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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.
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???
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 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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
took a lot of pictures during our time here. Each of the
photo groups below has a link to a gallery with many more.
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.
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
is more informtion about it.
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.
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.
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…..
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.
and Delaware Bays
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.
we left Hudson Creek, we went up the Tred Avon river past
the town of Oxford where we spent a day at Trippe Creek.
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.
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.
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.
May, NJ to Newburyport, MA
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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