October--Visit Michigan Friends, Attend Boat Shows, Visit Old Cruising Friends, Meet New Cruising Friends and Start the Journey South of Chesapeake Bay
When planning our sailing adventure, we set 3 milestones. Milestone #1 was to arrive in New York City by the first part of September---completed early. Milestone #2 was to arrive in Annapolis the first part of October---again, Mission Accomplished!
Annapolis was full of cruisers bound for Florida, Bahamas or the Caribbean. DISCOVERY stayed in Weems Creek. The United States Naval Academy (USNA) has about a dozen mooring balls in Weems Creek they use to secure their smaller vessels during hurricanes. When the USNA isn't using them, cruisers use them. We were lucky enough to get one! During the boat show cruisers who stayed in the two most popular creeks, Spa and Back, had to deal with strong winds that resulted in several boats dragging anchor. Those of you reading this log who have anchored their boat know what it is like to drag anchor in a crowded anchorage in the middle of the night. Those of you who don't know what it is like---trust me, it is not fun! Annapolis enacted a new law that fines vessels that drag anchor $175.00 for not being in control of their vessel! We did not have to worry about DISCOVERY when we were out and about because she was secured to a mooring designed for hurricane winds.
Every Wednesday, cruisers in Annapolis meet for breakfast at Chick and Ruth's Delly (yes, I spelled that correctly). We attended 3 of these gatherings running into cruisers we had previously met on the Hudson or in Long Island Sound. We also met new cruisers going to the Bahamas. Everyone wants to share their experiences and make recommendation regarding their favorite spots to visit. Chick and Ruth's Delly has a long tradition of requesting its patrons at 8:30 AM to stand and recite The Pledge of Allegiance!
Ron and Jackie Baden, friends from Kalamazoo, attended the Sailboat Show on Thursday and Friday. After the boat show, all of us attended the "Caribbean 1500 Racers' Party". Carl participated in this race from Norfolk, VA to Tortolla (British Virgin Island) in 2002. Carl wanted to visit with sailors who had completed the race in 2002 and those who will be participating this year. While Carl hob-nobbed with the 1500 participants--Ron, Jackie and I enjoyed the beverages and appetizers. Later we went back to DISCOVERY for dinner and conversation. Carl and I were anxious to find out what boats Ron and Jackie were interested in and of course we wanted to hear news from Kalamazoo. Friday, the four of us attended the Sailboat Show. Oh, did it rain. In fact, it was the start of a week of rain. I found all kinds of gear that I wanted (some I actually needed) while Carl looked at new equipment---we need additional refrigeration and perhaps a wind generator to provide additional electrical power. While at the show, Ron received a phone call from his boss with instructions to go to Ireland earlier than planned so the Badens had to leave Annapolis Friday night rather than Saturday late morning as planned. Before leaving for Washington DC to catch their flight in the morning----Ron and Jackie took us out for dinner to celebrate my birthday (early). We went to a new restaurant, Rockfish. The celebration was excellent....good food, good background music and good friends.
Below is a picture of Ron, Jackie, Carl and I eating at Rockfish in Easport, Maryland
Visited with Russ and Robin Barneveld, friends from Grand Rapids who attended the boat show. Annapolis was a gathering point for several Saga owners. Saga Owners were invited to a wine and cheese party sponsored by the manufacturer. Also the Saga owners got together for dinner one night.
Pam and Brian McLenithan, friends from Lansing, attended the Powerboat Show (held one week after the Sailboat Show). Pam and Brian stayed in a hotel. Brian called to let us know about their arrival and let us know they were staying at the "Hotel From Hell". The four of us went to the Powerboat Show. Brian fell in love with a Katy-Krogen trawler (I don't think I have the correct spelling). There was one boat at this show that caught our eye---a 40 foot Nordhaven trawler. Of course, we are not ready to move from a sailboat to a trawler....yet.. Pam and Brian lent us their car on Saturday morning while they went to the show for the second day. The four of us met up early afternoon. We planned to drive over to their hotel to watch the Spartan football game. When we arrived, I was surprised. "The hotel from Hell" was worse than I expected from Pam's description. For some reason, the cable TV could not pick up ABC so we did not get to watch the football game. The hotel maintenance guy brought in 2 other TVs but we still could not get ABC. Probably a good thing because the Spartans lost. Sunday, we drove across the Bay Bridge to St. Michaels where we visited the Maritime Museum.
Below are two pictures. The first is Pam and I fishing. The second picture is Brian and Pam fishing.
Yes, we love Annapolis but it was great to finally get underway once again on October 17. DISCOVERY had a great sail down the Chesapeake Bay to Solomons Island (still in Maryland on the Patuxent River). The following day we sailed again to Jackson Creek (Deltaville, VA) which has an interesting approach.....you can almost shake the hands of people standing on the beach as you pass by! We made it in the harbor without a problem but ran aground twice on our way out......the difference was we entered at high tide and tried to leave at low tide. The bottom is sand so you can plow your way through but "we hate touching bottom"!
From Jackson Creek we motor-sailed to Hampton Roads. Historically...Hampton Roads, is the site of the famous Monitor and Merrimac naval battle of 1862. Currently it is home to the world's largest naval base. As we went into harbor we heard over the radio Naval Warships calling out that they were escorting an Aircraft Carrier---a 1500 yard security zone will be enforced (warned that they will shoot if necessary). As we looked behind us, there was the Warship and not far behind the Warship was the carrier. Surprisingly, they had to verbally warn a couple sailboats to get out of the way! We anchored in a cove by Old Point Comfort where the US Army occupies Fort Monroe. While at anchor, we again heard a radio call from another Warship escorting a second carrier. Another two hours passed and we heard a third call from a Warship escorting a submarine. We were in awe at the size of the nuclear submarine as it passed by Old Point Comfort. That evening, Arnie and Bev Myrseth from SCANDIA, joined us for dinner. The four of us had a wonderful dinner followed by a discussion of how to hide from Hurricane Wilma. By the way, Bev and Arnie were caught by Hurricane Isabel that hit Annapolis in 2002----they removed all sails, biminis and dodger to reduce windage, tied the boat to a city mooring after signing papers to relieve the city of any damage and went to a hotel room. Their boat rode out the wind and surge without a problem.
Below is our escort into Hampton Roads.
The next day, SCANDIA and DISCOVERY motored from Hampton to Norfolk past the naval aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, warships and submarines (keeping our distance of course). At Norfolk, we enter the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). SCANDIA decided to take the Virginia Cut (reasoning--less overhead trees should Wilma hit the area hard) while DISCOVERY followed the Dismal Swamp route (reasoning---further inland so there should be less wind and the locks will block any surge).
The Dismal Swamp Canal is the oldest continually operating canal in the US. Runaway slaves used the swamp as a refuge. The canal became a "prize of war" during the Civil War. It is interesting to read about the Battle of South Mills.....the battle for the Dismal Swamp. Historically, the rebel forces had to withdraw because they ran low on ammunition but the Union forces did not pursue because they were unaccustomed to the oppressive heat! In the end, the canal fell into Union hands and was used to transport goods from Norfolk south. The Swamp's water is coffee colored---the claim is that this water is unusually pure, preserved by tannic acids from juniper, gum and cypress trees. Bacteria supposedly can not grow in the water---so in the days before refrigeration, water from the Swamp was a prized commodity on sailing ships. It was put in kegs and stayed fresh for a long time. Yes, there are also claims of how the water if regularly drunk could prevent illness and promote long life! We did not try to drink it.
DISCOVERY stayed at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center two nights along with about a dozen other boats watching the track of Hurricane Wilma. Here we met Tom and Doris (EXIT STRATEGY) and April and Dean (APRIL FIRST). Tom and Doris have been cruising the Bahamas and Carribean for several years so they had lots of advice regarding where to go and what to bring. April and Dean are from Cheybogan, Michigan.----this is their first year cruising the east coast and are also bound for the Bahamas. An interesting note about April......she was delivered in her Grandparents' farm house by her Grandmother on April 1. April's Father was not present. Her Mom named her Lisa Marie.When April's Father came home to his new baby girl, he immediately left for the courthouse. At the courthouse (without telling his wife) he changed the baby's name. Her birth certificate has Lisa crossed out and April hand written above it. He said any girl born on April 1 must be named April! Oh yeah, we also met a couple on LAURA LYNN.....can't remember their names but the husband grew up in Kalamazoo! Hurricane Wilma was still slowly tracking in the Carribean with some predicitions that the storm would hit Cape Hatteras so EXIT STRATEGY, APRIL FIRST and DISCOVERY decided to move further south along the canal to a more secure area with fewer trees. The three boats tied up to a steel wall between a bascule bridge and the lock at South Mills. The bridge and lock do not open after 3:30 PM so on October 24th, when Wilma passed the coast of North Carolina, the 3 boats tied lines across the channel using our anchors to secure them. Early in the morning, we could hear the wind at the top of the mast as Wilma passed by on the coast but no wind or wave action against the hull. All of us were so proud of our preparations. In the morning, the lock master came to take pictures of our boats to send to the Legislature to demonstrate the value of the canal and how boaters use it to hid from storms!
Tom, Doris, April, Dean and Carl planned a surprise birthday party for me the night of October 25th (one day early). April baked a cake. We got together to play Railroad Dominos.....which we did after they sang the birthday song and gave me cards and gifts. What a great time.
Below is a picture of Carl, Dean, April, Doris and Tom at South Mills Lock.
On October 26, we finally left the Dismal Swamp. Our next destination was Elizabeth City---"The Harbor of Hospitality". Elizabeth City provides courtesy dockage for cruisers. Wow.....a free dock. Shortly after you tie up, you are approached by Fred Fearing who is driving a golf cart. Fred is in his late 80s and is the founder of the Rose Buddies. In his distinctive southern accent he asks the women "Please select a rose as beautiful as you." followed by an invitation to a wine and cheese party that evening sponsored by the Rose Buddies. Fred has been doing this since 1983. The golf cart Fred uses was provided by Willard Scott, the NBC weatherman. At the wine and cheese party, April told Fred that it was my birthday so Fred and all the cruisers (about 80 people) sang the birthday song to me. After the party, Tom, Doris, April, Dean, Carl and I went to a bar for dinner. As we were leaving the bar, I noticed a couple sitting at the end of the bar alone.....they looked like cruisers so I went over to strike up a conversation. I noticed the man's ballcap with the name "KILISA". I had been watching for this boat. When I was in ND right before we leaving on our cruise, I read a family history book from Sarles---a town I lived in when I was in the 3rd and 4th grade. In the family history book, I read about one of my 3rd/4th grade classmates, Richard Hackett, who currently lives in Solomons Island, MD and cruises to the Bahamas almost every year. When I read it, I made note of the boat's name and decided to watch for it. So I ask the guy, "Are you Richard Hackett?" He looked a little apprehensive and then said "Yes". I then told him who I was--- that I attended school with him in the 3rd and 4th grade. We were all amazed that two kids from the prairie who had not seen each other since 1960 would run into one another cruising. My birthday was such an exciting day!
From Elizabeth City we crossed the Albemarle Sound. It is important to cross the Albemarle Sound in good weather. The waters are relatively shallow so a strong wind stirs the water into a short, nasty chop. Also the Alligator River Swing Bridge will not open in winds greater than 30 knots. When we crossed the Albemarle Sound the winds were light so it was an easy crossing. Anchored that night at Deep Point next to KILISA----inivted Richard and Carole over for drinks.
Our next stretch was a long, cold, windy, wet one. We traveled 61 nautical miles from Deep Point on the Alligator River, through the Pungo Canal, crossing the Pamilco Sound to the Neuse River where we anchored at Broad Creek. When we dropped anchor in Broad Creek, Carl was so cold he was shaking. Yes, it was a miserable day. I warmed up some soup, baked some biscuits, fed the captain and sent him to bed. I guess I should have made chicken soup instead of beef soup because Carl came down with a horrible cold.
From Broad Creek we motored to Beaufort, North Carolina. We were in Beaufort for 5 days......Carl was sick and stayed in bed most of the time. KILISA anchored next to us---Richard and Carole picked me up in the dinghy so I could do the tourist thing in town.. Ran into Saga Owners, Dick and Pat Peebles, from HANANIAH in Beaufort. Doug and Marianne Taylor, who alsoown the Saga, CLOUDSPLITTER were also in the area so CLOUDSPLITTER, HANANIAH and DISCOVERY started making plans to sail on the outside on Wednesday (November 2).
We are amazed how many people have adopted the crusing lifestyle.. Many have retired from work early, some have sold their homes while others have rented their home......all to cruise. In so many ways, cruising is about the people. We have met so many neat people who share a common goal.....cruising on a sailboat or a trawler (have not met any big powerboat people).
This ends the log for October. Will write about sailing with HANANIAH and CLOUDSPLITTER next month!