Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chesapeake Bay to Oriental, NC

October 22, 2007 - Frog Mortar Creek to Gray’s Creek

Today was the big day to begin our trek south. The weather was about to change and the Dismal Swamp was getting ready to close until the water level of Lake Drummond, the feeder lake for the lock system, rises. The lake is 20 inches below normal.

We pulled anchor and headed for Gray’s Creek to enjoy a most wonderful dinner with Stan and Kaye at Lista’s restaurant, very good Tex-Mex cuisine. We enjoyed touching base one last time before heading south, and we made plans for a cruise on the Chesapeake Bay next summer. I’m already looking forward to that!

October 23, 2007 – Gray’s Creek to Solomons Island

We pulled anchor and headed for Solomons Island and what a rough ride we had this day. The winds were on the nose and the seas were 2’ to 3’, which made for a long and tiring day. Cruising into the anchorage at Solomons Island, we saw the British cement boat ‘Barbarosa’, which we’d docked with at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center on our trip north.

October 24, 2007 - Solomons Island to Reedville

North winds and following seas of 2’ to 3’ made for a much easier ride than the day before. Upon entering the channel to Reedville we encountered a thunderstorm with heavy rains and very little visibility. We took it slow and navigated safely to the anchorage. During the night the winds piped to over 30 knots and two boats drug down on us. As soon as perceived daylight was upon us we pulled anchor and headed out. The roar of the starting engine brought the other boat owners topside. You should have seen the look of surprise on their faces as they saw their boats right next to ours. We were fortunate there wasn’t a collision.

October 25, 2007 – Reedville to Salt Ponds Marina

Up bright and early to get going, we pulled anchor and left Reedville, VA. Several boats left the anchorage when we did and I must say that we both agree that we finally feel like we are ‘cruisers’ in the true sense of the word. It’s taken us awhile to get into the rhythm of this new lifestyle.

This day was a great ride surfing the swells of 3’ to 4’ we topped out at a speed of 14.5 mph! This ole girl can go – well, once in awhile. We made such good time (58.6 miles in 7 hours) that we bypassed our plotted anchorage at Mobjack Bay and went all the way to Salt Ponds Marina.

Here we hooked up with friends Rudy, Lori, Alexandra and Andrea of ‘Nevis Argo’, Ron and Debbie of ‘Dessert First’, and met more new friends, Gordon of ‘Restless’, and Debbie and Larry of ‘Spirit’. With three Victory owners together, there was much ‘Victory’ talk going on, both for the men and the women. Gordon took us shopping at a local Vietnamese market and the marina held a Halloween potluck.

October 29, 2007 – Salt Ponds Marina to Dismal Swamp Welcome Center

Today was our daughter-in-law Amy’s birthday, which made it a good omen for taking off on the next leg of the trip. We fueled up, pumped out and topped of the water tank before heading south toward Norfolk. The 2’ to 3’ seas were following and winds piped to 20 knots out of the northeast. Upon entering the James River there were many Navy ships heading out and commercial ships heading in. Whew, that kept us busy, but we still made it to the north lock of the Dismal Swamp Canal very early. Barry dropped the anchor, fired up the computer and did some work for Brad while we waited a couple hours for the 3pm lock opening. Once through the lock, we cruised to the Welcome Center, tied up with Les and Sarah of ‘Wilde Matilde’, and met George of ‘Hannah Brown’.

October 30, 2007 – Dismal Swamp Welcome Center to Elizabeth City, NC

We woke to a very foggy swamp and decided to get going about 8am to make the south lock opening at 9am. This was the last day the canal was going to be open until further notice. It was most interesting to observe the thick bright green Duck Weed seed that was coating the water at the south end of the canal. We carefully watched the engine intake because this stuff has been known to clog the filters. By 1pm we were tied up at the Elizabeth City Mariners Wharf and were headed downtown for a bite to eat.

The city welcomed all the boaters with a wine and cheese party. We met many other cruisers there that day. The docks were busy because people were pushing to get through the canal and further south before the storm. Larry and Debbie of ‘Spirit’ came through the last lock opening at 3pm. Les and Sarah of ‘Wilde Matilde’ were tied up right behind us and George of ‘Hannah Brown’ was there too.

October 31st – November 3rd - Elizabeth City

Les, Sarah, George, Larry, Debbie and we decided to stay in Elizabeth City for several days and ride out tropical storm Noel. Elizabeth City was a great place to be stranded. Halloween night George demonstrated his fabulous cooking skills and had Les, Sarah and us over for dinner. Prior to dinner we managed to down a few cold ones at a local pub. Friday night we all stayed on our boats because the storm was blowing. Winds piped to over 40 knots and the temperature dropped at night. On Saturday Larry and Debbie joined us for a trip to Farm Fresh for groceries. The store provided our transportation, which was a very nice amenity. Then Saturday night we went to the dinner-movie theatre for a nice evening of entertainment with all our new friends.

November 4, 2007 – Elizabeth City, NC to Pamlico Sound

We untied the lines, pulled away during perceived daylight, and watched the sun rise as we headed south down the Pasquotank River toward the Albemarle Sound. Once we reached the Albemarle Sound the winds were light and seas were flat. Our path took us around Roanoke Island, but we noticed at least 15 boats that came through the Virginia Cut of the ICW and headed toward the Alligator River. We anchored at Long Shoal Point around the south end of Roanoke Island after a long day, 75 miles and 11 hours. ‘Hannah Brown’ was anchored there also, so we invited George over for dinner. Barry provided the ‘Beach Cruiser Taxi Service’. During dinner the winds piped up from the southwest and the roll of the boat was most uncomfortable. Fortunately the winds clocked around to the north and the seas settled down by the time we retired for the night.

November 5, 2007 – Pamlico Sound to Whitaker Creek Yacht Harbor

As we rose in the morning we saw George taking off for Ocracoke and we took off just minutes later for Oriental. Weather conditions allowed us to enjoy a nice motor sail across the Pamlico Sound and the boat made 6 – 7 knots the entire trip. Well, things do happen even when things are going good. So, the engine decided to stop just 3 miles from our destination. Low and behold, we were out of fuel! Thank goodness for that towing insurance. Tow Boat US brought us 5 gallons of fuel and in less than 30 minutes total time we were on our way to the marina. Needless to say, the first thing we did upon arrival was to fuel up. Our boat was tucked away in this small dock space that just 4 months ago we probably wouldn’t have attempted to enter. Guess our skill set is improving!

We decided to stay an extra day to do some laundry, clean the boat, and get some exercise. The marina lent us some bicycles and we spent the afternoon cruising around the city of Oriental.

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