23/11/2009/11:22 am, Elizabeth City, NC
The wind howled around last night and we were happy to be tied to the wall at Waterfront Wharf. Today is brighter, and really quite pleasant. Jim and I went to the local seafood store/restaurant for lunch (steamed shrimp for me and a sampler platter for him) and then walked back to Muddy Waters for coffee and wifi.
As we were strolling around yesterday admiring the elegant old houses - some not so elegant anymore, but others just lovely - we met a young mum picking jalapeno peppers from her garden. She very kindly gave us some (stuffed with cream cheese, they were hot and good) and took time for a good chat. I loved her yard. It was a big corner lot with flowers and vegetables and lots of play structures including a castle/hen house for the two chickens that were picking their way around the garden. We hadn't realized that Elizabeth City is home to a huge Coast Guard complex - the largest on the east coast (and maybe the nation?) It also has a couple of colleges and a state university. She says it is about a 45 minute commute to Norfolk so there are lots of people living here and working in larger centres. It must be a nice way to have a quieter quality of life.
Tonight we'll attend the local movie theatre/diner for dinner and a show. Ken and Connie have been here before and it sounds like fun. You get there at 6, sit down at a table, pick up the phone on it, order dinner, eat and drink, and then at 7 the lights go down and the movie starts. Can't believe the movie is Men Who Stare at Goats. We saw that while we were in Solomons, and despite the good actors in it, we thought it was "kinda dumb with some funny moments". Perhaps with a glass of wine in hand and the company of friends it will be better the second time around??
We'll do a restock of some produce and dinner fixings at the grocery store this afternoon (they pick up and deliver to the Mariners Wharf) and Susan at the Welcome Centre says there might be a "rose buddy" wine and cheese reception at 4:30 if there are enough cruisers around and the weather cooperates.
We seem to have a glitch in our refrigeration system - and maybe the VHF too. We can hear a beep on the radio that seems to be from the fridge (how is that possible?) because when we turn off the fridge, it stops, but when we turn off the radio the beep is just quieter. Jim is doing some trouble shooting and we hope it will be an easy fix.
What we haven't figured out yet is the static in our remote VHF mike (the one in the cockpit) that started a couple of days ago. It makes so much noise that we have to keep it turned way down and then we can't hear when someone is calling, except that the static stops during a conversation. There is no static on the nav station radio and they are both connected to the same antennae. We have a handheld VHF so that helps, but its range is not nearly as great. Ideas anyone??
Tomorrow morning we'll be off across the Albemarle Sound and into the Alligator River. I'm not sure where the next posting come from but it will be south of here!
Thanks for posting comments folks, it is great fun to find them and know you are travelling with us.
22/11/2009/3:01 pm, Elizabeth City, NC
Around about 7:30 we were up and off from Lafayette River. It turns out it was a little early because we poked along some to time our arrival correctly for the 11 am opening of the Deep Creek Lock in the Great Dismal Swamp. In our laid back state, we gawked at all the military vessels, waved to the tugs, and generally enjoyed our trip. We waited for about 20 minutes for the lock to open. The water rises by about 6 feet for southbound vessels, and the lockmaster was really helpful, taking our lines and looping them over the bollards.
Three sailboats came through - Oz (Ken and Connie), McBeth (Fran and Charlie), and Madcap - and we all stopped at the Visitors Centre for the night. A bit later, Feelin' Lucky arrived with Betsy and Jim on board. We signed the guest book at the visitors' centre (no charge for mooring) and then in true cruiser fashion, chatted on the docks, comparing itineraries and boating experiences.
The swamp was not quite as exciting this time - perhaps because it is late in the season and much of the foliage is off the trees. We like our swamps to be swampier and hot and green with birds and turtles. We saw only one lonely little turtle on a log. The depth is no more than 6 feet in places. We draw just under 6 feet and the lockmaster said we might bump a time or two. We never did feel any bumps but I'm sure we ploughed through the mud on occasion because in a couple of places we saw 0.1 - around the 20 mile marker and again a little later. (Can't remember the mile marker). Oz was ahead of us and very kindly called back when they spotted deadheads or shallow spots.
Three of the four boats left Sunday morning to go to Elizabeth City to wait out the coming wind and rain. McBeth decided to stay put and do some maintenance work. We caught the South Mills lock opening (0900 for southbound boats). Feelin' Lucky was ahead of us by a bit, so we went right through the bridge as it opened and then right into the lock. We tried and tried to radio the lockmaster but he didn't answer calls (VHF channel 13 in North Carolina). He took our lines in the lock but he never did come back out to hand them off to us when we were ready to leave (that is the harder part because we had dropped 6 feet and couldn't just lift them off - they needed to be pulled around and off).
So we are now in North Carolina - we're knocking off the states and we're getting a little warmer - I think! I didn't have quite as many clothes on today but the wind has come up now and we've put up our enclosure. We took a walk about town with Ken and Connie, and will enjoy exploring it a bit more over the next day or two. The Muddy Waters coffee shop on Main Street has wifi so that's where I have come to get these postings up. We don't want you worrying about us!!
20/11/2009/2:54 pm, Lafayette River/Norfolk VA
Yeah - other Sailboats!, Norfolk VA (Lafayette River) Nov.20/09, posting #15
After a little windlass trouble, we left our anchorage in Mobjack Bay at 0800 hours. Lots of wind - then no wind - then lots again. We managed to sail quite nicely almost from the start until we had to change to a more southerly course for Norfolk, putting the wind almost behind us. We managed to motor sail with the staysail out till it finally just flapped around too much and we hauled it in.
Cruising through the busy Norfolk harbour is always interesting and this time was no exception. It wasn't awfully busy; a military ship came along through the channel and moved ahead of us (interestingly, we had to maneuver a bit to let it cross ahead of us as it came out of the York River, and we arrived here at about the same time.) An aircraft carrier was entering the harbour as we were coming down the coast, and by the time we came in past all the slips, it was disembarking long lines of crew. If you look closely you might see them in this picture. We also had four sailboats going through the channel at the same time - this after seeing none for the past 2 days! One was headed out and the other 2 kept going past where we turned off for the night, so maybe we'll see them later.
Just after we anchored in the little bulge of deep enough water here, another Canadian boat came in - the Oz from Toronto. We had a quick chat on the VHF and discovered the crew is Ken and Connie, and they are Bahamas bound as well. Ken blew his conch horn at dusk so we really feel like we are headed south now!