1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: December 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Questions, questions and MORE Questions!

At anchor...
Hello all - sorry to have been out of touch, decided to move a bit further south and have had very little access to the internet. Tonight, I'm just north of St. Augustine, Florida - a favourite stop, very historic and pretty city. If you've ever been, and I know some of you have, you know what I mean.
For the run from Beaufort, SC to St. Simons, GA, I was joined by Daren Magnus, a LiveBlogger from the Chesapeake. It was great to have company aboard and gave me the perfect excuse to do a major cleanup - the boat hasn't looked this good in ages! And Aduana (the WonderPuppy!®) thought so too - someone else for her to leap on and wake up in the mornings! Such an impish thing to do in the mornings....but a nice way to wake up!
Daren and I considered going offshore, but the weather wasn't co-operating - as if that's anything new, so we tootled down the ICW. Not, however, before introducing him to the $10 steak special at the restaurant just down the street from Lady's Island Marina. For $10, you get about half a cow plus all the fixins. Add a couple of beers to that and you've got a great meal! We were joined by my friend Barry, an Australian who is just finishing up his Catalina 50 and then heading south.
typical Isle of Hope homes...
Our first day out, we stopped at Isle of Hope, a lovely small town on the ICW. A couple of years ago, I was there with a friend (hello there!) on Christmas Day. We went out to find a church service - one would think that at Isle of Hope, that would be easy, especially given how many churches there are in town. However - each and every one had had its services on Christmas Eve. I can't tell you how disappointed both of us were - it was ironic that we couldn't find hope on the Isle of Hope.
Moving on, we next stopped at - oh wait! - I can't reveal the name of this place as it's one of my 'secret' private docks on the ICW. I have a couple of docks where the owners don't mind you tying up for an overnight - if I were to reveal them, they'd be deluged with boaters looking for a free tie-up, inconveniencing the owner.
While we were there, Daren's cousin and her family came by for a visit, bringing PIZZA! We had a great visit, and plan to do it again on the return trip, perhaps take the daughters sailing.
Oh, almost forgot - Daren managed to move from the ranks of those who might go aground to 'those who HAVE gone aground, at marker G39, south of Thunderbolt. Now I'm going to take some of the blame for this one - I knew the markers he was heading towards are frequently moved and could have warned him - but I was napping in the cockpit and not really paying a lot of attention. Ok, I wasn't paying any attention at all!
Fortunately, it only took a few seconds to get free and underway again, so Daren's reputation as a helmsman isn't too badly damaged here. We'll be getting together again in the new year to give him another chance, perhaps in Biscayne Bay or even over to the Bahamas. I'd have posted his picture (sort of like a 'wanted' in the post office!), but my internet connection here isn't strong enough to download the photos, so Daren will remain anonymous for the moment.
By the way, LiveBloggers, I'm always happy to have guests aboard, so if you've got some time free and would like to come sailing - or motoring - down the ICW, get in touch using the contact form at the bottom right of this page.
Ok, that's it for today - time to get ready for tonight's Christmas Party with the St. Augustine Cruisers group. I think some of them are LiveBloggers too, so it'll be great to meet you at last!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunsets on Gypsy Wind...

Most of North America right now is cold - miserable, nasty, sleety, snowy cold. Even here in Beaufort SC it's chilly and rainy, unlike the past week's weather. But here on Gypsy Wind, we've decided to flee to a warmer, more enjoyable place for the afternoon - and we'll take you there in this video of sunsets seen from the deck of Gypsy Wind....so enjoy, and dream of your own tropical sunsets to come.
Some of you will remember being there for some of these photos - I hope they bring back memories that are as good for you as they are for me of the sunsets we've shared.
If enough of you are interested, I can recreate this video as a screensaver to use on your computer - leave a message here with your OS and a comment on the video, and I'll set it up.
p.s. sometime during the past few days, we blew right through 50,000 all time hits on this blog. Thank you everyone, the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oysters BITE! Who knew?

I'm now in Beaufort, SC, at a lovely spot called Lady's Island Marina. Why lovely? First, it's very inexpensive. They have a free laundry. They have a workshop, with tools, if you have projects that need doing. The local boaters are great folks. Steve and Gloria, who run the place, are equally great folks! And it's right across from some absolutely huge oyster beds that are easily accessible at low tide. And I love oysters.
I've always wanted to try getting my own oysters. I mean, hey, how hard can it be to catch a bunch of brainless bivalves? Really? Fishing now, that's challenging. You can't see them, you have no idea of what bait they'll bite on, and you might not get the fish you want, or get none at all.  Just ask any fisherman. Then you have to clean them and that's always messy. Scales and fishy goop everywhere. And the gear, have you priced fishing gear lately? YOW! For that kind of money, I could be eating filet.
Oystering, on the other hand, is much simpler, right? (you see what's coming, don't you?)
I mean, these things are brainless, they don't move, you just pop them open when you catch them. How hard can this be? And the gear to catch them....a pair of rubber boots (which I had to borrow), some gloves (which I forgot to bring with me), a small garden rake (had that!), and a bucket (had that too!).
Then when you get them back, you need a shucking knife to open them - or a small screwdriver (I didn't have a shucking knife until I bought one today).
So off Aduana and I went, rowing 50 yards across to the mudflats at low tide to hunt the mighty Beaufort Oyster. Aduana, usually the first one out of the dinghy, didn't move. That should have clued me in that something was up.
I stepped out of the dinghy into the mud - perhaps I should say, DOWN into the mud. This mud is deep - it's actually called 'plough' mud - pronounced 'pluff'. Don't ask me why, it's a Southern thing. Nobody but Southerners understand this stuff.
So, hanging on to the dinghy, I put my second booted foot into the mud - and began to worry that I might not ever move those feet again! This stuff is seriously gooey. I had visions of becoming a statue here if someone didn't rescue me - and with 8 feet of tide, that would need to happen soon!
I then reached over to grab a bunch of oysters, seeing visions of beautifully tasty bivalves  on my plate - and discovered that most of the bunch were opened shells with nothing in them. Oysters, you see, grow up in clumps, and as they grow, they abandon the shells they grow out of, so many of the oysters you see have moved on to a new habitation. You're left with a bunch of shells filled with plough mud. Yuck. The original urban decay.
I reached for another bunch of oysters and YOW! The damn thing bit me! And it hurt - lots. And it bled even more.
Ok, the nasty brute didn't actually bite me. Oysters are very sharp with lots of jagged edges and it's very easy to get cut. That's why you use gloves to get at them. I of course had left mine back on Gypsy Wind. Painful lesson...especially after I'd done it a few more times.
So - filled two buckets with oysters - rowed back to the boat, read a variety of recipes on how to eat them, other than raw.  I wasn't quite ready to be that brave. I've heard the stories about shellfish poisoning too. Decided to steam these beauties in water with a good quantity of Old Bay spice - would have used wine but was nearly out of wine. Couldn't use beer, because I was totally out of beer. Poor planning? No. Old Bay is an eminently acceptable substitute - some would say the only thing to use in fact.
But wait! What's this? You have to clean oysters before cooking? What do these things think they are, fish? Found a scrub brush and away we go, scrubbing mud and algae off the oysters. Talk about your nasty, dirty job. I can see why oysters are not cheap when you buy them in a restaurant. This has been nothing but work.
So, once they're presentable, pop them into the colander inside the pot, turn up the heat...wait, while drinking wine. This was the best part - well, almost. Here comes the best part....
Tumble them onto a plate, let them cool just a bit, get out the screwdriver, open them up and
MMMMMMMMMMMM! Tasty? Oh yeah! Ohhhh yeaaaaaaa!
You can see from the photo at the left just what was left - after four batches. And I've still got a half bucket of these tasty beauties left. Tomorrow night, I'm going to try roasting them....