Monday, October 14, 2013

Destination Charleston

Cypress Swamp (ICW)
The only lock on the ICW at Great Bridge
While it hasn’t been long since our last post, a great deal has happened.  We ended our time in the Inter-coastal Waterway (ICW) or “the ditch” with a good two-day stay in Beaufort (pronounced bo-fort), NC.  We took a slip at the Beaufort Docks right off the main street of a lovely downtown.  Kay had shops to visit and I enjoyed some very fine food.  The flash-fried flounder at Beaufort Grocery Company was absolutely the best fish I’ve ever eaten!
Downtown Beaufort, NC
The ICW from Norfolk to Beaufort was tedious; shallow, narrow, and a fairly tight channel.  Four days @ 50 miles a day was as much cypress swamp and marsh as we needed to see.  The good news is that since the weather was poor and the trip around Hatteras would have been uncomfortable/dangerous, we are glad we navigated the ICW. 

Richard looking good in his loaner Buick
Roadmaster....when America knew
how to make a car!
Sunday we left Beaufort and began the 40-hour sail to Charleston.  Winds were out of the WNW so we only had one tack in two days.  We sailed 95% of the way, using ole Perkins only to go in and out of harbors and for a short windless period in the middle of our first night.  We passed Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear at midnight on Sunday (an area known for challenging weather)           uneventfully.

Monday afternoon provided us with a treat. At about 3:00 PM we were visited by a pod of at least 20 dolphins for about an hour.  They were playful, surfing in our wake, and trying to splash us.  Murray didn’t know what to make of our visitors and barked loudly at them.  While I am sure that our experience is common to others, it was thrilling for us.  What grace and beauty these animals have. 
As night began to fall, we continued to Charleston ahead of schedule.  Yes, Dennis and Sue – ahead of schedule! Averaging 7 knots much of the way is not what we planned for so we faced a night arrival in Charleston Harbor.  The approach to the harbor is 5 miles long, well marked, and heavily travelled by 900’+ container ships. Good radio communication, GPS, and AIS make these encounters far safer and better coordinated than you might think.  Once in Charleston Harbor, we went up the Ashley Channel, passed Fort Sumter and into our berth at Charleston City Marina.  At 12:45 PM, celebrated with a toast and crashed. 
We are looking forward to a full month here in Charleston, visiting family and enjoying this historic city.  We’ve never been a slip in one place for so long and are looking forward to the experience.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Heading for SC

It has been a big week on our voyage. Today we arrived in Beaufort, NC.   We enjoyed our time in the Chesapeake.  What a magnificent body of water.  There are so many creeks, rivers and bays to explore.  We only scratched the surface.  It is an area with so much history, so many stories, and such beauty.  We were fortunate to be in Oxford when the migration of geese was on overdrive.  Being in the midst of a fly way is spectacular to see. 
Dry docked Carrier....amazing!

Entering the lock at Great Bridge, VA
We met a number of fellow travelers, including “live aboards” like us.  Socializing is a big part of traveling via water. We anticipate crossing paths again as we move south.  We sailed into Hampton Roads as we prepared to enter the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) at Norfolk, VA.  Norfolk is home to the largest Navy base in the world (at least that's what they claim).  We passed docked navy ships for over a mile as we progressed down the beginning of the ICW.  The ships were being refurbished, refitted, painted and upgraded.  Two aircraft carriers were under construction and a few were in dry dock.  We anchored off Hospital Point and had a good night's sleep before our first full day in the ICW. 

Time to get out of the way
There are three basic ways to move south via boat.  One is to travel all 1090 miles of the ICW.  The second is to sail on the outside down the coast.  The third is a combination of the first two.  We decided to enter the ICW and travel south as far as Morehead City.  This will enable us to avoid rounding Cape Hatteras.  The waters off Hatteras tend to be very challenging with the Gulf Stream coming its closest to the coast, opposing winds, and strong currents and we are in the midst of a mini nor-easter which might not be the best time to tackle Hatteras.  Five days into the ICW we are moving about 50-60 miles per day.  While this may not seem like much, it really makes for a long day of navigating from buoy to buoy.  The channels are narrow, the waters shallow and areas remote.  While we have been able to sail in some of the larger sounds, we are primarily motoring in most of the ICW.   Much of the trip in North Carolina has been through cypress swamps and marshland.  There is limited opportunity to get off the boat, much to Murray’s dislike.    With a our arrival in Beaufort, we will leave the intercoastal for a two-day sail “outside” to Charleston, SC. 

With the weather on our side, we will pop out on Saturday and be sailing around the clock for a few days.  We have a reservation at the Charleston City Marina for one month.  This will be a time to visit family and for Kay to be a full-time grandma.  We are so looking forward to time with Jason, Amy, Ben and Liam.  We are also excited to have visitors including  Rachel and Pat, Chad and Tara, and our close friend Conrad.

We are settling in to our life aboard and look forward to all that is ahead.

Waters traveled to date:
·      RI Sound
·      Fisher I Sound
·      Long Island Sound
·      East River (NYC)
·      New York Harbor
·      North Atlantic (NJ Coast
·      Delaware Bay
·      Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
·      Chesapeake Bay
·      Norfolk River (VA)
·      Elizabeth River (VA)
·      Albermarle and Chesapeake Canal (VA)
·      North Landing River (VA and NC)
·      Coinjock Bay (NC)

·      North River (NC)
·      Albermarle Sound (NC)
·      Alligator River (NC)
·      Alligator and Pungo River Canal (NC)
·      Pungo River (NC)
·      Pamlico River (NC)
·      Upper Spring Creek (NC)
·      Bay River
·      Newport River