Thursday, May 20, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

We had a nice quiet trip down the Delaware Bay for once and even had a favorable current most of the way.

We anchored off the Coast Guard Station in Cape May, NJ and got a chance to say hello to friends on Exhale who we had crossed the Strait of Florida. After listening to the forecast the next morning, we decided to go past the inlet and travel the longer and more difficult route up the New Jersey Inland Waterway.

The inland route is full of twists and turns, very shallow water (particularly with the new moon), and bridges. The low fixed bridges (30 feet) make it impossible for most sailboats to use large sections of the Waterway.

We ended up trying to anchor behind Mordecai Island at Beach Haven when a gentlemen waved us over to his dock and invited us to tie up for the night. He even invited us to use his shower in the house. We declined the showers, but accepted the dockage. A very strong thunderstorm came through during the night and we were grateful for the security of the dock. New Jersey was beginning to look a lot better to us than in the past. A radio call to Exhale (which had to go outside in the ocean because of the low fixed bridges) as we went by Atlantic City revealed that they had NOT had a pleasant trip outside and aborted their trip earlier than planned.

The inland route does have some interesting sights, including the garish Atlantic City and the beautifully kept houses perching over the waterway.

We left early in the morning for a relatively short trip to Manasquan and worked our way carefully up Crabtown Creek to a tiny little bridge and the anchorage at Glimmer Glass. We were about to land the dinghy at a beach for a walk into town for a few supplies when another home owner shouted over and invited us to use his dock for our dinghy. Where was THIS New Jersey all the other times we had been through?

Another early start sent us out Manasquan Inlet for the trip across to New Jersey and New York. We went past Sandy Hook and through the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and took a left at the Statue of Liberty to the anchorage behind her at Liberty Park. We were there early in the afternoon but would have faced a strong adverse current if we had continued on through New York.

The anchorage is an interesting spot. During the day (Sunday) it was a main thoroughfare for jet skis and small fishing boats. There is a view of the Park and the Narrows Bridge. We were anchored off what we believe to be a new science center with what purports to be the largest IMax theatre in the world. The cruising guides all say that this is NOT the place to go ashore and leave an INFLATABLE dinghy as you explore the park. So we'll have to wait for a future road trip to see where we really were!

The next morning, we rode a strong current all the way through New York City and a lot of Long Island Sound. We passed close to the South Street Seaport and under the slew of bridges that feed the city.

Execution Rocks, Long Island Sound
With a bad forecast for the next day, we went all the way to one of our club moorings in the Thimble Islands off Stony Creek, Connecticut.
The next morning (May 19, 2010), we had another short trip -- this time on a rather cold rainy day -- to the mouth of the Connecticut River and our mooring in North Cove, Old Saybrook, CT. Home sweet home?
Outer Light, Old Saybrook
It will take a while to decompress and get back to "real" life. We'll fly to Dallas early in June to see our daughter Lyz and family just in time to celebrate grandson Mikey's 4th birthday. I'll post a final summary of this trip once we get a chance to go though the log and come up with various facts and figures.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Family and Friends through Maryland

We had a short trip from Deltaville, VA to St. Jerome's Creek, just across the Maryland border, where we were going to meet some good friends and see brother Jock and his brood for an afternoon and a passel of local blue crabs. It seems as if every mark along the way was celebrated by a family of ospreys.

We anchored right in front of Jeanne and Tim's beautiful compound where we had anchored a few times before. The water is fairly "skinny" near the shore so we were grateful for our sturdy dinghy for the ride ashore.

Tim and Jean were, as usual, more than perfect hosts and put on quite a nice luncheon on their patio. Thanks again for being such good and patient friends who have accepted a motley bunch of transient boat bums into your lives!

Brother Jock, who lives nearby, and I paid for a bunch of crabs which we cooked with Tim's aid and assistance while Jeanne came up with some miracles on the grill and out of the kitchen. Jock gave some of his clan lessons in the fine art of eating blue crabs.

As we saw so often along the waterways, the U.S. Military is ever present. One whole stretch of the shoreline was full of antennae and other ominous looking stuff.

But a lot of the Chesapeake is still traditional lighthouses and pretty shorelines.

One of the old lighthouses is preserved at the marine museum in Solomons, along with an old oyster dragger. We anchored near there for a night and did some grocery shopping. The next morning we went by the Calvert Cliffs whose layers of sediment have been studied closely by archaeologists and other scientists.

We spent a couple of nights at anchor in Spa Creek in Annapolis.

We rented a car one day to drive to the Washington suburbs to see the Captain's son Bill, his wife Liz, and daughters Alison and Emily. They treated us to a lovely lunch at the Trump National Golf Club,joined by their daughters. We were lucky to get to see them at all since Bill and Liz were off to a fancy party at Mount Vernon that night, Alison had her Junior Prom, and Emily was home for a short while in the middle of her final exams at college.

After lunch, we drove a few miles to see another grand-daughter, Julia (in the upper right of the picture), perform in her middle school's production of Beauty and the Beast.

Daughter Ginger came back with us to spend the night aboard the boat and the next morning her husband David and all the kids - Sam, Julia, Zeke, and Nina - appeared. Zeke had only had a couple of hours sleep after his Junior Prom and Nina had just finished up her college final exams the day before. Julia's closing night was just the night before. We had dinner at a buffet restaurant and hung out on the boat which was in a slip in the middle of downtown Annapolis.

We were delighted that we could see both families with such short notice during very busy times in their lives.

From Annapolis, we went across the bay to our favorite boat yard to be hauled so that the bottom could be cleaned and painted for the first time in a year. (Actually, we had it cleaned by a diver while in Abaco.) We lived aboard "on the hard" for two nights after discovering that we could not get a rental car and we were a long way from any real civilization. We were scheduled to be launched at 6:30 AM, but the other yard which shares the hauling pit had managed to sink an old wooden work boat in it that they had launched the night before and we were delayed until about 10:00.

We managed to get to Chesapeake City, MD on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal early enough to anchor and go to the Tap Room for the traditional last crab feast for the Captain.

Both the Admiral and the Captain are feeling a bit of cabin fever after 8-plus months aboard, so the rest of the trip home will probably be more of a "delivery" than a "voyage". It's over some of our least favorite waters, particularly in bad weather. So we will probably put in some fairly long days to get home as quickly as possible.

Rushing North through Virginia

From Oriental, we went to a favorite anchorage off the Alligator River at Catfish Point. It's a little disconcerting finding your way into the channel through a sunken forest of trees on both sides.

Once we got in, we anchored in a lovely little cove with only one other boat and were treated to a full moonset, immediately followed by a sunrise the next morning.

"Shore Thing" is from Groton, CT
We then found our way back to Elizabeth City and its free docks and the traditional Rose Buddy wine and beer and cheese reception which is held any time there are at least four boats at the docks. Each lady is given a rose.

We were held up for about three hours the next morning because the drawbridge would not open. It looked as if we might never get through the Dismal Swamp. At least I finally got a decent picture of the human target which is on the other side of the river from a rather disreputable looking trailer. (We go through this section as fast as we can!)

The South Mills lock raises us 8 feet to the level of the man-made canal through the Dismal Swamp. We met the crew on Scooter while we were waiting for the Elizabeth City Bridge to open.
Between the two locks, we passed by the North Carolina Visitor Center and its free dock and then into Virginia. Unfortunately, the old canal superintendent's house continues to crumble.

Robert, the lock tender at Deep Creek on the other end was kind enough to wait for us to arrive since he had heard of our delay that morning on the othere end. He collects conch shells and has them all around his lock keeper's house. We gave him a large one from Abaco which the captain had made into a horn.

Because of Robert's kindness, we were able to get all the way through and managed to come up with another free space at a public dock in Portsmouth right in front of Olde Towne and across the way from a huge cruise ship which was drydocked in Norfolk. Scooter had been with us all day and took our recommendation to go to the dinner movie theatre, The Commodore, while we collapsed on board.

For once, the weather gods were kind, and we were able to move right along to Jackson Creek in Deltaville and its beautiful Chesapeake Bay work boats.

Chesapeake Bay work boats.
We were anxious to get a bit further north to see various family members.