Farwell Oriental and back to Annapolis
01 August 2011 | Annapolis
Its been a hot, sticky month with lots of T Storms in the evenings
So our plans to leave Oriental on Saturday were squashed by the south winds which left us with not enough water to leave Whittaker Creek. So Sunday we left, pushing north towards Pungo Canal. Not much wind, but we did manage to get the jib out for a while to help us along and made excellent time up to the entrance to the Canal where we anchored for the night. Great anchorage, even in a bit of a blow. Next morning we left at first light, hoping to get across the Albemarle Sound and into Coinjock by nightfall. Long straight canal was scenic, but got a bit boring as we pushed along it. Winds were light and fickle all day, even as we entered the Albemarle Sound; but dark clouds on the horizon said they probably won’t stay light. Clear the sound and pushing up the creek to Coinjock the squall line hit us, with winds, lighting and lots of rain. Visibility was less than a ¼ mile and the horizontal rain stung the face as we pushed on up the creek into the canal. To add to the excitement a huge motor yacht decided to pass us, tossing us around in his wake. Aside from that Seahawk handled beautifully as we motored through the squall. Just before arriving at Coinjock the line pushed past us, lifting like a curtain where at one point the cockpit was rain free while our bow sprit was still being soaked. We pulled into the Coinjock Marina, topped up with fuel/water and then had a quick shower and enjoyed their prime rib dinner, taking a quick break between main course and dessert to transfer the laundry to the dryer.
After a night of more lightening we pushed on into the Virginia Cut Canal, trying to time our journey to match the bridge restrictions. At the Great Bridge Lock we decided that because of the extended bridge restrictions just east of Norfolk we would hold up in Great Bridge for the night. The USMC league has a small park between the bascule bridge and lock, which has a free docking along the wall (no power or water, but picnic tables and easy walk to services and a great place to walk Maggie). Next morning we caught the 0800 lock opening, locked through and headed to Norfolk. This short run took a bit of time because of the bridge restrictions so anyone doing this route make sure to add extra time to your estimate. We arrived in Norfolk and dropped the hook off Hospital Point at Portsmouth, across the river from Norfolk.
Norfolk has a nice downtown Marina with some shops nearby. They are quite receptive to cruisers and have dingy dock for $6.00 per day. Other option is to go into Portsmouth with a free dingy dock and take the $6 water taxi over. We spent a few days here, enjoying some nice weather (along with the occasional T Storm) and played tourist. Old town Norfolk is nice with some great restaurants and the Battleship Wisconsin Museum, but we really preferred Portsmouth. This town was less touristy and the old city was very clean and has some exceptional architecture. Just a grand place to walk around and sight see. Meanwhile in the anchorage a huge dredging operation was underway which caused us to move twice, now this third time we decided time to leave so we pulled up the hook and headed past Battleship row and out into the Chesapeake.
Last time in the Bay we were pushing south hard, so this time we decided to do some exploring. First stop was around the corner at Yorktown. Great spot with a nice city marina and some mooring balls as well. Once tied up to a mooring we checked in and decided to stay a few days and enjoy the 4th of July activities, including ringside seats from our mooring for the fireworks. Yorktown has very limited provisioning, but does have a couple of nice eateries and some quaint boutiques. As well there is a State Park Museum which includes a “living museum” with period actors describing what life was like during the revolution (or was it a rebellion??). There is also a National Park for the Battlefield with a tours and museum, as this was where Cornwallis was besieged by the colonial forces and forced into surrender which really marked the end of the war. Yorktown has a free trolley which takes you around the various sites and also connects to a larger trolley loop which connects you to Jamestown Museum and Williamsburg. During the summer Yorktown has a daily schedule of activities each week such as a farmers market, open music festival, and craft shows. So after a few wonderful days, including an expensive cab ride to Wal-Mart for provisioning, we decided to head out on the 5th. The 4th proved to be oppressively hot, with the air being a heavy blanket which coated you in sticky sweat. As nightfall approached the promoters were trumped by Mother Nature who washed out the man made fireworks and provided her own tremendous light show with a spattering of rain and a brief stint of strong winds.
Next morning we pushed on, heading for Deltaville. This place is famous amongst the cruiser fraternity as it’s a key stop on the mad rush south in the fall. We anchored in Fishing bay, good holding and lots of room with good protection for all directions except due south. The marina here is very accommodating, even for the anchored boats. Good wifi, and two dingy dock plans. Dingy only for $5 per day and Dingy + for $8/person/day which gives you showers, laundry, bike loan and pool access. Deltaville is unlike most other small communities in the area as it is spread out over a few miles which made having the bike access very handy. Some great little shops and a wonderful little diner/restaurant in town. They also have a small maritime museum which was a treat, complete with a nature trail and wildflower garden.
After three days in Deltaville we were trying to decide where too next. One option was Crisfield, but then we heard someone talking about Urbanna so decided to head up the Rappahannock River to that village. We anchored across from the town marina behind a spit, good holding and protection but not a lot of room. Dingy dock (free) is good, adjacent to the boat ramp. Great little town, bit of history, laid back, nice folks. Down side no internet on board so it’s up to the local coffee shop to surf the net. After a couple of days time to push on and head north. As we entered the bay some great winds and got the sails up. Initially we hoped to make for a nice anchorage on the Little Choptank, but with Solomon’s Island on the beam the weather picked up so we turned to port and went into the Solomon’s, anchoring in almost the same spot as last year. T Storms for the next two days kept us at anchor, and then we finally found a window and pushed out to Annapolis. Pretty good day, but winds were again fickle and we were always watching the sky as scattered T Storms were in the forecast. The weather gods cooperated and we made it into Back Creek and grabbed a city Mooring Ball (pricey but we don’t trust the holding in Back Creek). It felt like we were back home!