Friday, May 9, 2014

Blue Heaven Back to Home Port in Swan Creek

The Mariner's Museum in Solomons, MD
We left Monday from Mill Creek never seeing our friends, but there is always next time.  It was a bit rough in the morning but by early afternoon the winds from the north calmed to almost dead flat, so we got into Solomon's Maryland around 4PM.
Matt & Marty at their home.
The next day we met friends who already were home from the Bahamas a week or so, Matt and Marty on Runaway.  We had lunch out with them and enjoyed happy hour later at their condo near the water. 

The next day we left for the West River where we were to meet some more cruising friends from Sloop John Dee.  We had exchanged DVD's in Georgetown and needed to return them.  Thanks to John and Denise we are caught up with season 4 of Dowton Abbey!   We met them at the restaurant called "Thursday's" and had fun catching up with all our return stories and reminiscing about Georgetown, Exuma.  We said our good byes to them hoping to catch them on the bay possibly this summer since they berth their boat one day away from Rock Hall.

Mermaid Wall Hanging not quite finished.

I got some rug hooking done on these motoring days.  I am not quite done with my brightly colored mermaid wall hanging, however it should not take too long to finish it once I am at home.

 Our last day on the water was as gray as many others we had on the return trip.  Familiar landmarks such as the Thomas Point Lighthouse,
Thomas Pt. Lighthouse
 the water tower in Rock Hall,
Rock Hall, MD

and the local osprey were welcome sights after a cooler than usual return trip.

Blue Heaven back in its slip at Spring Cove in Swan Creek.

We were in to our slip by noon and about an hour later the sun came out shining full force to let us put on our shorts and tee shirts to start the cleaning process.
It was a good trip and a great winter to have missed in Pennsylvania.  We are so thankful for being able to cruise and to all our friends who continue doing so:
May you find gentle harbor as every day ends,
May you lower your anchor amidst peace and good friends.  

We are taking next winter off from cruising but will be back the next winter, God willing.  Now, I have to find some place warm to go for a month or two next winter and try another kind of cruising!  Thanks to all who read my blog and have a great summer.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Al Snags Another, And We Aren't Talking Fish

Blue Heaven at the marina in Oriental, NC
Meeting up with friends in Oriental
Oriental, NC is a quaint little town and with the beautiful sunny weather we had it was even better than usual. We decided to go into the Oriental Marina which is right in town for a night. Carl and Marilyn on Discovery who are preparing their boat for sale in New Bern, NC heard us calling the marina on the VHF radio, so they contacted us.  They drove down to join us for happy hour and dinner at the Toucan Grill at the marina where we got caught up with all the news from them. We are disappointed they are retiring from sailing since we have known them from our first trip to the Bahamas, but hopefully we will continue to see them since they purchased a place in Vero Beach, FL.

After Oriental we anchored the next night right before entering the Alligator/ Pungo Canal. We decided the following day, we were going to do a long day by going throught the canal, up the Alligator River and across the Abermarle Sound into Elizabeth City, 68 miles. It was another ugly gray day with 15-17 knots of wind. We were doing fine until we heard a thump under the boat. OH NO, not again! There were so many crab pots in the river going to Elizabeth City that it was hard to miss them. It was worse than we see near Rock Hall. We were motor sailing, and the motor kept running so we continued on, thinking it must have cut it. When we got to Elizabeth City we realized due to the direction of the wind, we did not want to be tied up to their free docks so we were going to continue on through the bridge into the Dismal Swamp. Unfortunately, we were five minutes late for the 4:30pm opening, so the next one was an hour away. We motored around and finally the bridge tender opened the bridge about 5 minutes early for us. We continued on to Goat Island where we were going to anchor for the night. When setting the anchor Al kept yelling to go in reverse. I said I was in reverse. He did not believe me, so he comes back and sees I am in reverse, and then we realize, the crabpot must have done something to our reverse! We were exhausted after such a long day that we had dinner and went to bed. 
Al trying to rid the crab pot on our prop from the dinghy.

The next morning Al got into the dinghy with a a special knife hook that a friend gave us when he got out of sailing.

Al tried the special hook knife without success

 Al did not have much success with it but at least he knew there was a line wrapped down under the boat because he felt it with the hook. He said, “I guess I have to go in.” Now the water in the Dismal Swamp is brown. When you get any on your white deck, you see that it is brown. Plus our temperature gauge said it was 62.3 degrees! 
To Cape Codders this might be warm but not to us!
Al diving in dark brown Dismal Swamp water.

Al bravely donned his wet suit and went in and in three tries got the line off which then allowed us to have reverse once again! YEAH!!! You can be sure he took a hot shower after that entry!

We motored through the Dismal Swamp with two power boats ahead of us.
We heard more thumps than ever going through the swamp. We tried to stay further back from the power boats, because they sometimes stir up the bottom, and the dead heads (water sodden logs) come closer to the surface.

Getting closer to home!
We made it into Virginia which was a welcome sight.  One more state closer to home! We tied to the free dock at Deep Creek Lock where there were 5 other sailboats. A storm was predicted so it was good to be tied up.

This was an interesting sight when we went for a walk.
No, it isn't snow!
No it is not snow, but foam that formed from a waterfall outlet off the Dismal Swamp.  That evening for the first time we had a pizza delivered to our boat. We usually walk to the Italian restaurant but due to the rain we chose delivery which we were told they did many times there. It was delicious and welcome treat.

Left the lock after having a wonderful breakfast offered by Robert the bridge tender. He is the nicest and most helpful bridge tender anywhere! He had donuts, coffee cake, fresh fruit, orange juice with strawberries and coffee at his lock house for those who spend the night at the dock. This wasn't the first time either.  What a great guy! We promised him a conch shell the next trip.  He loves showing off his skill in blowing a tune on them.

We headed for Hampton City Marina passing a new kind of scenery with all sorts of naval ships, tankards and tall buildings. 
Scenery changes when you are in the Norfolk/Portsmouth area.
Hampton City Marina

We tied up and showered, and then Dave and Toni, our friends for 30 some years from Sequence, came and picked us up to go to their place in Williamsburg. 

Lee Hall Estate which we visited.
That afternoon we went to Lee Hall Estate and learned all about the magnificent home and the family that lived there. It was a beautful spot. The next day we enjoyed a three mile hike in a local park. After being so sedetary
on the boat for so long, it felt great to get moving again! They took us back to the marina in the late afternoon where we met people from the Virgina Beach Yacht Club whose boats were surrounding us in the marina. They generously invited us to their happy hour on the dock and made us feel welcome. We almost felt we were with our sailing club, BRMSA, who would have done the same thing.

The next day we left Hampton and entered the Chesapeake Bay for the first time since October. 
Al raising the main sail as the sunrises on the bay.
We made it all the way to Mill Creek on the Great Wicomico River. The light winds were in the right direction, SE, and so were the tide and currents, which made for a very pleasant day. We anchored off of our cruising friends, Lynn and Peter's dock, who were away for the weekend.
Blue Heaven anchored in Mill Creek.
We planned to continue on the next day, but when we checked the weather forecast, there was a gale warning for the area where we were headed. We decided to hold up for less wind. Over 30 knots is a bit much!

However, the morning of the gale warning started off with no wind, so I took the kayak to explore the creek. It is one of the prettiest creeks on the Chesapeake.
Kayaking on Mill Creek
Since it was so still, there were many beautiful reflections in the water. It was so quiet until some geese took off  which startled me and made me fear I was going to be hit by them. 
Having to watch for low flying geese!

There are numerous ospreys around as well as bald head eagles. We spotted one the first afternoon in a tree in our friends yard. When we went in for a walk we noticed his huge nest in a pine tree on their property.
Mr. Eagle living on our friend's property.
It is definitely out in the country here. I could not get connected to publish this blog and this is one of the few areas along the eastern seaboard that this happened.
The wind definitely started blowing hard late morning so we were glad we did not take the risk and go out. We are so close to home. We could be there in two days really pushing if the wind cooperated. However, it could take a week or more if the weather doesn't cooperate. Time will only tell!