Day 31, Apr. 30, Annapolis Maryland

30 04 2012

Day 31, Apr. 30, Annapolis Maryland

A grey morning and the water was the colour or steel. We dress in layers and bring our coffees to the bridge, but by mid morning it’s quite warm. Container ships and a barge being pulled by a tug were our only companions in the very wide channel; of course we stay away from these big guys because they can’t slow down or change course as easily as we can,(most of the time). Some look like mountains!

Sailed into Annapolis harbour at about 2PM and attached ourselves to a mooring ball right in front of the town dock. A beautiful town from the water! We took our dingy across and walked into this very lovely and historical place—the capital of Maryland and also America’s sailing capital. The nation’s Naval Academy is also here; we had permission to tie our dingy up to their dingy dock .

Established in the 1600’s Annapolis has more colonial homes than any other city in the country. We enjoyed walking the narrow-bricked streets and got something to eat on Main Street, then looked at some of the shops—the nautical theme is quite overdone, but some had a lot of historical stuff too.

After returning to the boat we had happy hour while watching the activity in the harbour. Nite all.


Day 30, Apr. 29 Crossing the Potomac

30 04 2012

Day 30, Apr. 29 Crossing the Potomac

We left very early this morning and had a long day on the water,(about 80 miles). There was a storm last night but we were secure at our dock.

Forgot to mention that when we were coming into Portsmouth Harbour we were hailed by a sailboat on our starboard side: it was our friends from Key West! We hadn’t seen them since our second day travelling through the Keys, and here they were at Mile 0 ! We congratulated each other on making it this far.

The conditions were perfect for our northern trek up the Western side of the Chesapeake. The sun shone and we hardly saw any traffic on the water. This bay is 20 to 30 miles wide in places so you can’t see the other side most of the time. It reminds us of Lake Ontario because of its width and length, about 200 miles,(it even has bluffs). But unlike Lake Ontario, the Chesapeake has 1700 rivers that flow into it. We crossed the mouth of many of them today; the James River that leads to Jamestown, America’s first permanent settlement established in 1607, the York River, that leads to Yorktown, where the last major battle of the Revolutionary war ended with Cornwallis surrendering to Washington, and of course, the Potomac, where 90 miles up brings you to the nation’s capital.

Tonight we’re at a very quiet anchorage at Solomans Island in the Petuxent River.

Very tired! Talk with you tomorrow.

Day 29, Apr. 28, The Chesapeake

28 04 2012

Left Portsmouth at about 7 AM. Decided that we needed to get ahead of the International traffic that can sometimes clog the Norfolk harbour. As we proceeded forth, we only met 2 huge ships as we floated past the biggest naval base in the US, Awesome ships docked there! The biggest naval base in the world!

Because of the funnel -effect of the waves, we were rocking and rolling for awhile as we entered the Chesapeake, the largest estuary in the US. When the waves began to subside Ed noticed that his steering was quite loose—OK, reeeeealy loooooose! OK, NO STEERING!!!! We called SeaTow, and they were on their way,(bless their hearts)! Took the opportunity to call our granddaughter and wish her happy 16th birthday. Two sweet guys towed us to the Crown Point Marina on Glouchester Point, and that’s where we are now. Don,the mechanic, told us that we just needed hydraulic fluid in the steering system—an easy fix; this happened because the guy that worked on our autopilot had drained the fluid. Needless to say, the people here were extremely friendly. We were extremely happy that this didn’t happen in Portsmouth harbour.

We’re safe and cozy and happy. Nite all.

Day 28, Apr. 27, Mile 0!!!! Yeah! We made it, and we’re still floatin’ !!!

28 04 2012

We left our anchorage really early and continued up the Elizabeth River Canal system into Virginia.
Beautiful trees and marshes surrounded us all the way to Coinjock, on the canal to fuel up. A really cute place; a restaurant, a store and some cottages scattered about. The water is still ‘brackish’ (dark brown), which means that the fishing is very poor. But there are still dolphins, in fact a whole ‘pod’
of them ,about 12, swam past us today.

Our first lock experience went just fine. Although it was a small one, we feel more confident about the many we will navigate in the future. There were more scheduled bridge openings in this stretch of the ICW than anywhere else, but we only had to wait a couple times to be let through.

We traversed Currituck Sound ,where off in the East, at the northern tip of the Outer Banks is Kitty Hawk; the place the Wright brothers first flew their experimental plane.

Coming into the Portsmouth and Norfolk Harbours was quite exciting—a real culture-shock after cruising in almost total wilderness for weeks. These harbours are one of the largest naval and shipping centres in the US. Our anchorage is in the Portsmouth harbour. Of course we had ‘happy hour’ and toasted our completion of the ICW leg of our journey! We were too tired to go to town tonight, but we will do it tomorrow. What a change to be watching the sun set behind a city skyline!

Now that we’ve completed the distance from Key West to Mile 0 of the ICW, we are truly thankful to the Army Corps of Engineers for this tremendous waterway. It must cost millions to maintain it and what it took to build it must be staggering! And it is totally toll free! It’s been an amazing trip!

Nite all

Day 27, Apr. 26. Mile 56 The Call of the Wild

27 04 2012

Day 27, Apr. 26. Mile 56 The Call of the Wild

We travelled through miles of beautiful wilderness again today, along the Pungo and Aligator rivers and across the Albemarle Sound. The smell of the new growth was wonderful. We only saw a couple of boats all day. You would never guess that there were so many people in this country by travelling this way! We often think that we are seeing what the pioneers would have seen , coming to the American shores many years ago.

About 20 miles towards the Atlantic, we passed Roanoke Island, as we motored across Albemarle Sound. Roanoke Island is where Sir Walter Raleigh established the first English settlement in America, in 1587. It is also where the first English child was born: Virginia Dare. Three years later the whole colony disappeared!!!!well, that’s your history lesson for today.

We are anchored in the North River tonight. Just one more day on the ICW and then we’ll be in the Chesapeake—-WOW! What a trip this has been. Night everyone!

Day 26, Apr. 25. Mile 135, On the Road Again

27 04 2012

Day 26, Apr. 25. Mile 135, On the Road Again

Can’t describe how excited I was to leave this morning! No more ‘none-motion-sickness’!

Must emphasize how desolate this country seems from the ICW! For miles and miles, all we see is forest and marsh and swamp. But it’s all pristine and very beautiful. I think it’s the most relaxing trip I’ve ever taken (except for the navigating, the shallow areas, the ‘pot-watching’;crab pots,that is -which can get tangled in your props, the anchoring, the docking, the big waves in the sounds and inlets, and finally being alert and prepared for anything that could happen to your boat or the weather or anything else in a new place –oh, mustn’t forget keeping the best communications between captain and crew(or in our case, first mate), the ‘best’).

We’ve been travelling alongside the Outer Banks, which is a 200 mile stretch of islands about 10 to 20 miles in the Atlantic. We saw them in the distance when we traversed Pamlico Sound, the largest island-enclosed salt sea on the Atlantic Coast. Cape Hatteras is also part of that chain of islands and has been referred to as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’,due to the 600 ships that have sunk in its vicinity!(glad we skipped that place).

Everything was going perfectly today as we were crossing Pamlico Sound; about 75 degree weather, a following sea and great music on our Sirius radio, when we noticed that the sailboat we were following was no longer moving…he’d ‘run aground’! (this is something that happens to sailboats when they are not especially diligent with watching their ‘depth’ on the ICW— and anywhere else!) Anyhow,
being ex-sailors and the only motor boat around, we offered to tow him out (or should I say, the ‘Captain’ offered to tow him out—I admit that I was not as enthusiastic because I knew that we had never done it before). Anyhow, all went well and we had him on his way shortly. Must add that Ed was very proud of his ‘twin screws’—-it’s such a ‘guy thing’!—-‘twin screws’ are the two 450 hp Detroit diesel engines on our boat.

Tonight we are anchored in front of the small town of Bellhaven. It was a very peaceful night and we watched an amazing sunset. Nite all.

Day 25, Apr. 24, Southern Hospitality

24 04 2012

The people of Beaufort have certainly made us feel welcome! Our windlass is working perfectly, thanks to Matt, one of the very friendly guys here at the marina,and we should be leaving tomorrow morning. The very high winds we’ve been experiencing are supposed to abate then.

I decided to do more laundry today, and since the dryer wasn’t at the marina, they lent me the car again. The ladies at the General Store in town smiled and warmly welcomed me as I walked through(with my laundry) to the laundramat behind the store, where the people there all wanted to know where I was from and were very excited to know about our trip. On my way back to the marina I stopped at a thrift store. When I walked in a woman with a huge smile came up to me and shock my hand. I assumed that she was the proprietor, or at least an employee, but she was just a customer! She and the three other women in the store immediately included me in thier conversation. Anyhow, this is a very friendly place! It’s amazing the wonderful people one meets when travelling!

Tonight we are studying our charts and preparing for tomorrow’s leg of our jouney…..yal have a wonderful evening.