Sunday, November 28, 2004


28 November, 2004. We made it all the way back up to the North Carolina Welcome Center before we were able to get orders processed and email done. Then we headed back south and anchored behind Goat Island. It was very scenic here but the wind spun us around all night and we decided to reset the anchor in another spot. In the morning, we headed back to Elizabeth City, hoping that our Thursday window to cross the Albemarle Sound with one foot waves and 5-10 mph winds would remain unchanged.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


27 November, 2004. We needed internet access to process orders so we traveled back up the Dismal Swamp Route. We tied up to the old bulkhead in the abandoned barge-loading channel just before South Mills Lock. It was very serene. A hunter came along the path next to us with his two boys. They were in full camoflauge and each of them had an expensive rifle. The younger boy had his face paint black- he was ready to kill something! We took the dinghy out to get some pictures of the boat and got a few nice shots. The morning mist was pretty cool here.

Friday, November 26, 2004


23 to 26 November, 2004. I crashed right into dock here even though I was just coasting in with the engine off. The other sailboaters there and the dockmaster, Sam, helped us tie off. This is the place we've been reading about since before we left Harbour North Marina in Maryland. Fred Fearing and his friend Joe began offering a wine and cheese party for the visiting boaters here 22 years ago. Joe passed away about 15 years ago but Fred, now 90 years old, carries on the tradition. He drives around in a golf cart donated by Willard Scott, who visited here some years ago. Another man named John arrived 16 years ago to help Fred with the tradition. The day after we arrived, the wine and cheese party ensued at precisely 4 pm. Fred doesn't like you to be late. Fred made a brief speech about 4:30 pm, telling us about the tradition of the "Rosebuddies" of which he is the original member. Joe would clip roses for the ladies on board the visiting boats, which had become cotton buds for this time of year, picked from a plantation nearby.

We met Gary and Mary on their 44 foot sailboat. Gary would mix mudslides (made from rum, not vodka because sailors drink rum) in a blender that ran on a weedeater engine. It was pretty funny to watch him pull-start it. We spent a few evenings on their boat with some of the other people we met there, having drinks and plotting courses beyond the Albemarle Sound. Gary and Mary are hoping to be in Key West, FL for New Years Eve. We'd love to meet up with them there but that looks doubtful. We also met Richard and Frances on their 50 foot sailboat. Rocky was very impressed with Richard because he thoroughly explained the reasons for the advice that he gave. We also met Lisa and Joyce who were traveling on their 36 foot sailboat. I spent a lot of time talking with Lisa who also had some great advice. Sam and Charles were another couple who we met there. All ten of us got together and had Thanksgiving dinner at The Golden Corral.

Rocky moved us over to the $15/night docks next door one night (managed by The Thornton Development Corp., behind a lawyers office) because the restaurant (Grouper's) was blasting music so loud that the bass was pounding through the hull of our boat. When he went over to ask them to turn it down, they were less than kind and even less accomodating. The following morning was a Saturday so there was noone to take our money. We got some free elctricity out of that one. Other than that, everyone we met in Elizabeth City was totally cool. Everyone wants to give you a ride since they know you came in on a boat and have no car, especially Sam, the dockmaster. The "Harbor of Hospitality" is supposed to limit your stay here for 48 hours but they've never enforced it. We were waiting out the weather in the Albemarle Sound so they were happy to accommodate us for several days. The Riverwind Health Club here offers a full days use of their shower, hot tub, sauna, steam room and indoor heated pool for $5. We took advantage of that. This might just be the friendliest place on the eastern seaboard.

Monday, November 22, 2004


22 November, 2004. This dock was directly behind a mexican restaurant and there was a Food Lion grocery store right across the street. We got full bars here for internet access and so were able to get some work done. I went a few blocks to fill one of the 6-gallon gas cans and some guy saw me struggling with the heavy gas can and gave me a ride back to the boat. We discovered that ebay decided to change their billing schedule, which they informed us of via an email sent at 1 am, indicating that a timely reply was required. At 4 am, which was apparently their definition of timely, they wanted $900 instead of the $450 which we always paid after the first of the month. If we paid them the $900, we would be broke so we decided to let the auctions run out and take care of the bill when we could. Ebay always finds a way to screw us just when things are going good. But we knew that we were heading into several hundred miles without internet access so maybe it was for the better. Besides, we're getting sick of selling the CD's even though it's relatively easy money. We had an old friend stop by and had a great time. When we left here to continue south, we crossed into North Carolina and stopped at the North Carolina Welcome Center. We had our first fire here. The rain had gotten into the cigarette lighter adapter that transferred battery power to our inverter and on to our laptop. We used up most of our aft fire extinguisher so we now need to replace that. The welcome center offers a Florida Cruising Guide which I highly recommend to anyone who stops there. A little boy there asked us if we had to jump in the water to get a shower. We should think harder about doing that after anchoring for days on end with no shower. It was much easier to find showers when we were traveling in the microbus.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


21 November, 2004. We proceeded up the Virginia Cut Route of the ICW to the free dock at the Great Bridge. The Skipper Book told us that there was a Mal-Mart two miles north but we discovered that it was actually four miles with our hand-held GPS. After spending nearly $300 on a new marine battery, a low-end 1.3 megapixel digital camera, an LED headlamp and some other necessities, we decided to cab back. The battery alone was probably 40 or 50 pounds. I met Tyler and his best friend who liked to hang out at the bench right next to our boat. We had a few beers and they eventually went out to get pizza and brought it back. This was going to be our only excursion into the Virginia Cut Route of the ICW. We planned on back-tracking and taking the Dismal Swamp Route because it was more scenic, quicker and attracted less traffic.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


20 November, 2004. We crossed the mouth of Mobjack Bay for our final day of roughing it out in the Chesapeake Bay waves. Just as we passed above the Interstate 60 Bridge Tunnel, we looked back to see a huge cargo ship coming right up on us. By this time, we were already trying to stay far outside the buoys that marked the Norfolk Naval Air Station. We didn't want to get too close to the military installation for obvious reasons but I turned toward it anyway to avoid being plowed over by the ship. In all the excitement, we forgot to turn our marine radio on which the captain of the ship, and possibly even the Naval Base was probably trying to contact us on. The ship veered starboard and we were able to put some more distance between us and the naval vessels. We counted five aircraft carriers there. It was pretty cool to see them from below. We also saw a Princess Cruise Lines Ship in dry dock.

It was very empowering when I called the bridge to request an opening and the bridge tender proceeded to lift hundreds of tons of steel just for me. All the landlubbers had to wait while I pleasure-cruised on through. You don't even need a license to drive a boat if you were born after 1972 (or something like that). We tied up at the free dock and immediately went down the street for chinese food (which we knew was nearby from the Skipper Bob book). Although there was development and docked ships right there, it was a very peaceful spot. There was a small boat ramp there that fishing boats used throughout the night and a large pavillion. We were happy to finally be out of the bay.

Friday, November 19, 2004


19 November, 2004. The longitudinal coordinates in the Skipper Bob Book for Horn Harbor were wrong but we found it easily with our chartbook and GPS. We plan to email Skipper Bob with the coorect coordinates. We anchored. The next morning, we went to a nearby marina to get gas. A very nice lady suggested that next time we stay there, they have a courtesy truck you can take into town for dinner.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


18 November, 2004. The waves and rain were a bear all day, especially as we crossed the mouth of the Potomac River. We were finally out of Maryland and into Virginia. I couldn't wait to get out of the bay. Sandy Point was easy to get to with plenty of water and just a few other boats anchored a good distance away. The boat rocked all night but in a good way which offered us a good night's sleep. It was uneventful and that was good.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


17 November, 2004. This marina was just a few hundred feet from our last anchorage. We got gas before renting the slip. The guy that pumped the gas didn't seem very happy but when we met his boss later in the day, we understood why. The facilities were great but the people here were pretty dry. This was my first experience backing into a slip and I think I did ok. They accidently cut power to our slip as I was printing invoices and weren't very apologetic about it. But we didn't mind much because we were able to take showers, do laundry, get gas and plug in to process orders. Our Skipper Bob Book indicated that there were other Skipper Bob Books available here so we bought "Marinas Along The Intracoastal Waterway." They didn't have "Cruising Comfortably On a Budget" which we also wanted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


16 November, 2004. I fought the waves all day today and couldn't see the shore for most of it. II was a nervous wreck. We arrived in the main harbor after dark but there was plenty of light coming from the businesses and marinas onshore. We dropped anchor alongside several other boats. There were several large swans swimming in the harbor and I saw a few shooting stars. Just before dawn, we realized that we had drifted a bit so we reset the anchor and watched closely from that point on. It was time to process orders and we needed to do laundry, take showers and get gas so we decided to find a nearby marina to spend the day and night at.

Monday, November 15, 2004


15 November, 2004. We decided on Rideout Creek in Whitehall Bay (on the western shore) as our next stop. The Skipper Bob Book rates each stop by Holding (for an anchor), Wind Protection, Current Flow, Wake Protection, Scenic Beauty and Ease of Shopping. This place was rated very high for everything except Scenic Beauty and Ease of Shopping. We were far more concerned with safety than scenery and shopping at this point. The current was fierce as we passed under the William Preston Lane Memorial Bridge in Annapolis on our way to Whitehall Bay. We went from 7 mph to 9.5 mph in short, harrowing bursts. We missed the turn into Rideout Creek after entering the bay so we turned around and headed back. It was already getting dark. We remembered passing a bar and restaurant with a dock so we decided stop there and get some hot food instead of searching out the anchorage in the dark. We were hoping that if we spent some money there, they might let us dock there overnight.

We both ordered the jumbo shrimp When we asked if it was possible for us to dock there overnight, they told us that it was no problem, as long as we were out of there by mid-December. The food was great and it was happy hour at the bar, with $1.63 (half price) domestic beers. Apparently, Cantler's serves the best crabs in the whole of Chesapeake Bay and is famous nationwide, winning many awards for their food and service. After dinner, Rocky had one drink at the bar with me and then went back to the boat for bed. I stayed awhile and met some of the locals. In the morning, Mr. Cantler invited us up for coffee before opening and gave us the grand tour. There were many photos on the wall of famous people who had eaten there and even more of the Cantler's Family History. There was even a world record pink spotted fish (I can't remeber what type of fish) mounted on the wall. Mr. Cantler showed us photos of his father and grandfather who had been fishing and crabbing on the bay for over 100 years. Everyone there was extremely friendly. Rocky and I were very happy that we missed Rideout Creek and ended up here. If you're interested, they have a website at

Sunday, November 14, 2004


14 November, 2004. We were monitoring the radio and learned that there was a small craft advisory for the waters ahead so we decided to end our day early and find an anchorage. Explosions from the Aberdeen Proving Ground carried across the bay all morning. A week or so earlier, Rocky had bought a book online called "Skipper Bob's Anchorages Along The Intracoastal Waterway" which provided some great information on free places to anchor and dock. We decided on Still Pond Creek, an anchorage on the eastern shore, near Betterton, MD. It was about 2 pm when we arrived. Our first 16 miles was behind us. Rocky dropped anchor and we had officially arrived at our first of many stops on our journey south to Florida. The water was very still, hence the name, and that pleased us to no end. We saw a bald eagle and a Blue Heron and there was a crescent moon in the sky. I was a little freaked out that we would be spending the night in the water with no access to shore. Of course, we had the dinghy but there was no place to dock it even if we decided to go ashore. A few beers calmed me down and we were quite pleased to be where we were. We woke up around dawn and there was a very cool mist on the water which we admired over coffee. We set out around 9:30 am.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


13 November, 2004. It was pretty scary to untie the dock lines and leave the relative safety of land for the first time. We started the engine. Rocky took the tiller and we let go of land. Almost immediately after inching away from the dock, the boat started to turn sharply in the wrong direction. The water was calm and we were at about half throttle so we immediately concluded that our 9.9 HP engine wasn't going to provide enough power to control this boat. After a short burst of panic and folly, we discovered that we were stuck in the mud. Rocky got us moving in the right direction and we rounded the corners toward the gas dock. We got stuck in the mud again but managed to power our way free and secure ourselves to the gas dock. The plan was to get gas and head out.

Jason also pumps the gas for the marina so we headed to the office to get him. He had been following the weather and convinced us that we should wait another day to leave. His houseboat had been pulled out of the water a few days earlier and he was now staying at his house in MIddletown, Delaware a few miles away. He invited us to sleep there in comfort for our last night as terrans (dirt dwellers) and we graciously accepted. We went back to the marina the following morning, got gas and headed out at about 9 am. I had learned the most important lesson of boating when Jason and I went to pick up a boat in Dundalk, near Baltimore- "Red Right Return, Red Left Leaving." I took the tiller this time and guided us away from the marina and southwest into the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal. I was pretty comfortable at the stick and we began to put some miles behind us. There was no chance of us raising sails until we were out of the bay and into warmer weather.

Friday, November 12, 2004


12 November, 2004. We bought a dinghy today. There was this very nice inflatable dinghy with a hard wood bottom and motor mount that had been in the back of the office for awhile. Jason pulled it out and assembled it. It was still brand new but it was missing the front florboard. Its retail value was $1,200 but we picked it up for $500 because of the missing floorboard. It was the perfect match for the 6 HP engine, now that we had the 9.9 HP engine for the boat. So it turns out that we paid over four times as much for the dinghy as we did for the sailboat. The dinghy serves the dual purpose of getting us to shore when we're anchored and serving as a lifeboat if the need arises. We stocked up with food and water, got a small propane stove, a compass, a depth finder, bought a $100 hand-held GPS and a $100 marine radio. We've got charts and maps and our Wilson trucker antenna is secured to the spreaders on the mast, about 30 feet above the water for our wireless internet. We're ready to untie from the dock and make our maiden voyage to the gas dock, a few hundred feet away and around a few corners.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


11 November, 2004. We raised the mast today with the help of Jason and one of the marina crew, Brian. Bryan, the marina owner's son, who was working nearby, said we looked like the guys at Iwo Jima raising the flag. I thought we looked more like the 4 Stooges. We finally got all the rigging secured and the boat took on a whole new look. And up until that point, we had been working around the mast because it was lying across the entire length of the boat and then some. When we traded the Tidewater for the Buccaneer, we were told that there were sails for it. None could be found. Jason contacted another marina in Annapolis, MD where we were able to pick up some sails that might fit our boat. We lifted a few mainsails and found one that fit and also kept a jib that we hadn't tried because it was too cold and rainy. Jason had given us everything from life preservers and raincoats to nautical charts. He saved us tons of money on necessities and we are eternally grateful to him for everything he's done for us. We were also given a 9.9 HP outboard by Bill, another sailboater at the marina. The gears were tore up but Rocky fixed it in a day. We were dreading the thought of throwing $1,500 at an outboard engine because we knew the 6 HP that we had wasn't going to cut it. Without Jason and Bill, we probably wouldn't have what we needed to set out. If you ever want a good deal on a boat, call Jason at 1-800-262-8004. Bill's website is

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


9 November, 2004. We splashed the boat today (put it in the water). It was very exciting to finally get it out of the mud and weeds and into its intended environment. We were quite pleased that it didn't begin filling with water and sink. We kept it tied up to the floating dock even though we had already paid for a week in a slip. The floating dock had electricity and water nearby so we didn't feel the need to move it. Balance is very important in a boat which we soon found out. It was a little aft-heavy, which put the through-hole where the bilge pumps out, too close to the waterline. Water would splash up into the hole and into the bilge. Rocky angled the bilge hose upward and helped to solve that problem. We also shifted more weight to the front. It was still a mess, needing paint, carpet, etc. but it was finally in the water.