10/25/2010, Elizabeth City and Beyond
October 20th, 2010...Deep Creek, Va to Elizabeth City, NC
We left the Dock at Deep Creek around 9:40 and headed into the Dismal Swamp. It was cloudy and cool but as the morning progressed there the sun popped out occasionally to give us a little heat. Sapphire ran at about 4 knots, which would put us at the South Mills lock for the 1:30 opening. The trip was uneventful. There was a reported shoal at a feeder ditch but we slowed and never touched. A dredge was on site so they may have already fixed the problem, however there was a half knot of current in the canal and water was rushing out of the feeder ditch which drains a lake in the swamp. I assume the shoaling will continue until they get the water level in that lake down to the point where is supposed to be at this time of year.
We pulled out of the exit lock at about 2 p.m., which was early by about 30 minutes, and headed through the Turner Cut to attempt to make the bridge in Elizabeth City before it closed at 4:30. I powered up and Sapphire was running at about 7 knots when the bilge pump came on and didn't go off.....a bad sign.
I jumped down to the engine room and found water pouring out of the connection where the exhaust water enters the system at the exhaust elbow...(where the hot water from the heat exchanger meets the engine exhaust) Kathy shut down the engine and I turned off the thru hull fitting which sends water to the engine. Then it was her job to keep us in the middle of the 100 foot wide channel while I sorted out the problem.
We ended up anchoring in the middle of the road (so to speak) and in about 30 minutes we had things patched together for the run into Elizabeth City.... now aiming for the 5:30 bridge opening.
I spoke with the boat we'd been following all day to find that there was still some wall space to tie up and just before dark we were safely moored for the night. "Spinwalker" and "Motu" (new friends from Deep Creek and Deltaville respectively) stopped by for a glass of wine and chatted for a while before we buttoned up for the evening.
October 21th...Elizabeth City, NC to the bottom of the Alligator River.
In the morning I removed the hose that was leaking yesterday to find that it was almost completely clogged at the exhaust elbow end .... which easily may have been the cause of all or our recent circulatory problems.
Kathy looked up the nearest auto parts places and I took off to find a replacement. After 4 shops and a 5 mile walk, I was back and had the new hose in place. At about 10:30 we cast off and headed out the Pasquotank River toward the Albemarle Sound. It was a late start, but with luck we could make the trip before dark.
The wind built all day and it was gusting to 30 in the sound. Sapphire took a few waves over the top but it was a pleasant sunny day and without engine problems.... we had a fine day, arriving in time to have some left-over chili for dinner as the moon rose in the east.
October 22nd...Alligator River to Oriental, NC
We were up early waiting for the sun to get high enough to see the marks leading into the Alligator-Pungo but the moon setting in our eyes was a problem so we waited until about 6:45 to weigh anchor. After a long day of driving (72 nautical miles), we arrived at the dock in Oriental just before 5 p.m. in time for a party at Steve and Kim's at 5:30.
Present were "Fine Lion", "Veranda", "Savage Son" .... we'd seen all these folks in the last month but it's always fun to get together. Everyone is looking for a weather window to scoot over to the Atlantic (about a half a day from here) and head south. Unfortunately, it looks like there are south winds in the offing for the next few days, which will hold us up...
There is a long list of boat jobs so a delay is fine with us.
October 23rd...Oriental, NC
After coffee I washed a couple of layers of salt off "Sapphire" and then removed the first reefing line on our main. We've decided that if we're thinking about reefing, a double reef will usually be best. Then I worked on the roller furling system ,which hasn't been working well since our mast was hauled. Finally, I tried to stop some leaks around the mast that also were caused the mast work.
By then Kathy had our laundry together and we walked over to the condo to deliver things to Steve and Kim that we picked up for them in Annapolis...and to sneak in a load of laundry. We hung out there waiting for Steve's quiche to cool and by then it was almost time for the MSU-NW game, so I ran back and collected the remainder of our laundry and watched the game as Kathy washed a few loads.
In the evening we walked over to the Tiki Bar for a charity Bar B Q dinner.... had a good time listening to a local band and then returned to "Savage Son" where I changed the strings on my guitar and played a little before calling it a night.
Mike with oysters-and knife!
Beautiful weather, if a little cool.
10/20/2010, Deltaville to Deep Creek, VA
October 20, 2010 Norfolk, VA
We spent several days at anchor in Deltaville. Mike went oystering with our waterman friends, Mike and Tammy. He came home with several dozen oysters-Rappahanocks. He also came home with a new oyster knife, with which he proceeded to slice open his hand after opening about 10 oysters.
We got a call from our friend, Kevin, (Cielo) who is down here winterizing their boat, and made plans to get together. Mike picked him up at the dock and ferried him back to the boat. We had a great time eating oysters, which Mike grilled a little to make them easier to open. What fun we had! We only wish Lizz could have been there also.
We squeezed in a dinner at a restaurant with Craig and Kris, "Tilt" and Carl and Marilyn, "Discovery", and one more dinner with Kevin. We were ready to leave Deltaville.
We have just begun our trip south. While we were anchoring yesterday the engine overheated. Wouldn't you know. Mike found a blown hose, but didn't have the correct size hose to fix it. In rolls "First Edition" and Peter has the correct size hose. Hurray! Mike got the hose changed, but the engine did not get entirely put back together. It was time for dinner.
Monday, a new day with new problems. Salt water filled the antifreeze reservoir. This is not a good sign. Mike knew it had to be the heat exchanger, but called friend Bill, the boat mechanic aka "Veranda", to confirm. They supplied us with phone numbers of places we could call to find a replacement. Before making any calls, Mike went in to Tidewater Marina's service department and told them his troubles. They said he should talk to Debbie. She said they could have the part there in a couple of hours! Wow! They also said they could probably get a better deal for him if they bought it-double Wow!
Great, the engine is all put back together, the fuel filters have all been changed, hose clamps checked and tightened, new antifreeze in the reservoir-just need to bleed the fuel lines and start her up. Hmmm, ran okay for a bit and then just died. Mike worked some more on the fuel lines and filter bleeding, and we finally had it running great. For ten minutes, and then it overheated again. Mike had been working on this all day and once again, it was time to eat. Give it up for the day-maybe we'll just live in Norfolk. Of course, he made yet another phone call to Bill to bounce some ideas around.
Tuesday morning Mike is back at work trying to bleed any air out of the engine-being quite sure that air was the problem. He opened the top of the manifold and glug, glug, glug, the antifreeze from the reservoir filled up the air space. Put in some more antifreeze and start the engine. It ran for ½ an hour without overheating. Let's go!
We had decided to once again go through the Dismal Swamp as opposed to the Virginia Cut route. We have never done the Virginia Cut, actually and didn't know about places to anchor. So, we planned to just drive right on through the swamp and stop in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Good, we have a plan. So we merrily drive down the Elizabeth River to the only bridge left in Norfolk that you have to request an opening for. Only the railroad bridge on the other side of it is down. Oh well, how long could this take? Try an hour and 15 minutes. Now we've missed the lock opening. So much for having a plan.
However, after 3+ years of doing this, we have learned to change plans at the drop of a hat, or a change in the wind. We debate trying the Virginia Cut or going to Deep Creek, through the lock and tying up at the dock on the other side of the lock. We decide that will be our new plan. We made our way slowly to the lock and dropped the anchor to wait 1 ½ hours for the opening. We did a little boat work and had lunch, locked through and got nicely tied to the dock-the only boat here.
I got some birthday cards ready to mail and we walked over to the Food Lion to pick up a few groceries and mail the cards in the mailbox we know is there. It was a beautiful day and we had a nice walk.
After the last locking of the day, three more boats tied up to the dock here. This is not a problem because it is a nice, long dock. There is no power, however. You can get water, but we don't really need any. It is peaceful and quiet and we really enjoy it here. We are just sorry that our favorite lock master, Robert, is on a much deserved vacation. We would love to have seen him.
We will get to Elizabeth City today and tie up there for the night, then continue on for a couple of days before we stop in Oriental to visit with Kim and Steve, (Fine Lion) and then leave with them from there. We are grateful that we are not in a hurry and do not have a schedule to keep.
Old Mast Step-New Mast Step
10/13/2010, Deltaville, VA
September 5-October 12, 2010 Deltaville Boat Yard
We have done almost nothing but boat work since we returned to Deltaville. I'll attempt to give you the short version.
We knew there was some corrosion at the base of our mast, so job 1 was to have the mast pulled and see what was going on. Well, we found a pile of rubble and a mast step in 3 corroded pieces-definitely not good. We did not know what to do-have a new one made? Could we order one from somewhere? Days were spent researching and cleaning up the mess from the corrosion. We were in West Marine one day and ran into our friends Mike and Tammy, the watermen we met last year. Luck would have it that they had purchased an aluminum boat, and had lots of scrap aluminum and the tools to work with it. Mike spent several days driving to Kilmarnock to fabricate a new mast step and then hired a welder to put it all together. It was amazing!
There are many boats in the Boatyard here, including our friends Carl and Marilyn on "Discovery" and Crain and Kris on "Tilt". We have also made new friends, and we often eat together in the "shed" (screened-in porch) here. If boat work all day is not enough, there is also laundry to be done and meals to cook.
While the mast was down, I waxed it and polished the rigging as best I could. We put in new wiring for our anemometer, which wasn't working, and put on a new steaming/deck light-which was also not working. We also installed a new VHF antenna. We should be in pretty good shape now, if it all works! However, having the mast taken out and put back in has cost us a few too many boat dollars!
Mike has mentioned that we had some bubbles in our gel coat just above the water line. We think it is due to shrink-wrapping our boat for winters in Michigan. Well, it bothered him so he started sanding before we went back to Michigan this summer and finished it when we returned to Deltaville. Then it was carefully taped and we painted it. It looks pretty good!
When we looked at the weather one day and saw that it was going to rain for 3 days, we pack up and drove to Oriental, NC to visit with Kim and Steve (Fine Lion) who have a condo there. We had a great time - played Mexican Train dominoes and just had fun. It was a nice break from boat work. It was quite the storm - we had planned to return on Thursday, but we all went for a ride to the next town and it rained so hard at times that we couldn't see and we had to drive through water over the road, so we decided to stay for one more day. Even then, we had to turn around 4 times the next day due to road closures. We saw houses under water and cars in ditches up to their hoods. We made it back just fine and it only took an extra hour.
Back at the boat we waxed the hull and top sides and the bottom. Whew, time for another short vacation. We packed up again and headed to Annapolis for the Boat Show. We met up with many boat friends - from Michigan, Nova Scotia, and boating friends who have been staying in Annapolis. We got to watch an excellent MSU/ UM football game with fellow Spartan fans in Marv and Roni's rented condo. The outcome was excellent for the green and white! We were fortunate to be able to stay with Steve's son, Scott, and his fiancé, Amy. That was a bonus! Much fun was had, once again.
Back to the boat to wash, clean, clean, clean, prepare for launching. We also went to visit our friends, Mike and Tammy, and arranged to leave our car there while we journey on. Mike also wrangled a trip with them for oyster dredging, which is where he is today. We are back in the water and it feels great to be floating! Our friends from Michigan on "Mutual Fun" are anchored right near us - life is good! Hopefully we can start heading south tomorrow, we shall see what the weather has in store.