Most appropriately in the final days of 2017, we’ve reached the final leg of our trip back to the United States mainland and up the ICW to Chesapeake, Virginia.
We left off our story with Cups on the hard in Trinidad during the 2015-16 holidays. We returned to Trini from the States in early March and began boat repairs and maintenance in earnest. Cups got a whole lot of TLC …her hull, sheerstripe and bootstripe were repainted, her bottom was anti-fouled, engine maintenance was done, lots of sanding and varnishing was tackled and even her name decal was replaced. It was hot, humid and required lots of work, but the effort paid off ... she looked awesome.
Midst the tedious work schedule, we had a respite when Lin flew down for a week’s visit in early April. Though we’d been in Trinidad for several months this time and back in 2002, we’d never really explored the island. We remedied the situation by renting a car and enjoying the island’s tourists’ destinations. Then it was back to work on Cups.
We managed to finish up by late April and splashed … later than expected, but that was no surprise. Early May had us sailing directly northwest through the Caribbean waters to Culebra Island, one of the Spanish Virgin Islands off Puerto Rico. We regretted not taking advantage of a leisurely cruise through the island chain, but hurricane season was fast approaching once again. The 520nm passage had its ups and downs, but all the downs were minor and manageable and it was good to be back at sea.
We arrived in Culebra early on our fifth passage day, dropped the hook and lapsed into lazy mode for a few days. Cups had not been back to America since 2007 and she seemed to enjoy being in home waters again. Repairs and maintenance aboard Cups were completed as required, but we also managed to explore the island and the tiny community of Dewey on foot and just relax in a paradisiacal setting.
Once again, the seasonal clock beckoned us to get a move on. We reluctantly left Culebra and began our passage northwest ... through the Bermuda Triangle … to St. Augustine, Florida, one of our favorite US east coast cities. The nine day passage was idyllic except for the very last day which was quite challenging. The sea gods enjoy making us work for our enjoyment.
Passing through the Bridge of Lions and arriving in St. Augustine was a heartwarming thrill for us. It signaled that we were back to the mainland USA on Nine of Cups and we felt elated as we picked up our assigned mooring and relaxed in calm of St. Augustine’s harbor. It’s great to be at sea, but it’s also great to arrive in port. We did our share of the usual repairs, but we also enjoyed sightseeing, walking and just being in this lovely, historic city.
Our one week planned stay turned into two weeks. It wasn’t all our fault … Tropical Storm Bonnie followed closely by Tropical Storm Colin had us rethinking our outside passage route to the Chesapeake. We finally made the decision to sail (motor is more accurate) up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) aka “the Ditch”. We finally broke free of St. Augustine's grasp and headed north. Though we motored nearly the whole way and the travel was slow, we found it pleasant to be able to drop the hook every night, get a full night’s sleep and rise with the sun in the morning to start a new day. The bird life along the way was especially interesting … eagles, roseate spoonbills, pelicans, gulls, egrets, herons and ospreys without number.
We plied our way through the muddy, shallow waters of Florida and Georgia, ducking outside the ditch a couple of times to avoid areas we knew would be unnavigable with our draft. Our only significant stop along the 700 nm route was in Charleston, South Carolina where we were greeted by old friends at the Charleston Maritime Center as if we’d never left. Charleston is a charming old Southern city that invites you to walk, explore and just enjoy. We spent a couple days, then once more pointed Cups north on the ICW towards the Chesapeake.
Through swing bridges, lift bridges and bascules, under high rise bridges, maneuvering through narrow, shallow canals, and across broad sounds, we made our way through North Carolina, then into Virginia and with only a few miles to go to the end of the ICW in Norfolk, we stopped for the night at a free dock in Great Bridge, Virginia. We needed fuel and across the river was the Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB), advertising diesel at the lowest price we’d seen in a long time. We opted to fill up, took a look around, and decided it was a good a place to stop for awhile. Why go all the way to Baltimore or Annapolis when we could get all of our repairs and maintenance done here at a fraction of the marina costs further north?
And so it was that Cups and crew took a rest in Chesapeake, VA. David’s brother, Paul, visited for a month and we managed an awesome trip up the Chesapeake to Washington, DC for 10 days or so until Hurricane Matthew chased us back to the protected waters of AYB. And there Cups has remained till now.
And so ends our story of the Journey from There to Here … from start to finish, you’ve been along for this nearly 18 year sailing adventure … the good times and the bad, the highs and the lows, the successes and the failures. We started recounting this journey last March and we’ve finished at this year’s end. At the moment, Cups sits waiting patiently under cover of a boat shed in Chesapeake, Virginia, awaiting our return … and that of a new captain at her helm.