Well after 2 months lollygaggin in Boca Chica, Key West it is time for the Tern to start the trip back north. Spring has sprung and it is getting hot here in the Keys. Our next leg will be to Marcos Island on the west coast of Florida to visit Bill Tripp.
Well it has been awhile since my last e-mail due to long days at the helm and having a schedule to meet! I don't mind the long days at the helm but I hate the idea of having to meet a schedule! As I indicated in my last e-mail the Tern had a rough passage from Boca Chica to Marco Island but once there it was a little corner of paradise found.
Not too many pics this leg of the trip but I did get initiated into the mysteries of the Gulf of Mexico. Leaving Boca Chica the wind was stiff out of the southeast. The Marina operator was questioning whether it was a good idea to head out in all that wind! I assured her that the Tern needs a stiff breeze in order to fly and off we went.
This time it was the Tern who got locked up! We had a pleasant nighttime sail from Marco Island to Port Charlotte with light winds and clear skies! Upon arrival in Port Charlotte long time friend Don Skitt came to the lock with a wireless remote and opened the lock to let the Tern inside. Once inside I anchored up in a peaceful lagoon and went ashore to spend some time with Rose and Don Skitt! The next morning I returned to the Tern to find an alligator had taken a liking to her! I was a little apprehensive about rowing Ants (my skiff) out cuz I thought the alligator might be looking at his next meal (me & Ants). Then I decided to take out my teeth and give him a big ARRRGH, that would surely frighten him. He must have read my mind cuz he just disappeared!
The long delay since the last e-mail has been due to a heavy schedule on the waterway. With all the restrictive bridges and lack of nighttime travel I have been resting and flying every chance I get! Also I put the Tern on the hard and had to wait six hours for her to lift off! She was lying on her big fat belly in the middle of St. Augustine harbor. I was going to anchor while waiting for a restricted bridge. The chart said 13 feet of water but really only 13 inches, not pretty! Makes you appreciate the harbor master in Westport! He would have marked that shoal right away! After that decided not to keep a schedule and deal with the houseboat when it is warm in the northeast. After a week in Fernandina FL. waiting for a weather window the chance came and the last three days were spent offshore in the bright blue gulfsteam sailing with Tango II out of Edgartown MA! What a great change from the brown intracoastal waterway and Lake Okeechobee.
This leg of the trip is rather boring with lots of very expensive houses along the Intra Coastal Waterway. The one act of seamanship that I witnessed in the waterway was this little tug hauling a mile of rubber pipe for a huge dredge. In the pictures it is hard to see the little guy but he is out front of the dredge and big tug. The little tug is leading the way around the twists and bends of the waterway pulling a mile of hose that is connected to the dredge. The captain really had it together!
This sail was the highlight of the winter! The upcoming offshore trip from Frenandina to Mooerhead City would be approx. 350 nautical miles in the clear blue waters of the Gulf Stream.
Some of you may remember last fall while I was traveling south I suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning? When the ambulance driver asked me if I wanted to go to Columbia NC or Wanchese NC I told them Wanchese. When I arrived at the emergency room at the Outer Banks Hospital the nurse asked me for my next of kin, I told her Frog Tillett! Now the village of Wanchese has 1500 people in it and though the hospital is in nearby Manteo the nurse knew Frog! She called Frog and told him I was there. I was taken to a Virginia hospital where Frog and his friend Wayne picked me up then drove me to Frog's house in Wanchese. That started a love affair with this quiet little fishing village.
It has been quite awhile since my last report on the Tern travels but a lot of work had to be done on the Tern so I just put my head down and got the job done. At times I wish I had a million $ so I could hire someone to do the maintenance for me! This leg of the journey took us to Chesapeake City which is quite a misnomer for this little town on the bank of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.
This leg was one of the strangest of the journey. The Tern motored out of Moorehead City NC at sunrise on our way to Wanchese NC to visit with my longtime fisherman friend Frog Tillet! The tough part of this leg would be to get through Ocracoke Inlet 60 nautical miles north, then into Pamilco Sound to Wanchese. They call it a sound but there is only 8 feet of water in most of the sound. This particular inlet was home to the famous pirate Edward Teach AKA Captain Black Beard. He had his fortress in Silver Lake just inside the inlet.