Monday, 29 August 2016

SO much to explore - Washington DC, Annapolis…NEW YORK…Long island…Staten Island .

On the NE coast via inland waterways- there’s SO much- Washington DC, Annapolis…NEW YORK…Long island…Staten Island - to explore.

Washington here we come ….    US east coast is SO different from OZ east coast sailing on the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) & bridges.   Our mast is 72’ but mates said “we can go up the Potomac river, under the Wilson Bridge, to Washington DC if we ring the bridge operator “. Guess what he opened the main city bridge at 2 am & under we went to anchor under Obama’s helicopter route to the Pentagon!!  Our adrenaline pumped, it’s impossible to judge the height from the helm or deck!!

DC is such a cultural haven of modern art, big politics and founding history - 2 weeks went really fast. Everyday we dinghed to the Capital Yacht Club for tips, cold drinks & met friendly liveonboards. 

We'd walk 4 blocks to The Mall -the rectangle of Smithsonian museums, The Capital/Congress, Art Museums and Lincoln & Luther King sculptures on the lake – all free entry.

At the new Amerindians Museum, Hawaiian week we loved the live music performers, women canoe sailors recounting their journeys in Hawaiian Islands, regional food, artifacts of indigenous settlers- and story of the 19c US takeover of Queen Liliuokalani’s Kingdom.

We ate fresh crab legs then strolled in the summer heat around the lake, to pay our respects to Lincoln and King as leaders in changing their nation. 

Sitting on the steps of the 1960’s civil rights speeches looking ahead at The Jefferson Monument- sent shivers up our spines.  

The Memorial Day party wasn’t what we expected. The noise of the bikies Mall ride of 1000 Harley's all weekend left us deaf & bemused. The street parade of US history was more entertaining.

The stunning Beaux Arts Gallery, collection of impressionist painters, with no crowds was moving. 

The Hirshhorn gallery & garden  sculptures of US is designed to evoke history, struggles and freedom.

 As diehard West Wing fans we too visited the Capital & Whitehouse to stare past security fences to imagine the Oval room antics.

Next stop was Annapolis MD a charming harbor…. WE waved the bridge operator goodbye, to motor 30 miles up the Chesapeake River, famous for Indian lands, British battles and crabs.  

On entering we picked up a buoy 50ft from the town- damn good- $35 a night showers & laundry in the heart of this 17C village.  

Leslie & Terry our cruising friends from the Bahamas welcomed, showed us town & took us for best crab cake lunch at Middleton's tavern & on a terrific fun weekend cruise to St Michaels Annual Boat Festival across the bay.  

We’ve never seen a display of period boats on water. From restored 1800’s oyster boats to 1970s classic motor cruisers in a small village- have to admire those early fishing & sailing pioneers eh.

A surprise was meeting Gwen & Guillaume of Slow Waltz here , mates of good friends at a great old bar enjoying tales of our Caribbean cruising, tasting local brews & Maine mussels.

Again we waved goodbye to begin our first canal trip at 7.15am motoring the C&D canal.   We got to see a working Tallship Kamar Nykel in full rig sails pass us. This canal is 12m long  full of barges & 6 bridges, to arrive at the end by 1.30 pm. Then!! A VHF radio gale-force wind warning stopped us, quickly anchoring on the Delaware river in rain, thunder & 25kt. Yep we stayed the night to rest before the Atlantic Ocean.

Grand Victorian Mansions line the Cape May coast New Jersey our next stop at a B&B historic destination are grant and magnificent.

WE took our usual ‘step -go ashore, walk the town & follow the crowd - Can we come in? 
It’s the Beer festival, is it dress up?  Gwen & Guillaume arrived so we joined them for dinner .

WE have to say WE Enjoy and Revel
in being part of the boating community:
Everyone always waves, gives helpful tips & support, has a thirst for sunset drinks, welcomes us as friends and are open to adventures with all kinds of people Like & NOT like US!!!  WE like to reciprocate too! Thanks to our cruising mates!

Next morning we left to sail overnight behind Slow Waltz on the Atlantic for 110 nms, in 12-15knts on a reach, to make the sth entry into Sandy Hook, New York state at sunrise, our first sight was barges in the NY harbor.

Life’s IS exhilarating seeing NYC skyline in the horizon … but too expensive to visit at $250 US a night in a marina. Mates gave us tips to get a mooring at Great Kills Harbor, Staten Island (a train/ferry ride to NYC). Yeah we lucked it!  In time for Sheryle & Phil’s long-awaited arrival to celebrate her 60th birthday & our cruising Pinnacle for 2 wks. Love it when a plan comes together! (Even with Laryngitis). 

Let our holiday of NYC fun begin!!  We had a great plan- on July 11th Bday when the sun’s up- cruise up to the Statue of Liberty!  We floated with fishing charters & ferries in front of her. It’s a tricky tidal passage the East river, Manhattan which Bruce handled brilliantly!!!!!!  

Steering thru the currents from Battery Point to Governor’s Island, under Brooklyn & Wilson Bridges, past United Nations Bldg., Queens and the infamous Ricker Island (massive prison). WE High 5’d it thru scary Hells Gate in an ebb tide which wasn’t churning at all.

Sunny skies above, 5 hrs later we turned into Long Island Sound to arrive at Port Washington in time for our party  - champers, AHOY  “pin the spout on a whale” & Shez’s Birthday French Bistro surprise.
 Oh what a Night…

The LIRRail is 45 mins to Penn stn., plus our NYCgo pass gave us lots of choices (& Lorna’s must see tips).  We stayed away from Time SQ .  At the MET cabaret fundraiser- off Broadway performers sang moving personal tributes to Orlando victims.
The Highline walk in 90f heat was v.relaxing above street level. The Guggenheim is fantastic yet we liked the new Whitney Gallery 5 levels of glassed light rooms filled with mod art statements.

Gina wanted to follow the tracks of Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe’s NY lives in the 70’s & their bohemaina musical & artistic roots, so we went to iconic places like John& Yoko’s Dakota Bldg, Hotel Chelsea & El Quiljote bar of poets & Woodstock musicians fame.   

Café Wha where Hendrix songs are still played & the Decker bldg. Warhol’s Factory studio. Long live the 70’s revival!

A big wave goodbye, to Sheryle & Phil on the water taxi after a hoot of a special holiday together!

Next week our NW friends Roni & James came on board for a week, giving us heaps of cheek, sailing the Long Island Sound & visiting her hometown of Connecticut. It’s wonderful to cruise with sailors who know the lands.  

They took us to storybook Thimble Islands with colonial homes on rocky treed islets to anchor in this magic place and to visit their friends who run a swish B&B overlooking the water.  OMG James also helped work on the Heads(loo)- yes true mates.

We drove together to Mystic Seaport an authentic historic village boat museum and spent the day having loads of fun & instructions on learning how to make barrels, be rescued by a life rope, rope making and working on oyster boats. Sadly we said our goodbyes too soon til we meet again.

All season we planned to reach Sag Harbour to catch up with oz mates Maryvonne & Shane who live on Gem and are captain/host on Tabula Rasa, a 65ft cruiser.

What a chance to see the Hampton villages, homes of rich & famous americans and enjoy their local vibe.

They really looked after us! -making us welcome on a safe mooring & took us on a great tour of THE HAMPTON villages “Portsea on steroids “, telling us true stories of residents like Jimmy Buffet, Calvin Klein, J Lo & a night at a beach fire with local boaters to play. 

We’re SO jealous, they’ve discovered the best of worlds, sailing & working & playing hard on both boats between Sag & Florida 6 mths yr. round!! Now with Miss Rigby as crew too!

We wanted to stay longer BUT our decision to sell WYUNA this season means  it’s time to head Sth again, (to get ready for Annapolis Boat Show- go to Catamaran Company Yacht Sales and add Wyuna  -For Sale).  

Now we’re are back in Great Kills Harbour and really hoped get together with Glenda & Mark (Oz/NY’rs) old friends.  Hurray yesterday we had  a special Sunday lunch on board, relaxing & exchanging jokes of OZ vs US ways, (like we say root & they say raht – spelt route), dilemmas of our 60,s, debating the state of our nations & simply enjoying our friendship.

YES it’s true 5 yrs of sailing adventures in paradise & our last HaRa on Wyuna is coming near, we can’t wait to sail overnight to Cape May this week, then inland to Annapolis by 1 October.

We,ll have to take it from there, having applied for a visa extension our dates are in THE  air.  

We will let you know by FB & email our plans to come home to our families and mates!!


Gina & Brucee xo

Monday, 30 May 2016

WYUNA sailing north on the Atlantic, US east coast on pirate and battle routes …… 2016

Our long 1st overnight-er was spent hand helming from Freeport, Bahamas to ST Augustine, Florida (the auto-helm stopped damn). Yes we were very relieved to arrive in the harbor, met by a thunderstorm, in our home away from home.  A rest up and up the river we docked for all of April to give WYUNA a new rig, polish, spring clean and do her annual services at the marine center.

Our friends Annie & Daryl welcomed us of NO Rehearsal. They live on board preparing for their pacific crossing – thanks to them we had get togethers at day’s end, a glass and home cooked cockpit dinners helped us unwind, plan our route and enjoy the jokes and camaraderie of workers on land.
For fun we had a big night out seeing Chicago & Earth Wind & Fire in a brilliant array of percussion music and both bands playing " if you leave me now", riveted to our basketball stadium seats.

We needed sail mates to join us to make it offshore on 17 April, and were very glad to see Robbi & Peter arrive!
(Phew no more work for a while).

Wyuna was ready to go north on the east coast, a Spanish pirate route ,with a good breeze & 4 of us on board cruising offshore for 2 weeks.

First to Amelie island, an old British town where we walked our legs off to the marshlands of national parks looking for REAL alligators.WE luckily bumped into a wildlife photographer who seeing how interested we were
showed us how to look for a rare sighting of mum moving her 7 babies downstream!

In these old coastal southern towns- historic parks are framed by leafed canopies of old oaks & Spanish moss dangling, picturesque and shaded places. We saw many colonial timber mansions of Gone with the Wind fame here. How wealthy were some British colonial settlers!

Every town has generations of families, who are happy to chat, give directions, and have a laugh -where y’all from? Even offered to buy us lunch if we bought a house from a realty man.  A few streets back live many black families who live in small cottages and like to ride bikes, sing and say Welcome, enjoy de ya stay here.

Our full day sail in 15knts was a hoot to Brunswick Landing, Georgia marina. It''s a yachtees haven, and a huge surprise was seeing friends Linda & John, and catching up at potluck dinners -byo own pot to share, with Liam & Annie from oz who have been cruising, living on board over 10yrs.
Many people live on boats here and the club has FREE beer, bikes to ride, and endless social nights for everyone - and transients like us a welcomed to join in. Gr8t can this happen in Melbourne town?

Happy sailors make for a great day on board. We  sailed on to Salepo sound, stopping overnight in inland waterways of peaceful marshlands and rivers to rest and be merry. Frogs and shrimp noises went all night long.  Peaceful on the deck at dinner, we all slept well with no other boats here.
Shrimp boats are everywhere on the 
Atlantic ocean and inlets so we are always on watch, so fresh shrimp & grits are a tasty and must treat in seaside restaurants.

Harbour entrances can be 10 miles into an anchorage. (Active Captain app is gr8t). Docking on City Dock at the Savannah Historic Area was brilliant- rows of old cotton houses, now bars, cobblestone waterfronts with market sellers, woman making swamp baskets. A stunning town of ornate houses and parks to soak up the beautiful neighborhoods, ice creams and arts designs. Yes most city's have municipal run marinas for short and long stays.

One day we visited the indigenous Gullah peoples crab & oyster farm closed in the 50's/museum in the swampland in their town to hear about the early days of women processing & men fishing.  Old hand built wooden boats and basic tools and processing made for a hard days work for women and men making a living. A strong community still runs this and live here.

We had a gorgeous night out together dining at Victor’s restaurant in a 17c terrace, next to a 17c War of Independence hand drawn Map, eating southern treats of fried green tomatoes, enchanted more than intoxicated. Thanks to Robbi & Peter’s generosity of treating us before leaving us! Yes our 2 weeks flew by and we've had a terrific time and we missed them, they drove in 1 day and we sailed on to Charleston in 3 days- the slow way.

Going 2 up on the leg to Charleston we learnt to anchor in silt & mud at Ediston river, avoid USA Navy Aircraft Carriers at sea, and look out for grey bottle-nosed dolphins to enjoy them playing on the bow.

Charleston is renowned for southern hospitality and a GRAND history where plantation owners built antebellum style mansions - living privileged lives. A tour of Calhoun Mansion is a fine example, now owned by a DC international Lawyer and collector, it’s his other home! The markets and art galleries are of southern crafts- we drank craft amber beers and ate delicious crab cakes and Maine blue mussels just like Portarlington’s.

On our next overnight-er it rained all day then wind came at night and ships all round us- love the Radar alarm and AIS ships register on route. Four flying fish landed on our deck, and a school of dolphins dived along the hull. We arrived at Moorhead City a seaport of powerboats on weekends and game fishing dock for marlin and wahoo. - not our sport.  Daryl’s tip to go to Beaufort instead, 3 miles up around the inlet was fortuitous.

Beaufort, Nth Carolina is a charm, a full anchorage. We went up river in this small fishing village where wooden boat and marine history is alive and well post-civil war. Most famous for the sinking of Blackbeard’s schooner Queen Anne’s Revenge 17c, still being salvaged 1.25 miles of coast.  ARghh love a pirate true story!  

Friendly local sailors, Jim & Anechy invited us to their home for BBQ shrimp lunch with other Leopard sailors Serge & Nicole, to taste home cooked fare and gave us a history walking tour. We felt at home laughing together over funny stories of foods, loves & sea antics going to the marine museum and local wine bar for pizza together.

So 2 Leopards catamarans tag sailed around Cape Hatteras outer banks an infamous coast of wrecks, battles and winds.  Thanks to Bruce’s weather watch, our 43 hrs cruising around the cape was magic- a gentle sail, motor, rain-out, morning fog, moon halos and dolphins on calm seas ( a quiet birthday at sea) -letting us float the last night, before motoring into Norfolk Port alongside huge ships and US navy carriers heading out the channel.

Going Ashore by dinghy we had shrimp, drank Napa valley wine , but a storm had gone through to 30knts.  Next day we toured the Fort Monroe museum the site of Union barracks ,beginning our entrée into the route of Civil & War of Independence of Virginia’s history trail – as British, French, African and Indian peoples battles for land and sovereignty was based right here and slaves escaped from Nth Carolina to these barracks.

LAST week we docked at Hampton City dock to do a driving to tour Richmond, Williamsburg and Jamestown the 1st British settlement in America. Civil War museums and battlefields form a huge tourist trail to see relics, re-enactments and hear stories of families, soldiers and leaders affected by these wars. A history deeply embedded in americans culture and our conversations.

Last night we joined in the street party of the City of Hampton band & street dancing and browsing in local shops and bars to experience the local community sunday all ages event- no one is shy to get up and join the dance line.

We had booked Aretha Franklin’s queen of soul tour in Durham, NC for May 19th.  Jim & Anechy kindly asked us to stay at their other home nearby for 3 nights, so lucky us, we got to enjoy their hometown and countryside. Our walks, café stops, and drinks with their mates brought laughs about oz dropbears, the US Primaries Hilary& Bernie v’s Donald now GOP leader unabashed voting of delegates and  fun joining Anechy in cuban dancing after dinner.

 Aretha IS queen of soul, harmony, R& B, gospel and big band rhythms! The 5,000 die hard fans danced, sang and clapped all night as she sang deep and lifted us higher with diva songs. ‘Aretha we love you’ we screamed as she played piano. For her finale of Natural Woman everyone went silent in awe of her talent and lifelong dedications. A woman of gold in sequins and pearls!

A quiet drive back to Hampton, along the Blueridge mountain parkway of the Appalachians gave us a taste of the 2000 ft high country forests of hickory, oak and pines where rolling bright green, tall trees and hiking trails are thick. Rain and fog stopped us walking too long.

Having a pint of British blood in us, we wanted to see James and York towns here to better understand the undying beliefs of Americans about British settlement and rebellions, 10,000 yrs. of Indian peoples and the immigration of African slaves to work on tobacco & cotton plantations for colonists to prosper and establish profitable colonies. Taxation, epidemics, hurricanes, greed & poverty led to fierce battles& losses til the wars resulted in abolition, freedom and voting rights- american liberty won.

The sites of confederate and union battlefields are big attractions. For us we hear from people of the  desperation of people to become independent and free from the mother country is echoed and still talked of as abolistionism, rights, laws and inequalities–and talking over dinners- most people we meet are disparaged by the presidential primary nominations process. A much more costly, long and endurance test for leaders than ours.

We've continued this week to follow the path of American battles, including Martin Luther King Jnr,s walk to the Capitol and President Obama’s victory to the White House at Washington DC-
by motor sailing up the Pontomac river for a week’s stay. Democracy at work!

Today's Memorial Day in DC, 100s of motor bikers are riding, Rolling Thunder in the Mall and the concert the concert is on so we're going to the Capitol lawns.