1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: A Very Good Year....

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Very Good Year....

Merry Christmas to all, and happy cruising in the New Year to everyone. Here’s hoping that your stockings are filled with spiffy new electronics and you find a new Mantus anchor and shiny G4 chain under the tree on Christmas morning.
It’s been an exciting year for this sailor, very exciting. As you know, I’ve just completed the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, leading 15 boats south from Deltaville VA to Miami. That journey, which ran from October 21 to December 15, was simply amazing. 
Those of you who followed my reports in Waterway Guide’s regular Thursday broadcasts are well aware of what a fabulous time we had. From the first party in Deltaville to our closing bash at Grove Bay, formerly Scotty’s, in Coconut Grove, it was one great floating party.
Many of the marinas and cities we stopped at held receptions and dinners for us. At Albermarle Plantation, the entire community came out to play, and we had a great time there. In Belhaven, the new owners of River Forest Marina, and the town, feted us with a wine and cheese reception. River Dunes Marina outside of Oriental, one of America’s top 25 marinas provided a great meal and entertainment from Bob Laverty, and we discovered that our very own Stan (the Man!) Eure could rock out Mustang Sally like no one else! 
In Beaufort NC, manager Claudia Black and the staff at the Boathouse Marina treated us like kings and queens, and then sent us off with a celebratory breakfast. 
Swansboro, that little town that everyone passes by, they put us up on their new town docks, and five restaurants provided hors d’oeuvres and music. If you haven’t stopped at Swansboro, you need to check it out - friendly people and an attractive small town, it sure beats out the Mile Hammock anchorage at Camp Lejeune.
And so it went - town after town, marina after marina - a tour de force! The highlight however, was Cocoa, Florida. There - be still my trembling heart - our local sponsor was a pub and pizza restaurant. It just doesn’t get better. We had a reception with the Mayor, and we were given beautiful commemoratives etched with our boat names, and a great new pennant to fly from our halyards. Brad, thank you for all you and your people did - it was great!
A special thank you must go to the folks at Waterway Guide, who as the Rally sponsor, helped set up and organize many of these events. They certainly made my life as Rally Captain much easier, no question about that.
Lastly, my heartfelt thanks to the Ralliers themselves, who made this adventure their own, and made it so easy for me to lead them. At our closing party, they gifted me with a t-shirt they'd all personally signed - I took some quick snaps with my phone of a few of the comments, and I'm very proud to show them here:


I am now preparing for the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, and I assure you, it will be even better - although this year’s participants might want to ask how that could be. Stay tuned for an announcement coming soon. In the meantime, if you want details on the Rally, check the website, www.ICWally.com, and feel free to email me with any questions you might have. Also, if you missed the blog posts on Waterway Guide, they are here: Rally Posts
As most of you are aware, I’ve made several trips to Cuba in the past few years, written in SAIL about those travels and lectured at various boat shows about cruising in Cuba - even done a webinar live from Cuba last summer which you can watch here.
All of this effort is about to culminate in the launch of Cuba Bound, the newest and most accurate cruising guide available for Cuba. As you know, regulations surrounding travel to Cuba by Americans are rapidly changing, so Cuba Bound will be a print on demand book. As things change in Cuba, we will be able to quickly update the book, ensuring that it remains accurate over time. 
Cuba Bound will be published by Waterway Guide and be available in early January, including at the Toronto Boat Show. Stay tuned for the announcement, here in LiveBlogging and also on my Facebook group, Sailing and Cruising and it’s sister site, Sailing and Cruising: Cuba.
What, you aren’t a member of Sailing and Cruising? It’s only the best online cruising group out there. And S&C: Cuba has the most up to date information on Cuba you can find. 
That’s because members comprise Cuban liveaboards, expat Cubans now living in the US and Canada, and cruisers who regularly cruise there. If you want to keep up to date on Cuba, or have specific questions, S&C: Cuba is the group to belong to.
I mentioned boat shows. I will be speaking at the Toronto Boat Show in January, and at the Miami Boat Show. At both shows I will be giving my two signature seminars: the ICW, and Cuba. If you have plans to explore the ICW, or cruise to Cuba, be sure to join me and get your questions answered.
And that’s it for the moment. Now that Sail to the Sun is over for this year, I’ll have a chance to catch my breath, tidy up the boat and catch up on some deferred maintenance on Gypsy Wind, and blog more regularly.
Have a very Merry Christmas, and remember the reason for the Season. See you in the New Year.

If you would like to see how this year's Sail to the Sun Rally was, the following posts, courtesy of Waterway Guide, will give you the details.
Previous Sail to the Sun ICW Rally updates: