Saturday, May 03, 2008

Running up the Coast Toward the Chesapeake

The next part of the trip north has been fun, but fairly steady running with few breaks. We detoured a few miles up the Medway River in Georgia to the docks at Sunbury Crab Co. and had a marvelous meal at the popular rustic restaurant at the head of the dock.We stayed at Isle of Hope Marina for a night and got caught up with laundry, groceries, and fellow Camano owners Faith and John aboard "The Chaser" who we had met a year ago in Key West. They treated us to delightful dinner ashore. While we were there, a huge long dredge setup came around the hairpin turn, heading south. It had a major tugboat and 5 other pushboats keeping the inter-connected parade of barges, pipes, pumps, and dredges in order as it went by.We went by the famous St. Bonaventure Cemetery, outside Savannah.
Howard and Susie had sold brother Jock their old Cape Dory Motorsailor and were hopscotching with us for a few days aboard their Grand Banks "Spartina" on their way home to New England from the Bahamas. This time, they got ahead and stayed there.
There are a few tour boats going up and down the ICW and a number of classy ferries which serve some of the exclusive island resorts.
We went past Charleston without stopping this time.
And got a bit closer to Fort Sumpter than before, particularly with the 12x zoom lense.The route takes us through a number of sounds and rivers which are fairly shallow, but build a nasty chop when the wind pipes up. These little guys had all they could handle as we went by.
In the Myrtle Beach, North Carolina section of "The Ditch" there seem to be more golf courses than people. One of them has an aerial tramway across the canal from the parking lot to the links on the other side.None of them seemed particularly crowded and everyone drives a cart. At times, it appears that they are having more fun "dirt tracking" on the golf carts than whacking on a little ball with a big stick.
An interesting thing about the ICW is that it goes from ostentatious glitz to real back country in almost an instant. This is Bucksport Marina and Restaurant, famous for its sausage.We stayed at the Osprey Marina for the first time. Low prices and quiet in the middle of the cypress swamps. Good breakfast and lunch at the little restaurant too.
We thought we might have taken a wrong turn when we saw this little cottage standing about three feet above the high water line.

Which was confirmed when we saw the wildlife on this front lawn.
We saw "Freddie Freddie" again, anchored in Calabash Creek (the state line between the two Carolinas), but didn't find anyone aboard. Sometimes, you lose track of where you are in relation to the "real" world.

A parable (?)
The Admiral, "Your way of decanting the old engine oil after we do the oil change is stupid and messy! I've got a better idea."

The Captain (in the interest of encouraging creativity and promoting self-esteem aboard the vessel), "Absolutely dear, go right ahead and try it!" [A variation on "Yes, Dear", the universal answer which is posted on the bulkhead.]

Now, back to our story.
We ran down the ditch, anchoring off most nights.
Including a night near North Topsail, NC where we'll be for a family reunion in July (by car).
We took a day off in Oriental, NC at one of our favorite marinas for showers, laundry, breakfast ashore and R&R.
The unmarked channel into the anchorage at Catfish Point off the Alligator River is interesting, going between two groves of dead trees.
The National Weather Service (aka: NOAA) predicted winds of 10-15 knots for Albemarle Sound, but they were gusting to at least 30 when we got there. Spray was coming over the top of the flybridge, so we couldn't get any pictures. The boat handles well in these conditions when she is run "with authority" so the skipper was busy with one hand on the throttle, one hand on the trim tabs, and the other (?????) on the wheel. By the time we turned toward Elizabeth City, we had some protection from the seas, but it was still breezy. We would certainly like to avoid these conditions when we can, but we're happy to know that the boat handles them with great aplomb.
We decided to bypass Elizabeth City and get a start through the Dismal Swamp. We managed to get through the last opening of the South Mills Lock and stayed overnight at the North Carolina Welcome Center, rafted to a couple of other boats.
Nice weather and an early start the next morning took us through the rest of the canal. We found a turtle catching the rays.
And a goose getting a running start for a take-off.
If this is Friday, it must be Virginia!
We went past the "Savannah" docked at Norfolk. She was launched in 1962 as the first nuclear powered merchant ship (she also had 30 staterooms) and is in Norfolk for final decommissioning of the nuclear systems as well as repairs and refurbishing as some kind of museum. (She is designated as a National Historic Landmark.) She's a really sleek looking craft and BIG (596 feet long)!
We chugged through all of the tempting spots in Norfolk and ran up the Hampton River to anchor above the bridge. We've never been ashore here before, so we'll give it a try tomorrow. It's time for a lay day anyway. Then on to Chesapeake Bay.

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