Sunday, October 31, 2010

Elizabeth City to Oriental NC

We left Elizabeth City just before sunrise for the long ride down to cross the Pamlico River and then into the Alligator River. We were motoring into a beautiful sunrise with lots of red to make it almost a perfect picture and all the boats in our group took several photos of it and the boats framed in the sunrise. Entering the Alligator River was a tight twisty channel. The shifting shoals had made moving the makes mandatory and our charts were all wrong. But we followed the marks and avoided the spots the guide mentioned and some recent local knowledge and got through ok. One big sail boat was stuck aground as we passed but was to big for us to pull but he got his main up and spun the big ketch and was able to back out as two other boats stood by to help. Assisting was difficult as they drew less water than we did. Once through we headed for the swing bridge and after slowing to let three other boats catch up we passed through. All the waters are fairly shallow and we followed the marks we headed down. Occasionally we would unroll the headsail as the wind backed enough to let us sail a bit. We rounded the corner at the bottom and just before the turn into the Alligator / Pungo Canal we went into an area just past it and dropped the anchor next to some friends. There wasn’t enough time left to make the next stop for the day. I had spent most of the trip drilling the anchor for a trip line and in the morning I discovered that shaving were rusting all over the deck, does anyone know a good way to remove the stains???

We left as the sun came up and we could see the crab pots and headed into the Alligator / Pungo Canal for another long motor boat ride to the Pungo River. We emerged to find brisk winds on the nose but as we turned the corner a couple miles down we were able to unroll the headsail for a fast headsail reach in 20 knot winds all the way to Belhaven. We entered the harbour and almost got stuck on the shoal in the middle but were able to back out and head down to the end where we dropped anchor. The Skipper Bob write up for Belhaven must have been written by the local tourist board and they were very generous as we found little of what they described. Jeanne managed to find a nice bottle of wine in the hardware store though. Then we got caught in a rain storm and just when we thought it was done it started to rain as we motored out to the boat in the dingy. We had planned to stay a couple nights but changed our minds and made plans to head for Oriental with a overnight stop in Campbell Creek and arrived there about . We had a pot luck dinner with our friends on Changes. In the morning we headed for Oriental.
We motored out into the Neuse River and had a lively reach in 20 knot winds until turning the corner for the last 20 miles to Oriental. Then it was 20 on the nose and gusty and 4 foot building seas. Or speed was reduced to 3.5 to 4 knots. We kept slogging along and about half way or friends peeled of for an anchorage but we kept going. It looked so close… we finally got there and headed for Oriental Marina and had to back track when we got on the wrong side of a shoal in the harbour. We had a tough time getting into the fuel dock with the winds pushing us away from the dock but finally tied up and refueled. We elected to take a dock and relax and get some we earned showers and dinner ashore. We got into our slip after I tripped on the boat trying to leave the fuel dock and landed chest first on a stanchion. A painful lesson to be careful but luckily nothing broken. The marina had a happy hour and that went down good. We had internet and a coffee shop across the street and a marine resale shop not too far away and we browsed it for an hour and bought a few things. In the morning we went over to the free town dock and discovered a web cam on the dock and wrote a few friends to check us out. Next Beaufort and Moorehead City.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hampton to Elizabeth City NC

We left Hampton late and with the wind from the wrong direction, again… we stopped for fuel and they told us we’d never make the bridge opening and then would have to wait 2 hours and so we anchored at Hospital Point for the night. After dinner we rowed over to visit Dawn and Randy on there boat. We rowed back just minutes before a front blew in that would have made rowing back a problem. In the middle of the night the wind switched and we ended up a half boat length from a buoy and had to pick up and move closer in. After that we were fine and before dawn we were heading out the catch the bridge before it closed for rush hour. We made it through with a few minutes to spare after almost getting lost in the big navy base basin. Once the GPS was up we found the way through and made our opening and as the sun came up we turned into the Dismal swamp canal. A ground fog covered the water in spots but we took our time and had no trouble in the winding first section. We arrived at the Deep Creek lock at and had to wait an hour for the first opening, but with no current or wind we just shut the motor down and sat there not moving. After locking through with two powerboats and a sail boat at the bridge we tied up at the Deep Creek wall and went shopping at the Food Lion store. And then we headed out for the Dismal Swamp. We motored to the Welcome Center and tied up for the day at after only touching a few items on the bottom, logs I think. Later on 5 more sailboats arrived and we had an impromptu social hour.
Leaving at we timed our trip to be at the next lock for its opening.
Once locked down we had to wait inside as they repaired a broken gate pin and after 20 minutes we were on our way to Elizabeth City. There was a very nice dock for 14 boats but no washrooms, water, hydro or pump out. But we did walk a few blocks to get diesel at a gas station and fill our tank.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Annapolis Md. to Hampton Va.

Our destination for the night was Dun’s cove on the other side of the bay. We had a nice motor sail across to a little channel called Knapp’s Narrows that would shave 15 miles off the trip.  It was a somewhat easy pass to find though you still had to be careful with all the crab pots and the narrow channel. Once lined up though it was a straight shot in with a tight turn at the end and then up into the cut between. We stopped at a marina but the fee would have blown my budget yet again so we called for a bridge opening and went through. The other side was a wide sheltered bay, part of the Choptank River, with a marked channel leading out. There were a couple towns we could go to on the far side but we elected to head up to Duns Cove about 4 miles up. After threading the pass we rounded a point and motored in the cove. There was one other boat there and after we set the anchor we took a closer look and thought they looked familiar. We motored over in the dingy after dinner and found Phil and Lorraine on Changes, a 34 C&C that I last met up in Sylvan Beach on Lake Oneida. They were the couple that told us we should get the boaters cards to pass out to the friends we meet along the way. They were heading to the Solomon’s and we were planning to go in the back way to St Michael’s. They had a weather report that said the next day was going to be the last good day for the next few. We socialized with them until well after dark and then headed back to our boat. We tend to go to bed soon after dark and are up with the sun. We woke up early and changed our minds about St Michael’s and after breakfast we followed them to the Solomon’s leaving about about an hour or so behind.

We motor sailed in about 12 knots out of the NE and gusty for the 40 mile run down to the Patuxent River and up into Back Creek. We arrived about and found a spot way back in and were anchored by . Some of the popular anchorages get very crowded early and you need to get in early to find a good spot. We found a nice spot but had to move as a barge was to come out the next day. We ended up staying there 4 nights. The weather was cold and rainy most of the time and we are now on a mission to get farther south. You can dingy to the Holiday Inn dock and for $2 tie up for the day and drop your trash in their bin. Around front there is a small shopping mall with a grocery store and other shops, a fast food place with internet access and next door a West Marine store. In front of the grocery you can catch the bus over the bridge and into town for $3 for an all day pass and go to Wal-Mart, Target and other big shopping stores. While there we ducked into a Pantera Bread store just before a torrential rain fell and used there internet while we had lunch.

Eventually we had to leave for the 60 mile run from the Solomon’s to Jackson Creek on the Piankatank. We awoke at departed at as the sun was just barely starting to lighten up the horizon. By dawn we were well out and dodging crab pots as we headed out to the bay and started going south again. Soon after the sun was up we were motor sailing at 7+ knots in west winds that were gusting over 20. We put in one reef and then a second reef and had rolled up a quarter of the headsail. Later that afternoon the winds lightened and went to the SW at 12 knots. And we were tight reaching with a full headsail and a reefed main. We carried that until we had to turn into the wind to get into the river as we headed towards Jackson Creek and motored the last 10 miles into the anchorage. This one was trickier to get into, Head up into the bay until you found the channel marks, then a sharp right turn and northward into the tight channel. Then stay close to the last red and make a sharp left turn just short of the beach and stay close to the next green. And then follow the three green marks straight into a well protected creek with two branches to anchor in. By we were at anchor and soon chatting with a couple on a boat close to us. We planned to sleep in till at least the next day as there was no way I was leaving in the dark.

We Left a little after and promptly ran aground when we missed the narrow channel by a few feet. After backing out we followed two other boats out that had used us to find the channel, maybe a boat length to our left.
Our next stop was to be Hampton VA about 45 miles south. We motored in light northerly winds all day to keep the speed up to 6 knots and were passing warships about as we headed into Hampton. We anchored out until we found out we could get a free night at the dock. So we tied up next to our friends and liked the place so much we stayed for 3 nights with showers, electricity and WiFi. They had loaner bikes we took to get groceries and a short walk over the bridge was a Laundromat. Kate the dock master was very friendly and helpful. I rode a bike about 3 miles to a welding supply and refilled a propane tank and found I had only used 5 lbs of propane since September 13 for all the cooking we did.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From Annapolis

Peter and I had several days to look over the town and walk the small streets. Most of the streets are as they were when the town was first settled. Almost every house was designated historic… makes remodeling tough.
Jeanne arrived with her kids about on Sat. and I went to pick them up in the dingy and had to make a couple trips to get all the stuff out to the boat. Peter and a couple from Orillia left as I was ferrying them out. We went for breakfast at a tiny restaurant but had to kill some time and walked around for a while as we waited for them to open.
Later on we went to Fawcett’s to pick up the new anchor rode, 100 feet of 5/16 HT chain spliced to 150 feet of 5/8 - 12 plait rope. Almost losing my best anchor in Delaware bay to something sharp on the bottom was unnerving, you never know where you could end up in the middle of the night as you sleep. We will need the chain when anchoring near sharp coral and using all chain shortens the scope and distance we will swing. While we waited on them to open we wandered through a boatyard as I tried to get Jeanne interested in a bigger boat.
After we got the heavy chain in the dingy and safely onto the boat we headed to the boat show to look for bargains and picked up a few items and I drooled over a wind generator made in Canada. We had several days where the sun didn’t shine and we had to run the engine to charge the batteries.
Bobby and Sue, Laurel and George, Brian and Leslie and another couple Gary and his wife were there and we had a few Painkillers at Pusser’s together

The next day we went to Weem’s and Plathe and bought several items, all about half price. A brass ships bell and brass yacht lantern and a log book with weather cover and a brass nameplate that we had engraved. On the way back I took Jeanne to look over a 36 foot Gozzard that I would love to have if I only had $250,000.00 to spend. Maybe I can find a less expensive one…

We left Annapolis after spending a week there during the sailboat show we headed out to the fuel dock for water and fuel. We had met several new friends and while fueling we met yet another couple from Ontario and traded contact cards to keep in touch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Erie Pa to the Canal

We left Erie Pa about 1pm after refueling and motored in a dead calm and flat water all the way to Buffalo and arrived at 2 am. We tied up at the Buffalo sailing club in a guest well and slept until morning. We met Bill and Jim on their Westerly Windrifter and they told us about a place to take the mast down that was much cheaper than we had planned. After a shower and breakfast we hurried down to drop the rig. It was a bare bones place but we managed to scavenge up enough wood to make some supports. and by the afternoon we were motoring down the Niagra River to the first lock. After a quick stop at West Marine we headed to the canal and by 8pm on Saturday Sept. 11/2010 we were at Lockport and tied up next to Windrifter. Our 350 mile trip down to the sea level had begun.
A word of caution to others... Fuel up with diesel at every chance you get, there are some long gaps in obtaining diesel fuel along the canal. We now have 3 spare fuel cans...

We purchased our canal pass and were off with the first opening. The locks are quite far apart and our next stop was Middleport for a lift bridge. We were getting low on fuel and the bridge tender offered to drive us for fuel and we added 5 gallons... we should have gotten more... We carried on and stopped at Brockport for the night where one of the volunteers drove us for fuel again and we added 10 gallons this time. So far the only fuel was at the beginning of the canal. Dinner that night was Ceasars', Tbones, and a nice Shiraz.
We had internet access and showers and laundry and hydro plug in for $8 a night, and this is still one of the nicest stops on the canal.. But there would be more to come.

Friday, October 15, 2010

at Sylvan Beach

Sail Away at Sylvan Beach

Docked at Sylvan Beach and meeting new friends

Starting Out

Graham and I, (Ken) left Southport Sailing Club early on Sept, 7 2010 after finding that the water was to thin in the well. With a little effort and some pushing by Jeanne we were out and on our way. On the way out the Channel took one last swipe with that wandering log that we hit every time we go out.
The wind was on the nose all the way to Lake Erie. As we passed the Water plant some of the staff came out to wave as we passed. It was a brisk sail to Pelee Island in 15-18 knot winds

We arrived at Pelee and spernt two nights there... Pelee has no safe drinking water but is a great place to wait out weather. we visited with Duncan Hind at his cottage, aboutn the 4th most southern house in Canada.

We eventually left on a northern wind for the long sail to Erie Pa, and arrived at 04:30 on Sept 10, 2010 after a 22 hour sail in 6 to 8 foot seas.

In the morning we called in but were told they knew nothing about a cruising permit. We were later to find out that all ports are to do them but some just don't want to. A problem later on...