Sailing the Southeast Coast of USA

This was our very first time sailing the US east coast south of Beaufort, North Carolina. We did not have a time line or a plan, although we did not plan to motor down the ICW. We sailed down the coast as weather permitted. We considered options for the next port based on weather and appeal of the town. We also considered inlet conditions after the Winyah Bay saga that was described in the last blog.

St. Augustine, Florida

Lone Star moored north of the bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, FL

The 60 mile sail from Cumberland Island, Georgia to St. Augustine, Florida was longer than a day sail. As we wanted to arrive in daylight, we chose to leave in darkness. St. Mary’s Inlet is well lit and wide. We left with the out going current and had no problems. Wild Iris sailed with us and quickly sailed past us. We motored through the inlet, then enjoyed an easy sail the rest of the night.

Walking around St. Augustine with friends

We spent six nights on a mooring. The Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) is just beyond the boats. Many boaters stop here! St. Augustine is said to be the oldest settlement in North America. We found it to be a very welcoming and interesting place to visit. There were so many things to see and do that it was difficult to choose.

A pedestal on the Bridge of Lions

We enjoyed meeting up with cruising friends at various musical events around town. Stopping for a nibble, drink, or famous pizza. Yes, it was justifiably good!

Walking to Castillo de San Marcos at sunset. The occasional cannon blasts from their tourist demonstrations were close enough to our mooring that we jumped a few times.
Christmas lights of St. Augustine. They had a large generator in a trailer to run all these beautiful lights.
Swinging to the wind on the mooring, often we swung with the current and against the wind.

The weather was not good enough to head south. So when our mooring stay ended we motored north a few miles and anchored just south of Vilano Bridge. We found a beautiful beach to explore on the Eastern shore of the river. We also found a Publix supermarket for fresh supplies.

Public dinghy dock with access to Vilano Beach.

The following day we took the dinghies to Vilano Boat Ramp on the western shore.

We found this museum during a hike on the western shore. It was too late in the day to wander in. There are steep fees for all the attractions in this historical town. Best to start early!
Interesting history!

Our hike took us all the way back into the Old City of St. Augustine where we found more historical treasures to explore.

Ceiling of a very old Spanish building, now part of St. Augustine College
Lisa admires the beautiful tile work in St. Augustine College
Looking back through the entrance at St. Augustine College. The fountain was lovely.

And on our hike back we saw this lovely Peacock on a unique border fence made of local materials.

Wild Peacock on a fence

West Palm Beach, Florida

Our sail from St Augustine area to West Palm Beach was 209 miles. This ended up being a very slow passage with too much motoring: 52 hours total with 23 hours of motor-sailing. I sure wish we had a faster engine and/or a big light air sail!

Tom and I had a great time hiking around Peanut island. Gorgeous views and nice paved walking paths.
Majestic palms line a park in West Palm Beach

Sand Castles in West Palm Beach, Florida

Part of the winter festival is to have a sandcastle contest. Here are a few of our favorites.

In mid December we decided to motor 3.5 miles south down the InterCoastal Waterway (ICW) and through the Flagler Bridge to a very secure anchorage across from West Palm Beach.

Lone Star at the public dock in West Palm.

We had scheduled a serviceman to come aboard for our water maker. They recommended we pull in to the public dock.

We enjoyed wandering around this open air market in West Palm Beach
We’ve endured a lot of cloudy, cool weather this Autumn. The locals said it has been unusually cold for this time of year.

Marathon, Florida

We enjoyed a beautiful 30 hour, 160 nautical mile offshore sail to Marathon on Boot Key. It was a downwind run on the tails of yet another cold front.

Next morning, underway toward Marathon, Florida

We heard Marathon was a cruiser’s must stop as their is an organized group here similar to George Town in the Bahamas and featuring things like a morning radio net, activities, assistance, etc. There is a large protected inner anchorage that is filled with moorings. Tom called several times to reserve a mooring. They needed to see us in person to make the reservation. We motored 2 miles by dinghy into the dinghy dock at the cruiser’s marina headquarters. They charged $22 a day to land the dinghy, and for each day you are on the waiting list. After the paperwork for landing the dinghy was handed to us, we changed our minds and did not reserve a mooring. Too many rules and too expensive to wait. We won’t have that much time here anyway. Marathon seems to be a place for boaters to stay put for the entire winter season. It’s not set up for cruisers just passing through. Thankfully the weather was calm enough to stay outside the harbor for a few days. We took showers and did laundry here and walked to a local grocery. Package pickup was very convenient, although the system for finding your packages and mail was confusing.

Key West, FL

A flock of birds on a calm sea

The 42 miles to Key West was accomplished under motor. We rendezvoused with Wild Iris once again. They had picked up their son Jack in Miami. We were all looking forward to celebrating Christmas together.

Arrival in Key West

The weather was beautiful when we arrived. However, a 3 day front kept us on our boats in windy weather. We still managed to gather for Christmas Day dinner and games (Monopoly Deal).

Festive Christmas dinner on Wild Iris

2022 Year End Statistics

4,310 nautical miles traveled (16,782 nm since we started cruising in 2018)
18 nights at sea
230 nights at anchor
22 nights on a rented mooring
87 nights on our own mooring
3 nights at a dock
5 nights hauled out on land, still on board
8 States in the USA: NC, VA, CT, RI, NY, SC, GA, FL
3 Island groups in the Bahamas: Exumas, Eluethera, Abaco’s
5 Countries and territories: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, USA, Mexico

Farewell to our homeland. We are off to visit Mexico and the Honduras Bay Islands this winter.

Sunset at sea heading for Mexico

Breaking Free of Winter, or Not

Caption for main photo: Spoiler alert! Tom models our sailing attire this autumn wearing many layers including down vests, long pants, and wool hats. Baby it’s cold, even in Georgetown, South Carolina where this picture was taken.

We began our journey of sailing south for the fifth time, by sailing to Block Island, Rhode Island on a late September afternoon. Wind and current were with us. It was a beautiful short sail of less than four hours. We thought this would be a quick overnight stop before heading out to sea and straight for Hampton, Virginia.

Red skies at night sailors delight, right?

The forecast in the morning, was a shock, and turned out to be true! We were stuck for a full week in beautiful Block Island, with no hope of even getting ashore. Temperatures were cold, mostly 40’s and low 50’s. It rained a lot, inches! The skies were completely overcast and it was very windy with frequent 50 knot gusts. Even if we wanted to, we could not assemble our dinghy on deck in these conditions. The good news was we did not have big waves in the harbor as we were hugging the windward shore, close to “dinghy beach” where there is a wooden walkway across the marsh grass.

Mast-less windsurfer (kite sailor?) enjoying the high winds on our last day in Block Island
Raising the anchor after a week in Block Island

We stayed busy with small projects and chores. We ran the diesel cabin heater in the mornings to take the chill out of the cabin while constantly checking the weather for a break! We finally took Chris Parker’s advice and left on an overnight reach down Long Island Sound towards NYC. The predicted west winds would not have allowed us to go offshore from Block Island for another week. These same winds would work very well from NYC.

Setting off from Port Washington

Our 106 mile overnight sail to Port Washington was completely overcast and really cold. We were thankful for our pilot house which allows us to stay out of the wind and rain. We arrived as Pegu Club was leaving to go through NYC. We stayed on a mooring for one night and used the included water taxi to walk around a bit and shop for fresh produce. Sticker shock! We didn’t buy much. The next morning we left with the current to get flushed through New York City.

Riding the current, through NYC

It’s been 36 years since we sailed through New York City. It was not as scary as our memories. We remember many tugs and barges which needed plenty of space to maneuver in the narrow twisting rivers with 4-6 knot currents. This time we mostly saw ferry traffic. There were many fast moving small catamaran passenger ferries and of course the enormous Staten Island car ferry once we were through the city. I would go this way again.

There she is, Lady Liberty
New Jersey by night, ahh finally offshore!

The west winds were perfect for this passage! We could stay close to shore with good wind and no waves.

Cold weather persists in early October

We arrived in Hampton Virginia after two nights (295 miles) at sea. Still no relief from cloudy and cold weather as another reinforcing cold front was approaching.

Lone Star at the friendly Hampton Yacht Club

We don’t often splurge for a dock, but it was fun for a change and made our visit with my sister Janet and her husband Dale more enjoyable. Since they had a car we spent a day exploring the colonial parks at nearby York Town and Jamestown. Great history lessons! We really enjoyed their visit. It flew by too fast.

Monument at Colonial Park, York Town Battlefield

Soon we were sailing south again for Beaufort, NC. We had light winds on this 228 mile, two night passage around Cape Hatteras. We ended up motor-sailing about half the time. The benefit to motoring was enjoying a hot water shower in fairly calm seas, right before an off-watch sleep! That’s a four hour snooze on Lone Star. The hot shower is a sailors dream come true.

Anchored a bit too close to Carrot Island

When the full moon low tide arrived the rudder touched the soft mud. We moved Lone Star out a bit further after that.

Love the Wild Horses on Carrot Island
The sunset provided amazing light
Beaufort, NC a favorite stop for us

After three weeks, we finally had a weather window to continue south offshore, along the east coast of America. We decided to explore the western Caribbean this year, in particular the small islands offshore of Mexico and Honduras. We will be sailing off and on with our buddy boats, UJAM’n and Wild Iris. They were both still freezing up in Deltaville, Virginia. They were planning to leave there on this same weather window and plan to catch up with us soon.

The 186 mile overnight sail from Beaufort, NC to Georgetown, SC was a bit challenging. The inlet to leave Beaufort was rough and very bouncy for about a half hour, until we reached deeper water. When we turned south the elevator ride began in earnest. The seas were 4-7 feet. Although Lone Star is a trimaran and doesn’t roll like a monohull, we sure do ride the waves and surf. The inlet into Winyah Bay, SC was terrifying! We had wind, current, and six foot seas behind us. The inlet is fairly narrow with broken underwater sea walls along the edges of the channel that are a hazard rather than a help. The power of the seas locked the rudder and sometimes tried to turn the boat. Time seemed to stop as we hung on a wave. We found ourselves often looking at the sky through a salt covered windshield for 6-9 seconds, when we really wanted to see the navigational buoy that was right in front of us. After another mile and a few turns inside the inlet the waves and froth finally calmed down. Whew, glad that’s behind us! Sorry no pictures… too busy hand steering.

Lone Star anchored near the Steel mill in Georgetown, SC.

We enjoyed lunch out at a local restaurant with Jeff and Kimberly on Pegu Club. It is always fun to catch up with each other. We never fail to learn from each other’s experiences. This time we were picking their brains on where to go down the coast as this is our first time seeking shelter south of Beaufort, North Carolina. Thanks friends, we know you’ll enjoy the Bahamas this winter.

We are the big white boat with a green center, heading south into a fleet of anchored cargo ships near Savannah, Georgia
Ships are much farther apart in reality. Here we have smooth sailing down wind and riding the waves

Our next passage was two nights and 214 miles to St. Mary’s Inlet on the Florida/Georgia border. This leg was much more sedate. We elected to head north, once through the inlet. We had heard great reviews about the trails and history at the National Seashore on Cumberland Island, GA. Four other cruising boats we know went south to anchor at the small town of Fernandina Beach, FL. The next day, Wild Iris joined us. What a fabulous place! We stayed here for a week and enjoyed many long walks around the park.

Mark, Lisa and Tom, with an albino horse in the background
We got to see a lot of wild Armadillos up close
And many Wild horses among the majestic Live Oak trees
Dungeness Castle ruins at the south end of the island
Mark and Lisa on the flattest longest beach I’ve ever been on!

Beach walking on the eastern side of the island was a must. Many trails led across to the beach. It was really fun to have Steadfast join us the day before Thanksgiving and host a potluck on their boat that evening. Great times!

Lisa and Janice (Steadfast) on a cold windy long beach walk. We pretended the beach was snow!
Rather than collect this beautiful shell, we took a picture!

There were bird sanctuaries here too, I have pictures of crows, egrets, flamingos, and others. Running out of space in this blog!

Walkways among the Live Oaks

We spent a week here and still didn’t see even half of the island. Nor did we make it to the two nearby towns that are a must see: St. Mary’s and Fernandina Beach. We will have to return!

Having too Much Fun!!!

Great Exuma, Bahamas

Having too much fun cruising with buddy boats. Spring season in the Bahamas is a lot less crowded than winter season and the cold fronts do not come this far south very often in April. We arrived with our Buddy Boat UJAM’n from Luperon, Dominican Republic. We traveled 370 miles in two and a half days. Well UJAM’n arrived before dark. We anchored just outside Kidds Cove, George Town on April 7 after 9 pm, using radar and chart plotter, to distance ourselves from nearby boats. We promptly went to bed. In the morning, we covered the sails and discovered we were anchored right in front of UJAM’n and Steadfast. Three of the SSCA Caribbean Safety and Security Net Relays anchored in one place! The guys took turns as the relay for the day for the next week. We ended up at Customs and Immigration for check in together as well.

Hiking with Janice from Steadfast and Marcia and Jeff from UJAM’n

Having too much fun in George Town. This is the fourth year in a row we visit the Bahamas. Our first stop was George Town on Great Exuma. There are over 20 anchorages in a 2 mile radius. What draws us back each year you ask? Beautiful water color, awesome beaches and numerous walking trails, friendly locals, access to good supplies, and a cruising community that is helpful to each other; even in the spring season. Tom continued to assist with the local cruisers net on the VHF radio.

The view from the hill, looking toward Great Exuma from the south end of Stocking Island.

Having too much fun on the beaches. We played beach games like the Scandinavian Molkky and took hikes on the beaches or trails. Swimming and snorkeling as well!

South Monument anchorage in mid-April

Soon U’JAM’n and Steadfast were heading north to visit the Exuma islands. We stayed to welcome Wild Iris and catch up on their news from their home visit to the UK and share a few anchorages around George Town.

Sundowners on Lone Star, Lisa (Wild Iris) and Tom

Having too much fun with other buddy boats. We enjoyed meeting their friends on Bebe, sharing sundowners, snacks and music on various boats.

Mark (Wild Iris) and Lori and Dan (BeBe)
Friends helped us gather rocks on Monument to add our Boat name to all the rest!
Wild Iris and Bebe at anchor. Yeah, the Family Island Regatta was allowed to compete this year! Nice windy conditions for these great little boats.
Music and sundowners on Wild Iris

Wild Iris and Bebe sailed north to the Exuma’s while we stayed and greeted UK friends on Sunset Trader. So proud of David & Lizzie for letting us urge them to make an over night passage from Rock Sound, Eleuthera to George Town. They unfortunately encountered a frightening thunderstorm! Thankfully they experienced no boat problems from the storm.

Our favorite beach, Goat Island with David and Lizzie (Sunset Trader)

Having too much fun with our favorite power boaters. Meeting new cruisers, hikes and sundowners, ahh the life of a cruiser. We had a fun dinghy excursion and short hike to Prime Island Meats to refill our freezer with good quality chicken, pork and beef. Their extra large hotdogs are the best! We got lucky and new produce had arrived as well. It was hard to believe we had spent a little more than a month in this beautiful George Town area. It is early May already, time to say farewell and head north ourselves.

Rock Sound, Eleuthera

Having too much fun sailing. The timing was right for us to sail over night straight to Rock Sound in the south end of Eleuthera. Surprisingly, the next afternoon we sailed in with Wild Iris and Bebe, just before another thunderstorm approached.

The heavy rain just missed us!
Rock Sound, Eleuthera: for the mile+ commute to town we shared a dinghy!

Having too much fun being a tourist. We rented a car for a day with Mark & Lisa and enjoyed touring Eleuthera by land.

Chatting with some land tourists who explored the mostly under ground mile long Hatchet Bay Cave with Mark.

Meanwhile, Lisa, Tom and Anita did not walk the mile in the dark with lots of bats!

Lunch stop at Unca Gene’s in pretty Gregory Town
A small geyser near the Glass Window

The next day we explored the local cave. Wow!

Cathedral Cave in Rock Sound
Lisa exploring Cathedral Cave

Governor’s Harbor, Eleuthera

Having to much fun exploring. We next sailed on to Governor’s Harbor. One morning we decided to take a walk toward a nature preserve that we did not have time to stop at with the car. We had hoped to get a ride, but that didn’t happen. So we walked more than five miles that day.

Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
The trail map. Well worth a whole day trip!
Well maintained walkways
Informative placards
A replica of the Lucayan hut and garden. Lots of gardens!
Sunset, ahh the beauty!

Mother Nature at her finest!

And in the east at sunset, a rainbow whose colors were overwhelmed but the pink sunset

Meeks Harbor and Spanish Wells

From Governors Harbor we chose to sail through Current Cut and up toward Spanish Wells. We left just before sunrise, and had prepared the boat for the 42 mile trip the night before. Neither of us checked the dinghy on davits in the morning. Apparently, it was not secured properly. Around 10 am, just a couple miles from Current Cut, the bow davit line broke with a bang. Anita was on watch and looked back and saw the orange life jackets floating away. The bow of the boat was being dragged through the water. We stopped to rescue the dinghy. We removed the engine from the stern first. Then attached a halyard to the stern of the 80 pound dinghy and hoisted the halyard while loosening/removing the davit line. Then lowered the Porta-bote onto the port side deck.

The aftermath of breaking a davit line while underway
We lost 2 orange life jackets, half an oar, a small paddle, a bilge pump, and a squeegee. We retained the anchor and an oar and a half!

Yes, we even had fun figuring out how to rescue our very important and much loved dinghy! New procedure is to sling a harness made of webbing under the dinghy any time it is on the davits and we are underway. We always fold it up and stow the dinghy when we head out to sea.

Welcome to Spanish Wells

We walked around Spanish Wells on a nearly deserted hot summer Sunday.

No grass to mow!
The Thinker! This is all that’s left of a house 🤷‍♀️ on Spanish Wells!

Passage to America

We didn’t see a weather window for heading north so we and the crew on Wild Iris decided to visit the Abaco’s and check out in Marsh Harbor when a weather window became available.


Having too much fun eating out and buying supplies. First we anchored just outside Little Harbor and made the requisite stop for a meal at Pete’s Pub. The next day we sailed up to Man O’ War Cay and anchored outside the western entrance to the inner harbor. It was the weekend so not many folks around. We discovered they had not repaired the fuel dock yet, so we would need to get fuel in Marsh Harbor. The next day we took Lone Star across to Marsh Harbor with the crew of Wild Iris. We both checked out listing departure time as the same afternoon. Then did a final grocery shop run and fuel run. We motored back to Man O’ War and readied our boats for a few nights at sea. For us that meant dismantling the dinghy and stowing some gear. We hauled the anchor at 3:30 pm on May 23rd and headed our bows North to America.

Ahh, passage making our happy place! Definitely fun for us.

Lone Star at sea heading North Picture courtesy of Wild Iris

We never know when we leave how long a passage will take or if we will be able to sail straight home. We speak with Marine Weather Center on the SSB radio to help us make informed decisions about our route.

Container ships look small on a big ocean at sunrise

First leg: From Man ‘O War to Cape Lookout. May 23, 2022 to May 27. 505 miles, 94.5 hours, just under 4 days, 40 hours with the engine on. We lost the wind after a day and a half, but it picked up on the last day. Arrival was in rain squalls and we had to wait a few days for the seas to die down before continuing north.

Cape Lookout at anchor with Flash and Wild Iris at sunset

We enjoyed a few days of beach walks at Cape Lookout. It was Memorial Day weekend so we saw lots of truck campers parked on the beach in small communities. Many said they’d been coming here for years!

Second leg: From Cape Lookout to Hampton, VA. May 31 to June 2. 214 miles, 47.5 hours, or 2 days, under 12 hours motoring.

Blackbeard reenactment in Hampton, VA

The Pirate Festival lasted for three days in Hampton, with a variety of food, crafts, costumes and demonstrations. There were lots of fun things to see and do. We felt like we were in the middle of the sea battle one time! We finally moved to the Old Point Comfort Anchorage the afternoon before we left on the last voyage home. We found a quiet anchorage right next to the tunnel. An added benefit, we have five fewer miles to motor through narrow winding channels tomorrow.

Third leg: From Hampton, VA to Groton, CT. June 6 to June 9. 353 miles, 68 hours, or 3 days, 19 hours motoring.

Container ship up close, near Virginia Beach

Home Port

We had so much FUN cruising with friends in the Bahamas, we had no time to write about it or take many pictures. Our passage home was thankfully uneventful this year. We made it safely home to New England and enjoyed a very busy summer visiting with family, working on the boat and sailing short distances.

Family visit in Nobleboro, Maine. Photo courtesy of Jane
Sister time while camping in South Bristol, Maine. Picture courtesy of Pauline
Day sail with grand puppies, and Jenna & Alex
Covered up those hot black dinghy seats and added storage pockets.
Mark on Sea Ya Sooner at Block Island at sunset. Thanks for dinner Mark!

We sailed to Block Island to rendezvous with Sea Ya Sooner. Our son, Alex and his wife Jenna took the early ferry out to Block Island for the day. We enjoyed breakfast at Aldo’s bakery, then a walk on the beach before sailing home together.

Block Island with Jenna & Alex
A day sail and swim at Flat Hammock, with nephew Brian and guests from Germany

We had scheduled a mid-summer haul-out at Essex Boat Works to refresh Lone Stars bottom paint, replace the cutlass bearing, and clean her up. The yard needed to reschedule us to late August. Unfortunately, the rig inspection late in the week, immediately showed we needed to take the mast off and rebuild the mast step; where it is attached to the deck. This extended our stay in Essex for two extra weeks to effect repairs and upgrades. We made extra trips to Defender, a good marine chandlery, to purchase new lines and blocks. So thankful we had a borrowed van at this time, thank you Anna Marie and Tom!

New bottom paint for Lone Star
Mast removal, stepping two weeks later

Anita enjoyed house and dog sitting for our son over Labor Day weekend. The kids flew to Florida for a mini vacation with family.

House sitting with my Grand puppies

Having fun with music. We enjoyed a sing-along by the camp fire at Shennecossett Yacht Club. Three guitar players and Tom with his recorder and lots of singers.

Music night at Shennecossett Yacht Club (our summer home)

See why we are so late in posting this? We really were having too much fun!

We are preparing to head south again for the winter. We are not sure yet where we will go? We are considering the western or eastern Caribbean. Wherever we go, we will be warm this winter and we will enjoy the journey under sail as much as the new places and people we will see. The cruising life is very good for us.

Beautiful Hispaniola 🇩🇴

Thirty three years ago we reluctantly sailed past the Dominican Republic. We wanted to explore this beautiful and mountainous country. However, it was too late in the spring season. Hurricane season was approaching. This time around, we were determined to pay Hispaniola a visit, and see what treasures it had to offer. Our passage from Puerto Rico took us across the Mona Passage. Check out this video of our very pleasant sail and another clip of us entering Samana harbor. We completed the 141 mile downwind sail in 25 hours arriving at 9:00 AM on February 21.


Samana waterfront from observation tower

The officials were very welcoming. Before long, a local entrepreneur, Luis came alongside Lone Star in a long boat. Luis is an agent and interpreter that many visiting cruisers hire. He brought a navy officer to inspect the boat. Then took us on a walk around town, to the various customs and immigration offices. We used his services again to have a new custom cover for our jib sewn. The Spanish language that is used here sounds different and English is not as prevalent as in Puerto Rico. We soon became adept at using Google Translate to ask questions and gain answers.

Samana walking bridge is lit up at night

One day we decided to hike to the farmers market. We brought our trolley as it was a mile hike. It was a challenging walk up busy streets and past three rotaries or round-abouts. Every street crossing involved crossing an open drainage ditch. Now we know why Luis recommended using a TukTuk. Later we discovered the produce in the flatbed trucks on the waterfront street were often better quality than at the market.

TukTuk in Samana

Warning: Thar’ be technical boaters lingo ahead, Ye’ be warned, 😁. The anchorage across from the town of Samana is much deeper than our chart suggests, i.e. around 25-35 feet. Adding in our height above the water and the desired scope of 6:1, we needed to deploy over 160 feet of anchor rode. We do not like to anchor in water that deep as we currently only carry 90 feet of chain. This means that we had to let out ALL of our chain, and dip into the reserve rope attached to the chain for such occasions. All added together, we have 240 ft of available anchor rode. We prefer to use as little as possible, as it is a slow and dirty job to haul it all back in and flake it into the bow locker. In addition, the boat swings in a much wider circle. Side note: boy are we glad we have an electric anchor windlass now! We plan to replace the chain this summer and will have a much longer length in the near future.

Sunset over Samana anchorage from walking bridge

We spent many an afternoon or evening taking our dinghy to the nearby beach on Santa Barbara Island and walking across the bridge or up and down the many stairs on the island trails.

Samana from hiking trails on Santa Barbara Island

There were many stairs on the hilly island. This was a good workout!

Fabulous hiking trails, notice the runners behind Tom

There were also several flights of stairs to get to these gorgeous overlooks at either end of the walking bridge.

Sunset looking from Santa Barbara to mainland
Opposite view from mainland to Santa Barbara

One day we decided to move anchorages to the outer harbor so that we could desalinate water and fill our tank. This is much better for the watermaker if you do it in deep clear water, where there isn’t as much sediment to clog up the filters. We motored to Lovantado Island and stayed for the afternoon. There were plenty of tourists on the beaches and fishermen in the sea.

Small cruise ships come to visit Samana. Although the harbor is too small for them, they anchor near Lavantado island and utilize small excursion boats to bring passengers ashore. We saw a couple ships make port during our stay. There are many local boats that are used to bring tourists to see the whales in the winter season or to the National park just to the south. Of course there are also many popular tourist destinations on land as well. Like waterfalls, zip lines, tropical rainforests, shopping, etc.

Samana’s super small dinghy dock, shared with local tour boats

After two weeks visiting this fine port, we got the wandering itch again. A quick painless check out with the authorities and we were sailing on toward Luperon.


We sailed 138 miles in 24 hours. The first 7 hours we motor-sailed into head winds. Then it was smooth downwind sailing for the rest of the trip. Luperon is a completely enclosed harbor, protected on all sides by hills, with only a narrow, twisting entrance. Due to this security, many cruisers stop here to provision, wait for weather, or to stay for the hurricane season. It is surrounded by mangroves and the nearby mountains often disrupt those big storms.

Cruiser/Fisherman dock in Luperon

We were very happy to see Stephen and Janet on Little Sister again. We last spent time with them in Georgetown, Bahamas two years ago. The same time frame for our rendezvous here with Emily and Clark on Temptress. The latter have a YouTube channel to help new cruisers prepare and to help pay there way in the lifestyle. Check out #emilyandclarksadventure on YouTube. Stephen hired a taxi driver to take the four of us (Stephen & Janet, Tom & Anita) on a tour of nearby Puerto Plata. Our first stop was a cable car that smoothly lifts its passengers to Isabela de Torres mountain just south of the city. Here’s a clip of us passing a cable car as we ascended.

Cable Car to an overlook of Puerto Plata
In the cable car leaving the base
View of Puerto Plata from the top
Our tour guide for a short hike around the top; taught us how to wake a flower

Our next stop was a rum factory. My, they had a lot of rum to sell and darn we still have a lot on board! The tour was a winding path through a very dark warehouse. We had no idea we’d be sampling nine different varieties of rum. No, we do not remember the names of all nine. I’m very sure we should not have done this right before lunch!

Rum factory

Our lunch stop had gorgeous scenery! I believe I have pictures of this same island with a statue on it from a couple other visits to the DR. We flew in for a long weekend all-inclusive resort stay in September 2016 and took a cruise ship that stopped in Puerto Plata in December 2017.

The view at our lunch stop

Our next stop was for ice cream and a gander at Central Park and its surroundings. Then we had a tour of a chocolate factory. The free samples of brownies and hot chocolate had the inexorable effect of us each purchasing various chocolate treats to bring home. Then it was on to a cigar factory.

Cigar factory, rolls of tobacco in presses
The finished cigars waiting to be purchased or shipped

They also had a smoking lounge in this factory. However, none of us are smokers. That was the last stop on our tour apart from a quick stop in Luperon to pick up some local beer: Presidente makes a pretty good stout called Bohemia. Does anyone not understand why we nicknamed this our Vice tour?

Employed a local to paint on Lone Star

Stephen introduced us to a local man who was earning his living working on boats. We gladly hired Manuel for a week to sand and paint our shower and the inner cockpit. A few weeks later, he and a friend scrubbed the bottom of our boat. Tom had last scrubbed it in Puerto Rico. There are so many nutrients in the enclosed mangrove waters of Luperon weeds grow very fast! We make it a habit to scrub just before a passage to ensure our best speed through the water.

Crowded dinghy dock means climbing from boat to boat when we returned from town

UJAM’n sailed in to Luperon early one morning. We went ashore together to walk around town, get them a SIM card, and have lunch.

Movie night on Lone Star with Jeff and Marcia

We watched one of our favorite sailing movies, ‘Riddle of the Sands’ and had popcorn of course!

Anita decided to visit a Swedish trained chiropractor that several cruisers recommended. Hans was a TukTuk ride out of town. He uses massage and gentle adjustments. Really helped her knees, lower back, and mid-back. Best chiropractic experience ever! She’s tried maybe 30? The Dominican Republic as a whole is well known for medical tourism. Many folks fly from all over the world into the larger cities to have normally expensive procedures done here. We recommend you look into it. This is a very friendly and inexpensive place.

We booked another four person taxi tour to Puerto Plata with a slightly different agenda this time. This was a weekend day so more people around. While we waited for our turn on the cable car we enjoyed a local band.

Rake and scrape band at the cable car
Map of the hiking trails on Isabel de Torres mountain

This time we were all eager to hike the many trails at the top of the mountain. Some of the areas are so quiet and others filled with tropical birds and lovely views of flora and fauna. Real nice place to explore and a bit cooler than seaside.

Gorgeous scenery at the top
Walking the paths with Jeff and Marcia
Exploring a small cave
Yes, he went in using his cell phone light
Flowers and sunshine make this girl very happy
A lot of work went into creating these trails
Rest stop, the view from here is the highlighted photo at the top of this blog and here’s a video
There are two fish ponds in this park
A cool looking bridge that is a walking path
A view from the bridge

We asked our taxi driver to take us to a restaurant that he thought served good local food as we all love to try new things. Sadly, his first three choices were all closed on the weekends. We ended up at a cafeteria style place that did serve tasty local food, just not the atmosphere we were looking for.

Fort at Puerto Plata

Next we drove to the San Felipe Fort that guards the entrance to Puerto Plata harbor. We chose not to go inside the museum/fort, as time was too short. We wandered everywhere outside and enjoyed the view.

A statue of General Luperon at the fort in Puerto Plata
A shallow reef at the entrance to Puerto Plata, clip

Our last stop on the tour was to a large grocery store in the city. We all took the opportunity to restock on a few staples.

We found the fresh produce in Luperon to be plentiful and a great variety. Stephen brought us to a meat store to get smoked pork chops that were so delicious we went back several times! The prices here were so reasonable. This is a great place for cruisers to stock up. We ate out often as well! Their ‘plata de dia’; special of the day, was often only $3.00. We met a few cruisers here, especially when we attended a happy hour one evening at Wendy’s Bar. Great mojitos! It was a friendly crowd, and we exchanged lots of sea stories.

Leaving Luperon at sunrise

We enjoyed our month long stay in Luperon, DR. It flew by so fast! Before we knew it we were heading out of the harbor in tandem with UJAM’n on our way to the Bahamas. Farewell for now; we will return one day.

Offshore Passage to the Caribbean

Half moon rising at 22:30 our first night

The stars aligned, though the moon was waning, as Lone Star and crew were ready for a passage from Beaufort, NC to the US Virgin Islands. We left on a cold (36 degrees F) November morning the day before Thanksgiving, with a favorable weather window. Sadly, we missed out on Anita’s family’s annual zoom call and individual chats with Tom’s folks on this special holiday. We are so thankful for our family and friends that mentally support us on our chosen adventurous lifestyle on the sea. We are so grateful for our health and happiness at what we do. Most importantly, we’re very thankful we are finally ready to head south! Looking forward to more than 9 hours of daylight.

Crockpot beef stew for dinner

We were bundled up in many layers of clothes including hats, long johns, down vests, windproof layers, and the dreaded socks and shoes. For the first night we had to dress warmly indoors too!

Bundled up in the cold!

Unfortunately, we can’t run our diesel heater when under sail because the smoke stack blocks the boom from swinging. Well the boom can still swing, but the stack would lose in that battle and likely be swept overboard. The air temperature warmed to the low 60’s after passing the Gulf Stream our first night out.

First cold front approaching from the west

Our third day at sea we double-reefed the main in preparation for a cold front. This was a quick passing weather system with southwest winds before and favorable northwest winds on the backside. We experienced a short 29 knot gust in a rain squall. Really enjoyed the next day surfing down the long rolling seas and sailing on a broad reach. We had our best daily run of 167 nautical miles in a 24 hour period. This is an average of 7 knots.

Reaching along, very pleasant sunrise and sail

We quickly adjusted to our four hour watch system, often having meals together. Occasionally, one of us didn’t sleep well during their night time off-watch so might sleep through meal time the next day. We generally slept 6-7 hours in a 24 hour period, though not all at once due to the watch system. Dishes were done only once a day but rarely by the Captain. This practice is occasionally broken.

Captain Tom doing the dishes, note the wide stance

Soon the wind settled to 5 knots or less. We sail beautifully in 10 knots, not so well in 5. It’s too early in the passage to burn up our limited fuel supply. So we took this opportunity to drift around and do a bit of boat maintenance.

When it’s this calm there is time for rest and…
… maintenance, replaced a discharge pump

The maintenance job on the head took two and a half hours. Tom will rebuild the pump. He needs to replace a very small bearing and some seals. Thankfully these are cheap parts, no need to buy the whole expensive thing. Sorry for the disgusting work picture, but such is life during maintenance.

Captain doing his daily deck check and rig inspection

We also reorganized things that shifted in heavier seas. Here’s an unusual thing to do in a calm: I gave Tom a haircut before he grabbed a hot shower.

Sunset, rain showers approaching

On our sixth day we experienced a second cold front. The morning sunrise above was beautiful. This cold front had mild winds and a full day of steady rain. This storm was a slow mover, in fact we sailed south to get out of it and it meandered east.

Sailing toward a squally weather trough

To get to the Caribbean this year one needs to sail through a zone with variable weather conditions before reaching the steadier and predictable easterly trade winds. Luckily during our passage there were squalls with wind and rain, but no convection (lightening and thunder).

Land ho!!

There be land on this ocean. It’s the Virgin Islands.

Hello Virgin Islands

We experienced three mild weather systems in our 1320 mile, 11 day and 4 hour passage with a period of calm after each one. We used about 18 gallons of fuel and motored for 31 hours.

The track of our offshore passage
Sunset over St Thomas, moored in St John

Goodbye cold winter, hello 11 hours of daylight and an 80 degree tropical winter!

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Does anyone recognize this 1980’s song by The Clash? The line: if I stay there will be trouble, if I go it will be double, may be particularly poignant for us this month.

It’s November, the clocks have been turned back, daylight is diminishing, cooler weather is here. Yikes, we need to escape winter! Should we stay in Hampton, VA to wait for the next offshore weather window to the USVI or just go a bit south around Cape Hatteras? Or should we go down the ICW to Beaufort, NC to get warmer weather and wait for the next weather window?

Can’t leave without a trip to the Bakery for a couple cinnamon buns, and one Boston cream donut. All those little ones were free, honest!

Our friends on Wild Iris and U’Jamin picked November 8th as their weather window to head offshore for the Caribbean. They left from Deltaville, VA; the former heading for Dutch Ste Maarten, the latter for Puerto Rico. A cold front had just blasted through for days and the seas were higher than we wanted, plus the forecast was for multiple days of light or no wind, and some south winds. Not our kind of window, but we were really bummed to give it a pass. Note: both boats arrived safely at their destinations after 11+ days at sea.

Go outside around Hatteras

We saw an opportunity to go offshore 240 miles to Beaufort, NC by leaving the following morning. We had a prediction of a whole day of pretty good winds, then light winds for 12-24 hours, then building winds from the south. We hoped to get around Cape Hatteras before the wind died, motor around the next corner, then use those south winds to sail into Beaufort.

Becalmed near Oregon Inlet

Five and a half hours out of Hampton, we had exited the Chesapeake. It’s 8:30 at night. Tom had just settled into the bunk for a rest. Anita was contemplating setting sails. The engine oil alarm blipped, then beeped. Anita immediately shut it down and started raising sails. Tom took a peak in the engine room and saw black engine oil in the bilge. The bottom of the oil pan was wet and slippery. He turned the automatic bilge switch off, so we don’t accidentally discharge this small amount of oil. Then Tom helped finish raising the sails and heading south. Tom wondered aloud if we should head back to Hampton, but the wind was dead against us for that scenario. We sailed 104 miles in the first 24 hours, but we’d lost the wind about 12 miles south of Oregon Inlet.

The afternoon of our second day at sea, Tom called the Coast Guard to advise them of our non-emergency predicament, becalmed near Oregon Inlet with a disabled engine. They commented that they could assist with arranging a tow if required. We were still hopeful the wind would fill in overnight to get us around the cape. It didn’t.

Sipping my morning coffee and watching Dolphin frolic in the fog off Oregon Inlet


Due to the expected south east winds, we decided that it would be unsafe to continue to try to round Diamond Shoals at Cape Hatteras. For the first time in 43 years of ocean sailing, we called for a tow. We also want the help of a mechanic, not something we do very often as Tom is very handy mechanically.

Starting the tow, we centered the boom right after this picture was taken

Anita was hand steering to keep Lone Star centered behind the tow boat.

Oregon Inlet is a massive sand bar with 65’ bridge clearance, we need 55’

The breaking surf heading in the inlet was nearly a solid line. Our Sea Tow captain Stuart, at one time informed the coast guard via VHF that he may need them to take us through the surf and under the highway bridge where he would pick up the tow. However, Stuart persevered and we made it through. As we were driving just 100 feet off a beach, his comment over VHF, “My pits are dripping (sweat) to my waist,” made me laugh and broke my tension and the strong grip I had on the steering wheel.

Quick video clip right after the worst part

Stuart switched to a working VHF channel after the bridge. In the next 2 hours of this tow, he provided an awesome tour of our surroundings. The first tidbit of news is that the rusty metal bits of the old bridge that was being deconstructed and removed was dumped in the exact location he picked us up. Next was how the islands on either side of this narrow channel were created by dredge spoils. Some of these man made islands were 20 feet high covered with flora and fauna and a home for multiple species of wildlife. There were a few more stories, you get the picture.

Safely docked in Manteo on Roanoke Island, Sir Walter Raleigh ship replica and Lost Colony museum across the channel

Having never experienced a tow before, I was very impressed by the professionalism and helpfulness of both the Coast Guard to engage a tow and the Sea Tow Captain who arranged the Marina dock and provided recommendations for a mechanic. A few days later, we received another big dose of southern hospitality when our Tow Captain brought us a couple Carolina barbecue dinners from a local fund raiser on Sunday. Pulled pork, crispy fried chicken wings, cole slaw, baked beans and a dinner roll. Delicious!

Track of Lone Star on this passage, Beaufort, NC is at the southern tip of this map

We arrived in Manteo on Thursday, Veterans Day. The earliest we could schedule a mechanic was the following Monday. That gave us time to hike, explore the town, do laundry, and catch up on computer logging and blogging 😁.

Fabulous miles of boardwalks around Manteo

Tom had purchased a new oil pan, gasket and hardware this summer as he noticed some corrosion in the area. We engaged a mechanic and helper to lift the engine and replace the oil pan. There was no proof this was the source of the oil leak, just a strong suspicion. Raising the engine off its mounts then tipping it to one side allowed easier access to the oil pan. There were 21 fasteners and a few were rusty and hard to remove. It took the mechanics 3 hours to remove the old oil pan.

Surprise! The oil pan is still half full

After lunch, they installed the new oil pan, remounted the engine and hooked everything back up, topped up engine oil and coolant, primed the filters, then started her up. Uh oh, she’s squirting clean engine oil from a high pressure metal tube that wraps around the back of the engine. We immediately ordered the new part and requested overnight shipping.

The leaky part!

Go inside

Two days later, the new part was installed. The engine runs with no leaks, although shifting into reverse is a little difficult. We elected to continue our journey south via the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). Winds were too strong and from the wrong direction to go south and west through Pamlico sound, so we went north, west, then south. We left Manteo early Thursday morning, a week after we arrived.

Manteo Town dock, playground, and shopping

We had a pretty tough first day of ICW traveling. There is a super shallow channel leaving Manteo, Anita remembered going aground briefly here 3 years ago. There were more crab pots on this northwest stretch than Casco Bay Maine. The crab pots plagued us all the way to the Alligator river entrance. Many were small, dark in color and hard to spot. Thankfully, we didn’t hit any. Just lots of hand steering to avoid them all. We were definitely making a snake wake, not something I’m proud of. Next we had to motor-sail all the way south directly into the wind in the Alligator river. However, on the positive side; we are 41 miles closer to Beaufort, NC. We made it to our chosen destination for the night. The anchor was down just after sunset. We saw a mini 🌈 as we entered the harbor.

Enjoying the autumn colors in the Alligator-Pungo river canal

The next day was very close to ideal conditions. We raised the jib right after the anchor. In the less sheltered area of the canal it gave us an added 1-2 knots of boat speed; 5-7 knots is acceptable.

It was actually a very windy day, not in the canal.

Double Trouble

Beautiful sailing conditions continued past Bellehaven, crossing the Pamlico river, and south down Goose Creek, 49 more miles done. As we turned upwind to drop the mainsail in our chosen Gale Creek anchorage, the engine was revving, but we had no forward momentum? “Tom, drop the anchor now, no propellor or forward thrust from engine!” He lowered the anchor, then finished the mainsail. Turns out the transmission cable broke. It was bent by the mechanic stepping on it. Bending it back only works for a little while. Tom was up until 1AM replacing that cable. Yes, we had a spare on board.

Sailing in Pamlico Sound to Oriental, NC

The next day we enjoyed another beautiful 19 mile sail to Oriental. We assembled our Pota-bote dinghy and went ashore to walk around and shop in the Provision Company. Then stopped for refreshments at the coffee shop.

Anchored in Oriental

Our final 21 miles to Beaufort was under motor. Light to no winds and mostly through narrow bodies of water. We chose a more direct route this time through Town creek to Taylor creek rather than around Radio Island. Nice shortcut, much less traffic too. We had scheduled appointments for a drive through COVID test, required for USVI entrance. So soon we were on shore calling Old Town Taxi and on our way to Walgreens and Lidl for our final stock up.

Anchored in Beaufort, NC, final stock up done

We Should Go

The temperature was 39 this morning, November 23rd and predicted 33 on the 24th. We should go south. The weather apps we use and our weather router agree there is a good weather window to head for the USVI starting tomorrow morning. We should be warmer as soon as we cross the Gulf Stream. We and Lone Star are ready for a passage to escape winter and enjoy the Caribbean this season. Please no more trouble. As you can see like the ocean, we roll with whatever comes our way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heading South for our Fourth Winter Season

Above picture: Requisite shot of Race Rock as we leave home waters heading south

While making preparations to sail south for the winter we were delayed by an international shipment of our new Aquanaut Dinghy. It was very disappointing to finally have the dinghy arrive, unboxed and damaged. We can’t even assemble it to see what it looks like. Oh well, we’ll take it with us and have replacement parts sent to Hampton, VA.

Bent poles, bolts, washers, and pins for new Aquanaut Dinghy

Passage: Groton to Hampton

We finally set sail from Groton on September 29th. So much fun to have Alex, Jenna and Nani motor with us to the club fuel dock for final fuel and water top up. We almost sailed away with Nani. She loves the boat and wanted to come back aboard.

Saying goodbye for our fourth winter – we miss you

Our weather window suggested an easy run straight to Hampton, Virginia. So we headed for Montauk, Long Island then south, south west. We keep four hour watches on Lone Star. We quickly settled into the routine and rhythm of life at sea.

Sunset at sea, peaceful and pleasant sailing

We lost all wind for our final day, so motored quite a bit. This was a 357 mile journey that took 66 hours. We had the engine on for 31 hours. Yeah, it’s warmer in Hampton than it was in Connecticut!


As we approached the north anchorage near Hampton town dock, we both commented that the only other anchored boat looked like an old Prout Snow Goose 34, like our first cruising boat.

Our first cruising boat in 1987

We assembled our Porta Bote dinghy and rode around her and discovered it was our exact boat that we sold in 1992. We could see many of the changes we made to her still there. Unfortunately, no one was aboard. Wow! So cool to see her again. Looks like she has some nice upgrades, like a cockpit awning, and painted coach roof. Not bad for a 1976 built boat.

Finding her anchored in Hampton, VA

We verified the shipping address here, ordered some parts and sailed north to Deltaville, VA to meet up with cruising friends. We enjoyed several cookouts and musical jam sessions. We met Steve who’s a really good flute player. It’s always good to meet new and old cruising friends.

Hampton at sunset

After a trip to a local clinic, it was suggested that Anita get to an Orthopedic Hand Surgeon as she may have a ruptured tendon in the palm of her right hand. After a week of fun, we sailed back to Hampton to be closer to the specialist. Uber rides are plentiful and reasonably priced here. Thankfully, this was the wrong diagnosis. Trigger finger and a tiny cyst were treated with a cortisone shot. Pain was gone in another day. Anita started exercises to improve dexterity and hopefully avoid future surgery.

Lone Star in Hampton with light air roller-furl sail

This is a fun time to be in Hampton: two organizations have Caribbean rallies that depart from here. We are members of the Salty Dawg Group, but have not yet joined a rally.

Gorgeous Hammerhead trimaran in Salty Dawg rally to Antigua


One breezy afternoon, we were on shore. Tom stopped to chat with the crew on Flying Fish, the trimaran pictured above. Someone ran to their dinghy announcing, “my boat is dragging anchor.” Anita had just entered our dinghy, looked up and saw that Nero was dragging into Lone Star. Oh no!! “Tom, come quick!” By the time we arrived on Lone Star, Nero was across all three bows and we were dragging anchor too with the added weight of a big monohull. Soon we were pinned to dock pilings and tangling with an abandoned power boat in the first slip. We could not start our engine without bleeding the air from the lines. So we concentrated on raising our anchor; which of course had a jam, and fending off and giving dock lines to cruisers who were assisting via dinghies. Several dinghies pushed Nero most of the way off our bridle line. In order to get them off the final starboard line, we pulled the pin attached to Lone Star. Unfortunately, Anita called out as soon as it was free, Nero promptly spun up their propellor in the dropping line. Within a minute the captain of Nero was in the water in full wetsuit and cut the bridle line from the propellor. Then they quickly motored away and anchored. Four dinghies surrounded us and towed us to a safe anchoring spot and we dropped anchor as well. Then we bled the air out of the engine fuel line, started it, and set the anchor properly. I counted eight dinghies assisting us. What a great community of cruisers! We spoke with Nero’s owner twice, he felt responsible. He has a quarter sized divot where our bowsprit hit him. We have scrapes and scratches and a bit of damage to the Wind Pilot we think. Nothing major, phew.

View of the town dinghy dock from Lone Star’s stern

Tom has been chasing the source of the engine air leak for about six months. If the engine sits cold for a while it won’t start because of fuel starvation. He completely changed the housing of the secondary fuel filter. He also recently tightened one of the bleed screws above that filter. Our fingers are crossed that the fuel system air leak is fixed now.

Hampton anchorage, Lone Star just left of center

We missed the sailing window that the Salty Dawg boats left in during the last weekend in October. We needed to wait for one more vital package: our replacement Caribbean chart chip. The defective chip was delivered a week before. It took a while to convince C-Map to replace it. We hope to head to the USVI this winter with planned stops in Puerto Rico, perhaps the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.

So we wait for a weather window and continue to ready the boat for the next passage.

Oh Lord, what a passage!

We left Beaufort, NC on Friday, November 20 just before noon. Superstitious sailors say never begin a passage on a Friday. There may be some merit to this! We started out with very light winds and expected we might need to motor for most of the first 24 hours.

Ready to leave Beaufort from fuel dock

Less than 11 hours into the passage we were slowly drifting north in the Gulf Stream; no wind and no engine. Around 10:30PM the engine suddenly slowed, then stopped. Tom could find nothing wrong in the engine room and the motor ran fine, though it stopped immediately when put in gear. Anita thought the steering was also sluggish. We learned in the morning a rugged fishing net was wrapped around the propellor and rudder. Tom donned a wet suit and used an air tank (left on deck) with a long hose. He tied a rope around his waist tied a knife to his wrist and gripped it as he lowered himself into the warm Gulf Stream water. Anita laid on the aft deck (alternately praying and crying) and watched the boat bash up and down 1-2 feet while Tom worked to cut away the net and ropes for about 35-40 minutes. Sorry no pictures or video of this harrowing experience, focused on praying for a successful outcome. Tom said his hand hurt for two days after; from gripping the propeller shaft so hard to hold himself in place.

Captain Tom to the rescue, he deserves a rest!

At 9:30AM we were once again under power motoring SE across the Gulf Stream. The wind was still less than 5 knots. Once across the stream we finally had a bit of sailing off the wind. By the next morning we had 4-6 foot seas from several directions and gusty winds in squalls. Thankfully, thunderstorms stayed distant. Tom experienced some heavy rain on his watch.

Squally weather

On Anita’s mid-day watch the weather changed dramatically from squalls in the distance to beautiful clear sunny skies.

Seas calming, no rain over us
Same watch, just two hours later

The wind calmed enough that we turned on the engine to charge and make hot water for showers. Uh oh, the sea water cooling alarm won’t shut off. We drifted around a bit while Tom dove in the engine room and eventually pulled out the raw water pump and changed the okay looking impeller. It worked, but he’s not sure that was the problem. We both enjoyed some moonlit watches.

Moon was a bit more than half and waxing

The cold front that passed by us several days earlier was still blowing from the North. As seas had not subsided we elected to avoid Whale Cay Cut and chose wider northeast exposed Man of War Cut instead. To avoid a night time entry we hove-to overnight, drifting at 1-2 knots rather than actively sailing. The constant motion and dropping off the waves slowed, but never stopped. It was very hard to sleep or even rest. I kept thinking some people pay for amusement rides like this. Sorry to say, I was not amused. This is the third time we had to deliberately slow down; sure hope family members that are watching our track are not worried about us. Despite these pauses in our progress we made the passage in less than five days. We used the engine for 26 hours and were more or less adrift for nearly 24 hours. The last day and a half we sailed under jib alone due to a lot of wind and the need to slow down and arrive during daylight.

Followed small freighter into Man of War Cut

We arrived in Marsh Harbor before noon. There are at least 30 wrecked boats strewn about the harbor left by Catagony 5 hurricane Dorian more than two years ago. Some floating, some on shore. We hear lots of generators on shore which means power is not yet restored to all areas of the shoreline. The best cell service we could obtain via T-Mobile high speed international on BTC towers was 3G. There are no landline phones working here.

BTC tower is half normal height

First we worked on completing our health visas. Thanks Kimberly for stepping in to help when we had no data service upon arrival. We eventually learned T-Mobile had a block on our account even though they sold us a high-rate International plan. The folks managing the Health Visa system were very helpful and friendly. We were originally denied because the lab report needed to be attached not a picture of the email saying we had a negative COVID test result. Phew, that’s a relief!

Government dock on left, floating wrecks

We tried all afternoon to locate Customs and Immigration. We were finally successful the next morning after calling Nassau. They told us to go to Government Dock. Customs officials confirmed they do NOT have a phone in their office trailer. We were processed by Immigration in the parking lot outside the Customs trailer.

Customs office on Government Dock in Marsh Harbor

A short walk into the commercial district after checking in showed us the Bahamians are hard at work restoring power and property in Marsh Harbor. Maxwell’s Market is huge and well stocked so food is readily available here.

Power lines and construction crew

Not all passages are easy. Cruisers like us do not like to sail with a schedule. We had to arrive within 5 days due to Bahamas COVID-19 protocols. Thank you Lord for answering my many prayers on this challenging passage from Beaufort, NC to the northern Bahamas. We have arrived safely and we are so thankful and happy to be wintering in the warm, beautiful and friendly Bahamas.

Next up cruising the Abacos.

Passage South to Hampton, Virginia

Looking back at the nearly empty docks as we leave

We left Groton, CT on Monday afternoon, October 19. This was later than we planned for many reasons. In a nutshell: the weather, boat and crew were not ready. The cooler autumn weather encouraged us to set our sights on a more southern destination, Hampton VA; rather than our normal Delaware Bay. We hope to bypass the longer inland sailing route, ie. up the Delaware and down the Chesapeake.

Nearly empty mooring field as well

We have had more than our fair share of southerly winds lately, some of them quite strong. So as soon as the forecast did not include winds from where we were trying to go for a couple days; it was time to go! This year that meant leaving with very light winds.

Sunrise at sea
Really calm winds and seas

We used our normal four hour watch system around the clock. Thankfully, we both were able to rest/sleep well on our off-watches. No on-deck drills to disturb our rest.

Sunset at sea

When we entered the mouth of Chesapeake Bay near dawn on the third day, we had approximately 20 miles to go. Unfortunately we faced a few challenges: fog, low fuel in the two main tanks, very light wind and a contrary current for at least an hour. Luckily we have radar, spare cans of diesel, and patience. Such is the life of a sailor.

Refueling at sea

We arrived in Hampton, VA after a 69 hour 360 mile ocean passage south. Yes, our average speed when motoring is only 5 knots, so sad. 61 hours of motoring and a few hours here and there of peaceful sailing. Wow, it’s quiet when we turn off the engine. It’s a lot warmer here; 80’s rather than 50’s for a high. Yeah, back to shorts and tees.

At anchor in Hampton, VA by the chiming clock

We added a Garmin InReach Mini to Lone Star this season. Sorry, we choose to share the link with only close friends and family. No need to let the whole world know where we are. It sure added a new level of fun, safety and peace of mind to the passage.

InReach track for this passage

Next we need to decide if we will motor down the ICW or sail around Cape Hateras? Destination: Beaufort, NC. Not yet sure where we will go after that?

Ocean Passage Georgetown Bahamas to Groton Connecticut

Spring 2020

We are so thankful to have been allowed to shelter in place in the anchorages surrounding Georgetown on Great Exuma in the Bahamas. Lone Star was our quiet refuge during the first three months of the global pandemic known as COVID-19. As of this writing the island of Great Exuma was still blessedly free of this flu. We were in no hurry to head home where the virus was prevalent. However, hurricane season was approaching and early this year.

Ahh the view!! Ruins Bay Anchorage, Crab Cay

We consulted with Chris Parker at Marine Weather Center and twice abandoned a planned departure. It was quite ironic that we left Georgetown when there was a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico, a stalled ridge with severe thunderstorms off Cape Hatteras, and the potential for another tropical depression near Bermuda. What? Why? Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem.

Life boat and jacklines

Final preparations for an extended ocean passage on Lone Star include:

  • Bring Portland Pudgy on deck and rig as life boat, add gear bags, and cover
  • Top off diesel tanks and two gerry cans, secure in port cockpit
  • Fill two gerry cans of water and secure in port cockpit
  • Rig jacklines for safety harness tethers
  • Charge all batteries for safety and navigation equipment
  • Secure portable electronics in floating bag
  • File a float plan and share with emergency contacts
  • Last run to grocery store to top off on fresh food (as we have a freezer it is pre-stocked with vacuum bagged homemade meals well in advance)
  • Send out family email with contact info
Sunrise at sea

Tom is a HAM radio enthusiast. Radio schedules determine our watch system on Lone Star. With just two of us on this passage we prefer four hour watches. As many boats travel in late spring to leave the hurricane belt, the radio nets were very active. Tom is a net relay several times a day now and he enjoys speaking with and assisting boaters.

The front mentioned below as seen at sea

On this passage we checked in with several nets twice a day so our family could manually track our progress. Our son, Alex did a wonderful job keeping our group of family and friends well informed via a group email. He provided handmade charts of our progress and discussed the weather where we were. We even spoke with Alex via a phone patch one morning using our ham radio and KPK. Thanks Glenn!

Alex’s plot of our progress

From Georgetown we headed north between Cat Island and Eleuthera. Then straight north until we swung a bit west to pick up the Gulf Stream just south of Cape Hatteras. The weather was cloudy the first few days, but the winds were behind the beam so very easy sailing.

Weather report provided by Alex

The last 50 miles proved to be the most challenging of the trip. Just after we left the Gulf Stream to head straight north for Montauk, the fog rolled in and the wind became very light. In the early morning hours, we were motor-sailing when multiple engine alarms sounded: charging and over-heating. The alternator belt was missing. After installing a new one, Tom found the original in the bilge and surprisingly in tact. When the engine was turned on again, it promptly threw off the belt again. Tom quickly found that the water pump had seized up. Hmm, no spare on board, so we are now an engineless sailboat. We can do this! We can make it home under sail. It required patience and perseverance, dealing with light shifting winds and contrary currents. As the ocean water in New England is cold, Tom determined we could use the engine for the 10 minutes it took to drive into the harbor. We arrived in our home port just before sunrise on Saturday, June 13. Yep we were tired, happy and satisfied that we had made it in on our own. No rest for the weary however, as it’s a summer weekend and boats were bustling by our mooring all day.

Arriving before sunrise

Statistics for the Passage

We sailed 1200 miles from Georgetown in the Exuma chain of Bahamian islands; to Groton CT. We were at sea for eight and a half days. We ran the engine for only 19.25 hours, which consumed approximately 11.5 gallons of fuel. Each day had more and more daylight; 13.5 hours to start and 15 hours nearer our destination. On our fastest day in the Gulf Stream we did 178 miles.