Archive for May, 2009

Entry for May 9, 2009

May 9, 2009

May 9th and we’re sitting in the harbor in Annapolis MD. When we left Elizabeth City on May 6th at 6 am.. little did I know that the next three days would be looooonng ones..

We slowly made it up the Dismal Swamp. The bridges and locks are on set times, so we just took our time and enjoyed the ride. The Dismal Swamp isn’t really quite as bad as it sounds, back when it was named, the word “dismal” meant remote, not gloomy or dreary like one may think. But, it is very shallow and narrow, so the “pilot” has to be on their toes at all times. Bill did an excellent job and didn’t put us aground at all!! (I’m sure I would have had us stuck in the muck.) I look for wildlife and critters as we motor, I just love seeing nature in action. Once through the last lock we docked at a free boatyard dock at 5 pm. (11 hrs, day 1) We were the only ones there, and were really glad we weren’t anchored out, as during the night a really good storm came through.. Always watching the weather to keep us safe!

The next morning was even earlier (5:45 am) off the dock and 8 miles from Norfolk. A few hours later we’re making good time up the Chesapeake Bay. With a very small southern swell and light south winds, we were able to sail “wing-on-wing” one of the hardest sail configurations, as the wind has to be directly behind you and has to stay there.. We sailed past Deltaville, VA, a place we usually like to stop, but since it was mid afternoon, onward! An hour later– FLIES!! We were inundated, the boat was covered! We’ve never seen so many different kinds and biting flies. With both of us armed with a flyswatter, it seemed for every one we killed, two or three more took their place. I got the Raid and the Off, and that seemed to help. But the thing that seemed to get them to leave was that a few hours later, the weather cooled down as the sun was falling in the sky. We found a beautifully protected anchorage in the Wicomico River, Sandy Pt.(20 miles north of Deltaville) Anchoring at 7 pm (13+hrs, day 2) I got the vacuum out and cleaned up most of the “dead bodies”.. After a quick dinner, we went to bed early.

Good Morning!(May 8th) Bill’s up and ready to go (5:30 am) but I’m dragging my butt. Bill hauled up the anchor as I put the coffee on, and we were on our way at 6 am. Looking at about 90 miles (82 nm), we could make it to Annapolis. Motoring in calm waters but with a bit of a current going with us, we once again “zoomed” along at 7 knots. The Bay was so flat and calm as we crossed the wide mouth of the Potomac River, it just amazed us. Last year when we were on our north bound trip, we had waves crashing over the bow.. What a difference!! The winds picked up sometime in the afternoon, so again we were able to sail wing-on-wing. But as evening closed in around us the winds died, but a current helped to keep up our speed. As we entered into the mouth of the Severn River, with the Annapolis mooring field only a few miles ahead, about 30 sailboats sailing a regatta, seemed to swarm around us. Even as we set our lines and hooked up to the mooring, they were filing in to the harbor and their finish line. It was really cool! 7:30 pm. We were settled on the mooring and totally crashed!! Day 3- 13 ½ hours!!

So, here we are, Saturday afternoon, and we’ve just taken it easy. We went into town around noon, with the intentions of meeting with some friends of mine, Chris and Bob Doan. I’ve know them since I lived in Rome NY, back in the late 70’s.. and just recently hooked up with Chris on Facebook. Chris had a rough night with a stomach virus, so No thank you.. we’ve been quite healthy for a long time now, we don’t want it! If we can’t get together with Bob and Chris this time, I’m hoping they plan a trip up to the Catskills!

Tomorrow morning is Breakfast Brunch at Buddy’s, then we’ll head out a few miles up the Bay getting ready to head to the C & D Canal..

About another week and we should be in Catskill!!


Entry for May 4, 2009

May 4, 2009

Wow!  What a great trip we’ve been having.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had Internet access for awhile so our blog postings have been delayed.

Overall, we’ve been making really good time.  Here is our timetable so far –

Thursday, April 16th – Left Marathon and motor-sailed two days up the Hawk Channel to Key Biscayne.

Saturday, April 18th – Stayed in Key Biscayne because of big winds off-shore

Sunday, April 19th – Motored up the ICW to Miami and left there for an off-shore run north.  We spent this night at sea 5 – 10 miles off Florida sailing north

Monday, April 20st – Sailed into Cape Canaveral after a very restless night.  Lots of roll after the wind died and left us with a 6 foot swell from the east.  As we were heading north, there wasn’t much we could do to get out of the swell.  We spent a quiet night anchored in Titusville.

Tuesday, April 21nd – Left Titusville and motored up the ICW to Daytona.  We anchored in Daytona and took the dinghy to shore for a cocktail hour with friends from Marathon – Bill and Patty on Illusions.  They left the 2 days before us and we arrived in Titusville on the same day because of our off-shore run from Miami.

Wednesday, April 22rd – Motored to St. Augustine and anchored on the north side of the Bridge of Lions bridge.  We had Jim and Barbara (from Marguerite) over for dinner and drinks to partially repay them for their great hospitality when I was working on their boat a month ago. 

Thursday – Saturday, April 25th – I worked on Marguerite while Laura relaxed a little, did several boat chores (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.) and spent a little time walking around town. 

Sunday, April 26th – We sailed out of St. Augustine heading northeast for Georgia and South Carolina.  Winds were light but from a good direction with not much swell.  It was a pretty good sail and we easily made Charleston, SC by the next afternoon.  The Georgia shoreline really juts in so sailing a straight course from St. Augustine to Charleston takes you pretty far off-shore.  We were 40 miles off in the early morning when a pod of dolphins decided to use our boat as a toy.  There were probably 20-30 dolphins zooming toward the boat at high-speed then they would turn and jump near the bow.  Laura was standing up on the bow talking and knocking on the hull to attract their attention.  This went on for probably 20 minutes.  It was pretty awesome. 

We would have kept going but the winds had become more east with prevented us from sailing to Georgetown or Cape Fear inlets.  We entered Charleston harbor and went north up the ICW to anchor in one of the creeks about 15 mile from the inlet.  The anchor did not set well and I spent a restless night.

Tuesday, April 28th – Up early and we motored north up the ICW toward Georgetown, SC.  During the morning I noticed we would have an outgoing tide from the Georgetown inlet and an incoming tide at Cape Fear the next morning.  Winds were predicted to be light and variable so we decided to head out and spend another night at sea.  The only issue was not getting to Cape Fear too early – in the dark and before the tide change.  The winds were light as predicted so we motored in close to shore ( 3 miles) and were able to pick up some light shore breezes.  The Sun heats up the land during the day and the air rises.  It pulls in air from the colder water and makes winds heading toward shore.  We took advantage of this and were able to sail almost the whole trip to Cape Fear.  Other boats we were with decided to stay on the direct course and had to motored the whole way because there were no winds that far off-shore.

We were able to enter Cape Fear inlet on a fair tide that carried us all the way up to Snows Cut.  There was 3-4 knots of current pushing us north.  YEA!  After anchoring in Carolina Beach we spent a quiet night catching up on sleep.

Oh – we had to stop at a marina and take on some water.  While we were sailing off Myrtle Beach the night before, our water tank had emptied out because of a leak in the wash-down hose on our aft deck.  Laura had watered the plants and accidently left the faucet on.  This wouldn’t have normally been a problem but the hose wasn’t on tight and leaked.  We were out of water the next day so stopped and took on about 100 gallons from a nice gal at a marina fuel dock.  We spent the next 2 hours tearing the boat apart to find the leak.

Thursday, April 30th – Up early again to make New River Marina for fuel before they closed at 5 pm.  This is the cheapest fuel stop on the ICW and, because of all the sailing we were able to do, we hadn’t needed fuel since leaving Marathon.  It was an excellent day on the ICW and we pulled into the fuel dock right around 4:30 PM.  We took 93 gallons of diesel and put another 100 gallons of water in our tank.  93 gallons isn’t bad for almost 1,000 miles.  We’ve talked to other boats that use that much in an hour….  After motoring another 5 miles we anchored in Mile Hammock Bay which is a large dredged-out pond.  We heard that the marines at Camp LeJeune sometimes use this for exercises but it is a public anchorage.  Just before dark a group of marines pulled up to shore in amphibious tank-like vehicles.  They all got out and were having a good time.  After dark, they all got back in the vehicles and zoomed into the water behind our anchored boat.  After watching them for awhile I figured out they were practicing towing each other as if one of them were disabled.  There were 3 groups of 2 and they were all yelling and screaming at each other.  “Back up you idiot!  Go forward asshole!  ….”  It was hard to believe they didn’t have radios for communication or set procedures to follow.  The military always has very detailed procedures for everything.  It was pretty much a zoo and water was flying everywhere when their engines revved.  They played for about 2 hours before finally leaving around 11 PM. 

Friday, April 1st – We wanted to make it to Morehead City by 2 PM to catch the tide up Adams Creek to Oriental.  The bridge timing was good (bridges open on a fixed schedule so if you are not there for an opening you might have to wait an hour before they open again), currents seemed to be helping us and the winds were on the beam.  We don’t usually sail in the ICW because the channel is narrow and a gust of wind can turn the boat quickly.  But, if you are willing to pay close attention to steering and what the winds are doing, getting some sails up can really help push the boat much faster than the motor.  The winds helped us get to Morehead City right on time and we turned north up Adams Creek with a 2-3 knot current behind us.

The winds that helped us speed up along the ICW were now churning the Neuse River into a froth.  With winds from the southwest, anchoring in Oriental would have made for a wild ride all night.  The choices were to head southeast and anchor in the South River (we had rode out 40 knot winds there a year ago) or try to sail down the Neuse River and anchor further up the ICW.  Being the glutton-for-punishment that I am, I talked Laura into continuing.  We put up a handkerchief of mainsail and put the boom all the way out for a run down the river.  The seas were short and high because the water here is very shallow – 15-20 feet.  The winds were reading 20-25 knots on our instruments while pushing us at 7 knots down the river.  That meant they were actually in the 30s if you were standing still.  The boat handled it nicely and we turned the corner and headed into Bay River with intentions to anchor around the next bend in Long Creek.  I forgot (???) that we’d have to motor into the wind in order to get to Long Creek.  Now that the winds were on our bow, we were reading 35 knots and the boat was shaking with the wind gusts.  We kept the sliver of mainsail up to help us motor-sail close to the wind.  It was just before dark when we finally anchored in Long Creek.  It was an excellent anchorage for these big winds as we were in the lee of a close shore (no waves) and we had lots of room behind us to maneuver if the anchor didn’t hold.  I decided to put out two anchors in a “Y” off the bow and the boat held there beautifully while the winds howled all night.  85 ICW miles in one day – a record for us!

Saturday, May 2nd – A beautiful day on the water.  We motored the canals and sailed when the waters opened up.  Our goal was to anchor on the south end of the Alligator River which was about 65 miles away.  The late afternoon saw us entering the 22 mile long Alligator River Canal which is probably my least favorite part of the trip.  It’s a long way motoring up a narrow canal with nothing to do and not much to see.  When we were 5 miles from the end, we could see rain on our radar coming at us from the west.  As they got closer we battened down the hatches and moved everything below that we didn’t want to get wet.  15 minutes later the rain hit.  No wind but a heavy down-poor made for a great boat wash.  This was the first rain of the trip and the boat needed it.  We motored out of the canal and the final 5 miles to our anchorage in a clearing evening.  The air smelled fresh as we settled back on the anchor, poured ourselves a cocktail and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Sunday, May 3rd – Up early because we are going to DOCK THE BOAT TONIGHT!  Our first dock since leaving Marathon 18 days ago.  We decided to take the Dismal Swamp route to Norfolk and spend a few days in beautiful Elizabeth City, NC.  They have free city docks where you can spend up to 2 days.  There is no power or water but just being able to step off the boat for a walk seemed like a real treat.  Laura hadn’t gotten off the boat when we fueled in New River so she had been on the boat for 8 days straight.  There were 10-15 knot winds from the southwest as we pulled out the mainsail and sailed off the anchor without using the engine.  We sailed 20 miles up the Alligator river, through the Alligator River Bridge (which we never do!) and into the Albermarle Sound.  It was just about the best sailing ever with perfect winds and low seas.  I even called my friends Rob and Sue to brag about how wonderful it was.

Of course, 15 minutes later the wind died and we could see thunderstorms building to the west on our radar.  We motored into the Pasquotank River after one of most enjoyable Albermarle Sound crossings ever.  This area can be awful when the winds pick up on the shallow waters.

After two more boat-washes (with heavy winds this time) we motored into Elizabeth City where several people helped us tie up at the free docks.  A short time later we were enjoying a quiet Sunday evening walk around town then we stopped into a Chinese restaurant for dinner. 

We’ll probably be here 2 days then spend another day getting to Norfolk.  They are taking down a inoperable bridge in Norfolk so the ICW is closed there for the next 3 days.  It’s a good excuse for us to sit and relax for awhile….

Our plan is to sail up Chesapeake Bay for the next week and stop in Annapolis by Saturday.  We have to be there on Sunday morning so we can enjoy the Sunday Champagne Brunch at Buddy’s Crab House!

If the weather holds, we’ll be on the Hudson around May 12th and in Catskill by the 15th or 16th.  1,100 miles down and only 500 to go!