Moving south after holding up in Comanche Cove to repair starter on motor.
|Sailing to Bahamas - 9/2014||
Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer must have felt a bit like this.
China Rose departed Eastport, MD on 10/18 headed south via the Chesapeake Bay to the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) at Hampton Roads, VA. We had no particular schedule, no particular destination (except south), and no particular timeline ... just 3 travelers on an adventure. Much preparation had been made .... checking out systems, updating equipment, performing safety checks, installing new gadgets to make life on a boat easier, stowing gear, provisioning enough to last many a day, along with adequate rum, wine, and beer.
After 4 days, we arrived at Hampton Roads, VA where we would enter the ICW and the Great Dismal Swamp. Those first few days were great training periods, many a laugh happened, several scares were experienced, and we were confident that we could really do this. Captain Bob knows China Rose very well, Dee knows China Rose somewhat, and Tom was the newbie. During those first days, we spent time at Solomon's Island, had a wrestling match with a fishing weir in the Chesapeake Bay (we won), nearly lost our anchor when it came partially detached, and spent a very rock and roll night (think nautical) on the Wicomico River. Please google the Intracoastal Waterway ... its history and story is quite fascinating.
At Hampton Roads, we entered the ICW and the Great Dismal Swamp. We spotted our first dolphins! The change was dramatic from the commercial, Navy oriented area around Hampton Roads to the quietness and peacefulness of the ICW. It truly was a "boat parade" of every imaginable kind of boat ... numerous sailboats, some motor crafts ... all headed south. It was a floating migration. At Mile Marker 10.6 we entered Deep Creek Lock, our first of several. It was our first experience of squeezing several kinds of boats into a rather small lock, either tying off on the side or rafting up with a buddy, having the water level change dramatically and adjusting lines accordingly. Folks leave the lock-master conch shells when they return north from the islands ... there are many of these shells in the yard and along the sidewalks. Although we had been having great meals on China Rose, we decided to go out for Mexican ... and ended up with Chinese. One of the first things you learn is to be spontaneous and adaptable.
At Mile Marker 50.7 and on 10/23, we arrived at Elizabeth City NC, a very welcoming place for boaters. All sailors are welcomed with a wine and cheese party and the ladies are given a rose, a tradition started in the 1980's. Google "Rose Buddies" for more info on that tradition. Following a trip to the local laundromat, we headed to Quality Seafood for some of the best seafood you'll ever have. Later, we had our first experience in becoming card-carrying club members at Coasters, a local bar, in order to have a cold beer. This is a sweet, beautiful southern town ... folks were very friendly, helpful, and welcoming. And good seafood!
We departed Elizabeth City on 10/25, headed into the Albemarle Sound and on to the Alligator River and Pungo Canal Bay at Mile Marker 100. We anchored in a very wide spot on the Alligator River ... had dinner and was enjoying a beautiful evening and sunset when we noticed something swimming in the river. After much deliberation and discussion with neighboring boaters (think shouting), we decided it was a very large adult bear. Our neighbors anchored off our bow decided to investigate and took off in their dinghy to take advantage of a photo opportunity. Thankfully, they were only curious and didn't bother the bear. We exchanged email addresses and hope to see some of those pictures.
Our first bald eagle sighting was on 10/26. This was our first day of shrimp and cheese grits ... we'd bought the shrimp the day before and spent the next 24 hours deciding how best to prepare them. Now we're starting to meet and re-meet many boaters we've met along the way and have docked beside or anchored near by ... we're starting to feel part of a rag tag caravan headed south. And we're starting to feel like old friends even though our first introduction may have only been 4-5 days ago ... we hear chatter on the VHF from the other boaters and start recognizing boat names, hull colors and sail covers. We heard a lead boat announce that all boaters need to be cautious. Apparently a deer had decided to swim the Canal. We dropped anchor at Campbell Creek at Mile Maker 155 for the night and hoped to get an early start to Beaufort, NC.
Beaufort NC (Marker 204) is beautiful. More dolphins sighted. We spent Monday night thru Wed morning here for some rest, laundry and showers. The nearby island had feral ponies that we heard at night time. We met up with the 3 couples who had also watched the bear swim Alligator Creek ... spent a couple of hours on one of their boats for drinks and exchanging sailing stories. Good book store, good restaurants, fun bars, sweet antique shops, and friendly folks here in Beaufort. Be sure you pronounce it "Bo-fort".
Left Beaufort on 10/29 at 7:30 am and headed for Swan Point Marina for the night. (Marker 245) It's a sleepy tiny place ... 3 young boys fishing off the dock ... a slice of America here. They had caught some sort of venomous fish (very ugly!) that grunted and they needed pliers to get it off the hook. Tom saved the day and the boys by producing the pliers. The Marina is run by Evelyn and Tina (mother and daughter). We also made our second purchase of fresh shrimp dockside ... actually, so fresh they were still wiggling in the bag! And again spent many hours discussing how to best prepare them ... Old Bay? Cocktail Sauce? Shrimp Creole? Shrimp and grits, again?
It's Halloween! Up early on 10/31, we raced (that's relative on a sailboat) to Surf City Swing Bridge to be able to pass through timely. Otherwise, we would have to wait an hour for the next opening. We passed thru/under several bridges on this leg of our journey. We're headed to Carolina Beach Mooring (Marker 295) and hoping to catch up with friends, Jackie and Eric. We arrived late in the day, anchored, and jumped in the dinghy to meet the Whites. We passed huge houses on each side of the ICW here .... beautiful and palatial actually. Not at all like the Great Dismal Swamp and other little southern towns.
Again, we're up early to get into the Cape Fear River thru the Snow Cut Canal. As we passed Carolina Beach State Park, we noticed one of our boat buddies had run aground. Help was on the way but we felt badly that they now had this awful delay in their trip. We passed through a long stretch known as "Rockpile" ... aptly named. There is no mercy or wiggle room in this part ... you must stay right on course even though it looks like you have lots of water on each side of you ... but that water is only 2-3 feet deep. It was swampy, foggy, and misting a bit where we anchored in the late evening ... nearly dark, on the Waccamaw River at Mile Marker 375. The Spanish moss was everywhere making the place a bit more eerie. As Bob was shining the light around to make sure all was okay around us, he noticed an old wooden mast sticking above the surface ... clearly a sailboat had sunk and had been there for some time. Attached near the top of the mast was a skeleton, all decked out in a red bandana hat and clutching a sword. Perfect for Halloween! Since no trick or treaters stopped by we ate all the M&Ms and drank rum. It was the perfect ending to another fun day.
We woke up to a rainy, cold, blustery day ... heading to Georgetown, SC today. Arrived in more rain, cold and blusters. Once we docked and refueled, we were able to take long hot showers, then headed to the local watering hole for cold beers, food, and a football game. The chef/owner welcomed us, gave us samples of really good food, and later offered shots of "Fireball Cinnamon Whisky" ... we were starting to warm up! It was a fun evening with the locals, the "Fireball" shots were perfect, and the home team won the game with a field goal in the last 5 seconds. Another day in paradise. We all crashed by 9pm.
It was 11/2 and we headed to Charleston, SC via the Atlantic Ocean. No more ICW for us. It would be an all day sail, several miles off shore. Bob had been listening to weather for several hours trying to determine whether to take the ocean route or stick with the ICW. Due to wind, tide, and current, once we left to enter the Atlantic there was no turning back ... it was a commitment. He picked the ocean .... which ended up being a great sail with ample wind and swells not as high as predicted. Finally, we were doing what we had come to do ... sailing. We had motored so much on the ICW that sailing was now a treat. And there was a whale sighting! Coming into Charleston Harbor was spectacular ... church steeples on the skyline, fancy cruise ships docked, tall palmetto trees swaying (South Carolina is the Palmetto State). We dropped anchor just off the bow of the "USS Yorktown", an aircraft carrier permanently anchored at the museum at Patriot Point. (Google it ... very interesting ship). We regrouped, cleaned up, and headed into Charleston for dinner and walking. We had forgotten the time change ... it was difficult enough to figure out what day of the week it was on the ICW! A fellow boater suggested that we not eat dinner at any one restaurant, but rather do a progressive happy hour stroll through town and hit 2-3 different places. Charleston has fantastic food ...happy hour
is 4-8 ... no decision to be made here plus now we had an extra hour. Another day in paradise!
Our first full day in Charleston, founded 1670, was spent at the hardware store, doing laundry, catching up on emails, and some sightseeing .. house tours, open markets, walking the waterfront area and happy hour at 4, again. Downtown Charleston did not disappoint us ... it's colorful, very historical, easily walked, really friendly people, outstanding food, and very clean and safe. It felt good to stretch our legs and move about. The Charleston Museum was excellent and offered much more than its exterior size suggested. Our second full day was filled with things we'd missed the day before, exploring more of Charleston's history, and partaking of happy hour at 4, again.
We had 3 days of happy hours and were never disappointed ... a lot of variety from high end restaurants to local Tex-Mex bar .. and toss in the local establishment where every surface is covered with dollar bills. Folks sign the bills then staple them where there might be room .. China Rose is now represented. There has to be several thousand dollar bills on the ceiling, rafters, walls, doorways, window frames, and such.
Every journey starts .... every journey ends. By 11/6, Tom and Dee had returned to their homes and Captain Bob sailed south for more adventures. The beauty of this trip was found in many ways by each of us in our way ... seeing and living life at a very slow pace ... slow enough to have conversations with friends, slow enough to cook meals together and then wash dishes together ... slow enough to have a shot of rum last for 45 minutes because we talked. We experienced life in the slow lane ... meeting folks on their own adventures and sharing stories --- some retirees, some families, some single handed sailors, some on their first trip, some very seasoned .. and folks from all over ... it was truly a pilgrimage on many levels.
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
|Sailing to Bahamas - 9/2014||
11/07/2014, Departure 7 AM ETA 11/8 6PM
11.8 - 11.9.2014 CHARLESTON SC TO ST MARYS, GA Weather predicted to be 5 - 10 knots N - NE with < 2' seas. Sail at sunrise. Will buddy boat with Jim on Jemini and sail through the night. Sail expected to less than 30 hours. Will rest up there at the marina and hop to Jacksonville, down the St Johns to St. Augustine and see Richard and Shannon.
|Sailing to Bahamas - 9/2014||
Dropped anchor around 9PM a really long day. It approached the Norfolk River just before dark so we passed the Navy Ship Yard in the dark. What a sight even in the dark all these war ships lined up being refitted and rebuilt.
|Antigua Race Week||
40 km. Another nasty day 20 knots from the south and gusty. Waves were 2 - 3'. The port solar panel mount has broken in half. It looks like will hold until we get south for repair. The main halyard wrapped around the running light fixture and took a number attempts to clean up. Tom finally figured a way to pull the halyard back and clear the mast. We got to the Wicomico River after dark. Passed east to the Smith Point light to clear the shallows and watched the sun go down. The darkness and cold settled upon us. Approached the Wicomico in the dark was unnerving but I used the chart plotter and the lights. I approached through the shallows which was a big mistake. I looked up the see pickets on the Starboard side dancing by and they realized a fish trap. Crash -- we went head on into the orange utility fence. Lucky we bounced off and did not ground. Moving further off shore we made the approach under "chart plotter" and followed the red and green until we found a nice protected anchorage. We knew it was the right place because a dozens of other boat anchored before us.
|Antigua Race Week||
Sailed out of Fishing Creek but the weather turned rough 25 plus from the stern and seas 3' with a short chop. We twisted into irons. In addition the motor belts were squeaking. I attempted to tighten but with the rough seas we returned to Calvert Maritime Museum. We had a wonderful day on land touring the museum and walking down town. Terry drove down for the day. Found a great little pub with a band and sat around for a few tunes. Then we were off the Vera's White Sands for Dinner. What a great summer fun place. We all agreed that we should come back some summer day.
|Sailing to Bahamas - 9/2014||