to June 22nd, 2006

We flew to Mom’s in Orlando and she drove us to the boat. We provisioned up and motored over to Scorpion Marine in Cape Canaveral to have the 500/800 hour check done on the engine prior to making the trek up the waterway to Myrtle Beach. The mechanic was really informative and showed us how the check the valve clearances (don’t think I’ll do it myself though) as well as the exhaust elbow. We had him change the impeller since the last one had been in 11 months. I figure it’s better to change it on a regular basis than have it fail while your underway.

The next day we started north and go to Titusville by mid afternoon. We dropped anchor and dingied into the marina to link up with John and Carolyn for dinner. The steaks at Paul’s are great! We were off for Daytona early the next morning and stayed at the same marina we always do; the guys there are friendly and the restaurant has a killer breakfast. We spent 3 days in Daytona before we continued north to St. Augustine. Anchored off of Old Town and used the marinas dingy dock to visit the shops. Next stop northbound was Fernandino Beach where we anchored off of downtown and walked to the bead shop and the grocery store. The ICW seems to be shallower this trip. Lots of monohulls are aground in the really tight areas.

Savannah was our next stop and we hooked up with Philip and Sherry for dinner at their house. It was our first time to see their place and they have a very nice house. Philip’s arsenal was most impressive. Next stop north was two way fish camp. It’s upstream enough that the water is fresh and they have more alligators than we’ve seen anywhere. The folks on the dock were the friendliest bunch we’ve encountered yet. They helped us repair our shore power cord and the chiropractor on the boat next to us worked on Ted’s injured arm. The marina has a nice restaurant where we enjoyed dinner.

Onward north to Beaufort where we stayed for 3 days waiting for tropical depression to blow out. Couldn’t ask for a better spot to stay. The city is right off the marina dock and we poked around the shops and spent lots of time at the library. Met a girl who had a 46’ motor yacht and she showed us all around her boat including at least an hour in the engine room.

When the weather improved we were off for Charleston for a quick stop and them up to Georgetown, SC.

Brian and Ellen have a shop there and Rhonda’s bead creations are on sale in the shop. We spent a couple of days and then were off to Myrtle Beach.

Got the boat out of the water for another coat of bottom paint and had a great steak dinner at Angelo’s compliment of the publisher of the Myrtle Beach magazine. Then we were off for the salon and Rhonda’s 5 day work routine.

The rest of the summer will be spent remodeling the kitchen and taking a few road trips to Florida, Indiana and the Annapolis Boat Show. We went to Europe and embarked  from Barcelona, Spain on a two week transatlantic cruise to France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and finally in Miami, Fla.  We decided not to sell the boat and are planning our next cruise to points south. 

April 27th to May 17th, 2006

Wednesday we flew to Marsh Harbor and spent a couple of days at the dock provisioning the boat and socializing with friends. We departed Marsh Harbor and motored over to Hope Town, picked up a mooring in the harbor and took a dinghy to the famous lighthouse for a climb to the top. The view from the top was breathtaking. The beautiful waters of the Abacos framed the islands and many yachts lay at anchor in the harbors. Getting down from the top was a lot less strenuous than the climb. That evening we went to "On da beach" for drinks and dinner and enjoyed another great view as well as a good time. The next day we left Hope Town and motored up to Great Guana for a visit to the famous Nippers bar. They are perched on top of the dunes overlooking the Atlantic and serve up dinner and drinks by their salt water swimming pool. The next day we were off to Green Turtle Cay for the Island Roots Festival. Since we have a shallow draft we were able to take the inside route and avoided going thru the Whale cut and out into the Atlantic. The festival was a 3 day affair and featured the police marching band from Nassau. The food was good and the music played into the wee hours of the night.  We motored back to Treasure Cay after a couple of days to pick up Carolyn and John (sis and her non-boyfriend) so they could help us celebrate Rhonda’s big 50. Back to Green Turtle and a party for Rhonda at Pineapples, the local watering hole.  We threw Rhonda into the water, John flashed the crowd with his bright pink speedo and Carolyn drank everyone’s drinks while they weren’t looking. She paid the price the next day with a killer hangover. We were off again for points north as we headed back towards Florida. We stopped at Morian Cay and had a great day of snorkeling which included a visit from a large black tip shark. Proceeding north, we fueled up and filled the water tanks at Rosie’s and overnighted at Double Breasted Cay. The anchorage was beautiful and we snorkeled and walked the beach for the last time. The next day we embarked on the 160 mile trip to Florida. It took us 30 hours of sailing and motoring to cross to Cape Canaveral and half way there we got caught in the worst thunderstorm we have ever encountered. It started at 3AM and lasted a couple of  hours.  The lightning and winds were enough to scare the wits out of all of us. Wingin It carried us thru and the next day we motored into Cocoa, cleared customs, and hit the sack. John loaned us his car and we cleaned up the boat and headed to Mom’s house in Orlando. After a couple of days we caught a flight back to Charlotte for Rhonda’s 5 day salon visit.

Mar 22nd to April 17th,2006

Nassau to Marsh Harbor, Abacos

Wednesday we flew USAir non-stop to Nassau and departed the marina after provisioning the boat. We had planned to go to Royal Island, Eluthera but the winds were right on the nose so we changed destination and proceeded to Little Harbor in the Berry Islands. After an all day motor sail we cleared the cut into Little Harbor and proceeded into the very shallow anchorage. A small channel of deep water followed the outline of the island very close to the shore and we anchored here using two anchors for the first time on our trip. Something woke Rhonda up around 3 AM and she roused me from a deep sleep with the alarming statement that we were about 2 feet from the sharp rocky shore. We spent the next hour or so removing ourselves from danger and re-anchoring in safer although shallower water. At low tide the water was so shallow here that we could stand up next to the boat to clean and polish the hulls.

Little Harbor is populated by Chester and Flo, the proprietors of Flo’s Restaurant. Flo had lived on the island since 1946. She and her 54 year old son Chester are the only inhabitants and their restaurant is the gathering spot for all those anchored nearby. We spent 4 days frequenting the restaurant and exploring the shallow waters around the island.

After enjoying Little Harbor we motored to Great Harbor via the western route over the Bahama banks, rather than expose ourselves to the rough seas on the eastern side of the Berry Islands. Great Harbor is a community of around 650 with a full service marina and many sport fisherman and several mega-yachts. We had the slip next to Jack Niclaus’ 105 footer. His grandkids are some really noisy boys!  The dock master at Great Harbor is from Israel and he invited to his home for tea the day after we arrived. His home is on the deep water side of the island and has a fantastic view of the ocean.  Rhonda spent days making bead jewlery and when she wasn't doing that she was making conch salad and chowder and etching drawings onto conch shells.  The social life of the marina was great fun. After 5 days the sirens lured us into the blue again and we set sail for the Abacos. Since it would be about a 90 mile trip, we staged ourselves at Little Stirrup Cay and departed early the next morning for the crossing. Seas were initially rough but as the day unfolded the wind and waves settled and we motor sailed around the south end of Abaco island, past Hole in the Wall lighthouse with its beautiful rock formations on to Cherokee settlement.  Wingin’ It 18 inch draft helped us anchor safely in the very shallow waters of Cherokee's harbor. After we anchored a nearby sport fisherman befriended us and gave us about 20 pounds of Mahi Mahi they had caught during a fishing tournament.  They told us that we would be eating the new world record catch.

The next morning we proceeded 25 miles northbound in the Atlantic and entered the sea of Abaco at Little Harbor. Your probably noticing that there are a lot of Little Harbors in the Bahamas but this one is the home to Pete’s Pub. It’s a ramshackle affair set right on the beach and has been serving up Rum runners and the like since the sixties. Pete’s Dad moved the family there in 1954 and they lived in a beachside cave while they build their home.  The family has a foundry on the island and produces nautical bronze sculptures.  The harbor has a couple of dozen mooring balls and most of them were occupied by sailors and motor yachts but we managed to snag an empty ball and spent a couple of days enjoying the beach and the pub. Rhonda took a liking to a 47 foot motor yacht moored right next to us and invited the couple on it over. During the course of our conversation we discovered that the Captain, Cliff Fergeson, was a retired USAir Captain, ex Piedmont, and he had flown international out of Philly the same time I did but amazingly our paths had never crossed until now. We ended up cruising with them for about a week and Rhonda got a really bad case of "I want their boat!".

After two days at Pete’s we sailed up to Marsh Harbor and spent a week exploring the small city and harbor. Several restaurants line the waterfront and we enjoyed evenings with fellow boaters at many of these fine watering holes. Before we knew it time had flown by and we found ourselves regretfully packing for the flight back to Charlotte for Rhonda’s week in the salon. Next time we will depart March Harbor to explore the northern Abacos and return to Florida.

Feb 15th to Mar 12th, 2006

Georgetown, Great Exuma Island to Nassau 

Wednesday we flew back to Georgetown and enroute met Bob and Rhonda. They were sailors too and were on a Endeavour 44 catamaran, "Ella Grace". After taking a cab to the marina we found the boat to be in good order with everything just the way we left it. The next day we provisioned and left the dock for the 400 plus boat anchorage off of Hamburger beach across from Georgetown harbor. That night the Bilge boys were having a concert on the beach and we ran into a Neil and Stephanie, a couple we had met in Beaufort, SC two years ago. Had fun talking with them and listening to the music. The next day we hooked up with Paul and Jeannie from "Even Star" for a day at the beach with a picnic lunch. We hadn’t seen them since Annapolis (9/05) so we all had to catch up on our adventures since then. Bob and Rhonda, from the airplane, found us and asked us if we’d like to sail to Long Island with them and since we were already getting tired of the crowds in Georgetown we planned to leave with them the next day. The sail turned into one of those motor sail kind of days because of the wind direction, but by late afternoon we were anchored off of Stella Maris and had dinner and cocktails on their boat. The next day we rented a car and drove most of the island visiting various tourist spots and having some conch sandwiches for lunch. Early the next morning we departed for Conception Island which is uninhabited and has beautiful beaches and reefs. There were about 20 boats anchored in the lee of the island and we all got together for cocktails on the beach at sunset. Everyone brought a different appetizer which ended up serving as dinner for the four of us. We spent a lot of time on "Ella Grace" and really were impressed with the room it had in the cockpit as well as below decks. The next morning Bob and Rhonda had to return to Georgetown so we headed to Cat Island on our own. That evening, while we were anchored, a school of Horse-eyed Jacks surrounded the boat and we had a great time fishing for a couple of hours. The next sail was to Little San Salvador Island a couple of days later. The cruise ships use this island to give their passengers a beach day so we anchored off a beautiful beach that had hundreds of sunbathers frolicking about for the day. Listening to the weather report on the HF radio warned us of a impending cold front that was forecast to be a big blow so we left the next morning for the safety of Rock Sound on Eluthrea. The sail was a wild ride downwind with 15 foot waves rolling in from the Atlantic and 26 knot winds from the early arriving cold front. By that evening we were safely at anchor and enjoying the sunset. We spent the next few days exploring Rock Sound with friends we met anchored near us. When the weather settled down we moved up the island to Governor’s Harbor and found the most picturesque town in the Bahamas we have encountered yet. The buildings and homes were brightly painted and we really enjoyed walking the streets and visiting the shops and library. We were off again a couple of days later because we had to get to Nassau to pick up our daughter Nicole in a few days. On the way we sailed by a really pretty spot on Eluthrea called the Glass Window. The island is so narrow here that a bridge over the steep cliffs leaves an opening that the waves come through on rough weather days. We went through Current Cut and attained speeds near 11 knots as the tide was with us and anchored for the night. The next day we were back in Nassau and Nicole arrived as scheduled. Then the three of us were off to the Exumas for a week of island hopping. First stop was Allen Cay with it’s many Iguanas on the beach. The next morning when we were leaving we saw a full keeled sailboat named Karma high and dry on the beach. What kind of Karma is that? Guess his anchor had drug the night before and he didn’t notice the movement until it was too late. That’s why we leave our anchor drag alarm on whenever we are at anchor. Later that day we sailed by Norman’s Cay and showed Nicole the DC-3 drug plane that crashed in the water off the beach. That night we anchored at Shroud Cay and spent the next day exploring the mangrove canals with the dingy, snorkeling and beach combing. The next day we sailed to Cambridge Cay and snorkeled the Rocky Dundas caves. While we were having cocktails at a friends boat that evening a six foot nurse shark swam up right next to the boat and everyone had fun feeding him bread. We sailed through Pipe Creek the next day and decided that it has to be the prettiest place in the Exumas. Arriving at Thunderball Grotto we anchored the boat and took the dingy over to dive the grotto. It turned into an adventure because the high waves and currents made the swim back to the dingy very difficult. Nicole needed a little help to get back, so I gave her a boost a we all made it back to the boat tired and impressed with the power of the tidal currents. The grotto was full of fish and I’m sure we will all remember it for it’s beauty and danger! We anchored between the Majors that night and spent another afternoon beachcombing. Next stop was Warwick Wells and the Exumas land and sea park. The anchorage was beautiful and the park has ruins of homes built by British loyalists who fled the colonies after the revolutionary war. The week had flown by and we returned to Nassau for a little bar hopping before our flight home. Rhonda lectured Nicole on the discomfort one might have if they drank too much the night before flying home. Turns out Nicole didn’t need the lesson but Rhonda and I did. A friend on a big yacht across the pier invited us over for drinks and dinner and fed us way too much 151 proof rum. The next day was just as Rhonda had warned it would be. Lucky for us we ended up in first class on the early flight home. The drinks in first class are complimentary but strangely none of us were interested in anything but coffee.

Jan 11th to Feb 6th, 2006

Key Largo, FL to Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas

Jan 11th - We returned to Key Largo to wait for a good weather window for the sail across the gulf stream to the Bahamas.

Jan 24th

We left Miami on Tuesday, Jan 24th at 3:00 AM for the Bahamas. The weather window we had been waiting for finally arrived, sort of. In order to cross the Gulf Stream, which flows northbound at about 3 knots of the coast of Florida, the winds should be blowing from the southeast, south, or southwest at less than 15 knots. For 2 weeks we had been waiting for these conditions at various locations in southeast Florida. We were in Key Largo for a couple of days and then moved northbound to Thursday Cove. From there we went to Angelfish Creek and finally to No Name harbor in Key Biscayne. Turns out we weren't the only ones waiting for good weather. Key Largo, Miami Marine stadium, Fort Lauderdale and several other places were full of boats patiently waiting. The day we left we were in the company of at least 50 other boats! As we headed out of No Name harbor the winds were blowing from the ESE at 10 to 15 knots. Our course, corrected for northward drift from the Gulf stream was right into the wind. So much for any sailing. We motored into the wind and waves for about 12 hours and arrived at Gun Key, just south of Bimini. We anchored in a beautiful little harbor that had a sandy beach to the south and rocks and reefs on the north, east, and west. I went snorkeling almost immediately and the sea life was spectacular near the rocks. I swam toward the beach and reef to the east and spotted half a dozen small barracudas near the rocks. Shortly after that a 5 foot reef shark swam right by me! That’s when I decided a walk on the beach would be a really good idea. I walked a few hundred feet down the beach and got back into the water to swim back to the boat and saw the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen. The swim back to the boat reminded me off the swim meets at Culver. I might even have beat my best time from back then.

We had sailed from Miami with another Cat and we took the dinghy over to their boat for dinner. The food and drink was good but the sunset was spectacular. We went back to the boat just after dark for an early turn in because we were getting up at 3:00 AM again for the trek to Chub Kay. It was still dark at departure time so Rhonda stood up in the bow with our spotlight and guided me out of the anchorage and we turned eastbound over the Bahama flats where depths average about 15 feet. We motored until sunrise and then raised the sails and had one of the best sailing days ever. The wind was blowing at 15 to 20 knots and our speed was 6 to 7 knots with no motor for a change. We had to cover 90 nautical miles but with the speed we were making we arrived about an hour before sunset. While we were sailing we trolled with artificial lures and Rhonda caught a 2 foot Spanish Mackerel which made a great dinner for us and our sailing buddies on the other cat.

Thursday morning we got to sleep in till about 7:30 because the leg to Nassau was only 35 miles. The wind was on our port quarter so we set the jib and beat into the wind with the motor assisting. Winds were 15 to 23 knots and the waves were 4 to 7 feet initially. The closer we got to Nassau the bigger the waves grew. This area is called the tongue of the ocean because depths approach 2500 to 3000 feet and the ocean is open to the east all the way to Europe. As we approached Nassau we were sailing in waves over 10 feet high and the ride was pretty rough but after a 6 hour sail we entered Nassau harbor, cleared customs, and went to a marina on Paradise Island. We walked over to the Atlantis hotel and went through their aquarium, the largest in the world they say. It was the greatest variety and size of fish and marine life we’ve ever seen. The shark tank has an underwater tube you walk through to observe the fish as they swim over and around you; it’s a pretty eerie feeling. The next day we moved the boat to the Nassau side of the harbor and have been walking around the city sightseeing for 2 days now.

We plan on sailing on to Georgetown in the Exumas when weather conditions are favorable but for the time being we are relaxing here in Nassau and enjoying the windy and cool days. The local food is delicious, the rum is tasty, and there are lots of other sailors to swap sea tales with.

We are at TPA marina with lots of other sailors all waiting for that elusive weather window.  Tonight, Jan 29th, we had a pot luck dinner on the docks and everybody brought great food and drink.  Check out the photo album for a group shot of sailors who have had way too much rum punch.  Rhonda got some secret fishing tips from Tanya and Walker, local Bahamians who live to fish.

Nassau to Georgetown

Tuesday 1- 31 Nassau to Norman’s Cay, 2006

After five days of unfavorable winds and high seas the weather changed for the better and we departed Nassau for the 25 mile trip to Norman’s Cay. Sailing over the yellow bank southeast of Nassau, where the water depths average 15 to 20 feet and the sea bottom is clearly visible, you have the sensation that you are sailing on very shallow water or even in mid-air. As we pull into the anchorage at Norman’s Cay the decaying remain of a DC-3 sitting in the shallow water just off the beach becomes visible. After dropping anchor, we dinghy over for a better look and see the wings, engines and propellers just inches below the surface. Norman’s Cay was once owned by the infamous drug smuggler Carlos Lehder and the DC-3 is a reminder of the days when he based his cocaine smuggling ring on this island. Today it’s a peaceful and beautiful place with curving beaches and crystal clear water. The current in the anchorage rips it’s way from the deep water of the Exuma sound to the shallow waters of the yellow bank and shifts back directions as the tide changes. We count about twenty other boats swinging with the current and spy Karen M, the 42 foot Nauticat belonging to friends we met in Nassau. On the way back from our visit to the DC-3 we motor by to ask them over for cocktails but before we have a chance they have invited us onboard. Peg and Joe have been living onboard for 3 years and are part of the nautical community that travels north and south with the seasons. We watch the spectacular sunset downing rum pain killers and as the last rays of daylight quickly disappear we return to Wingin It for the night. An enormous catamaran is next to us and as the currents intensify it swings in ever wider arcs getting closer and closer to us make me nervous. I watch for an hour or so and don’t feel comfortable going to sleep with this ballet going on so I fire up the engine and drag us away from them. The next morning we decide on night of these currents is enough and we pull anchor and head south.

Wednesday 2 - 1 Norman’s Cay to Staniel Cay

Perhaps the major benefit to sailing a cat is it’s shallow draft. It allows you to sail close to the lee shore of islands avoiding the bigger waves offshore and gives you anchorage options not available to deep draft boats. We spend this day shadowing the cays as we proceed down the island chain. The sightseeing is a continuing visage of beautiful beaches and coral reefs with winds on a tight port tack. Today we anchor next to the Thunderball grotto at Staniel Cay. In addition to the James Bond movie, several other films have used this location and as we don our dive equipment and enter the grotto we see why. It’s an awesome sight with schools of colorful fish below and the light reflecting on the grotto ceiling above. Rhonda takes photos with an underwater camera and I dive down to the coral heads to see if there are any lobsters lurking underneath. No luck on the lobsters so we head back to the boat and eat another one of Rhonda’s gourmet dinners. We watch the sunset and go to bed early. All the outdoor fun has tired us out.

Thursday 2 - 2 Staniel Cay to Darby Island

Darby island has the remains of a large home called the castle. It belonged to an Englishman that was a German sympathizer during world war two and he dredged an anchorage deep enough for German U-boats to enter. We proceed to an even more protected area an anchor in about 4 feet of water. On our sail today we caught a Spanish mackerel and hooked something much larger but as we tried to reel it in it bite through our lure and leader and got away. After dropping anchor we snorkel in the lagoon and see some yellowtail and barracuda.

Friday 2 - 3 Darby Island to Georgetown

Time to go out in the deep water again and the wind is right on our nose. We motor in the shadow of the cays as long as we can and poke out into Exuma sound for about 4 miles of big waves. Fortunately "Wingin It" allows us to sneak behind reefs and islands that other boats can’t get into. We motor into the harbor in Georgetown and see about 200 boats at anchor. We’ve finally arrived at the epicenter of sailing in the southern Bahamas. Some people call it "Chicken Harbor" because lots of people with aspirations of continuing south chicken out when they get here and stay. The water is beautiful and the sailors are friendly so why continue beating into the southern trade winds. Makes sense to me but we never planned on heading any further south anyway. We spend the next few days exploring Georgetown and the local waters and on Monday, Feb. 6th we fly back to Charlotte for Rhonda’s salon days.

Dec 7, 2005 to Jan 4, 2006 - Southbound

Cocoa, FL to Key Largo, FL

Dec 7th - Returned to the boat and waited out some bad weather before we left Cocoa. We hated leaving our friends Dick and Nancy (whom we have known since 2002). It’s always good to see them again.

Nancy kept us fed and happy with home baked cookies and home cooked meals!

Dec 10th - Sailed 28 miles to an anchorage at Rock Point near Micco Fla.

Ted caught our first fish around 5:00pm on a pole Dick had given us.

This is now our ‘Lucky’ pole as we have sailed and fished over 1,200 miles and never caught a fish!!!

The fish was small so we threw it back after we were unable to identify it.

The next day around 10:30 am Ted caught another fish with our new "LUCKY POLE".

This time it was a 20" Spanish Mackerel!! (check out the picture in photo album). Yippee. Dinner tonight! Rhonda filleted it. Wow, this was good excitement for the day.

We spent a night at Vero Beach on a mooring and left early the next morning for Stuart where we anchored out in Manatee Pocket and saw Ted’s old friends Hank and Ellie (see them in the photo album). After a great day of reminiscing we were off for Palm Beach and then Fort Lauderdale.

Dec. 16th - We docked at City Marina on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The Mega Yachts and mansions along the river make us think we are in Disney world for the rich and famous. We watched the Christmas boat parade from a great riverside seat.

The next day we motored down the ICW to Miami and anchored out at Dinner Key marina. We had dinner with Don and Denise Jaycocks (old airline friends) and headed south for Elliott key and Biscayne National park. Sailed south down the bay side of the keys to Key Largo. After a few days in Key Largo we sailed to Marathon to meet Ted’s Dad and his wife Lucy as well as her daughter Linda and her fiance Dave. Spent 3 days with them and then sailed back to Key Largo.

Jan 4th - Flew back to Charlotte for Rhonda’s week of work.

Nov 4 to Nov 30, 2005

Bucksport, SC to Cocoa, Fl

Nov 4th - We returned to Bucksport, provisioned the boat and headed south for warmer weather! We spent a few nights anchored out and then decided to go outside (ocean sailing instead of ICW motoring). We did a 24 hour overnight passage to avoid the winding ICW route through Georgia and all the Ga. bridges. We left through Port Royal Sound and went 20 miles offshore. It was beautiful weather and calm seas. When the late night hours came we did 15 minute watches taking turns at the helm. Then we graduated to 30 minute watches then 1 hour. Every 15 minutes one of us would check the helm. The moon went down around 12:30 am and by 3:00 am the fog started to roll in. By 4:00 am the fog was so dense you could not see 100 feet. We picked up radio transmissions from a sailboat ("Dreamchaser") behind. They had picked us up on thier radar. They were 2 miles behind us. There was another boat out there too called "Sandcastle". Every 45 minutes we would relay our positions to each other in order to stay clear. Ted was not concerned but Rhonda was a little scared. Put it this way, her little eyes were wide open! That was a good thing however, as we needed to stay very alert from 4:00 am on. We had to wait for the fog to burn off so we could enter the channel to Fernandino Beach. It was 8:30 am before we could see. We went into to the marina, took HOT showers and took a nap. We walked around the cute little town and enjoyed a pleasant day there. The next morning at the fuel pumps we met Dreamchaser (Sara and Shane). We then went on to St. Augustine Beach and spent a couple of days there checking out that cute town. Rhonda decided to start collecting beads to make jewlery as the beads were really cool here. We met up again with Dream chaser in the anchorage and joined them for happy hour at Scarlet O’Hara’s. The next day we were off about the town about 2 miles away on foot when we got a phone call from Dreamchaser informing us that our boat was dragging anchor! We scrambled and caught a ride back to the pier, Sara and Shane went over to our boat and got on it and started the engine ready to pull up anchor and reset it if needed. We got there, pulled up anchor and found that someone had run over our trip line and severed the line and in doing so, pulled our anchor loose!! Jerks! Anyway, all was saved and we felt very lucky to have switched information (boatcards) with Dreamchaser so they could call us. Never a dull moment.

We got to Whitley Bay Marina in Cocoa, Fl. on November 17th and hooked up with our old friends Dick and Nancy. Ted’s sister, Carolyn came up to Cocoa the next day and we met her boyfriend John. What a great guy! He loaned us his car the whole time we were in Cocoa! Went to Lou’s Blues with them one night and another night we spent clubing in old Cocoa village. Went to Super Dave’s jazz club and Rhonda puked all over the floor!! (first time she had booze in a year because she was finally off some serious medecine that didn’t allow her to drink).

We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the fixin’s including Mom’s famous relish tray in Orlando with Ted’s Mom, Carolyn, and John.

Nov 30th we returned to Charlotte for Rhonda’s week of work. :(

Sept 26, 2005 to Oct 24, 2005


Norfolk, VA to Bucksport, SC

9/25- We flew to Norfolk, provisioned, and departed for the dismal swamp and points south. Spent the first night at the North Carolina visitor’s center dock and then proceeded to Elizabeth City. Due to monsoon rains, we stayed five days at the city docks and spent our time with our friends Peter and Debbie (Kopykat) and Ken and Carol (Miranda). We became regulars at the Colonial restaurant, city library, and went to the dinner theater to see "In my shoes" with Cameron Diaz. Lots of dock parties, wine tastings and visits with Fred Fearing and the "Rose Buddies". Fred’s about 90 years old and I found out in chats with him that he had shaken hands with Orville Wright on one of his visits to the area. The Wright brothers flew the first flight not far from here at Kill Devil hills in 1903.

As soon as the weather cleared we all departed for Oriental, NC. We had a great sail down Pamlico sound and spent a couple of fun days with Ken and Carol at their new home and dock on Whitaker creek. We had a great dinner at Steamers restaurant where we ate all the shrimp we could eat. Each morning Carol and Rhonda would fix some great breakfast to start the day. Ken and I made a fender board and a rail board to tie our diesel jerry cans on the deck while the girls went for a bike ride. We could of stayed a few months with these great people but we had to press south cause cold weather is coming. One of the greatest aspects of cruising is the wonderful people we meet. We know we will always be in touch with Ken, Carol, Peter, and Debbie and can’t wait for our paths to cross again.

Next stop was Morehead City to pick up a new fuel tank and spent a day replacing the leaky one and then we were off for Wrightsville Beach where we spent a couple of days anchored by the bridge. Departed out the Masonboro inlet with a trip down the coast to Carolina inlet enroute to Southport where we docked at the Provision Company restaurant. Spent a couple of days exploring the village and then we were off to Barefoot landing in North Myrtle Beach. This is always a fun stop because the docks adjoin an outlet mall with many restaurants and stores. They even had a white tiger exhibit which greatly impressed Bailey when we showed him these "big kitties". I think Bailey thought he was a dead dog, because we had to change his diaper afterwards! The docks were crowded this visit so we rafted up to a trawler captained by Ralph, a seventy year old solo sailor on his eleventh trip up and down the ICW. There were lots of sailors to swap sea stories and party with while we waited out hurricane Wilma. We had planned to go to Charleston, SC but Wilma altered our plans and we left the boat in Bucksport, SC.

Oct 24th - We rented a car and drove home to Charlotte for Rhonda’s week at work.

Aug 25th to Sep 18th, 2005

North to the top of the Chessy and then Southbound

Baltimore, MD north to Havre de Grace and then south to Norfold, VA

8/25 - Returned to the boat, left Baltimore and crossed over to the eastern shore anchoring in Worton Creek. The Weather is beautiful with temps in the 60’s at night.

8/28 - We rafted up with the couple we sold our O’Day sailboat to. It was fun seeing our old boat and reminiscing; after all, we got married on it! That afternoon we sailed up the eastern shore to the Sassafras River and overnighted in Betterton, Md. on their free dock.

8/29 - Sailed to Havre de Grace at the north end of the Chesapeake. It’s a really beautiful little town at the mouth of the Susquehanna river. Ran into a couple we met at Barefoot Landing (Myrtle Beach, SC) and had a great evening enjoying hor’deurves and cocktails in our cockpit. The next day we found Bomboys, the best ice cream shoppe on the Chessy.

9/2 - Sailed to Fairlee Creek and anchored out in front of Jellyfish Joel’s Tiki hut. What a fun place!

9/3 - Sailed to Annapolis for the Gemini rally at Performance Cruising. The rally began with a race (25 Geminis entered). It was Rhonda’s first race, we finished 9th, and she really got hooked on racing! That evening at dinner Jose Vidal told the crowd about his adventures sailing a Gemini around Cape Horn. We stayed in Annapolis on a mooring right in front of Ego Alley (the epicenter of sailing). Hanging out in Annapolis harbor and sightseeing places like the US Naval Academy was really fun.

9/8 - Departed Annapolis for Saint Michaels, a really picturesque little town on the eastern shore. This afternoon the HMS Bounty sailed in and anchored next to us. We couldn’t believe it!

We explored the Wye River and anchored out in a beautiful remote anchorage. Sailed to Deltaville and then to Norfolk.

Sep 18th - Returned to Charlotte for Rhonda’s week of work.

July 21st to Aug 15th, 2005

Georgetown, SC to Baltimore, MD

Jul 21st - We returned to the boat and finally left on our journey. Nicole, Ted's oldest daughter, came with us the first week and she had a great time even though she got badly sunburned. We stopped at Myrtle Beach and Wrightsville Beach . We met some people on Trawlers and Rhonda (a hairdresser) even cut one lady’s hair and made a quick $40!! This is going to be great...extra cash while cruising . The next place we anchored was at Topsail island, near Surf City NC. According to Skipper Bob’s book, it was a good place to anchor, however at 3:45 AM our anchor alarm sounded and we had drug our anchor again . We were dangerously close to a channel marker with a huge Thunderstorm with lots of lightning right over us. We decided to get the hell out of there. Ted went to start the engine, but every time he put it in gear it died. ONLY IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION DOES THIS HAPPEN!!! Ted checked the transmission to see if it was frozen....nope. Then he jumped into the water to check the prop and found that we were in 2 feet of water and the prop was buried in the mud! Concerned about the nearby lightning, Ted quickly pushed us into deeper water, got back into the boat, started the engine and off we went; in the middle of the night, in a thunderstorm, in the pitch darkness, and in unfamiliar waters. We used the spotlight to illuminate the channel markers but battery quickly died. Rhonda searched and found the 12 volt cord for it and we continued down the ICW. A new one for us!!! We knew there was a bridge about an hour north and a marina just past the bridge where we found refuge from Hurricane Charlie last year. We pulled into the marina at 5:30 am, tied up to the fuel dock, and went to bed.

Just another day in Ted and Rhonda’s wild adventure. And people ask us "What are you going to do out there all day?????" Actually it's never a dull moment. Sometimes fun, sometimes scary, but always memories we will take to our graves. As we travel, we find cities that cater to cruisers and offer free dockage. It's fun to explore these little waterfront communities.

On the way from Surf City to Morehead city, we met Peter and Debbie, who were cruising on their yellow catamaran "KopyKat". They were from Charleston and had left just a couple of days before we did. The next 10 days we cruised together. We crossed Pamlico sound and sailed the outer banks of North Carolina visiting Okracoke Island, Hatteras, Mateo and Elizabeth City, NC.

8/7 - We left Elizabeth City, NC and entered the Dismal Swamp. The Dismal Swamp canal was surveyed by George Washington and built by slaves. The canal is 60 miles long . It connects the North Carolina waters to the Chesapeake Bay. Halfway through the swamp we spent the night at the NC visitor’s center free dock. It’s the only visitor’s center in the country that welcomes both cars and boats.

8/8 - Motored the northbound half of the Dismal swamp canal to Norfolk and anchored off the Naval Hospital, across the river from the Navy yards. Norfolk is the Navy’s largest base and it’s full of aircraft carriers, submarines, and all sorts of other ships. Really impressive to see, especially from the water.

8/9 - Set sail early entering the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads. We planed to sail across the Bay to Cape Charles and anchor behind a breakwater made of WWII concrete ships, but Mother Nature changed our plans. As we sailed eastward across the bay, the wind and waves increased in intensity and ahead of us on the horizon the mother of all thunderstorms reared her ugly head. We kept easing the boat north trying to avoid the storm. We finally diverted course to the western shore seeking safe harbor. With winds approaching 25 knots, the sailing was exciting and the thunderstorm chased us all the way to Deltaville, Va. Fortunately, we only encountered light rain, as the worst part of the storm passed south of us. That night we took refuge at the Deltaville Marina fearing more storms were on the horizon. As soon as we tied up to the dock, the weather cleared and it was a beautiful evening. One of the local restaurants picked us up in their courtesy car and we enjoyed a fine seafood dinner. After dinner we returned to the marina, took a long hot shower, and hit the sack. Deltaville Marina was full of sailors from all over the world. and we heard some great sailing stories. A French couple we met, sailed across the Atlantic, all over the Caribbean, and ended up in Panama where they bought a couple of acres of oceanfront property for $3,500.00 and spent the next 10 years building their home out of native hardwoods and bamboo. Now they’re off on a new adventure returning to France to purchase a farm.

8/10 - Slept late and sailed up the western shore to Smith Point, Md. Anchored in the Little Wicomico River amidst beautiful surroundings. The sunset was spectacular and the night sky was full of stars.

8/11 - Continued our sail up the western shore stopping at Solomon’s Island, one of the largest sailing centers on the Chesapeake.

8/12 - Crossed the bay to explore the eastern shore. Spent the night in Tighlmans Island at an old resort with a great seafood buffet.

8/13 - Sailed to Baltimore and berthed the boat at Anchorage Marina to escape the 100+ degree heat. Spent the next two days exploring the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore. Lots of neat little Greek restaurants, a grocery store, and even a West Marine within walking distance of the boat.

8/15 - Flew home for Rhonda’s scheduled week at work.

Jun 23, 2005 to Jul 3rd, 2005

Charlteston, SC to Georgetown, SC

Ted had a wonderful surprise birthday/retirement party on June 23rd at his favorite Mexican restaurant. In attendance were: Amy (age 18), Nicole (age 21), David (Rhonda’s son, age 27) and his wife Lauren (age 25), Laura (our dog groomer and friend), Mike Grieco and Barney Sherril (fellow US Air pilots).

June 25th we left for the boat so Ted had no time for to miss flying!! We took the boat to Georgetown SC, an hour north of Charleston by car, but an all day trip by boat! We had 10 days off (Rhonda had to work out her new schedule and start to implement it by July ), so we made it a two day trip and anchored just off the ICW near McClellanville. We got in the water to cool off and the next day in Georgetown we saw three alligators and one was 8-10 feet long!!! That was the end of any ICW swimming! We anchored in Georgetown harbor which has a very questionable soft mud bottom. The next day went to town in the new family vehicle (our dinghy) and returned to the boat around 5:00 pm. We got on our computer and were pretty engrossed in what we were doing. Then Rhonda looked up....miraculously...and said in her true blonde way, " come those boats on the dock are closer to us then they were before?" Ted quickly realized we were dragging anchor. We didn’t speak much, just knew what to do. Rhonda ran to the bow in her pajamas. It was raining heavily. Ted started the engine while Rhonda with new found energy pulled up the anchor! We came 30 feet from hitting multi-million dollar yachts! Isn’t it always that way. If you’re going to hit another boat, it won’t be a cheap one!! We kept thinking, what if this had happened when we were off the boat in town??? EEEkkk. We didn’t want to even think about that scenario. July 3rd we returned to Charlotte and Rhonda started her new work schedule; 5 days of work and then a month off!

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