APRIL---Abacos (Bahamas) to Deltaville, VA
Sailing and Fishing:
One of the good things about the Abacos---you can sail anytime the winds are high enough to push the boat. The Great Abaco and Little Abaco Island function like the "mainland". Off the mainland is a string of barrier islands. Between the two is the Sea of Abaco . The barrier island keep out the higher waves and swell from the Atlantic. So----when we were in the Abacos, we sailed from anchorage to anchorage.
Chris Parker, our weather forecaster, identified a 3 to 4 day weather window for boats leaving the Abacos headed for the Carolinas starting on 4/7. Tough decision--do we stay in the Abacos or head home? On the one hand, didn't want to leave the Bahamas this early because it is still cold in the Carolinas and even colder farther north. On the other hand, these weather windows don't come along very often. Left Green Turtle Cay at noon on April 7 with Charleston, SC being the ideal destination. Traveling with TILT---before we left Green Turtle we established a radio contact schedule (3 AM, 6 AM, 9 AM, Noon, 3 PM, 6 PM, 9 PM and Midnight). Motorsailed most of the way to Charleston except when the winds filled in around 11 PM Friday and stayed that way until around 6 AM on Saturday. During that period of time we sailed at 10-11 knots with a double reefed main and our small headsail. Carl had one fishing line out during daylight hours but didn't catch anything which was fine with me. I did not want to deal with cleaning fish . The Gulfstream made this a very quick trip with up to 4.9 knots of current at the axis to push us along. Carl and I have set shifts at night from 8 PM to 6 AM (3 hours on, 3 hours off, 2 hours on, 2 hours off). During the day, whoever is tired usually asks if it is ok to sleep for awhile. During the day we wore shorts and tee shirts adding a sweatshirt at night. Around 3 PM on Saturday, as we entered the Charleston Channel.......a cold front came through bringing cold temperatures with it. Had to find shoes, socks, jeans and the foul weather jackets. Arrived at the Charleston City Marina at 5 PM having covered little over 440 nautical miles in 52 hours or as Carl likes to say "Two days plus two hours".
From Charleston, SC to Deltaville, VA we were primarily in the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) which isn't about sailing. We use the ICW when conditions on the "outside" are not favorable or to our liking (usually when the wind is on our nose so we can't sail anyway). It is easy to put miles the behind us on the ICW. Did go on the outside from Wrightsville Beach, NC to Beaufort, NC when we sailed two hours and motorsailed 7 hours. Also had one fishing line out on this trip but no bites!!!!
CHARLESTON, SC---2011 marks the Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary of one of our nation's darkest times---the Civil War. It all began in Charleston Harbor! In recognition of the event, Charleston had numerous lectures (Ken Burns was one of the speakers), exhibits, concerts and tours. Oh, I wish we had arrived in Charleston a few days earlier and could have stayed a few days longer to take in some of these events. I really enjoy this type of event. Anyway, the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12 and 13, 1861 by secession forces forced the U.S. Army off the island fort after 34 hours of artillery fire. On April 12, 2011, several hundred people gathered on Charleston's Battery just before dawn much like the Charleston residents gathered 150 years ago to view the bombardment of April 12, 1861. At 4 AM, a single beam of light reached skyward from the fort and about half-hour later which is about the time of the first shots of the Civil War — there was a second beam signifying a nation torn in two. Also, a brass ensemble played somber period music entitled "When Jesus Wept." I got up (earlier than usual) to see the light beams from the fort which could be seen at the marina. Later in the morning, there was a re-enactment of the battle. Could hear the cannons firing when we were underway up the ICW. Oh, I appreciate seeing and hearing part of this event but I would have loved to participate in the entire thing.
GREAT BRIDGE, VA--Early in the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunmore---royal governor of Virginia, fled the colonial capital in Williamsburg for the safety of the British fleet. His blind support of royal interests over patriot interests made him very unpopular. Dunmore took up headquarters in Norfolk, which was a Tory Nest. In Norfolk, Dunmore tried to squash patriot ardor by destroying their farms and plantations and by seizing a number of printing presses. Dunmore planned to end all patriot activity through a well-timed military blow. Dunmore assembled a small army of British Regulars, Loyalist volunteers and runaway slaves who were promised their freedom in return for their service. The Patriot force consisted of militia and volunteers from Virginia and Maryland. Dunmore confronted the patriots at a small fortification located at the south end of a causeway over a swamp south of Norfolk at Great Bridge. Dunmore's force was met by entrenched patriot riflemen who inflicted a heavy toll. More than one hundred of Dunmore’s men were killed or wounded; only one rebel soldier was injured. The thoroughly defeated loyalist army retreated to Norfolk while Dunmore sought refuge aboard ship .A few weeks later, Dunmore ordered the shelling of Norfolk because he was ticked off about ongoing sniper fire from Norfolk. The destruction of Norfolk was nearly total from the bombardment and fires set by Patriots. With the victory at Great Bridge and the bombardment of Norfolk, British control in Virginia ended.
Cruisers' Security Alert: On April 7th, Chris Parker gave the following announcement at the beginning of his morning weather net. "Cruisers Security Alert! The Royal Bahamas Police are seeking the whereabouts of Melanie Cookson; female, 44 yrs old. . The Police are seeking her for deportation due to the theft of cash from cruising boats who have taken her on as crew. Her last known location was aboard a houseboat in Joe's Sound, Long Island. Cruisers are warned to avoid taking this person aboard their vessel. They should report her whereabouts to any Royal Bahamas Police Force office or contact Detective Miller or Superintendent Mo Evans of the George Town." The announcement was of special interest to us because of our contact with Melanie. First met Melanie on Pig Beach in Big Major Spot. She was with a guy she introduced as Mitch on the boat, CARRIE MAE. Melanie, Mitch, Carl and Chuck decided to snorkel the Thunderball Grotto together riding to the Grotto in one dinghy. When they were done snorkeling Melanie and Mitch dropped off Chuck first then dropped Carl off. However, Mitch and Melanie did not leave right away, they stayed (hanging off the back of our boat in their dinghy) for about 30 minutes while Mitch and Carl talked about boat repairs. Melanie and Mitch invited us for a "Margarita making contest" between the Captains of MISS PIGGY and CARRIE MAE. We declined the offer because of another commitment. When Melanie and Mitch left---Carl said "His name is not Mitch. Its Bob". Carl said Bob told him his name is Bob Mitchell......most people know him as Bob but for whatever reason Melanie called him Mitch. Anyway, about a week later when we were in Cambridge Cay I called TILT on the VHF Radio. Kris and Craig were in Waderick Wells headed to Big Majors and so were we so we made plans to get together at Big Majors. After that radio contact, Melanie called for DISCOVERY. Melanie asked me for a favor--could she stay with Carl and I for a few days OR would I relay a message to ANCIENT MARINER asking them if she could stay there. My response to Melanie that I would gladly relay for her! The people on ANCIENT MARINER said they would be happy to have her onboard. We saw Melanie around the Staniel Cay area between Christmas and New Years but then we moved farther south. Didn't see or hear about her until we were in Georgetown in March. Carl went to St. Francis Resort to buy some WiFi time. He said Melanie saw him and gave him a big hug. After this Security Alert I tease Carl---"Melanie wasn't happy to see you. She was just trying to pick your pocket!!!" While I may joke about this situation, it is pathetic that Melanie would steal from people who took her in when she needed a place to stay.
Bridge Woes--One of the hassles you deal with when transiting the ICW is bridges. There are fixed bridges, lift bridges, single and double bascule bridges and swing bridges. It is important to have the opening bridge schedules so that you don't have to wait too long at any given bridge. Some bridges open on the hour only, others on the hour and half hour and still others on the 1/4 and 3/4 hour with a few "on request". We had just made it through Great Bridge and tied to the seawall when we heard the Coast Guard announce that the Centerville Turnpike Bridge (just south of Great Bridge) was closed until further notice for repairs. At least a dozen boats were stuck on the southside of this bridge for 4-5 hours. By the time the Centerville Bridge was working, the boats had only an hour to get to Great Bridge before it started to get dark. What a hassle. The next day, the Gilmerton Railroad Bridge which is normally open was "stuck" in the closed position for several hours. This is the first time we had heard of bridges not operating. We had a little Bridge Woe ourselves the Monday after Easter. Arrived at the Gilmerton Bridge at 7:15 AM thinking the bridge was on request. However, the guidebook state that Gilmerton is restricted from opening from 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM. Neither Sandra or I caught that important detail. Four boats south of Gilmerton Bridge each asked the bridge tender when the next opening would be. The bridge tender told each boat the bridge came off restrictions at 8:30 AM. There must have been a shift change at 8:00 AM because at 8:30 AM when the bridge did not open and the tender was hailed it was a female who answered (at 7:15 AM it was a male tender). The female tender told us the bridge was on restriction until 9:30 AM. Chuck called her for clarification explaining we were told by the previous tender it was 8:30 AM. The bridge tender was polite and offered an apology but reminded us the restriction has been 6:30 to 9:30 AM since December, 2010. Chuck pleaded with her that we were told it was 8:30 and all four boats were wasting fuel circling the bridge and polluting the environment. Chuck asked if there could be special consideration given based on the fact that all four boats were told there was an 8:30 opening. I, of course, am monitoring this conversation the entire time. While Chuck was polite but firm, I thought he was pushing the bridge tender just a little too hard. Much to my surprise, the tender said she would contact her supervisor and then came back with the good news that she would open it. While this bridge tender made us so happy she upset the vehicular traffic. I heard cars or trucks laying on their horns as we passed through the opening!
Walkabout in the middle of the night--Wednesday night (4/27) the winds were gusting at 40 mph from the south. Our anchor has held in higher winds so we were not concerned about dragging that night. Well, at 4 AM both of us woke up because of a different sound and a heavy thump. Carl got up to check things out. He scrambled below and said "Marilyn, we dragged our anchor." I ran out to the cockpit and sure enough we were on the opposite side of the anchorage (from where we dropped the hook) close to shore with a dock on our starboard side. Could not believe we walked all the way across the anchorage and stopped when the water was too shallow to let us go any farther. I tried to turn the wheel but it was stuck. Carl kept saying "I think we lost the anchor" but he was wrong. The anchor helped keep our nose into the wind so that we "back stepped" all the way across the anchorage. The rudder came loose as soon as Carl gunned the engine--now we could maneuver. Re-anchored---the adrenaline was flowing. I laid down awhile while Carl stayed up to watch. Had to re-anchor again because we slipped back a second time Still surprised our anchor wasn't holding. Finally it dug in. Another odd thing, about 11 AM the boat next to us did the exact same thing---started sliding back across the anchorage but they caught it before going too far Earlier, Carl had taken the dinghy over to tell them about us dragging during the wee hours of the morning. The wind continued to blow so I spent most of the day on anchor watch reading. I am still amazed that we did not hit anything.
We were anchored a little farther to the left of the furthest boat in the photo. The anchor slid through the mud bottom holding our bow into the wind. DISCOVERY stopped at the dock on the bottom right side of the photo. How we never hit anything is not known. Scary!
APRIL FOOL's Day......anchored on the east side of Sugar Loaf Cay waiting for a cold front to pass. Loosely traveling with ELIORA, BLUE HEAVEN AND TILT. Each boat is at a different anchorage to ride out this cold front. We selected Sugar Loaf Cay which is just north of March Harbor because it offers protection from southwest, west and northwest wind which by the way, is all it has to offer. There are no beaches to land a dinghy on.......only upscale homes with private docks. . SCOTCH MIST is anchored here too. Stayed two nights because the northwest winds were howling after the front passed. Played Mexican Train Dominoes one night on SCOTCH MIST with Fred and Kathy. How can one game be played so many different ways? Makes it interesting to play with someone new. One round I had so many high number tiles that I needed help to count up all the dots (not my night for dominoes).
From Sugar Loaf Cay motored to Marsh Harbor to meet up with ELIORA and BLUE HEAVEN. Did not go to shore because we were in Marsh Harbor for one day the last part of March for groceries and laundry---didn't need anything. Marsh Harbor (town and anchorage) was not a pleasant place to be! Smoke from a massive brush fires on Great Abaco Island. filled the air and big pieces of ash dropped from the air to our deck. Volunteer fireman worked against dry windy conditions to control the blaze. There was an announcement on the VHF radio asking for volunteers to help fight the fire. Arlene invited Chuck, Sandra, Carl and I over to BLUE HEAVEN to help celebrate Al's birthday (Kris and Craig were invited but they were at Man-O-War Cay).Arlene made a great vegetable lasagna and also a birthday cake for Al. It was a fun evening---good food and good conversation inspite of the smoky conditions.
Al's birthday. Below is a picture of Arlene cutting the entree--lasagna and a picture of the Birthday Cake.
Next stop Man-O-War Cay which is less than 5 nautical miles from Marsh Harbor. Man-O-War Cay is an all white community with no alcohol sold or served (dry). It reminds of the Blues Brothers---Elwood ate dry, white toast. Besides being all white and dry, Man-O-War is noted for boat building. It is home of Albury Brothers Boat Builders who are also located in Florida building Albury boats for the US Market. Carl, Kris, Craig and I walked around the settlement spending most of our time walking the beach and sitting on chairs on the deck of The Sail Shop where they make expensive canvas bags and stuff. Nothing was open because it was Sunday. Ran into Chuck and Sandra during our walk. Chuck organized a Happy Hour at a the gazebo close to where we anchored. What a neat spot for Happy Hour. Look to the east---you see the Atlantic Ocean; look to the west---you see the Sea of Abaco. Doris and Tom (EXIT STRATEGY) were at the Happy Hour. Met Doris and Tom in October of 2005 at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center. Hid from Hurricane Wilma with them between the bridge and the lock at South Mills on October 23, 2005. It was good to see them again. Glen and Pam on BLUE PEARL also attended Happy Hour (met them in Lucaya this past December). Thanks Chuck for organizing this.
In the settlement at Man-O-War is a cannon with a plaque. The cannon is from USS Adirondack which was a heavy gun boat used to support the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways. A bit of the story: CSS Alabama was headed to Nassau. The government in Washington wanted to know what Alabama's intentions were. Adirondack was sent to investigate. The Bahamas was sympathetic to the South and involved in gun running and black marketering . USS Adirondack hit a reef of the northwest point of Man-O-War. The engine was disabled and eventually forced up through the engine room. USS Adirondack sank without loss of life.
Pictures taken during Happy Hour in the Man-O-War gazebo. Top left is Chuck and Sandra. Top right is Tom and Doris from EXIT STRATEGY and bottom left is Al, Tom and Glen (BLUE PEARL) discussing something!
Monday morning left Man-O-War for Matt Lowe's Cay.......another cold front. Our plan.....anchor at Matt Lowe's for protection against the south and southeast wind. Move around to Sugar Loaf Cay when the winds clock to the southwest (same plan as the cold front that passed through on April 1). TILT, BLUE HEAVEN and ELIORA all went to Treasure Cay for this front. SCOTCH MIST joined us around 3:30 PM. Again, these two anchorages only offer protection from wind.....no place to go ashore! Good time to clean the boat, read and relax.
From Sugar Loaf we sailed to Great Guana Cay. Met Kris and Craig on shore for a walk on the beach and then lunch at Grabbers. Enjoyed our last $10.00 hamburger and I had two Kalik beers. Talked about taking this 3 to 4 day weather window and head to Charleston, SC. Much discussion about "Take the bird in the hand" or wait for the "bird in the bush"??? Last year, even a 24 hour weather window was in short supply. This opportunity sounded too good so decided to leave the next morning. Called ELIORA and BLUE HEAVEN on the VF radio to let them know our plans (they were in Treasure Cay). ELIORA and BLUE HEAVEN decided they would stay in the Bahamas.
Photo on the left---waiting for our last $10.00 hamburger. By the way, the burger was excellent. On the right is my last Kalik beer for the season!
Had a good passage through the Whale Cay cut arriving at Green Turtle Cay by 9:45 AM for fuel. While the guys picked up fuel, Kris and I went into the settlement of New Plymouth for bread and a few other things. First time to Green Turtle Cay--too bad it was for just a few hours. New Plymouth has lots of shops, restaurants and at least three grocery stores. Just enough time to stroll through the Memorial Sculpture Garden with its bronze busts of persons who have played important roles in Bahamian history. The center sculpture depicts the arrival of the Loyalists from the US. Had just enough time to stroll the garden but not enough time to read about each person. There is always next time!!
Photos from the Memorial Sculpture Garden--busts of people who played important roles in Bahama's history. The last picture is a sculpture depicting the Loyalist Landing.
Below is a picture of the last Bahamian sunset.
Charleston is a great city to visit but it sucks as far as anchorages go. Went to Charleston City Marina---have to take a slip to clear Customs and Border Protection (CPB). Called CBP around 5:30 PM and waited for an agent until 9:00PM when decided to go to bed. One hour later, when both of us were in deep sleep, the phone rang. Woke up....confused as to where we were and what was going on. What alarm was ringing? No phone usage since last November so didn't recognize the noise as the phone ringing. The agent called before arriving---gave us enough time to get dressed The CPB agent verified a few things and then asked if we would like our passports stamped. Its great to be back home in the good old USA. Love traveling and love this country. Kris and Craig arrived in Charleston around 1 AM on Sunday. Later on Sunday after Kris and Craig cleared CPB, the four of us walked to the Battery and then downtown. Had a late lunch and then stopped at Ben and Jerry's for ice cream. Caught the marina shuttle back to our boats. Monday the guys went to West Marine while the girls went to Harris Teeters. Did a couple loads of laundry. Had dinner on TILT followed by a game of Sequence.
Two statues in Battery Park. The one on the left is just whimsical. The statue on the right says "To The Confederate Defenders of Charleston" meaning those that fought the Union Army at Fort Sumter.
Below are just a few of the many mansions lining the Battery. Remember, these were summer homes for the Folks who owned the plantations.
From Charleston City Marina we headed up the ICW. Cannons were firing for the Fort Sumter Re-enactment and thunder booming from a squall. Rainy, windy and cold. Wore foul weather gear to stay warm. Anchored in the North Santee River. Made some soup for dinner and had a nice quiet night.
The following day was a short one......only 4 hours on the ICW. Stopped at Thoroughfare Creek off the Waccamaw River. What a beautiful spot. My friend, Pam, would love this anchorage. We dropped the hook off a huge golden sand dune. Kris, Craig and I went to shore to walk around (Carl's allergies were getting to him so he took a Benadryl and was out for an hour or so). Years ago, some developer dug out a series of canals. Looks like the project failed. There are a few homes along the canals but mostly empty lots. After walking on land, Kris, Craig and I rode in the dinghy down the canals looking for the town "Belin" which is on the charts but does not seem to exist. Dinner on DISCOVERY followed by Sequence.
Below is DISCOVERY at anchor in Thoroughfare Creek. Sorry, Pam I did not take a picture of the sand dune (dumb on my part). The second picture shows our alternator cable problem. Picture three shows the Captain making the repair. Remember, sailing isn't all fun and games!
Ready for an early start but noticed the alternator was not working--cable connector problems. Craig had the crimping tool Carl needed to fix the problem and underway one hour later. For DISCOVERY, the next stop was Calabash Creek (TILT stopped at Barefoot Landing). Heard the Coast Guard announce the Socastee Bridge was closed for two hours for a repair so we slowed down to arrive at the next opening after the repair. Transited the "Rock Pile" at low tide. Have been through this area two or three times in the past but apparently at high tide because this is the first time the rocks that give the area its name were visible! The Rock Pile is a 19 statue mile run along the Pine Island Cut. Back in the 1930's when the Army Corp of Engineers started working on this stretch, they ran into a big problem. This section had to be blasted to remove the rock. As the rock became more and more of a problem to blast and remove......the canal became narrower and narrower. It took over 2 years to dig the Rock Pile section Until this year, never saw those scary rocks right next to the daymarks. You do NOT want to meet commercial traffic in the Rock Pile because there isn't enough room. This is at least the third time we anchored in Calabash Creek(still in SC) and the first time we noticed how fast the current runs in that creek. Interesting how different things are from year to year can be based on the tide and the current.
Photos taken while transiting the Rock Pile which looks intimidating from the cockpit of the boat.
Wanted to be in a protected anchorage for the front that on Saturday, April 16 so headed to Wrightsville Beach, NC.( NOTE: DISCOVERY was anchored at Wrightsville Beach back in November 2007 when Hurricane Noel passed offshore with 40 knot sustained winds for about 8 hours. Based on this experience we were comfortable with the holding.) The front passed without any problems. Sunday morning, met Dave and Mary (MON AMIE) for breakfast. Around noon, TILT arrived in Wrightsville. Shortly after TILT dropped anchor, Dave, Mary, Carl and I met Kris and Craig on shore. Walked to West Marine and Harris Teeter. Kris and I found a place to get our haircut (made appointments for the next morning) On Monday after our haircuts at Head to Toe (an upscale salon and spa), met the guys for lunch at Tower 7 which is a Mexican Restaurant near the beach. Invited Chuck and Sandra who arrived in the anchorage while we were at the hair salon-- they were already making lunch on the boat. Tower 7---good food and cheap beer. Spring Break in South Carolina brought lots of families to Wrightsville Beach so the town was busy. Walked to the beach where people were laying in the sun, in bathing suits while we stood around freezing with shorts and sweatshirts. Monday night, Dave & Kathy (DYAD), Jim and Bentley (SALTY PAWS) and Perry and Susan (GRACE) brought their musical instruments to the gazebo for a sing along. Brought appetizers and drinks. What a fun night.
Sing-along night at the Gazebo in Wrightsville Beach. Top left is Freckles (she can't sing but she sure is cute). Top right is Perry who plays a mean mandolin. Bottom left is "The Band" Perry kneeling on the floor, then left to right is Bentley on banjo, Jim on guitar and Dave on guitar. Bottom right is Bentley and Jim.
Left Wrightsville Beach via the Masonboro Inlet headed to Beaufort, NC. Anchored by the US Coast Guard Station just inside the inlet. Chuck and Sandra invited us over for dinne---will this be our last time together?? Chuck was considering a quick run around Hatteras to Norfolk. Over dinner, convinced Chuck to go with TILT and DISCOVERY to South River because a cold front was coming through the next afternoon/evening followed by north winds. Plus, Kris invited all of us over to TILT for homemade pizza at South River. In the morning, TILT was off at the crack of dawn . About 90 minutes later, ELIORA and DISCOVERY pulled anchor headed to the South River. The wind was piping at 30 knots plus by the time we reached the Neuse River resulting in a vigorous sail to the South River. Kris as promised made homemade pizzas (she even makes her own pizza sauce) for the gang. Played Catch Phrase after dinner.
Pictures taken during dinner on TILT. First photo is Chuck and Sandra in the cockpit before dinner. Picture two and three are Kris' fabulous pizzas.
Early the next morning, ELIORA pulled anchor at first light. Our plan was to spend a day or two relaxing in the South River. However, after looking at the extended weather forecast on Weather Underground, both TILT and DISCOVERY decided to continue north. Just before reaching Bellhaven, encountered rain and squalls. The Coast Guard announced that the Alligator Swing Bridge was closed due to high winds (does not open in winds greater than 35 knots). Happy to reach the anchorage just south of the Alligator-Pungo Canal because it was so cold. When TILT dropped anchor, Kris put the engine in reverse with no response. Carl went over to see if he could help Craig with repairs. The transmission cable was broken. Craig called the marina in Bellhaven---decided they would go back to Bellhaven in the morning. In the meantime, all three boats were invited to Happy Hour on WINDERMERE with John and Wendy. WINDERMERE is a Cape Horn 65 foot steel trawler that we met back in Big Majors last December.
The following pictures were taken on WINDERMERE at the Pungo River anchorage. Top left is Sandra and Wendy in the galley. Top right is Kris standing by the snack bar/galley island. Bottom left is John and Chuck talking in the main salon. Bottom right is Wendy and Carl talking in the pilot house.
WINDERMERE, ELIORA and DISCOVERY left the anchorage in the morning while TILT headed back to Bellhaven for repairs. Using the ICW to "make time". Overcast with northeast winds so motorsailing. Three mornings in a row, "put on my" uniform" which is foul weather bibs over shorts, socks with my Keen sandals, sweatshirt over the tee shirt and a lightweight foul weather jacket. Dropped the hook at Buck Island closing the boat up tight just to stay warm. Next morning left at first light headed for Great Bridge.
By the time we arrived in Great Bridge is was getting warm and by the afternoon it was hot (mid 80's). Felt so good to warm up. Off to the grocery store with Sandra. Purchased a ham for Easter which was the following day. Had Easter Dinner on ELIORA--ham, roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli, salad and coconut pie with whipped cream for dessert with a glass of Port. Over dinner planned out the next day's run. Decided to be in the 6:00 AM Lock so we would make the Steel Bridge by 7:00 AM (this bridge opens on the hour but does not open at 8:00 AM because of high vehicular traffic). Hurried on to the Gilmerton Bridge which we thought opened on request--misread the guidebook so we circled around for 75 minutes. This was the last opening bridge on the ICW! Made our way through Norfolk. By the Naval Base---two naval ships decided to get underway. Required to stay 500 yards away from military ships. Chuck called the first ship that backed out just as we approached, USNS Sacagewea, whose Captain said we could proceed if we maintained our speed and distance (we were closer than 500 yards). Sacagawea's Captain also said they would maintain 10 knots until they cleared the Naval Base then increase to 20 knots. Behind us, US Warship 21 backed out into the channel to make way to sea. Sandwiched between two military vessels for about 45 minutes. Sacagewea is a Lewis and Clark series cargo ship whose primary mission is to resupply the US Navy Fleet while out at sea. Warship 21 is a bad ass ship with lots of arsenal onboard.
The photos below are included to show what it is like to wait for a bridge to open. In addition to traffic, you are dealing with wind and usually a current. The picture on the left shows some of the boats behind us waiting for Great Bridge to open (WINDERMERE is on our stern port quarter). The photo on the right shows ELIORA up next to the bridge looking for enough water to turn around.
I love how Great Bridge opens so I included pictures to show how the bascule bridge appears to rock backwards.
There was lots of tug and barge traffic when we stayed at Great Bridge. Sitting in the cockpit reading when suddenly there is a huge steel wall passing by.
Top left is DISCOVERY tied to the wall at Great Bridge. Top right is a photo of Carl and his buddy Ms Freckles. Bottom left is a photo of my Easter dinner
Arrived in Deltaville on April 25 at 4:30 PM. LAST TANGO and ELIORA followed us through the narrow channel. Went over to ELIORA for a long Happy Hour knowing this was the last time we'd be together this cruising season. Have been with them off and on since December 1 (mostly on). Very sad to see them pull anchor in the morning and head to the mairna in Rock Hall. Anchored for three nights before moving to the marina for three nights. Completed chores that need to be done before going on the hard. Scheduled for a haulout on Monday, May 2.
Below is a photo of Carl cleaning the fuel tanks. A messy job. On the right is my "find". Walking around the boatyard where a boater had a table with items on it. The sign said "Everything is free except the table". Two cans of Fleets Wax is what I use on DISCOVERY. Neither can had been used. Retail value is about $22.00 per can.
Weather: Four strong, squally cold fronts---two in the Abacos and two in the US! The other fronts not worth mentioning.
Anchored east of Sugar Loaf Cay for a cold front on April 1. Did not receive a weather report that day from Chris Parker because he lost electrical power plus his primary and back-up broadcasting antenna for single side band radio was down due to a tornado that passed through Lakeland, FL. Prior to the front had showers and squalls at 3 AM, between 8 and 8:30 AM with the heaviest rain and strongest winds (35 knots) just before the front at 1 PM. on April 1. The heavy rain with the front was great for rinsing all the salt off the boat.
Squalls along the cold front on April 1.
Sat out another cold front at Matt Lowe Cay while the winds blew from the southeast and south wind. The cold front was forecasted to pass around midnight but the winds were supposed to clock to the southwest by late afternoon or early evening (which is when its time to move to Sugar Loaf Cay). Chris Parker talked about the possibility of severe thunderstorms with this front for several days. Should expect squalls to 50 knots. ELIORA, BLUE HEAVEN and TILT are over by Treasure Cay. Around 4 PM the skies turned dark, dark blue-black---sharp lightning to the west. TILT called in the VHF radio to let us know a squall had passed over them with about 20-25 knots of wind but heavy lightning. ELIORA called on the radio to tell us the squalls at passed with moderate winds. When the squall hit us, it lasted about 30 minutes with heavy lightning and strong squalls. Saw 53 knots on the wind instrument (someone in Marsh Harbor reported 55 knots) and there was a period of time that the winds were sustained at 42 to 45 knots. DISCOVERY was heeled over so far to port that the drawers started to slide out of the cabinet. When it was over, Carl said "Glad that happened during the day......at night it would have been scary." The winds clocked to the southwest after the squall and continued to the west. Moved to Sugar Loaf Cay. Shortly after we anchored at Sugar Loaf the winds were out of the south again but were not strong. The front was through shortly after dawn the next day.
Saturday, April 16 watched the storm cells roll through South and North Carolina on Weather Underground's radar. Around sunset, one big squall came through Wrightsville Beach with winds around 35 knots up to 45 knots (another boat in the anchorage saw 55 knots---there isn't time to just stare at the wind instrument so it is hard to tell how high the wind was). We had it easy compared to the havoc this storm system caused in North Carolina. A very strong cell passed south of us out at sea---it looked bad on radar and we could see the lightning and the height of the storm clouds. This storm system killed as many as 44 people over three days as it passed across the southeast US. A CNN meteorologist called the storms' impact on North Carolina "epic" because of the number of high intensity supercell tornadoes. North Carolina normally has 19 tornadoes a year and this storm had 90 tornadoes. One tornado hit Camp Lejeune which is about 30 miles northeast of Wrightsville Beach. This storm system affected Virginia---a tornado went through Deltaville. We store the boat during the summer at the Deltaville Boatyard which was about a mile or so from where the tornado ripped through town. Can't imagine the damage it would do to a boatyard! The fact that 44 people died as a result of this storm was shocking but understanding destruction that can be caused by strong storm systems was yet to come the following week.
These photos were taken to show some of the April 16 tornado damage in Deltaville.The first three photos show a brick church that was destroyed by the tornado. Some people sought refuge in the church--they were not harmed. The last shot is the house across the street from the church.
Waited for the passage of another strong, squally cold front on April 28th. Tornado Watch issued for our area from 9 AM to 9 PM. Used Weather Underground's radar to track the storm---regional radar and local radar. The squall line did not reach us until late afternoon/early evening and it was nothing (30 knots at most). We listened to CNN all day so we knew how strong the system was. Plus I read all the NOAA updates which included possibility of supercell development for southeast Virginia. Let our guard down about 7:30 PM when it appeared all the storm cells were passing south and east of us or north of us. At 8:00 PM, I checked to see if the Tornado Watch had been cancelled. Found that a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued at 7:45 PM which included Deltaville. Grabbed the Rand McNally Atlas to find all the towns referenced in the warning---New Kent, King and Queen Courthouse, West Point, Saluda, White Stone, Kilmarnock and Smith Point. From the list of town, Weather Underground's storm tracks, and a visual observation (towering clouds lighting up with pink/red background) it looked like the storm was passing to the north of us. Dodged another bullet. The warning included 60 mph winds, hail and lightning.
Squalls passing overhead while anchored outside Deltaville Marina on Jackson Creek.
This last storm system was unreal. It killed at least 342 people in six Southern states Hardest hit was Alabama with at least 254 dead. Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, and Virginia are each reporting 11 - 34 deaths. The Storm Prediction Center logged 211 preliminary reports of tornadoes between 8am EDT Wednesday and 8am Thursday. Preliminary surveys indicated at least one of the tornadoes was an EF-5 (Smithville, Mississippi) It was the deadliest single day from tornadoes since 1925 when 747 people died. Today, there are effective systems to alert us of storms. These systems probably saved many lives. As we watched for storm cells on Thursday in Deltaville, VA, I wondered where we would run if a tornado warning was issued. Leaving the boat would be hard but the right choice.
Our arrival in Deltaville marks the end of our sixth cruising season. Since leaving Pentwater in July 2005, we have traveled about 17,402 nautical miles or 20, 025 statue miles. This season we traveled 2,707 nautical miles or 3,115 statue miles. To put distance and speed on a sailboat in perspective, traveling 3,115 statue miles on DISCOVERY is like driving from Hartford, CT to Portland, OR at 7.5 mph! This past cruising season was great--sailed to different places in the Bahamas, made new friends and spent time with friends we met during the past six years. Can hardly wait for to start our seventh cruising season next fall.
May 02, 2011