Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hampton Virginia Thru North Carolina

Saturday October 16 – Thursday October 28

OMG 2 weeks worth of updates. Here is a very condensed version of our travels. We have a great sail down from the cove near Deltavile to Hampton Virginia. With following seas and 20-25 knot winds on the aft quarter, we do 8-9 knots with just the genoa, on a cold 55° clear blue sky day. We are docked at Bluewater Marina by 12:30. Our cruising buddy Wild Thing goes on to Norfolk to pick up his wife returning from her trip home. Steve's son Sean & girlfriend Holly are driving down from DC to visit us for the weekend. We have a wonderful visit, playing Blokus & Corn Hole. Sean's friend Javier who lives nearby stops by to visit also. We make plans for a day sail Sunday morning and Javier invites us to the family beach house for an afternoon BBQ. We have a perfect day for a sail along the beach, sailing by Javier's beach house. On the way back we have several dolphin sightings, our first since coming up to the Chesapeake. Taking advantage of having access to a car, Sean takes us to the grocery store to get provisions. Quick tour of “downtown” Hampton and a short drive to Buckroe Beach where we enjoy a beautiful evening and a great dinner, and another game of corn hole at Javier's. Sean & Holly drop us back at the boat and head out for their 3 hour trip home. Monday we are underway by 10 passing by Portsmouth & Norfolk on our way down the ICW to Great Bridge where we planned to meet back up with Jan & George on Wild Thing. This time of year there are a LOT of boats heading South, we have a lot of bridges to navigate between Norfolk & Great Bridge. The one 65' bridge we clear without any problems some of the other bridges open on the ½ hour so you wind up with several boats waiting in a small area for the bridge to open. We also have a lock to go through, this hour we go through with 11 other boats heading south.. After the lock we go through Great Bridge, get fuel & tie up at the free dock overnight where we meet back up with Wild Thing. Our plans for an early departure to get to an anchorage down the ICW in North Carolina are delayed as Steve discovers he left his credit card at the restaurant the night before. Jan & George will travel south slowly for us to catch up after Steve gets his credit card. Three hours later we are under way, and by 1:30 we are approaching the Pungo Ferry Bridge that George had reported the water being high. We can see the gauge is only showing 64', we have to back up and pull over. Steve has to go up the mast to remove all the wind instruments on top. Make it under the bridge pull over again, Steve goes back up the mast to reassemble things before proceeding south. It is now late afternoon and we are concerned about making our planed anchorage past Coinjock. We are in communication with Wild Thing and since they have been traveling slow we catch up to them in Coinjock where there is another 65' bridge that they report the water being high also. So since it is late in the day we turn around and dock at Midway Marina for the night. Next morning Steve goes up & removes instruments again we go under bridge and anchor to put things back. Ocean Star & Wild Thing are on our way south to Manteo. We are anchored off Manteo after TRYING to fit into one of the free slips. I get to have Lobster for the first time on board Wild Thing. Thursday day of rest & visiting town. Friday we depart at 8 am to take advantage of low tide and clear the 65' bridge w/o having to take anything down. Beautiful sunny cool day motor sailing across Pamlico Sound since we have a LONG way to go we keep the boats at 8-9+ knots. Anchored as the sun is setting & full moon rising in Bay River. Saturday we leave anchorage at 10 timing our arrival at the next 65' bridge for low tide. Our anchorage was near where the dismal swamp ICW route lets out so all morning we see boats streaming south. With the full moon the tides are more extreme and we have 67' clearance at the bridge. We are docked at Town Creek Marina by 4. I drop the boat hook overboard and it sinks, try to use dinghy anchor to scrape the bottom to find the boat hook & the knot holding the rope to the anchor comes undone and we loose the anchor, not a good day. Friends of Jan & George come to visit, Sharon & Jake who live near by. Drinks on Wild Thing before we all go out to a great dinner at the marina restaurant. Sunday a visit to town after a diver comes out to find the boat hook & anchor and since we are paying Sunday “overtime” have him change the zinc on the prop also. Late Sunday we leave the marina and go about a 100 yards out to anchor. Off shore weather forecast is not favorable, so we plan another trip down the ICW. Monday 10/25 a 7:15 departure and as we approach the Beaufort / Morehead City 65' bridge at low tide, Wild Thing approaches first. NOT good news only showing a 63' clearance. Ocean Star turns around to go back by our anchorage to the bascule bridge that started to open at 8, which we miss but get through the 8:30 opening. Wild Thing is now ahead of us acting as reconnaissance on depth & bridge height. We get bad news the tide even though it is going out is still too high at the next bridge to Atlantic Beach. So we drop the anchor & wait by the bridge for 3 hours until the tide is low enough for us to get under. As we wait a rain storm passes over so we get to stay nice & dry down below. By this time we have to revise plans on our next anchorage to one closer that we can make before dark. The 3rd bridge of the day the water is low so we make it under. Shortly after we turn off the ICW by the town of Swansboro & are anchored by 6 near Wild Thing, just before the next rain storm. Tuesday 10 am departure from anchorage after Steve & George work on the main sail on Wild Thing. We make the 11:30 opening of the Onslow swing bridge, by 1 we are at the next 65' bridge and it is showing a 66' clearance but we scrape the VHF antenna. Just goes to show that measurements are not always accurate. We have to wait 35 minutes at the next swing bridge that only opens on the hour. By 4 pm we are anchored just off a channel running along Topsail Island between the ICW. We can feel the sea spray and hear the waves crashing on the other side of the Island. Our travels down the ICW have been challenging with the bridges but it is truly a beautiful part of the country and we are glad for the opportunity to see it. Wednesday we have an early departure to catch the opening of two bridges and we time them just right. We are anchored in Banks Channel just off Wrightsville Beach by noon. Enjoy the afternoon on shore with a nice walk thru part of town and along the beach. Back to the boats for a while, before going back to shore for dinner. Thursday will be another early but short day. We are awaken at 5 am to a rain storm, wondering how that will affect our 7 am departure. We need to leave at 7 to make it to the Carolina Beach 65' bridge at low tide at 9 am. Luckily the rain lets up as we are leaving with just a few sprinkles to start with and we make it under the bridge. The sun and clouds compete with each other all day as another front passes off to the south of us. Wild Thing waited for better weather with a later departure as they do not have to hit the bridge at low tide. We have a couple of anchorages picked out but as we get to them and the forecast of a front coming in during the night they do not look very secure. We check with Bald Head Marina and they can get us in. We head over talking to Wild Thing letting them know about the change in plans. We are docked at 12:30 and it works out great as this marina is right off the inlet to go off shore for our next days passage. Wild Thing arrives around 2 and I have decided that the best way to see the Island in such a short time is to rent a golf cart. So by 2:45 we are on our way to cruise the Island which is not very big so we are done by 4:30. Dinner at marina restaurant making it an early night as Friday 10/29 will be a predawn departure to make it out the channel at slack tide for our passage down to Georgetown South Carolina.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moving South

Monday October 11 – Friday October 15

We motor sail down the Chesapeake Bay, then turn up the Choptank River, then up the Tred Avon River and are anchored off Oxford by 6:30. Both boats have trouble setting the anchors but they finally dig in just in time to watch a beautiful sunset. Steve makes a soup with some leftovers of ours & George's and we make tentative plans for the next few days working our way south to Norfolk where Jan will fly back to on Saturday. Tuesday morning from 9 to 10:30 we walk around the town of Oxford. There is not a lot of tourist things to see & do in this part of the state which makes it that much more of a treat. Like being in a different world just traveling up the different water ways seeing the beautiful homes and the trees it is a wonderful way to spend the day. The plan was to go to Cambridge for the afternoon & anchor overnight there. But as we were bringing up the anchor our windlass stopped working, we were dug in really hard & the load did something to make it stop coming up, the down gear still worked, but Steve gets it up with the manual lever. As we are heading out for Cambridge we decide to head to Solomons Island instead. The weather is supposed to get cold & rainy and if Steve needs parts to work on the windlass Solomons is a better choice. We are anchored off Solomons Island by 5:30 to see another beautiful sunset. Ride around the anchorage on a “booze cruise” with Wild Thing sipping on drinks and talking with other boats & into dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. Wednesday turns out to be a beautiful day and Steve works on the outboard motor for the dinghy as it is still not working right, not sure how many more life support fixes he can do on this one. The afternoon he tackles the windlass problem and for the first time in our boating history we have an easy fix Woo – Hoo ! Steve thought the solenoid had burned out but it was just a loose wire. So it only took a minute to fix (once we cleared the way to get to it). The afternoon is spent doing emails & some paperwork over a very slow internet connection. Grilled Steak dinner over on Wild Thing as we make plans to move on. Thursday's weather prediction is not so good as we wake for a sunrise departure the radar shows a storm moving in so we stay put to see if it will pass on by, it does but not until 5 that night. We are glad we are safe at anchor and not traveling in the cold rain. At 5 once the storm passed Steve & George go for a long walk then come back to get me to go to dinner. Friday's sunrise departure looks to be a beautiful morning leaving Back Creek. By 8:15 we are sailing down the Patuxent River heading for the Bay at 7-8 + knots. By 8:45 we put a reef in both the main & genoa and are still making 7-8 K with 16 – 20 K winds on a forward beam reach. By 10 it has warmed up to 65° as we pass the Potomac River. With the west winds and a long fetch over the mouth of the Potomac the waves get pretty choppy as we cross. Next as we approach the Rappannock River it gets cloudy and the winds pick up even more. We miss the rain around us but have to double reef & then triple reef the sails as we get wind gusts 25-30 K and the waves have built to 4-5 feet. It is a fast & exciting sail down until we turn west into the wind when we motor with a triple reefed main into 2-4 foot waves and top wind gust of 36 K. Lots of water coming over the bow, thankful we have a dodger! With the wind out of the west we are able to anchor just off Jackson Creek near Deltavile in the lee of the land. As we get closer to shore the winds & waves both die down, we are anchored by 3, and the sun comes back out to welcome us to the new anchorage. Saturday we will have another early departure to head to Hampton Virginia just north of Norfolk & east of Newport News where we will spend a few days.

Link to Pictures;

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Tuesday October 5 – Monday October 11

We are anchored just off the Naval Academy on Spa Creek just south of Annapolis by 5:30 Tuesday evening with S/V Wild Thing near by. After a cold trip down here we decide not to journey into town by dinghy for dinner and Steve makes dinner on board, with Jan bringing dessert. Wednesday morning Steve & George go into town for a long walk over to check out Weems Creek as an alternative anchorage. We are in a GREAT location very close to dinghy dock to town & boat show BUT in strong winds out of the east or south we would not have very good protection. So even though that is not the prediction they want to see what & where an alternative could be. George likes his morning walks and has gotten Steve into going with him, so much so that Steve had to go by a good pair of tennis shoes since he did not own a good pair of sturdy walking shoes. Jan & I get to sleep in and are ready to go when they get back. Into town and it is already abuzz getting ready for the boat show. We go to lunch at a place called O’Brien's and Jan tries her first oyster shooter and says it is great. After lunch we go over to the Naval Academy for a tour, the buildings and grounds are beautiful. Bancroft Hall the largest college dormitory in the world is not like any dorm I have seen – a marble palace in the style of Versailles! A walk around town checking out what is where, George makes a run back to the boat while Steve, Jan & I stop at one of the local hot spots Pusser's Caribbean Grill to try some of their famous rum drinks. Jan gets the Rum Punch, I get the Jamaican me Crazy & Steve gets the Pusser's Painkiller, all are great drinks but the painkiller wins. Dinner that night at McGarvey's where Jan, George & Steve all enjoy oyster shooters = an oyster in a shot glass with vodka & bloody Mary mix as an appetizer, no way am I trying one. Thursday afternoon Jan & I get dropped off in town to check out the shops, and I think we saw every one. Steve helps George run speaker wire back on Wild Thing. After shopping and boat work we have cocktails on Wild Thing before going back to town as Beneteau is having a reception at the Marriott, and both our brokers who sold us our boats will be there. The place is packed and we have a few appetizers & drinks while waiting to meet up with friend Gina who is in Bethesda on a business trip and is taking the time to drive over to meet us for dinner. After visiting for a while we head over to Eastport to have dinner since that is where Gina had to park her car. It is always great to see family & friends just hard to say goodbye again. Friday is boat show day for us and we plan to be there when the gates open. George & Jan have a bigger & better dinghy so they have been acting as taxi, on their way over to our boat Friday morning they have engine trouble so they drift over to us and we all load into our dinghy for the ride into the show. We are there all day walking our legs off checking out the newer & bigger boats and all the boat gadgets you could possibly imagine. There are some beautiful boats but after all the looking we all decide we made great decisions on buying our boats. The Catamarans we were all so interested in seeing turned out to be not as spectacular as we were expecting. All the ups & downs into the different hulls front & aft and the room configuration were turn offs to me. They do have fabulous salon areas and big decks forward & aft but the rooms were just average. The monohulls we looked at were beautiful but a lot of the pretty features were not very practical. We did come back with a few gadgets and some ideas that will make cruising life easier, and it was a fun day. Back to the boats about 6:30 Jan & I rest while Steve & George fix George's outboard engine on the dinghy. Late dinner of grilled steaks on board Wild Thing. Saturday we dinghy over to Back Creek and go to Eastport for lunch then dinghy further up the creek to another dinghy dock to hike to West Marine. We have been really lucky with the weather again, sunny days high around 80° lows at night 60°. The winds have been variable but light so the anchorage has remained a great spot even with all the rolling caused by wakes from boats passing through the anchorage or passing by on the river, this is one very busy place. Every day the Navy runs a dozen 70 ft cutters up and down the Severn river by the anchorage, practicing maneuvering and man overboard drills with lots of horn blowing. It's pretty noisy during the day, but quiets down at night. Sunday morning George takes Jan in to catch a shuttle to Baltimore airport as she will fly home for a few days for a family situation. Sunday afternoon I take Steve to where he thinks is closer to his meeting spot with Sean. Our 30 minute dinghy ride really took him further away, but they finally connected and were on their way back to DC to have dinner & go to the Roger Water's The Wall concert as I made my way back to the boat bouncing along the Severn River in the dinghy. When I got back to the boat I noticed a couple of Boat US boats around two other boats. After getting back on board Ocean Star I could see that the sail boat that was anchored too close to a Catamaran had wedged its bow in between the 2 hulls of the Catamaran, not a pretty picture and a good reason not to anchor too close to other boats. Monday Steve calls and says he is on the way back so I get the dink ready to go pick him up BUT can't get the motor started. Luckily George is close by on Wild Thing so comes to pick me up to go get Steve who once again changes the pick up location. We get a nice tour of Spa Creek as we go to find where he got dropped off, load him & the provisions he picked up into the dink, back to the boats where we prepare for departure. By 1:30 Ocean Star & Wild Thing are heading down the Severn River towards our next stop in Oxford on the Eastern shore.

Link to pictures;

Saturday, October 9, 2010

SSCA GAM & Back to Baltimore

Thursday Sept 23 – Tuesday October 5

We leave St. Michaels Thursday morning around 11 heading over to the Rhode River for a Seven Seas Cruising Association GAM (gathering). We are anchored by 2:30 in almost the same spot we were in a month earlier when we were here before. There are about 25 boats already here for the GAM that officially starts Friday afternoon, but for those of us that have arrived early there is a dinghy raft up planned for 5 that night. Everyone brings an appetizer to share and we have a fun time meeting some new people. This group consists of people who have been cruising, people that are currently cruising and those that are getting ready to or hope to soon. Over the next few days they have several meetings, seminars and gatherings to mix & mingle and learn from fellow cruisers. It is our first time to attend and have a great time and meet several people with similar plans to head south. We had been in touch with another couple the Todd's whom we met down in the Bahamas & who were planning to come up to the Chesapeake on their boat also. We mentioned the SSCA get together & told them we would be there so they met us there. Sunday afternoon after the GAM was over Jan & George Todd on S/V Wild Thing and us pulled up anchor and went up to Annapolis. The weather prediction was for rain on Monday so we decided to take advantage of Sundays weather that had cleared up from the mornings rain. We find an anchorage in Back Creek south of Eastport and dinghy in for dinner in Eastport then a short walk over to “Downtown” Annapolis. Being Sunday night most of the shops are closed and the weather is still threatening rain so we don't stay long, just make plans to come back. Over dinner the Todd's & us talked over some tentative plans. I needed to get back to Baltimore for a dental appointment that I think is on Tuesday. So Monday we all head up to Baltimore with plans to come back to Annapolis a few days before the boat show to see the town. We knew about a big festival (Fell's Point Fun Festival) scheduled for the upcoming weekend so we decide to hang out in Baltimore showing the Todd's around during the week. We call the marina we had stayed at previously, and he has room for both boats but the weekend might be a problem with the festival since he has booked the slips. BUT he makes some adjustments and rafts up the power boats coming in just for the festival to fit everyone in. I get my dental work completed and we have a great time showing Jan & George around Baltimore and seeing some sights we did not see before. We attend the Fell's point Fun Festival event over the weekend eating food, checking out the vendor stands, and listening to some music. Saturday was a beautiful day, Sunday the clouds started to move in and by 7 that night it was raining. Monday 10/4 is a cold & rainy day so we just hang out on the boat, Steve is warming the boat by cooking all afternoon, as his son Sean & girlfriend Holly are coming to town. After dinner on board all 6 of us go to a concert at the RAMS HEAD LIVE to see Brandi Carlile . It has been a long time since Steve & I and the Todd's have been to a concert, but we all have a great time and enjoy the experience. Tuesday we sleep in a little after a late night, and Steve & Jan make a run to the Safeway with Sean's car before they head back to DC. We say goodbye to Baltimore on Tuesday 10/5, leaving the dock around noon with partly cloudy skies & cool temperatures, but following winds and flat seas for a beautiful sail down at 6-7 knots, no motoring. We are anchored just south of Annapolis right by the Naval Academy just off the Severn River by 5:30 where we will stay through the upcoming weekend to attend the Annapolis Sailboat show.
Link to Pictures: