Fort Pierce

We sailed on into Fort Pierce City Marina on a sunny day and after wrangling ‘At Ease’ in stern first with a stiff breeze on our bow we settled in.  Gotta love the short docks and pilings in Florida!  I should have been raised a cowgirl but I’m working on my lassoing skills.

Our generator was not starting ‘again’ so we made the decision to hold for one week to get someone in to help Gary trouble shoot.  After securing the slip for a week, Gary decided to try the generator one more time and low and behold the sucker started right up and ran with load for 30 minutes.  This has been one frustrating piece of equipment that we need so we can spend time anchoring out especially for our trip through the Florida Keys.  But you can’t very well get a mechanic in for $500+ when the stupid thing is running!  So with two weather systems heading our way we will stay put.  Not a bad place to be stuck with a tiki bar next door, small downtown with several good restaurants, and a seafood market close by.  With the down time we are getting some supplies shipped in and finalizing our sail plans to Key West.  With perfect weather we can get there in one week.  But the weather systems keep rolling in so with all things considered we probably won’t be there for another two weeks.  Keeping our fingers crossed we arrive before December 1st so we can have a proper celebration!   

The sun setting to the west and the full moon rising to the east

View of town from the marina. Beautiful sunsets here

Fair winds,

Cindy

 

And We Are Off

‘At Ease’ eased on out of Brunswick Landing Marina early on a cold and cloudy Saturday morning.  While St Andrew’s sound an hour south had breaking waves, we were able to cross by taking the longer inside route off the ICW.  After crossing into Florida early afternoon, we arrived north of the St John’s River at the Jacksonville Free Docks after a long eight hour day.  The Free Docks have room for just six boats and are popular because they are free for up to 72 hours.  We were arriving later then planned so our chances of scoring a spot were slim.  But we can thank the fellow cruisers who arrived before us for moving their boats closer together leaving that one precious spot on the end, which we scored.  We reciprocated early the next morning by leaving first giving them extra room to maneuver in the strong current.

Jacksonville Free Docks

Wanting warmer temperatures, we bypassed St. Augustine on a busy Sunday and arrived in Marineland Marina after another long day.  St. Augustine is a favorite of ours but we were happy to put the craziness behind us.  We arrived too late to see much of the Marineland area, but we enjoyed this very small marina and especially Jay, who goes around to all the boats every night at 5:00 to say goodbye.  During our trip today we helped a sailboat by radioing back the bridge heights as we passed under.  They needed at least 63 feet and at high tide they were understandably concerned.  As a thank you, they took a picture of At Ease as we passed them to take the lead.  This is our first photo underway so we are grateful for the picture.

Photo courtesy of S/V Notos

We sailed into New Smyrna Beach under warm sunny skies and scored a great slip before the skies opened up with blinding rain and scary lightening.   Scary as in no time between the lightening and the thunder scary!  Lucky we had a Tiki bar a few yards away to hide in.  Reminded us of Banana Bay Marina in Costa Rica where we would hide at the bar during those scary storms. Thanks to our brother-in-law, Mike for driving over for dinner.  Despite the rain, he received the royal tour of our new home.   

You know the old adage “be careful what you wish for”.  Well we wanted warm but we are getting hot and humid.  We are ahead of schedule covering 182 nm in 4 days.  I know, in a car that is just a few hours.  With all that behind us we slowed down.  We stopped in Titusville and revisited the Playalinda Brewery below the loft we stayed in a few weeks back.  Then on to Cocoa where we had no sightings of Jeannie, Tony Nelson or Roger Healey but there was a nice village to explore.  With heavy rain predicted, we did a short two hour hop down to Melbourne to a slip at Telemar Bay Marina, which is a little off the ICW up the Banana river.  Our intent was to stay one day but the rains came as predicted shortly after we arrived.  So today 11/9 we made the easy decision to stay put for another day and let this weather system pass through.  I hope the rain stops this afternoon so we can get a walk in and find some groceries!  

Gizmo has found a new home on our boat

Oysters, mussels all good!

Playalinda Brewery, Titusville

Always checking out the local brews

Fair winds,

Cindy      

Family

Despite our nomadic life style, we make sure to spend time with family.  We visited Barb and her family in May.  In September we visited with Gary’s mom and caught up with his brother, Steve before spending a week with Austin, Nicki and Oakley in San Diego.    While it was a quick trip, we spent lots of time talking, eating and maybe we had a few drinks here and there.   We were bummed we couldn’t meet up with niece Crissi and her kids McKenna and Peyton but hopefully next time. 

Back on the east coast we headed to Florida for a reunion with the Kalin side of the family.  Our nephew, Travis, his wife Tegan and their children Flynn and Amelia are visiting the US from their home in Perth, Australia.  While their mom sometimes refers to them as ‘ratbags’, at 6 and 4 Flynn and Amelia were angels among a bunch of adults who they never met before.  I believe ratbag is Aussie slang for trouble maker or someone causing havok.  In other words, a normal kid but it made me laugh.  I just may have to use that one.  We also enjoyed spending time with our nephew, Mick along with his wife Ashley and their son Mickey.  Lucky for us they live in Florida and not on the other side of the world!   What made this reunion even more special was Austin and Nicki flew in from California.  Austin was three or four years old the last time he saw Mick and Travis so this was an opportunity for the cousins to connect and hopefully stay in touch. 

Kalin Family Reunion 10/19/2019.

Ashley, Mick and Gary

With all the times we visited family in Florida while Austin was a kid, we never made it to the Kennedy Space Center.  We fixed that this trip and we loved it.  Our favorite was the bus tour through the launch pads and seeing the Vehicle Assembly Building up close.  The bus tour not only touched on the history but our guide talked quite a bit about what is currently happening with Space X and the other private interests.  Very interesting and we all were glad we went.  After dropping Nicki off at the airport, we three headed down to Ft Lauderdale where we celebrated Austin’s 27th birthday a few days early.  We bummed around for a day while he met with a business associate and then all too soon we were driving to the airport and had to say good bye again.

Vehicle Assembly Building. Photo courtesy of Austin Cairns

This moves the rockets to the launch pads. Photo courtesy of Austin Cairns

Thanks to all our family members who took time out of their busy lives to spend time with us this year and to family who care enough to stay in touch.  The family will be expanding in 2020 as both Tegan and Ashley are expecting early next year.  Mike, you are going to be busy!  

Now for us?  Hopefully the weather will be in our favor to throw the dock lines off around November 1 and head on down to the Keys.  

Fair winds,

Cindy 

Hurricane Dorian

When we set off on At Ease from the Chesapeake, our plan was to meander down the ICW and arrive at Brunswick Georgia on September 1st.  With it being so stinking hot, we were not too keen on anchoring out so we arrived a few weeks ahead of schedule and its a darn good thing we did.  Right after we got the rest of our stuff out of storage and put away on the boat Dorian started heading our way. 

We are the blue dot

With no sails or canvas, the outside of At Ease is easy to prep for a storm.  But preparing the inside for the worse case scenario meant moving things we didn’t want to lose off the boat and into our car.  And to complicate the matter, we had early morning flights to California five days after Dorian was to pass Brunswick.  With the Governor ordering a mandatory evacuation, we had to not only get the important stuff off the boat but also pack our bags for California on the chance that we would not be able to return to the boat before our scheduled departure.  We were also thinking ahead and anticipating pointing the car west and driving to California.  So pack we did and then headed off to Atlanta for a 3 day forced vacation if there is ever such a thing when you are retired.

Fourteen lines and eight fenders.  Gary left a cork upright on the counter and it was still there when we returned.

The highlights of our Atlanta trip can best be summed up in the following photos.  It was too hot to do our usual walking tour but we did navigate MARTA, their train system, and I drove through the surface streets of downtown during rush hour in search of Trader Vics.  If anyone saw a grey Toyota driving down the bike lane outside the Hilton, I plead the 5th.

Centennial Olympic Park site of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta

Centennial Olympic Park – flags from the countries lined the fountain square

There is a gigantic ferris wheel right outside the park

We toured the World of Coca Cola and this is the safe where the recipe is stored.

Trader Vics Atlanta. There are only two in the US and we have now been to both. The other is in Emeryville California.

Sweetwater Brewing Company

We lucked out and Dorian stayed well off shore so we were able to get back on the boat the day after the storm passed us.  And we were already all packed for California!

Fair winds,

Cindy  

Spending Time in Savannah

After 586 nm we are in one of our favorite cities, Savannah, Georgia.  We need a few things on the boat serviced so decided to spend some time here where resources are much more available.  The nice thing about transiting the ICW this time of year is there is always room at the marinas.  Not many people are crazy enough to travel in this heat as they made the trek up north months ago.  While the ICW is very scenic, our favorite part so far was the trip from Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach to Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown SC.  Wide spaces, deep channels and cypress tree lined waterway made for a relaxing and beautiful sail.  We already planned our north passage through there next spring.  Will definitely take advantage of the beautiful anchorages, intimate marinas and numerous fishing coves we saw.  

While traveling on the ocean we saw so much marine life and I knew that was something we were going to miss.  But low and behold we have seen a lot of dolphins along the way, small turtles and a family of sea otters eating crustaceans off the dock by our slip.   I’m still waiting to spot a bald eagle.  

We will stay in this area for the remainder of this week before slowly heading south to Brunswick, Georgia for the main part of hurricane season.  Not a bad place to hang for awhile.

Sunrise leaving the St Johns Marina on the Stono River in Charleston, South Carolina

Fair winds,

Cindy

Introducing Our New Boat

Holy cow it has been a month since I last posted.  So much has happened.  Yes we closed on our new boat on July 1st.   We arrived that morning with a small U-Haul with our stuff and started moving on.  But let me back up and tell you about her.   She is a Nordic Tug 32 with an overall length of 34 including the swim platform and bow sprite.  So essentially her inside space is about 24 feet long with the remaining being outdoor space.   Her width is 11 feet with a depth of 3 feet 8 inches and she has a lovely sun deck on top that we absolutely love.   But compare those measurements with Sereno at 41 feet, 13.3 width and 6 1/2 foot depth and she is considerably smaller but exactly what we wanted.   Now to the part about moving on.  Well let’s just say it was a challenge finding a place for what we consider our essentials during an extreme heat wave the east coast has been experiencing.  We do have air conditioning but this heat is taxing it big time.  Because she was located in what was basically a boat yard, we had to move on fairly quickly so on July 7th with threw off the dock lines and headed south on the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW).  Because the boat was so new to us, the captain was not too happy with that plan but off we went passing from Virginia into North Carolina a couple hours later.  In two weeks we have logged 294 nm and are currently in Wilmington, North Carolina.   Our stops in North Carolina have included Coinjock Marina, Alligator Marina in Columbia, Belhaven, Oriental, New Bern, Beaufort, Surf City, and Masonboro.  Not bad for our first two weeks.  The captain is loving the 270 hp single engine with bow and stern thrusters.  So is the swabby because she can now step off the boat and tie her off as the captain gently brings her in to the dock.    

The ICW is definitely a different mode of boating for us.  With ocean crossings we are used to wide open spaces and never checking our depth unless we were entering a channel, anchorage or marina.  Here on the ICW our eyes are glued to the chart plotter watching for the shallow spots.  We need a bit more time to feel more comfortable with it and the incredibly rude weekend boaters we have encountered.  But enough said on that.  

So without further ado, we introduce At Ease.  The previous owner was a Rear Admiral in the Navy.  In honor of our military, which has included many family and friends, we have kept the name. 

Our Nordic Tug 32

We left the home port of Charleston. Why not?  The top sundeck is great for watching the sunset.

The Captain has a nice shady spot and a comfortable seat.

We can fit four for dinner and the table folds up when not in use.

We have more refrigeration with side by side units. Still working on this space so more pics to come.

The good news is, we easily fit under this 65 foot bridge.

Here are some pictures of the things we have seen.

Along the ICW you get to see all the houses you can’t see from the road.

New Bern is known for their bears throughout downtown.  The restaurants and shops have all recovered from last years hurricane.  Sadly the hotel and convention center by the marina have not reopened.

 

Sunset over the shrimp boats in Oriental.

Our view at Topside Island Marina, Surf City, NC

RE Mayo Shrimp Company and Marina along the ICW

We loved the small town of Belhaven, NC. Beautiful old homes. They had just celebrated July 4th and they all proudly still flew their American flags.

The River Forest Marina in Belhaven, NC provided free golf carts as well as free laundry. Always very much appreciated.

Fair winds,

Cindy

Places To Go Things To See

That title pretty much sums up our current plans.  So much so that it is now the name of our blog www.placestogothingstosee.com

After we sold Sereno, we spent five weeks traveling 4000 miles crisscrossing Florida before we figured out what kind of boat we wanted.  As luck would have it, our Florida journeys took place during one of the Love Bug seasons.   Those of you from Florida are laughing right now.  Those of you in the dark, imagine driving down the freeway through swarms of a million black bugs mating.   At one point we had to pull off the road because we couldn’t see out of the windshield.  We washed and scrubbed the car every day since acid from their smashed little bodies can pit the paint on your car.  Really really gross.

Ironically after crisscrossing Florida for weeks we found ‘the boat’ in Chesapeake, Virginia and on May 30th we signed a contract.   Three weeks later we are still waiting to close.  There are a few things we wanted checked out from the survey and here on the east coast that seems to take time.  We closed on our first two boats in a week in California.  Learning patience here in the south but keeping our fingers crossed we will be on board by July 1.

So what have we been doing besides boat shopping, cleaning smashed bugs from the car, enjoying king sized beds and Hollywood showers?  We are fortunate to have family in New Jersey and Florida who where willing to take us in off the streets for a bit.  We loved our visits and are very grateful for their hospitality.  Their washers and dryers were a plus too.  Almost 40 years later we were able to return to Williamsburg, Virginia and it is as pretty as we remembered it.  I could live there if it was just a little warmer in the winter.  We were places in Florida we hadn’t been and the whole Norfolk area of Virginia was new as well.  We have stayed in over 30 hotels scoring some cheap nights in a few resorts offering mid-week deals.  If anyone needs recommendations for budget hotels in Florida and Virginia, let us know.  Tips on packing and traveling light,  we have them.  But we are looking forward to having a place to call home and unpacking after 12 weeks of living out of a suitcase.

Cindy

Saying Goodbye to Sereno II

On April 18th with heavy hearts we thanked Sereno for keeping us safe on our journeys and asked her to protect her new owners.  We loved living and traveling on Sereno but have decided to explore the rivers and inland waters of the east coast and Canada which requires a boat more suited for shallow waters and the many bridges and locks we will encounter.  It was a sad day but we are looking forward to our new adventures.

We frequently talk about our trip and the things we experienced.  Fun but also scary at times.  If you told me when I was a kid that I would be sailing in a 41 foot sailboat over 8000 nm from California to the east coast I would have said no way.  But we stepped out of our comfort zone and had a blast.  Anyway, thank you for following along.

This is the sailing vessel Sereno II out

Calm Seas

Loving the calm seas and feeling good that Sereno II took care of us during the rough parts.

Mahi Mahi 2

He was still moving and right after the picture was taken I was out of there LOL

At Anchor

Sereno II at anchor

Oakley sep 2014

Our bosun mate.  Oakley’s last day on the boat before she went to college with her brother.

Reflections on our Europe Trip

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Why didn’t we go years ago?  Can we go back next year?  That pretty much sums up how much we loved our trip.  Traveling by train our route included Paris, Cannes, and Nice in France with a side trip to Monaco.  Then on to Italy where we stopped in Milan and Lake Como.  We finished the trip in Switzerland stopping in Lucern and Zurich with day trips to Interlaken and Engleberg.     

Paris in springtime was everything we imagined and more.  Cafe’s, the food, and the people.   We walked everywhere typically logging 10 miles a day.  Why go underground on the metro when there is so much to see on the streets.  Fast food here is baguettes made simply with ham and cheese or stuffed with other goodies like grilled eggplant, buffalo mozzarella and delicate lettuce piled high in the windows for you to grab on the go or sit at one of their outdoor tables.   Coffee is an art meant to linger over.  Lunch is around 2:00 and dinner doesn’t start until 7:30.  I’m still dreaming of scrambled eggs the French way.  We really didn’t have many large meals but simply grazed from one place to the next.   Good wine is served everywhere and very reasonably priced.  

Our first night. A little jet lagged but that didn’t stop us from finding some tapas at this little place across from our hotel. That yellow mound in the background is butter with sea salt for the baguettes. You can serve yourself.  Heaven!

The Seine

We had a list of foods to try and a crepe was definitely on there.

Traveling by train is so much more civilized than by air and it is so easy.  Our six hour ride from Paris to the South of France allowed us to see much of the French countryside with the Alps in the distance.  Both Cannes and Nice were very much resort towns and really different from Paris.  We took a day trip to Monaco visiting the Prince’s palace for the changing of the guards and a stroll inside the Monte Carlo casino.

View of Cannes and the marina with the mega yachts.

Outdoor market in the South of France. Torture!

Monaco

Casino Monte Carlo

Milan is not so much of a tourist destination as other parts of Italy, but it gave us a taste of the country for a future trip.  Museums, shopping, and of course the food.  Pasta cooked to perfection tossed in amazing sauces.  Mounds of fresh Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream known as burrata.  Pizza topped traditionally or with only one item like thin slices of zucchini or peppers.   We wish we could have tried every one but the free food at happy hours filled us up.  Highlights include the Duomo de Milan where you actually walk up on the roof of this magnificent cathedral.  We also toured the Renaissance Castle Castello Sforzesco where we saw Rondanini Pieta the last sculpture Michelangelo was working on when he died and Leonardo da Vinci’s famous piece, Madonna Lia.

Duomo de Milan.  From the roof we could peer down at the plaza.

On our way up to the roof. We opted for the stairs instead of the elevator. What were we thinking?

The roof. It slants down. A bit scary!

The inside of the cathedral. It was massive.

Rondanini Pieta is a marble sculpture that Michelangelo worked on from 1552 until the last days of his life in 1564.

We next headed up to the Lake Como area where we hoped to spend time using the ferry to hop from town to town for a day.  But our good luck with the weather ran out and we had a rainy time there.  We did see Varenna and Bellagio before heading to the town of Como for our train ride through the Swiss Alps to Switzerland.

Varenna was a quaint town on the shores of Lake Como.

Bellagio along the shores of Lake Como. Lots of shopping and great restaurants.  We never let a little rain deter us and truthfully cobblestone is prettier when wet.

One of the cafes in Bellagio

Waiting for the ferry from Varenna to the town of Como

Switzerland is absolutely beautiful.  If you are a fan of the Sound of Music, it is hard not to hum the theme song as you are traveling through.  I know, wrong country!  We chose to stay in Lucern and take day trips to the mountains.  We were also in search of fondue and we found that in Interlaken with a nice cold bottle of wine.  Our train trip up to Engleberg and then via cable car to the top of Mount Titlas at a little over 10,000 feet was amazing.  We reached the top on a clear day with views for miles and a balmy 42 degrees.

Lucern

Lucern

Our view from the train up to Interlaken, Switzerland.

Interlaken, Switzerland

Fondue with a cold glass of wine in the Swiss Alps. I was in heaven.

Our train ride to Engleberg, Switzerland.

On our way via cable car to the top of Mount Titlas. That is not the top you see but rather where we transferred to a cable car that rotated 360 degrees.

Now we are at the top.

Gary on the suspension bridge over the glacier.

Engleberg, Switzerland

We spent our last few days in Zurich before flying home.  Reflecting on the trip we both felt we had really planned well.  Twenty six days, 3 countries (4 if you count Monaco), 8 cities, 13 train rides, 5 hotels and 4 AirBnB’s carrying only a backpack each and one shared day pack.  

Springtime in Paris

Harry’s New York Bar in Paris drinking a Manhattan and a French 75.

Fair winds,

Cindy 

Charleston, South Carolina

Once hurricane Irma and Maria passed us, we had a few days between storms where we could slip away and visit Charleston.  On our way, we stopped overnight in Beaufort SC.  Nice town but we were surprised how built up and populated the town and outer islands were.  Somehow we had the impression Beaufort would be a sleepy little town. NOT!

Beaufort South Carolina a few sailboats in the distance

I guess you could say the French Quarter in Charleston is the sophisticated sister of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Lots of expensive old homes and high end shops along King Street.  We stayed right in the heart of the French Quarter at the Mills House, which opened in 1853.  A bit pricey but we had one free night from hotels.com to use so splurge we did.

 

Charleston firehouse

Husk is a popular restaurant here.  We had dinner on the second floor porch.

Our drinks at the Cane Rhum Bar in Charleston

Famous Pineapple fountain in Charleston

For the history buffs there is a lot of civil war history in this area.  Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired is out in the harbor.  We didn’t take a plantation tour but there are several in the area.

While we enjoyed Charleston, Nola is still tops on our list.

Fair winds,

Cindy