Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deltaville - In Time For Lunch

Yesterday evening, the wind was out of the north making Old Point Comfort quite comfortable. We were surrounded by thunderstorms, so it was inevitable that one would engulf us before the night was over. Indeed, by 11 pm we shared one with Hampton Roads. It brought about 30 knots out of the southwest, 180 degrees from our original anchoring. I heard the storm before I saw the lightening. I was out closing up the enclosure when our anchor alarm went off. We were not dragging, just polar opposite from where we set the alarm. Hold Fast was true to her namesake and stayed put. It rained VERY hard, such big drops that I thought it might be hail. I tested my theory, but it was just big rain.

Myron was up just before 5 this morning and wanted to set out. We were anchor up and on our way by 5:20 am. We ran through about every aspect of weather today. The thunderstorms were still with us when we set out. After sunrise it was a few clouds with light wind from the NE. Then the wind went SW and we had fog. Just before 10:30 am the fog cleared and we had 12-15 knots out of the north. By then we were riding the tide up the Chesapeake, which got a little bouncy in the north winds. After we arrived, the winds died and it got quite warm. Now the winds are light out of the SE. Tomorrow is forecast for strong winds out of the north, which will cool us down.

Jean is out of town and will be back on Thursday, but Floyd met us at his dock. We managed to make it in time to go to lunch with him and John Melvin, and do a lot of catching up. They are so good to treat us like family. Hopefully we will see Floyd Jean tomorrow. John Melvin is having his tug brought in to the dock behind us tonight. We gave our friends anchored near us a heads up that the tug comes in all the time, they know what they are doing and are used to working through the anchored boats. In other words, do not worry, just enjoy the show. We are glad the tugs come in here, they help keep the channel deep enough for the rest of us.

We are here not just to visit, but to get a fair amount of work done. We still need to schedule our haul out, but it does not look too busy across the creek at the boat yard. I am not sure when we will post next, maybe if I get a break from projects and can share some pictures. Thank you for watching!

Love to all,

{GMST}37°32.95'N|076°19.98'W|5/19/2015|9:07 PM{GEND}

Monday, May 18, 2015

Old Point (Cool) Comfort

That was our longest stay at Elizabeth City yet, and well worth it.  We arrived early due to TS Ana.  She went ashore south of Cape Fear and then stalled, leaving us with not much wind, just over 20 knots, but she dropped plenty of rain.  We moved from the town’s Mariner’s Wharf to the commercial dock at Jeanette Brothers.  There was no need to run to a hidey hole.  We ended up staying at Jeanette Bros a week, but they did not mind.  They knew the circumstances and we followed their rules, which include eating out once a day at a local restaurant. 

Our extended stay allowed us a few treats like a trip out to Kitty Hawk and Killdevil, a drive over to Greensboro, and multiple visiting opportunities with Dan and Kathy at Mid-Atlantic Christian University (MACU).  I also got pet time with their golden retriever ‘Baxter,’ who is so famous he has his own website.  We attended church with Dave and Katie and met their friends who are building a large catamaran to use in serving the Lord.  Our last weekend was filled with the Potato Festival.  We met up with Craig and Donna from Mighty Fine.  We chatted with the farmers who brought their antique tractors to display and also talked with the local state Ag representative.    

We got to see the fleet for Maritime Ministries, which is now docked at MACU.  They combine serving the Lord with sailing experiences…sound familiar?  For more information, check out their website at http://www.maritime-ministries.org/

We left this morning before sunrise, but after first light – about 5:20 am.  As we were traveling through the Dismal Swamp, the day really heated up.  We were beginning to recognize that a night in the swamp was going to be brutally hot.  Myron checked the weather for opportunities to head north to Deltaville out of Norfolk and the outlook was bleak, too much north wind.  In the middle of our day we changed our plans and decided to push all the way through the Dismal Swamp Canal, through Norfolk and stage at Old Point Comfort.  We dropped anchor and shut the engine off at 5:24 pm, just over 12 hours. 

We did not rush the Dismal, you cannot due to the timing of the locks.  It was not all travel.  We managed to stop at the Deep Creek bridge, raft up with ‘Chester B’ an Albin, and walk over to the shopping center to get some fruit and stop in for a Japanese lunch.  That burned about an hour until it was time for the bridge/lock to open.  Once we were through, my system got its usual shock when we left the serenity of the Dismal Swamp and entered Norfolk.  I am glad we continued to OPC because now all the military, industrial and city madness is behind us.  Well, mostly behind us.  I can hear the traffic on the causeway.

Soon enough we will be in Deltaville, working to complete unfinished projects and start new ones.  Such is boat life, there is always work to do.  But for now, as we are finally cooling off in the open breeze, it is time to rest. 

Love to all,

{GMST}37°00.49'N|076°19.04'W|5/18/2015|7:40 PM{GEND}

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Wharf at Elizabeth City

The holding is great at Deep Point, just be sure to put a trip line on your anchor or use a slide as we do.  Our Manson Supreme has a slide so the shackle can run up to the front of the anchor and lift it out backwards.  We call it the ‘Alligator River Setting’ on our anchor, since there are so many logs and tree stumps lurking in the Alligator River.  We have been on that setting since Georgia.

We weighed anchor before sunrise to get a jump on the winds.  It was only blowing 15 knots or so, still out of the NE.  We were on the Albemarle Sound by about 10:30 am and it was already worked up.  It is a body of water to respect when the winds are 20+ and I understand why the Elizabeth City ambassador, ‘Gus,’ would prefer boaters not to leave when the winds get up.  He says it saves them the effort of coming to get you! 

We were welcomed to the free docks by Dan and Kathy, our friends involved with Mid-Atlantic Christian University here in town.  They are both busy with work this weekend so we made plans for Tuesday.  Gus showed up just before those two left and we visited with him as well.  Then we went to have a late lunch at ‘Quality Seafood,’ who always give us more than we can eat.  We brought enough leftovers for another meal.

We are here a week early and will stay through the Potato Festival, or as long as we can.  We will keep an eye on the subtropical storm ‘Ana.’   Dan and Kathy have a hidey hole for us if it is going to get nasty, so do not worry about us.  So far, the biggest danger is eating too much.

Love to all,

{GMST}36°17.91'N|076°13.09'W|5/9/2015|2:43 PM{GEND}

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Anchored at Deep Point

The wind quieted down last night and quit pushing us against the dock. By morning, a slight breeze was pushing us away from the dock. We called River Forest Marina to make sure they had diesel and to check on the price. Because we were taking on more than 60 gallons, our price was $2.49, the best we have seen.

By the time we finished fueling up, the winds were coming on strong, close to 20 out of the northeast. We pushed against those winds for almost six hours then called it quits at the top of the Alligator-Pungo Canal. Our plan was to stop at the top of the Alligator River in South Lake, where we usually go, and then proceed to Columbia tomorrow. But given the winds, why slog it up the Alligator River against them with the risk of a bridge closure in route? (Sometimes that bridge closes due to high winds) Further, the approaching low is now being announced on the VHF by the Coast Guard, so we have changed our plans to go west on the Albemarle and will instead carry on to Elizabeth City.

On the positive side, we saw a deer and her two small fawns along the shore of the canal. One of the fawns was jumping around like it was full of vinegar. I saw it jump very high once and land on its side, yet to learn its own strength. It was quickly up again and harassing mom and sibling. They are so entertaining and seem to have no fear of our boat passing by. Another positive is that with all this wind, we are not fighting off bugs. And finally, just after we dropped anchor we got an incredible air show. Two F15's buzzed us so low and so loud that we could not even hear each other's exclamations. They did five about five bombing runs in the MOA to the east of us. Even as I type this, we were just now buzzed by two more. F15's are so cool!

I need to think about fixing some dinner.

Love to all,

{GMST}35°40.46'N|076°03.49'W|5/7/2015|4:00 PM{GEND}

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Belhaven - Free Dock

It took three tries to get a happy anchoring spot in Broad Creek, but it was worth it. It was a nice sleep. We took our time leaving this morning, waiting until after we got a forecast on that low. It is coming north and has the potential to come ashore along the Carolina's now, or going out to sea. With predictions like that, anyone could do the forecast. That is like saying 'it will rain today, or it will not.' We will continue to keep an eye on it. For the most part, it is simply having an impact on our winds up here and what days we can move north. We do not want to miss the festival in Elizabeth City, so we may just get there early.

The winds turned south today, not southeast. It makes it a little rough here at the free dock, but not bad for a boat as large as Hold Fast. We are all alone on the dock, but certainly not on the ICW. There were probably 30 boats on our same trek today, but they were in much more of a hurry than us. One of them that passed us was a PDQ named 'The High Life.' But I think it is spelled Hye. We were on that boat before when we helped Roger prepare it for the owners' arrival. Of course the owners do not know us, but we waved anyway.

It is a good walk to town from these docks. We are thinking about getting fuel at River Forest Marina in the morning, therefore it will not be a very early morning. We went in town to eat. We like to support the restaurants in the towns that give us free docks, encourage them to keep on doing it!

Love to all,

{GMST}35°32.53'N|076°37.82'W|5/6/2015|7:46 PM{GEND}

Change of Plans - Part Deux

Once we changed our plans to move more quickly north, our goal on the trip was to go in at Cape Fear Inlet and then on the inside to Wrightsville Beach. We would figure out the rest from there based upon weather. As is his process, Myron was continually getting weather updates underway. We were under a high pressure, 1025 on Monday, which was holding the north winds at bay. Even the east winds were fairly light. Our arrival time at Cape Fear was zeroing in at 1 am Tuesday morning, just about max ebb for the Cape Fear River. We did not relish the idea of fighting a 3.3 knot current in the dark, so we changed our plans again and headed for Beaufort, NC Inlet. We may still hit the max ebb, but that ebb is only (relative term) 1.8 to 2.0 knots and we would arrive in the daylight. With the lack of thunderstorms in route, it seemed like a good idea to me. It all worked out and we hit slack tide at Beaufort Inlet. We continued on to Broad Creek, dropped anchor around 3:30 pm, showered, snacked and slept for more than 12 hours.

We had a few new experiences on this trip. First, and unfortunately not adequately captured on camera, I saw rays swimming in formation toward the southeast. They were brown, probably only two to three feet across, but many of them were in diamond formation perfectly and closely spaced. The winds were light to nothing, which is probably why I could see them so clearly on the surface.

I also saw small parachute with something attached. We had just changed our route from Cape Fear to Beaufort Inlet and this item was directly in our path. Myron was off watch, but had not yet gone to bed. I asked him to come up to drive the boat while I recovered to strange object. Identification of the object attached to the small parachute was not obvious. We found mailing instructions and they revealed the mystery. It was a NOAA National Weather Service weather balloon along with its radiosonde. The balloon was shredded and tangled around the parachute cord. We marked the GPS location and will complete the remainder of the requested information and mail it off at our next available post office.

Another curious sight taken in by Myron was a surfing performance by a cormorant. It was when the wind and waves were up. Intentional or not, the cormorant had its wings spread out and was riding the crest of a small breaking wave. Not once but twice!

You never know what you will see out there. I try to stay alert for flares or someone in need. We once found and recovered a Livingston dinghy on the Pacific Ocean on our way to Catalina Island. Thankfully it was empty.

We will move on today but have not solidified any plans for side trips. We need to delay somewhere while we wait to get to the Potato Festival at Elizabeth City. Sounds silly, but it really was fun last year.

Love to all,

{GMST}35°05.47'N|076°37.14'W|5/6/2015|7:52 AM{GEND}

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Arrived Beaufort Inlet

That was a nice run. Now heading for Broad Creek.

{GMST}34°39.27'N|076°41.59'W|5/5/2015|9:57 AM{GEND}

Monday, May 4, 2015

Pushing on to MoreHead City

We have made such good speed that we decided to push on to Morehead.
ETA tomorrow around 10 AM.

{GMST}33°31.46'N|078°07.09'W|5/4/2015|8:22 PM{GEND}

Off of Charleston

{GMST}32°38.83'N|079°35.34'W|5/4/2015|5:55 AM{GEND}

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunset off Savannah

We just had an amazing sunset! Very calm conditions at sea today.
ETA Cape Fear River 5 AM Tuesday.

{GMST}31°55.32'N|080°29.74'W|5/3/2015|8:06 PM{GEND}

Going to WrightsvilleBeach

We left Darien with the tide and went out Deboy Sound headed for Cape Fear beautiful day.

{GMST}31°23.27'N|081°09.04'W|5/3/2015|12:33 PM{GEND}

Change of Plans

We met Dockmaster Dave Saturday morning at the coffee shop. He showed us pictures of the boats that have visited Darien's free dock and he really enjoys meeting new folks. He and his wife caught on quickly to Myron's sense of humor, there were lots of laughs. They lived in Mexico for five years, so we had something in common in addition to boating.

On Friday we met a young couple in town that started up a large non-pesticide vegetable garden on their house property. They also serve the live flower market on Saint Simon's with large stemmed flowers such as sunflowers. On Saturday we returned to their down town garden, which they have named 'Coastal Route 17 Green Goods.' Ellery gave us a tour and cut some fresh vegetables for us. We got two kinds of kale; a couple bunches of broccoli and some beets. We are thankful to Ellery for helping us outside his normal hours. They normally have a weekly market on Wednesday's from 4 to 7 pm. They have a Facebook page Coastal Route 17 Green Goods where they inform their customers what vegetables are coming ripe for the Wednesday market. If you come to Darien, we hope you support them. If you do not have Facebook and want to make sure Ellery has vegetables ready, his email is ellerymayence@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Another sailboat joined us at the dock yesterday. We helped with lines and Myron talked with the captain (Bob) about navigating the Doboy Sound. Myron had already talked with a shrimp boat captain about an exit route and both his and Bob's navigation directions lined up. We like that. We are changing our plans from spending time in South Carolina to going offshore and up to North Carolina as soon as possible. The change of plans is due to a tropical low that is presenting itself in the forecast algorithms. If we get behind it, it will delay us substantially with more than a week of north winds, so our plan is to get out in front of it and find a place to hide up north, if necessary. As cruisers, we must be flexible with plans, if nothing else.

We are disappointed we did not get to visit the church here, but at least we got to visit the town and meet many new people.

Love to all,

Friday, May 1, 2015

City of Darien (Georgia)

We had a good rest last night. The gusts of wind were only occasional and Hold Fast kept her distance from the crab pots. We were anchor up prior to sunrise but with plenty of first light to see crab pots and day markers. We left early to take a rising tide from our anchorage to the free docks at Darien. Even though we were about four miles from Darien as the crow flies, the winding rivers we had to navigate made it a nine mile trip. By the time we arrived at the free dock, the water had just turned around and was on its way out. That was a blessing as we are right next to a bridge too low for us to navigate under and we were happy to have the current pushing us away from it. Thankfully the current was not up to seven knots as we were told locally could be the case. Myron commented that if we stay here long enough, our ablative paint would come off.

A friendly man named Russell helped us with lines. It is a long floating dock and we could have managed by ourselves, but why refuse competent help. He is a retired shrimp boat captain and has been an interesting conversationalist. After we got settled in and cleaned up, we checked in with the Development Office. They ask for boat name, contact information and registration/documentation numbers. This is a free 48 hour dock with - get this - water and electricity!

We have been warned to watch for water moccasins and cottonmouth snakes in these waters, especially at night. Apparently they get into the floating clumps of reeds which sometimes congregate near the floating docks, giving the snakes an opportunity to wiggle into the community. To our boater friends when passing through Georgia: please be aware of this habitat for snakes if you find yourself needing to clear organic flotsam away from the anchor chain or pull a line out of the water that has fallen from the boat or dock. When we boated in Arizona, we occasionally saw rattle snakes swimming on the lake. It is always a good idea to be aware of your environment.

Speaking of which, we are watching the forecast for a possible tropical low that could develop in the Bahamas. I wish it was passing by outside right now while we are safely tucked up here. But alas, we will need to move on and deal with it somewhere else. *SIGH* It is only May 1.

It feels good to step off the boat and take a walk. I expect more of those to come. We grabbed a self-guided walking tour map. It notes that "the City of Darien was established in 1736 as a military outpost by Scottish Highlanders under the command of General James Ogelthorpe, making this historic town the second-oldest planned town in Georgia." The weather could not be more perfect - cool and sunny. We are protected at the docks from the northwest winds. We have already met the ladies working at the coffee shop and met a few folks at B&J's Seafood restaurant. It is family seating and packed house, rather difficult not to meet people. Unfortunately, we are here before the full open season for shrimp, which makes the prices a little higher. When we returned to the docks from our walk, there were a few fellows imbibing refreshments from paper bags. They ended up being quite harmless and were happy to know our story and have us know theirs. So far we are enjoying this out of the way stop and would recommend it if you do not mind going a few extra miles.

Love to all,

{GMST}31°22.05'N|081°26.14'W|5/1/2015|2:43 PM{GEND}