Entries

North from Charleston - Aug 19, 2007

Norfolk - Aug 19, 2007

Chesapeake & Delaware Bays - Aug 19, 2007

Cape May to Newburyport - Aug 19, 2007

Newburyport - Sept 15, 2007

 

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Summer, 2007 route

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North from Charleston

August 19, 2007
by Mary

On June 16 we left Charleston, SC for our next offshore leg to Morehead City, NC. On our way out of the harbor, VHF radio activity was mostly the Coast Guard coming to the aid of a boat that was taking on water. Scary, but it's good to hear that the coasties are on the job. We had good wind most of the way except that it was directly behind us which is almost as bad as being directly on the nose. Skies were mostly clear. When it got light on the morning of the 17th, we discovered a couple of flying fish had landed on the deck. Too bad the cats don't seem to like fresh fish.

We had lots of Navy ships on this leg. Some we saw; and others we only heard on the radio. When carriers are conducting flight exercises, they get on the radio at regular intervals to warn other traffic. Their instructions are that all vessels are to stay at least 10,000 yards away. They're talking to other vessels at sea, all of whom have instruments that measure distance in nautical miles - not statute miles, or feet or yards. Wouldn't it make sense for them to speak in terms appropriate to ships and boats??? Why not just say 5 miles???

Portside Marina was our berth again in Morehead City. At first our dock neighbor was a fishing boat waiting to acquire crew to take her to Greece. Once she left, a big sailboat took her place - a Hylas 54. (Looks like the big brother to the Tayana 48.) After hearing how good it was, we were disappointed to have just a mediocre lunch at the Sanitary Seafood Restaurant but we just had to eat there because of the name. We watched the weather and especially the conditions on the Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds because they can get pretty rough and we wanted to avoid any passing weather fronts.

Morehead City, NC, June, 2007
         

 

Left Morehead City, NC on June 22 and headed up the ICW (IntraCoastal Waterway) rather than go around Cape Hatteras. After being out in the ocean, it took us a little while to get into the routine of the ICW: constant attention to the depth readings and to locations of channel markers. At one point we had a lot of jumping fish - was it good feeding or was it spawning??

We'd planned to anchor at Slade Creek but had trouble getting the anchor to hold. After a few attempts, a mis-communication from me caused Neal to pull the anchor up too far and got it jammed. It was getting late so we backtracked a few miles to tie up at Dowry Creek Marina. The next morning Neal was able to get the anchor un-jammed and we continued on our way. Leaving Dowry Creek Marina, we had to carefully thread our way through dredges working near the Wilkerson Bridge. Later we heard on the radio that there had been an "incident" in that area closing it to boat traffic for a while. Glad we got through early.

We anchored the next night at Deep Point. We'd anchored here in the fall with several other boats but this time we were all alone. On June 24, we rose early and left the anchorage. We'd been underway for no more than 10 minutes when the oil pressure alarm sounded. The gauge showed no oil pressure so Neal immediately cut the engine. He'd checked the oil as usual before starting the engine and it was ok - a little low but not enough to add even 1 quart of oil. When he opened the engine compartment there was oil all over the place and no oil showed on the dip stick. He looked at everything he could think of to locate the problem. The filter was still on tight and there were no obvious problems with hoses, etc.

We drifted out of the channel and dropped the anchor. It was a Sunday. Cell phones showed NO bars. We were in the middle of nowhere on the Alligator River. We could have gotten towed but there was no chance we'd find a mechanic on Sunday so we decided to stay put until the next day. In the meantime, s/v Sea Tramp passed by and hailed us on the radio to ask if we were ok and offer whatever assistance we might need. This is so typical of the sailing community - always there for one another. We declined their offer and spent a quiet day reading.

Monday morning we found that we did have cell service and called SeaTow. The closest tow boat was 40 miles from us. It took him a couple of hours but he got to us; towed us 20 miles north to Alligator River Marina and recommended a mechanic.We knew we were in a sparsely ppopulated area but the tow boat captain told us we were at least 10 miles from the nearest paved road. When we called the mechanic we were told that it could be 4 days before someone could get to us and that they don't stock Yanmar engine parts. At that point we figured that we might as well do some sight seeing on North Carolina's outer banks so we called Enterprise about renting a car. We were so deep into the middle of nowhere that Enterprise wouldn't bring us a car. We'd have had to somehow get to a town 30 miles away before we'd be within their range.

Luckily, the mechanic called the next morning. Someone could come by on his way to another job. He'd try to assess the problem and determine what parts, if any, to order. He looked and felt and looked and felt some more but could not see where the problem could be. So we put oil back into the engine and ran it while the mechanic tried to watch likely areas. We lost all the oil again but it still wasn't clear why. Then he removed the oil filter and spotted a problem with the o-ring. It was only the mechanic's experienced eye that recognized the fault - we never would have detected it. A new filter was installed. Oil was added. No more problem. We'd been running with that filter for more than 100 engine hours - checking the oil before each engine start - with no problem and then it just gave out. Very strange.

Alligator River
         

Early morning on June 27 we left Alligator River Marina but our bad luck was reluctant to let go. The channel had shoaled and we were hitting bottom where we should have had enough depth. Frustration was rising as we tried to feel our way through but another sail boat with a shallower keel came along and led us through. With a 5' keel, s/v Bold Endeavour could go where we could not but felt her way ahead of us and radioed depths as she went along finding a path deep enough for us. Later, in Norfolk, they spotted our boat and came to meet us. Thanks to Roy and Doon Kelly from New Zealand for getting us through an exasperating morning. Between shallow water and crab pots, I truly don't ever want to do the ICW again in this boat.

But I must say that the trip north was much prettier than our fall trip south. Everything is lush and green - unlike our December experience. Channel markers often have platforms that are perfect for osprey nests. Many of them had a mama osprey yelling at us warning us to stay away from her babies. By this time of year, the babies aren't exactly babies anymore, but as long as they're still in the nest, she's doing her best to keep them safe.

We made it to Great Bridge by early evening and tied up at the free dock just south of the bridge. We were the only ones at the free dock so we had a very peaceful night.

Great Bridge, Virginia
         

 

Norfolk

August 19, 2007
by Mary

On June 28 we got an early start, got through the Great Bridge lock with no problem, under all the bridges and tied up at Waterside Marina in Norfolk by 10:30 a.m. Waterside is run by the city so is very affordable and is a downtown marina. Lots of sightseeing and restaurants within walking distance. A local supermarket offers free shuttle service to the marina for grocery shopping.

We took a lot of pictures during our time here. Each of the photo groups below has a link to a gallery with many more.

         

 

Norfolk is a very pleasant and very walkable city. Mermaids are seen all over town. These were a public art project a few years ago and they're fun to meet as you explore the city. We walked the Cannonball Trail which is a well marked walking tour of historic areas in the city. It leads through lovely neighborhoods past historic homes and buildings. By the time we got to the MacArthur museum at the end of the tour we were tired enough that we decided we already know all we need to know about General Douglas MacArthur.

         

 

The battleship USS Wisconsin is a major attraction. This ship is still part of the "active reserve" fleet so tourists are not allowed below decks, but it was well worth seeing. It is tied up next to a building which houses a very interesting Naval history museum (free) and Nauticus which bills itself as the National Maritime Center.

         

 

Fortunately the admission fee for Nauticus was only $7 - it didn't have a lot to offer us except for the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) exhibit. Nauticus seems aimed mostly at children and I'm sure kids probably love it. The highlight for us was NOAA's Science on a Sphere exhibit.Here is more informtion about it.

Suspended from the ceiling, this huge globe has projectors which show three aspects of our sky and seas as though you're looking at earth from space. When we arrived at the globe it was showing satellite images of earth. These are almost real-time - they're updated every thirty minutes. You see global cloud cover as it actually is - or was 30 minutes ago. The next in the cycle projects color coded sea surface temperatures. The third projection shows ocean currents as they flow over a year's time. I could have watched this all day.

Nauticus at Norfolk, VA
         

 

We had a great view of the 4th of July fireworks which were launched from a barge in the river just outside the marina. The marina was filled for the holiday with several parties being held on the docks. Boats were decked out in flags, bunting, streamers and balloons. A good time was had by all. The nicest surprise was a visit from Roy and Doon Kelly from s/v Bold Endeavour, the folks who'd helped us get through the shoals in the Alligator River. They were anchored nearby and were visiting the waterfront when they spotted Sea Fox and came to say hello. They're a couple of New Zealanders who are cruising our east coast. They have a great blog which is found here.

         

 

My biggest disappointment was the trip that we made to Colonial Williamsburg. We'd both heard so much about it that we had pretty high expectations that weren't met. We did enjoy it but we've recently been to so many historic places that perhaps it couldn't have lived up to our expectations not to mention the $62 (for both of us) admission fee. The highlights here were the blacksmith shop, the book bindery, and the gunsmith because of the information and demonstrations. It was picturesque and pleasant but…..

         

 

We took the ferry across the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth where we toured a light ship that's now a museum and walked around the town a bit. Light ships are no longer in service, but were anchored as beacons at strategic locations along the coast. Over the years they've been replaced by buoys.

         

Chesapeake and Delaware Bays

August 19
by Mary

When we left Norfolk, our first anchorage on the Chesapeake was at Sandy Point where we'd anchored when we began our trip south several months ago. As we worked our way up to Annapolis we spent a few days at a couple of lovely anchorages on the Eastern shore. There are many dozens of rivers and creeks that provide quiet places to explore or to just sit and relax. We didn't do any exploring but did lots of relaxing. Hudson Creek off the Little Choptank River has a very nice and large anchorage just at its entry where we spent a couple of days. A nearby channel marker had an osprey nest with babies. They weren't exactly babies anymore, but still not yet flying. They sure were noisy. As soon as they saw mom coming with food they began chirping. This went on until she took off on her next hunting trip and was out of sight.

Anchored at Hudson Creek
   
         

 

When we left Hudson Creek, we went up the Tred Avon river past the town of Oxford where we spent a day at Trippe Creek.

Anchored at Trippe Creek
   
         

 

We got to Annapolis on July 12 tying up at Chesapeake Harbour Marina. We rented a car to be able to visit friends and get the cream of crab soup we'd been longing for since we left Annapolis last November. Annapolis was HOT. And the marina is in a small inlet surrounded by condos. Even when there was a breeze in town, we never felt it on the boat. Our neighbors from our time at Herrington Harbour North marina, Roshdy & Marlene came to visit. Lana joined us at Thursday's for cream of crab soup. We spent an evening with Hank and Ellen who we met in Norfolk; and we saw Roy & Doon again. Hank and Ellen live in an ideal spot. Their property backs onto the water and they have their own dock where they keep their sailboat. It's a very protected area so they're pretty storm-safe, too.

Chesapeake Harbour Marina

   
         

 

On July 21 we continued heading north. The Chesapeake at Annapolis and points north is a real challenge on a beautiful Saturday. From Annapolis to somewhere north of Baltimore we were dodging many dozens of sailboats and fishing boats. Everyone was out on the water. As we got farther north of Baltimore the number of sailboats decreased the go-fast boats took over. Big "cigarette" type boats and smaller versions of the same style were zipping along in all directions - everyone out to see just how fast they could go. At one point we heard a mayday call on the radio. Apparently a couple of the go-fast boats had collided and it didn't sound good for the people involved. A horrible ending to what surely had begun as a day of fun. Sent chills up my spine.

Our day ended at Summit North Marina which is about ¾ of the way through the C&D (Chesapeake & Delaware) canal. This canal connects the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. Although we'd intended to spend only one night here, weather again kept us in place for a couple of days. Delaware Bay didn't offer much scenery. It's certainly not a destination - it's how you get from the Chesapeake to the New Jersey coast. The most interesting sight was a nuclear power plant.

C & D canal & Delaware Bay
 

 

Cape May, NJ to Newburyport, MA

August 19, 2007
by Mary

Cape May, NJ was our next stop. We anchored just off the Coast Guard station there. Apparently it is a training base because we saw and heard coasties marching and singing cadence - each versing ending "From the East to the West US Coast Guard is the best." I had it running through my mind for days. When we went for fuel the next morning we saw that Cape May looks like a nice town. We'll probably spend some time if we ever get there again.

Cape May
         

 

On July 25 we headed out for Cape Cod - a 270 mile passage. This was our first multi-day passage and our 3-hour watch schedule worked well. Our goal was Buzzard's Bay at the southern end of the Cape Cod Canal. We'd hoped to sail most of this distance, but winds were too light so we did some motor-sailing. Here we encountered climate conditions we'd not had before. Not only was it cool overnight, but the temperature must have reached the dew point because we got wet. Condensation formed on everything - even our clothes. On the second day we found ourselves sailing at speeds of only 1 or 2 knots in very little wind but didn't crank up the engine because we needed to time our arrival for daylight. One thing that surprised us was the lack of shipping traffic as we went across the major shipping lanes that head into New York. It was a pleasant surprise because dodging container ships can be stressful. Our route took us near all kinds of great places to visit - New York, Newport, Block Island, Martha's Vinyard, etc., etc. but we didn't visit any of them. These are places we may stop on our way back south - after most tourists have gone home.

The blue Atlantic
 

 

On July 27 we tied up at Onset Bay Marina at the north end of Buzzard's Bay, MA. Onset Village is an historic area of Wareham, MA. It is the kind of place you think of when you think of New England. The village was about a 20 minute walk from the marina - up hill both ways. At least that's how it felt. There is no flat land in Onset Village. It has a great beach and a nice park along the waterfront. On Sunday morning we walked into town for breakfast then explored a little. One coffee house had a very good jazz band playing on the patio. None of the musicians could have been more than 16 years old but they were playing classical jazz. What a treat. A dock neighbor directed us to a little restaurant where we had the second best lobster rolls we've ever had. YUM!

         

 

Timing is everything when going through the Cape Cod Canal. It is only about 10 miles long but currents are very swift so you make sure that you go with the tide. At one point the current was giving us a 5 knot speed boost. Fog set in as we got toward the north end of the canal and was very dense once we got into Cape Cod Bay. It was almost noon before the fog lifted.

Fog is scary. Many times small boats may not show up on the radar at all. Many sailors (including us) have radar reflectors to enhance radar visibility, but all too often we've seen boats that never produced a radar blip. On a clear night you can see their navigation lights; but in fog you're pretty blind and very dependent on radar and caution. Even with the fog gone, it was tricky because we were dodging lobster trap buoys. We'd taken a relatively close-in route and wished we'd gone farther out into deeper water. Our destination was Marblehead, MA.

Marblehead bay is all moorings (about 2,000) of them and they're all owned by various yacht clubs. We lucked out and got one from one of the most transient-friendly clubs - Corinthian Yacht Club. Not only do they provide launch service but all club facilities are available to transients. (At least one other club provides launch service to town but does not permit transients in their clubhouse.) But Corinthian was great. We ate there once and used the club showers. We could also have used the pool and tennis courts. This club has been in existence since the 1870's and is the quintessential "yacht club". I'd never been in one before and it made me think of "Thurston Howell III" from Gilligan's Island. The trophy room was quite impressive. The dockmaster told us that the mooring we were on belongs to another Saga 43. Sea Fox felt right at home.

Marblehead is a very busy bay. There are always boats coming and going: pleasure craft, fishing boats, and sailing schools. The sailing schools are fun to watch. An instructor in a small motor boat will be towing 3 or 4 tiny sailing dinghys through the mooring field - each with a kid inside. When they get to the lesson site, they're untied for the duration. When the lesson's over, they get towed back. Then there are the more advanced students who are just sailing their little dinks - dozens of them - all over the mooring field - weaving in and out of the moored boats. We admired their skill. They're fun to watch. It was fun being in a place that's so active.

We walked the town and ate seafood. We try local specialties, so Neal tried fish cakes which he liked and I had stuffies which were a disappointment, but I think it was just this recipe. Stuffies are large clams chopped into small pieces and mixed with other things then stuffed into one side of a clam shell and baked. Could be very good but these were not.

         

Newburyport, MA

On the 4th of August we arrived at Newburyport, MA, near the New Hampshire state line, our northernmost destination. Neal once lived in this area and it puts us relatively close to my son Jim and his family. On the way we encountered lobster buoys in water more than 200 feet deep.We also encountered flies - biting flies - miles out at sea. By the time we got to Newburyport, the cockpit was littered with fly corpses. Neal is pretty good with the fly swatter.Going to our marina up the Merrimack River was demanding because we had an exceedingly strong opposing current. We had to wait for a bridge to open its very narrow arms very, very slowly. Trying to be in the right position at the right time, we misjudged and brushed our antennas on one of the lift arms. Getting into the slip in the same current conditions was the next challenge, but we're here. We'll be here for about a month doing boat chores. There are a couple of rigging issues; Neal will install a new pressure water pump, and the list goes on.

September 15, 2007

We've had a good month here in Newburyport. The to-do list is now shorter and we've had a chance to visit with my son Jim and his family. Jim also had a big hand in helping us get some things done. Nathan, who is almost 5 years old is quite a skateboarder. Jim had video of their visits to the local skate park.

Neal installed a new pressure water pump because the big brass Groco pump has been an ongoing problem. The good news is that the new pump works great. The bad news is that it uncovered plumbing problems of which we'd been unaware. The new pump gives us much more water pressure than the old one so it blew weak hose connections, and revealed other leaks that had been seeping for a long time but were not obvious. Jim got to be quite familiar with the aft bilge cargo area while helping chase and fix these problems. There's still one small leak that we haven't located, but we'll live with it for now and attack it again later.

One end of the starboard side lazy jack came undone so we sent Jim up the mast to fix it. He's got great manual dexterity so he was able to get it reattached pretty quickly. He's a good sport.

Our plans to take the family sailing were thwarted by the difficulty of moving Sea Fox around this marina in the very strong current of the Merrimack River. We thought we saw strong current in other rivers, but none compares to this. Unfortunately the marina is designed for small power boats so it has pretty narrow fairways. When we moved from one slip to another, it took 5 guys and a boat to tow us to help get us out of our original slip - during slack tide. With our considerable bulk, and our single screw, maneuverability is difficult in these tight quarters with wind and current. What an ordeal! I'm not looking forward to the hassle of leaving here, but I'll be glad to have this river and marina behind us.

Newburyport is a very typical New England town. Lovely old homes, narrow old streets, and big old trees. There's a nice park and boardwalk along the waterfront.

         

And there was lobster. Warren's in Kittery, Maine has a great lunch offering of chowder & claws: excellent clam chowder and 3 lobster claws - the sweetest meat. We had boiled lobster at Brown's in Seabrook, NH and we made a few trips to Markey's, across the street from Brown's for boiled lobster and for lobster rolls. Then there was "beach pizza" - square, offered with cheese plus only one topping, and surprisingly sweet.

Lobster dining in Seabrook, NH
         

When we asked Jim where to get a good cheeseburger, his wife Betty told us about Skip's in Merrimac. It's a local landmark that's been in business since 1946. During the summer months they have car shows twice a month with cars of all vintages. No charge for the show, they just hope you'll buy some burgers.They've been doing this for many years. There were some great cars there; and some that were still works in progress. A great way to spend a Saturday evening.

         

It is September. Trees are already beginning to turn. We've had low overnight temperature in the 40's. It's time to head south. The plan is to leave here on Sept. 19.


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