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Entering the ICW
Diana/cold but mostly clear
11/06/2010, Portsmouth, VA

We are all set to begin our trip down the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). The boat was in good condition when we returned. The nifty dehumidifiers I bought from West Marine worked well as did our sealants of various kinds because she was dry and fresh. Portsmouth is on mile marker "0" and the entire ICW is posted every 5 miles for navigation purposes. It's kind of like an address that businesses along the route use.
We wanted to take the Great Dismal Swamp for the first 50 miles but it was a bit shallow for our boat so we took an alternate route south. We went under a lot of bridges and held our breath each time. Our boat's height to the top of the antenna on the mast is 64 feet and the bridges are mostly 65 feet - depending on tide and/or wind it can be a bit dicey. We only pinged one bridge and it was notorious as being only 64 ft. Surprise also got to go through a lock. Very interesting as we and about 6 other boats motored in and tied up on the side while they closed a gate and let water out. We went down about 3 feet in as many minutes. We then untied and motored out continuing on our way. There are many boats heading south - all talking when they can about where each of us is going as well as where we have been and what type of boat we have, ect. ect. Many of the bridges must open for the boats and we need to use the radio to request an opening unless it is set on a schedule in which case we try to time it to hit the opening times. We have used our VHF radio a lot.
We had hoped to anchor but the canal was too narrow so we pulled up to the side along a wall of the canal where a "marina" had sprung up. Across the canal was a campfire, lots of vans and trucks and a band playing with the worst vocals I have heard outside of my shower. We had just passed out of Virginia and into North Carolina.


Norfolk, VA & home
Diana/sunny & warm
10/11/2010, Norfolk, VA

We had a smooth cruise down the Chesapeake in warm sunny weather with little wind - so another day of motor sailing. It took longer than we thought to actually get to Norfolk because the harbor is so deep - 9 extra nautical miles (nm). That's what makes it such a protected harbor and one reason why it is the biggest naval base in the country. After cruising the east coast I am left with two impressions I had not really thought about - one is the tremendous military presence along our shores and the other is the quantity and size of the commercial vessels bringing in imported goods - many as you would expect having Chinese lettering on the side.
We spent the last night on the boat after wandering ashore into Portsmouth, VA., across the river from Norfolk. There is much commemoration to Lafayette in town. Most of the towns so far have emphasis on historic preservation. The next day we cleaned and made preparations to leave. It is a busy marina - of course the weather was summer-like, which folks said was typical. Lots of friendly people- in a way different from the north, not that they are unfriendly (except Long Islanders)- just different, anyway we were reminded we were in the south. Home for a few weeks then back to take Surprise to Savannah.
It has been so great - so simple and in the moment - basic.

10/15/2010 | Chadda Caperton
Diana, how are you and Keith doing? I can see that your sailing abilities have served you well and you have had an amazing trip. It will really be hard to come home and get back into the routine. I am so glad you have had such a spectacular trip with wonderful sights and meet wonderful people. Can't wait to see you guys.
Love, Chadda
Down the Chesapeake
Diana/sunny, calm, warm
10/09/2010, Henry's Creek, VA

We left Annapolis after waking to the cadets marching in military order. We had anchored right off the Naval Acadamy. Winds were variable but we got some assist from sails and went down at about 9 knots. We had no destination in mind - just to get a full day in and around 4 began looking for an anchorage. We found a beautiful one off of Indian Creek - small and quiet surrounded by woods and houses spaced far apart. The sun was just beginning to set and we got out the BBQ to enjoy the evening and make dinner. It was so peaceful and panoramic. The next morning was just as lovely - seeing the sunrise instead of set and hearing the excitement of geese as different flocks flew overhead on their way south, reminding that we too had better get going that direction.

annapolis
Diana/clear and warm
10/09/2010, annapolis, maryland

he Chesapeake is a beautiful body of water. There are so many harbors, ports and coves - none more ideal than Annapolis. It is easy to enter and navigate and full of Revolutionary War history, the home of the Naval Acadamy and the sailing capital of America as well as the state capital of Maryland.
We enjoyed two nights here, had dinner with Kellie and Nathan and were lucky enough to have arrived on the weekend of the Annapolis Boat Show. That was amazing - boats of every size and shape that we could tour. Vendors set up displaying everything from the most sophisticated electronics to the garage invention to clip lines together. So much information. We got to visit with a couple about our age who just got back from a 7 year circumnavigation aboard a 50 ft. 'Valiant" - amazingly made in Texas.
We left Friday morning with beautiful weather heading south toward Norfolk, VA.

One Looong Day
Diana/beautiful
10/08/2010, Running the Delaware

Currents, currents, currents! What a difference the current makes. In order to catch the current going in the direction we wanted to sail we had to get up at 3:30 and leave at 4 am. That's because the current going in and out of Delaware Bay changes every 6 hours - alternating directions. So the current going up the bay was scheduled for ~4 am and 4 pm. The scary thing wasn't the lack of sleep but leaving at night with no visibility. Knowing this we created something on our chart plotter called a track so that when we went into the cape may inlet during the day it laid "breadcrumbs" for us to follow exactly on our way out the next morning. That way we knew we would be in deep enough water and not run over anything. It was really freaky. I don't know how men in submarines do it for long periods of time. It is so contra our instincts. What a beautiful site the dawn was that day. And what a payoff we had for the Delaware Bay that fought us yesterday carried us along at 11.5 knots today.
It was a much prettier day - the high winds lower and the sun out. We flew up the Bay and into the River to the canal which we motored through. This was likewise pleasant for we had no commercial traffic to contend with. There are frequently big road-hog barges here but not today. It dumped us out at the top of the Chesapeake and we got all the way to Annapolis. 5 bodies of water/3 states and 15 hours.
One cool thing is that if we didn't go through the canal and went straight on the Delaware River we would have been where Washington crossed it near Trenton and then further would have been Philadelphia.

escaping Atlantic City
Diana/windy
10/08/2010, Cape May

We waited a day longer than we had hoped because the storm just lingered over the eastern coast. We are in a fairly good marina but everyone is staying inside their boats or making a dash off the pier and into the city. It is so windy that I believe it could push a child over. We wanted to make up time so we left early, along with a catamaran, on Tuesday, October 5th with intentions of swinging past the coast of Cape May (southern tip of N.J.) and taking a sharp right up Delaware Bay with the C & D canal in mind (Chesapeake and Delaware) and over to the Chesapeake Bay. The winds were too great and the current against us so we turned back to Cape May. This was a hard decision but we were just pounding and there are few good places to stopover on the Delaware Bay so there was no end in site.

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