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Welcome Back to America

May 14, 2018

It’s been 8 + years since Sage has been in America. She’s almost been around the world and stopped in many wonderful places that some people would call exotic. All those different places have something special and there are many memories wrapped up in the 100s of anchorages. Despite all the amazing places Sage has been we were still excited about visiting a country close to home that much of it we haven’t seen.

The east coast is something Sage and her crew are not all that familiar with. Stories abound of the early history with the arrival of Europeans, the taking of the land, the building of the infrastructure, the conflicts and the celebrations. We on Sage were/are looking forward to poking our noses into as many little nooks and crannies that we can find.

Waving goodbye to friends as we go one way and us another

Our last Bahamian sunset. In actual fact our last tropical sunset

Our adventure began with our departure from Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. Picking a weather window was tricky as we wanted the wind predictions to solidify and give us a good 4 day window in which to get to Norfolk Virginia as we wanted to use the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) as little as possible.

We got flung out of Marsh Harbour like a rocket with Sage bucking over the northern swells with a NE wind in her teeth. Sage set out to the north-west on the hunt for the 4 knot north-setting gulf stream. She bucked and shot her way forward throwing water over the bows and the dodger for 36 hours at which time the wind veered to the east a little and dropped from a boisterous 20 knots to 12 knots. Ah perfect you say. However, another 24 hours later we realised the wind was dying and knew for sure that we were soon going to be windless.

Just another lazy day on one of those pristine Bahamian beaches

Windless is OK at times but it’s not OK when ensnared by the Gulf Stream. The combination of current and left over boisterous seas from a good blow are not a good mix. What little wind can be captured in the sail is quickly spilled out especially when the wind is coming from the stern. There the decision was made.

With Southport only 80 miles off the beam we headed inshore using the wind and the motor. 24 hours later and a night arrival in Southport we lay our anchor down having already gone aground first in the anchorage. No problem, reverse and slow speeds meant we got off lucky and we dropped the anchor on Provision’s (a restaurant) doorstep.

1/2 lb of shrimp with corn and chips for $US11.95 – a deal after the Caribbean and Bahamas

Welcome to America!

Wow, we actually made it. 0500hrs, a couple of hours of sleep, clear customs and immigration and we’re ready for adventures in a new (old) land.

Not to bore you with long tales of our breakdown, our arduous motor up the ICW or our suffering from the cold (!) I just want to tell you a few tales of our cultural experiences with modern-day America.

Story Number 1

In almost every country of the world hair dye is an essential product. No matter where one is you can see hundreds of varieties of black dye lining the pharmacy shelves. Of course, in America, it’s not only black but all the other colours of hair dye in the rainbow.

However, for those of you who have met Connie, she hasn’t used dye in 30 years. To let you on to a secret there was a time when she ran for political office that us back room pundits convinced her to dye her hair leaving a white streak at the front fringe. I will say it looked great. Now this didn’t last long as soon after the election she threw out the dye and went au naturel once again.

Well, in almost all countries we visited I could go shopping with Connie and have no trouble finding her no matter how big the store was. All I ever had to do was go to the head of the aisles, look down, see if I could see a white head and if not go to the next aisle until I found her. Well, in America at our first large store I did the same thing. As soon as I saw a white head I headed down the aisle and then realised no, that’s not Connie. Went to the next aisle and low and behold another NOT white-haired Connie. ‘ What’s the matter’ I thought. I can’t find Connie. Ah, I then realised that, no, people in America are not so prone to dye their hair if it’s gray.

Story #2

Just a personal thing but I hate Walmart but one day we found ourselves in a Walmart food store. It was such a huge store that I really needed a road map to find my way around. They weren’t available so using my nose I headed over to the food section. I guess Walmart is now trying to copy Costco by having food tasters in the aisles offering samples of whatever they were trying to peddle.

One food sampler table had a selection of salad with some white creamy substance floating on top. Being a friendly kind of guy I struck up a conversation with the demonstrator. She was a nice enough person to chat with but I was wondering what an 82 year old woman was doing working in Walmart. Anyway, when I asked her what she was offering she started off on a spiel and forgot what she was pushing. She had to glance down at the bottle and see what is was. She then turned back to me and started the spiel again but by the time she came to name the product she had again forgotten! We both laughed as she turned the bottle again and read the label out. I wished her a good day and turning away wondered whether she worked there to pay the rent.

Story #3

In almost every country we have visited we have purchased SIM cards for our tablets. It’s never been a problem and is an essential giving us access to communications, weather, entertainment and blog posting. However, in America everyone expects you to have a tablet registered to a particular service provider as opposed to being independent.

It took some hard negotiating to convince unknowledgeable customer care providers that yes if you sell me a SIM card I can put it into my South African cell phone and/or European tablet and make it work.

Negotiating a good deal is another matter. I have now settled, at least for my tablet, on AT&T’s unlimited data plan for $60/month. Granted there are some slow periods where they will purposely slow down the internet but generally speaking we’re doing well with what we have chosen considering I can use one tablet as a hot spot if we are each working on our respective tablets at the same time.

Unlocked tablets/phones are a godsend.

Story #4

I’ll admit to being a user of Uber. But not having been in a country where Uber operates for the last two years meant that I needed to update my Uber account. I had the log in and the password. I entered these into the system and they wouldn’t let me log in unless I could tell them the details of my last two rides with total cost and where they originated and where they ended. They also wanted my cell phone number from two years ago.

Needless to say, at my age, my memory isn’t that good and when I think about it my memory wasn’t that good when I was 20! To cut short a long agonizing contremps let me just say that 5 days later I was able to activate my account with my new number. Phew!

Story #5

This last story is also short! 48 hours prior to leaving the Bahamas we decided that we were going to be, at some time, on the ICW and that joining Boat US was a good idea.

Having entered the US at 0500hrs, cleared customs and immigration and had a 2 hour nap before we headed north on the ICW. Within miles we had unexpected problems and had to pull over and figure out how to resolve the problem. Not being successful we called Boat US. Boat US to the rescue. Within 20 minutes a tow boat was alongside and they took us back to a marina where they secured a great mechanic, Jason, who got us going in short order.

Wow! $135 membership and the tow was costed out at $250! That is value for money and we still have 11 months to go for help to be on its way.

There are too many positive things to say about being back in America. We have experienced extremely friendly people in all walks of life. Just this morning while having breakfast in a coffee shop in Swansboro, NC, we got talking to a local who told us to try the house specialty which was fruit fritters. We chose a 1/2 order of strawberry fritters and when it came to pay the bill we found that he had bought them for us. What great hospitality.

Ah, strawberry fritters

One of those great American diners with pictures of Elvis, Marilyn and James Dean and the voice of Elvis welcoming you to the women’s toilet and Marilyn to the men’s!

Services couldn’t be better. What a change from the Caribbean to walk into a place where they greet one in a friendly manner, make sure they offer whatever help they can and make sure when you leave you are genuinely satisfied. It happens everywhere and I can’t say enough of how genuine they are and how pleasing it is to experience.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Boyd permalink
    May 14, 2018 18:07

    Welcome back to the continent kids!

  2. Wayno permalink
    May 14, 2018 18:26

    Great story telling mate and not one single solitary reference to Prez Trump. Amazing!!!

  3. Jon Crawford permalink
    May 14, 2018 20:07

    Welcome back to another completely different kind of civilization!! It must feel somewhat strange. Your post was as succinct and informative as always T.
    So are you coming back to Victoria in the next year or so, maybe permanently?

  4. May 14, 2018 20:23

    Welcome back to the Really Big Island. Look out for walls and enjoy Amuricun hospitality. Great blog. Fred

  5. Darrel and Loretta Smith permalink
    May 14, 2018 21:24

    Ah, back on your home continent. Another great article. Thanks, guys. L&D xx

  6. May 14, 2018 22:40

    Next thing we know you will be voting for Trump!
    Annie B.

  7. Sandra permalink
    May 15, 2018 02:39

    Hi Tony and Connie, can’t say enough good things about Boar Us the best money we ever spent. We were in Swansboro and we got stuck just outside of Swansboro heading north. Boat us to the rescue also in Oriental, Hoseshoe Bay in New Jersey just south of NYC and one or two other places. At the end of the year our tows came to well over $1500. Like you we only paid $134.

  8. Judi Klontz permalink
    May 15, 2018 06:48

    Welcome back to North America

  9. JAMIE SAMUELS permalink
    May 17, 2018 11:57

    How far North you headed?

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