25/11/2009/7:19 pm, Dowry Creek Marina
We are in Dowry Creek - very near Belhaven - after coming through the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal. We spent Tuesday night anchored off Deep Point in the Alligator River - a good little spot with room for several boats. As we came along we wondered about protection, but a boat that was already there, Foxglove, called to say they were sitting very comfortably. Accordingly, Madcap and Oz pulled in, followed shortly by Feelin' Lucky and a boat we have seen several times but have not yet met - Condesa. We all had a good night and were gone by 9 the next morning.
We have been motoring along - not enough wind to sail across the Albemarle Sound - and today the wind was on our nose - and of course we were in the narrow overland cut so didn't have a lot of leeway anyway.
We followed Oz into Dowry Creek - a regular stop for them - filled up on diesel and topped up the water tanks, and then decided to take a slip for the night. That is unusual for us but it is a great little marina and it was a chance for us to try getting into one of those slips with the pilings and the little short docks. You know the ones???? What a hash we made of it, but the folks on the docks really helped us out and we finally managed to get the lines around the poles and figure out how to do it.
We've done laundry and had showers and enjoyed the nightly happy hour in the very nice clubhouse. (How about this bottle tree that stands near the clubhouse? New species to me!) We've been encouraged to stay for the cruisers' Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow night, but think we will leave and head for Oriental. It's a bit of a struggle deciding what to do. The weather forecast is for winds on Friday that we might like to be tucked away for, and if we stay here for tomorrow, we might still be here another day.... and our inclination is to keep moving.
Good news - Jim fixed the remote mike for the VHF radio. I can't tell you how - but he just worked through a bunch of trouble shooting things and then said "I've fixed it! Who's your Daddy?" Now if he can do the same thing for the fridge, I'll be even happier!
There hasn't been much traffic along the ICW. We met a couple of tugs and barges today but always when there was lots of room to pass. One bald eagle was perched high in a tree and several vultures watched the passing traffic.
Oh - I have to tell you that the movie in Elizabeth City wasn't quite as bad the second time around - maybe because we weren't expecting much? And the whole experience was a lot of fun. The theatre had upscale little tables with shaded lamps and a phone to call in our food orders. It would be a really neat idea for some of the old theatres back home I think.
As I was walking back from the grocery store, a woman wheeled her SUV around in front of me and called out "Get in!" I did and she drove me back to the waterfront. Jim asked Charlotte at the Visitors Centre where to get ice and she said, "I'll take you there!" So we both had very positive experiences in Elizabeth City. Good place!! Dowry Creek Marina - good place too!
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!!