July 27, 2008
We woke up to another beautiful day today, calm and clear skies. Gerry went for a walk and found a 7-11 and got us each coffe, Donuts and Croissants – delicious! We waited until 8am to get a response from Deep Creek Lock, and were told teh bridge will only open at 9am. So here we sit and wait. From here it’s only about 10 miles to our marina, Waterside marina in Norfolk. We will check in, pack up and clear teh boat, wash her down, and get a Cab to the Airport to pick up our rental. We expect to be in Jersey City about 7pm, but it’s tentative at this stage.
My plan is to gather a crew of about 4 to come back down in about 10 days to sail the last leg up Chespaeake bay and up to Jersey City.
July 26, 2008
We headed up the Albemarle Sound and to Elizabeth City, where we hoped to stock up again, but even with about 5 maqrinas, Elizabeth City only had one where we could get Fuel, and when we arrived, the entrance out of the Canal was aboyt 25 feet wide, hardly visible, and I had my doubts about going in, but with Gerry’s encouragement, we slowly made our way up the narrow river, bumping bottom a few times, but we went very slowly, and tied up to the very first slip available.
A Fuel truck came down to the boat and helped us out, and we were able to stock up on beer, Ice and Oil for the engine – the engine is a real oil guzzler, using about 1/2 can of oil per day – probably needs new oil rings. We got out of the slip after getting stuck in the mud a little, and made our way back up the large river. We had to go through lots of twists and turns down the Paquotank River, and then through a long straight stretch of man-made canal to the fist Lock, whcih we made just in time for teh last opening of the day at 3:30pm. There already was a small catamaran in the Lock, Whiskers, so we had to wait about 1/2 hour in a shallow, narrow canal. When the waters started pumping out of the Lock, it caused such a strong current that Santana was literally pushed sideway almost into the river bank, and I had to revf the engine to fight against it. We had to turn around, and in the process the rudder took quite a hit on the bank, but seems to be OK.
Eventually the lock gate was opened for us, and we were let in. After closing the gate behind us, we tied up to the side, and the waters started rushing in. It took only about 15 minutes to fill the lock, the water rising about 10 feet. The northern gate then opened, and we motored out up to teh bascule bridge, passing Whiskers that were tied up waiting for the bridge to ope, We both passed through the bridge and continued up the Dismal Swamp canal. I was worried about the depth, since it was very borderline, and we hit quite a few snags, probably dead trees lying on the bottom, and I had to keep the speed down to about 4 knots in case we hit anything. We did hit bottom a number of times, and also some snags, but nothing too serious, but it was pretty nerve-racking nevertheless.
At about 8:30 we arrived at the next Lock, and were able to tie up at a Dock right next to the bascule bridge (free mooring!), and next to a Mexican Restaurant called La Familia, where we had a great dinner. In the morning we get out of teh Canal, and sail the last 10 miles or so to Norfolk, where I have already made a reservation for Santana for about 10 days. Gerry and I will be picking up a rental car and driving back to Jersey City in the afternoon.
July 25, 2008
Off to anothe early start, we entererd the narrow cut and covered a few miles before crossing the Pamlico river, then along the Pungo River, then a long stretch of beautiful canal – almost felt like we were sailing up the Amazon!
Then into the Alligator river – not that we say any alligators, and at about 6pm, after about 80 miles, we anchored in a nice shallow area before tackling another stretch of open water. We anchored close to a number of Duck Hides, ion stilts in teh middle of the wide open river! Tonight we had to make a decision about which of the two alternate route to take – both about the same distance.
One was to the right, through long narrow stretches via Coinjock, and looked a little boring, vs. the otgehr across open stretches of water, and eventually going down the Great Dismal Swamp, whcih was recently opened, and had two locks we would have to get through – we both wanted to have that experience, so we chose that route.
July 24, 2008
We have been in very isolated areas the poast few days, with no cell-phone covergae, so I’ve not been able to update teh Blog for a few days now.
We had a very calm evening on the anchorage – a little rain during the night. We got off to an early start, and headed up the narrow canals in the Bogue Sound. About Noon we were approaching Morehead City, and decided we needed to stock up provisions, so we called one of the Marinas, Gulf Dock, and headed up the shallow passage, just deep enough at high tide tgo get us in. We had to wait about 1/2 hour for 2 other bpats top make room for us, and then tied up to get fuel and Ice. While Gerry stayed on the boat, I took a Taxi to Lowes Grocvery store about 3 miles away, and stocked up on provisions. I had to call the cab again to collect me. WE got away at about 3, having spent about 3 hours.
Soon we were into teh Neuse River, a broad expanse of water, but quite deep, whcih was a nice change. We had the awning up, and the Auto Pilot working, so the sail was pleasant and we could keep out of the sun.
At nightfall we anchored in a quiet spot jsu before we had to enter another narrow channel. We’d had a good day, covering about 85 mile sin spite of teh 3-hour side-trip.
July 23, 2008
We slept in a little today – I woke with a start at 6am, woke Gerry, and we immediatley left the restaurant dock. Winds were from behind, and the current as well, so we were A OK. At about 7 we were moving along happily in the channel (as per the chart), and a depth of around 10ft, when I suddently noticed the depth dropping down drastically – I put the engine in neutral immedialtey, but next thing we hit a sand bank (or mud pile?), and santana ducked her nose and stopped short. We were moving art around 7 knots, so no damage was done. I tried to get off but we were stuck solid. Luckiuly we were on asn incomiung tide, so we sat idle for about 1/2 hour, and I tried again, and got us off, so on we went!
Winds were strong from the SW today, so with the headsail up we were doing up to 8.2 knots over the ground. By afternoon we were getting some gusts up to 25 knots, so we listened into the weather channel, and heard there were storm warnings out for NC, warning people to take cover. A small 30ft sailboat was catching up to us, so I slowed down and asked him what was up – he was a local headed out to a nice anchorage in a lagoon up the ICW, and told us he thought the storms were all north of us, so we followed him for about 2 hours, and tonight are anchored in a nice sheltered area just past Chadwick Bay. I am still worried about strong winds maybe dragging our anchor tonight, so we’ll have to keep a watchful eye.
We covered about 65 miles today, and are now at Mile 245 – i.e. 245 miles to the start of the ICW at the top end in Virginia. At this stage I’m thinking I’ll leave the boat in Portsmouth for a week or two, get a few good sailors together for the last stretch through Chesapeake bay and up the Jersey Shore – any volunteers?
July 22, 2008
Wow, today we had a really good day. The currents and winds were with us, and we covered over 83 miles in about 14 hours. We had left at 6am in the morning, and during the day figured out how the Autopilot should be connected, so now we don’t have to stand behind the helm. The autopilot has a remote with a 10ft long cable, so you can bascially be anywhere in the cockpit and steer the boat.
The northern end of SC is really beautiful – Myrtle Beach has some amazing scenery – tall forests on either side of a deep channel – it felt almost like the everglades.
As we got into NC things changed – the waters are a lot shallower, and we got stuck in the mud three times, twice where the chart says there should be good depth, and once when we were trying to anchor for the night. We gave up on that idea, but luckily for us approaching Shallotte we passed by Betty’s Restaurant, with a sign inviting us to Dock, whcih we duly did, had a nice meal, and spent the night on their dock, for free!
July 21, 2008
I was awake at 3:30am, and busy catching up with my Website work until about 5:30. Woke Gerry, had coffee, and tried to figure out how to unwrap teh anchor from around our keel. After some manouvering, it came loose, and we pulled up the anchor and headed out.
Being short-handed, we had to figure out a way to make life easier, so we put up the awning over the boom whcih gave shade to at least one of us sitting in the cockpit. We also brought up the laptop running the GPS positioning software and placed it on a cushion in the cockpit so the helmsman could see the screen, making it easier to stay in the channel.
It was another slow, hot day, with no wind to help us on our way, and currents against us.
We made it up to Georgetown, and wanted to get some fuel, but were so tuckered out, we decided to stay overnight. This also gave us a chance to stock up on Ice, fuek, and some much needed provisions. On the way up the narrow channel to the marina we got stuck in the mud, and had to wiggle out by reversing.
After a nice shower, we walked down the road to a nice restaurant, and had a solid steak dinner, and a few drinks. The owner of the place was sitting at the bar, and within the space of about 1/2 hour we knew all about his homes, boats, and his net worth. Then back to the boat for a good night;s sleep – I think I was out by about 9pm.
July 20, 2008
We left the dock early – just after 6am, and continued our wearty way up the ICW. It was a bklistering hot day – no wind, hot sun, and we took turns going below to get a break.
We did see beautiful scenery, large mansions with private docks stretching out 200m yeards to the water, with boats hanging up in the air. We also saw plenty of Dolphin, especially cows with calves. This must be a sopawning ground for them, and it’s alos a sign the water quality must be pretty good.
At one point the engine oil pressure started falling, so we quickly dropped anchor in a bend, and topped up the oil, whcih was low. After that all was fine.
We had to pass through quite a few bridges, and learnt a valuable lesson at the 1st one today – teh Guide Book gives the calling channels as 16 and 13, but we tried for about an hour to call the operator to request an opening. Eventually someone took pity on us, and told us to use Channel 9, and we got a response and were let through. Apparently ALL bridges in SC use channel 9.
Bob had told me he wanted to leave early, and asked to be dropped off in Charleston. We weren’t sure if we could get through all the bridges to get to teh city cemnter, but passed by a Dockaminium with an open dock, so we did a quick drop without even docking.
Gerry and I cointinued into teh night, and well past Charleston found a nice little inlet where we dropped anchor form the night.
July 19, 2008
I woke early this morning and checked the anchors, and I noticed the stern anchor was very slack, so I started hauling it in, and pretty soon had the anchor aboard. By the Bob and Gerry were both up, and as the boat started to swing, I politely asked them to raise the forward anchor as well, before the lead line got entangled with the keel – the tide was pushing strongly in an opposite direction to the wind, which would cause the boat to take up strange angles relative to the anchor.
This was our 4th day of contrary winds from the NE and North, making sailing into the wind out in the ocean very uncomfortable, so we continued on our merry way up the ICW. Pretty soon we came up on the Isle of Hope Marina along the ICW, and requested to tie up for fuel and water. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take a quick shower. Talking to the Dockmaster ,,,, coincidentally there is a young man from South Africa working on the Dock with the same last name as me – Nico du Plooy. We never got to meet him since he was off duty. It’s a small world!
Soon we were past Savannah, and heading into South Carolina. Much more activity, with some really beautiful LARGE homes along the ICW. The first low bridge we came to had to open for us by request, and according to the guide book we had to call them on VHF channel 16 or 13, but for a whole hour we could get no response, and sat waiting at anchor in the channel. Eventually someone took pity on us and told us to use channel 9, and we immediately got a response, and were let through.
About midday, we were rounding a slow bend where the charts were showing depths of around 15ft, and the boat suddenly started slowing down. My first thought was that we had lost the propellor, but Gerry shouted "we’ve run aground!". Bob immedialtey put the engine in reverse, and we backed completey around, sailing the opposite direction. Fortunately we had also put up the #4 Jib sail to help us along, and the wind was from behind after the turn, so we were able to pull the boat out of the mud, and turned the boat and headed back up into deeper waters.
We needed to refuel again and restock our provisions, and noticed there were a few Marinas up ahead in Beaufort, so I started phoning ahead, but the main marina was fully booked due to a Water Festival that was on for the weekend. Fortunately we were able to get a spot at a nearer Marina, the Port Royal Landing Marina, a family-run Marina with VERY friendly help from the owners and their family.
We designated Gerry to do the laundry while Bob and I went shopping, after all taking a nice hot shower. We went to the Marina restaurant for another nice dinner, and tonight we are docked at the fuel dock, and will get an early start in the morning.
July 18, 2008
We took off early this morning (after 7am) and headed up the Intracoastal. We were still nervous about the engine, but after about an hour we started to relax. So far we are making good progress – about 40 miles after 6 hours, and we still have about 6 hours to go!
Later entry …. we really did well today – covered over 80 miles, and went well into the night. What struck us most was the complete absence of human signs - we hardly saw any houses, only passed about 5 boats the whole day – the areas is very secluded aand unpopulated. Reminds me a lot of the Florida everglades, flat and marshy on either side of the creeks. We also saw lots of Dolphins cavorting around everywhere.
At about 10pm, we dropped anchor, in fact both anchors, fore and aft, to keep our position in the strong tidal currents in the ICW. We had a good nights rest – I woke a couple times to check the anchors, but we were fine.