Sunday, February 15, 2009

Welcome to our Seafaring Tale

This is the blog of Lynn and Beth, who traveled from Baltimore MD to the Bahamas and back in our 50-foot Gulfstar, Coyote. We made the journey from December 2007 to April 2008 and attempted to record most of the adventure here. I hope you enjoy reading…for those who are particularly interested, you should start at the beginning of the saga by going to the archived blogs.

The journey ends...but the adventure is just beginning...

Well, hello again…is anyone out there? I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I last wrote a blog about the grand Coyote Adventure. I suppose I have been unwilling to face that the journey came to an end, but I have decided it is just a new beginning to the adventure.

When I last left off we had stopped in Cumberland Is., Georgia. We spent a lovely few days wandering through the live oak and strolling on the immense beach along with the wild horses. We also saw naval ships accompany inland what appeared to be a foreign submarine. As planned, we departed at dusk to head north in the ocean…arriving in Beaufort SC late the following afternoon. We resumed our shifts at the helm and, as I recall, the trip was reasonably comfortable with fairly big rollers off the stern quarter. Unfortunately our autopilot continued to misbehave and we decided that we were not going to continue ocean cruising without it working.

Beaufort was great…we docked at the Beaufort City Marina and had a nice visit with David and Gini (our crew on the voyage to the Bahamas) and explored the town. We also hoisted Cindy in a Bosons chair to the top of our 65-foot mast to retrieve our radar reflector which had again cut itself loose…she is such a brave girl! We left a few days later and continued north, this time in the ICW. We stopped in Charleston SC, where we stayed just one night, but it was fun. We took the Marina shuttle into the center of town and wandered around and then had dinner in a fabulous little Italian restaurant of, you guessed, Lynn’s choosing. It really is a cool place where one could spend much more time exploring.

We had to pay very close attention to the depths while we traveled in the ICW as there were many areas with rather severe shoaling. I used Skipper Bob’s site on the Internet to get the latest information on shallow spots, which proved to be very useful in at least alerting us to be extra diligent in certain areas. Not sure how often we hit bottom, but Lynn had to power us off a number of times. I do remember one spot where we got stuck on the bottom three times on a single turn…but, we never needed assistance getting off again.

We stopped at several Marinas on the way because it is tricky finding good anchorages for a boat our size and timing stops between bridge openings and nightfall. One stands out where Lynn had to make a sharp turn and slide the boat in with only a few inches to spare below us and rocky outcrops on both sides of the very narrow entrance. We chose the spot because they had cheap gas, but somewhat regretted that decision when we realized how difficult it was going to be to get back out. As usual, Lynn handled the situation expertly and our worry was unfounded.

The other town that stands out for me was Oriental NC. We made an unplanned stop there when we arrived in the Neuse River and were greeted by very high winds and waves. When we realized how uncomfortable the trip north would be, we decided to turn east and stop over in Oriental for the night…which became three nights. But, it is a fabulous small fishing town where we had so much fun exploring, attending the dog parade and photographing the picturesque fishing boats. It is definitely a cruiser-friendly place. Sadly though, this was where Cindy decided to leave us and head back to Cleveland. Despite coming very close to begging her to stay, she was determined that this was the best time for her to reenter reality. Anyone who knows Cindy understands how futile trying to change her mind would be. I was amazed that we could spend a full month in such close quarters and really, honestly, not want her to leave. It was very sad and quiet for a little while without her happy giggles.

Lynn and I then completed the last leg of our journey as a twosome, which I feel was right. We did have a few more misadventures before arriving home, including a scary morning when we couldn’t raise our anchor in 40-knot wind as it kept overpowering the windless. We finally manage to lift the anchor and made the prudent decision to wait out the weather yet again in Coinjock NC. There we rested and did some laundry. We also met John, a person we will likely never forget…he was such a trip! We had just tied up when he came zooming in on his approximately 30-foot sailboat. He put our feelings of bravery in perspective as an 80-year-old who had just single handed the journey to the Bahamas and back! We had dinner with him that evening, and thoroughly enjoyed his tales of traveling through life. We all left the next morning heading for Norfolk VA, where Lynn and I planned to spend the night and John, I expect characteristically, was going to continue up the Chesapeake Bay.

The next morning, we started the last long trek up the Bay, anchoring near Deltaville and in Annapolis MD. Our final day was a cold, wavy one. We were very happy to finally arrive in Baltimore where most of Lynn’s kids and grand kids were waiting on the dock…such a perfect welcome home.
So, we have come full circle. The adventure proved to be everything we hoped it would be…and we can’t wait to do it all over again…who knows what will be in store for us next time. We learned so much on our shakedown cruise, but, there is still so much more to learn. We have spent the winter living in our condo. Yes, it does feel like a bit of a live-aboard cop out, but winter on a boat in the Bahamas is quite a different thing than winter on a boat in Baltimore! We (OK, mostly Lynn) are now working on improving and outfitting the boat for the next trip. We will be finishing the interior and adding additional power sources, like wind and solar power. Lynn’s wish is to install a watermaker and paint the deck, but we will need to see whether all of it can be accomplished within time and budget! I have been spending my time working and developing skills that I hope will translate into work I can do when not cruising. Our plan right now is to start south in early November and we’ll just see where it takes us…