Thursday, November 12, 2020

We Have Once Again Closed the Circle

We have closed the circle and are once again back in Clubfoot Creek off the Neuse River in North Carolina.  More on that later.

It was Thursday, 10/22/20, and we are ready to move on.  We dropped the mooring and started down Mt Hope Bay crossing under the bridge into Narraganset Bay and motored down to Newport.  Once there we pulled up to a fuel dock to top off the fuel and water tanks.  From there we moved over to the anchorage and dropped anchor for the night.  Friday we spent getting the boat ready for the next leg.  We have two options, we could go up Long Island Sound and go through New York City and wait for another weather window there or we could make the passage to Cape May or to Norfolk.  We opted for the shorter of the two and after waiting out some weather in the morning we headed out.  Our first waypoint would be Block Island and if conditions were not right we could stop there and wait it out.  When we left on Saturday the wind was on the nose so we chose too bypass the island by tacking east of it then tacking west when we cleared the island.  The winds were forecast to clock around from southwest to west then to northwest and finally from the north and dying out.  By this point we should be close to Norfolk.  We were sailing with 15-20 knots of wind and holding a steady 5-7 knots.  We got hit with a few rain showers as the front moved through but we were comfortable in our enclosed cockpit.  By Monday morning the wind died and we motored for a few hours until it came back up.  Several hours later it was too light to sail and we continued motoring.  Tuesday morning, about 4:30 am, we arrived Hampton VA where we planned to anchor.  We normally try to not arrive at a harbor at night but the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay is well marked and with the chartplotter and our radar we made our way up to Hampton.  We chose to drop anchor outside the anchorage but out of traffic and wait until daylight to go in.  Mid-morning we moved into the anchorage and we spent the rest of the day resting and organizing.  We had traveled 385 nautical miles (443 statute miles) in 66 hours.  The next day Cori's brother picked us up and we made a run to Sam's Club to restock.  Thursday we pulled anchor and moved to Hospital Point in Norfolk to wait out some weather.  There were strong winds forecasted and we would be better protected there.

Friday we spent on the boat riding out the windy condition and listening to the chatter on the radio.  About six miles up the river there was a barge that broke loose from it's moorings and drifted down on a railroad bridge.  We watched a number of tugboats rushing by to go get it under control again.  The downside of this is that we would have to go through that bridge when we leave.  It ended up that the bridge was damaged and closed for the next two days stopping all train traffic and boat traffic on this part of the river and Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).  Sunday they had the bridge partially repaired and they were able to open it to allow boats through and trains to cross slowly.  We pulled anchor and headed out.

We have three options when going south from Norfolk.  First we could go outside and sail down around Cape Hatteras, second we could motor down the ICW (the most common route) or we could take an alternate route following the Dismal Swamp Canal and joining up with the ICW down in North Carolina.  We had done the Dismal Swamp route one other time and decided to go that way again.  It is a lot prettier trip then the regular route.  After clearing several bridges we made the turn towards the Dismal Swamp and continued up to the first lock.  There are two locks controlling the water level and they are on a set schedule.  We dropped anchor for a bit until they opened the lock for us to maneuver in.  There are a lot of stories about this lock, all centering on Robert the lock operator.  He was a legend among cruisers for his outgoing personality and the way he treated the people passing through.  This included his blowing of many conch shells that he had been given over the years.  He was also the first one to call Cori "Admiral" and letting her know that she ranks above the Captain.  We had heard the reports that Robert had a heart attack and died this summer.  We wanted to pass by and pay our respects.  Now a little history of the Dismal Swamp Canal.  It dates back to the 1700's when they were looking for an inside route to move goods up and down the east coast.  George Washington was one of the first to survey the route.  Currently there is a highway that parallels it and near the North Carolina border is a rest stop and welcome center that both the canal and the highway share.  There is a dock so that the boats can stop and spend the night if they choose.  That is what we had planned.  Once we were locked up we continued down the canal being aware of staying in the middle to keep the mast from hitting the overhanging trees.  When we arrived at the Welcome Center we found the dock was full and no-one was offering to let us raft up to them.  We continued down the canal for about another mile before it got too dark to continue.  We dropped the anchor in the middle of the canal and turned in for the night.  We were up at sunrise to move on so that we wouldn't be blocking the way for anyone that got an early start.  We arrived at the next lock early and dropped anchor to wait for the 8:30 am scheduled opening.  We were the only boat to lock through and anyone coming behind us had to wait for the 11:00 am opening.

Once through the lock we continued down the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City.  We were planning to continue just a bit further then Elizabeth City and anchoring for the night but since it was just mid-day we continued down the river with 20 knots of wind behind us and we sailed across the Albemarle Sound to the Alligator River.  We had such a fast sail, 6-7 knots, that we were able to continue up the river until we reached the drawbridge.  We pulled in the sail and motored through the bridge.  Once through the bridge we turned off the channel to anchor for the night near the west shore just as the sun set.  In the morning we joined several other boats continuing up the river and into the Alligator-Pungo Canal.  Once out of the canal we moved down the Pungo River and crossed the Pamlico River to anchor in Goose Creek for the night.  In the morning we continued up Goose Creek to the Hobucken Cut and moved into the Bay River.  We motored down the river to where the Neuse River joins Pamlico Sound and started up the river.  Just a point of interest: at this spot the Neuse River is the widest river in North America measuring seven miles across.  We continued up the Neuse to Broad Creek where we turned in and moved up to our where our friends, Jerry and Donna, on Bluejacket have a home and a dock.  With the long days and some favorable winds we had arrived a day earlier then we had expected.  Also spending time on their dock was Persephone and Ada, two other boats we had been quarantined in the Bahamas with.  Jerald and Karen were waiting for a weather window to make the passage to the Virgin Islands and Brandon and Dustyn are working on projects before they make the jump to the Islands also.

We were close to closing the loop but we decided to stay for several days visiting and taking care of some projects while we were tied to a dock.  The very same dock we had left four months before and the only dock we used on this trip.  After a week we bid everyone a good-by and headed off to Clubfoot Creek, about a five hour trip.  Once we made the turn to head up the river we had 20-25 knot winds on the beam pushing us in one long tack to the creek.  Along the way we were passed by another boat that sounded familiar.  We called them and it turned out to be Akka, a German couple we had met two years ago while in Trinidad.  The cruising world is a small community.  We motored up Clubfoot Creek, pass the marina we lived in for ten years and dropped the anchor.  We had closed the loop we started when we left the creek in June.  We launched the dinghy and headed ashore to catch up with old friends.

This is the end of our Summer of 2020 cruise.  We traveled 2077 nautical miles or 2390 statute miles in a little over four months.  About the same as driving from New York to Los Angeles except we do it at 6-10 miles an hour.  We got as far north as Northern Maine, stopping about forty miles short of the Canadian Border.  We stopped and visited many friends and made a number of new ones along the way.

What's next? We are not sure.  We will be leaving to start the winter cruise in a week or so.  We intend on staying warm.  We don't know yet if the Bahamas are on the schedule, it will depend on what their rules are for containing the Covid-19 outbreaks.  If not the Islands then we will spend the time in various parts of Florida.  Once again all we know for sure is that plans are written in sand at low tide.  You never know what will happen after the tide washes them away but there will always be a plan B and plan C.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Maine to Rhode Island

 We are in Rhode Island, sort of.  Actually Fall River Massachusetts.

We left Rockland with a clean bottom and fully provisioned.  It was foggy in the morning but when it cleared we motored out and continued motoring to Allen Island, which is right next to Burnt Island.  The appeal was that there is a protected cut with free moorings available.  The island is owned by the Wyeth family and is private so no going ashore.  We planned to continue on the next day but the fog was thick and didn't clear until late in the day.  It still surprises us when we have a combination of fog and wind.  We are accustomed to the wind clearing the fog quickly, but that doesn't happen in Maine.  From there we motored to Seguin Island and again picked up a free mooring, anchoring is not allowed.  There is a very pretty lighthouse here and the foundation that runs it provides the moorings.  Cori took the kayak to shore to check out the lighthouse.  With light winds again, we motored to the Saco River, bypassing Portland this time.  Again, we picked up one of the free moorings that the city provides.  The next day we left early, the winds were forecast to die out in the afternoon and we wanted to sail as long as we could.  We made our way to Isle of Shoals and picked up a mooring.  The forecast is for high winds in the next couple of days and we felt we would be protected here.  We spent the next three days here waiting out the weather.  The first day it was calm but overnight the winds kicked up and blew all of the next day 30-40 knots.  We stayed an extra day to let the seas calm down, there is no sense getting beat-up if it's not necessary.  We were now officially out of Maine, the Maine-New Hampshire border runs through Isle of Shoals and depending on which mooring ball you are on you are in one state or the other.

We had looked foreword to going to Maine all winter and we were not disappointed.  It is an unbelievably beautiful area.  There were some places we had wanted to go but due to the pandemic we made other plans.  We stayed out on the less populated islands and limited out interaction with other cruisers and the locals.  This often meant that when hiking we would have the trails to ourselves and never ran into any crowded anchorages, usually having them to ourselves also.  We have plans to return next year to revisit some sites and to explore many more.

On Friday, Oct. 9th, we left Isle of Shoals planning to stop at Gloucester to wait out another blow.  We left early and caught favorable winds and were able to sail ant a consistent 7-8 knots until late in the afternoon.  This meant that we were going to arrive in the early afternoon.  We chose to continue on to a harbor just past Boston Harbor.  We arrived in the late afternoon and set the anchor to settle in.  This anchorage would protect us from the winds that were forecast until they shifted from the northwest, when it would get rough.  On the way we had two little birds stop and ride with us to rest against flying into the 20 knot headwind.  After several hours they took off in the direction of Gloucester.  Saturday the winds kicked up as a front went through so we sat out the day in Cohasset  Harbor.  In the morning the winds had died somewhat but were now coming from the northwest making our anchorage very rough.  Just after sunrise we pulled anchor and headed off.  We planed to stop in Plymouth to stage for the Cape Cod Canal but with the early start and favorable sailing we headed instead to the canal.  There is a very strong current running through the canal and it is important to time it so you are riding with the current instead of fighting it.  With our change in plans we arrived several hours before the tide change and had to motor against the current.  We had about two knots against us as we motored along at about three and a half knots.  We could have gone faster but it would have burned a lot more fuel.  The canal is about seven miles long but it took us a couple of hours to transit it.  There are walking and cycling paths on both sides and it became routine to see the bicycles passing us.  At one point a power walker also passed us.  It is a good thing we don't have a schedule.  Once out of the canal we moved over to a mooring we used on the way up and settled down for the night, it had been a nine hour day.

We awoke the next day to overcast and light rain.  We motored down the channel and raised  the mizzen and the headsail for a trip down Buzzards Bay.  We had considered stopping at Cuttyhunk Island but with the favorable winds, 20-25 knots we continued on, we turned the corner and continued to the Saconett River.  Once turning the corner we felt the 4-5 foot seas we had been running with but we were soon in the calmer waters of the river.  We stopped at Fogland Point for the night and were surprised in the morning when it was foggy and raining.  Who would have thought?  The fog thinned out and we made a run up the river to Fall River MA.  We were back in Massachusetts.  Fall river is know for a number of things, including a lot of former mills being converted to new uses, the home of Lizzy Borden who it is said killed her parents with a hatchet (the home is now the Lizzy Borden B&B), and for Battleship Cove.  We picked up a mooring ball in Battleship Cove and had the largest World War II ship museum as our neighbors.  Included is the battleship Massachusetts, a submarine, a destroyer and several other smaller ships.  Unfortunately we arrived in the off season and they are only open on weekends.

We had now not been off the boat for two weeks.  We had a lot of things to take care of so we didn't check them out.  We will next year.  There were two reasons to stop here, our generator was not running and Cori has relatives here.  Mike and Marietta loaned us a car so we could get around.  We ran the Honda generator to a service shop hopping to get it back by the weekend.  We also did a lot of running around restocking provisions, sorting out phone issues and restocking some other supplies.  Mike and Marietta also had us over for dinner several days and included us in a clambake at the Ragged Island Brewery.  That was a fun day!

The shop was able to get the generator running, taking care of some other issues and we had it back on the boat Friday evening.  Saturday we hooked it up and ran it, for about an hour and it quit.  After that we could start it and run it for five to ten minutes and it would die again.  With lots of phone calls we tried diagnosing it and finally gave up and returned it to the shop Monday morning.  The next day they called us and reported it fixed.  They were nice enough to deliver it to the boat since we had given the car back.  The first time they had it they replaced the fuel pump.  The second time they found the pump was putting out very little fuel, not enough to keep it running.  On checking the fuel filter, I didn't know it had one, they found it clogged.  It seems that when I topped it off I put in dirty fuel.  This is the first time we have had a fuel problem and now we have to filter all of the gasoline we have on board to clean it out.

Now that we have the lockers full and the generator running we are preparing to move on.  Our plan is to move down to Newport tomorrow and get ready for the next leg.  We need to decide whether to make an offshore passage to Cape May or Norfolk or to make the run up Long Island Sound and go through New York.  It will depend on that the weather does.

Just a final not to give Mike and Marietta a big Thank You for your hospitality.  The use of your car, your showers, your laundry machine and your outstanding hospitality is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Maine But starting Back

We are still in Maine but are starting our way back.  The weather has cooled off and it's time to move to a warmer climate.

We were hanging out at Mistake Island, which by the way was not a mistake, enjoying the scenery and solitude but we had one more group of islands we wanted to check out.  The weather had different plans for us.  We were socked in with fog for four days.  At this point we decided it's time to start back.  We motored and sailed down to Little Cranberry Island, which is just across from Mt. Desert Island better know as Acadia National Park.  We checked out the small community (approx. 60 people) and hiked the only trail that our app showed.  It took us along the beach which is not sand but rocks that have been rolling for so long they are round.  Once off the trail we encountered what the island is best known for: mosquitos.  The guide tells us that some years back they drained the bogs  and "the cranberries never came back but the mosquitos did."  From there we moved to "Hells Half Acre" next to Devils Island.  The area has a reputation from back in the early days when the state was "Dry" but you could get liquor and other "adult pleasures" out in these islands.  We spent one night there and moved further up the bay to Southeast Harbor.  The appeal of this anchorage is that it had access to several hiking trails and was protected from all sides from a storm.  We took the dinghy to shore and used an old granite dock to access the trail.  We spent several hours hiking and came back to the dinghy for a surprise.  The tides here run 9-11 feet.  When we tied up the tide was going out but I thought we would be fine.  I was wrong, the dinghy was high and dry with the tide still going out.  We had two options, wait until the tide turned and came back in, in about five hours, or drag the dingy through the mud until it was floating again.  We opted to drag through the mud.  Several times we almost lost our shoes and at one point the mud was knee deep.  We were a mess, once we were floating we then paddled out to where we could drop the engine and motor back to the boat for showers.  The photos is on my phone so I can't upload it now but now we are able to laugh about it.

After several days in Southeast Harbor we moved to Vinalhaven Island planning to stop in Winter Harbor.  When we got there the winds were blowing into the harbor and it would have been unsettled so we turned into Seal Harbor, one of several Seal Harbors.  Hurricane Teddy was blowing down by Bermuda and sending it's outer wind bands and kicking up big seas in the area as it made it's way to Nova Scotia.  We were forecast to get those winds but we had good protection.  When the winds did hit several days later they we only saw gust into the 30 knot range.  We did take a day to go out in the dinghy to check out the area.  We had been to the island on a previous trip but had not been to this area.  It is an amazingly beautiful place.  We contacted our friends Lauren and Brian who we had met in the Caribbean when they had their boat Nightingale Tunes who now live in Vinalhaven.  They were able to come pick us up so we could spend the evening with them.  Lauren and Brian, thanks for your hospitality and a great meal.  We especially appreciate the invitation to bring our laundry.  We spent Tuesday, September 22, on the boat out of the cold north winds brought to us by Teddy.  It was also the Autumnal Equinox, the beginning of Fall.  We spent the next day on the boat wanting to give the seas a chance to die down after the winds.

We then moved on to Rockland, where we are now.  We have a number of things to take care of after this much time traveling.  We were running low on provisions, we needed to fill propane tanks, I needed to pick up a prescription, drop off some mail and we had scheduled a haul out.  The propane refill was accomplished by walking a mile to the supplier with each of us having a tank strapped to our backs.  Fortunately we use a small tank that hold about six pounds of propane so they are easily transported sticking out of a backpack.  Provisions were accomplished by taking the dinghy to the yard we were going to hauled out at and using there dock to get us closer to the store.  We still had a mile hike to get there and another mile back with the groceries, again in backpacks and carrying the extra bags.  I had also made an extra trip to the post office and to pick up some boat parts.  Sunday we made another trip into town for necessities such as wine, rum, and diet coke that we had not gotten on the previous trip.

Monday we were scheduled to be hauled out.  With the location of the boatyard and the tides we could only be hauled out at high tide.  We planned on having them power-wash the bottom to see how much was growing on it, the condition of the bottom paint and for me to check and service the propeller and zincs.  We arrived at our agreed time of 9:30 but had to wait until they finished hauling out three other boats before us.  What we had scheduled was what is called a "quick-haul" which is where they haul you out, leave you on the lift, perform the work and drop you back in the water.  This usually takes about an hour if all goes well.  Our problem was having to wait so that we would be the last ones to be hauled out since we were going to occupy the lift.  They decided that we would spend the night in the lift and be relaunched in the morning which was just fine with us.  Everything went as planned, the bottom was cleaned and surprisingly had little growth on it.  The propeller had very little growth on it, it is painted with a different paint then the hull, and I quickly got it cleaned and greased.  We had time in the evening to get a couple loads of laundry done and even a nice long hot shower.  The two drawbacks were that it rained in the morning and we were tracking mud all over the boat as we came and went and that I was not able to get plugged into power like I had hoped.

This morning we were relaunched and moved out to a mooring ball to finish putting everything back together.  We have looked at the weather forecast and today is forecast to be foggy and then a front coming through tomorrow that will kick up the winds and seas.  We have decided to hang out on the mooring to let that pass.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Still in Maine

We are still in Maine.  The temperatures are dropping, we have had many days where it doesn't get out of the 60's and nights in the 50's but we are hanging on.  This is a big shift from being in the islands and having 80's every day.

We left Portland and with little wind we motored up the coast to Quahog Bay then tucked into Hen Cove.  We wanted to go here because our friend Randall has a mooring here that he is not using and offered it to us.  We met Randall in the Caribbean and last saw him in Trinidad.  He was also gracious enough to pick us up and take us out for dinner and a provisioning run. Thank you Randall!  We spent a quiet week going for hikes to the next town to buy lobsters and to explore the area in our dinghy.  We left Hen Cove and continued on to Burnt Island.  This is a small island with some summer cottages and a secure anchorage that we had been to before.  We stayed for three days with never more then two other boats anchored around us.  We hiked the main trails and just hung out, staying an extra day because of fog.  We left Burnt and proceeded to Isle au Haut.  Isle is another island with a small year round community with a small store and a post office.  The appeal of this island is that about half of it is part of Acadia National Park, but without the crowds.  There is an extensive trail system and we spent several days hiking some trails trough the forests and along the shores.  We came across wild blackberry's and picked enough, after eating a lot, to add them to pancakes several mornings.  We had several days of fog and one day with rain and a serious thunderstorm but otherwise the temperatures are perfect for hiking but a bit cool at night.  

After a week we moved on.  We had planned to go to Acadia National Park for more hiking but we learned that the buses are not running due to Covid 19.  The buses were going to be our transportation getting to the trails so we decided to bypass and save them for another year.  Our next island, Long Island, had been suggested to us so that was our next stop.  There is a small community and an active lobster fishing fleet.  There are also some well maintained trails so we had another day hiking.  We stayed two nights on a mooring due to there not being much room to anchor and moved on to Eastern Harbor.  It was foggy in the morning but cleared up and we headed out.  About an hour later the fog formed again.  We have radar so the only downside of fog is that it is hard to see the floats for the lobster traps so we don't pick one up and get it wrapped in the prop.  We pulled into Eastern Harbor and were able to get one of the guest moorings.  Again, this is a harbor for lobster boats and in the morning and afternoon there is a lot of them coming and going.  The next day we were fogged in so we just relaxed on the boat.  Our main reason to stop here was because our next destination was further then we wanted to go in one day, breaking it into a two day trip.  We had another day with fog in the morning but it burnt off quickly and we headed out again.  Once again, after about an hour the fog rolled in.  We motored on, weaving between lobster floats and arrived at Mistake Island, set the anchor and settled in for the night.  In the morning we dinghied to the town of Jonesboro to hit the grocery store.  Once in the town harbor we got the OK from a family to use their dock to tie up to while we walked to the store.  Once we had our groceries we walked around the town for a bit stopping and having pizza for lunch.  While we had been out the winds had picked up a bit and it was a rough ride back to the boat, a twelve mile round trip.  Several of the lobster men we talked to were surprised we made the trip in such a small boat.  We then went ashore on Mistake Island to check out the lighthouse.  The Coast Guard maintains the light and fog signal but the lighthouse was sold and a young couple are trying to refurbish it.  We were lucky enough to be able to climb to the top and check out the view.  The next day we dinghied across to Great Wass Island to hike the trails there.  This being Labor Day Weekend we expected and met a number of people on the trails, otherwise we have been having the trails to ourselves.

At this point we have one more island we want to visit before we turn around and start heading back.  We had talked a lot during the past season about getting back to Maine and have not been disappointed.  The Covid Pandemic has not effected us much since we are staying out in the more isolated islands.  One of our goals was to spend a lot of time hiking and we have really been enjoying that.

Here are some photos:

A friendly seal checking us out as we were checking them out.

One of the interesting bridges in Quahog Bay built with the locally quarried granite.

Wildlife on Burnt Island, we don't usually see much because we are noisy hikers.

Hi Flite at anchor at Burnt Island.

Part of the hiking trail on Isle au Haut.

Debris on the beach.

The beaches are rock instead of sand.

The view back to the mainland from Isle au Haut.

Rocky cliff shoreline.

Rocks rounded off by centuries of water and ice rolling them around.

Part of the trail on Long Island runs along the shore.

Another part of the trail on Long Island.

The trail on Long Island ended next to a small cemetery.  This marker simply read "Unknown Soldier."

Moose Peak Lighthouse on Mistake Island.

Looking up inside the lighthouse.

The view from the lighthouse.

One last shot of the lighthouse.

Thursday, August 13, 2020


 We are back in Maine!  It's been four years, we were here before we made the jump to the Caribbean and now we are back.  One of the appeals of Maine is that it reminds us of our time sailing on Lake Superior.  Now, how did we get here:

We left Annapolis on a Monday, stopping first to top off fuel and water.  We tried sailing up to the C&D Canal but with little wind we ended up motorsailing.  We stopped at the end of the canal for the night and in the morning we caught the current to go through the canal.  Once out of the canal we turned to go down the Delaware River to Cape May.  We had an uneventful trip motoring down the river fighting the current most of the day.  Eventually the tide and current changed and we continued on trying to make Cape May before dark.  We made it to the anchorage about 7:00 pm, dropped anchor and had a quick dinner.  We were anchored just behind Andy and Charlie on Avalon.  We had checked in with our weather advisor about the conditions going to Newport RI and it was a toss-up whether to go now or in the morning.  We chose to go.  We pulled anchor, motored out the entrance and set our course.  The forecast was for a storm around midnight but shouldn't be too bad.  With light winds we continued motoring.  Around midnight the winds picked up to 20 knots and we set the sails.  That was the extent of the storm, however there were a number of storm warnings on the radio so we were in just the right place to avoid them.  The winds only lasted for three hours and we were back to motoring.  The next night we could see lightning west of us and there were a lot of storm warnings on the radio for the coast of New Jersey into Long Island.  Again they missed up.  On Thursday at 4:00 pm we dropped anchor in Newport Harbor.  We had gone 241 miles in 44 hours, sailing just three of them.  Rum drinks were refreshing.  The next day we found an excuse to go into town and treated ourselves to ice cream.  On Saturday we moved to a mooring and Cori's cousins, Mike and Marietta, came out for a sail.  After the sail they took us home for a lobster dinner.  Thank you very much Mike and Marietta, it was delicious.  After an evening of visiting we were back on the boat for the night.

Sunday, the 26th, we dropped the mooring, pulled up at the fuel dock and topped off the fuel and water.  Instead of staying another night we decided to leave and headed off for Martha's Vineyard.  Our friends Lee and Cheryl had told us they expected us to stop by.  We sailed to the lower end of the Vineyard and picked up a mooring at Menemsha.  Anchoring would have been questionable with a lee shore and questionable holding.  In the morning we sailed up and around the island to Edgartown using our spinnaker.  Last time we were here we anchored out of the harbor and dinghied in.  This time we were able to use Lee's mooring.  We had a great time, we spent time with Lee and Cheryl, some time sightseeing in Edgartown and saw a bit of the island on their electric bicycles.  Electric bicycles are awesome!  Our last night Cori's cousin Pamela and her son Zack, treated us to dinner.  Thank you Pamela, it was great catching up.

Sunday, the 2nd, we dropped the mooring and moved over to the Elizabeth Islands to Hadley Harbor.  This is one of our all time favorite anchorages.  Since it was Sunday all of the mooring balls were taken so we anchored until they started to open up, then moved over to one to prepare for the hurricane.  At this time it was still off of the Florida coast but the track showed it moving up and hitting our area, just not sure where.  We took time to dinghy around and collected clams and mussels.  Thursday morning we finished our preparations and waited.  This harbor is protected on all sides so we didn't expect it to get too bad.  In the afternoon the winds started to pick up and around 4:00 pm we had winds of 30 knots, a lot better then we had expected.  The storm had taken a turn to the west and we were on the edge of it.  We had a couple of quick rain showers and everything calmed down.  It was something of a non-event for us but people in the path of the storm got hit real hard.  Once again we were lucky.  The next day it was still windy but we were able to get everything back to normal and Friday it was calm again.  Cori took the opportunity to explore the area in her kayak and I did a little maintenance on the 3.3 outboard.  The carburetor had gotten clogged and needed to be cleaned.  Fortunately while in the Raggeds when this happened Jerry from Persephone showed me how to disassemble and clean the carburetor.

On Friday we dropped the mooring and sailed up to Cape Cod Canal.  This canal cuts across Cape Cod and saves boats and ships from having to go all of the way around the Cape.  We picked up a mooring near the end of the canal and spent the night.  In the morning we stared out and rode the current through.  The current runs strong and it works better to time it to ride with it then to motor against it.  Once through the canal we were going to go up to Plymouth but what wind we had was on the nose.  We decided to go to Provincetown instead since we would be able to sail there instead of motoring.  We arrived in the afternoon, anchored and then went to shore to see if we could find an ice cream shop.  P-town is a very touristy place and it being a Saturday the place was packed.  We found our ice cream and wandered around for a while checking out some of the shops.  We will be back someday but maybe not on a weekend and after the pandemic has calmed down.  In the morning we pulled anchor and headed out for Isle of Shoals, a group of islands off of Portsmouth NH.  The winds were forecast to be 10 knots climbing to 20 in the afternoon which would make for an enjoyable sail.  Once again the forecast was off.  We ended up motoring the entire way, 12 hours and 66 miles.  The highlight was seeing a whale, the best sighting yet.  The next morning we took the dingy out for a ride but with the pandemic the islands that we are able to go ashore on were marked as closed to visitors.  We did get to watch a group of seals and then back to the boat to relax.

The next morning we got a late start hoping that the winds would pick up and we were off.  After about an hour of motoring the winds picked up enough that we could fly the spinnaker and we sailed up to the Saco River and picked up one of the cities free moorings for the night.  In the morning we headed off for Portland, but again we didn't have enough wind to sail.  We are now definitely in Maine, we could tell from the number of lobster pots that we have to be constantly vigilant about and maneuvering around.  We motored past the city and dropped anchor just past the mooring field sharing the anchorage with one other boat.  Today we dinghied to a boat ramp in a park and walked the park paths to downtown Portland to play tourist.  Tomorrow we will continue up the coast with plans to visit some friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

North Carolina to Annapolis

We are hanging out in Annapolis for  bit.

On our last day in New Bern we got the new water pump and installed it.  Everything was working again.  We were ready to move on.  In the morning we slipped the lines and were able to go through the draw bridge with another boat.  With almost no wind we motored down the river to Oriental where we planned to spend a couple of days.  We tied up at the free dock and started our next projects.  We had replaced our main and mizzen sails and I still needed two more battens, the fiberglass pieces that help the sail hold it's shape.  We had contacted a sailmaker here and they said they had what we needed.  With a borrowed bike I made the run to pick them up and was able to fit them into the sails.  Now we were ready to do some serious sailing.  While there our friends Wayne and Louise made the run across the river for a final visit.  After two days we were ready to move on.  One of the boats we were with in the Bahamas, Jerry and Donna on Bluejacket, live near Oriental and we were planning to visit them.  We motored down the river, again with no wind, and moved up Broad Creek to their dock.  Also at their dock was Jerry and Karen on Persephone and Andy and Charlie on Avalon.  They were among the boats we spent time with in the Raggeds.  We spent the weekend of the Fourth with them enjoying pot lucks in their big screened-in porch and Andy treated us to his first ever fireworks display.  
They don't allow personal fireworks in Australia.  Monday we had to move on.  We decided that we wanted to  spend a little time on Ocracoke Island which was one of our favorite destinations while we lived in the area.  The island is still trying to recover from hurricane Dorien and is still in rough shape with many businesses still closed.  Of course, the pandemic didn't do much to help them along.  We enjoyed our stay, eating several of our meals at Edwardo's, our favorite food truck.  Wednesday we left early to try to beat the rain.  There was a tropical low pressure system offshore and was causing rain squalls to move in from the ocean.  As usual we found the bottom in the channel leading out to the sound.  It is all sand and we were able to back off of it without incident.  There is a lot of shoaling and it is a problem for them to keep the channel deep enough.

In the past we have moved up the Pamlico River and followed the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) which is a series of creeks, rivers and canals.  This time we decided to by way of Roanoke Island.  We had a great day of sailing, even though we got some rain and then motored up the channel to the town of Manteo.  Manteo is another of those towns that offer a free dock for visitors.  We tied up to the dock and relaxed.  Motoring through shallow water is nerve wracking.  I had noticed that the volt gauge and the tachometer were acting up.  I came to the conclusion that the alternator was failing.  I spent the next day swapping alternators.  We have a lot of spare parts onboard and a spare alternator is one of them.  I suspected that there was a water leak by the new pump and some had gotten into the alternator.  So once again I uninstalled and reinstalled the water pump.  It looked like we were ready to move on.  We spent two days checking out the town, drinking craft beers and eating ice cream.  Roanoke Island is famous for what is called "The Lost Colony".  It was one of the first attempts to establish a colony in the New World and was organizes by Sir Walter Raleigh.  They are called "The Lost Colony" because something happened after the ship left to go back to England for supplies and when it returned two years later there was no sign of the colonists, they had just disappeared.  There are a number of theory's of what happened to them but it is still a mystery.

On Saturday we left Manteo and continued on to the ICW.  We were able to sail for a little while in the Albermarl River but it was mostly a motorboat ride.  Our destination for the night was the Coinjock Marina.  We don't normally stay in marinas, but this one has a special attraction.  Their restaurant serves one of the best prime rib dinners I have had.  Once tied up and cleaned up we sat down to dinner, I had ordered the 32 ounce cut, Cori had a caesar salad with ahi tuna and a crab cake.  32 ounces of meat is a lot but I am able to make three more meals from the leftovers.  We left the marina in the morning and motored along the ICW to Chesapeake City and a free dock at The Great Bridge.  I needed to stop here because there is an alternator and starter repair shop and I needed to have the alternator checked out.  I was starting to think the problem was the voltage regulator.  On inspection he suggested replacing it with a new alternator with a built in regulator.  The new one, with more power, was going to cost about as much as repairing the old one.  We spent two night there and with everything working we moved on Tuesday morning.  We motored up the Elizabeth River to Norfolk VA.

I have always liked going through Norfolk looking at the variety of boats and ships working and moving through the harbor.  Once through the harbor we passed the Naval Base with their variety of ships and moved out into Chesapeake Bay.  Once we moved into the bay the winds came up but were directly on the nose so we motored up to Mobjack Bay and anchored for the night.  In the morning we continued up the bay, again motoring without wind.  We were hearing a lot of chatter on the radio about a rocket launch and checked into that, not wanting to be in the exclusion zone.  It turned out the zone was on the Atlantic side and there was a boat that caused a delay.  Finally they were able to launch their rocket and we were able to see the vapor trail.  Those things move out of sight very fast, it was gone by the time we saw the trail.  We hoped to make it to the area called "The Solomons" but didn't get that far.  It was flat calm and we picked a spot to anchor for the night with the assumption that it would stay calm.  After dinner and just before sunset the winds came up. All of a sudden e have 15-20 knot winds and waves bouncing us around and putting us on a lee shore.  A lee shore is where you have land behind you and is dangerous because if anything goes wrong you are driven up into the shallows or up on shore.  We pulled the anchor and decided to make for Annapolis overnight.  With the winds we were able to sail all night and at sunrise we were approaching Annapolis.  We dropped the sails and motored into the harbor and picked up a mooring.  After a nap we launched the dinghy and checked in, deciding to stay through the weekend.  We were on a mooring next to Andy and Charlie on Avalon.  They had sailed up from Okracoke on the outside and arrived before us.

The main reason we chose to come to Annapolis is that there is a company here that sells parts for our water-maker and was holding a repair kit I had ordered.  We picked that up and I spent an afternoon rebuilding our water-maker pump.  There is a reason they refer to cruising as "repairing boats in exotic places".  In the afternoon we heard someone hail us and here were Anina and Charles from Prism.  We had met them in Trinidad and had last seen them in Martinique.  It turns out they live here in the summers and invited us over for Sunday Brunch.  Friday evening we had Andy and Charlie over for drinks and snacks since they were leaving in the morning.  Cori took the opportunity on Saturday for a shopping trip to reprovision and I spent most of the day on an historic tour.  I was the only one on the tour so it was enjoyable and informative without having to deal with people.  Sunday the mooring field emptied out when all of the weekenders left.

Tomorrow we will move over to the fuel dock to top off the fuel and water, we burned a half a tank with all the motoring and will continue up the Chesapeake, through the C&D Canal and down the Delaware river to Cape May.  From there we will continue North.

32 ounces of prime rib

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Spending time in North Carolina

We are back in North Carolina.

We left St Augustine June 3rd with intentions of sailing to Charleston.  The wind gods once again were not with us as we motored the 206 miles.  We never saw any winds above 9 knots until we were entering Charleston Harbor when it jumped up to 15 knots.  Once again it was a long boring motoring trip.  Once in the harbor we debated where to anchor and decided to go through the Wappoo Creek to the Stono River.  This put us further away from downtown Charleston but we had no plans to go there.  The next day we took the dinghy a short way up the creek for lunch, WiFi, and a quick trip to the grocery store.  There was a strong current in the river and a fair amount of weekend traffic but we spent a couple of days just chilling on the boat.  On Monday we dinghied to the nearest marina for WiFi and our friends Bo and Allison picked us up for lunch and then gave us their car to use for the day.  We made a run to Trader Joe's and a couple of other stops and then back to drop off the car and another visit.  Bo and Allison are friends we met in the Bahamas and met up with them again in the Virgin Islands.  Since then they have moved to Charleston, sold the boat and set down some pretty deep roots (swallowed the anchor as we say).  It was great to get caught up again and really appreciate their hospitality.

On Tuesday we pulled the anchor to try and catch the tide and current in Wappoo Creek and moved out to the main harbor and anchored not too far from Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.  Wednesday morning just as the sun came up we pulled anchor and headed to Beaufort NC.  The winds were light so again we were motoring until about noon when the winds showed up.  We had a nice comfortable sail until about 5:00 when the winds picked up to 20 knots and the waves started building.  During the night they stayed between 20-25 with waves breaking over the bow.  We couldn't change our angle to the wind and waves until about 2:00 am next morning when we cleared Frying Pan Shoals and tuned more downwind on our final leg to Beaufort.  The boat settled down on the new heading and smoothed out considerably.  At this point we were sailing along at 7-9 knots.  We arrived at Beaufort Inlet earlier then we had expected and instead of anchoring we continued on planning to anchor further along in Adams Creek.  The trip up the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) to the Neuse River didn't take as long as we expected, we had a favorable current, and since there was still plenty of daylight we continued  up river to Clubfoot Creek and anchored.  It had been 36 hours traveling 243 nautical miles averaging 6.75 knots.

We closed the circle.  It was from this creek in November of 2016 we left for our trip to the Caribbean.  This year we traveled 2619 nautical miles or 3013 statute miles equal to traveling from Portland ME to Los Angeles CA.  The circle of NC to the Caribbean and back was a total of 6658 nautical miles or 7662 situate miles or about a quarter of the way around the earth.

Once in the Creek we hunkered down for several days of rain going in from time to time to visit friends.  This is where we lived aboard prior to going cruising, we were home.  After a week we pulled anchor and motored up the river to New Bern where we anchored for a couple of days getting ready for housecleaning and projects.  On Friday we moved into the marina and picked up a rental car.  We started offloading stuff, some of it we took with us and would not need again, some we picked up along the way and it all went into the storage unit we rent here.  We had previously bought some used sails from other Pearson 424 owners and we swapped out our old sails for new to us sails.  We have not replaced the sails that came with the boat when we bought it in 2004.  We have been enjoying going out to have lunch or dinner at some of our favorite spots and visiting friends we left behind.

Several projects are getting done while we are tied up to a dock with electricity and transportation.  I found when changing the oil and servicing the engine that the water intake pump was failing.  This is the pump I had rebuilt in Trinidad before starting the season.  We planned to just stay a week at the marina but can't go anywhere until the new pump arrives and is installed.  Cori is making a new set of chaps for the dinghy, they protect the tubes from the sun and had ripped out during the last two years.

When the pump is installed we will be leaving the marina and starting downriver.  Once there we plan on turning north and following the ICW up to Norfolk VA.  Once there we will proceed to Annapolis with a variety of stops along the way.  Annapolis is a destination to pick up some parts for our water-maker that I have ordered.  After that we intend to continue north with a final destination of Maine or possibly beyond, depending on timing.  In the fall we will turn back and head for the Bahamas again.  As always "plans are written in sand at low tide", meaning they can and will change several times.

A few photos:

Conch, Ragged Ialands

Beach, Ragged Islands

Hiflite in the turquoise waters of the Bahamas

Hog Island anchorage, Bahamas

Beach trash on the ocean side Bahamas.

Hi Flite sign in the Hog Island beach shelter.

Our dinghy, the chaps are being remade.

Sunrise, St Augustine FL.

Motoring through calm seas.

Sunrise off of North Carolina.