Monday, April 27, 2009

Home Again and Still the Dream Year

Arrived in Afton on Saturday morning, a glorious one at that. (You can thank us for bringing the good weather with us!)
Lovely to be here...perfect time...the hope of spring.
Alan already jumped into doing projects like mending the garden fence and tilling.
I am slower in that area. Unpacking and organizing will take me awhile.

We are spending time with family and friends.

You know, this Dream Year doesn't officially end till the end of May.
The transition home and new choices and plans are part of it...
so stick around. I'll be writing more.

Friday, April 24, 2009

More Caves


Had to stop at Luray Caverns in Virginia while we had the chance. Although tame caving -- a self-guided tour via audio headsets on a paved trail - this was another natural wonder. A mirror lake, "fried eggs" made of broken stalagmite, soda straws, totem poles, small villages, creatures and mythological formations, a wishing well -- who needs Disney indeed. Alan said it was the stuff of -- dreams and nightmares!
Posted by Picasa

The End of the Line - Almost





from SC

First photo of us with our friends Char and Steve in Beaufort; they are traveling the ICW on their 36 foot sailboat, Namaste.

Second photo of our Roadtrek van with the boat trailer.
We had driven a rental car to FL to pick it up and we were on our way back to SC.

Last two in Charleston at the Mega-Dock at the City Marina. We were pretty far down the 3000 foot dock and our boat could barely be a mascot (or dinghy) for those BFBs -- uhhh, big boats.

This is where we pulled out just yesterday morning. And our timing was good..we had been thinking about boating further north. Our friends and others are delayed -- many bridges are closed in the NC area due to the wildfires.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 20, 2009

History Lesson in Charleston

We took another walking tour, this one in Charleston, SC, a larger city than Beaufort
with another character. We really enjoy touring with one-person companies.

Marianne, a British transplant, came to Charleston in the 1960s and has been leading walking tours for 25 years. She is older than us, recently celebrated a birthday, and will not divulge her age. Can you guess from the photos? She's oh-so-proper with just-so make-up, a straw hat, her slim body in neat top and skirt, adorned with a double strand of pearls and matching earrings.

She too had a shipwreck story (so did Jon Smart,our tour guide in Beaufort and he milks it for all he can) but gave us only the briefest of detail -- it was off the coast of spain when she was 19.

Alan and I were her only strollers today and she lamented that April is usually very busy. Maybe it is the end of an era...this walking and talking. We saw a number of full horse-drawn buggy tours go by but they don't stop and go into gardens, churches, museums, etc.

Of course, the city history is full of rich white men, the slave trade, the churches (which are beautiful) and the natural disasters (hurricanes and earthquake).

Marianne is interestingly opinionated with first-hand knowledge from her experience with historical preservation projects and serving on local boards.
She, and we, were appalled that in the recent renovation of City Hall rather than restore it with Georgia marble, the city had it imported from Italy.
As part of the changing of the town she also related how she used to be invited into certain neighbors yards, whose inheritors are not so welcoming.

There's a hint of school marm when Marianne seems slightly disappointed that we can't correctly answer her southern history quiz-type questions and
she doesn't warm up to me, I don't charm her, probably less so the more I try.
Alan reassures me later it is her, she is very British

And an unplanned but serendipitous meeting along the way...
a woman in her side yard as we go by asks if we'd like to see her enclosed garden. Which we do and chat and then I ask her a few questions and from her answers can tell that she's probably an academic, maybe a writer which she is and then I figure out that many decades ago I was in a class with her sister-in-law at the
New School (taught by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a founding editor of MS magazine).

The tour ends with tea in her small courtyard garden. It has seen better days just like she has. Overgrown weeds and former hopes, shabby elegant.A real delight.

History Lesson - Charleston, SC


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Complaint...Oh, My Aching....

I haven't felt this way since 1976.
Two weeks after I returned to NY, after my second round-trip across country (lasting almost a year), I went for a medical consult because I had a recurrence of vertigo and insomnia. When the practitioner questioned me, I replied that I had driven a U-Haul van from CA. That was the real source of my problem she said... Seems like my body was still vibrating from the travel, especially when I lay down to sleep.

Although this time my body is being moved even when we are standing still as well as taking the vibrations/movement with me. When I am on land I still feel the rolling. Alan keeps reminding me it will take a few weeks to get my land legs back.

But I am not sure I can really say I have my sea legs either. When we first started this part of the trip I felt like an agile salty. I could lithely go forward with a line and jump off onto shore from various points on the boat. But after days of that and nights in the small cabin with no headroom, I am withering and tightening. A little sciatica here, another discomfort there.

I'm gonna need a vacation from all this leisure!

The Dance of the Details

Logistics....we knew we would be looking for the confluence of services and convenience. Weren't sure when we began this part of our trip how far or long we would go. Thought for a number of reasons that we'd pull out before the end of April.

So, based on the stars...the weather, a place to rent a car, a launch ramp, a place to leave the boat securely while we drive down to Stewart FL to get the van and trailer, Charleston seems to be it!

Tomorrow for touristing and Tuesday for driving to FL.
A few days of travel.

We can see home.

Charleston, Charleston (da-da-da-da)

We took another long leap...for us in the boat that is....about 70 miles from Beaufort to Charleston, SC. A large and busy port. We stayed by the maritime center dock last night and got bounced around so moved over to the larger city dock and are getting bounced around...more expensive and the restrooms/facilities are a looong ways to go.

But enjoyed our sojourns today. I walked around the historical district and to the National Monument (for Fort Sumter and the civil war history) and Alan sailed for awhile as he wended over to the other marina.

Then we met at the downtown market....interesting booths and wares, including local specialties from pecans and pralines to sweetgrass baskets.

Tomorrow more touring and then...
stay tuned.

A Friend's Request... Participate?

When was the last time you heard someone make a truly outrageous statement?
The one statement that causes you to say, “What the …?” For instance, the mechanic who said my right tires wore out faster because I “made so many right turns,” or the car dealer who said if I’d wanted a good paint job (on my brand new Corvette) I “should have gotten a Cadillac.”

I’m looking to collect as many outrageous, ridiculous, unbelievable (and yes, even bitchy and sexy) of these stories as possible and I would like to add yours to my collection.

Send whatever you can – things your lover, first date, last date, boss, co-worker, mother, brother, in-laws or neighbors have said to:
please cut and paste this to your e-mail address line.

Then, please send this e-mail to people you know. I would like to get as many responses as possible and could really use your help in casting a wider net.

Everyone who contributes will get a list of the compiled outrageousness.

I appreciate your help with this endeavor and look forward to reading your best outrageous declarations. This should be fun! At the very least, it will provide a reprieve from the daily grind . ... and maybe get that little something “off your chest.”


Friday, April 17, 2009

Captain at Control Central


I like Alan's makeshift office. Notice all the sticky notes on the cabin wall overlooking him as he checks charts and course.
Posted by Picasa

Southern Charm and Southern Character




Posted by Picasa

Enjoying a few beautiful days in Beaufort, SC -- that's beau-- fort, pronounced like beautiful
(compared with Beaufort, NC, which is pronounced Bow-fort).
The marina is part of the lovely downtown waterfront park and a block from the historic area.

We don't usually take historical tours...because we find them boring. Often a well-meaning but poorly trained person droning on in a monotone...about this period of history or that local family.
But we took the real deal with a real character, who knows he's a character. Jon Sharp's Walking History -- highly recommended if you are ever in beautiful Beaufort. (Click to get to his website.)

Beginning with Jon's story of his seasickness and shipwreck after one February day at sea decades ago...which led to his landing and loving this area to his interesting and dramatic details of the american wars and weather, Jon is fun to walk his words:

"Soon after Columbus discovers the New World, a Spanish sea captain sails into what, one day, will be Port Royal Sound and claims 'Santa Elena' for Spain. Then the great pageant of America is played out here in Beaufort, as the Spanish, French, English and Indians battle relentlessly for her. You will hear of Indian wars, massacres, pirates, slaves, planters wealthy beyond belief, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, a great fire, a catastrophic hurricane, and the wonderful stories of the incredibly brave and tenacious people of Beaufort who lived through these times."

We also ate our way around the town...shrimp and cheesy grits, crab cakes, and soft shelled crabs...are some of the specialties.
The shopping is fine too -- enjoyed the shopkeepers as well as the stuff and with two bookstores and a library.

And we got to spend some more landtime with our boat friends, Char and Steve. The more time we spend together the more we realize we have in common. And also able to all chat about our plans and concerns as our sabbaticals come to a close.

Next stop Charleston....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Stayed in Brunswick a second night and ate a fine Easter Brunch at the newly opened 4th of May Restaurant (named after the owner's mother's birthday) which featured fried chicken and scalloped pineapple along with the other usual holiday dishes and unusual-to-us southern specialties.

Yesterday, we started out at 7 AM because we were trying to make a lot of distance fast and relatively early in the day, as there was a storm forecast for later. Usually we can hop, skip, and jump north in smaller increments, from 15 to 45 miles. But there were no marinas on this isolated part of the water for 70 miles.

I spent most of the blustery hours down below while Alan motored us along the GA ICW. We both got a bit nervous about whether we could make it with the limited amount of gas we can carry. The conundrum is...if we go fast enough to get there quickly, we burn too much gas to get there (that long a haul) at all! About seven hours later, with just over two gallons of gas in our tanks, we pulled in to the old marina where we planned to stay for the night. Alan had to request an inner space away from the gas dock. I walked up the rickety wood ramp to the ship store to register while Alan was tying us into our dock space. There were two guys ahead of me who had just pulled in with the very large motorboats and one said to me while eyeing the store, "There's a tornado watch and this place won't be good to come in to get out of its's too shaky and has a lot of glass." So although we weren't out on the water, the weather was still a concern.

The short of the long of it is that the storm hit just as Alan and I both went below. And it poured for hours, steadily, some thunder, a lot of wind but no tornadoes. The boat got pushed around a bit but we hunkered down, sipped soup for dinner and were cozy.
News is that FL got hit harder with heavy storms and tornadoes.

And this morning as we were untying the same man came over to Alan and asked if he and his friend could follow us out into Hell's Gate, a narrow shallow part of the waterway. We draw less water than they do (about 3 1/2 feet to their 5 feet) and they were concerned about running aground. Alan, after reading our depth gauge, kept reassuring them over the VHF radio, "Depth is 10 feet...oh, we dropped to seven but holding there."

We are the babies on the water (the Dream On is a 26 foot trailerable MacGregor sailboat with a 50 hp engine) of the smallest traversing the ICW -- mostly a comfort issue
Funny part was -- the electronic navigational systems of the two large boats following us probably cost more than our boat does!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


How Do You FEEL about the Economy? The New York Times wants to know. They keep updating the responses. And you can fill in your own response, or choose from their list. I am -- cautious.

Fill in How You FEEL about the Economy.

Purple Aries Women

Happy Birthday to US
Happy Birthday to -- the Purple Aries Women

There are four of us...all friends with birthdays on four consecutive days (April 12 - 15) and with a predilection for purple (inc. at least one purple room in our homes).
I will miss our annual celebration -- including our witty partners,
and great food and wonderful connecting chat and purple presents.

Postponed but not forgotten.

Along the Way


Took a short hop from Jekyll Island to Brunswick, GA....about ten miles, north on the ICW and then down a side channel.
An hour and a half of threatening skies, heavy chop and spray, dealing with the wake of larger boats,,,,see us both hunkered down for some piloting. It was actually quite nice and the weather turned lovely, albeit continued heavy winds, once we arrived.

We wouldn't have known to stop at the small Farmer's Market, somewhat hidden but close by, if we didn't get such a long rap and multi-page handout at the marina office about all the local to-dos. (Each town marina handles the intro differently -- some give a map or a folder, some give none, and depending on who is behind the counter dictates what kind of advice you get).

Highly recommended was Earlleen's booth at the Farmer's Market. Earlleen's crabcakes, buttermilk pie, sweet potato pie, and cream cheese poundcake made for a great picnic lunch. Her booth with food and teddy bears is pictured.

Followed by a walk around the historic district....with stops and chats at Hattie's Books, Color Me Happy - Paint Your Own Pottery, art studios, library, etc....the town was pretty quiet the day before Easter.

(Lois, a co-owner of Color Me Happy, a few years younger than me, went to HS just a couple of miles from where I did. The box in front of her is full of her hand-painted gift certificates, great idea, and also used at an art gallery with classes next door. I like how the woman business owners collaborate -- two of the book groups that meet at Hattie's serve food and have been eating on paper plates. The plan is for over twenty women from those groups to go over to Color Me Happy and paint new plates -- definitely a classier presentation for the women who share cookbooks and recipes!

We were disappointed that the evening performance of the play "Waiting for Oprah" (with performances on Saturday evenings from March through May) was cancelled. The intimate stage and seating was in a large back room of an art gallery. Smaller than Cider Mill but with the same idea -- coffee and dessert served. Capacity of thirty people.

I did think we might get to see some local theater during our travels this year. But other than the Ashland Oregon Festival (fabulous; I saw three plays in three days!) we have either been a day or two late or a day or two early.
It would have taken much more planning than we wanted to do...this trip has been one of spontaneity and of stumbling upon new opportunities, which has suited us well.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jekyll Island, GA


Another Georgian Island, more inhabited (but restricted development) and similar history of the rich building "cottages" which were mansions.

First photo is of one of the island hotels. We had bicycled from the marina to this historic district. Ate lunch on the wide veranda (although I wasn't dressed for it -- more sailor-grunge than southern belle
Posted by Picasa

Next three photos are of us with our new travel friends, Char and Steve, on their boat Namaste.
Char is giving my conch-shell lessons but she was the pro -- blowing the "horn" as the sunsets-- a skill they learned during their three months in the Bahamas.

Steve puttered over in their reliable motored dinghy to take us to their boat for dinner. Lovely time.

Theirs is an ocean-going vessel. 36 foot Cape Dory. In addition to size, their boat is over three times the weight of our boat (4000 lbs to 17,000 lbs) making it much more stable. Less rocking and bouncing anchored out then we feel at dock.

Hoping to meet up with them again...which is more probable than meeting up with road-trip friends. Here on the ICW we are all following the same course!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Georgia On My Mind


Part of yesterday's wonders...Alan already wrote about the challenges...was stopping at Cumberland Island.
I love islands as much as I love caves and this one has a rich and not-always-lovely past. If I could illustrate it, I would use overlays like in old books. There were the native Indians, and then the British and Spanish, there were the rich-and-famous from Nathaniel Greene's crowd to the Carnegies, and there was also slave trade and cotton plantations. And now...overseen by the National Park...there are trails, wild horses, and the ruins of the mansions.

Our boat at the dock...from the serene scene, you can't tell that it was a hairy landing. Was very choppy and a large wake from a passing boat while I was forward with a bow line and Alan was on dock and almost couldn't hold the line to the boat...with me on it.
But calm and beautiful on the island. We skipped the Ranger talk and explored.
Posted by Picasa


Yesterday we traveled from St Mary's Georgia to Jekyll Island, Georgia, a distance of about 35 miles on the waterway. I had looked ahead on the charts and saw that we had to cross Jekyll Sound and go a little bit out into the Atlantic Ocean to continue on the waterway.

Usually the waterway is rather narrow with lots of channel markers to guide you where the channel is and where it is too shallow to go. On the ICW heading north you keep the red markers to the left and the green markers to the right and usually you can see from one marker to the next and lots of times you can see a whole row of them.

However crossing this sound that was not going to be the case and so I prudently entered the needed data into our GPS navigational device and when we entered the sound I followed the direction it told me to go.
As anticipated the markers were too far away to see and so we were motoring blind so to speak.

After what seemed like too long a time, no markers were in sight and I was at the spot my GPS said I should be. Uh oh! What now?

Oh forgot to mention we had already run aground out in the middle of this big open body of water and I couldn't figure out why. There was nothing on my chart to run aground on if I was where I was supposed to be.
Now what to do?

Looking carefully at the data I had entered into the GPS and lo and behold I had transposed a number. Even though I had checked twice I got it wrong.
So now what?
Re enter the correct data in the GPS and get back on course.
Not so fast - first we need to know where are we cause if we go from point A to point B not knowing where we are we might run into something on the way.
No problem - just look at the GPS and get a latitude and longitude ( there are no charts on our GPS) then look at the charts to pinpoint where we are.
Oops again - we are about 3 miles out into the Atlantic and our charts don't go out that far and I hadn't loaded the additional charts into my computer.
So we feel our way back into Jekyll Sound now truly blindly because we have no chart and of course we run into shallow water again and run aground again.

Now I'm getting really upset though Barbara seems pretty calm and it is a beautiful sunny day with not much wind.
Eventually we get to deep water and find the sea buoy we are looking for and get back on course.
Many lessons learned (the same ones again)and hopefully I will be a more prudent mariner from here on. Ha!

Alan (posting from Barbara's computer)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Enough about ME??

Just received a copy of this via email -- with a request to fill in about the sender and return (I did) and then send it on to others (which I didn't)...but here you have it. Anyone game, just jump in.

Where did we meet?_______________________________________

Take a stab at my middle name?______________________________

Do I speak a second language?__________________________

Am I a cat lover or dog lover?______________________

Color of my eyes?:_________________________________________

Do I have any siblings?___________________________________

What's one of my favorite things to do?_______________________

What's my favorite type of music?:


Am I taller than you?__________________________

Am I shy or outgoing?_______________________________________

Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules?____________________________

What is my birth month?____

I am a member of which political party?_____________________

Have you ever heard me sing?___________________

How many children do I have?_____________________________

If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what is one

thing that I would bring? ______________________________________

Am I right handed or left handed?_________________________

What type of work do I do?________________________

I can't wait to see the answers!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We Didn't Start The Fire

I really like the Billy Joel song, We Didn't Start the Fire....but never caught all the mentions.

This online video illustrates the song, all the mentions of people and events with still shots, and the year they are from...and if you want to pause and learn about the person or instance you can click on the image and get connected to an entry at wikipedia. OR you can just enjoy the song.

I do think this is one of the fun ways to use the internet -- finding people whose hobby has overwhelmed them. This guy spent over 40 hours developing this and it has had over 11 million viewings!

Check it out yourself (and as for me -- I've gone to live links...just click):
We Didn't Start the Fire

Monday, April 6, 2009

St Augustine


We are meandering north on the ICW. This first week has been lovely, easy and slow boating.
With stops in small town marinas, great and simple views along the waterway, and pleasant interludes – like a lovely Farmer’s Market. Some muggy days, a few minor navigational challenges and a slight delay.

On Sunday I called to reserve a slip at the marina and after asking me our boat info (name and dimensions), the dock master queried “ETA?” I told him that we expected to arrive within the next hour or two since we were within ten miles. He responded, “No, mame, we won’t be able to let you in then”

Me – Why? What’s the problem?

Him – Well, it’s the dressing of the fleet.

Me – (Thinking Naval Ceremony) How long will the Dressing of the Fleet take?

Him – No, mame, it’s the BLESSING of the Fleet and it will take anywhere from one to three hours depending on the number of boats wanting to be blessed.

This is an annual Palm Sunday tradition in St Augustine.

When we arrived outside St Augustine, like all the other boats, we were stopped by a small police boat with the same information. We hung out for about an hour and a half and watched boats festooned with flags and laden with palm fronds motor out of the channel.

Today’s forecast and conditions convinced us to stay here another day. It poured briefly and was gusty. It is supposed to get colder and windier over the next few days but without the threat of thunderstorms.

It is a lovely city to walk around in with an historic district and good restaurants.
We also stumbled into an interesting event this evening. George McGovern speaking at Flagler College. Open to the public. He is, of course, much older (than I remember him) and less dynamic but still so thoughtful. He spoke about making St Augustine his winter home, about the Middle East conflicts and wanting to bring the troops home sooner than President Obama’s plan, about ending world hunger, and his 13th book, about Abraham Lincoln, just released as part of a series on presidents. Sweet, intelligent, nostalgic, inspirational, hopeful.

We are planning to move on tomorrow but with another scheduling challenge. There is construction going on at the bridge right outside the marina, that we need to pass under, and it is on a restricted schedule. This week the bridge will be closed from 7 am to 8 pm every day -- except it will open only two times at 1 pm and 1:30 (usually opens every half hour except during morning and evening rush hours).

I thought Alan was going to want to make it out before 7am but he says our running lights aren't good enough for dark/evening navigation. So we’ll spend the morning here – that’s fine with me, a morning shower and a stroll over to check out a bookstore which I noticed only after it closed.
Posted by Picasa

small town FL





The Orchid Lady at the Farmer's Market sells individuals stems as well as plants.
The office supply store has a great collection of old typewriters and steno machines.
Posted by Picasa

Holy Mackerel





Mackerel sky, snack bar, another opening bridge (single bascule)....
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 5, 2009


We are in St Augustine Florida more than 200 miles north of where we put the boat in the water. Not bad for our first week on the ICW.

We are traveling in a rather unique boat that would be classified as a motor sailor except that most motor sail boats are big heavy displacement hull vessels that cannot exceed their hull speed no matter how big an engine they have.

(Max hull speed = 1.3 times the square root of the waterline or for us about 6.5 knots = 7 miles/hour).

Our boat a MacGregor 26x is water ballasted - that is instead of a heavy lead keel or weight at the bottom of the boat or hanging down, the boat takes in approximately 200 gallons of water into its double bottom hull which increases the boat's weight by about 1600 pounds, providing the stability so the boat doesn't turn over when the wind presses on the sails. The boat also has a flip up centerboard and flip up twin rudders. The water is easily added or removed and so since we are traveling on the very sheltered waters of the ICW we have lots of opportunity to motor rather than sail. We have begun to drop our water ballast raise our centerboard and rudders while under way and this allows with the aid of a very large (for this size sailboat) 50 horsepower engine to achieve speeds of 18 miles per hour.

Some people we pass on the waterway are astonished to see a sailboat speeding by and the ability to go fast if and when we want increases our daily range as well as adds to our safety to get someplace when the weather turns bad.

Today we did 25 miles with water ballast in and so it took us about 3 1/2 hours (we had a following current) giving us a much quieter, enjoy the scenery ride.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Binghamton Tragedy

Our hearts go out to our home community in response to this tragedy.

Thanks to all who called and emailed for sharing the news and your concern for us.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Scenes from the Water



Great to explore the sights walking distance from the marina.
We could have taken the shuttle into the shopping area but preferred strolling over to the Museum of Art. One of the main exhibits, Navigators, seemed apropos of the Dream Year. An exhibit of the works of Marc Petrovic, it was engaging visually and verbally -- through the words/sentiments that accompanied his pieces:

We are all navigators, travelers on our journey between waypoints.

We, as vessels, have times in our life when we pick up and move onto
a new phase in our life, a new body of water.

Marc is a glassworker and a mixed-media artist. The pieces shown all were backed with nautical charts and lined with glass shelves that held bottles, bubbles, boats, and shells all made of glass. Since pictures can be worth a thousand words, just click this link to see his website and work.
We left land in the late morning.
If you traveled from 11:30 am till 4:15 pm, how far would you go?
We traversed all of 34 miles during that time.

Generally it is slow boating on the ICW. We motored most of the day and due to slight winds, we had our sail up only for a short time. The weather was changeable…started out overcast, the wind was going our way which is good for forward motion but also intensified the 90-degree heat and humidity.

The waterway varies in width along the ICW and was pretty narrow all the way; land is easily in sight. We saw rows of bland Mac-mansions, lines of more modest homes fronting trafficked roads paralleling the ICW, stretches of lush bush, sand bars and small islands, water birds in the mangroves, osprey nests, small fishing boats with their groupie pelicans all gathering their catch , other “sticks” and many “stinkpots” (the nicknames of sailboats and motorboats).

It became choppier, windier, and started to sprinkle. And just as we were pulling into the channel to dock at the marina, those threatening clouds opened. It poured, really poured, we were drenched, sopping…and good-natured about it.
We dried off, it cleared up, and we ate dinner at the dockside restaurant.
Posted by Picasa