Monday, May 30, 2011

Voyage to Virgina

Passage sailed out of Ocracoke at six a.m. on Friday, May 27th.  Our hopes of sailing Pamlico Sound were dashed by weak winds on the stern, so we motored and motor sailed the 58.4 nautical miles to Manteo on Roanoke Island.  On the way we passed the Bodie Island lighthouse.

We spent two nights at the Manteo Waterfront Marina.  Manteo is a beautiful village steeped in history and maritime tradition.  One block from the marina is the Maritime Museum, which celebrates the boat building tradition of the island.

The museum includes this beautiful replica of a lighthouse that once lit the southern tip of Roanoke Island.  A long boardwalk along the harbor allows everyone to soak in the nautical life and tradition of the island.  Across the street from the marina sits the Blue Moon Cafe, home of the best hamburger Sue and I have every eaten.

Across the water from the marina, a working replica of a sixteenth century English sailing ship, the Queen Elizabeth II, sits moored at a fabulous museum celebrating the life of the Indians and the settlement of the area by the English. 

Two crew members in period costume explained the workings of the ship, always staying "in character" even when talking about unrelated things such as Sue's hat clip.
The tiller of the ship is in the second cabin down, and it is controlled by a vertical rod on the deck above.

The galley is modern and spacious.

Paths in the park let to various displays, such as the early English settlement.  There reenactors demonstrated the skills used to build a life in the wilderness.

The working blacksmith building was constructed of beams squared off by axes.

Other paths led to exhibits showing how the Indians constructed their longhouses.

A completed long house could be inspected inside and out.  We also saw a 50 minute movie about the first encounters between whites and Indians in this area.  We spent a full afternoon here, and could have come back again to spend more time at the impressive indoor museum that is also on the grounds.

We learned that even the marina manager's boat fit the historic atmosphere of Manteo.  He has a meticulously restored 1969 Columbia 21 daysailer.  She really was quite beautiful.

After our fabulous visit to Manteo, we were eager to get underway on Sunday, May 29th.  We left the dock at 6:40 and motorsailed 68.1 nautical miles in a little over 11 hours, arriving at Great Bridge, Virginia at 5:45 p.m.  They do have a great looking bridge in Great Bridge.

We had hoped to tie up at the free wall on the other side of the draw bridge, but it was full.  We spent the night at the Atlantic Yacht Basin, and were rewarded with another glimpse of history.

This impressive old Trumpy yacht was being refitted in the yard.  Recognize her?

The name on the smokestack says it all.  I was really excited.  After all, US Presidents from Herbert Hoover through Ronald Reagan had conducted official business on this presidential yacht.  The 104 foot 1925 Trumpy still resides in Washington, DC, though now she is available to charter for what, I am sure, is slightly more than a modest fee.

Today is Memorial Day, Monday May 30th.  We traveled only 10.7 miles today.  Limited openings by bridges and the Great Bridge lock lengthened our journey to 2.5 hours.  We arrived at Waterside Marina in Norfolk, where we were able to pick up our mail.  We will begin our voyage up the Chesapeake Bay tomorrow, but first we will eat at Joe's.

That is, unless we decide to try one of the other restaurants right here at the marina.  We are enjoying a little bit of a heat wave, as the high for the next three days is to be about 91.  Hope that you are enjoying good weather too.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On to North Carolina

On Saturday, May 21, we departed Osprey Marina and traveled 9 hours and 45 sometimes grueling minutes to Deep Point Marina on the Cape Fear River in Southport, North Carolina.  This 58.2 nautical mile day was tough because the weekend warriors were out in their center console fishing boats demonstrating just how rude yahoos can be.  Docking next to the ferry to Bald Island was a pleasure in comparison.

We decided not to travel on Sunday, so we simply rode the current 9 nautical miles to the Carolina State Park Marina, which was recently reopened with all new docks.  Dockage was only 30 bucks, and Sue was able to replenish the fridge by walking to the Food Lion.  We enjoyed a peaceful Sunday, as we were the only boat in the whole marina, which was staffed until 10:00 p.m.  Amazing!

On Monday, May 23rd, we departed Carolina Beach, aided by a strong southerly breeze.  We negotiated a number of poorly timed restricted lift bridges to reach Dudley's Marina in Swansboro, 59.4 nautical miles later.  Dudley's is a rough marina, but was only 75 cents per foot. 

The next morning we left at 7:50 a.m. for Oriental.  We motorsailed quite a bit, but when we arrived in Oriental Harbor the free dock was full.  So we moved another 6 miles down the Neuse River and anchored in Broad Creek.  This anchorage set us up perfectly for our sail to Ocracoke.

On Wednesday, May 25th , we hauled anchor by 6:45 a.m., and 30 minutes later we were on the Neuse River under sail!  We had a great breeze until we approached Pamlico Sound.  However, after 75 minutes of sailing our speed had dropped from 6.5 knots to 3.9 knots.  So we ended up motoring the rest of the was to Silver Lake in Ocracoke Island, a distance of 34.1 nautical miles.  We found a nice dock at the National Park docks for 22.88 a night, so we were set with air conditioning in the Carolina heat.

Almost immediately upon arrival, we were made honorary members of SCOO, which meant we could attend their 4:30 happy hour.  What is SCOO?  It is the Sailing Club of Oriental.  They are a great bunch of people, and we enjoyed visiting with them through two happy hours.

Thursday was our lay day, so we did the tourist thing, which was an easy thing to do since Ocracoke is really not much more than a tourist trap.  We walked quite a bit in the morning, visiting the British Cemetery.

In addition to the graves of four British sailors who died when a German U-Boat torpedoed their warship off of Ocracoke during WW II, there are graves dating back to 1806.

After our walking tour, we enjoyed a lunch at the Anchorage Marina Grill.  We tried the grilled Spanish Mackerel sandwiches, since the fish were fresh caught.  Mackerel is pretty good, but not on a par with mahi-mahi or grouper.

After lunch we dropped 10 bucks on a golf cart to broaden our tour of the island.

Of course we had to motor out to the Ocracoke lighthouse.

An hour on the golf cart was all we needed to see most of the island. 

After happy hour with SCOO, we are preparing for our next leg, which is to Manteo on historic Roanoke Island.  Hopefully, the winds will hold, and we can sail more on Pamlico Sound tomorrow.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Headin' North

On Sunday, May 15th, we left Jekyll Harbor Marina at 7:00 a.m. and motored 61.2 nautical miles, arriving at Kilkenny Marina at 5:45.  We decided not to anchor because the spring tides around the full moon were ten feet, with low tide at minus one foot, for an eleven foot tidal spread.  Kilkenny marina has a voracious noseum population, so a/c in a closed up boat was a good idea too!  Today we fought against the current most of the time and managed to squeeze through the notoriously shallow Little Mud River at low tide.  Sometimes it is great to be in a catamaran.

Monday morning we left the dock at 7:10 and were off to Hilton Harbor Marina, arriving at 3:40 after clocking a 50.4 nautical mile day.  Fortunately, the predicted rains held off til later.  We stopped here to meet former Grand River Sailing Club friends from home, Al and Barb Breninger, whom we have known for many years.

The Breningers now live in South Carolina, and they drove us to a fine restaurant on Hilton Head Island where we enjoyed a fabulous seafood special complete with pecan pie for dessert.  We had a wonderful time, and were happy to have fit them into our hectic traveling schedule. 

Tuesday was a short day as we traveled only 19 miles to Beaufort.  We docked at the Ladies Island Marina so that we could change the oil in our Westerbeke engine.

The marina is located among the beautiful marshes of South Carolina, with interesting homes nestled against the tidal grasses.

A meticulously maintained 1936 Trumpy motor yacht shared the marina with us.

On Wednesday the 18th, we were off the dock by seven for a 42 nautical mile trip through the marshlands, enjoying the scenery and keeping the swarming green eyed fles at bay by hiding in our screen enclosure.  The biting flies are why there on no photos of the ICW marshes while we are underway.  We anchored in Church Creek, a few hours south of Charleston, by 3:00 and enjoyed a quiet night on the hook.

As you can see, we enjoyed a fabulous sunset here.

We exited Church Creek at 6:45 the next morning.  We motored right past Charleston, and ended the day anchored in Minim Creek at by 5:30, for a total day's travel of 63.3 nautical miles.  We received a lot of help from favorable tides, and closed the boat up after an excellent anchor set.  Minim Creek is the bugiest place we have stopped, with a wide variety of biting and nonbiting insects. 

We awoke to fog on Friday, May 20th, which slowed us down a little.  The decks were littered with the bodies of dead insects.  Fortunately, the biters were not out as Sue raised the anchor at 7:35.  We enjoyed the luxury of a favorable current the entire day today, bypassing Georgetown as we pushed north.  We motored through my favorite section of the ICW, the Cypress Swamps of the Waccamaw River.

After 37.1 nautical miles we stopped at Osprey Marina, located in the forest of the Waccamaw River.

We docked here to catch up on our laundry and do some boat chores like changing fuel filters.  We also discovered that the oil fill cap had popped off, and it took some time to locate it and secure it on the engine. Tomorrow we will cruise out of this incredibly beautiful forest and travel through Myrtle Beach on our way to our next state, North Carolina.  You can keep up with our travels by clicking on the Spot GPS link in the blue box on this page for a daily update of our whereabouts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cruising with the Cripple

With the understanding that the Captain wasn't to lift more than six pounds or strain on any lines, etc., Passage departed Titusville at 8:00 a.m.  We discovered that the grassy bottom from over a month in a hot marina had really slowed the boat.  Of course, the knotmeter didn't work either.  Still, we motored to Daytona Beach on a record tying day:  It was 95 degrees!  I told Sue that I was melting, so we abandoned our anchoring plans and headed for the shore power and air conditoning of Halifax Harbor Marina.  We arrived at 3:30 p.m. after traveling 42 nautical miles; and after cooling the boat, pulled the knotmeter and cleaned an unbelievable grassy growth from the paddles.  I cannot imagine what is on the bottom.  We showered, grilled and ate pork tenderloin, and went to bed early.

Day two began with a 7:05 departure.  The goal was St. Augustine, but temperatures only in the mid 80s encouraged us to stretch our day.  We really enjoyed our screened cockpit, as we were hounded by nasty green flies that reminded me of a cross between deer flies and horse flies.  I received one nasty bite while Sue was at the helm because she wanted the screen open at the helm for better vision, and of course they found their way to that opening.  I was busy with the flyswatter until it was my turn to helm.  Then the screen was closed!  We went through the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine at three and were anchored at Pine Island before five, completing a 58.4 nautical day.  A ten to fifteen knot breeze cooled the boat, and we slept like babies.

On Friday, May 13th Sue hoisted the anchor by 6:50 a.m.  There was very little breeze and temperatures rose to near 90.  In the company of our green flies, we headed north in the safety of the screen house.  We reached our original goal of Fernandina Beach at 1:30, but decided to only stop for fuel and keep going.  There was absolutely no wind, but we rode a powerful current up to Kings Point Navy base, reaching GPS speeds up to 8.6 knots.  Unfortunately, a little while later the current turned against us and the wind picked up, and we made 5 knots, eventually dropping to 4.5 knots over the bottom.  It was a good thing that we were going slow, because a nasty squall at the north end of the Cumberland River missed us by only a few miles.  What a lightning show!  We arrived at Jekyll Island at 6:40 p.m., completing 70 nautical miles.

 Our plan was to spend two nights here as a nasty front is coming through tomorrow.

We are in day two at Jekyll Harbor Marina.  I hosed the ash off the boat from the Okefenokee Swamp fire.  Sue did a load of laundry with the free tokens the marina provides for staying two days.  We borrowed the courtesy car and picked up some groceries and ice cream cones.  We barely got the screens down and isenglass enclosure up before the heavens opened big time.  Passage was powerwashed, and we listened to the thunder as it rolled across the sky.  It was nice to be at the dock enjoying this free wifi.  Tonight we will eat at the restaurant at the marina.

Early tomorrow morning we will be off.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in Business

Just one month and four days after interrupting our cruise to Ohio, we are back in Titusville and ready to continue our journey north tomorrow.

On April 9th we left "Passage" at Titusville Municipal Marina and drove a Budget ( as in breaks your budget) Rental car home, arriving on Saturday, April 9th.  We spent the weekend with my daughter Kim and son in law Jeff, who will soon be moving to Indianapolis, Indiana.  I then visited the surgeon on Thursday the 14th; and he fast tracked my hernia operation, which took place on Monday, April 18th. The following week was not much fun.  I must say that Sue did a great job of taking care of me.  Without her, I would not have been able to get out of my recliner!  After just two weeks the doctor gave me the ok to drive back to Florida, provided that I behaved myself for another four weeks.

We spent the rest of the week visiting friends and family.  I also supervised some work at the Grand River Yacht Club, but managed to behave myself and let others do the heavy lifting. We finished the week by enjoying the annual GRYC Murder Mystery Pot Luck Dinner.

On Saturday, May 7th, we loaded up another one way rental car and drove to near Columbia, South Carolina.  We were graciously hosted by longtime sailing friends Dave and Deanna Hoops. We enjoyed meeting their two cats, Ava and Roxie, toured their lovely new home, and then went out for an absolutely superb dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant.  Sue and I cherished the time we spent catching up with old friends, but departed after a breakfast of homemade scones and fresh strawberries.  We arrived in Titusville by four o'clock on Sunday.

Passage had weathered the month very well.  We moved back aboard, got the AC and refrigeration up and running, purchased supplies for the next couple of weeks, and prepped the boat.  All this took place in just two days, and we still found time for happy hour on the dock with the local liveaboards!  Because I am under doctor's orders not to strain myself, and the Admiral's orders not to do any lifting, etc., Sue did all of the heavy work. For example, she scrubbed the boat while I held the hose.  One really has to admire her spirit and tenacity.

Tomorrow we plan to leave the marina and travel to Daytona Beach.  After that, we will only have about 1900 miles to go!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Liveaboard Lucy Lost

Sue and I are saddened by the loss of Lucy, our cruising cat companion for the last sixteen years.  Lucy was struggling with what we thought was motion awareness issues.  Once a very seaworthy kitty, she was throwing up each time we moved the boat.  Two days of illness while we are temporarily home in Ohio led to the diagnosis of cancer of the stomach and associated organs.  She was not able to hold down food, and finally lost interest in eating.  On Saturday, April 30th, our kindly veterinarian convinced us that  Lucy's time with us was over.  We will miss her, and the boat and house will seem empty without her.