Monday, November 30, 2015

North Carolina

We have been travelling down the ditch for a week now, it has been a very leisurely trip. We have been averaging 20 miles a day to keep within the parameters set by our insurance company. It is restful but also I am itching to make some real distance south, we usually stop shortly after noon and I am reluctant to tackle some tasks on the boat, I can't varnish because it needs 24 hours to dry and I don't think I have the sandpaper necessary to try and bring the fibreglass on the deck back to it's glory. I need a really fine grit to take off blemishes before waxing.  (That might be a big excuse because I dislike the fibreglass work) 
The country we have been travelling through is swampy, with very shallow water surrounding the ditch so you have to pay attention so you don't wander off the path and go aground. 
At places the ICW is very narrow as in the top picture and other spots it is wide open.  It has been sunny and warm with very little wind for the past 4 days. There are anchorage spots in the book and we just pull off the channel and drop our anchor in about 3 meters of water. 
I couldn't quite figure this out when we came upon it.  I thought some poor sailboat had lost half of it's mast, but was unsure how they would get below with a deck like this.  All was explained a little further on. 
Yesterday we pulled into a marina at Belhaven, NC, laundry was piling up and our fridge was looking bare. We went to the local restaurant for a buffet lunch and got a taste of southern cooking.  There was fried chicken, lightly battered shrimp, potatoes, sweet potatoes, potato salad, dumplings with rutabaga, cornbread and big flat green beans. We both ate enough that supper did not occur.  The marina had a courtesy vehicle and we had enormous fun tootling around town. 
At one spot we saw a field of white stuff and Barry said it must be cotton.  When I asked the Marina owner why it had not been picked he said that it had been too wet in the area to get it off the field. 
This picture reminds me of standing beside my first rice paddy in Bali and I thnk there is a very similar one of me beside a field of potatoes in PEI. We have been enjoying the shirt sleeve weather!

Sailing Info.

We are using "The Intracoastal Waterway, Norfolk to Miami, A Cockpit Cruising Handbook" by Jan and Bill Moeller. It is a small guide with few pictures and has references to bridges, anchorages and marinas by the mile number along the waterway. 
We have been going slowly along this stretch because our insurance company will not allow us to go south of Cape Hatteras until Dec. 1 due to possibilities of hurricanes. 

Mile 56.6 just inside of Buck Island   36*16.2 N  X  75*57.5 W
Calm flat anchorage, good protection, 
Anchored in 3m with very good holding
No services

Mile 81.9  Entrance to Little Alligator River  36*56.1 N  X  76*00.9 W
Calm flat anchorage, open to winds from NE
Anchored in 3m with very good holding
No services, lots of duck blinds in area

Mile 102.2 Opposite Green Marker 43    35*40.5 N  X  76*03.4 W 
Calm flat anchorage, open to winds from SE
Anchored in 3m with good holding
No services

Mile 127.5 Entrance to Pungo River   35*33.2 N  X  76*28.2 W
Flat anchorage, due to no wind, would be exposed from 2 directions, quite open.
Anchored in 4m with very good holding
No services but houses within 1/2 mile, lots of small boat traffic, fishermen

River Forest Marina in Belhaven, NC   35*31.9 N  X  76*36.8 W
Very helpful instructions on entering, tied up to pilings on all four corners
1.50/ft. with free laundry and courtesy golf cart to get groceries, clean big showers
Fuel available, restaurants close by, a very nice stop. 

Mile 140.4 Slade Creek  35*17.6N  X  76*36.6 W
Calm flat anchorage, good all around protectin, could move further up the creek if windy. 
Anchored in 3m with good holding
No services

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


We have left Norfolk and are on our way down the ICW, the Intrecostal Waterway affectionately known as "The Ditch".  This waterway officially stretches from Massachusetts to Florida, but when most people refer to the ICW, they are talking about the part from Norfolk VA to Miami, FL. The picture is where Mile Zero is and the end is at Mile 1,095 in Miami.  The Army Corp. of Engineers made the waterway.  In some areas it just needs to dredge, in order to deepen the path, but in others like the Dismal Swamp, and the Virginia Cut, they dug a ditch to connect already existing waterways. There will be a lot of motoring along the ICW, but we will get to see an area of the U.S. that few get to see. We are thinking we will probably travel most of it's length, there is only one bridge in Florida we can't get under, the others are either tall enough or they open. They can either pivot, swing or just go up in the middle, there are 130 bridges and I think we have encountered every kind so far. The main highway bridges only open on the hour or half hour, some open on demand, and we have gone through one lock.  
                       Look closely, you will see the ice that formed overnight!!

Our insurance company is a little off the mark, it won't let us go below Cape Hatteras, in North Carolina, until Dec. 1. We are about 100 miles north of their now and today we woke up to ice on the waterway, and the temperature was 4 degrees Celcius in the cabin. Surely hurricanes won't appear when the air temperature is at the freezing mark!!! There was a big system that came through from the north and the cold air is here for a few days,  Barry checked the weather and on Thursday it is supposed to be 70 degrees Farenheit or about 19 C., a southerly must be headed this way.  
We really enjoyed our time at the Rebel Marina and would recommend it to anyone in the area.  We paid $1/ft/ night and they had a great kitchen area.  I took advantage of it and baked my Christmas cakes using their propane for the 3 hour cooking time needed.  It is a small Marina, family run, they don't advertise, word of mouth makes it certain they only get the type of people they want in their.  We used their courtesy car to get boat bits and groceries and they even had a loaner GPS to help negotiate the freeways. 

Sailing Info.

We are using "The Intracoastal Waterway, Norfolk to Miami, A Cockpit Cruising Handbook" by Jan and Bill Moeller. It is a small guide with few pictures and has references to bridges, anchorages and marinas by the mile number along the waterway. 

Portsmouth   36*50.1 N  X  76*17.8 W
We tied up for free at the High Landing, no reservations, first come, first serve. 
Ferry service across to Norfolk stops here. 
Grocery store about 3km away. 

Great Bridge Town Dock  36*43.2 N  X  76*14.4 W
We tied up for free. Garbage disposal available.
24 hour mooring allowed. Fuel and groceries within 1/2 mile. 

Mile 28.8 below Red Marker 42  36*36.4 N  X  76*03.4 W
Anchored just outside the channel. Great holding, no wind
No services, out in the middle of nowhere. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Norfolk, Virginia

We are tied up at Rebel Marina, just inside the north entrance to Norfolk, VA.  Friends that we had met 9 years ago in Mexico, Carole and Pat MacIntosh, were on an East Coast visit and we decided to meet up.  What a great time we had, they had rented a car and we spent two and half days exploring the area and having the best of times.  Driving on the freeways and through the tunnels was old hat for these Californians and we zipped around with ease. 

 Newport News is a shipbuilding area on the south side of the Chesapeake, there was an aircraft carrier under construction. 
 The arch in the pictures is where troops returning from WWI were greeted as they disembarked from the troop carriers.  Just off the point was where the iron clads of the Confederate army engaged in battle with the sail powered ships of the Union side during the Civil War. The Confederates claimed victory when the wind died and the Union ship could not manoeuvre.  A few years ago they recovered the ram from the iron clad ship.  

Our visit to the USS Wisconsin was very informative, the tour was given by a former Petty Officer and the stories these guys told were great.  We paid for the deluxe tour and were in the tactical room and heard what a naval engagement would sound like.  I could not imagine having to work in the crowded, dark, claustrophobic conditions in that room.
 The Wisconsin was commissioned to serve in WWII, then was in service in the Korean War, it was mothballed In the 60's and then brought back into service for the first war on Iraq.  It fired some of the first missiles of the war.  
It's huge 16 inch guns were some of the biggest naval guns ever.  There was 660 pounds of explosive that were packed in the guns when they fired their rounds. We saw the crew quarters as well as got to sit in the Captain's Cabin, both of them.  One was for when they were in port and the other was for when they were underway or engaged and there was a third spot he could sleep if they were on exercises or engaged in battle. 

I thought I had it bad on Cat's-Paw IV, the amount of room I have to store my clothes, the poor enlisted men just get a space under their bunks and then a small locker to hang up their dress uniforms. I imagine that privacy was a closely guarded commodity on a war ship!!

Yesterday was Carole's birthday and we spent the day strolling around historic Norfolk admiring the beautiful architecture.
 We had a wonderful birthday lunch at a former carriage house, the food was great but the desserts were fantastic. We each had one and then shared around, the German chocolate cake with Pecan and coconut icing was deemed the favourite although the Key Lime pie was an extremely close second.  
We will stay at the marina until Friday and then make our way slowly south so as not violate our insurance policy which does not want us to pass Cape Hatteras until Dec. 1, when the threat of hurricanes in thought to be over. 
       They have a mermaid thing in Norfolk, there are great sculptures all around the area. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

It's a small world

Yesterday we took a day off, due to a south wind which would have been on our nose, and explored the area around Gwynn Island, Virginia. We got a few provisions and on the way back to the boat an older gentleman asked us if we wanted a ride. My ankle was acting up so we thanked him very much and climbed in the truck.  We told him we were off a sailboat and he asked what kind.  We proudly answered, a Fast Passage 39. He promptly replied that he had sailed a Fast Passage 39 across the Atlantic, the Moonshine. 
Well you have to know the history behind the Fast Passage, there were about 40 built in Philbrooks Boat Yard in Sydney, BC in 1984/85 and 10 more built in the States by Tolleycraft. Moonshine was one of the first off the production line and she was sailed by Francis Stokes in one of the first single handed around the world races and she finished third in her class. It was incredible to meet a fellow who had sailed her across the Atlantic in 1996. Unfortunately we did not have a chance to chat for very long because he was off to a meeting at the local yatch club. 
We spent some time exploring up the creeks that were in the area. It is a beautiful part of the world. 
Most of the houses on the creeks have docks and at the end of the docks are lifts so that the boats can be picked up out of the water while they are not being used. 

Sailing info.
We are using the Guide to Crusing Chesapeake Bay, published by the Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

Gwynn Island, VA   37*29.5 N X 76*18.4 W
We anchored in 3m of water, good holding, 360 degree protection. 
There is a place to land your dinghy with a restaurant
The bascule bridge is manned 24 hours/day, call channel 13.
There is a 7-11 within walking distance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cruising the Chesapeake

The Chesapeake is a huge body of water, in our cruising guide it said if you stretched out the shore line, it would reach from Wash. D.C. to Alaska; just to give you some perspective. Numerous rivers empty onto the bay, the Ptomac, the Rappahonnock, the Patuxent, the York, the James, each river has hundreds of creeks and there are innumerable bays to explore.  We are really enjoying finding some lovely spots to drop our anchor. It can be a wild and lonely place, yesterday as we were sailing along and we heard gun shots echoing across the water from at least 8 miles away. The geese are everywhere, a flock arose from the water as we entered our anchorage last night, honking and calling as we disturbed their resting spot. The hunters must be laying in their quota for the winter. I wonder if some of them will wind up on the Thanksgiving table.
We have been able to sail three out of the last four days and that has immeasurably increased our enjoyment of this body of water. As we left Baltimore at dawn to catch the tide we raised the sails and were able to sail under the Bay Bridge just north of Annapols.  There was a class of boats out racing and we figured they must be the naval cadets because they all had the same spinnakers.  It was a Sunday and a gorgeous, warm, sunny day so everyone was out for a sail. 
                                Not a great picture but you get the idea. 

Monday saw a continuation of the fair winds and we sailed a further 35 miles up the bay until we came to the Patuxent River.  There is a naval airforce base on the south side of the river and we were entertained watching the jets, helicopters and a odd looking tilt rotary winged aircraft, Barry says it's an Osprey!  We crossed the Ptomac this morning, just like Washington, with a great following wind, showing 9 knots on the GPS at times as we surfed down the waves. 
We have noticed the fishing boats here have a set up we have never seen before.  They have a kind of grappling thing, about a meter long and 10 cm wide. They drop it in the water and then hoist it up, fairly shortly after,  and the two sides come apart and whatever they are catching is dropped into the boat.  My guess would be some kind of shell fish, clams or oysters, it would be an odd way to catch crabs, so I don't thnk that is it.  We are going to go ashore tonight so I will have to buttonhole some poor unsuspecting fisherman and figure it out!!
               The end of a near perfect day of sailing from Maryland into Virginia. 

Sailing info.

We are using the Guide to Crusing Chesapeake Bay, published by the Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

Parish Creek   38*51.4 N X 76*30.4 W
Anchored in 3m in mud. Very good holding.
Open to winds from the north and west. 
Better protection 2nm further in but very little wind forecast. 
Nice flat anchorage, no info. on services ashore.

Town Creek  38*19.1 N X 76*28.9 W
Anchored in 3m n mud very good holding
Protected from all directions, very flat anchorage.
Very close to major highway, lots of bridge noise.
No info. on services ashore, Mariana slips available

Smith Creek  38*07.4 N X 76*24.8 W
Anchored in 3m n mud very good holding
Protected from all directions, very flat anchorage.
Lovely spot, No info. on services ashore
Mariana slips available as you entered the creek. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Baltimore and Philadephia

                Two huge naval ships tied up in the very industrialized approach to Baltimore

Once again it was a motoring day to get to Baltimore, but there was fog, so navigating by chart plotter and radar was the plan for the day.  Fortunately it lifted a little as we came into Baltimore and we were able to see the public dock where we discovered there was room to tie up. 
We had decided we wanted to see Philadelphia so we hopped on a free shuttle and made our way to Penn Station to book ticket to Philly on the Amtrak, the high speed train that runs up and down the Eastern Seaboard. There was a Norwegian tall ship docked on the waterfront very close to us and as we strolled by they were having a soirĂ©e onboard.  We could hear the sailors singing a sea shanty, wonderful!  We came across a couple of enebriated fellows who were shouting about why the ship was flying the Confederate flag.  They engaged us in conversation and after figuring out we were Canadians one guy wanted to know about our gun laws.  He claimed as a convicted felon the US gov't was infringing on his rights by not allowing him to carry a gun, hmmmm.  Later the subject of the Comfederate flag came up again and it twigged and I let them know it was a Norwegian flag that was flying. They were very happy and there were high fives and soul brother handshakes all around. 

The next morning we were off to Philadelphia.  We chose to walk the 25 blocks down to Independence Square to see the Liberty Bell. It was a great stop, I had heard of the bell but had no idea it was such a symbol.  It rang out at the time the Declaration of Independence that was conceived and written in Philadelphia in 1776. After the crack became irreparable, the bell went on tour across the nation a number of times. 
We visited the Reading Terminal for lunch, a former railroad station that has been converted into a market with every kind of food booth you could desire. It was massively crowded and we shared a cafeteria style table with a bunch of lawyers, there on a convention.
There were lots of street people sleeping on park benches and near subway grates for the heat.m

We checked into our hotel about 1500 hours and luxuriated on the king sized bed. I actually had two baths during our stay, my first in 5 months!! Philly cheese steak was on our list for supper and I really enjoyed mine. 

We went on a tour of Independece Hall the next day.
The room where delegates from all the states sat to discuss independence and the U.S. constitution.
                           Beautiful furniture in a reception hall upstairs. 

Philadelphia was where the U.S. government was formed and it acted as the Captial until Wash. D.C was ready in 1800.  The tour was very informative and seeing the actual chair that John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin sat in when deciding matters of state over 240 years ago was enthralling. What was annoying about the tour was the guide, he spoke so loudly that it was painful to listen to him. Barry said he couldn't even concentrate on what he was saying in the first small room we were in. 

Pennsylvania Sate Prison was our next stop. It was fascinating. It was the first prison of it's kind and the idea behind it was so that the prisoners would serve penitence. There were hooded when they entered the prison and were not allowed to talk to anyone.  Their meals were shoved under the door and they were allowed out to individual courtyards to have exercise twice a day. If you broke the rules about communicating you were gagged. It was built in the shape of a spoked wheel and the later spokes were expanded to be two stories. The prison was closed in 1970, and was in a state of disrepair when it was decided to save it and turn it into a tourist attraction, they have done a wonderful job, the self guided tour includes recordings of actual inmates memories of their time in "The Big House". 
The Philadephia Museum of Art is at the end of a long boulevard which was built to resemble the Champs Elysees. 

The steps are were Rocky trained for his boxing matches and were covered in tourists doing their Rocky Imitations. 
I briefly toured the museum and was loved the Impressionist gallery, they had a lot of Monet's and I fell in love with one depicting a headland with a custom house in the foreground.
That is William Penn on the top of City Hall, apparently sometimes he wears a Philadelphia Eagles hat!
We met several interesting characters on the subway. One older gentleman was a jazz musician, he played the flute and the saxophone, he was on his way to a rehearsal.  The other guy worked in a factory that made the subway cars, as well as the Amtrak cars. The factory shut down in 1980 when they lost the contract to a Japanese company. The cars are now over 35 years old and still holding together well, he must have done a good job back in the day!
We strolled down Benjamn Franklin Parkway towards the most outstanding city hall I have seen yet and headed back to Baltimore.  What a treat to get off the boat for a night, while in such a historic and vibrant city. 

Sailing Info.
Chesapeake City
Anchored in the basin in 3m of water, very good holding, mud
No info on services, except no water taxi because it was out of season

Baltimore, MD
Tied up to public town dock in Inner Harbor, $60/day, fellow gave us a break, should be $2/ ft
Washrooms and showers available about 5-10 min walk.
Great access to free bus service
Waterfront was lovely to explore, tall ships tied up very close to us. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Atlantic City to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal


            The early morning sun glinting off of the casinos in Atlantic City

We spent two night in Atlantic City, late in the day we arrived we took the "Jitney" (or small bus that runs between the casinos) to the Boardwalk and strolled along it, taking in the fantastically shaped buildings and the over the top interior designs of the strip. We stopped in the Trump Taj Mahal and tried our luck.  Barry hit it lucky on a slot machine and we walked out with $30 profit and went and had supper on Donald. The dinner in Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville was average but the Margarita was magnificent! The next day we spent the day doing boat chores. We met a young couple from Maine who were stuck on the dock awaiting a new transmission so had them over for supper.  They have a 30 foot boat that they live on so rather than shiver through another winter in Maine they are heading to Miami where he has a job teaching yoga lined up. She works as a cook on tall ships and they were very interesting to talk to. 
We went to a show in one of the casinos that night.  It was Monday night and we noticed a real difference in the numbers of gamblers that were out and about. It was a one man show and although it was a Christmas theme, (a little early for me) he did a great job.  He had a good voice, knew how to tell a joke and played a very good drum solo.  He was up there all alone for an hour and at the end he had people dancing in the aisles as he rocked out a Christmas tune.  If it had been a weekend there would have been a lot more choice of entertainment.
Yesterday we motored the 35nm from Atlantic City to Cape May and anchored there. We are currently making our way up the Delaware Bay to once again go through the canal to the top of the Chesapeake. There is very settled weather with no wind, for the next few days and rather than motor all the way down the Atlantic to the entrance by Norfolk, we decided to see some sights on our way. We didn't get a chance to visit Baltimore on our way through this area last year so hopefully we can stop there in a day or town.  We are also thinking of taking a train or bus from Baltmore to Philadelphia to see some sites there. 
We are now below 40 degrees North and it has warmed up, yahoo! We had a shower in the cockpit today about 1300 hours and although there were goosebumps, we did not freeze. The leaves are still on the trees here so my plan of following the leaves south as they turned is working. 
Oh, Barry's new favourite expression is "There is nothing cheap on this boat except the Captain!!"

Sailing Info.
Sandwich, MA
Stayed at the marina at the top of the Cape Cod Canal. 
$70/day, a restaurant within easy walking distance
Museum or visitor centre for canal which was closed for the season

Vineyard Haven, MA
Tied up at mooring ball after calling harbourmaster, free because closed for the season
Wifi and washrooms at ferry dock 
Great access to groceries, fuel, bus service, showers at the YMCA. 

Atlantic City NJ
Tied up to Farley State Marina dock, out of season rates, $2/ ft, electricity extra.
Showers, laundry, $2/load, poor water pressure, 
Good access to bus to Boardwalk $2.25/ ride.  Groceries 3 mile walk or $15 cab ride. 
Could have anchored out in channel

Cape May NJ
Anchored in channel by Coast Gaurd bldg. 6m of water very good holding
2nm by dinghy to town, 30min walk for groceries.
Marinas in the vicinity

Monday, November 02, 2015

Passage to Atlantic City

               These beautiful old wooden boats were anchored in Martha's Vineyard. 

This is the longest continuous passage we have done since we arrived n Canada last June, approx 48 hours. It has had a little bit of everything to keep our interest. We started out from Martha's Vineyard with the current slightly against us and the wind on our nose.  Rather than motor the first 10nm after we got passed some shallows we tacked down the Sound. It was a bumpy ride the boat was being thrown around by the waves.  The current turned in our favour and we were making 8 knots, yippee! The wind continued to increase as it swung more to the north and onto our beam. In the middle of the night we had the main triple reefed and only a very small part of the genoa out. The wind continued to back and decrease, the wind was on the quarter and I continued to let more genoa out and take the reefs out of the main. When Barry started his shift we put up the pole and were running wing on wing down the outside of Long Island. Soon the seas were a flat glassy calm with not a whisper of wind and we were motoring in a south westerly direction.  As dusk fell we were crossing the entrance to New York Harbor and there were fish boats everywhere.  It is disconcerting, their lights are blinding and they move in unpredictable patterns, I counted 8 within my viewing area. As I went down to sleep the wind had once again picked up and predictably, it was on our nose.  If we chose to sail and tack the remaining 90 miles it would have meant a third night at sea; so we motored on. Barry dodged three tankers in bound to New York and I watched a cruise ship pass within a mile behind us, lit up like a Christmas tree. The wind has picked up again and now we are once again being bounced around as we power through the waves. I am sitting tucked up under the dodger with my feet on the steps leading down into the cabin.  Here, I am out of the wind, I can monitor the instruments and see almost 360 degrees. It is 0345 and I am fighting to keep my eyes open, I don't want to imbibe any caffeine because my shift ends at 0500 and I need to sleep. We should be in Atlantic City by noon and then we will have contact a marina there to figure out accommodations.