Sea Step

04 June 2024 | Blacksburg, VA
30 May 2024 | Flag Harbor Marina, St. Leonard, MD
23 May 2024 | Hospital Point Anchorage, Portsmouth, VA
22 May 2024
19 May 2024 | Near Coinjock, NC
17 May 2024 | Durant Island anchorage, NC
16 May 2024 | 35.476022, -76.534189 , NC
13 May 2024 | Oriental, NC
13 May 2024 | Morehead City Marina, NC
11 May 2024 | Onslow Beach Bridge, NC
07 May 2024 | Calabash River anchorage, SC
06 May 2024 | Calabash River anchorage, SC
05 May 2024 | Bucksport, SC
03 May 2024 | Georgetown, SC
01 May 2024 | Charleston, SC
30 April 2024 | Charleston, SC
25 April 2024 | Kilkenny Marina, Richmond Hill, GA
25 April 2024 | Kilkenny Marina, Richmond Hill, GA
24 April 2024 | Little Teakettle Creek, GA
23 April 2024 | Jekyll Sound, GA


04 June 2024 | Blacksburg, VA
Bob and Kathy
Sea Step got to her home on May 28th. We spent a few days taking care of some boat chores such as giving her a good cleaning and changing the oil and then we got to our own home on June 1st.

It was certainly a very different trip than any we had experienced on the boat before. If nothing else, we lived aboard for two and a half months in the fall, and then one and a half months in the spring. The spring trip was definitely nicer than the fall trip which was hampered by ugly weather and some boat issues that couldn't be resolved before we got underway. it would have been nicer weather wise in the fall if we could have started earlier but it didn't work out that way.

Some of our friends are Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) veterans but it was first for us. Those friends gave us lots of encouragement and help both before and as we went. Most of the trip was along a rather narrow channel with quite a bit of other boat traffic so there was hardly any actual sailing. And we traveled more slowly than some of the other sailboats and virtually all the motor boats. It mostly worked. "Sailing vessel approaching Marker 142, this is motor vessel So And So, I'd like to slow pass on your port side." "This is sailing vessel Sea Step, we'll slow for you." Draw bridges tended to be collection points for boat traffic like stoplights are for cars, but the traffic would quickly disperse because of the wide range of boat speeds.

It was interesting to see the different ecosystems that we passed through. As we headed south, palmettos and live oaks began to appear around Wilmington, NC. The channel wondered through a forest of cypress trees south of Myrtle Beach. And once we got south of St. Augustine, mangroves became abundant.

We pretty much expected those, but one ecosystem we hadn't thought much about was the South Carolina and Georgia Low Country. It was full of marshlands and meandering tidal rivers we'd never heard of such as Wadmalaw, Toogoodoo , Coosaw, and Ogeechee Rivers. And some of the rivers passed close enough to each other such that the US Army Corps Of Engineers, curators of the ICW, would dredge canals between them. And some of those canals seemed to know that they weren't supposed to be there and they tended to shoal up and became a challenge to navigate. One of the cut-throughs was even named Hell Gate.

We enjoyed two cities we visited in the Low Country, Georgetown and Beaufort, SC. We didn't think much of Georgetown at first, but we were there between Thanksgiving and Christmas so everything was pretty much closed up. But it was at least walkable and had a nice park. We stopped again as we drove south to retrieve Sea Step and enjoyed it more and we stopped again as we came back north on the boat. We also liked Beaufort, SC. It was quite walkable, at least the tourist part, and many historical attractions.

We had hoped to see alligators and manatees on the trip and we did. But the animals that entertained us the most were the dolphins and pelicans. Neither dolphins nor pelicans are very common in the Chesapeake Bay, although the numbers of pelicans seem to be increasing. As we were approaching Flag Harbor, we commented to each other that we hadn't seen any dolphins since was down in North Carolina, but then about a dozen appeared, just as we were but a few miles from our destination. A nice homecoming.

And now it's nice to be at our little isolated place on the hill. Even our normally aloof Callie the cat was glad to see us.

Boat Cards

30 May 2024 | Flag Harbor Marina, St. Leonard, MD
Bob and Kathy
There is an actual social life on the Intracoastal Waterway. As we were heading south last fall, some friends who had traveled the ICW quite a few times asked if we had boat cards. Boat cards? They are like business cards with the boat’s name, crew members and whatever other information the crew might wanted included. Our ICW veteran friends just happened to have some card stock and a printer, so Kathy doodled out with a design and we got some cards printed to hand out to other boaters. And we got a few back in return.

We see many boat names on the ICW, and we’ll actually have contact info for a few of them via their boat cards. We’re not likely to contact most of them, but we’ll at least be able to connect the boat name with the names of the folks on them and know where they’re from. That sort of thing.

The interesting one was S/V (sailing vessel) Chantey. They traveled a bit slower than we did, one of the few, and we passed them as we approached Charleston, SC, in the fall. We noted their green sail cover and the name the boat. We must have leapfrogged a bit because we saw and/or heard them on the radio several times on our way south with the last time being in Beaufort, SC.

Then this spring on our way north months later as we pulled up to the dock at Kilkenny Marina, there was Chantey! We walked over to them and told them of the many times we had seen and/or heard them in the fall. We handed them a boat card and they sheepishly apologized for not having any to give us in return.

Well, what do you know? We ran into them a week or so later and they handed us a newly minted boat card.

ICW Mile Zero

23 May 2024 | Hospital Point Anchorage, Portsmouth, VA
Bob and Kathy
We made it to the official northern end of the ICW yesterday. We got away from Coinjock Marina nice and early and had a nice motor in warm weather and no wind. No wind --on a sailboat? Actually no wind is better when you have to navigate through a narrow winding channel accompanied by other boat traffic. We made it through the Great Bridge Lock's 3pm opening nicely. And then...

We discovered that the Gilmerton lift bridge wouldn't open for boats between 3:30 and 5:30 for rush hour. There was no way we could make the 6 miles to the Gilmerton Bridge before 3:30, so we idled along through a beautiful industrial wasteland at 2 or 3 knots in order to arrive for the 5:30 opening.

The Gilmerton Bridge is not alone. Right next to it is a railroad bridge that is "Normally open, only lowers for train traffic. Remotely operated." We rounded the last corner to see the bridges at a good time for the 5:30 opening and saw bumper to bumper traffic crawling across the bridge. Those motorists weren't going to be happy to get held up for the 3 sailboats that had collected there. Never fear. The railroad bridge lowered for a train. The Gilmerton Bridge operator said there wasn't any point in opening his bridge if the adjacent railroad bridge was closed. After a train of containers crossed, the railroad bridge opened. But before the Gilmerton Bridge could get his traffic stopped, the railroad bridge closed again and we watched a miles-long coal train on its way to the Lamberton Terminal rumble across. There was still lots of car traffic on the Gilmerton Bridge, so at least those people wouldn't be upset. Finally, the railroad bridge opened. And then it closed for yet another train. And then the train stopped on the bridge. And then it went again. All this time we were idling around derelict barges and the non-derelict Coastal Recast Concrete Company.

Everything finally cleared at around 7pm. But at least the automobile traffic had largely cleared by then, so there were fewer disgruntled drivers. We made it to our anchorage just before sunset. There was a nice free dock back at the Great Bridge Lock where we could have stayed and we considered it. Nah. Let's push on. Grrr.

But then some folks we had met at the Coinjock Marina got a picture of Sea Step after we dropped the hook.

Busy place

22 May 2024
Bob and Kathy
The Coinjock Marina seems to be the place everyone going up the Virginia Cut choice of the two ICW options wants to stop after crossing the Albemarle Sound. We didn't, at least not right away, by anchoring a few miles south during the bad weather. If we'd come here, we would have had to stay here for the three nights. We have stayed at other marinas for three nights, the most recent being Oriental, NC. But here there isn't anything except the marina, so decided we could just as easily be bored for free than paying marina fees.

Due to the crowding, we ended being rafted up (near the top of the photo) with another boat. We're generally loners, but the two women who tied up next were great people to get to know. They spend much of their time living aboard with their cat and doing much more challenging sailing than we do. We ended up having our supper together with them in the little marina restaurant.

We should be in Virginia later today.

Cloudy, windy, and cold

19 May 2024 | Near Coinjock, NC
Bob and Kathy
Well, not as cold as some of the days last fall, but reminiscent. One of the reasons we pushed to get through the Alligator River Bridge when we did was to avoid crossing the Albemarle Sound today. As it was, crossing the sound was challenging enough with strong gusty winds and with reefed sails. Now were sitting out a nor'easter in Broad Creek (36.20557° N, 75.96317° W for those inclined) A bit south of Coinjock, NC. There are two ICW routes through this area. Last fall, we took the route through the Dismal Swamp and Elizabeth City. We are now on our way through what's called the Virginia Cut through Coinjock for variety. Either way, we would have to cross the Albemarle Sound. It looks like we'll be here in Broad Creek for another day before the nor'easter blows itself out.

Alligator Bridge encore

17 May 2024 | Durant Island anchorage, NC
Bob and Kathy
We had thought of passing through this bridge tomorrow, 18th, instead of today. Some of our friends will be crossing the bridge tomorrow on their way to the beach and it would have been interesting if we could have stopped them by having the bridge open for us. But the forecasted weather suggested that today was a better day to go through.

We've been reading that the swing bridge is to be replaced by a high-rise that won't require the dance between vessels passing through and road users. We saw some heavy construction equipment being staged near the western end of the bridge, so maybe the process has started. No doubt the construction will take some years, so we may still have opportunities left to stop traffic.
Vessel Name: Sea Step
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet IP32
Hailing Port: Flag harbor, MD
Crew: Bob Simonds& Kathy Lamb

Who: Bob Simonds& Kathy Lamb
Port: Flag harbor, MD