Grandpa & the boys make a gingerbread house; however, the dogs ate it before Christmas!
Dinner at Chez Grenoble is always a treat. Creighton and Zane with Chef Debbie.
Celebrating New Year 2008 with our new 2-million foot CMH suits Priceless?????!
Nick enjoys another sunset on the East Coast of the USA.
A sample of the activities on Christmas Day...Jillian bouncing with all the boys on the trampoline until her hair was sticking out!
The GODDs (Good Ole Development Dames) convene for a holiday luncheon.
Riley celebrates 7 with Mom, Dad, C.T., and London.
Mom Van Gemert celebrates 94 years with her sons, Richard & Bob, daughter Jeanne, Daughter-in-law Laurie, and granddaughter Alyssa at the Van Gemert Hacienda in Montrose.
Dinner With Friends
Zachary and Jillian are all ready for Santa Clause to arrive.
Joyce and Gordon Wiles welcome us to their annual holiday party in Irvine.
Mr. Shields himself welcomes the clan to Thanksgiving dinner at Shields Tavern.
A living history lesson on the battle for Yorktown at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. General C. T. Mayne commanding.
This turkey wants the world to eat beef, as the sign around his neck declares. We were also treated to a demonstration of food products grown in colonial times as well as food preparation and preservation practiced in that era.
In the stocks in Williamsburg. Hardly slowed those boys down!
The family in Colonial Williamsburg. Thanksgiving 2007
Here they come again! Can't get enough of those Blue Angels!
The Blue Angels in their signature tight diamond flying over Pensacola NAS in Pensacola, Florida.
Historic neighborhood in Beaufort, NC.
Cape Lookout, North Carolina, lighthouse on the outer bank on a beautiful fall afternoon in 2007.
New friends in Washington...the Cat-A-Tonic Family.
One of the fabulous crabs on the streets of Washington, North Carolina
Rescuing a sailboat in the ICW
The dock at Coinjock fills up with the big boats moving south for the winter season.
October 1, 2007, found Lionheart and crew at the dock in the Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth, VA. The weather had turned dark and windy but it was still warm, and, when the wind stopped, it was still humid. While waiting for our friends on Why Knot to return from a land trip, we revisited the Commodore Theater. We had discovered this renovated 1940's art deco theatre in 2006 while heading north to do the Great Loop. The theater offers first run movies to be viewed from your dinner table. The seats have been replaced with dining tables and barrel chairs on the tiers. Dinner is served before the show and then you push back in your comfortable chair and enjoy the movie. We saw The Brave One with Jodie Foster.
We enjoyed a few days with Jerry and Sistie and then began our trip south for the winter. On October 5, we headed down the Elizabeth River and thus passed mile marker #1 in the ICW. At mile 11 we entered the Great Bridge Lock which lowered us about 2 feet into the Virginia Cut which enabled us to bypass the Great Dismal Swamp. The Virginia Cut is a ditch which leads into the Currituck Sound and puts you in North Carolina. The Currituck Sound was placid on this fall afternoon and I noticed how the golden light of summer on the water had changed to the silver light of fall. This is a beautiful area with many water fowl to be seen. Around 4:00 PM we pulled up to the dock in Coinjock. This is a very small waterside community which is well known to boaters as the place where you get the 32 oz steak dinners. I have also heard from others that there are water moccasins under the docks. Fortunately, I did not see any of those! By sundown, the entire 1000 foot long dock was filled with PCs (pleasure craft) of all sizes.....all on the fall southward migration to Florida and the Bahamas. Many of the big boats had professional captains and crews moving the yachts south while the owners continue to work their buns off so they can afford all the pleasures of owning said boat! Those guys get up early and most of them don't mind putting out a wake that causes a lot of rocking and rolling among the slower trawler-owner class like us. On the other hand, they usually give you a warning on the radio, and some even offer a slow pass to the snailers. We left early the next morning and made our way across Albemarle Sound. Albemarle Sound covers 50 miles, east to west, from Kitty Hawk, NC, on the Outer Banks to Edenton at the mouth of the Chowan River on the western shore. It can be rough in the sound but this day was calm and beautiful. By late afternoon we were anchored securely in the Alligator River and were delighted to be able to tune the TV to the USC vs Stanford football game. It was a disappointing outcome, with Stanford winning by one point. Now we are really starting to wonder if USC was overrated going into the season.
The next morning we pulled up the anchor and headed for Belhaven, NC, which is in the Pungo River. We were snailing along, as usual, listening to boats on the VHF, taking turns on the exercise bike on the flying bridge, when we heard a sailboat aground in the river up ahead. Another power boat had tried to pull them off, unsuccessfully. When we approached the scene we saw 3 men and 4 boys on a 30-foot sailboat firmly caught on a submerged tree, kind of close to the river bank. After looking the situation over, the Captain turned Lionheart around so that we were facing the sailboat but were still well out in the deep part of the river. Then we took one of their lines and tied it to our bow and backed up. It worked! They almost ran into us before we got the line off, but we were glad to help them before the tide went down and they went over on their side. Back to the exercise bike: We had purchased this piece of torturous equipment so that we could get into shape for our heliski trip in December. We were very faithful about riding it while underway when we had the wind passing over our bodies to keep us cool. So here we are on a stationery bike, on a moving platform, day after day, peddling and reading. It offered endless amazement and evidently some enjoyment to the many fisherman whom we passed on the ICW this fall. There was much pointing and waving. They probably thought we were nuts. However, we kept it up through the months and had a very successful heliski experience at the end of the year.
On October 8, we anchored in Bath Creek off the Pamlico River. Bath is North Carolina's oldest town and former provincial capital. Founded in 1696, Bath was the home of Edward Teach, better know as Blackbeard the Pirate. We walked around this sleepy, historic little town checking out all the historical sites and then retreated to the air conditioned comfort of Lionheart for the evening. The next day we moved further up the Pamlico to Washington, NC. This is the first American town to bear our founding father's name. We found it to be a delightful stop and well worth the extra miles up-river. The waterfront is one block off the main street of this quaint little town. They offer free docking for 48 hours. The dock master is very helpful. They were quite excited to learn that we really were from California and that we really had brought Lionheart through the Panama Canal and wound up in Washington. We were the 4th boat in their recorded history of the town dock to have this travel record. Two men who are living on their catamaran, Cat-A-Tonic, while they remodel one of the old town buildings into loft condos, befriended us. They showed us all around the town and loaned us their car so that we could more easily get to the grocery store and laundromat. We wound up staying 5 nights in Washington. People who walk around the riverfront daily for exercise stopped to talk to us about our travels. The local newspaper is just up the street from the dock and their young reporter came down and interviewed us for a piece in the town paper. We made the front page the day after we left. We also rode our bikes all over town, enjoying the Washington Crabs which are wonderful public art in the form of large crabs that have been painted or otherwise adorned by local artists. I also enjoyed the numerous art galleries featuring local artists and bought some wearable art to wear to my nephew's wedding next spring. It's a lovely watercolor on silk made into a jacket that is truly wonderful.
Our friend Jerry Sheppard's family was originally from Washington. His brother Moses still lives close by in Greenville. We gave them a call and he and his wife Lib drove over to visit us and took us on a tour of the Greenville area, including the UNC campus in Greenville. Both Moses and Lib taught at the university. Moses always took his summers to build houses in the area. We enjoyed learning about NC real estate and seeing some of the lovely homes he has built and one rather lavish horse barn that is currently under construction. He also introduced us to a new building technique: Polysteel Construction. We are now considering this process for our new home in California. It is supposed to be very durable in earthquake country although in the outer bank islands the durability is for hurricane protection. On our last night in town we found the only sports bar with a satellite dish (name: Southern Cheers) and we were able to watch USC beat Arizona. This provided a satisfying end to our stay in Washington. We had our new friends from Cat-A-Tonic over for dinner and bade those very nice people farewell.
On October 15, we hooked up with the boating Sheppards in Oriental, NC. From there we traveled to Cape Lookout on the barrier islands off of Beaufort, NC. We spotted dolphins on our way to this beautiful anchorage. White sand, blue water and one of the old lighthouses make this a lovely place to be. In the summer it is packed with boats and campers, however, this day there were only Lionheart and Why Knot to enjoy the beautiful sunset. The next day Why Knot headed south and we headed for the town docks in Beaufort.
There are several Beauforts in the Carolinas. We had enjoyed Beaufort, SC, (pronounced Bu-fert) in 2006. This is Beaufort, NC, (pronounced Bow-fort). The waterfront in this Beaufort is on what seems to be the old main street. It has restaurants, shops, bookstores, and the requisite ice cream shop. On both ends and for several blocks back, there is an old residential area with homes, churches, and graveyards dating back to the 1700s. Looking across the harbor east, you see Carrot Island which is home to a family of wild horses. A $5 taxi ride got me to a salon for a haircut. The laundromat was right across the street behind the ice cream parlor and general store. And, of great importance was the TV hook up at the dock so that we could watch the USC/Notre Dame game on Sat., Oct. 20. We won that one. ND was pathetic this year. The next day, Oct. 21, 2007, marked 2 years since Lionheart left the dock in Long Beach, CA. This day we left the dock in Beaufort and entered the Atlantic Ocean through the Beaufort Inlet. We turned south and traveled off-shore all day, covering 73 miles to the Masonboro Inlet in Wrightville, NC. We anchored for the night. The next morning we headed south in the ICW toward Southport which is close to Cape Fear. We were barely underway when we went aground on a significant high spot. So there we were for about an hour, looking like a big frog in a small pond, until the tide rose enough to float the boat and we were off like a herd of turtles. We stopped at Southport Marina for the night. We anchored in Cow House Creek in South Carolina on the 23rd with the intention of making it to Charleston the following day. Up early and chugging along in the ICW, we had just passed Georgetown, SC, when the Captain went below for an engine check. He came roaring back into the pilot house and shut down the starboard engine immediately and announced that the propeller shaft on that engine was about to separate from the transmission. Apparently 2 out of 3 of the bolts which hold this equipment together had fallen out and one was hanging by 2 threads. We stopped and anchored in the waterway while he assessed the situation. He decided we needed to get to the nearest dock. He secured the shaft so that it would not turn much and we crept back to Georgetown. Once there, he figured out what he needed to fix the problem and took off on his bicycle to find the hardware store. After about 4 trips to the hardware store, much consternation in the engine room, and one dive into the murky waters of the Sampit River to line up the shaft with the engine, he pronounced us seaworthy again. This was one of those times that could have been a catastrophic event in boating. If the shaft had separated, it could easily have hit and knocked off the rudder, causing a huge hole in the bottom of the boat. (The captain hopes this is the last ugly "gift" from the Marathon Boat Yard. The other half of the coupling had come loose in the Bahamas about 6 months earlier.) Not a good thing in the ICW and even worse in the open ocean. Having cheated death again, we had a lovely dinner at the dock in Georgetown and the next day we traveled 60 miles south to Charleston where we had reservations at the Harborage at Ashley Marina for a 3-month stay. The Ashley Marina is on the Ashley River on the south side of Charleston. The Cooper River is on the north side of Charleston. These rivers define the city on a peninsula in Charleston Harbor. It is a beautiful old city which we had explored on our way north in 2006. We decided to make it our home port for November, December and January while we did some land travel in the south-eastern US, and holidays in California.
Our first order of business was to figure out how to watch the USC vs Oregon game on Oct. 27. While out walking around town finding the fabulous needlepoint shop, Cabbage Row on Broad Street downtown, I met the owner of a coffee store whose daughter is a student at USC. We got to talking and then a local member of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce came in and they decided to recommend O'Mallys Sports Bar on north King St. So we checked it out and sure enough, they had about 100 TV screens, including one in each booth, and their satellite would bring in our game. Since it was a 12:00 noon game on the west coast, it started at 3:00 PM here. Good. We got to O'Mally's well before the crowds who would come for the south-eastern league games that evening. We were, however, unprepared for the exuberance of the football fans who would begin arriving to see those games. By the time we left, in defeat, around 7:00 PM, I thought O'Mally's would disintegrate from the noise in the building! The following Saturday we returned to O'Mally's for the Oregon State game which, thank you God, we won. Same enthusiastic crowd kept us with our ears glued to the booth TV screen so we could hear the play calling.
On Nov. 6, we packed up our rental car and headed south to Jacksonville, FL, to meet up with the Sheppards and go to the last Blue Angels air show of the 2007 season at Pensacola NAS in Pensacola, FL. Once again we had great accommodations on the NAS. We stayed in cottages that are on a beautiful beach overlooking the ICW as it passes through Pensacola. We had done that stretch on Nov. 4, 2006. The Naval Air Museum at Pensacola NAS is really outstanding, including a huge collection of Naval airplanes and the entire Cubi Bar from the Officer's Club on the Naval base we had in the Philippines for many years. That display included the names of the squadrons that worked there throughout the years and the flags and mascot symbols and many other interesting personal mementos from many Navy aviators. It was just a short walk to the hanger and air field to view the air show on Oct. 9 and 10, and what a spectacular event that was! Not only did we get to meet a number of Jerry's old flying buddies and have a good time hanging out with them, we got to see the Blue Angels perform their spectacular flying show in 2 formal shows as well as one practice on the 8th. Of course, there were a number of aerobatic planes in the show, including the Red Baron Pizza biplane team, but the Angels were absolutely the best. See it when you can. It's an amazing show. I just hope the US will always maintain that kind of air supremacy.
On Nov. 11, we bid farewell to the Sheppards and headed back to Charleston for a week before heading to Williamsburg, VA, to spend Thanksgiving with Rich, Lesley and their boys, and Lesley's folks, Tom and Edna Noll. This trip had been in the works since our last Thanksgiving together in 2004. A friend had described Thanksgiving in Williamsburg many years ago and I always wanted to do that. So, Tom got busy, after we left on our grand adventure, and arranged to trade their Hawaii time shares for Williamsburg for Thanksgiving 2007. Nov. 17, found us driving north to Richmond, VA, to pick up Tom and Edna at the airport to drive the last 60 miles to Williamsburg. On the way, Rich called from Washington, DC, where his family had been touring for 2 days. He was waiting for a lock smith to arrive to open his rental car.....he had accidentally dropped the keys in the Potomac and was enjoying a stressful moment which was later memorialized on their family Christmas card.
We all met up around 6:00 PM at the Marriott Resort at Ford's Colony in Williamsburg. Our accommodations were just lovely. The decor was quite plush, looking very much like the famous Inn at Williamsburg which is certainly the gold standard in the area. The next morning dawned clear and cold with the trees in full glorious autumn colors. We all piled into our 2 rental cars and headed for historic Jamestown. This is the site of the first British settlement in 1607 when 104 men and boys landed and began life in the wilderness. In the next 174 years, the British Colonies would grow to 13 and Britain would lose the Revolutionary War in Yorktown just a few miles across the peninsula formed by the George and York Rivers. We enjoyed the archeological site which included a museum for the many artifacts recovered in the area, reproductions of the 3 small ships that brought the men to America, and learned about the hardships suffered by those early colonists. The next day we enjoyed the sights and sites of Colonial Williamsburg. Between 1774 and 1781, the people of Williamsburg played a vital role in the struggle to become a nation. Today the highlights of that struggle, including famous speeches by actors portraying famous people, make you understand the conviction and dedication of those early citizens to either freedom from the English Crown or remaining loyal subjects of the King. I think the grandparents enjoyed this more than C.T. and Riley, but we all had a good time. That evening we returned to the streets of the town and took a "ghost story" walk. It was pretty cold as we walked to 3 different buildings and heard 3 stories, again told by actors. Riley took the first eerie actor way too seriously and bolted from the room. He took a pass on the other 2 stories. Our sightseeing included a trip back to Georgetown to see the glass blowers of the early 1600s work and a trip for some of us into Norfolk to visit the Nautica Museum and the Battleship Wisconsin. Thanksgiving Day dawned with the leaves still beautiful but a hard wind blowing. We took the boys to Yorktown to show them the battle sites where British General Lord Cornwallis was defeated by a much smaller Revolutionary Army led by French General Lafayette. We also visited the reproduction of a colonial farm. That day a fat turkey was strutting around the farm yard with an "eat beef" sign hanging around his neck. The boys were relatively unimpressed with the food preparation demonstration being offered in the kitchen building. Later that day we had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast at Shields Tavern on the main street of Colonial Williamsburg. Why, Mr. Shields himself sat at our table for a bit and told us stories about other guests. After dinner we walked around town again, enjoying our step back in American history. Then we repaired to Ford's Colony to watch the USC vs ASU game on TV. It was a satisfying trounce of the Sun Devils who had fully expected to win that game on their turf. Okay, so the Trojans really did look like a highly rated football team that day. Perhaps it was the many injuries that had them looking so bad for so long! On Friday it was time for the Maynes to head back home to California. The 4 grandparents headed back into Norfolk and visited the MacArthur Memorial and then went to dinner and a show at the Commodore. We saw American Gangster and had a great evening. The next day we packed up and drove to Richmond, noting that the wind had totally denuded the fall leaves and the landscape was grey where it had been brilliant colors one week before. We left the Nolls at the airport and drove back to Charleston to relieve Nick's pet sitter. Yes, we had decided to try a pet sitter who would visit Nick on board the boat rather than ensconce him at a pet resort while we did our extensive land travel. It worked out just great, so we felt okay about leaving him for almost 6 weeks as we returned to California to celebrate the holidays with family for the first time in 3 years.
We had one week in Charleston before heading west. In that time our friends on Total Return and Beso, both stopped in Charleston on their way south. We had nice dinners catching up with them. A 94-foot yacht, with a hailing port of Vail, CO, was at the dock across from us. A couple were on the boat who turned out to be professional crew. We spent 2 evenings in their company learning about their sail around the world on their own boat and then their lives as professional crew. The boat itself was magnificent and we very much enjoyed getting to meet them. During the migrating season up and down the east coast, you can always tell the professional crews from the owner crews. The professional crews pull in, tie up, wash the entire boat, go out to dinner and power off the dock at dawn. The owners pull in, tie up and collapse for a while. Then they have a drink and dinner on board. They think about getting up early but usually don't. After all, we don't have to spend 3 hours at the end of the day washing the boat. I will note here, however, it takes the Captain about 4 hours to wash Lionheart and that is a lot of work. It takes 9 hours to wash the 94-footer!
Our trip west was wonderful. We stayed with the Maynes where we celebrated Riley's 7th birthday, attended his first piano recital, attended the Poly holiday choral program, and took C.T. to see A Christmas Carol at SCR. This was a pass for Riley who proved in Williamsburg that he is not quite ready for the ghostly experience of Scrooge and Marley. We had a lovely Christmas with the Maynes, the Nolls and Dennis's family. Zack, who will be 4 in March, and Jillian (18 months), are just precious and certainly keeping Dennis and Wendy busy. We also drove to Colorado to visit the Captain's 94-year old Mom. Her birthday is the same as Riley's and she is still doing great. It was good to see brother Bob and Laurie as well as Jeanne. The Van Gemert Hacienda there in Montrose is just a wonderful place to stay. A world class B&B with very exclusive guests! On Dec. 1, the Trojans beat the Bruins, and on Jan. 1, the Trojans beat Illinois......Yep, those football players were just as good as predicted if all those injuries hadn't messed up their season. We did not actually see the Rosebowl Game because we were at the CMH Bugaboo Lodge helisking from Dec. 27 to Jan. 3. The Captain got his 2Million-foot ski suit on Dec. 31, 2007, and I got mine on Jan. 1, 2008. All those miles on that exercise bike paid off. It was a great trip with great snow and wonderful people as always. We also visited with a number of our friends whom we have been missing while we have been gone on this grand adventure.
On Jan. 7, we returned to Nikolas and Lionheart in Charleston. We spent one week reprovisioning for our trip to the Bahamas....trips to CostCo, West Marine, the needlepoint store, etc. We also had to get Nick's health papers for the Bahamas trip. The vet says the boy has lost 4 lbs. A svelte 21 lbs he is. Down from 25! His year-long diet really worked. At this time last year we cut his rations, per the vet in Florida, and he was often seen praying over his empty food bowl in early 2007. Someone should do that for me. On the other hand, a starving and surly cat can be ignored but a starving and surly Admiral would be another story entirely!
We also spent 4 days at the Ross Marine Boatyard in south Charleston. Nick stayed on the boat while it was on the hard, but we stayed in a motel and did the last of the touristy sites in the area, including the beautiful Magnolia Plantation. We hope to have fixed the starboard shaft problems, which have plagued us since the Great Dismal Swamp and the Marathon Boatyard, for good. The Captain has declared Lionheart seaworthy and we were ready to leave the beautiful Charleston area by Jan. 17, but wind, rain, and temperatures in the 20s at night and 30s in the day kept us at the dock and inside the boat until the 23rd. At 3:00 PM we left Ashley Marina and headed out of Charleston Harbor into the Atlantic for a 17-hour, overnight run down to Brunswick, GA. The ocean was flat and, while the clouds hid the full moon, there was enough light to see the water and the horizon. As we pulled into St. Simons Sound this morning, I noticed that the water now has the leaden look of winter. However, in a few days we will be back in the Bahamas where it is always summer.
We believe 2008 will be our last year of cruising for a while. We will spend the next few months in the area around Nassau. Sometime in April we will head back to the coast of Florida and make our way north to do the Downeast Loop. This trip will take us north through Lake Ontario again, then east in the St. Lawrence Seaway, around Nova Scotia and down the East Coast of Maine, and thus back to somewhere south. It looks like we will put Lionheart up for sale and drive back to California in early 2009 and begin the next adventure.....building a new house in Oxnard. Know anyone who wants to buy a great boat?
Lionheart Cruise: Fall on the East Coast 2007