Bad Weather - Good Friends November 25, 2006

On our way November 28, 2006

Top of the ICW December 1, 2006

Weather, weather, weather December 8, 2006

send email to Mary

send email to Neal



Bad Weather - Good Friends

Thanksgiving week would have been pretty miserable if Lana and Robert Lohe hadn't come to our rescue. We'd returned the rental car and when they heard that we were stuck in the marina waiting for weather, they truly extended themselves to help us out. Not only did they take us shopping but they lent us a car for a day and a half and then fed us Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner Robert helped Neal deal with a water pump problem. I guess I don't begrudge them the Chiefs' victory over the Broncos on Thanksgiving. To top it off, Lana came to the marina to see us off on Saturday morning and brought gifts of food. We're so grateful for your friendship and support. To say thank you is a start, but totally insufficient.

We're on our way!

November 28, 2006
by Mary

No offense to Herrington Harbour North marina, but leaving there on Saturday, November 25 was one helluva great birthday gift. The storm had passed and left frigid temperatures - we woke to frost on our decks and on the dock; but the water level was high enough to let us leave. It sure felt good to get out on the bay and finally get going. Wind was too light to bother putting sails up so we motored to Solomons. Late November is cold on the Chesapeake. I spent the days in thermal longjohns - top and bottom- jeans and sweatshirt; 2 pairs of socks, my down vest and my foul-weather jacket; watch cap and wind-resistant gloves. Are we having fun yet?

There's a very nice little anchorage at Solomons right near the Holiday Inn marina. We had no problems anchoring and even held very well in the muddy bottom. We'd planned to get to Deltaville on the second day, but dense morning fog delayed our departure so we headed for Reedville instead.

Anchored near the Holiday Inn at Solomons

We saw some large vessels but not as many as we'd expected. But there were a lot of fishing boats and, of course, a lot of crab pots to dodge.

Anchored at Sandy Point near Reedville in a nice little cove. Our only anchoring problem is the typical one of communication so we need to develop a set of signals - or we need to find our little "talk-about" radios and use them. Monday found us fogged in at Sandy Point. Early reports said it would clear, but we were fogged in all day. It did give Neal a chance to watch the local crabber at work.

Anchored at Sandy Point near Reedville

The 28th dawned clear and we were on our way by a little after 7 a.m. This was a long day and we ran hard to get to Hampton Flats at Norfolk before dark. There was some patchy fog but it was mostly clear and the water was glassy. Another day of just motoring. We saw many, many clusters of fishing boats. At Hampton Flats around Old Point Comfort we found a sailboat from Norway already anchored in the area between Fort Monroe and the I-64 bridge. We also dropped anchor there. While we thought we'd be hearing traffic noise from the interstate, it was completely drowned out by the constant comings and goings of Navy helicopters from the Norfolk base. It was warmer here and nice to be able to remove a couple of layers of clothes.

Anchored at Hampton Flats just across from Norfolk



Top of the ICW

December 1,2006
by Mary

The ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) begins at Hospital Point in Norfolk, VA. Getting there means going past the Navy docks in a channel that is well traveled by recreational, commercial, and Navy ships. A NOAA research vessel passed us headed on our same course, and a barge and a couple of Navy ships passed going out to sea. I'd expected to have a Navy patrol boat hanging around us as we passed the docked warships, but didn't see one until we were almost past the military vessels. It's interesting to see the huge container ships being loaded and unloaded. They are monsters.

The 29th seemed to be a day of waiting. Waiting for bridges to open and then waiting for the locks at Great Bridge to open. Some bridges open on request but others open only on a schedule - often on the hour and half-hour - so if you get there at 10:32 you wait for the 11:00 opening.

Waiting for bridges

We made it under the fixed bridges with no problems. These are all supposed to be at least 65 feet high but apparently there's a question on the height of a few of them. Our mast is 63.5 feet tall and has antennas on top of that so every fixed bridge brings a few moments of anxiety as we pass under.

We made it almost through Virginia on the 29th stopping to anchor for the night just south of the Pungo Ferry bridge. It was pretty shallow and we were just off the channel but the wind was calm and it turned out to be a very nice place to spend the night. Woke to beautiful weather on the 30th. Got fuel at the Pungo Ferry marina - a tiny little place but picturesque in its own southern rural way. When Neal went in to pay for the fuel, one of the guys was working on a swan decoy to prepare it for a show. Neal thought the guy looked familiar and thinks that he saw his photo in a woodworking magazine article about decoy artistry. You never know what you'll find in the least likely places.

Anchored at Pungo Ferry


With the forecast for a cold front coming through with high winds, we headed for Coinjock marina in North Carolina. Went through some very broad but shallow water as the ICW goes through the North Landing River. The channel is very narrow and shallow here, but outside the channel the charts show depths of only about 3 feet. So here it is, December 1, and we're tied up at Coinjock listening to the wind and rain and waiting for weather.

Coinjock, NC


Weather, weather, weather

The cold fronts are coming through every few days and that means high winds so we head for a marina. The ICW channel is usually so narrow that we are easily blown off course in high winds. Getting off course on this trip usually means going aground. Our official draft is 6'7" but because we're so loaded with stuff, we're certainly closer to 7'. In many places the depth outside the channel is 5' or less. We've already been aground too many times.

Left Coinjock on Dec. 2 for a beautiful travel day and got across Albermarle sound with no problem. Approaching the Alligator bridge, we encountered an old gaff rigged ketch in full sail - a character boat with a character captain at the helm - older guy with a big bushy beard - he really did match his boat. He sailed through the bridge and appeared to be traveling the ICW with us. I wondered if he even had an engine but we met him again farther down with his sails down and motoring. Anchored at Deep Point with several other boats. Had a magnificent sunset.

Anchored at Deep Point


This is where we lost the signal on our Verizon air card so we had no internet access. I'd been counting on the numerous weather sites to keep us abreast of the situation but now we had only the NOAA broadcasts on the VHF radio. I really missed the graphic presentation I got on the laptop. We also had very spotty cell phone signal along this stretch of the NC coast. I really need to get weatherfax working.

With another front coming, we motored to Dowry Creek Marina near Belhaven, NC. There are marinas closer to town but this one has adequate approach depth for us. Triall came into the marina a little later. Her owner is Murray and it turns out that he'd been at Herrington Harbour North only one dock away from us while we were there. He'd left Annapolis before us and got caught in the Thanksgiving week storm. This is a very nice little marina with great facilities for snowbirds traveling up and down the ICW. The clubhouse is comfortable and well equipped and they have a courtesy car which we used to visit Belhaven and have some great meals. When you order fried chicken and they tell you it will take about 15 minutes, you know that it is truly cooked to order and not already sitting on a steam table in the kitchen. Left Dowry Creek on Tuesday, the 5th. Woke up to temperature of 42 degrees. Back to the longjohns and down vest, hat & gloves.

Dowry Creek Marina - Belhaven, NC


We had enough time to get to Morehead City before the next front. It should have been one fairly long day to Morehead City but we ran aground just north of Surf City. Following the channel closely and carefully we still hit a bar that had silted up - and we weren't able to free ourselves. Not only did it take Tow Boat US 45 minutes to get to us; it then took them another 45 minutes to get us free. The only good thing was the the tow boat driver was able to clue us in on other areas to beware of. We had no more problems but that took such a huge chunk of the day that we'd never get to Morehead City before dark so we anchored in the South River. It was a pretty trick channel to get to the anchorage, but we found our way in.

South River anchorage


Back on our way to Morehead City we headed for Portside Marina to wait out the next blast. This is where we went through the most difficult channel yet. Adams creek winds around, and has a narrow channel with shallows on both sides. This part is not fun.

Portside Marina is right next to the North Carolina commercial port and caters mostly to fishing boats. They put us on a dock right behind a gorgeous 55' Tayana. The front came through on the night of the 7th with the highest winds we've seen so far. We were well tied up and had no problems. Today is the 8th. Small craft warnings expire this afternoon and we plan to leave in the morning.

At Morehead City, the owner of the Tayana had some concerns about us tying up right behind him but he was satisfied with the way we arranged our lines and invited us aboard for a beer. He's been cruising on this boat for the past 11 years taking 9 years to circumnavigate. He was also here waiting out the cold front. It was great to hear about some of the places he's been. He and his crew of 3 are on their way to Mexico, then through the canal, then up the west coast to the Pacific Northwest.

We found a great little place for breakfast Thursday morning and got into conversation with a guy who lived in South Africa for several years. He reinforced my desire to see that part of the world. Walked along the Morehead City waterfront - mostly charter fishing boats here. We rented a car for the day and went to Beaufort where we walked the town dock and a little of the main street. While walking the dock we saw Triall again. He seemed to be looking for a place to anchor.

In the afternoon a 64' power boat came in to the marina and tied up on the other side of the dock. The owner and a friend are also on their way to Florida. Went to dinner with them - did some more story swapping and then got a tour of this floating palace. Gorgeous boat - all the comforts of home and then some. But the only thing I truly envy about it is the washer and dryer.

Morehead City and Beaufort, NC


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