In the Dismal Swamp
10/23/2008, Goat Island, NC
October 20th... Monday Deep Creek, VA to Goat Island, NC
The weather was crisp but sunny for our traverse of the Dismal Swamp. We made the trip with three other boats without incident. There were a few bumps but there was plenty of water. They decided today as we were traveling to begin opening the locks 4 times a day, instead of just 2, so we drove right along and got locked through 2 ½ hours before we had planned.
The Pasquotank River (where the dismal swamp dumps us) is wild and smelled exactly like archery season in our swamp at home. There is a quite a bit of cypress but the forest itself looks to be impenetrable.
We anchored behind an island about seven miles short of Elizabeth City. Bill and Betty (Inspiration) dinghied over to invite is for after dinner socialization and we had to say yes even though it was already dark. We were joined by Tom and Cathy of (Perseverance 2) and had a very enjoyable evening as always when anchoring in the middle of nowhere with new friends.
The new dinghy
Mike and Kathy
10/23/2008, Deep Creek, VA
October 18th...Saturday Deep Creek Lock, MD
There was a nice steady rain all night and it continued most of the day. We decided to spend our day off installing our new radio. The idea was to be finished by 3:30 to listen to the Spartans. As is sometimes the case things did not work out as we wanted. Actually the wiring of the radio was not a problem but when I wired in the XM tuner as per instructions (which I read ahead of time) we couldn't make the radio recognize the XM signal.
We called Sony, who manufactured the radio... but when I finally got to speak to someone, I couldn't comprehend what she was saying through the accent. Later we made contact with the Sony help site and were told that the XM tuner we had purchased was not compatible with our radio. (Even though it say "for all Sony radios" on the package and it is what both Best Buy and Circuit City told us to buy.)
Anyway, we weren't feeling too happy ... although the radio sounds fine.... when it was time for the football game. We dialed in WJR on the computer and listened to one of the worst halves of football in the history of the game.
Luckily we had dinner plans and didn't have to listen to the remainder of the game. Instead we joined four other couples for dinner at the local Mexican Place. La Familia is a REAL Mexican restaurant with great food. We had a great time and luckily there were enough of us at the table with a little Spanish that we were able make ourselves understood.
October 19th...Sunday Deep Creek, VA
Since it looks like Tuesday will be a better day to cross the Albemarle Sound we opted to stay here at Deep Creek and leave tomorrow. We knew that Robert was scheduled to work today so we wandered up to the Lockmaster's shack to see what he was supplying for breakfast and to have another cup of coffee. Most of the folks at the docked with us were there and the menu was breakfast sandwiches and pastry.
After chatting for an hour or so and watching a lone power boat lock through we headed back to the dock to assist the boats who were leaving.
A little later Kathy and I walked to town, which was about a mile away and picked up a few things at the grocery and the hardware.
After lunch I went to work building a new system of attaching our dinghy to the davits. The hardware had everything we needed to do the job-even a 2 X 4 of the right length.
Moving down and out of the bay
10/18/2008, Deep Creek, VA
October 17th... Norfolk to Deep Creek Lock
The bridges ahead of us are closed to shipping during rush hours. It is only about ten miles to our destination at Deep Creek lock but it only opens twice a day... 9am and 3pm. Anyway... we were in no hurry today since all we had to do was negotiate another 7 miles of waterfront and a few bridges.
My first task of the day was to check the engine and transfer the 16 gallons of fuel from our Jerry cans to our main tank. Since our fuel gage decides for itself when it wants to work. I have a stick and physically measure the about of fuel in our tank.
Unfortunately due to the fact that the tank is a weird shape, we have never been able to correlate inches of fuel to gallons. I had some of the tank dimensions but not all and was not sure that I could ever really figure it out. The top section is 19 by 40 by 3 inches. The bottom section is 12 by 40 by (unknown height). The middle section is tapered for 19 inches wide to 12 (again an unknown height). I do know however that the total height of the tank is 23 inches. I also know that it holds 54 gallons of fuel and that there are 231 cubic inches in a gallon.
Anyway after an hour or so I was able to solve the puzzle and now know the exact correlation between inches of fuel in our tank and the corresponding number of gallons.
On my way into a nearby marina to refill our Jerry cans, I stopped by Sojourner to say hi and to Ed and Ava from Makai, who were visiting as well. Ed was having trouble charging with his Honda generator... the same problem that I resolved earlier this summer. With a few simple directions... actually I just told him to look up "power sharing" in the online manual for his Link 1000, he solved his problem.
Fuel cost $2.93 a gallon. We've been paying more that $4 all summer, so it was a pleasant surprise. I loaded 11 gallons and saved 5 for an emergency. Our new task will be to calibrate our fuel gage to what we now know to be our actual volume.
Knowing that folks would be lined up a Deep Creek for the 3pm opening we took off early and arrived about 2 hours early. We anchored with about 9 other boats and waited.
We locked through without incident... although Robert the lockmaster moved the sail boat behind us back a ways because they obviously didn't have a clue and our dinghy was in jeopardy. We gave him a conch shell for his collection .. which was much appreciated.
On the other side of the lock there is a dock which had space for all of those who opted to stay although two boats are rafted.
We fried some fish for dinner slept well in with a light rain most of the night.
October 16th... Thursday Piankatank River to Norfolk VA
Up and gone by daylight- there was a nice southwest breeze of about 5 knots. Our course was south-southeast for the first two hours so we furled our jib and gained about a knot in speed. Most of the day however was directly into the wind and front still scheduled to pass tonight we didn't want to spend the day tacking.
After passing over the tunnel that connects Hampton to Norfolk at the mouth of Hampton Roads, it takes a full two hours to motor past the Navy Base and the various shipping companies that have docks here in Norfolk. We met a giant cruise ship in the relatively narrow channel at one point, which was interesting, as well as countless tugs, barges and security boats.
Arriving at our planned anchorage at Hospital Point at about 3:30, we were surprised to find only about 12 boats anchored. With the boat show ending just a few days ago, we expected the place to be packed. Last year when we stopped here about 10 days later, there were twice as many boats anchored here and it was a challenge finding a spot.
This year we pulled in.... saw "Sojourner" and anchored next to them. We had a nice chat with Rick and Linda who stopped by to say hi on their way back to their boat.
As forecast, the front went through about 1am. The anchor drag alarm went off and I got up to check things out. There was no rain just wind and Sapphire had swung almost 180 degrees on her rode. We hadn't seemed to have dragged anchor so I reset the alarm and stayed in the cockpit to keep watch for a while. In just a few minutes I noticed a trawler of about 6o feet dragging down on Sojourner. Even with the overcast, anchoring in the middle of town makes for lots of ambient light. I could see both Rick and Linda in their cockpit attempting without success to wake the folks on the trawler. Finally Rick jumped into his dinghy, drove over and pounded on their hull to get them up.
The guy got his engine started in the nick of time and backed away from Sojourner almost hitting two smaller boats in that direction. Eventually he got his anchor up and moved to the other side of the anchorage. With the winds at 15 to 20 with a few higher gusts I decided to sleep in the cockpit ... which with the side curtains, the new cushions, and a blanket, was quite comfortable.
Buy now it was about 3am and before I got settled Rick dinghied over to rehash the event and chat for awhile. By the time he returned to his boat I was confident that our anchor was in good shape and had no trouble sleeping.
October 15th... Wednesday Patuxent River to Piankatank River VA
It was another calm day so the motor was running constantly. We were up in time for coffee before sunrise and left the anchorage a few minutes before seven. The day was uneventful. The Bay was absolutely flat and I spent most of the time cleaning the decks. Sapphire had somehow run into some tiny iron dust particles at some point in the last month, which have now rusted causing tiny rust stains all over our non skid decks.
I went to work a section at a time with some On and Off Hull cleaner and a brush and the spots were gone. Then I went over the entire section again to pick out and tiny splatters of Cetol or epoxy which may have been spilled at some point in the last few years. The result... after a day of work was a deck that was in better shape that it has ever been.
We pulled into the Piankatank River but bypassed Deltaville and Jackson Creek because I didn't want to negotiate the entrance before daylight. We motored a couple of miles into the river and ended up anchoring opposite Fishing Bay on the south side by ourselves until a couple of more boats joined us before dark.
October 14th... Fishing Point... Patuxent River, MD
We were up before daylight and caught the 7:30 bridge out of Spa Creek. The Bay was calm and the sky was clear as we motored our way south with now a real destination in mind.
The tide turned around noon and a south wind of about 10 knots worked up a slight chop. We dropped from about 7 knots to about 4.5 but it was hot and sunny and nice to be back on the water... traveling. In the morning we spoke with Mike on "Valkyrie" and ended up following him into and anchorage outside of Solomons, MD, which will make for a much quicker departure than going all the way into Back Creek.
There is a front forecast to come through this area on Thursday night and we would like to be out of the Bay before then... so it looks like a couple of long days tomorrow and Thursday. It does look like we'll be sailing.
October 13th... Annapolis, MD
A little after nine we called the Apex dealership and set up a time to take delivery on our new used dinghy. We agreed on Truxton Park at 10:30. The only problem was that there was a delivery charge and between the two of us couldn't scrounge up the $38 in cash.
I was off to town to the ATM while Kathy stayed to pick up the boat and load water. When I returned with the money we were off to the park to make the exchange. Once there we removed the outboard, got rid of the old ratty lines and waited. At about 11:00 the truck showed up and in no time we had a new dinghy... clean and with no patches.
After some lunch, we headed back to town to purchase the necessary material to fabricate new lifting lines ... (attaching the dinghy to our davits)
Back at the boat ... It took me longer than I thought to tie up all of our new lines but eventually we got things the way we wanted them. Later in the afternoon we loaded up another 25 gallons of water because I really need to wash and rinse our decks. At some point we picked up some airborne metal and now have tiny rust spots on our starboard deck. I can get it off with acid but need a lot of rinsing.
We roasted some garlic with our brats and had baby cucumber / onion salad for dinner.
October 12th... Annapolis, MD
With the prospect of leaving here soon, our day was spent getting Sapphire back in traveling shape. I took down the mast steps and replaced our main sail slugs. We made three trips hauling water at about 25 gallons per trip. I spent the afternoon once again working on the outboard. It starts and runs well enough but won't idle which leaves us with very little maneuverability in close quarters.
Anyway I failed again. It may be that there is blockage in the fuel line somewhere which will be my next point of emphasis.
For the first time in a while we spent at least part of the afternoon reading.
In the evening our neighbors on "Wendy Michelle" invited us over for dinner but we begged off to grill the steak that we had thawed. After dinner we were just beginning a rousing game of cribbage when Bill knocked ....with another invitation which would have been rude to refuse. We were joined by Ian and Jan form "Jock's Lodge" and had a nice time getting to know them a little better. Bill and Boop... (as in Betty Boop) are from Ohio and we spent an hour or so pointing out anchorages on the way south before heading home to bed.