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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crossing the Gulf Stream

Also known as the Florida Current ☺ We actually made it up & out of the marina at 4am, as planned, to take advantage of a perfect weather window for our Gulf Stream Crossing.  Of course, every other boat in the harbor was doing the same thing, so the first hour or so of our passage was quite interesting!  City lights, boat lights, harbor lights, various navigation lights, and the line of boats ahead of and behind us all competed with each other, making our trip out of the Harbor quite a challenge!

Sailboat ahead, leaving West Palm
We had a perfect crossing; wind & seas cooperated nicely and we enjoyed a smooth ride over. If we didn't know better, we'd wonder what all the fuss was about!  This was no horror story; the seas were really like glass...or a lake!

This is the North Atlantic Ocean??
We did see a couple of squalls off in the distance, but nothing ever came close enough to sprinkle on us.  

Squall off to Starboard
 We even "caught" our first fish!

Poor fish!
He must been washed onto the deck by a wave, or taken a bad "bounce" off of one-it was a flying fish, and they are total crack up; they sort of skitter across the surface, flying for an amazing distance without ever touching, and then they just barely tag the top of a wave & get some serious lift off it! . Unfortunately for the fish, we didn't see him until it was too late :( Since he was too small and way too dead for sushi, we tossed him back. Hopefully some other critter was able to make a snack of him...

Can not begin to tell how you how excited we were when we sighted land, and it was finally official: we had reached our first foreign (warm!) port!  West End, Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas.  

Land Ho!
Clearing customs was a breeze (once I signed my passport-oops!)and we were soon docked & enjoying a celebratory cocktail.

Customs Dock, West End, Grand Bahama

We spent few days at Old Bahama Bay Resort & Marina, waiting for a weather window to open for our next jump to Great Harbour Island, in the Berry Islands.  Bullocks Harbour, here we come....

Tamarind Tree, Old Bahama Bay Resort

Charleston, SC to Fort Pierce, a nutshell!

I feel like I left poor Charleston with her hem showing in the last blog, so in order to make sure she is treated like the Southern Belle she is, I am rearranging her "skirts" a bit! Charleston is a lovely city full of gracious old homes & pretty tree lined streets.  We spent a week there, getting various repairs and to-do list items done. As a University/College town, Charleston has a lot to offer in the way of Arts, Culture, and events.  We could easily have spent a few weeks enjoying all the area had to offer, especially the restaurants!  It was honestly not enough time to explore as much as we would have liked to...But Southern warmth was calling our name, so off we went!  

We did a nice day sail to the St. James River, where we anchored out for two nights.  Other than a very strange "Deliverance" type moment the evening we arrived (One member of the food chain was apparently consuming another member in a most hideous, noisy,  fashion), our stay was uneventful-which was quite nice.  We thoroughly enjoyed christening the new grill with a liberal application of Steak, potatoes & sweet baby peppers.

Enjoying a cigar on the St. James
Our next Port of Call was Hilton Head, South Carolina, where we stayed at Skull Creek Marina.  Hilton Head itself was a bit of a letdown-pretty, but very quiet and sleepy.  We did find a great waterfront restaurant that was quite lively, though, and met some fun local folks.  We listened to live music one evening, and caught some football the next....But we had places to go and Savannah to see, so we were up & out of the Marina by 7am on our way to visit Bill's old stomping ground: River Street, on the waterfront in Old Town Savannah.

Skull Creek at Sunrise
We docked just East of the Public Dock, away from the "riff raff" we were told would cheerfully sit themselves on our boat whenever they felt like it....our private dock wasn't so private, as you can see from the walkway just in front of the iron railing-that is River Street!  Considering the fact that we regularly jumped the "locked" access gate, can't see where it would have stopped any serious transient from doing the same...but fortunately, that didn't happen.

We hit town just in time for Halloween, which made for some great people watching! It was a pleasure to revisit the city for a few days and enjoy the Old Cobbled streets, fantastic Graveyards, and various Squares filled with amazing homes, complete with Wrought Iron.

River Street
River Street Stairway
A cold front moved in, letting us know it was time to continue on in our quest for warmer weather, so we hauled the dock lines in & headed back down the river on our way to Scenic Brunswick, Georgia. We picked up a spot on Dock 14, which was our home for the next month.  Bill's Mom & Dad stopped to visit us for a few days on their way down to their condo in Fort Meyers Beach-they were our first official visitors (other than the kids!) on the boat.  We had a lovely time exploring  St. Simon & Jekyll Islands. 

Jekyll Island
Gargoyle on Jekyll
Staying in Brunswick for the month meant we were able to get to know a few of the local people, so we were able to get some insider knowledge on places to go, things see & the best places to eat-bonus!  I have no pictures, but the Oyster Shack was one of our favorites, and I am really not sure that a picture would have done the place, or the people in it, justice!  Suffice to say that is was local hangout loaded with some interesting Georgia people. We left Mañana tucked safely in Brunswick, and flew to Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving-a long standing Ehlke Family tradition :) and had a great week with the kids.  There was one alteration to the familiar schedule this year, when the King family drove down to South Lake to see us, instead of the usual Ehlke trek North to Incline Village to see them.  Much fun was had: The Annual bowling tournament was held for the first time ever without bumpers!  Also spent an enjoyable afternoon outside at Fire & Ice watching the hordes of boarders & skies coming and going on the Gondola. Hard to believe it was November in Tahoe!

Fire & Ice
Then it was back to the boat to prepare for our final run down the coast to our last port before making the jump to the Bahamas... We left Brunswick behind with nary a glance back & pulled an all-nighter to Fort Pierce for quick stay, then right off in the morning to West Palm Beach.  We pulled into the Lake Worth inlet, and stayed Rybovich Yacht Center. Talk about feeling like a poor relation; most of the boats in the marina were over 100+ feet, and many of those were over 200ft!  West Palm Beach had lively downtown & we decided it would be a lot of fun to return at some point & spend a week there exploring the area.  Our plans called for leaving Lake Worth at 4am, so it was early to bed for us :)