Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Annapolis MD to River Dunes NC

Annapolis Boat Show 

We picked a great day to attend the show.  We bought tickets for VIP day. This is the first day of the show and the tickets are a bit more pricey than the rest of the days so the attendance for this is day usually lower. This gives those attending a better chance to talk with the vendors and do their research and pricing. 

Annapolis Boat Show - sail boats of all shapes, sizes and prices! 

We meet Mat from Sailrite and receive Sailrite caps. This is where we purchased our sewing mating and all of our supplies for recovering the cushions, making the sail pack and dodger. Mats step by step how to videos have been extremely helpful!

Crab cakes at famous Davis's Pub. We present the head bartender with a Bayside beer jug from our local Bayside brewery in Erieau 

Bayside jug proudly displayed at the bar in Davis's Pub

 Norfolk Virginia

We kept well off to the side of the channel to give plenty of room!

Lots of Naval traffic this morning.

Aircraft carrier - it's hard to capture the sheer size of it.

How is this for contrast? - Hospital Ship moored beside a destroyer!

The Dismal Swamp

Just past Norfolk a decision must be made to either travel through the Dismal Swamp Canal or the Virginia Cut. The Virginia Cut is  3 miles shorter, wider, deeper but typically used more by fast power boats and commercial vessels. The Dismal Swamp is narrow with overhanging branches & "managed to a depth of 6 feet at the centre" (not counting the logs that you bump over as you go along). But it does have it's charms.

Lift lock entering the Dismal swamp

This lock master (Robert) had plenty of stories to tell and as you can see collects conch shells.  Those that travel back from the south often bring him a new treasure. During our lift we were entertained by a conch horn serenade by Robert (he has been doing this for 15 years). Several boaters joined in to demonstrate their talents.

A view of the narrow channel. 
Superintendents house? Oh the perks of the job!

This bridge is used by a local farmer to move his cattle from one side of the canal to the other.

Welcome to North Carolina!

The water through southern Virginia and northern North Carolina is dark brown like strong tea or black coffee. The substance colouring the water is called tannin and is the same substance that makes tea and coffee brown.  The tannins come from the roots and decaying leaves of the bald cypress and juniper trees. Tannins do not make the water dirty in fact sailing ships would search out water containing tannin because it does not spoil quickly because it increases the acidity slowing the growth of algae. NASA even considered using this water on the space shuttle before they perfected RO (reverse osmosis) systems. 

Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Centre was busy this night as 12 boats (including 2 large trawlers and one catamaran) rafted to each other 4 abreast, on a dock meant for 3-4 boats.

Completed it 1805 - it is the oldest operating made made waterway in the US.

Istar - We met the captain of this vessel in the last of the 2 locks.  We learned that it took him 39 years to build her and this is her maiden voyage. She is lovely!

Elizabeth City

If you don't travel through the Dismal Swamp Canal, you don't see Elizabeth City nicknamed the Harbour of Hospitality. Free docks, free wine and cheese reception for the boaters, free roses for the ladies, free courtesy bikes, free entrance to the museum, art gallery.  
Boaters doing laundry - yes it's not all fun

Hot dog restaurant - yep just hot dogs for $1.25, drinks & popcorn. 

We met this young lady-Kirsten Carlberg. She won the use of this boat for a year (prior to her starting Medical School) and plans to travel to the to the Bahamas and beyond. She is a very bright capable and entertaining young lady. If you'd like to learn more about how she attained the boat, how she has prepared it and herself for the trip, here is her blog: http://thefortunatewanderer.tumblr.com

Free dockage at Elizabeth City

View from our boat at dock in Elizabeth City

Sunset in the Alligator River

Another beautiful Sunset in Alligator River

Early morning fog made it difficult to see the boats in front of us.

Time for a bit of R&R in the sun at anchor in Goose River

Sunset in Goose River

RE Mayo Co. Shrimp boats - unfortunately we arrived on a Sunday so no shrimp for us! I'm sure we will have many more opportunities to by fresh shrimp along the way.

We have joined the club!

We have heard that there are only 2 types of boaters on the ICW - those that have gone aground and those who have not gone aground YET! Lesson learned. Do not attempt to put up your sails until after you have cleared the channel markers and pay attention to your charts! We made the assumption that the red and green had switched because we were entering another river. Not so - the green was a really just mile marker and we should have kept the red on our starboard. We had just nicely unfurled the head sail that increased our speed to 7.2 knots when WHAM! we hit 0.5 depth - yep thats right 6 inches of water!!! We heard from those following us that our back end lifted up almost to the prop. We were very lucky the grounding was on mucky sand and with full thrust in reverse we were finally able to back off and back into the channel. A thorough check of all hatches for leaks was immediatley conducted and revealed no damage to the hull. We had hit with such force that all 8 drawers in the bulkhead of the galley had completely flown out and onto the floor. The only damage was 2 broken plates. She's a tough old girl and is taking good care of us!

River Dunes

River Dunes is a very unique marina. It has been created with old southern charm. The main club house consists of 2 floors with dinning room on the upper floor, billiards and reception area on the main floor. There is a tennis court, pool, hot tubs, steam showers, laundry, courtesy car. Homes were built on speculation with plans for a whole community complete with general store, chandlery & cafe all in the same old south style. Unfortunately the recession has stalled the development and many of the homes remain unsold and are currently rentals.

Main building

Resting on the front porch before dinner.

Many beautiful boats at dock in River Dunes
Pool and cabanas
Tiny church is part of the development
These are small rental cottages. They are beautifully furnished.

We will be heading to Oriental Wednesday morning to meet up with the technician from Beta Marine. We had a small leak in the engines water pump and they are insisting on replacing it and will do a thorough check over. We can't say enough great things about the service and support we have received from Beta Marine US. 

We have had wonderful weather (88F today) but we hear there is colder weather on its way so we hope to do some longer runs over the next few weeks. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sandy Hook to Annapolis

Sandy Hook to Annapolis

Anchored with many others at Sandy Hook waiting for a weather window.

We left Sandy Hook on Tuesday Sept 23rd at 9am and headed out into the Atlantic. Weather forecast gave us 5 knots of wind from the north east building by next morning to 15 north by north east, with heavier weather forecast for the following 3-4 days. By about 3pm we were already seeing the 15 knots and by midnight we were seeing 25 knots steady with building seas.  We rounded Cape May at 3am and hoped for a little relief as we headed into Delaware Bay and further into the Delaware River.    We found an anchorage further up the Delaware just behind Reedy Island and hoped to get some rest after the exhausting 28 hour journey. Reedy Island offered very little protection. Although safely anchored we experience very confused seas. Currents going one way, tide going the other and the steady & strong NE wind creating waves caused our boat to travel every which way on the anchor.
After getting a few hours sleep we hauled anchor and headed for the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. (only about a 45 minute motor) Had we been a bit less tired we might have carried on that morning!

R Kalliste' bucking the waves in the Delaware River
  Entering the C&D Canal was like entering another world...the water was flat as glass and the wind not existent while just beyond the break wall the wind and waves were ferocious!

Ship wreck or Tiki Bar?

Enjoying a beautiful day on the Chesapeake. We actually sailed in light winds for about and hour just before arriving in Annapolis.
After motoring for so long it felt really good to hoist the sails and turn off the engine. This is what it's all about! 

Chesapeake Chanel, Bascule & William P Lane Memorial bridges
And this is how far we've come in the last 30 days.

Early morning anchored in Back Creek at Annapolis

We will spend the next 2 weeks here relaxing, sight seeing and attending the Annapolis Boat Show.