Happy Christmas


This is our Christmas spot. Bock Marine boatyard on the Intra Coastal Waterway just outside Beaufort Carolina.

We have guests for dinner later so this will be brief.

Happy Christmas folks. Make it a good one. Xx


Am I allowed to be jealous? The Alps and Canada have both had their fill of snow to start the season. Friends have been taunting us with pictures of powder snow. That’s where the jealously emanates from. Fill your boots and have a nice slide chums.

We’ve had snow too. When we set off it wasn’t part of the vision I had for boat life, shovelling snow off the decks. More living in shorts and t shirts and swimming in blue blue water. We had a ‘what if….’ conversation in Cape May. What if we got the boat out of the water, winterised it and went and worked a ski season until April then came back to the boat when winter was history. I even asked the boat yard how much it would cost. Not as much as I thought but still a chunk. It was a mad dream, little aberration for a while.

Anyway, New Jersey is behind us and we’re in North Carolina. It’s warmed up and the forecast tells me it will be 68 degrees on Saturday. That’s bordering on a warm summer day in the UK. We did an overnight 32 hour passage down to Norfolk, Virginia. At times it was bouncy and wet but we sailed with the cockpit tent up which proved to be a saviour as it kept the wind and wet out. I sang Christmas carols for a good hour during one of my night watches to help me awake. Dave luxuriated in our new Bose noise cancelling headphones which meant he didn’t hear any of my wailing.

We’re now on the Intra Coastal Waterway heading towards Beaufort, our planned Christmas destination. Boy what a contrast to the Atlantic eastern seaboard. It’s a series of linked waterways, canals, rivers and lakes. You can in fact travel over 1400 Miles all inland from Norfolk to Key West, Florida and I’d never even heard of it before we got to the States. No need to go out to sea at all.

It’s the end of day two as I write this. We have covered 100 miles, one shorter day of 30 miles yesterday then almost 12 hours today making 70 which started at sunrise before seven and saw us anchoring in the dark. Sunrise and sunset were spectacular today so that was nature’s brucie bonus.

We’ve seen only a tiny handful of other boats in our 100 miles and two of those were big tugs. No yachts. So far, we’ve been through one lock, radioed up 4 bridges to get them opened so we could transit and held out breath at the fixed bridges. It’s almost impossible to judge exactly how much clearance there is above the mast but I guarantee you, its squeaky bum time, even if you know tall the mast is and how much clearance the chart says.

96 miles to go to Beaufort. Should be eminently doable over the next three days. Assuming our anchorage is not as scary as it sounds….the Alligator river just off Rattlesnake Cove.




Two posts in a day


Winter has arrived. Apparently this little blast is called Benji. So sweet. Benji has been skipping up from Florida to the Canadian border. I know I’ve been rattling on about getting south. It would appear even Florida isn’t sufficiently south this weekend.

The UK has Caroline this weekend I read. Hope this means everyone’s sledges get some pre Christmas action. Polish up your runners.

Last night we walked into Cape May in the snow. It was properly Christmassy. The quality of lights and decorations on the wooden clapperboard houses somewhat dwarfs the efforts of Chesterfield, a town near where we live in derbyshire. A tastefully decorated six foot tree on your porch next to your wooden rocking chair looked great in the falling snow last night.

We stopped in on the free brass band concert, a medley of Christmas tunes filling the space. Surely, everyone likes a brass band, especially Breezy.

Today we spent a couple of hours clearing snow from the boat. We don’t want it to freeze, get ridiculously heavy and impossible to shift. I have a feeling it’ll be Groundhog Day tomorrow.




My confidence for striking up a conversation or following my nose out of curiosity has definitely increased throughout our time in the States. Maybe it’s partly about being a Brit here and playing the ‘ignorance / nosey card’ and being able to get away with it. 😀

That’s how we ended up chatting to the owner of a shop who designs and makes chandeliers. I don’t know if there is a single word from earlier times to describe this line of work, such as a cooper or fletcher for example. Perhaps it’s too specialist as I don’t imagine there is a massively demand for chandeliers. “Ok I’m just popping down the market to spend my doubloons on a suckling pig and a 10 foot tall chandelier. Won’t be long.”

We were walking down the street in Port Washington, a satellite town a short trip from New York. There are plenty of big properties on Long Island that we saw as we sailed into the anchorage. These properties must fuel the demand for chandeliers. I hadn’t considered that chandeliers are still being made today. I had this skewed idea that the enormous light fitting that occupied the whole of the window was an antique. So my curiosity dictated I had to go in and find out more about this gigantic thing.

The guy was quite happy to explain politely that this thing of beauty was in fact brand new and made by his fair hands. He talked about making models as part of his  job to get the size right for the space available. Too big and the thing looks cumbersome and distracting, too small and it’s lost and inappropriate. So much to consider.  I now know more if and when I come to order one in the future! I can advise too if you’re thinking of buying one for only a modest consultancy fee.

I guess I need to mention NYC here too. We went and walked lots. Down to the south of Manhattan to the area where the Twin Towers stood and along the river to suss out our trip transiting the city by boat. Jesus it’s busy on the water. Boats everywhere. Then the next day we met a friend Nell, walked some of Central Park, ate burgers then caught the train back to Port Washington. We have had our city fix for a goodly while now.



Long Island Sound

Years ago when I lived in South Wales, (Welsh Wales not Australia) I had a really good friend called Angie. We haven’t seen each other in years but I know if I turned up on her doorstep I’d still be welcomed in. We used to talk about ‘good to be alive days’. You’ll all have had several. Things happen that make you smile on the inside and the outside. An experience, a kind word, an evening sunset, your dog falling in the canal…….we had such a ‘day’ today.

Yesterday’s trip of about 50 miles had the potential to be long and chilly. With limited daylight hours, we wanted to arrive at our planned stop, Milford, Connecticut before darkness. So up at five, off in the dark before six. Motor sailing, we made great time and got to the river entrance about 2.30pm. Option one was to anchor out in the bay and dinghy ashore or option two, proceed cautiously up the buoyed channel, (we were bang on low water and had no local knowledge as to when the channel was last dredged) knowing there were docks to tie up to meaning we could get off the boat easier.

We pressed the button for option two and 20 minutes later we were tied up to the dock at the Milford Yacht Club. Great. Time for a walk into town before dark then back to the boat for beef stew, courtesy of the much used pressure cooker. Tyler, a guy who worked at the club kindly gave us a lift into town and we wandered round the open streets either side of the green. One building in town, the library, caught my eye. A mix of tiles, bricks, stone and boulders. Feeling nosey, I pushed open the outer door, then the inner door. Lights were switched on and a woman, Nell, came to greet us. Ah, she said this is no longer the library, it’s now the local chamber of commerce. No matter, we got chatting and she said she was a member of the Yacht club and tonight was ‘cheap’ night with money off drinks until 7.

It would have been rude not to drop by. What a great couple of hours and lovely people. We were welcomed wholeheartedly into the club and left saying emphatically that if we were ever in the area again, we will definitely call in.

At 7.45 this morning as we’re organising lines before setting off towards Manhasset Bay, Tina, I think that’s her name, apologies if it’s wrong,  one of our new friends from last night came scurrying down the pontoon with a bag of goodies….breakfast for us on Grace this morning. That’s why it’s a good to be alive day today. A totally lovely and unexpected gift.

We have about 8 miles to go till we stop moving today. The Manhattan skyline is on the horizon. I was last there in 1986. That means I’m older than I think!