snakes! In a tree!

by sarah hair Email

More from our trip to Belin, which turned out to be really fun though abandoned, at most.

We motored around and I got to drive! I can row the dinghy, well, but never learned to use the outboard until today, since ours was always broken and a pain to operate with little tricks and stuff. Since the outboard is "fixed" I got my chance. John showed me what to do and I brought us up and down the canals. We saw a dozen or so houses, mostly empty and some clearly derelict.

Motoring around John and I saw a few small turtles sunning themselves, though photographing them proved difficult...

We also found a bunch of boats and people partying on a sandy cliff, so we got the kids together and brought everyone about. We were too scared to go in the dark water, but we did climb the trees and hike around. We even saw tracks from deer and raccoons.

I saw my first snake! It was bright green and in the tree. We decided to climb a different tree... Beautiful snake though even if the camera hated to focus on it.

In a tree in South Carolina

by sarah hair Email

Yesterday evening around 5:00 pm we hit a tree. Yes, a tree. It was completely submerged and as our conversation went from joking of tying to a tree along the bank of the ICW to noticing that our position was dangerously close to the edge yet our reading was of 28 feet in depth, the next words were THUNK from the boat, which were not exactly welcome. We were in 28 feet of water, as observed by the nice motor-boat people who tried to help pull us off and mentioned again how weird it was that we were stuck when their depth sounder claimed 28 feet as well. "Well, it was 28 feet over there, but there is clearly a tree over here," I explained. Funny, they seemed to be from around here.

From the picture, you can see those little black spots showing up a few hours after the tide started dropping... yes, those are trees. Totally invisible when the water is over them, since it is opaque brown.

The original attempts using another boat to pull us and having us all stand on the sides to rock us back and forth were fruitless, but we kedged out an anchor and tied it to the stern after snugging it around a winch. We had to wait until the high tide to see if we could pull off, and the next high tide was around 3:00 am. Alarm set, dinner eaten, we got some rest as best we could. I sleep in the V berth, which is in the front of the boat, right around where we were in the tree. As the tide dropped several feet since our perching here, my bunk remained up in the air as the rest of the boat sunk with the water.

A couple fears set in. First off, if we were on a strong tree whose branches were sharp, the weight of the boat could easily press down on the branches which may puncture the hull. Sinking by tree would be about the worst thing I can imagine at this point, especially since we saw so many alligators on the way up. The water is opaque, pure dark brown, so no way to see what is down there and a later rescue mission to retrieve our sunken things would be awful. Second big fear is that the weight of the boat may crush the tree and let us free. I know this sounds like a good thing, but form the point of being let free we would have about one minute to get on deck, start the engine, engage it, and get away from the large tree-bank we were next to. ANything less and we would be sunk by tree from a puncture to the side. The river we were on had a pretty tight clip to it and would have pushed us down rather quickly. I would probably wake if the tree let us go, but I could not be sure.

As it was, I woke up at 2:36 am a while before the alarm set off. I could feel the boat floating at that point, since my head was no longer a foot over my feet and my bed had leveled off. High tide was coming. If we were to break free form the tree, it could be any second, so I could not get back to those precious 24 minutes. John was another story. He slept despite my nudges right up until the last second.

We headed up top and tried adjusting the stern anchor line with the winch. I started the engine and between the hard reverse and pulling on our kedge we floated free in only a few minutes. The worst was over, except that we needed to get that anchor out of the 30 feet deep channel in the dark and figure out what to do with the boat for the next several hours until the sun came up. Being tired in broad daylight put us in a tree, so exhausted in the dark may not fare much better.

We could see very little by way of navigational reference except by gps. In these parts, the gps is more like a video game of frogger, with us being the frog represented by a little black arrow. We have bright green marsh marked to either side of our very narrow channel by little sprigs of grass cartoons. We see alligators crossing as well as the occasional log, yes, full grown log complete with micro-ecosystem of grasses, mosses, and sometimes little critters who hopped on the frogger game to get acrross the channel. We drive at night at our own peril, since much of the game is incomplete without the nenefit of seeing the gators and logs in real life.

Nonetheless, we drove a bit in the dark down the eerie waterway. We had to find somewhere safe to spend out the rest of the night or maybe the morning if it took too long to get there. The water was totally still, the sky dark, the stars reflected exactly in the water as they were in the sky. The trees along the ICW were partially submerged at this high tide, so their dark reflection made a rorschach pattern floating in a series along either side of the starry runway. It appeared we were flying seeing all those stars above and below us, in a spacecraft, through a tunnel of alien words formed by the huge symetrical letters made by each floating tree. We floated without the engine, then put it to an idle, rarely creeping above 1 knot per hour. In a couple hours the sky was lightening and we could see fog over the water and off in the marsh. We ducked off this river and found this spot. We hit the bed, now level and floating as it should be.

For now, we are planning a shore party to a place called Belin. We are not sure if it is a town or a settlement or just a series of canals, but we are going to crash it and look for signs of life. Hopefully we will again be pleasantly surprised. We did not research this place either and landed here some 6 hours ago by moonlight and gps. A dangerous landing through a mysterious swamp, but it had to be done. We scanned the gps for likely stopping points at around 3:00 am and found this spot just a couple miles form where we were. Maybe I will write about it as well.

** Update**

We went to shore, or rather motored up and down the canals. No real signs of life, but a very cool place to hang.

Georgetown, South Carolina

by sarah hair Email

We tried unsuccessfully to anchor and get to shore, but we just didn't seem to have our hearts in it. By the time we hit Georgetown, the ICW had transformed from this bright grassy marsh with birds and gators into a dark forest of trees and turtles. What a change! EVerything looked different and smelled different as well. Besides one swarm of never-ending gigantic biting flies we had no pest problems and enjoyed very much our friendly dragonflies who hitched a ride on our lines by the dozens.

We saw turtles today, a totally new experience to see the sunning little babies along the side of the waterway instead of the giant green sea turtles we have seen so often in our travels.

I also had the pleasure of seeing 5, yes, 5(!) different alligators today. Madison spotted this one for me to take a picture. Tons of birds also, especially the pelicans. I love watching those things dive!

Sailing up the ICW from Charleston to Georgetown

by sarah hair Email

So we sailed up the UCW from CHarleston on our way to Georgetown. We did not quite make it all the way on our first day, so we anchored off a river along the way and relaxed until morning. THe best sailing we have ever had in terms of just everyone enjoying themselves. It was amazingly beautiful, flat water with good wind and no upset tummies. We made up to 7 knots for stretches, and only had to short tack across the ICW a few times. So flat I could cook a full meal under way.

The rest is eye candy. That first day I saw pelicans, herons, buzzards, egrets, and even a baby dolphin nursing!

I held out for an alligator though, which was what I really wanted more than anything. By sunset, still nothing, then out of nowhere, this fellow swam past as he sun set and we got ready to anchor. What a day!

Around Charleston, South Carolina

by sarah hair Email

So, the first thing that happened when we stepped off the boat in Charleston was that Malia found a 2 dollar bill. She pondered its authenticity while we all marveled. She does seem to have a way with finding extraordinary items in the oddest places.

We managed to find a lot to do and see in Charleston. We all agreed it was one of our favorite destinations. THe girls really liked the aquarium, the parks, the fountains, and the horses. John really liked the pubs. We all liked playing skee-ball and shuffleboard in the bars though, so I guess bars is something we all agree on? It was wholesome... I swear.

While here, we all did some photography. THere is just so much that is so beautiful! These pictures are from Malia's camera. She took these and tons more from our trips around town and the artsy ones are from our trip to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, where she took almost 1000 photos. Some are inside the submarine, but all are amazingly cool.

in Charleston, SC

by sarah hair Email

Well, who knew?

Charleston, South Carolina Marina

We left Abaco headed for Cape Hatteras but after two days of great wind we were half-way there when the wind died and we spun around for another three days at 1 knot of mostly current before changing our course for a surprise trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Total trip was about 6 days, which is in fact our longest passage aboard Avalon.

For the surprise trip that it was, we were very pleasantly surprised to come in to Charleston Harbor and see how beautiful it is. We had not researched the area at all since we were expecting to go to Cape Hatteras, and when we changed course we were initially disappointed. All that changed when we arrived in the harbor at Charleston. There is bright green swamp grass lining the harbor and an amazing suspension bridge that can be seen from a ways out at sea. The architecture is amazing, beautiful, and historically intact, which prompted a lot of ooooohhhh and aaawwwww from Madison and Malia who declared Charleston Harbor to be the most beautiful place they had ever seen.

Walking around town we have not been disappointed. We will put up a bunch of pictures, especially since the girls have been inspired to shoot every day as well as John's and my pictures.

Of particular interest in Charleston, I would specifically include those big trees whose branches touch the ground and allow easy climbing, the beautiful architecture, the streets paved with old ballast from visiting ships, the wading fountains, the drinking fountains strategically placed everywhere and including doggie drinking fountains, the public restrooms available all over the city, bicycle racks and benches every 40-50 feet around town, numerous parks and monuments, art galleries, museums, fortifications including Fort Sumter.

Today we are heading to the library for a concert. Something like a geek-rock concert in the library sounded right up our collective alleys. We have not yet explored the museums, forts, or galleries, but expect those to happen in the coming days. Parks, wading fountains, restaurants, monuments, and architecture we have covered for the past two days but expect to begin to scratch the surface of by next week.

Abaco, here we come!

by sarah hair Email

I think today is the day! We have been waiting for the weather to change so we can get across to Abaco and do some more Bahamian cruising before we go North and try to hit the Boston area. Our last trip out was thwarted with thunderstorms, contrary wind and waves, and gear failure.

Well, the gear is fixed, the waves and wind are aligned, and it looks like a good day to sail across the Gulf Stream. Everyone is still sleeping though, so I will have to get them up and get them motivated, but if it works, cross your fingers! Abaco, here we come!

We have been waiting for about a week, so I made good use of the time by working on the web site and adding the new items. I have some particularly fun pieces posted now, and though I can't post any jewelry or make any jewelry for the next couple days if we are sailing, I think I got my fill over the past week while waiting.

Beaded Urchin necklace

sea urchin necklace jewelry

Malia Sea Glass Bracelet

sea glass bracelet

Mermaid's Looking Glass necklace

shell necklace with blue beads

procrastination means adding new items

by sarah hair Email

So after that last attempt to cross the Gulf Stream, one might reasonably notice that we are a little gun shy. We hobbled back into FOrt Lauderdale a little beaten up, so we are waiting for the perfect opportunity at this point, I guess.

We did take a dock at Cooley's landing so that I can ship the orders which have been building up this past week. I will be so relieved to get those off the boat! It is such a feeling of anxiety for me to be holding onto items that I know other people are waiting for. It feels like it is burning a hold in my brain to know they are on the boat, so I am really glad that they are shipping today.

The respite at Cooley's Landing has allowed us to visit the Pirate Bar one last time this trip and given me time to take new photos of the new jewelry items and post them to the web site! Included in this batch are also a few things made by Madison and Malia! If you can't guess, I won't tell you, but I will give this one tiny hint.... Madison made this one!!!

mermaid lure coral necklace

We call it "Mermaid Lure" and it can be worn to attract mermaids. We spent so many hours when John was sick just us girls sitting around the table and making mad amounts of jewelry. When we finished, I photographed everything and have been adding it to the web site. Most of what I added was from earlier batches of jewelry making, back from our Bahamas trip, that has just not been added yet. It is amazing how much work it is to put the jewelry on the web site... far more work than just making jewelry, and not nearly as enjoyable! I got through alright though.

Now that our jewelry making fun days are coming to a close, we are still hoping to make it out to cross the Gulf Stream any day now. I think we will leave tomorrow, but might be as early as tonight. Cross your fingers. I don't want to get beaten up again.

still waiting...

by sarah hair Email

We made it to Lake Sylvia a few days ago and have been waiting to jump off to Bahamas ever since. The weather has been a mess, with wind in every direction that is exactly where we need to go and light and variable, which means the 86 mile trip would take some 100 hours or so. Not good.

We finally made a g of it today, getting everything ready in the morning as the anchorage filled up with boats and barge platforms readying themselves for the Independence Day celebration today and fireworks display tonight. We were glad to be getting away from all that chaos which included a small sailboat that dragged anchor all through the anchorage all night and who tried to anchor over and over in 12 feet of water with 30 feet of rode. We actually called out to him and asked how much rode he was putting out, which is how we know. John suggested trying more, to which the skipper replied, "30 feet worked fine last night!" Facepalm.... yes, I like how that worked out for you last night.

For today's attempt, we made it out on totally flat seas and little wind with our big jib. We made about 1 knot per hour, which was boring, but uneventful. After about three hours, we were overtaken by a squall, which had winds from all over the place. We dropped the jib and mizzen and reefed the main. Seas built a bit, but still only about 3-4 feet, and we hunkered down under the bimini with the rains pouring down. Freezing rain, I might add. Our speed increased to about 5-6 knots, which was nice, but the only way we cuold reasonable make under the North winds and the North current was actually West, basically back to where we started from, and after an hour of the washing machine on the freezing cycle, we decided to just cut our losses and go back to lake Sylvia.

We are there now, with the twenty or so other boats, in the rain, with parties all around and people actually swimming in the sewage. Yesterday, a motor boat anchored right in front of us, some 20 feet or so away. Another boat rafted to them and about 12 kids and several adults jumped in the water immediately. Maybe 2 minutes later a horrible stench overwhelmed us all and one of the kids spoke up, asking what the stink was. A boy still on one of the boats yelled across the anchorage, "Mom just pooped!" I just can't believe that people, parents even, would flush their shit into the water where their kids are swimming. Not only do we continually remind people that it is illegal by international law, but it is gross and we all have holding tanks for this very reason. This spot is particularly bad, possibly one of the worst we have stayed in, yet there are always people swimming in the sewer-smelling "water" here, even today, in the cold and rain.

So, we will give it another go tomorrow. Unfortunately, for several days now, we are unable to get to shore, since we packed everything up, even our bicycles, and until we can unload some of it, we can get to neither our dinghy or our fuel, including not only our cooking propane, but our gasoline for both the outboard and the generator. Hopefully the rain will let up so we can get enough solar power that we don't need that also!

until then, I can always keep working on sailing jewelry!

Coral Ring

by sarah hair Email

Actually, I sold this one the other day (that was fast!) but you can still see it on our sailing jewelry site if you look through the sold gallery.

This is my favorite!

coral ring

Madison and Malia went for a walk with our friend Carlos and found this amazing piece of coral in the waves along Biscayne Bay. They found a total of 4 pieces that day, a matching pair for earrings, a large piece that made a magnificent pendant, and this piece, which really longed to be made into a ring.

coral ring

The waves polished this piece of coral and smoothed it to this perfect size and shape. It was amazing when we found it, so I did not have to shape it at all. I love it when things come to me just exactly as they should be.

coral pendant

Malia cleaned all of the coral pieces for days with tweezers, removing the tiny particles of sand that filled the little cracks and crevices. In the end, they were magnificent! She did such an amazing job!

Beach Combing sea shell earrings

by sarah hair Email

We found a secluded beach in Georgetown where we spent many days just sifting through the millions of tiny sea shells for the perfect tiny specimens. This beach had a little tide pool where the kids could swim and play even with their youngest friends met during our cruise. There was also an awesome little bubble bath where the waves broke over the shelf of rocks and made a water fall that splashed down into the pool and made billions of tiny bubbles. It was a big hit.

Check out BEACH COMBING Sea Shell Earrings on our web site

These earrings were made from the bag of miniature sea shells we found on that beach in Georgetown, Bahamas. It might seem simple, but I sifted through an entire bag to find these shells which matched. I thought we had about a hundred of these that were all the same, but when we got back to the boat, it seemed that none of them were the same size, shape, or color! The sea shells I chose were the obvious choice, since they were the only ones which matched so perfectly!

sea shell earrings

in Lake Sylvia

by sarah hair Email

We made it out to lake Sylvia yesterday evening, after the third day in a row of hoping to make it out to sail and not quite getting there. We simply had too much to pack up and decided in the middle of stowing that what we really wanted to do was another deep cleaning cycle, since we were still finding cockroaches scattering about.

We bought some borax and sprinkled it under settees and in crevices, so maybe this will make a difference. We have tried bombing, fogging, bait traps, and just plain squishing them to no avail. One day we set off two kinds of bombs in a concentration more than ten times the recommended amount for each, then when they had finished kept the boat sealed and did it again the next day while we stayed at a friend's house. In the morning we boarded the boat to open it up and air it out. Within seconds of boarding, the little creatures were scattering underfoot. We found some dead ones, but ten times the number of live ones just chilling around the cock pit where they went for a stroll to wait out the gas.

THere have been roaches on this boat since we bought her, but this is ridiculous. Yesterday's stow and go turned into a bait and switch while we vacuumed up every bit of dust we could reach even in those hard to reach areas and laid down the borax. We will have to see if it works or not, but this morning I only saw three roaches in the sink (I think they go here to get water) which is far fewer than I usually greet first thing upon waking.

With all this roach business out of the way, we should be sailing this morning by 9:00am. We still need to figure out how to get the bikes lashed down and protected a bit form the salt water, but that should not be so bad. Maybe throw a tarp over them?

I posted some pictures yesterday that were from our trip from Georgetown back to Florida. We went really fast, so this is why there are only a few pictures, but they still represent the places pretty well.

Hawaiian memories

by sarah hair Email

I lived in Hawaii for the better part of a decade back until 2006, I think. You see, my sense of years has become very blurry. I never remember how old I am without going through and doing the math even, and my kids hate that I ask them how old they are every time someone asks.

Even though I can't remember when it was, I do remember living in Hawaii. Both my daughters were born there, and we have some very fond memories we share about growing up in such awesome weather. When they were little I could hose them down any day of the week if they were dirty. Now, that is a good climate!

We lived on the island of Hawaii, also known as "The Big Island" since no one knows its name is Hawaii and they get all confused if you say you are from Hawaii (which island is that??) and ask for specification, while simply stating "Hawaii" for the third time just annoys the asker. A response of "The Big Island" gives them a chance to smile and nod, since you didn't say Maui or Kauai, which seem to be the only acceptable answers to the "Oh, Hawaii, which island?" question that inevitably follows mentioning living in Hawaii. At any rate, we lived on Hawaii, The Big Island, and enjoyed the benefits of year-round awesome weather and beauty.

We also had the volcano on our island, which leads me to my new earrings, which I made in inspiration of our time in Hawaii, which I do on occasion miss now that I am sweating like I am standing in a shower here in Florida.

Hawaii Sea Glass Volcano Earrings

They say that removing lava rock from Hawaii is bad luck, so good thing these lava beads are from the bead store! I suppose they could be from Hawaii, but I think they are from South America. The coral chunks are from the bead store too, so not sure where that coral was growing, but the sea glass pieces are from the Bahamas, hand picked by me and the girls!

Hot Lava Earrings can be seen here in my shop!

Gray Sea Glass

by sarah hair Email

Sometimes I just wonder where all this sea glass came from. Some things are pretty obvious, beer bottles or window panes, but other times, it just befuddles me.

This Gray Sea Glass Pendant has had me confounded with questions about its origin for months now, and I don't really think I am any closer to figuring it out.

gray sea glass

I found this gray piece, well, I found it in my daughter's hand, but it was still on the beach, so I am going to just go with it. Anyway, it is gray with a lavender tint. It is very large and flat, not curved at all, but well worn by the waves, so I know it must have been there some time.

I can't think of anything glass and gray, so maybe this is one of those where the chemicals change in the uv rays and it turns the color from clear to something else... or maybe there is some company out there making flat gray glass products, or was making them some time ago when this gray sea glass was still just gray glass.

I have read that gray sea glass is very rare and thought to perhaps come from tinted windows from old automobiles, however, tinting on automobile windows is typically done with a sticker, I thought. I am not really a car enthusiast, so feel free to tell me I am wrong on this one.

Whatever it was or is, I love it! This was my favorite find for several months, and I would just look at it and hold it. I did not make it into something until I was sure of what I wanted to do. I gave it a swirl and a lavender crystal. Just what every gray sea glass piece needs.

As of yet, this is the only piece of gray sea glass we have found, and we are searching constantly. I guess that does make it pretty rare, but mostly this gray sea glass is amazingly beautiful.

library time!

by sarah hair Email

Yesterday marked yet another day spent in the public library. For one thing, we like the library. THey have books there and internet too in a quiet place where I can focus. FOr another thing, the library is air conditioned, while the boat is not.

I sat all day yesterday and several days last week while the girls did their homework in air conditioned comfort. THeir brains work better and their work gets finished faster when they are comfortable, so it was well worth the effort of walking there in the hundred degree heat lugging around the books and computers.

I managed to post a lot of new jewelry items that I have been making all week, but mostly, I just relaxed. I read The Color Purple for the first time, even though I saw the movie when I was a young girl. I remembered that I liked the movie and that it was sad, but I didn't remember much else, so thought a book reading would be appropriate. Wow, did I love it! I snuck in pages between loading Etsy forms, and I just could not get enough.

About 20 years ago I was living in a hotel room for a while and bored out of my mind, when a friend loaned me a book by Alice Walker - one of her collections of short stories. It blew my mind! I loved it so much that even though I still intend to return it (really, Rebecca, I promise) it still sets on my shelf heavily worn from the reading and re-reading it has received over those 2 decades.

I also got a new library card, since I lost mine. I think the future holds more library time for me! I can feel the temperature rising in the boat already!

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