1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: October 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sail to the Sun is Off Again!

It's been a busy, busy time here preparing and then launching this year's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally. Thank God I love what I do, because why else would I work this hard? That, and the amazing and wonderful people I meet through this Rally make it all worth the effort.
We started off with an amazing day long seminar at the Annapolis Maritime Museum on the Monday of the boat show. Our lead speaker was again Lin Pardey, discussing the "Unstoppable Boat", one of her favourite seminar topics.
In short order, we presented Dave Skolnick with his superb seminar on crossing the Gulf Stream. This was and is a must see for anyone heading to the Bahamas. Jeff and Jean Grossman discussed cruising as a couple, which is a well received seminar for those new to cruising. After lunch, Greg Kutsen of Mantus Anchors discussed proper anchoring techniques and this is one of the best seminars I've ever seen on the topic. Carolyn Shearlock of The Boat Galley discussed hurricane preparation, and the audience was riveted to their seats by this one as you can imagine. Yours truly rounded out the day with my Sailing South on the ICW presentation.
Then we all had nibbles and drinks. It was an excellent day, with everyone very pleased with the presentations they viewed and the quality of the speakers and information, so... be on the lookout for more of the Sail to the Sun Cruising Seminars, such as the one featuring Fatty Goodlander in Cocoa, Florida on December 2.
The Rally group met up at Bluewater Marina in Hampton on November 18, where we again had two great speakers:
my friend Ed Tillet of Waterway Guide, and Paul from the Salty Dog Rally, who spoke about their very different offshore rally. After he had heard about the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, this offshore sailor suggested that maybe he was on the wrong rally, ours sounded like more fun!
And it has been fun! Our first night out we landed at the Great Bridges lock, where we immediately headed for the Dairy Queen. Our second night out, in Coinjock, we went out for the best prime rib on the ICW. I'm sure I heard some groans as chairs were pushed away from tables after that night.
The following evening, we anchored out at Tuckahoe Point, the photo you see above - and thanks to Bill Ouellette from the 2016 Rally for that beautiful photo of a very quiet night. Well, quiet if you don't count the laughter from the Rally boats that is.
The following night we were in Dowry Creek Marina, just outside of Belhaven, NC. Dowry Creek has been a favourite stop for snowbirds for many years, and was purchased last year by Neil O'Neal. I'm pleased to say that everything you loved about Dowry Creek while Mary was running it - the friendly greetings, great service, clean showers and washrooms, etc., is still there. Except it's even better - Neal and his crew are improving on what was one of the best ICW marinas anywhere!
For example - Neal rented a van to bring the group to the Scott Point Distillery in Bath, home of Pamlico Rum! Yes, a tour of a rum distillery for our budding pirates. We then ran out and purchased all of the available Pamlico Rum in both Bath and Belhaven. Pirates got to have their booty!
And yes, as you can see, even the young 'uns on the trip (on Paradise Nine) were flying high as we crossed the Albermarle in amazingly light winds.
The weather gods had a surprise for us however. We had a violent and unpredicted storm strike us in the night while at Dowry Creek. By 2:30 am winds had gusted to over 50 mph and everyone was awake, helping one another add additional lines, and retie boats where lines were loose. Several of us helped tie down a flapping genoa on one boat despite winds still in the high teens. Our young family on Paradise Nine headed for the Captain's Lounge where they spent the night on the couches there. Good decision.
As these middle of the night squalls usually are, this was an 'adventure' no one wanted, but everyone got through. I suspect, but do not know, that some of the Pamlico Rum purchased that day was imbibed after everyone returned to their own boats.
While there was some cosmetic damage, no one in the group suffered serious damage, for which we're all grateful. Even that flapping genoa only needs the suncover replaced, there was no other damage.
One Canadian trawler with a young couple aboard suffered serious damage to the rails and swim platform of their boat, but word is, insurance kicked in and they'll be fine.
So the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally got off to a fine start, with fun, adventure, potential danger, ice cream, prime rib and rum.
Join us for our next blog post as we head to River Dunes and a shrimp BBQ, then Beaufort and Southport. Also, I'll be introducing you to some of this year's Ralliers.
You can follow us online as we Sail to the Sun at the Where's Wally page - and for those who reported problems with the page - thank you, and the problems are fixed.