As I listen to the rain bouncing off the deck of the boat just over my head, and realize we are just two days from Beaufort, I feel as though we have moved into the ‘South’.
It is just something about Live Oaks, Spanish Moss, Saw Grass lining the waterway, and big tides that makes me glad to be here.
Of course anyone who brings a boat down the waterway in late November and early December in an open cockpit should have their head examined. Although it has definitely been milder than previous years, mild is a relative term.
When you start out in the morning with a hose in your hand, washing the mud off the anchor as it comes in, with a flashlight in your teeth so you can see in the dark – well you start cold and pretty much stay cold all day.
And you have to start in the dark if you plan on getting anywhere. If you are only moving an average of 6 miles an hour, if you start at dark (630) and end before dark (530) at best you run 66 miles. Usually it is more like 50 or 55 and glad to get it. Say 250 miles from DC to Norfolk in open water. Then another 540 to Beaufort SC, and you still have 700 to go to Marathon. It’s a hike for sure so you get in as many as you can if you do not want to spend half a year travelling south!
Last post we were anchored just north of Albemarle Sound which is just south of Norfolk. We motored a long day to end up just south of the Pungo River Alligator River Canal. This is a 24 mile (4 hours!) run at the end of the 18 mile south leg through the Alligator River. We anchored right at dusk and ran Goose ashore for his businesses.
We stopped by the other boat anchored near us to say hello and came to realize they were in Crisfield, MD when we went through the 70 mph storm this summer. Small world.
The next morning saw a norther passing through. With a 30mph wind behind us we flew under sail down the Pungo River, into the Pamlico River where it got a bit rough (and cold) and on up to visit Bath NC. It was only 12 miles out of the way but took a few hours and some rough water to get to a really nice sheltered anchorage. Bath is the oldest town in NC and was once the home of Blackbeard the pirate. He ended up coming home for the last time with his head cut off and hanging from the bow of a British warship that finally caught him. The little town is worth a visit!
With a dying wind we made Beaufort NC the next day where we hung out with out friends Kenny and Nancy Bock at Bock Marine for a few days before moving on south.
From Beaufort, a southbound boat hits the coast, turns to the west and follows it just inshore from the beach through Swansboro to the Camp Lejeune Marine base anchorage for the night where Shelly stepped out of the dinghy on the ramp, slipped and busted her patootie on the slippery boat ramp we had used to get ashore. Luckily bruises heal much more quickly than broken bones.
The path then winds through Wrightsville Beach and into Carolina Beach where we able to drop an anchor and actually walk the beach. The next day was a wild ride down the Cape Fear River with more 30 mph winds blowing us into Southport and back into the river system again. Down into Shallotte, Myrtle Beach, and into the Waccamaw River towards Georgetown took another two days.
It was fascinating to see the very clear mark in the woods 4 feet above normal from the recent storm and docks still,stuck up on top of pilings. A bridge tender told me the bridges were closed for 10 days and no traffic passed. This was in the middle of the fall north to south boat migration so I guess it was a mess! She also said she watched people’s docks float off down the river for days after the storm.
From Georgetown it is a short run down Winyah Bay into the back channels again, on past McClenaville SC (where the Oct Storm came ashore) and another 40 miles to Charleston.
We will be off in the morning and plan on an anchorage in a creek halfway to Beaufort for arrival on Wednesday to see who is interested in doing another golf fundraiser in the spring.
And that catches me up. And I can go back to the awesome book I am reading about the Washington State rowing team who won the Olympics in Berlin in 1936!
This is the view back towards the west heading out Washington Channel and Gangplank Marina where we stayed this fall. The Washington Monument is to the left and all the new construction for The Wharf DC is to the right.
Dropped the dinghy in the dark and took Goose in for a beach run. I could hear him running to and from but couldn’t see him! Back on the boat and underway as the sun was beginning to lighten the sky in the east. It turned into a blood red (red sky in morning – sailors take warning!) sunrise but we could not get that in the picture.
Motored all the way to St Mary’s River and up to a marina called Denis Point to wait out a blow. And blow it did. From 70 degrees it dropped to 30 and blew gusting to 45. We were snug!
Left Tuesday morning on a very cold blustery day heading out of the Potomac towards Smith Point Light where it was still blowing 30 mph with 4 ft seas; round the light turning south and tightening the sheets for the 20 mile run to Windmill Point on the Rappahannock River when the boat seemed to slow down. With that wind and surfing down the waves hitting 10 knots there was no time to check it. When we finally arrived in Deltaville, Va, cold and tired, and got into some shallow, clear water Shelly could see the crab pot line trailing behind the boat.
We were able to cut the float from behind the rudder and pull up the trap. We wonder what those four crabs were thinking all afternoon flying through the water? We let them go free and set the trap up on the local dock for someone to have. TTL the trap did not get up in the propeller! The water temp is 49! Body parts shrivel just thinking about having to go in after it!
Anchored in a very quiet cove, with stars seeming to touch the boat.
Out at daybreak to an absolutely gorgeous red dawn that burst into a beautiful (but chilly) day. Sailed/motorsailed/motored down the Chesapeake through a very quiet Norfolk and Hampton Roads and on past mile #1 of the Intracoastal Waterway. With a quick phone call our plans changed as the Dismal Swamp Canal is closed until further notice due to trees down from the fall storm.
Made our way through the lock at Great Bridge and the bridge itself (site of the first revolutionary war battle in VA – won by us!).
Up early for a quick walk in the light rain – then on 45 miles (rainy and cold the whole day) to Coinjock for fuel and another 5 miles to an anchorage for the night and a tuna steak Thanksgiving dinner!
Gotta get going early though to make it through the Albemarle Sound and Alligator River before another strong cold front pushes through this weekend.
We left Gangplank and DC at 330 this afternoon and ran down the Potomac under a foresail and engine and the outgoing tide doing about 7.5 knots past Ronald Reagan Airport, the new National Harbor, Ft. Washington and Mt Vernon before dropping an anchor by a small beach in about 8 feet of absolutely flat calm water as the sun sank in the west.
As I write there is a huge difference in our lives. From the last three months of constant noise from the other boats in the marina, the construction of 6 new huge buildings at The Wharf, the metro subway (yes you can hear it go by underground!), the planes from RR airport, and the helicopters all day from and to the White House – to absolutely quiet.
From over 50 fundraiser events at places like Walter Reed, the Pentagon, CIA, FEMA, ad nauseum with two dogs – thinking about where we have to be, when, for how long and how much time to allow for traffic – to just Goose and us and no traffic and nowhere to be.
From being tied to a dock and not moving – to living off the grid tied to the bottom with an anchor and wondering where we will end up tomorrow.
From noise noise noise to
It is awesome.
Not to say we did not enjoy what we were doing because it is an honor to be able to raise money for our veterans in need. And it is also almost a duty to help educate people who send veterans into harms way about PTS and what a service dog can do to help. They are so ignorant. (So were we 5 years ago!)
But this is the life we love and it is so great to be back.
We have the oil lamps lit for heat and light. The fresh crab cakes are on the stove and the red wine is matching nicely. A long day tomorrow should take us to Smith Creek and our favorite sea glass beach!
One of the last events this week was the Dept of Justice and we are very appreciative for Abby to invite us and show us around the building. Loretta was a little busy working on her resume and we didn’t get to see her! 14 month old SHILOH has moved to her new home after helping us for the last three months. She was a joy to have and we wish her the best.
We had fun driving up to NJ and visiting Ryan for a night (election night no less!) and meeting his friends who are starting an exciting new online company.
I think the one monument we will take with us is the Washington Monument. We saw this one every day from the boat and almost everywhere we drove. Some day we might even get to ride the broken elevator to the top!
But not this year because we are gone! The plan right now is to make our way south around Fl and go visit Ryan in St Pete Fl. But that is 1400 miles and months away so who knows?
If you follow anything we do you might have noticed we haven’t posted anything new. As an excuse, let me point to the fact we have attended over 50 events in Washington DC and surrounding areas raising funds for veterans with PTSD in need of a service dog.
We have also spent a great deal of time to help get the person and party elected that says they will do what is needed to correct some ‘mis-alignments’ in our government. Let us hope that they hold to those promises!
Now, with these successes on the record it is very exciting to be turning back south and getting back to the cruising life. We leave DC in a few days after a couple more events this week.
It rained today. It’s news as it is the first rainy day since we got here a month ago. I called a friend in Oregon to tell him I knew now what he felt like after not seeing the sun for four hours. Funny guy huh?
We are tied up at Gangplank Marina right down the street from the Jefferson Memorial and just a few blocks from the mall and life is good. We ride the bikes up just three blocks to the Fish Market for fresh seafood a couple of times a week and there are two farmers markets close by. There are some really cool places to walk and we walk or ride the dogs up to 5 times a day.
Shiloh is a 14 month old Golden Retriever who has joined us for three months to help demonstrate to these federal government employees what a Service Dogs do as we try to convince them to pledge donations to paws4vets. She is cute, lively and a good dog but has some issues making it all the way off the dock before she pees. It is a little embarrassing when she stops to pee right in front of someone’s boat just as they are arriving or leaving. That’s why I always allow Shelly to hold her leash and I take Goose.
We are getting out as much as we can to see what we have not yet seen. The Marine monument with the 32 foot tall bronze replica of raising the flag at Iwo Jima. Roosevelt Island Park out in the middle of the Potomac River with 88 acres of trails. Meridian Park in NE DC where there is a 75 ft drop in elevation and some really cool (though neglected) cascading pools and statues. This is where Le Enfant (designer of DC) laid the true North/South meridian line that all of DC is designed around.
We visited Great Falls Md where George Washington’s canal company had to build 5 locks close together to get around the 45 foot drop in the river when they built the canal from the tidal waters of the Chesapeake at DC all the way to the Ohio River to bring trade. The railroads came before they got it done but it is still an amazing feat.
And of course for work we go to events at places we would not normally be allowed. The Pentagon, CIA headquarters, Museum of Buildings, Bureau of Prisons HQ, EPA, FEMA etc. If you could only see what we see about the people running these places…
Another benefit for us this year is to watch firsthand the panic in this town as people start to realize life around here might be a little different come next January. My Make America Great Again hat is a great conversation starter to say the least.
Truthfully though, we are already talking about leaving and what is next. I am bad enough on my own, but after 35 years I think I have infected Shelly with the same yearning to be moving.
Shelly finished another one of her cool ‘sheet’ rugs. She is so talented!
Both of us are working hard on rebuilding our two websites – webwidewizards.com and miamiphillips.com – and it is a ton of work! We are attempting to organize years of content, images and video where we can get to it easily.
Plus we are always looking for more web clients and needed to update the sites for marketing.
And to finish off this post here is a video of our last day of the summer sailing around the Chesapeake. next time we go sailing it will be Thanksgiving, probably cold – and we will be heading back to Florida!
In all the years I have spent on the water, three thunderstorms within the last 30 days have gone a long way to creating real fear when the wind gets up!
Shelly and Goose especially are having some issues.
This too will pass. Yesterday, at anchor up by St Michaels on the Eastern Shore, we were watching a tstorm on the radar that looked to pass well north of us. Just like the one in Crisfield. Yea right.
We had lots of warning this time and the anchor was already down. But the wind still blew hard, sustained 45-50 mph for 15 minutes and the waves that build in that kind of wind are fairly amazing to ride out. But the boat did fine with a little help from the motor. And the night was nice and cool for sleeping with a very nice breeze coming down the hatch.
And now we sit opposite St. Michaels in another smaller creek with an afternoon breeze and crab cakes sizzling on the stovetop. Life is good.
Last week, with the heat index up around 115 every day we decided to go all the way up the Choptank River to Cambridge MD, and find an inexpensive dock to catch up on computer work and some chores that are easier on a dock.
The old watermen’s town of Cambridge has a really nice creek right up through town with a drawbridge almost every boat bigger than a dinghy has to ask for an opening.
There is an old crab factory (processing plant?) at the entrance with the coolest mural painting we have seen in a long time.
Good advertising huh?
We ended up at Generation III marina at the end of the creek. Got caught up on all the blogs we wrote for others, plus some p4p work and more. The generator heat exchanger needed a small leak repaired, which meant I needed to clean and paint while I was in there!
The masthead anchor light has not been working for awhile so we bought two mast steps. Shelly hauled me up (with the new halyards now long enough to reach the electric anchor windlass) so I could drill and tap the machine screws for the new steps. Then I could stand up on the steps and reach over the top of the mast to work on the light. Kinda scary up there! But great views…
We also found time to scarf in a piece of teak rubrail on the port side that has been bothering me for too long. With some new varnish and oil, the boat looks pretty good right now. Time to put her back on the market!
The last night in Cambridge we met a couple of guys (Larry and Doc) who shared some very nice Cuban rum and kindly bought us dinner at a local place on the water. Good stories and fun was had by all. They were headed back to Oriental NC in a little trawler and we wish them a safe voyage.
The last few days in Crisfield after the 70 mph storm were interesting. In addition to all the repairs listed in the last post, we got the shear stripe painted on the boat, and Shelly sewed a new dinghy cover that looks awesome!
The day we left – we backed the boat out of the slip and noticed a crab pot pop up beside us. That is not generally considered a good sign. The fuel dock was only about 150 feet away. I got half that distance when the rest of pot pulled up into (and wrapped around) the prop stopping the engine. Lucky for us there was not much wind so we just drifted on to the dock with some helping hands pulled the boat into a slip. I got out the old hooka dive rig and went down and cut off the blasted trap. We must have picked it up on the rudder when we came in the week previously and when we backed up it pulled right into the prop! Crap!
We ended up dragging out in the bay five separate times for the $1500 anchor and rode we lost during the storm. It is hard to believe we did not snag it with the two grapnels. On the last day as we were leaving, I used a small fishing grapnel behind the dinghy for a few hours and hooked nothing by an old pair of oilskins. Bummer.
After Crisfield we had run back across the bay to Solomons Island, rented a car and drove to Annapolis looking for used anchor chain. We ended up with 190 ft of chain from Bacon Sails and 175 feet of 5/8 rode from a craigslist poster on the Eastern shore. The anchor had to be bought new. We still have our boat and more stories to tell!
It was a short 4 hours to the Potomac River to meet a couple who will be helping us with fundraising in DC this year. First we stopped off at one of favorite anchorages in Smith Creek on the north side of the river. It is nice and quiet and has a great sea-glass-finding beach. It also has tons of blackberry bushes on the beach so we had blackberry pancakes and blackberry sorbet! Decadent!
Goose loves blackberries!
We motored across the river and up the Yeocomico River to Kinsale Yacht Harbor (not too many yachts there lol) and the Powers drove out from Fredericksburg for lunch at the one local place to eat. These towns that were once both farming hubs and the steamboat landings are slowly dying off. And back out we went after washing the boat and filling up with water.
From Kinsale back across the 5 mile wide Potomac River to Point Lookout State Park and a very small anchorage right at the mouth of the Potomac. There was a really nice beach (lots of shells) with the most sea nettles we have ever seen. It was like a breeding ground or something with nettles in big clumps of ten to fifteen. We both got stung just getting into the dinghy! It hurts!
We found these cool dried out horseshoe crab skeletons on the beaches.
From there north back across to the eastern shore and Slaughter Creek for a night, then up and into the Choptank to Cambridge for a week.
Yesterday it was out the Choptank, through Knapps Narrows drawbridge on Tilgman Island and around into the Bay again, and north and east into the Miles and Wye Rivers. It is really pretty up here with lots of history mixed in with expensive homes and boats on the water all blending together.
Plans now turn back to the Potomac and up to DC to our fall job working the Combined Federal Campaign for paws4vets. We are super excited to be able to stay this year right downtown DC in the harbor! It will make for much less road rage on my part.
The boys are both on the move. Ian is finishing up his SOC Loadmaster school in Albuquerque, and takes his E5 test today. Ryan flies back to St Pete to get his new gig with jeromeasf and friends there. Mom is having empty nest issues but we are both so proud of our boys and hope they do well so Dad doesn’t have to work as a Walmart greeter when he is 80.