S. Carolina & Georgia: 10/20 to 11/2

So many regal eagles sighted since August!

I’ve been thinking that postings of late are lacking in the proper cruising excitement that readers hope to find; and while I’m tempted to greatly embellish or just downright tell a tall tale, I can’t bring myself to do it. Please content yourselves with lots of photos and know that if anything remotely interesting happens, I will write about it!

We’ve started using Navionics on our iPad now. We’d been using Garmin Blue Charts as a backup to the Navionics we have on our old E120 chartplotter because it shows all the ActiveCaptain hazards, anchorages and marinas. It also has a sonar setting that shows depth contour lines and is generally more detailed and up-to-date than the Garmin charts. Garmin, while very pretty, is not known for updating often or well. On Ortolan, we had a touchscreen Garmin chartplotter with Sirius XM radio; one of the fancier pieces of equipment on that cat.

So the newer version of Navionics that runs on the iPad (but not on the old E120s at each helm) is the Captain’s new best friend. It’s got color, dots that show the shallower water (you define the depth) and shows you the deepest water path through the channel/ICW. Traveling through the southern half of South Carolina and all of Georgia requires luck, nerves of steel, accurate electronic charts, oh and a boat that only needs 3ft of depth! 🙂

We used to stop at Osprey Marina for diesel and extremely competitive (if not THE lowest) fuel prices; dockage was a good deal too. Over the years we watched Bucksport Marina come alive and become a bit more substantial; and then we stopped this past Spring to check them out.  Easy to stop, friendly service and competitive fuel price. Twenty-five minutes and off we go, down the scenic Waccamaw with a favorable current.

School ferry crossing! On the Waccamaw, south of Myrtle Beach

Our next travel day would include the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge stretch that lies south of Georgetown as you travel toward Charleston.

Love the early morning lighting

 

Cape Romain stretch of ICW- the happy couple hang out

 

Sort of a prairie look here

 

All in a day’s work along the ICW

As we approached the two guys below I could have gotten a better shot but the distance was too great, even with cropping, so just pretend he’s got a water jet shooting him up a few feet.

South of McClellanville- not in distress just trying to jet up out of the water

The night before going into the Ashley River Marina in Charleston, the anchorage in Dewees Creek was simply idyllic. Our first time using the creek; two thumbs up!

Last fall we pulled into Ashley and met Richard and Jan, owners of PDQ34 Soul Sauce. Lovely people who live nearby, with a long cruising history, more recently local cruising on their PDQ. We’d reserved a few nights at St John’s Yacht Harbor as they offer a two-hour courtesy car and lower dockage rates (being farther from town). Wanting to meet up with Soul Sauce, we let them know our plans. By fantastic coincidence, friends on m/v Kemo Sabe who own the slip opposite theirs, were leaving the day we planned to arrive and said we could rent their slip for a very reasonable amount. Hard to say no to that. Felt bad cancelling with SJYH though.

Not a coincidence though was that we each planned our arrival and departure around the time of slack current; this makes for much less drama and therefore no excitement. We waved to Kemo Sabe (pretty sure I’d read reviews they’d written in ActiveCaptain) as they headed off. Richard and Jan got more experience in the helping cast off and catch your lines department; not that they need it, but was nice they were there for the exchange.

“Kissing Cousins”

Does the design remind you of holly?

Tucking into a slip during windy/rainy times has pros and cons; the downside being it’s unpleasant to walk around in the rain but if very windy then I feel safer and can enjoy some hobby time. We prefer to travel on non-rainy, low wind at our backs days as we (mostly Russ) are exposed to the elements up on the flybridge, with sun protection but only minimal wind thanks to our low front wind screen. We move right along during nice weather and hunker down when we don’t like the conditions. Being able to do 80+ mile days is helpful when we want to move along.

After Charleston, a stretch of lovely days would enable us to enjoy traveling to Brunswick, GA. Deeper draft boats became scarce, but they should have stuck with us as we had higher tide through nearly all the shallow spots.

Where is everyone on this fine travel day?

Tried out another new-to-us anchorage and it’s a keeper. Morning offered up this pretty red glow that perhaps warned of lousy weather to come, but not today.

Another gorgeous day begins. Crescent River off the ICW.

Delayed leaving this peaceful spot until 8:30 so that the tide would be up a bit in the Little Mud River- another stretch where if you draw more than 4 ft you want some tide assist. We went through two hours after low tide and saw no less than 8 ft- but the moon cycle is providing at least a foot more water than typical.

Cows on marsh-y island, south of Little Mud River

We’ve seen goats and horses along the ICW but cows are a first!

Brunswick Landing Marina (BLM) is very popular for re-fueling and as a former naval hurricane hole, is a perfect spot to leave your boat for extended periods of time or just make it your year-round home base. Slips were in short supply as many boats hadn’t headed off yet and I’m guessing a few had come up before Irma. But while our slip had no protection from southerly winds, most of the strong stuff expected would be from the West to North.

We got to meet the owners of Kemo Sabe, and they both are Buffalo, NY natives. 🙂 but not living in that frigid northland anymore!

Brunswick Landing Marina. Nordhavn Kemo Sabe is docked stern-in to our left.

And what did I tell you about distilleries and craft breweries? This will give downtown Brunswick a much-needed boost; plus a craft brewery will be opening across the street. What’s not to love? Oh right, no donuts. 😦

The Farmer and the Larder is changing course, but one of the owners is opening a restaurant across the street; we look forward to checking out Strong Roots in the spring.

Downtown was very quiet for a Saturday, but we learned from a shop owner that the BIG Florida/Georgia football game was this afternoon, so that’s where everyone was. Georgia won.

Here a distillery, there a distillery, EVERYWHERE a distillery…

 

Looked like it was headed right for us at BLM; we’d be the first line of boats to get rammed!

But the loading dock south of us was the intended destination, whew.

And in she goes

Tuesday and Wednesday nights would find us nine miles from Brunswick, at Jekyll Harbor Marina. Loaner bikes and a golf cart; everyone is happy. We needed to be stationary on Nov 1 to accomplish a long list of to-dos in changing our domicile from CT to FL. The “stay or go” decision hinged on Florida’s healthcare and those costs/subsidies weren’t available until Nov 1. Once we saw the numbers, it was full speed ahead to tackle the loonnngggg list, that we’d only begin to check-off on Nov 1.

Tuesday, after we arrived- that was Halloween but sure didn’t look or feel like it- got the golf cart for a shopping/grocery run then biked the southern part of the island in the afternoon.

Love golf cart shopping!

Yes! A beach. First one in months.

The ICW channel brings you close to shore- spooky when its foggy

 

Near southern tip of Jekyll. Northern tip Cumberland Island in distance

 

Spartina and Black Needlerush- looks like burnt fields

The squirrels left out the remains of daily snacking- gave us a never-before look at the inside of a pine cone that’s been stripped.

Squirrel snacking cones- before and after

This info panel contained several pieces of interesting historical information from the year I was born.

 

S/V Fleetwing, whose ActiveCaptain handle is Bob423, comes past the marina to anchor off to the right

Over the past few years we would focus on comments from Bob423 as they were precise and concise. Not that we usually had to worry but it’s good to be prepared. Then Russ discovered not only does Bob423 have a blog, he also produces a guidebook. So I’ve added a link to his blog from ours.

Normally, Bob423 is ahead of us and most snowbirds, but not this year. We are a week ahead of last year and Bob423 is a bit behind thanks to weather. So when Russ said that he’d be catching up to us today and anchoring off the marina, I joked that he’d come by at 4:23.  What is the likelihood that we’d see him come past at 4:23? not sure, but doubt me not when I say that after I took the photo the wall clock said 4:23.

 

Jekyll Sunset

Thursday we would continue south and cross the FL/GA line: Anything Goes, It’z Just What We Do, Round Here- oh wait not that- the actual state line 🙂

Morning fog showed signs of lifting, but whether it did or not, we had to get going with a long day ahead.  Next stop, Pine Island- north of St. Augustine.

Good foggy misty morning Jekyll Island

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The 3 Bs: Belhaven, Beaufort & Beaches

6:34 Sunset over Belhaven, NC

Belhaven offers several options for visiting boats: marina dockage, town docks with power and water, free town docks or anchoring. Easy in and out and a wooden breakwater that does a reasonably good job but not perfect since it’s not solid nor very high.

This visit we used the town docks at $1 per foot.  Immense quantities of water were required to wash all the green goo off poor Twins; thus we (Russ actually) spent the late afternoon hours and some the next morning, getting the boat, the dinghy, etc all clean again.

That was Wed Oct 11. The day before, when we left Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake VA, was Oct 10, the 7th anniversary of the beginning of our nomadic wanderings. Can you believe it? Seven years. Truly fortunate souls we are. And how to celebrate that, albeit two days late? Dinner at Spoon River on Thursday would do just splendidly!

That afternoon we walked through the couple blocks that comprise downtown; a variety of friendly shops, eateries, Chamber of Commerce, the Belhaven Memorial Museum (open 1pm-5pm) and the well-stocked ACE Hardware/Hand Picked Sister where one can purchase hardware, clothing, gift items, local wines and pillows! I found a dark charcoal gray short-sleeved top that I had to have to update my “wardrobe”. 🙂

Every other time we’d stopped in Belhaven, the museum visit just didn’t happen; this time we made it happen. Housed in the upper level of the former historic town hall, the current museum builds upon the original collection of Mary Eva Blount Way, or “Miss Eva”, who was an extremely avid collector. (1869-1962)

Her love of unique items began with a treasured collection of buttons, given to her by her mother-in-law. Apparently word spread that she loved to collect, and friends and neighbors began to bring her treasures from their own lives and travels. And the collections grew and grew.

The collection that started it all

She began to showcase her collections in her home in 1940 in an effort to aid the American Red Cross. By this time her collection had grown to more than 10,000 items. Lordy, how do you even count all that?

When she died in 1962, concerned citizens of Belhaven purchased the entire collection which included a fascinating array of unique and priceless artifacts from the county, throughout North Carolina and afar.  The Belhaven Memorial Museum officially opened in April 1965. Items range in time from the early 1800s to the 1960s; most portray life in and around Beaufort County, NC.

Free of charge, the museum relies on contributions from families and businesses.

Look at the metal- it’s an x-ray machine

Hair accessories made from human hair seem a bit squirmy. I know, what about a wig made from real hair? Somehow that doesn’t seem as weird. Maybe using hair as a decoration is what makes me feel uncomfortable with it.

Not sure I’d ever wear one of these. Would you?

Dinner at Spoon River, where we were remembered, greeted warmly, seated in the window table we love and served amazing creations!

A Baker’s half dzn stuffed oysters- look at the huge presentation platter!

Bread and a large quantity of lightly herbed butter is brought immediately. My favorite entree, Shrimp and Grits is no longer on the dinner menu, only offered at Sunday Brunch. However; I made a plea to bring it back to both the waitress (who seconded that notion) and the sous chef.

Tonight’s entrees and tomorrow!

Next stop, Beaufort, NC. (did you say BEAUX? Not BEW)  where we spent two nights at Homer Smith’s Docks and Marina waiting for the near-perfect day to head offshore down to Wrightsville Beach.

Classic yacht sighting along the way.

Tripletail was available and Tony promised we’d love it. Velvety smooth and mild like sole but a bit thicker; he was right. We selected one that looked like four meals worth and it was. The below photo isn’t great but you can sorta see the three “tails.”  I also added three pounds of fresh caught shrimp to the Engel freezer.

Perfect- will be dressed and waiting upon our return from shopping in the “new” courtesy van

Another first, the Beaufort Grocery- wow just wow and that was only lunch. We arrived just before 1 pm on Saturday, no wait yet but things picked up while we ate. Seated promptly, our server was friendly and patient with us newbies. She gave us a verbal explanation of the day’s specials; which included some wines by the glass. I wanted white (instead of my typical cocktail) and we were offered tastings of both red and white since Russ wanted red.  How great is that?

The owners, one of whom graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park, NY established the restaurant in 1991 where the Owens Grocery Store operated for many years. So that explains the name. Charles serves as executive chef and Wendy his wife manages the front and doubles as Pastry Chef. Trip Advisor reviews claimed a delicious Bourbon Pecan Pie. I went for it and due to its extreme size, was able to enjoy it over several days.  Ignoring the scale at the next Publix may be advisable.

A MUST stop when in Beaufort

Beaufort Grocery is well-known for several unique menu items and while we couldn’t try all, I think we got two of three: Sweet potato chips and gougeres, leaving the flaming Saganaki to simply be admired when neighboring tables ordered the cheese appetizer that I will order next time!

Sweet potato chips sprinkled with sugar, egg & bacon salad gougere, Russ: Shrimp Melt and SP chips

This year we are about one week ahead of last year, which is good except for warmer temps mean more insects and bugs. The really good thing is that more cruisers are behind us than “with” us, allowing easier travel (passing and being passed takes time) and no problem being where we want to be. A good amount of buffer days is beneficial for when one needs to hunker down for weather, take more time to sight-see or spend more time attached to a dock. 🙂

Sunday was a lovely day to be offshore and several others thought so too; power boats not sail. Dolphins popped up from time to time but the biggest surprise was the one who swan at our bow (s) for several minutes; seemed like longer but the camera time doesn’t lie.

 

Life IS Good!

 

Lovely creature.

The beaches: Wrightsville and Carolina. Can you say “dining and donuts”?  You know we can. We can also say “unplanned get together with friends!”

Our go-to dining spot in Wrightsville Beach is Tower 7 that just happens to sit one block from the dinghy docks. The menu revamped, and my favorite choice eliminated but the Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese was very satisfying; way more pork than cheese.

Good Morning. 7:10- time for early risers to get going

Carolina Beach is very close to Wrightsville but we needed a donut fix and a place to wait out a couple of rainy/windy days.

The seagulls love when the locals drag- when the net first goes in it stirs up lots of fish

The southern end dinghy dock was still under reconstruction so we tied up (oh I can’t say where) and walked to take care of a things- all food and drink related now that I think about it. The important stop was Wake ‘n Bake Donuts (Britts isn’t open off-season) and the last stop was lunch.

Lunch time!

Cruising friends who we last saw in Maine during the “RV” year sold their sail cat and found a remarkable home just outside the historic district in Wilmington, NC which is up the Cape Fear River a 30 minute drive to Carolina Beach.  Summer at the Maine lake cottage, winter in NC; I’m becoming envious.

So you know the power of Facebook, right?  Jim and Laurie- and if you are counting, this is Laurie #3!! -posted that they were driving down like now and I replied that we’d be waiting for them in Carolina Beach, but not really thinking we’d get to see them, as who the heck wants to drive even more after days of driving and then unpacking a Uhaul?!?!

Cheers to meet-up with friends at the Surf House. We are so lucky!

I was impressed that our waiter knew exactly how to make a NY Sour and he assured me the bartender would craft one worthy of my high expectations.

The Surf House nailed the New York Sour

And so we continue down the ICW; dining, drinking and searching for donuts.

Flies, flies and more flies!

Maybe I should title this, “Lordy! the flies!”, or “Flies of the Chesapeake.” At any rate, being very intelligent readers, you get the drift of this post.

After departing Havre de Grace (mid-Sept) a massive swarm of teeny insects (I call them black pepper flies) descended upon Twin Sisters.  Before I realized it they were inside, being teeny enough to fit through all the screens. We had to close up, which was a huge bummer given the very warm and whisper breeze day.

12v vac in hand I attacked every inch of every inside corner in our salon area until, hours later, they were no more.

Didn’t see ‘em come, didn’t see ‘em go, but had some excitement while they stayed. Sorry no decent photo, plus I was too busy getting rid of them!

Over the next two weeks came the fruit flies, a well-known nuisance around the Chesapeake, for some reason. One minute we had the typical one or two, and the next minute Twins hosted many multiples of ten!  Day and night, night and day for more than a week.

Oh I did the usual tricks and what worked best was the “seduce and drown” method; a bowl of: water, cider vinegar (or red wine), pinch sugar and a few drops Dawn. Got over two dozen one time. The other effective method consisted of brute force and lightning quick accuracy. 🙂

You might be thinking, yes so what? Nothing new about flying things. But wait dear reader; I’ve saved the best for last, because it did in fact all happen in just this order.

No sooner had we bid a fond, oh a very fond farewell to the fruit flies, we then were introduced to midge flies (a comprehensive term for a variety of flying insects that maybe even the black pepper flies could belong to) at an anchorage south of Coinjock, NC. (the day we left Atlantic Yacht Basin) North Carolina has grown on me over the last few years, but this, our first night over the border caused us to question that liking; but perhaps worse, our earlier than ever timing heading south.

Without further ado, here’s the scene:

We awoke to find half of the boat plastered with these things; they preferred being out of the wind and the sun. So many that you could hear the wrrrring sound produced by 10 bazillion sets of teeny wings. ActiveCaptain reviews had warned of this possibility during certain (unlucky) times of the year and boy we sure nailed that time. A bit of research said to turn off all lights at dusk in an attempt to discourage them. Well, maybe next time.

The “morning after”- anchored Camden Bay south of Coinjock- bazillion midge flies

Running from the flybridge was not going to be an option right away, but after 30 minutes we’d be entering Albemarle Sound and Russ wanted to be up top for that run. Chilly, breezy and loaded with midges. I manned the inside helm while Russ tried to make the flybridge helm decent for sitting at. Not much could be done except to sit on a crappy towel and keep wishing them away.

Grossssssss!!! ewewww

The lines we’d used at the marina still sat, guess where? Piled at the stern, providing more surface and hiding space for the midges. Once across the Sound, out came the Dewalt wet-dry vac which we plugged in, turned on the inverter and began the forever process of sucking up those critters!

It wasn’t as easy as you’d think. They scare easily and fly up (but not away) when you or the vacuum nozzle come near. Over the course of hours, during the rest of the trip into Belhaven we took turns. Look up under the T-top; they were there. Under the dinghy, in the lines at the dinghy davits, on the SUP paddle; any place that offered wind protection.

There they are! and more green goo

And the green goo residue they leave behind! Not sure what it is; your guess is as good as ours. Good news was that it all would clean up, so we read. Several others had anchored near us, as well as plenty of boats at Coinjock Marina; did we now have a shared experience?

AYB: Location, location

AYB, officially Atlantic Yacht Basin, is a new marina stop for us. Ideally located just south of the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge in the Great Bridge section of Chesapeake, VA. Got that? 🙂

Observant readers may recognize the area as we’ve stopped at the free docks before- one you can see below, south of the bridge and the one just north of the bridge that sits between the bridge and the Great Bridge Lock.

The 20+ miles south of the lock is non-tidal, affected by wind direction and strength. Another plus is the stretch from the lock to AYB is a no-wake zone, making for comfy alongside docking and the opportunity for safe and calm rowing and paddling in your small water craft or board. See photo below. 🙂 Recognize anyone?

SUP-ing and kayaking on ICW by Atlantic Yacht Basin (out of photo on left), south of the bridge

Are you surprised to read that we also found a new donut place that opened since we last walked “that far” five years ago? Didn’t think so. Maybe a 20 minute walk from boat to shop, on sidewalks mostly; easy Sunday stroll.

A new donut place for us, farther than we usually walk to Chili’s, or the Farm Fresh.

The place seems like a mini chain, everything just so and boy they can churn out plenty of custom topped doughnuts. I’d doubted that ability but when we saw the operation, it made sense.

Two batters to choose from- regular and pumpkin (seasonal)

A printed menu is available; Chinese menu style. Pick a batter, this time pumpkin was the second choice in addition to regular. Select a frosting from a short list. Then select from a long list of toppings, and finally a drizzle of which there’s roughly six choices. There’s also a board with large photos and descriptions in case you need decision-making help. Yes please!

Decorated while you wait, shown to you for your approval as you pay, and off you go! People and organizations call in large orders too.

And there you go- made fresh before your eyes. Not quite as large as most, but ample enough

Have you seen this? (below) Not that I’m promoting wasteful extra plastic but the idea is clever and the wine was actually a better price than we typically pay for it. The bottom of the ice bucket is overlapped in an attempt to stop water leakage. We bought three, kept one bucket- you know, just in case.

At the Farm Fresh we picked up an old fave SB, Santa Rita 120- in unusual packaging

We spent several nights here waiting for decent conditions to cross the Albemarle Sound; day two after the marina. The boat parades got interesting at times, although with the crappy weather not as many passed by as typically would. Still ahead of “the pack” we are. 🙂

The bascule bridge opens on the hour. Northbound boats  proceed under the bridge, then into the lock. At the same time, southbound boats are exiting the lock and they proceed through the bridge on the hour too. At times the lock is full, but not usually. Sometimes things get interesting when a  tug and barge commands an entire side of the lock, leaving just one side for the rest of us.

The noon bridge opening on Monday, Oct 9 was shaping up to be worth watching as two northbound tugs lay in wait.

Tug & barge has to angle over to get enough room to maneuver straight through the bridge. It’s  few minutes before noon so the bridge is preparing to open- timing is key.

The boats you see on the left edge of the above and below photos are those docked at AYB along with Twins and many others. In the above photo the tug & barge looks huge doesn’t it? I think the barge is 50+ feet wide. But below, not so intimidating from that angle.

Two mins later, bridge opens, tug and barge is in place to proceed

The second tug had been waiting further south, just past where the Yacht Basin ended. Had to wonder what the two southbound boats were thinking, but the tug operator never yelled at them.

But wait, there’s more. Even to us, those two boats looked to be in the way.

As the dynamic duo passed by us we got a good look at the barge.  Yep, easily amused today.

Hard to see, but the numbers in yellow seem to indicate that right now, empty, the barge only draws 2 ft and full could be 8 to 10 ft draft

You realize don’t you that every time the bridge opens, traffic stops. Battlefield Blvd is a busy road and traffic gets majorly backed up when the wait is this long.

12:06- here comes the second barge. You can see that a southbound power boat is scooting under the bridge before the barge gets too close

The trawler had hailed the bridge wondering if he had time to get through, but the bridge tender isn’t going to be responsible for that call.

All is well; barge transits at 12:09 and the trawler preps to dock at the free dock

Any southbound boats are still waiting their turn to pass under the bridge after the barge gets through.  Oh the traffic backup. Times like these make us glad we travel the waterways.

 

 

Hampton Hang Out, Again

This past May was our first stop at Hampton Public Piers; the name makes it sound not very inviting, but the reality is that it’s quite the opposite. Floating docks with good power/water pedestals, good communications and help with lines, and no extra charge for the fact we take up two spaces.  We knew from our long Matthew stay last October that the dining and donuts would bring us in again and again. The Preferred Boater Program was a no-brainer for us even though it’s geared toward local boats.

But first, two new stops after departing Solomons, MD.

Stop #1:Heard about Deltaville forever from fellow cruisers, never had reason to stop. With two to three decent days to get into Hampton, we decided to swing by Deltaville,VA which like most stops is several miles in from the Bay.

The channel in needs regular dredging and brings you quite close to the sandy shore

Oh Look! A Maine Cat 30 at the dock.   We could have been at the end of the row of boats already anchored, but decided to turn back and anchor part way up the next creek. Very pleasant.

Approaching Deltaville Marina

Ok, check that one off the bucket list.

Stop two was one we’d been hoping to make happen for well over a year- well not the place but the boat/owners who are full-timers like us from our neck of the woods in Connecticut.  Connections are made for many reasons; boat type, location, chance, etc. Heading up the Cape Fear River spring 2016 the lovely Kadey-Krogen, m/v Tapestry passed us and we both saw very familiar home ports on our sterns. Thus began a FB friendship but one that had yet to be, shall I say, consummated?

Finally we made it happen while they were enjoying an extended stay at York River Yacht Haven; family nearby is always nice. Even though Tapestry is 58ft we saw many similarities to the 42ft Krogen, Viking, we were married on in 1990. Just a gorgeous yacht and Lisa is an accomplished seamstress with beautiful cushions, window treatments and more to prove it!  A long, leisurely lunch at the on site restaurant for that “getting to know you” stuff.

York River Yacht Haven – Tapestry bow out two in from Coast Guard vessel

Another bucket list item completed.

While in Hampton we had another item to check off and since it’s a fort, it would add one more to our fort list that’s grown stale lately.

Here’s the fort history overview:

Built from 1819-34 and named for US President James Monroe, the fort occupied a strategic location for maritime defense and commerce. It remained a Union stronghold throughout the Civil War, earning the name, “Gibraltar of the Chesapeake.”

Even before this time, English explorer Capt John Smith and the Virginia Company recognized the same strategic locale for the Bay and in 1609 Fort Algernourne was built here on what is known as Point Comfort.

In 1619 a Dutch man-of-war arrived at Point Comfort with the first “20 and odd” Africans brought to the English colonies.

Freedom’s Fortress

The fort has remained a national symbol for freedom and protection. It continued as a base of defense and training until being deactivated in Sept 2011- I think we anchored nearby a month later. Fort Monroe National Monument was established on November 1, 2011.

Fort Monroe- they get mail too

Robert E Lee, a 24 year-old West Point-trained engineer, was stationed here 1831-34 to oversee construction. Lee and his new wife, Mary Anna Custis Lee a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, occupied quarters similar to the one several photos below. Their first child was born here in 1932.

Fort Monroe. Forts get remodeled too

 

Back in the day 1861

 

Oh well

Entrance to the fort and casemate museum is free and you can tour and walk around at your leisure.

How many men does it take to load and fire a canon? I counted at least seven!

The view from the Flagstaff Bastion Overlook was expansive and afforded us a look from an entirely different perspective than what we usually see from water level in a “small craft.”

When we leave Hampton our course is (south) toward the top center, to the left of Craney Island

 

President Lincoln stayed here during his visit 1862

In addition to President Lincoln, the above Quarters No 1 was occupied by Major General Benjamin Butler when he made the 1861 pivotal contraband decision.”

Good thing the three-mile limit wasn’t changed when this gun was invented

 

The complex is large enough for a couple of traffic lights

Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. It has been home to thousands of military families throughout the centuries.

After an exhausting fort tour, lunch at the Deadrise was in order. A great spot with a view overlooking Old Point Comfort marina, the Deadrise was very busy but our food was worth the wait. Among the best fried calamari ever.

Old Point Comfort Marina- lots of empty slips but none wide enough for us

The anchorage area is the empty  area outside of the marina.

We enjoyed another delicious meal and artfully crafted cocktails at Venture, which is at most a six- minute walk from the docks. Dessert tempted us this time.

Pumpkin assorted dessert plate at Venture

I think the fenders ruin the authentic look.

Replica s/v Goodspeed stops one night on her way back to Jamestown, up the James River to our NW

And yes, donuts were a fresh daily event for a few mornings.

Best tasting burgers ever at BCBC

We also discovered a favorite place for fantastic burgers at Brown Chicken Brown Cow, almost next to Venture. Grass fed, pastured with the “right” official rating, they weren’t huge, so you could actually eat them without dislocating your jaw. Served on a lightly toasted brioche bun you could pick from named combos on the menu or create your own by selecting three toppings. Ground beef often disagrees with Russ, but these he found to be very agreeable in many ways!  Totally yum. And his choice of a local brew- wow. Ok then, we will return.

Weather (what else?) was dictating when and where we’d move to. Plus we had leave here so the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous boats could arrive on the 12th… or not, given what the conditions ended up being as that day drew near.

 

 

 

 

Happy Time at Solomons

Our BBBB (Best Blue Boat Buddy), m/v Traveling Soul is docked in Solomons, MD and owners Mike and Ann (and Spot) are happily tucked into their new condo very close by. Solomons wouldn’t be enticing for us except for our dear friends, as it’s a solid six miles in from the Bay.

We’d left St Mike’s a day early as the weather was deteriorating sooner than expected. A few nights at Calvert Marina during the windy days, then we moved up the creek to anchor very close to The Condo. How considerate of our friends to select a condo that we can anchor near and dinghy up to the small boat dock. 🙂

Imagine that- still space at the floating docks on Friday afternoon. Krogen rendezvous coming up

Ann took me for shopping errands a few times during our stay, including my first visit to a Michael’s- not to be confused with St Michael’s, Michael’s Jewelers, our friend Michael or Michael’s Seafood.

I’m sure my mouth formed that open O shape as I wandered about for 10 minutes or so. Wow- what craft/sewing items didn’t they have? Picked up some beads on sale and then we checked out a bead shop too.

And then came the wonderful evening we spent on shore with our friends. Ann’s got a kitchen to die for and all the amazing pieces of equipment she uses with ease and actually does use! Ann baked her special occasion dessert (my birthday); it gets filled with whipped cream as you cut and serve each slice. Delicious!

Ann’s delicious Blitz Torte

Monday, Oct 2 looked perfect to head off and spend a couple of days getting down to Hampton, VA. But first, lunch at Island Hideaway with our friends who we wouldn’t see again until Jan or Feb.

Key man

 

The Backside of St Michael’s

Approaching the dinghy dock at St Michael’s at the head of San Domingo Creek

Is lovely too, even more so than the front (marina/museum) side where we’d anchored, oh must be five or six years ago.

A few steps up from the dock (essentially a bulkhead) sits a colorful and welcoming home.

These little free libraries are popping up all over. This one at the  home a few yards up from the docks

A new addition to “things to do in town” is a distillery; no surprise uh? If there’s not one near you, there will be soon!

We missed the tour which they give once per day during the week, but happily partook of the free tastings.

Lyon Distilling Co.- since 2012 St Mikes

Next to the distillery sits a great vintage/antique shop; closed on Mondays though. We got such a kick out of gas pumps from our youth.

Fill ‘er up? Sunoco at 49 cents per gallon

The Acme grocery store has served the town for, well I don’t how long, but I’m guessing a number of years. Convenient for locals and cruisers alike. Our happy faces turned sad as we stood at the doorway and read the Closing Soon sign. Many grocery items were marked down 25%, I grabbed one of the last few pineapples and Russ scored a handful of CLIF bars for cheap. Had such a Twilight Zone feel; very eerie.

We had planned to stay a second night; walk the nature trail, tour the distillery, clean out the grocery store, take more photos… but the forecast indicated that Tuesday would be a far better travel day than Wednesday. Thus, we left. We will return in Spring or next Fall.

Without further ado, or fun St Mike’s time, we departed bound for Solomons, MD which sits tucked in off the Bay’s western shore; a 34 nm trip for us.