July 31- Aug 1: CT to NY and The Hudson River

Departing Westbrook- heading to Old Lyme for fuel

So how do you get to Lake Champlain? From Westbrook, CT on the north shore of Long Island Sound, here’s the route- if you are in a boat that is: head west- oh wait, first head east and then up the Connecticut River to Old Lyme for the best fuel deal around and pass under the decrepit Old Lyme Draw- twice without needing an opening.

Ok, so now head west. Make a right hand turn into the East River, riding a favorable current of course. At the infamous Hell Gate you have a decision to make, which hopefully you made before you got here; continue on the East River and hang a right at the Hudson, or be daring and hang a right up the Harlem river with its winding ways, barges galore and a very often closed train swing bridge at the north end which dumps you out into the Hudson.

The end.

No, wait, there’s more. You don’t think I’d write that teeny paragraph when I could tell you all about our first few days, do you?

Sunday, July 30 was a lovely day and just perfect for a final boat and cushion washing and getting everything put in its place and ready for heading out into the big blue water. The batteries got equalized, the dry packets got cooked in the oven (they eat moisture), lights and sounds tested, bridle re-attached and charts reviewed. I’d read about a product on The Boat Galley, called Concrobium, which was touted as being a near miracle killer and preventor of mold and mildew, two determined nasties on a boat. Sprayed it on our exterior cushions, dinghy life jackets and the horribly mildew prone VHF radio cord on the flybridge. Maybe I’ll remember to let you know well it works.

After two months of not moving, except to turn the boat around with lines and one very short test run, would we still remember how to do everything?  Let’s hope so.

Come Monday leaving the slip was easy-peasy in a no wind morning kinda way. After that two hour detour for diesel we cranked up the RPMs and the watermaker and zoomed down LIS toward the skinny west end, anchoring in Manhasset Bay near Port Washington. Ok then, Day 1- check!

Busy, busy

Tuesday ended up being a 10-hour, 90 nm day and no we did not go up the Harlem River which would have saved time. Instead, we chose the bustling, scenic, wild ride route around the tip of Manhattan. We had a favorable current carrying us along in the East River but once we turned up the Hudson, wow we got a major slap back, making only 5.5 kts at normal 2000 rpm, aka 8kts!

Before the Hudson and the spot of Sully’s Miracle, we watched a seaplane touch down near the United Nations on the East River, probably scaring the crap out of the boat behind us who swerved to avoid what he figured would be a collision.

Right in front of that sailboat!

Well, that’s a first.

East shore of Hudson- New Jersey. I am used to Lackawanna being much further west!

So yes, the Hudson was a busy place- did I mention that? Ferries crossing left and right, boats leaving marinas, tour boats- the old Circle Line was alive and kickin’ and we watched for the general vicinity where Cap’n Sully performed his miracle… and I think it’s right about here….

About where Captain Sully performed his miracle on the Hudson

The George Washington was a sight to behold and one we had never seen from the water. No tolls or traffic jams this way. A bit further north is the Tappan Zee which is a better choice if you are in a land vehicle. Three years ago we crossed over on our way to a small RV Show and saw the very beginnings of footings for the new bridge.

 

Can you see the weird face?

Now the bridge is nearly complete. Just need that one span- kinda important.

Old and new Tappan Zee

Continuing north, you find Sing Sing Prison on the eastern shore. A rather large and imposing complex.

Sing Sing

The trains,oh the trains! Little red caboose, boose, boose…. Blowing that horn, all night and day!!

Train tracks run very close to shore

And there’s West Point- hard to miss.

West Point- on the western shore, on a point that juts out a bit.

Don’t know the history of this arsenal, but it’s a historic site on a tiny island very close to New York’s eastern shore.

And then we anchored- yes, close to shore and thus the train tracks. Hey we needed to get going in the morning, so why not get a wake-up whistle every few hours???

Next stop Waterford, NY. We will pass through Albany, Troy and our first lock. Not looking forward to locking through 12 locks before arriving in Lake Champlain, but at least we aren’t doing the Erie Canal!

 

July- “where’s the fun times?”

Shelly Island- newly formed off Cape Hatteras. More beach to explore!

Well, at least we ate lobster, got together with friends and family, gorged on donuts, ice cream sundaes (twice!!), DQ and made a steady habit of not straying from our happy hour libation and snack.

The other 90% of our waking hours were spent getting it done, researching and purchasing needed supplies – I guess that mostly came first, and Russ was a great magician- kept pulling more to-dos out of the darn hat!

Lots of little things too along the lines of getting better organized and stowing loose items so that we didn’t have to worry about them while underway.

But you don’t want to read about this; you’d rather see proof of our hard work!

 

After an intense Spa treatment- looking like new. Even a rubber gasket at the bottom to keep rust from forming and off our boat

 

The marina Russ owned a long time ago

We managed to sneak in a dinghy tour of the marina and up the Patchoge River toward where Rte 1 crosses. Lots of memories here, especially for Russ who not only grew up in Westbrook, he owned a small marina for roughly eight years.  It’s in the above photo. See the white hulled boat on the left, Restless? Hiding behind the piling near her stern is a red phone booth. Between that and the small brown building to the right (over a couple of boats) was Rackliffe Marine, also home to Rackliffe Lock and Safe. 🙂

Look what we picked up. Returning from a visit to Linda & Thom’s SeaRay in the North Yard we snagged a prize. First prize of this nature.

This cutie, and what I assume are other family members, could be spotted on a regular basis.

Mr Jack Rabbit

Creative use of wok strainer- was a perfect fit to keep out snakes, rodents. Break off handle and place into the opening. Seal well then replace the vent cover.

A sunny day with very little breeze was perfect for spraying 303 Protectant on our canvas and dinghy seat cover.

Three canvas tops to wash then waterproof- one at a time. Sure looked much cleaner when we finished.

This was one project left to the experts at Affordable Boat Cushions who we found online last summer. The narrow back cushion held up well and we were very satisfied with the price and quality. This summer we ordered a bottom cushion to match. Lounging will be far more pleasant now.

Our new stern bench seat cushion to match the back

Our horn had become temperamental and when we needed it, didn’t work. Soooo toss out the old and install the new, much louder horn.   Twins also received new bow lights- one green and one red, naturally.

Installing the new horn- earplugs needed for testing!

Somewhere along the line during the window treatment ordeal, I decided I wanted to own a sewing machine again. Not gonna sew curtains mind you, but Russ had mentioned a slew of small sewing jobs that we really needed to do. I also wanted to turn the one exterior front window cover into two so that the left and right windows could be covered, but leave the middle (opening) window uncovered. We planned to take it to a canvas shop in Old Saybrook that we like, but doing the job ourselves probably paid for the machine which cost less than any machine I’d ever owned.

The disintegrated top cover of the LifeSling is replaced

Our fridge has been a two-year troublesome piece of equipment. It likes frequent defrosting and is happiest if the outside temp is below 80 and not humid. Gee, I thought I was a princess! Calling in a marine refrigeration guy is unthinkable; not only because of the exorbitant cost, but in this area we’d be told, “oh we might be able to come out to take a look in a month.” Sigh. We replaced the gasket just in case that would help, but mostly for the challenge :-).  Purchased a re-charge kit but then discovered our fridge didn’t have the proper port for DIY-ers. The company took it back. The struggle continues, and we will resort to prayer if need be.

One of the last, and by far the most unpleasant, item on the to-do list was to try to sell our beloved Bonny, aka the Escape Pod. She was getting on in years- 14 to be exact- and the signs of aging were getting more costly each year. Rather than let her crumble, we thought the decent course of action was to sell her while she still had life remaining. Hopefully to someone who would love and cherish her as much (or nearly) as we did- and still do!

Would she prove to be the one thing we couldn’t sell easily? Would we find a suitable buyer? Would we sell her in time before we headed off, but not so quickly that a rental would be needed? Lady luck smiled on us once again and we almost had a bidding war.

Her new home remains in Connecticut and the owner has already written to say how much she loves her “new” Mini Cooper. Bonny will be instrumental in helping several young ladies learn to drive a stick shift, and for that I am delighted.

Our faithful escape pod is for sale

But before we let her go, we took a road trip for donuts!! The perfect last trip and look how coordinated she is with Allie’s!  Yes, they were excellent and super fresh. Worth the one hour drive.

Busier than it looks. On weekends those waiting-in-line gates are needed!

Allie’s is known for their jimmies/sprinkles/shots, Big Donuts  (serve 12-20) and novelty shaped donut cakes

I’m sure you are just itchin’ to know the window treatment outcome. I’ll spare you the gory details of what transpired between placing the order and installation, but if we EVER do this again, we will be much better informed and prepared. But then, we thought we were.

It’s curtains for us!

A final get together with family before we bid farewell to Bonny. What better meal than pizza?

PizzaWorks before we leave. Years ago we’d all get together here on New Year’s Eve and it remains a favorite place to get together for delicious pizza.

A handful of final preparations, (a few very enjoyable for me) and we’d be off on Monday, July 31. See you up the Hudson somewhere as we venture into new waters. And locks, locks and low bridges.

 

June – Project month at the Point

Home for two months!

Pilots Point that is. I’ll bet if you looked back to every time we arrived in CT, you’d read the same words: Projects, busy, getting it done, unexpected, friends, family, and let’s not forget the Donuts!

The only other words I am thrilled to add to this summer’s two-month stay in Westbrook, are: unlimited constant hot water, 50amp power, cable TV and comfy wide slip!! For all of you who take the easy land life amenities for granted, you are probably hard pressed to imagine my joy, but I know some of you can relate. Life is good in our slip, R7. We even got the correct dock; R.  Right?

We got right to work because even arriving two weeks earlier than expected we know how things go; the unexpected stuff consumes the time and there’s always that one thing that takes FOREVER. Can you say “window treatment nightmare”? We can.  Even as I write this on July 10, having new curtains is still not 100% guaranteed. Space constraints, desires and cost all combined into such a mish-mash of options that at one point I threw in the proverbial towel and said, “let’s just clean the ones we have and forget new.” Not gonna happen. Took them all down, made notes because two needed sewing repairs, lugged them to the best dry cleaners around with a seamstress on site. Then they wisely did a test. Result- nada. No change. That mold and mildew didn’t budge. Took ‘em home, tried a few natural remedies, same result.  Soooooo, hang around for the next post to see how this all ends up.

We continue to see strange sights in the sky. This looked like an ultra-light helicopter.

Look- he’s waving!

Pilots Point utilizes these very cool, environmentally friendly mini pump-out boats.

Such a cute pump out boat

 

Bonny in to fix coolant leak

A slip and a car! Does it get much better? Not much. Bonny had a bad experience last summer and she spent the winter at our nephew’s place knowing a trip to the fix-it spa was due upon our return.  Our nephew brought Bonny in to a well-known local place ahead of our arrival so we could get her quickly.

Not only did she get fixed up within a few days, she also was in fabulously cool company and had a bit part on Cardone’s website. Who doesn’t love our escape pod? Well, the night guard at the marina sure does. When we’d return after a wild night out on the town, we’d see this big smile. Turns out he’s a huge Star Trek fan and always enjoys a good escape pod experience.

Our new Air Conditioner unit under the salon seat

Replacing the salon air conditioner unit was one of those unplanned projects. The old one was a bear to remove but Russ caught a break with the new one which was just a tiny bit smaller and only required one shoehorn to fit it in! Let’s not forget the (unplanned) hot water heater replacement and the routine oil and filter changes in both engines and the genset.

With Linda and Thom: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins together

Thanks to our friends and Tower Labs we enjoyed a touch of culture at the world-famous Ivoryton Playhouse in Essex.  The show was foot stomping, hand clapping, make you sing out loud excellent. So much fun and very well done. Inspired a slew of iTunes purchases 🙂

Excellent balcony seats for the show

Driving around- not aimlessly…- but with a long list of stops and things to accomplish mind you- we watched this chomping display.

Bye Bye building

After hunting down Tony’s Square Donuts (truck) we tried to make up for the “bad” food stuff by stopping by a local farm for fresh eggs and to scope out their meat offerings.

Four Mile River Farm. Payment is on the honor system.

Father’s Day arrived and so did our son! Seriously heavy fog crept in Saturday morning and ruined a hoped-for meet up with…our nephew Matt, aka “new boat owner.” Dinner with dear long time friends was just the best! We did get into Essex for a tour of Main Street and then headed over to check out Matt’s new ride.

Thankfully the fog didn’t ruin Benj’s arrival!

Food gifts are highly prized. Benj never fails to treat us to old favorites as well as introduce us to potential new ones. He also brought greens from the farm and a delicious loaf of rustic bread from The Laundry in Vergennes.

And there was that one small project that needed an extra set of muscles and more height than I had. First off Russ had to use a large hole saw which managed to end up in the drink. Shallow water but murky. What if we fished for it with a magnet? A magnet that once belonged to Benj! No luck, even with serious effort- thanks sweetie!

New way to fish?

The real project was to construct a brace so we could lower our mast for the trip to Lake Champlain.

Benj helped construct and test the mast brace for the August trip to Lake Champlain

A few ups and downs, a few tweaks and adjustments and…. well done men. I helped too- holding the line; aka the backup lady.

Before and after Father’s Day we lived in a window treatment nightmare. There’s always the extreme option- one that really expands the interior visually, but not one we prefer.

Maybe we’ll go naked

Not content with giving up one thing to the murky waters, the chamois blew in -somewhere.   A few days later Russ is walking near the power/water/cable TV pedestal. Low tide and the sun is shining down brightly. What? You think you see the chamois down there? Yep. Retrieved, washed and washed and sorta good as new. Yuck

Yuck, what’s that? A chamois from the mud bottom perhaps?

The PWC docking stations (is that what they are called?) caught the attention of this heron who carefully walked across one from the dock.. and then slipped. Wings help with keeping one’s balance.

Slippery- gotta watch that

 

Before and After

One of the easier projects was to sand and repaint our two propane tanks They look mahvelous dahling now! For the crowning touch at the bottom, Russ tapped on an edging strip material.

We both had our to-do lists; Russ wins the prize for quantity and longest duration. I have retained my lofty status as supreme assistant, as well as chief cook and bottle washer, recycling separator, photographer, blogger and finder of new hobbies to keep me occupied. Remember back in grade school when art wasn’t optional or in Jr High when you had to take some art class? Not my favorite subject; if I managed a “C” I was happy. Copper enameling and paper mache, both in 5th or 6th grade, were the only art forms I recall liking.

Growing up I sewed- clothes, not household stuff like curtains. Just sayin’.  But being able to make jewelry has piqued my interest and the techniques can be applied to decorative endeavors too. Call me a late bloomer, but it’s easier to do on a boat than say, candle making.

Uh oh. I try out a new braiding technique. Not new at all, but new to me

 

Very nautical- like a jellyfish

Some time during the month Russ began the buffing, waxing ordeal. One small section at a time weather permitting. This process continued into July- figuring he will finish up by July 15. Lordy. But her ladyship is looking and feeling very spiffy!

You probably get the idea of our month; I could share much more, but this post was long enough!  Hope you all are enjoying summer!

May 31- June 2: NJ, NY & CT!

Foggy departure out Cape May inlet. Happy to have a lead vessel.

When you see an opening, take it. Squeeze through it any way you can and continue on. Wed, May 31 was predicted to be very low winds, not the best direction but not an issue. So what frequents  New Jersey on windless days? Answer: FOG, and plenty of it.

And when we thought it had departed on those little cat’s paws, back in it oozed, surrounding us like a cool, moist blanket. Even the wind picking up didn’t completely dispel the persistent fogginess.  For the most part, visibility was just good enough to safely see ahead as we sped along at 13kts.  The morning fog was so dense we kept to a slower 8kt pace for a couple of hours, running radar, two sets of eyes, happy to have AIS and listening carefully to any nearby VHF convo.

Rounded Sandy Hook with no issues and no fog. You may recall years ago we dealt with fog up the NJ coast, getting too close to the channel’s edge at Sandy Hook, and then bam! surprised beach fishermen and us, as we were closer in than we thought. I think we couldn’t see the large buoys and relied on the chartplotter, but the channel and buoys had been moved further away from the growing sandy beach so we found ourselves outside of the actual channel- but only briefly!

We tucked in for the night just behind the breakwater at Atlantic Highlands, with plans to transit through NYC, the East River and east through Long Island Sound as far as we could get, the next day- Thursday June 1.

Surprise! Morning fog crept in to greet us, then ebbed only to return. Nerves of steel, AIS, our trusty VHF and chartplotter got us through the harbor with ferries, container ships, tugs, small fishing boats and other pleasure craft all messing about as always.

We watched the process depicted below a couple of times; the first happened when before we upped anchor in the morning, and this time was a better view. Clams?

Drop in a big trap thing, pull and drag it, and then bring it up

 

SeaStreak- called to let us know she’d do a two whistle pass. Invisible until very close by

As we closed in on the Verrazano, the fog lifted for the day- ahhh.

Your consumer goods have arrived!

 

Joint effort? or Tug rendezvous?

 

Always an honor and a pleasure

 

Turbulent water near Hell Gate. The current was with us- against would not be good

 

Plane makes a very steep ascent on take off from LaGuardia over Rikers Island

We enter into eastern Long Island Sound and decide to keep up our speed as conditions are calm and we want to get as close to Westbrook as possible tonight- ok how about Clinton 2 miles away?

I often check the AIS list to see at a glance who’s out there, but hadn’t looked in a while. Such a pleasant surprise when I looked and saw s/v Amistad headed into New Haven Harbor. The first time we ever saw her, she was being constructed at Mystic Seaport. Laid eyes on her a couple of times since then but never under way. I rushed up to tell Russ and insisted we divert for a photo. The shot below shows the path we were on and how we turned nearly 90 degrees to hunt her down.

Changed course from the dotted line to check out the Amistad, the large triangle.

I took a slew of photos, but the sun was wrong. This was the best one.

S/V Amistad heads into New Haven Harbor

Friday morning we began the long 15 minute trip into what would be our summer home for two months; a blessed slip at Pilots Point Marina. Could I ask for more? I’d better not. But then again, we’d be reunited with Bonny our Mini Cooper, with friends to see, lobster to consume, appoints to keep and all the shopping we cared to do. Oh and those pesky boat projects too.

Mind that sandy point!

 

 

Offshore jumps get you home fast

Watching aircraft carrier head in to Norfolk, while anchored off Buckroe Beach

To rush or not to rush, that is the question. Weather be ideal to head offshore, or up the Bay; nay say he. Saturday 5/27 promised to be a 5 star low wind, calm seas day. What’s not to love? Such is the nomad life.

Hampton to Cape May was gonna be a few miles, more than we’d ever done in a day of daylight. The original plan to anchor at Lewes, DE got scratched and Russ said Cape May would only be another five miles; we could make that.

Thanks to winds blowing out of the west Friday and Friday night, we couldn’t anchor at Cape Charles but we left the marina and came around to anchor off Buckroe Beach where we’d have protection. This only saved four miles on Saturday plus the time to get off the dock with no help, since we’d be leaving at OH SO VERY DARK THIRTY!!

So how was the trip you ask? Ah, can you say, “accurate forecast?”  Calm Mother Ocean provided the slightest of gentle swells just so we’d know we were actually in the ocean. No wind wavelets to speak of. We zoomed along at top cruising speed, 3,100 rpms.

First light is before 5:30 am, which helps a lot.

The sun rises over Cape Charles- early bird photo at 5:54!

I’d prepped breakfast the night before by cutting up fruit and getting out cereal bowls and plates for the coffee cake. We raised the anchor as soon I was dressed and could see (put my contacts in)! Breakfast was consumed underway as we let the engines warm up enough and then Russ pushed the throttles forward.

To give you an idea of how wide the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay is, it was at least 15 nm (18 land miles) from our anchorage to the tip of Cape Charles. Once we rounded Cape Charles and passed all the small boats out fishing, the ocean was our oyster.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge- we are on the water- traffic is under us

At 7:10- finally in Mother Ocean- but look, who’s that PDQ? Miss Agnes– headed home to Ocean City MD

The only negative was the “chance of scattered rain and T-storms” near our destination. That too was accurate.  Slowing down to let it pass didn’t work but we did time our arrival to Canyon Club Resort/Marina well enough to not be docking in the rain. Our spot was a T-head, stern-to a 47ft Leopard power cat, named Gypsies Palace. Guess who they love? Huge Buffett fans.

Sunday looked like the only decent day to go into town, so we did. Shared the courtesy van ride with Debbie & Steve of Gypsies Palace. They are Loopers and brand new full timers from Florida as of April 1.

 

Fancy tide minders slide up and down in a groove in the piling at Canyon Cove, Cape May.  Clever.

 

Pool at Canyon Club- can you say, “our most expensive marina stay in the last 7 years”?

We stayed at the Canyon Club for two nights, but with rain coming there was no point in paying to be at a dock stuck on the boat, so we fueled up (at the dock) and anchored across the harbor in sight of the marina

This anchorage is sorta close to the Coast Guard station with plenty of room for  8 or more boats as long as some are like us and don’t mind being in 4ft at low tide. Being near the CG station doesn’t mean you should feel safer though. We turned the VHF on and heard the Canyon Club call for help that a boater at the fuel dock had fallen in and was likely injured. Whoever was on call at the station must not be from the area, nor was familiar with the marinas around the harbor- that’s all I’m saying. Shakin’ our heads at the standard but ludicrous questions when the Canyon Club is across the harbor, in sight of the CG station. All ended well thankfully.

Coast Guard Memorial Day tribute through the harbor and the Cape May Canal

Wednesday, May 31 we planned to head offshore up to Sandy Hook or Atlantic Highlands, another long-ish day but not like the last one.  Wondered how calm the trip would be and would we spot a whale like we did last year?

 

Yes Virginia, we love you too!

Lazy builders or got caught short?

Remember when Virginia’s slogan was, “Virginia is for Lovers?” or maybe it still is; can’t say we have any clue. But crossing the state line into Virginia put a smile on our faces because the free dock awaited us by the bascule bridge in Great Bridge (Chesapeake)VA and Hampton was right up the road a piece. (teeny inside joke there)  The osprey were in full family raising and I had ample time and opportunity to photograph to my heart’s content. Sorry the day was overcast though.

Osprey receives mid morning visitors

We seldom require a bridge opening with Twin Sisters but the approach to Norfolk/Portsmouth from the south offers the chance to “dance with other boats at bridges” a few times. The spring snowbird trek north is more spread out than in the fall/winter and the ICW isn’t usually as busy. However, whether fall or spring, nearly all boats “travel inside” between Norfolk (Mile 0) and Beaufort, NC.  Hey, we may live a crazy life but we aren’t insane enough to round Cape Hatteras!

Therefore, we travel with more boat traffic north of Beaufort, with bridges being the gathering spots. This day being a Sunday offered a small benefit, the bridge after North Landing opened on request (I dislike the term “demand”) which meant we could proceed at a more sane pace to make the third bridge which opens only on the hour. For us and most in our “pack” that would mean being there at 1pm.

 

In line at North Landing Bridge for noon opening

We hoped to snag a spot on the free dock immediately south of the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge, but just in case it was full, no way did we want to dance around for an entire hour. Good move on the part of the travel planner (me) as the dock was full; we went last under the open bridge at 1pm and slid easily onto the free dock just past the bridge! Much appreciate having two docks. Only one sailboat mid-way so we took our preferred spot at the far northern end- farthest from the bridge.

Snarfed a quick lunch then did the easy couple block walk to the Farm Fresh grocery, noting the Chili’s and Panera along the way. Battlefield Blvd is one busy road, but sidewalks and crossing signals make walking very easy, and safe.

Nighttime is another story because as many of you know, “it always happens at night.” The bridge opens on request after 8pm, the time when pleasure boats should be tucked in all comfy for the night. Commercial vessels love the dark hours, I’ll bet. We heard the horn signal for the bridge to open and did what any self-respecting person nearby would do; we stepped outside, binoculars and photo-taking device in hand. Lordy, that tug pushing that barge sure looked monstrous in the narrow waterway that is between the bridge and the lock.

Look carefully to see the dark mass of barge that lies under the tug’s bright spotlight.

The duo passed by slowly and carefully and although we were “this close”, did not feel even the slightest wake.

The next morning, Monday May 22, we took the 9am Great Bridge Lock opening with one other boat. The water level never changes more than 18” up or down (my kind of lock!) and today’s change was even less. Easy in, tie up and out in no time. Next stop was Top Rack Marina (SM 7) for cheap and easy fuel-up.

 

Green light on right- OK to enter- watch out for the goose!

The northern gates (exit) start to open. 15 mins from the first photo of entering and on our way

Between the lock (SM 12) and Mile 0 are several railroad bridges that are very high when open, but when they occasionally close (often in the morning it seems), no one fits under. These closures are announced on CH 16 and you sure better know which bridge is which; we eventually learned to make a note on our flip chart. No sooner did we get past the one at Gilmerton, and the warning came it would close “shortly”. Whew- doing well today.

Not all the fancy yachts with assorted toys are in the tropics!

 

In for an extensive spa treatment

We closed the book at Mile 0- yay! another trip logged successfully. This would be our 12th; seven years, less one RV year, for six boat cruising years.

All done with this chart book for PDQ Year 2 !!

Warship 56 pulled out from Pier 5- like we know where that is, but we had an idea- after several warning announcements. Pretty sure she’s headed south to the live fire practice zone off Camp Lejeune in Onslow Bay.

Warship 56 heads out to sea from Pier 5

She’s a good size, but looked tiny compared to the container ship who passed us both heading in.

Destination: Hampton, VA, a place we’d heard tell of many times but had only stopped for the first time last fall to hide from Hurricane Matthew. Our reservation was at Hampton Public Piers, in the heart of downtown Hampton. The only slips we’d fit into had short finger piers so we backed in. A short finger pier can mean a piling further out you have to toss a looped line over. Note to self: try to remember that in the future!!

Fenders were set, lines ready to toss but not one (we don’t use our good blues ones for this) ready for the piling. I clearly was acting like a clueless crew member, so Russ came down to do the job. Not a good idea to leave the helm, let me say that, but two guys had our lines and with virtually no wind, no harm could come.

The wind blew, the rain pelted down in buckets and in between we visited Glazed Doughnuts- bought some too!, enjoyed lunch one day and dinner the next at Venture, pondered a visit to the brewery but the walk was so far (yep like right behind us), snipped some parsley from the Boater Community Garden and chatted with dock neighbors.

Art in view. Very creative

We’d hoped to visit the fort but Mother Nature had other ideas. Guess that means another visit. 🙂 . Really love Venture- drinks, food and the service. Plus we always get a booth opposite the kitchen.

Glazed Doughnuts in Hampton VA

“Meat Za” pizza at Venture. Really yummy

 

 

Strong wind gust. Even we recorded 21 mph all protected.

The above news story caught us by surprise; buildings around us provided so much protection, and of course the wind would be stronger “out there”.

Saturday looked like an amazingly benign day to head up the coast to Cape May; a long day for sure but doable. We planned to stage 4 miles closer by leaving the marina Friday afternoon, but due to strong west winds had to stay on the western shore rather than anchor off Cape Charles which would save plenty miles.

So what’s our rush? Nothing, except someone wanting to take advantage of a perfect day. We’d miss seeing Ann & Mike in Solomons, which was a bummer, but to not do laundry with Spot and steal a sniffy kiss, well that was downright depressing! Next trip- promise!!

Beaches, boats, birds through North Carolina

When I downloaded my Sony camera every picture included at least one or more of the items in the title.  I wanted to include donuts, but although a “d” is a flipped around “b”, one donut stop wasn’t enough to earn a title spot.

All along the way from Florida we’ve spotted curious dolphins, sometimes in places we didn’t expect. Been lovely as always to see these intelligent creatures. Many are youngsters with mom and dad showing them the ways of the life aquatic. I haven’t mentioned them, but I wanted you to know they are there!

Whenever I mention places in NC we like to stop at; and there’s quite a few, Russ often remarks, “I thought you didn’t like North Carolina?”  Sigh. Yes, I still have not-so-fond memories of severe thunderstorms, very nearby tornadoes, hiding out from hurricane Sandy, going aground and fog, fog. But those are in the past- maybe the most recent event was 2013, and memories fade faster after age 50!

North Carolina has a great deal to offer boaters and cruisers and that’s just along the many miles of shoreline. Looks like this post might turn out longer than I first imagined!

First off a close encounter with a dredge. It would swing back and forth across the channel, doing a good job of allowing room for boats to pass by as they came along. We would be proceeding between the dredge and the red marker.

Dredging Phase 2 at Lockwoods Folly- room to pass? Just about.

Compare and contrast the dredging method above with the laborious dredge method below. Also note the smooth waters of the ICW versus the rougher Cape Fear River. We didn’t choose the best day to go up the Cape Fear River from Southport, NC to Carolina Beach, but the next two days looked worse and Britts is only open Friday through Sunday until Memorial Weekend. So there you have it.

One scooper-full at a time dredging- Cape fear River

We reserved and paid for a mooring ball at Carolina Beach using Dockwa but not everyone does, so Randy comes out to collect your $20, chat and offer to take trash.

Britts!! Always fresh, hot and delicious!!

Others love them too!

8pm donut run by the Coasties. They were down at the “dead end” for just long enough to visit Britts.

Mothers’ Day was warm and mostly sunny, unlike the dreary rainy day before. We had to use the dinghy dock a stone’s throw from our mooring because the small boat/dinghy dock at the south “dead end” was completely dismantled. This makes for a longer walk down to Britts and the boardwalk shops but we needed the exercise.

A stop at Britts- surprise!- but hey, these have to last us an entire year because they aren’t open when we come by in October. We walked back on the beach with smiling faces, full bellies and “happy in the sand” toes.

Clever benches- the back flips so you can sit facing either way! Beach view or boardwalk view.

Monday brought an offshore day of 80 miles to Cape Lookout which is six miles past the Beaufort, NC inlet and a pristine paradise. Some compare the water and beaches to the Bahamas, but take it from one who knows; the beaches are wide and loaded with shells, the dunes picturesque, but the water no way.

Still, the Cape has a lot to offer and if you are there during the week, you can avoid the weekend craziness.

Anchored off the abandoned CG station at Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout- looking out to the ocean – small boats fishing and a red buoy

 

The ocean facing beach is long and loaded with shells and well-worn pieces

Just some of the millions on the beach at Cape Lookout

 

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Over by the lighthouse which opens to visitors/climbers every May 16, is a ferry dock. The ferries bring people in from Beaufort using the inside route which gets regular dredging to keep it usable by the large pontoon ferries, small local boats and smaller shrimpers.

These two were just tooling around. Surprised to see they spent the night anchored at Cape Lookout

 

The creature from the Cape Lookout bight!!

Russ took an hour in the late afternoon to gently scrub the moss-y stuff off the bottoms and scrape away the few barnacles that had attached themselves. Maybe this place is more like the Bahamas than I thought!

I’m also certain I saw a huge loggerhead turtle as we headed back from the beach. They are fairly common in here but other than that one sighting we didn’t spot any others.

Small shrimper heads into the Cape from inside route. No collision- only looks that way

 

Sunset at Cape Lookout

I’m sure you have all heard the red sky saying, and if you are like me you may not know exactly what conditions are being predicted by the night or morning red. Read on and you too will be all the wiser:

Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning’? In general in mid latitudes because the prevailing winds are westerlies, storms move in from the west. A red sky at night means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow. A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.

Interesting uh?

Our next stop was close by, six miles back the way we came; head in the Beaufort inlet, catch the 10:30 Beaufort Bascule Bridge opening, hang a right and nose into a slip at Homer Smith’s Docks. You may recall this is the shrimp place. 🙂  Tony lends you his truck for errands and this baby was a new white Ford pickup; very comfy but as usual many of the bells & whistles left us baffled. We returned to find a new neighbor; Captain Bob: swordfish vessel.

Captain Bob- a good neighbor

 

Swordfish at Homer Smiths- brought in by Captain Bob and crew.

Could we purchase any swordfish? Why sure! One of the guys pulled out a partial and cut us two thick fillets. Mahi had also come in, so we bought an entire four-pounder and watched an expert filet job. That and three pounds of cleaned shrimp all for much less than we’d pay anywhere else.

Traveling Soul recommended the bus tour of historic Beaufort and it was excellent Sunny and hot though, but most wanted to sit up top anyway.

A touch of class. Double decker in Beaufort. Authentic bus from England, top removed for a better view

 

Douglas, our delightful tour guide. Originally a Maryland native, he moved south for a warmer climate

 

Grave of a young girl

Continuing north as we do this time of year, Belhaven would be our next stop. Anchor in the protected harbor, dinghy in to the public floating dinghy dock, walk one block and well what do you know? If it isn’t Spoon River.

Russ chose pretty food- Red Drum. More lovely than my swordfish selection, but mine was delicious

The day we left Belhaven would be a great travel day, except for one event; a cold front was due to sweep by and that meant chilly winds out of the north.The tricky part was that we’d be crossing the Albemarle Sound; 15 miles of water shallow enough to get rough and choppy in just a moderate wind. Foolish nomads we are, we believed the forecast which had the front coming around 3pm. Our plan was to depart early and pick up speed in the Alligator River so as to be across the Sound in time. Twenty miles in the Alligator-Pungo Canal, twenty miles in the Alligator River, fifteen across the Sound. Plus 6-8 miles on either end; very doable assuming the front doesn’t come early. Ha.

I must say we could not have timed it better, had we wanted to do the last five miles of the Alligator River and the entire Albemarle Sound in strong northerly headwinds that gave us the roughest trip, pounding like no tomorrow. Spray flew up over the flybridge but Russ couldn’t retreat to the inside helm because then he couldn’t see the pot floats which lay scattered about. Miserable I tell you. And I was down below, much warmer and drier. I haven’t felt so happy to drop the hook as I did that day.

Near Coinjock, a bald eagle surveys his domain

Our final bird photo to round out North Carolina is one we’d been hoping to spot but couldn’t recall ever seeing in this area. We crossed Currituck Sound without a pounding repeat and crossed the line into Virginia by noon.