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Northbound Sportfisher Liberty

Saturday, April 11
Providence, RI - Jacksonville, FL

Captains Derrick and Kirstyn dropped us off in Providence, RI for our early morning flight to Florida. We arrived at Jacksonville airport at 2:30 pm where we grabbed a taxi and headed to McAllister's Jacksonville office. At McAllister we picked up the various packages we had mailed to ourselves and the EPIRB, which had been mailed from the manufacturer in New York. Eager to get to the boat, we hopped into the company car which McAllister had generously loaned to us for the duration of our stay in Jax. A few miles down the road we found Liberty safe and sound - but in need of a good wash. We stowed our luggage and headed out on the first of many supply runs. We spent our first night in Jax onboard Liberty.

Sunday, April 12
Jacksonville, FL

Easter Sunday. We started shopping for supplies early in the morning. At mid-day we met up with McAllister's Port Engineer, Dennis, and his wife, Vicky, for lunch (Marty and Dennis first met 30+ years ago when we all worked for Crowley Maritime). After a few hours of good food and better company, we shopped 'til we couldn't shop anymore and headed back to Liberty for hot showers and sleep.

Monday, April 13
Jacksonville, FL

Marty fired up Liberty's engines early in the morning and we headed down river to St. John's Boat Company. Married to a marine engineer/charter boat captain for 32 years, I've been dragged through a lot of shipyards, marinas and boatyards. St. John's is one of the nicest I have ever seen. The facility is well equipped, clean and the staff couldn't be any nicer.

Liberty was lifted from the river and her bottom was given a good power wash. The Travel Lift moved our 41,000 pound boat across the yard where she was set on blocks and stands to await a fresh coat of bottom paint ...we went shopping for more supplies. Late in the afternoon a storm rolled across Florida with heavy rains and hurricane force winds. We checked into a hotel and waited out the storm.

Tuesday, April 14
Jacksonville, FL

We left our hotel early in the morning and arrived at the boat yard to find Liberty safe but covered with sand. The crew working on the boat next to ours had clocked the winds at 68 mph earlier in the morning. We cleaned up what we could with a boat brush and mini-shop vac. Tuesday was a busy day for Liberty; a thorough clean up would have to wait. In addition to a fresh coat of bottom paint, Liberty's new curtains were installed and the fire extinguishers and the engine room's C02 system where inspected. The electrical outlets were upgraded to GFI and the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed. Back to the hotel for our last night in Jax.

Wednesday, April 15
Mile 739 - Mile 677

We were scheduled to be put in the river around 10 am Wednesday morning. The Travel Lift backed up to Liberty and the slings were put in place to lift her. As the slings began to lift her from the blocks we heard a loud C-R-A-C-K. One of the blocks placed under the slings to protect the spray rails was positioned on top of the rail rather than beneath it and the port rail split. The boatyard crew quickly went to work with the repair.

At 2:30 pm Liberty was finally lowered into the river. The weather was perfect and we could have jumped 'outside.' However, as this was our first real shakedown, we decided to start our voyage on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). We traveled a short distance up the St. Johns River to the Sisters Creek Bridge. With a 24-foot closed vertical clearance we needed to request our first opening. As we cleared the bridge, Marty thanked the tender for the lift to which she replied, "Northbound Sportfisher Liberty, have a safe trip."

Our voyage officially begins at Mile 739 (distance to Norfolk, VA). Because of the late start we knew we couldn't cover the distance we had hoped to, but we definitely wanted to get out of Florida. We passed Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach then into Georgia. As we passed Cumberland Island we saw a small group of wild horses grazing at the shore. We were surprised to see many bottlenose dolphins in the river. We decided to run as long as we had sunlight. At 7pm we pulled into Golden Isles Marina in the St. Simons Area - Mile 677. A good start.

  • Liberty ready for bottom paint
  • New curtains
  • Atlantis II
  • Shrimp boat on the rail
  • Liberty waiting for spray rail repair
  • Boat Yard Cat
  • Boat yard chickens
  • Boat yard rooster
  • Cleaning up after the storm
  • Liberty with fresh bottom paint
  • Liberty ready to go
  • The Travel Lift backs up to Liberty
  • Liberty gets a lift
  • Liberty moves towards the river
  • Liberty moves closer to the river
  • Liberty on travel lift
  • Liberty positioned for lowering
  • Liberty positioned for lowering
  • Liberty lowered in to the river
  • Mile 739 - Sisters Creek Bridge



Thursday, April 16
Mile 677 - Mile 555

We set off from Golden Isles Marina at 6:30 am. We were one of only two boats leaving that early in the morning. Despite the early hour, the marina attendant was dockside to help us with our lines and sent us on our way with a copy of the morning paper and a bag of muffins. "Southern hospitality" is not a myth.

The morning was cold and windy. We grabbed the blankets from our bunks, wrapped ourselves in them and settled into our seats on the bridge. After a few hours of shivering and trying to flip through pages of charts with cold fingers we decided to try out the new curtains. Because they are new, we had to struggle a bit to get them snapped and zipped. However, once we were closed in, our comfort level improved considerably.

The Georgia leg of the ICW is a long winding route through narrow channels - not much wider than Rock Harbor creek. It gave us an opportunity to brush up on our chart skills and orient ourselves to ICW markers. At 4:30 pm we pulled into Skull Creek Marina in the Hilton Head area of South Carolina. We took fuel and Marty is happy with our gallons per hour.


Friday, April 17
Mile 555 - Mile 458

We left Skull Creek at 7am. At Mile 536 we lined up with a group of sailboats at the Ladies Island Swing Bridge and waited for the next swing. Many of the bridges along the ICW are closed from 7am to 9am. We arrived just before the 9am swing. For the most part, the route up to Charleston was straight with very few no wake zones. Late in the day we approached Charleston Harbor. We expected to encounter some 'traffic' in this area, but what we encountered was a sailboat soup! The harbor was filled with hundreds (I mean HUNDREDS) of sailboats. There looked to be at least three different race courses. As we entered into the chaos, we passed a sailboat limping away from the race with a broken mast. Not a good sign. I searched the horizon for our next red marker, but couldn't see beyond the sails in front of us - many of them red! I am still not sure how Marty managed it, but he navigated us into the middle of the harbor and into the center of the races. I spotted a yellow buoy and confirmed it on the chart. Our next marker was somewhere dead ahead of us. Again, Marty found a path through the sailboats and put us right on top of our marker.

As we slipped into the inlet we looked back over our stern into Charleston Harbor and, for the first time, noticed Fort Sumter. I took a few quick pictures and we turned our attention back towards the bow. Within seconds we both murmured a brief expletive in unison. Up ahead was a swing bridge. I grabbed the Waterway Guide, and quickly flipped to the 'bridges' page. As we had suspected, the bridge was restricted - no openings between 4pm and 7pm. The time was 3:55pm. Marty used the radio to contact the bridge tender who confirmed that the next opening was minutes away - "I don't think you're gonna make it Cap." I began to scan the shoreline for a good anchorage. Marty, on the other hand, decided that we were not waiting three hours to pass through this bridge. He pushed both throttles full ahead, throwing me back into my chair. Liberty performed beautifully - not a shake or a rattle. We came up on the 'no wake' markers fast. South Carolina has a strict 'no tolerance' policy when it comes to no wake zones. The penalty is a $1025 fine and a night in a well appointed South Carolina jail. Just before we hit the markers, Marty pulled back on the throttles and we rode our wake up to the bridge just as the opening bell began to sound.

We traveled 4 miles further and arrived at Isle of Palms Marina shortly before 5pm. We decided to take full advantage of all of the amenities this Marina offers. We stocked up on a few groceries in the ship's store then cleaned up a bit and headed over to the restaurant for dinner. We finished off our day in the showers and sauna then headed back to Liberty for some much needed sleep.

Saturday, April 18
Mile 458 - Mile 345

We hoped to get an early start today, but Marty forgot to pull out the alarm button on our trusty travel clock. Not a problem, actually. Our slip was located next to the public ramp. We were woken by the local fishermen launching their boats and discussing their plans right outside of our port side porthole. We dressed quickly, started up the engines and eased Liberty back out into the ICW. Our course is a nice straight run through McClellanville and up to Georgetown with minimal no wake zones.

A little before 10am we made our way into the Waccamaw River. This is, without a doubt, the most beautiful part of our trip thus far. The area is lush with dense moss-draped cypress trees along the shoreline. A small flock of birds (sorry, I don't know my birds well enough to specify what kind of bird) escorted us up the first part of the river and the bottlenose dolphin were abundant in the area. At this point of our journey we began to toy with the idea of selling the house and living on the boat full-time - yeah, it was that nice. We dumped this lovely 'vision' a few hours later when we entered the Myrtle Beach area.

Our first clue that this portion of the ICW was not going to be a pleasant one came as we approached the Barefoot Landing Bridge (31-foot closed vertical clearance). Marty contacted the tender to request a swing. The tender's reply was "how much do you need?" to which Marty replied "my tower needs 40." The tender informed us that "you need to take all that down." Marty gave me a puzzled look and I informed him, confidently, that I was pretty sure we didn't have a button or switch that lowered our tower. After a few more 'conversations' with the tender, Marty was able to convince him that our tower was 'fixed' and it was not coming down. We finally got the swing.

The remainder of the day consisted of the most monotonous hours of our lives. Endless miles of narrow channels lined with houses built within inches of each other. Each house had a dock jutting out into the ICW - which translates into NO WAKE ZONE. The houses were a mish-mash of stately mansions to double-wide trailers. Many of the newly constructed homes are, quite possibly, the ugliest examples of architecture I have ever seen. At times we actually found ourselves discussing the merits of our own local building restrictions and regulations - yes, we came that close to insanity. On the rare occasion that we found a break in the residential areas where we could have picked up some speed, we found ourselves surrounded by small boats. Liberty puts out a good wake and we would have surely swamped these little guys. We learned later that, like the Northeast, South Carolina had had a long, cold winter. This was the first weekend that the locals were finally able to get out on their boats.

A little after 5pm we pulled Liberty alongside the fuel dock at Cricket Cove Marina. We take fuel and Marty reports that our fuel consumption is better than it was on the first leg of our trip. He is, obviously, pleased. While Marty secures Liberty's bumpers and lines for the night, I board a golf cart for a tour of the Marina's facilities. I arrive back at Liberty with a menu from the Marina's restaurant and keys to the showers and laundry room. We decide to dine at the restaurant but pass on the showers and laundry facilities. We are both exhausted from the hours of 'Myrtle Monotony' and are happy to settle in for the night onboard Liberty. Before we switch off the lights I make a note on the chart for the next time we travel this area - "OUTSIDE."

  • Mile 536 - Ladies Island Swing Bridge
  • Sailboats pass through
  • Entrance of Charleston Harbor
  • We are surrounded by sailboats
  • Fort Sumtner
  • Marty onboard Liberty at Isle of Palms Marina
  • Liberty outside the Marina's restaurant
  • Liberty at sunset
  • High and dry boats
  • grounded boat
  • Boat graveyard
  • Heading up the Waccamaw River
  • Our bird escort
  • ICW marker behind our birds
  • Fledgeling cypress
  • The Light at the end of Myrtle Monotony


Sunday, April 19
Mile 345 - Mile 228

Marty is up early this morning and wakes me up with a cup of coffee in hand. I gulp the coffee and dress quickly. I step out into the cockpit and find Marty on the bridge ready to go. The sun is just rising and no Marina staff is available to send us off. We've got an appointment with a bridge and Marty has no intention of missing it. We are the only boat on the ICW as we quietly slip into North Carolina. Shortly before 7am we approach Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge (the last remaining pontoon bridge on the Atlantic ICW). Neither of us has ever seen a pontoon bridge. The Waterway Guide states that we should be sure to "wait until the cable drops" before passing - we have no clue what that means. Once the bridge begins to move, we quickly realize that the 'cable' pulls the bridge back and forth. We wait for the cable to 'drop' and pass through.

As we enter the portion of the ICW with considerable shoaling the depth-sounder dies. Captain Derrick thought this cable was 'suspect' when he was aboard in January. Of course, we ignored him - bad move. We stick close to the center of the waterway and Marty watches how our wake breaks on shore to determine the depth on either side of us. The first bit of North Carolina is not as bad as Myrtle Beach, but there are still a lot of houses with docks and the going is slow. At 10 am we reach Cape Fear River where we can finally cut Liberty loose and "wake 'er up!"

We traveled a relatively straight route past Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Topsail Beach, New River and into Swansboro. Swansboro has a good sized charter fishing fleet - good place for us to stop for the night. We reached marker 46A and radioed Dudley's Marina. We were directed to leave the ICW and head to dock section "E." The radio attendant forgot to mention that there was a shoal spot directly in front of us. I had just climbed down from the bridge to the cockpit to handle bumpers and lines when Liberty's bow hit bottom. Many expletives on the bridge and in the cockpit. Fortunately, the shoal was soft sand and Marty easily backed us off the shoal and alongside the dock.

Dudley's is more of a boat yard than a Marina. The ship's store has everything from fishing gear to boat repair and maintenance supplies. Amenities are limited to 'showers' and shore power is a long way down the dock - longer than our adaptor will reach. A courtesy car is available to take us into town for dinner and shopping, but we decide to stay aboard. We visit the ships store and find a cat preparing for a nap in the fleece clothing. An absolutely gorgeous (and huge) parrot is perched on the shoulder of a gentlemen working at the counter and a hound dog is napping at the front of the store. We pick up a few items for Captains Derrick and Kirstyn ('cause we miss them) and head back to the boat. Liberty's generator keeps everything running smoothly and we opt for some home cookin' and an early night.


Monday, April 20
Mile 228 - Mile 84

At 6:30 am I took the lines off the pilings at Dudley's and we headed out into the ICW. We were the only boat on the water. We slipped into Beaufort Inlet and headed north. Only a few no wakes zones here and we moved up into the Neuse River quickly. The Neuse River was wide open and Marty throttled Liberty up. Navigation was rather easy and we let the auto pilot do most of the work up the river. Around 10 am Marty pulled up the satellite weather graph and the picture looked grim. A significant storm was coming up on our stern fast - high winds, rain, thunder and lightening. I went below and grabbed our rain gear. As I stepped out into the cockpit, I was pelted with fat rain drops. We moved out of the path of the storm as we headed west into Bay River.

Bay River was another fast stretch that spilled into Palmico River. At 1 pm we had reached mile 136 - too early to stop. The next fuel stop and/or marina was a good 50 miles away. We decided to fuel up near Belhaven and try to make the next marina before dark. We pulled into Dowry Creek Marina. The storm had continued to move along the coast to our east. Our course would eventually loop us back into the storm. We asked the dock attendant about the route ahead of us. He assured us it was nice and fast. However, he advised us to check with the Alligator River Swing Bridge ahead of our arrival as the bridge does not open in winds exceeding 34mph. We asked about possible anchorage areas along the way - just in case we needed to hole up for the night. He told us of two perfect anchorage spots. We finished fueling (better than last time) and set off.

The Alligator River-Pungo River canal is a very pretty stretch. Although it is quite straight, auto pilot is not an option as the banks are lined with stumps and fallen trees. In several areas we had to navigate around trees in the center of the channel. When we reached Alligator River the wind had come up quite a bit. Marty contacted the Alligator Swing Bridge and asked about the wind conditions. The bridge tender informed us that winds were at 25 mph. We passed by our two anchorage options and headed for the bridge. When we were approximately six miles from the bridge the tender contacted us to let us know that the winds hand increased to 35 mph. He suggested we find a spot to wait it out. Marty told him that we had passed the last anchorage areas and would continue to the bridge. We would have to wait it out there, if necessary.

When we got to the bridge, the tender radioed that the winds were gusting between 25mph and 35 mph. He told us that he would try to get us through between gusts. Within minutes the bridge began to swing and we passed through. Immediately past the bridge we turned hard to port and followed a small channel into Alligator River Marina. We arrived early enough to take full advantage of all of this marina's amenities - dinner, showers, laundry and wi-fi (to finally get this log loaded to the site).

  • Entrance of Cape Fear River
  • Open water at last
  • Storm coming up our stern
  • Pungo River
  • Pungo River
  • Alligator River-Pungo River Canal
  • Alligator River-Pungo River Canal
  • Alligator River-Pungo River Canal
  • Pile of fallen trees
  • Stumps
  • Stumps line both shorelines
  • Alligator River Swing Bridge

Tuesday, April 21
Mile 84 - Mile 0

The wind has died during the night and at 7:30 am we are back on the ICW heading into Albermarle Sound. Ahead of us are two separate routes leading to Norfolk; the Great Dismal Swamp and the Virginia Cut. While researching the ICW in preparation for our trip, I had read many books, logs and blogs about the Dismal Swamp. We had been eagerly anticipating this portion of our trip for months. Although both routes are relatively the same distance, the Dismal Swamp is a much shoaler, thus slower, route with two locks to negotiate. The weather forecast for the remainder of the week is 'iffy' at best and we definitely need to leave ourselves some time in Norfolk to refresh our supplies and pickup a few charts that we weren't able to find in the south.

After some deliberation ... and a little more deliberation - we commit to the Virginia Cut. We head up the North Carolina Cut through Coinjock. The waterway is relatively straight and fast. We pass a few homes and small boatyards, but the area is mostly unpopulated. At mile 28 we pass Pungo Ferry Marina. The facility is deserted and a prominent sign is displayed at the shore, "17 acre marina and restaurant for sale" - once again, we begin to consider "selling the house" - by the time we cross into Virginia we have pretty much agreed on the menu we will have in the restaurant and the items we will have for sale in our ship's store.

This section of the ICW into Norfolk is laden with bridges. As we approached the Centerville Turnpike bridge the tender informs us that two southbound Naval vessels will be passing through the bridge during the next swing and we will have to contact them to negotiate passage. The 'warships' inform us that they will pass on our port side. Within minutes two landing craft easily pass by. As we make our way through the bridge opening we look back to see a small group of young seamen at the stern of their vessel with golf clubs practicing their swings.

A few more miles up the Cut we approach Great Bridge which leads to Great Bridge Lock. Neither of us has ever negotiated a lock and we approach with some apprehension. However, the lock attendants meet us on our starboard side and handle our lines while I drop the fenders. Within minutes Marty shouts to me to 'watch that stern line' - we have dropped three feet!

We leave the lock and head up into the Elizabeth River through Portsmouth and into Norfolk. We pass through numerous (I really lost count) lift bridges and navigate past naval vessels, cargo ships and heavy industrial areas. As we prepare to make our entrance into Tidewater Yacht Marina, we pass McAllisters Virginia port on our starboard side. When we are safely in our slip, McAllister's assistant port engineer, Kevin, arrives with the company truck which, once again, has been generously made available to us for our provisioning excursion in Norfolk.

We take fuel then drop Kevin at McAllister. We crawl through rush hour traffic to West Marine for charts then stop for fresh fruit, vegetables and bread (none of which has been available at any of the marina's). Back onboard Liberty, we stow our groceries and begin preparation for the morning - we are finally going "outside." Marty spreads out our various charts on Liberty's dashboard and begins to plot our course North; marking the inlets and harbors that we can run into, if needed. After a thorough check of the safety equipment, we turn in early.

  • A cormorant drying its wings
  • Virginia Cut
  • Pungo Ferry Shoreline
  • Southbound warships
  • Seaman practice their golf swings
  • Great Bridge
  • Great Lock Aft
  • Great Lock Forward
  • Ships
  • Norfolk Lift Bridges
  • McAllister Tugs

Wednesday, April 22
Norfolk, Virginia - Ocean City, Maryland

The run out to the ocean is almost 30 miles long; up the Elizabeth River and into Chesapeake Bay. We pass over the Hampton Roads Bridge and the Chesapeake Bridge Bay Tunnels. We can see cars disappear on one side and reappear on the other. A little after 10 am we tumble out into the Atlantic. We quickly notice that the water is finally a familiar green and our wake is white.

Once again we are watching storms on the radar. We manage to skirt the worst of them, but we do get wet and, at one point, thunder cracks overhead. We are in six to eight foot swells throughout the day, but they are long and stretched out and we settle into a rhythmic rock - I doze off occasionally. At 4 pm we have been on the water for nine hours and we are getting tired. The two closest inlets are Indian River and Ocean City. Indian River is not an option for us as there is a 35 foot fixed bridge at the entrance - we won't fit. The Ocean City inlet looks challenging. It's a narrow channel between two jetties with considerable shoaling to the south. Attempting the entry with a heavy surge behind us concerns Marty. He attempts to make contact for some local knowledge but receives no response.

I look over the chart and determine that our next option is three hours North on the edge of Delaware Bay in Lewes and Marty agrees. I drop down to the cockpit to put on coffee and pull out the polartec - it's getting cold. While I am below, Marty finally contacts someone in Ocean City. After some discussion, Marty decides to make the run in. As we approach the inlet we can see waves breaking over the southern shoal. Closer to the channel we see that the southern jetty is partially submerged with huge waves of water breaking over it. The northern jetty appears visible, but the surge is running across the channel and crashing up and over the jetty.

Marty eases Liberty into the channel and we hug the buoys to avoid the shoaling on the north side of the channel. We find our marina a short way down the channel and back into our slip. The marina staff has, apparently, gone home for the evening, so we settle ourselves in. We find a restaurant a block away and treat ourselves to an enormous surf and turf dinner - the crab here is awesome. It is cold when we return to Liberty and we decide to try out the heat. Within minutes Liberty is warm and comfy. We settle in for much needed sleep.

Thursday, April 23
Ocean City, Maryland

We are up at 6:30 am and waiting for the marina staff to arrive. We are scheduled to fuel at 7 am. The dock attendant shows up at 8 am. While we are waiting, Marty is on the bridge checking weather conditions. It is windy at the dock and I can see that none of commercial fleet has headed out. While we are waiting, I explore the harbor. It feels good to walk after so many days onboard the boat. When I return, Marty has decided that we are going to wait it out for a few hours to see if the wind lays down a bit. He has met a group of commercial fishermen from Truro. They fish out of Ocean City during the winter. They are also waiting it out. A few hours later Marty decides that we will just hole up here for the day. The forecast for the remainder of the week is good and we should be able to make up the time and get home on Sunday.

We spend the day strolling the boardwalk, browsing shops and eating hot dogs. Ocean City is a summer town just beginning to prepare for their season. A few locals are out enjoying the sun. Business owners along the boardwalk are repairing and cleaning their store fronts. The few stores that are open for business are offering huge discounts. We chat with a few of them. They closed up shop with a lot of inventory on hand and this season's inventory is on it's way.

Back onboard Liberty, I pull out the bunk in Liberty's salon and stretch out in the sun planning to find the Internet and catch up with the real world - I am asleep before my laptop wakes up. Marty spends the afternoon working on maintenance tasks (no, he really does not know how to relax) and chatting with the commercial fishermen. Because of my extended afternoon nap, I am awake at midnight as the commercial fishermen board their boats and head out to the fishing grounds. The wind has finally died down and it looks good for the morning.

  • Surrounded by storms
  • Captain Marty fuels Liberty
  • Ocean City
  • Muff Divers
  • South jetty
  • Waves break on the south shoal
  • Ocean City Boardwalk

Friday, April 24
Ocean City, Maryland - Manasquan, New Jersey

We pass through the Ocean City jetties and back into the Atlantic at 7 am. The seas are calm and the sky is clear. It's chilly on my side of the boat (port). Marty pulls out the cushions for the two benches on the bridge and snaps them in to place. There isn't a lot for me to do on the ocean run. I have been replaced by the GPS. I stretch out in the sun on the starboard bench with my iPod and a book.

We travel approximately three miles off-shore as we make the run up the coast - close enough to shore to spot notable landmarks and take a few pictures. There is a lot of 'traffic' offshore; we are rarely alone. Ships, tugs and barges, sailboats and yachts cross our path throughout the day. At 4 pm we make our way into the Manasquan River and pull into the Brielle Marine Basin. At $2.50 per foot per night this is the most expensive marina we have encountered - and the grungiest. We search for a plugin that works and finally settle for one 30 amp (we generally use two 50's). After we have fueled, I head for the showers. I have to return to the boat for change ...the shower is a 'coin-o-matic' - fifty cents for five minutes. I decide to splurge and spend a buck.

We chat with a few fellow north bounders and compare notes with two young men that operate a charter boat out of the marina. We walk a short distance to a pier-side restaurant and have an excellent dinner. Marty checks Liberty's lines and we head off for sleep.

Saturday, April 25
Manasquan, New Jersey - Point Judith, Rhode Island

The harbor is shrouded in a thick fog in the morning. The charter boat on our port side loads up and heads out at 6:30 am. The family onboard the boat on our starboard side, like us, is bringing their new boat home. They are heading for Rhode Island and decide to remain in the harbor and wait for the fog to lift. We, on the other hand, decide to make our way out of Manasquan. There is a lot of chatter on the radio as inbound and outbound vessels announce their locations and intentions. Marty uses the radar to navigate us out into the Atlantic. The going is slow and it is close to noon before the fog finally burns off.

We travel further offshore today. We catch an occasional glimpse of Long Island but, for the most part, there is simply long stretches of open water. Marty is undecided as to exactly how far we will travel today. At first he considers Montauk, but determines that we will pass that too early in the day. Block Island is the next logical choice. However, when we contact them to inquire about dockage, we are informed that they have no fuel. We adjust course slightly and head for Rhode Island. We arrive at Point Judith a little after 6 pm. We follow three big draggers through the jetties. We take fuel and the woman working the marina mentions that we look tired - her observation is correct. The long days on the ocean are wearing us down.

There is a restaurant nearby, but we decided to stay onboard and cook up most of our remaining supplies. We are close to home. Marty pulls out the tide chart for Cape Cod Bay and plans the final leg of our voyage. We call home and inform Captains Derrick and Kirstyn that, as long as conditions remain good, we should be at Rock Harbor tomorrow afternoon. We clean up the galley and settle in for our last night onboard Liberty.

Sunday, April 26
Point Judith, Rhode Island - Rock Harbor, Orleans, Massachusetts

The sun is still rising as we depart Point Judith. Despite the early hour, the harbor is busy with small craft traffic heading to the jetties for some Sunday morning fishing. We pass through the jetties and, for the last time, turn Liberty's bow north. The tide and the wind are with us and in a few hours we enter the Cape Cod Canal well ahead of schedule at 9:30 am. As we pass under the Sagamore Bridge, Marty's cell phone rings. He chats for a few moments and then points to the docks on our starboard side. Captains Derrick & Kirstyn have driven up Cape to greet us. We've seen many sights on our journey but this is, by far, the best sight of all. We wave and take pictures of one another as Liberty makes her way through the Canal and into Cape Cod Bay.

It is a beautiful, clear spring day as we pass through the Bay surrounded by the familiar shoreline of the Cape's protective arm. As if on cue, a whale breaks the surface on our port side and takes a breath. I can't avoid thinking the cliché thought - "there's no place like home."

Within an hour we approach Rock Harbor. There are no trees marking the channel, but the tide is high and I am sure that Marty could navigate this channel with his eyes closed. We spot a small gathering of friends and family on the jetty and within minutes Liberty passes by them into her new hailing port. Captains Derrick & Kirstyn meet us at the dock and I throw them the stern lines. They secure Liberty and then climb onboard for 'Mom hugs' which, I am sure, are mandated somewhere in the Coast Guard Rules of the Road.

Liberty has been our home and companion on our journey up the coast. We are in no hurry to leave her. Marty spends the afternoon below; giving tours and crawling the engine room with Captain Derrick. Captain Kirstyn and I remain on the bridge with my best friend Lynn who has brought fresh kiwi and havarati (my favorite snack) to welcome us home. We nibble and chat for hours. The tide is low and the sun is setting as we, reluctantly, leave Liberty and head for home.

Captains Derrick and Kirstyn have heaping plates of Thai food waiting for us. As we dig into our dinner my three Captains begin making lists - things to fix; things to change; things to get; things to do. Sportfisher Liberty's Northbound journey has ended and fishing season is around the next bend. I leave Liberty's worthy crew to their plans and head upstairs to the bubble jet.

'Tis well when the wind is fair
To sail like a bird away,
Away to the sea-line where
The fish in the deep sea play;
A better crew cannot be
Than those that sail out with me,
To earn their bread in the sea.

~George Thomas Coster

  • Tug and barge
  • Atlantic City
  • Barnegat Lighthouse the second tallest lighthouse in the US
  • Charter boat captain cutting bait
  • Fogged in
  • Point Judith commercial boats
  • Cape Cod Canal
  • Sagamore Bridge
  • Liberty at the Sagamore Bridge
  • Captains Derrick & Kirstyn at the Canal
  • Liberty passes a tug and barge in the Canal
  • Liberty heads for the Bay
  • Rock Harbor ahead
  • Friends and family on the jetty
  • Liberty approaching Rock Harbor
  • Liberty passes the Rock Harbor jetty
  • Docking Liberty
  • Captains Derrick & Kirstyn tie Liberty's lines
  • Liberty home at last




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