Spring Transition 2016: Georgetown, SC

Giant oaks spreading their limbs across the avenue. Resurrection fern gracing the branches budding happily as moisture graces the land. Moss covering the gnarly roots of the oaks working in unison with nature.....this is what you experience as you stroll the streets and avenues of this history rich community of Georgetown. Mansions built with the gains of plantation owners; Subtle yet sophisticated. A community with a sense of pride and a commitment to preserving its past. Southern feel. Hospitality and welcome to day trippers and comfortable dockage by day, week, month or stay in the community for long term live-aboards. You won't find any chain stores or franchise restaurants or shops here. This is a community of proud local businesses. They treat you as a welcome guest weather you are a local or a visitor.
Georgetown, South Carolina is worth a visit!

Go with The Flow Boating Style

Going for a few hours ride or going for a long journey in a boat requires preparation and flexibility. It is much more complicated than jumping in the car and taking a drive.
The weather! No matter what the weather spokesperson predicted, Mother Nature has her own way of controlling our plans. If Mother Nature chooses we change our plans even at a moments notice. You see, we are pleasure boaters. Bad weather and boating don't mix.
If we happen to be in the middle of a jaunt when Mom has a temper tantrum we try to go into plan 'b' mode. Safety is #1!
Sometimes plans are delayed....days or weeks....whatever it takes

Mechanical issues!
Every good captain does their best to make sure the craft is in good form. Long before a boat ride numerous details are considered and addressed. There is long term maintenance. Professional time and considerable dollars are required to keep Grampstr's Pride in ship shape form. We don't wait for a problem to arise. In most cases we try to service before there is an issue. Even diligence gets a wrench thrown at it now and then. Minutes before debarkation a last check list is covered. Sometimes there is an issue. Most of the time there is not. NOT doing a final inspection can lead to disasters and an unpleasant memory. The decision to abandon a trip due to mechanical issues may be the best decision ever!

Everyone reacts differently to life on the water. Some people are born fish. They have no physical, mental or emotional challenges with hitting the waves. Amazingly sometimes even these folks have a bad water day. They usually respond positively to adjustments. Sometimes even they need solid ground to get it together. Gotta do what ya gotta do!
We have some friends who enjoy the boat at the dock. We have some friends who are okay as long as the boat is moving. We have some friends who like to look at pictures of the boat!! There are even ones who could care less about the boat in any circumstance but enjoy our company in other venues😜
Okay, so passengers who are open and interested and capable of boating are a rare breed!!! These are the friends we are thrilled to share the Grampstr's with😘

9 May 2015: Key West to Dry Tortugas

May 6, 2015 to May 9, 2015

Start: Key West Florida, Key West Marina
Finish: Ft. Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

As we headed out of Key West we had calm winds and a beautiful sky. About 15 miles out was the  Marquesas key, a small group of uninhibited  islands with a perfect cove for anchoring for a day or two. We will stop on our next trip to break up the trip to Ft. Jefferson, for a swim and dinner.  But for this trip we wanted to get out of the national park.

We arrived at Ft. Jefferson around 5 PM and anchored on the south side of the fort.  There were about 5 other boats already anchored, but plenty of space for us.

Ft. Jefferson is everything we hoped it would be, the perfect place to snorkel, scuba, paddle board and kayak.  The water is an azure blue and clear to the bottom!  

We will be coming back many times and look forward to sharing this great national park.  The fee is 5.00 per person for a 7 day pass and we think it's completely worth this nominal fee.  There are two islands you can dingy or take the Grampstr's Pride into.  Each island has it's own separate light house and white uninhabited beaches.

This is definitely one place to make sure you bring your Go Pro camera or under water camera to gey the fantastic pictures of the tropical fish, marine wild life, and Ft. Jefferson.  There is so much  history at the Fort, which was built in 1822 on a sandy island.  Did you knoe over 3 million bricks were used to build the fort, almost all where shipped from New York? You learn something knew every day.

The seas were calm all 3 nights and with no light pollution the sky was an incredible canvas of stars.  There is no cell or Internet service for over 75 miles.  However, the Grampstr's Pride has the latest in world wide communication system if you need to make that call. The Grampstr's has redundant systems with global tracking and EPRB, in case of an emergency.

The state of the art equipment on the Grampstr's Pride ensures clients have a safe and pleasant stay wherever they choose to embark.  Our seasoned captains are eager to help you plan your charter with GEC Charters.  We hope you contact us.

1 May 2015: John Pennekamp State Park to Marathon Yacht Club

April 30, 2015 thru May 2, 2015

Start: John Pennekamp State Park
Finish: Marathon Yacht Club

It was a beautiful sun filled morning, temperatures in the high 80's but a stiff wind coming out of the North, as we left our lovely cove at the John Pennekamp State Park and head for Marathon Yacht Club. 

The Marathon Yacht Club is small with only 30 slips, but they had a perfect place to dock our 48 Endeavour Trawler Cat.  The club was established in 1948.  What is fascinating about each club is they usually have a picture of the Commodore of the club for each year.  The Commodore is like the president of an organization with a one year term.  There is a lot of pride in the club with several activities going on each weekend. Our arrival was after a fishing tournament, where they serve the fish that are caught!  Unfortunately not enough was caught but the chief had gone out a purchased Hog Fish, local fish caught in the keys and Gulf of Mexico.  It was outstanding!

That night the winds were still very strong and we decided to lay over another day and provision as it appeared we still had a shot to get to our ultimate stop the Dry Tortugas. We took a 5 minute cab ride to town for groceries

On Friday evening May 1, we got to witness the "Lowering of the colors ceremony".  The first Friday of each month the officers of the club lower the American Flag at sun set as they play the National Anthem and Kate Smith's version of God Bless America.  At the end they fire a canon...  It was really cool!  This will be the last time for the service until the renovations are completed and a new Swimming Pool is constructed.  

On another note we learned at each of our Yacht Club stops, the club is making major infrastructure investments, either in new docks, swimming pools or other club facilities!  That says boating is alive and well and there is no better time to be on the water cruising! We are hoping you will join us for a charter with GEC Charters.

30 April 2015: Key Largo, and the Keys

April 28, 2015 thru April 30, 2015

Start: Key Largo Gilbert's Marina
Finish: Key Largo John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, is a water sanctuary and preservation of the coral reef in the Florida Straits.  As mention in a previous post the Florida State Parks are outstanding and this will become one of our favorite spots of our charter guests!

We arrived around 4PM are planning anchored the Grampstr's Pride in a beautiful cove and secure safe anchorage about a 1/2 mile from the main check in area!   We  picked up one of the 80 mooring balls available in the cove.    What is great about a mooring ball it is safely secured at the bottom and will with hold almost all but the worst hurricanes.  These are supplied by the Florida State Park at a cost of 6.00 per day. 

Our beautiful cove with sandy beaches is only short dingy ride away to the main check in area,  where to our delight are many water activities available to our guests.  There is a guided 3 1/2 hour glass bottom catamaran tour of the corral reef.  Which is worth the $24.00 per person fare.  The guides were extremely knowledgeable with a wonderful sense of concern for the reef system and the steps being taken to preserve!  They are daily dive and snorkel boats that take out out to the reef area.  You may also rent equipment we could take out on the Grampstr's Pride.  The reefs are protected with free mooring balls you can use to anchor without damaging the reef! 

After our glass bottom boat tour we returned to our cove for a cookout on the grill! The weather was changing a storm came thru for about 2 hours.  We were in the perfect safe place and it was fun watching the storm come thru from the helm deck of our stable power catamaran!  As we reviewed the weather on our radar and the location of the storm which is moving towards Marathon, Florida which is our next stop we decided to hangout another day at John Pennekamp state park!  Not a bad place to relax!