The Start of a New Year

Happy New Year! In a few days we are heading back to Brunswick to begin the next leg of the sailing adventure. The blog will continue. But it will be at a slightly different site. The new blog will be at:

If you have this site bookmarked, you might want to update your bookmark. Otherwise, you can just return here and follow the above link. If you have been a subscriber, so that you get notices of new postings, you will have to subscribe to the new site, which is an easy, one-time action.

This will be the last post for this site. While  this site will remain available for viewing, all future postings will be on the new site at the link above.


Summertime in Door County

Part of the snowbird boating plan was to spend much of of our time in Door County, WI during the summer and fall. This is the time of year when the weather and the natural beauty of the place are at their finest.

While in Door County we live in our small condo just outside the town of Fish Creek. Because it is a condo, the grounds are managed. Nevertheless, Deb can’t resist digging in the dirt, so she both supervises and participates in the landscaping process.


Door County has many interesting and picturesque places.


While there, we took advantage of opportunities to hike trails, ride bikes, and play golf. Deb also managed the occasional shopping expedition.

But this blog is focused on our sailing adventures, so that is what is emphasized here. In Door County, time on the water mostly involves sailing the Precision 23. This modest sized keel-centerboard boat is a far cry from Outbound. But simplicity and low cost of operation have a lot to be said for them, especially for day sailing.

Steve often goes sailing on his own. Ease of single-handing is another nice feature of the smaller boat. Most of our sails involve a few hours cruising around the local waters. As on Outbound, it is usually Steve at the helm and Deb relaxing/reading/napping.


But Deb took a refresher course in sailing this summer, and afterward she decided to take hold of the dreaded tiller a few times in order to practice. Emboldened by the new expertise on board, we even broke out the spinnaker a few times.


One of the most prominent features of our local sailing area is Eagle Bluff, with the observation tower on the top and a great hiking trail along the water at the bottom.


The Precision is on a mooring ball in the bay just off of Ephraim. The bay is in the foreground of the picture above showing the bluff. In the bay are two very small marinas and a collection of mooring balls. As a result, there are numerous interesting boats of varying sizes.


Because this is a popular tourist area, there are several excursion boats offering opportunities to get on the water.


The town of Ephraim is a picturesque place that reminds some of towns in New England. We enjoy the view while sailing and afterwards when we are relaxing back on the mooring ball.




Here is the view of the bay and the town of Ephraim looking back from the bluff side. The Precision is probably the sailboat in the center just under the multistory building.


Impressive sunsets are another nice feature.


While a variety of circumstances meant we spent less time in Door County than originally planned, the time there was thoroughly enjoyable.

Homeward Bound: 5/15/15

This was a full bore travel day. We had an early breakfast at the hotel we were off in the car for the four hour drive to Atlanta. After checking luggage and getting through security we had a couple of hours to kill before our flight to Milwaukee. During this time we discovered that there was an intermediate stop…in Ft. Myers. So we went from Brunswick north to Savannah and then northwest to Atlanta, so that we could fly south to Ft. Myers before flying north to Milwaukee. As we said, Brunswick-Milwaukee is a challenging itinerary.

The only good things about these flights were that they weren’t overly full and there were only six of us crazy enough to be going to Milwaukee this way. That meant seating and overhead capacity were not problems. More important, during the stop in Ft. Myers we were able to move to the exit rows for good legroom during the long flight. The icing on the cake came when Deb pulled out a couple of free drink coupons that she had been carrying around.

Thankfully, both flights went smoothly. They were on time, and the luggage came through without a problem. If it had to be a crazy route, at least it was executed properly. Daughter Elizabeth picked us up at the airport without a problem and we had an excellent tapas-based dinner with her and boyfriend Tim. We topped it all off with a stop for ice cream before heading home.

We arrived home 4.5 months after Steve had last left and 3.5 months after Deb had last left. But really, we were concluding a journey that began 8.5 months ago in Manitowoc, WI. Deb was happy to see her planting was looking good.

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It was quite an adventure. At several points over the preceding week we found ourselves already talking about next year. This aquatic snowbird thing just might become habit forming.

A Day in Savannah: 5/14/15

We spent almost the entire day wandering around Savannah. Our hotel was right by the River, right in the heart of the Historic District. So there was a lot to see and it was easy to get to a lot by walking. Savannah is very tourist friendly. In addition to the various trolley-based tours, there is a free public transportation bus that makes a big loop though much of the city.

We took this bus south to an impressive park towards the edge of town. We walked around the park and then to various other sites located within reasonable distance. Foremost among them were a couple of cathedrals. We had to be doing something right, as we kept seeing the tour trolleys and we kept bumping into the same bike tour group. All were stopping the same places as we were.


To start the afternoon we took the bus to the far end of the street along the river. This is along the old time riverfront, with historic buildings, cobblestone roads, etc. It is where all the tacky tourist shops have been placed. It is nice they consolidated them down a level out of sight when wandering the rest of town. On this day, the touristy nature of the street was greatly accentuated by an infestation of middle schoolers. There were about 10 motor coach loads of them on what appeared to be a graduation trip. It was clear some of the shop tenders were not overly thrilled.


We did our best to ignore the hordes of kids as we strolled the length of the river street. Deb found a few galleries she liked, and a few restaurants looked interesting. There was plenty of outdoor artwork as well, including the Savannah’s famous “Waving Lady” statue.



We got a seafood snack at one of the restaurants, and identified another for dinner later that evening. Then we headed back to the hotel area and wandered around a while longer. Once again, Deb found some shops and galleries she liked. After a brief stop back at the hotel we returned to River Street for dinner at a Shrimp/Crab place.

Getting Serious About Departure: 5/11-13/15

At some point over the weekend we concluded we needed to rent a storage unit to hold all the stuff we wanted to get off the boat. Monday morning Steve called to rent one and things started happening fast. We got the last “climate controlled” unit available. The husband of the storage unit manager laughed when he heard Steve was going to bike there, and came to pick Steve up.

Once the paperwork was done scheduling shifted and all of a sudden a truck was going to be briefly available for us to move stuff. So we kicked into high gear. We got all the sails and canvass off the boat. We got most of our clothes and lots of gear packed up and/or bagged. We got it all over to the storage unit.


On the way back to the boat, the husband who was giving us a return ride offered to take us around a bit. So we were able to get to Home Depot and Walmart to get some needed items like a dehumidifier and damp rid to help us fight mold. He was an incredibly friendly and helpful guy…and then some.

And then some…. as we were driving around we told him our story of planes, trains, and automobiles. He suggested we just rent a car to get from Brunswick to Savannah. When we told him the quote for that was $250 he was outraged and went into action. He called his friend at the local Hertz office and started asking questions. Somehow, all of a sudden, we could rent a car one way for $59/day plus all the usual fees.

We jumped at this option, and then got greedy. We called back and inquired about keeping the car an extra day and dropping it in Atlanta. No problem, we were told, another $59 for the extra day. It seems it really does matter who you know. We celebrated that evening by having farewell drinks with the crew on October Moon.

The next morning was spent getting our survey of the boat. This is the marine counterpart to a housing inspection before a transaction. It was a necessary step in changing insurance companies so the boat could reasonably be kept south of Norfolk, VA over the summer and fall. The inspection seemed to go well, which was a relief. At this point, it would be hard to get to Norfolk by June 1.

The afternoon was spent cleaning and preparing the boat. At the end of the day we had the last steak out of the boat’s freezer along with some “vintage” boxed wine. Both really hit the spot.

The next and final day, we worked on preparing the boat, got the rental car, worked more on the boat and eventually got away from the marina about 6 pm. We took one last look at the boat and the “neighborhood” and then headed up the dock ramp for the last time.


We stopped briefly at the marina office, but it was closed for the day.


The whole process had been time consuming and exhausting. It was at least as much work as getting the boat laid up for the winter in Wisconsin. It’s just the enemies were different. Here we were determined to fend off the mold that had invaded during the stay in Wilmington and festered on the cold trip south from there.

The drive to Savannah was a bit over an hour. (It took October Moon two days by boat).  We dragged ourselves into the hotel room and refused to move. Savannah could wait until the next day. The minimal exception was Steve’s excursion out to get pick up pizza to go with the left over boxed wine. An odd twist was that the pizza restaurant was filled with Wisconsin stuff. Apparently the owner is a big Packers fan. You can run, but you can’t hide….

Resting Up in Brunswick: 5/8-10/15

During our first full day in Brunswick we mostly took it easy. We took a few steps toward getting the boat ready to leave for the summer, but not many. We explored the marina area and the town of Brunswick, which didn’t take very long. Steve spent some time researching travel options between Brunswick and Milwaukee.


The next day was mostly more of the same. We took a few more steps regarding boat prep, but were really procrastinating on that front. Steve did a lot more work on the travel options between Brunswick and Milwaukee. This proved to be quite a challenge. Standard departure options are to fly out of Jacksonville or Savannah. Flights to Milwaukee from either location were quite expensive, and it was going to cost about $130 in cab/limo fees to get from Brunswick to either departure destination.

At this point, Steve was inspired by the old movie “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles” and he started to get creative. There appeared to be a Greyhound Bus from Brunswick to Savannah that was cheap. A rental car from Savannah to Atlanta was also quite reasonable. And plane tickets from Atlanta to Milwaukee were available at a great price. Throw in a couple of nights at a hotel in Savannah and we had an interesting excursion whose total cost would be less than just the plane tickets from either Jacksonville or Savannah.

Everything was set up quickly, except the Greyhound Bus. It turned out the station in Brunswick had shut down. It turned out there was only a bus that stops at a truck stop out along I95 at the far fringe of town. It turned out that you ultimately couldn’t buy a ticket for this particular fare online through Greyhound’s web site, or over the phone through their customer (dis)service department. It was hard to get Greyhound to take our money.

The only ways, it seemed were either 1) to just show up at the bus and promise to pay at the other end, or 2) to do this odd process whereby you get some documentation online and go to a payday loan place to pay in cash. This piece was left hanging. Somewhere in the course of discovering all this, a storm blew through and gave us a bit of a morale booster.



The next day was Sunday, Mother’s Day. The marina was holding an event in the early afternoon so we wandered down to participate. There was quite a crowd, with plenty to eat and drink. At some point, the dock master mentioned that some new people had just arrived. We thought they meant us, but she looked beyond us and when we turned around we saw Fran and Mike from October Moon, who had literally just tied off at the marina. This was quite a surprise. Later that evening the four of us went into town for a sandwich and a beer.

The Last Day Underway: 5/7/15

Today was the day we were moving to our final destination: Brunswick, GA. We were up early, but held off until just after 8am before dropping the mooring ball and getting underway. As always, timing was driven by the expected state of the tidal current. Deb got some interesting shots as we left Fernandina.


There were going to be a few shallow spots of concern, and one tricky passage across a sound where we had to motor almost all the way out into the Atlantic before turning back shoreward and into protected waters. We wanted to have enough water when crossing the former and to avoid a wind against tide situation when transiting the latter.

The trip went smoothly. We passed through some interesting low country marshes. We went past a nuclear submarine base.


The conditions for the stretch out near the edge of the Atlantic ended up being benign (no doubt due to the efforts of the First Officer of Angst and Worry, who made her first appearance in some time). It was clear from the shoreline, though, that the passage can be very rough. We got passed the notorious shoals along Jekyll Island with plenty of water under the keel. Steve stayed pretty busy as we worked through this area.


Once we made it past Jekyll Island, with its marina,  resorts, and shoal areas, and its shoal areas, we took a hard left turn and headed up the Brunswick River and under an impressive bridge with a 175 foot clearance.




Just beyond that we veered off to the right and up a dead end canal-like stretch to the Brunswick Landing Marina. After stopping to fill the diesel tank and to get our slip assignment, we pulled Outbound into the slip that would be her home for the next six months. While we still had some traveling to do on this trip, it was the end of the road for the boat.

After cleaning up we headed down to a wine and cheese party that the marina was hosting. This was a nice opportunity to meet some of the marina staff and some of the other boaters who are keeping their boats at the marina for the season. It turned out there were quite a few who have been coming here for years. This was reassuring.

There was a couple present who had just returned from a 3 year trip to Europe that included what amounted to a circumnavigation of Europe through the rivers. They gave a very interesting presentation highlighting their travels. After it was over we headed back to the boat for a quiet remainder of the evening during which we reflected on what we had done over the past 9 months.