Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Typical ICW view
The ICW is made up of connected rivers and land cuts. The land cuts can be
many miles long. This is the Alligator-Pungo Canal. It looks like this for
more than 20 miles - almost perfectly straight with nothing anywhere for
We're on our way to Belhaven, NC and should be there by around 3:30 to
anchor for the night. We had an "event" this morning at the mouth of the
Alligator River where we grounded to a halt in 5.5 feet of water. It was
pretty rotten for 5 minutes until we wiggled off. I plan on doing a full
analysis of this tonight with chart clippings and will make a posting about
Monday, October 30, 2006
Great Bridge lock
I had intended to take pictures of each bridge for the first 20 miles of the ICW. Then we got to Great Bridge lock. This is a lock that separates the tidal ocean waters from Norfolk from the Intracoastal Waterway.
We pulled into the lock and secured ourselves against the wall. There were about 8 other boats in the lock with us. The lock is timed to Great Bridge, a bridge just to the south of the lock. The doors of the lock closed and the water rose about 2 feet. The forward gates opened but we were not instructed to leave the lock. We all just sat there. About 10 minutes later we were informed that Great Bridge had malfunctioned and could not open. We were stuck.
It took two hours of waiting until someone must have come with a big enough hammer to get the bridge to work. This made for a very complex and long day. The next two bridges have restricted openings and required careful timing to get through so we could still get to Coinjock today. I couldn't take time to take pictures of the remaining bridges or make the postings.
We got through the bridges and barely got to Coinjock. It was after dark when we finally got to Midway Marina. Coinjock is right after a very annoying section of the ICW through Currituck Sound where the water gets very shallow at times. A sailboat in front of us grounded completely. They got off and we guided them through the remaining 10 miles of the sound. We've been through this section four other times and it has never been fun. It is ten times worse in total darkness.
We got to the marina, slipped against the wall, and filled our fuel tanks. Coinjock is one of those places with very good fuel prices. I paid $2.10 per gallon. It's great to go cruising near a major national election! We didn't need fuel at this point but it is best to leave the tanks full over the months that the boat will sit in New Bern.
We're tired. It was a long day although it was a beautiful 75 degree, sunny day. We were on the flybridge throughout the entire passage. Tomorrow we'll leave at sunrise to get to Belhaven - another long day.
Gilmerton and Norfolk/Southern RR bridge
Jordan lift brige
Bridges, bridges, bridges
The beginning of the ICW is filled with bridges that have to be opened for
us to pass. I'll try to document the bridges that we encounter today.
This is the N&PBC RR lift brige with the Jordan lift bridge in the
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Everyone knows it's windy...
Another windy day in Norfolk. We could have gone with the 30% of the other
boats that left this morning. It just didn't make any sense to leave in 30
knot winds when everything is clearing tomorrow (our limit is 25 knots and
there really are 30 knot winds today). Current conditions in North
Carolina show that it is calm there with the calmness moving overnight to
this area and the Chesapeake.
We had excellent sushi and Chinese food at a restaurant right next to our
boat last night. Karen says we have too much meat left and we can't go back
again tonight. She doesn't know that I spotted a Ben & Jerry's in this same
center. Let her try and stop me from going there after dinner!
We're doing some small projects and goofing off all day. The bridges open
at 8:30 am tomorrow and we should be there waiting. We've met three other
boats leaving tomorrow and we'll make a little convoy along the ICW
from here. Anyone have a CB radio?
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The final routes to New Bern
Norfolk is the starting point of the official part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW weaves completely within the coastline from Norfolk to Miami allowing boats to stay away from any bad ocean weather. The ICW has its own set of issues too but it is generally safer than going offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.
The route to Coinjock is only 50 miles but includes many bridges with restricted opening times. There is also one lock that opens hourly. All of this makes the trip take much longer. Fuel prices in Coinjock are pretty good. We'll fill our tanks there in preparation for keeping them filled during the boat's stay in New Bern.
Coinjock to Belhaven is about 70 nm and is a fairly long day. We'll anchor behind the breakwater of the town of Belhaven and grill out for the last time during this cruise. It's a nice quiet spot - we've anchored there before.
Belhaven to New Bern is about 60 nm. We'll depart the ICW about 20 miles from New Bern and take the Neuse River up to the marina where aCappella will spend the next few months.
Windy in Norfolk
We made it to Waterside Marina in Norfolk, Virginia in a windy downpouring
of rain. We tied up the boat, connected power and water, and took two hours
to dry off and warm up. There was a lot of cold rain.
It's too windy to go anywhere today. The marina is full. We're being pushed
against the dock by strong winds. We have 6 fenders out to protect the boat.
As long as we're here, we walked for miles around the town. There are a
variety of shopping malls, restaurants, Navy and ship services, and even
We'll leave for Coinjock, NC in the morning if the weather clears. Right
now, there's no space in any marinas there because everyone there is
waiting to see what tomorrow's weather will be like too. It's like we're
all a bunch of dominoes working our way down the eastern coast.
Friday, October 27, 2006
It was suposed to be nice for the next few days. The 3 am forecast changed
all of that. There will now be strong and dangerous winds on Saturday and
possibly Sunday. High winds on the ICW cause some bridges to stop opening.
It's a mess.
We left Solomons before sunrise to try to get as far as we could. It's been
2-3 foot waves with rain all day. There's nothing to take a picture of -
just endless hours of watching the gray water outside through windshield
wipers while following the instruments on the helm.
Our plan is to get to a marina in Norfolk. It's really the safest thing
given the bad weather expected. We've never been to Norfolk either so it
will be fun to explore it. We'll probably stay all day tomorrow after
arriving after sunset tonight. It will make this a 100 nautical mile day
which is long, especially in the Fall when the days are shorter.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Well, the winds never died down yesterday. We hung out out at anchor on the
Tred Avon River. We hadn't watched TV in a month and it was a good chance
to catch up on world changes.
Today we steamed to Solomons. It was calm enough although Tucker didn't
like it until we turned down the bay with following seas. Solomons has more
trawlers (boats like ours) than any other place we've been to. We took down
the dinghy and motored all around the thousands of boats here. Tucker spent
all of his time watching the water go by from the dinghy bow. He literally
hangs over the boat to get closer to the water. He's done this since he was
Tonight we're taking the dinghy to go to a restaurant called Stoney's. Then
starting tomorrow we'll get serious about heading for the ICW and North
Carolina. This will probably be our last night in Maryland for this cruise.
It all went by so quickly.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The most difficult boating maneuver
We left the well-protected Cambridge Creek at 7:30 am. There were small
craft advisories being issued by NOAA for 3 foot waves and 10-15 kt winds
gusting to 25 kts. As soon as we hit the Choptank River the wind meter
started showing 30-35 kts of true wind with gusts to 40. How can NOAA be so
wrong so often? I'd rather see a report that said, "it'll be windy today
but we have no idea how bad it might get."
After an hour of this nasty, choppy weather, we perfectly executed the most
difficult of boating maneuvers: the 180 degree turn. It isn't difficult in
a mechanical sense - it's difficult in an emotional one. The turn was
actually only 135 degrees anyway.
We're anchored in a protected spot on the Tred Avon River just outside
Oxford, MD. Even anchored here in this cove, the wind is sustained at 20
We'll leave for Solomons in the afternoon if the winds die down otherwise
we're here for the night.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Electronics all fixed...
FedEx delivered our new TrackVision board this morning and by 11:00 am, we
had our full DirecTV capabilities back and working. A small fix to a cable
last night stopped the radar resetting we had experienced for the last
year. These Mid-Shore Electronics guys fixed all of this and only billed me
for 2.5 hours of time. I had to argue with them because they weren't going
to charge me for staying at their dock (and using their electricity) for
three nights. I actually had to demand that they charge me more!
It's been very windy so it's been nice to be at a dock. Now that everything
is fixed, we'll leave in the morning.
Monday, October 23, 2006
We've been having some minor electronics problems with our KVH TV dome and
our Raymarine radar. Mid-Shore Electronics came highly recommended to fix
these things. We're at their dock and Sam has been getting everything
debugged. We're waiting on a FedEx delivery for a part tomorrow.
Coincident with that, my nephew Adam is looking at colleges and is
scheduled to see one here on the eastern shore today. Robie and Mike came
along and they all slept on the boat last night. If Adam is more willing to
wash the boat next time, we'll give him a warmer place to sleep...
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Crossing the Bay Bridge
We've only been north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge until this morning. The
brige is a long one and spans the bay between Annapolis and Kent Island to
the eastern shore. We left the Magothy River anchorage early to give us
more exploration time in Cambridge this afternoon.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
We're anchored on Sillery Bay, tucked behind Dobbins Island on the Magothy
River. This is all just north of the Chesapeake Bay bridge and Annapolis.
It's a beautiful Saturday so there were thousands of boats out all around
us today and we're anchored among a dozen other boats.
When we're anchored, I've been testing some new software that implements an
anchor alarm on a cell phone. If we move just far enough away from our
initial position taking into account swing angle, GPS offset, etc., the
phone starts making noise. Karen is getting a little tired of hearing the
exact number of feet that we currently are from the anchor.
Right now we're 134 feet away with 150 feet of chain out. I figured you
wanted to know.
Friday, October 20, 2006
"Tonight is my favorite night of the entire year," a Chestertown shopkeeper
told us this afternoon. This evening all of the offices, shops, banks, and
churches opened up to serve food and display wildlife art especially wood
carvings of birds. We snooped around all of the exhibits and found some
decoys that we like. We'll make a quick pass through the town again
tomorrow and hopeully leave without too much damage to my Visa card.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
An overview of where we've been
We have another two weeks of exploring the Chesapeake before we'll leave the boat in New Bern for a few months and eventually pick up again and head for the Bahamas.
Twelve more miles up the Chester River is Chestertown. The town is full of
historic homes, buildings and shops. We've come for the Wildlife Exhibition
that starts tomorrow. The show specializes in duck and bird carvings. The
brochure says that there are retriever demonstrations too. Tucker would
certainly like to meet some of the pro's.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Afternoon sun on Langford Creek
It was a spectacular day. 75 degrees, sunny, light breeze. Perfect cruising
weather. We left Baltimore, crossed the bay, and are now anchored on a cove
on Langford Creek off the Chester River. Geese fly in formation all around
us squalking to announce the setting sun. The "Cruising the Chesapeake"
book gave this area 5 stars out of 5. I think it could use a couple more.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Since it's supposed to rain all day, we decided to stay at the Baltimore
marina for another day. After walking around town (breakfast at Jimmy's)
we got some DVD's at BestBuy to watch with Tucker back on the boat.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Touring the Patapsco
Karen's parents came out to the marina in Baltimore and we toured the
Baltimore harbor and surrounding areas. It's a pretty nice day until we
turned against the wind!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Eat Bertha's Mussels
It's a treat to pull into a large city by boat. There's always activity and
excitement. It's even nicer when it's coupled with getting together with
long term friends. DJ met us outside the marina right by Baltimore's Inner
Harbor. From there we walked a few blocks to Bertha's Mussels, a well known
seafood restaurant. We had a great time catching up with the present and
remembering the past.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Bodkin Creek grill
We love being on a mooring or at anchor. It's different than being in a
marina. We've only been at marinas for 2 nights over the past 20 days
although that is about to change. We'll have to stay at a marina in
Baltimore and it makes sense to stay at marinas in St. Michaels and
Chestertown. For now, being at anchor on Bodkin Creek means we can grill
some of that meat we picked up at the Amish market yesterday.
Friday, October 13, 2006
The mooring next to us has the cutest 30' pilothouse ketch motorsailer on
it. We both really like this boat. It is a Fisher 30 and was built in
England in 1976.
We were directed onto one of the larger moorings from Georgetown Yacht
Basin. "These are 400 pound moorings - they'll hold you," said Ivan, the
dockmaster. Now I own three moorings in Castine. The two for aCappella have
5,000 and 10,000 pound stones on them. 400 pounds didn't seem very large
but it was dead calm six miles up the river in Georgetown.
Needless to say, we experienced wind gusts of 40-45 MPH just after dark.
The boat swung around and waves developed around us and it was quite an
event. Thankfully, the mooring didn't move but I was wondering for a
Another launch into town for Tucker this morning. We walked a mile or so to
Galena and found a new Amish market called Ripples. It isn't in any of the
guidebooks and is an incredible find for cruisers. They had the best meats
and vegtables we'd ever seen. We lugged back 4 bags of goods.
Tonight we're going to the Granary for dinner. It's one of those things you
have to do when you come here.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Karen and Tucker dance on the bow as we finally reach the headwaters of the
Chesapeake. Oncoming sailboats pass us with a wide berth.
Bridges on the C&D
The C&D Canal is a small commercial passageway between the Delaware Bay and
the Chesapeake Bay. There are big bridges and an occasional ship to make
We called ahead to Georgetown Yacht Basin to find out about their moorings.
The current push we got on the Delaware will allow us to get to
Georgetown, MD earlier so we figured we'd grab a mooring and go into town
in the morning. Tucker will enjoy knowing that they have their own launch
service and that dogs are welcome.
It's always gray on the Delaware Bay
That rhymes. Maybe the sun comes out but every time we've been here, it's
been gray and rainy. Rain is forecast for later in the morning.
We're just outside the ship channel. There are tugs, tankers, and container
ships visible all day (and recreational boats). We track them on our radar
using its MARPA mode constantly. It's like a video game (but you only get
The bay here has current all the way to the top and across to the
Chesapeake via the C&D Canal. We've lucked out and will have a favorable
push all day. We'd like to stay on the Sassafras River to start our
Chesapeake explorations by the end of the day.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Cape May and fuel
Once again, very rough seas. This time it was bad in the Atlantic City
inlet out to the ocean and then the entire way to Cape May. It's only a 35
mile trip so we were willing to put up with the discomfort for a few hours.
We would have turned back if we had to put more miles under the keel today
- it wasn't fun.
We're now at Utsch's - one of our favorite marinas in the US. They are
super friendly and love dogs. When you arrive they give you a basket of
wine, baked goods, local information, and other assorted gifts. They are
reasonably priced and we always come here. Many marinas throughout the
coast could learn a lesson from Utsch's.
In addition to charging up everything with real shore power, we're filling
up on fuel and filling our water tanks. We've been away from water for 13
days and we're 3/4 down.
Fuel prices in New Jersey are always pretty good. The pump shows $2.29 per
gallon and I was able to get another $0.10 discount for quantity. We took
We're off to walk Tucker around the area then a dinner at the local
restaurant. We should touch the Chesapeake Bay waters tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Atlantic City is one of the most colorful anchorages that we go to. This is
the sixth time that we've anchored in just about the same place.
Down the Jersey coast
It's a wonderful morning off the New Jersey coast - 70 degrees, bright sun,
and a light breeze behind us. This is the first time we can pilot for an
extended period of time from the flybridge.
We're on our way to Atlantic City to anchor for the night. We then have
reservations at a Cape May marina for fuel and one night. With a little
weather luck, we'll be on the upper Chesapeake this weekend.
Monday, October 09, 2006
We've had enough
The sun is directly in our eyes. The wind has picked up to 25 kts and the
waves are now over 6 feet and coming directly at us. All of this is opposite to
NOAA's latest marine weather release of 45 minutes ago. We're changing our
plans to anchor around Sandy Hook, NJ tonight. It feels like we're giving
up but it's the right thing to do. We'll make it to Cape May in a few more
lat: 40 degrees 31 minutes N
lon: 73 degrees 16 minutes W
Thinking about ships
In a couple of hours we'll start to cross 6 lanes of shipping channels
to/from New York. Although we haven't seen a ship all day, that will change
soon. These ships travel fast and are obviously dangerous. We'll go through
most of the lanes after dark.
The seas have calmed slightly. Karen wants to evaluate pulling into Sandy
Hook, NJ instead of going on if there's not more of a reduction in waves.
We'll face that between 5:00 and sunset.
The seas are odd. The big ones are coming from behind (following) but there
is enough wind against us to create choppy waves coming towards us on top
of the larger waves. The net result is that it's been bumpy.
The seas are still bouncy at 11:00 am. We passed our main turn around point
and decided to push ahead. It's still a little rougher than we like (the
picture doesn't do it justice) but the forcast calls for better conditions.
There is a good chance that we would have turned around if not for that.
The 4-6 foot seas are not terrible but it would be hard to go like this for
21 more hours.
Karen has taken over the helm and I'm going to try to sleep for a couple of
hours. We've found that it is best to catch up on sleep early in the
passage. We're now on a 3-hours-on/3-hours-off schedule.
South of Montauk
We just passed south of Montauk heading offshore on our overnight passage
to Cape May. It's a little rough right now although all indications are for
conditions to subside in about 3 more hours. We have a "turn back" decision
to make in 19 more miles at about 10:30 am (2 hours from now).
Of course, Tucker has assumed his offshore position.
If we don't make a posting from land by Tuesday at noon, something is
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Planning an overnight...
I don't care who you are. Doing an overnight passage in a cruising boat is
scary. We've done our share of them in the past - every one of them is different and
every one of them has issues.
We walked around Block Island all afternoon. Lots of tee shirt shops,
fudge, ice cream parlors, etc. While doing this we've been weighing the
possibility of going overnight to Cape May. On one hand, we'd be just one
day away from the Chesapeake. The problem is that the weather forecast is
right at our wave height limit. Sure, we could take 5-6 footers for a
couple of hours. But what about 18 hours of it? And of course, 12 of them
will be in the dark although the moon is almost full and visible through
95% of the night. There are many things to consider..
Right now we're planning to go and have written down the details of the
passage. We'll check the weather in the morning to make a final go/no-go
decision. If we go, we have to be moving by 6:30 am in order for the timing
thru the shipping channels to work out safely.
Finally. We were out early. It was a cold night - 40 degrees. There was a
sea-smoke type of fog coating the surface of the water. We experienced 2-4
foot following seas just as predicted. As we crossed from Massachusetts to
Rhode Island, the thermometer popped up to 70 degrees with sunny, bright
skies. We'd earned this one.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Last day in Marion (?)
Another day in...Marion. It better be the last. Buzzards Bay was calm
enough today but it was too rough west of there on the Rhode Island Sound
and the Block Island Sound.
We saw our friends Paul and Annette (it's a long story that started when I
dove on their boat three years ago in Maine to free some snagged lobster
pots). We also walked into town and got some last minute food things at
the General Store - we might be at anchor for the next few days and we
realized that we needed hot chocolate. Finally we did more boat projects -
rebedded a railing that was never quite installed properly and cleaned and
waxed every inch of the heads and showers. The boat has never been so
clean or in such good shape.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Still in Marion
We keep telling ourselves that it's better to wait for acceptable weather
than venture out into something uncomfortable or even dangerous. Still,
it's hard to not go.
We're putting this extra time to use by working on projects that we planned
to do later. At a calmer moment in the morning I went diving to clean the
props, shafts, rudders, and check on everything. The bottom looked great
and is now clean of marine growth. Tucker came 1/2 step away from diving
in with me. I could hear him whining while I was under water.
We might be able to leave on Sunday. Maybe. It's a bad sign that we're
starting to look at local real estate listings here...
Thursday, October 05, 2006
As the wind dies and we approach the strong current part of the tide cycle,
boats start swinging differently. With 1,200 moorings in this harbor, they
are packed tightly requiring the fine art of fending off.
We'll be in this tide cycle again at about 4:00 am and unless the wind is
less than 10 kts or greater than 10 kts, we'll face this same situation
Gale force winds last night and this morning are keeping us in Marion for
another day. This means one thing - it's laundry time.
We have a washing machine and dryer on board but the dryer takes a lot of
power. If the wind is going to keep us here, by golly, we're going to use
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Another town, another water taxi
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Marion & Buzzards Bay
It definitely becomes warmer as you leave the Cape Cod Canal and enter
Buzzards Bay. Once entering Marion is was obvious that no one told them it
was October. All of their boats are still in the water and it is pretty
crowded. This is an uncommon New England scene this time of year.
True to form with our cruising so far, the weather got really rough as we
were departing the canal. 30 kts of wind with 4-7 ft waves on our nose
greeted us and pushed us around.
The weather outlook is bad for the remainder of the week. Then again, when
you have no schedule to keep, you're already at your destination. We'll
uncover something here...
Cape Cod Canal
Finally a nice morning of weather. We left Salem and are on the Cape Cod
Canal headed for the Marion mooring field.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Another day in Salem due to big seas. It's a nice Fall day on land and we
did tourist things - eating at Reds, exploring Pickering Wharf, and
learning about witches. The Salem Witch Museum had a nice exhibit and tour
of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
The bad weather should clear tonight and we hope to leave before breakfast
Another day in Salem
Small craft advisories and rough seas kept us another day in Salem. Back
on the water taxi for some tennis ball chasing at Salem Common.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Salem Water Taxi
Places with larger harbors have launch services that pick you up at your
boat and bring you into town. Salem has Salem Water Taxi and Tucker loves
it. He can't believe that boats come right up and let him get on for a
ride. It's one of his most favorite parts of exploring other places.
We walked all around Salem. October is definitely their month an we saw
our share of witches and goblins. After dropping Tucker back off on the
boat, Karen and I spent the afternoon at the Peabody Essex Museum, a
beautiful facility of marine and art exhibits. It was a very high quality
place and interesting. We saw many Fitz Hugh Lane paintings - more than I
We're now back on the boat. It's been a rainy day with more storms
forecast for tonight. We might have to stay another day if the winds don't
diminish - it's nasty out there now. Weather like this is the reason that
you should never have a fixed schedule while cruising.