2016 – 2017


Home – Rock Hall

We made it to Great Bridge in 3 days on the ICW, spent 2 nights there and made a 23 hour run straight from Great Bridge Virginia to Rock Hall MD arriving right at daybreak. There was a lot of tug boat traffic between Oriental and Great Bridge.  While anchored we saw tugs running all night with large spot lights – lesson do not anchor too close to the main channel!  Great Bridge is pretty much the end of the scenic ICW heading north.  From there on it is heavy industry all the way to the mouth of the Chesapeake.  We arrived back in Rock Hall the first week of June.

One great thing about being up north in the summer is the heirloom tomatoes – we might be biased but we have not tasted better in our travels.

Oriental NC  (May 19th -26th)

Left Beaufort NC after two days and headed up to Oriental NC.  A week of severe thunderstorms, high winds (40+) and tornado warnings kept us here for a week.  Oriental is one of our favorite places, so this gave us time to really dig into the community.  It is almost impossible to walk anywhere in Oriental, as soon as you start a car will stop and offer you a ride. 

The Oriental Town Harbor from Hodges Street.

The Harbor entrance from the town bridge

So many interesting and unique places, this restaurant was created out of two old silos, and had some of the best pizza we have had to date.

Beaufort NC

Betsy happy to be back in Beaufort

Left Charleston SC on May 16th and arrived Beaufort NC on May 17th traveling offshore past Frying Pan Shoals.

Now it is ICW time!


Charleston SC-

An unusual weather pattern has kept us in Charleston SC for over a week.  We are fond of Charleston so it has not been all pain and suffering.  Coming north past Savannah GA we encountered the usual shipping traffic.  At one point we had to cross a line of over seven cargo ships all heading east and west, passing one at less than a mile.  We were last in Charleston at Christmas and it was nice to be back in the spring.

Charleston is know for many things and one is their fantastic food scene.  We dropped by Lewis Barbecue which has the reputation for being one of the best Texas BBQ spots in the US.

Lewis BBQ

We are staying at the Mega Dock where some of the most expensive boats in the world stop by.  The sail boat in the picture below is the Athena, the largest sailing vessel in the world – some pictures here.

This mega-yacht is carrying a car on board – we have seen motorcycles and scooters on these boats before, but never a car.

Charleston has a great farmers market on Saturdays in season.  Lots of local veggies and fresh strawberries!

There is always live music at the market.

One of the best things about cruising is the people you meet, in Charleston we met Bob and Brenda on a Nordhavn 55, their boat was made by the same company (PAE) as our boat.

The weather has finally changed and we plan on leaving for Beaufort NC on Tuesday May 16.

In Ft. Pierce from April 19-25 . . . leaving for Fernandina on Wednesday the 26th.

We hear that Fernandina is a great town, but have never come ashore. From the water it is a depressing place.  There are two factories that run 24/7.  Late at night they release a lot of pollution that smells so bad it will wake you from a deep sleep.  In the background the factory sounds remind me of the movie Erasure Head.  We anchored in Fernandina waiting for a weather window to head for Charleston SC.  They are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.  While we were there an abandoned sailboat kept floating around the mooring balls while the marina seemed unconcerned.

Around Cape Canaveral there was some shipping traffic . . . the Cape forces offshore shipping to come in closer to shore.


Anchored in Lake Worth on April 18 – ‘Back in the USSA’

It took us 8 hours to sail from Bimini to Palm Beach – heading north the Gulf Stream gave us a push adding to our speed.

Anchored in Lake Worth

Met a fellow Mason owner who keeps his boat nearby.  Saw some interesting boats come in . . . this boat just crossed the Atlantic from England.

This year the Small Vessel Reporting System paid off and we were able to check in by phone . . . since the hours of operation are 8-4 we checked in offshore heading to Ft. Pierce. 

Check out our video of one of the Bimini Homecoming Parades.


Time to head North!

Leaving from Bimini and heading to Palm Beach on Tuesday April 18th (top arrow).

Bahamas April

Bimini is one of our favorite places so we had to hang out for a few weeks before heading back north.  There is lots to do and the locals are so welcoming.  This weekend is homecoming which is one of the biggest celebrations on the island.  Here are a few items from the last week.

Joe’s Conch Shack

Conch salad with jar of homemade habanero sauceJoe working in front of conch shell pile

Conch pile

Sherrie’s Beach Bar – great place to watch the sunset.

Fried lobster at Sherri’s

View from Sherr’s

The island is small enough that most things are moved by golf cart or bicycle.

There are expensive tourist places to eat, but the local places offer great choices; fried fish, rice, plantains, and slaw for $6.00.

The local bakery has great homemade bread which makes for delicious french toast.

Betsy still handing out her resume.


We left Dinner Key at 8:00 a.m. on April Fools day and arrived in Bimini at 4:00 p.m.

We had good weather and a fairly easy trip over.  Lots of other boats jumped the same day, we came in with four other sailboats, and lots of power boats passed us along the way.

As usual we ate well along the way.

Back in Alice Town

The only marina with water deep enough for Nomad is Brown’s Marina (also the least expensive marina).

Nomad at Brown’s Marina

Lots of millionaires hanging out in Bimini  . . .

Unbelievable amount of fish in Bimini . . . these guys hanging around Nomad.

One of the most striking things abut the Bahamas is the color of the water – hard to describe the beautiful blues you see everywhere.

Supply ship at the government docks

Fuel ship coming in . . . they use floating hoses to bring fuel ashore.

WWII landing craft move things between local islands

The ship’s cat checking out his new surroundings.

Religion still plays a large role in the Bahamas

Dinner Key – Coconut Grove

We spent a month at Dinner Key, an easy place to settle in . . . great city with tons to do and lots of services for boaters.

There is an incredibly high concentration of millionaires, the only way for the average person to stay here is anchored out on a boat!

There are slips at Dinner Key, but the least expensive way to stay is on a mooring ball, we were about a mile out meaning Bernice got a workout.

Dinner Key Marina
Bernice at work

Coconut Grove is a great place . . . but the average person could never live here.

Every other car is a Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Etc.

However not all the local residents are millionaires:

Crocodile not an alligator

While in Coconut Grove I was able to rent a car and ride up to West Palm beach to see my 92 year old dad.

One of the great things about Coconut Grove is all the old growth vegetation.

Sailing in Biscayne Bay (Miami in the background)

OK cat pics . . .



We left Ft. Pierce around 4:30 on January 27th and were on our mooring ball at Dinner Key Marina at 12:30 the next day.

The trip would have been faster but we did not fully account for the Gulf Stream.  My original course only had three or four waypoints.  North of Jupiter the Gulf Stream comes very close to the coast.  My original plan was to start out around three miles off the coast and come in to around two miles as I approached Jupiter.  At two miles out I was only doing 3 ½ to 4 knots and I usually run around 7 to 7 ½.  I started to inch my way to shore and found that at 1 mile off my speed came back up.  I have gone on a couple of forums and folks recommend staying in 50 – 100 feet of water, when I look at my charts this comes out to about a mile offshore.  At a mile offshore your electronics start to pick up a lot of interference if you have any warnings enabled.  We were picking up all the boats anchored in the ICW and had to disable our AIS alarm.  We also started to occasionally pick up cars on the shore, interesting to be alerted to an object coming near you at 70 knots, I kept reducing the range of my alerts but eventually also turned off my radar alerts as well.  There are not many issues running at one mile offshore but with all your alerts off someone is constantly standing watch and this can get tiring, at night there is not much traffic that close in.  All the shipping (especially the tugs) seemed to be following the 3 mile contour and were fully in the Gulf Stream, at a mile off we were passing all of them.

We were at Port Everglades around 6:00 a.m. and this seems to be when the cruise ships return.  We had five cruise ships lined up and crossing in front of us before we could continue.  My guess is this is something that only happens once a week on a Saturday night (lucky us).

As I approached Miami I decided to stand off the entrance channel and went back offshore less than three miles and found myself back in the Gulf Stream with a north wind near 20 knots, the seas quickly came up and we were thrown around a little bit.  There was so little traffic that if I were to do it again I would cut across the channel as I saw a lot of the local boats do.

Leaving Ft. Pierce through the inlet.
The Gulf Stream off of Miami.

Miami from the water

Miami from the water




We are planning on heading to Dinner Key tomorrow Friday the 27 . . . .

The Marina in Ft. Pierce was so nice we decided to stay for a few weeks and do some boat projects, this plus the everyday temperatures ranged between 75-80 degrees, and we had finally escaped the cold.  The biggest project was putting 6 coats of varnish on the port side of the boat.  It takes one day to tape up the boat and another to scrape and sand the old varnish, after everything is prepped you can only put one coat on each day.

Varnish work –

We put in about 6-7 hours of work each day on varnishing – but not everyone pulled their weight.

One last trip the Ft. Pierce Farmers Market




Fernandina to Ft. Pierce Florida

We left Fernandina on Thursday January 5th at 7:00 a.m. and headed south for Ft. Pierce.  The weather forecast called for the strongest cold front of the winter to roll through with 30-40 knot winds.  We had a two and a half day warning that it was on its way and decided to get out ahead of it rather than being anchored off Fernandina.  We ran 32 hours offshore and arrived at Ft. Pierce around 3:00 p.m.  We did not want to be anchored in 30-40 knot winds and managed to secure a slip in probably the best spot in all of Ft. Pierce to ride out a blow.  In the picture below you can see the inlet at the top and in the middle of of condos on the right an artificial cut with some slips in the middle  – this is Harbour Isle Marina and where we were lucky enough to secure a spot.

Red is something you never want to see when you are offshore in a weather forecast.

Nomad tied up at Harbour Isle Marina

We walked up to the inlet to have a look at the ocean on Sunday . . . there were no boats entering or leaving.

On Saturday after sleeping for 13 hours we went to the Ft. Pierce Farmers Market which lived up to its reputation as one of the best in the U.S., on the way back we walked by a BBQ joint and decided to stop in for lunch. Tillman’s Famous Barbecue

The run from Fernandina to Ft. Pierce, Cape Canaveral concentrates a lot of shipping moving along the coast.



Happy New Year!

We left Charleston on New Years Eve and headed for Fernandina, we stayed a little longer than planned due to weather but did not complain since it is one of our favorite places.  Before we left we had dinner at Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oysters.  

We had decent weather for the trip, but there was a lot of traffic around Savannah.  Many large cargo ships coming and going.  We had to communicate with one large freighter that came within a half mile of us.  We could see fireworks from shore at midnight.

We arrived in Fernandina on New Years day and dropped anchor near the Fernandina marina.  Hurricane Matthew hit Fernandina very hard in October and the marina and fuel dock were closed, fortunately we fueled up in Charleston and had enough fuel on board to continue down the Florida coast.  Lots of boats were lost and many were still washed up on shore.  The city is starting to collect the damaged boats for salvage.

We sat in Fernandina for five days waiting for weather to head back offshore, we took this time to work on boat projects and catch up on sleep.

Saturday, December 24th

After fighting with the ICW we looked forward to getting offshore,  Nomad is an offshore cruising sailboat and wanted to get out of the ditch!  We left Carolina Beach at noon so that we would arrive in Charleston during daylight and immediately went through Snow’s Cut (always a challenge).  We arrived in Charleston a little early and bled off some time sitting outside the harbor waiting for sunrise.  Lots of large ship traffic coming in and out of the channel while we waited.  We had great weather the whole trip.

Carolina Beach to Charleston SC

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Sunset on the North Atlantic

Traffic coming out of Southport.

The tug was named the Elizabeth Ann.
Betsy standing watch.

The ship’s cat always likes it when the boat stops moving.

Looks like we will be spending Christmas in Charleston.

You can get anywhere in Charleston by bicycle – we broke out our bikes and started exploring.

Chicken and waffles at the Marina Variety Store Restaurant.

Next jump is from Charleston to Fernandina FL . . . maybe the middle of next week.


Sunday, December 18th

We had a challenging time coming down the ICW below Beaufort, lots of shallow water for our 6 1/2 foot draft.  We went aground a number of times.  We are now sitting in Carolina Beach, NC waiting for a weather window to go offshore to Charleston, SC.  The next stretch of the ICW is worse than the section we just finished so we decided to hold out for an offshore opportunity.  Somewhere between Tuesday – Thursday looks like a possibility.

We did get into Oriental, NC for the required 50 hour maintenance for our new engine.  A sailing friendly town, full of great people – we will try to stop again on our way north.

Oriental NC

Shrimping is big business in these parts.  Occasionally we meet one of these on the ICW – always in a narrow stretch.

Valves being adjusted by Deaton Yacht Service.

Eight valves – two for each cylinder.

Outside Camp Lejeune we were joined by three dolphins.

Our course for the last week or so.



We left Rock Hall Sunday, December 4th . . . way too late in the year, but the sea trial for the new engine delayed us a little, plus we did not have enough water to re-float Nomad.

The Friday before we had to stop at our favorite bar in Newark Two Stones Pub.  You never know who you will run into, and this night we sat next to some longtime Amtrak workers.  These guys were beer aficionados who meet at Two Stones every Wednesday at 4:00.  Being railroad workers they get around the east coast.  We got talking about legendary beers that were nearly unattainable and they said that they actually had them in their trunks!  Unbelievably they each gave us one each of the beers we had been talking about.

Three legendary beers that are nearly unobtainable.
The Wednesday beer meeting in progress

We dropped by the Rock Hall beach before heading out . . . for some reason no one was there.

Rock Hall Beach in December

The ship’s cat had gotten used to being on land and hanging out in the back yard, we were a little concerned about how he would adjust to being back on the boat.  It took about three days for him to fall back into his routines.

We left at 12:30PM on Sunday and ran nonstop down the Chesapeake Bay, through Norfolk stopping after the first lock on the ICW at Great Bridge, this took about 26 hours.  There was a lot of traffic on the Chesapeake and we encountered some rain and winds.  We tied up and proceeded to sleep for the next 15 hours.

Day one
The free dock at Great Bridge.

Lots of good eats on the way.

The second night we anchored at Deep Point, then on to Belhaven NC.

The Alligator River swing bridge.
The fish docks at R.E. Mayo – you can stop for fuel and also buy fresh seafood.
First week out

Right now we are anchored in the South River across from Oriental NC.  Our new engine needs a 50 hour service to keep the warranty in effect.  Our hope is to get into Oriental tomorrow  and have a Yanmar dealer do the work.












Mason 44 – Don & Betsy