May 8, 2012
The true reward to our style of cruising is that we are not compelled to leave port because of a schedule. As anxious as we are to see what's around the bend, there is a strong frontal passage heading this way for arrival tomorrow. Thus we will wait another day and shove off on Thursday. That also allows us (me) to complete preparations for some time away from the power chord. Then again, we might sail to another marina. Looking at the charts there are so many places to visit some a mere dozen miles away. Like the early slogan used by Microsoft "Where would you like to go today?" we will most likely select a destination on the way out of Norfolk.
Picture of Scurv urging us to shove off
05/06/2012, Scott's Creek, Portsmouth
TIME TO GO
May 6, 2012
Ok, so we have been here long enough that we know our way around the area without the gps. Of the three boats here that we have gotten to know, one of them, S/V Intrepid, is a boat with whom we sailed the Abacos. It was good to learn this is their home marina. Another boat, S/V Willet, is one that we met by radio after having done part of the AIWW south of here. We actually met the crew when we both took slips here who left this morning. He was a Corpsman in Vietnam and we had much to discus. They are heading north toward their home port in New Jersey. A boat just arrived late yesterday that we think we met in the islands two years ago. They plan to leave today heading to their home port in Baltimore. It appears that we are still ahead of the explorers heading north for the summer. Most, if not all we have met are heading north to home ports.
That brings us to our departure. We thought we would leave Wednesday but the forecast calls for a 50% chance for rain that day. We might delay by one day, or not. Of course, Scurv gets half a vote on the idea. The Chesapeake phase will be different than the ICW days getting here. Literally, we will take the next month or so exploring those places suggested to us by "locals". The list grows daily.
It is curious to us how ones perspective changes when first deciding to stay for a month in one place then when the time draws near to leave. The longer in a slip, the more "settled" the boat gets to the point that the cabin is rearranged into a more home like configuration. When the departure date approaches, stuff starts to be stowed for sea. That stack of guides, books and magazines won't ride there underway. So, do something with them. The stowed charts and instruments materialize as tools, kitchen stuff and other items find their way back in their proper sea space. Hopefully, the cabin rug will dry before departure lest the perfect mold machine populates the cabin with fuzzy spots. The last load of laundry and the provisions become a priority. It is sort of like prepping for a trip that has an indeterminate end date. Scurv starts to relish his "dirt trips" since he does not realize that there are more to come elsewhere.
Whilst taking Scurv on a dirt trip, we were selected by a tiny tick. Scurv talked it into chewing on me. After all such parasites that have called me "home" over the years, why is it that this one is causing paranoia? Did that one tick qualify as the golden BB? Anyway, I am wondering if the blue stuff we squirt down Scurv's back will work on humans.
Picture is of the Portsmouth waterfront looking at Norfolk waterfront
May 4, 2012
We bought the guide some time ago and we have listened to those who went before about the Chesapeake. Since we leave Portsmouth next week, we broke out said guide and started to decide "where to next". The obvious thing here is that there were three guides covering Texas to Norfolk. The Chesapeake has its own guide. That means lots to do.
In looking at the bay and tributaries, it is obvious that we could easily spend the rest of the summer here. Fellow cruisers have favorite destinations on the bay and we have been taking notes. This is a place where one can almost see the next destination and long cruising days may not apply as long as we are in the Bay. It is a little over a hundred sea miles to Annapolis, near the top of the Bay yet the list of "must see" is so large that one must make choices. It is sort of like going to Disneyland the first time: which ride first.
One last museum in Portsmouth is the Portsmouth Naval Yard and lightship Portsmouth. The ship is moored in dirt in a park downtown but was closed for touring. So, the consolation was the museum. It is a small facility that tells the story of this area (again) along with more details about the lightship. Imagine a two month duty aboard a 100 footer moored in one location in stormy conditions for days on end and the whole duty was to keep the light on. Lightships are no longer used but the men who crewed them performed a very necessary duty faithfully and with honor.
We had a bit of a diversion yesterday in this marina. The marine construction company next door hosted the Mitt Romney visit to Portsmouth that made national news yesterday. Early in the day, the Secret Service, local, county and state law enforcement and many television crews took over the parking lots. Then a thousand or so supporters showed up. The security screening process was something to behold. Mr. Romney, and Ms. Bachman spoke on a stage easily viewed from the swimming pool deck at the marina. After the event all that disappeared in a couple of hours. Poof, the circus moved on.
May 2, 2012
It is rare for Bear and especially Scurv to sleep beyond the time when I get up. Could it be that I am noisy? Anyway, this was one of those mornings and the crew were asleep for an hour after I got up. We spent yesterday, starting early, in the maintenance of the engine cooling system. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what the assembly guys were thinking when they put a steel plug into a cast iron engine block. That is what they did for the engine coolant drain plug. It would not come out so I had to devise another way to flush the engine. The truth of the effort was that the alternative method was a messy job. It is a good thing that Beneteau built an engine sump into the system to catch drippings such as two gallons of goo previously known as anti-freeze. Again, a thirty minute job took several hours.
We managed to unship the 15 hp outboard we purchased years ago for the cruise. That engine is just too big for us. Why? First and most important, it weighs well over a hundred pounds. Secondly, we do not need to do 25 knots tearing around the anchorage. Simply put, we cannot take the beating. Third, it hangs on the same side of the boat where our generator is. That makes for a starboard list of about 2 degrees. Fact is that we find no reason to have an outboard that big since we are highly unlikely to challenge breaking surf on some remote beach or haul a half ton of provisions. Our solution was to procure a 6 horsepower outboard that is less than half the weight of the 15. It will propel our dink much faster than we sail or motor on the boat.
We have been at this marina about three weeks and that is long enough for Scruv to worm his way into the live aboard community here. Everyone knows his name and most stop to speak to him on the foredeck or while walking. Not much conversation is directed toward me so that tells me something. While we have the same color hair, he is way cuter and smarter so I am viewed as the lug that Scurv takes for a walk. We now know that the cabin rugs have a finite life highly dependent on how bored Scurv is when we leave him along below. He can actually extract individual threads and takes great pride in "unweaving" rugs. Maybe he is a purist that does not believe in such things below.
Picture of the Monument to the Yorktown Victory
MUSEUM OVERDOSE PART TWO
April 28, 2012
I am counseled by Bear that many who read this are not interested in all the history stuff. Get over it.
Civil War (hardly civilized) - Having spent the previous day in colonial times and with three museums, we drove to Richmond to see a few more museums about the area. Richmond, being the capitol of the Confederacy and so close to Washington, DC was the focal point of many attempts by Union forces to take the government of the Confederacy. Not only that, Richmond was, perhaps the most industrialized of the southern cities of the time. The State map shows a continuous string of battlefields around the city and the problem is where to start. We happened on the Civil War Museum which shared grounds with the Tredegar Iron Works site right downtown Richmond. I never heard of the Tredegar Iron Works; should have though. That facility was the largest iron works in the country at the time. Not sure here whether or not they meant the US or the Confederacy but it produced half of the artillery, some 1100 siege and field pieces, and a huge portion of the musketry for the South. They did custom stuff like the iron plate used on the Iron Clads such as the CSS Virginia (aka Merrimack). So, it was a natural prize for the President Lincoln and the boys. It was somewhat spared in the Reconstruction days due to its size and capabilities. The primary products were railroad rails. It continued to cast iron until 1957.
The NPS had a brochure outlining a driving tour of the battlefields around Richmond which took two and a half hours of one does not stop to read the markers. In 1864 Generals Grant and Meade sought to take out the heart of the Confederacy in places with names The Wilderness and Spotsylvania. They were unsuccessful against General Lee. So, they took every chance to battle the Army of Northern Virginia and that set up the twelve battles near Richmond. Of them, Cold Harbor was epic. Over seven miles of trenches marked the battlefield. Lee's 56,000 troops were in place to take whatever General Grant offered. While there were some breaches the lines held. Looking at the terrain, it was a true killing field. In one nine hour assault, Grant lost 6,000 men, more than half in the first hour. One cannot stand there without feeling the presence of the Americans who fought there. Of the battle, Grant later said:"...At Cold Harbor no advantage was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." Those battle fields are now covered with beautiful spring foliage and a kind of peace that only hallowed ground offers.
Scurv has been after me since coming aboard to take him on a long walk. I offered, and he accepted to take a little stroll at Cold Harbor. The distance was about a mile and a half on a mild, sunny afternoon. By the time we got back to Bear and the water fountain, Scurv had all he could take. In fact he took every opportunity to sit down along the last half of the trail. Methinks he really wanted a ride but I did not offer. Deck shoes are not appropriate for hiking. I kept telling him my paws were on fire also but he did not care. It was every mammal for himself. When we got in the pickup to return to Portsmouth, he went to sleep, lucky dog. That's right, he and Bear sleep and I drive. It was an absolutely enjoyable visit to Richmond which is a very pretty place.
Our time here is limited. We have spoken with many "local" sailors who offered "must see" places in the Chesapeake. The list grows and it appears that we might modify our plans a bit to use the MSU to minimize backtracking. One option is to sail to the Annapolis and day trip to DC and other destinations along the Potomac. We have not definitely decided to do that but one gets a significant cost advantage to staying in a marina longer than a few days. For instance, this marinas break point is about seven days. The price for a month is the same as seven days transient slip fees.
The picture is of one of the killing fields of Cold Harbor. Will post moe in the gallery when we get a fast internet connection
Byr the request of several, the gallery has photos of Scurv before the cut and after the haircut. We have also posted several more pictures on the area history in the albums of the area names.