Boating Videos: Expert information before you need it!
|Pride of Baltimore with Annapolis in Background|
Usually the Customs and Border Patrol office is closed on weekends. Fortunately for us, the 3 cruise ships we followed in had to be cleared by customs, so when we phoned they said, “Come on down.” We did and were cleared in a matter of minutes.
I have two traditions. When I get to the Bahamas, I have a cracked conch sandwich and a cold beer. When I return to North America, I have a cheeseburger and a cold beer. And some people say I don’t have traditions.
I had never really thought of Cape Canaveral as a destination before, but on seeing the size of the canal, the shoreside activities, I will return here. We found the nearest Publix grocery store and stocked up on supplies we had not been able to get in the Bahamas - like a big Porterhouse steak. Mary loves ribeye and I love a New York Strip - so we each get what we want.
We cleaned and tidied the boat and listened to the chatter on ICW and I mean chatter. For those who run the ICW with the constant - “Can I pass you on the port side,” and “Which is the deep side of the channel?”, on channel 16 please put your VHF on low frequency when talking to a boat near you. Many of the rest of us need a little peace.
We left Cape Canaveral to sail overnight sail Fernandina Beach, FL. The Space Shuttle was slated to land after being delayed by chance of rain on Sunday.
First scheduled for 0730, exactly the time we were to be off the end of the runway, the shuttle ended coming down around 0930. We looked for the shuttle but were apparently looking too far north, as it came around to the south to land into the northern breeze. We heard the double sonic boom as it descended into the Cape, but did not see the landing.
Our plan was to see if we could make some time on our trip north by not following the windy ICW. As it turns out, we made a wise decision, as we listened to the boats running aground on the InterCoastal all day.
We set up the bunk in the main cabin, so we were close enough to be able to assist in trimming the sails or identify a passing ship. Not having our friends with their AIS (Automatic Identification System) made our diligence in watching for other boats all that more important. The good news is we didn’t hit anyone, and no one hit us.
We arrived at Fernandina Beach in the mid-afternoon, went to the town dock - fueled, showered and then took a mooring ball for the night.
The hierarchy for overnight accommodation on a boat from least expensive to most are: anchor, mooring ball, dock and hotel. We never used the last one. The first one, usually means more work and less sleep but costs nothing. After a night sail, we prefer a mooring ball because, for the most part, they are well attached to the earth. If not, we take a dock and get off the boat and wander around a bit. Since Hudson was securely attached on deck, we did our wandering then settled in on the ball for a grilled Porterhouse Steak, baked potatoes and grilled sweet potato. Mmmmm.
The next morning we headed out to repeat our performance and sailed overnight sail to Charleston, SC. Again, the weather was fabulous We prepared meals underway and sailed up the long channel into Charleston late in next the morning.
Charleston is beautiful city and they have maintained / restored the downtown beautifully.
People we talked with spoke highly of their city and in particular of their mayor who was working to bring in new business such as the cruise lines that had just started. It was fabulous to hear such pride.
We docked at the City Marina that had been renovated to accommodate transients, many of whom were mega yachts. Sojourn took her place in the back row among the more common boats, but we were made to feel welcome by the staff and well taken care of. We rented a car and went north to visit my brother and his family and escaped the 3 days of rain slated for the coast.
We debated staying inside (the ICW) and heard the first boat run aground first thing in the morning and headed outside to overnight to Cape Fear, NC.
We were getting to be old hands at this and we quickly settled into our rhythm. Cape Fear extends a long way into the ocean, so it is shorter to take the ICW from Cape Fear to Wrightsville Beach, NC. We anchored
Once again, we headed out at first light but this time inside to Morehead City, NC. This is the magical city that all Canadians have to be above for insurance reasons, because Hurricanes start below there on June 1.
A boater we met in the Bahamas said, “We are really all just trawlers, since we rarely get to sail, especially when trying to make distance.” It’s true. We motored north in the ICW.
We use three information sources, four if you count the electronic charts. We use the Waterway Guide, Skipper Bob’s and the ICW chartbook. We really wanted to anchor out for the night and two anchorages were identified - Spooner's Creek and Peletier Creek. Notes said that Spooner's Creek was developing but there was still good anchorage. Not when we got there.
New condos, homes and accompanying docks crowded the narrow waterway that must have been a fabulous anchorage in its day. What a shame. Progress?
We bypassed the second anchorage as it was getting towards sunset and we did not want to have to navigate Morehead City in the dark. We followed the well-marked channel up and around a small ‘spoil island’. This is a man made island from dredge material piled high. Greenery and trees sprout and before you know it, there is a beach and protection from the wind. We found an inexpensive docking at a small condo complex that had a great shower. Taking a shower on a boat requires a little bit of contortion, so we take advantage of any shore facility with unlimited hot water.
From here on in we stayed inside until we do the coast of New Jersey. We headed into the interior of North Carolina, across the Pamlico Sound, up the Pamlico River.
We found a great anchorage up the Eastham Creek just south of a small town that supports a large shrimping fleet. We selected the anchorage carefully in the really soft mud, in 6 feet of water (we draw 4’11”). We set the anchor between two crab pot floats that were a reasonable distance apart. Most of them were within 10’ of each other.
We dropped back on about 60 feet of rode. That is excessive for the depth, but the bottom was so soft, we wanted more weight on the bottom to prevent dragging.
We left sufficient room for the shrimp boats to go out in the morning, and they did - at 3am. We also hung a lamp at our stern in addition to our masthead anchor light, so the captains of the shrimp boats did not have to guess where the back of our boat was.
We slept well and were away at first light to conquer the Pungo River, the Pungo-Alligator Canal and finally up the Alligator River. The Alligator River is where we wrapped our dockline in the prop heading south - causing a lot of problems, resulting in me having to dive in water that was residence to a 14’ alligator.
This trip went beautifully. In fact, we arrived at the Alligator River Bridge with 3 hours of sunlight left and the wind favouring our intended course. We headed across the Ablemarle Sound, northeast to the Virginian Cut.
There are two routes north. The Virginian Cut, the one we chose and a route to the west through the Dismal Swamp. Before the Dismal Swamp is Elizabeth City, home to US Coast Guard Search Rescue. The station was used as part of Kevin Cosner’s film The Guardian.
We reached the North River just after sunset and anchored in Broad Creek in a swamp by twilight. Then the noises started. Turns out insects and such communicate a lot. We could not believe the racket. We buttoned down all the hatches and screens as quickly as we could, before all of the swamp life formed a posse to take care of the intruders - US!
In the morning we found the boat exactly where we left it. We weighed anchor and headed up the North River. Lots of small towns until we hit Coinjock the centre of the Virginia Cut. We were not ready to stop for the night there and carried on to the Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) a place recommended by a professional captain we met on the way down. Roxie kept her own boat there as well as the yacht she maintained for a New York owner.
We had good internet and got caught up on our correspondence. We seemed to be getting connections every 3 or 4 days.
The next morning we completed the Virginia Cut arriving in Norfolk early in the afternoon. Norfolk is the beginning (and for us the end) of the ICW. We would be navigating the Chesapeake, Delaware Bay and the coast of New Jersey for the next week.
We anchored just off Hospital Point, a popular anchorage in Norfolk. VA.
|Norfolk, VA from Hospital Point Anchorage|
In the morning, as we passed by "Battleship Row", we were herded to the west side of the channel the US Coast Guard as a US submarine came into port. Battleship Row is a large exclusionary zone where US warships not at sea come for replenishing, refit and shore leave.
Just to the west side of the harbour new air craft carriers are being built.
With favourable winds, we headed out of Norfolk harbour, north to Reedsville, VA. We were actually looking at a number of places along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, but Reedsville won because that is where we were as the sun was setting. Scientific, huh? We anchored in Cockrell Creek but the Seafood company was not open.
Another early morning departure. We are definitely in passage making mode.
Winds came up out of the northwest in the late afternoon. That made Annapolis impossible for the day, so we headed across to Knaps Narrows a place we docked coming down in the fall
This time we stayed in the narrows at the Knaps Narrows Marina. Great docking rate on a river with a bit of fishing boat traffic. It settled down after dark and we had a great night’s sleep - again with good wifi.
The marina also had an in with complementary continental breakfast. We both enjoyed not having to prepare breakfast, checked our email and then headed out for Annapolis, our destination for the day before.
It was a great sail, with the wind out of the east and navigated the outer harbour with ease. We have both been to Annapolis for the boat show and other occasions, but this was the first time by water.
We elected to take a mooring ball in the harbour, forsaking the opportunity to anchor up one of the rivers that surround Annapolis, MD.
Annapolis is home the the US Naval Academy and the moorings are just of the south side of the school. There are free dinghy docks and a sailfest was taking place while we were there.
The square rigged Pride of Baltimore was front and center and took a couple of groups out. We took the photo at the top of the blog at sunset as the Pride of Baltimore docked at sunset, with the dome of the state capital in the background.
We stayed on the mooring for 2 days while we checked downtown area of Annapolis. Annapolis was where the US Congress first sat and where George Washington resigned his commission to become the first president of the United States of America.
Annapolis is a boating city, with most of the activity moved over to Eastport. We got a few boat parts to replace those lost, broken or worn out and readied for our charge up the coast.