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!