sv Elysium

Cruising thrugh Life


Our Plans are Written in Water- almost. We hope to change and follow the weather and seasons general we're going somewhere so maybe, why not here......


USA - East Coast:

Small towns on the Pamlico Sound and Neuse River that many bypass still remind us of what cruising these areas was like that decade ago. Towns like Great Bridge Virginia still have free dockage and most conveniences are nearby.Elizabeth City still welcomes cruisers with a free town dock. St. Mary’s, Georgia has discovered the economic benefit of the cruising community.

We spent the holiday with about 100 other boats in St. Mary's GA where the entire town hosts a grand Thanksgiving feast for cruisers! The townsfolk roast oysters and bring the turkeys (19 this year) and hams and the cruisers bring the side dishes. What a feast! -Ms. Munson


Looking for recommendations for a haul-out and bottom paint job in the Bay. We are currently in Hampton, VA, but are willing to move for a good price/quality job with a live-aboard option while on the hard. We are 42' and draw 6'.

s/y "Brilliant"
Moody 425
lying Old Point Comfort Marina, Ft. Monroe, VA

Try Deltaville Boatyard. We were hauled there before our trip and if I recall correctly, it was very reasonable compared to the Annapolis area.

Best place on the bay, friendliest folks, reasonable prices and do it yourself if you like with no hassles. Oak Harbor Marina, Rock Creek in Pasadena.



As for boatyards, while Salt Creek might be an alternative, having lived in the Tampa Bay area for a looong time, I think you might want to consider a few other places. For a yard with professional staff I'd suggest Snead Island Boat Works in Palmetto. The Alderman's--Gary and his dad, Jim--are old Florida boat people that know boats and are very reliable. While some suggest they are costly, I thnk not so much as Salt Creek and they can certainly be relied on to stand behind their work.
s/v Hylyte

We have stored a boat on the hard at Bahia Beach Marina on the east side of Tampa Bay. The yard is fenced in a low crime area and allows you to work on your own boat. Costs are generally low compared with other marinas both for storage and hauling/blocking. They are good for simple work, like bottom painting, etc.
Florida's tropical summer sun is brutal on everything from car upholstery to anything on a boat. Cover it or paint it. But the same is true if it is in the water.


A few of our favorite destinations

1. Marquesas -- as a first landfall after 3,000 nms these simply can't be beat! All the islands are fantasic but our favorite was Ua Pou in the North. Note that we didn't get a chance to see Fatu Hiva which is the most primitive of all the isles. The next time we stop here we'll wait to clear into the country 'til after we've sailed N from Fatu Hiva. Also, you definately don't need to get a Visa from the French embassy before you arrive. It's easy to do anywhere (incl waiting 'til Tahiti).

2. Suwarrow atoll (N Cooks) - an island paradise between Bora Bora and Samoa. You can really still live like Robinson Crusue if you choose. The best fishing/spearfishing we found and the most wild, big grey sharks. There are only two locals (basically your guides) living on Anchorage island - they'll even clear you in officially to the Cook group. A cruisers' paradise.

3. Vanuatu - Tanna island in the south is a good first stop if you've sailed from Fiji (most accessible, active volcano in the world). Then you can work your way up the chain to the Northern group. We made it as far as Espiritu Santo (biggest isle) but there are many even farther north (E.g. Banks and reef islands). These islands are largely untouched by civilization and the people are wonderful. One could easily spend a year just cruising in these waters.

4. Tuamotus - the best snorkeling we experienced was in Rangiroa. Some tricky reef passes (daylight entries only) and the charting is a bit dodgy but well worth it once you make it inside. We stayed three weeks and would have stayed longer except for the need for fresh water.

If you have to triage places to miss I'd consider giving Tahiti and Les isle sous le vent a pass. They're all beautiful but very expensive and touristy. Sailing into the pass of Bora Bora is a rite of passage, however. Also, we were a bit underwhelmed with Fiji.

-mico v\erde

You have to go to Tahiti Nui so while there take the round the island ride on Les Truque. Moorea is a place to skip but Huahine is a must see especially the Polynesian Museum. Bora Bora has too many tourists but it's another must see in any case. Calypso Divers ifyou want the best underwater experience say Hi to Maide if still there.

Cook Islands next perchance? We went to Suvarov Atoll in the north area. You'll find us under S/V Alvei in the 1997 visitors book. No dipping toes in the water nor swimming. Saying the shark there are plentiful and aggressive is an understatement. If you can bring the park ranger and his family AA Batteries and the fixings minus fish and crab for a good beach luau. The railroad rails you might find are old ballast off of Alvei. The were using them for the BBQ pit last I heard.

Pago Pago? US Mail and phone and air service plus the least expensive food shopping in the Pacific. Avena Brothers and Costco. The shipping expense is subsidized for those folks. Diesel was subsidized pricing too. No idea what it costs these days.

After leaving American Samoa comes the country of Samoa. note it's not West Samoa anymore and hasn't been for a couple decades. Take the bus up the valley to Vailima the home of Robert Louis Stevenson and hike the trail to his grave to see the poem 'home is the hunter home from the hills and the sailor home from the sea.' He wrote his own obtuary.

Tonga....that's a major don't miss. Especially at Va'vau island group in the Port of Refuge. I think Ana's waterfront cafe has a new name but see if Mele is still there or did some lucky yachtie finally convince her to hang the apron and order book.

Fiji. Suva of course if things calm down there with a good museum and then around to Lautoka or Musket Cove. Along with Port of Refuge in Tonga Suva and Musket are your next two hurricane holes.

South to New Zealand. tune in Dez if he's still active on Radio Russell for the yachtie check in and weather report but if you're going east then you are one up on me. I had to stop in New Zealand although I have beento the Aussie Gold Coast and Darwin. Lesseee....on the gold coast look for Zarraffa Espresso Shops. Shameless plug my nephew and niece in law own that franchise chain. Not to worry he learned the trade in Seattle. Darwin has an excellent seafood buffet at the YC/marina area and a sushi place down town. Saw the ozzie part of the world compliments of the merchant marine.

South Africa and Capetown perhaps? First stop after passing Madagascar is Richards Bay first left on entering is the YC with everything you'll need including very nice watering holes.

But if you are going the Red Sea route......we'll all pray hard.



The Scene: Lighthouse Reef Atoll, 26 miles off the reef islands of the coast of Belize. We knew there was a Norther coming, but another boat told us that they were going to anchor off the SOUTH side of Half Moon Caye in 20' of water with a big patch of sand. If they could do it, so could we, right????

We sailed out, a beautiful, picture perfect sail to Lighthouse Reef Atoll, when we approached Half Moon Caye, they went first & couldn't find the charted 20' of water over sand, but anchored in 25' of water over sand between coral patches. We did the same. The photo below was just before sunset that night. We both spent a quiet, if somewhat rolly & increasingly windy night anchored there.

The following morning, the Lighthouse Reef Ranger boat was out telling BOTH boats that we had to come inside for the "storm". Keep in mind that it was blowing over 20 already, big chop & "inside" was north of Half Moon Caye, behind only a reef, uncharted, unmarked & frought with coral heads -- PLUS only 6-7 feet deep. Both boats argued long & hard with the ranger boat about the fact that going "inside" would put us both on a DANGEROUS lee shore only 1/4 mile from the island AND our buddy boat had a 7 1/2 ft draft!!! Altho' Winterlude was the "newbie", we volunteered to go first because we had a 5 1/2 ft draft, we powered into the chop -- of course the wind would be on the nose going in & our little 30 hp putt-putt diesel doesn't provide much headway in this situation .... but we finally made it in with the ranger on the island guiding us in by radio. After MANY heart stopping moments, we were safely anchored in 6' of swimming pool water in sand.

Once in, we radio'd the other boat & told them there was NO WAY they'd make it in with their 7 1/2' draft -- luckily, one of the liveaboard dive boat moorings freed up & the ranger boat told them it was OK for them to take the mooring. They were safe.

THEN the Norther began in earnest. It blew stink over the reef, which was our only protection, directly onto that island 1/4 of a mile behind us. It lasted what seemed like forever. We had our 44 lb steel Spade anchored well buried in the sand with 100' of 5/16 hi test chain out. We had a secondary anchor -- an oversized Fortress FX-37 (for our little 37 ft boat, a bit of overkill perhaps) out with another 100' of 5/16 hi test chain. We buried it with our dinghy in the 24 mph & building chop/winds. We'd snorkeled on both & knew there were deeply in sand, but it didn't make it less scarey.

Then we spent one of the most agonizing next 10 hours ever on record! Watching the GPS like hawks & every time the wind would switch, doing more bearings to determine if the GPS change was caused by the switching wind direction. SCARED Newbies, I would call us at this point. But the anchors were holding & we weren't moving.... yet.

Then nightfall came & by 11 PM the wind was starting to be consistently below 26 ... this was a VERY good sign! This was probably a very small Norther by some we've seen since, but we were unprotected, on a lee shore, against our better judgement & scared to death!!!

Before the sun rose, as soon as it was light, our buddy boat called inquiring about us, said they'd monitored the radio all night & hadn't heard us call. Anyway, after about midnight, the wind laid to under 21 mph & the chop was almost non-existant, we went soundly to sleep & slept like babies. Our buddy boat, on the south side of Half Moon Caye, where the Caribbean swept around from the east side of the island, rolled mercilessly all night long from rail to rail, side to side over & over. They hadn't slept at all. I felt bad for them -- they were undoubtedly the safer of the two of us, but we did get some sleep......

What would you have done? Should we have absolutely refused to move? I think the ranger boat would have yanked our anchor, they were SO agitated that we couldn't be anchored on the south side of the island -- altho' nothing was in writing & we were in SAND, not close to CORAL. There was nowhere else to go that we knew of other than to sail back to Water Cay, 26 miles to the west.... maybe that's what we should have done, but it didn't seem like a good idea at the time??????