149 Vero Beach, to Washington, DC

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Heading up the ICW brightening greens of early spring fade to grays and browns as Odyssey moves north into late winter. If we slow a bit spring again over takes us only to disappear as we move a few hundred miles further north. Weather chess, listening to the NOAA forecasts and planning how to react to storms forecasted to show up two days away, comes to the forefront. Our preference is to be in a marina on a lee shore just before the storm arrives. The mix: spring-switching to winter, a virtually empty ICW, planning how to play incoming storms excites, delights and challenges us, making heading north early our favorite time to be on the ICW.

Herb River was a new anchorage for us. Being close to Thunderbolt we had a bail out for the storm we were currently playing weather chess with if it did something unexpected. The storm was growing but still a day away. Natural instincts kicked in waking us early the next morning well before dawn. A few minutes powering up the laptop for electronic charts and radar to extend our eyes into the patchy fog and we were off and well past Thunderbolt before the first hint of light in the east.

This time we won the weather chess challenge. We arrived at Beaufort, SC, got settled in, enjoyed one of our favorite towns, met new friends and then settled in as Odyssey got hammered by winds gusting up to 35 mph during the night. The night wasn’t comfortable; we rocked and rolled as wind piled waves against the weather side of the dock. However, the next morning the wind was down and we swapped storm impressions with dock mates who had ridden out the storm with us.

For us, Beaufort, SC has a special appeal. Instead of heading out as the storm blew itself out, we switched to anchoring out and stayed a third day to enjoy town and to get a Sunday New York Times to read as we watched to see who was also moving north on March 1.

As the weather turned benign, we turned to our second enjoyment of cruising–seeking out anchorages we hadn’t visited before. Many of them are well described in cruising guides, but if we haven’t tried them before it’s fun to explore, watching the depth sounder, figuring out swing radius and sorting out holding once the anchor is down. Others go back to spots they’ve stayed before, but for us it’s always exciting to find a spot that’s new to us. Between Beaufort and Washington, DC we added four new anchorages to our well-marked charts.

Life boat waiting with us for the bridge to open

Dredge on the move

Water traffic got interesting as we exited the ICW at Norfolk. It’s not an unusual event. On prior passages we maneuvered around air craft carriers and other war ships. This time a life boat practicing and a huge dredge kept us company.

The Capital Yacht Club made us feel home as we settled in for a month stay. Our trip north from Vero to DC required 19 travel days over 25 calendar days. The weather, having been nice since Beaufort, deposited an inch of snow on Odyssey’s deck over night as a mid March pre spring gift. Bundling up we headed out to see what was going on in DC.

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