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Sloop Les Miserables
Joining The Navy
10/20/2011, Portsmouth,Virginia

We left the marina on Sarah's creek bright and early at low tide so we carefully maneuvered out to the York River Channel and did not go aground! It is at least 8 miles down the river to Chesapeake Bay and this past without incident. We raised our sails and headed toward Portsmouth, VA which is just across the Elizabeth River. We encountered a lot of boat traffic - many container ships, all sizes of Sailboats, powerboats, and even a Cruise Ship. However, when entering the Elizabeth River the most impressive ships were the Navy ships on the Norfolk side of the river. We were very grateful that not one of the Navy ships was out in the channel. We saw an impressive display of naval might which included a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier, 2 guided missile cruisers, numerous amphibious assault ships, and destroyers. We felt like spies, because we took photos of all of them, which will be posted on our blog site. We also past a huge Carnival Cruise ship just before we entered the Tidewater Marina at Portsmouth. Later from the marina we were amazed to watch the cruise ship back away from her berth and use her thrusters to turn her around so that she could proceed to sea.

The Historic Triangle

We had such a great time in Deltaville that we did not want to leave. Readers of this blog have heard this over and over again, of course. However, we have a continuing fear of being caught by Jack Frost before we can get south to warmer climes, so with great reluctance we departed from Deltaville to go onto the next place we did not want to leave. We had a beautiful sailing day south to the York River and thanks to Merry's navigation we avoided all shoals by a wide margin. We proceeded up the river to Yorktown scene of the final decisive British defeat in the American Revolution. The Riverside Marina floating docks are only a few hundred yards downstream from a narrow place in this very deep river where there is a highway bridge. When we pulled into the marina we encountered a current of at least 1 1/2 knts the person from the dockmaster's office who came down to take our lines certainly knew what she was doing; her name is Susan and she is a 20 year veteran of the United States Coast Guard. Mike, whom we met later, also works at the dockmaster's office and is a retired captain in the U.S. Coast Guard, who for his last assignment commanded all the small boat units on Chesapeake Bay. As you can imagine, Wiley was completely in awe of both of them and loved listening to their stories as well as ask them a multitude of questions. However, Mike told us that there was going to be a strong wind out of the east which would cause large waves when the tide was ebbing and advised us to leave the marina. We went across the river to Sarah's Creek. We made the crossing in about a half an hour but the entrance to Sarah's Creek is tricky because of a sandbar and Wiley managed to run us (softly) aground. Since we were only going perhaps 1 knt we backed off without difficulty and ended up spending 4 nights at this marina, Yorktown Yacht Marina. They are incredibly nice people and one of the services they provide is a free ride to and from Yorktown whenever you want. We took advantage of this to tour the Yorktown battlefield, colonial Williamsburg, and Jamestown. We were amazed at the Yorktown battlefield that many of the field fortifications are still visibly evident. We learned that Lord Cornwallis had made the inexplicable error of abandoning 18 of the 21 redoubts that constituted his first line of defense. This shortened the siege by at least two weeks. A large British fleet and relief force arrived off the mouth of the York River just 5 days after Cornwallis surrendered so his inexplicable action ended up being the difference between victory and defeat. Two of the redoubts that he did not abandon were taken by storm, one by French troops and the other by American light infantry under the command of Lafayette under the command of Alexander Hamilton. One of the most interesting things we learned is that the French actually sustained more dead in the siege of Yorktown than the Americans did. The names of the American and French dead are on the Victory Monument.
We took a free shuttle bus to Williamsburg where we were able to see the mansion that the last British colonial governor, Lord Dunmore, fled from. We were able to go through a church built in 1740, where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and many other great Americans attended services. We were also able to learn how colonial women gathered wool, made thread, wove cloth, and made clothing. It took over 140 hours to make the cloth for one petticoat and that did not include sewing it.
We enjoyed the street theater presented by re-enactors playing Martha Washington, an early free African American minister, George Washington, and more.
We took the shuttle to Jamestown where we visited the both the "historic" Jamestown (the site of the actual colony) and the Jamestown settlement (which is not where Jamestown was but is an effort at a replica of Jamestown). We went on a Jamestown tour led by a young archeologist whose enthusiasm for his work made this a highlight of our journey so far.
We got to see the "dig" that uncovered 2 sides of the triangular stockade in 1994; before that it was believed that erosion of the island had removed the site. A "dig" after that uncovered the site of the first church built at Jamestown which was revealed by the holes that the settlers dug for the wooden pillars that supported the roof of the church.
The archeologist described artifact that he had uncovered which included an armored breast plate from the 14th century (bought on the cheap as war surplus from the tower of London!). We have posted a large number of photos on our blog site if you are interested take a look.

Two Confused Old People

Yes, we were 2 confused old people as we tried to navigate our way into Deltaville without going aground. The entrance into Deltaville is shallow at points and there is a narrow entrance - which we did navigate after finding and following buoy markers. When entering the entrance to the channel we were given directions from Dozier's Marina where we would be staying... and promptly went a different way. The kindness of Chris, the marina manager, he gave direction so explicitly that yes even the 2 "confused old people" found their way into the marina and dock. The Dozier's Marina is owned by the people who publish the Dozier Waterway guides that we reference every trip to decide upon a marina or anchorage. They are invaluable. The Marina offered private bathrooms, a pool, a gorgeous deck overlooking the waterway, Franken bikes, a courtesy car, barbecue area, and again some of the nicest people around. We were stuck... we were able to shop, enjoy the sights, and finish up some boat maintenance. We had perfect early fall weather- sunny and in the 70's. We went to the Holley Point Seafood and Art Festival just up a short bike ride from the marina. On tour bicycle trip on the way back we had a bald eagle fly just over our heads. It was the closest either of us have been to seeing a bald eagle in nature. We once again met some kind and generous people. Marty generously took time to take Wiley over to pick up some diesel and gas for our jerry cans. We enjoyed a 'sundowner' with Marty and Stan the evening prior to leaving.

10/13/2011 | Kay
Just checking on you! The stars sound beautiful...I hope your wine reserves are holding up. I love that you named your anchor Bruce! You are building many memories for your dotage.
Gorgeous Anchorage

Sailing magazines often share photos of beautiful isolated anchorage where mariners are surrounded by nature. We had hoped that we would eventually find such a place and our anchorage in Mill Creek off of the Great Wicomico River did just that. We were surrounded by trees, in a mostly quiet anchorage, and loved the tranquility. I say mostly quiet anchorage because we did have to re-set our anchor after initially selecting a spot that had a boat not too far away from us that was running a loud generator. However, after settling in at our spot - a glass of wine, an orange-purple-red sunset, and an evening full of stars we couldn't have asked for anything more beautiful. The stars were so bright we could pick out the constellations with no problems. Jupiter appeared to glow brighter than we have ever seen before. Earlier, while at our first anchorage, I lamented that we had yet to see porpoises or dolphins or other "exciting" wild life - as Wiley had promised me. So, Wiley took be over in Dimples to check out what was living nearby on the jetty. Lo and behold he did find some fascinating wild life for me to document - be sure to see the photos of the snails!

10/12/2011 | Brodi Cole
It looks like you two are having a great time! We can't wait to follow in your path in a couple years!
10/18/2011 | Anonymous
It seems there are two reoccuring themes in you blog posts... the enjoyment of fine wine, and running aground... any correlation?
We've got that queasy feeling - going to Solomon

We headed to Solomon Island in some challenging seas. The boats round bottom, rolling seas, and winds from behind us (beam reach) had us both feeling a bit queasy. We generally chart a course that allows us to sight buoys that confirm our position and sometimes this requires more time at sea than may actually be needed. We are improving our navigating skills and using way points or 'bread crumbs' to keep us on track. We use our Plotter and GPS but truly rely on our own navigation plans just in case we should lose power to our instruments. It is a bit more challenging to know where you are when out on the water so our Captain's coursework is paying off. We motor sailed to Solomon Island and ended up staying at a lovely marina Zahniser's marina. It was a bit tricky going into the harbor as there is a large shoal just outside of the harbor entrance and 3 different rivers to travel once into the harbor. We were able to enjoy the Lighthouse museum and met some gentlemen who were carpenters volunteering their time to build a historical fishing ship - a "Bug-eye". We had a lovely dinner overlooking the harbor. We look forward to heading to a Mill Creek anchorage off of the Great Wicomico River as we head down the Chesapeake.

Sunny, windy and cool (60's).
10/07/2011, Onto Solomon Island

We woke up at our anchorage to scenery was very beautiful, although we were both disappointed that we did not see any dolphins anywhere near the boat. The anchor had held all night without moving an inch. Unfortunately, when Wiley tried to pull the anchor up it wouldn't move an inch. We got the anchor chain to the vertical position off of the bow and then ran the boat forward with the engine at 1800rpms, and it finally came up with the chain forming a great muddy mess on the foredeck.
We were underway for what turned out to be an unforgettable sail. The wind was between 14 and 18 knts out of the NE and gusts to 20+, and we screamed down Chesapeake Bay at speeds of 5- 6 + knts - which is fast for our little boat. However, with Wiley's adult ADD, Wiley is not at his strongest when steering the boat on a run or broad reach. On three occasions this resulted in accidental jibes with the boom and mainsail crashing from one side of the boat to the other. However, with our Bimini between our heads and the boom crushed skulls were never an issue, but it is a tribute to the boats mainsheet, traveler, and hardware that nothing broke. Nonetheless, Merry's nerves were a bit shattered and she is reconsidering allowing Wiley to steer when the wind is from this direction. We covered 42 miles in what seemed no time all in 3-4 foot waves before turning up the Pautuxent River and navigating up the channel to the harbor on Solomon Island.

10/08/2011 | Brian
In Wiley's defense, I am (almost) certain that MANY, MANY people who have been sailing for over 30 years accidentally jibe their boats ALL the time. C'MON SON!!
10/18/2011 | Brian
I just realized that Merry could use a stout piece of line either as a preventer, or to tie the absent-minded helmsman into a fixed position.... just tryin to hep :)

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