20 May 2009 | Baltimore, MD
Our trip on CURLEW started on 11/1/2008. We returned to Philadelphia for the holidays on 12/15 and we went back to CURLEW in Florida on 1/26/2009. CURLEW was back in Baltimore on 5/19/2009. The entire trip lasted 158 days.
We were 428 hours underway and put 2,596 nm on the log. We ran the engine for 262 hours, which includes some motorsailing, but most of this was spent under power on the Intra Coastal Waterway. Also, we ran the engine 21 hours purely for battery charging and running the water heater. In addition, we ran the Honda generator a total of 83 hours for charging and water heating.
No real mishaps, only small things, such as constant problems with a leaking dinghy (Avon, I would never buy one again), a burned out alternator, a small tear in the mainsail and one grounding (both happened in the last few days on the Chesapeake Bay).
Back in Baltimore
19 May 2009 | Baltimore, MD
CURLEW is back in her slip in Baltimore. Yesterday I stayed in Weems Creek, to wait out a predicted strong cold front, that, in the end, did not have much of a punch. Anyway, there is always something to do on a boat, and I used the time to move the remote control for the autopilot from the cockpit (where it did not do much good, as it was too close to he main control unit at the wheel) to the chart table. Now I can steer the boat both from the cockpit, the chart table and from the companion way. This was a project that had been on the "to-do list" for 5 years or so. Finally done. Very satisfying. This morning I left Weems Creek around 0900 for the short trip to Baltimore, and I was lucky that I left early, because the Severn was about to be closed for the Blue Angel air show rehearsal The trip to Baltimore was entirely under power, and uneventful. Good to be back (Or is it?).
Annapolis/Weems Creek, MD - Almost Home!
16 May 2009 | Weems Creek, MD
We left Solomons at 0800, with little wind and low clouds. The forecast was for 10/15 knot winds from the south. They did not materialize until noon, when I turned off the engine. The first part of the trip I saw very few sailboats, but I had to dodge numerous small fishing boats. The spring fishing season must have started. Approaching Annapolis there were sailboats everywhere, including a few races. I can't remember the last time I saw so many boats. Unnerving, almost. Passing Thomas Point lighthouse (picture) felt almost like coming home. At 1500 I picked up an empty Naval Academy mooring in Weems Creek. We will stay here until the predicted strong cold front has passed. Nice opportunity to re-visit Annapolis. Then back to the marina in Baltimore.
From Fishing Bay, VA to Solomons, MD
14 May 2009 | Solomons, MD
It almost gets boring: another perfect sailing day for CURLEW, with plenty (may be even a little too much) wind from the right direction. We left Fishing Bay at 0700 and were under sail at 0750. The wind was from the south, at around 18 knots. After a few sail changes, especially after the wind had picked up to 20 and 25 knots, with some stronger gusts thrown in to keep things interesting, we arrived in Solomons at 1600. The anchor would not hold in the first anchorage, in Back Creek, so we moved to Mill Creek, where we dropped anchor at 1700. After I cleaned up on deck, and put the cover on the mainsail, it was time for a well-deserved beer.
Aground in Deltaville, then to Fishing Bay, VA
13 May 2009 | Fishing Bay, VA
Mary left CURLEW this morning to take the train to Philadelphia. After Mary left I got the dinghy on deck and raised anchor at 1030. Once outside the Hampton River I set the mainsail and the genoa, and with an 8 knot breeze from the east CURLEW was sailing north at 4 knots. Around 1300 the wind shifted to the SE and increased to 18/20 knots and our speed picked up to 8 knots or more. Wonderful sailing. I decided to go to Deltaville, a distance of about 40 miles. Once we had rounded the Wolf Trap lighthouse I put the genoa on the pole to starboard and we continued on our way to Deltaville. Deltaville has a narrow entrance channel with a few sharp turns. It also has a reputation to be shallow. However, the pilot books indicate a minimum depth of 8 feet. CURLEW draws 6 feet, so there should be ample water, or so I thought. Before we even reached the first turn I saw the depth decreasing rapidly, and we ran hard aground. Generally, running aground is no fun. But when you are single-handed and on a lee shore and the tide is falling, you are in real trouble. It took me 30 minutes to get off. I still don't know how I did it, except I followed my principle of getting off the way you came on. Behind me I noticed COOYA heading towards Deltaville. We had met Mike, the owner of COOYA in Belhaven. We spoke briefly on the VHF and, after I finally got myself back into deeper water, he decided to follow me to the nearby anchorage of Fishing Creek. Once we were anchored Mike invited me aboard COOYA (picture) for a beer. He was grateful that I saved him a potential grounding! I ended up staying for dinner, with Mike and his crew Therese (sp?) and Mike II. All in all, a lovely evening after an eventful afternoon.
13 May 2009 | Philadelphia
I'm sitting here at our condo in Philadelphia with my feet up on the couch with the computer in my lap. It is nice to be home, but have to admit, I'm thinking of Thierry on Curlew. I came home to get ready for Lauren's wedding while Thierry brings the boat up to Baltimore. I am sure he is enjoying the quiet time with his other girl!
We both thoroughly enjoyed the Star Trek movie. I thought they did a phenomenal job. The characters were pretty much dead on (as younger versions of the originals), the dialog was quippy, and the story was good. Even Thierry liked it - and he was not familiar with the orginial series or the movies that came later. After the movie, we met up with the crew from Thalia and their friends Tammy and Mike who are sailing on a 34' catamaran. We had drinks and snacks at Tabby's (I think that was the name). They have a substantial beer selection - everyone had fun trying different brews.
I caught the 9:10 train out of Newport News this morning, and got in to Philadelphia, on time, at 3:55. Lauren picked me up, and we had dinner, along with my sister at one of our favorite spots, Radicchio. It is good to be back.
I tried calling Thierry a few times. He finally called back and told me that he was anchored in Fishing Bay, VA, near Deltaville. He had a great sail from Hampton, arriving around 6:30. Unfortunately, he ran aground on a falling tide. After about a half hour, he was able to get himself off. He ended the day on a good note, however, catching up with Mike on Cooya. He'll fill in the rest of the story when he has an internet connection.
From Coinjock, NC to Hampton, VA
12 May 2009 | Hampton VA
Thierry and Mary
We used the lay-over day in Coinjock to do engine maintenance (oil and filter change). Today we left early, again, for the trip to Hampton, VA. It was very windy, again, but this time on the nose. This trip involved going through Norfolk, with 6 bridges and one lock to deal with. Most bridges are on a schedule (closed at morning and afternoon rush hours, and opening only once or twice an hour outside rush hour). We missed one bridge, and that caused us to miss the next scheduled opening of the Great Bridge lock.
from Mary: It always amazes me to watch the dance that the boats do while waiting for the bridge to open. We were waiting along with 8-10 other boats of varying types, shapes and sizes - many very large. Unlike an auto, boats can't just stop - they move with the current and are impacted by the wind, which can spin you around if it catches your bow. You are also limited in space not only by the width of the canal, but also by depth, channel markers and barges or other vessels that are moored alongside the waterway. Some boaters are impatient, so they try to push their way closer to the bridge, without concern for you or space limitations. It rattles me so much some times, that I have to keep myself busy so I don't look to see what's going on. Thierry is always perfectly calm, and handles the boat like I would my car. It is second nature to him. (note from Thierry: you should see the Dutch in Holland in such a situation: by comparison, the Americans are very well behaved!)
We are now anchored in Hampton, VA, next to Thalia. This afternoon we are going to the IMAX theater to see the new Startrek movie.
From Belhaven, NC to Coinjock, NC
09 May 2009 | Coinjock, NC
We left Belhaven at 0600, at daybreak. It turned out a very windy day. We had the genoa up on the Pungo river, but by the time we got to the Alligator river the wind had increased and we saw gusts of over 30 knots. We furled the genoa and set the smaller staysail instead. Fortunately the wind was from the south-west, and we were travelling in a northerly direction. There is an old swing bridge crossing the Alligator river, which does not open in sustained winds of 35 knots and higher. We were lucky that the winds did not get that strong, or we would have been stuck in the unattractive Alligator river, which has no protected anchorages. Crossing the Albemarle Sound was a bumpy affair. This stretch of water is large but shallow, and kicks up a nasty steep swell in strong winds. Mary did not like it. When we got to Coinjock they told us the Gilmerton railroad bridge in Norfolk would be closed to traffic all day Sunday. So we decided to stay in Coinjock and leave for Norfolk/Hampton tomorrow. We had an OK dinner ashore and went to bed early after a long day underway.
From Bath, NC to Belhaven, NC
08 May 2009 | Belhaven, NC
We first stopped in Belhaven two years ago when heading south. It was a blustery, rainy day, and we stopped early in the day to wait out the weather, never getting off the boat. Since then, I have read a bit about the town in cruising guides, and have wanted to return. We decided to take a half day and explore.
A half day was too much time, however. The town has seen better days, with many closed stores, and very little of interest to see. There are some charming houses along the waterfront, a drug store, and hardware store. One shop I wanted to find was Wine and Words (www.wineandwords.biz). We had visited their store in Washington and found two very nice wines (highly rated by the wine "experts"). We picked up a Spanish garnacha, Garnacha de Fuego, Old Vines 2006 for $9.95 (wonderful!) and a 2007 Jumilla from Luzon for $10.75 (which we have yet to try).
The Wine & Words in Belhaven not only has an interesting wine (and beer) selection for its size, but they also have a cafe called Back Bay Cafe. They proudly display a sign that says they offer offer 50 wines for under $12.00. W&W is owned and operated by James McKelvey and his wife, who is also the chef. We each had a beer while browsing the book and eclectic cd selection. Many of the books and cd's are used (but in very good shape). I found a cd of Astor Piazzolla songs and later picked up a Heath Brothers cd. After taking a look at the menu and hearing about the dinner specials, we decided to return later that evening.
James features a selection of reds and whites at dinner (at a reduced price). But one of the special features of dining here is that you can pick out a bottle from the store, and for a $4.00 corking fee, sample a bottle that would be double or triple the price at another restaurant. James is very knowledgeable about his collection and made wonderful recommendations. We selected a 2006 Agentinian cabernet sauvignon from Bodega Catena Zapata which sold for $17.80. It was delicious - if you can use that term to descibe a wine - and we bought two to go.
Dinner was wonderful, and Chef Yvonne came out and spoke with us (as well as their other diners). She is from England and lived in several places before settling in Belhaven.
We recognized another diner who came into the anchorage earlier that day. Mike, from Cooya, came to our table to chat for a bit. He is from Scotland (originally from England), and sails a yawl designed by Linton Hope, and built from Burma teak in 1914 in Brightlingsea, England. He has owned the boat since 1973.
All in all, we had a wonderful visit to Belhaven. If for no other reason, boaters should make this a stop to visit Wine & Words and the Back Bay Cafe. They are closed Mondays & Tuesdays (and the month of January), serve lunch Wednesday-Saturday, dinner on Friday and Saturday and are open for Sunday Brunch.
From Washington, NC to Bath, NC
07 May 2009 | Bath, NC
Thierry and Mary
After taking care of a dental emergency, we left the dock at 1200 today, for a leisurely 15 mile sail down the river to Bath, a small town on the Pamlico River.
Bath, North Carolina's first town, was founded in 1705. Bath provided easy access to the Pamlico River and the Atlantic, 50 miles away, and was the first port of entry into North Carolina. Bath is home to the oldest existing church in the state, St. Thomas.
Bath is a lovely, sleepy little town, with two homes from the 1700's, but little else. A quiet anchorage makes this a nice stop-over.
Some Background on Washington, NC
06 May 2009 | Washington, NC
The western part of North Carolina that borders the Pamlico River is referred to as the "Inner Banks". Washington was established in 1771 by James Bonner, who had a plantation here. He was a colonel in the Revolutionary militia, and named the town Washington in honor of General George W. This area became popular with privateers during a period of colonial blockades.
Washington was heavily involved in fighting during the Civil War, and fell to the Union after New Berne in 1862. Washington remained in Union hands for two years. When the Union Army left, they burned and pillaged much of the town including homes and churches.
There remain many houses and buildings from the early 1800's. The town itself has a certain charm, however, like most small coastal towns, there are many empty storefronts. The docks and waterfront have recently been rebuilt. There is an Estuarium focusing on the Pamilico/Tar River estuary, which is the second-largest estuary in the country. Several shops and restaurants, a farmers market on Saturday and monthly nights of music on the streets to entertain visitors. Everyone we have met has been very friendly and hospitable. We are both glad we took the time to visit this charming little town.
06 May 2009 | Washington, NC
Having traversed this part of the ICW three times - making a straight shot south - or north - we decided to begin to explore some of the rivers and towns that we pass along our way. We selected Washington, NC, some 33 miles up the Pamlico River from where it intersects the ICW, after hearing that it was a quaint and somewhat historic town.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Scott, skipper of Salty Spouse, a 36' Morris Justine, designed by Chuck Paine, who also designed Curlew. Scott and his wife, Inza, moved to Washington about eight years ago, and keep the boat at the marina here. They spend the winters here and travel during the summer on their boat. Scott and Inza took us to the grocery store and a marvelous seafood market - on what was a very bleak rainy day. We later had lunch with them at the Meeting Place Cafe - who offered a wonderful, varied menu with many interesting vegetarian offerings.
On Tuesday we were joined on C dock here at the Washington Public Dock by Doug and Mary Ann of Calculation, a 35.5' Bristol. They now live in Oriental, NC and also spend many months on their boat. We ran into them that evening at Pia's, a restaurant here in town and joined them for dinner. It was a very good meal, complete with good conversation.
Like everywhere else along the east coast, we had our share of rain, and tracked a storm front on TV while sipping a beer at a local bar. The front, which was headed for Washington was threatening to turn into a tornado. It was pretty interesting to watch the radar with minute by minute commentary on the development of this storm. Luckily, the tornado never developed, but we did hear that there were some tornadoes that touched in other parts of NC.
Today we walked several blocks to the laundry and are now preparing Curlew for our journey back to the ICW and homeward.