1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: August 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Well, the Port Credit Boat Show went well, and I had the pleasure of meeting many new, wannabe cruisers, as well as several old friends. A good time was had by all.
I just completed an article on boat wiring and safety for SAIL, basing it on the experience of having a small electrical fire on Gypsy Wind, and while doing so, came across the following online article on boat electrical systems - click here - and I recommend that everyone reads it. It discusses some major safety oriented issues. For example, when you unplug your boat from shore power, you should turn off the power at the pedestal before disconnecting the plug. I didn't know that.
I'll leave it to you to read the article and discover why.
More later, but at the moment, I'm busy with several writing assignments - but didn't want anyone to think I had forgotten you here!
Enjoy your Labour Day weekend everyone.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Speaking out....

I've been making fabulous time up the east coast, but the last several days have all been inland on the ICW, pouring rain on top of that - but today, got to sail the Albermarle Sound, the winds were just right - a 6 - 6.5 knot ramble from the Alligator Pungo Canal to the north end of the Sound...ahhhhhhhhh. Then, turned into the wind and fired up the diesel and putt putt putt the rest of the way, to Great Bridge, VA, where I am now. At least it wasn't raining...
Because of the bridge/lock schedule, I'm leaving here at 3 am - otherwise, there's no point in leaving until 9 in the morning when the bridge here reopens after rush hour. If I wait for that, I'll lose the entire day to bridge restrictions for rush hours and I'm racing now to get back so that I can get up to Canada for the Port Credit Boat Show this coming weekend.
I'll be speaking there on the ICW (three seminars) and on Cuba (one, on Saturday) - here's the schedule:

So, now you have no excuse for missing me this weekend! 
Some other exciting news - I'm also speaking at a special ICW seminar in Annapolis. This day long seminar is being hosted by SAIL Magazine, and features a roster of well qualified speakers, all with extensive experience of cruising the ICW, as well as cruising in general. This will be a very educational day for those who have an ICW trip in their future. A question and answer forum will be held at the end of the day, then  - of course! - a happy hour. Hey, we're sailors!
There is room for 140 people - 40 of those seats were booked even before we officially opened for registration, and as of late last week, I believe that 90 eager and excited wannabe/gonnabe cruisers had plunked down their money for a seat.
For more information on the ICW seminar in Annapolis, click here
Now, a few hours sleep and back at it...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gypsy Wind Sails to Deepest, Darkest Africa???

Discerning LiveBloggin’ readers will be asking themselves: “Why is there a photo of a Ring Tailed Lemur, from Madagascar of all places, on Wally’s blog? Isn’t he somewhere on the ICW, as in the US of A? How bizarre...and what’s this, a video of Ring Tailed Lemurs, plus four hardebeests from Kenya...and there’s some North American birds and white tailed deer, all on the same video? Has Wally gotten his videos from South Africa and South Carolina all mixed up?”

Well, LiveBloggers, those are excellent musings....but the truth is that kismet, as experienced in my day to day life, is the reason for what you see here. Serendipity and adventure are some of the reasons I cruise - you just don’t get days like this working in a cubicle. Let me tell you about it - but first, the sailing report for you hardcore types...
I had two great days sailing north from St. Simons - the first day the winds were light, so I motorsailed to St. Catherine’s Sound. The winds picked up for the last hour or so, and Gypsy Wind roared into the inlet under sail at over 7 knots. Great fun.
The next day, leaving St. Catherines, I sailed off the anchor and, without the least mutter from the diesel, on to Skull Creek at Hilton Head - an anchorage that was purportedly used by Blackbeard to hide from the navy vessels hunting him. The winds out of the southwest tucked themselves over my left shoulder, (which is the best location for my boat), and stayed there all day. Just for the record, that was a 6 - 7 knot day all day long, with almost no wave action....great fun. The new mainsail looked, and performed, like a dream! Every sailing day should be so great. On top of that, both days I left the anchorages with an ebbing tide, and entered the new inlet with a flooding tide. Had I gone on the ICW rather than offshore, I'd have fought current all day long both days.
Anyhow, back at St. Catherine’s Sound, I had anchored up in Warburg Creek beside St. Catherine’s Island. There’s a research facility there, been there for many years now - and part of their research at one point was on certain African animals, which I wasn't aware of previous to this trip.
 I brought Aduana ashore for her walk, and fortunately I had her on the leash, because there were about a dozen white tailed deer in the field in front of us - she’d still be chasing them had she not been on her leash. Northerners will notice these are very small deer compared to the White Tails we have in Canada, which are considerably larger. Even the same deer in Annapolis MD is more than twice the size of these pretty animals.
Later, while walking, we walked up to within twenty feet of still more deer - they’re comfortable with humans, even walking into some of the buildings, but dogs make them nervous. A little further on I walked up to some cages and saw - Ring Tailed Lemurs. How strange.
I watched them for a while, enjoying their antics and their curiosity over Aduana and I watching them. They’re pretty animals, with brilliant coppery orange eyes and a raccoon’s tail. They are very agile and active, and quite loud.
While returning to the boat, I ran into Elizabeth, who works on the island with her husband. Her father started the facility years ago and still works there. She explained the setup to me, and that the lemurs I saw, and another 100 or so running free on the island, plus a few other animals, were all part of previous research projects and were due to be returned to the wild eventually. Her father, Royce, explained to me later that the island is actually the best place in the world to study Lemurs, other than Madagascar. In some ways, he said, it's actually better, as the jungles of Madagascar have been badly defoliated whereas St. Catherines Island allows the lemurs more range and freedom. To learn about these things was fascinating to say the least, and reminded me of the safari I went on while in South Africa in 2010. And that's not even including the elephant I saw in Myrtle Beach....but shhhh!, that's another post!
Next year, I hope to arrange for a tour of the island facility for a group of southbound sailors, but in the meantime, here's a look at what you'll have to look forward to...

Don't forget - I'm speaking at the Port Credit Boat Show on the 23 - 25 of this month - the schedule for the show is here...Speakers' Schedule...a special treat this year will be Paul and Sheryl Shard speaking on cruising through the canals of France. Hope to see you there, it's a great show!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

See you at the movies...

Ahoy all, I'm heading out once again in the morning - time to get the anchor out of the mud and sail this boat once more. I've been too long in one spot.
Someone mentioned the new Redford Movie to me on Facebook - All is Lost - about a singlehanded sailor who loses his boat in the Indian Ocean. So, curious as ever, I checked out the trailer for it.
This was NOT the best idea I could have had on the eve of a passage....check out the Official Trailer for the movie...hmmm, maybe I'll stay on the ICW tomorrow....

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jimbo's - a different sort of weird....

The 'restaurant' at Jimbo's
(This article was originally written for SAIL, but they chose not to use it - so here it is, for your enjoyment).

Jimbo’s Place. Getting there isn’t half the fun if you do it in anything much deeper than a canoe. It’s a nail-biting, unmarked channel that brings you in real close to shore, then sends you back to the middle, with nothing but a good depth sounder, a rising tide and luck between you and the bottom, because there are no markers.
I was fortunate in having visited briefly a few days prior to arriving in Gypsy Wind, my five foot draft Dufour 34, and gone out with some of the local boys for a ride on a shrimp boat. Jimbo’s son, Bobby, pointed out the way in for me. I’m not entirely sure I could - or would - have done it without his guidance. Still, approaching high tide you’ll find a minimum of six feet, provided you find the channel, and twelve feet in the very protected anchorage.
I ‘discovered’ Jimbo’s while waiting for a bus in downtown Miami. Two casually dressed guys on bicycles, wearing ball caps and one carrying a solar panel, pulled up to the bus stop. They had to be sailors and they were, on their way south to Marathon. 
John and Mike regaled me with tales of what an amazing place Jimbo’s was and I, being tired of No Name Harbour and the whole prissy Miami scene, decided then and there to visit this anomaly less than three miles as the crow flies from the glitz and glamour of downtown Miami.
Jimbo’s Place is a Miami oddity. To quote one visitor, “it’s a fire hazard, health hazard...but a fun place you must visit at least once”. 
Located on the northeast side of Virginia Key, Fisher Island is only a half mile away, although in attitude, it’s many light years distant. Watching the Melges 32s race offshore during Miami Race Week from the nearby beach was distinctly surreal.
Flashback to the 60s?
How can I put it? Jimbo’s makes Key West feel - well, normal. The bar, such as it is, is inside a corrugated steel container that might once have been hauled behind a transport truck.  In fact, it probably was. There are no seats, you pay for your beer and grab a seat at a picnic table outside with whoever is sitting there, like fellow sailors John and Mike. Or...whoever.
Over that weekend there was everything from travelers to transvestites, pretenders and poseurs, soup to nuts, or so it seemed, and a few I really couldn’t identify. Nor did I really want to.
You might see members of a swingers group that occasionally hangs out at Jimbo’s, or a group of frat boys out slumming with their pledges.  The Friday night both those groups were there together is the stuff that legends are made of I’m told. I’d love to provide the details I was given but, this is a family blog...
Photo shoot....
There were several young Cuban girls having glamor photos taken while I was there,  something to do with a rite of passage for Hispanic gals turning 15. They showed up in their sexiest clothes to have their photos taken by professionals, with lights, tripods, the whole setup no less - in front of a beat up dock, or a burned out bus, with pouty looks and sexy stances. Go figure. It was fun watching though. 

Most of the time, Jimbo’s is just people without attitudes or pre-conceived judgements on who you are. One of Jimbo’s regulars told me it’s the sixties, forty years too late, and that seemed pretty close to the truth. Even the duo playing on Sunday afternoon had a sixties feel, although their music ranged from classic to modern.
I had heard that the smoked fish was excellent, and it was. The conch fritters, cooked outdoors under an awning, are the best I’ve had anywhere, including the islands. Coupled with an ice cold Heineken, Jimbo’s is, as another regular told me, “the best place in Miami to get away from Miami.”

Of course, a gig like this wouldn't be complete without a cop in a Miami Dade police van showing up for a cold soda with friends hanging out there, listening to the band on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
It was quite the show.

Bobby, who ran the place, and myself
Two weeks after this article was written, Jimbos announced its closure. The iconic hangout, which in its day was a location for the movies Flipper, and Dexter, even Miami Vice, and horror sci-fi flick Island Crab, is no more, and we mourn its loss.