11/19/2012, South Santee River, ICW mile 420, South Carolina
Friday's cast off shortly after 9 AM from Southport would have been delayed if the tide were any higher, as the water level was already reaching the top of the fixed dock. A productive day was in progress from that moment on, defrosting the freezer, preparing for the tasks once we reached Cricket Cove Marina at 2:30 PM where we took care of topping off fuel and water supplies, laundry, plus some reprovisioning.
Saturday's 8:45 AM cast off was quickly followed by transiting past the Little River Swing Bridge, the "Rockpile", the Barefoot Landing Swing Bridge, Myrtle Beach, and the Socastee Swing Bridge into the eerily tranquil beauty of the Waccamaw River with spanish moss covered trees and floating clusters of water plants. At 4:15 PM we dropped the hook at Butler Island, north of Georgetown, South Carolina, where we were in the company of four other boats that night, and one other last night as we waited out yesterday's rain.
At 10 AM this morning we hauled anchor, and concluded the day's passage at 2 PM, anchoring in the South Santee River, where there would eventually be a total of six boats anchored for the night.
During these passages we have seen seven bald eagles (including a nesting pair), plus dolphins, palm trees, and fall foliage colors.
11/15/2012, Southport, North Carolina
We departed Beaufort shortly after 9 AM on Sunday, and were docked shortly after 1 PM at Dudley's Marina in Swansboro, North Carolina, borrowing the courtesy car aided us in a grocery store run and later dinner out.
The morning passage on Monday was when the title of this blog post took place. The passage commenced about 9 AM and concluded shortly before noon as we were the first of eventually 13 boats anchored in Mile Hammock Bay on US Marine Camp LeJeune. Dave and Haila on s/v Traveler and Muriel and Tutty on s/v Mistress were among those who joined the anchorage, and whom we got to share a visit onboard s/v Traveler with before nightfall.
We were the final boat to depart from the anchorage at 8:45 AM on Tuesday, transiting three top of the hour opening bridges, and dropping the hook about 3:45 PM slightly south of the pack of anchored boats at Wrightsville Beach.
Yesterday shortly after 11 AM we were headed for the "daisy patch" (as we call it), initially pushing against the current and eventually motor-sailing at over 9 knots in favorable winds and current. Shortly before 3 PM, for our first time, we secured the free spot for one boat at the city dock.
Waiting out today's rain, we walked in to town for lunch followed by a visit for our first time at the Southport Maritime Museum.
During these passages we have seen two deer, a bald eagle, several pelicans and other feathered friends, as well as many dolphins.
11/10/2012, Town Creek Anchorage, Beaufort, North Carolina
Thank you to Kevin's sister, Valerie, for coming to see us in Belhaven on Tuesday! After lunch with her ashore, we moved about an hour into Slade Creek, and just as we turned towards the anchorage, the light rain began. We waited out the rain and cold for two nights at that anchorage. There were an additional two and then four boats anchored there on the respective nights.
After the morning warmed up, and with enough wind behind us to motor-sail, we departed about 10:30 Thursday, with a bald eagle overseeing our exit. We ended that day's three-hour passage, anchoring for our first time in the cove at the end of the Hobuken Cut. We gazed into another star-filled night sky as the solitary boat in the anchorage.
We joined in the Friday morning parade of 20-plus boats at about 10:45. Imagine our surprise when Grace was able to be captured on the webcam in the image above shortly before 1:30 PM, secured to the free town dock in Oriental, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, we were able to welcome the crews of both s/v Mistress and s/v Traveler as they pulled in to the adjacent marina slips; the ensuing hours of the day were spent with Muriel, Tutty, Dave, and Haila perusing the marine consignment store and the various shops along the walk to and fro, sharing sundowners in Grace's cockpit, and then dinner, along with the crew of s/v Enterprise.
This morning all of us were out and about as the local Farmers Market was in full swing nearby. After a jaunt around the waterfront area, we cast off about 10 AM, and rode a nicely favorable current through Adams Creek. About 1:30 PM we dropped the hook, and watched the thermometer inside the cabin rise to above 70-degrees without the aid of the cabin heater for the first time in many days.
11/05/2012, Belhaven, North Carolina
Friday evening we attended the Elizabeth City Rose Buddies welcome reception for boaters, and then prowled the downtown streets for their First Friday Art Walk with Muriel and Tutty from s/v Mistress, topping off the evening with one of the Draft House's many to choose from.
Saturday at 10:30 AM Kevin executed a picture perfect cast off from the dock where Grace was sandwiched between two rafted boats forward and astern. After another uneventful crossing of the Albemarle Sound and through the dogleg of shoals before the Alligator River Swing Bridge at 4 PM we dropped the hook for our first time just a few miles beyond the bridge near the mouth of Second Creek. As the lone boat in the anchorage we enjoyed a pink sunset, followed by 360 degrees of crisp visibility for stargazing.
Weighing anchor yesterday morning at 9:30, we got to see a pair of bald eagles early in our transit of the Alligator Pungo Canal, and then later something swimming across the canal (possibly a mink?). There were helpful VHF radio calls from vessels as the day's passage was navigated past several logs. At 3:30 PM we dropped the hook as the second boat, for our first time at the top of the Pungo River; a parade of another dozen boats pulled in during the remaining daylight.
Today shortly after 9 AM we were underway for about an hour before stopping for marina services, finishing the day's passage shortly thereafter, anchoring shortly before noon in Pantego Creek. In town we had lunch, went to the hardware store, the Belhaven Memorial Museum, and the public library.
We were able to motor-sail during portions of each of these passages.
The above shot is of the parade of southbound boats behind us this morning.
11/02/2012, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Pasquotank River
Four days of rain provided a thorough fresh water wash-down for Grace's topsides. Once again we were extremely fortunate, in a perfectly protected and calm spot while experiencing our first hurricane onboard; there was not enough wind to drive the wind generators on those of the eleven neighboring boats which were equipped with them. The above shot was taken after the first of the rafted boats had departed from the graciously free Elizabeth's Dock; Kevin got to meet and chat with the gentleman who maintains the dock in memory of his wife, who apparently loved to see the boats that would travel through the canal. Of course, Lockmaster Robert extended his infamous hospitality during morning coffee gatherings, etc.
About 2 PM on Wednesday we were underway past the opening bridge at Deep Creek, concluding the day's passage as the twelfth boat rafted up at the North Carolina Welcome Center's free dock shortly before 5 PM. A few who had stayed at Elizabeth's dock were there, plus other boats we had watched lock through that morning, and Bob on s/v Valor, whom we had met the previous week.
Yesterday several of us departed shortly before 10 AM, in time to make the 11 AM South Mills Lock opening. We saw a few turtles as we transited the picturesque serenity of the upper Pasquotank River, in chilly, but sunny weather. About 2:30 PM we were assisted by a couple from one of the three other boats already secured to the Jennette Brothers' free Dock and Dine Dock. We promptly loaded the laundry into our cart, and walked .9 miles each way just in the nick of time.
Today's errands included the successful procurement and replacement of the fuel sending unit from our older gas tank, which gave up the ghost in Norfolk, and adding a fuel gauge for our newer gas tank. Currently there are seven boats rafted up, including Bob on s/v Valor and Muriel and Tutty on s/v Mistress.
10/27/2012, Elizabeth's Dock, Great Dismal Swamp Canal, Deep Creek, Virginia
On Sunday in Solomons, as we were dinghying around for our new toilet project, we spotted m/v Free to B at one of the marina docks, and were able to enjoy a visit with Gene & Ginny, fellow Chipman Point boaters; great to see you both, and hope to see you again soon!
Monday not long after departing Solomons at 9:45 AM, we began hearing warnings on the VHF radio regarding a Coast Guard Cutter that was escorting Submarine Alpha, followed by a Navy Warship, and that anyone entering the security zone around the submarine was subject to use of force, including deadly force. As we returned to the Bay we had a good visual on all three, and soon they were well south of us, as we turned off the engine and sailed. We then heard repeated hailing on the radio from a Navy Patrol Vessel requesting that other vessels alter course. Our request came in person; the above shot was taken just as the pictured Navy Patrol Vessel departed after stating that they needed us to change to a course of 265 degrees until we were one half mile from shore, and then maintain that proximity to shore until we reached Point No Point Light, as the Navy was about to "go hot" in a live firing exercise into the area. This change in course increased our speed during our upwind sail for the next few hours, albeit several miles out of our way; but, we figured it was better than being blown up. At 4:45 PM, we were anchored for our first time in Mill Creek off Ingram Bay a short distance inside the mouth of the Great Wicomico River.
Tuesday morning around 10:00 we were underway, heading for our first time into Mobjack Bay, motor-sailing in with a favorable current, and were anchored at 5:15 PM in the southwestern branch of Severn River.
Wednesday about 9 AM we began the conclusion our most leisurely time spent to date cruising the Chesapeake Bay. The first pelicans of this voyage were spotted. At 3:30 PM we pulled up for our first time to the free dock at North Harbor Landing in Olde Town Portsmouth, Virginia. We were assisted by Bob on s/v Valor, who told us about early bird dinner specials at a real "locals" place, and we enjoyed a table for three together.
The next morning we were able to greet m/v Barbara again as we strolled about Olde Town. We cast off shortly before Noon, concluding a nearby service dock stop shortly after 12:30, and meandered about awaiting the delayed 1:30 PM opening at the Gilmerton Bridge, and finally arriving early for 3:30 PM locking in the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Deep Creek Lock, along with three other boats. Immediately beyond the lock, we tied up for our first time at Elizabeth's Dock, as one of seven boats. Muriel & Tutty on s/v Mistress rafted up to us, and it did not take long for us to get reacquainted with Dave & Haila, whom we met previously in St Augustine, as well as Judy who worked at the marina we had Grace at for a month during our first snowbird voyage.
Last evening we walked together and dined at a table for eleven of us at the local Mexican restaurant. Yesterday and today three more boats have pulled in, making a total of ten boats all staying put together here for a bit.
10/21/2012, Mill Creek, Solomons, Maryland
Friday morning at 10:30 we were headed back out past the Naval Academy, along with several Naval training vessels, and down the Bay a short distance before turning towards the mouth of the West River, at which point we were able to roll out the headsail, carefully watching to avoid the numerous trap marker floats yet observe the most vibrant foliage colors we have seen on this voyage. As we were approaching our 1:15 PM anchorage in the basin near Galesville, Maryland, Kevin decided we would swap our usual routine - Debbie would be at the helm and Kevin would be at the bow. While still heading into the basin at top speed, as Kevin prepped the anchor by dangling it over the edge of the roller the locknut had loosened on the windlass and suddenly the weight of the 45-pound CQR plus 75-feet of chain gave way to gravity free-falling rapidly to the bottom, bringing Grace to an abrupt halt in the channel; while Kevin's heartbeat got a good workout and he refrained from his impulse to grab the chain, Debbie took the engine out of gear; with his great sense of humor Kevin turned around and declared "the anchor is down"; once again we were fortunate in that no other boats were nearby! As his heartbeat began to return to normal, Kevin tightened the nut, retrieved the anchor, and gave the instruction that a new routine practice onboard Grace will be to confirm that nut is tight before prepping the anchor overtime. Later, in between multiple head shakes, Kevin proclaimed what is the title of today's blog post. Shortly before nightfall as m/v Barbara pulled in to anchor beside Grace, we hailed them on the radio to welcome them to the anchorage; in a few minutes we were getting acquainted when they dinghied over to say hello and brought us fresh baked cookies; thank you Barbara and Ken!
Yesterday's 8 AM departure was with the mainsail raised in anticipation of utilizing the winds that were forecast to include small craft advisories in the afternoon. Although the wind did not do much, and eventually we dropped the mainsail, we were able to motorsail with both sails for a while in the warm sunshine. At 2:45 PM shortly after we dropped the hook next to m/v Barbara, we were extended an invitation aboard for dinner; thank you, again, Barbara and Ken for your gracious hospitality and the tour of your lovely vessel!
Today we got to see them again as we were all at the nearby West Marine. Our purchase of the day: a new toilet.
The above shot was taken yesterday as we turned towards Solomons, and is of Cove Point Lighthouse. According to the website, after years of planning, fundraising, and preservation, the finishing touches are being put on the Cove Point Lighthouse Keeper's home to be opened this summer as a weekly
vacation rental and special event site.
10/18/2012, Annapolis, Maryland
At 10:30 AM on Tuesday we began a two hour sail down the Elk River and venturing for our first time up the Sassafras River with its picturesque shoreline of iron colored-bluffs blending in with coordinating foliage colors. As we approached the narrow, winding portion of the river we dropped sails. After pulling up to the service dock, we picked up a mooring ball at 2:30 PM at Georgetown Harbor Yacht Basin.
Yesterday we departed Georgetown at 10 AM. Shortly after exiting the mouth of the Sassafras River, we heard a radio call hailing the war ship in the Elk River, and then later we were passed by the visiting Brazilian Navy vessel pictured above. Once we entered the wider waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the nonexistent breeze freshened enough for us to raise both sails and throttle back on the engine before passing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and turning into Whitehall Bay for our first time overnight anchorage in Mill Creek.
This morning about 8:45 AM we raised anchor and after passing by the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, we picked up a free Academy mooring ball in Weems Creek (another first), and by 10:30 AM were headed to the nearby dinghy beach for a hearty walk with rolling cart in tow to Bacon Sails where we scored some marine consignment treasures.
10/15/2012, Upper Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Yesterday's 6:45 AM parade of boats headed out of Cape May and into the lumpy seas of the Delaware Bay. Grace motor-sailed along at an impressive speed, heeling hard to starboard in sustained wind gusts over 20 knots, sending items on the port side of the cabin from their unsecured locations. Our anchoring companions since Atlantic City onboard m/v Magic sped ahead of us, and radioed to us periodic reports of calmer conditions as they progressed further ahead up the bay. At nearly mid-day, as we passed Ship John Shoal Light and the entrance to a possible stopping point in the nearby Cohansey River, after checking an update on the weather forecasts and knowing that the tide would begin to turn against us imminently, we decided to push on into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We entered the protected conditions of the canal, pushing against an increasingly unfavorable current, in hopes of securing a spot for the night in Chesapeake City, only to find when we pulled into the basin that there was none to be had; there were more boats than we have ever seen anchored in there before. At 8:15 PM, about an hour after the conclusion of a colorful sunset over our bow, we dropped the hook under the cover of darkness next to m/v Magic and another trawler for our first time in the Bohemia River, near Earlville, Maryland.
In between today's rain, as it wained briefly to a light sprinkle, we moved a short distance to anchor on the west shore of the Elk River since the wind forecast is for the currently southwest winds to change to northwesterly tonight.
No photos were taken yesterday...they likely would have been too blurry before we entered the canal! Although yesterday being no exception, we have certainly gotten to see some charming vessels on this voyage, including the "looker" captured in the above shot ten days ago, in a location that needs no description.
10/13/2012, Atlantic City, New Jersey
We waited out the days of 3 to 5 and 4 to 6 foot wave height forecasts in the safe, secure anchorage at Atlantic City, while taking in some shore leave for Grace's crew at Gardiner's Basin (including lunch at the Back Bay Ale House and trip to the Aquarium), and doing some re-provisioning in Brigintine.
Today after the morning chill subsided a bit, at 9:30 AM we were headed out into tranquil seas and sunny skies to finish up the remainder of this southerly passage along the Jersey shore, accompanied by the first dolphins we have seen on this voyage. The above shot was taken as we departed Atlantic City today, although it remained in view for many hours. Another first, a tiny bird came onboard Grace twice as we motored along this afternoon; at one point sitting on Deb's head, a brief visit was quickly followed by an ascent up the mast for a higher launching point toward shore. At 3:15 PM we had dropped the hook in the very familiar vicinity of the Cape May Coast Guard Station, and just moments ago listened to their evening reveille.