Sunday, December 8, 2013

Beaufort, SC to Delray Beach

Friday, 11/29/13 - We Go Offshore Again
The massive cold front that had passed us yesterday had moved offshore and was being replaced by a large high pressure cell over the eastern seaboard. For us that meant northerly winds for a few days until they clocked again in front of the next cold front, and the possibility of some more offshore sailing. We were particularly interested in this opportunity as our previous offshore under similar weather conditions had worked out well and because the upcoming stretch of the ICW loomed ahead of us like the small intestines of a giant. Here, there are many inlets that are really impassible for sailboats because of their depth and shifting shoals. At each inlet there is a tree-like fan of estuarial rivers that rush inland for miles in twisting, meandering tidal marshes. The tides here are ferocious: 7-8 feet throughout South Carolina and Georgia. At the crest of each tree where the rivers of one inlet run close to the rivers of the next, man has cut a small channel to connect them into the Intracoastal Waterway. This means that the ICW passage south involves heading SE down one river to its inlet, then SW back up a more southerly branch of the inlet's rivers to an interconnecting channel, S through that channel to the next river, then SE down to its inlet, etc. etc. etc. All of this while contending with huge tides causing large currents in under-dredged channels that spend more time going east and west than north or south. We did this last year, and although it was beautiful & fun at the time, we were not looking forward to doing it again, so the weather window and our new found confidence in our double handed offshore sailing led us to consider another trip offshore.

Sunset off of Port Royal Sound

The Beaufort River empties into the large and deep Port Royal Sound that has a long channel out to its sea buoy past the Hilton Head Resort Island. We had several miles of this passage to reconsider our offshore choice but when the time came to fish or cut bait, the gentle 15 knot NE winds made it a simple decision and we continued down the channel to the ocean. Once past the sea buoy, we hoisted main and jib on a broad reach and settled in to our passage. The weather was warm and the winds stayed in the 15-20g25 (gusts to 25) range all night. After the sun set the stars came out in the moonless sky, our autopilot doing his duty as the miles ticked off behind us. About 4am, we were off of the St. Johns sea buoy and, it being too early to head in to Jacksonville, decided to head for St. Augustine another 30 miles south. The guide book for this port suggests the channel is often shoaling and so the buoys are not on the chart. We called the TowBoat US captain about an hour out and he assured us the channel had been recently dredged and gave us instructions on the buoy approach. He did note that there was an ebb tide flowing and that the channel might be a bit rougher than usual. This, it proved, was an understatement.

Saturday, 11/30/13 - Passing On Saint Augustine Inlet
About 9 am we arrived at the St. Augustine sea buoy and the seas were in the 7-8 foot range. We located the green #1 and red #2 buoys and headed towards them. The channel beyond was, however, lost in a sea of breaking waves and it was not possible to locate the next #3 and #4 buoys that would give us a line on the channel. We called the TowBoat captain again and he gave us the course to steer but prudence overruled our desire to get into port and so we waited until the towboat could come out to guide us into the channel. At about 1000 hrs he called and said he was at red #4 but that the seas in the channel were "like a washing machine" and he was seeing 8 ft depths in the troughs.  That was a no-brainer for us and we considered our options: wait offshore in 7-8 ft seas until high tide, beat north 30 miles to Jacksonville, or continue south. The weather report was calling for decreasing winds clocking to the East and so it became a simple decision for us to continue south.

Honey, can you see the next buoy? I can't!

We originally thought we might head for Ponce De Leon Inlet but the sun came out and the winds decreased to 15-20 knots on a broad reach as we headed south toward Fort Pierce inlet. Another 20 degrees to port and 90 miles away lay the Hertzel Shoal Lighted Buoy off of Cape Canaveral so we figured we were on a roll and headed for there. The winds held beautifully as we approached the Cape, building to 20-25 knots gradually as we approached on a beam reach. About 5 miles from the buoy Jeff noticed that the helm did not seem to be connected to the rudder any more and was spinning in his hands! We spent some frantic moments determining that: a) we still had a rudder, b) the autopilot was still connected to it and c) the problem lay somewhere in the cabling between the rudder quadrant and the wheel itself. Relieved in this knowledge, we reenabled the autopilot and continued around the point. Around 0100 Neala was on the helm when she reported two large ships approaching directly toward us in the night. The winds were still 15-25 kt but the seas had built to around 10 feet and so the ships would disappear when we dropped into the troughs. Of course, our running lights being much closer to the water than their lights, we would drop out of sight to the large passenger cruise liners too. Jeff called them both on the VHF and ensured they both had us on their AIS and radars. One, a Carnival ship, would pass a mile astern of us and the other, a Disney ship, would pass a mile ahead of us on their way into Port Canaveral. Close enough for us but far enough away to be a safe passing. The moon had still not come up and the night was very dark. Northern Lights sailed beautifully on into the night, sliding up and down the large seas without complaints.

We set our phone alarms to 30 minutes and took cat naps between them for the rest of the night. After being awake most of the previous night we were exhausted. Jeff slept in the cockpit so he could hear if any of the sails started flogging and Neala slept in the salon below. Later we figured out we could have staggered our wake-ups and checked for traffic every 15 minutes but it was nice to be together and there was no further reason to be nervous as the boat sailed herself on towards Fort Pierce inlet in the night. In the morning, Jeff opened up the steering pedestal and saw that the chain sprocket that was attached to the helm shaft was loose. He tightened the two set screws and pronounced the steering problem solved. Or so we thought...

Sunday, 12/1/13 - A Close Call in Fort Pierce Inlet
Around 1000 we arrived at the Ft. Pierce sea buoy and began our entrance into the inlet. The seas were now about 6 feet from the east and there was another ebb tide running in the channel. This time we could see all of the approach buoys and, while the seas were breaking outside of the channel they were not breaking inside of the channel. We continued onward. Just approaching green #3, Jeff felt the helm start to slip again. YIKES! Losing steerage at this point in the entrance was a HUGE PROBLEM! As the boat swung south and aimed herself directly at the very large, very heavy, very steel, green #3 buoy that was plunging up and down in the waves, he dived for the autopilot control and, pressing the buttons rapidly in succession, quickly got us back on course headed back into the channel. BIG WHEW! It turned out that the autopilot could do a better job of keeping us on course than he could and so we were able to complete the entrance passage and take a side tie at nearby HarborTown Marina for the night. We've had a wonderful 2 months and this was our only "near-death" experience!

 The helm drive shaft, key and sprocket in proper juxtaposition!

Entering the Fort Pierce inlet

We went in to the harbor office to check in and then had a nice lunch (with wine!) at the restaurant there before Jeff tackled the steering problem again. This time, in better light and with more insight into the design of the mechanism, he noticed that the large steel key that had secured the helm shaft to the drive sprocket had fallen out and was laying at the bottom of the steering pedestal.  The set screws were only to keep the sprocket centered on the shaft so that the key would stay in place, so that by replacing the key and retightening the set screws he quickly got our steering back to factory condition. We took a nap until 1800 and, after a light dinner snack, went back to sleep until the morning glad to be safe and sound in the marina.

Monday, 12/2/13 - Motor to Peanut Island Anchorage
We awoke well rested after the preceding adventures and decided to motor down the ICW in flat water and light winds rather than go offshore again. We had an uneventful trip the 44 miles down to Lake Worth and dropped the hook off of Peanut Island late in the afternoon. After sunset, we were assaulted by very loud music from the local cruise liner that was getting ready to head for the Bahamas. As we watched them head out the channel we realized with mixed emotions that this would be our last night on our trip south from Erie to Delray Beach.

 Sunset in Peanut Island anchorage

Noisy cruise boat heading for the Bahamas

Tuesday, 12/3/13 - Home to Delray Beach
We got the anchor up at 0645 and were motoring to the Flagler Memorial Bridge soon after. We had a nice flood tide and made the 0715 opening about an hour ahead of our expected schedule. The tide kicker continued as we passed the remaining 9 bridges (!) on the last 20 miles of the ICW from Palm Beach to Delray Beach. We made the 1115 opening at Atlantic Avenue and the 1130 opening of the Linton Avenue bridge and were in our slip being greeted by our friends Terry & Jeannie by 1145. By spending three nights offshore we had shaved a week off of our southbound trip and were now ready to relax for a few days before flying back to Erie and Colorado for the holidays.

 Ocean Avenue Bridge in Boynton Beach

 Atlantic Avenue Bridge in Delray Beach

 Heading into Tropic Bay marina

 Jeanne, Terry & Don welcome committee

Home to Delray Beach, safe and sound

Celebrating our arrival with Vince's gift bottle of Veuve at Jeanne & Terry's

We've enjoyed this adventure for 2+ months - have visited lots of great places, met new friends, visited old friends, discovered beautiful little anchorages along the way, had some fantastic sailing, learned a lot about ourselves and mastered new abilities. We are currently enjoying our time here in Delray Beach and are looking forward to more sailing adventures in the future. We are currently planning to get back onboard sometime after the holidays to head for the Bahamas. We'll continue this blog when we do. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Beaufort to Beaufort

11/15/13 - Into Wilmington, NC
We got underway at 0700 but missed the 0900 hourly opening of the Surf City swing bridge by 10 minutes and so had to loiter in front of it while others from our anchorage, who probably enjoyed their coffee and breakfast, came wandering in to join us. Underway again at 1000, we made the Figure 8 Swing bridge and then had to loiter again to wait for the 1300 opening of the Wrightsville Bascule Bridge. As all of the marinas in the area were full we decided to head for Wilmington and continued south past Carolina Beach and into the Snow's Cut to get to the Cape Fear River. Now, the tide was at a spring-tide low but the guide book said the north channel was deep so when we grounded suddenly at its entrance we were quite surprised. Fortunately, the tide was rising and we were able to pollywog our way off of the shoal and back into the south channel instead. About an hour later we pulled into the Wilmington Marine Center and took a side tie for a week in their protected harbor.

 Along the way we passed Tom and Jan's lovely Buena Vista home who are long time friends of Jeff's

 Cruising up  the Cape Fear River with a big one passing us!

Northern Lights in Wilmington Marine Center

11/16/13 - Visiting Wilmington, NC
We took a cab into the downtown area to explore old Wilmington. They had a farmers market on Saturday and we saw some great okra pickles in one stand and tasted some local wines before wandering up the street to explore. Across the river, the WW-II battleship North Carolina sat in her war paint begging us to visit, so we took the water taxi across the Cape Fear River and spent 2 hours wandering through the old battlewagon. As it turns out, BB-55 was the first battleship to reach Pearl Harbor after the Japanese invasion and saw action in every major theater of the Pacific during the war. She was torpedoed by the same submarine that sunk the carrier Wasp - the first shot missed the carrier and hit the ship 13 miles away. Bad luck for sure but she returned to Pearl, her damage had been repaired and she was back to sea in 3 weeks. She was saved from the scrap yard after the war and visitors can tour a 16 inch gun turret, see the shell & powder magazines below and generally tour all of the ship. Jeff was in heaven and thought it well worth the trade of another art museum tour to compensate Neala, although she does seem to be fascinated by ships and such. We had lunch at The George on the waterfront and had the southern version of Eggs Benedict - buttermilk biscuit topped with a grilled tomato, a crab cake, a perfectly cooked poached egg all topped off with perfect Hollandaise - yum! (Accompanied by a nice Chardonnay.) Later we returned to the boat to pack for our flights early the next day. Jeff was flying to San Francisco for a conference and Neala was flying back to Erie to visit her family and friends.

Downtown Wilmington

 USS North Carolina BB-55

Nice backdrop!

Sixteen inch, forty-five caliber battleship rifles shot 1900 lb projectiles - quite impressive!

11/22/13 - Return to Wilmington
We both had late flight arrivals but Neala was delayed by weather in both Erie and Philadelphia and so would not arrive until midnight which meant she had an 8 hour layover in Phillie. Digression: Jeff's college girlfriend Bonnie's family owned a summer home in Wilmington right on the ICW waterway between the Figure 8 and Wrightsville Bridges. Jeff had visited the cottage in the 60's with her and had recognized it last year as we steamed by on our trip south. He had called Bonnie's brother Tom and wife Jan at the time - they had all stayed in contact over the years - but we could not get together then. This year Jeff called sooner and we had arranged to get together for dinner the next night. Anyway, Tom & Jan left a car at the airport for us (so nice!) and he was able to drive back to the boat to turn on the heat and make her comfortable for Neala's late arrival. That was so thoughtful!

11/23/13 - Tom's 70th Birthday Party!
We slept in late after all the traveling and drove into Wilmington for lunch and to wander around a bit more in this historic town. We had another lunch at The George (ordered those great crab cake Eggs Benedict again!) and picked up some very fine okra pickles from Angela before returning to the boat. Around 1600 we headed out to Tom & Jan's and arrived to find they were celebrating Tom's 70th birthday! They had their daughter Amy there for the party along with her two young children 4-yr old Josie and 18 month old Rex. Tom & Jan are long time cruisers and have made the ICW and Bahamas trips several times over the years. Jan was most interested in our experiences on the Erie Canal and in the Great Lakes so it turned out we had many topics for animated conversation that evening. After a delightful evening which included a great meal of "beer can chicken" with their family Tom drove us back to the boat and we prepared for our trip south the next day. Thanks Tom and Jan for a wonderful evening!

 Angela's pickled okra and citron cucumbers are the best - perfect for Jeff's "martini salad"

 Some of the fresh Swiss Chard we got at the market

Tom and Josie opening birthday cards

Jan, Amy, Josie, Tom and Rex celebrating Tom's birthday. So glad we could be there, too!

11/24-25/13 - Our First Overnight Offshore Together!
A big low pressure cell had just passed over Wilmington the previous day and there were gale warnings up and down the coast up until 1pm today. After fueling, we departed the marina at 1230 to head down the Cape Fear River with some trepidation. The Frying Pan Shoal buoy was still showing 27-32 knots of wind and 8 foot seas when we left but the forecast was for easing of conditions so we headed out knowing we had until 1400 to chicken out and take the ICW south in Southport or head out to sea. By the time we got to our decision point the winds had abated to 18-24 knots and the seas were calming too so we decided to head out for our first offshore overnight together! By 1630 we were heading SW on a broad reach in 18-22 knots and making 7-8 knots as the sun set in the west. The wind had clocked a bit too much to carry both main and jib so we furled the jib and ran downwind under main alone. At sundown, Neala took the first watch while Jeff snoozed in the salon. At 2130 he awoke and took over the conn for the mid watch. At 0430 Neala took over on a port broad reach and Jeff went to bed. When the sun came up the winds had built to 25-30 kts and the seas to 6-8 ft and we ran out a little bit of jib so we could head up to reef the main. The Charleston channel was in sight and we were going to need to close reach so a balanced, double reefed sail plan was in order. We were able to reach into the harbor in exciting conditions to the breakwater where the seas at least abated. From there it was an easy sail into the harbor and finally under power again we rejoined the ICW to clear the 1100 opening of the Wapoo River bridge on a flood tide. Neala took the helm again while Jeff took some calls - it was his usual busy Monday morning at MiHIN. At 1500 we anchored in the Toogoodoo River in a nice little anchorage and decompressed while our friends (and Delray Beach neighbors) Wayne & Kristin of Kemo Sabe motored into the anchorage to meet us for dinner. They had been keeping their boat in Charleston and were only a couple of hours behind us for the rendezvous. We put the dinghy in the water and motored over to Kemo Sabe for drinks and a dinner reunion and a celebration of Kristin's birthday!

 Broad reach in 15 - 20 kts offshore of Cape Fear River 

First double-handed sunset from Wilmington to Charleston

 Celebrating Kristin's birthday on Kemo Sabe in Toogoodoo Creek - beautiful anchorage south of Charleston

These happy guys celebrated, too!

11/26/13 - Into Beaufort, SC For Thanksgiving With Tina
0830 We awoke after a good night sleep and got underway to Beaufort. The weather was awful, with rain and fog obscuring the channel markers on this twisty part of the ICW. Neala drove again using the GPS and binoculars to navigate in the bad weather while Jeff conversed with his MiHIN colleagues in Michigan over GoToMeeting in the comfortable cockpit enclosure. It's a pretty tough way to earn a living! We made the 1500 opening of the Lady's Island Swing Bridge and tied up at the City Docks at 1530 for two days of visiting with Jeff's daughter-in-law Tina. Jeff's son, Troy, is currently working in the Philippines so unfortunately he was not with us (except by Skype!)

 Going through Ladies Island Swing Bridge in the rain. We docked in this stuff, too!
However, the evening was beautiful - Northern Lights is the left mast

11/27/13 - Conference Calls, Art Galleries and Shrimp n' Grits
Jeff had his usual Wednesday calls and a demonstration of his Provider Directory so he was busy in the salon until afternoon. Neala met Tina for brunch and they spent the morning touring the many art galleries and little shops that line Bay Street. Beaufort, SC is such a great little town! By 1300 Tina was off to her work and Jeff was done with his so we both walked around the town together in the afternoon. Tina picked us up for dinner and we drove to the Dockside Restaurant where we had dined with her last year for some of their famous Shrimp n Grits. We have been sampling the various recipes of Shrimp and Grits (no one prepares it the same way!) and, hands down, the Dockside's is the best!

Neala, Jeff and Tina at the Dockside on Ladies Island - truly the best Shrimp n Grits ever!

11/28/13 - Thanksgiving Turkey and Time With Tina
We drove to St. Helena Island to Tina's who had prepared a yummy breakfast of fruit crepes, coffee and Swedish sausage, then went for a long walk with her two award-winning Shelties -  Fiji and Chanel. Tina is a national-level Agility competitor with these dogs and she has a complete agility course set up in her back yard to train them with. It is amazing to watch the dogs fly around the obstacle course following Tina's verbal and hand commands. After our walk we returned to the boat to change for Thanksgiving dinner at Panini's in town. They prepared a delicious smoked turkey dinner with all of the trimmings and we had a wonderful meal.  After dinner Tina drove us to Port Royal for another walk and tour of the town before we returned to Northern Lights for dessert (Dutch apple pie in the cockpit) and to say farewell. Tomorrow, we plan another offshore overnight to Jacksonville, hoping to avoid the shallow small intestines of the ICW the rest of the way to Florida. We just had another big front blow through yesterday and the weather forecast looks like what we saw from Wilmington so we are heading out again tomorrow.

Tina and Fiji showing us their award-winning Agility moves

 Neala and Tina on the neighborhood dock

 Nice Thanksgiving day walk

 Jeff and Tina with Fiji and Chanel 
 Pretty scene of the salt marshes along our walk

 Port Royal Sound from the observation tower

 We loved this "shrimp" mailbox we saw along our walk!

 Jeff and Neala in front of the "Traveling Buoy" that broke loose and traveled 6,000 miles to Scotland - we couldn't make that one up!

 Plaque at the Traveling Buoy

Ladies Island Swing Bridge at dawn

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oriental to Mile Hammock Bay

11/11/13 Lay Day in Oriental For Jeff to Work
Jeff had calls all morning and into the afternoon, so we elected to spend another day in Oriental. Such a cute little town! Last year we stayed a bit out of town with only the courtesy car to venture in. This year, courtesy of David Kibbe, we had a great slip in the heart of the town. We ventured out in the afternoon between calls for a nice walk along the waterfront, stopping by "The Bean", Oriental's well known coffee shop and local hangout. We both got ice cream cones which we enjoyed sitting out on the porch in the sun. It was a cool day, but sunny and warm enough in the sun. Later Neala returned to town to purchase chafing gear for the snubber. When she was walking past the town dock she ran into people we had met in Baldwinsville, NY on the Erie Canal! It's been such fun meeting up with folks along the way miles from where we first met. At 1715 we donned our fleeces and walked  in the brisk evening air 1/2 mile to David's house for a marvelous barbecue and conversation. We sat around his fire pit overlooking his catamaran on the canal. Coincidentally, he shares the canal with D and Don who live across from him. We thought it was quite ironic to spend both nights in Oriental in either side of the same canal! Around 2100 David drove us back to the boat and we made preparation's to get under way in the morning.

11/12/13 On to Beaufort, NC
Today we had a 20 mile cruise to Beaufort, NC in advance of a large weather system that promised 30 knot winds and cold, cold weather. We departed after sunrise from Oriental and motored across the Neuse River in very calm conditions to join the canal down to Beaufort. Three hours later we were tied up in a slip at Beaufort Docks. Throughout the day, more and more boats arrived for a safe harbor to weather the impending winds. Mid-afternoon we took the Water Bug tour around the islands of the harbor and were lucky enough to see a few of the wild horses on Carrot Island.  We used our "free" tuits for drinks in the Dock House Restaurant, then walked over to Clawson's for exceptional shrimp and grits!

 Entering Beaufort Docks

 Little scene in the mooring field

 Jeff and Neala on the Water Bug!

 Catching a glimpse of a wild horse on Carrot Island

Waterfront boardwalk with flowers, blowing flags and Northern Lights docked on the right

11/13/13 Another Lay Day in Beaufort For Jeff to Work
Last night the wind howled and the boat heaved against our dock lines. Fortunately our heater worked and the dock lines held so when we awoke with 39 degrees in the enclosed cockpit we knew we had made a good decision. Jeff had some important demonstration calls to do before lunch and afterwards we walked out into the town to get him a much needed haircut. Post the haircut we did a little grocery shopping, walked in the historic district and then spent two hours in the North Carolina Maritime Museum. This was a wonderful museum with an exceptional exhibit that featured the history of the infamous pirate Black Beard and his flagship, the frigate Queen Anne's Revenge that foundered and was lost 1 mile outside the entrance to Beaufort Harbor. This wreck was discovered in 1994 and has been under archaeological excavation ever since so there were many fascinating exhibits in the museum of artifacts that had been recovered from this wreck. This is a must-see exhibit for travelers near Beaufort and by far the best maritime museum we have seen on this trip!

 Historic Beaufort home from the late 1700s

 Another beautiful Beaufort home

 Entering the Black Beard exhibit in the maritime museum

Other exhibits at the museum - a must-see attraction in Beaufort!

11/14/14 Easy Motor to Mile Hammock Bay
0700: This morning was clear and cold with no trace of yesterday's wind but plenty of remnants of the chill. We awoke to slack water and quickly moved the boat to the pump out dock so we could pump sanitaries and take on water. Around 0845 we departed Beaufort Docks to motor south on the ICW under clear skies and light winds. After a brief grounding on a shoal on the wrong side (!) of marker green 61A we passed through the Onslow Beach Swing bridge and dropped the hook in Mile Hammock Bay, a Marine Corps anchorage favored by cruisers. We had stayed her last year and enjoyed the peacefulness of this anchorage. There we saw a number of camouflaged Marine fast boats with troops aboard and several other cruisers joined us as the evening wore on.

 "Inner Banks" of the Bogue Sound on the  ICW heading south from Beaufort

Tranquil scene tonight in Mile Hammock Bay

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Into The North Carolina ICW

11/5/13 - Great Bridge Lock Closure
Another early start got us into the ICW early today. In the middle of the Norfolk Harbor we passed our friends on Impulse - Mike, Allison & new crew mate. When we got to the Steel Bridge we were informed the Great Bridge lock was closed (another lock closure and potential barrier south!) for valve repairs. The bridge tender suggested we take a slip at nearby Top Rack Marina for the night. Around 1630 we heard other boats leave that marina in a hurry and, after the bridge had closed, found out they were letting some boats through the lock at low tide, when the water levels were almost the same. Darn! We had missed our chance…..or so we thought. Knowing the lock might be closed for days, we were not happy about being stuck on the wrong side! Then, the Steel Bridge operator informed us of a scheduled opening for two  northbound barges and that he would keep the bridge open so we could pass through. We then had to hightail it as fast as possible to the lock that couldn't guarantee us they'd be open when we got there. Neala called on the radio several times to let the lock tender know we where we were on our frantic ride toward the lock. There was no telling how long we'd be held up if we didn't get through. We finally made a turn in the ICW and could see the lock - Neala called again one more time and said,"We can see you!" They kept the lock open and we eased into the lock at dusk - the last boat to get through that a night! The next hurdle was having to wait a 1/2 hour in the dark for the Great Bridge to open on the hour. Fortunately we had called ahead to reserve a spot at Atlantic Yacht Center. Having stayed there last year we knew the dock situation, however it was almost pitch dark. The harbor master flashed a strobe to where we needed to dock, helped us tie up and a we were safe and sound - on the SOUTH side of the lock - for the night.

 Neala's ongoing "war" with fruit flies! Her most recent "kill"!! Just put some apple cider vinegar in a cup and add a tiny drop of dish detergent…..they love the vinegar, but the detergent breaks the surface tension and sucks them in. Nasty, but necessary! Another story for another day...!

 Early morning Norfolk scene

 Jeff searching for  markers and traffic in Norfolk harbor - so guess who's at the helm this morning…..

 Cool silhouette on the harbor of aircraft carriers

 Meeting our friends on Impulse in the Norfolk harbor!

 Tug passing by on the way to Marker Zero on the ICW

 2 more aircraft carriers in Norfolk shipyard

 Huge northbound barge that we waited for to exit the Steel Bridge so we could head southbound to the Great Bridge Lock - hoping to make it while it was still open!

Yes!! We were able to get through the lock just at dusk - the last boat to go through that day!

11/6/13 - Broad Creek Anchorage
We got a 0745 departure this morning and fell into line with a number of other boats at the two swing bridges. By Carrituck Sound the line had stretched out but we followed M/V Norma Jean all the way to the mouth of the Albermarle Sound where we turned right and took an anchorage in a quiet, little cove off of Broad Creek for the night.

 Jeff wiping off the morning dew at Atlantic Yacht Basin so we could see!

 In a "parade" heading to the swing bridge east of Great Bridge

Avoiding numerous stumps and other deadheads along this stretch of the ICW takes a keen eye

11/7/13 - On to Visit Don and Marjie in Belhaven, NC
0620: Weighed anchor in absolutely flat calm conditions with overcast skies and a chance of rain. A very local squall drenched Jeff as he weighed the anchor but it then passed away until we were well into the Albermarle Sound crossing. We passed the Alligator River swing bridge in pouring rain that then moderated as we swung into the Alligator River Pungo River Canal a couple of hours later. We could see a few miles ahead and could see blue skies at the end of the canal. After a morning of pouring rain, it was a welcoming sight. By the time we exited the Canal it was clear but still fairly chilly. We arrived at Belhaven Waterway Marina around 1530 and were greeted by our friends Don & Margie Stark. They are Lake Erie sailor friends who keep their boat in Ashtabula YC in OH and sail each year for a visit to Erie. The four of us dined a the Spoon River Artwork & Market - a wonderful, eclectic gourmet restaurant with a "walk-in wine list" where you could choose your wine from the wide selection on display. Jeff had the shrimp and grits and Don, Marjie and Neala had the pork tenderloin. We, of course, had dessert - Neala had the chocolate bread pudding, Jeff had the chocolate layer cake and Don and Marjie shared the pumpkin cheese cake. We high recommend this restaurant - great food, creative interior and Teresa - the highly talented owner!

 Mystical morning sunrise from our little anchorage in Broad Creek off the ICW

 Spooky progression of sky and water that morning

 Eventually progressing to this amazing scene

 However, soon it poured as we passed through the Alligator River Swing Bridge - thank goodness for the new enclosure!

 Lonely and desolate banks line the upper Alligator River

 The clouds parted and the sun came out as we approached Belhaven, NC

Arriving in Belhaven - thanks, Don, for the photo!

 Table setting in the creative interior of Spooner Creek Restaurant

 We love the eclectic decor in this cozy little bistro

A big attraction was the walk-in wine list where we could select our wines for dinner - what a great idea!

 Tonight it was our friend Kyle's birthday celebrated by Neala, Jeff, Marjie and Don

Also our friend Jeanne's birthday the next day!

11/8/13 - Enjoying Belhaven
We took a brisk walk this morning into town, stopping into the "all-purpose" hardware store for a few supplies. Then Jeff returned to the boat for calls while Neala and Marjie explored the neighborhoods of Belhaven and afterward met Jeff and Don for lunch.  Afterwards we toured the Belhaven Museum - an unbelievable varied collection of old items from the late 19th and 20th centuries that had belonged to a former Belhaven resident. It is a rather indescribable collection - you must see it to believe it! We also visited Don's train exhibit downstairs in the old sheriff's office and even got "locked up" in the Belhaven Jail. Don and Marjie are working extremely hard on this space that will be transformed into a winter wonderland featuring an elaborate model train exhibit with a circus theme. It is sure to be the highlight of the holiday season in Belhaven! We had hoped to be able to rent a car to drive up to Raleigh to see Jeff's college roommate Bob & his wife Joy but, alas, that was not to be. We still hoped we'd be able to get a car the next day.

 We highly recommend Belhaven Waterways Marina - great docks, friendly & helpful staff and really close to town!

 Belhaven's community art project - a crab, of course!

In jail in Belhaven! Really, the boat building area and Don's train exhibit are in the former sheriff's office and jail!

 Jeff and Don in the boat building side operating a manual drill press. 

 Captured moment in Belhaven harbor

11/9/13 - Still No Enterprise Cars!
We tried and tried to get a car from Enterprise in nearby Washington NC, but there was evidently a homecoming in Greenville NC and none were to be found. We decided to go shopping instead and Don & Margie drove us to the nearby grocery store to reprovision. After that we chilled for a while then rejoined Don and Marjie for yet another fantastic meal at Spoon River! Afterward we strolled across the street to the Tavern - a new restaurant in Belhaven having their "soft" opening that night!

 Don and Marjie at the Tavern

 Jeff and Neala enjoying the ambiance at the Tavern

Fun Tavern staff on their opening night!

11/10/13 - Downwind Run to Oriental
0730: Departed the Belhaven Waterway Marina under clear skies and SW winds 10-15. Soon we were sailing down the Pungo and across the Pamlico River to take the Goose Island ICW cut to Bay River where we again sailed for a while before the winds finally came on our nose in the Neuse River about 8 miles from Oriental, NC. We arrived in Oriental Marina and took a slip graciously offered by Jeff's colleague Dr. David Kibbe.

By 1430 we were tied up in his slip and were planning our evening. Don & D of Southern Cross had invited a number of visiting cruisers to a pot luck a their Oriental home and we were invited too. About 20 cruisers of various backgrounds attended, including Scott & Kitty, 4-time circumnavigators aboard Tamure, Wally - a 20 year veteran of the ICW with his dog Aduana, John & Alida - multi year veterans aboard Voyager II - who do all the power setup for the Annapolis boat show. What a fun group! We partied until late in the evening then returned to the boat.

 Nice sail to Oriental, NC - the "Sailing Capital of NC"

Trawlers on the ICW canal

 Coming into Oriental harbor

 Potluck dinner with lots of interesting people at D and Don's - what a great evening!

 D, Don, Jeff and Neala at the potluck dinner

 Pretty view of the Oriental harbor

Overhead view of the Oriental Harbor marina Neala "stole" from the Waterways Guide!