Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wrightsville Beach

As Myron pointed out earlier, we were all set to go south on the inside.  There was a significant change in the weather forecast which resulted in our opting to go outside.  Besides, folks were encountering all sorts of delays on the inside due to bridge complications and live firing exercises at Camp LaJeune as well as military operations that closed Mile Hammock Bay, one of the few anchoring spots between Beaufort and Wrightsville.

It was a good trip out there.  Even though we saw no less than six warships, they ignored us and let us mosey through the restricted area.  They circled the perimeter of the prohibited area, which was not on our route.  We watched a high-speed hovercraft.  It came out of the back of one of those small aircraft carriers used by the Marines.  It went by David on ‘Blue Yonder,’ a Valient 40 traveling with us, and then into shore.  Then we saw it speed back toward the small carrier.  Myron said they went to pick up pizza.  It skirted around the ocean for a bit, then started heading over toward us.  I thought I was going to get a close up photo opportunity, but the small carrier gave a blast of its horn and then hovercraft headed back to momma.  Guess they wanted their pizza.

We had dolphins ride our bow wave for a long time.  That never gets old.  We had a beautiful sunset and then were entertained by a multitude of flares going off the small carrier.  I have no idea what they were doing, but it went on for quite some time.

We arrived at the entrance buoy before 10 pm.  We put down the sail out there because we have never been in this entrance and had no idea what to expect for room, much less visibility.  As with any inlet that is less than Class A, the stress level was high coming in.  We prayed before turning to go in.  I thank God I spotted that unlit buoy just inside the breakwater.  We anchored well away from everyone.  There is quite a tidal current through here.  With the expected high winds over the next few days, Hold Fast will dance away on the end of her chain and scare the daylights out of the other boaters.  We anchored well away from them in the dark, but may relocate when we can see in the morning.

We think we will stay here to ride out the nasty low coming off the coast.  Floyd Jean (runs Ward’s tugs) said they are forecasting winds of over 50 knots on the Chesapeake Bay.  We head north for better weather in the summer and then there is this fine line of when to head south for better weather in the fall.  That line has been crossed.  The icky northerlies are here in force and I wish we were already in Florida.

Time for a shower, snack and bed.

Love to all,

Posted via Mifi.

Morehead to Wrightville Beach

We left Broad Creek at first light with plan to go down the ICW but it was so nice outside so here we are.
Should arrive around 11 PM.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Broad Creek

We left Deep Point at first light before sunrise.  We wanted to get the 22 mile Alligator/Pungo Canal behind us.  The ‘patches’ of morning fog were only along the shoreline, and the canal consists of two shorelines.  In some places the fog was quite thick.  Myron had the radar and fog horn going and I was on the bow looking for logs and listening for traffic.  It was a surreal scene as the sun rose and its rays lit up the fall colored trees and melted away the fog.  I did my best to capture it on camera while simultaneously looking for hazards.  We had two bald eagles staying in front of us, flying from tree to tree and sometimes fighting amongst themselves.  We both confess:  this was the first time we saw the grandeur and beauty of the Alligator/Pungo Canal. 

We were out of the bottom of the canal by 10:30 am and well on our way for the remainder of the day of navigating the Pungo River, Pamlico River, Goose River and part of the Neuse River to arrive at Broad Creek.  We are expecting westerly winds for the next few days, which can make navigating Maw Point and going west on the Neuse River a bit of a nuisance.  Hence our goal of Broad Creek to wait out the westerlies.  We will stage here or near here until we have a good opportunity to get to Morehead City and then go out and down to Wrightsville Beach, or further.

Poor Hold Fast was so covered with leaves, I could have raked them in a pile to jump into.  I expect we will still be plucking them off the deck and out of the aft deck lockers when we get to Jacksonville.  It is a small price to pay for the stunning scenery of the Dismal Swamp Canal and all these subsequent tributaries.

Love to all,

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Deep Point

As always, a great stay at Elizabeth City.  We highly recommend a stop there.  They pride themselves on harbor hospitality.  I think we got our fill on fried oysters and oyster stew.  We are ready to move down to the land of shrimp.  We got separate visits in with Dan and Kathy.  It seems to be quite a busy time of year for them, further harried by the addition of a new grandchild.

As the cruisers were all visiting on the docks at dusk, we heard the most unfortunate and unforgettable sound of two teenage girls get hit by a car.  Many of the cruisers ran over to assist in any way possible and Myron spent a great deal of time trying to console the woman who was driving the car.  She would go from girl to girl checking on them, just beside herself.  We praise God that there were no life-threatening injuries, but likely broken bones.  It was such an unnecessary tragedy perpetuated by the girls’ attempt to run across the street before the car arrived.  Every time I recalled the event today, it would make me cringe for all involved.

We managed to attend a Bible study this morning, get back to the boat around 11 am and Gus (dockmaster) and Fred (North Star) cast off our lines by 11:15 am.  Due to such a late start, we were resolved to dropping the hook somewhere short of our original goal of Deep Creek.  Thank the Lord though, the winds picked up substantially and we were moving along at over 7 knots.  We were across the Albemarle Sound, into the Alligator River and at the bridge before 4 pm.  The Alligator River Bridge Tender timed his opening just perfectly for us.  We dropped the hook just after 6 pm and were blessed to watch the sunset at 6:16 pm.  We could not have asked for a better day.

Time to shower and make dinner.

Love to all,

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Elizabeth City – Jennette Brother’s Dock

Today’s journey ended our travels on the Dismal Swamp Canal for 2014.  I could have stretched it out another day or two.  This morning was cold and wet as the front pushed through.  Winds 20 knots or more from the northwest would bite into us on certain stretches of the river.  We put everything down on the enclosure.  Although that gave us a reprieve from the wind, the temperature was still uncomfortable.  We wondered if it might start to snow.  We both continued to add layers only to start over again with woolies on the bottom and reapply the layers.  I was glad to see our target dock come into view.

This is the first time we have landed at the Jennette Brother’s commercial dock north of the bridge.  They are a food service distributor for local independent restaurants.  They only have a few requirements, like signing a damage release and listing your insurance company, eating out once a day – for each day of stay - at one of the local restaurants, and being back on the boat before they close their gates for the night.  The closing varies each night, based upon their workload.  It could be 8 pm or 11 pm.  That is easy enough for us to work around.  The dock is solid and well protected from the wind.  We had over 9 feet along side.  The only drawback is that we are not with the large groups of cruisers.  Right now there is only one other boat here with us, but there is room for one more large boat or two smaller ones. 

There are SO MANY cruising boats in the area right now that the docks on the south side of the bridge are completely full and some boats are rafted together.  Many more are coming.  These strong winds will be with us through Thursday night, therefore I do not expect many boats to depart the regular docks and I expect more to arrive.  Maybe they will all mosey on when the winds abate Friday.  We hope to move over to the regular docks before Sunday so we can go to church and not be restricted by Sunday’s closure of the business gates.  We will figure something out, one way or another.

We arrived in time for lunch and it was good to get back to one of our favorite restaurants here, Quality Seafood.  Oysters are in season.  We enjoyed them fried and in oyster stew.  Did you hear that Brad & Sabrina?  I wonder what is on the menu for tomorrow…

Love to all,

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Visitor’s Center – Dismal Swamp Canal

It was a short traveling day, intentionally.  We let everyone go in front of us as we departed Elizabeth’s Dock so that we could glide slowly along the Dismal Swamp Canal to take in the fall colors reflected on the water.  Only one boat was behind us, Derek, single-handing on ‘Fox,’ a 30’ Islander.  We decided to stop and investigate the Visitor’s Center on the Virginia side.  It is a much shorter dock and we had to be careful of the large bolt heads sticking out of the docks, but otherwise a nice dock.  We had about 8 feet along side.  After a bit, Derek came along and took the angle dock to address a mechanical problem.  He had 5.9 feet on that side.  He and Myron sorted out the issue (plugged raw water intake) then we were both on our way again toward the Visitor’s Center.  We contemplated staying on the Virginia Visitor dock for the night.  The signs posted stated it was scheduled to be open Fall of 2014, or now.  It has water and electricity, but it is still closed for some reason.  We felt safer continuing on.

After another nine more miles, we tied up to ‘Harmony,’ a motor vessel whose owners had completed a six year circumnavigation on a Whitby42.  We like them immediately!  We chatted for hours with other boaters at the dock, with the ladies at the Visitor’s Center, and with drivers who are stunned to see so many big vessels at a highway rest stop.  Some limit themselves to taking pictures, others ask many questions, like ‘how did you guys get here?’  I am thankful all of them know better than to step foot on a boat without permission.

The ladies at the Visitor’s Center said they had 18 boats here last night.  That must be a record because it would mean rafting six boats across each of the three tied to the docks.  Tonight we have ten boats, six sailboats and four trawlers.

Time for some rest.  Love to all,

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Elizabeth's Dock

Last night was one of our calmer stays at Old Point Comfort.  Very nice after such a boisterous ride down.  Even so, Myron was up early and I got up before 5 am, as we wanted to get through Norfolk early.  The transit was one of our better ones.  We just beat a freighter across the Newport News channel before he turned in.  The two dredgers on our route were well outside the channels.  We met an outgoing freighter at the Belt Line RR Bridge and ended up in the security zone to give him room, but the security boat just got out of our way.  Glad to see they are a little more sensible now.  The Gilmerton Bridge opened up almost exactly upon our arrival, all we had to do was give way to a north bound tug.  We were early for the Deep Creek Lock and tossed a rope around a dolphin to wait.  Robert gave us a quick heads up that he was going to load us early, allowing us to visit with him a bit.  In my opinion, that is good transit.  We did not see any of the Ward’s tugs around the Purdue dock, I think the grain has slowed down for now.

We saw several deer on shore once we turned off the main ICW and onto the Dismal Swamp Route.  We have seen so many deer this year.  More in the last couple of weeks than I have seen in years.  Especially by Wayne and Susan’s bread and breakfast.  That area has an infestation.  When we drove through it with Floyd and Jean, we saw at least 70 deer.  We wanted out of there before one became a hood ornament.

It is so relaxing on the Dismal Swamp Canal.  Tomorrow we plan to have breakfast with Robert at the lock and then mosey south a few more miles, taking in the beauty of the change of seasons as only the Dismal Swamp Canal can present.  As long as you are willing to allow other vessels to raft up to you, it is hard to get stressed out here (except maybe passing a north bound vessel which sometimes results in clipping tree branches with our rigging).

Love to all,

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Old Point Comfort

So sad to leave Jean and Floyd at Deltaville, plus our buddies on Motu and Casa Blanca in the boat yard, but we must move south.  This stay we also got to go to the residences of Bill and Chris (Plover – I tell people to you have to go to Nova Scotia to meet people from Mathews), Wayne and Susan at their bed and breakfast in White Stone, and Bill and Kate (Steadfast) in their temporary housing also in Mathews).  It was fun to introduce Jean and Floyd (born here’s) to some of these folks (come here’s). 

Today we were among friends departing Deltaville and sailing down the Chesapeake in lively northwest winds.  Baloo, Five and Dime and Tilt were all in the crowd, and many more I have never met.  We dropped anchor just after 3 pm and just forward of Five and Dime.

Myron sprained his wrist so I was on for the sailing with a little one-handed help.  I was rigging the preventer for the main and did not keep an eye on the jib line.  The jib whipped through a jib and caught me across the nose.  It smarted pretty good.  I held it for a while, wondering if I broke it, but the blood was only coming from the outside.  It will be healed by tomorrow.  Seems like the only time I do not get injured is when I am asleep.

I need to finish preparing dinner and rest up from today’s adventures.

Love to all,

Posted via Mifi.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

More Pictures Loaded

We have utilized the Deltaville Library's lightening fast internet to get a number of research projects done, as well as load pictures to share.  You can click on the Hold Fast Photo Gallery link to the right to see the new post for 'South from Bras d'Or Lakes.'  Here are a couple of snaps to entice you...

Hold Fast at anchor in Shelter Cove.

One of the multiple passes by a Canadian military helicopter, as they used us for practice.

Hold Fast and Northern Light rafted on the Yacht Club (Squadron's) mooring ball in Rogue's Roost, south of Halifax.

I am still working on the Onset to Chesapeake Bay pictures.

Love to all,