The Route South

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goin' To Where The Weather Suits My Clothes

The nights are getting cooler and we are starting to see some color in the leaves.  Every day we hear more geese honking through the sky, heading south. Its time for Morning Star to go too.  Cindy borrowed "Black Beauty", Calvert Marina's courtesy car (old black Mercedes) for a final trip to the grocery store and I spent the better part of a day in the engine room changing fluids and filters.  Now, just as soon as the weather breaks we will be out of here.

Sunday October 16, 2011 - Randy's birthday
The alarm went off at its customary 6:30 but we were already awake.  After a quick bowl of cereal we each took a cup of coffee to the pilot house and started the pre-departure ritual.  Start the engine - check the depth sounder - start the chart plotter and bring the GPS on line - check to see that the running lights are all on - turn the inverter on - unhook the power cord, roll it up and stow it - roll up and stow the water hose.  After a brief discussion of the undocking procedure, we untied the dock lines and we are away by 0700.  The log book shows that we passed Drum Point at 0722 and Cedar Point at 0750.  Now we are south-bound in the Chesapeake.  By 1000 we are abeam Point Lookout, the northern side of the Potomac River.  The Potomac is a very large river and it is frequently a wash-machine ride getting across.  Not so today.  It provided a comparatively mild passage and we passed west of Smith Point Light, the southern point, by 1125.  It took a half- hour to cross the Rappahannock River at 1430 and I called Mike Warren to see if his offer of dock space was still good.  It was and by 1600 we were slowly feeling our way into Cobbs Creek. Thirty minutes later we were tied up at Mike's dock and enjoying his and Dyan's hospitality.  After a couple glasses of wine on their patio outside, the four of us had dinner aboard Morning Star and called it an early night.
61 nautical miles

Peace and calm in Cobb's Creek at Marina Mike's

Monday October 17, 2011
By 0725 the engine was warmed up and we were ready to go.  Mike came down at 0730 to help us untie (and make sure that we were really leaving).  Ten minutes later we were leaving beautiful Cobbs Creek and entering the Piankatank River, which flows to the Bay.  At 0950 we were passing west of Wolf Trap Light with a confused 3' swell and a wind-driven chop from a different direction.  We "tacked" in toward the shore, looking for smoother water and a more comfortable ride.  We had been talking to Greg aboard "Allegria" (KK48 Whaleback) about different strategies to avoid the swell.  Greg went farther out into the Bay but it didn't seem to help.  Finally, by 1130, as we passed York Spit Light, the waves suddenly started to lay down.  At 1300 we passed the swash channel at Thimble Shoals as a light southerly breeze started to build.  By 1500 we had negotiated the Navy yard and all the activity associated with a passage through their area, and were tied up at one of our favorite stops, the free dock at the High Street Basin in Portsmouth, VA.  Dick and Lynn Davenport (KK42 "Ladyhawke") were already tied up and Dick helped us tie up.  We all had cocktails in Allegria's pilothouse.

Dick and Lynn walked to the Commodore Theater with Cindy and me, for dinner and a movie.  We got a kick out of the Commodore, an old, beautifully restored movie house.  The movie was "A Dolphin's Tale" and it was fun for us because it was filmed in Clearwater.  We were living at the City Marina while all the commotion was going on and it was neat seeing the product of their work.  You can see more about the Commodore Theater at:
53.7 miles

Tuesday October 18, 2011
Gilmerton bridge has a restricted opening schedule during rush hour.  If we don't go through at 6 AM, we don't go until 0930.  Since there was no benefit to departing in the dark, we loafed until 0830, when we left the High Street Basin and started south down the ICW.  Our first destination was Top Rack Marina, who has the best fuel pricing anywhere around.  Our intention is to fill our tank, which should last us to Brunswick, GA.  But first, there is Gilmerton.  0930 came and went without an opening.  Turns out, there was a train coming and they had to delay the opening by ten minutes.  Fortunately the delay held no consequence for us and we were able to top off the tank with 100 gallons of fuel and still be under way by 1020.  The Deep Creek lock at the Dismal Swamp opens at 1100 and we were waiting for them to open.  It took a while because there were eight boats locking through but by 1200 we were all out of the lock and passed through the bridge, into the Dismal Swap Canal.  Lockmaster George is also Bridgetender George so a bit of patience is necessary while he drives from the lock to the bridge, stops traffic and opens the bridge.  We had a leisurely afternoon cruise, arriving at the North Carolina Visitors Center dock at 1430.  Before the day was done, there were four boats in our raft, including Ladyhawke, and sixteen boats tied and rafted to the dock for the night.
29 miles.

The lock is pretty full.
Deep Creek lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Wednesday October 19, 2011
At 0745 the raft was breaking up.  Not everybody was leaving but Ladyhawke and Morning Star were and a sailboat left earlier.  We were on time for the 0830 bridge and lock opening  at South Mills Lock and by 0905 we were through and following the beautiful Passquotank River - my favorite river on the east coast.  At 1200 we tied up to the bulkhead wall at the City Park in Elizabeth City, NC, one of our favorite stops on the ICW.  (The bridge tender even offered us the use of his pickup truck!)The "Rose Buddies" hosted one of their famous wine and cheese parties for the cruisers.  It was very well attended, not only by the cruisers but by many of the locals.  The "guest of honor" was Colonel Backus, who was the head of that District of the Army Corps of Engineers, the group responsible for the maintenance of the ICW and the Dismal Swamp.  It was great being able to talk to him and explain how much the ICW means to us all and to tell him the local folks how much we enjoy their city!
23.5 miles

Thursday October 20, 2011
High winds!  Albemarle Sound will be angry so we are declaring a layover day.  We ran the generator to charge the batteries and discovered a leaking exhaust hose.  No more generator until we get that fixed.  It was cold at night so we got the propane heater out of storage and we were warm as toast.

Beautiful park with free docks!
Elizabeth City, NC

Friday October 21, 2011
Its 50 degrees outside!  The engine is warm and the dock lines are untied by 0730 and we are away from the dock.  Two hours later we enter Albemarle Sound at PR#1.  Its a bit rolly and we have to "tack" several times, changing course to find a more comfortable angle to take the waves.  But it takes less than two hours to cross the Albemarle and after passing through the Alligator River Swing Bridge, its smooth traveling down to the Alligator-Pungo Canal.  We transited the Canal and entered the Pungo River at 1655.  We have "done" that stretch of water half-a-dozen times now and have yet to see our first pungo. Darn!  The anchor is down by 1710 and soon after six or seven other boats pulled in to anchor.  Long day!
76.7 miles.

Peaceful anchorage.
Pungo River, NC

Saturday October 22, 2011
Our pre-departure rituals don't take very much time and we have the anchor up and have rejoined the ICW before 0800.  The little town of Bellhaven passes by and we have entered the Pamlico River shortly after 1000.  Goose Creek, Hobucken (with its tiny Coast Guard station), Bay River, Maw Point Shoal and the Neuse River are all waypoints we put behind us on our way to Oriental, NC.  We anchored in Green's Creek, passing "Wind Horse" on the way in.  Wind Horse" is an 84 ft. aluminum cruising motorboat owned by circumnavigators and boatbuilders Steve and Linda Dashew.  It is a truly unique vessel.  The Dashews think "outside the box", first with the sailboats they build and now with their approach to cruising powerboat design and construction.  Truly innovative.  I saw Steve Dashew at the Maine Boats and Harbors show in Rockland this summer.  You can read about them at:
55 miles

Wind Horse at anchor.
Oriental, NC

Sunday October 23, 2011
The anchor was up, the chain washed down and everything stowed at 0730 and we entered the Neuse River ten minutes later.  Once again we had to tack, altering course to port by 30 degrees to mitigate the rolling.  Once we got to the other side of the river we were able to alter course again and by 0810 we entered Adams Creek, followed by the Adams Creek Canal at 0900.  The canal is fairly short and by 1000 we were through and into the Newport River, tying up at Morehead City Yacht Basin at 1030.  Tomorrow will be a lay day for we have a mechanic scheduled to replace the broken generator exhaust hose.  We used the courtesy car to go to the grocery store, took on water and washed the boat while we had the down time.
24.7 miles

Morning Star at Morehead City Municipal Marina.
Morehead City, NC

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Up and at 'em at our usual 0630 and by 0725 we were back in the ICW.  We passed Bogue inlet and arrived at Onslow Beach Bridge for the noon opening.  They were on time - an unusual occurence.  This bridge is the only bridge on the ICW that is owned and operated by The Marine Corps. because it is located at Camp Lejune.  We passed our usual anchorage at Mile Hammock Bay and continued on past Topsail Beach, arriving at Wrightsville Beach at 1730.  But it took an hour of fussing around to finally get anchored.  It took three tries before we were both satisfied and the sun was setting.  Long Day!
83.25 miles

Wednesday October 26, 2011
Usual start up, anchor up drill and we are underway by 0730.  At 0900 we passed through Snow's Cut and entered the Cape Fear River.  At the last minute we changed our destination to Bald Head Island and a quick phone call reserved us a slip.  We were tied up at Bald Head Island marina by 1100.  The rest of the day was spent in idle pursuits; lunch at the marina restaurant and touring the island by golf cart.  The place is beautiful!  We have heard other cruisers rave about the place and they were right!
28.9 miles

The beach at Cape Fear.
Bald Head Island, NC

Randy in front of the lighthouse........What?..........What's so funny?
Bald Head Island, NC

Thursday October 27, 2011
0940 - Depart Bald Head Island.
1020 - Arrive Southport.  Tie up at Fishy Fishy (restaurant)
3.8 miles   .8 hours
Southport is a delightful little community at the bottom of the Cape Fear River, where the river is joined by the ICW.  It is full of shops and small restaurants and beautiful homes.  Most of the homes in the old section pre-date the Civil War.  It was a delightful stop.

Friday October 28, 2011
The harbor is directly on the ICW so we were heading "down the ditch" before 0730. The inlet at  Lockwood's Folly has had a horrible reputation in recent years but it has been dredged and we never saw less than 16 feet of depth as we passed through at 0900.  At 1124 we crossed into South Carolina just before crossing New River inlet.  Usually we stop at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach but we passed by this time, traveling another three hours to Osprey Marina.  Its a new stop for us but one that comes highly recommended to us by several Krogen friends.  At 1615 we are tied up and secure.  We have a couple of days of wind and unfavorable weather so we are going to sit that out right here.  Dick and Lynn on" Ladyhawke" spend a month or more here in the spring and again in the fall.  We had drinks one night and dinner out another.  "Stevedore"(KK42) is here although Sharon and Steven are away on a road trip, visiting family.
64.6 miles.

Osprey Marina
Socastee, SC