Friday, October 29, 2010

Southwest Winds-What’s Up With That?

Ever since we left the Norfolk/Portsmouth area the winds have been south or southwest, exactly the direction we are headed.  This is unusual for the fall when they usually come out of the north or northeast which would allow us to sail more, but when they are right on your nose it is useless when you are trying to make miles. We have not been able to go out in the ocean due to the wind direction either.  We got to sail all of twenty minutes in Port Royal Sound on our way to Savannah area.  The one benefit of this wind direction is the great warm weather we have been having.  It is around the low eighties during the day and cools off for sleeping at night.  Today in Thunderbolt, GA was the first really humid day but luckily we are at a marina and can use the air conditioning.  Another benefit at this marina is the complimentary Krispy Kreme donuts and a USA Today newspaper delivered to your boat.                                                                                    

 I have been getting a lot of rug hooking done on the long motoring days as well as reading and tending my little herb garden.  It is great to pluck a sprig of mint for my mojitos or basil or parsley for my recipes for dinner..

Since leaving Charleston it seems all we have been seeing are catamarans.  There are definitely more this year than on the last trip.  We had drinks on Lipari (40 ft. catamaran) in Bull Creek with Janet and Randy Wallace.  We enjoyed getting together but I don’t want to get on too many catamarans because they make your mono hull feel small!

In Thunderbolt we found a shrimper selling fresh shrimp from his small shack about a block from the marina.  While we were getting the shrimp, there was a gent fishing through a hole in the cement floor of the structure.  We could not believe it when he pulled out a nice size red drum bass which you can see in the basket.  The fish barely fit through the hole. The owner said that is the best fishing hole because shrimp parts get thrown down there which attracts the fish.  It was like he was ice fishing, so do you think they call this cement fishing?!!

We took the bus from Thunderbolt Marina and enjoyed a day in Savannah, A modern flagship named Peacemaker built in 1989 was docked at the harbor and free tours were available.  It has an interesting background and you can learn more about it at Next big stop is St. Simon Island, GA.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Charleston Bound

The cut into Osprey Marina
   We motored the waterway past Myrtle Beach and the famous “Rock Pile” with no problems.  In the middle of the cypress swamps there was a cut which led to Osprey Marina where we were spending the night.  Since we got in around noon, we had plenty of time to get fuel, wash the salt off the boat, do a load of laundry and take a long walk. It was a nice but smaller marina.  It was a reasonable at $1/ft, and fuel was $2.67 with Boat US discount..

  The next day we shot down the Wacamaw River with the current with us and got into Minum Creek for another early day.  It was spaghetti night but that wasn’t all that was for dinner.  We were dinner for the vampire mosquitoes finding their way into any crack they could until we closed them all. 

Stillness of dawn in the marsh

An Egret Rookery

Mode of transportation on Dewees Island
The mosquitoes were still waiting for us the next morning so we got underway as fast as we could to let the air blow them out of the cockpit.  On the way to our next anchorage, Dewees Creek, we saw some different sights other than the usual fishermen..  One was an egret rookery in a tree and the other a group of kayakers in the waterway.  We also had two free loaders (black birds) land on our boat for a free ride.   Once into the creek, Al put the kayak in the water for me so I could kayak the nearby marsh creeks near privately own Dewees Island where I could see all the golf carts lined up for their personal use from the ferry to their homes.. 

We got into City Dock in Charleston early to take advantage of the marina and the wonderful city.  Out came our folding bikes and it was a great day for biking around the city.  We stayed Saturday also so that we could re-provision at the great Harris Teeters and do some more chores.  The history, homes and wonderful restaurants are not to be missed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oddities on the Waterway

On Friday, Oct.15th we left the plush and posh marina for the very basic Dudley’s marina in Swansboro.  It was a blustery day of 20 knots and even the waterway was somewhat choppy.  Al chose here because of the location for us to make it to Wrightsville Beach the next day without a seventy mile day.  The only spot for our size boat was at the end of the  T-dock.  We got it in with three dock hands preventing us from damaging the boat for which we were thankful.  It a basic fishing marina with simplistic heads, showers and even a courtesy car all for .75/ft. but we really only needed the tie up for the night.  I don’t think the seagulls liked sharing their dock with us because they stood their ground on the pilings so close that I got some great close-ups of them.  At dusk we were joined on the dock by an Army Corp of Engineers dredge in back of us.  Are you getting the picture of the type of marina this was?  All in all, it was not a bad night because the wind died and so it was much quieter than anticipated until about 3:30am when something started banging the mast.  I, being a light sleeper, asked Al to please fix it.  Luckily I insisted because Al discovered it was the spinnaker pole hoist which came loose and the pole which takes almost two people to handle, could have come crashing down from its spot attached to the mast.  We don’t want to think what could have happened then.

On our way to Wrightsville Beach we saw several odd sites that you can see in the pictures.  First there was the Giraffe statue in someone’s yard.  Stylish isn’t it?  Then there was the boat that seemed like someone ran right up on land in the marsh.  Lastly, there was the house painted “hot” pink (Maybe in Key West, but not in NC!)  Since it was a long day getting here with four bridges that had to open, we decided to lay over a day in Wrightsville Beach and give our ears and body a rest from so much motoring.

We spent a nice day going to the beach with perfect beach weather and later invited Harriet and Skip from Moondance over for a drink and conversation.  They are another couple who have been to the Bahamas before so filled us in on more information.
Wrightsville Beach, NC
Leaving Calabash Creek, NC
We motored to Calabash Creek north of Myrtle Beach and had a quiet night on the hook.  We left at day break with this beautiful sky.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Amenities Galore

Main Lodge
Well if you want a little luxury you need to come to River Dunes Marina north of Oriental.  It is a beautiful riverfront community.  For $1.25/ft. per night you have lovely scenery, great floating docks, a beautiful main lodge with a restaurant (only weekends now), billiards, a screened porch, and the dockmaster's office.  The pool with some private cabanas, 2 hot tubs and a fountain are next door. They also have a superb shower and exercise facility which includes an office where you can use their computer or fax machine.  Bicycles, canoes and kayaks are also available.  And a great advantage for cruisers are the two courtesy cars which we used for getting groceries and going into Oriental for dinner.  There are also some small cottages to rent and two large homes are also able to be rented.  The private homes in the community are large and many have the southern architecture.  There were only a few transients there, so the small laundry was very accessible for our use.  He said during the summer months it is more difficult to use.  One drawback is no ATT accessibility, but Verizon works and they have free Wifi.   Secondly the mosquitoes, due to the warm muggy weather seemed to enjoy our northern blood.  Overall it was a great find and glad we stayed two days.  A storm blew through while we were there but due to the protected harbor we hardly felt it.  We highly recommend trying this three year old marina to renew after being out on the water awhile and cleaning up after a bug invasion!.   

One of the magnificent waterfront homes in River Dunes

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Great Invasion

When we awoke and Al looked out in the cockpit he said, “You don’t want to look outside.”  I said, “Why?” and of course I went to look.  Thousands of bugs were covering our cockpit, bimini, enclosure and anywhere else they could land.  If it was light colored they landed there and left little black dots all over.  They were not mosquitoes and did not bite, but they were disgusting in such numbers.  I spent the entire morning with Simple Green, a Teflon pot scrapper and a rag trying to get rid of the dots and bugs.  And you thought we just sat around sailing all day!!!  After passing through the Alligator River swing bridge the sailing was great to our next wilderness anchorage.  We stayed out further from land hoping not to have a repeat of the bug invasion.


For all my Strong Women Friends

Luckily, the bugs were not like yesterday, only having a little clean up.  We motored through the Alligator/Pungo Canal where there were a lot of upended trees with their roots sticking out of the water like modern sculptures.  Motoring so much, you might wonder what we do all day. I have magazines and books to read. I work crossword puzzles to exercise my mind and hand and ankle weights to exercise the body.  I do rug hooking and scrap booking for my creative outlet.  When possible, I use the internet for email response, blogging and banking.  What does Al do?  He does the navigating and steering.  I tried to give him breaks on the last trip but he did not know what to do with himself, so he would rather be on the wheel or using our auto pilot and he be the eyes on the water way.
We anchored off the town of Belhaven and took the dinghy ashore.  There was not very much to see at all except a few beautiful homes.  Had drinks with Valerie and Graham on Bonnie Lass who were anchored nearby.  They told us about a new marina on Broad Creek north of Oriental which have introductory rates of $1.25 a foot.  We thought we might go there because we are ready for some pampering. 

Days of Contrast

Blue Heaven leaving Wilton Creek by Marge Goettle

From the serene and scenic Piankatank River, we ended up having a motor day down to the anchorage off of Fort Munroe near Hampton, VA.  Here we heard noise from the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay tunnel and there was all sorts of boat traffic and buildings around.  What a contrast!   The next leg was a motor day as well.  We passed all the naval ship yards and the waterfront of Norfolk.  The cancer walk must have been in Norfolk because we saw oodles of people walking and a lot of pink among the crowd.  We decided to go the Virginia cut instead of the Dismal Swamp route which we went the last trip.  We headed to Great Bridge lock and tied up at the dock immediately after the lock.  We were lucky to get the last spot on the dock.  Being a weekend there was a festival going on at the park across the canal.  We walked to see the big happenings including craft stands, singers, sheep shearing, spinning wool into yarn and of course food stands.
Sunday dawned sunny but cool so the mist on the water made for a beautiful morning.  While waiting for one of the bridges to open Al spotted an eagle catch a fish and land on a fallen tree limb to eat it.  I was lucky enough to get a photo.  Going down the Virgina cut is very much like a lot of the other waterway.  Trees on either side, swamp or reeds with some homes here and there.  The fall colors are starting to show in the vegetation.  We passed into North Carolina and anchored in Broad Creek which is south of Coinjock, NC.  We were the only boat in there where it was eerily quiet, especially after hearing the engine for almost eight hours. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rainy Days and Sunshine

Smith Point Lighthouse near the Potomac.  Now privately owned.  It isn't my idea of a summer home!
Sunday, Oct.3
We cast off from the raft of boats from the Wine cruise at 7:15am with winds blowing around 20 knots.  It was very rough going out of the Magothy River with the winds coming from the northeast which is where most of our members had to return.  We were glad we were heading south.  We zoomed down the bay under full sail and pulled into the Solomon Island, Md. Around 3:30pm covering 55 nautical miles.  Many of the anchorages near town were crowded so we ended up in Mill Creek with just two other boats.  It seemed like déjà vu because this was where we were the last trip south when we spent two days waiting for weather.  We would be doing the same tomorrow since they called for 90% chance of rain.

It was rainy day activities as expected.  I pulled out my scrap booking supplies and worked on a book for our youngest son, did some work on my hooked rug and read.  Al putts around doing a variety of boat related projects, used the computer and read.  We ended the day with a great shrimp pasta dish.  When you don’t have much else to do, cooking can be fun!

Great Wicomico Marina

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the Boat Again and Bahama Bound (Hopefully!)

Al and I have started our second trip south, planning to winter in the Bahamas this year if all goes well.  We came down to our marina in Swan Creek, Md. on Wednesday, Sept.29th thanks to our daughter-in-law and our youngest son who came to keep her company on the way back to Lancaster.  The remnants of tropical storm Nicole  poured on us all day and night Thursday, which gave us lots of time to do inventory and small projects that needed to be done inside the boat.  We got to see our boat rise with the tide as the water crept to two inches over the docks, but luckily the winds shifted to blow out of the north which helped the waters recede.  The next day we still worked on various projects but were disheartened to discover that our single side band radio which is of the 1980's vintage was fried on the inside which we feel might have been caused by lightning.  We did not use it much on the last trip but would have liked it for over in the Bahamas.  Some decisions of what to do about it will have to be made before crossing over in December..

We finally left the slip on Saturday, Oct. 2nd after filling the water tanks to go to the Magothy River which is not very far south but we wanted to attend our sailing association's Wine Tasting Cruise. Six boats attended which made for a great wine tasting with appetizers and desserts served before and after.  And guess whose red wine won?  Yours truly with our $3.50 bottle of Malbec by Crane Lake.  So you can see that a wine does not have to be expensive to be liked!
Chatting with friends and saying our good byes for the next 8 months as the orange sky silhouetted the far shore, I thought, "What a great beginning to our trip!".