Friday, October 26, 2007

Norfolk, VA to New Bern, NC

We hung out on anchor at Deltaville until we were sure that we would have a nice quiet ride down the Bay to Norfolk.

As usual, Norfolk was full of "Warships" (didn't they call them "Navy Ships" until very recently?) warning everyone to stay away from their "security zones".

The Battleship Wisconsin (now a museum) was dwarfed by a Carnival Cruiseline ship.

Across the River in Portsmouth,They were hosting a large fleet of schooners.After taking in all the sights, we anchored just north of the Deep Creek lock in the Dismal Swamp canal for the night. Because of water shortages in Lake Drummond, which feeds the canal between the two locks, they have cut down to two openings per day. (Every opening dumps many thousands of gallons.) We stayed at the free dock at the North Carolina Visitor Center for the afternoon and night.
And headed down toward the south lock the next morning past the old Superintendent's house.
Across the creek from a few inhabited shacks which were in even worse shape was a man-sized metal silhouette, shot full of holes.
The southern section of the canal and beyond was covered in what looked like harmless floating algae but was really a heavy fibrous mass called duckweed, which got into a lot of engine intakes and caused all kinds of problems.
Other than the algae and the targets, the passage through the Dismal Swamp was lovely as usual. (NOTE: Because of the continuing low water, the canal will close for an undetermined amount of time on October 30.) We arrived early at the free docks at Elizabeth City and were helped into a slip by Sam, the unofficial dockmaster and greeter who has been doing this as a volunteer for a few years. He also drives a lot of folks to the grocery and other places in his own truck, since they are not within walking distance for many of us.

We went to the Rose Buddies' wine, beer and cheese party on the dock and discovered that Fred Fearing, who started the tradition many years ago was sick in bed and couldn't attend himself. All the cruisers got together to send Fred a card and to collect money for a new hand-held radio for Sam, whose personal radio had died a few days before. We sent our recalcitrant outboard out to be repaired by a Nissan dealer at great expense for a "faulty black box" and other stuff.[NOTE: Three days after we left Elizabeth City, we discovered that Fred has died at 93 and that, the same day, the local police had issued a cease and desist order to stop Sam from assisting boaters in docking at the free town docks.]

Morning at Elizabeth City

From Elizabeth City we traveled south, anchoring at Tuckaho Point and Campbell Creek, enjoying the quiet and solitude in the latter for a couple of days. Unfortunately, the outboard failed us again, so the captain didn't get a chance to explore the creek by dinghy.

We spent the next two nights in a slip at the Oriental Marina, right across the street from The Bean, the local coffee shop which serves as a hangout for both the locals and the many boaters. We indulged in nice hot showers (complete with marina-supplied towels, soap, and shampoo), ice cream at The Bean, both breakfast and lunch "out", and a major reprovisioning at the grocery store (with a ride home provided by the store). We sent the outboard out to a different dealer and this time it came back with a diagnosis of dirty fuel, which I suspect was the problem in the first place. We cleaned out the gas tanks and started over and it has worked fine since. (NOTE: It has been proven that George W's Texas corn likker mixed with our gasoline is destroying the innards of outboards and other marine gasoline engines. Cripes, look what it did to George! We have been told that gasohol hasn't shown up at the marinas in North Carolina yet.)

Sunset at Oriental

Along the way, we had heard about a Southern Cruisers' Rendezvous at New Bern and, since we were ahead of our schedule, decided to head for it. Along the way we passed "Freddy Freddy" who we had been traveling with off and on since Annapolis. He built the boat himself from an old lobster boat (which he adjusted, hacked, wedged, and twisted before he used it as a male mold for a new fiberglass hull) and an old sailboat hull which he cut in half and used as hull and deck extensions. The bay windows in the cabin create lots of light and space. The sailboat hulls help create a side deck to walk around them.

Freddy Freddy

In New Bern we anchored off the town with a bunch of other cruisers, walked around the town and attended some of the seminars, workshops and a great barbecue dinner at the Rendezvous.

We remet friends from previous trips.

Bruce and Lynda from Jet Stream

And met some new ones.

Joe and Judy from Just B'cause

From here we head to a marina about six miles away to leave the boat for a week so that we can fly to Kissimmee, Florida to babysit our grandson while daughter Elizabeth and husband go to a wedding. After that, we're on our own with no fixed schedule or definite appointments. Maybe the Abacos for Christmas?

Comments, questions, or complaints:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New Jersey through Chesapeake Bay

We went from New York under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, down the open ocean, through the Manasquan Inlet and down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to the Metedeconk River.
We departed the Metedeconk on a foggy morning and continued on the ICW to a little anchorage across from Atlantic City. We found some skinny water on the way (it was a full moon, as you can see below), but only managed to stir up a little mud with our 3 1/2 foot draft.

Atlantic City under a Full Moon
High Culture at Atlantic City!

The next day brought us to an anchorage just north of Cape May -- again on the ICW. We put into Utsch's Marina the next day and did laundry, took showers, and had a birthday luncheon ashore for Judy. The Captain added to the gourmet celebration by serving two dozen cherrystones on the half-shell at cocktail time.
Part of the Fishing Fleet at Cape May

For once, we had the current with us all the way up Delaware Bay and it turned out to be a very relaxing and quick trip all the way to Chesapeake City for a change.
We had a Hitch-hiker for most of the trip up the Delaware. New Jersey's Nuclear Plant Puts Out Some Steam

In Chesapeake City, we rafted up with Mel and Jean on our sister-ship Dovekie that we had met up with in Cape May. We went up to the Tap Room for the traditional first steamed crabs of the season and a couple of beers. (Back here for the last crabs of the season in the spring.)

We thought we'd gotten to Annapolis a week before the boat shows. WRONG! We were there for the beginning of the boat show, anchored up Spa Creek in front of a house that was for sale for $5,995,000.00. We ran some quick errands and got out as fast as possible, but only after we got together with our daughter's great friend Patty and Jeremy. The live just up the road (on the OTHER side of the creek) and are going to be married in a couple of weeks in Philadelphia. Patty and Jeremy

We escaped across the Bay to some great places we had missed before. The first stop was Crisfield, at one time the "Crab Capitol of the World", now trying to keep as much of the old as they can while they add upscale condos, vacation homes, etc.

The Somers Cove Marina at Crisfield is quite large and is owned and run by the state. Except for a few of us "Snowbirds", the "season" comes to a screeching halt on Labor Day. There's a nice museum (with a daily walking tour in season), good restaurants (including a crabhouse, of course), old fashioned hardware store and a decent grocery. Even a pool (closed after the season).

From Crisfield, we toured Smith and Tangier Islands, low lying marshland with a few dry spots in the middle of the Bay, accessible only by water. Their government is their Methodist Church and their economy is crabs and the few tourists they can pull in during the season.
Smith Island is barely above water. Its major restaurant is owned by the operator of the daily tour boat from Crisfield which stops its regular runs after Columbus Day. There are also a couple of B&Bs. Two of its "towns" are connected by dirt trail or road. The third is reachable by water only. Tangier's crab houses, docks, and crab trays, etc are all built on pilings in the water and are not connected to the land at all. Talk about living on the water!
The Town is Across the Channel

After eating our fill of crabs and oysters, we departed the Eastern Shore and island for one of the anchorages in Jackson Creek in Deltaville, Virginia.

We had a reunion with Bruce and Lynda (who we had met on the Dismal Swamp last year) aboard Jet Stream in Deltaville. They had left the boat there last spring when they ran out of time getting her home to Toronto and they were just recommissioning her for whatever adventures await them this winter. The blustery weather chased quite a few boats into the anchorage for at least one night. We opted to spend more time there to avoid as much adventure as possible and wait for the winds to blow through. Weather permitting, our next day underway should take us through Norfolk to the beginning of the Dismal Swamp.