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
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
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Monday, November 15, 2004
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 www.cantlers.com.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Saturday, November 13, 2004
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
Thursday, November 11, 2004
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.