Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Looking back

Hi fellow sailors,

The last couple of nights have been spent sleeping in a real bed, with no worries about tide changes, wind shifts at 0300, or dragging anchor. I am still in a bit of disbelief that the trip is over. White Seal tests comfortably on her old, familiar, mooring in Kingsland Bay, waiting for me to get the mast back up.

In retrospect,  it was a good trip overall. There were plenty of concerns along the way, but every delay and obstacle was overcome. The Bahamas are a wonderful destination, but the East Coast is equally so. This is the 5th time I have made the trip, and every time I discover new and beautiful places, as well as meeting great people. For this trip is, more than anything, about people. More than anyone, my daughter Mary, who joined me for 3 months. I am eternally grateful for this time with her. Also, my wonderful friends Roger Holzapfel, Tom Hickley, and Carroll Maxwell; who joined me for a few days along the way. They were great, and I apologize for talking too much! I was so excited to have you aboard. Mary's friend and college roommate,  Maggie Smith, was also wonderful to have on board, and I am happy to have her as a new friend. My brother in law , Mike Homza, was also a great crew member to have aboard for  a few days.
Most importantly,  my wonderful wife Meg, who decided not to join me on this trip, stayed home and kept things going during what turned out to be an arduous winter. She stayed employed and somehow managed to keep the homestead solvent. Thank you Meg!

When making a trip like this, you make lots of people along the way. Sailors are all in it together. You'll meet in an anchorage, strike up an acquaintanceship, then bump into them in another harbor a thousand miles away. It is very, very cool. And nowadays much easier to keep in touch via email. And the Bahamians are awesome. Naturally welcoming and gregarious,  they make the Bahamas a wonderful place to cruise. I would love to spend more time living in a small Bahamian town, like my friend Kathleen Patten does in Black Point, Exuma, and really get to know a specific community. One thing that amuses me is when folks here in the US ask if I have any concerns about piracy when I sail in the Bahamas. I respond that there are more pirates in Ferrisburgh!

Another thing people ask about are storms. Sure, you are going to get them. Fortunately,  with good forecasting, I am usually able to be anchored someplace with good protection. I did go thru a pretty serious storm with my buddy Tom Hickley on Chesapeake Bay. That was the worst on this trip with winds gusting to near hurricane force. Glad when that was over!

It is interesting how we tend to forget the unpleasant and sometimes terrifying aspects of cruising. A few days ago, my main focus was on just getting home. But it is impossible to extinguish that desire to make long trips in small boats. And so, the dream continues.

Fair winds to all, Charlie

Monday, June 10, 2019

Domestic tranquillity

Hi everyone,

It is really great to be back! I am unable to post on a variety of other devices, but will consult with my IT advisor, (Mary) to see if I can get something that allows me a real keyboard. So stay tuned for some sort of a summation of the trip.

It is so beautiful here in Vermont right now. I am convinced there is a lushness in the vegetation at this time of year that has been unequaled on this trip. It seems that after a harsh winter, plant life has permission to run wild. To really appreciate it, you need to have gone through the winter, so yours truly is not allowed to enjoy it as much as those who stayed put, like my dear wife Meg, and dealt with the snow and the cold.

Best to all, Charlie

Sunday, June 9, 2019


Hi everyone,

I picked up my old familiar mooring in Kingsland Bay at about 5PM today! It was emotionally rather overwhelming and I am very excited to be home for good. An excess of sun and a couple of long days have left me rather wiped out, so expect to hear much more from me in a day or so.

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Sand Road

Hi everyone!

Yes, I am home, but without my boat, which is still in Waterford, waiting for the canal to open. I have been chastised by my dear friend Gretchen who was shocked when I answered the front door last evening. I had actually returned Sunday evening. So I apologize for not keeping this post up to date.

It is great, and rather overwhelming to be back. I am sitting here on an easy chair in the living room, a picture of domestic tranquillity,  and reflecting on the lonely islands, the stormy nights, the challenges of singlehanding, but most importantly the people I have met, and it is all pretty gratifying. I will keep posting as I bring White Seal the last 100 miles and attempt to summarize my thoughts on this wonderful experience.

Stop on by if you are in the neighborhood!

Best, Charlie

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Yup, still here

Hi everyone,

The Champlain Canal remains closed and a community of stranded boaters has settled in at the town dock in Waterford. I have decided to take advantage of my time here and to that end set out on an excursion to Albany this morning. My destination was the USS Slater, a WW2 destroyer escort tied up on the downtown Albany waterfront. My father had served on one of these ships in the Pacific, and I have been wanting to see this ship to get a sense of what life was like for him.

I rode a couple of city buses to get there and arrived well before the ship opened up at 10. It was a beehive of activity with at least a dozen volunteers visible engaged on various tasks aboard. I was struck by the small size of about 300 feet and the fact that well over 500 of them were built. Standing on the dock it appeared as if the ship was being very well maintained. A few minutes later, I was to find that indeed, that was the case. But first, our guide Paul, had a short movie to show us. It was a great introduction and very helpful as I toured the ship and could see how the various elements worked. Paul was absolutely stellar, and did a really great job showing us around. There was only one other visitor when the gangway opened and he had served on a DE in the Viet Nam war. His name was Roger, and he turned out to be a fellow cruising sailor as well. I was really fortunate to be with these two guys for the visit. The level of authenticity is very high on this ship, as is the quality. She is shipshape and looking wonderful. There are still projects and goals to be pursued, but it is obvious that this ship has a phenomenal core group of supporters. And there were plenty of visitors circulating thru the ship after us.

What an amazing experience! I look forward to going back!

But wait, there's more! I was only about a mile away from Phillip Schuyler's house, and so I made my way there. This house was built in 1761, out of brick, and is really quite remarkable given the fame and importance of its many visitors. Schuyler was very prominent as a Revolutionary War general, but he may be best known these days as the father in law of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton had married Elizabeth Schuyler in the parlour of the house, and I got to take it all in. Other notable visitors included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette, etc. Very, very cool and inspiring. Much in the way of original items from that time. Our guide Ian, was fantastic with a real passion for and knowledge of the history.

What a wonderful day! I learned a lot!

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Rain, rain

Hi everyone,

Pretty dreary around here but I took the opportunity to do an oil change and tighten up the v-belts. Yesterday, I varnished the coamings and the undersides of the spreaders. If the rain stops I will try to visit the old Matton Shipyard, which I remember seeing the first time 50 years ago. And the canal museum as well. I really like this town.

My friend Carroll may be able to join me for the canal portion on Saturday, assuming it opens. When I came thru the federal lock at Troy the other day, it really made me aware of how helpful it would be to have another hand. There was a ferocious current running with the high water, probably the reason they haven't opened up the Champlain portion yet.

Hope everyone staying dry, Charlie

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Hi everyone,

It is official, the Champlain Canal is closed for 'several' days, due to high water. So I am stranded here in Waterford along with a number of other boats, some of whom have been here for 3 weeks. Happily, it is a delightful little town with friendly folks and dockspace that is free. So I will endeavor to make the most of it. I have already done my laundry and a bit of grocery shopping. Will probably pick up the Sunday NYT tomorrow and may do an oil change also. Some rain in the forecast which may affect the canal opening.

Best regards, Charlie

Friday, May 24, 2019

In the canal

Hi everyone,

Man, am I beat! Very busy 2 days. Yesterday morning I got underway at 5:15 in flat calm conditions. Listened to the weather and they called for southerly winds at 10-15. Great, sez I, I will be able to sail. And sure enough, a couple of hours later I hoisted the main and killed the engine. Now one thing I have been noticing, is the tendency of the weather bureau to lowball the wind speed predictions. I see this over and over again. Now they do a really excellent job, forecasting the weather, but estimating wind speed accurately seems a bit problematic. So, as I was sailing along, the wind keeps picking up. I had thought about setting another sail, but I was exceeding 6 knots under just the main so there was no need. I kept looking astern at the really impressive mass of Whitecaps behind me, and thinking I should take a reef in the sail. But there were sandbars outside the channel and I just didn't have the room. It was blowing a good 30 in the sustained gusts and things were going well. I had the preventer deployed, a multipart tackle to prevent an accidental jibe, but I also knew that at some point I was going to have to jibe. And it was really too windy. When I did get to that point I ended up tacking instead. Basically, I needed to turn slightly to the left. Had I just made that slight turn I would have released the preventer, turned that small amount, and most likely have gotten myself into serious trouble, either damaging the sail or possibly dismasting the boat. So instead, I put the tiller hard over, and turned thru about 350 degrees. And it works fine. The sail pivots on the mast, and everything is good. I made a couple of these manoeuvres and approached the Rip Van Winkle bridge. I was very unhappy to see a large empty barge, being pushed by a tug, that was going to reach the bridge at about the same time as me. Having worked on a tug in an earlier life I knew that he had his hands as full as I did. I could not risk sailing thru there, especially as the wind was blowing even harder now, probably 35 in the gusts. So I started the engine, figuring to dump the sail. But, because I have been having some issues with my cooling pump, and because I always check anyway, I looked over the transom and was horrified to see NO cooling water coming out. I immediately shut off the engine and took a very brief look at the chart. I could sail outside of the channel and thru a secondary opening in the bridge. Once thru, I could drop sail and anchor the boat in about 12 feet of water. That's what I did, staying well clear of the barge, whose captain was undoubtedly wondering what sort of idiot would be out sailing in these conditions. I proceeded to do the worlds worst furling job on the mainsail, and went below to fix the engine. The tide and wind were in opposition and the motion was excessive, with the boat rolling wildly from side to side and circling around and around the anchor. I kept looking out the companionway to make sure we weren't dragging into a bridge abutment.  I had the problem solved in 15 minutes, but now had to get the anchor up. No way could that be done without mechanical advantage so I rigged a snatch block and led the anchor line back to the cockpit winch. We had that anchor up in several minutes and got underway. I said the heck with any more sailing.

Several hours later, I pulled into the boat club at Castleton on Hudson. I picked up a mooring, giving it a good inspection as I remembered the fiasco last fall, and made arrangements to unstep the mast. Now this operation really needs to be seen to be believed. They have a DIY mast stepping crane. You sign a release, pay $55, and do it yourself. How this place hasn't been sued into oblivion is beyond me, but I love it there. So, back on the mooring I get the mast ready. The wind is blowing way too hard for me to fold the sail, so I just stuff it in the main cabin. Plus, it was wet. I forgot to mention that I went thru a nasty thunderstorm an hour earlier. Had everything ready by dark. The forecast for today was for 15-20, with gusts over 30. Great. And that indeed, is what we had. I did the mast entirely by myself. The wind made for a real challenge as I was lowering it down to the deck, but I prevailed. At this point I was nursing a bad attitude towards the weather gods and really wanted to prove myself. I left a bit before noon  bucking a strong tidal current, and the wind, but eventually made it thru the first lock. There is a ton of water coming over that dam by the lock and it was nervewracking getting the boat in. So, the Champlain Canal is still not open, due to high water. Looks like I will be cooling my heels for several days.

Best to all, Charlie

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Great beauty today

Hi everyone,

I wish you could have been aboard to see this stunning section of the Hudson I traversed today. The weather was downright glorious, if a bit on the cool side. I started out on the Tappan Zee, passed the nuclear plant at Indian Point, went under the glorious Bear Mountain Bridge, passed beneath the fortress of West Point, negotiated the swirling waters of World's End, and gazed upon the legendary Storm King Mountain. Then came Bannerman's Castle on Polepel Island.  There was plenty of barge traffic and folks in small fishing boats. Finally, I passed the exquisite lighthouse at Esopus Meadows, which has received a paint job in the not too distant past. There were other impressive bridges that I passed under and marveled at, thinking about the capital required for financing, and the actual human capital that did the work. While there is a great deal of natural beauty along this part of the Hudson, there is an equal amount evident in the manmade. Granted, the nuke plant was not very pleasing aesthetically,  but it and the wires marching across the river are pretty darn impressive. There are spectacular houses situated all along the river that exemplify the best in various eras of architecture. Trains, both passenger and freight run very frequently along both sides and demonstrate the importance of the river for travel. You would expect them to detract from the view but I, at least, do not find that to be the case at all. And then we have West Point, arguably ground zero for the development of the US Army. A truly impressive facility, regardless of how one feels about the long history of the military in this country. The story here goes back to the Revolution. As I passed I thought about Benedict Arnold and his attempt to hand it over to the British and of George Washington's shock at the discovery of the plot. The Hudson River was absolutely critical in terms of importance strategically to the newly born United States.

I remembered a couple of things from my first trip on the Hudson when I was 16 years old. One was the mothballed fleet of WW2 Liberty ships that were moored opposite the nuke plant, if I remember correctly. Probably cut up for scrap. The other thing I remember was an operating steam sidewheeler named the Alexander Hamilton that took people on excursions from the city, up to Poughkeepsie and back. What I was most impressed by was how fast the Hamilton could move. By far the fastest large vessel on the river and you had to constantly be alert for her whereabouts.

I am anchored near Kingston and hope to head out in the morning in spite of more lousy weather on the way.

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Beaten by the river

Hi everyone,

Last night was a miserable one for sleeping. I was anchored in the lee of Mt. Hook on the edge of the Tappan Zee, a wide section of the Hudson, and the wind just exploded in gusts down the mountain flanks all night long. For a good chunk of the night the tide was opposing the wind, causing the boat to yaw back and forth while rolling to an alarming extent. The dinghy, being blown around wildly by the wind would smash violently into the stern of White Seal. Normally, I would hoist the dinghy out of the water and put it on the deck but the motion was so violent I decided not to do it and just accepted the collisions. I do have an excellent rubrail on the dinghy so there was no concern about damage. So, after a lousy sleep, I crawled out of my bunk this morning and decided to give it a shot at getting underway. I made it about a mile. A short ways past that I was going to have to motor directly into the wind which was blowing 30 with higher gusts. Large amounts of spray were coming aboard as I got further out and I said the heck with it. I reanchored much closer to shore and spent the day reading. Very happy to report the wind is dying down and should be reasonable tomorrow.

Also, an invitation is extended to any reader in the general area who might like to join me for perhaps 3 days, as I go thru the canal. It is very scenic, and it is very helpful for me to have an extra hand as we pass thru the locks. You could join the boat in Castleton on the Hudson, where we take down the mast, then enter the canal at Troy. A couple of days of travel thru bucolic countryside and you could depart at Whitehall, Orwell, or continue on to journey's end at Kingsland Bay in Ferrisburgh. Email me at if you are interested.

Best to all, Charlie

Monday, May 20, 2019


Good morning all,

White Seal is moored at the 79th Street Boat Basin and the noise of the traffic on Riverside Drive is unrelenting. Who knows where folks are going at 3 AM, but they are. This is a crazy place, and the residents likely constitute a different species, but it is pretty cool to a country lad like myself.

What is very cool is coming to the city by small boat, as I did yesterday morning, creeping in at daybreak after a 24 hour run up the coast. There was a good weather window, with poor weather after, so I decided to just keep going past the 2 or 3 potential harbors of refuge. I arrived in the vicinity of Sandy Hook, NJ around 2AM and the entrance to the lower New York harbor was thick with boat traffic, mainly ships, and tugs with barges. So I decided to just jog back and forth under mainsail only till dawn. The boat will sail herself like this and it gives me a chance for some shuteye. This I did, until about 4 AM, when I began nosing my way over to the Ambrose Channel, the main entrance into New York. As I alluded earlier, coming into New York Harbor, is just an amazing experience. The wind had died, so I was motoring over a gentle, murky sea as the sun tried to make an appearance thru the haze. Earlier, in the night, with the benefit of the full moon, the Verrazano Bridge had looked almost toy like, at a distance of 20 miles or more, resembling a necklace decorated with tiny lights
 Now, as I drew closer, you could really see how big it was, and how spectacular. Low, thick rain clouds swirled around, and I was sharing the approach with a large ship. But with a good 4000 feet of space between the two towers, there was no concern about room. The rain came down in sheets as I passed under the bridge. It does not have the beauty of a Golden Gate, or the nearby Brooklyn Bridge, but it is really something special. As I proceeded up the harbor, I realized that the vessel traffic was not quite as crazy as usual, given that it was Sunday morning. So I was able to spend less time avoiding collisions and more time taking it all in. The rain had decided to stop, and I actually started to warm up a bit. I had taken on the look of the proverbial Michelin man with thermal underwear, long pants, rain pants, t shirt, flannel shirt, heavy sweater, fleece pullover, rain jacket, safety harness, and life jacket. So these items started to come off. Went by the Statue of Liberty, merci beaucoup France, Ellis Island, and the lower tip of Manhattan. Once again, I was on the Hudson, a wonderful river. Need to check the weather and decide whether to head further north this morning, or stay another day on the mooring. The current turns soon.

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, May 17, 2019

Cape May

Hi everyone,

I had laboriously typed up an entry last evening but then twitched a finger and the whole thing disappeared.  I was too tired to make another attempt so just crawled into my bunk and slept the sleep of the exhausted. Mary has told me not to tell readers about my tech shortcomings, saying it makes me look like an idiot, but hey, I know it, you know it, and it's all ok!

To recap, after leaving Annapolis I had made it into the C&D canal, where I spent the night at a charmingly quaint little town called Chesapeake City. It is a survivor from the canal building time of around 150 years ago. Very small houses prevail. Not much commerce to be observed but great for the curious pedestrian. In the morning it was raining steadily and it was quite cold, with a cold front due shortly, but I headed out anyway with a favorable tide to challenge Delaware Bay. It should be noted that this is a sea level canal-no locks. I got thru with no issues, the cold front passed, and the Bay was pretty mellow. However, you feel a bit like a target in a shooting gallery as there is a continual parade of commercial traffic. Some of it is very large and moving with considerable speed. I managed to avoid getting obliterated and pulled into Cape May about an hour before dark. Today, I decided I needed to rest, and to be honest, warm up. It has been cold on the water. As I mentioned a while back I wish I had some much warmer gear. Perhaps it is a function of age but I could really use some kind of waterproof snowmobile suit. I mean, I have a ton of layers I put on and I am still freaking cold.

I will probably start heading up the Jersey shore tomorrow. Weather looks reasonable for a couple days and I may be able to get to NYC.

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Sublime to the mundane

Hi folks,

I decided against sailing closehauled in winds up to 25 and getting doused with cold water every few seconds. Hence, I remain in Annapolis.

The sublime, you ask? The Maryland Statehouse. What a thing of beauty. It has been in continual use since the revolution, although it did receive a nicely done addition over 100 years ago. It was the Capitol of the United States for a few months in the mid 1780s and in one of the chambers, General George Washington tendered his resignation to the Continental Congress. His letter of resignation is right there, for everyone to see. Truly an inspiring place to be. One thing that is great about a trip like this is touching so many of the places that have figured in our country's history. Like seeing items used by John Paul Jones at the Naval Academy. Or sailing across the mouth of the Potomac the other day, with nary a boat in sight, while imagining the same spot during the Civil War. I could go on, but you get the idea. The East Coast is enveloped in a rich covering of history that manifests itself wherever one turns. And I love it.

The mundane? Later, in the mid afternoon, I headed back to the shadow of the capital, and about 100 yards from the room George Washington addressed Congress, I dumped a load of rancid laundry into a machine and began the process of ratcheting up my standard of living a bit.

Good night, all


Monday, May 13, 2019

Cold and dreary

Hi everyone,

Still in Annapolis with really wretched weather. On the bright side, the sun came out for a bit in midafternoon and I made my way to the museum at the Naval Academy. As you might expect, it is a really great museum. I spent a little time there on Saturday with my niece Elena and her fiancee Michael. But I had to get back there. One thing that was interesting was just how much attention they gave to the battles of Valcour Island, and also Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain. They were both considered very important strategically. The exhibits covered the history of the Navy from the beginning up to within about the last 20 years. There is also a spectacular exhibit of sailing ship models upstairs that was really something. My father would have loved it. He was in the Navy on a destroyer escort during WW2 in the Pacific. And not too many people know this but I tried to enlist in the Navy, only to flunk the physical. It was because of poor depth perception with my vision. I was absolutely devastated not to get in at the time.

The rain seems to have stopped and perhaps I can get underway tomorrow.

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, May 10, 2019


Hey everyone,

Presently anchored in another favorite spot, Weems Creek in Annapolis. I'm afraid I skipped a couple of places I really wanted to visit in order to keep moving north. Those places were Smith, Tangier, and Tilghman islands. But I did get some real nice sailing in. Nothing quite like charging up Chesapeake Bay and looking astern towards a vista of Whitecaps to the horizon. And yesterday the wind stayed out of the south. Pulling into Annapolis was a treat as usual. There were 2 separate fleets of small one design sailboats racing around 2 racecourses, several J-24's engaged in sail handling drills, 2 large stays in schooners taking happy passengers out, and a handful of boats just sailing around. All told, probably 40 or 50 sail. And on a Thursday evening. The White Seal threaded her way through the congestion and made her way to the creek. I decided to take a rest day and do some small projects. A swage fitting on a lower shroud had me concerned so I cut it off and replaced it with a mechanical terminal. Boaty types will know what that means. I also swapped out the impeller for the engine raw water pump, which was worn. However, now I no longer have a spare so I will try to procure one tomorrow morning in town. Additionally, I picked up some food and other items at a nearby supermarket. Also hoping to visit some good friends who live nearby.

Best to all,


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Solomon's, Maryland

Hi everyone,

I am about halfway up Chesapeake Bay,  anchored in Solomons. When I left Hampton, I headed north along the western shore to a place that I am not going to reveal, in deference to my friends who invited me to visit. This is going to be another of those secret, special spots that need to be protected from the hordes. I had received directions from Chris and Bill beforehand. It looked and sounded shallow, but they assured me that there was adequate water. With a bit of trepidation I made my way to the entrance of this secluded creek and very slowly followed the circuitous passage in. After the narrow entrance the creek opened up again, to reveal the most bucolic vista imaginable. Very quiet and peaceful with a few pleasant looking homes peering out from the densely forested properties. It would be an absolutely ideal place to anchor, with complete protection and minimal boat traffic. In fact, the only boat I saw underway was my own. But, I didn't need to anchor, since Chris and Bill had offered me the use of their dock. I spent a lovely evening with them and they took me for a drive into the small town, followed by dinner back at the house. The two of them have a Dickerson 41 ketch, which they have sailed across the Atlantic, and typically cruise to the Canadian Maritimes each summer. I hated to leave their hospitality,  but I did leave early this morning at dawn.

Today was uneventful until I got about 5 miles from my destination, and the wind switched to dead ahead and picked up to the 20-30 range. I commenced to receiving a thorough beating and got really soaked smashing into the waves. But I am in a very peaceful anchorage and should enjoy a good nights rest.

Goodnight all,


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Goodbye hatch board

Good evening all,

Last night, around midnite, I was awoken by a strong gust of wind that healed the boat over and caused my hatchboard to go over the side. It was a bit of a surprise, having been flat calm all evening, but I had failed to be prepared and paid the price. For the time being I am using a section of bunkboard to keep the rain out of the companionway. I feel very stupid about this, but will end up making a new one when I get home. In the meantime I'll pick up a piece of plywood and make a temporary one. It is annoying to think that the missing hatch is only a few feet away, but it may as well be on the far side of the moon for any chance I have of getting it back. Water visibility is zero, and the currents are probably moving it around. Oh well.

Twas a rainy day here in Hampton. I went ashore in between showers, looking to buy a Sunday paper. None for sale. Just beer, cigarettes, soda, and candy. Does no one read the paper anymore? Truly, this can't be good.

Forecast for tomorrow is 15 to 20 out of the north and I have to decide whether I want to beat to windward. I am thinking perhaps not. So I can scare up a quarter sheet of plywood for the hatch. And perhaps locate some reading material.

To literacy,


Saturday, May 4, 2019


Hi everyone,

A relatively short day was in order as I made my way from Deep Creek on the Dismal Swamp canal, through the absolutely massive port of Norfolk. This place has to be seen from the water to be really appreciated. The Navy presence is really something. Dozens of huge ships lined up as if in a parking lot. Including a couple of aircraft carriers. I guess the White Seal looked threatening because I was shadowed by a small patrol boat as I passed by one row of about a dozen ships. There were also a number of merchant ships, but the Navy really dominates. To tell the truth, I really feel quite insignificant in the presence of a fleet like that.

I have anchored in Hampton and I may end up staying here for a bit. Looking more and more like heavy rain tomorrow. We shall see.

All the best,


Cloudy day

Good morning all,

I have a few minutes as I wait for a scheduled bridge opening at the northern end of the Dismal Swamp. I am tied up to a bulkhead where I spent the night. It is cloudy and rain looks imminent, though the weather bureau says only a slight chance after 2 PM.

Delightful passage thru the swamp. I forgot just how narrow it is. And shallow. Felt the keel bump over a couple of logs in places. Near the end of the day I saw a figure on the shore waving vigorously. It was Paul, whom I had met in Elizabeth City last fall, and who has been following my blog. He joined me a little later at the wharf and we had a good old time swapping stories and enjoying dinner. He has an Alberg 35 in Edenton.

After I get through this bridge I have several more in the congested Norfolk area. Depending on the weather, I may try to get across Hampton Roads and anchor in that area. I may be stuck there for a bit as substantial rain is in the forecast.

Best to all, Charlie

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Great sailing

Hi everyone,

Am presently tied up at the community dock in Elizabeth City, a welcoming community well known among cruising sailors. Last night I had anchored at the head of the Alligator River, a place that seems quite vast and remote,  considering its location on the East Coast. No cell phone service. Pretty special to see mile after mile with no human habitation. There is, however, an airbase somewhere nearby and fighter jets were flying around at low elevation well after dark. I figure the local constituents ( bear, deer, and the rare red wolf) don't have any representation, because it was really loud. But once the flights ended it was very peaceful. Today I went about 50 miles, mostly under sail, and at a pretty good clip. At times doing 7 knots. Not bad, considering the mangy forest of crud growing on the bottom. I had started out with the big Genoa, but as usual, the forecasted 10 knots turned into 25, and so I downsized to the working job for the rest of the way. Tomorrow, I return to the swamp. No, not Washington, DC, but rather the Dismal Swamp Canal. It really is remarkable, the variety of environments I have encountered on this trip.

Looking forward to the swamp,


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Oriental, NC

Hi everyone,

After several days of getting thoroughly beaten and demoralized by strong winds and ferocious currents I decided a day of rest was in order. I pulled into Oriental and was exceedingly fortunate to score one of two free, public dock spots in the small protected harbor. These spots are highly coveted and come with a 2 day limit. Last night I enjoyed a really wonderful sleep. It was absolutely flat calm, completely quiet, and bug free. I slept until 6:45, an amazing luxury. Oriental is lovely. It would probably be described by many as 'dead' but they would be missing the essence of a small, out of the way, southern town. There are a number of folks from out of town, mostly sailors, who have chosen to settle here. A really nice combination of folks. A mix of pleasure boats and work boats in the harbor. Wikipedia says the population is around 900, although it looks like more than that to me. I guess I'm just a small town guy, but this is the kind of place that really resonates with me!

Here's to small towns,


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Relentless wind

Hi all,

Well now, I am thoroughly pooped. 75 miles today, and not by choice. The wind built up strong in the afternoon of the past 3 or 4 days. This meant that by 1PM the wind was howling, and stealing a great deal of energy from yours truly. I had hoped to anchor in Swansboro, but the 30 knot wind, combined with a very strong tidal current rendered the anchorage untenable. The 2 marinas there were very exposed, with non floating docks, and I could see there would be problems with the well being of the boat. Great, no marinas for 30 miles. One possible anchorage, but the guidebook said shoaling was a problem. Looking at the chartbook, which was apt to be torn from my grasp by the wind at any second, I noticed a spot of deeper water just outside the channel, about 25 miles away. I had no other option so I went for it. I was ashamed of myself for motoring in such a fine breeze, but I would have been aground in 30 seconds had I tried. Got to the spot about a half hour before dark. Completely exposed, but it will suffice for the night. A bit like anchoring last night, in Wrightsville Beach,  another woefully inadequate anchorage. Will be heading more inland tomorrow. Can't wait!

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, April 26, 2019

Hunkered down

Hi everyone,

Based on the forecast I decided to lay low at my anchorage here at Dutchman Creek in Southport, North Carolina. I did an oil change this morning and finished a book this afternoon. But I could have made a few miles since the thunderstorms have not yet materialized. The wind is really howling though, and it may just be a matter of time before the weather hits. Time to look for a new book.

Best, Charlie

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Into North Carolina

Hi everyone,

Not much to report, another 65 mile day. Doesn't sound like much, but remember, I am going at a brisk walk, or maybe a slow jog.

So here is something noteworthy. Earlier today I transited the infamous Rock Pile, a notoriously narrow and rocky area of the ICW near Myrtle Beach. I called ahead and found that there was a southbound tug and barge coming thru but I was confident I could get thru before it showed up. Sadly, I was almost thru when I encountered it coming round the bend. It was big and bad, taking up 90% of the channel. I slowed to a crawl and moved over to the right as far as I dared. BAM! My keel hit a ledge. I put it in reverse and backed away. I had found myself a pocket of deep water, and I stayed there till the barge squeezed by. I could have touched it with the boat hook. Thankfully, it was a light hit, but I shall be looking at the keel closely come bailout time.

I should start a dredging company. I seem to be pretty adept at scraping the bottom on this trip!

Best to all, Charlie the dredger

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Skinny water

Good evening everyone,

The first 5 miles between my anchorage and Mcclellanville were done at dead low tide, and it was shallow! I had the depthsounder alarm set at 7 1/2 feet and it emits a high pitched whine when I reach that level. The alarm was sounding probably half the time during those 5 miles. You could see shoals sticking right out into the channel. Fortunately, at that hour there was nobody else on the ICW. And if I had run aground, no big deal, the tide would lift me off in short order.

I am in a different sort of environment here, since leaving Charleston. The water is the color of root beer, a far cry from the Exumas! The trees are different. Less Spanish Moss, and fewer palm trees. Beautiful areas abound, although development continues relentlessly. I am anchored at the north end of the Waccamaw River with a couple of other boats. Looks like one more decent day, then rain on Friday. Was able to sail for a while today, but still mostly motoring. Hope to do more sailing on the big waters of North Carolina.

Cheers, Charlie

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Aground at high tide

Hi everyone,

It was a harrowing 10 minutes when I ran aground at almost high tide a mile or so north of the Ben Sawyer bridge outside Charleston. I was in the channel, a bit over to one side, and the alarm went off as I was moving along at 6 knots. The boat hit less than a second after the alarm sounded, indicating a steep bank. I knew I was in trouble. With 5 or 6 feet of tidal range the boat was going to be high and dry if I didn't act fast. I put the rudder hard over and gave it a lot of throttle. The boat pivoted, pointing towards deeper water, but she was stuck. So, in record time I shackled on a 20 pound Danforth and ran it out in the dinghy, dropping it in deeper water. Dashing back to the boat, I led the anchor line back to my big cockpit winch. About this time a powerboat zipped by and gave me a much welcomed wake. The boat bumped to freedom, I hoisted the anchor, and continued on my way. If I were a drinking man I would have poured myself a stiff drink!

Other than that, not much to report. I got fuel at the megadock, 10.2 gallons worth. The guy that pumped it said that the day before he pumped 6000 gallons for a megayacht. Said it took 2 hours to fill it with a high speed pump, and the bill was over 18 grand! That would heat our house for 10-15 years!

Best to all, Charlie

BTW, I am anchored near McClellanville, SC.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Swamp creature

Hi everyone,

Before I discuss the last couple of days on the waterway I need to share something really disturbing that I saw earlier today. I was motoring along, enjoying weather that allowed me to utilize a t-shirt, when I saw a flying critter land on the bow pulpit, about 25 feet away. I lashed the helmet and went forward to inspect my visitor. Looking at it closely, I realized that it was not a small bird, but rather something that looked horribly like a horsefly. Now I have seen many horseflies, and in fact, have been bitten by more than a few, but this thing was a monster. You could see the mandibles on this horror show and I expect their action would be akin to a drilling rig. The fly was about the size of a half dollar. I thought about killing it, but my fly swatter is rather wimpy and I didn't want to piss it off. The heavy stainless winch handle might do the job, but I couldn't risk a miss. In the end, I went back to steering and regarding the fly nervously. Eventually, it got bored and left, lumbering off like a Sikorsky Blackhawk. I hope it never returns!

Back in Savannah I had enjoyed a really nice visit from my friend Kim Blodgett from Vermont, and her boyfriend Jim. They were spending the weekend there, looking at houses in preparation for moving there, and I joined them for a walk around the downtown. Great visit. Next morning I got up early and made it to Beaufort, SC, about 60 miles. Had the chance to walk around yet another beautiful old Southern town. In the morning the bridge didn't open till 9 so I had a late start, but still knocked off a few miles, and am anchored maybe 20 miles south of Charleston. Betsy, if you are reading this, I will be stopping at the megadock for fuel around 10:30 or 11. Would love to say hi if you are in town. Will probably continue onward though.

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, April 19, 2019

Survived the storm

Hi all,

A quick post to let you know I got through the storm with no problem. I would estimate the worst of the wind at about 45 knots in the worst gusts. The spring tide was ebbing hard and controlled the position of the boat, keeping it at about 70 degrees away from the wind. This meant the boat was heeled over quite a bit, but posed no problems. The Rocna and Danforth anchors held great. Had a lot of lightning and rain. I almost lost my boathook, which blew off the cabin top, but the hook managed to get caught on a stanchion and I was able to grab it before it went over. So all is well!

Best, Charlie

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hunkered down

Hi everyone,

Anchored close to Ossabaw Island in Big Tom Creek and will probably stay here tomorrow if the weather is as bad as forecast.

I just read some of the comments and I would like to thank everyone for their kind words! There is probably a way for me to respond, but if so I haven't figured it out. Feel free to email me at if you would like.

These Georgia sea islands are really cool. Several of them have been heavily developed, also in neighboring South Carolina, but several others are still pretty wild. The one I am next to is in the latter category. It appears to be uninhabited. Would love to go ashore but there would be about a quarter mile of swamp to negotiate first. I will have to read up about them.

Tide changing soon, gotta check anchors. Special note to Will Patten, the Rocna has worked out well! Except for the time it landed directly on top of a discarded crab trap. Crab traps don't hold well!

Best, Charlie

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Storm coming

Hi everyone,

Another lovely day, motoring thru the Georgia lowcountry. I did run hard aground, at close to low tide, and I sat there for about 30 minutes with my head hung in shame. Fortunately, no one happened along while I was thus compromised, and I finally kedged myself off with an anchor off the stern. Other than that little mishap it really was nice, and I logged 50 miles. The previous day I had lingered at Plum Orchard, where I was welcomed by Chris and Greg, the delightful volunteers that look after the fabulous Carnegie mansion there. They remembered me from last fall, which was really nice.

The weather forecast is looking rather grim, with small craft warnings for Thursday night and a gale warning for Friday. I have identified a half dozen potential anchorages on the chart, from about 20 miles to 40 miles from where I am located now. So I will get underway before sunup and go as far as I comfortably can, and then hunker down for at least 36 hours. There is also a spot about 45 miles away that I will not attempt, as it is subject to shoaling, and I want to transit that spot on a rising tide, at least halfway thru the cycle. Probably wait for Saturday to do that.

Best to all, Charlie

Monday, April 15, 2019

Beautiful day

Hi everyone,

I was underway before sunup this morning, having anchored a few short miles north of St. Augustine. I had picked the spot in expectation of getting hit with a thunderstorm, and indeed, we did. Not too bad, maybe 35 mph winds and the boat got a nice powerwash out of it.

This morning was clear, dry, and windy. It was also cold, which I came to regret later as I stood in the cockpit shivering and wondering where I had stashed my heavy clothing. But it was stunningly beautiful,  2 words I do not customarily employ when describing Florida. You see, Florida used to be a beautiful place, about 200 years ago, before it became absurdly overpopulated and carpet bombed with all manner of misguided and short sighted construction projects. But for a few glorious miles along the ICW in this part of Florida, you can see what it was like. And with a small craft warning in effect, I had it mostly to myself. Bald eagles, lush vegetation, exotic birds, it really was nice. Then, sadly, I returned to the developed areas. Once again, I was struck by all the docks and boathouse that created what looked like a shantytown in a third world country along the shore. It appeared as a veritable thicket of posts and roofs protecting a rather motley armada of boats that stretched for about 10 miles. These were all in front of really quite spectacular homes, which you could barely see through the forest of pilings. Pressure treated pilings, concrete pilings, pilings knocked askew from bad boat handlers, broken pilings, pilings painted to look like barber poles, pilings with Trump flags, weathered pilings in need of replacement,  I mean the whole sorry mess was really something. And almost every house had this farcical erector set on the water. I think I saw 3 houses that didn't. But, I think I get it. They got the place on the water, and by gum, gotta get the boat. And now, I need to shut up, and apologize to all Floridians, because it was a beautiful day!

There were some busy areas. Crossing the St. John's River is a fearsome prospect, and it lived up to its reputation today. There was commercial traffic and the usual strong current. In fact, my speed over the bottom while crossing was only 2 and a half. It was really windy today. The forecast was for 10 to 15, with gusts to 20, but the reality was 20 to 25, with gusts to 30. Another case of NOAA lowballing the windspeed. When I went up Cumberland Sound I was motoring with a favorable tide directly into this wind and the waves were shockingly steep and vicious. Fortunately,  there were no other boats out there to complicate things, so navigation was pretty easy. Tonight, the wind has died, and I am at one of my favorite spots, Plum Orchard on Cumberland Island,  Georgia! I will definitely spend some time here tomorrow.

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, April 12, 2019

Combat anchoring

Hello again,

Made my way north today, to Daytona, which equates to about 49 miles. And I have rediscovered the joy of anchoring along the ICW. Happily, the anchorage had plenty of room, and current and wind were in perfect harmony. I dropped the Rocna and paid out chain and line. So far, so good. I cleated the line and returned to the cockpit. I put the engine in reverse and backed down at about half throttle. And the boat started to move aft, towards the bridge abutment, as if there was no anchor down at all. Moving quickly, I returned to the forecheck and started pulling up the anchor, which seemed much heavier than usual. As it broke the surface it was evident what the problem was. The anchor had gotten stuck on a rusty old crab trap and was unable to bite into the bottom. This would require some effort, but in the meantime the bridge abutment was coming up fast. So I secured the chain and left the anchor, the trap, and a large amount of putrid mud hanging off the bow, and hustled back to the engine controls. After getting the boat to a safer spot, I put it in neutral, went forward and cleaned up the whole sorry mess. Then, I reanchored successfully. But, I knew the tide would change. But there was plenty of room to swing, and the weather was stable. Then, 3 other boats came and anchored near me. So, I dragged out another anchor, shackled it to another rode,  and ran it out in the dinghy. Now, White Seal, is resting comfortably,  while the other boats swing wildly about, as current and wind oppose each other. But now, the dinghy is bumping the side of the hull and driving me nuts, so I will haul it out of the water for the night. Boy, am I having fun, or what?

Best to all, Charlie

Thursday, April 11, 2019


Hi again,

Well now, that was certainly a life changing event! I guess I can see why 100k people show up for a launch like that. I was amazed at the absolutely staggering power on display. At 7 or 8 miles away you could feel it, big time. And the pillar of fire with the shiny white rocket on top, amazing. The whole thing didn't take all that long as the rocket climbed out of sight. I would like to suggest that anyone who doubts what the space program has done, come to a launch like this. Pretty tough to fake. And a doff of the hat to Elon Musk. That guy can get stuff done. He probably has to go back to his car factory tomorrow, but shooting off a rocket like that has got to be a great little break from the grind. I bet he had a good seat for the launch!

Your inspired scribe, Charlie


Hi everyone,
Hanging out here in Titusville waiting for the Falcon Heavy rocket launch. It was postponed yesterday and I have decided I dont have the patience to be a rocket launch afficianado! I could have made a 100 miles to the north over the last 2 days but here I am, sitting in Titusville. I will let you know a bit later how it went.

Best, Charlie

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Goodbye Mary

Hi everyone,

I'll be honest. This morning was tough. I am not ashamed to say that I cried. Mary has been aboard with me for almost 3 months and I said goodbye to her as she headed back to Georgetown for 3 more weeks. We have had so much fun cruising together on White Seal. How many dads get to do something like this? All I know is that I am very, very grateful. Mary will be spending the additional time in the Bahamas on a friends boat and will attend the Family Islands Regatta at the end of the month before returning to Vermont. I hope she has a wonderful time. And I miss her.

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, April 5, 2019

Vero Beach

Hi everyone,

Mary and I are spending a couple of nights tied up to a mooring in the cruiser friendly town of Vero Beach. I am embarrassed to reveal that I just had my first real shower since January 13, when we were at the Nassau Yacht Haven. Plus, we each got haircuts today! I had developed a rather shaggy appearance that made me look a bit like an aging hippy, down on his luck.

We are rafted up with another boat which is regular policy here in the marina and our mooring mates are a couple from England who have circumnavigated on their boat, over a period of 7 or 8 years. Great folks, Glenys and Neville, and I doff my hat to them and their accomplishments.  Hope to run into them on the trip north.

We will head out in the morning, after our leisurely showers. I did replace the second battery, which had been slowly circling the electrical drain. Thankful to do it here rather than in the islands. The other one had been replaced in Solomons on the trip south. Nothing fancy, no lithium, AGM, or gel, just conventional lead acid.

Rocket launch potential in a few days time has us motivated to get up to the Titusville area. Plus, Mary flies out on the 9th. Crew would be great if anyone would like to join me. Cramped quarters, hard usage, and mediocre food plus plenty of terrible weather. Let me know if this sounds appealing!

All the best, Charlie

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Goodbye Bahamas

Hi everyone,

It was a sad day yesterday as we watched the island of Bimini disappear below the horizon. We had left Morgans Bluff the day before and made the long passage across the Great Bahama Banks. That was close to 80 miles and we anchored near the north end of Bimini at about 11PM, after 16 hours underway. It was a rather miserable nights sleep as the boat rolled around restlessly. I had taken advantage of a 2 day weather window which provided stable conditions but light wind so we ended up motorsailing the entire way both days. Day 2 was much better because we had the giant conveyor belt known as the Gulf Stream in our favor. 16 hours for 80 miles on day 1, 11 hours and 75 miles on day 2. At times in the Stream we were making in excess of 9 knots! And it was probably the smoothest crossing I've ever made. There was a storm as we approached Palm Beach and we did see a waterspout so we doused our sails and used the motor solely the last 3 miles.

Coming in the inlet resulted in serious sensory overload. A cruise ship was coming out and a plethora of smaller craft were speeding to and fro in the choppy waters. The VHF radio was crackling with voices, and truth be told a number of them were rather snooty sounding, with one person yelling at another, threatening to report the evil doer to the Coast Guard for some perceived transgression. One thing that we noticed as we came in was the smell of the land. It was a potpourri of scents, a whiff of various pollutants and other toxic substances for sure, but mostly a smell of rich soil. After having spent a bunch of time on what are essentially desert islands and on the water, you really notice the difference.  Today, we don't notice it, but yesterday, we did.

After anchoring, the first thing we needed to do was to clear in with customs. This was the beginning of what was to prove a really miserable experience that consumed many hours, and the wasting of money on Uber and taxi rides. We were both pretty disappointed in the whole process. The next time I am not even going to bother. I mean, millions of people don't bother already. The entire thing was a farce, involving failed apps, buildings impossible to find, Customs officials whose English was extremely difficult to understand, endless phone trees, etc. I thought Mary was going to lose it, and I was not far behind. But, we are in.

Enough ranting! We were so delighted to be back in the land of cheap, plentiful food that we went a couple of miles north and anchored near a big Publix supermarket. Talk about sensory overload! But first, a trip to a Starbucks,  so Mary could procure some coffee and wifi to catch up on errands.  While  there I noticed the sky getting dark,  and looked up the weather. In an act of downright negligence, I had failed to check the weather forecast this morning. Yesterday things had sounded pretty benign, so I had not given it any attention. But this report really opened my eyes.  A special alert was calling for a severe thunderstorm,  with a chance for a tornado in our area. As I was reading this, the storm hit, and it was a doozy.  Winds were supposed to reach 60, and it appeared they did. Hailstones were part of the mix, along with torrential rain. All we could think of was the boat. Would she be OK? After the storm blew itself out over the course of an hour, we made our way back - and she was fine! I had forgotten about these Florida thunderstorms, but I will remember now! There was a good bit of flooding, debris everywhere,  and we saw a large palm tree snapped off at about 10 feet off the ground.

We will make another trip ashore for provisions in the morning, then make our way north for a few miles.

Best to all, Charlie

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Farm Festival

Hi everyone,
Farm festival today a short distance from our boat. There is music, vendors, and exhibits, with the harbour as a backdrop. Also good conversation to be had with various folks around the dock. It was a bit scary earlier when the 200' Lady Rosalind came in with a load of festival goers from Nassau. As she turned around in the tiny harbour and backed up to the wharf it looked like she was going to use the White Seal as a Fender, coming within about 5 feet. But it was all good.

Everyone knows I am not much of a barhopper, but we did find the perfect bar the other afternoon when we had the car. Driving thru Nicholls Town we saw a group of very old traditional buildings right by the beach. As we crawled by we got a glimpse of what looked like a bar through the heavy wood door that stood ajar to let the wind thru. We had to stop. Entering the stone building was like stepping into a time warp. Keith, the owner, welcomed us in. He said he was the 5th generation to run the place and he believes it to be about 200 years old. His friend Albert showed up and gave us a tour around the place. Very cool pace. Mary will post some pics.

Best to all, Charlie

Friday, March 29, 2019

More Andros

Hi all,

We are really liking this island! Rented a car yesterday and explored. Having problems with phone, will try and post more later.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Photos from Morgan’s Bluff

Gorgeous view of the ocean from Morgan’s Bluff. This passes for a very tall cliff in the Bahamas, where most everything is quite flat.

The shipwrecked tugboat washed ashore at Morgan’s Bluff

Morgan’s Cave

Shipwreck, with pirate for scale

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Hi everyone,

First time on Andros and so far we really like it! Not many cruisers come here, mainly because anchorages are few and marginal. We are in Morgan's Bluff, Henry Morgan's old pirate hangout. We were anchored last night in the outer harbour but moved into the inner harbour today with the threat of another cold front. We were able to score a dock face, albeit one of the sorriest docks I have ever tied to in a half century of boating. However, the fee is only 6 bucks a night and we are smack dab in the centre of activity.

This island is big, over 100 miles long and 40 wide. Only 8000 people live here. We have met a handful of locals already. We may try to rent a car on Thursday to see more of the island. Today we went to Morgan's cave where he supossedly kept his loot. We were also intrigued by a tugboat driven ashore in the harbour. It had beautiful lines and I was rather smitten by it as was Mary. I googled it and found it was built in 1908. Very sad to see it now.

We will try and stay thru Saturday for a farm festival. There is a possibility that we may head back to the States soon with the next good weather window.

Best to all, Charlie

Saturday, March 23, 2019


Hi everyone,

Mary and I motorsailed down to Nassau today. I am kind of embarrassed but we were running dead downwind and the wind was only around 10mph. Our speed under sail alone was only around 3mph and I really needed over 5 in order to get there at a reasonable hour. I am no longer into waiting all night to enter Nassau harbour. And I really don't like entering any harbours at night.

Anyways, here we are, back in the rat race that is Nassau. This place really is a circus. Huge amount of boat traffic in the harbour. Mail boats, fishing boats, megayachts, jet skis, you name it. Going in all directions, and at flank speed. No regard given to the effect of a wake. Really quite remarkable.

We are anchored in my usual spot in the harbour with plenty of room. We will pick up a few supplies tomorrow and then hopefully go to Andros on Monday. Given the forecast that may be a motoring day also. Later in the week we get way too much wind. Our goal will be to get a secure spot at Morgan's Bluff in Andros. There will be the first Farmers Festival there next weekend and we would love to be there. A friend of mine from Vermont has some involvement there and it would be great to run into him.

All the best, Charlie

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The first several photos are from Harbour Island, where we enjoyed a lovely day of exploration. The last photos were taken yesterday, when a squall passed through. We also said farewell to Uncle Mike yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed having him along for a wonderful adventure!


Hi everyone,

It is amazing how time flies. This will be our 5th night at the delightful community of Spanish Wells. There is, however, one small blemish on what would otherwise be perfection. That blemish would be the flocks of flying teeth that circle the boat around dusk and attack relentlessly all night long. These voracious little blood sucking creatures are small enough to fly through the mosquito netting without slowing down. Industrial strength DEET is something that only motivates them more. They live in the mangroves about 75 feet away, and their only goal in life is to sink their fangs into the tasty flesh of Mary and Charlie Langworthy. They have been quite successful. Especially Mary. She is a mass of welts. The problem has been a lack of wind. A severe cold front went through last afternoon and while the winds were blowing 50, we were bug free. Sadly, when I woke up at 4 AM, the wind had died and the little cretins were gnawing away at my face and ears. I set the netting back up, unleashed a cloud of DEET, and crawled back into the bunk, being careful to cover every inch f my body. Sadly, some of them joined me under the covers and there was not much I could do to get rid of my new bedfellows. Ah, the joys of cruising!

Sleep tight! Don't let the bedbugs bite!

Best to all, Charlie

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Wow, Harbour Island

Hi everyone,

We have heard about Harbour Island for years but had never actually been there. The idea of taking White Seal through coral saturated waters while paying a pilot a large sum of money to guide us was not appealing. So we made a day of it, taking a ferry to Norrh Eleuthera, hopping a taxi for about a 20 minute ride, then taking a second ferry out to the island. I would say that Harbour Island could be called the Nantucket of the Bahamas. It is impossibly quaint, very lush, beautiful, and extremely high end. There are the most lovely homes there, many of which are quite humble, and quite a few that are likely worth millions, and yet manage to still be charming. I'd guess the population at maybe 75 percent black. Talked with a number of the locals and it seems as if they really like it there. It was Sunday and there had just been a funeral the day before for a much loved church organist so most businesses were closed.

This island was extremely lush, with a lot of attention being paid in the maintenance of plants and gardens. The beach was very nice, with a definite pink tinge to the sand. It was rather crowded though, compared to other beaches that have spoiled us beyond hope.

The houses couldn't be cuter. Wood shutters for just about every window. Very often wood shingles on the roof. Dormers on many houses. Some of the houses appear to be quite old. We did manage to get some excellent food.

Mike had lost his waterproof camera on the beach and after a search, wrote it off as lost. But he and Mary ran into the folks on the mooring next to us, and told them about it. Amazingly enough they found it and gave it back to us when we had all returned back to the boat.

What a great day! We all love Harbour Island!

Best to all, Charlieu

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Spanish Wells

Hi everyone,

We are currently enjoying Spanish Wells, which is a small island just off the NW coast of Eleuthera. We had spent a couple of nights at Hatchet Bay, and then sailed up to Current Cut on Friday. This is a potentially dangerous cut that everybody seems to have horror stories about, but we had no problems. After transiting the cut we anchored off the town and rowed in. A really charming place. Very lush, quiet, and with delightful little houses. We only spent a couple of hours there, but it will not be soon forgotten. We then sailed up to Royal Island, where we anchored for the night and visited with Don and D of Southern Cross.

This morning we headed over to Spanish Wells and were able to pick up a mooring. This town is really cool and I will post more about it because we will be here for several days until Uncle Mike says farewell. He will fly out of Birth Eleuthera on Tuesday. A bad cold front goes thru Tuesday Eve.

Will post again soon, Charlie


Beach on Spanish Wells

Laundry line in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera

In front of the town library in the town of Current, Eleuthera 

No shortage of cats on this island!

Uncle Mike enjoying the beach near Current Cut

Abandoned dock by Current Cut

Ruins at Royal Island

Another beautiful beach on Eleuthera opposite Alabaster Bay

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera

Hi everyone,

Another awesome day! Wind picked up last night and was blowing 25 knots today. This morning we rowed ashore and had a great hike over to the ocean beach. Very rough over there. After returning we pulled up anchor and headed north on the Banks. Given the buildup of waves we decided to put into Hatchet Bay in order to ensure a smooth anchorage. Although many cruisers are rather dismissive of the township we found it to be a charming place. Rowing in to a shoreside bar we were entertained by Emmet who regaled us with some of his original and good music. He is a very good salesman for Eleuthera.

Yesterday Uncle Mike initiated fishing activities by purchasing some line and lures. After setting everything up he cast out the lure as we were moving along at a good clip shortly after leaving Governor's Harbour. In less than a minute he had a hard strike and within 15 seconds all the line, lure, and swivel was gone. Back to square one. This is why I get discouraged from fishing. I think I need to fish with a wire cable and a grappling hook. But Mike was undeterred and had it set up again in short order. No fish yet but we are hopeful!

Mary may be able to post photos.

All the best, Charlie

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Alabaster Bay, Eleuthera

Hi everyone,

This is attempt #3 at this blog post. We are at Alabaster Bay and it is a really beautiful place. I will attempt a longer blog tomorrow. Will get Mary to post pics.

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Rock Sound

Hi all,

We have spent a couple of nights here and I realise it is update time. We had been on the move for 3 days, wanting to get a spot with westerly protection from the same storm that has hammered the US. We spent a night at Bennett Harbour, Cat Island, which was a lovely spot. Then we had a nice rousing 60 miles sail here to Rock Sound where our speed averaged about 6 and a half knots until we got to the last 5 miles which was dead to windward. I caved in and used the motor.

We really like this little town. There are quite a few really cute little traditional small houses with bougainvillea erupting from behind stone walls or picket fences. Pastel colours on the buildings and hand painted signs advertising businesses complete the picture. The only discordant note is the trash strewn about, as is the case in many other parts of the country. This is very troubling to tourists and I am surprised the government does not do more to address the problem.


Friday, March 1, 2019


The Hermitage at Cat Island.

Enjoying the views from the highest point in the Bahamas, a “mountain” of 206’.

Dinner party on White Seal in Georgetown! Ratatouille, roasted chicken, salad, and a whole lot of rum...

Rafted up with friends for our last night in Elizabeth Harbor.

Anchor’s away!
A friend’s drone got some really awesome photos of our boats. He’s @fuirmontreal on Instagram and they’re documenting their travels with some really spectacular videos.

Cat Island

Hi Everyone,

We had been at Georgetown for a very long time, nearly a month, and it was time to go. Yesterday afternoon we pulled the anchor and traveled about an hour within the bay, to the Red Shanks anchorage. We were joined there by Mary's friends, who rafted up next to us, and with whom we enjoyed a fine last evening. I will ask Mary to post some photos.

This morning we got underway a little before 7, and in about an hour's time we were out on the ocean. Beautiful day, but very light wind. Since we wanted to get to our anchorage at Cat Island before dark, 50 miles away, we started the engine and motorsailed most of the way. Even with the engine loafing  along it was magical. Mary had a nice selection of music and with the gentle swell it just seemed perfect. We watched Stocking Island disappear over the horizon, and a few hours later saw Cat Island rise up out of the sea. After dropping the anchor and launching the dinghy we had about an hour of daylight, so we hiked up to the Hermitage, on the highest point of the Bahamas. The place is beyond magical, and we stayed till the bugs drove us away at dusk. It was all built, singlehandedly, by Father Jerome. The padre came to the Bahamas in the early 1900's to replace wooden churches with stone ones. When he retired he kept himself busy by building this Hermitage for his own use. It is lovely, with unreal views, and I am happy to see it is in great shape with tons of great maintenance. Mary will post photos.

We will only be on Cat Island for a couple of days due to approaching bad weather, but this island is special.

Best, Charlie

Monday, February 25, 2019

Elizabeth Harbour Race

Hi all,

Yesterday turned out to be another delightful day and well suited for racing. And I am happy to report that people were very well behaved! Mary had invited Dave and Sue, from the softball team, and they joined us a bit before 9AM. We left the dinghy tied to the anchor line and pitched the excess line into the dinghy, thusly reserving our prime spot in the anchorage.

The course was probably a total of 5 miles and wholly confined within the harbour. A significant portion went right through the anchored boats. Starts were low pressure, since your boat time was taken as you crossed the line. I am guessing there were about 2 dozen boats racing. We sailed well, but, as in the other race I was using my ancient working jib, and our nemisis, the Tanzer 29, was able to sail consistently higher. I am embarrassed to say that they beat us boat for boat! It was very well sailed, and in fact was the overall winner of the monohulls for the day. They did not do as well in the other race, getting knocked around on the ocean. I met the owner, Michael of Quebec City, and congratulated him. He is a really nice guy, not in the least puffed up with his success on the course. We got yet another 3rd place in our class. There were 6 or 7 boats in the class. We might get some rum at the awards ceremony tomorrow.

Best to all, Charlie

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Round the island race

Hi everyone,

Mary and I did the around the island race yesterday and had a great time. The race is 19 miles and involves sailing around Stocking Island. It really is a beautiful course and the highlights are sailing through the cuts at either end of the island. The Elizabeth Harbour portion is quite calm and involved downwind sailing but the open ocean portion consisted of a long hard slog to windward. It was a thorough beating, actually. With 20+knots of wind and whitecaps everywhere I normally wouldn't even bother, but those were the conditions, so we did it. I am happy to report no breakage, and my 30 year old working jib that I sewed myself managed to hold together.

This race was an excellent example of why I don't race anymore, however. Early in the morning the race committee chair came on the radio and said they had decided to reverse the days of the 2 races, based on the strong winds and lumpy seas on the ocean. The committee was having a difficult time setting the marks at the cuts, and they were quite concerned about running the race safely. The in the harbour race, scheduled for Sunday promised lighter winds. So they wanted to have the in the harbour race instead. Immediately after this announcement, an extremely snotty Canadian came on the radio and just skewered Dale, the race chair, for making this last minute decision. Several other folks, equally caustic, chimed in as well. Keep in mind that all these folks have big, powerful monohulls or catamarans and obviously didn't care if smaller boats were going to get beat up. It would also give a clear advantage to those bigger boats. Well, the bad behaviour had its desired effect and Dale reversed his decision. There were a few plaintive calls from the smaller boat crowd, but they were drowned out by the loud and the whiney. Remember, this was billed as a FUN race. Another example of this type of behaviour occurred partway through the race, when it became evident that the mark at the eastern cut had blown far off station due to the wind. Immediately, people were concerned about the possibility of other competitors cutting the corner and shaving a few feet off the course. The suggestion was made that people have the track lines in their chart plotters examined after the race to make sure they weren't cheating. Since I don't have a chart plotter I could only assume I would be disqualified, but as one of the small boats getting punished out on the ocean the big shots didn't worry about me.

Finally, there was another ugly little incident where one boat was trying to luff up another boat, forcing him into water that was too shallow and the race committee had to intervene. It had been made abundantly clear before the race that the controlling ethics would be fun, safety, and consideration, but these all went by the wayside in short order.

So, Mary and I had an awesome sail, and I had an excellent reminder of why I no longer engage in sailboat racing! That said, I will sail in the in the harbour race tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a bit more civilized!

Best to all, Charlie

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Small boat racing

A windy, rainy day ushered in the small boat races. It was, as is typical, loud, noisy, and rather unorganised, but fun. Mary and I competed in the blindfolded rowing race, hard dinghy division, and I am very sad to report there were only two boats. Mary gave me verbal guidance and we went easily around the course, winning a bottle of rum for our efforts. But watching the inflatables race was hilarious! Those things are near useless without motors and it took well nigh an eternity for them to get around. A winner finally emerged and managed, like a crippled beetle, to make it to shore. I would say it took  at least 3 times as long for the inflatable, as it did for me. Great fun!

Battery low, Charlie

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Batter up!

Hi everyone,

Just got back from the ball game, which was very well attended, and a ton of fun! Mary garnered more positive attention for White Seal based on a spectacular catch at short left, plus some other good catches. She was also pinch running for older guys who could hit but couldn't run. She was voted MVP! We think the cruisers won, for the first time in years, but since the announcer was hitting the beer pretty hard we aren't sure! Will find out on the net tomorrow.

We are anchored near town and will spend the night here, in order to do some errands in the morning.

Best to all, Charlie

Photos from Georgetown

Dancing at a live Rake’n’Scrape concert in Georgetown.

Like a mirage on the horizon, an affordable laundromat appeared and the crew of the White Seal took full advantage.

The beach on the ocean side of Stocking Island is magical, and typically almost deserted.

We have been anchored off of Chat’n’Chill, the beach bar that serves as the epicenter of the Georgetown cruiser craziness. Constant volleyball, rope swings, resident cats stealing sips of rum punch, and weekly dances on the deck contribute to the chaos. 

Mary and friends participating in the Coconut Challenge, one of the many silly regatta activities. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Talent show

Hi everyone,

I survived! First time ever speaking into a microphone up on a stage. Thankfully I was up there as part of a group. I wrote about a third of the material. We did a half assed rehearsal a few minutes before showtime. It was, as I mentioned earlier, a spoof of the morning radio net. Here is a little sample of my efforts:

Today's weather synopsis is from Biff (real name Chris) Parker. The mother of all cold fronts has formed in the Yukon Territory and will be entering the Bahamas in 2 days. Negotiations have begun with Justin Trudeau and will result in punitive tariffs if this weather is not diverted to Greenland. Should these negotiations fail the only safe place for your boat will be inside Thunderball Cave. Good luck."

So that's a sample of the foolishness we came up with. It was fun. Crowd of around 250 loved it and I got a bunch of compliments after.

Coconut challenge tomorrow!

Best to all, Charlie

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Foolishness afloat

The weather has actually been downright bad today, although I am sure no one back home will be too upset. We have had a series of ugly squalls with very heavy rain which has resulted in a rash of anchor dragging incidents. The wind switched about 100 degrees, catching boats by surprise and putting several aground. Incidentally, the dragging boats were using all chain rode, from what I could see. No problems at all with White Seal, with her mostly nylon rode. It is like a giant rubber band in high winds and handles the shock of gusts with ease.

So the morning radio net was underway as all heck was breaking loose and boaters were calling in to report the various dragging yachts. That was when we heard the best transmission ever: "the Cat's Ass is dragging!" Yes, some individual has named their catamaran the Cats Ass. And it was dragging. Mary laughed so hard I was afraid she would hurt herself. Some of the boat names are pretty hilarious, attempting to be clever, but often falling a bit short. Another one, worthy of note for poor taste, is the Wet Dream. I mean, really. You've spent 6 figures for a boat and give it a name like that? Come on!

Mary and I have gotten hornswoggled into helping with a skit on the talent show. A Brit named Jillian is doing a spoof of the morning net and it should be fun. Goodness knows there is plenty of material to draw from! I am not too excited about getting up in a stage, but I guess I'll do it. Regatta registration was today but it got wiped out by the rain. Everybody ran to the Chat and Chill (beach bar) to escape the downpour.

Mary has been telling me we should go to Cuba, since we are so close. There are a bunch of folks headed there, mostly Canadians. Easy for them. Not so much for Americans. I would love to go there!

Best to all, Charlie

Sunday, February 10, 2019


Someone is playing bagpipes not far from here as the sun goes down. Other people are blowing their conch horns as a salute to old sol. Mary has hitched a ride over to Sand Dollar Beach to listen to jazz being played by various cruisers. A busy place, this Georgetown! It was a breezy day, wind in the 20s, and no new arrivals indicates it is probably pretty bumpy out there. For me, this was a nice, quiet reading day. Ironically, I am reading a great book about the Arctic. Go figure!

As I have mentioned before, this place is a real crossroads, and we have met people from all over the world. One thing that is really fun is the cruisers net at 8AM on the VHF radio. A volunteer moderator facilitates the exchange of news and helpful information between the 200 plus boats. She does a fantastic job. In a couple of months most of the boats will be gone, but the community will spring back up next December or thereabouts. Ditto for the Regatta, which I think gets started on Weds. All very exciting!

Best to all, Charlie

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bahamas medical care

Hi everyone,

  • Mary and I said goodbye to Maggie today and there were tears all around. We will really miss her and hope she has a good trip home.

About 2 weeks ago I forgot to put sunscreen on my lips and got a nasty sunburn there. It has been very slow to heal and I was quite worried about it so I decided to go to the clinic here, with no appointment and see if I could get it looked at. I fully expected it would kill the better part of the day and had no idea what it might cost. When I got there I entered into an immaculate ER type setting where I was immediately guided to an intake station and paperwork initiated. A few minutes later that task was out of the way and I was sent in to see a nurse, who performed an array of tests like blood pressure, pulse, temp, etc. Even gave a urine sample although I have no idea why that was needed. Then there was about a ten minute wait while I enjoyed reading a magazine about Regatta. I tell you, sloop sailing is huge down here! Then a doctor came and got me for an exam. He said it appeared to be healing, but he did want to prescribe an antibiotic to be certain. He also gave some advice on topical over the counter products and suggested that I take multivitamins as well. He then escorted me to the clinic pharmacy, located just off the main lobby. The pharmacist took the prescription and urged me to have a seat. There was about a 10 minute wait at the most, and my name was called. The bill for everything was $44.
That was $14 for the antibiotic, and $30 for everything else.

When I think of how much I have paid for medical care, mostly for health insurance, and how little I have actually used, I feel rather ill. This experience has really been quite an eye opener and makes me realise what a financial train wreck US health care is, especially for those on the margins.

Best to all, Charlie