Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Elizabeth City to Wrightsville Beach, NC.


Today we're at sea for some 30 miles to make the short run down from the Cape Fear River to Little River, SC where we'll re-enter the ICW and keep going down to Myrtle Beach. But going back to where we left off .....
Oh yeah, for those chronic complainers about the fine marina system we have at Dartmouth Yacht Club .... try docking at these every day ... and the folks here are just glad to have a marina. Water and Electricity..? Forget it!!

After leaving Elizabeth City it was back to transiting through the swamplands of North Carolina.

Man the unemployment rate down here must be very high as every day we see people out fishing ... instead of working
We passed the Coast Guard Station at Hobuken before getting into "shrimp country" and the shrimpers started lining the shores.
Passing through the Albermerle Sound to make our approach to Oriental, NC these creatures from the deep loom up over the horizon.

You can't focus all your attention on them as you also have to keep a look for the local ferries as they speed by you enroute to the communities on the Outer Banks.

As this is prime migration time for boats heading south, we decided that Oriental would be full so we found a real jewel further up the sound called River Dunes at Grace Harbour. Did I say "jewel"?? This is the nicest marina facility that we have ever docked at, at $1.50 per foot it was a real bargain.
The entrance was very small but as we approached we could see the paver stones that lined the channel.

The clubhouse was first rate as were the associated facilities such as the pool, hot tubs, spas, exercise rooms, and fantastic showers. Now this is a Marina!!
Oh yeah .... IAN!!! We found CLANCY's twin down here !!
Next stop was Swansboro, NC for an overnighter at Dudley's Marina and at $0.75 per foot you got a dock, great help from the staff, free WIFI, water and electricity. The dock wasn't so great but the hospitality more than made up for it. Just up the river there was excellent live entertainment at Casper's Marina that could be heard at the boat ... The reason ???? It was the Annual Mullet Festival !!
Next stop along the route was to be Surf City, NC which was one of our special stops on the trip south two years ago. Unfortunately, when we arrived they had gone out of business so we had to wait for the swing bridge to open at it's scheduled time before heading onwards. As you can see, the migration is really starting up.
The sites along this stretch of the river are a little odd to say the least. From the bright pink houses that are "way out there" ....
To the gian lawn ornaments .... 
The Goddess of whatever the heck it was .... 
To Smurf houses ....
We also came across this deal on a house ... too bad the lot wasn't a little cheaper.
Continuing on to Wrightsville Beach you still had to keep your eyes open for tugs and barges. The channel is very narrow and very shallow at the sides. This guy had 4 barges connected together and came right over onto our side of the channel........YEP.......! WE RAN AGROUND!!. It was only mud so we had no problem powering back up and getting into deeper water.
Our last stop for the day was an anchorage in Wrightsville Beach. We had 15 feet of water and great holding. We spent the early evening at a sports bar with friends and a great time was had by all. We all had an early evening because 6am came early for our departure and arrival at Snow's Cut before heading down the Cape Fear River to Southport .... Another Jewel.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Here's the beginning of the many quizzes you'll see in our blog this year. Some will be educational and some will be practical...... or just plain foolish.
Sooooooooooo ! ANYBODY KNOW WHAT THIS MIGHT BE???? (The answer is at the end of this post).
Meanwhile, back in Norfolk...... Some people might not realize the immensity of these aircraft carriers. Well, if you look close, the little black dot up on the corner of the deck is a fully grown adult.

Norfolk Harbour is extremely long running approx. 17 miles up the Elizabeth River. After you pass the last lift bridge you come upon this small sign and have to make a decision....... turn right and enter the Dismal Swamp Canal or go straight to run through the Virginia Cut where it is much busier. We went through the canal.

About two miles into the river you come upon the Deep Creek Lock. The Canal depth is maintained at a six foot depth by locks at each end.

At the advertised time the lockmaster opened the lock gate and we all locked through for the lift of approx. 6 feet up to the level of the canal.

20 minutes of rising we reach the level of the canal and ready ourselves for another adventure..... with a little excitement, I might add. You can see the turbulence in the lock from the incoming water.

 Upon leaving the lock we enter the Great Dismal Swamp and after about half a mile we round the corner to arrive at the first of two lift bridges. Unfortunately, the lockmaster has to close up the locks after the last boat leaves and drive up to open the bridge, so we had a bit of a wait for him.

This canal hasn't changed in over 200 years since being built. It is peaceful, beautiful and shallow. We bumped our keel on sunken logs 7 times....... but no damage done.

The banks are overgrown with vegetation.

Occasionally you meet up with an opposing boat so you just keep to the side for a safe passage....... but watch out for overhanging trees.

When we entered the lock at Deep Creek, the lockmaster told us that this was peak duckweed season. It would be like motoring over a green shag carpet.... and he was right.
Jan must have been steering here as our trail is quite straight.

WATCH 0UT FOR THOSE TREES JAN !!!! LOOK OUT.... SWOOSH.... Damn, we caught the overhead branches with our outer shroud and down came a bunch of small branches and lots of leaves. Again..... no damage done. 

I think this curious fellow was laughing at us.

Whew .... we made around that corner OK without any tree branches getting in the way. Now it's John's turn.

Ta Daaaaaaaa..... We're in North Carolina. Virginia is now in the past.

We all arrived at the Dismal Swamp Visitors Center around 3pm to spend a restful night and to get to know each other.
Here we are all rafted up at the free dock for the night.

Next morning it was off again in the mist and fog to continue our eerie trip through the swamp. 

When we arrived in Elisabeth City, Gene, from Mississippi and Ron got together and bought 5 pounds of ribs. Gene was going to teach Ron how to grill them Mississippi style........ and he was going to use his secret spices........

The smell was so good that the locals started showing up and they all got a feed of southern ribs.

Here Gene was just glowing with pride as everyone praised his effort with the ribs. 

It's a "HEAD HAMMOCK" !!!!!
On a long passage when you doze off, the head hammock prevents the whiplash effect we all get when our heads fall back. It cradles you, keeps out the noise and it's warm.
It's quick and easy to deploy and uses readily available materials.
Hey, I should patent this thing !!!
Next leg takes us down the Albemarle Sound to the Alligator River and beyond.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chesapeake City to Norfolk, Va.

Chesapeake City, as usual is one of our favourite stops. The quaint little town offers all the hospitality you would ever want. It comes with free dockage for transients and a very quiet anchorage for the overflow.
We spent two days there before heading down the Chesapeake Bay towards Annapolis and on down to Norfolk, Va.
The Chesapeake Bay lighthouses are very unique as you can see. 

I guess that when you gotta , you gotta go! Man, it's quite a drop when you flush. Hope the "thinking room" doesn't fall off when occupied.
Our trip down the bay took us to Rhode River where we had a beautifully protected anchorage for the night before heading to Deltaville, Va, This is a well protected anchorage with a very "cost effective" boat yard at the Deltaville Boating Center.

Summer has definitely arrived down here. The temperature is now steadily near 80F and the seas in the lower Chesapeake are calm and friendly as we approach Norfolk, Va.

I guess it's the same anywhere you go....... you're always going to get the inconsiderate boater who throws up a huge wake as they pass closely to your boat, This guy was pushing 60 feet in length and the wake was around 4 feet as it hit out boat. Thanks for slowing down guy!
Meanwhile, back in Norfolk, the first thing you see is the gigantic US Navy yard upon entering the Elizabeth River. You start out seeing the gigantic aircraft carriers and continue on to the missile cruisers, destroyers, and every other type of naval vessel known to man..... except submarines...... they're hiding somewhere else.

Some folks will just park anywhere..... or at any yacht club.
The battleship USS Wisconsin with all it's armourment remains on the Norfolk waterfront and can be toured for a nominal fee. Boy is that thing wide. The front end is as sharp as a knife.

This guy passed by the boat at our anchorage clearly showing all the advantages of safe boating.
Actually he was out to promote a ghost tales cruise of the harbor and drumming up potential
The Norfolk waterfront is very pretty at night.

Tomorrow it's off again down through the Dismal Swamp Canal, Turners Cut and on to Elizabeth City before crossing the Albermarle Sound and entering the Alligator River.