October 1 - 23, 2007
This page is written by Mike and Susan Cotten, one of the chores assigned while aboard El Regalo, with editorial approval by the Rawls.

We arrived Annapolis on 02 October and met Brian and JoDon at Pussers Landing
(a bar) to begin the cruise with several Painkillers (drinks).  What a way to start this adventure!! The next day the four of us did a  walking  tour  of  Annapolis  and  the
Naval Academy. Annapolis' history is amazing; after all, it is all about sailing, water, etc.  Mike and I in the past have been here on business but this was our first time to explore the sights at a leisurely pace. On Thursday we attended the VIP day of the Annapolis Boat Show to see everything you could possibly think of (and probably lots you have never thought of) related to sailing.   The balance of our time in Annapolis was  exploring, taking care of chores, etc.  We got to experience a public bus trip to the liquor and grocery store, then carrying our provisions back to El Regalo in preparation for the trip south.  Saturday was a day of seminars for the Rawls and relaxing boat time for the Cottens; concluded with the Bob Bitchin (Latts and Atts magazine) party that evening.  Per cruisers mode of operation,   we   met  a   very    nice   Puerto
Rican  couple  who offered  nine of us a ride to the party from the marina.  All well and good, but they had a fairly small car and a six year old son, so the car was packed to the max.  The car was so packed that JoDon volunteered to ride in the trunk.  Well, Brian did as well but  he was the only person who knew the directions to the party. So the consensus was that Brian should be in the car, not the trunk.  We enjoyerd the beer and pizza and got to know our driver hosts.  What a great young family and a very fun way to spend our last evening in Annapolis.

On Sunday morning we left Annapolis for a day sail to Oxford, MD.  The Annapolis harbor was quite crowded from Boat Show visitors and it was great to start our voyage.  After saying good bye to our new cruising  friends (Bob & Loraine; Brian & Lisa) we headed for the Chesapeake Bay.  The crew deployed the  spinnaker sail for a nice sail.
We arrived Oxford late Sunday but we went to shore for a quick tour and drinks, then back to El Regalo for another scrumptious dinner on board.  The Rawls are excellent chefs and we are lucky to enjoy the meals they provide!   We spent Monday exploring more of Oxford.  It is a very quaint town and reminds you of what you expect in a movie, we just didn’t know it could be real.  The church bells played a hymn at noon, not your usual chapel bell ringing.  This is one of the Rawls’ favorite stopping places and now we understand why.
The next few days added miles to our southerly heading.  We anchored at Solomons, MD, Deltaville, VA and Chisman Creek, VA in preparation for the big crossing around Cape Hatteras, NC.  The weather was nice but hot. In Solomons it set a record of 96 degrees.  Not what we were expecting for mid-October and hotter than in Texas!  Friday noon we raised the anchor with our next destination of Charleston, South Carolina, ~430 nautical miles.  We began with very nice winds crossing  from the  Chesapeake Bay into
the Atlantic Ocean and we sailed along the Virginia coast with illumination from the coastal cities to our starboard (right).  We devised a plan for the sail; dinner every evening around 7pm, the Cottens on night watch until 1am, then the Rawls on night watch until 7am. 

On Saturday we caught the first tuna for our trip.  This was after asking Brian if we needed to buy any seafood while in Deltaville.  He  quickly responded “No, we’ll catch plenty” and he was right!  Sunset was beautiful and the 2nd night of sailing was dark without coastal lights.  The next day we had a double catch of tuna, one on each of the lines. Sunday night our course took us into the Gulf Stream.  Although we had light winds we were making good through the water and the night sky was absolutely gorgeous.  
However, later in the evening, according to the GPS, I could see we were losing ground.  I told Mike we were going north and east, to which he responded, “No way.” But, after he came below and viewed our progress as depicted on the  GPS,   he   retorted,   “OK,  way”.    With
slackening and fluctuating winds, he set and reset the sails, but finally he resorted to Mr. Yanmar (the motor) to push us through the Gulf Stream.  We had heard tales about the strength of the Gulf Stream and are now firm believers.  The Rawls commented it had helped them before while going north and one day in their southerly sailing it would be a hurdle. This was it!!!

We realized our plan to make Charleston in four days was not going to happen, it was now going to be a five day trip.  Fun times for me was to get close enough to shore and send a text message via my iPhone to let my girls know we  would
be late.  My iPhone has been a toy for the trip I’ve hade a great time finding information.  Good news on Monday was a catch of Mahi.  This was a first for the Cottens and what a gorgeous  and  tasty  fish!
We continued the routine for our 4th night of sailing, with Happy Hour for the Cottens beginning at 1am when the Rawls were on deck.  It was a fun way to hand off El Regalo; drinks for us while updating Brian and JoDon on what occurred   on   our   watch. 
Monday night had us close to Charleston with plans to arrive early Tuesday morning.  We pulled into City Marina for  fuel and water and we anchored by 8:30am.  This journey was a first for us all; over 90 hours of non-stop sailing while covering
~430 nautical miles. After the boat was settled at anchor, we headed to town for drinks at a fabulous hotel, overlooking the Customs House and Charleston Harbor
Our experiences in Charleston have been interesting and relaxing.  The historic part of Charleston is ~2 miles from where we are anchored so we have explored via foot and got exercise at the same time.  The City Marina  has a dock with  several  mega  yachts  along  side.   I  am  thoroughly  enthralled  with  all  the  large
ships.  My favorites are Themis (80th largest yacht in the US) and Indiscretion.   It has been fun to “Google” about them, see photos of the interiors and look at their specs.  There is always activity on the decks so its fun to take advantage of the binoculars.
There was some discussion when we arrived about heading south on Saturday, but the weather/winds were not good and we are now enjoying more of Charleston.  Since none of us are expected at work, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of this glorious southern harbor while awaiting a favorable “weather window”. This decision afforded us the opportunity to attend Sunday morning service at St. Michaels Episcopal Church, the oldest standing church in Charleston.  They ‘claim’ to be the friendly church and we heartily agree.  Not only was it an excellent service but they welcomed us two Methodists with open arms.  Afterward, more exploring and provisioning during the day, then Sunday night we had guests on board from s/v Game Plan, friends Brian and JoDon met while in Washington, DC.  Mike and I are really enjoying meeting cruisers, hearing their stories and seeing their lifestyles.

Monday was declared “leisure day” by the Captain, so all four aboard El Regalo did our best to stick to his orders.  Brian received a phone call from Captain Mike Dillon, son of Mark & Susie Dillon (Dallas), who lives in Charleston.  He joined us on board for drinks and lots of stories, then stayed for dinner.  It was a very entertaining evening, getting to see sailing and the water through the eyes of a young man who has many dreams and opportunities ahead.  When we asked why he chose The College of Charleston for his collegiate career he responded, “For three reasons:  1. it was along way from home; 2. it had two fantastic beaches; and, 3. the girl-to-boy ratio was 6 to 1.”  With these priorities, Capt. Dillon will make a great sailing Captain.  We realized our time in Charleston is coming to an end we visited The Citadel (private military school) on Tuesday as our last tourist activity.
Wednesday we will do final preparation chores, then up anchor on Thursday (or Friday) to make more southerly progress.  We decided not to stop in Savannah as the cruising guide doesn’t make it sound appealing for a sailboat.  Our next stop is planned to be Cumberland Island, Georgia, about a 36 hour sail, where we will stay before leaving El Regalo at the St. Marys, GA marina.

We then plan to visit to Cape Canaveral/Cape Kennedy and a tour of NASA.  That will be after 01 November with the  official  end of  hurricane season.
Until then, it will be as the winds take us.  This crew is very laid back and we all enjoy the “doesn’t matter to me” attitude!!  As for the stories of Brian being Captain Bligh, we haven’t seen that (yet).  Not to say there isn’t still time, but the Rawls are both excellent hosts aboard El Regalo and we are having a fabulous time.  Today marks the end of three weeks on board, and it seems like just yesterday we were partaking of Painkillers at Pussers!!

For now, the Cottens are signing off and will hand web page updates responsibilities back to the Rawls! 

Journal 7; Annapolis South