"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

May 31, 2013

May 31 - Cape May, NJ

Miss Chris Marina

We were up early, very early, so we could catch the tide going out when we got to the Delaware River. We had a great push for over half our trip. Our normal speed is 7.5 knots, which is a little less than 9 MPH, today we were up to 12.2 MPH. That's flying for us. We had a comfortable uneventful ride into Cape May...just the way we like it. 

After we were docked I rode to the grocery store and Stan charted our course through the NJICW. New Jersey doesn't maintain the ICW so there are sections that can get a little tricky. It's a slower route than going outside in the Atlantic, but it's our only option if we want to move north this week. It'll be a new adventure. Finally...new cruising ground. 

The blue dot shows you where we were on our way down the Delaware River.

We went to the Lobster House for dinner, our favorite place in Cape May to eat. We sat on the deck and enjoyed a great meal and the view.

May 30 - Chesapeake City, MD

Chesapeake City Free Dock

We had a short day, from Fairlee Creek to Chesapeake City is less than 30 miles and we had a nice push from the tide. We were tied up and had the AC on before lunch. It was nice to have electricity since it was the hottest day we've seen since we were in the Erie Canal last summer. Chesapeake City is one of our favorite little towns...their waterfront is very cute and well kept. There are lots of cute shops, B&Bs and a few good places to eat. This is our fifth time to stay here; so I won't give the history again...you can do a search of this blog and read some of our older posts if you're interested. 

We enjoyed a relaxed afternoon even though it was very warm. I even had a chance to get my hair cut. We went to the Tiki Hut at the Chesapeake Inn for happy hour and then had dinner at The Hole in the Wall. It was nice to have a slow day. On to the Delaware River and Cape May, NJ tomorrow...good-bye Chesapeake Bay. 

Chesapeake City is on the southern end of the C&D Canal. The canal is used by large ships to shorten their run between Philadelphia and Baltimore. It doesn't look like this ship will make it under the bridge...but of course it did.

A view of the free dock and part of the waterfront in Chesapeake City

May 30, 2013

May 29 - Fairlee, MD

Fairlee Creek - Anchorage 

We decided a few days ago to by pass spending time in the Chesapeake this spring and head north to new cruising ground. Looking at the up coming weather in the Atlantic makes us question that decision. The forecast for the Atlantic calls for strong winds out of an unfavorable direction for the next week to ten days. We might have to give the New Jersey ICW a try...we've wanted new cruising grounds this just might be it!

We moved about 75 miles from Solomons to a nice anchorage on the north eastern shore of Maryland called Fairlee Creek. We've been here before, but the entrance into the protected bay still made me nervous. The tide was running out and shooting through the narrow opening very quickly. It's unbelievable how close you come to shore...I wish I would have taken a video; pictures just don't give the same feeling. 

I had gumbo cooking in the crockpot while we cruised, so we had a wonderful meal ready when we arrived. We spent the evening trying to figure out where we want to go from here. Tomorrow's trip to Chesapeake City should be an easy run...from there we have to worry more about the wind and tides and large bodies of water. That's when the real adventure begins!

Yes...that little cut, with the water flowing out is where we go in!
We made it...the girl on the beach had to move her stuff so she didn't get swamped. 

May 29, 2013

May 28 - Solomons, MD

Back Creek - Anchorage 

We had a relaxed morning in our anchorage, while we waited for the boat yards in the area to open. Solomons, is a picturesque island town nestled on the Patuxent River where it meets the Chesapeake Bay and advertised as the sailing capital of Maryland. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of boats in this small harbor, which means there are a lot of boat yards that offer any service a cruiser might need. We wanted to get the boat hauled out and check the bottom and propeller. We've noticed a loss of speed while cruising up the ICW, so Stan figured the prop was covered in barnacles...it was. There were more barnacles on our prop than we've ever seen before. We had the boat hauled, the barnacles scraped off the prop, the hull pressure washed and a few zincs replaced in less than an hour. I've seen our boat hauled out and moved around in a sling a half a dozen times and it still amazes me. Boat yards move boats a lot bigger than ours around like they were bathtub toys, but I still worry like a mother watching their child take their first ride on a two wheeler, when they lift our boat from the water. I take lots of pictures and even video each event...not only does it give me material for the blog, but it also serves as a reference to see if there are any changes in the bottom. We used Washburn's Boat Yard, they were able to get us in at a moment's notice, they were professional, friendly and gave us a fair price. 

Once we were back in the water we moved further back in Back Creek and anchored in a beautiful little cove. Last spring we found a little brewery with great brick oven pizza, so we took the dinghy and bikes ashore to visit Ruddy Ducks again. They didn't disappoint...we had a great meal and got a little exercise. We spent the evening relaxing on the bridge watching a lightning show in the distant sky. 

Out she comes

Getting a clean bottom
Just a little growth...when your a slow boat it doesn't to much growth to slow you down.
Nice and clean!
Clean and ready to be put back in the water
The view from our anchorage today

May 28, 2013

May 27 - Solomons, MD

Mill Creek - Anchorage

It was a perfect trawler day on the Chesapeake Bay...a light breeze, temperatures in the low 70s, plenty of sunshine and the tide was giving us a nice push most of the day. It just doesn't get much better. I hope we get a day like this when we're in the Atlantic Ocean heading to New York. We traveled over 100 miles today and we are now in one of our favorite anchorages near Solomons. I had stew cooking in the crockpot all day, so dinner was ready when we arrived. We sat on the flybridge relaxing and enjoying the view with our dinner. We've spent a lot of time cruising in the Chesapeake the last two years, so we've decided to head straight through the bay this year to New York and New England; we're ready to start exploring new cruising grounds. We'll spend more time in the Chesapeake on our way south at the end of the summer. 

A beautiful day on the bay

The view from our anchorage

May 27, 2013

May 26 - Hampton, VA

Old Point Comfort - Anchorage

There’s really not a lot to report on today…except we’re finally back in the Chesapeake...just barely. We’re at an anchorage across Hampton Roads from Norfolk, close to Fort Monroe. We filled our water tanks, got a pump out and took on diesel, then said good-bye to some new friends before we pulled away from AYB. It's only 12 miles from Great Bridge to Norfolk but it can be very slow because of the lock and bridges...this was our sixth trip through this portion of the ICW. We know every turn by heart. Things get a little more interesting when you get close to Norfolk...shipyards, cruise ships, police boats, pleasure boats and military ships everywhere. There’s always a lot of action going on in Norfolk.

Getting close to Norfolk
Norfolk waterfront
Navy hospital ship the Comfort
The view from our anchorage 

May 26, 2013

May 25 - Great Bridge, VA

Atlantic Yacht Basin

We spent one more day at the marina. A cold front moved in yesterday so it was very windy and chilly all day. Stan spent most of the day installing the new heat exchanger and doing a few other small projects. Most of the other men on the boats we knew were doing maintenance projects too...if you're not cruising then it's time for work. I did a little laundry and played gopher for him, so he didn't have to climb in and out of the engine room. We also spent time visiting with the other boaters that were waiting on the weather. None of us wanted to get into the Chesapeake on such a windy day. 

The honeysuckle is blooming everywhere right now and the air smells unbelievably wonderful.

I went across the bridge to the Great Bridge Memorial Park to take a picture of our boat. While I was there I rode around on the trails...very nice park. 
Great Bridge Memorial Park 
A view of The Pearl and Harmony II from the park 
We had a little visitor this afternoon...a Tufted Titmouse. He was so cute, I guess he wanted to get out of the wind.

May 25, 2013

May 24 - Great Bridge, VA

Atlantic Yacht Basin

Bob Smith and his son Bryan at American Diesel are the leading experts in Ford Industrial marine engines. Anyone with a trawler, that does any work on their own engines know their names and have probably spoken to them on the phone. They are so good at what they do they can and do step people through any repair they might need on the phone. Any advice or part you might need...they have it. Stan has called them for parts and advice a lot since we bought The Pearl. Today we actually went to their shop in Kilmarnock, VA and met Bryan in person. Stan has wanted to replace the main heat exchanger on the engine for awhile; so we rented a car and drove over to Kilmarnock to pick it up. Traffic around the Norfolk, Hampton and Newport News area is horrible; you can't get anywhere without going over a bridge or through a tunnel and things really get backed up. It takes forever to get anyway. We were so glad to get back to the marina.

Last May while we were in Annapolis we met Belinda and Jim on Rickshaw and enjoyed getting to know them. They knew we were in their area and drove down from Richmond to have dinner with us. They are doing the loop, but left their boat in Tennessee last fall to come back to the real world to catch up on a few things. It's always fun to catch up with boating friends we haven't seen for awhile. Thanks for coming to see us.

After Belinda and Jim left we picked up Betsy and Jim, from Smiles and made a provision run to Wal-Mart. You have to stock up on things while you have a car...it's just a lot easier. What a long busy day...it felt wonderful to come home and relax.

American Diesel...nothing fancy, but they have everything you need for your engine.
Bryan Smith...the face behind the voice 

May 24, 2013

May 23 - Great Bridge, VA

Atlantic Yacht Basin

A front is moving through the area in the next few days, which brought us rain most of the day. It was kind of nice having a lazy, lay around day. We will probably stay here until Sunday, when the winds will be more manageable on the Chesapeake. 

We like being at this marina, it's fun to watch the hourly parade of boats going through the bridge. This is a busy time of year for Atlantic Yacht Basin, as the boats migrate north...every available dock space was taken tonight. We had a chance today to catch up with a couple we met earlier this month, on Smiles, and spent time getting to know a few new couples. Tomorrow friends we met in Charleston on Old Spice will return to their boat, so we'll have a chance to visit with them again. I also got a call from Belinda, on Rickshaw, they are coming to the area to visit family tomorrow and we'll have a chance to have dinner and find out what they're up to this year. We met them last spring in Annapolis and had a great time watching the sailboat races. We knew it would feel a little like coming home when we came back to AYB, but we didn't anticipate all these reunions...so fun. We've said it before and I'll say it again, the best part of cruising is getting to know so many wonderful people. 

A picture off our stern...taken last night while we were relaxing after a long day.

May 23, 2013

May 22 - Great Bridge, VA

Atlantic Yacht Basin

High winds were predicted again today, so we were up early and untied from the dock as the sun was coming up. The Albemarle Sound can be very uncomfortable when winds pick up, and we wanted to get across before the conditions worsened. The Albemarle is the largest freshwater sound in North America, fed by over a dozen rivers, creeks and swamps. The last hour of our trip across the sound was a little rolly as the waves and wind hit us on our beam. We were glad we left Manteo when we did. The rest of our trip through the ICW took us up the North River, Coinjock Canal and the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal, all pretty protected from the wind. The only other issue we had to deal with today was bridge openings, travel time between bridges can be challenging when you're in a slow boat. We were extremely lucky today...the last bridge tender held the bridge open for over five minutes so we could come through. That saved us a thirty minute wait for the next opening...especially nice after a long day. 

We're back at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Virginia...it felt a little like coming home. We've spent a lot of time here in the last few years. It's a well protected marina and a good place to watch boats going by in the ICW.  

Sunrise over the Outer Banks

Manteo's harbor and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse 

May 22, 2013

May 21 – Manteo, NC

Manteo City Free Dock

It was nice to sleep in this morning and enjoy a day of exploring. We’re in Manteo, which is a charming little town that wraps around Shallowbag Bay on the eastern side of Roanoke Island, which is part of North Carolina's Outer Banks. The town is full of history and best known for the long running production of The Lost Colony, which is the true story of America’s first English Colony. Unfortunately we were about a week too early to catch a performance. We did ride our bikes through Festival Park that is located across from the marina and then through the historic area of Manteo along the water. We walked through the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum and the lighthouse, where we learned about the boats that were made in this part of North Carolina.

It was a pretty day, so we sat outside at a little local brewery named Full Moon Cafe for lunch. The beer and wraps were good and it was fun to do a little people watching. It may not sound exciting, but I also got to do a few loads of wash this afternoon. You can’t fully appreciate how wonderful clean towels and sheets are if you have a washer and dryer at your disposal…just waiting to be used. When you live on a boat our size, it’s a wonderful feeling to have everything clean and fresh. The town of Manteo provides free dock space for cruisers, so we pay the town back by spending money…so in a way it’s a good trade off. Wanting yo do our part of spreading the wealth, we had dinner at Ortegaz, the dockmaster said it was Tex-Mex…I’m pretty sure he’s never had Tex-Mex. There was very little Mexican food on the menu, but our meals were good and I didn’t have to cook. Tomorrow we will cross the Albemarle Sound and be back at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Virginia.

A view of the marsh from Festival Park
A view of the lighthouse from the Maritime Museum 
A view of The Pearl and part of the waterfront

May 21, 2013

May 20 - Manteo, NC

Manteo City Free Dock

We caught another sunrise this morning on our way up the Pungo River to the Alligator-Pungo Canal…a very long cut between the Pungo River and the Alligator River. This part of the ICW is tedious; you don’t even see any birds...you’d think you might see an alligator or two since it’s called the Alligator River. All we saw were more boaters moving north. Once out of the canal you come into the Alligator River, which is very wide and can be very rough. There were scattered thunderstorms in the area and we did get wet a couple of times, during those showers the wind picked up and our ride got a little rougher, but nothing this experienced crew couldn’t handle.

We decided we would go east once we were in the Albemarle Sound and see part of the outer banks of North Carolina. The Albemarle Sound was actually calmer than the river today, until we got closer to the outer banks. Then the wind picked up and we had to navigate through more crab traps than we have ever seen in one place. It felt nice to be tied up to the dock in Manteo. We’ll spend the next few days doing a little exploring Manteo, which is located on Roanoke Island.

Here’s a little history of Roanoke Island. In 1584 an English fort and settlement with more than 100 men was established on the north end of the island, but it was abandoned the following year due to weather, lack of supplies and poor relations with the Native Americans. In 1587 another settlement was established, including women and children. On August 18, 1587 one of the colonists, Eleanor Dare, gave birth to the first English-speaking child in the New World, Virginia Dare. A week later, the baby’s grandfather, Capt. John White, was forced to return to England for badly needed supplies. Due to Spanish attacks on England, White was delayed in England for three years, and when he returned to Roanoke Island in 1590 there was no sign of his granddaughter or the other colonists. Their houses were gone, and the only sign of human presence was the letters “CRO” and “CROATOAN” carved on two trees. This led some people to believe that the colonists had sought the help of the Croatoan Indians on Hatteras Island, but they were not there. The fate of the lost colonists is as much a mystery today as it was then. Roanoke Island was permanently settled in the mid-1600s, and ancestries of the original families are still on the island.

The Alligator-Punco Canal
Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse - our view for the next few days. 
This video will give you an idea of what the canal is like.