Monday, October 31, 2011

Offshore Departure from Cape Fear

In the event it would work out, we prepared Hold Fast for an offshore run today: putting up lee cloths, setting up Windy (the wind vane), securing gear inside that is typically OK to leave out on a canal run, but not offshore. After careful study of the forecasted winds and seas along our planned route, we continued down the Cape Fear River right out into the Atlantic this afternoon. We prayed about going, about the route, and about the timing of tidal current. We give God the glory that we looked like geniuses shooting out the inlet at 8.4 knots. It took us a while to get to the wind and we wondered if it had disappeared. We put out the jib and Granddad and put Windy to work. We were only seeing 4.5 knots when we had planned for five knots. Then, to Myron's delight and slight dismay to me, we found the wind. We were running at 7.7 knots, too lively for nightfall. As a result, Granddad was retired for the night and the jib is pulling us along at over 6 knots. We guess the seas are around 3 to 5 feet, Unfortunately, they are a little disorganized.

I expect these winds to keep up all night. Our intended landfall is St. Simon's, Georgia, sometime on Wednesday. We heard there is affordable fuel in Brunswick.

Our current course is 230 (magnetic) and our speed now about 5 knots.

We will do our best to put up another post tomorrow and you all can see how well little Miss Dena is doing!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}33|45.732|N|078|07.686|W|underway Cape Fear|Cape Fear{GEND}

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wrightsville Beach

In the late hours of the afternoon yesterday, the wind was wailing on us at Mile Hammock Bay, a place notorious for bad holding ground. Here comes our plug for the Manson Supreme anchor. The holding ground is soft silt, but the Manson burrowed through the silt and bit into a hard pan, confirmed this morning when we pulled up anchor and had to work to get the white hard pan off half of the anchor. Of course, you do not know this UNTIL you pull up anchor. Hold Fast raced back and forth on her tether for hours, same as the other boats at anchor. One boat could not keep a grip. At dusk they pulled up anchor and went looking for a better place. In route this morning, we saw them tied to the outside wall of a marina.

After sunset, Camp LeJeune became active with helicopters near our location. Myron guessed they were practicing night troop insertion because the helicopters were flying around without any lights on. It is always exciting stuff to us. Last night's weather report called for frost adversaries. We found out today there was a snow storm in New Jersey, severe enough for the governor to call for a state of emergency. Indeed, we were cold, until Myron fired up the coal stove.

Today was a much more pleasant day, still cool but much less wind. Our constant focus was about timing bridges. At one point we came to a crawl against a tidal current, putting the timing of the bridge opening in jeopardy. Then Myron realized the wind was just right for a jib to pull us against the tide. We were thrilled to gain it all back and make the bridge opening, but hey, we are easily entertained.

Now we are at anchor off of Wrightsville Beach, making preparations for a steak dinner. It would be nice to go offshore tomorrow. We shall see.

Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}34|12.101|N|077|48.178|W|anchored at Wrightsville Beach|Wrightsville Beach{GEND}

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mile Hammock Bay

It is not for lack of desire that we did not go offshore from Morehead City. We cannot do anything about the weather except respect it. Our favorable forecast has taken a turn for the worse. There is a system up north with hurricane force winds and the low near us is working its way north to join the party, apparently they will be united within 24 hours. As a result of that low wailing through here, there are gale force winds off Hatteras and 10-16 foot seas. In addition to that, it is downright cold. We think we were seeing gusts of maybe 30 knots today on the ICW as we worked our way south around Camp LeJeune. We had temperatures in the 40's so I imagine the wind chill could be as low as the 30's. I could not even get the cinnamon rolls to rise, so we are working on solving that problem tonight now that we are at anchor.

We figure we have it good though. We will look for another opportunity to go offshore, yet in the meantime we get to keep working our way south. Our buddies are not so fortunate. Anthony is stuck in Norfork and he thinks it may snow there tonight. Stephen and Marja were stuck in Elizabeth City because the Alligator River Bridge will not open when the wind is over 30 knots. We may have the same trouble with bridges here. At the Onslow Beach Bridge, we kept hoping the bridge tender did not see Hold Fast heeling over in the wind as we waited for an opening. Either way, it is all an adventure and, so far, forward progress.

Our ICW guide notes that the marines could kick us out of this anchorage at anytime. I cannot believe they would take such action just before sunset when we have no where else to go. We are anchored off the boat ramp and there are five other boats here as well. It gave me a laugh to see a sign on the cross road to the ramp that read "Caution: Tank Xing Ahead."

Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}34|33.132|N|077|19.468|W|anchored at Mile Hammock Bay|Camp LeJeune{GEND}

Friday, October 28, 2011

Morehead City

As far as the ICW is concerned, we have come full circle. We are anchored at Morehead City and this is where we came in to explore the east coast via the ICW. It has been more than we ever expected. It was unplanned but not unappreciated.

We are waiting for favorable weather to head south outside. The current forecast indicates Sunday afternoon may be the best time. We have no internet now and probably not for a while. We will do our best to do a daily update once we are in route.

We are beginning to get excited to see our dock family and church family in Jacksonville. Ex-coworkers as well. Hopefully it will not be long now!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}34|42.153|N|076|41.170|W|anchored by CG staion|Morehead City{GEND}

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spring Creek

We left Bath in a leisurely manner, meaning about 9 am, knowing that we would have to wait for the wind to pick up. Indeed it picked up and Hold
Fast was doing over six knots most of the way down to the ICW entrance. Our little romp was over in a quick 2.5 hours and then we headed into the canal. There was plenty of traffic and we were passed by a number of power boats. One was absolutely stunning, she looked like a space ship, probably the most beautiful power vessel I have seen. Her name was Gorgeous Girl out of NY, NY. Everyone was courteous on the canal, we could not have asked for a better day.

Last time we were in this vicinity, we anchored in an open roadsted on Bonner Bay, while Courage, our troller friend, worked up into one of the surrounding creeks. This time, Myron worked us up into Spring Creek for better protection, almost 360 degrees protection, which is good because the wind is blowing strong and steady now. No one else is here, at least not yet. Given that the herd is on the move, this is a rare time of solitude and we will take advantage of it! We will wait here for favorable winds to cross the Neuse River and the hopefully we will go right into Morehead City.

I had woollies on all day today - which tells us it is time to get south!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}35|08.471|N|076|35.796|W|anchored at Spring Creek|Bonner Bay{GEND}

Sunday, October 23, 2011


We left Pungo Creek a the crack of dawn (7 a.m. now). The wind was already up and out of the NE. We sailed down the Pungo River, closely tailed by a herd of sailboats and trollers.
From Heading South - October 2011
We made a right turn to head up the Pamlico Sound and watched the majority of vessels continue on the ICW toward Morehead City. The wind was great on the sound with flat seas and Hold Fast pressed on at 7 knots. It was sailing at its best, until the wind suddenly disappeared and we had to abandon our Washington, NC destination, start the engine to come up the river to Bath, NC.

We are tied up to the free state dock in the historical town of Bath. Apparently, it is the oldest incorporated town in the state. We have been told that now by a couple of the residents, as well as a sign outside the visitor's center. Subsequent to tidying up Hold Fast and helping an Allied Seaward ketch dock near us, we set off on foot to explore this small town. We found many historical homes, churches, cemeteries, but no small grocery store to help with our sunflower seed fix. We wound up at the town's only marina and an old salt gave us directions to the General Store. Thanking him kindly, we both walked away hoping the other understood these simple instructions. We pieced together individual comprehensions to formulate a combined knowledge. Right or not, we headed east out of town on 92. After a longer than expected walk and further discussion about our simple instructions, we happened upon the General Store, got our seeds, some ice creams and a jar of the General Store's own brand of Blackberry Preserves. A gastronomical pleasure in which we are indulging at this very moment. So far, we are liking Bath a lot!

Myron wants to do some maintenance, which may put us here another day. Hopefully the winds will be right the next couple of days and we can still get to Washington, NC.

Love to all,

Posted via Wifi.
{GMST}35|28.594|N|076|48.917|W|Tied dock in Bath|Bath{GEND}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easy Day

We had a nice motor down the Alligator Pungo Canal to the Pungo River. Tomorrow we will move west on the Pamlico to Washington N.C. for a side trip.
Peace to all

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}35|30.680|N|076|38.654|W|anchored at Pungo Creek|Pungo River{GEND}

Friday, October 21, 2011

Anchored at Deep Point-Alligator River

We are anchored at Deep Point on the Alligator River. Not sure why they call it Deep Point, we are in 10 feet of water.

Myron's words this afternoon were "we had a great day!" We did indeed. We stayed more than the 48 hours at Elizabeth City due to weather. The 'Rose Buddies' and reception crew, also considered dock masters, disregard the time limit and prefer that we do not head out on the Albemarle Sound if the wind is blowing more than 15 knots. The wind was over 20 knots Wed and Thurs. Today, however, was splendid. Maybe 10 or 12 knots from the SW. We had a nice sail down the Pasquotank River and across the Albemarle Sound. We motor sailed to run the entrance to the Alligator River and continued until there was no further useful wind. We dropped anchor around 3 pm. It was a great day. We are preparing to make dinner and call it an early night. The plan is to run the Alligator/Pungo Canal tomorrow and end up at Pungo Creek. We so enjoyed our stay there on the trip north.

We are not alone. Try as we might, we cannot seem to avoid running with the herd heading south. It cannot be helped at this point so we will make the best of it. We have a thought of turning right at the Pamlico Sound and going to Washington, NC. We really doubt the herd will go that direction, which makes it more enticing! We consider all plans chiseled in jello, however, so we shall see.

It was a cold morning but right now the temperature is perfect. When we came north through here it was smokey from the fires, still and hot, and the flies were biting us unmercifully. Such a contrast from what we are experiencing now and we thank God for that.

Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}35|40.455|N|076|03.506|W|anchored at Deep Point|Alligator River{GEND}

Monday, October 17, 2011

Elizabeth City

The Great Dismal Swamp Canal was at its best today. Perfect temperature, no insects, the turning of the leaves and a solitary peaceful calm we rarely find on any stretch of water. We motored down the canal at about 1000 RPM just to make it last longer. We kept thanking God for the blessing of enjoying His creation and reminding each other to drink it in. Sometimes we saw a turtle or two on a log. It was a special treat to see several crowded on one log.
From Heading South - October 2011

Another great thing about coming south on the Dismal Swamp Canal is that it brings us right to Elizabeth City. When Myron asked me today in all our places of travel this summer were might I choose a place to live, I responded either Deltaville or Elizabeth City. We thoroughly enjoyed many of the places we anchored, but these were anchorages and not towns. Besides, we could never afford a place on the Wye East or Choptank rivers, so there you go.

Elizabeth City is packed with cruisers compared to last summer. Our winds will not be favorable for travel across the Albemarle until Friday. I hope Parks and Recreation is merciful and lets us stay beyond the normal 48 hours. We shall see!

Love to all,

Posted via WiFi.
{GMST}36|17.925|N|076|13.101|W|Tied to the Free Docks|Elizabeth City{GEND}

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back on the Dismal Canal

We are back on the Dismal Canal and loving it! It is easy to be neighborly to other boaters because they are rafted up next to us. This time we have a cream puff Krogen rafted up named "The Good Life." It is their first time coming south and first time on the Dismal. The weather today makes up for yesterday, it has been simply gorgeous. The trees are just starting to turn colors so we have the beginning of reds and yellows mixed in with the pine trees. I am so glad we are doing the Dismal again. Soon enough, it will be over.

Love to all,
Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}36|30.394|N|076|21.353|W|Tied to the Visitor Center|Dismal Canal{GEND}

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Farewell to the Chesapeake

What a joy it has been to cruise the Chesapeake. It was bittersweet to leave today. We had no idea what was in store for us when we embarked upon these cruising grounds. We found favorite places and met the kind of people that we hope will cross our path in the future. It was especially difficult to leave the Wards in Deltaville. We met them at church last July and they made a special impression on us as the nicest people in Deltaville. Jean said yesterday that we are not 'company' (with her accent is it more like "comp-nay"), we are family. We got know most of their family and spent time with them as well. What a great group of people - and the Wards do not get internet so they will never know we wrote this about them. Last Monday, they invited us to tie up Hold Fast to their dock, the dock just in front of their big red tug. I took them cinnamon rolls, we did lunches together and had Jean's homemade ice cream. Just does not get any better than that!

We did not get out of the Chesapeake today without it giving us some feisty weather. The forecast called for 15-20 knots out of the west, gusting to 25. What we got was 20-25 knots out of the southwest, gusting to 30 and then about 35 at the end, maybe more. Our first two hours we made over 7 knots an hour under main and jib. Once we turned the corner at Wolf Trap Light, we started reefing sail and continued to reef as the gusts got over 30. There are not many places to anchor around Norfork. We are at Old Point Comfort, but it is not very comfortable. It is a very lumpy anchorage with these strong winds out of the SW. They forecast the winds will turn west tonight. At any rate, we will move on as soon as possible in the morning.
Love to All

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}37|00.536|N|076|19.103|W|Anchored Phoebus Channel|Old Point Comfort{GEND}

Sunday, October 9, 2011


What a nice stay in Antipoison Creek. We were blessed with a beautiful sunset and a still night. We were facing the opposite direction in the morning, but Myron does not think the boat moved even ten feet in the night.
From Heading South - October 2011
Try as we might, we did not make Deltaville in time for church. Imagine our disappointment! The narrow entrance to Jackson Creek makes for one way traffic and we had to wait for outgoing vessels before we started in. Before that, the winds were light and the tides were against us. The tides work for you or against you, boss. We will make the best of it and try to see Floyd and Jean later today. Our quest also includes searching out our buddies on Motu. It just might be a big day after all.

It certainly is a bright day. Another perfect day of weather and the forecast indicates this will hold for a couple more days, then wind and rain. Our length of stay in Deltaville is undetermined at this point. It is good to have internet again and hard to leave it!

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.
{GMST}37|32.688|N|076|20.101|W|Anchored Jackson Creek|Deltaville{GEND}

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back on the Bay after Toiling in Solomons

If you own a sailboat, and especially an older one, you are well aware that something always needs tending to. This ready supply of needed repairs may be a difficult concept for non-boat owners. I imagine that they visualize us always kicking back, drinking lemonade and watching the sunset. While we do our best to enjoy ourselves and keep things on a slow pace since leaving Jacksonville, there is nevertheless much to be done. Some of these fixes and repairs are on a routine or maintenance basis, yet other projects exist because we chose buy and old boat and refit her. I am not complaining, just explaining.

The unexpected stay in a marina slip has allowed us to order a number of items to launch our attack on a new set of projects: our Shakedown Punch List. But first, maintenance. Some maintenance items include oil change, adjusting the valves, flushing and pickling the water maker, emptying and inspecting lockers for mold, and of course cleaning said lockers, washing the deck of a royal bird mess that seems to include the remnants of a massive meal of cherries (those birds know when you are not around!), polishing stainless steel that indeed does stain regardless of its namesake, washing and protecting the isinglass enclosure, and defrosting both top loading refrigerators. I am fortunate enough to have two refrigerators, but unfortunate in that they were so iced over that each frig took an entire day to melt and remove the ice. Oh, and since the evening temperatures are below 70, it is time to fire up the bread making factory - which seems to mostly mean cinnamon rolls. I did not hold out much hope for Hermann (the bread starter) surviving the summer, he looked pretty gooey and lifeless in the frig. We did resurrect him with some sugar and potato flakes, but that was his last show. Another starter dough is in the works, he will also be named Hermann. Consistency is helpful in communications.

Yes, much maintenance. So much in fact, that we never did really get a start on our Shakedown Punch List…
Solomons was good to us during a difficult time. From the ladies in the marina office, to the maintenance guys and all the new people we meet on our temporary GG dock home. Last weekend, we met Ray and Marybeth, and their dog Nala. They have an Erickson and Myron went out for a sail with them Sunday afternoon. Then they took us to their summer home for dinner and lively conversation as we tried to cram in all the visiting we could in a few short hours. They bought their Erickson right before hurricane Irene arrived. We also got to visit with Randy, Sharon and Randy's mom Dorothy. Randy and Sharon have Sea Escape, a Passport 40. We met them last weekend. They were back last night just in time to offer us their car so we could do some shopping without the time and territory limitations imposed on the marina's loaner car (a one hour time limit and NO crossing the bridge). Their generosity was a shocking bit of fortune. We accepted their gracious offer after informing them of our insurance coverage through USAA. Like kids no longer grounded, we headed straight across the bridge to Walmart and Auto Zone. Walmart has Rotella oil at least $10 cheaper per gallon than Tiffany's for boaters (West Marine). All is well again with our provisions.

When we left today, it dawned on me that what demands our attention changes based upon proximity to a harbor. Leaving a slip has its own challenges, but the traffic we encountered today coming out of Back Creek, at 7:30 a.m. no less, was surprisingly heavy. We prefer not to be with the 'herd' of boats heading south, yet we found ourselves in a full on stampede! We had two very uncomfortable encounters with large power boats. Sailboats are slow and tend to go in a straight line. That must make it tempting to fast boats to pass in front of or near us. I just wonder if driving erratically might make these boats keep better distance. Once all mariners got some distance from each other, the next obstacles were crab pots, when those finally ended we were in the right depth for a fleet of pleasure fishing boats. Once out in the Bay and especially if we are in the shipping channel, we must be ever aware of tugs and cargo ships.

Aside from that epiphany, it was a gorgeous day as we headed out at this morning. We had a light easterly breeze on the beam, enough wind to keep the sails full and we gave a little help with the motor. We lost the wind in the last two hours, but there were some die-hards out there trying to squeeze all they could out of the light breezes. One of those die-hards just came in and anchored behind us on Antipoison Creek. Our guidebook notes a legend that this creek is where Native Americans provided Captain John Smith with a poultice that counteracted venom from a stingray's dart, hence the name Antipoison. I will also note that Stingray Point is on the south side of Rappahannock River. I imagine that point is where Captain John Smith was stung by the creatures!
It is delightfully peaceful here. It was not an easy entrance, however well worth the effort. Hopefully our plan will come together to get a good night of rest, get an early start tomorrow and be anchored and cleaned up in Deltaville in time for church.

Love to all,
Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}37|37.904|N|076|20.375|W|Anchored Antipoison Creek|Antipoison Creek{GEND}