Category Archives: Blog

East Coast USA

As the weather had become chilly and with no real heating on my narrowboat, the cruising season had come to an end. I should have gone back to work over the winter to earn some much needed cash. With this in mind I returned to my mothers house and thought about what I could do over the winter months.

I was about to contact a previous employer when I glanced upon an advert on Crewseekers. Crewseekers is a website where boat owners advertise crew vacancies on their boats. They are travelling somewhere and need assistance to sail their boat, sometimes a short trip, sometimes a long trip. I saw an advert which sounded familiar, a trip on a new HH55 catamaran.

The new HH series of catamarans are a bit special. Made entirely of carbon fibre they are incredibly light and strong, and therefore fast ! You normally have a luxury boat which is packed of heavy appliances and utilities and is a cruiser, or a fast boat which has most of the luxury items missing !

The HH catamarans are both luxurious and fast. They use the latest design techniques with C shaped daggerboards, T shaped rudders, lightweight carbon fibre hulls,etc,etc.

HH55 Edgewater

The advert was from a guy who advertised for a position before when the boat was being built in China. Unfortunately the boat got delayed and other things transpired against us so we never met up. He had already had a season on his boat and sailed around parts of the Caribbean. He had moved his boat up the east coast of the States to avoid the hurricane season. To comply with your insurance companies terms and conditions your boat needs to be out of the designated hurricane area. Because of this most boats head up to the inland waters ways of the east coast.

HH55 Edgewater

The boat had been moored in a marina in Edgewater, Maryland, just south of Annapolis. It had recently appeared in the Annapolis boat show. I flew into Washington and met the owner and another crew member in the airport. We travelled to the boat and got settled in, there was still a few jobs to be done and there was a guy onboard completing the last few winter jobs.

View from our mooring –

I witnessed some great sunsets from the marina –

After a few days we set sail and left the safety of Edgewater, our next planned stop was to be Savannah Georgia – some 650 nautical miles away.

Edgewater

There were some grand houses on the way out of the river. I’m sure some very influential people from Washington live around here !

After3/4 says at sea we approached Savannah Georgia. The trip had been trouble free and even coming around the Cape Hatteras headland was uneventful. The Cape Hatteras headland is known for its treacherous waters and being a bit unpredictable. In fact its known as the ‘Graveyard Of The Atlantic’ and over 600 ships have been wrecked here. Imagine our surprise when we approached and just carried on sailing with no noticeable difference in sea or wind conditions. Phew – what a relief !

The city of Savannah laid over to the left of the river –

It took us some time trying to find a place in a marina that could take us. Most places seemed to cater for smaller river type boats than large sailing yachts. We finally managed to find a place at a golf resort on the Savannah river. The river is actually the boundary between South Carolina and Georgia. To be honest it might have been better to find a place on the Wilmington river slightly further south as there seemed to be more marinas there.

This is The Westin Savannah Harbour Golf Resort and Spa. Apparently quite well known in golfing circles a lot of players practice and stay there on the lead up to tournaments at Augusta. As we were moored outside we had access to all the facilities, the mens changing area had saunas, spa, showers, free soaps and shower gel, everything ! And when you were all, finished you made a call to a driver who would come and pick you up and drive you back to the hotel complex.

Westin Savannah harbour golf resort

To get from the golf complex to the center of Savannah we had to catch a river ferry to get us to the other side. These left regularly and operated up to about midnight.

Water fountains in the centre of Savannah-

The is the well known Marshall House hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Savannah. Originally built in 1851 by Mary Marshall it served as a hospital for soldiers toward the end of the civil war and during two yellow fever epidemics. It has been a hotel on and off up until 1957 and then reopened after renovation since 1999.

Marshall house hotel

Apparently this church appears in the opening scenes of Forrest Gump. Not sure how true this is as I haven’t re-watched the film recently !

Typical type of house in and around the streets of central Savannah –

Proud to have the flag flying over their porch –

Just when you think you’ve found the perfect house someone creates a subway car par in front of it……

Some of the tree lined avenues are AMAZING ! They are apparently oak trees I was told but completely different to UK oak trees.

The old Chatham County Courthouse in the centre of Savannah, built in 1889 and used until the 1970s when a new courthouse was built.

Chatham county courthouse

I enjoyed our few days in Savannah, fortunately it coincided with a college football match, a marathon event and live outdoor music at the weekend ! Savannah is one of only 3 places in the States that has an ‘Open Container Policy’. This means you are allowed to drink and carry a beer around with you ! The other two places are New Orleans and Beale Street in Memphis. The weather was great, met some new friends, enjoyed Savannahs outdoor lifestyle but had to move on.

We left Savannah and headed further south to Ft Lauderdale with a quick stop in Cape Canaveral.

Cape Canaveral seemed to be a place where the cruise ships stopped to change passengers and re-stock their supplies. There were many in port and in the evening one of the biggest ships left. This was the ‘Anthem of the Seas’ leaving at night-

Anthem of the Seas
Anthem of the seas

We spent a couple of nights in Cape Canaveral and witnessed some spectacular lightning storms. Always a worry when you are on a sailing boat with a big mast and lightning is striking above you !!

We sailed south towards Ft Lauderdale and as it was so soon after that years boat show we had great difficulty in reserving a space. We persisted with many phone calls and finally found someone who could give us a berth for a few days.

Approaching the entrance to Ft Lauderdale-

Waiting for the main bridge to open –

Ft Lauderdale

From memory the bridge opens on the hour every hour during the day.

Ft Lauderdale

I went for a walk over the bridge and as I was coming back alarm bells were ringing and flashing lights started.

The traffic is stopped and the bridge opens for the larger ships, quite impressive when you are close up !

View from the bridge –

After a few days spent in Ft Lauderdale getting some repairs carried out it was time to leave the USA. We re-provisioned the boat, filled up with fuel and completed custom and immigration clearance.

Bye bye Florida and USA, next stop the Bimini Islands, Florida.

This trip started at the end of October 2019 – I’m a bit late updating my blog !! The next update will include the Biminj Islands, Cuba and Grand Cayman.

Bedford And Back

My first big trip on my boat was to be following the river Great Ouse to its end point at Bedford from Upware. I had already gone away for 2/3 days at a time, normally to Ely and back, just to get a little use to the boat.

The local wildlife had settled in at Wicken Fen but it was time for me to move……….

A brood (?) of signets on the river bank at Wicken Fen,

Leaving Upware I headed north but for only an hour as I turned west at Popes Corner for a stretch of river thats actually called the ‘Old West River’. Soon after turning at the Fish and Duck marina and going underneath a bridge theres a great EA (Environment Agency) mooring. These are normally well kept, grass is cut, fenced off, secure posts to tie onto – this one is no different. Despite the fact that its so close to a main line railway track I loved it there. There was still a feeling that you were in the middle of nowhere but the commuters would fly by on the way to Peterborough.

Always plenty of wildlife to be seen next to the river. I came across quite a few farmers fields where cattle was grazing by the river. Not a good idea to be swimming near this lot…….although I sometimes saw people who were !!

On the move again with the willow trees hanging over the edge into the river.

Approaching St Ives lock I saw a couple of chaps waiting around at the top of the lock. Thinking they were just fellow boaters I waited for a while at the landing stage before one started waving at me. They were in fact volunteers as it was a bank holiday weekend. I guess it can get a little busy so they choose to help out and get people up and down a bit quicker. As I was on my narrow boat by myself it was a great help !!

St Ives Lock………

Driving into the lock – it was a deep one !!

St Ives Lock

It wasn’t long after coming out of the lock until you arrive in St Ives itself with the well known stone bridge in front of you. Apparently you can sometimes spot the odd seal that manages to get there !! There isn’t too many places to moor in the town so I drove up and down for a while hoping to find a spot.

After waiting for a while it paid off as I saw somebody on their boat who started to do some familiar things. People always do the same, check a few things, tidy up their boat, have a good look around, take some covers off, all tell tale signs that they are about to move !!

I slammed it in reverse and went back up the river as I knew there would be other boaters along shortly who would happily take the spot !!

Little Wing moored up against the quay side in St Ives.

View from the other side of the stone bridge –

I have to say there are peanty of pubs in St Ives – this is only a couple but for such a relatively small place there must have been over a dozen.

The Nelsons Head – good for live music !!
The Royal Oak – another good pub for live music on a Friday night.

After a great bank holiday weekend enjoying the live music and pubs in St Ives it was time to move on. Moorings here are difficult to come by so I was surprised i managed to moor right in the middle of town. All the moorings that I saw were limited to 48 hrs only, and no return within 48 hrs also so you couldn’t just drive up the river and park nearby !!

I left St Ives and headed for Huntingdon/Godmanchester, the two towns are right next to each other.

Approaching Huntingdon –

Which arch do I go for ?! You can actually see one of the original large mills on the right hand side which like many has been converted to flats.

One of my favourite stops on the journey was Godmanchester. A small village but very picturesque and obviously next to the water. Had all the things that you needed, a pub, fish and chip shop, a convenience store, post office, Indian take away. There was a great Environment Agency 48 hr mooring right next to the lock. I used this a few times as I made a point of stopping here as I repeated part of the journey.

I was never quite sure how to pronounce it – do you emphasize the ‘GOD’ or ‘GODMAN’ – chester ?
Godmanchester

Almost looks like a stately home but was now numerous flats –

I started to see some odd contraptions on the water – this was some kind of weed remover. It would dig the weeds up from the river bed and scoop them all up and lift them onto the side of the river bank.

Once whilst on the mooring next to the lock I looked up at the once stately home and wondered who was better off. Me on my narrow boat or some of the occupants of that building ? I win hands down I thought to myself.

The next stop along was going to be St Neotts , maybe 3/4 hours away with another couple of locks. When I arrived in St Neots I was pleased to find the Pig n Falcon pub. Not only as it seemed to be the local place for live music but also because it had its beer festival on. Imagine my delight when the dates of the beer festival simply said ‘ Summer’ !!

The biggest nuisance around St Neotts wasn’t gangs of youths or teenagers in their cars – it was swans !! Just always seemed to be dozens of them around. All of a sudden they seemed to descend on you from nowhere, all of them wanting food obviously !

Don’t feed the Swans !!

And they all seemed to do this ! I don’t know if its something that the local swans have perfected or whether they all do this ?

After St Neotts the next place I decided I would stop at was a great place called Great Barford. I liked it here purely because of its simplicity. There was an ancient stone arch bridge, a small village green and a pub ! That seemed to be it. I latter found out that it did also seem to have the longest High Street in history without any commercials properties in it. After walking a mile or so I did eventually find a newsagents/convenience store at the end of it, which proved very useful due to the lack of anything else !

Moored in front of the stone bridge.

Moored next to the village green and outside the pub –

A view back to the weir and the lock from the stone arch bridge –

The Anchor pub at Great Barford –

After my stop at Great Barford I continued all the way to Bedford. I didn’t go as far as the last lock which takes you up into the centre of town, as I was concerned about mooring in the middle of town. I found a GOBA mooring just before and right in front of me appeared to be a pyramid ! It was in fact a sports centre which was built in the 70’s.

I didn’t seem to take any other pictures of Bedford or the surrounding area but the centre of town was pleasant enough. I believe it would have been safe enough to moor there but maybe not on the EA mooring as it seemed close to a bridge where lots of drunks hung out !!

I stayed in Bedford for 2/3 days before turning around and heading back. I stopped again in the places I liked the most like Great Barford, Godmanchester, St Neots and St Ives. I spent the month of September doing this trip which was at a very relaxed pace, it could have been done a lot quicker but whats the rush !!

I arrived back at Upware pleased with my trip, nothing broke, everything still worked, and the weather had been great !!