Category: Destinations

What we’re thankful for

Thanksgiving…what is there to say that hasn’t been said?  It’s a time to celebrate the awesomeness of family while devouring endless food and beverages, throwing around the ol’ pigskin, and making regular runs to Wal-Mart for festive tablecloths.  Ahhhhh…

This time ’round it’s especially nice to come to the lake house in South Carolina.  After being on the water for two months (just the two of us), it’s nice to spend some time on dry land, spending time with family (and getting some time to just CHILL)!

Always a welcome sight

Always a welcome sight!


What’s the first thing we* do?  Go out for a sail.  WTF, right?

*”we” actually just refers to Mark and Walter*


The Hunter 28 responds well to a light breeze and had us ripping around the lake for the afternoon.  When we got back, for the first time ever, we docked completely under sail!  It was fun, but the look on our faces says a lot :)

IMG_9651 IMG_9655 IMG_9656

Good QT with pops :)


The actual Thanksgiving day/meal was awesome as well, though most meals are awesome when you start with an afternoon Bloody Mary bar hehe….

IMG_9742 IMG_9795 IMG_9811 IMG_9782 IMG_9817 IMG_9806 IMG_9839 IMG_9849 IMG_9868

All in all, Thanksgiving was a major success.  We still have a day or two to hang out, but I don’t think we ever wanna leave!  We need to remember the beaches in our (hopefully not-so-distant) future.





After waiting out one day of torrential rain in an anchorage near the Isle of Palms, we decided to brave the fog and head into town (also, our meal morale was plummeting quickly with our empty pantry).  We headed out around 7am and were unsure if we would be able to make it through the lift bridges, potentially busy harbor and shallow areas* with such low visibility, but luckily for us it cleared just enough to help us through.

*we waited for the full 6ft high tide to transit this stretch of the ICW, and still only had a few feet of water under the keel at spots.  We’re getting so used to this shallow water business that a 12 foot depth is now considered “big water” for us.

We didn’t get any shots of the Charleston Harbor, but it looked something like this:

(ok not quite that bad, but definitely not much better)

After a challenging high-current docking (Mark is killin’ it lately with the tricky docking scenarios), we celebrated finally making it to CHARLESTON – culinary capitol of the south, and our temporary boat home for the American Thanksgiving week.  We borrowed our beautiful marina’s courtesy car and checked out the downtown strip on King St (which we LOVED), complete with a proper Southern meal of Chicken Biscuit, Ribs, Collared Greens, Hush Puppies, and other fried delicious things.

Blurry/happy photo.

And it was WARM!  Since I knew it was going to rain, I wore my foulie jacket, which led to many stares, since everyone else was dressed like a casual fall day in the South.  Which means a light layer over your tshirt?!  Let’s hope this may be the end of the Arctic Explorer phase of our blog photos…

Now we’re excited to spend some time with Mark’s family in South Carolina, eat lots of Thanksgiving food, use modern plumbing exclusively, and catch up on all of the internet (and friends/fam) we’ve been missing lately.

PS the following two pics are not from Charleston at all, but we had to get at least one dolphin shot in, and I had been pretty crabby lately due to the weather, so it felt appropriate.



The heart of the ICW

I think we can say we’ve entered the heart of the ICW…

The water is now shallow all the time and we are constantly on the lookout for shoaling (especially after two “soft groundings” in the middle of the marked channel – probably no worse feeling),

The pelicans are almost outnumbering the seagulls (well…almost),

The houses are starting to get more and more colourful, and


The only thing we’re missing is warm weather, but we keep telling ourselves it’s coming :)

We’ve been slacking a bit on the photos – it doesn’t help that whenever we point the camera towards a dolphin, they get bashful (still no good pics yet but we hope they’re comin’!).  Also, it’s been FREEZING…hard to operate a camera with winter gloves on


We had one exciting day in Mile Hammock Bay.  We decided to sit at anchor and wait out thunderstorms (which ended up being upgraded to a tornado watch), and the weather was crazy!  Pouring rain one second, sunny the next,  24 degrees fahrenheit with 100% humidity…it was wild.  I took a quick video (sry for the low quality, but you get the idea):

Later that night, we watched a boat drag anchor, try to re-set, but get snagged on another poor soul who had been in the anchorage all day with us.  It was painful to watch, buuuuutttt not so painful that I couldn’t snap a a quick iPad photo when noone was looking :)


Dismal Swamp to North Carolina!

Damn, we’ve come a long way in 10 days!

Honestly we loved the Chesapeake Bay. We found amazing anchorages (Solomons, Jackson Creek, Chisman Creek), had some gorgeous sunsets and hope to spend more time cruising in “sailors paradise” again in the future.





For now though – let’s keep on…pressing on!

As we got into Norfolk to start the ICW, we were quickly awakened from our sleepy daze by chatter on the VHF radio. It went something like this: “Warship 89, Warship 89, this is Warship 72, Warship 72, over”….”Warship 72, this is Warship 89. Switch to bridge-to-bridge channel 13, over.”…”Copy that. Switching to channel 13, Warship 72 out”.

…all this while we see the boat (apparently named Warship 72) crossing our bow at 20 knots.

"Warship 72, this is Sailing Vessel Tara, over"

“Warship 72, this is Sailing Vessel Tara, over”

Exciting stuff!

As we got into Norfolk, we realized that the US Navy is, shall we say…well armed. There were ships upon ships upon ships lined up in the harbour (everything from aircraft carriers to “warships” to hospital/red cross boats). It was quite a sight to see.

The whole area was pretty industrial and pretty cool despite the heavy military presence.

Inspiration for George Lucas?

Inspiration for George Lucas?

When we cleared Norfolk, we entered the Dismal Swamp, which actually wasn’t dismal at all. It was a nice break from the busy harbour, and reminded us of the Erie Canal that we’d transited so many moons ago.

The swamp apparently has tannins in the water which make it a very dark brown. It was like motoring through really strong cup of tea!

Hard to get a photo of the tannins haha

Hard to get a photo of the tannins haha

Next thing we knew, we were in North Carolina! We were spat out in a really nice little town called Elizabeth City. We were stoked to be there because my folks had made arrangements to drop by on their way home from SC! They pulled up just as we docked and we had happy hour on the boat, then went for a nice dinner (plus a couple bottles of wine) to celebrate! Couldn’t have been any better. Love yous!


The next day = SUN! WARM! NO WAY! IS THIS POSSIBLE?! FIRST TIME in 6 weeks where we didn’t look like we were preparing to hike up Mt. Everest?! Ah yes (warning: the next photo is rated at least PG-13. Look away while you still have a chance), let’s just say we soaked it up while we could.


We are starting to like the south :)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy it for too long, because a cold front has been blowing in and has brought beaucoup de rain. We’re sitting down below tonight (in Belhaven) letting our foulies dry below the bimini in the cockpit.


All in all, we are REALLY happy with our progress over the past 10 days, and it feels AMAZING to finally be in the Carolinas. We may even make it to Charleston for Thanksgiving as planned (knock on wood)

Sigh :)  Time to open a bottle of vino and make dinner.

Exploration Day in Solomons, MD

We are halfway down the Chesapeake Bay, and it feels GREAT!  We had an awesome two days in Rock Hall, MD, where we stayed at a lovely marina for a day of treat-yo-self showers and shore power, as well as a couple of extremely successful marine store visits.

We have a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) stove on Tara, which is great as it is often seen as safer than propane for marine stoves, however it is nearly impossible to find places to exchange your empty tank.  We had run out of gas at the end of the Erie Canal, and had thus been relegated to outdoor cockpit cooking with a propane Coleman for the past few weeks.  This wasn’t so bad… except that we couldn’t cook underway, and it was getting friggin cold making morning coffees outside.

Luckily for us, we found a great marina store that stocked CNG tanks, so we are beyond happy to be cooking indoors again (this morning’s breakfast burritos and coffee never tasted so good).

We used our dock time well, addressing a bunch of our laundry list of small boat projects, including fixing a small leak in our inflatable dinghy (it was missing a crucial O-ring) and replacing a moldy water filter for our galley.  Small wins, but they feel great.

Our first long sail day down the Chesapeake was super calm, and we even broke out the autopilot for the first time since Lake Erie, freeing us up a little bit to enjoy the flocks of brown pelicans dive bombing for fish around us.

Now we are in Solomons, MD, a boating destination on the Chesapeake Bay, and rightfully so.  It’s a beautiful area, and there are more sailboats here than we have seen in one spot…ever.  We’re anchored up Back Creek, and are loving exploring town while we wait out some more unfavourable weather.


Today’s activities included a local maritime museum/aquarium, where we learned about some Chesapeake boating history and also, the Megalodon.

IMG_9467 IMG_9464

IMG_9475 IMG_9477I do all the rowing around here*  (*JK – we’re equal opportunity rowers)

On a humorous note, despite the plethora of books, electronic devices, charts, etc. we have on this boat, we are really enjoying using vintage car-travel maps for big picture planning and visualization.  We were gifted some by Jim E. back in Mentor, OH, and then jumped on the opportunity to pick up some more at a cool thrift store in Brooklyn, NY.
IMG_9564 IMG_9570

Since the wind has been so light, and often in the wrong direction so far for us in the Chesapeake, happy motoring is actually pretty relevant :)



Well, we hunkered down and waited on the hook for Saturday and Sunday in Chesapeake City. It was ugly – one day of pouring rain (though it broke temporarily for a nice sunset in the evening), and one day with 15-20knot winds dancing us all around the anchorage. We were in a very tight cove, with docks/rocks on all sides and spent the day playing the scope vs. swinging room game…not our favourite game. That said, we were SO HAPPY to be out of Cape May where it was showing 35-40+ knot winds and 12 foot seas!

We used the time to do some painting & reading – it was good to get the creative juices flowing again.

One nice break in the clouds on Saturday Night

One nice break in the clouds on Saturday Night

Art!  (and beer...and sandwiches)

Art! (and beer…and sandwiches)

When Monday rolled around it was time to get on with it. The gale warning had been dropped to a small craft warning so we took that as our sign (HA). It ended up being a nice but BREEZY/COLD day.

(edit: I think these next few photos are actually from our Atlantic City to Cape May sail which was considerably warmer…Picture this but bundled up with two hats/gloves/extra layers!)

More selfies - what can you expect there are only two of us and someone's got to steer!

More selfies – what can you expect there are only two of us and someone’s got to steer!

We were ready for some shore power/hot showers, so we decided it was time for a marina day in Rock Hall, Maryland. We were happy to get here – enjoyed a beautiful sunset and re-provisioned (can you believe we’re drinking Budweiser? It is America after all…)

Made it!

Made it!

Holy sunset, Batman!

Holy sunset, Batman!

Gratuitous sunset ring shot

Gratuitous sunset ring shot

This morning, we’ve been enjoying decent WiFi! Finally! We’re catching up on emails, enjoying our coffee and planning for the rest of our voyage down the Chesapeake. It’s gorgeous outside and we feel a bit guilty for not rushing out to sea while the weather is nice, but we need to recharge a bit (literally and figuratively).

First cup of the day :)

First cup of the day :)

Get to work!

Get to work!

OK enough bloggin’! I’m off to cook some (recently acquired) BACON & EGGS :)

Happy Halloween from Chesapeake City!

We made it!!! Sunrise to sunset, to the minute (with impeccable current timing) we made it down and around Cape May, up the Delaware Bay, up the Delaware River and through the C&D canal today. It was long, tiring, wave-crashy and cold BUT we are finally off the Jersey coast!


For Halloween this year, we’re dressed as two kids who think it’s fun to sail in the North Atlantic at the end of October :)

Happy Halloween!

Cape May!

Wow – what an incredible day! The seas were flat, we had 12 knots over the beam, just 40 miles to cover, and blue skies/full sun to keep us warm :). This is what sailing is all about!

Onward to Cape May Video

Unfortunately we won’t be checking out Cape May (proper) because we are anchoring out for a quick departure EARLY tomorrow am.



We want to try our damndest to get up the Delaware bay to Chesapeake city before some seriously nasty weather hits the coast on Sat/Sun…


It’s gonna be ugly, so we are getting the hell out of dodge and heading inland. Root for us!

Xo Mark & Caitie

The Atlantic.

We made it! Hot damn we set a few records for ourselves today:
-first sail in the Atlantic Ocean
-first night sail/incredibly early morning departure
-first 20knot breeze sailing on Tara
-longest day ever sailed (90 nautical miles)
-first time to Atlantic City
Annnnnnnd most jersey shore ever seen in one day (literally)

It was really a big one for us. I didn’t sleep a wink last night because I was teetering on the go/no-go decision…but we made the right one- We went, and we went safely. Now we are happily anchored just off of Harrah’s casino.


Plus! Another bird landed on me and made friends today. I’m hoping this will be a trend :)


Go time.

Ok, well we have been watching the weather all day and we are feeling good about the forecast. Our plan is to leave at 3:30am and make the trip down to Atlantic city! It is a long trek (almost 90 nautical miles) but we are feeling confident. Here is what NOAA is saying:



Wish us luck! :)